The Institute For Living

Tag: debate

Integrity at the Core

by on Feb.11, 2012, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

Once I had a conversation with a lady who had come to talk about a potential home improvement product. Our conversation spontaneously began with talk about the state of affairs in the country and the world. We seemed to have automatically been in synch with each other — understanding, agreeing with and applauding our mutual desire for a better dialogue than that which we were hearing day to day.

After this warm, heart-to-heart dialogue, though, it was time to “get down to business.” I was struck by how dramatically her mood shifted from one of seeming to care about the plight of people to one of wanting to make money.

This is not an indictment against her. Rather, it is an observation of the bigger system in which she and countless other people live, in which their lives are compartmentalized. In Box A is their genuine concern about the soul level issues of people and their well being — evidenced by the outpouring of good deeds when natural disasters strike. In Box B, though, is a totally contrary behavior that silently speaks, “I’ve got to do my part to make a profit — whatever it takes.”

I suppose most people are not even aware of the conflicting dialogues taking place by their two internal boxes. They literally, ‘just go along to get along.’  I have read stories of some people who, when they became aware of the conflict, lost their jobs by trying to quietly bring justice within the system that was designed to bring profits.  Make no mistake: resolving the conflict is no simple task or it would already be the predominant paradigm.

Ultimately, the mega systems must resonate with the ultimate system. When there is lack of integrity disturbances occur.

One person said that “passion” was the basis for his career, while “purpose” was the basis for his life. It takes a lot of courage to bring those two disconnected circles into synchronization with each other. And everyone may not be able to achieve 100% synchronization. It is a journey. Leaving them totally separate, though, may be like the married man who says, “Passion is my mistress, while purpose is my wife and family.”

Being “on purpose” is what integrity is all about. It may not be easy, because there are surrounding systems where the water is dirty. But integrity is about “wholeness.” It is not about legalism or moralism, or someone’s list of standards.  Integrity is about clarity of purpose.  Scripture says, “Be perfect.” That doesn’t mean living up to someone’s standard of righteousness, because other scriptures teach us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  There are numerous other scriptures that negate a notion of righteousness based on one’s ability to measure up to some arbitrary standard of living –established by some fallible group of people (who are not perfect).

What perfection, or integrity, does mean is the completeness illustrated by a circle: it is whole and cannot be broken. At core level, when we strive for integrity we will always exhibit love, because it is perfect.

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Moving from a Fear Based Economy to a Love Based Model

by on Aug.11, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This post was originally written over 16 months ago, but in light of current events, it seems to be appropriate to re-post it. Often we do not like to consider the raw truth of our affairs, but healing begins with unvarnished disclosure.

Here is the original post:

There has been much talk in recent months about our free market system and socialistic threats to that model. While no one suggests that there is really a “this-or-that” dichotomy, most of the participants in the debate are simply afraid that we are moving too far too fast away from the free interplay of capitalistic forces to a controlled economy. That is certainly a fair debate. As with so many debates, some of the positions people take start to get dangerously close to “sacred cows” for various stakeholders, and then passions are ignited.

What we want to consider, though, is that the basis of the argument itself may be from a perspective rooted in fear. As with so many aspects of our lives, when fear drives our decisions, we do not make the best decisions — although we might think we are doing so at the time. One of the best examples is a driver whose car starts to skid. Their fear causes them to slam on the brakes and steer in the direction that appears to be appropriate, although it will only put them in greater danger. Their fear based response makes them incapable of good decision making. Personal relationships are replete with such examples. One such example is the person who is caught in an abusive relationship but is afraid to venture out into the abyss of unknown alone-ness and possible new relationship.

This fear based captivity directly affects our behavior in the marketplace. We are the same characters in the bedroom that we are in the boardroom. And our virtues are no different.

So, then, what are we afraid of?  Even when the free flowing forces of capitalism are working just fine, isn’t fear underpinning the success or failure of that system? For example, fear that housing prices will rise causes people en masse to  go out and purchase houses — thus creating an upward pressure on prices. Fear that company XYZ’s stock price will decline causes its shareholders to sell — thus creating a downward pressure on its price.

Competition among participants in a given industry is all based on fear. The fear that one competitor will gain market share over the other causes a variety of behaviors to combat that outcome. So fierce has been the behavior in this category that the SEC has been required to regulate activities, under the umbrella of “combinations in restraint of trade” and other oversight. Price cutting, price fixing, collusion, and a number of other behaviors have been used to combat the fear that competitors carry that they will lose in the game of market share vis-a-vis their industry rivals.

All of this comes about because of the core value of WIFM (What’s In It for Me). In order to preserve the “sacred cows” for all stakeholders, we must embrace a new system. Whether we have a free market system without intervention or a completely supervised and regulated system, it will still be fear-based. At its core is the fundamental question WIFM? On February 9, we published an essay titled, Love and Its Opposite. In that essay we established that moving from self-centeredness to love is the key to unlocking greater capacity.

The creative spirit that we call God — or some choose to call by other names — is love. God is love. Fear and love stand at opposites, one destroying the other. When we have a model that is fear based, it is inevitable that we will create conditions of unsustainability. It is like a mother eating her own children, rather than nurturing them.

Of course maybe fear is a reasonable precursor in the dance of love. May be without fear we cannot make the journey into love with all its wonder and all its splendor.

 

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Room for Compromise?

by on Jul.26, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

I saw two rooms: one sat vacant, the other was overflowing with two groups of people — one unlike the other.

I questioned why one room sat vacant while the other room had plenty of space for discussion.

My answer came: “We are waiting for discussion between the two groups.”

But no discussion happened.

So one room sat vacant, while the other room was overflowing with two groups of people.

There is no right way to do the wrong thing.

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Actions Have Consequences

by on Apr.14, 2011, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Actions have consequences. That is an inviolate spiritual law. We get to choose our consequences by the actions we take. The problem is we don’t know when the consequences will show up, or what form they will take. But it is as sure as sunrise follows sunset that actions have consequences.

In our limited sphere of operations we can inflict consequences on those over whom we have power, but those become actions — which have consequences. The universe is the final arbiter, and equity is assured.

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Bankruptcy

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

Blockbuster Video has come to be the generic for at home entertainment over the past few decades, yet there is now talk of that company going bankrupt. New trends in media and entertainment have perhaps shifted the dynamics of the market such that it can no longer be profitable with its business model.

But bankruptcy is not new, many successful companies and individuals have declared bankruptcy at one point, and moved on to reinvent themselves. Among the field of our potential presidential candidates, one is reported to have declared bankruptcy more than once, and another could be declared morally bankrupt by virtue of his integrity.

Indeed, in the recent economy — marked by massive layoffs, a mortgage crisis, runaway health care costs, and unsustainable credit — bankruptcy is an inevitable part of the individual and corporate fabric of our lives. Neither the principals nor the creditors are the real beneficiaries; the accountants and legal staff are the winners.

So deep is this structural, not cyclical, malady that its ripple effects are felt throughout communities. Those collective effects render states and our federal government (and, in turn, the world economy) pushing up against a ceiling that is not ideological, political or philosophical.

This crisis calls into question the core function of money. At its root, is money a medium of exchange, or is it a determinant of value? Does money, in fact, have the quintessential role to determine worth?

There is a powerful relationship between variables, and when that relationship is breached,  eternal damage is done at soul level. Priorities are misplaced, intentions are misguided, and behaviors are not authentic.

Unexpected tragedies can bring death at any time. When we trade the currency of life for the currency of eternity, what will we offer? Will we be full, or will our coffers be empty?

We may have amassed great material wealth; built estates around the globe; perhaps even bought an island or two; but when our sunrise turns to sunset, how will we answer the call?

Will our currency be good in eternity?

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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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But for the Grace of God, There Go I

by on Dec.15, 2010, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

This title phrase is a very common phrase, and perhaps its meaning is different for each person who reads it. Legend has it that a person of significance was walking past a drunkard lying along the street and said, “But by the grace of God, there I am.”

Rather than looking at the drunkard with disdain and disgust, as we would often react, something triggered his response to connect with this person as if he were but a part of himself. Another well known cultural idiom, Six Degrees of Separation, suggests that we are connected to everyone else on the planet by no more than six degrees of separation. This sense of connectedness stands in sharp contrast to the narcissism that plagues our society and prevents conflict resolution.

Although we are each birthed through a unique birth canal, we really are part of the whole cloth of humanity. When we come to understand this, it changes our entire feeling about life and how we interact with other people. Our self worth can no longer be derived from houses, cars, education, physical appearance or other material assets. Instead we realize that we are part of the universe. We realize that we can do no better and no worse than the universal good.

Oh, all of those material assets and attributes are convenient set points from which to engage with other sojourners, but not to define our worth. Those are fluctuating value points that are not reliable.

Reliability is attained when we push beyond those boundaries into non-fluctuating currencies.

One of the most powerful phrases in the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” As we push beyond the boundaries of debts and debtors to the concept of oneness we begin to move toward reliability.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is the wise man who sees the drunkard as one with himself, and forgives his debt, so that he may be forgiven.

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We Have no King But Caesar

by on Dec.07, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

Caesar represents money, power and control; how seductive are those qualities. As we move into the Christmas season, we are presented with the Christ who represents the alternative: love.

But he was despised and rejected of men, and we hid our faces from him. He was a wine bibber and a friend of publicans and sinners. He identified himself with the suffering and those less fortunate. Who would want to be in his club when offered the choice to fraternize with Caesar’s court?

So when the babe of Christmas was offered up to death, the judge said, “I offer you the king”, but the people said, “we have no king but Caesar.”

His mother cried.

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When Greed Cries for Compassion

by on Nov.28, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

It has long seemed a paradox to me that people who had wronged me would later come to me for compassion when they were being wronged by someone else. I think, for example, of a past job where a supervisor had done many injustices to me. Yet, she felt no hesitancy in confiding in me when she was hurting because of wrongdoing that other people did to her in the organization.

Of course, I listened with compassion and offered her what help I could, because I believe that love and forgiveness is the ultimate solution for our problems.

Nevertheless, I kept my amusement to myself: why would she turn to me — the person she had mistreated — for solace and understanding during her time of trial? This is the paradox of the universe.

This paradox was eloquently displayed by Mr. Bernanke last week (as reported by Time.com) on the subject of Rebalancing the Global Recovery. A simplified paraphrase of his thesis suggests that since the pace of recovery is greater for the emerging market economies than it is for the advanced economies, there must be a voluntary co-operation to achieve balance.

That same — very reasonable — thesis does not seem to apply in Mr. Bernanke’s homeland. If that same penetrating economic analysis were applied stateside, then the same compassion that we are calling for in the international community would be applied to those less fortunate among us.

One phenomenon I have always noticed is that conservatism  seems to be a characteristic of people as they increase their wealth, whereas generosity is one of the truths of the less affluent. Of course, “charity” is commonplace among the wealthy, so long as it is tax structured. There is a spiritual difference in business giving and giving from the heart: God will judge.

So either the root of the tree can  be full of life, or it can be full of decay. The branches and the leaves might take years before they betray a dying tree.

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Emotional Abuse

by on Jan.26, 2010, under Politics/Economics, Relationships

Emotional abuse is a major problem in our culture today, whether experienced in our private relationships or in our public discourse. From parents verbally and physically abusing their children to spouses abusing each other, our homes often are places of emotional scarring, rather than places of refuge and repose.

And what happens in our private domain gets mirrored in our public forum. We have all witnessed the shameful tension around the health care debate. That debate is no less vitriolic than the discourse around issues such as national security, the housing crisis, the national debt, education, and a host of other critical issues. While no one will debate the importance of these issues — or the passion that they deserve — what is sad, and even frightening, is the emotional abuse that we bring to our handling of these issues.

The character attacks (including racial assaults and even death threats) go far beyond healthy political discussion, and reach a level of emotional abuse at a mass group level.

Whether emotional abuse occurs at the family level or the mass group level, it stems from a struggle over power relationships. In our October 13, 2009 post, Why Do We Fight? we discussed the innate tendencies toward fighting to resolve conflict. Ultimately, we can stay stuck at this level, or we can choose to move to a new level of conflict resolution. It is the level that all the great masters tried to teach us: the way of Love.

Although this sounds simple — and it is — it is not easy. Embracing love as the way to resolve conflict is the most robust skill we can master. We must begin by mastering our own internal enemies (our ego), and along the way, being able to embrace the foibles of the other person — or group. When we truly know who we are, then we can accept others just as they are — without trying to change them.

We spend tremendous energy trying to change other people, which simply does not work. Even if a person is going to make changes, they will do so because they are ready to do so. Our inspiration may be one of many influences in their change process, but their change is a work of spirit — not our genius or judgment.

Rather than abusing each other, by tearing each other down, we need to spend all of the energy we can muster building each other up. My mother was a very wise person, although she was a high school drop-out. One of her very wise sayings was, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” So many times I have learned to look for the good in everybody by forcing myself to say nothing until I had something good to say.

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