My Father and President Trump

I didn’t vote for him. But for heaven’s sake get over it!

Who knew going into this that candidate Trump was, to put it mildly, inarticulate? Who knew that he speaks before he thinks? Who knew that he uses catch phrases and adjectives from another era? Who knew that he was used to being in charge and doing things his way without consulting anyone? The answer to each of those questions is EVERYONE knew! And for half the country its why they didn’t vote for him. But for the other half it had little to do with why they did, in fact, vote for him.

No one voted for Donald Trump because he is a great orator or a diplomat.They voted for him because he was fearless. They voted for him because they were sick and tired of the lies. They voted for him because something about his total disregard for the establishment gave them a sense that maybe he could say and do what they were, and still are, aching to  say and do.

My father is deceased. He was a self-educated, self-made entrepreneur who became a millionaire through hard work and single-mindedness of purpose: to be a success. He was bighearted, brash, somewhat misogynistic (a sign of his era and upbringing), inarticulate when he needed to be articulate, lacking in both tact and sophistication. He was a father who believed his role in life was to provide for his family and he did that with excellence. He was a brilliant salesman, an invaluable mentor who inspired me to be the best I could be. He had an enormous ego, didn’t trust government and was certain he was always right. He was larger than life.

Its because of my father that I understand Donald Trump.

I repeat: I didn’t vote for him, I don’t like his manner of expression, I think he’s egotistical and arrogant to a spectacular degree. I also think he has a big heart, loves his family, his country and finds himself having awakened slightly beyond his wildest dreams.

I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I want to give him time to realize the responsibility he holds in his hands. I want to allow him what I would want for anyone in new and unexplored territory: time to get their bearings without having to watch their back.

The hunt for Donald Trump is the act of a poor loser. The Democrats, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton underestimated the damage they had done to the country in the preceding eight years. Damage to trust and unity. Damage to the middle class. Damage to a belief in our own goodness. I don’t know if President Trump, or anyone, can repair the scope of that damage. But what I do know is that those who drove us apart, who turned us into “us vs them” are still at work.

So, if I have to choose between those who have proven themselves to be greedy and deceitful or one who may yet rise to the occasion, I choose the latter with faith that anyone and any behavior can have a pivot point under the right circumstances. I suspect finding oneself the leader of the Free World holds the potential for being such a pivot point.

There is much more at stake than the making or breaking of a President. We are at stake. The nation is at stake. It cannot take take more division. I ask those who mock Trump for his need to win if destroying a Presidency will be worth the price of destruction of a nation. And if their answer is “yes” then their true intention is revealed for what it is: take down America. If that is the case, I prefer “Make America Great Again.”

Carole

Colbert and His FBI Moment

Last week Donald Trump fired James Comey, Director of the FBI. As the announcement was made public, comedian Stephen Colbert was live on T.V. and interrupted his monologue to tell his audience the news. The audience cheered. Colbert, visibly shocked and displeased with the response said, ” Wow we must have a lot of Trump supporters here.” Nothing could have been further from the truth. Colbert hosts The Late Show which, for the most part, is left-leaning comedy that roasts Conservatives…not attracts them.

Since the media and the Democrat party had, for months, been bashing Comey for his role in “costing Hilary Clinton the Presidency,” the generally Democrat-leaning audience thought the news of Comey’s firing was a good thing. Its no secret that Stephen Colbert hates President Trump. Therefore, his audience was cheering for an outcome they thought Colbert favored. Imagine their shock when Colbert lashed out at them for being Trump supporters because of their applause.

Colbert’s shock and problem stemmed from the fact that his audience simply hadn’t gotten “the latest memo” from the Left on how they were supposed to think and feel about the issue. The good little lemmings didn’t know they were now supposed to hate Trump for firing the very person who was investigating the alleged Trump-Putin connection. You see, the Trump-Russian narrative had overtaken the previous narrative that “Comey cost Hillary the election.” The lemmings were a bit behind.

Let us be clear. If it is proven by the newly appointed Independent Counsel that President Trump actually colluded with the Russians he should resign or be removed from office. Its just that to-date, there simply is no such proof. Not one scintilla of evidence. Yet the calls for resignation and impeachment are rampant.

Why, and how, is this so?

Its because the vast majority of Americans have stopped thinking for themselves. There are several reasons why:

  1. The sheer volume of 24/7 data and information flooding into our lives and our minds;
  2. The ever-increasing pace of technological development and our efforts to keep up with how it is impacting our lives for the good and for the ill;
  3. The deliberate agendas of the far Left, the Communists, Socialists, radical Islamists and Fascists to take down the United States (this their common end regardless of individual interests);
  4. A media that has lost its true purpose (to impartially inform) and is in bed with and controlled by a political agenda and, last but not least,
  5. When overwhelmed its easier to abdicate thought and let someone else do it for you.

Numbers 1-5 above have led too many Americans to number 6. But Free Will is like a muscle. Use it or lose it.

There is no greater freedom than the freedom to think for one self…to see one’s life and the world through your own unique perspective based upon your own experiences. It is freedom of thought that has provided the life-saving process by which POW’s in every war have survived despite their external circumstances or the lies told them by their captors. Former President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Americans are on the precipice of relinquishing freedom of thought. We are like POW’s who have given up the ability to think for ourselves and have acquiesced to the manufactured, external lie perpetrated by our captors. Its just that in our case the captors are the media, our politicians and those in the financial and private sectors who are reaping the rewards of our willingness to give up the God-given ability to think and choose for ourselves in exchange for enslavement. The red pill or the blue pill? You pick. And pick wisely because one of them is your last pick.

Carole and Steve

contact@carolegold.com / sleeclark@gmail.com

 

My Son The Marine

A beautiful article about the son of a wealthy New England father and his son who elects to join the Marines. Having been a former Marine, I always feel remorse over the many sacrifices my brothers have made. Here is an excerpt:

“Before my son became a Marine, I never thought much about who was defending me. Now when I read of the war on terrorism or the coming conflict in Iraq, it cuts to my heart. When I see a picture of a member of our military who has been killed, I read his or her name very carefully. Sometimes I cry…”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/john-my-heart-bob-jenkins

 

Steve

The Rich Tap Out

Even though Connecticut is considered one of the richest states  in the US given the amount of hedge funds in the state, tax revenues are continuing to decline. But lawmakers this time around are acknowledging there is a limit to how much they can keep on demanding from the wealthy.

See the article here at the Wall Street Journal

 

Steve

Confession of A Baby Boomer

I’m depressed. Is that politically incorrect to share? I’m sorry.

 

Would you rather I post puppy photos or an inspirationally uplifting poster on Facebook? Would that not offend your sense of well being as much as having to deal with my momentarily dreary reality? You know, Facebook, where everyone is either celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary or thoroughly delighted with their total acceptance of the solitude and peace that they’ve attained in their non-relationship life?

Am I the only person willing to publicly share a less than stellar moment of my life? Well, if I’m not the only I’m certainly among a dwindling minority. Depression, or circumstances that lead to it, is one of the last truly taboo subjects. You can come out of the closet and beat your chest while proudly proclaiming you are one of the 61 “gender” possibilities that Facebook lists but you better not say you’re in a slump.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not always like this. In fact, I teach motivation and inspiration. Its just that in the real world, not the fake worlds of social media or virtual reality, people get depressed, sad, even dare I say, angry. Not being able to speak to this fact just makes it all the more difficult. In fact, it makes people feel isolated, alone and as if there is something wrong with them that others do not have similar periodic misfortunes.

Nonsense.

Everyone suffers…we just all do it differently. Some suffer silently and others cry out like a coyote at full moon. But suffer we do. So where’s the shame? In fact, a society that makes someone feel shame for having a slump and daring to share is has lost its compassion. I think we’re there and I blame two things: the absence of God and abundance of technology.

Every generation has its challenges and difficulties with the upcoming generation and the technological advances biting at its heels. But in the past, what was true that is no longer is that change occurred within a framework of basis principles and values that were commonly held and time tested: God, family, friendship, neighborhood, charity, compassion and national pride. Think about those. They’re all gone or so grotesquely distorted as to be unrecognizable.

Now, when I or anyone else comes upon a rough patch, there is no real world embrace to hold us. We can have 580 friends on Facebook but, in a pinch, none of them can hug us. We can’t even be sure any of them would if they were close enough to be given the chance. So aloneness has become an emotional, as well as physical, fact of life.

As if my personal challenges were not enough (a recently damaged nerve in my ankle that kept me sofa-bound and on crutches for a month…oh, sorry, was that more “negativity” than you wanted?) there is North Korea, Democrats and Republicans at each other’s throats, black lives hating white lives, sanctuary cities, a government in denial about unemployment and inflation the middle class is suffering, measles outbreaks in U.S. Syrian immigrant communities and…and…and…

So, I’m having a bad week or two. I know all the positive, self-help things I can say or do to deny how I feel. I know how to practice Transcendental Meditation. I know how to listen to my daughter when she tells me “Mom, go do laps and swim it off.”

I simply choose not to.

I am a real person and real life has its ups and downs. Fake life…Facebook, Instagram, e-harmony and all the others do not. But that’s it, isn’t it. They’re not real. You and I are. So, if you’re having a bad day, month or year you’re not alone.  I’m here.                     

Carole…contact@carolegold.com

Political Idol Worship

In my Facebook feed, I have lots of friends that have a picture of the First Family as a way to honor them and show their love for our previous president. I suppose their reasoning is that the Obama’s are a great example of what a family should be. Sorry, but the whole notion disgusts me.

The whole adoration of a President and his family sickens me because it implies that they are somehow superior to us, know more than us and should therefore be granted more privileges to govern in a manner they see fit. The fact is all tyrants believe they are somehow superior to the people and, once given unlimited power, tend to act in the cruelest and most oppressive manners.

It reminds me of the British propensity for endlessly fawning over the royal family. It takes no hard earned talent to become a royal. It a simple case of winning the genetic lottery. At least today it is. In centuries past, to become and remain a member of the royal family, one had to be willing to be ruthless, deceitful and the willing to use unrestrained physical force. The members of the royal family today are the direct descendants of some of the most vile people to have ever governed. They lived and prospered off the backs and works of others by benefiting from their ability to control, kill and enslave. Think I’m wrong? Henry VIII was just one example. He ruled England from 1509-1547 and was directly responsible for over 72,000 executions during his reign. This number does not include the numerous citizens he killed during wars with France.  Ironically, the premise of the television show  “Game of Thrones” is how European houses ruled their countries. The show’s popularity is partially based on the cruelty and depravity of its rulers.  Still, the British love their royals!

In the U.S, there is a movement called “reparations” which demands that African-Americans  be compensated for the crimes committed against them by their government. The hard part of reparations is determining a suitable payment plan for a group of immigrants with no long lineage to speak of.  Yet in England, there is no call for “reparations” even though those alleging wrongdoing could, in fact, trace their own lineage and that of their oppressors, back to some past King or Queen who committed great atrocities. There are no calls by the British people or their heirs for lands or lives lost as a result of the actions of past royals. There is only love for their descendants because the British people are committed to tradition and awed by the mystique of royalty.

The irony of political power is that people who would be best at its use avoid it like the plague…while those who seek it tend to be flawed, twisted individuals such as Hitler, Stalin and Castro: leaders who killed millions of their own through misuse and abuse of power. In modern U.S. history, aside from perhaps Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman or Dwight Eisenhower who I would argue were called to power, the majority of U.S. Presidents have taken steps within the political system to amass, deploy and in some cases, hold on to power during and after leaving office. (Obama is so soon after office globe trotting for hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees in order to remain in the limelight and keep a firm grasp on the illusions of fame and relevance). Returning to a life of ordinary citizen, as exemplified by George Washington, is simply not in Obama’s playbook.

My outlook, generally, on politicians is that they tend to be some of the most unprincipled and immoral people around. Bill Clinton remains beloved by Democrats but I doubt any of them would leave their teenage daughter alone in a room with him. What bothers me are the rose-colored lenses with which the Left looks upon its chosen leaders, especially Obama.

Like any other political operative, Obama should be closely watched and monitored lest he destroy our country even now, out of office.  When he first ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004, his competitor Jack Ryan, had his sealed divorce records mysteriously released and was forced to withdraw from the race as a result. During his time as a community organizer, Obama spent most of his time working with Acorn; but, that organization had to be dissolved once they were caught engaging in major voter fraud. These are actions we should we should condemn, not condone, and certainly not ignore. Yet, for the Left nothing negative can be associated with Obama lest it be racist…and nothing negative about him gets media traction.

People have mistaken me as a Republican based upon my criticisms of Obama; but, I am not a Republican.. I am for any politician that believes in my Constitutionally protected freedoms, less regulation and less taxation.  Given that criteria, I am able to support very few politicians.

Barack Obama’s treatment of the Tea Party, the Justice Department’s investigations into their tax status and his use of the IRS to silence his critics makes Richard Nixon’s crimes pale by comparison. For many, Nixon will always be considered a pariah while Obama continues to be cast as a saint. Both of them should have been treated with scorn for their abuse of power. Yet, the Left’s vision is obscured by blinders as it continues to adore a President who ignored the Constitution, used government agencies as political weapons, and set back race relations to the 1950’s.

The Tea Party was created as a grass roots movement to stop many of the policies Obama wanted to implement. In Kim Strassel’s book , The Intimidation Game, the author details the vigorous enforcement and harassment of individuals who tried to create legally permissible political action committees supporting The Tea Party between 2010-2012.  Political Action Committees (PAC’s) are the best way for citizens to address their grievances towards the government. It is the ultimate check upon public servants by individuals. The effective silencing of the Right during this period essentially shut down The Tea Party. Kim Strassel’s conclusion is that Obama silenced them because they represented a real threat to his reelection. Had they been allowed to freely operate, the 2012 election might have turned out differently.

We live in challenging times of radical and rapid change.  We also live in sad times when the Left can view The Tea Party as being more of a danger to their well being than the threats posed by radical Islam. This fact alone should tell you how far we have fallen.

If we are unwilling to view all politicians, regardless of party affiliation, with a general sense of distrust and confer upon them the degree of scrutiny they deserve from us, we may well look back upon these difficult times as having been “the good old days.”

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

 

Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America

If you would like to know how and why our nation is in such dire economic straits, and you are not an economist, stock broker, CPA, or financial planner then Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why The Federal Reserve is Bad for America provides the answers you’ve been waiting for.

Author Danielle DiMartino Booth spent nine years inside the Dallas Federal Reserve as an advisor to Richard W. Fisher, former CEO and President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She is a financial expert who Market Watch hailed as one of four economists to take note of in the Trump era.

By now I suspect that anyone paying the slightest attention to the economy knows that central banks manipulate rates, most importantly, interest rates. This is neither shocking nor news. What is news, and definitely shocking, is DiMartino’s revelations regarding the incompetence prevalent within the Federal Reserve and the unwillingness as far back as Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and now Janet Yellen, to admit that what these academics worship in theory simply does not work in practice.

DiMartino Booth saw the crash of 2008 coming and tried to ring that bell. But, lacking the requisite PhD and peer published articles that seem to be the insider credentials revered over common sense, she could not get the Fed to take her warnings seriously. After the crash, she once again warned and watched, as did Fisher, the disastrous consequences of repeated quantifying easing (QE) by the Fed… disastrous only to pension holders, money market accounts, retirees and well…regular Americans. To the contrary, repeated QE combined with bailouts of the banks that should have been allowed to fall on the sword of their own greed and corruption, became the boon that have now made these “too big to fail” banks even bigger.

As a lay person who definitely falls within the category of “average American” who is most adversely affected by the Fed’s uncontrolled tampering with rates, the book is infuriating. It makes you want to scream that the same people who inflict so much pain through their hubris and incompetence are the very people who continue to profit from it. They keep making their millions, unaffected and outside the parameters of the conditions they create through the idiocy of their decisions.

The most recent example? Former President Obama, alleged champion of Main Street and abhorrent of income inequality, nominated Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve when he could have done otherwise. Janet Yellin, who never saw a rate decrease she didn’t like and who lives in a theoretical bubble that is removed from all economic reality. Janet Yellin, who has said that if she could take the country to negative interest rates she would. Do you know what that means? It means banks charging you, rather than paying you, for the pleasure of holding your money.

So where does private citizen Barack Obama make his first stop to earn income? To a Wall Street firm who is paying him $400,000 for a one-hour speech. Yes, Wall Street.. the beneficiary of Barack Obama’s and Janet Yellin’s fiscal policies which, while pumping up Wall Street, devastated average Americans, exponentially increased national debt and exploded unemployment.

Really, it makes you want to scream. Which is disturbing because when the effects of this manipulation and debt come crashing down, as they must, I can see a dangerous level of collective rage emerging from those who have born, and continue to bear, the brunt of the pain inflicted by these arrogant and greedy people who care not a whit about average Americans. They care about themselves first and their cohorts in crime, in and out of government, second.

DiMartino Booth is no shrinking violet. She has a great deal of courage. She is taking on the most powerful people in this country. Fed Up is not the ravings of an unhinged conspiracy nut. To the contrary, it is a well-documented, factually substantiated expose of an incompetent group of individuals running a corrupted system. Most of the book relies upon actual quotes and minutes from Fed meetings which paint a picture of systemic failure and a stunning refusal by allegedly educated people to admit just how wrong they continue to be.

Combine the people within the Fed with the monetary policies coming out of it and you’ve got the classic definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

DiMartino Booth has done her job. She is once again ringing the bell. This time we can all hear it.  Now it is up to us to do our part. I only hope we find a more constructive way of channeling the rage that will surface when all that she has exposed inevitably hits the proverbial fan.                  Carole

Movie Review: The King’s Speech

I may be a bit late to the party but last weekend I (Steve) watched “The King’s Speech” for the first time. I was blown away. The acting was extraordinary, the story true but more importantly, the life lessons profound.

The story is set in England just prior to World War II. It revolves around Prince Albert who would later become King of England. Albert has a speech impediment, a severe stammer, which causes him to be withdrawn and not at all eager to perform public duties. However, since he has an older brother Edward, Duke of Windsor, Albert takes comfort in knowing he will likely never be King.

At the same time, Hitler has risen to power within Germany and its army is on the march to conquer Europe.  The stammering Prince must face the emergence of radio as a means of communication. His stammer is now for all the world to hear. Undeterred, Albert gives speeches as best he can, often so terrified he freezes up during their presentations. He has hired and fired a variety of speech coaches to help overcome the problem but to no avail. Nothing seemed to work. None-the-less his wife, Elizabeth I, remains intent on helping him and stumbles upon an Australian speech therapist who looks promising. This is where the movie begins.

Colin Firth plays Prince Albert and Geoffrey Rush the part of, Lionel, the speech therapist. Lionel is a self-possessed man who is not intimidated by the Prince. He sets the terms and conditions of therapy and demands the Prince come to his office.  He says within those walls the two would be equals. Lionel calls Albert “Bertie,” a family nickname. It infuriates Albert as do many of Lionel’s methods. Lionel acquiesces to but one of Albert’s demands: that therapy be limited to vocal exercises and breathing techniques with no delving into personal matters. This despite Lionel’s certainty that they would eventually have to get at the emotional trauma that caused the stammer to begin with, as was the case with all stammers.

Somehow, during the process of therapy, an unlikely trust and friendship develops between the two men.  Such that when their father, King George V dies and Prince Edward ascends to the throne, the unlikely becomes Albert’s greatest nightmare. His brother abdicates the throne to marry an American divorcee. Albert visits Lionel at his office and the two share a cup of tea and the soon-to-be crowned King reveals his past. A nanny who deprived him of food, inflicted physical pain and favored his brother. Further, parents so disengaged that it took them a year to notice he was emaciated. There was the origin of the stammer. Finally revealing this long buried shame, Prince Albert becomes King George VI.

There are two remarkable messages from this movie that can serve us all. Carole and I share them both here.

Steve

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins speaks at length about working on oneself. For example, he has had many clients who made fortunes only to lose them. When Robbins probed to find out why some achieved great success only to lose it, he discovered that he could teach them techniques but if the client did not make the deep and lasting changes in their thinking, success would be temporary. One example was a client would repeatedly make money only to lose it a short time later. Robbins discovered that his client had grown up very poor. Making money made him uncomfortable so he reverted to what was comfortable and what he had been, poor.

George VI knows the stakes are huge. Hitler’s Germany is on the march and many lives will be lost if the King is not able to rally his people. He must address the nation on the eve of war. Faced with the challenge of his life, George succumbs totally to the speech therapist’s direction.  He does the necessary deep work and discovers where his stammer originated. He takes to radio and inspires a rapt nation. Humility and courage. These are the tools of greatness.

Carole

Helena Bonham Carter plays Elizabeth. The supportive strength that Queen Elizabeth provides her terrified husband cannot be overestimated. While Albert, as both Prince and King, wants to throw it all away, give up or run and hide, it is his wife who shares her own fears and secrets that give her husband the will to prevail.

The most poignant scene between the two occurs the night before Albert is to appear before the counsel of Lords to assume the naming of him as King George VI. Prince Albert slumps at his desk weeping over how little he knows of kingship and its responsibilities. He says he was not “meant to be King”…his brother was. Elizabeth wraps her arms around her troubled husband and shares that she, too, never wanted a public life. She says that falling in love with him caused her to wonder if she could survive such a marriage. But she reveals that she took comfort in the fact that he had “such a lovely stammer” she would never have to worry about the likelihood.  Elizabeth was showing him that she, too, was about to face an unintended life but face it, none-the-less, with grace.  She was his rock.

Much is made of the “divine feminine” aspect of God; but, much of it misses the mark. The divine feminine is that aspect of creation that supplies nourishment in every aspect of life. It is not just about child bearing or motherhood.  Whether in the bedroom, boardroom or corridors of government, the divine feminine is the support and counterbalance to the divine masculine. It is power not force. It is compassion not pity. It is the courage to be “love in action.”

Both of us

The “King’s Speech” received 12 Oscars. It deserved them all.  Of greater and more lasting importance are the life lessons learned from from two people faced with circumstances they preferred not to encounter. Courage and humility go a long way in conquering the unanticipated and the unknown. They go even further when true power is used as it was intended: as unconditional love in action.

 

 

 

Curing Depression, Anxiety and Fear

Depression, anxiety, and fear are symptoms not causes. So when I read today that recently compiled statistics show that “one in 10 distressed Americans in 2014 did not have health insurance that would give them access to a psychiatrist or mental health counselor” I understood the point… but think it overshot the mark.

We have a tendency to treat symptoms not causes. I think its because as awful as symptoms can be they usually arise from causes we’d rather not confront. Whether it’s a lesion on our body or our psyche, we instinctively know that it will take less effort, and require less honesty and introspection, to treat the symptom rather than the cause.

The article went on to say each of these stress related conditions has escalated since the 2008 financial crisis. That the economic hit people took, the careers that were eviscerated overnight, the enduring personal debts that accrued due to loss of income have all been contributing factors. Well, yes.  And so it’s why I understand the concern for inadequate health insurance to address the symptoms, because psychiatrists and mental health counselors treat symptoms.

Only the individual can treat causes, and treating causes requires courage and honesty rather than government assistance or health insurance.

Of course the financial crisis of 2008 was hard on everyone (well, nearly everyone except those on the inside who are still profiting from their foreknowledge and connections) but even the near collapse was a symptom of a deeper cause. It was a symptom of a culture where values and principles have been discarded in favor of materialism and technology.

If you want to treat the cause of depression, anxiety and fear you have to look at the quality of your life, the choices you make, the things to which you aspire, the love in your heart for yourself and others. You have to put those you love before the things you want. You have to find gratitude in everything you have…not mourn or resent that which eludes you.

We went way off track decades ago. It began in the 1960’s in an innocent enough way. It began with the rising phoenix of individualism, no better exemplified that by four, hot-looking musicians from Britain with outrageously long hair and lyrics that dared speak truth about life as they saw it.  It was an exhilarating time when anything went and love, or at least sex, was a free-for-all.

Much could have come from that innocence but what, in fact, followed were decades of ever increasing self-absorption, self-indulgence and separation. We became a culture that wanted everything bigger, better, faster.

The millennials, who think they have their priorities on straight and are opting out of the “bigger” are still enslaved to the better and the faster. That is because they were raised by technology not human hands and hearts. In the world of technology, newer and faster are the “un-status” status symbols. Every generation has them…the seductions of the material world. It’s just that in each generation they are cloaked somewhat differently.

An appreciation for the material is not a sin. We live in physical world with things of beauty all around. Some are creations of God and some are creations on mankind. Both are here for our enjoyment not our enslavement.

I know firsthand about materialism and depression, anxiety and fear. I was raised with money. My parents had lots and, therefore, I had lots of things that were the status symbols of my generation. Three corvettes before the age of 20 paints an accurate picture. I was also riddled with depression, anxiety and fear. So, between the ages of 20 and 30, I saw a psychiatrist and a couple of mental health counselors. Its why I feel the authority to write about symptoms and causes.

I had stomach problems (symptom) that led to intestinal surgery at age 16.  At age 23, I was very depressed (symptom) so Triavil was prescribed. I used those to try to commit suicide (symptom). I was married and divorced in 11 months (symptom) followed by a series of unsuccessful relationships (symptom). I developed fibromyalgia (symptom) in my 30’s and struggled with it for almost two decades until I had enough of symptoms, their treatments and their cures.

I decided to address the cause, which turns out to be a full time job of being honest with myself and others, holding myself accountable for my actions, finding a connection to God, birthing my creativity and generally living life as an adult with principles and values that I live by not just espouse.

I have come to believe that most physical and psychological illnesses are the result of a spiritual imbalance. A soul at odds with higher laws. So, looking to government or the medical community often turns out to be an excuse for not looking within and up. I think we could cure a lot of our nation’s ailments by a willingness to look into the causes of our individual discontent and righting those aspects of ourselves that have gone belly up.              Carole

The Death of Compassion

Twenty years ago I saw a play called An Inspector Calls.

The premise was that a police detective is called to investigate the death of a young lady who works for a prominent family to discover how she died. The family is horrified, and initially confused, as to why the Inspector is called to interview them. What follows is a tense and uncomfortable investigation. In the end, the family discovers that they were all, in fact, caught up in this poor girl’s death.

Although no one in the family actually killed her each, in their own way, was complicit and responsible for her death. Through neglect or indifference, the combination and culmination of all their actions led to her untimely demise.

The play has stayed with me over the years because it touches on how each of our seemingly separate lives is intertwined. There is no escaping our responsibility to one another. There are always consequences to our actions. I was starkly reminded of this when, a few weeks ago in my home town of Austin, TX, a man shot and killed three people. He fled, was hunted by police and, near capture, killed himself. Although I did not know him, I knew many people who did.

What I do know is that he was behind on his bills as many of his customers had not paid him. Normally, he could cope with financial pressures; but, with his wife diagnosed with cancer and no medical insurance, his needs were more pressing.  Add to that a daughter ready to go to off to college, and I would imagine his lack of receivables and worries put him over the edge.

As a contractor, he had recently done a great deal of work for a local family who refused to pay him. He killed the couple and their neighbor. The couple he killed had a reputation for “stiffing” contractors…getting free work any way they could. Two weeks ago their luck ran out. Perhaps had his other customers paid him timely he might have been able to shrug off that particular insult. Clearly he could not. The result of it all is four dead people. Yes, the contractor is responsible for the deaths of four people. But, as I am reminded of that play many years ago, it seems all the others were quite complicit in this tragedy as well.

Not one of us is disconnected from the whole. None of us fully, or necessarily ever, knows the damage we do to other people through carelessness, insensitive, neglect or maliciousness. In this case, it was not paying bills on time for work received.

In the Catholic faith, we believe not only are there sins committed through our actions but also by our inaction (sins of omission). This theology supports the reality that we are not bystanders in life. We will be held accountable for what we do… and what we fail to do.

The recent story of attacks on Jews in Europe triggered my thoughts on this subject. Recently, in Europe, there has been a sharp uptick in attacks on Jews. This has been well documented and tied to the influx of new, poorly vetted immigrants. Yet, there has been no coordinated effort anywhere, by Jews or non-Jews, to stop this. I am not Jewish; but, I have many friends who are. Most of them carry a fury about what happened during the Holocaust and have vowed “never again. Yet, all of them go on with their lives…work, play, dinner with friends etc. None of them have boarded a plane to France to help defend their brethren. They are all bystanders. For all of their talk, none of have taken action to help their brothers in faith.

Still, I am no different. The ongoing, global attacks on Christians and Catholics have also been on the rise and I’ve not taken up arms to help them. Although I served in the military and fought in a just war, throwing the Iraqi’s out of Kuwait, and did my duty, I have been remiss in my duties to my fellow Catholics who are being slaughtered all over the Middle East. I am a spectator from afar. And yes, it pains me that I am like everyone else. I have my own responsibilities with six kids to feed, clothe and take care of and so I tend to what is in front of me and push to the back of my mind, and my priorities, what is not.

However, we have examples of people who take up the fight. In the Bible we have the story of Moses, who fled his homeland and settled down to start a new life. But the gnawing feeling of the oppression he witnessed in Egypt stayed with him. After nine years, he left his wife and son to return to Egypt to help his People.  In more modern times, there was Gandhi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King. When reading their stories, all I can think of is, “Would I be able to make such a sacrifice?”

Even at home, here in the U.S., when give the chance to defend our rights we do not. In the recent United Airlines scandal, not one passenger intervened when a fellow passenger was assaulted and forcibly dragged from the aircraft. They acted like sheep. Maybe instead of watching they could have tried to stop the police from doing something illegal. Or maybe all of the passengers could have disembarked from the plane to protest the egregious act. Yet, they did none of that. They all sat on their rear ends because they had things to do elsewhere and places to go. They were weak because they did not want to complicate their lives.

United Airlines dragged a passenger off the plane because they knew the other passengers would do nothing. The airline knew they could get away with it. Even our government knows this as they brazenly pass laws and regulations contradictory to our Constitution. They know it when they empower TSA agents to exceed their boundaries and terrorize passengers with what are clearly illegal searches. The architect of Obamacare brazenly said the Administration lied to the public and then bragged to the press about how it passed the Affordable Care Act…because he and they knew Americans were “too stupid” and too lazy to fight, or even challenge, the law. This is our state of affairs.

We are getting close to a tipping point as our public and private institutions continue to treat the general public with revulsion and disdain. It hurts me to say we deserve it. If we, as individuals, are not willing to fight for our rights, why should we expect it from others? There irony is, of course, that in forgetting how connected we all are, and how action and inaction affects us all, our silence as individuals in the face of oppression will be the undoing of us all.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com