Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sustainable Health and Well Being...

Secure, emotionally and physically healthy people don't do intentional damage. They don't plan to rob, deceive, kill or create destruction. They are not focused on violence. Secure, healthy people create things and enjoy life.
Our focus needs to be improving the health and security of all people. We need to feel as protective of the well being of others as we do about the health and security of ourselves and our families. There is no other sustainable approach. We cannot rob, deceive, kill or destroy our way to a healthy and secure world. We can't build big enough fences, subvert enough plans, incarcerate enough people, kill enough bad guys, carry enough guns, create big enough weapons or bomb our way to it.
We have to create sustainable systems that are focused on the health and well being of all people. We have to set that vision square and solid in our minds. That has to be our singular focus. Sustainable health and well being HAS to be our first and foremost objective. Then we measure everything we do against that objective.
Our thoughts, our words and our actions have to always reflect that objective - Sustainable health and well being of ALL. Yes, that is hard. Yes, that requires some real creative thinking. It seems to me, that was the actual intent of this great nation. We keep missing the mark. But the reason so many disenfranchised people want to come here is because they see the hope of it. Let's keep trying to find it. That's what has made and can make America Great.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Muscles of Greatness

Some of my fondest childhood memories are times that family got together to prepare a garden, pick berries or fruit, or working on a large building project. As we worked together, we laughed and created stronger bonds. We felt a sense of shared accomplishment. They were happy times.
Dad was a dedicated volunteer fireman and the entire family was involved in helping at the department and had to know how to answer the fire phone. We were encouraged to help with fundraising for organizations like the American Heart Association, the Cancer Society and March of Dimes. Through those, we got to know our neighbors and they knew us. Our young lives were full of context.
Anyone who has been involved in community efforts can relate the feeling of joy and accomplishment that comes with these kinds of experiences. They help us feel optimistic, encouraged, and connected to dedicated people. We become bonded and invested in the well being of those around us. Differences fade away. Involvement does that.
This is how cooperative efforts can change our world. We can become overwhelmed with thoughts and concerns for the larger world with problems too large for any single person. But we live in a small place. We can focus our compassionate efforts where we stand - right here and right now.
Cooperation and compassion are like muscles. If we don't exercise them, they grow weak. They require active use on a regular basis to grow strong. These are the muscles of character and when we build them collectively, we create harmony.
Let's challenge ourselves to build these muscles. Get out and do something that changes one small thing in your world. Connect with those doing good things in our community. Be part of it. That's greatness!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Altruism - The sustainable path

The more we focus on what we don't want, the more we have what we don't want.
It's about collective energy. Where our energy goes, we go.
If we want our world to change into something good, that's where our energy needs to go. We need to focus our attention on what we want to become not what we don't want to become. If we focus on what we don't want in, what we don't want done, what we don't want - our energy grows in the "don't" not in the creation of what we DO want.
It's all about flipping our thoughts into creative energy and into synergy. It's about empowering creative development. It's about collective experience and leveraging the greatest number of resources. When we focus on what we don't want, we shut doors. We focus our energies on shutting those doors and holding them shut. That's wasted energy. As hard as we try to keep doors shut, someone is trying to open them. Let's open doors together. A tug of war can remain at a stalemate forever and all the energy on opposing sides is simply used to maintain the stalemate.
There is a better path. Harmony - Cooperation - Compassion. There is no other sustainable solution.
Altruism is the answer to the question - to all questions. There is no other sustainable path.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

How to Make America Great....

How do we "make America Great"?
We focus our vision, our mission and our values on creating HARMONY.
How do we create harmony?
We create harmony with cooperative problem solving. There is something to be learned from everyone. Everyone needs to see themselves as potential creators of something larger than themselves. If first we adopt the singular focus on creation of harmony, we have our vision right. Then we set out to solve problems realizing that harmony requires many voices. We seek solutions that don't drown out other voices and don't clash with one another. We create a collective resonance. That collective resonance is compassionate.
If you have ever been part of a choir or a band, you know this takes work. All members are not entering the endeavor with equal skill or confidence. It takes practice. It requires focus and commitment. When it blends just right, it's magical.
Harmony is greatness. Cooperation is greatness. Compassion is greatness.
It's not easy. That's what makes it so great.
If it seems America is no longer great, it's because we are not focused on Harmony - Cooperation - and Compassion. Until we do, we will fall further away from greatness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Embracing Diversity

In the past I've been asked to speak about diversity and will soon be doing some diversity workshops in the area. The first time was over 30 years ago and my passion for this subject is not diminished. But my approach to the topic has evolved and I'm very excited about new opportunities to talk about it. The objectives have not changed. But I am adding a new theme. "Be prepared to be amazed."
It's our nature to stay in our comfort zone - to surround ourselves with like minded people in familiar places. It takes some amount of courage to step outside of that comfort zone.
The first objective is to understand how we have arrived in our comfort zone, then to identify our perceptions, values and beliefs. When we do, we are often amazed with what we discover. Ultimately, my hope is that the workshop will lead participants to greater and more meaningful experiences with people who are not like them. It begins with self awareness. Then we need to prepare ourselves to experience something wonderful - to overcome fear. I'm full of stories about learning to overcome my own fears and embracing those who are not like me. What has changed in 30 years is my amazement. I have learned that my personal growth, and deeply spiritual growth, is truly based in my ability to embrace diversity. Opening my heart, my ears, my eyes to seeing something more from another perspective is an amazing experience. It takes work. But it really is worth the effort.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Destruction of Prudence

The republican race is now "trumped up". It's a new definition of "trumped up" meaning "incite angry people to violence". It didn't start with Trump. It started about 8 years ago when, on the day of Obama's inauguration the party leaders determined that their sole mission was to work against anything the new president tried to do. It did not matter what it was, they would be against it.
In the years that followed, they did little else - fewer bills were passed of any significance than in any legislative body in recent history. They actually shut down the federal government and caused the downgrade of US credit in the world. They simply became the party of NO and NOTHING. I can think of no - ZERO - pieces of republican led legislation that helped solve any significant issue in the last 8 years. There's no more money for veterans, no more infrastructure projects, nothing from Congress directing resolution of immigration concerns, and nothing from Congress directing efforts to battle terrorism. This republican Congress determined to become an anchor rather than govern.
Meanwhile, they focused efforts on escalating anger within their base. They flamed anger directed at democratic leaders - first directed at the President, then at Hillary Clinton. And then they repeated the same things over and over and over again - just because. How many times did they vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no plan to "replace" it with anything better? Instead, they should have been working to help those who still needed help. Fix what was broken not repeal what was and is working for 10 million people.
They pushed for more military spending and tax cuts for the wealthiest while pointing to the deficit as cause for alarm and reason to cut social programs.
How many times have they tried to eliminate any funding for Planned Parenthood, supposedly in efforts to eliminate funding for abortion. But no federal money goes to abortion. And do they not know that preventing unwanted pregnancies is the best way to eliminate abortions? Are they not the party that wants government out of our personal lives? I remember why women fought to have control of their own bodies.
The party has become one of no compromise, no plans, and escalated anger against those with differing views. That escalation has been racially charged and now it's beginning to boil over.
Meanwhile, the party has supported and encouraged an increase in firearms. Open carry legislation is popping up in the most republican states to include carrying guns in bars and on college campuses.
Fringe elements - some who actually ran for and hold offices - have talked about armed insurrection.
Actual armed insurrection has been applauded by many party extremists.
Now we're watching a leading republican candidate encouraging violence. "Get him out of here", "Maybe he should be roughed up," "Don't worry about it. If you get arrested, I'll pay your bail." Those are actual words spoken from the podium. In or out of context, they are no better and should not be overlooked or excused.
This is not going to end well. There is no possible positive outcome. NONE.
We're not talking any longer about policy differences. We're witnessing the destruction of civil discourse and governing prudence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Who are these Kardashians?

Lately I've felt uneducated. For quite some time there have been many references to the Kardashians and I did not know who or what they were. Possibly, but not certain, I got my first glimpse today in a story about how our political system has gone haywire. Feeling rather ignorant again, are they people at the center of some kind of "reality show"?
If so, this may be helpful in understanding my complete ignorance and  inability to comprehend the current political cycle. I refuse to watch ANY "reality shows". I have some awareness of them - Survival, Amazing Race, Little People, Hoarders and Apprentice. I've refused to watch them because I know they are an editorialized, sensationalized version of "reality" intended to entertain and amuse. I am not entertained and amused by trumped up conflict. (excuse the pun)
There is better that happens in the world and I would rather watch that. I'd rather watch a 15 minute TED talk about a new invention or a new solution to an old problem than spend a minute watching a "reality" show. I see abhorrent reality play out in my own back yard. I don't like it and won't support it if I can avoid it so why give TV ratings to it?
Do something good instead. Get out. Watch a TED talk. Get off the "reality show" circuit.
But if you know these Kardashian people - tell them someone who knows nothing about them thinks it's a good name for a pair of jeans if they can come up with a comfortable design. It's a catchy name. Maybe they can come up with a reality that is noteworthy.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

YOUR Tax dollars - how do you want them spent?

As we are inundated by rhetoric from all the political candidates, consider the decisions we are empowering our elected officials to make on our behalf. Follow the money. Listen to how they wish to spend our tax dollars in the future. To gain perspective, it's useful to consider how our tax dollars are spent now and where the tax dollars are coming from now.
Below is an overall look at discretionary federal spending from taxes other than social security and medicare. Those are separate taxes which the majority of Americans agree should not be messed with other than to ensure that we get the benefit from those taxes that we have been led to believe we would see. I would argue that we should be just as focused on expectation that ALL of our tax dollars are allocated in a manner that we expect. We should be looking at this chart and asking if these represent the priorities we expect.

Next, consider how our military spending compares to the rest of the world as shown below.

As I look at the two charts above, I wonder why we would need to spend more on the military? If we don't feel secure enough now, how could spending more money possibly help? Are we getting the Return on Investment we should be getting? What would we cut in order to allocate more to the military? Or how would we raise more taxes to pay for a larger military?

Below is a chart showing where tax revenues are derived. We should be asking if that mix is right?
Obviously, I have some opinions but for this blog, I'm just encouraging you to look at this information for yourself and as you listen to the political discussions, consider how these charts might look in the future. It's our money. We should be educated about where it's going so we can talk intelligently about how it should change if change is what we want.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Outrage for the Children...

Children are precious gifts to the world and our greatest hope for the future. We should be unified in our dedication to protecting children from physical or emotional damage, providing for their safety to grow strong and healthy, and inspiring them to create a better world for themselves and the future generation they will touch. There should be nothing - NOTHING - more important than these goals for our children.
These things should be our highest concern and the greatest focus of our lives. We should be outraged and unified in our condemnation of anything that fails to meet the standard of protection for our children, providing for their safety and health, and inspiring them to greater achievement.
We should be unified in our OUTRAGE to learn of yet another decades long systemic protection of Child Rape and Molestation by 50 priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. Church officials and community officials protected the ABUSERS!


These church scandals have become all too familiar. They reflect a great sickness in our society - power, corruption, predatory behavior and a horrible focus on protecting abusive behavior. It goes far beyond the church and is now pervasive throughout our society. We are becoming a predatory, "survival of the fittest", barbaric country.
I'm shocked that these things were going on for decades and no one tried to stop it. I'm more shocked that there have been no widespread signs of public outrage.
If we continue on this path, the damage to children will create greater barbarism. Indeed, our failure to protect children for decades, our failure to assure the safety of children allowing them to grow strong and healthy, and our failure to inspire them to create a better world for themselves and future generations is the reason for the growing barbarism in many corners of our society.
We know that many children who grow up in fear, grow into fearful adults. We know that many victims of abuse grow up to be predators themselves. When we fail to inspire our children to created a better world for themselves and future generations, there are fewer adults trying to create a better world.
The measure of the strength of our country does not lie in our military or police force. The measure of strength of our country lies in how we care for and nurture our children. Failures of the last generation are seen now. If we want to "Make America Great" again, our focus has to be here. The measure of everything should be the example set for our children and impact of our decisions on their lives.