Category Archives: Happiness

Conservative Values versus a myriad of extremists

A government professor of mine once stated that all governments were a balance between three different values: Equality, Order, and Liberty. No one value can be pursued without cost to the other two. The ideal society would actually be the one that keeps these three points in balance. However, as we look around modern parties and political movements, the logic of balance seems nowhere to be found.

Four Cardinal Virtues

Individual have the 4 cardinal virtues: Temperance, Moderation, Justice, Fortitude…but these are the basis for the three political virtues: liberty, equality, order. They all have to work together or not at all.

Liberals, socialists and progressives seek equality at the cost of order and liberty finally reaching their ideal society, a Communistic state where everyone is equal but in the end utterly worthless as equality requires none be higher than others, thus all talent, all incentives, and all goals have been destroyed leaving society to collapse before the equally unimpressive slaves that it has created. In a state where all are equal there can be no order because power cannot be vested (even through law) in another thus nothing can keep law and civil society together thus at best everything is merely slave to the whim of the herd (law by the same methods created reality TV)…and there can be no liberty, as liberty leads to exceptionalism, and no one can be better than anyone else

The growing fascist movements of Greece, the tyranny of Vladimir Putin, and the vile wretchedness of Islamofascism value order above all else. But for there to be complete order there can be no liberty because if people can choose for themselves, they will sometimes choose wrong and this inevitably leads to some level of chaos, some crime, some disorder. And in the ordered state there can be no equality, as equality requires that all are subject to rules, and for the ordered state to work no one can watch the watchers because they are the final authority, otherwise there is no way to control and maintain order.

Libertarians and anarchists view liberty as the end all be all of all politics. But where there is perfect freedom there can be no equality, even before the law, because there can be no law if there is nothing but license to do whatever you want. And there can be no order in the fully liberated state as the law who would hold back those who do not recognize the rights of others cannot exist.

And finally populists don’t particularly view any of these as all that important. Yes populists want equality when someone is doing better than them, which is why businesses and businessmen are evil and need to be reined in…but they strangely don’t care about equality when they’re doing better, which is why even Ron Paul brought back millions in pork to his district. They care about liberty, for themselves…but for anyone else, eh, it’s not that important. And order is important, so long as it’s in my general vicinity, enforced by me, and I don’t care if it’s not in my line of sight. (And please understand why I have been hitting the populists posing as conservatives a lot lately, your average Democratic voter has always been a populist. Their activists and politicians maybe progressives, but the voters are populists who just care about their entitlements and what will be given to them).

Meanwhile there is the real conservative viewpoint. That these three virtues of a society must be held in careful balance. That the extreme of any one of these because a dystopian nightmare (Liberty, Order, Equality…Lord of the Flies, 1984, Harrison Bergeron…or for the less well read, Mad Max, Hunger Games, Divergent…or if you prefer history, Somalia, Nazi Germany, Revolutionary France). That a society without these three to guide them is just as bad as one where only one is followed (I’d give an example but modern politics seems to be it and the last few years of Rome seem to be the only places dumb enough to try such an abhorrent idea in practice). Only the society that balances these forces is a prosperous one.

So what is the guiding star of conservatism that makes it so different from these other ideologies? Well, not to sound like a dozen other blogs on this site but the answer is once again, Aristotle.

Aristotle, for all his flawed understanding of politics (give the man a break, there wasn’t much reliable history to work with in the 4th century B.C. and you can’t expect him to have prescience of what was to come) understood that in politics, as with ethics, it is not a question of ends or means, but a question of ends and means. Those who value equality or order only value an end of making everyone equal or making everything peaceful. Those who value liberty only value the means of liberty not the result of what such anarchy brings. Only balancing both ends and means work.

And Aristotle saw the correct end to focus on. The end to all human life is Happiness. And society, family, education must all be structured to ensure Happiness for the greatest number of people. Now because Happiness requires freedom of choice and personal growth, not everyone will reach happiness no matter what a government/family/society does, but it requires liberty and the ability to exercise free will. But because Happiness requires some ability to plan and control your own life, it requires order to some degree. And because the point is to provide Happiness (or the opportunity to pursue Happiness) for the most people as all are equally human and equally deserving at birth of achieving Happiness. None of these on their own can lead to Happiness, and all must work together.

And this is why other belief systems don’t work; they’re not aimed at Happiness.

For instance look at misnamed “social conservatives” (Progressives for Jesus might be a better way to put it). They keep saying that the point of marriage is to have children. As if having children is an end in itself.   And they keep bringing this up as a reason why they opposed gay marriage. Now there are good reasons to get rid of marriage as a legal concept (and replace it with legal civil unions and let religion handle marriage without government interference) but it is not just the Progressive mentality here to have the government take control of everything. It is the missed sense of what the end of things are. They view the family as a means to creating another family. The family, society, everything in the view has no purpose but to serve itself. You have to have marriage to create children. You have to raise children so they lead lives where they get married. They get married to have children…over and over again. There is no point to the individual life (unless you want to get into some bizarre servitude to God, which views God as a master and the individual the slave…but no serious reading of any sane religion even comes close to that.) This is why social conservatives tend to be not only bad at politics but their own religion. Social conservatives should go back and read their Aquinas who makes it clear that “the principal end of matrimony, namely the good of the offspring” and that “the secondary end of matrimony, which is the mutual services which married persons render one another in household matters.” Notice how in the second point it is the betterment of each other (i.e. the individual’s happiness) that is the point of marriage. Just as every social institution is supposed to place the Happiness of the individual as a goal. Parents should be concerned with teaching their children the knowledge, ethics, and character that will allow them to be happy adults. Schools and other societal organizations should be focused on encouraging people to be the best they can be with the goal being individual Happiness. Social conservatives’ problem, like all progressives, is they think society is the end goal, it is not; the good of individual is the goal.

Then you have Libertarians who don’t even consider ends and just, like good Kantian idiots, look at means. And liberty is the only mean they care about. Oh they may say that freedom leads to individual Happiness, but they ignore that just because the exercise of free will is necessary it is not sufficient. (Just as Milton Friedman said that “History suggests only that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.”) Let’s take a look at what sometimes appears to be the only thing that libertarians think about: The War on Drugs. Okay, I will concede that the War on Drugs has been handled idiotically. I will concede that if a person should be able to use drugs in the privacy of their own home if they’re not hurting anyone. I concede that the power to prosecute the War on Drugs has led to massive costs and an intolerable level of corruption in the name of the War on Drugs. But in all this the libertarians fail to admit some very simple things. They act like the people who take drugs are all just innocent little lambs who are the victims of an unjust police power. prison violent

nonviolent

Oh, look it would appear that as incarceration went up crime went down…shocker.

Let me set the record straight: They’re criminals (whether they get caught and convicted or not, they’re criminals). They have the mentality that the rules of society, their long term well-being, and how their actions may hurt others are of absolutely no concern to them so long as they get a moment of pleasure. At best that is vilely hedonistic, at worst it has a bit of a sociopath in it. Libertarians like to pretend that you have otherwise innocent drug users in one group, and in another you have real criminals. And that the fact that we have a massive prison population proves that this War on Drugs needs to end. The problem is that you don’t have two different groups; you have a Venn diagram where criminals and drug users are often one in the same. Libertarians like to point to the increasing prison population, but they always conveniently forget that as prison populations go up violent and non-violent crime go down. They ignore that often drugs are used to put dangerous criminals away when other more serious charges don’t have as much admissible evidence. So there are benefits to the War on Drugs. But not willing to admit that drops in the murder, rape, theft rates is a good thing, libertarians only care about the liberty to do drugs.   They don’t advocate that we should focus more on the cartels, the gang distributors, and legalize personal home use (all things which would still probably round up the worst real criminals while not hurt the people who can actually handle personal use)…no they have to argue that we should just legalize all drugs. No concern for order, just liberty…and no Happiness for anyone.

The other difference between libertarians, Progressive for Jesus**, and real conservatives. Unlike Libertarians, conservatives understand that laws do need to be structured not just to protect rights but to encourage habits that will typically lead to a healthy society and Happiness in individuals (for instance unless we switch to a flat tax having tax credit for charity; the fact that we can’t just get rid of civil union side of marriage, and that we do need a safety net of some kind***; providing minimum standards for education to make sure all students receive a basic minimum of education) but unlike the Progressive for Jesus we must do so in a way that limits (or at least poses as few limits as possible) to the good that liberty provides (deciding what counts as a marriage and what doesn’t, when gay marriage provides the same benefits; spending money and resources checking on what people do in private that hurts no one; dictating what to include content wise in education; etc.).

Being consistently conservative is difficult. It requires balancing numerous issues of the needs of individuals, the long term good of society, Liberty, Order, Equality. And it’s a constantly shifting point because what creates that balance in one era may be totally unbalanced in another. Proper government needs to be directed toward the Happiness of individuals. It needs to balance our needs for liberty, order, and equality. When it does not do these things it creates bad laws. And it is so easy to get lost in caring only about your own want (populists) or one of the political virtues at the expense of the others. Right now we need a lot more liberty, but we cannot forget that it is the balance and the good of society and the individual that is our true goal—not just liberty for the sake of liberty.

Of course none of this is really new…the people who real conservatives look toward as a guide post made it quite clear that liberty, or order (tranquility, defense), or equality (justice, general welfare) were all equal political virtues that had to be held in balance of each other…

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Did we forget we're conservatives and we want to limit the power of the federal government?

*Now I know that I have heard some people have claimed that the FBI is merely shading the numbers—that they’re not counting things the same way to make things look better than they are. I’ve heard that claim from LOTS of people. But you know what I find interesting, I can’t find that claim on any think tank. None. Liberal. Conservative. Libertarian. Nobody. You would think that conservatives would have hit Clinton or Obama for skewing the data, or liberals would have hit Bush. But nobody seems to questions the FBI’s stats…nor is there any jump that you would see if you changed the criteria, it’s a slow progression. So either everybody and I mean everybody, is on a massive conspiracy to slowly skew the crime numbers, or crime really has been dropping.

**You thought I wasn’t serious, but I am. I am using that from now on.

***Libertarians, before you yell at me that we need to get rid of welfare entirely, please remember that Friedman and Hayek both said we need a safety net because having people in real poverty (the kind you see in the third world) creates people who seriously have the choice of steal or die, at which point it becomes a need for them to steal and as we all know from the example of Jean Valjean, utterly unjust to punish them.

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Filed under Aristotle, Capitalism, Conservative, Constitution, Happiness, Long Term Thinking, philosophy, politics

Rick Santorum’s Perverted View of America

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”—Thomas Jefferson (Notice the use of the singular “mind” and “man”…if he had meant society he would have said “minds of men” but rather this is a statement against tyranny over even a single individual…yes he was a little lax on fulfilling that depending on the complexion of the individual in question…but I’m going for a philosophical concepts here, not the fact Jefferson had personal issues.)

So  uber-liberal and Christian Sharia supporter Rick “I will trample every freedom history has ever known to establish my theocracy” Santorum seem to be back in the press with a new book and vain desire to be the center of attention.  Now while I comb over some of his newer garbage and lies it might be helpful to remember why Rick Santorum is literally the walking embodiment of everything wrong with the Republican party, the reason we lose elections, the reason we have driven away libertarians and moderates, and the godsend of liberals and progressive everywhere.

Putting the “Fun” back into psychotic fundamentalism

So let’s take a look at Rick Santorum’s older book, It takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good:

“It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above society. It wasn’t a freedom that gave men and women blanket permission to check in and out of society whenever they wanted. It wasn’t the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be. It wasn’t even the freedom to be left alone, with no obligations to the people we know and to the people we don’t yet know. The Constitutional Convention’s freedom, American’s traditional freedom–or the better word, as I defined it earlier, liberty–was a selfless freedom, freedom for the sake of something greater or higher than the self. For our founders, this liberty was defined and defended in the context of our Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity. Often, in fact, American liberty meant the freedom to attend to one’s duties–duties to God, to family, and to neighbors. Our founders were in the business of constructing a nation, a political community. No-Fault Freedom, a freedom from every tie and duty, provides no basis for that project: it is a principle of division and social deconstruction.” (44)

Okay this is perhaps more frightening than anything I have seen Obama say.  Granted Obama’s actions are those of a petty banana republic dictator trying to create a fascist state…but he’s an idiot and doesn’t do it well.  Most notably he can’t come out and defend his statist collectivist views.  But here we have Rick Santorum doing that very articulately.

Let’s take this monstrous evil apart bit by bit.

It wasn’t a freedom that celebrated the individual above society.

 

Yes the Founding Fathers believed in none of that tripe that said individuals “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Oh wait.  Notice how liberty is joined with the pursuit of Happiness.  Happiness (capital H) is an Aristotelian concept that an individual has reached the completion and fulfillment of their life through the expression of personal virtue, not through the collectivist service to virtue that Santorum suggests here.  A society cannot pursue Happiness, only an individual can.  A society cannot have a right to life, only an individual can.  But, Santorum wants you to believe that Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin who worked on the first draft put a social right in between two individual ones.  And if you believe that one I have a lovely bridge to sell you.   Further, pursuit of Happiness is an expansion of John Locke’s right to property (his original rights were the right to life, liberty and property and no one in their right mind ever thought Locke was talking about social rights not individual one).  If, as Santorum dishonestly suggests, the Founders held society above the individual then that would mean the right to pursue Happiness as a more evolved idea of property, was only for society, which would mean that property should only be held by society and not the individual….and you wonder why I consider Santorum a filthy socialist?

And of course the Founders held the good of society above the good of the individual.  Which is none of them ever broke any of the laws that were for the good society for personal gain—so long as you ignore that John Hancock made a fortune as a smuggler.  And if you put the good of society ahead above the individual then you would see the need to pay off the debts incurred by a massive war fought partly to defend you from the French and not complain about the numerous taxes levied to pay off that debt…oh wait no they would rather risk “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” than pay those taxes.  By the way Rick, honor is also a personal virtue.

Notice also some of their complaints

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

All of those are actions by the British Government attempting to bring about the “public good” but at the expense of personal liberties.  Notice Rick, how the individual is not being sacrificed for the good of the whole by the Founding Fathers.

Notice also phrases like “To secure the public good and private rights” from Federalist 10 by Madison, which seems to place the individual on equal, not subservient, value to the public good…you know kind of like how Christ put the individual on equal footing to everyone else when he quoted Leviticus and said “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.”  Ignorant, and evil, collectivists like Santorum also seem to miss the second part.  But I shouldn’t expect someone as zealously passionate about his religion to actually read the book they claim to follow.

It wasn’t a freedom that gave men and women blanket permission to check in and out of society whenever they wanted.

As Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington did quite often.  And stop me if I’m wrong but wasn’t America founded by people who wanted to check out of society and start a new one, wasn’t this nation founded by people who wanted to check out of the society of Great Britain, wasn’t westward expansion driven by rugged individuals who wanted to check out of society and go west (which was, last time I checked part of the Founding Father’s vision).

 It wasn’t the freedom to be as selfish as I want to be.

Which I’m sure is why Jefferson said “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  It might be easy to assume Jefferson held the attitude to all private actions that didn’t hurt anyone.

Or try this one from their contemporaries Adam Smith

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.”

Selfishness is what defines human progress.  But Santorum wants to think in the very plebian and uneducated way of sin and virtue.  Selfishness and Selflessness.  It shows that he had done little to any study of the philosophy of the Founding Fathers, nor does he know anything about his own Catholic doctrines…as study in either would lead him back to Aristotle who saw each virtue to have two vices not one (but you know when I looked up Santorum’s education, it came from the Dickenson School of Law, named after John Dickenson, a man so morally bankrupt that he is the only person who had the chance to sign both The Declaration of Independence AND The Constitution AND refused to sign both.  It’s good to see Santorum is keeping up with that legacy of opposing what is right and good and true).  But back to Aristotelian virtue.  It is not a choice between selfish and selfless it a choice between the virtue of rational self-interest and the vices of narcissism and selflessness.  Rational self-interest is where one puts ones needs, wants, and desires first but not at the expense of others, where one’s rights are on equal foot with the rights of others, and where we treat others with compassion, not just because we have the duty to them, but because it makes us feel good.  Santorum confuses selfishness, caring about your own concerns, with narcissism where you care ONLY about you and damn how others are affected by your actions (one might say this is the behavior of a sociopath, but even most high-functioning sociopaths take the needs of others into consideration as a means to their ends…so it’s hard to find a lot of examples of this particular evil.  Most evils in the world are caused more by short sightedness and ignorance, not by narcissism).  Strangely however, Santorum’s constant grabs for power at the expense of civilization itself if he ever got power is miraculously excluded.

 It wasn’t even the freedom to be left alone, with no obligations to the people we know and to the people we don’t yet know.

I think he is trying to pervert Edmund Burke’s definition of society (and by extension) as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”  But a partnership is not an obligation.  The partnership Burke spoke of was to not view government as a joint stock company like short sighted East India Trading Company he had to deal with (the GM of it’s time) which was designed only to make a quick buck, what he was talking about was that society and law should be made with the long term good in mind.  That we should not solve our problems by heaping problems on future generations.  But if it is trying to pervert Burke he forgets that Burke was probably America’s chief proponent in Britain of our argument to King George III and Parliament that said we have a God-given right to be left alone when we choose so and our only obligation to you, our parent country and society, is to “hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.”

There are however no “obligations” or “duties” in this, only the basic ethics to not intentionally harm others (i.e. future generations) but we have no obligations other than the ethical injunction to not maliciously and unjustly harm others.  Yes our Happiness depends on maintaining healthy friendships, but our Happiness is a duty only to ourselves. We are the ends of our own life, not the means for which society can use to achieve it’s ends.

It is the freedom to be left alone.  Who the hell does this man thinks made this nation?  A bunch of people who just sat in society and always worked in it or those who constantly moved west when they got tired of society.  Don’t like society, move to America.  Don’t like the first colonies’ society, move West.  Don’t like the colonies society, cross the Appalachians.  Not thrilled with the society of the new Union, cross the Mississippi. So on and so on.  Don’t like the state you live in, move to another. Don’t like the way things are done, create something new.

Oh and I hate to make this observation, but I have never in my life known a person with an IQ over 110 who doesn’t long for at least some point of each day where they have the freedom to be left alone, who doesn’t want time with their own thoughts…who wouldn’t yearn for days to be left alone if not longer…what does it say about a man who not only doesn’t want that freedom, doesn’t understand it, but actually wants to outlaw it?

The Founders would have agreed with their contemporary Adam Smith that our obligation is to ourselves and to reason because through these two things naturally develop empathy and compassion…and without a rational self-interest there can be no empathy, compassion or ethical behavior.  And I don’t think there was enough short sighted idiocy in all 13 colonies to make them agree with this disgrace of an American named Santorum.

The Constitutional Convention’s freedom, American’s traditional freedom–or the better word, as I defined it earlier, liberty–was a selfless freedom, freedom for the sake of something greater or higher than the self.

Yes, they were after something higher than one person: property and property rights.  And the Happiness of the individual.

I don’t know how selfless it was, as it was very much for the defense of personal property and the right to shoot anyone, be they an individual or a tyrannical government, who dared think they could take your hard earned property…but it was for something greater because they knew that if you could not control your own fate through work, property and achievement there could be no Happiness.

But this man clearly doesn’t believe in Happiness…no, like a good little Kantian he only believes in duty and obligation.  (Please, remember that Kant is the philosophical basis for Communism and Nazism).

 For our founders, this liberty was defined and defended in the context of our Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity.

Could someone please tell me what Judeo-Christian values are?

Would that be the Enlightenment/Thomist-Aristotlian view each person was personally responsible for themselves.  Perhaps the Puritan/Protestant view that salvation of self was a personal matter and that each person is saved or damned based only on their own merits as an individual.  Couldn’t be the Unitarian view that Franklin and both John and Abigail Adams had that took that Protestant view of individual relationship to God even further and saw it not only as personal but private as well.

Perhaps it might be the in line with the view of the Bill of the Rights of Englishmen that more or less implied that since we can’t possibly know the mind of God we’re not going to legislate in such a way that suggests one religion is more right over another….you know one of those British things that the Founding Fathers actually wanted to continue.  Shame you don’t want to continue that Rick.

Might it be that Judeo-Christian understanding of humanity that a Catholic like you should know, that of St. Thomas Aquinas, who in the Summa Theologica stated that “human law does not prohibit every vice from which virtuous men abstain, but only the more serious ones from which the majority can abstain, especially those that harm others and which must be prohibited for human society to survive such as homicide, theft and the life.”  Hmm…even Thomas Aquinas seems to recognize the importance of personal property rights (and this was still before the only ethical means of economic dealing, laissez-faire capitalism, had really been codified in both law and practice)…shame a man from 1200 is centuries ahead of Rick Santorum (but frankly people in 500 BCE were centuries ahead of Santorum).

Often, in fact, American liberty meant the freedom to attend to one’s duties–duties to God, to family, and to neighbors.

No you have a duty to yourself.  If we are made in God’s image then there is nothing higher we can serve than our self, our reason and intellect which makes us the equals of God if we choose to use them, our free will which according to the Christianity you claim to follow is something no other being in existence has been given.  Yes, if we are being true to ourselves, our reason and our will we will be compassionate and kind to others and wish them the best and help them when we can, but because “love [them] as we love [ourselves]” not because “we love them more than we love ourselves” (I seem to not remember that little distinction in the Bible).

 

Duty, a fascinating word.  As in duty based ethics.  The ethical system of fascists and communists everywhere.  Thank God the Founding Fathers were versed in logical people like Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke and Adam Smith who recognized that it was self interest that caused people to be good and the goal of society to provide the tools to become a good person if they choose to be (but never forcing a person who is not harming others to be something that they do not choose to be)—they thankfully never gave into the evils that the word duty has created other the course of history.

Sad they didn’t have the DSM-IV around yet…they could have also looked up Dependent personality disorder.  (Which is pretty much the opposite of a narcissistic personality disorder, which is apparently what Santorum thinks anyone has if they have even the smallest concern for their own well-being).

 Our founders were in the business of constructing a nation, a political community.

This is perhaps the only correct sentence in this quote.  Of course the Founders thought of it as one joined together by mutual consent rather than forced upon people.  A society of individuals joined in common cause, not a group of slaves with duties to carry out.

No-Fault Freedom, a freedom from every tie and duty, provides no basis for that project: it is a principle of division and social deconstruction.

I will not disagree that people are often at their best when they are involved in society and working to better it (there are of course numerous exceptions, which Santorum might have heard about if he ever actually read something)…but it only yields something good for everyone when it is done by choice with the goal of personal fulfillment being equal or higher than the wanting to do good for others.

The point of society is to produce the highest good and the highest good is personal individual Happiness.  Granted the best society is the one that allows (not brings, because Happiness can only be achieved, never given) for the most people to reach that Happiness…but that Happiness can only be achieved in a society free of preposterous concept of duty…individuals are good by nature and choose freely to help others, they do not need moral obligations to enslave them to do so.  Rick Santorum fails to realize this, and fails to realize everything that is good in this nation.

***

British historian Lord Acton observed, “Liberty is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought.”

What Santorum insanely proposes here is that “Liberty is not the right to do what our reason tells us we ought, but the obligation to be enslaved to invented obligations to one man’s narrow definition of God and to everyone else in society of others. “

Which sounds like one the Founding Father’s actually supported…and which one do you think Adams, Hamilton, Washington, and Jefferson would be drawing lots as to who got to shoot Ricky for treason?

This man and his vile beliefs is everything wrong with the Republican party.  It is not conservative, but it taints the banner of conservatism by claiming to be so.

 

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Filed under Conservative, Happiness, Rick Santorum

Bi Weekly Meditation: Causing small acts of positive energy

“They might be giants, and we might be pygmies; but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.” Attributed to Sir Isaac Newton

 

So by now you have probably figured out that for my meditations I prefer to list actions and habits to instill rather than just things to focus on during the typical quiet sitting type of meditation.  Now this is not to say that we don’t all need that 20-30 minutes of silent reflection every day (though we so seldom get it). But it is best when it is 20-30 minutes of keeping your mind as blank as possible. Focusing on certain things in your life or certain mantras can be wonderful things to do in preparation for the silence, but it is the moments of silence where you clear you mind of everything and listen to the universe is what is important.

 

But I like action.  Actions that help calm your life.  Actions that bring happiness into your life.

They bring a positive feeling that dispels worries and concerns that not only make your daily life easier…but actually also help with those moments of quiet meditation, because when you’ve dispelled the worries they don’t intrude on your trying to clear your mind of all things. If you’ve ever sat on the beach you probably know how you can close your eyes, empty your brain and then suddenly 20 minutes have gone by and you didn’t have a single thought…conversely after a bad day you can’t quiet your mind to save your life.  So it’s best to reinforce everything you do during the day with positive actions if you want to provide for the best setting for effective meditation.

 

So what I would recommend for the next two weeks is to make every place you go to better than you found it.  Hold a door for someone.  Compliment someone.  Pick up a piece of trash.  Leave a tip for the barista.  Help someone with their work.  Something, anything.  But no matter where you go make sure you did something that made it better than when you got there.  Now our knee jerk reaction to this is, why would that matter–so I do one thing, it’s not like anyone else is reading this blog, what will that matter.  But that is why I included that quote at the top.  It doesn’t matter how little your impact is, it doesn’t matter how small your actions are, even the pygmies who can see further can see further, and your action have made something better.

 

Just psychologically it will help dispel every single negative emotion because every single memory of the day will focus on the action you choose to take which made something better, wherever your mind roams you will see good…and that will lead to a much happier disposition.  From a New Age standpoint it gets better.  You will be spreading positive energy that will go every where, even if only in very small amounts.  But it will have a cascade effect.  Your aura will become positive energybrighter with every act and thus every place you go you will have more of an effect on those around you. If you could just get in 5 positive things in before you go to work every morning, (which I know is a lot given most of our morning routines involve avoiding people*) then you might by the time you get to work be very well immune to the usual low level negativity that surrounds the usual work place.

 

Just try it for two weeks.  Everywhere you go leave it better than when you found it.  Everywhere.  See if you don’t feel the change in your daily life and in your meditations.

 

 

*But if I may suggest…(1) compliment someone either in person if you live with someone or via whatever social media we all know we check first thing in the morning. (2) Share a blog, really it does make the author feel better (they like me they really really like me) (3) Leave a tip at Starbucks of at least a dollar and thank the person who gives you the drink, we often under estimate the power of a thank you (4) you will inevitably see a piece of trash somewhere between your residence and work, pick it up and throw it away (5) hold the door for someone on the way into work.  Just a suggested list but you get the idea. Small things.  Small things that pile up on each other.

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Bi Weekly Meditation: Calm

Okay, so very quickly, here is this week’s meditation.

Rather than do something of my own I found a wonderful site you may not be aware of.  Calm.com.

It offers 2, 10, and 20 minutes guided meditations.

You can pick the nature scene with that is accompanied by the matching background noise and for a few minutes just relax.

Calm 1

There are others but I felt this gives you an idea of the kind of backgrounds they have.

Listening to 2 minutes of this is better than a 15 minute break.

The discovery of this site has been a godsend to me, trust me, use it a couple times during your work day, you’ll find your stress level goes down, your productivity goes up, you’ll leave work happier, you get more done in the day.

It’s a nice reminder to just occasionally clear out from all your troubles.

calm 3

The other nice thing is that even when the meditation is over the sound of the scene will continue and you can just leave it on as relaxing white noise.

Works wonders for trying to get to sleep too.

So this week I would recommend that you just try out this site and see if it helps you regain some quiet and control in your life. calm 2

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Eric Cantor on Conservatism and the Future of America

Eric Cantor“We will go forward with this agenda with the conservative emphasis on individual effort, opportunity, on self reliance and on opportunity for more people.”

Majority Leader Eric Cantor will probably never be label with the moniker of “The Great Communicator”…which is unfortunate because his ideas are great ones that need to be heard.

Today he gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute on the goals of the GOP in this Congress covering the free market solutions to innovation, education, immigration, workforce laws, taxes, and healthcare.

What makes this speech interesting is that not only does encompass sound policy but it starts using the more emotional based arguments in defense of capitalism suggested by Arthur Brooks (who happens to introduce Cantor).  The thought being that we all know the numbers and the logic of the free market work…but we’re trying to sell it people who primarily think in terms of emotions not logic, thus we must make the argument that Capitalism, Liberty, and the free market are not only Just and Pragmatic, but fair as well.

“It’s about making life work again for people for more people.”

(I personally love his response to the 2nd to the last question.)

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Movies for Conservatives: Les Miserables

Les Miserables Posters

“Do you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men.  It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.”

Les Mis a movie for conservatives?

Yeah.

But let’s first talk about the qualities of the movie apart from political or philosophical points.

The High Points

This is the play in all its glory.  And the play is a truncated version of one of the most moving books ever written.  All the passion, all the empathy there.  You will cry for Fantine.  For Eponine.  For Gavrouche.  For the revolutionary Friends of the ABC.  For Javert. And of course for Valjean.  Bring tissues this is movie that you will cry at, a lot.

And this movie has a few truly wonderful scenes that supply motivation that was missing in the play.  For instance it has Javert arrive on the same day that Fantine is dismissed from her job, which gives a reason for Valjean not taking a more serious interest in her case.

The movie also supplies little moments from the book that were never in the play, like Grantaire standing by Enjolras at the moment of execution.

I think director Tom Hooper created something truly genius with the live singing way this movie was made…however it appears in the early scenes that there was certainly a learning curve involved in using this technique (I wish this wasn’t the first movie to do it so Hooper could have had something to reference).  But for any inconsistency it brings up at some moments, it adds deeply to the rest of the film and emotional impact of the songs.

Les Mis HathawayAnne Hathaway deserves an Oscar.

And Russell Crowe’s singing was a pleasant surprise.  He added more humanity to Javert than any actor I have previously seen.

The Low Points.

I feel there was a lot that got left on the editing room floor. At 2 hours and 37 minutes this was pushing it for most movies nowadays and I’m pretty sure if all the little things that were taken out were put back in it would be well over 3 hours.  And since Hollywood has no intention of returning to the idea of an intermission (to me this makes no sense as most of the money comes from concessions and if there is a break at an hour and a half we would be more willing to buy soda since we wouldn’t have to worry about running out to the rest room and we would buy food at the halfway mark as we would be hungrier by that point…but at least it seems that way, real data I’m not privy to might show otherwise) they were probably forced to make some heavy cuts to the movie.  This creates some odd pacing issues, where certain parts feel a little rushed.

Also, and it may be a personal issue that others may not have a problem with, I was not overly impressed by Jackman’s singing. It wasn’t bad, but I’m used to a deeper more sonorous voice for Valjean.

On the technical points, the movie is one of the best of the year, the acting and visual work was spectacular. The editing needs work (or at least a director’s cut DVD…please.) and the directing while exceptional still could have been just a little better (I think the high cost of production may have prevented doing reshoots that other films might have done)…Hooper gets an A not A+.

The Political/Philosophical Points

Did you know this was Ayn Rand’s favorite book?  It was.  Kind of puts any thoughts that Les Mis is liberal out of the “obviously” category doesn’t it.

Okay let’s look at some of the points. On their own merits.

“I am the master of hundreds of workers, they all look to me.  Can I abandon them, how will they live if I am not free. I speak I am condemned, if I stay silent, I am damned.”

Jean Valjean is a convict, yes. But while that’s all that Javert sees, we’re supposed to see more.  We’re supposed to see the successful businessman who not only created a whole industry in a town, bringing it out of poverty and into an economic renaissance, but who also out of Christian charity (not guilt, it should be noted that if you read the book Valjean is motivated by a desire to be a better person, not by guilt about his prior actions) creates hospitals and schools for the poor.  In a day and age when lesser writers like Dickens would just recycle the terrible image of the robber baron, Hugo gave us a noble businessman as an example of what others should be. It should also be noted that in a very Atlas Shrugged kind of way, Hugo has no illusions that once Valjean is forced to run the industry and the town is not able to survive in its thriving state without Valjean’s leadership. The book to a great degree, with touches still in the movie, shows that prosperity is driven by captains of industry.

“Take my hand I’ll lead you to salvation.  Take my love, for love is everlasting.  And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God.”

Further it should be noted what a deeply religious story this story is.  It is God and the Bishop of Digne, not government that redeems Valjean.  God and faith permeate all levels of this story.  Faith ironically is what drives both Valjean and Javert.  And it never condemns any form of faith, showing that all those fallen (except sadly Javert, whom I’m sure Hugo would have placed there) together in heaven.

The novel, the play, and now the movie praise faith.  It’s a rarity these days in serious well produced films.  And given the desperate need for spirituality in our modern world, something like this must be embraced.

“Let us die facing our foe […] Let others rise to take our place until the Earth is FREE!”

And dare we forget that much of the second half of the story is taken up by an uprising by Republican revolutionaries, seeking a return to law and not the capricious whims of a king.

“But, but, but” some liberals will complain.  The book is about helping the poor, and how unjust the criminal justice system is.  Those are liberal issues. And what they fail to realize is that these are different times and different issues.  The poor in 19th century France were starving (a problem with accuracy is that even the slums of France look too pretty in this movie…honestly we wouldn’t have felt comfortable actually watching what the “The Miserable” of 19th century France looked like…it wasn’t quite Nazi Concentration Camp, but certainly not as pretty as this film depicts it), the poor in 21st century America are suffering an obesity epidemic.  Hugo critiqued those who were lazy and those who felt entitled.  Poverty of the kind Hugo witnessed in France was what he wanted us to feel empathy for, modern poverty would not likely bring as much empathy from Victor.  And he would be horrified by the lack of the churches and religion in the government welfare that modern liberals champion.  And don’t even get me started on the fact that you can’t compare the legal system that punished Valjean for 20 years and hounded him for life for stealing a loaf of bread to our modern system…yes we have problems, but we have the kind of problems Hugo would have only dreamed of.

“Then join in the fight that will give you the right to be free.”

Of course for me one of the most revealing passages in Les Miserable is when Hugo takes a moment to critique communism.

(It should be noted the terms Socialism and Communism at the time do not have the same meaning now…what he calls Communism would be more in line with modern European Socialism…the term Capitalism was first used in 1854, 8 years before Hugo published Les Miserables—it took him nearly 20 years to write—and its usage as a economic system did not begin until Marx used it in 1867, 5 years after Les Miserables was published.  So he could never expect to hear him use the term capitalism even thought that seems to be what he’s calling for.   He certainly did not have the term cronyism which describes the economics of 19th century France better than anything.  So pay attention to the systems and practices he is referring to, not the titles, as he had no access to the title we currently use.)

“The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.

All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.

First problem: To produce wealth.

Second problem: To share it.

The first problem contains the question of work.

The second contains the question of salary.

In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.

In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.

From the proper employment of forces results public power.

From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.

By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.  The highest equality is equity.

From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.

Social prosperity means the manhappy, the citizen free, the nation great.

England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.

Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor.

It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides.

It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.

The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.

[…]

Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.”

[Emphasis added]

You will notice he is proposing such things as universal education, due process of law, and property rights.  He condemns any attempt for everyone to have their fair and equal share and envying the wealthy.  He proposes that people be paid just wages for their work (which was an issue then, not so much now). He proposes to make every man his own master, that everyone may earn wealth.  I can’t speak with certainty what political path Hugo would take in the modern world, but I can be fairly certain that if a modern day liberal went back to see him, Hugo would try to slap the stupid out of the Occupy trash.  I can also be mildly sure that Hugo might encourage the building of a few barricades against some of the government overreaches of the modern world.

All in all, the story is one of the value of liberty, of the individual, of redemption through works and of God.  Those are conservative themes if I ever heard them.

“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night

It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the Earth there is a flame that never dies,

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

We will live again in Freedom in the garden of the Lord.

We will walk behind the plowshares.  We will put away the sword.

The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward.

Will you join in our crusade?  Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?

Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums?

It is the future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”

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The Weekly Meditation: Setting Goals For the New Year

So the new year is upon us.  I don’t know about you but 2012 is not going down as the best year in my life…and I wish it will go down as the worst year of my life (but I feel certain tyrants will put the next four in the running).

That aside, let’s look to the new year.

About now is when people start thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions.  This is usually a mistake that turns into a miserable failure.  Usually, I think, for two reasons. The first is that people make these grand resolutions and then when they don’t get done in the first couple of week people just give up. The second problem, I think because people tend to focus on only one aspect, thinking that improving one thing about themselves is all they need to worry about, when in reality were a multifaceted beings, and each part is connected to all other parts.  To just work on one small thing without adjusting all the parts to work in harmony will often fail.

 

So I’m going to propose for this week is in three parts the first is to meditate on areas of your life where you can improve for each of the seven chakras (to save space I’m not going to go over what each is unless someone asks).  If seven goals seems like too much, I might look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (which is deeply connected to the chakras) and look for 5 things you can improve on–look for 5 ways you can meet the 5 different categories of needs*.  The goal should be looking for multiple ways to make yourself a better person, a person you want to be, a person who is closer to God–way that in terms of habits, your physical nature, your emotions, your thoughts and beliefs are all better.

 

Chakra

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

 

After you have your goals in mind, goals that look to you as a whole person, I would recommend taking time to break that goal into 4-10 steps.

Write these goals and these steps out…post them in your house, they’re going to be your friends for the whole year. Bare minimum that’s 20 intermediate goals.  You will see progress on that no matter what if you put even a modicum of effort into this, which means there will be less chance of giving up due to not seeing results.

Finally, if this part doesn’t take all week at the end of the week (and probably at least once a week for the whole year) you should sit and envision yourself at the end of the having met every goal.  See the person who you have become and believe that it will be a fact.  Even if you don’t believe in the Law of Attraction and that thought creates reality, the psychological fact is that this will help reinforce your habits and desire to meet your goal.

Now matter what this will help you in your path of self improvement, which is what life is supposed to be about because that’s what leads to Happiness.

 

 

 

 

* Yes I know it’s a hierarchy and one should meet certain needs before others…but the fact of the matter even if we’re meeting needs most of us probably have a flaw or two in how we’re meeting them and can improve (we’re only human after all)…and by improving the foundation it makes meeting other needs easier.  Also by look to needs we haven’t met we can help provide ourselves the needed motivation to get past problems that involve us meeting our current needs.

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Weekly Meditation: Sharing and increasing your energy

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek […] to be loved, as to love.For it is in giving that we receive.”–excerpt from the Prayer of St. Francis

For the last two weeks during the weekly meditation we have looked at cutting the etheric bonds that drain us of energy and restoring our energy by taping into the source of all love and energy, God.

However, taping into God isn’t as effective a source of energy as you think it might be.  Yes he’s giving infinite love and energy…but while God would fill you with infinite energy…you are not willing to accept infinite energy.  How do I know you’re not…if you were really open to it, you would be filled with it and you’d have reached Enlightenment. I have the feeling that most Enlightened beings are not reading the blog of someone who is still trying to figure out everything for himself…no insult to my readers intended, but I think we’re all still working on ourselves, and we probably have a ways to go.

So how do we increase the amount of energy we will let ourselves take in?

In a somewhat ironic way, by giving our energy away.

The energy of the soul is an odd thing. When it is taken from you by another person it leaves you feeling drained and depressed…but when it is given freely that’s a very different story.

When you willingly and joyfully give energy to another person out of compassion and love it doesn’t drain you at all but does increase the other person’s.  In fact intentionally recognizing the connection that we share with all souls helps boost your own energy.

Now theoretically you could send energy and love to every soul on the planet. And again this is what Enlightened souls try to do.  However this takes balance of mind and soul which most of us haven’t quite mastered yet…and if the balance isn’t right and the intention isn’t pure, it can quickly devolve into the draining of energy.  So for this week’s meditation let’s focus on only one or two people.

Now you’re probably already sending energy to the people you love at a subconscious level…but for the purposes of this mediation let’s try to make this a conscious meditation.  Think about the person you care about most in the world and just as you cut cords that were draining you before attach a cord to this person and envision the energy flowing from you to them…(if you’re still a little worried about your energy being drained, first connect yourself to God, and then see yourself as a channel of that love from God to you to the person you care about). Just as with the previous weeks, I promise you will feel refreshed and more energetic and positive by doing this.

Now if the person you care about also does these meditations, it allows for a particularly positive meditation.  If you both meditate at the same time and both keep channeling and receiving energy from the other you will find it has the effect of a feedback loop.  As the energy goes back and forth it grows more and more powerful with almost no effort on your part.

Now if you feel very comfortable you may also want to extend your cords out to two or three people…but only do what you’re comfortable.

 

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Weekly Meditation: Regaining Your Energy

Now last week I talked about cutting the etheric bonds that drain you of energy.  This week I want to talk about increase your energy level.

There are three main sources of energy that we draw from.  The first is from God.  The second ourselves.  The third is from others. I’m going to talk more about the second and third next week but this week I want to focus on God.

We are all a part of God and constantly connected to him. He loves us unconditionally and would love to send us all the energy necessary for us to realize the silliness of this realm of existence and help us see that we are already an enlightened being and not in need of anything else to complete us.  However, since God also respects the law of free will, the thing that makes us his equal, he will not force us out of this dream, we have to do it ourselves, by our choice.  And because of that we deny ourselves a lot of energy that would help us raise our consciousness, our attitude, and our general well being every day.

So this week let’s try and dispel that.  Like last week I would first try and cut any etheric bonds that may be draining you of energy, or by which you are draining others.

Next ask God and your spirit guides to connect you back to your source, God, and let you receive energy from the love that God is already giving you.  If it helps  envision a single cord of light coming from Heaven, coming down and wrapping around your spinal cord and filling your whole body with energy.

I might also suggest if you can commit an extra twenty minutes or so you might want to go over your seven chakras, see each of them cleansed of negative energy and each connected with an etheric chord from Heaven.  As you do you might want to repeat the following mantras for each chakra:

First Chakra. My life is filled with abundance, safety and prosperity
Second Chakra. My emotions are balanced and in tune with light of Heaven
Third Chakra. My will is strong and one with God’s
Fourth Chakra. I love and am loved and know the love of God
Fifth Chakra. I speak and create beauty and truth inspired by God
Sixth Chakra. I see the complete truth and the now through the light of God
Seventh Chakra. I am one with God

Doing this should lighten your mood, increase your overall health, fill you with more energy each day and allow you to see things more positively.

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Romney proposes capitalism and freedom over handouts

Romney spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative where he pulled no punches: He defended capitalism and freedom and the prosperity and charity they bring.  (He didn’t need to say it, but the implication is clear that his plan is direct opposition to government control and the redistribution of wealth, the plan that leads to destruction and suffering).

But Romney’s words ring much better than any summary I could write.

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Movies that show rich people as being good #10: Holiday

“I don’t want her dough I want to earn it myself.”

Any long time reader of this blog will know that I love movies (and books, but book reviews are a little more difficult to do) but I’ve pretty much run out of holidays to tie to movies (yes, there seems to be a holiday for every day on the calendarbut that would be pushing it) so I’ve decided to start looking at particular themes and genres.

So I’ll first turn to a theme I’ve seen a lot of in the recent coverage of the presidential election and in movies: the rich.  Specifically this obscene fallacy that rich people are all evil.  Evil I tell you, EVIL!  Romney’s worth $250 million, thus he must be evil! (Let’s just ignore the rich Democrats who earned their money in ways extremely less ethical than Romney’s way of earning his money, Mitt is evil because he is rich.)  However those of us who deal in the real world know this is not the case: there are some very, very good rich people in the world and some very, very evil ones.  There are good ones who earned their money and good ones who inherited it.  But you don’t see this very much in the realm of film.  You see the liberal nonsense that all wealth is ill gotten, either stolen, swindled, cheated from the poor or the result of criminal or corrupt practices.

But then again this is Hollywood we’re talking about.  Take a look around most films and TV shows. The rich live in opulence that in reality most of the top 1% couldn’t hope to afford.  The middle class in film seems to live in houses or apartments five times the size of what most of those really in the middle class (even the upper middle class) could usually afford to get.  And the poor seems to constantly live in a state somewhere below the poverty of the third world.  In short Hollywood’s idea of classes is a little skewed (and by skewed I mean ignorant and psychotic).

So the problem was that I tried to find my usual 20-30 movies.  I couldn’t.  There are not 20 good films that show rich people in a positive light.  10 with a few honorable mentions.  So we’re stuck with 10.

So here are my criteria for these 10.

  • The character must be admirable and have made their money through ethical means (yes inheritance is ethical so long as the original money was inherited).
  • The character must be really rich.  By that I mean they have to have enough money to retire for the rest of their life, never work another day, and still live a comfortable life style.

You’d think with such limited requirements I’d have more than 10, but no 10 is all I could find.

So let’s start with #10

Holiday (1938)

 “If I’m going to get stuck with a rich girl, I’ll just grit my teeth make the best of it.”

We start with one of the greatest romantic-comedies of all time, Holiday, starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.  It is based on a play my Philip Barry, a playwright who loved to show that the rich were human (with their good and their bad) as much as every other class.  The film is directed by great director George Cukor (you should know that name, he’s only the director of Gone with the Wind, The Philadelphia Story, Adam’s Rib, Born Yesterday, Pat and Mike, My Fair Lady)

The story centers around the Setons, a family of bankers of whose wealth places them in the highest levels of American society.  The father is set in his ways of a misguided reverence for money.  Oldest daughter Linda (Katherine Hepburn) is the black sheep and free spirit.  Youngest child and only son Ned, an artist at heart, is slowly being destroyed by his alcoholism because he doesn’t have the spine to tell his father he won’t be a banker.  And younger daughter Julia is very comfortable in her social strata and is looking for a man who can guarantee she will always be kept in wealth.

The problem is Julia settles on Johnny Case (Cary Grant) a successful up and coming businessman, and our first example in Hollywood of the admirable rich.  A regular genius he reengineers a failing company during the Great Depression for the firm he works for (hmm…buying failing companies and through reorganization of management making them successful…sounds very familiar) into a profitable business…in the process making himself a cool million in on its stock.  (in 1938 when this film was made a million would be about 15 million in 2010 dollars, so yeah he’s rich). But despite being a millionaire at 30, and all through his own work add brains, Johnny Case understands what money is actually for (something his fiancée does not).   Being happy.

Johnny:  But…I’m afraid I’m not as anxious as I might be for the things most people work toward. I don’t want too much money.

Edward:  Too much money? Johnny:  Well, more than I need to live by…You see, it’s always been my plan to make a few thousand early in the game, if I could, and then quit for as long as they last, and try to find out who I

There needed to be more movies with these two…

am and what I am and what goes on and what about it…I’m sure Julia understands…don’t you, Julia?

Julia:  [laughs, uncertainly]. I’m not sure I do, Johnny…

[…] Even if it turns out to be one of those fool ideas people dream about then go flat on.  Even if I find I’ve had enough of it in 3 months time, still I want it.  I’ve got a feeling if I let this chance go by there’ll never be another one for me.  So I don’t think anyone will mind if I just have a go at it.  Will they Julia?  Will they dear?

This classic shows the truth that it is not money that corrupts, more that it allows the corruptible to be even more vile.  Case wants to use his money to be happy because he knows that making money isn’t his primary goal in life and he won’t listen to those who say otherwise.  He is not only intelligent and competent, but he is happy and ethical and won’t violate his principles.

Even if you haven’t seen the film, I’m probably not spoiling anything by revealing Cary Grant actually gets Katherine Hepburn not the other sister.  Duh.  And here we see that someone born to money can be just as good as Cary Grant’s Case who started with nothing and earned it all himself.  She also embraces life at its fullest, cares about others, and does not compromise her values.

This film also subtly praises true capitalism in that it shows that through intelligence and work one can go from rags to riches even in the midst of the Great Depression.

Yes, Barry is fair in his depiction of the rich.  From the father of the Seton family who knows only his social class and doesn’t dare offend any of its traditions (competent at his job, not evil, but not necessarily living life to the fullest), to Julia who wants protection that wealth brings and nothing more, to the pro-fascist cousins of the family (remember this was 1938 and there were many stupid enough in all classes to think fascism held the answers for economic woes).   But even these are merely balance to show that the rich are not some terrible caricature or a group of white knights, they’re human and, as within any group, there is a wide variety of character.

Even the somewhat vapid Julia has an inkling of the proper nature of wealth…when trying to win Case to her side she states:

If you think that you can persuade me that a man of your energy and your ability possibly could quit at 30 […] But you haven’t any idea yet at how exciting business can be.  Oh Johnny see it through, you’ll love it I know you will.  There’s no such thrill in the world as making money.

This is true of some people.  Some businessmen enjoy creating things, businesses, systems, products because they can.  The great titans of industry from Vanderbilt to Jobs did it because they were driven to create, and they did thrill at creating wealth.  Case is not one of them and there is nothing wrong with that either as while he wants to find himself, he wants to do it on his dime, not someone else’s.  Julia’s problem is her narrow-minded belief that everyone has to fit into her model, and also the hypocrisy of why doesn’t she go out and build her own fortune (yeah it’s 1938 and women’s liberation hasn’t happened yet, but there were women in Congress at this point, no reason other barriers couldn’t be broken…especially in a movie starring Hepburn, a woman who broke barriers and traditions wherever she found them).  So her words are true, even if coming from her they ring hollow.

Honorable Mention

As I said there are a few honorable mentions that depict the rich well, but not so well they make it onto my top ten list.  The first of these is The Philadelphia Story.  Another joint venture of Barry, Cukor, Grant and of course Hepburn.  It’s a wonderful romantic comedy about high society.  And while Hepburn and Grant are admirable and rich, the issue of wealth is more setting than theme in this film.  The nature of money and why we seek it is central to Holiday, in The Philadelphia Story wealth is just a backdrop.  And so while it shows some wonderful (and some not so wonderful) people it ranks only as an honorable mention on this list…although one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time in its own right. 

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Weekly Meditation: Dispelling Negativity

So I’m going to assume regular readers of this blog pay attention to both the political and spiritual side of things.  And if you pay attention to the political then you may have noticed that this election cycle is a little bloodier than usual (or at least it seems to be to me).  And I don’t mean between the candidates, I mean between their supporters.  The fact of the matter is that if you have acquaintances on the other side of the isle, there is probably some pretty bad blood stirring right now.  (I say acquaintances and not friends, because friends can say things you disagree 110% with and you’ll still love them as friends, when acquaintances say stupid batshit crazy things you probably have the urge to slap the stupidity out of them.)  Every day we’re surrounded by idiots and, sadly, the odds of a pandemic that strikes only stupid people seem rather low.

 

So really the best advice for dealing with people who infuriate you is nothing original:  Try to avoid them.  Overly unhappy, negative and stupid people are black holes of unlucky accidents and disastrous outcomes (the Law of Attraction works both ways and those people who want to dwell on the negative bring misfortune and sorrow to themselves).  Avoid them.  Delete them from Facebook.  Don’t sit with them in the breakroom at lunch.  Avoid having conversations with them—politely if possible, but bluntly tell them you have more important things to do if necessary.

 

But avoiding the unhappy and unlucky isn’t so much a meditation as it is just a habit of positive living.  The mediation comes in with realizing that people have not only contact with you on the physical plane but also the spiritual ones.

 

There are variations of this idea in numerous belief systems, but New Agers believe that we have numerous bands of energy connecting us both to God, our guardian angels and spirit guides, and all the people around us.  In a healthy relationship between two people these cords function as a source of energy for both people, each one giving and receiving energy like a circuit that operates off alternating current…and in the healthiest relationship this positive force of spiritual energy develops a feedback constantly increasing the amount of energy.

 

However there are a lot of these etheric cords that are not so positive.  A lot of times we will develop relationships where we draw energy from others, without giving it back, or we have it taken from us.  Neither of these are healthy and both in the long run leads to our souls being disconnected from others in any meaningful way and thus drained.*

 

We form these cords that take energy when we feel like being negative to the point that we must spread our negativity.  When we bitch to our co-workers in such a way not to commiserate but to make ourselves and our problems the center of attention.  When we demand a shoulder to lean on, but don’t reciprocate when our friends need it.   When we act with an urge that if I must suffer so should you.  And if we are not careful we are the victim to these actions when others act in this way, forming psychic bonds that continue to drain us long after the event itself is over.

So this week I want you to start thinking about these cords.
This week we will start cutting the cords we don’t need; the cords where others are draining us of energy and the cords where we are draining others of energy.

 

Sitting quietly in lotus position (or as close as you can get) this will be easiest if you envision yourself in a black room alone by yourself.  Now envision the cords that connect you to everyone you know.  If you need to envision a specific point on your body that these cords are tied to, see them as being tied around your spinal column (the line of energy that connects your chakras).

 

Then seeing them you may notice that some are brighter than others and some darker.  It is these darker ones we need to get rid of.  You can cut them yourself in your mind but I think this is one of those times when it is helpful to call on God or an angel or ascended master.  For a job like this of dispelling and removing negativity I would recommend the Archangel Michael or the goddess Kali.

 

Let us start with the cords with which you’re draining others of energy (it would be hypocritical to cut others off before you stop draining others).

Say or think:

Archangel Michael (or whoever you feel comfortable calling on) I ask for your help in cutting all etheric cords where I am draining others of energy, what I did was out of thoughtless habit and not out of desire to hurt.  As we cut these cords please send my apologies to those whom I have taken energy from.  If they are open to it please connect this cord back to the source that is God** that they may replenish anything I have taken from them. 

 

Now take a moment to feel what it is like to have these cords off of you.  (Even though it was taking energy you should feel a little clearer and calmer…like the difference between energy from rest and energy from caffeine.)

 

Now time to cut the remaining negative cords.  Say or think.

Archangel Michael, I ask for your help in cutting all etheric cords that are draining me of energy.  As each one is cut please help send my forgiveness to anyone who felt they needed to take energy from me.  Please connect these cords back to their source that is God that I may be replenished and filled with the divine love that is always open to me. 

 

And again take a moment to feel the difference.  Hopefully you do.

 

Repeat this every day, not because the cords will come back on their own, but because we and other people have gotten into the habit of forming them.  Try to use each day’s events to help you learn what (and who) is causing them to form and if you can cut even as they form.

 

 

*I know this is making the soul sound like a battery, which is not my intent, but our thoughts and feeling do create changes which affect our souls and these changes can best be described with the metaphor of a battery and electricity.  When we are happy, full of love and positive it is as we are charged with lots of energy…and when we are depressed, fearful and negative it is as if our battery is empty.  Unlike electricity there is no limit to how much we can hold, and our own thoughts can generate it out of nothing by mere choice (or we can tap into the infinite reserve that is God) but habit of being in this world makes us act in a more give and take way, treating it as a limited resource that must be taken from or given to others rather than creating it within ourselves.

**One of the few things angels can’t do is violate our free will…which is often why we don’t get their help.  We forget to ask and give them permission to help and thus they can’t do much to help us.

 

 

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Weekly Meditation: Justifiably Believe in Yourself

“Don’t believe the things

you tell yourself so late at night

You are your own worst enemy,

You’ll never win the fight.”—Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”

“You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.” –Swami Vivekananda

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”–Frank Lloyd Wright

“If ye have faith…nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20)

“For this individual soul is incapable of being cut; and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. This soul is eternal, constant, omnipresent, unchangeable, immovable and everlasting.”—Bhagavad-Gita Chapter II verse 24

For those of you read this blog a lot you know that I have a particularly annoying troll.   He doesn’t seem to know very much, but is constantly offended by the fact that I am very confident in my beliefs.

His logic seems to be based on a single quote from a truly hackish pseudo-philosopher he follows religiously:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts.”—Bertrand Russell

My little troll even goes as far to quote on a study that won an Ig Noble award that wasted research time to find out the obvious point that people who are inept at their jobs are often convinced they do a great job, to prove his point.

Oh my silly little troll…

But Russell is an idiot, for numerous reasons, but in this case for not acknowledging that history is filled with people who were very intelligent who were certain of their beliefs and who ignored the doubts of others and themselves and who went on to achieve greatness and often improve the world.  I would say that a general rule of common sense is that if you can easily list off 50-100 counter examples without even thinking to a statement it probably shouldn’t be regarded as gospel truth.  And just because you find a study that says the inept are often over confident, it does not follow that everyone who is confident is inept (but you would have to know something about logic to know that).

The fact of the matter is not that the problem of the modern world is that the ignorant are overconfident, it’s that they’re not self reflective.  The problem is not only are the intelligent full of doubt but that doubt in and of itself has become a virtue.  Why?  Well this is the weekly meditation blog so I’m going to give you a spiritual answer:  The Ego.

That mis-created part of yourself that keeps you from knowing that you are part of God, that you are perfect, that you are not powerless and able to control your own life.

And as always the ego plays two separate games, offers you two options that are equally foolish.  To those who do not want to be self reflective it rewards them by telling them they’re right for not being self reflective—it makes you over confident and uses that overconfidence to keep you from improving.  Or if you choose self reflection it brings doubt to everything, it tries to make it appear as if anything you do, anything you say, anything you believe in must be wrong…and if you’re so terrible at knowing anything so must everyone else be incapable of knowing anything (it is this side that my silly little troll seems to live in constantly).

And while my troll seems utterly incapable of learning in this lifetime, I would not begin to think everyone is so far gone into listening to the lies of their ego.

You are put on this planet to accomplish,  learn, and the lack of self-reflection and doubts hinder your assignment and improvement.

So how do we counter this?

The first is through self reflection.  Complacency and habitual ignorance are not places to be. You must question everything you believe.  Ask why you believe it.  Ask if you have proof and if that proof justifies what you believe.

The second is not giving into doubt.  That kind of constant questioning can lead to frustration and hopelessness.  Don’t give into it.  Know that you are capable of finding the answer; that your mind and soul are in the end infinitely knowledgeable.  And you have to believe that the answer you find is the right one, be open to new evidence or a new way of looking at things, but you must proceed every day not giving into the paralysis of doubt…for in that way madness lies.  Sometimes, obviously you’ll have to make choices on insufficient evidence with insufficient time to decide, but you have to go on the best information you have at the time and trust that you made the best choice you could at the time.

Honest self-reflection and questioning of your beliefs are not the same as doubt.  Doubt is the belief that you cannot know.  Self-reflection is merely admitting that while you can know, you’re human and may be wrong…but you should never assume you’re wrong unless you have not taken time to think about what you believe and have not had evidence to the contrary considered.

Now really this is more a life-long habit to adopt, repeat, and refine.  It’s going to take more time than a week’s mantra…but a meditation on it is a good start.

So for this week I suggest two meditations.

The first one in the morning is a mantra:

I will reflect on my beliefs and my choices before I act.  I will not doubt my decisions.  I will reflect again when I have a chance and see if I made errors or mistakes, and I will not make them again.

The second is at the end of the day to reflect on your thoughts and decisions again.  To reflect on their outcomes and where you were right and where you were wrong.  Congratulate yourself for where you were right and make a note not to repeat the same mistake where you’re wrong.

This will at least help build a habit that will be a bulwark against the ego’s doubts.

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Obama did say, “You didn’t build that” and worse…Part III

 

“They might be giants, and we might be pygmies; but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.” Attributed to Sir Isaac Newton

So just to recap, Obama did actually say that government is responsible for all of your success and this is perhaps the dumbest idea in history.

Liberals will try and deflect from this by pointing out that Romney said the following at the Salt Lake Olympics:

Hand it to liberals to take a quote out of context…and still miss the point of what they’re taking out of context.

Well first off this, unlike the “You didn’t build that” comment is slightly out of context.  But before we get to context let’s just deal with the quote the liberals chose…as even that isn’t the same thing as Obama’s dipshit statement.

Let’s see what words does Romney use in that quotes.  Encouraged.  Guided.  None of which is equivalent to “You didn’t do that others did that.”   “All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them up.”  Which of course brings us back to the quote I have started each part of this series with: “but we stand on the shoulders of giants, so we can see farther.”  Those who stand on the shoulders, on the groundwork others have built have done something those people couldn’t.  They have done something that almost no one else could.

But is thanking someone equivalent to you didn’t do that?  No.  Look at the front or back of any book there is a long list of thanks and acknowledgements by the author to the people who helped them.  But just because people may have helped in deep and meaningful ways, it is the author’s name on the dust jacket because they’re the one who did the vast majority of the work, they’re the ones who created something out of nothing, they’re the ones who poured their soul out, worked long hours, fought the impulse to give up and created something.  And this is true of ANY entrepreneur, any Olympian, any person who accomplishes anything. They may have help and they should thank those individuals who helped them…but no sane person mistakes the kind of help individuals offer to one another for the actual accomplishment itself.

But ignoring that there is even a massive gulf between the two quotes out of context, let’s look actually at the full quote and see how while “You didn’t build that” wasn’t taken out of context, the Romney one kind of is.

“Tonight we cheer the Olympians, who only yesterday were children themselves,” Romney said. “As we watch them over the next 16 days, we affirm that our aspirations, and those of our children and grandchildren, can become reality. We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real. You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.” …

“You Olympians, however, know you didn’t get here solely on your own power,” said Romney, who on Friday will attend the Opening Ceremonies of this year’s Summer Olympics. “For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers, encouraged your hopes, coaches guided, communities built venues in order to organize competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them. We’ve already cheered the Olympians, let’s also cheer the parents, coaches, and communities. All right!.”

Remember how the full context of Obama’s statement was that it doesn’t matter if you’re smart or worked hard because lots of people are smart and lots of people worked hard…and I guess the implication is that they all fail if government isn’t there to decide who wins and who loses. Everything preceding Obama’s statement was “You are not good enough.  You cannot do it on your own.  Your intellect and drive are worthless unless government decides you should win.”  Well notice the context of Romney’s quote.  He starts off telling the Olympians they did do that.  “We salute you Olympians – both because you dreamed and because you paid the price to make your dreams real.”  (And don’t even get me started on how Obama wouldn’t understand the idea of paying the price for your dreams…he is a man who has had everything in his life handed to him without effort…which is why he believes you didn’t build that, he didn’t.)

“We salute you Olympians” Did Obama anywhere in his speech say we should salute the businessman who create products and services for us to buy or whose business creates jobs and wealth?  Does he say anywhere we should applaud them for taking a risk that could have lost them everything?  Does he say we should be in awe of them sometimes, like now when they’re keeping their businesses alive when they have a piece of shit President doing everything in his power (both through legal and illegal means) to try and destroy them?  Nope he doesn’t.  Romney starts his speech acknowledging that it is the individual who accomplished something that deserves credit first and foremost.  Obama doesn’t even understand that this should be anywhere on the list.

“You guys pushed yourself, drove yourself, sacrificed, trained and competed time and again at winning and losing.”  Romney recognizes that it is the individual who chooses to push themselves and the individual who works to achieve their goal. The greatest parents and coaches in the world in the best facilities in the world can’t do a thing if the person isn’t willing to drive themselves.  Compare that to “Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.”  In Obama’s world you don’t push yourself to achieve, you’re “allowed” to achieve because government, all powerful government, deigns that you may achieve at their sufferance.

So in answer to question that some truly idiotic liberal put on that picture above “Why is it ok for Mitt to remind elite athletes that they didn’t do it alone, but when Obama says the same of business people, the Right throws a hissy fit?”  Because what Mitt and Barry are saying are not equivalent.  Because there is a difference between you had help in achieving your dream and you didn’t do it, the government did it for you.  Because one embraces what the individual is capable of and one denies the ability to shape your own life.  Because one glorifies what man is capable of and one denies he is capable of anything.  Because one is the basis of a system that provides freedom for the individual and one is the basis for the slavery of the collective.  Maybe that’s why we’re getting into a “hissy fit” as idiotic liberals put it (intelligent people might call it justified righteous indignation). Because we can tell the difference between ideas and recognize their consequences.

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Weekly Meditation: Take another moment to think about your friends

“A true friend is one soul in two bodies”–Aristotle

One of the biggest problems with the ego in its continuing battle to keep you from reaching enlightenment is that it separates you from others.  It works to make us see the flaws in others and drive them away, or makes us look at those we like as special or extraordinary (as opposed to the truth that we are all holy and all capable of anything).

Now I know that second part about seeing everyone as perfect can be hard.  It’s hard enough seeing yourself as a part of the divine and completely perfect, let alone that dimwitted troll who spouts nonsense and is utterly impervious to reason.  It’s difficult and sometimes the saintly thinking of the parables of Jesus or Buddha or words of A Course in Miracles might be beyond us at this or that moment.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t move in the right direction.

So for this week I want you to take 10 to 15 minutes every day and run through the list of everyone you know, everyone you encounter, every person you pass and know who they are and wish them the best, pray for them, send them as much light and energy as you can.

Start with your loved ones, family and closest friends.  Move onto good friends and acquaintances.  Co-workers.  People you knew in college but haven’t talked to.  The barista whom you recognize but don’t know her name.  Keep expanding it further and further out.  Wish everyone the best, send them love and compassion in your mind.  Make as much of a mental and psychic connection as you can with them.  See the divine in them.

As you run through this list you’ll run across people you can’t immediately feel good towards.  The violent uncle.  The useless coworker.  The idiot client.  Don’t dwell.  Just skip them.  Yes if you can bring yourself to see the divine in them and love that, great…but better to move on than force a feeling you don’t actually believe in at this moment.

As you do this many of the barriers we put up around each other and around others will fall and you’ll probably find that you’re able to see the divine in more people at the end of the week than you did at the beginning.  And as you do this you will hopefully begin to see how your soul is connected to the souls of others. 

Remember that applies to everyone else as well.

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