Friday, December 9, 2016

How to "fight" a con artist....

In my lifetime, I've been conned more times than I'd like to admit. Looking back I can see that the person found something that could hook me and I quickly overlooked any warning signs that should have told me that things weren't actually what I wanted to believe they were or would become. As much I would like to blame the other person, there were signs that I chose to overlook. Often, others tried to warn me but I wanted to believe what I wanted to believe. Once I realized I was conned, I walked away. And, yes, each time I lost a little something of the investment I made.
Wishfully, I believe I won't be as quick to get hooked again. But, like many, I want to believe what I want to believe. I'm still a dreamer. I'll likely always take risks. I'll likely always place faith in others with whom I feel shared vision.
One lesson I learned is that fighting the con artist in search of justice is wasted energy. Remember, they conned you. They can con just as many people to help them fight against you. Seek a path to walk away with as much intact and as much protection as you can find. Let them have no power over you. Disengage and walk away. Run, don't walk, to the light that is truly yours. Let them believe they have won. Just leave them alone.
If you are right, and likely you are, time has a way of showing that. The con artist always reveals themselves for what and who they really are. Sadly, others will fall victim. Sadly, many may suffer. But know that simply walking the other way, and remaining positive, remaining true to your light, will ultimately speak volumes. Disengage from negativity!
Time has a way of righting wrongs. It's our job to walk in the path that is true and creates the most positive lasting outcome. Actions will always speak much more than words. Do the right things for the right reasons. Follow the light and don't waver from it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Music Matters!

About 30 years ago, while living in Franklin County, PA, I discovered the joy of singing my favorite old songs at Senior Centers and Nursing homes. It came as a result of people my age poking fun at me for loving the old gospel, folk and traditional American songs. By accident, or by grand design, I found a small but very appreciative audience. In return, they prompted me to learn more old songs that they knew and loved. And I am still singing those songs today.
After moving from Franklin County, there were years I didn't play so much. Sometimes for family and friends, and more often for my Aunt and her friends in the group home where she lived but when she died, I didn't play so much. There were some attempts at jams and fun moments sharing music with new friends. Then suddenly and quite magically, music came alive again in my life with the same spark I felt singing with my Senior Center friends long ago.
Even in the times of my early life when those around me discouraged it, I knew music was intended to be an important part of my life. It's not because I'm gifted musically or have a deep understanding of music, because I don't. It's simply because I feel it and love it and maybe actually because I think it's universal - and is not dependent upon having a great gift. It's something I believe we can share and be part of no matter what level of gift or understanding we have of it.
If you have a heart beat, you have rhythm. If you breath, you have a rhythm. It just is. Maybe you can't repeat the note, or the exact tone, but your soul hears it. And I know, my soul withers without it. Music transcends all divides. It lifts us to a better place. Sharing music is the most important thing any of us can do.
Looking back over these last 6 years and now expanding musical horizons, I am so very thankful. If you want to improve your life, the sure method is to include more music in any way you can and share that experience with others. It's the most important thing any of us can do in this crazy world.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Let the means justify the end...

One of the oddest things about we humans is that if someone asks for equality - equal access, equal time, equal say - we take it as an intrusion into our equality, access, time and say. If someone pushes us, we push back. We are really bad at trying to walk in the other person's shoes. We seek hierarchy. We measure ourselves against what other people have, how hard they do or don't work, what we believe they have accomplished more or less compared to us.
It's the "rights" fault. It's the "lefts" fault. It's her fault or his fault. She isn't contributing enough. He doesn't deserve... Blah, Blah, Blah. In the end, the only thing that is going to matter is whether or not you did the best you could with the situations that faced you. Once we blame others, hate others, for the struggles we encounter, we are lost in a trapped world. And much of the world is trapped. It's not a "left" problem or a "right" problem. It's a human problem.
We need to spend less time trying to shut one another up and more time trying to understand one another. People who feel misunderstood and marginalized will express themselves in un-healthy ways over time. If you are the one feeling misunderstood or marginalized, you need to find healthy ways to express yourself. If we want others to care about us, we have to care about them. Otherwise, life remains a tug of war. You pull one end of the rope, I pull the other. You push me, I push you back. It goes on and on and on. The pendulum swings one way, then back.
The only way it changes is for forces to pull upward together. The end does not justify the means. The means justifies the end. Pulling someone up beside you doesn't pull you down. It gives you an ally in the effort to pull up the next person. The amount of effort required to pull one another up grows much lighter than all the energy expended to pull against or push against one another.
Choose a means that justifies the end. Be clear about the desired end result. If it requires throwing people over the cliff, be ready for the next group to be working to throw you over the cliff.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Some suggestions for improving our Democracy...

If our Democracy is going to work, we the people, need to be very involved. Meanwhile, we need to ensure that our representatives are actually focused on serving the people in their districts.

Here are a few ideas getting us better focused in that direction:

1) We need to tie our representatives more closely to the population they serve. State and Federal representative's salaries should equal the average wage of the population of their district. If the average income is $34,000, that is the limit for that representative. This would provide incentive for them to increase the economy in their district and ensure that government is not adding a burden to the tax system in payment of representative's wages.

2) An outrageous amount of money is being poured into our elections. Let's demand that half of all political contributions on the state and federal level go into the Social Security fund, the Medicare fund, and a general health and welfare fund. We would have plenty of funds to provide social programs without adding to the deficit. If there's enough money to fund campaigns at this level, there is enough money to fund our country.

3) We need more transparency and accountability while, again, tying our representatives more closely to the the population they serve. Before voting on any bill requiring funding, representations must survey their districts to determine the populations position. Once they vote, they are required to publish the survey result and their vote. Publication must include a local news organization and must remain posted on their website.

4) All US citizens who reach the age of 18 will be automatically registered to vote. When you vote, you receive a receipt proving that you voted. With the receipt, you receive a $100 tax credit on your federal income tax.

5) Civics classes must be part of all education curriculum from grade 6 through college. That curriculum must include how the local government, state government, and federal government operates. We need a more educated population to participate in elections and the entire system.

6) During elections, 75% of all news coverage must be restricted to specific policy positions of each candidate. News outlets are further required to fact check any statistics provided by the candidate. Any outlet positioning itself as a "news source" must adhere to these restrictions. If they are found in violation, they must pay significant fines into the general health and welfare system of the country.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Spirit calls us to serve...

The most humbling experiences I've had in my life came from learning how other people live and seeing first hand what challenges they face. If you open your heart and give your time to others, even for just an hour, it changes you. It humbles you.
Service to others is so very important. And service to others who are not like us, who have had vastly different life experiences, is key to our spiritual experience. No ritual, no prayer, no confession, can replace service to others in awakening our spirit and connecting us more fully to the eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent spirit that binds us all.
Jesus said,  'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." He led his followers to places they would have never gone - to serve. His overarching message, shown in parable after parable was deeper. What you do unto others, you do to yourself. "Judge not, lest ye be judged".
We need to be so very careful with how we approach all things. If we approach all that we do with a spirit of service, with the spirit focused on actually learning something, we will grow spiritually. The further we go from selfless service, the further we go from the the eternal, omnipresent, omnipotent spirit that binds us all.
It's not enough to do nice things for the people we like and the people like us. It's not enough to memorize passages, follow prescribed rituals, repeat "directives". If we do not serve, our connection to the universal spirit will wither away.
Our directive is to "Fear not". It's fear that keeps us divided. It's fear that keeps us from stepping outside of our comfort zone to do what we should be doing. Open your heart. Free you spirit and believe in something greater. Give your time to others, even for just an hour. It will change you. It will humble you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What is "Great"?

Try to imagine what could possibly drive you away from your home, your friends and your family and motivate you to go to a foreign place where you have no one and don't know the language. Would you do that because you are lazy? Really?
Have you ever moved? Have you ever tried you make your way around in a place you have never been and could not speak the language? Really? Think about it. What would drive you to move from your home, your family and all that is familiar?
Humans, by nature, are not quick to change from the familiar. Something has to be pushing so hard that change is the only solution that seems rational. Whatever it is that they are leaving has to look much more dangerous than where they decide to head.
Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing war zones, criminal areas that feel like war zones, and poverty that is overwhelming in hopes of finding refuge. They flee because they have not given up hope. These are the ones determined to survive. These are the workers, the makers, the creators and the visionaries who are in need of work, things to make, a place to create and a place to grow their vision of a better life.
Once America held that hope. While we have faltered in our welcoming of these travelers and many of our huddled masses, homeless or tempest tossed, throughout our history, we were seen by the world as a nation that aspired to be so great. A gift from France in 1886 to commemorate the 100th year of the Declaration of Independence, the Statue of Liberty is inscribed with that aspiration.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

If we abandon this aspiration, we will never be great. We need to always aspire to greet those who cross into our country, and all those within our country, by lifting a lamp to a golden door. That golden door is one of equality, hope, education, wellness and kindness. Anything other is not great.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Yes, There is Great Cause for Alarm!

Many are saying there's no great cause for alarm about our next president. "Get over it," they say. Some argue that a president can only do so much. And ordinarily, this would be a legitimate argument. But these are not ordinary times and the events leading to this have not been ordinary at all.
Our founders carefully crafted a democratic system with a balance of power between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government. If there was over reach in one area, the other branches had power to balance out the others. Soon, those three branches will be a united force with the full and total power of the justice system, the legislative branch, the United States government and military behind them.
Our justice system is at risk of being skewed to interpret and rule in favor of the extreme right. Our legislative branch and the president elect have clearly expressed that they will ONLY have a Supreme Court replacement that they can be certain will vote extremely conservative. Dozens of lower court positions have been similarly left open, unfilled, and it is a certainty that they will follow the same extreme right agenda in filling these positions. Anyone with a centrist or liberal view of civil rights has great cause for alarm.
The party claiming to be in favor of small government and deregulation, has been clear in wanting big government intervention in limiting civil rights for "certain" people. A barrage of new legislative actions will come that will focus on limiting voter rights protections, strike down marriage equality, threaten immigrants, question and limit religious practices, eliminate minority protections and set women's rights back 30 or 40 years. Protections for our land, our poor, our food, our freedoms will be "deregulated". Anyone who is "different" has great cause for alarm.
Meanwhile, the legislature will lock step with the president in limiting dissenting voices. This president elect believes he should have equal time on comedy shows if they make fun of him. He wants to expand libel laws to prevent the media from saying things he doesn't like. This man, who has claimed not to be beholding to anyone, is indebted to China and other foreign nations wanting us to believe that will not influence how he governs. He is so lacking in self control, he can't stop using twitter to attack people that get under his skin.
There's plenty of reason for alarm. This is not an ordinary transfer of power. This is not an ordinary time. It's alarming! We need to "say it how it is". We need to call it what it is. No, we shouldn't just shut up and get behind this. The foundation of our democracy is crumbling. It's crumbling because of a willingness to overlook what should have never been overlooked. It's crumbling if we overlook the greatest decline in honesty, decency, transparency, and balance we have ever faced. A supposed billionaire just bought the nation and he's not beholding to the people who voted for him and certainly is not beholding to those who didn't.