Philosophy | Politics | Religion

Category: Politics Page 1 of 4

This Is Not Your Dad’s Republican Party Or Your Grandfather’s Democratic Party

This Post is republished from its original publishing date one year ago.

There comes a time when we as an American people need to work together, other than in times of war, for our greater good.  We have much in common and our differences should be the spice that makes the meal great and stop being the meal.

We should not be competitors intent on winning elections.  Winning needs to be grander than that.  Winning needs to be about bringing America closer to the lofty words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  We need to stop being selfish, tribal, divided, and seeing others as an enemy.

To accomplish grander winning we need to hit the refresh button on Congress.

  • If we could take money out of elections our elected representatives could be more independent of the power brokers.  Then, we start electing individuals and not parties.
  • If there were 18 year term limits on Senators and 12 year term limits on Representatives, power will begin to reside with a younger group that actually want to cross Party lines to move us forward.

The differences we have are manifested by liberals and conservatives. There are many progressives in both parties but conservatives and liberals are not in both Parties. Conservatives and liberals hate to compromise.  Progressives are balance seekers.  Balance is needed in almost everything we do.  Republicans generally point to three presidents they most admire–Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Reagan  and two of them, Lincoln and Roosevelt, were progressives with Reagan of Trickle Down fame, being a conservative. 

Eisenhower doesn’t seem to get as much love compared to those three but he was also a progressive and warned us of the Military Industrial Complex while expanding Social Security.  Eisenhower fought isolationist policies and fully supported NATO.  He prioritized inexpensive nuclear weapons and cut military spending.  He warned about the dangers of massive military spending, particularly deficit spending.  He spent money on infrastructure and created the Interstate Highway System.  Eisenhower’s two terms saw widespread economic prosperity and achieved this with high tax rates.  His taxes on corporate taxes were two times what they were in 2017 and now greater than two times with the 2019 tax changes.

Teddy Roosevelt was known as the Trust Buster.  He was President when many were prone to nostalgically looking back upon the preindustrial era “when the average man lived more to himself.”  He challenged them to look forward, not backward–to a time when public sentiment was ready for the national government to find constructive ways to intervene in the workings of the economic order, to regulate the trust, stimulate competition, and protect small companies.

During the beginning of his Presidency there was a major coal strike that if ignored would create substantial hardships.  At the time Republicans would have taken the side of business but Roosevelt took his own path to solve the strike.  A strike that brought to focus the issues arising from gigantic trusts that were rapidly swallowing up competitors leading to corruption and increasing the concentration of wealth and the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

Roosevelt was a student of history, a voracious reader, and a historian.  He knew this strike reflected the decades long trend where owners took advantage of miners, businesses put profits above worker, and the gap between rich and poor grew.

The Party of Lincoln and the 1860’s Infusion of Northern Democrats

The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote?  Lincoln was a progressive and avoided extremes, leaving those to liberals and conservatives.  His Republican Party in the 1860’s was drawing progressives from Northern Democrats and from the splintering Whig Party.  The Democratic Party as a result of their progressive members gravitating to Lincoln’s new Republican Party, became controlled by the Southern Democrats and became known as the Andrew Jackson Democrats.

The Democratic Party, whose roots included Jefferson and anti-federalists, did not grow again until Franklin Roosevelt introduced the New Deal that gave a country hope during the Great Depression while the Republican Party refused to support it.  Then World War came and the nation was successfully guided to victory by Democratic Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman and a 5 Star General, Eisenhower, who although became a Republican President, was recruited by both Parties to be their candidate.

The Party of Lincoln and the 1960’s Infusion of Southern Democrats

Lyndon Johnson(D) was a Texan that got Southern and Northern States, Democrats and Republicans, to pass civil rights legislation that since 1776 this country knew was eventually going to have to pass if our great American Experiment was to be real and closer to what we declared in the Declaration of Independence.

 “We foremost hold truths to be self evident, that this nation was conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Lyndon Johnson gave us Medicare, Medicaid, and Head Start and other legislation designed to help abolish poverty.  He is remembered most for his Civil Rights Act that outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.  It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

That Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition and subtraction. Grass roots campaigning is fundamental to winning an election and the makeup of the grass roots in each Party changed.  Party Platforms also changed with the Democratic Party moving more toward the 1860 version of the Party of Lincoln and the Republican Party moving away from the 1860 Party of Lincoln.

The Party of Lincoln and the 2000’s Infusion of The Tea Bag Party Into The Republican Party

In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. They have moved the Republican Party away from Lincoln’s and Teddy Roosevelt’s visions and toward a more pro-business stance less burdened by employee expenses and taxes.

Bernie Sanders

While the Southern Democrats that moved to the Republican Party in the mid 1960’s and the Tea Bag Party/Freedom Caucus that joined the Republican Party in the 2000’s have pushed the Party of Lincoln away from its progressive roots, Bernie Sanders has pushed the Democratic Party toward liberalism.

However, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were progressives and governed left of center.  The Democratic Party elected Hillary Clinton  over Bernie Sanders as their Presidential candidate in 2016.  And now, it has chosen Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders as their candidate for 2020.  This means the heart of the Democratic Party is not radical liberalism or socialism.  It is instead dominated by progressives who are generally left of center.

Balance

We need balance.  We need progressives like Teddy and Abraham and Barack.  Yes, I know, I slipped Barack in there.  But whether or not you are comfortable with a black family in the White House, it was historical and a profound outcome of Lincoln’s vision of America.

And no matter how many of us want to reject this, the Obama Administration was clean, inspirational and soul satisfying for the majority of Americans–he made the majority of Americans proud of themselves.  The world was disappointed with us due to the Iraq War and our part in the economic collapse that almost put the world in a depression just as Obama was sworn into office.  Obama Care along with the Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act, Eisenhower’s expansion of Social Security, Johnson’s Medicare and Medicaid Acts, and Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit plan have saved American’s financial lives over and over again.  All progressive measures.

And let’s remember that the Iraq War and Medicare Part D were not budgeted for and therefore they were paid with debt.  These two accomplishments are Republican accomplishments.  Obama Care was budgeted for and therefore was paid for with fees and taxes.  Republicans like to say the phrase “Tax and Spend Democrats” over and over again.  But Republicans use debt to finance big ventures.  They could comparatively be called “Debt and Spend Republicans.”  Both terms are meant to demean the other Party and not enlighten voters.

The Direction of America

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle to control the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address:

That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Conservatives tend to be pro-business and Liberals tend to be pro-people.  The former has accepted that wealth is accumulating in the top two percent of Americans and the latter has not and while both parties differ from issue to issue, these two core beliefs of conservatives and liberals, pro-business v pro-people, are the foundation for the lack of balance that currently exists in the Republican and Democratic parties we know today.

Progressives in both Parties understand that being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.

Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic and does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual?  No!  But if it did we would again need balance.  Balance that progressives bring.

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.  Progressives are to the right of Socialism and to the left of Capitalism.  Capitalism without spiritualism and Socialism without materialism produces a system that is not in balance.

Voting a straight Party ticket without regard to whether a candidate is too far left or too far right can lead to a nation that is out of balance.

Make America Great

Every man is wanted, and no man is wanted much.

Every hero becomes a bore at last.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Make America Great Again” begs the question as to when we were  great.  I’ll take the mystery out of where that time might have been right now–1955 – 1965.  What might we need to do to make now as good and better than we were between 1955 and 1965?

In our early years we were more about potential and hope than we were about being great.  I don’t think we want to go back to the slavery years or the Civil War era. The 1910’s included World War I.  The 20’s had gangsters and prohibition; and 30’s included the Great Depression, the 40’s included World War II and the early 50’s included the Korean War.

I will give reasons why we might exclude the years after 1965 as our greatest as we go along.  Whatever past decade we pick, remember, nostalgia for the good old days plays out best for old white men. 

Prior to the 50’s, Social Security didn’t exist and prior to the 60’s Medicare and Medicaid didn’t exist. Those three safety net programs made huge differences in the lives of millions of people.  The early 60’s  saw employees receive more generous health insurance plans and pensions.  In 1939 barely 5% of Americans were covered by insurance for hospitalization, but by mid-1950’s it was 60%.  Over the same brief period, the fraction of American workers set to get fixed pensions from their companies went from just 7% to 25%, on its way to a majority by the 1970’s.  Employers now mostly offer 401K programs instead of pensions. 

Many people yearn for the late 70’s and the 80’s.  Low taxes on the rich, unregulated businesses, weak unions, and a weak federal government championed by President Reagan but it didn’t create the utopia “Make America Great Again” hat wearers might remember.  Those decades resulted in big business calling the shots and controlling the economy at the expense of the middle class. 

In 1965 the CEO’s of the largest U.S. corporations were paid 20 times as much as their average employees.  Today, they are paid 204 times as much as their average employees. In 1965, Americans would have thought anything greater than 20 times would have been unacceptably unfair.  The wealth gap between Americans has grown exponentially since the 50’s and 60’s. 

Our national debt has grown since 1965 and the conservative element of the Republican Party wants to reduce entitlements to balance the budget and the national debt meaning reduce Social Security and other safety net programs. They still want to spend on the military though.

Republicans dominated our government between our Civil War and the Great Depression.  Outside of Teddy Roosevelt, they have fully supported business over workers.  A word of caution to conservatives if they continue to reject programs that support the middle and lower middle class—Republicans enjoyed large majorities in both the House and Senate in 1929 before the crash.  Six years later, after Republicans fought against Roosevelt’s New Deal that would raise America’s spirits and address unemployment and long bread lines, Democrats took control of the Senate by 75 to 17 and the House by 333 to 89.

America, between 1955 and 1965, was progressive and led by Republican President Eisenhower and Democratic Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Our interstate highways were being built and more citizens were getting access to the some of the privileges stated in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and our Declaration of Independence. Was Lincoln wrong?  Was Thomas Jefferson wrong?

Biden’s infrastructure plan and its funding sources would seem to get us back to the 50’s and 60’s in regard to everybody sharing the fruits of America more equally.  The No. 1 reason taxes on the very wealthy have declined is due to the fall in corporate taxes.  In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, (when America was great?) many corporations paid about half of their profits to the federal government. The money helped pay for the U.S. military and for investments in roads, bridges, schools, scientific research and more.

Fifty-five big companies paid zero federal income taxes last year according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the U.S. raises less corporate tax revenue as a share of economic output than almost all other advanced economies.

The justification for the tax cuts has often been that the economy as a whole  will benefit and that lower corporate taxes would lead to expansion, jobs, and higher incomes. Instead, economic growth has been mediocre since the 1970s. And incomes have grown more slowly than the economy for every group except the wealthy.  The long-term decline in corporate taxes doesn’t seem to have provided much of a benefit for most American families.

If all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed — on the corporate tax, as well as on investment taxes and income taxes for top earners — the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s.

In the decades just after World War II, many corporations paid about half of their profits in federal taxes. (Shareholders, who are disproportionately affluent, effectively pay those taxes). Today, corporate taxes are only about one-fourth as large, as a share of G.D.P., as they were in the 1950s and ’60s.

In the 1990s, the last time tax rates were as high as the ones Biden has proposed, the economy boomed. It also grew rapidly after World War II, when tax rates were higher yet.

Let’s take a look at the Republican and the Democratic Party proposals for infrastructure and think about which one better reflects the America of the 50’s and 60’s–a time when America was great.

The Republicans want to use fees to pay for their  infrastructure proposal. Again, they want the middle and lower middle class to pay for it and not the wealthy or corporate America–as I have said, they are pro-business, just like they were during the depression.  Their plan would mostly benefit corporate America’s ability to deliver their products.  It is heavy on highway funding, allocating $299 billion for roads and bridges, or more than half of the overall figure. On the transportation side, it also includes $61 billion for transit, $20 billion for rail, $44 billion for airports, $17 billion for water ports and $13 billion for safety agencies including the DOT bodies that oversee highways, trucking and pipelines. Non-transportation line items include $65 billion for broadband, $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and $14 billion for water storage.

President Biden’s infrastructure plan also includes a social infrastructure element that includes among other things free preschool and community college, more Pell Grants, scholarships for future teachers, caps on childcare expenses, training and pay for childcare workers, guaranteed family and medical leave, enhanced unemployment benefits, and tax breaks for lower- and middle-income families.

Does that remind you of the mid-50’s 60’s when America was the envy of the world with its safety net programs, health insurance expansion, and corporate paying/leading the way?

To pay for Biden’s $1.8 trillion package, Biden wants to raise taxes on upper-income Americans.  His proposal to increase the top income tax rate from 37% to 39.6% reportedly would only apply to single filers with taxable income over $452,700 and married couples with taxable income over $509,300. If the highest capital gains tax rate goes from 20% to 39.6%, it would only impact people earning $1 million or more. The plan to eliminate the step up in basis for inherited property would only apply to gains of at least $1 million.

Republicans like to label Democrats as tax and spenders but they are also spenders.  The Iraq war, Desert Storm, Medicare Part D are examples of Republican spending that was not paid for with taxes and instead it was paid for with debt. 

The Department of Defense otherwise known as The Military is a government agency funded with taxes.  Republicans shouldn’t be labeled small government when they are eager to support a military budget where the United States spends more on national defense than the next ten countries (China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil) combined. Eight of those ten are allies.

Rethinking infrastructure might be akin to rethinking the military.  In 2016, the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, a group of former senior government officials led by Admiral Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a call to action on the national debt. The coalition wrote:  “Today, to be pro-defense must mean being pro-reform. America’s national security budget requires updating and re-balancing in order to sustain our strong military posture and global leadership role.”

I have written about group think and explored the question “Can People Really Change” here https://hellofred.com/?p=1659.  In study after study, social psychologists have shown that it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

If we hate  Conservatives or we hate Liberals it is because of group think.  Stop being a groupie and start being an independent thinker.

And I have written about ethical leadership here https://hellofred.com/?p=1656 where among other things I explored value statements from two major businesses.  One was an ego driven company focused on advancing profits and the second was a value driven company that stayed true to advancing technology.  In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his bestselling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue.  Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.  Hewlett Packard’s value statement made their profits roar while the business chasing gross revenue was not nearly as successful.  Moral of story–don’t be a bull in a china closet.

And I have written about our mental gatekeeper here https://hellofred.com/?p=1622.  A part of our mind protects the status quo of our beliefs. Let’s call it the gatekeeper.  Our gatekeeper checks to see if a concept is in agreement with our existing beliefs. If it is, the gate is opened, if it isn’t, the gate stays closed and information is rejected.  Some of my readers might remember from that Post the lesson about a ring–If we were to grasp a ring as a symbol of possession and squeeze it in our hand, the ring is captured and so is the use of our hand. Imagine holding this ring out in front of you with your palm either up or down…

Are you holding on to grudges stemming from 2020 election with a clinched fist?

And I have written about the history of political parties here https://hellofred.com/?cat=29.  Party’s have evolved and Party platforms have switched from Party to Party during the last 200 years and people have moved from Party to Party.  Parties are eventually changed by their membership / adherents.  Sometimes it is addition by subtraction and sometimes it is subtraction by addition. 

The split of the Democratic Party that created two Parties from one during the first election of Abraham Lincoln resulted in a Northern Democratic Party candidate and a separate Southern Democratic Party candidate.  More recently there was a major shift of Southern Democrats to the Republican Party after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I was talking with a history teacher who was saying why he was not a Democrat.  Funny thing is that what he disliked was no longer part of their platform and is now part of the Republican platform.  Things change, we need to keep up.

And I have written about America’s favorability rating trend here https://hellofred.com/?cat=29.  In 2020, after four years of the Trump administration, the favorable impression of the United States was as follows:

  • 26 percent of Germans,
  • 30 percent of the Dutch,
  • 31 percent of the French,
  • 33 percent of Australians and Swedes,
  • 35 percent of Canadians, and
  • 41 percent of the Japanese and British

Here are other stats of interest from that Post.

  • 60% of Republicans now support NATO.
  • 85% of Democrats now support NATO
  • 21% of Republicans now view climate change as a threat.
  • 75% of Democrats now view climate change as a threat.
  • 40% of Republicans are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 57% of Democrats are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 61% of Republicans now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.
  • 13% of Democrats now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.

If you have read down to this point then please say hello in the comments section below.  About 11,000 people have subscribed to HelloFred.com and only 3 make comments.  If nothing else, just say Hello.

 
 

Deceit typing the scales wrongly

Georgia Voter Law Is A Distraction

Location, location, location yields to Timing, timing, timing.

The new Georgia voter law and the ones other states are developing would seem like a knee jerk reaction to Trump’s non-stop claim that the 2020 election was rigged but their roots go back to ten plus year of election laws related to Barack Obama’s presidential victories. The premise being that Democrats benefited from high turnout which may not be true.

The knee jerk part of the law maybe attempts to appease Trump’s followers and supporters who believed him. Republican politicians are caught between Trump’s constituents and knowing whether they admit it or not, that voter fraud is extremely rare. There is no reason to believe voter fraud has determined the outcome of a single U.S. election in decades including the 2020 election. That doesn’t say there was no voter fraud, just that whatever side was guilty, it would have been inconsequential to the results.  The Trump campaign has publicly alleged voter fraud but has shied away from actually making those claims in court.

Intent versus truth

The impact of the Georgia law is most likely modest.  If the Georgia voter law was intended to be a partisan power grab by attempting to win elections by changing the rules rather than persuading more voters, it may have failed its intent.  That’s a good thing because such intent would be inconsistent with the basic ideals of democracy.

The New Georgia Voter Law is a distraction.  The biggest problems are the Electoral College, the structure of the Senate and the gerrymandering of House districts.  Those three problems forces majority public opinion to take a back seat and just go along for the ride.

Biden and many other Democrats are exaggerating the specifics of what the Georgia law  actually does.  In some cases, Democrats appear to be talking about provisions that the Georgia legislature considered but did not include.  In reality, effects will be smaller than many critics suggest and will probably have little effect on overall turnout or on election outcomes.

The law mostly restricts early voting, not Election Day voting and early voters tend to be more highly educated and more engaged with politics. They often vote no matter what, be it early or on Election Day. More broadly, modest changes to voting convenience — like those in the Georgia law — have had little to no effect when other states have adopted them.  That said, Georgia is so closely divided and even a small effect — on, say, turnout in Atlanta — could decide an election.

Final Thoughts

Nothing that I have said here should be interpreted that I like the law.  For one thing it leaves out what I consider a mandatory clause requiring equal access to ballot boxes and limits on how long anybody would have to stand in line to vote.  It perpetuates the concept that Republicans in many states are trying to make voting harder, especially in cities and heavily Black areas through onerous identification requirements, reduced voting hours, and reduced access to early voting.  I mean, come on, one provision seems obviously targeted at the City of Atlanta, the Democrats’ most important source of votes where the new Georgia voter law put a new limit on absentee-ballot drop boxes. It is likely to reduce the number of drop boxes in metropolitan Atlanta to fewer than 25, from 94 last year.

The one part of the new law that could create chaos in their elections is that it could make it easier for state legislators to overturn a future election result after votes have been counted.

Why should the less privileged be encouraged to vote?

The No. 1 reason taxes on the very wealthy have declined is due to the fall in corporate taxes.In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, back when America was great, many corporations paid about half of their profits to the federal government. The money helped pay for the U.S. military and for investments in roads, bridges, schools, scientific research and more. 

Tax structures have changed and 55 big companies paid zero federal income taxes last year according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy and the U.S. raises less corporate tax revenue as a share of economic output than almost all other advanced economies.

The justification for the tax cuts has often been that the economy as a whole  will benefit and that lower corporate taxes would lead to expansion, jobs, and higher incomes. Instead, economic growth has been mediocre since the 1970s. And incomes have grown more slowly than the economy for every group except the wealthy.

The long-term decline in corporate taxes doesn’t seem to have provided much of a benefit for most American families. The economy is more global now compared to the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. A global solution is needed more today.

CAN PEOPLE REALLY CHANGE?

The next several paragraphs were inspired by articles from Sharon Begley’s Science Journal that appeared weekly in WSJ years ago.

We apparently are changed by the groups we are in. By the way, Republican and Democratic Parties are groups.  Change groups or leave a group and we change.

In study after study, social psychologists have shown that it is the group with which we identify, not individual personality that often determines behavior.  We begin to see what the group sees and stop seeing some of the things that we were seeing.

But, and this is a big but, pull us out of a group and we will have more nuance, flexibility, and doubt.  We are not so sure anymore as individuals outside of our group, whereas in a group we are convinced of what we are saying and doing.  The group we join is very important.  That group could be friends, it could be our employer, it could be our church, or it could be the virtual prison more and more of us seem to be finding ourselves in.  In either case, it doesn’t change with age—young or old, we are influenced by our group.

Psychology experiments show how disturbingly easy it is to manipulate people into committing atrocities.  Groups inculcate a sense of belonging and hence obligation to a group.

So, if we want to change, we can join a group, but we better fit in.  Do we like the people we work with and for?  Has our spouse ever said to us that we seem different, that we have changed, and that there is an aspect of us they don’t like that they didn’t realize was there?  Maybe, our jobs are changing us.  Which way?  Look for the formal and informal leaders and see if others are mimicking them.  Are we becoming more assertive or bossier?  Are we becoming more tolerant or judgmental?   Are we becoming more patient and calm or more restless and rude?  Are we becoming conforming or less conforming?  Do we see more of the big picture or just our own perspective?  Are we becoming more humble or is ego sprouting its wings.

Businesses have sent employees to seminars and workshops and schools in an effort to help them become better employees.  Businesses, in hopes of salvaging employees, send them to anger management or harassment counseling hoping these people can change.  Supervisors are sent to supervision school and people skills schools.  People read self help books and get counseling hoping to be better parents or deal with life situations.

Attending a conference can inspire someone to want to act differently and they might for a little while but their habits and instincts will prevail again.  Using the conscious mind to try to create permanent change is a slow process and rewards are needed to reinforce the new behavior.  Can we really expect to have those rewards as they are needed?

I think the best place to begin the process of change is through nutrition.  If we don’t have the discipline to eat smarter why would we have it to change our habits. Eating healthy or healthier not only improves mental and physical energy it demonstrates a willingness to do what we know is best for us.  It is easy to pick up a book and learn what foods are healthy and which are not, but do we and do we change what we eat as a result of what we learn?  I am not talking about fad diets; I am talking about eating good foods and stop eating bad foods.  If we can’t change the way we eat, can we expect to change the way we think and behave?

Let’s think about brain food because our brain uses 40 percent of our energy and for our brain to grow and improve, our nutrition has to improve.  The brain is largely composed of fatty tissue.  The fats we eat are the fats that will become important structures in our brain.  They are not broken down and reassembled for specific uses like proteins and carbohydrates are.  The quality of the fats in our diet will directly affect the quality of the cell membranes in the brain.

There are two essential fats our bodies require but cannot manufacture; they must be obtained through our diets.  These fats are called omega-6 and omega-3.  Most of our tissues have more omega-6 fats than omega-3.  The ratio is often about four-to-one, the brain being a distinct exception where the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in brain tissue is one-to-one.

The average American diet provides twenty times more omega-6 than omega-3 fats.  Most of us do not take in an optimal amount of omega-3 fats unless we eat fish regularly.  Omega-3 fats are quite flexible and are ideally suited for brain cell membranes.

The fats to avoid are the highly processed fats, hydrogenated fats, and fats that are heated to high temperatures in processing or in frying.  These fats have a structural rigidity that is most undesirable for use in brain cell membranes.  They also promote free radical damage of cell membranes.

Alright, enough about diet.  Permanent change will come about when we release what is in our subconscious minds, feed our brains with better thoughts and more peaceful music and movies, and starve our brains from coarse or violent acts and thoughts.  Our brains can change.

Here is a brainteaser:  Turn the incorrect Roman-numeral equation XI + I = X, made out of 10 match sticks, into a correct one by moving as few sticks as possible.

Solving a problem like the one above creatively requires us to resist conventional assumptions and approaches and examine a problem from a different perspective.  The plod and plug approach would have us move one of the sticks to get X + I = XI.  But the minimum number of sticks we need to move is zero.  Turn the paper upside down and XI + I = X becomes X = I + IX.

The brain waves generated by the two approaches are different.  In volunteers who found the creative zero stick solution there was an abrupt change in brain wave frequency and location of brain activity before the solution hit them.  The fact that they changed right before the volunteers hit upon a creative solution suggests that the brain was escaping from conventional thought patterns.

Insight and creativity begin when we break out of the thinking rut we are in and restructure the problem in a new way.  The information in the problem is seen in a new light, so people rotate the sticks in the Roman numeral equation—a spatial solution to what seemed like a numerical problem.  This is the essence of creative thinking.

A critical part of insightful solutions, but not of plodding ones, is that they require us to bring together distant associations.  One brain region seems particularly important for that.  This area seems to draw together distantly related information and probably lets people see connections that had eluded them.

Find a word that can form a compound with “sauce,” “pine,” and “crab.”  You can try to solve this noncreatively, thinking of everything that goes with crab and then trying them all on the pine, for instance.  Or you might find a solution through pure insight.  Stare at the words until an answer pops into your head.

If “apple” popped into your head there probably was a spike in the activity in a particular part of your brain just before the answer “apple” came to you, suggesting your brain was bringing together far-flung concepts.

In some cases of sudden insight another part of the brain becomes active perhaps directing the brain away from dead ends and onto creative paths and at the same time perhaps is involved in suppressing thoughts that characterize the mental rut that keeps us from an insightful solution.

There are times that our brains go into calm mode all by themselves and answers just pop into our heads.  We may be in the morning shower still waking up and just going through the motions of washing ourselves, enjoying the warm water and all of a sudden new ideas come to us out of nowhere.  We can develop more of these times and we can expect to solve difficult problems during these times.  The more we expect answers to come to us the more will come.  So, we need to let our conscious minds work hard at figuring out a problem or finding an answer, the harder we work our conscious minds the better, and then let it go and expect an answer to come to us perhaps when we least expect it.

Our brain will change to help us become what we choose to be.  If we choose to be violent, our brain will respond by changing in ways that make us more violent and coarse.  If we choose a life of compassion and kindness, our brains will respond by helping us manifest those qualities.  This is easier said than done because it is hard to act as we choose if we are already excessively wired to act otherwise.

One more thought:  The Truth Shall Set You Free!

 

Ethical Leadership

Leaders have to view others at the soul level.  They must develop soul ethics.  Management style, charisma, personal integrity and business acumen are not enough.  Soul Ethics provides the moral courage to avoid temptations found in competitive environments.

We begin to purify the motives behind our decisions when we become fully aware of who we really are and what we are here to do.  Mark Twain has said that “a man can not be comfortable without his own approval.”

When we have developed Soul Ethics:

We no longer need to rely on interpretations of sacred text or sources of revelation to tell us what to do.  Our actions stop being influenced by sacred texts whose spirit has too often been lost to strict interpretation.

We no longer let feelings of guilt affect our decisions as love becomes our guiding emotion.  When guilt affects our decisions we let survival fears override that guilt and we make decisions based on fear instead of love.  Fear and love are our two basic emotions.  Fear contains many sub-emotions and because those emotions are stronger in some and weaker in others, our consciousnesses are different and thus so would be our ethics guidance.

We no longer merely look out only for ourselves and instead we seek what is best for our clients, friends, and family.  Looking out for ourselves first is truly a buyer-be-aware mentality.  This would be the opposite of win-win decisions and would lead to win-lose outcomes. I guess some would mistakenly try to justify me-first decisions by thinking they had an ethical obligation to stockholders to maximize profits from every transaction.

We no longer do things just because it is our duty.  We do our jobs and we take care of our family because we love to serve and we serve with love.

We no longer try to enforce our rules of respect onto other cultures as we now respect ourselves and have learned to respect other cultures.  What counts as respect can vary from one culture to another.

We are aware that all of us are created with certain inalienable Rights.  This is the most influential moral notion of the past two centuries and refers to minimal conditions of human decency.

We want to make the world a better place and demand a high degree of self sacrifice where we consider the consequences for everyone including reducing suffering and increasing pleasure or happiness.

We continue to develop our individual character and individual character in others.  We understand that good persons will make good decisions—a concept first developed by Plato and Aristotle and an integral part of Jesuit tradition.

We become virtuous in that we work with interest and desire to help others, have creative spiritual ambition, calmness, courage, an unconquerable attitude, tolerance, patience, and peace.  We no longer have doubt, mental fatigue, worry, indifference, boredom, fear, restlessness, timidity, mental and physical laziness, overindulge in anything, an unmethodical life, lack of interest, or lack of creative initiative.

We usually go about our day doing things out of habit without thinking about ethics.  This is how it should be once our habits become ethical.  Most of us have not taken the time to create a set of personal values.  And if they loosely exist unwritten in our minds we haven’t given them much thought and they can become distorted when we have to make difficult decisions.  Creating and writing my personal values is what led to this book.

We make decisions all the time.  Most of these decisions do not seem to directly affect our lives or the lives of others.  But when we need to make bigger decisions that will affect our lives or the lives of others, we need to be very familiar with our values.

If we develop our values in moments when we are at peace and unburdened with eminent decisions and problems, our values will be more pure than if they were developed when we were under pressure to make a difficult decision, especially a financial one.  We can be guided in ethical ways if we refer to those more purely developed and written values before we make decisions.

I would imagine that if 100 people were to give long thought on their values and then write them down, those written lists could be quite different.  What would make them different is our soul ethics, our soul consciousness, our desire to serve versus being served, our desire for win-win outcomes versus win-lose outcomes or even we-both-win-but-I-win-more outcomes.

To bring this back to a business example look at the difference between the thinking of two technology companies.  The ego driven company strayed to advancing profits and the soul driven company stayed true to advancing technology.  In the 1970’s, according to Jim Collins in his best selling book Good To Great, Texas Instruments decided to make cheap pocket calculators and throwaway watches because their vision had to do with increasing gross revenue.  Hewlett Packard in comparison didn’t include increasing gross revenue as their vision and instead chose not to go after low-end technology because it offered no chance to make a technical contribution to the world.

The concept of service should be defined as providing whatever is in our friends’ or clients’ or customers’ best interest.  If we do not have the product that is in someone’s best interest we should not offer or sell that product to them.  While this decision could hurt us financially in the short run, it will guide us to where we need to be.  Where we need to be is a place where we can provide what is in our friends’ or client’s or customers’ best interest.  Albert Einstein said, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”   I think this is powerful.  Accomplish it and you become the flame instead of the moth.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book, The Power of Intention, tells us that it is hard to feel worthy if we are always looking out for number one.  If we do not feel worthy then without realizing it we feel unworthy of being healthy or wealthy or having loving relationships and we create an obstacle that will inhibit the flow of creative higher frequency energy into our daily life.

When we are without this flow, we tend to eat too much of the wrong things, or use prescription drugs we do not need or drink too much alcohol, or we dress down, or walk or sit with poor posture, or we fail to exercise, or we treat others with a lack or respect, or make judgments we should not be making, and the list goes on and on.  What we might not realize is that poor posture and disrespecting others, etc. leads to feelings of unworthiness.

We are like magnets that attract or repel positive or negative energy. Generally, people will come to us not because of what we do, but because of who we are.  What inspires a customer to be a repeat customer or a new acquaintance to become a friend is our presence and the connection they feel with us.    People we admire should be comfortable in our presence and we in theirs.

To do this we must continue to refine our expression—our thoughts, words and actions—to more accurately reveal the truth of who we are at our core, our true nature, then our work will deepen, our business will thrive, and our life will know greater peace and we will find fulfillment.  “One can have no greater mastery than mastery of oneself”—Leonardo da Vinci.

Clarence C. Walton, in his The Moral Manager, says that personal character is one of the keys to higher ethical standards in business.  “People of integrity produce organizations with integrity.  When they do, they become moral managers—those special people who make organizations and societies better.”

One of the most important factors in the functioning of society around the world is the art of leadership.  It is an art for true leadership is a gift, requiring great foresight, great determination, honesty, integrity and trust, the ability to not only be able to work with people successfully but to inspire them, to set goals and a vision for a society to thrive.

We have had many leaders in history that have been very charismatic, very talented and very successful and we have had many who were successful that didn’t have any charisma but were good builders.

To be a leader one needs the ability to organize, to delegate authority and to have massive energy for a leader has great responsibilities.  These responsibilities can cover such a large area that a leader must be able to endure a huge burden to carry and enjoy it, be inspired by it.  The greatest leaders have great spirituality, great foresight and only want to bring good and dedicate themselves to the prosperity, health, and welfare for all.

There have been major dynamic leaders in the world who have used their charisma for negative activities, succumbing to the feel of power and greed.  There have been leaders in the fields of science, art, music, military, economics, welfare, etc. who have contributed greatly to mankind or have left an indelible impression on massive numbers of people.

There have been great leaders in history who truly believed in what they were working for but were very spiritually wrong.  Their intent was good in their minds, necessary, seemed greatly important and they followed their path.  Some have been truly righteous, while others were in error spiritually.

Leadership is a quality that can take lifetimes to develop.  For some, leadership will add to their spirituality and for some that get caught up in power and ego; it will take away from their spirituality–a recurring theme in this book.

Leadership is a dangerous position spiritually for one may not be able to handle the power.  Many can, many can’t.  When leadership falls into corruption, the soul backtracks spiritually, loses ground.  When leadership aspires to high values and operates accordingly, one gains spiritually.

Leaders always face those who aspire to take their place, work against them, threaten them and sometimes eliminate them.  But without leadership and daring we would have no organization or progress.

Steven R. Covey, best known for his best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, marks the way for us to return to fundamental values, the wisdom of solid relationships, and the importance of communicating in improving our business.  Covey tells us that no matter how many people we manage or supervise we can only control ourselves.  If we want to change any situation, we have to behave differently.  But before we can change our behavior, we must change our perceptions.

Einstein agrees:  “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

We do need new perspectives.  We say we have free will, but which might be stronger, instincts and habits, or our free will to do what is best.  Where do we get our perceptions as to what is best?  Where does procrastination, selfishness, greed, jealousy, self-interest, anger, temper, bigotry, come from– Habits and instincts or free will?

Here is a moral and ethical dilemma for you to ponder that I received in an email that was being passed around.  Let’s say you are driving along in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:

  1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
  2. An old friend who once saved your life.
  3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Which one would you choose to offer a ride, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?

Think before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job application. You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or, you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you may never be able to find your perfect mate again.

The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered:  “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the lady to the hospital.  I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.”

Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Our personal values, character, and spirituality exert a powerful influence on the way ethical work issues are treated.  Since all of us have different personal histories and have developed our values, character, and spirituality in different ways, we are going to think differently about ethical problems.   All of us, as well as our managers and leaders, are likely to be at various stages of moral development.  Some of us will reason at a high level, others of us at a lower level.

Every once in a while I am surprised by the maturity of a child’s expression for it will be way ahead of their years and more advanced than some adults display.  But usually it is over time that we become more developed and are capable of more advanced moral reasoning.

When we are very young we want to avoid punishment.  We either learn to obey authority or we learn to cope with trouble or we learn that authority is willing to cope with our misbehaving.  Later we learn that cooperating pays more than does strict obeying.  Someone once told me that they could not remember a time when they got in trouble if their answer to a request was no, but their yes answer usually opened the door to second guessing.  I wasn’t impressed then and I still am not impressed with that comment.  Just the same there are many people like him that make decisions based solely on what they perceive our societies’ customs, traditions, and laws to be.  A major portion of the world’s population has not evolved their reasoning beyond this point.  The groups these people hang out with whether it is friends, family, work, or clubs greatly influence their thinking and reasoning.

Our best leaders reason globally and as stated earlier care about relationships, human rights, human dignity, equal treatment, freedom of expression, and as Lincoln included in his Gettysburg Address, mans’ inalienable rights.

Jim Collins, author of Built to Last and Good to Great, tells us there are two categories of people:  The first are those who could never bring themselves to subjugate their egoistic needs to the greater ambition of building something larger and more lasting than themselves.  Work will always be about what they get i.e. fame, fortune, power and not what they build.  The second are those who have the potential to rise to become great leaders/supervisors.  Jim Collins tells us the great leaders, the most successful leaders, all share certain personal traits.

  • They have personal humility.
  • They demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and are never boastful.
  • They act with quiet, calm determination, relying principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  • They let the company be ambitious not themselves.  They set up their successors for even greater success instead of doing anything that would make themselves missed.
  • When talking about success they will look out the window and talk about luck, external factors, and apportion credit to others and not look in the mirror.  When talking about problems they look in the mirror and take responsibility.
  • These great leaders were described as spiritual people.

We can live a spiritual life 24/7.  We shouldn’t look for time to have a spiritual moment, we should just be spiritual all the time and in everything we do, say, or think whether it be a business situation or a personal situation.  We look for win-win outcomes or we pass on the opportunity. We look at every situation as if it were involving a close friend, which includes when someone is honking their horn at us or cutting us off on a busy highway, or driving too slowly.

If we were to picture those antagonists as close friends our anger would drop and we would then be able to recognize them as ourselves on other occasions when we were being the antagonist and we just might laugh instead of matching our vibrations to the vibrations of a person temporarily being an idiot.  Or we can try to get the best of someone or be rude to someone or sell more regardless of it being the right product for the right customer or we can just let the customer-be-aware or we can horde or we can brag or any other activity that is not spiritual.

Maslow picked out a group of people whom he felt clearly met the standard of what he called self-actualized.  Included in this group were Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Adams, William James, Albert Schweitzer, Benedict Spinoza, and Alduous Huxley, plus 12 unnamed people who were alive at the time Maslow did his research. He developed a list of qualities that seemed characteristic of these people.

These people could differentiate what is fake and dishonest from what is real and genuine.  They treated life’s difficulties as problems demanding solutions, not as personal troubles to be railed at or surrendered to.  And they felt that the ends don’t necessarily justify the means–the journey was often more important than the destination.

Maslow’s self-actualizers enjoyed solitude, were comfortable being alone, enjoyed deeper personal relations with a few close friends and family members, rather than more shallow relationships with many people.

They enjoyed autonomy and were not susceptible to social pressure to be well adjusted or to fit in.  They preferred to joke at their own expense or at the human condition instead of directing their humor at others.  They had a quality he called acceptance of self and others.   This same acceptance applied to their attitudes towards themselves.

They enjoyed their personal quirks if they were not harmful and they were motivated to change negative qualities in themselves that could be changed. They preferred being themselves rather than being pretentious or artificial.  They had a sense of humility and respect towards others, were open to ethnic and individual variety, even treasuring it.

They had a quality Maslow called human kinship accompanied by strong ethics, which was spiritual but seldom conventionally religious in nature.  They tended to see ordinary things with wonder and from this were creative, inventive, and original.  And, finally, these people tended to have more experiences that made them feel very tiny, or very large, to some extent one with life or nature or God.

These people were not this way all the time so they still had some work to do at their soul level.  For example, while they were not neurotic, some did experience anxiety and guilt and some were absentminded and overly kind and some experienced unexpected moments of ruthlessness, surgical coldness, and loss of humor.

Maslow made another point about these self-actualizers that I consider very major and in fact are at the heart of this book:  Their values were natural and seemed to flow effortlessly from their personalities.  Maslow also defined self-actualizers by identifying their needs in order to be happy.  Here is his list.

  1. Truth,
  2. Goodness
  3. Beauty
  4. Unity
  5. Aliveness
  6. Uniqueness
  7. Perfection and necessity
  8. Completion
  9. Justice and order
  10. Simplicity.
  11. Richness
  12. Effortlessness
  13. Playfulness
  14. Self-sufficiency
  15. Meaningfulness

Maslow believes that much of the what is wrong with the world comes down to the fact that very few people really are interested in these values — not because they are bad people, but because they haven’t even had their basic needs taken care of and, when forced to live without these values, the self-actualizer develops depression, despair, disgust, alienation, and a degree of cynicism.

To be a great leader in any field we must do self-study meaning looking closely at our perceptions, our way of interpreting.  We need to center ourselves on values and principals, work on our character growth, and examine our habits carefully.  We cannot let old habits and instincts rule our actions and thoughts.  We have had a lifetime of conditioning from our parents and friends and associates, from our situations and circumstances and these can train us to see things from only one angle.

We need to see things from other angles, other perceptions, from the big picture, and from the end and less from the middle of the battle.  It will give us a much broader picture and understanding and help monitor our thoughts and actions.  We need to carefully listen to others and show them we understand what they are saying, feeling.  Most people do not listen to understand but listen while thinking about reply.  This is keeping ourselves stuck in seeing things from only one angle and limits our picture of the whole.

We need to let people know we have heard them, have understood and appreciated what they have offered.  People need to know they have been heard and understood.  We need to truly hear, absorb and process information coming to us and not just automatically advise or decide basing our decisions on our own experience or our own motives and behavior.  We need good, open, constructive communication from other perspectives and interpretations for they are important in order to not only get out of ourselves but to see a bigger picture.

We need to hear all sides before judging.  Great leadership involves having an end in mind, a goal to accomplish in mind.  Then the process of achieving this goal needs to broaden greatly, allowing all kinds of information to come in and be processed.  Cooperation, integrity, high values, allowing new insights to enter our mind, a spiritual outlook, calmness, and courage, patience and tolerance are characteristics of great leadership.

We need to take a careful look at our governments and leaders.  To be in the government of a country, making policy, tending to issues, aiding people, protecting country, involves a tremendous amount of responsibility.  Once in office as President, King, prime Minister, Senator, Congressman, Governor, the person is obligated to work for the people with truth, justice, and honesty.

Too often we see leaders get into office barely committing themselves to anything other than themselves.  Then once in office they play the game of politics, being very careful over what they say in order to stay in office.  Then in the office they have to deal with all the interests that helped them get into office, the lobbyists and the senior members (senior power craving egos) of House and Senate, Parliament, military, etc.  Everyone wants a piece of the cake and there is a lot of give and take and bargaining.  Too often policies that would really help the people are lost or forgotten or diluted.

Beware The Gatekeeper

Beware the gatekeeper

www.HelloFred.com

America is a divided nation that flourishes when united.  What’s stopping us?  Our individual gatekeepers.

A part of our mind protects the status quo of our beliefs. Let’s call it the gatekeeper.  Our gatekeeper checks to see if a concept is in agreement with our existing beliefs. If it is, the gate is opened, if it isn’t, the gate stays closed and information is rejected.

For us to accept new concepts we have to wholeheartedly want to explore and be willing to change or learn.  A person realizing they need to change is not enough for the gatekeeper to open the gate.

Authority figures can also bypass our gatekeeper. For example, we tend to believe people we think know more than we do. This includes doctors, schoolteachers, preachers, and motivational speakers. All kinds of people bypass our gatekeeper. Anytime we are feeling a strong emotion such as love or fear, anger or grief, we are more suggestible. Things said to us, or things we say to ourselves, will bypass our gatekeeper and become part of our subconscious programming.  Normally nobody wants to be gullible but most people are at times when feeling angry or fearful especially when we are not recognizing within ourselves anger or fear.  Be aware, some people are good at manipulating the gatekeeper in us.

Nourishing our minds requires getting beyond the status quo, recognizing when our gatekeeper is restricting us and finding time to grow as a person by observing all that comes in front of us, finding truths, searching for love within our souls and in other souls.  Nourishing exercises the more evolved parts of our brains and rests the more primitive parts of our brains.  Nourishing has a lot to do with the company we keep and don’t keep.  Nourishing requires a decision.

It has become clearer and more obvious to me that our purpose in life is to gain spiritual knowledge, self-awareness, understanding, and a loving and serving nature.  I think we evolve through use of new perspectives, introspection, and meditation.  We either view nature and people as souls or we don’t.  If we don’t, we see from fear, impatience, and intolerance and if we do we see from love and we live and die with grace.

It has also become clear to me that we have  two personalities and one wants to act, think or make decisions one way and the other personality wants to act, think or make decisions another way.  It is like there were a force pulling and pushing us in two directions.  Some feel this much more than others do.  Why?

Often heard is that some of us only accept what we can see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.  For those people their world is a material one.  Others of us add to this material world an acceptance of a spiritual world full of mystery and magic.  Those that accept the spiritual world gain perhaps a greater understanding of the meaning of life.

When we feel pulled in two directions it is because there is a gap between our spiritual and material consciousness.  Gaps result in restlessness, lack of focus, and a sense of unbalance.  This causes stress which leads to health issues and depression.

Our potentials are blocked by stress, anxiety, doubt, and limited introspection.  Sometimes we seem to be tightly locked-in to the world as we are experiencing it.  When we see and feel from this small world we limit ourselves to the small picture.  Relaxing allows our body and mind to surrender.   When we surrender, stop the hunt, we tend to find answers and observe from a new perspective and we begin to see the big picture.  When we see the big picture we feel lighter, laugh more, walk more fluidly, and have more energy.  Seeing the big picture expands us and seeing only the small picture shrinks us.

Great leaders use introspection not only within themselves but within their own tradition and heritage.  Leaders can become great leaders if introspection leads to new perspective and a more global pluralist worldview.  There should not be two sets of rules.  When we find ourselves becoming annoyed or irritated with another’s heritage, behavior, or tradition we need to look inward for that irritation is reflecting back to us some aspect of our own heritage, behavior, or tradition that we can examine.

If we were to grasp a ring as a symbol of possession and squeeze it in our hand, the ring is captured and so is the use of our hand. Imagine holding this ring out in front of you with your palm either up or down.

If our palm is facing down and we sense the ring getting loose, our tendency is to quickly squeeze our hand.  This is natural, we all do this.  But some of us will feel threatened when that ring begins to fall and we find ourselves wanting that ring more and begin to squeeze tighter.  Grasping and squeezing something is an attempt to own it and graspers and squeezers do this because they like to keep things, even if they don’t like them. Giving up the freedom of one of our hands to squeeze something is annoying and it follows that graspers and squeezers would become annoying as well. Graspers and squeezers tend to have lapses in ethics.

But if our palm is facing upward we tend to feel the ring less as a possession and more as a symbol of our own freedom.   Open your hand and the ring is still there.  Now with your imagination allow this ring to become a beautiful butterfly resting peacefully and gently on the palm of your hand.   Enjoy the moment and then with awe watch the butterfly float into the sky taking with it nourishment it received from you and sharing it wherever it goes.

Love with attachment is nothing more than fear emotionally.  To finish this thought I give you this by William Blake:

He who binds to himself a joy,

Does the winged life destroy;

He who kisses the Joy as it flies,

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.

Ask yourself, what ring am I squeezing?  Is it a lifestyle, a title, a person, a job, a house, a car, old perspective, fame, fortune, victory, domination, ego, poverty, anger, hostility, revenge, resentment, jealously, greed, hatred, unworthiness, pain, disease, beliefs, prejudice, restlessness, Trump, materialism, inferiority, failure, phobias, coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, drugs?  The list seems to go on and on doesn’t it?

Learning to live is learning to release.  When we release change is possible.  Change involves releasing a bad and acquiring a good.  If we are full we might not be able to crowd in a good until we release a bad.  If we release a bad without having a good to replace it the void will be filled by whatever has been waiting in line to join us.

Do you recall when you decided to be a Republican or a Democrat?

www.HelloFred.com

We are a nation of Democrats and Republicans and maybe we haven’t explored to deeply why.  The more we tie ourselves to a political party the more we forfeit independent thinking.  We become biased.  If we believe something as true it is hard to recognize when it is not.  Mark Twain said it best:  It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Republicans and Democrats can be found everywhere.  They are both part of car pools, they are neighbors, they are parents of our children’s friends, they are co-workers, and they sit next to us in church, at ball games, at graduations, and at parades.  We can’t tell if someone is a Republican or a Democrat unless we talk politics or put up a yard sign.  And yet we have such a harsh view of the “other” Party.

That harsh view is usually well beyond being realistic or accurate.  We can be gullible the more our emotions are tied to a subject whether it is buying a Ford or a Chevy, rooting for the Dodgers or the Giants, or becoming an adherent of one of the major political parties.

The Founders of the United States warned against Parties because they thought politics was supposed to be rational and collaborative, not competitive.  Competitiveness has resulted in Americans voting for President and the US Congress based on Party and not person.  It started in the 1970s and has been significantly increasing to where voters overwhelmingly voted for their party’s nominee in the 2016 national election.

Not that anybody cares what President Bill Clinton might opine but here is a short, even for him, bit of wisdom he expressed that I like: 

“Politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s.”

“Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

Do we need to free ourselves from the bonds of political party affiliation that divides our nation and makes it difficult to keep our nation in balance?  Balance is found in the middle between far left and far right dogma.  I think moderates in both parties should join forces and free themselves from the money and rigidity in the wings of the two parties.  It may be too late for an affiliate of one party to vote for a candidate from another party.  So, maybe a third party is needed, a moderate party.

We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President.  They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.

Long before there were Republicans and Democrats, there were Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton and the Anti-Federalists led by Thomas Jefferson.  In 1787 The Federalists became the first American political Party.  They were businessmen and merchants who wanted a strong central government to protect industry.

The Federalists were opposed by Anti-Federalists; a group mostly made up of small farmers and planters that wanted a smaller government that wouldn’t interfere with their lives.  The Anti-Federalists would later form a party called the Democratic-Republicans.

In 1828, Andrew Jackson changed the Democratic-Republican Party’s name to the Democrats.  Jackson’s opponents changed the Federalist Party’s name to the Whig Party.

The Democratic Party was well on its way to splitting between North and South when in 1854, the Civil War finalized the split into the Northern Democrats and the Southern Democrats with the Southern Party being pro-slavery pro-states’ rights members.  Shortly thereafter the Whig party split and the Republican Party was added.  There were essentially four parties—Northern Democrats, Southern Democrats, Whig, and Republican.

After the Civil War the Republicans grew and the Democrats shrunk. Republicans would favor business interests and taxes on imports. Democrats supported free trade and attracted farmers and immigrants.  Democrats didn’t expand until 1932 when Franklin Roosevelt created economic relief and social security.  Democrats wanted the federal government to actively help those affected by the Depression. Republicans, being more pro-business, preferred to not burden business with those costs.

The next major shift in party affiliation came when huge numbers of southern state democrats became republicans after President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So, when did you decide to be a Republican or a Democrat?  Why are older working class white men especially in rural areas generally Republicans?  Why are college educated younger men and women generally Democrats?

Newer research that includes brain maps, gene pool analysis, and unconscious attitudes shows the following generalizations:

People who prefer a simple vision of good and evil, are cognitively inflexible, are fond of hierarchy, are inordinately afraid of uncertainty, change, and death, and are unaware of their unconscious fears tend to vote Republican.  Republicans want to spend on the military and the military industrial complex.

People who are more open to reason and nuance and complex policy tend to vote Democrat. Democrats want to spend on people.

The Republican Party of today is pro-business and the Democratic Party is pro-people.  Being pro-business does not mean people support greed and being pro-people does not mean people do not want businesses to be very successful.  Does being pro-business mean someone is materialistic or does being pro-people mean someone is more spiritual?  No!  But if it did we would again need balance between the two parties.  Material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war. Spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine.

We need balance in our lives. America needs balance in their politics. Moderates seek balance.  The Supreme Court needs balance to make decisions that support the balance people need in their lives.

A wise President and Senate would seek balance for the Supreme Court. And within that balance there should be more moderates and less far right or far left Justices. We should not be able to accurately predict how a Justice will vote based on the title of the case and without hearing testimony or reading the briefs.

While Americans have moved from state to state, job to job, young to old; there has been a political battle for control of the direction America takes. The direction is dependent on how we incorporate into our voting these words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth and shall have a new birth of freedom.

Does America move in the direction where we become a nation where all people are equal before the law and have unrestricted participation in self-governance?  Or, does America move in the direction where only some us enjoy the full blessings of liberty; where only some of us can decide on who is granted privilege and who is capable of self-governance?

The Democratic Party has seen a liberal socialist element grow within their party but has for the last 12 years seen moderates win control over far left liberal/socialist elements.

The Republican Party has long had battles between progressives and conservatives for the control of the Party. It has been in the grasp of conservatives since Reagan and has moved away from progressive icons Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.  In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc.

Centrists Progressives/moderates in both Parties have a chance to bring this country together and take more steps toward the America that exists in words contained in our Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. 

Maybe there is a need for a third Party called The Moderate Party– A Party that doesn’t have the baggage that the Democratic and Republican Parties have in the eyes of the other Party.

Unwritten Republican Party Platform

The Republican Party held its convention without creating a platform but it’s not like they don’t have an unwritten platform because they do.  It has been orally presented over and over again piece by piece, tweet by tweet, interview by interview, rally by rally.  It is a Trump platform and elected Republicans have gone along with it and Trump voters have cheered it on because they cheer most things Trump.

The platform is contained here.

It was written on August 25, 2020 by David Frum, Staff writer at The Atlantic.

He says the question is not why Republicans lack a coherent platform; it’s why they’re so reluctant to publish the one on which they’re running.

I have argued in previous posts that for change to happen smoothly and more quickly we can’t start with the answer and instead have to start with an hypothesis.  The hypothesis could be a problem or an opportunity but in either case it has to be defined and measured as the first step followed closely by getting consensus that the problem or opportunity actually exists.  Only then can we search for alternative answers, evaluate their pros and cons and then choose the most acceptable alternative.

Bill Clinton believes that “politics and governing are one long conversation where you have to explain to people what went wrong and why, explain your plan to fix it, persuade them your idea is better than the other side’s,” this Democrat noted. “Today, politics tends to be heavy on assertion, light on explanation, and bereft of persuasion.”

The above paragraph comes from a short article from Politico and does a good job of indirectly describing the differences between Trump and Clinton. Like I said it is short and likeable.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/08/18/bill-clinton-comeback-altitude-397492

All of us can be gullible at times and sometimes after we realize we were guilty of it we have to laugh at ourselves.  Where our emotions are high we are prone to gullibility more than when we are less interested in a subject.  We seem to now be most gullible regarding politics.  It is shameful but interesting that we are so divided that we don’t trust anything and yet conversely aren’t willing to disbelieve anything.

We spend a lot of time worrying about interference from Russia, China or Iran. But disinformation needs to have a receptive audience to work. If Americans weren’t so divided and all news media shared set of facts before offering wildly conflicting worldviews, it would be harder for a foreign power to meddle.

I’ll close with a quote about racism and while the quote mentions people of color it applies to all prejudices that maintains the status quo that keeps America from being what we say we are regarding life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

What’s most important is the outcomes and experiences of people of color. When we know that those inequities exist and we refuse or fail to address them, that is racism. It is allowing the system to perpetuate itself because the status quo is racist.

— Melissa Williams, director of student equity and inclusion at Clark College

Two new polls show the damage Trump has done to U.S. standing in the world

Before we get to the poll data let’s look at the type of things that have caused other nations to think less of us.  There was a time where the world could look at our C.D.C. for guidance and truth and science.  Not any more and it is because the Trump administration now controls the information.  For example, C.D.C. scientists didn’t write the virus testing guidance on its website last month, and it was published against their objections, officials said.

The Pew Research Center found, in a survey of 13 countries, that America’s current standing in the world has dropped to unimaginable lows.  

In 2020, Only

  • 26 percent of Germans,
  • 30 percent of the Dutch,
  • 31 percent of the French,
  • 33 percent of Australians and Swedes,
  • 35 percent of Canadians, and
  • 41 percent of the Japanese and British

Have a favorable impression of the United States.

In 2016,

  • The U.S. favorability rating ranged from a low of 57 percent (Germany) to a high of 72 percent (Japan).

In 2020,

  • Only 15% of respondents give the United States good marks on the pandemic.
  • China’s handling of the pandemic is more than twice as popular.
  • Trump is more unpopular than Russia’s Vladimir Putin or China’s Xi Jinping.
    • Eighty-three percent of respondents in U.S. allies have no confidence in America’s president.
    • Only 16 percent trust him to do what is right in world affairs. 

A new survey out Thursday from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows that most Americans reject Trump’s isolationist, protectionist policies.

  • 62%  say that the lesson of covid-19 is that we need to “coordinate and collaborate with other countries to solve global issues.”
  • 68%  say it would be better “for the future of the country if we take an active part in world affairs.”
  • 65%  say that globalization is “mostly good” for the United States.

The majority of Americans are in favor of free trade, alliances and international leadership — the traditional pillars of America’s post-1945 foreign policy.

  • 60%  of Republicans now support for NATO.
    • 85%  of Democrats now support NATO
  • 21%  of Republicans now view climate change as a threat.
    • 75%  of Democrats now view climate change as a threat
  • 40%  of Republicans are now concerned about Russian power.
    • 57%  of Democrats are now concerned about Russian power.
  • 61%  of Republicans now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.
    • 13% of Democrats now are concerned by large numbers of immigrants and refugees coming into the U.S.

Democrats want to address the United States’ internal problems and take an internationalist approach to foreign policy.

Republicans favor a nationalist, unilateralist approach while denying that America needs to address serious flaws such as racial or income inequality.

Republicans are far more friendly toward Russia, and far more hostile to NATO, than they used to be. However, 40 percent still see Russia as a critical threat and 60 percent still support NATO.

Most independents are closer to the Democrats than they are Republicans on foreign policy.

Political Party and Christianity Adherents

This is probably a stretch but the purpose is to just get the reader thinking about locked in political party adherence anyway.

We didn’t have political parties when Washington was President.  They gradually formed as we were trying to figure out what our fledgling country needed from Washington DC such as a central bank and national policy.  We are still arguing today about the role of central government versus states rights.  We even had a massive Civil War over the direction of America.

The conditions of Christianity’s expansion were diverse.  Communities from Jerusalem to Rome were established.  The expansion was not supported by political or economic means.  It spread rapidly even under persecution and did so without real textual or organizational controls.

Jesus was a rural itinerant preacher and the first people that called themselves Christians were urban, living in the big cities in the Roman Empire.  The growth of Christianity involved a linguistic transition from Aramaic to Greek and it involved a a cultural transition fro a predominantly Jewish culture to a predominantly Greco-Roman culture, and finally, it involved a demographic transition from being a movement among Jews to an ever-increasing movement among non-Jews or Gentiles.

Christianity was diverse from the beginning because of all these transitions, shortage of written word and organization, and how rapidly it spread.  Everywhere Christianity appeared, it was something slightly different.

Today there are Christian adherents all over the world but the meaning of being Christian perhaps still differs from place to place.  For some it is all about the Crucifixion and for others the emphasis is the Resurrection and it seems like it is what one believes that is most important.

Sometimes Christians misconstrue other religious traditions because Christians believe questions like “what do we profess”, “what do we think”, “what are our convictions”, are important to other religions.  But for some religions what is most important is what they do.  They don’t ask “what do I believe”.  Instead they ask “what is it that we are doing” and “what are our practices”.

Is it that much of a stretch to compare Christianity adherents to political party adherents in that perhaps being a Republican means something different from state to state or from person to person and likewise to adherents of the democratic party?

Progressives in both Parties understand that material prosperity without spirituality leads to greed, lack of inner and outer peace, and war and that spirituality without material development leads to poverty and famine. 

What does it mean to be a Republican? The Party of Lincoln freed the slaves.  Is this the same Party that has been making it difficult to impossible for blacks to vote?  Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act resulted in a huge migration of Southern Democrats into the Republican Party which has had a profound effect on both Parties through addition to the Republican Party and subtraction to the Democratic Party. In 2008 the Tea Party, now called the Freedom Caucus, became part of the Republican Party.  The Freedom Caucus is very conservative and wants to balance the budget by reducing entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Affordable Health Care Plan, etc. 

Do Republicans accurately define what it means to be a member of the Democratic Party and vice versa? Do we as Americans have enough in common that we can recognize those things instead of what we seem dead set to see negatively in the party they are not adherents of?

What does it mean to be a Republican or a Democrat?  Has it always been the same?  Has being an adherent always been in your best interest?  When might it not have been?  Why are you so stubbornly tied to one of the Parties?

Jesus had a distinctive appeal to the outcasts.  He did not address himself to the religious elite among the people, but rather to the outcasts.  “Blessed are you poor,” rather than “you rich.”  His ministry was characterized by an open-table fellowship with sinners and tax collectors, people who were outcasts among the Jewish people. 

  • Which Party’s adherents are most like Jesus? 
  • Which Party wants tax cuts for the rich? 
  • Which Party wants to cut or privatize Medicare and cut Social Security benefits to reduce deficit spending?
  • Which Party increases spending into the Military Industrial Complex that along with tax cuts creates deficit spending?
  • Which Party spent a trillion dollars on the Iraq War and paid for it with debt?
  • Would Jesus want to protect the environment and stop global warming?  Which Party more closely agrees with Jesus on the environment and global warming?

James Mattis, a four star US marine corps general and served as Trumps Secretary of State, said that Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.

Page 1 of 4

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén