Archive for the ‘responsibility’ Tag

Big 3 bailout

Weighing in on the Big 3 bailout, I’m thinking about means versus ends this morning, and about the primary responsibility of being an adult these days, particularly in America.  Our understanding of that responsibility is changing drastically.  It used to be that individual professional achievement sufficed to earn both self respect, and the admiration of peers.  But we’re evolving, shaped by global forces, and we are beginning to see that responsibility means using your personal achievement for the benefit of others.

Michael Moore is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  He may be extreme, but his passion for his fellow humans is to be admired.  Here’s the takeaway:  he uses his talents as a filmmaker in service to society.

Many others do the same, of course, but many, many more do not.  The norm is to apply one’s talents to  personal enrichment, using whatever means to achieve the end, which is envisioned as a place of personal security and happiness.

Global realities, though, and such burgeoning threats as climate change, force us to reconsider.  It is not enough to be a good writer, or musician, or salesperson, speaker, mathematician or scientist.  If we do not apply these skills to the very pressing problems of our fellow man, we are not fulfilling our responsibility and we will not benefit in the long run.

So the Big 3 spent the past 50 years being attentive to the whims of society, but turning a deaf ear to its serious needs.  After 9/11, I remember, some people clamored for SUVs because they felt protected in these tanks.  The auto manufacturers were happy to cater to this silly paranoia.  They were happy to use their talents in service to our weaknesses, because that guaranteed them a large market, for another year anyhow.  They seemed to have no ability to see anything past the next year’s fashionable new styles.

(I find it interesting that my son, who is an awesome actor, refuses to have anything to do with the world of performance.  He’s spending his time seeking a way to work towards a vastly improved future for us all.  He does not view his talent as his ticket to ride: he senses that his happiness lies only in the happiness of us all.)

So, I do not think the government should bail out the Big 3, or any other private business.  Even though their demise could seriously impact the lives of a couple million people or more.  Something has to happen to awaken us to our responsibilities, and bailouts – as any parent will tell you – generally have the opposite effect, enabling, coddling, and obliterating any thought of improvement.

Instead of a bail out, we should let these companies find their own way; let them expire, and let others – such as those of my son’s generation, many of whom seem to naturally understand this new responsibility, lead us into the future.  And those many auto workers?  I feel their pain; I’ve had to re-invent myself several times in my adulthood, and it’s scary in the extreme.  But it’s a choice for life, as opposed to wallowing in practices that are sure to cause global depression and even possibly the extinction of the human race.

Authenticity

Authenticity is:

  • Alignment with simplicity.
  • Seeking the naked truth.
  • Dedicating to relentless pursuit of meaningful goals.
  • Refusing to settle for quick fixes and cheap solutions.
  • Finding the promise and the peace that’s inherent in the NOW.
  • Practicing personal creativity to discover and shape integrity.
  • Practicing compassion in public life to align self interest with the surrounding world.

Authenticity is refusing to be seduced by lies; and knowing that we each have a mission on this earth plane, focusing all effort on articulating and fulfilling that mission, and refusing to be distracted by short cuts or other illusions.

Authenticity is mindfully interfacing with financial and other resources, and never consuming more than your stomach will hold.

Dark Friday

It’s a dark Friday, the rain pouring and tension hovering.  Will the legislature conjure a brilliant solution for us, today?  Will the candidates both show up for their date with the American people this evening?  Will capitalism prevail, will our faith in one another prove stronger than our increasing paranoia? 

Seems it’s been a long time since we saw such drama on the national scene, and ushered our government through such a glaring test of its capability.  And those of us taking refuge in our own little worlds, safely dry inside our hovels as we await the word from Washington, do we understand our complicity in this 21st century collapse?  Are we ready to reform our own uses of money and power, understanding that the macrocosm reflects the microcosm?

Who’s to blame?

I suppose rightfully, we have not yet heard from the bank bigwigs who have in recent days watched their institutions go under.  As the crisis blows by, surely there will be mountainous testimony through books, movies, talk shows, etc.  But it’s my guess that these folks are suffering right now.  I generally discredit conspiracy theories and don’t believe any few individuals have the smarts it would take to commandeer the market for any length of time.  It’s my guess that these executives (for the most part) worked hard and long at their jobs, and did their best to follow the dictates of their boards and the market. 

I’m suggesting that these culprits bear no more responsibility than every American.  There was inherent failure in the subprime mortgage from the start;  since when does inability to understand the fine print excuse the individual from liability?  It was our sense of entitlement, our greed that allowed us to grab the high life even though we could ill afford it.  The banks offered, and we blithely accepted.  Was the snake more culpable than Eve?

So the universal attitude that the government should help the individual homeowner rather than the banks just doesn’t hold water.  We are the ones who predicated this mess, all of us; it was not the banks alone.  To cop righteous indignation and seize the chance to cry ‘poor me’ is ignorant and small minded in the extreme. 

Per previous posts, the reader will know I’m hardly in support of massive bailouts, either.  If we allow the truth to prevail, we know that allowing the market to right itself is the American way.  But we’ve carried our excesses so far that it’s unlikely we’ll align with highest truths in this situation.  We are nowhere near resilient anymore, and just can’t stomach the prospect of a really serious economic downturn.

So we’ll rescue the banks and carry on as usual.  Until the next time we run up against our collective selfishness and feel the need to desperately point fingers.

PS:  I have a parallel thought to this financial fiasco:  does it not reflect the same kind of mess we’re in with health care?  Who will bear the brunt when insurance goes bust?  When will the cost of medical attention break this country’s back?  The tax called health care insurance is already too burdensome for many:  does this not suggest that defaults will increase and the insurance giants who gamble for our blind loyalty are riding for a fall?

Consumer responsibility

The answer to Seth Godin’s query yesterday – “Are consumers responsible for the behavior of marketers?” – is obviously yes. Consumers are responsible for the behavior of marketers, big business, celebrities, and governments too. Godin claims that the internet facilitates the broadcasting of opinion, and thus allows the consumer to fight offensive marketing or, even more importantly, to support those companies and practices that serve well and admirably. But really, it has always been our right and capability as individual consumers to make choices and perform actions to support our decisions. We don’t have to answer the telephone, make the purchase, vote for the candidate. Obnoxious marketing, cheap goods and services, and ineffective governments directly result from our individual willingness to support them.

We forget that there is always an alternative, and that we are not slaves to anything. It’s laziness, certainly, and a leftover from the oppression of industrialism; it’s a feeling of helplessness that provides a handy way of avoiding responsibility.

But indeed, we consumers now possess a megaphone loud enough to make an impression. The internet gives each of us equally a podium for our opinions. The liberation isn’t happening only in cyberspace, though. I saw a summer camp school bus yesterday with the command spread across its broad side: Be the change you want to see in the world. A familiar phrase; indeed, our motto as we forge a global society.

Sick days

Ooooohkay, there’s no denying it.  Sometimes Life intervenes.

Sometimes, despite your sublime motivations, keen attention, and faithful executions the heavy hand of Nature holds you down.  I woke way too early yesterday, stumbled off to give a major presentation in a total daze, and then returned to my couch to crash for the rest of the day with a bilious stomach and other unmentionable disorders of the intestinal variety.   Yuk.  No matter what your conviction and intentions, the only thing to do in such instances is surrender.

It’s a reminder of several important things to me:

All my thought and effort, no matter how enlightened, is always in progress and never achieves ultimate truth.

Surrender is the essence of human progress.  Mostly we command, control, and otherwise manipulate the life that surrounds us, but it’s only in surrender that we encounter ultimate power and meaningfully move forward.

My friend blogs about the continual balance we must maintain between body and spirit.  Not only is care for your physical being imperative, but physicality is a force demanding proper worship, love, and tenderness.  Getting in shape doesn’t mean you can forget the constraints of the body; rather, it means letting your corporal self have a say, and respecting its dictates.

Going in to your job when you’re sick, pushing yourself to perform when the body only wants to rest, or even spending your sick time angry that you’re so incapacitated are all worthless pursuits.  The mysteries of physical being are best placated by quiet attention, by abdicating control.  Doctors and bosses attempt to persuade us that illness can be managed, but don’t let them fool you.  Illness is a powerful teacher that drops in to give you a lesson superceding the dictates of jobs and other practical authorities.  Listen quietly, be patient, practice allowing.  The sickness is not an interruption, it is an opportunity.