The world has been going through a perceived crises for some time now. Unemployment rates are high around the globe and here in the United States the economy and jobs have been a pressing issue for the last decade.
During last November's elections there was a cry, by some folks, to elect people who will help the "job creators" - whatever that means. Never overly specific as to how those jobs would be created, the proponents of the "job creators" always tend to believe that giving economic breaks to, and loosening government regulations on, businesses will ultimately create those elusive jobs. But, I have a better idea! I've mentioned this in class many times to my university business students.
Here it is: do away with ALL government regulations on businesses. They can pollute as much as they want, ruin our water, air, and ground, to whatever extent they choose. They can also pay whatever wages they want as well...minimum wage laws would be done away with, totally. Soon, people would be hired in droves.
Plus, because there would be so much pollution, new companies would be formed to clean up all the mess our now non-regulated businesses would create. Ah...entrepreneurial ingenuity! Employment would boom! There would probably be more jobs than people to fill them.
Of course, there are MAJOR drawbacks. No one would be able to breathe clean air and respiratory sicknesses would skyrocket even further than they are now (the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries would then...need more employees too), our water would be a mess and unhealthy to drink unless heavily filtered, the plants grown in our ground would be contaminated (as would be the ground itself), the animals that ate the plants would, most likely, become less healthy (including us), and our overall health rates would deteriorate quicker than they are today (the U.S. is ranked 51st among nations of the world in life expectancy).
It is very, very, unlikely that the cleaner-uppers would be able to make our environment clean enough to negate the constant pollution emitted by the messer-uppers. And - most of us, and our children, and their children, and their children, would have an extremely tough time existing in such an environment, let alone have the money to buy much more than basic necessities.
But...people would have their precious "jobs."
It is interesting to me that people put jobs on a higher pedestal than quality of life. To paraphrase a Native-American Chief who was addressing the "White Man" about work and jobs - his words are so very prophetic: "What is this thing you call work? Everything you need is right here."
So, be careful what you wish for, strive for, and desire. Unless you fully think it through and attempt to make sure that it enhances the quality of life for everyone (including, of course, yourself), and everything, on this Earth...it can wind up being the cause of your own demise.
"You can't tell a book by its cover," has been a mantra against preconceived ideas and prejudice since I can remember. In the materialist societies of today it's as true as it has ever been...if not more. The "book" may be beautiful on the outside, but once a person begins to read it - a very different truth is revealed.
I remember an acquaintance of mine telling me why he dressed like (in his words) "a bum." He was, in fact, a very wealthy businessman whose company's clientele were in (as he put it) "the worst and most dangerous" parts of the city. He himself would often visit his customers and supervise the work. This millionaire, who looked like a sloppy version of the television character "Columbo," drove to his work in an old car and gave the impression that the next words out of his mouth would be, "Do you have any spare change?"
My encounter with him is as clear today as it was when I met him years and years ago. He was a living example of "The Book, The Cover, The Judgment."
How often do people judge others without any knowledge or insight about them? Far too often. Wars, and the killing they bring, are based upon creating an image of the "enemy" as to judge them as less than human. To cause a person to demonize them, and to make it easier to kill them.
About 10 years ago I was speaking with a real estate agent who relayed a story about a couple who bought a house at the top of their budget. So much so, that they couldn't afford furniture to grace their new abode. The wife insisted upon purchasing the home and the husband acquiesced. The agent confided that the pair of new homeowners were not uncommon. She also said that the people who go out of their way to look prosperous were often the folks who aren't. As another friend of mine likes to say, "Big hat...no cattle." The furnitureless couple were the opposite of my "Columbo" friend.
Where does that leave us? Well...it sets us in a place where we must realize that the person you think is "beneath you" is actually your equal (if not..."above you" - if you care to make a judgmental statement like that). The homeless man or woman may have been the boss of a hundred people before they ran into a stretch of "very bad luck." The beggar (as I mentioned on my facebook page) may, in fact, be a prophet. And the wealthy looking individual may actually be wealthy. But how would we ever know unless we get to speak with them, listen to them, and know them as individuals.
Judging people on their looks, their religion, their nationality, their ethnic group, the color of their skin, or any other criteria one may choose, is about as valid as believing that you can exist without breathing. Remember...you are also the subject of someone's preconception. And - until we realize the fallacies of that thought process, we - as individuals and societies - will be caught in a stunted growth cycle.
So remember...while the cover of "the book" may not be immediately attractive to you - you may find, after investigating further, that you are "blown away" by its contents.
What is it about a smile that makes us feel so good? Is it the fact that we realize the joy behind it is being transferred to us, or that the person smiling is expressing happiness, love, and/or compassion for themselves and others as well?
Sure...well can all recognize a phony smile. It doesn't take a scientist to tell us when someone's smile is "full of it." In those cases the feelings conveyed are inauthentic. Often, it means someone wants something. Perhaps your approval, your vote, your money, or your compassion. But...we pick up the "pasted on smile" right away.
The other - the "real smile" however...well, that's just pure lightness. A great one exudes love, excitement, and enables us to see "inside" the person's heart. That smile is a snapshot of the authenticity of the person at that moment. No hiding, no pretense, no wanting something in return. It's just the embodiment that something wonderful is going on right then and there. Often...the smile leads to laughter, sometimes uproarious laughter that permeates everything and everyone around it and spreads faster than a cold in a kindergarten classroom.
Smiling is therapeutic. It creates wellness. Try it. It's hard to feel sick during the short period of a smile. In fact, when we are sick and someone brings us an authentic smile, it instantly makes us feel better (even if it's ever so slightly better). And...if we start to laugh, well then - all our ills somehow magically disappear.
So my friends - don't be stingy with your smiles. Give them away constantly. Let them lead to laughter. Bring them with you always. Spread them around freely. And - especially use them when they are often needed the most: during hard times, sad times, tough times, and times when you are all alone. Yes...that means you smile for no one but yourself. Because...your own smile can bring you joy as well.
Remember, during the worst of times a smile can light up the darkness. And - during the best of times, and all times in between, it can light your way even during the brightest of days. Make sure you don't forget them my friends...you'll need them - that's for certain. Because, the journey is a long one and everyone, including you, will need the lightness they contain.
Authenticity is one of those things you can feel. I'm not talking about an authentic piece of jewelry, pottery, or a painting. Nope...I'm taking about people. Us. What makes someone an authentic person, as opposed to a phony?
Lots of times it may be hard to detect the difference initially, but eventually either the "cream rises to the top" or the "face of phoniness flies open." It usually doesn't take long. Quite often body language gives it away. Or you get that..."I gotta go wash this off my hands" revelation. Phoniness is wrought with slickness, greed, false hope, a need for power and control (usually at the expense of you or someone else - but certainly not them), and - of course there's the bad makeup, clothes, hairdo/haircut, and/or jewelry (okay...maybe not the last four!).
Sometimes I gotta laugh at the incessant desire for some folks to overcompensate for their insecurities. After all, that's where the lack of authenticity usually comes from...doesn't it? After laughter comes the realization of sadness. Why aren't people just real. Who really cares what car you drive, how much money you have, or what your title is...really - who cares?! Those things may make you happy, and that's great - but when it's flaunted or used to pull one person into the web of someone else, that's another story. When the lack of authenticity is spotted early it can save you lots of angst, time and probably money as well. When it's not...it can create years of frustration.
The marketing and advertising industries within our society thrive on making people feel dispirited and not worthy and consequently, they need to compensate for low self-esteem by creating a false self. And...because of that, many people live as non-authentic beings - when they could just as easily realize that they're okay just the way they are! And...be much happier - both outwardly and, more importantly...inwardly.
Our culture loves to divide - whether it's religion, nationalism, race, or position. I can get into a diatribe about each of those mental constructs, but that's for another post. However, that's why I'm not big on titles. They seem to create an air of subjugation and separation. Often putting one group (or individual) below that of the titled. Therefore, I request that my students call me Dan, because Professor doesn't appear on my Birth Certificate, nor do the initials behind my name, or the word Doctor (which I'm not - but many insist on calling me) in front of it. I realize that some students have trouble with that from a cultural perspective. Consequently, I understand their discomfort and don't force the issue. But...you can bet they know I'm their professor. The title isn't necessary. The grades, unfortunately, are.
Years ago I wrote a book in which I spoke about the fact that leaders don't need titles. True leaders lead because of their actions not because of their titles. I don't address people by their titles. I know that might fly in the face of what most people believe...that calling someone by their title is a sign of respect to that person. However, I see it in the opposite light. What respect does it give to the person addressing? Respect comes from how one treats people, not what their title is. In other words, I don't believe ANYONE should be superficially made to seem greater or lesser than anyone else (including me). Titles seem to want to belie that fact. They are only descriptors and nothing more.
I appreciate the fact the someone (again - including me) went on to get additional degrees or performed certain functions that got them a "higher" position, certification, or rank, but...that goes after their name and/or on their resume. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that all people who put titles in front of their names aren't authentic and/or secure, and I'm sure most of them deserve those titles. I'm not judging them, just stating what I deem to be a societal norm. However...it certainly isn't necessary - and still creates a type of class structure.
Love, happiness, contentment, security, compassion, honesty, and empathy come from within. Someone who isn't "real" (regardless of their position) has a hard time displaying those important emotions in a way that reflects those things in their truest sense - and somehow people know that. Inauthentic behavior won't stand the test of time. It may be able to fool, as the saying goes..."Some of the people some of the time." But eventually it gets revealed. Your job is to not be the fool.
We must ALWAYS remember that no one is (or should be made to feel) greater or lesser than anyone else. Sure, some of us have greater or lesser knowledge in some areas than others, however...the reverse is ALWAYS true as well. That only means that the teacher is also the student, the doctor...the patient, the master...the apprentice. Happiness is here now. Do not let someone tell you, or make you feel, otherwise. They may guide you and help you, but they will be you in some other capacity. Of that you can be certain. So my friends, be authentic - ALWAYS. Your spirit is too important to live any other way.
I leave you with two quotes. Both of which I share with my students:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Jiddu Krishnamurti
"Everything is meaningless except for love." Ralph Goldberg (my father)