People Power: Government

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am intrigued these days by the degree to which most Americans on both sides of the current divide assume government action of one sort or another is the best solution to everything.  It’s a big expectation to hold toward a government that isn’t really ruled for the people or by the people.  Until we address the issue of elected representatives who are governed by the 2%, I don’t think we can count on the government to lead any significant change.

People don’t seem to want to explore the degree to which global corporations and their money run the government in the U.S. (and probably many other countries).  And I believe the finger pointing and divisiveness suits them very well because it keeps everyone blaming “those people”–the immigrants, the refugees, the Muslims, etc– instead of blaming the real culprits, the 2% and the companies they manage.

The first time I was aware of it being pointed out was John Kenneth Galbraith’s New Industrial Society and the situation of industries ruling nations has only grown worse.  Many successors to Galbraith have been pointing this out for the decades since.

The grip of defense contractors and the associated massive over-spending in the Pentagon is one of our biggest problems and nobody in the government is willing to even raise a question about it, though many studies have shown that a reasonable reining in of military spending would free enough funds to pay for every social welfare/benefit program there is and some new ones too.

But other industries also pay massive amounts in campaign contributions and then expect “their” representatives to toe the line.  We need laws to stop these corporate super PACs but first we need enough corporate-free representatives to even pass such a law.

In the 2018 election we finally had a number of candidates running without corporate backing and many whose campaigns were funded by individual donations.  There seem to be a growing number of activists and politicians who are aware of how important this is but I think we need to grow this awareness.  We should not accept any candidates for any office who are not certified free of any corporate backing.

In my vision I see the possibility of this changing but I also see it changing too slowly to address many problems.  People Power is the answer.

The People Power series so far:

Spread the Word: Guest Bloggers Wanted

Sreejit is looking for guest bloggers with a topic to take you deep — tell a story from your life about moving from darkness to light.

The Seeker's Dungeon

I am holding a new guest posting event starting May 1st, and am hoping that it will be the most soul gutted sharing ever.When I say soul, I don’t mean the formless, conscious witness existing beyond the body, but I mean the tortured mind-body complex that is working its way through so many traumas. The title of this event is, From Darkness to Light, and it is about sharing with all of us one of your own trials or traumas that set you on a path towards your own life’s purpose. You can find the full prompt here: https://theseekersdungeon.com/from-darkness-to-light/

I am hoping that not only do you all join in on the madness, but that you invite your friends to share their experiences as well. Together we can light up this world that sometimes appears to be a canaverous mess. Your words might just what someone else needs to hear…

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Creating bridges with dialogue

Part of one of this week’s assignments in the Harmony and Co-Humanity class I’m taking was to watch this video.  Meghan grew up in a right wing church that basically operated as a hate group, and did a complete 180 turn.

Her story is moving and her advice on bridging divides with considered dialogue are worth watching.  Only 15 minutes:

Walking a different drummer/spiritual path in a secular world

A little over a week ago I started participating in an on line class called “Co-Human Harmony“.  The idea is to work on understanding and tools to help create bridges in a divisive society or situation.  I signed up because I think it’s so important right now and because I realize I even have a problem quite often about joining groups who are working for peace or justice (i.e. theoretically same view as mine) because I frame these issues so differently.

I’m loving the class but also struggling for the same reasons.  The quite valid point of the class is to learn tools for bridging divides where people are, which is generally not in a place of understanding or accepting non-duality.  And I’m realizing I’ve moved so far along the path of looking at everything from a spiritual/metaphysical viewpoint, I’m having trouble answering some of the course questions within a more “practical” framework.

I believe so thoroughly we’re all divine beings who are made of energy which is part of one unified field.  And I am so used to using tools like (1) moving into heart energy and shifting a room with it or (2) chanting lovingkindness for someone with whom I’m at odds or (3) doing a meditation that balances energy between me and another person before we actually interact, that I think in those terms for bridges and healing rifts.

The teacher has pointed out it’s fine to think in those terms (and has encouraged me to continue) but for these situations we’re addressing how to be in a room with, say, a Neo-Nazi, and find a way to connect as humans so we can talk.  And I’m guessing as we move from studying the theoretical framework to more practical applications it may become easier to just use and apply new concepts.  But right now I’m floundering in attempts to talk about my understanding of various passages, videos, etc. on which we’re asked to comment without talking about energy and chakras and stuff.

I’m really seeing how far down this spiritual path I’ve gotten.  I know, I know, seems goofy after this many years for this to be a new thought.  But I’ve wound up mostly hanging around with other spiritual seekers who’ve been at it for years and though I know intellectually that most people don’t think this way, I’m rarely confronted in person with how totally different the drumbeat to which I march really is.

Since most of the folks who regularly read and participate here lead deeply spiritual lives I’m very interested and curious to hear your thoughts and stories about participating as a spiritually-enmeshed person in secular affairs.  Comments are welcome but I’d be even more excited to see some of you write posts about living spiritually in a secular world.

BTW, I’ll still be continuing the People Power series but as I work through this class I’ll likely switch back and forth in topics.

People Power: Government, the Environment and Us

For some years I’ve been increasingly fascinated by the degree to which Americans want government to do everything for them yet don’t want to pay taxes for it and simultaneously dislike “big government”.

Lately I’ve been finding it especially ironic that many are reviving the old “red scare” which completely misunderstands socialism (and conflates it with Soviet Communism) while also wanting government to take care of everything from roads to health care to the environment to jobs, etc.  Which is kind of socialist…

Liberals have always been more complacent about government but in some ways the widespread assumption that government intervention is the most important source of help for multiple problems is misguided in my opinion.

For instance, the liberal/left keeps jumping up and down about climate change and making the federal government’s role in it central and crucial to any success.  In the meantime, though, if you look around at what’s happening around the world, the greatest and most vibrant projects with potential for saving the earth arose from individuals, non-profits and local governments taking initiative to work on new and creative ideas.

Project Drawdown is an extremely heartening book detailing innovations already under way with potential to turn around climate change if they continue and expand. Multitudes of projects are already happening and almost none of them were implemented by national governments. See also Yes Magazine, Planet tab, and note this article in particular: How to Not Be Completely Depressed About Climate Change.

I’m not saying that government can’t play an important role or that it isn’t a huge help if national governments get on board.  But the reality is most federal governments are so ruled by corporate interests and so deeply corrupted by those ties that to me it isn’t realistic to assume even the “right” elected representatives can create changes of the magnitude we need.

The one heartening piece I’ve seen lately was the number of newly elected representatives to the U.S. House who raised money only through individuals, not through corporate PACs.  If we could accomplish a turnover in which the majority of those elected are doing it without corporate money, we might start shifting the corruption because they might be less subject to influence.  I also think that might take too long.

Too me the great hope for the world is in having more of us participating, from trying out the kinds of innovations others have already launched, to financially supporting non-profits with viable programs to creating your own climate saving project.  From projects you can do in your own yard to ideas for solar buildings and/or neighborhoods, etc. there are multitudes of ways people power can expand and create ever greater impacts.

Throughout this series I’ll be calling for local action and for more conscious meshing of ideas, groups, volunteering etc. within communities in order to separate ourselves on many levels from the greed of the 2% and corporate power.

A topic for another day is using people power to break corporate power and thus the global corporate tendency to destroy the environment.  In the meantime, yes, work to elect “green” candidates and push for helpful legislation, but even more important look at your local landscape and see what YOU can do.  What’s happening that you could participate in with friends?  What organizations are doing great things that could use volunteers or more funds?

And for the spiritually-minded, who believe in the power of prayer, visualization and energy:  holding a vision of a healthy world, raising your own vibration to help raise the world’s vibration, sending healing energy to Earth and affirming the positive innovations by bringing attention to them are all ways to contribute.

The People Power series so far:

People Power: Truth, Lies, Myths, Manipulation

For part 2 in my People Power series a lot of focus right now on truth telling and “fake” news, which is discussed as if it’s a phenomenon that started with the current U.S. administration.  The truth and what we believe and why we believe it are crucial at this point but it’s a slippery slope.

The media and people in power have been hoodwinking us for years (maybe always?) and we all now hold a lot of beliefs that are based on falsehoods and/or manipulations.  In the wake of the 2016 election I’ve read a lot of studies about belief and how hard it is to change one or more.  Bottom line is beliefs are very hard to change in all people.  Once a belief has been accepted, most all of us will ignore evidence that tells us a different truth.

By and large these studies aimed at the right wing folks who elected the not-really-a-president, but what I’m seeing is that both sides are subject to the same “set in stone” thinking.  And the liberal/left often seems so smug about knowing what’s true and what’s not that they are blind to the ways in which they have been duped and are just as gullible to believing what’s been fed.

My first three examples of ways the media shifts perception all come from events of which I was aware or in which I participated in the 1980’s:

1 Nicaragua

  In the 80’s there was a huge civil war in Nicaragua in which the socialist Sandinistas were fighting the party of the late right-wing despotic dictator Somoza.  The Somozan guerillas called themselves Contras and had death squads torturing and killing people.

Reagan supported the right wing and the giant propaganda effort he waged on their behalf led to the Iran-Contra affair.  One small but key move he made to shift perception was to start calling the Contras “Freedom Fighters” in order to portray them as the good guys.

After a while I noticed that NYT articles about the situation were using his propaganda phrasing, calling the Contras “Freedom Fighters”.  It’s a subtle but effective way of re-shaping perception by a small change of phrase.  The anti-abortion movement pulled off a similar shift by changing their movement to “Pro Life”.

[At a guess, it was not the reporters on those articles who used the phrase, but probably an editorial change commanded by somewhere up the chain]

2 Nuclear Power Cases

Nuclear Power Plant cases are giant sprawling things, with thousands of pages of complex expert testimony, briefs that are usually 100 or more pages each and opinions that are just as long.  They’re complicated and cover tough-to-grasp topics like nuclear power plant engineering and econometric forecasting.

I worked on those cases and I barely grasped the minutiae even after several years, relying on the greater expertise of older attorneys who’d been at it so long they knew every nuance.  So I can imagine how tough it must be for a reporter covering the outcome of such a case –presumably among other assignments on other topics — to comprehend the material.

Pretty much every time one of our cases came down, I’d read the newspaper report on the opinion/outcome and scratch my head, wondering if the decision on some other nuclear plant case somewhere else had come out that day and the reporter confused the opinions.  Really.  I’d read the opinion and then the news and fail to see how one led to the other.

I don’t think anybody manipulated on purpose in those cases, but in complex technical matters it’s too much for a mainstream media reporter to be able to get it all and write a concise, understandable article that accurately reflects the material.  I’ve talked to other people in other complex arenas who’ve said the same thing.  Media coverage often doesn’t reflect the kind of understanding that people within the “biz” have.  On complex topics, if you really want to know, you probably need to look at trade-specific journals or major studies.

But the news articles are often the only info the public ever sees, so any mistakes in the coverage wind up being part of the belief system.  One example in nuclear stuff I see all the time is the assumption that nuclear is the cheapest form of power.

Putting aside the incalculable issue of how much the environmental devastation will cost down the road, (1) the cost overruns of building them have been astronomical; and (2) the ONLY reason they ever seemed relatively cheap in the U.S. was the gigantic federal underwriting they received.  If you add the grants into the overall cost they’re very expensive.

But because the powers that be who favor nuclear have always referred to it as the cheapest form and the federal money supporting them is never mentioned there’s a general belief that nuclear power is cheap.  In this case the public is misled by a combo of misinformation and omission.

3 Perception of Crime

Yup, I’m back to this one again.  And before you roll your eyes and think I need to stop with this one, I really want you to take this in and understand how manipulation changed perception and what that means for us.

As a sociology grad student in the late 70’s I landed on a huge research project called “Reaction to Crime”.  The premise was that the perception of rising crime threats arose from some changes in reporting and the idea was to figure out how to assuage those fears.  Part of the project was a gigantic “crime statistics survey” in which a small group of us poured through decades of studies and articles on crime stats.

In a nutshell, what we found was that the chance of being the victim of a crime, from robbery, burglary, assault, battery, kidnapping, etc. to murder HAD NOT CHANGED IN DECADES.  Two major changes fueled the change in perception:  (1) crime used to be reported differently and not in gross numbers as it has been for some decades now and (2) the rise of television meant that many crimes that once would have been reported only locally became national news.

The change in reporting from noting probability to just counting the total number of crimes and sounding the alarm that it kept going up suits law enforcement and politicians very well because it helps them convince the public they need big budgets and fuels election campaigns.

The thing is, the population keeps growing, so the totals will always grow. The only relevant info in terms of being afraid of crime is the probability.  Has not changed significantly over all for more than 100 years.  And I keep checking in on the studies and reports as they update and it’s always the same.  Unless you’re a Hispanic or Black male between 15 and 25, the chances of being a crime victim have gone down by and large since Colonial times. (And I’ve not looked into it but I suspect some crimes related to opioid sales and distribution have gone up in recent years.  And hate crimes only have relatively recent stats as they were not considered separately).

But every time I talk to people about this I see them politely nod and then observe them a day or two later discussing the terrible crime problem.  So this is the piece I want you (and I use “you” very generally here, hoping I might reach a wider than usual audience) to really get.

I am telling you the factual evidence compiled by decades of experts in this field shows  a perception of crime as rampant and getting worse that IS NOT TRUE.  And most of you have bought so deeply into the manipulation that you do not really believe me when I tell you this.

How does this make you different from climate deniers?  Or flat earth believers?  Somebody presented those folks with an alternate view of truth and they’ve bought it so thoroughly you can’t persuade them it’s actually false.

This is how manipulation works.  It presents you with a version of events or a way of phrasing or skewed “statistics” that suits people in power and gets you to believe what they want you to.  And then you can’t be dissuaded.

In the 1940’s, when people left everything unlocked and wandered around feeling safe, the only difference in likelihood of being a victim was perception.  Not the numbers.  Perception.  So when you worry about crime and contemplate security systems, etc. remember nothing has changed since the days of unlocked doors except your perception.

A few articles:

In a broader sense, this all goes to a point I’ve been making for a while about the price of lapping up negative news and largely ignoring (instead of demanding!) positive news.  The corporate elite–who quietly (and I’d argue without a conspiracy but acting out of self interest) hold the strings of power and use them to manipulate–put a lot of effort into keeping the populace afraid and pointing fingers at one another and at “circumstances” like rising crime.

Lately I’ve been noticing in my digital Washington Post subscription, although they continue to dislike the President while also celebrating him daily via multiple posts, they’ve been tearing down the Democratic candidates and Democrats in general on a daily basis lately.  At first I was surprised but then recalled I’ve read several times that the big mainstream media folks have recouped their financial standing by covering this administration incessantly.  Which will presumably change if he isn’t elected in 2020.  Bear this mind.

The point of creating fear is to keep us from noticing (1) together we actually have the power since the 2% need us to buy their crap and (2) they’re really the ones raping, pillaging, plundering, and destroying the earth and its people.  But if we’re all hopping around about crime and racism and immigrants and refugees and dividing into camps pointing fingers at one another they just get to keep taking more power and leaving us with less of everything.

Which brings me to another item I keep coming back to, this lovely 10 minute Ted Talk by Julia Bacha on the importance of being aware of the positive and the price of focusing on the negative.

It’s time for us to wake up and look at the world with new eyes.  To step back from the “truth” as we keep perceiving it through the lens of mainstream media.  It’s time to seek and celebrate the multitudes of positive things in the world.  And by noticing and celebrating we bring attention.  Since energy flows where attention goes, that means energy moves to the good stuff.  That’s how we start moving the power.  Change the flow.

For those of us in this blogging crowd who have come to know each other here, we have been in the forefront of those who are digging deep into our own psyches and releasing the old false beliefs and delusions in our personal lives.  Now it’s time for us to dig into the false beliefs and delusions of our society and world and step back to hold a deeper truth.  I don’t usually ask this, but please forward this through social media for me.  We need to get this out there.

People Power: The Rambling Intro :-)

I’ve been pretty excited lately about some epiphanies I’ve been having about the world and where we can choose to head, with ideas on many levels and many fronts/aspects of life on earth.  As has increasingly been happening in recent years, the aha arrived from some other dimension and without words.

An influx of images and feelings that translate only partially into words and thoughts, which leaves me both excited and frustrated as I try to figure out how to explain it.  It’s clear that multiple posts will be required.

We, the 98%, Have the Power

The entire things boils down most simply to that thought but there’s so much more.  It’s an evolution of a thought I’ve played with for years, that we vote at least as much — probably more — with our dollars as with our trips to the voting booth.  And that there’s power in how we choose to spend.

I’ve been tossing thoughts off on other social media for a bit now about how puzzling it is that the 2% seem to have a delusion that the well-being or lack thereof of the 98% doesn’t affect them.  Simultaneously my long-time thoughts about power elites and their control of the military industrial complex have landed on really comprehending how we’ve let global corporations take control of the world and its governments.

But their wealth and prosperity are entirely dependent on us, the 98%, buying their goods and services.  If we withdrew our monetary support of their enterprises and instead created local trade, manufacturing, service and community efforts to provide goods and services while electing more reps into government who have been backed only by “people funding”, their power would collapse.  And yes, we have to face possible disruption and reprisals could go along with that.

My concerted effort at finding positive news has also shown me the widespread expansion of an idea I noted 25+ years ago via ads in places like Yoga Journal and New Age magazine.  At that time I could see a small and growing alternative economy thriving along side the normal corporate robber baron economy.  And now I see small personal and local efforts around the world taking charge of creating change without government or with only local government impetus.  Key to where I see us moving.

I see this possibility operating in so many ways, the series of posts will more specifically explore individual aspects.

It’s All Been Leading Here

The personal thread in these insights that excites me is I can now see the long eclectic journey from studying political and economic systems in college through multiple studies and jobs to the more recent spiritual journey and its insights, everything has added up to this.

I hope you’ll bear with me as, for me, I feel a need to write out as much of the eclectic path as I can recall:

  1. Attending college at the height of the anti-Viet Nam protests got me interested in “the power elite” and that, combined with calls for revolution in the air, led me to put together my own “major” outside my declared one.  I studied political philosophy and science, the history of power, comparative economic and political systems obsessively.
  2. In graduate school I intended to hone in my power elite study, but funding wound up sidetracking me into a big study called “Reaction to Crime” and my journey through a huge literature survey on crime statistics led to many insights and realizations that continue to unfold.  Bottom line:  probability of being a victim of most crimes has not changed in at least 100 years but manipulation of how it’s reported and how the statistics are presented has created a FALSE perception that crime is getting worse and it’s now deep in the consciousness of our culture.  Not the only arena in which we have a shared view that’s been manipulated into being.
  3. Law School.  None fun (as a cousin used to say in childhood), but provided so many tools for understanding and insight, not the least of which was an incredibly demanding Constitutional Law professor.
  4. Becoming a lawyer on nuclear power plant cases helped me to understand many ins and outs of how regulated systems work as well as nuances about the many problems of nuclear power.
  5. Doing that lawyering for a government agency in Illinois I came to understand a lot about how power in government operates behind the scenes.
  6. My foray into the world of meditation, yoga and metaphysics while still practicing law led to a complete turnaround for me, including seeing how harmful law practice was for my well-being.
  7. Shortly after leaving the law I went through Nine Gates Mystery School in 1990.  A life-changing experience, it led me to embrace my spiritual journey much more deeply.  I also wound up studying with several of the teachers from the school, one of whom in particular led me deep within my psyche and helped me let go of SO many old beliefs.
  8. A part-time gig doing some editing and proofreading for a little (and crooked as it turned out) publishing company landed a right wing Christian book in my pile that was eye opening as to the level of lying and making things up ingrained in that thinking.  Yup way before The Rump evangelical preachers were already training their flocks to buy any crap they made up.
  9. Another part time gig at Institute of Noetic Sciences brought so many resources into my life and introduced me to a number of teachers whose work continues to influence me.  I also learned what it’s like to work for a place that genuinely likes and appreciates its employees.
  10. After moving to KY I wound up in a part time job for the local Unity church. It was supposed to be a little clerical gig after the church lost its ministers to lack of funding.  As the only person around, I wound up doing bits of everything from filling in for the pianist to playing a leadership role I would never have conceived of myself doing.  I was surprised to watch myself step up to a visible role with a fair amount of ease after a lifetime of trying to be invisible.  A great affirmation of how much change I’d accomplished and a huge shift in self-conception without which I doubt I’d have the hubris to be writing this..
  11. I wound up creating a new exercise program to help with my muscle issues and, in trying to share it with others, discovered many people don’t want to do their own self care.
  12. As I worked on creating a more positive outlook I began looking for positive news, a venture that accelerated exponentially after the 2016 election.  It has wound up helping me to see the whole world differently.  People everywhere are stepping up and changing things for the better and there’s a reason the mainstream press doesn’t highlight these stories.
  13. I’ve been able to use all my background in historical, political and sociological studies as well as my law degree and experience in working for government to read along in current events much more closely than I’d done in years.  All helps to read between the lines and see a lot about what’s going on, including many issues and beliefs buried so deep in our culture that even many highly aware people don’t seem to see how they’re locked into it.
  14. The long spiritual journey and lots of release and letting go practices are helping me immensely to stand back and evaluate issues from a different perspective.  Meditation and mindfulness, etc. also help me to see how much change we really need and to contemplate the potential upheaval with calm.  And I see a major spiritual component in both what is happening now and in creating change.

I’m not claiming to have some high level of expertise as I’m clearly more of a dabbler.  But I have a mind that both finds the heart of the matter readily and synthesizes information from multiple sources with ease and those often combine to help me see answers no one else is seeing.

I don’t have all the answers for how we get to where I see us going but I have a sense of the basics we need to address if we truly want to change the world.