WHY DO YOU CARE?

“Care is the ultimate Generator of the quality of our experience”

–          Mark Passio

plant-care

 Last week I opened my Windows 10 (Worst. Operating system. EVER) internet browser, which automatically brings me to a newsfeed, and I saw the following headline: “United Airlines passenger was dragged off flight because he was Asian

I immediately rolled my eyes and did not even bother clicking on the obviously intentionally racially provocative headline.  I knew what the purpose behind it was, but as an act of defiance, I refused to give it my attention.  Of course, it was not something that was just a one-shot headline.  It was turned into a sort of international incident (the man in question was apparently Chinese) and became yet another news soap opera.  The headlines were all over my Twitter feed, so alas, my efforts to ignore this story was somewhat thwarted.

Apparently, the doctor was flying United Airlines, which, in my opinion, was his first mistake.  When it comes to customer service and overall comfort, United Airlines is probably one of the worst airlines that I have ever flown (and I’ve flown it FAR more often than I would have liked to).  They apparently oversold the flight to the point where they couldn’t fit some of their employees on the flight, so they selected this Chinese man to give up his seat.  He refused, stating he was a doctor and had to be to work.  A conflict ensued, which resulted in the man being dragged off the plane by law enforcement.

Not a shining image of customer service to say the least, but the immediate headlines, not surprisingly, became about the man’s race, and the idea that he was selected to be taken off the plane “because he was Asian”.  So why was such a racially provocative spin used?  My best analysis would be that it was focused on and put into the mainstream media echo-chamber to foment racial division and resentment among the Asian community, who by-and-large have been left out of the racial victim narrative fueled by the media over the past few years.  This is an ethnic community that has fared quite well in Western society, so the outrage factor has not been as “organic” as it has been in the Black and Latino communities, and was obviously something that the Hollywood-owned, corporate-government-run media felt needed to be stoked- divide and rule.

Of course, now the man is suing United Airlines and their name is being dragged through the mud- which I can’t say I’m overly upset about.  Conducting your business in such a way warrants these sorts of consequences.  However, at the time it was certainly not an issue that made me care to the point of being compelled to write a blog article about it- that is until someone attempted to foist it on me as something that I SHOULD care that much about.

A few days ago, I was sitting on my couch writing out (on physical paper no less!) ideas for a story when my roommate, after coming home from work, posted up on the couch on the other side of the living room and proceeded to read news headlines aloud to me.  In my perhaps, over-politeness, I refrained from explaining to her that I did not need her to read me news headlines, nor did I really want her to, but instead I let her proceed without any protest.

Eventually she came to the story about the Chinese man on the plane and asked if I’d heard about it.  I told her I had, and regurgitated the initial racially-charged headline I had read (with which she was unfamiliar), and that I didn’t spend much time on it because I felt it to be little more than a distraction piece.  She then took this as an opportunity to fill me in on more details of the event.  My response was that it was “messed up” and that United Airlines was “garbage” and that they deserved to get sued.

However, apparently my simply acknowledging the event as unfortunate and as a prime example of bad business practice did not suffice.  She remarked that I seemed like I was being un-empathetic and acting as though I “didn’t care”.   It was at this point I remarked that I simply felt this was not an issue that warranted an outpouring of emotional outrage, or that there was any productive purpose to feeling that way.  I then asked why it was that I should feel as concerned or upset about this as she obviously was.  Her response was that “it could happen to you”.  To which I responded that any number of unfortunate incidents that were reported on the news could potentially “happen to me”, so that was a non-issue.

She then lamented about how awful it was that this man was humiliated and that he lost money (both things I regard as superficial problems of ego).  I reminded her that he was getting compensated and that he was not maimed.  However, she still insisted that I was not “getting it”.  Becoming frustrated, I stated that at the end of the day, this man has no connection to me as family or friend or tribe, etc., so why am I going to bleed out emotionally for someone who is, at this point, a hypothetical man in time- so no, I didn’t “care”.

After hearing this, my roommate was beside herself in disbelief, perhaps viewing me as some sort of sociopathic monster.  I should point out that this particular individual has a tendency to get very upset to the point of rage when people do not share her moral views or challenge her beliefs and opinions- and when that does happen, she immediately seeks to shut down the conversation, demanding silence from the other participants.  This conversation style does not work well for someone who detests people attempting to force their morality on them or attempting to censor them- which is why I am never the one to initiate conversation with her around current events and broader socio-political issues.

I did have one other thing to add, which was met by verbal hostility and a demand that I cease speaking (which of course I didn’t), and that point was this- even if I was to get outraged and upset for this individual’s situation, what would that do to ease his suffering?  However, my roommate had become enraged that I had dared continue speaking after she demanded the conversation end, to which I explained to her that she did not have the right to demand my silence, but she did have the right to leave the room.

She was yelling at this point, saying I was verbally harassing her and “coming at” her.  To which I had to respond by pointing out the hilarious fact that she had gotten up from her seat, thrown a pillow at my head, and proceeded to aggressively advance towards me, and was now standing right over me- all the while I had not moved from my seat.  Yet somehow, I was the “aggressor”.  Frustrated, she stormed out of the room and went to her bedroom.

While my prime motivation for writing this may very well be cathartic, I think there is an opportunity to address a bigger question here, which is the one in hindsight I wish I had asked her- why do YOU care?  Sure, in the case of my roommate and the United Airlines story, I have my hunches, such as the fact that unfortunate man was a doctor and that she has an almost worshipful admiration of doctors.  It definitely had nothing to do with the racial narrative.  I don’t know for certain, and at this point, I want to shift focus to the larger issue, which is this: when certain stories are brought to our attention, what is it about them that makes us care?  And should we?

First, let’s take a moment to set our definition of the word “care”.  The word care stems from the Old High German word, “chara”, which translates to “grief” or “lament”.  Care is one of those words that is both a verb and a noun in modern English, and as such, has several definitions.  As a verb, it means either to “feel concern or interest; attach importance to something” or to “look after and provide for the needs of”.  As a noun, it means either “the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something” or “serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk”.

In these definitions, we actually see a process being described in which a concern driven by a sense of being troubled causes someone to take action to remedy that trouble or disturbance.  The movement through distress to a place of empowerment makes “care” a particularly potent alchemical and creative force.  Occult practitioner, lecturer and activist, Mark Passio had the following to say in regard to this principle of “care”:

The ‘Lost’ Principle, is the dynamic of CARE.  What we care about on a day-to-day basis acts as the driving force of our thoughts and actions.  Care is the ultimate Generator of the quality of our experience.  For this reason, Care has been called the Generative Principle by many Wisdom Traditions.  The word generative is derived from the Latin verb genere, which means ‘to create’

However, as with any expression of human power and potential, there are always going to be those who wish to use the power of others to strengthen themselves in a parasitic manner.  I have written at length about the media and how it uses images and simplistic emotional narratives to trigger the emotions and override logic and reason.  I have also talked about the “echo chamber” the media creates to force certain stories, perspectives and moralities into the public consciousness.  When certain what could be called “outrage” stories are grabbed by the media, they are given certain talking points to shape the narrative of the story, and are then repeated on station after station, and publication after publication creating the perception that THIS is what I SHOULD care about right now.

However, no one is going to care about something if someone flat out states: “This is what we want you to care about, so care about this right now!”  This is why the media needs a “hook” into your emotional psyche; something that is going to mimic something or someone you already care about.  Like a vampire, you need to invite it into your house before it can drain the life out of you.

I’m sure everyone remembers the image of the drowned Syrian child washed up on the beach that was plastered on literally every news media outlet a couple of years ago.  Despite the inconsistencies, the constantly changing backstory around the incident, and the politics involved, the image of a dead child was enough to “hook” many people in spite of  the actual story.  The image of a dead child was so traumatizing for those in our western ‘bubble’ (particularly for people who had children of their own), that it resulted in an outcry for the sorts of social, political and economic policies that will ultimately serve to displace their own children.  It is through manipulation of emotions that people can be made to support things that are in fact quite detrimental to their own interests and those of the people they have real life connection to and their descendants.

Everyone has these sorts of inroads to their psyche that can be exploited and used to make them “care” and feel outrage about things, which often stems from their own personal sense of morality.  For me, this is obviously stories that detail things that appear to potentially threaten my own personal freedom and survival like war, the surveillance state, globalism, and the disenfranchisement and demonization of white men.  But the other sorts of emotional hooks for that some may be less familiar with tend to be stories that involve people abusing children, animals, the disabled, or the elderly.

Much of the reason for this “opening” has to do in part with a strong desire to protect those who I see as genuinely needing protection.  The need to protect is a primary function of the natural man.  I also understand that there are other more personal reasons like my family history, my profession, and past as well as present personal experiences that are going to play a role in shaping who and what I care about when it comes to strangers in news headlines.

However, outside of instances of rape and torture, when it comes to stories of general violence towards mentally and physically capable adults, I am far less apt to have any significant emotional reaction to it (although it is admittedly MUCH harder for me to see a woman get assaulted than a man).  Case in point, the Chinese man on the plane.  Yeah, it probably sucked to get smacked and dragged off the plane, but at the end of the day, he’s gonna be alright.  He got banged up, embarrassed, and lost some money.  Again, that sucks, but at the end of the day, he’s gonna be alright.

So, now that we have established that the media uses “hooks” that mimic people and situations we already care about on some level, so we care about what they want us to, the question becomes, “is this a good thing?” or better yet, “is this a PRODUCTIVE thing?”.  While we are infinite in a spiritual sense, our psychic and energetic resources are very much a finite thing, and can be drained- and emotions are great at facilitating this draining.

When we are allowing these, for all intents and purposes, hypothetical stories and people to take hold of our caring centers, there is inevitably something or someone else that is NOT getting that energy at that moment.  This energy is already being designated to caring about this other situation that we have no real connection to.

Personally, I know that I have just so much energy and care I can afford to give at a given moment until it becomes detrimental to my own health and well-being.  As an empath with anger issues and a history of addiction, I cannot afford to get emotional or outraged over everything that the news media wants me to be emotional or outraged at.  I cannot give true care to everything (and if it isn’t true care, it’s just virtue signaling).  This has been at times, somewhat of a hard reality that I have continually had to reassess in recent days, weeks and months.

The other thing that is finite in this equation is time.  What could I be doing with this time I am choosing to be outraged over this situation involving these people I have no real connection to and probably never will?  Is there someone who is in my life and important to me, that I am neglecting while I give my attention to this?  Is there someone I could be praying for?  Is there someone I could be reaching out to and connecting with?  Is there someone I could be helping within my personal sphere of influence that needs it?

But perhaps you are genuinely moved by the plight of this Chinese doctor or some other stranger that you read or hear about in the news.  Perhaps something about that story moved you to the core of your being.  If that truly is the case, and so long as you are not being harmful or neglectful towards the people you already have responsibilities to (family, friends, tribe, etc.), then by all means, reach out to that person.  Write them a letter; ask them if they need or even want your help; set up a fundraiser or a food drive; perhaps even organize a boycott if applicable- but DO SOMETHING.  Show that person that you care through ACTION.

But take a moment to reflect on why it is that you care.  Take a few moments to pause, look within for a moment and ask Self, “Is this a genuine care and purpose that I should follow?  Or is someone just manipulating my emotions so I do what they want me to?”

And if you do find yourself “caring” about a stranger you read about, please, don’t just use their plight simply as an excuse to be angry or self-righteous about something and “rage”; or to virtue signal; or to justify an attempt to force your personal morality onto those of us who have different values or care about different things than you.  When you are careless with your Care, you will inevitably suffer as a result.

Namaste and God Bless.

UNIVERSAL STEPS 8 AND 9

Darkest before dawn

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had wronged and became willing to make amends to them all.

Living life in the world it is pretty much a certainty that at some point we will hurt someone. Whether it’s mentally, emotionally or even physically; whether we were intentionally malicious or carelessly inconsiderate; it is inevitable that we will hurt one another. This is the sad reality of what the Buddha referred to as “Samsara”– the material world of pain and suffering. With the exception of the moments of actual physical pain we experience, the majority of the pain we feel is caused by our attachments and our beliefs. Likewise, much of the pain we cause others is when we offend the attachments and beliefs of others.

However, while we cannot “make” anyone feel a particular emotion and there are typically “wrongs” on both sides of any conflict, we would do well to take responsibility for our actions in any sort of disagreement or conflict that ends up in hurt feelings or alienation. Did we act or did we react? Did we act virtuous and honorable? Or did we act petty and disrespectful? It is our responsibility to have control over our actions. That responsibility is ours and ours alone.

Of course, we also need to be honest about those wrongs we may have done that were not necessarily based in “conflict”. Are there times where we may have defrauded another for our own selfish gain? Are there times where we have violated the trust that someone put in us? Are there times when we blatantly mistreated or even outright abused another- times where we deliberately violated free will of another living being? If so, these are things we need to bring to Light if true spiritual alchemy is our goal.

Working through the 4th Step, we came face to face with the mental, emotional and possibly even physical harm that others had caused us. Likewise, we fully acknowledged our roles in creating the negative situations and conditions we experience. From this step, we dug up names and situations from our past and brought ourselves face to face with their impact on our psyche. Through this, we brought healing into our being. Now it is time we fully acknowledge our roles in the hurt and perhaps even bring some healing to others.

With the aid of our 4th and perhaps even our 1st steps, we should have a pretty good idea of who we owe an apology. Now we need to be willing to do the right thing- we need to have that will to “man (woman) up” and apologize for f***in’ up. We need “Will” to do this. Not the lower case “w” will of our lower mind, but the big “W” Will that comes from aligning ourselves with our Higher Power. We can pray for our Higher Power’s guidance if we believe ourselves “unable” to apologize. Almost certainly we will find it is not that we were unable, it is that we were unwilling- our Higher Power’s guidance can help us through this, but we have to be ready to do some hard work. We need to be truly willing to go up to those we have wronged, look them in the eye, and apologize for our actions. The Blue Book states:

“A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fit the bill at all… So we clean house… asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.”

This takes us to Step 9:

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

making_up_after_a_fightIt has been said that the three most difficult words in the English language for one to speak are “I was wrong.” Sometimes we can be so convinced that our actions in a given situation were harmless or even justified that we are oblivious to even the remote possibility of wrongdoing on our part. We can come up with all sorts of justifiers as to how what we did harmed no one or that we were entitled to act the way we did. We may believe that the particular wrong someone has done to us so far outweighs anything that we could have possibly done to them that they “should” be the ones apologizing to us. We wait for THEM to come to us so WE can get on with our lives. This is a great way to hold onto a resentment until you die.

I had a bit of resentment towards my father that came to a head in my twenties. My mother and father had married young and split when I was two. My mother told me that it was because he was either working all the time or out with his friends, so she filed for divorce. She later told me that he told her not to come to him when I became a “hard-to-handle teenager”.

I would go to visit my father on Sundays when I was younger, but oftentimes he would be working and I would spend most of the time with my stepmother, my sister and my grandparents. He owned his own logging and trucking business in Maine, and loved what he did, but he was most definitely a workaholic. On top of that, he was not one for expressing emotion. This appeared to be more evident as I grew older.

I moved with my mother in Rhode Island, who gone into the Navy shortly after they divorced, when I was thirteen (before that time I was living with her parents). After that my relationship with my father grew more and more distant. I would see him at Christmas and Thanksgiving and get a card with money in it for my birthday, and he came to my graduation, but that was it. He never called me, so I never called him.

However there was a point when my father loaned me money for a security deposit on my first apartment. I soon forgot about this, and shirked any responsibility of paying this debt, as this was around the time I was doing a lot of drugs, partying, etc. I moved back to Maine briefly for a time after I got evicted from that apartment and started to work on mending the estranged relationship with my father as well as my sister. Things appeared to be going in a positive direction, but a few months later I moved back to Rhode Island to basically pick up where I left off.

I went back to Maine for my cousin’s graduation, where my father was also attending. I vividly remember the awkward feeling I got when I approached him and went to shake his hand only to have him walk by as if he didn’t know me. To this day I do not know exactly what that was about, as I have never asked him, even though I have my theories. I was a bit of a mess for the few months I went back and it being a small town, word might have gotten out that I was a bit of a drunk. Or he might have just been pissed that it was over a year since he gave me a loan and I hadn’t made any attempts to address it. I don’t know.

I wrote him a letter asking about what was going on, as I had not even gotten a card for my birthday that year. My stepmother was the one who wrote back, stating the card issue was a misunderstanding, but did bring up the matter of the loan. My mother was pissed as she didn’t believe he was justified to call in any debt due to her allowing him to pay so little in child support.

I would still see my father once or twice a year during holidays. He never called me. I never called him. However, I again found myself in a financial conundrum three years later after I went to college. I called to ask him if he would co-sign on a loan. He refused stating that I was “25 years old and didn’t own a vehicle” and that I just needed to “work harder”. I was pissed. I had worked to get into college (which he never did) on my own. That semester I had made dean’s list, worked as an RA at my dorm, and worked part-time on the weekends when he didn’t have classes. But I wasn’t going to beg him for money and just left it at that. I had planned to talk to him face to face about how I felt he was not treating me like a son and had never been much of a father to me. However, it was at that time his father, my grandfather, passed away.

Nearly ten years had passed after all of this when I made my amends with my father. He had been going through a separation with my stepmother when I visited him at his house. It was the first time I had gotten to sit with just him and I and talk for a long, long time. I talked with him in a way I never had before. I opened up to him and apologized for acting the way I did during that time and being irresponsible. I also expressed remorse for allowing my relationship with him, as well as my siblings to become so distant. He expressed understanding and forgiveness to me. However he did not apologize for any wrongs he may have committed according to my perception. But that’s not what this is about.

The healing from this step comes from OUR action, not from the actions of another. This step is us truly about empowerment and healing through alignment with the Higher Will. Making amends with my father was like a breath of fresh air into my being. Since that time, my conversations with my father have become more open, a he too is changing through the trials that have happened in his life. While my outreach is still not always the best, our relationship has indeed healed.Building-on-Relationships

When people have near-death-experiences, they typically learn to value two things above all: knowledge, particularly wisdom knowledge of things of a Higher Vibration, and relationships with others. Our relationships, the bonds we make in life are so essential as they allow us to grow in our ability to express, feel and understand love and compassion. It is also through reaching out to others that enables us to be of service and participate in the Great Work. This is something I am stubbornly learning, but learning nonetheless.

Before I conclude, we should address the qualifier “except when to do so would injure them or others” Everyone who you meet serves as a potential catalyst for your spiritual growth and development, and the same is true for those you have met, as you can help to facilitate that in them. Sometimes this is growth through loving and joyful experiences, but sometimes this is growth that happens through pain and trauma. To bring it back to a personal level, there are people in my life whom I have lost touch with for one reason or another, and I know it is better for everyone that it stays that way.

The most obvious example would be old lovers, where feelings of unhealthy attachment/obsession or betrayal may have played a role in facilitating or ending the relationship. Perhaps they were so hurt by our actions, that it took time and distance from us to heal the wounds that we helped create; perhaps attempting to reach out to them in a desperate attempt to heal ourselves, would only cause those wounds to be reopened. This could potentially have a destructive impact not only on them, but also on their current relationships and even their family. The same can be said in those instances where an unhealthy obsession or attachment exists between two people. Perhaps we had a friend or lover that enabled us to act in self-destructive ways. If we know that reaching out to that person would cause us or them to fall back into that cycle, that connection is probably best left in the past.

In any case, we need to be mindful about our interactions with those we have wronged, and be certain that while we are ultimately doing this for our own healing first and foremost, that we aren’t doing it in a manner that is selfish and inconsiderate. Sometimes this line can be a little blurry, at which point we should ask for guidance from our Higher Power as well as reach out to members of our support group, whomever that may be. If we find there are amends that need to be made, but a face-to-face meeting (which is the most optimal as it allows real sincerity and connection to be established) or even making a phone call or mailing a letter is not a good idea or possibility, there are other options.

One option is the “un-mailed letter. Here we can write out our apology and even read it out loud, imagining the person we wish to make amends to is in the room with us. After the process is complete, we can them burn the letter in a mindful and ritualistic manner. We can also do a similar thing without the letter, simply imagining the person there and giving amends to the person that way.

Another option I have done is doing amends in a state of deep, focused meditation, using visualization techniques. You visualize the scenario in which you are meeting with the person you need to make amends with, and you speak and most importantly FEEL the raw emotion and healing of the amends.

However you do it, the most important thing is that you FEEL it with the totality of your being- it needs to be as REAL and SINCERE as possible, otherwise your just writing and burning letters or talking to people that aren’t there. Likewise, you should only do this where amends TRULY aren’t possible or are really not a good idea. We shouldn’t hide behind burned letters or imaginary conversations if there’s an opportunity for a HEALTHY face-to-face conversation. Yes, that can be scary and it can leave us incredibly vulnerable, and it may not go in an ideal fashion. But if we are truly connected to our Source for guidance in our decisions and our communications with others, what needs to be said will be said, and what needs to happen will be what happens.

The amends process is not something that can be done in a few days or even weeks. It can take years, but if we want to heal and grow as human beings and become what we can be, we will do it. As the Blue Book states:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

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Those who have ears to hear should hear. Namaste and God Bless.

RIGHTS AND EQUALITY (Part 2)

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

– The First Amendment of the United States Constitution

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A woman walks into the break-room of her particular place of employment. She then proceeds to pull out her Bible, stand on top of a chair, and read aloud in a manner that is clearly audible to everyone in the vicinity.  Her co-workers complain about this to management. Management pulls the woman aside and requests that she stop doing this.  The woman replies by stating that management has no right to impede upon her religious freedom, and that this loud Bible reading was an expression of that.  Management replied that the nature of this reading was disruptive to others’ enjoyment of the break-room and potentially interfered with their workplace productivity.

It was at this point the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was called. For those unfamiliar, the EEOC is a federal agency established by an executive order from John F. Kennedy in 1961.  The EEOC administers and enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination, as well as investigates discrimination complaints based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual preference, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation for reporting, participating in, and/or opposing a discriminatory practice.

official-seal-of-the-equal-employment-opportunity-commission-eeocThe EEOC sent an investigator to look into the complaint of discrimination filed by the Bible-reading woman.  However, much to the woman’s surprise, the investigator proceeded to inform her that her “rights” had not been violated by the employer’s request, and that her grandiose reading of the Bible may have been offensive to her co-workers and thus intruding on their “rights”.

A close friend of mine relayed this story to me, which was in turn told to her by the aforementioned EEOC investigator as a part of a corporate “sensitivity training” given at her place of employment.  Interestingly, the EEOC bureaucrat/sensitivity trainer cited this story as an example of how “protected classes” are now using their “protected” status to infringe upon the rights of others.  My friend then asked me what my thoughts were on the matter, and I can definitely say they were not what she was hoping for.

My first response was to state that Christians, especially Evangelical or Fundamentalist types (of which I am neither, but this woman obviously was), were no longer really treated as a “protected class” in the eyes of the Federal Government or mainstream culture.  Evangelical Christians have actually been labelled as “more dangerous than ISIS” by the feds and the “liberal” media.   A few examples of this “protection” of Christians were cited in a recent (2012) joint report by the Liberty Institute and the Family Research Council:

• A federal judge threatened “incarceration” to a high school valedictorian unless she removed references to Jesus from her graduation speech.
• City officials prohibited senior citizens from praying over their meals, listening to religious messages or singing gospel songs at a senior activities center.
• A public school official physically lifted an elementary school student from his seat and reprimanded him in front of his classmates for praying over his lunch.
• Following U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ policies, a federal government official sought to censor a pastor’s prayer, eliminating references to Jesus, during a Memorial Day ceremony honoring veterans at a national cemetery.
• Public school officials prohibited students from handing out gifts because they contained religious messages.
• A public school official prevented a student from handing out flyers inviting her classmates to an event at her church.
• A public university’s law school banned a Christian organization because it required its officers to adhere to a statement of faith that the university disagreed with.
• The U.S. Department of Justice argued before the Supreme Court that the federal government can tell churches and synagogues which pastors and rabbis it can hire and fire.
• The State of Texas sought to approve and regulate what religious seminaries can teach.
• Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the federal government is forcing religious organizations to provide insurance for birth control and abortion-inducing drugs in direct violation of their religious beliefs.
• The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs banned the mention of God from veterans’ funerals, overriding the wishes of the deceased’s families.
• A federal judge held that prayers before a state House of Representatives could be to Allah but not to Jesus.

reading-the-bible

Another interesting anecdote of workplace “discrimination” involved a Muslim worker at a GAP store who prayed in the aisle daily.  In response, a Christian co-worker put a Bible on his own desk and would read silently while the Muslim employee prayed.  The Muslim employee complained about this to management and the Christian was fired without warning.  Now the Muslim GAP employee had numerous complaints against him from others due to “loud prayers” and “blocking the aisle”.  It was also apparently against company policy for religious viewpoints to be expressed within the company; however this policy appears to have been selectively enforced as the Muslim employee did not lose his job, but the Christian employee did.

Now this is not to say that other religious and minority groups have not suffered workplace persecution in the past, but now the mainstream narrative has definitively flipped (unless you’re watching Fox News).  As I have talked about in previous postings, the culture of political correctness has become totalitarian in nature, with people losing their careers and being blacklisted over saying anything that is “deemed” as racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, or “intolerant” in any way.

However, there is one group that political-correctness does NOT apply to. Think about who it is “okay” to make fun of and demonize without fear of backlash and being labelled, “racist”, “bigot”, “Nazi”, “anti-Semite”, “homophobe”, or any of the other words used to demonize those who are outside the PC mainstream.  You know who it is…  So yes, while it is true that the “protected classes” have become the oppressors, to group Christians in this category is a misleading statement at best and an obfuscation of the current power structure.

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Moving back to the conversation with my friend and the story of the EEOC investigator and my response to it.  I questioned how it was the duty of the federal government to settle a private dispute between a private employer and employee on private property, and why it was the government’s job to regulate “discrimination”.  Even if you believe in the “law” of the Constitution, there is no place where the federal government is given that “right” or that responsibility.

Now I worked in the labor movement for the better part of three years, and I still believe in standing up for yourself when it comes to the workplace and the fruits of one’s own labor.  I will continuously advocate for the power of the boycott and the strike as organic expressions of free will (even if not always motivated from a “higher mind”).  However, the moral dilemma comes when the government gets involved. Government, by and large, can be summed up with two words- force and control.  This friend tends to chastise this point of view as a vehement and irrational “hatred” of government.

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When it comes to labor and discrimination in the workplace, the premise behind getting government involved is to try and FORCE someone to do the “right thing” and/or, as my friend put it, “hold them accountable”, when they do the “wrong” thing.  Now, even if you believe in “rights” as a real thing, how is forcing anyone to do anything not considered a violation of THEIR RIGHTS?  That is circular logic, is it not? And what exactly is this need to “hold them accountable”, i.e. see them punished, all about?

NaturalLawSamAdamsThere is a deep psychological desire for us to see quantifiable, measurable results to things. We need “closure” to move on from traumatic events.  We desire retribution towards those who have offended our ego.  This is at the root of our need to SEE “justice” done.   Even those of us who say we believe in or “know” Karma, often still feel that those who do wrong need to be punished in a way that is satisfactory to us, specifically our ego, or finite mind: “This person took something from me or caused me pain, so I NEED to be sure they will suffer as a direct result of what they did to ME”.

In other words, we want to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this “wrongdoer” has indeed been punished.  We don’t want to wait for the Law of the Universe to work in Its own eternal time and fashion- we want justice RIGHT NOW.  We want vengeance RIGHT NOW.  And this sense of “justice” can be projected onto the situations of others, causing us to believe we are identifying with them, when really, it’s about US and what we are identified with and attached to.  All of these thoughts and emotions are emanations of the lower mind that is completely absorbed in the physical world and has no faith in ANYTHING it can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell.

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When I explained to my friend that people were ALWAYS “held accountable” by the Divine Law of the Universe when they acted immorally and maliciously towards others, she got pretty pissed off.  She stated that I was “looking down” from a position of “privilege” (there’s that word again).  I attempted to explain how, from the perspective of the Eternal Soul, that a person’s struggles of “oppression” may have been exactly what that person needed for their personal spiritual growth in this lifetime.  It also could have very well been the “reaping” of “sown seeds”.  With this, I was accused of being impractical and not “grounded in reality”.  In a way this is “looking down”.  It is looking down from the perspective of infinite spirit/soul as opposed to looking up from the perspective of finite body/mind.

zen-falls1-300x300My friend proceeded to cite examples of workplace insensitivity, which were racially-based.  These stories involved a company in which an African-American employee was “jokingly” threatened with a noose and a Middle-Eastern man was required to park in a parking spot that had been labelled “terrorist”.  While absolutely disrespectful and insensitive, and potentially even threatening, I still did not share her belief that the presence of an “entity to hold people accountable” was necessary or truly effective and productive.  The belief that such entities are needed is to affirm a position of bondage, therefore affirming the superiority of one individual or entity over another.  To top it off, forcing anyone to do anything only breeds resentment, not tolerance.

What really struck me was how the Middle Eastern man felt “trapped” because he “needed” that job to support his family.  I am “privileged” that I don’t have to worry about supporting a family and I do have empathy for this man as I understand that the basic instinctual desire to provide for one’s children can quickly put one into desperation or “survival mode”.  However, empathy is not pity.  Pity is looking upon someone as weak and powerless, rather than as a unique expression of the Divine Creator and possessing incredible creative power and potential. There are unlimited potential outcomes to any given situation, but when we are overtaken with fear, our consciousness becomes rigid and we develop a sort of “tunnel-vision”, making it much harder to see all possibilities and choose with clarity.

Unfortunately, my friend saw me as being detached and unsympathetic to the plights of others. She stated that if I had encountered real discrimination that I would not view things in this manner. Indeed my past situations of discrimination didn’t mirror those of others; they were mine.  My friend eventually became so worked up due to my stance that she stormed off.

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Later she told me that the reason she had gotten so upset was because she herself was feeling discriminated against at work.  She found herself in a compromising situation with someone who was management, and now this person threatened her job if she told anyone what had happened.  She now felt she was being intentionally ostracized from various “team-building” outings in her department.  She said that the environment in the office was incredibly hostile towards her and she was afraid to go to anyone due to the manager’s threat.

I asked my friend about talking to higher-ups within the company and telling them of the manager’s conduct.  I also told her she had an option with bringing a case to the Labor Board as well (even though it pained me to suggest going to government).  I also suggested she talk to people face to face directly regarding this matter.  However, she said she was worried about her reputation in the company and “making things worse”.  She also did not want to quit this job because it was well-paying and she had only started in the last several months.

While my friend felt powerless, it was ultimately her fear that made it most difficult.  It was the fear of having to make an UNCOMFORTABLE choice that could potentially make life uncomfortable for a time.  We want life to be as comfortable and hassle-free as possible- this is the vice of the modern western man/woman.  The statement is true that “where there is a will there is a way”- it just depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice and how open and committed you are to thinking “outside the box”.

tolstoyWhen viewed from the finite mind, these types of situations appear to present a threat to our very survival.   Anything that appears to have the potential to threaten our livelihood is something that we associate with death on a deep subconscious/unconscious level.  But the truth is that the vast majority things that get this response from us are NOT life or death situations at all.  This is why stress-related disease is rampant in modern society.  We put up with a lot that we don’t need to because we are so terrified of death.  And it’s not even really death, but the FEAR of death- the creeping uncertainty of the unknown- that keeps us mentally imprisoned.

When people and situations arise that seem to make our work in the world intolerable, we may do well to ask ourselves; “Is this really the work that I’m meant to be doing?  Is this really expressing the highest creative potential of my soul or am I just being a cog in a machine?  Am I here because this is the path mainstream society says I should be taking with my skill set? And if so, is there something more creative and enriching I could do with my time and potential?  Am I thriving here, or am I really just here to survive?  Am I here because I love this work and it makes the world a better place, or am I really just in it for the money?”

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These are hard questions that I have asked myself continuously and continue to do so.  I know that the only reason I ever feel stuck or trapped in a situation is because I have convinced myself that is the case and/or I have believed what everyone else says is the case.  This is a universal truth that is applicable regardless of your “privilege” or lack thereof.  Now this isn’t to say that some situations don’t present harder choices than others.  Nor am I saying that our decisions should be taken at selfish whimsy.  What I am saying is that at the end of the day, our state of consciousness trumps any outside factors, regardless of how imposing, powerful or monolithic those factors may appear to be.

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Perspective shapes reality.  We can choose to see things from the limited perspective of the finite mind or from a higher mode of consciousness.  People only have power over us when we give our power to them.  If we believe our options in life are limited, then they will be.  Now of course, there is need to know and understand how to utilize our limitless potential, just as there is need for moral grounding so we use it appropriately.  But make no mistake about it, our potential is boundless, we just need to have faith and be fearless.  And if we do “lose”, we “don’t lose the lesson” and think our life is over.

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Not all sacrifices are worth making, but a degree of sacrifice and discomfort is inevitable if we want to grow to our full potential and be free men and women.  Sometimes our calling may be to confront a petty tyrant that is persecuting and oppressing people.  Perhaps we need to shine a light on their actions or perhaps even defend ourselves or another person.  But when we do this, we would do well to check within and be sure we are acting from a place of compassion and moral clarity as opposed to fear-based self-righteousness.  Sometimes the line is VERY fine indeed.  At the end of the day, some people are going to be intolerant or bigoted or just plain assholes and NOTHING- no amount of shaming or punishment will ever change that.  We can however change ourselves, how we relate to the world and how we treat other beings.  That is where REAL change can occur.

Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.