The Institute For Living

Archive for February, 2011

Poor People

by on Feb.28, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

“The Poor you will always have with you” is a well known scripture. It sets the core value for many religious, economic and political conversations. But who are the “poor”?

Are they the ones who don’t have big bank accounts, or the ones who stay awake at night trying to figure out how to maintain the big accounts?

Are the poor those who go along to get along, or the ones who know that they know that they know that somehow…through it all…?

Are the poor those who know the Way Maker or those who become the Gate Keepers?

Is poverty a state of mind or a financial statement presentation?

Even profitable entrepreneurs became so because of their ability to hear the voice of purpose rather than the noise of the naysayers surrounding them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.”

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From Corruption to Clarity

by on Feb.23, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

It is interesting that the dynamics of human interactions are the same whether they are observed at the individual, group or societal levels. Obviously, as more individuals are involved, the collection of individual energies determine the outcome, but the system dynamics remain the same. The system ultimately demands clarity.

Initially, corruption (or confusion) can be — and will be — hidden. Sometimes sophisticated schemes may be used to make it appear that everything is successful for a while. Eventually, though, chaos begins to pierce the veil of serenity.

As chaos emerges, truths are uncovered on both sides. As painful as they may be, they can actually be tremendous assets in the healing process. What best determines the outcome is how well both sides deal with the chaos.

There are both assets and liabilities embedded in the experience. Neither side can fully determine the outcome, because the true character of each side is revealed during the period of chaos.

And the period of chaos has no time boundaries: sometimes it is brief; other times it is prolonged. There is no inherent value in either case. The value lies in the final outcome.

There are a myriad of possible outcomes; including a possible transfer of power. Generally, though, the parties will either divorce or rebuild. The amount of destruction that has and will occur must be considered as a systems cost.

The target outcome is clarity. The revelations from the stage of chaos serve as teachers for the future. Either one learns or repeats the course.

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The Archer List

by on Feb.14, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary

This is a list of companies or organizations that appear to bring the vision to reality. The Core Values articulated on this site are the New Normal, and represent a bold departure from business as usual. Those that are listed here may not be perfect exemplars, but they are aimed in the right direction, and we applaud their efforts.

The Dylan Ratigan Show, MSNBC

Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont

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Living on the Other Side of Fear

by on Feb.09, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

Wouldn’t it be nice to live without fear in our lives? Most of us live with fear from our personal lives to our cultural and global experiences.

At the personal level, we have the threats of sickness, financial hardship, interpersonal conflict and outside disruption — just to name a few. As we move to the larger group levels, political, economic, ethnic and other factors set the basis for our fears.

In all these cases, the core energy of fear is juxtaposed against the energy of love. Although the genesis of our lives is love, we lose our way and give power to fear so early in our journeys. Why is that? Why do we so readily abandon the power of love for the seduction of fear? It must be compelling in its alluring promises, or we wouldn’t be captivated by its charm.

People are drawn into abusive relationships because at some point there are charming qualities that promise to satisfy. And so it is with all the wares of fear.

But there is hope!

Psalm 111:10 and Job 28:28 teach us that the only appropriate fear is for the ultimate source of all sources. Connection to source is resource.

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Love Says No

by on Feb.06, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

One of the most compelling energy forces in our lives is love. We want to give it and receive it more than anything else. For most of us this is true at the most personal level and at group levels. All of our religious or spiritual traditions have some basis in love. “God is love” and “Love your neighbor as you love yourself ” are cornerstones in the Christian faith. Certainly, no church or spiritual group would expect to build a following by proclaiming that their central energy provided no validation or support for them in their deepest places of being.

The sense that when we are at our most vulnerable state, we are enraptured by an energy called love is what gives us ultimate hope. It defines the bookends between despair and assurance. This warm blanket with which we can wrap ourselves even in our darkest nights is vital for our survival. But is that the only quality of love?

I shall never forget the night when one of my sons sat on the bedside and asked if he could wander off into the hillside the next day alone. I knew that he was a good child who had nothing but the best of intentions. (I had taken him with me to a job-related conference at a state resort center.) The day before I had told him to go with a companion so that if any accident occurred one of them could come back and alert us. He wanted to go alone because he and the other fellow had divergent agendas.

I had to say no.

As much as I knew he would be angry, I had to say no. I had to say no, because I knew things he didn’t know. I had to say no, because I loved him too much to allow bad things to happen to him. I had to say no because if some tragedy were to happen to him, I would be absolutely heartbroken, because I love him.

So often, children do not see the big picture. They only want what they want; went they want it; and they want it now! Sometimes they will get angry when love says no. They may even run away in disgust.

When children are little babies we show our love with milk and diapers, but as they grow older, those symbols give way to curfews and learners permits. Our love is constant, but as the child matures — and begins to realize his/her dreams — along come new opportunities with boundaries and discipline.

And so it is with all of us. Revelation 3:19 says those who I love I rebuke and chasten. The great invisible hand of the universe must steer the interactions of billions of people all over the world. Imagine what it would be like without some loving intervention to bring order to the chaos of our myopic selfishness. It was once said, “Your freedom to swing your hand stops at the tip of my nose.”

We live in limited time and space. It is inevitable that in pursuit of my selfish goals I will infringe upon the freedom of someone else. Sometimes I will do it intentionally, other times I will do it unintentionally. In either case, the damage remains. I have often said, “a girl is just as dead whether I intended to run over her or not.” We are so limited by the breadth, depth, and other dimensions of knowledge — beyond our imagination — that we must rely on a source outside ourselves for love’s guidance.

So often, in seeking guidance, we pray. Our prayer, though, is guided by our own desires. Matthew 6:10 says, “Thy will be done…”, but rather than coming into conformity with the sovereignty of the creator, we attempt to make him conform. How arrogant: to try to make the creator of all that is, a prop in our off-Broadway reality play — and call it prayer.

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The Story of Numbers

by on Feb.04, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

We all think of numbers as the basis of truth. Often, in arguments about big issues one side will say, “Well, show me the numbers.” In fact, one of the biggest splits in public policy are those areas that are supported by numbers vs. those areas that are only buttressed by feelings.

The “soft” sciences — the social sciences — and religion are often cast aside because they cannot be supported with rigor or mathematical precision. We all know that 2+2=4. It always does and always will. There is no room for judgment, feelings or opinion. It’s just the facts, thank you very much!

In fact, corporations and large institutions have moved toward the appearance of great fairness and equity by proclaiming “data-driven decision making” as their mantra.  Of course, there’s an old joke that says, “my mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.” Perhaps that joke betrays the story behind the story.

There’s another old saying, “Statistics don’t lie, but men lie with statistics.” In fact, statistics is all about storytelling. It is grounded in the algorithm: “Tell me what I want to hear; not what I need to hear.”

The reality of the story of numbers is that it is a story of power. The story is written by those with power and told by those without the power.  But under whose authority are the numbers generated? Hebrews 4:12, 13 suggests that someone knows the real numbers.

Columnist Eugene Robinson reportedly said, “Bargains with the devil never end well.” Perhaps he only told a part of the story. Perhaps the difference in power and authority is that power tells a story with numbers, while authority lets the numbers tell the story. According to Jeremiah 8, the arbiter of the universe grades with justice and equity for all.

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