What Feminism Was Supposed To Do

How is it that 45 years after the birth of feminism, and its continued growth as a social movement in this country, we discover for all that time we were enmeshed in systemic sexual harassment of girls and women? Why is it that the same girls and women who were fighting for equal pay and the right to dress as they pleased seemed unable, or unwilling, to simultaneously fight for their own physical and emotional safety? Why are the multitude of people who acquiesced, or turned a blind eye, to the sexual harassment and degradation of women now being hailed as “courageous” for merely jumping on the band wagon of what only a very few (e.g. Rose McGowan and Natasha Henstridge) had real courage to expose?

The answer isn’t that feminism was a fraudulent movement so much as it was a misguided one. It had its priorities wrong. In trying to achieve equal respect, promotion parity and wage equality for women, it told women the way to get there was to be like men. Nowhere was the movement’s mantra said better or more succinctly than when leader and spokesperson for the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem, voiced “We’re becoming the men we wanted to marry.” Well, yes. But that created the result 45 years later: 1) there are very few of those men left and 2) an awful lot of people aren’t even sure which gender they, in fact, are.

This isn’t about gender identity. It’s about what it means to be a woman. To be the walking, talking, “Divine Feminine” if you will.  There seems to be a lot of confusion about this term. It’s not a mystical or metaphysical concept. It’s one of two specific creations by the Divine. In Genesis 1:27: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Let’s not parse words or get theologically bound in minutia. Generally speaking, we can agree that men and women exist and that there are some inherent differences in the way we are wired. Not in whether we would rather play football or dress Barbie… but in how we approach conflict resolution or emotional issues. Scientists studying dissimilarities underlying some of the most important gender distinctions have found distinctions deeply rooted to the days when men were hunters on the savanna and women were gatherers rearing children near camp.

I suggest we women are wired in a particular way, as are men, such that working together, in harmony, we provide a natural balance that is necessary for the continued well-being of the species as well as the planet we inhabit. When imbalance occurs, the species and the planet suffer. In the extreme, our very existence is at stake.

For thousands of years societies, and the planet, have been predominantly administered by Divine male energy. For the most part, and in most places, influence of the Divine feminine has been marginalized, ignored, subjugated or enslaved. This has resulted in profound imbalance and its resulting effects. Because nature, of which we are a part, has the power to rectify imbalance, what we are seeing is a re-emergence of the Divine feminine.

But we must be very careful not to confuse the Divine feminine with feminism.

The Divine feminine has as its inherent quality a countervailing energy to the Divine masculine. It is not the Divine feminine’s role to become the Divine masculine but rather to countervail it. To balance it out.

I don’t countervail a guy whose pants are worn in a way to expose his rear end by in turn dressing to expose my breasts. I do so by dressing modestly thereby showing respect for my physical body. I do not countervail aggressive or violent behavior by acting similarly. I do so by reasoned thought and compassion for someone’s discomfort or pain.

The danger of the #TimesUp movement, or the Oprah Winfrey speech at the Golden Globes, or all those who now think its “women’s turn” is in us becoming a reaction rather than a countervailing force.  Reactions tend to be equal and opposite. We do not need women to now spend decades or centuries…even millennia…reacting to the mess unbalanced male energy has created. This would only bring about more imbalance albeit at the opposite end of the spectrum.

What we need to do now, as the Divine Feminine, is to move with ease and grace into those places where imbalance is evident. In actual practice, this means that both men and women will have to examine their own internal balance and adjust accordingly. It is no longer about one or the other gender being in power. Nor is it about being confused into thinking that men must become women or vice versa. Just as no one politician can solve all of our problems, no one gender can either. Where diversity exists, whether in politics or gender, conflict resolution is a team sport. Successful teams have players who each contribute something of value to the end game. But the success starts with the preparedness of each individual player and their understanding of the contribution they must make to the team.

The Divine feminine is not here to usher in a new era of female dominion over men. We’re here to make the unique contribution only we can make toward fulfilling our part in creating and maintaining the harmony and balance necessary to sustain the world.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

 

Intel’s Bug is a Plague

This week it was revealed that Intel, the largest manufacturer of computer processors has, since 1995, been producing processors with an inherent bug. The bug provides a way to hack every computer and mobile device that has one of those processors. This translates into an incomprehensible amount of computers and mobile devises that can be hacked for the most private, and mistakenly believed, protected data.

We will inevitably lose our identities as we have lost our privacy.

While I am a lawyer, I am also a natural intuitive. Psychic, if you will. As a result of that inherent dichotomy in the way I am wired, I have always had two sets of nearly incompatible friends. One set is my left-brain, logical-rational friends and the other my right-brain, creative-intuitive friends. Most of the latter are psychics. People whose intuition is highly developed and who believe in concepts that make my left-brain friends roll their eyes in condescension and disbelief…concepts such as past lives, bi-location, astral projection and for purposes of this post, the lost continent of Atlantis.

It is human nature that when we encounter people whose world view is radically different than our own to see those people as either ignorant or crazy. After all, how else does one continue to put stock, not to mention faith, in one’s ideas and beliefs if not by negating those which present a direct challenge to our status quo? The latest example of this is how many people dismiss, even hate, Donald Trump…and none more than the hard core politicians and agenda driven individuals who have been running this country their way for a hundred years. But this is just one example.

Here’s another.

My psychic friends and I believe that Atlantis (and perhaps Lemuria) were civilizations that had advanced technologically to the point, or beyond, to which we have now arrived. As a result of misusing that advanced technology, combined with a corresponding lack of ethical and moral development, that civilization destroyed itself. Further, add to that historical perspective the concept of reincarnation and we believe that many of us alive today were also alive then, in Atlantis. We are, so to speak, “back.” It is our opportunity to “get it right” this time by not allowing the technology to control or destroy humanity.

Which brings me back to the Intel bug. We are most likely going to make the same mistakes again that were made in Atlantis. We are headed for destruction in several ways thanks to the proliferation of technological development alongside a dearth of moral, ethical, and social development of equal measure.

We are all addicted to the technology. You know it and I know it and anyone who says otherwise is in denial. From the couples and families who dine together while texting, to the waiting rooms at hospitals and public spaces filled with people all on their cell phones, to the internet shopping, to the manipulated news we allow to control our thinking, to the social media that is a vacuous substitute for real life…we are all addicted.

Now we are on the verge, through AI, of substituting robots for what is left of relationships. Men will be able to have female bot partners that satisfy their every carnal fantasy with no corresponding emotional demands while women will be able to have partners that satisfy their emotional needs without having to work so hard to make that happen or, in many instances, paying the price of their self-respect in order to even have a partner.  We will purchase our customized partners while human mates be damned. Japanese men have already shown us the future of what happens when you can choose between an emotionally complex (and perceived demanding sexual partner) and one that provides whatever is asked for while asking nothing in return. The Japanese men prefer the bots.

Isn’t that why we like our dogs and cats so much? Unconditional love, even when we neglect or abuse them? We get what we want and need while the “other” be damned. It’s easier that way, right? The problem is that what comes easy is generally unappreciated and undervalued. We find meaning in life from our struggles, from the things we strive, sweat and work for not from what comes easy. It’s one of the most profound lessons of human existence that we all learn, sooner or later. So having everything we want handed to us, or our every want and desire anticipated and satisfied, will not only be empty of meaning it will cripple and enslave us.

So, while it is typical that when most people hear the word psychic, or talk of alternate realities and reincarnation, they take it with a grain of salt…or not at all…those of us who have walked that path for all, or most, of our lives have seen this handwriting on the wall. We are headed for self-destruction. Not of a few individuals, but of the species as we know it.

Why?

Because regardless of how lifelike the bots are, or how advanced the AI becomes, none of it is human. At best these are all man-made substitutes. Only hubris leads us to conclude that we can replicate through technology what God has created. And like all forgeries, what we try and replicate will, in the end, be revealed for the fraud it is.

The Torah, the first Five Book of Moses commonly referred to as the “Old Testament” is instructive. This same hubris led humankind to build a tower to the heavens so that back then they, too, could be as God. The effort resulted in chaos, destruction and separation we still suffer from today.

Laugh at and dismiss the psychics, the intuitives with a sixth sense, if you will. But in your heart you know that we are in trouble and it isn’t Donald Trump, the Republicans or the Democrats that is the source of that trouble. It is us…and the disease that will wipe us out isn’t plague. Its hubris.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

Sexual Harassment and Empowerment of Women

The reaction of women to the ongoing revelations of sexual harassment charges is of greater concern to me than the charges themselves. My concern stems from a common misunderstanding of the concept of “empowerment” which leads people to draw incorrect conclusions. Empowerment is not something someone else gives you or takes from you.  Empowerment is something you give yourself and, therefore, is only absent if you relinquish it.

I do not dismiss the importance of shining a bright light on immoral, and too often, criminal behavior. It is wrong to touch, fondle, or make sexually explicit contact with the body of another human being without their consent. Such actions are that much more egregious when they occur in a work related environment and are the quid pro quo for advancing one’s career.

How someone behaves towards you is separate from whether you condone or condemn the behavior and its is definitely unrelated to how you think and feel about yourself.  Certainly young children are vulnerable to developing self-images based upon how they are treated and valued by the adults around them. But, as my father used to say, “You’re 3 times 7 now so think for yourself.” Once we reach a certain age of maturity, we become responsible for what we will tolerate, the decisions we make and the consequences that flow from them.

If women want to know what is empowering the answer is dignity, which is why empowerment is an internally generated process, not a externally gifted one.  No one gives you dignity. You claim it by valuing your divinity and acting accordingly.

I applaud Salma Hayek for her honesty and courage in going public in a New York Times opinion piece this week by sharing her story of suffering under the harassment and emotional abuse perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein. For much of Hayek’s story she stood her ground against Weinstein’s lewd advances and verbal abuse, and by so doing, made her efforts to bring the movie “Frida” to the screen that much more difficult.

But in the end, Hayek compromised herself to get the film made by acquiescing to Weinstein’s demand that she perform a full frontal nudity scene with another female actress. In her own words, Hayek admits that her “vomiting” and literal “nervous breakdown” over Weinstein’s demand stemmed from the fact that she knew she would be performing the scene for Weinstein’s personal pleasure not for any artistic purpose. Dignity is the key to empowerment. Hayek’s relinquishment of her dignity, her acquiescence to what she knew was demeaning and degrading, is the real crime. A crime against self. Its why she never really got over it and why it haunts her.

Assaults to our dignity as the Divine Feminine, as women, happen in large and small ways every day of our personal and professional lives. It is up to us to establish healthy and self-serving boundaries around what we will and will not tolerate. Further we must establish firm boundaries and standards around what price we are willing to pay to gain acceptance, advancement or simply to be “liked.”

As an Intuitive, I do spiritual counseling. Yesterday, a client called for a session over the phone. He began to tell me about a heated encounter he had with a superior. The client was enraged and used profanity after profanity to share the exchange and his lingering anger. I told him that I had the picture and asked him to stop using the profanity. He continued. When I asked him again he said, “That’s how I talk and I am not going to change it for you.” So I told him I don’t engage in that level of dialogue and did not intend to be the object of it. I ended the session much to his displeasure. Following the call, he texted me that he was “just venting” and that his rage wasn’t directed at me. My reply was that regardless of how he described it, I chose to not be on the receiving end of violent language and rage. I may have lost a client but I retained my integrity and my dignity.

I could have stayed on the call. After all, I bill by time. I could have endured the filthy and violent language and made money. But I have learned, through trial and error, what empowers and what makes us victims of our own cowardice. There is not enough money someone could pay me to cause me to relinquish my self-respect.

Thirty years ago I wrote an e-book titled “No More Secrets.” I believed then that we were coming upon a time in human history when the emergence of spiritual Light would prevent the kind of deception and manipulation to continue that had flourished in the shadows of humanity for thousands of years. I believe we have arrived at such times. Its why whether Harvey Weinstein or out-of-control FBI agents…deception will be revealed. This is all for the good. We humans will figure out the next steps in our conscious evolution by learning how to live with one another exhibiting greater integrity and mutual respect. Even if this learning process is painful, we will get there.

It’s why I say that our reactions as women to this now exposed, shameful behavior by certain men is more important than the behavior itself. We women must be careful not to misuse or waste this moment and this opportunity to take back the reigns of controlling our own empowerment by wrongfully shifting the focus on to those who stepped up and took power over us simply because we were remiss in relinquishing it in the first place.

Carole

(contact@carolegold.com)

The Reality of Jerusalem

One of the most eye-opening lessons of having been a divorce attorney for close to 15 years was the realization that most, if not all, clients know the truth of their relationship even if they choose not to believe it. This means that whatever the reason turned out to be for the failed marriage, the underlying truth of the deficiency was known but ignored. Sometimes the reason “for looking the other way” was financial; sometimes it was because it was easier to stay the course than brave the unknown…but an awareness of the underlying truth was none-the-less present. It made me acutely aware of our propensity to see only what we want to see and only what supports our current belief system.

This propensity isn’t limited to our personal relationships. It’s starkly evident in our politics. You either hate Donald Trump, seeing everything he does as evil, or you love him, believing he can do no harm. Yet, truth is not so clearly defined.

Donald Trump is human and, therefore, flawed. This means that he sometimes makes good decisions and sometime bad ones. It means he can be emotionally arrested at, perhaps, some adolescent stage of development while at the same time being intellectually competent and able to strategize with a high degree of success. There is no incompatibility in the co-existence of such facts even if the combination of them if less than ideal. He is who he is.

I try and make my evaluations of the President’s behavior not within the context of the “love him or hate him model” but rather upon the wisdom, or lack thereof, of each individual action. This allows me to sometimes stand with him and sometimes stand in opposition to him.

This brings me to where I stand on his decision regarding Jerusalem.

As I stated at the outset of this post, we humans have a hard time with reality when it flies in the face of what we prefer to believe. So, the wife who denies that her husband is having an affair, even when all the evidence points to the contrary, has much in common with the person who denies Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, even when all the evidence points to the contrary.

The evidence was factually and succinctly set forth in President Trump’s announcement of the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel:

It was 70 years ago that the United States, under President Truman, recognized the State of Israel. Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem — the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times. Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the Prime Minister and the President. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.  For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of state, and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Facts are pesky things to those who deny their existence. But denial of fact does little to diminish its existence.

As an American Jew, you might think I have a dog in this hunt and maybe I do. But as a lawyer, I can tell you that many a juror has a vested interest in some aspect of a case they may be seated in deciding. But we ask such jurors if “despite your feelings or experience, do you think you can hear the facts of this particular case and make a fair and impartial decision based upon the facts?” When the answer is “yes” we seat that juror.

Having an interest does not necessarily translate into having a bias.

In the instance of Jerusalem I cannot comprehend why any American, especially Jewish Americans, cannot put their political lens aside and simply examine the facts as set forth by the President in his decision-making process. The capital of Israel is Jerusalem whether you are a Democrat or Republican…unless, of course, you are first-and-foremost a single issue, political creature rather than a human who discerns and accepts facts, distinguishing them from agenda or wishful thinking.

My way of analyzing President Trump is a balanced approach which allows me to see the totality of the man while at the same time distinguishing between his weaknesses and his strengths. It allows me to be repulsed by the way he has referred to women or demeaned his opponents; yet, it also allows me to take great comfort and pride in his courage to speak truth to power and stand for what is right by recognizing Jerusalem as the legitimate capital of Israel.

Carole

(contact@carolegold.com)

How To Profit

Last week saw the final step in closing a deal that would have made me a decent amount of money in the short run and, potentially, a great deal of money in the long run. I could have ignored my principles and my gut thereby finalizing the details of the deal. Or, I could have stood on principal, followed my gut and likely caused the deal to crash and burn. I stood my ground.  It crashed and burned. I feel really good. If making money is the measure of success, I failed. But if the measure is what was ethical, legal and honest then I scored big. This deserves an explanation.

I had been in negotiations with the creator of an app.  He was trying to raise seed money; first round investors. Even if you’ve got a great product or service, which this guy seems to have, that first round of fundraising is always a challenge. After all, you’re doing it with no profits or sales to back up your claim of value. And of course, the developer always thinks the value of his product is worth gazillions and the investors always think it’s not. There was a target amount to be raised by a date certain and I was trying to reach that target by that date. One week prior to the deadline I had succeeded in securing an investor willing to put up 50% of the target. Further, I had contacted an additional investor who had an interest and, if terms were agreeable, was willing to put up twice the target amount in addition to the 50% I had already secured.

Terms. The magic word.

You see, from the first presentation that I attended as a potential fundraiser, the terms for potential investors were vague and changeable. In fact, whenever the developer was asked the terms, he repeatedly said, “everything’s negotiable.” Trouble was, what he said and what he did were inconsistent. When it came to terms he was inflexible and demanding. In fact, he was dictatorial in his delivery. Further, he refused to put anything in writing.

I am a lawyer. Terms in writing, even offers to contract that are yet subject to negotiation, need to be in writing. This is not a quirk of mine. This is standard legal and business practice. Further, this developer was refusing to put in writing even the terms that pertained to me as a broker.

I grew up watching my father, a successful entrepreneur, make many a deal on a handshake or someone’s word. I am “of that school” even though I am also a trained attorney. So, in this particular instance, sharing some common cultural background with the developer and wanting to believe the best of him, I was proceeding as if on a handshake.

But things started to not feel good in that “gut” I spoke of earlier. I call it intuition but it’s the same thing. It’s an internal instinct and “caution” light that goes on which says, “Pay attention. Something is out of alignment and doesn’t feel good.” It was the developer’s continuing refusal to commit to writing along with his increasing disrespect towards me and my investor’s rights the more certain he was that the investor was on board and the closer we got to closing the deal.

Three days before the target deadline, the developer sent me an email with terms. They were not the terms repeatedly discussed and those which were there were woefully inadequate and poorly defined. The email closed with a “take it or leave it” directive and a demand that I not respond with any counter-offer or other terms. I was to reply simply “Yes” or “No.”

Well, there’s the kiss of death to a lawyer. Under the best of circumstances I am unlikely to not have something to add! And these were definitely not the best of circumstances. So I replied with a detailed explanation of terms as my investor believed them to be based upon representations made to him (and me). Further, I set forth in detail why those terms were in everyone’s financial interest.

I received no direct reply. However, three days later, on the target date deadline, I received a call from a third party involved in the fundraising who informed me that the developer’s “team” had advised him to accept the terms as I had forwarded them. However, I was also told he was in another city that day trying to raise other money.

Well, we were at a deadline set up by the developer, not me. He had not replied to my email of three days prior. My investor was calling me to ask why there was no contract to sign as this was the target date. So, I sent an email and text to the developer at 5PM stating that if I did not have confirmation in writing by 6PM of an agreement to terms and proof of the remaining 50% of funds raised as per the budget that my investor’s offer would have to be renegotiated once the 6PM deadline passed. At 6:35PM I received a scathing email from the developer who suggested that his lawyer contact a third party in the fundraising and attempt to negotiate the close of the deal. The last sentence of the email was , “But I am completely okay with us not doing business.”

We did not do business.

I could have let the refusal to commit to writing go; I could have ignored the ever changing terms; I could have disregarded the firm deadline; I could have overlooked the increasing disrespect; I could have seen grey everywhere instead of seeing black and white. After all, a lot of money was potentially in my future. A lot! As in similar to owning early shares of Apple or Uber.

But I think letting all that go is one of the primary ways this country got itself into the economic mess it’s in. Without principles we are lost. Without principles, it’s impossible to know when to leave the room…or the deal. Without principles money isn’t our means of transaction, it’s our god.

The terms should have been set forth, committed to writing and respectfully negotiated back and forth until the point of mutual agreement. The deadline, set by the developer, should have been able to be counted on and honored by all sides. The manner in which communication was exchanged should have been respectful and not demeaning.

I feel sorry for people who do not know the core principles that form the basis for their existence. These are my principles. So when they were not met, it was easy to know when to leave the room and the deal. I do not have the money that was a part of that opportunity but I have my self-respect and I have not added to the decline of values and principles that so many in our nation bemoan the loss of. I am not part of the problem I am part of the solution. It’s a different kind of profit that I made on the deal…but profit none-the-less.

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

What Binds Us

The other day I was listening to the Bill Simmons podcast where he talked about an old  skit on Saturday Night Live. It was about the Brady Bunch meeting the Partridge Family. He remarked how funny it was back then and how that same skit could never work today because, as a society, we no longer have common cultural experiences. In other words, not enough people would get the jokes. He theorized that in our current society there is no one thing that we all share and understand. A mere thirty years ago, everyone in my generation watched those two shows, knew the characters and “got” the inside jokes.

Today, there are no longer common cultural events and national traditions which bind us together. With the advent of cable T.V, YouTube, Netflix and Amazon there are no longer shows we all watch and, therefore, experience together. Today T.V shows, books and movies are created to target niche consumers.  There are few cultural events, aside from sports or politics, where we have a reference point that helps us understand the culture at large.

The ongoing scandal within the NFL where players are “taking a knee” highlights for me the disparate views of what I clearly thought was a cultural norm: standing out of respect for the American flag. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece on my current thoughts about the NFL and its players kneeling.  I argued they should stand. The response I got blew me away. Some people loved the post while others called mea plantation owner for harboring such thoughts.” The vitriol spewed my way was eye opening.

Part of what shocked me was the divide. There was no consensus. We have come to the point where, as a nation, we are no longer able to agree that standing for the national anthem is the right thing to do.  Perhaps it is the result of growing and entrenched regional biases. I actually understand this possibility better than most. I grew up in the liberal northeast and now live in Texas. The opinions of these two regional groups of people could not be more different. With few exceptions, I can generally gauge in advance where each will stand on most issues. Yet, this prospect saddens and depresses me as I watch this divide grow with passing time.

These divisions are slowly ripping our nation apart. Ironically, I believe many of the problems that we now suffer are similar to the dissolution of a marriage.

In the Catholic faith, when a couple gets married, the priest utters a line that says “…and the two shall became one.”  On a physical plane it is impossible for two peoples’ bodies to morph into one, so the church is referring to something deeper that happens on the spiritual plane where souls merge. A few years ago a friend of mine got divorced. He told me that he experienced such trauma over the issue that he was in immense pain for quite some time. He prayed about it and had a dream where he saw a sword cutting apart he and his former wife with whom he had been “joined.” The sword was cutting the one body into two separate beings. The pain that he was suffering was due to the trauma of cutting away one’s flesh.

Nationally, we find ourselves divorced from the principles on which the nation was founded. How else can you justify the candidacy of Bernie Sanders who campaigned on a socialist platform while living in a capitalist country? Our culture no longer has any shared values. Blue states believe in one America while red states believe in another. There is no common ground.  This post began identifying how even in our expression of entertainment we no longer share a common culture.  Today, the majority of skits on “Saturday Night Live” are focused on politics (always a divisive issue) precisely because there are so few subject matter skits that an entire audience would get.

Sadly, I realize that I no longer live in the same country as my fellow Americans. The country founded upon a document declaring we have unalienable rights from our creator co-exists with one which believes there is no God.  We have become a country where a significant amount of people believe there is no such thing as a man or woman; there is no objective truth; only that with which we “identify” or what gives credence to our preferences. Babies aren’t babies they’re tissue and the definition of marriage is dependent upon what a legislature decides.  The ever changing tide of popular opinion is now what defines and moves our nation, not principals.

If you believe everything is fine and the things I’ve cited here are no big deal I wish I could experience your delusion. I wish I could crawl into that bubble with you… but I can’t. The forces shaping our country are leading us to ruin. We no longer have sufficient commonality to bind us in a meaningful way.  We are a collection of isolated states that happen to occupy a piece of land called America.  We are no longer united.

Over 2000 years ago the Greek storyteller, Aesop, said it best: “United we stand, divided we fall.” If that’s too far back in history for you, then turn over that dollar bill in your wallet.  “E pluribis unum“, adopted by the Founders in 1782, translates as “out of many, One.”  So whether 2000+ years ago or 235…we have turned this principle of standing united on its head. The current mantra of the United States of America is best expressed as “out of One, many.”  Since the past is often instructive, perhaps its worth more than a moment’s reflection on Aesop’s warning: divided we fall.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

The Dead End of Justified Means

In a recent conversation about AI, a business acquaintance told me why, in his opinion, Elon Musk will not succeed. “It’s because Musk allows his beliefs and ethics to enter into his business,” he said. “Musk doesn’t like AI and so he is not pursuing its implementation to the extent he should.” My reply was that as I understood it, it isn’t that Musk doesn’t like AI but rather doesn’t trust it given the insufficient moral parameters being established around its development and implementation. His response? “Well, when consumers see the benefits and ease of products and services that utilize AI they won’t ask or care about the morality or ethics.”

That’s when I decided to end the discussion.

Convincing a 39 year old businessman otherwise, who actually thinks that ethics and morals are irrelevant to AI or should be, is more energy that I wanted to expend. After all, he’s pretty cooked at his age. It doesn’t mean I was not surprised and slightly appalled by his perspective. It just means that if you don’t understand the connection between a culture lacking  ethics in business that has also run amok with sexual harassment in the workplace… you’re probably way down the road of no return on the relationship between ethics and AI. In fact, his final words to me on the subject were “AI will be our slaves.” To which I replied, “Or we will be theirs.”

Perhaps I come from an old school. I am willing to own that accusation. I remember a world where everything wasn’t instant, people didn’t have tech sex with virtual strangers and where they actually cared what others thought about how they behaved and the consequences of their actions. Maybe I am a cultural dinosaur. But I am not alone. I talk to plenty of other creatures from that “cultural  Jurrasic period” where values and principles mattered and people sought out and knew how to have personal relationships.

What is so disturbing is that people like the entrepreneur I spoke with about Elon Musk are in the majority not the minority. Ethics be damned. They slow things down. They get in the way of progress. Think of how high that tower could be…why it could go all the way to the sky…if we didn’t have to consider the consequences of building it in the first place. Oops. We did that one, didn’t we?

I like that Elon Musk is bothered by the potential of an AI world absent ethical and moral considerations. I am bothered by the fact that Google isn’t.  Large tech giants like Facebook and Google have already proven themselves not to be beyond crossing all sorts of ethical lines…or at least not past using mind control and preference mapping…to reach their profit driven ends. At least Musk has a conscience and isn’t afraid to make that known or stand by what he believes in.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s what is all comes down to. Belief.

We seem to have stopped believing in anything beyond self-satisfaction. Don’t misunderstand me. I think we humans are in charge of our own destiny and can choose to find joy even in the hard times. We deserve to be happy. But in satisfying one self, a total disregard for our connection to all living things and especially to a higher power that is essentially good, self-satisfaction soon morphs into self-absorption which, in an AI-virtual world, ends in addiction and enslavement: if not to a government then to a machine that anticipates our every need and fulfills our every desire.

Live long enough and you learn, hopefully, that joy and satisfaction come as much from living within certain ethical and moral parameters as from hard work, patience and forgiveness. Absent those parameters anything goes. Given our human propensity to abuse power and self-destruct in the doing, we are more likely to devolve then evolve. If memory serves me, we’ve done that before as well. I wonder why we can’t seem to get this one right?

Carole (contact@carolegold.com)

Not All Money Is Green

I use to be part of a team that sold emerging market bonds for a bank. We consistently made millions of dollars annually. Yet, in many ways, our team was not well respected. In fact, there were other traders and sales people who made less money, contributed less, and were paid more.

It always use to bother me that even though my efforts created more value for the bank other people were paid more. It was as if the money I made was not “green enough” for the bank. I came to learn that in corporate America, pay is not only dependent on technical skills but on political skill as well.  Given the clients I handled I had no political power.

The golden boys at my firm had gone to the best schools and were groomed by the bank to handle the biggest accounts. Their careers would typically start out having them act as back up traders for large accounts and, as they matured, take over those accounts and even larger ones. To their credit, those guys were super smart, worked super hard and did well for their accounts.  In turn, the firm loved them because they maintained a steady flow of income for the banks.

What they did was not particularly hard. They were given the keys to the kingdom. Their real job was simply to not mess up.

My colleagues talked and traded with PIMCO, Fidelity and Soros. They traveled to California and played on some of the best golf courses throughout the U.S.  Meanwhile, I was shlepping around the streets of Bogota, Colombia visiting local brokers trying to successfully close small trades.  The search for those deals had me traveling to some pretty remote places. My hunch had been that there were a lot more deals to be done with some of those financial institutions because they were not being properly engaged and serviced.

The compliance department, the traders and management hated me for bringing these accounts. It was simply outside their wheelhouse and comfort zone…not to mention lacking in the requisite social standing. I traded with family offices in Venezuela, pension funds in Jamaica and trust companies in Trinidad.  Then, after a few short years, I was doing some of the largest trades in my firm with, admittedly, the oddest account list. That’s when I got noticed. It took me years but the money I was earning suddenly became green.

My story is not unusual.

If you study the historical development of the Jewish community in both the legal system and on Wall Street, you see the same story play out. The reason there are so many Jewish lawyers working in mergers and acquisitions on Wall Street is due, in large part, to the fact that early on those positions were looked down upon. None of the banks, or golden boys, wanted to do the grunt work in the legal space. This resulted in that market not being served. Given that many Jews could not get into the top investment banks, they were left with covering the scraps of the “fine print” on deals. Guess what happened?  As that area became in high demand, the only firms that could service the deals were Jewish law firms. (If you want to find out more about this evolution, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s, David vs Goliath).

Even in my current business dealings, I witness firsthand how people are looked down upon when they are perceived to lack the right pedigree. Just recently, I was in a meeting with some pretty high powered people for a capital raise and, by far, the wealthiest man in the room was the most humble and least ostentatious. The manner in which he spoke and his attire suggested that he did not have the means to even be in that meeting. During a discussion round table following the capital presentation, a banker asked this unassuming attendee if he was familiar with a certain well-respected and high ranking bank in the city in which the humble man lived. His reply was, “I am that bank. I own it.”  You could have heard a pin drop as the room went silent. Suddenly, a man who had been previously humored for his questions and comments was the authority in the room…whose every word had the undivided attention of all those present.

After the meeting, I asked him what had driven him to own a bank. He proceeded to tell me that earlier in his career he had lost everything because the bank he used would not extend him credit on the real estate deals he had done. Their refusal   forced him into bankruptcy. He vowed it would not happen to him again. With whatever funds had survived bankruptcy, and what he was able to bring to the table, he bought one of the worst banks around for a fraction of its worth and grew it into what it is today: lucrative, well-respected and top rated. In a room full of lawyers, wall street financiers and tech whiz kids, this man was by far the most successful and least assuming. How had he done it? He saw potential, embraced what others judged as worthless, and then did the hard work.

The famed real estate developer Frank McKinney, who builds only million dollars homes on speculation, got his start buying apartments in the worst parts of Florida. The locations were dangerous and his margins small; but, over time, he grew and transitioned his talents to high end real estate. His success stemmed from the fact that he was willing to do the job no one else wanted to do. When he told his peers about his low end real estate deals he was looked down upon. I would characterize their reaction as “his money wasn’t green enough.” But the experience he gained doing jobs that others would not do propelled him to the heights of his profession.

These stories have a common thread and timeless moral.  Career capital was amassed from a series of unusual opportunities…opportunities shunned by most for their “appearance sake” yet ultimately the source of enviable value for those who could see past appearances and who were willing to do the heavy lifting.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

The Answer

Want to know why you’re fed up and feeling lost?

In what will surely be known as the Age of Data Collection, we know virtually nothing about the Las Vegas shooter.  The Clinton’s got away with their “Foundation” profiting to the tune of $145,000,000 in donations from Russian sources while Secretary Clinton approved the sale of 1/4 of the U.S. uranium supply to Russia. Sex trafficking in children is at an all-time high and some of the worst perpetrators are here in the U.S.  Pharmaceutical companies and pharmacies are the monthly purveyors of millions of illegal opioids while Americans grow more and more addicted. Then there is Harvey Weinstein and all of those complicit and silent, for decades, in Hollywood’s sordid saga.

We are not a dying a culture. We are a dead one.

This isn’t about politics. Politics is the distraction. It’s the “look over here so I can keep you from looking over there.” No thinking person can conclude that any politician, regardless of party, can or will save us. Politicians have been corrupt as far back as recorded history. This includes the politicians who disguise themselves as religious leaders and attempt to control and enslave millions in the name of God.

For as long as I can remember, I have instinctively known that you cannot legislate morality. Morals and ethics are internal commitments by individuals who have a conscience and a sense of higher purpose. Such knowing cannot be externally imposed and it certainly cannot be forced upon others through legal enactments. Morals and ethics may be discussed intellectually, laws can be passed in an attempt to express a society’s opposition to certain behavior, but in the end it is individuals acting voluntarily in accordance with a personal commitment to higher principles that define a culture.

Our culture, in the second decade of the twenty first century, is experiencing the ugly truth that it is devoid of such principles.

A society’s culture is a complex adaptive system that needs tending to. Because each of us is a contributor and functional part of that system, our individual actions matter and affect the whole.  Each of us needs to be aware when we are out of balance and take the necessary steps in returning toward equilibrium. Make no mistake. For too long, we have turned a collective blind eye to deceit, corruption, abuse, and limitless greed. Like an untreated bacteria or virus, we allowed these pathogens to infect us and go untreated. They have made our culture toxic. They have eaten away at our foundation and left us wandering and lost in the void.

What matters now is what we do about it. There is little time to waste and less time than that to beat our chests wailing “woe is me.” Energy abhors a vacuum. Something is going to fill the void. Blame is not helpful. We are all at fault, each in our own way. If we cannot face how we’ve abdicated free will and personal responsibility then we are surely doomed. We must reclaim both and use them wisely. If not, the fear mongers who live off of the pathogens, will prevail.

Each of us has the power of creation at our fingertips. All that is needed is to reach out and claim it. This is accomplished by the realization that, like morals and ethics, all wisdom resides within. No one and nothing external to you is the source. Your power is the wisdom within you combined with trust that you are directly connected to the highest Source there Is in order to be the best you can be. It is really the essential message of all true religions…once you strip them of their politics and politicians.

No one wants to hear that “it all rest on you.” But the truth is there is only one of us and so it does. We are united in our hearts if temporarily at war within our minds. What can provide comfort as we seek to find our way out of the void is the oldest message in the universe: the heart prevails.

Be the light, shine your light and watch what happens to the darkness. Something is going to fill the void. What will your contribution be?

Carole contact@carolegold.com

 

 

 

The Much Needed Opioid Conversation

A much needed conversation has emerged from the tragedy in Las Vegas. It’s about opioids, prescription drugs (in particular anti-depressants), addiction and withdrawal. It’s a topic I can speak to with authority as I tried to commit suicide at age 23 after coming off of prescription anti-depressants.

I have spoken much and often on this topic over the decades since. I have gone into high schools and spoken on depression and suicide. I have been interviewed for both print and radio on the topic as well. In fact, following the overdose of actor Heath Ledger (of “The Dark Knight” fame) in 2008, I did an extensive national radio interview sharing my thoughts on all aspects of this national epidemic.

While it is unlikely that addiction and withdrawal to/from prescription (or illegal) drugs was the sole cause of the detailed planning and execution of the Las Vegas shooting, awareness of the perpetrator’s apparent reliance upon such drugs at least brings to the forefront, once again, a national nightmare that continues to grow due to our refusal to address it head on.

We have been over-medicating our population for decades. More accurate to say we have been willing participants in over-medicating ourselves for at least that long.  While it’s easy to blame either pharmaceutical manufacturers or physicians, we have a responsibility to behave not as sheep but rather thinking, free-willed humans.

No one forces us to go the route of popping a pill for every discomfort or ailment. No one makes us medicate our children similarly. We choose to follow that option rather than looking into and applying our efforts to slower and less facile remedies.  We want to be numbed, sedated, narcotized and relieved instantly of anything that is an inconvenience or causes pain.

But pain is meant to bring us present. Whether emotional or physical…it’s an indication that we are out of balance in either our emotional, physical and some would say spiritual selves. We are lacking something we need or overindulging in something we do not. Deaden the pain and lose the opportunity to know the root cause.

Part of our preference for instant pain killers evolved along with our desire for instant everything: news, success, fame internet, access…every form of gratification. We have lost the ability to just be with ourselves and work through the challenging situations that life presents. We have lost all semblance of patience. Which brings us to where we are: “safe spaces” demanded so as to not even rattle one’s minutest sensibilities.

But here’s the thing. Life is uncomfortable, at times unsafe and periodically painful. All efforts to avoid this messy fact ultimately leave us deadened to life itself.

Walking and deadened.

When I didn’t die after my attempted suicide, I made a decision. If I was going to try and live my life then I had to accept all of it, the good, the bad and the ugly. I couldn’t spare myself only the parts I wanted to avoid without also costing myself the parts I wanted to enjoy.

They are the flip side of the same coin.

My detailed thoughts on the proliferation of drugs can be heard here in the radio interview I did following Heath Ledger’s death. But in short, we are responsible for the choices we make. Long before we die, we have to choose how autonomously we want to live and then take responsibility for that autonomy. This means we cannot blame anyone else for our decisions…and this includes drug manufacturers and physicians. It means rejecting so-called expert opinions before thinking through and analyzing problems for ourselves. It means accepting that pain has a purpose, as does fear, and when we try and suppress either we wind up missing every opportunity to grow that life has in store for us. And since life is change and change is intended to beget growth, it means missing life. Period.

Carole carolegold8@gmail.com