The Institute For Living

Tag: fear

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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Now is the Moment

by on Mar.04, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

When we’re experiencing trials and tribulations we always pray that the suffering will end and “that moment” will come when God will show us favor.

Walking in victory requires that we redefine our perspective. We must learn to value the affliction as much as we would value what we would perceive as the deliverance. Circumstances really are “value neutral.”

For instance, rain is neither bad nor good. The city dweller may call it bad, while the farmer calls it good. In fact, it just “is.” Furthermore, the city dweller will suffer if the farmer does not get rain for his crops.

Learning to embrace suffering as joy is not easy, but it is essential for the victorious life. The faith walk is based upon the knowing that stepping off into the unknown leads to new knowledge — preparing for more robust living (or abundant living).

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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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Real Money

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Core Values, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

We all need goods and services for daily living. We could barter with each other for all of our needs, but it would not be efficient across time or place. Money, therefore, becomes necessary as a medium of exchange. It becomes the surrogate for value produced and expended.

Money can become corrupted, though, when it is manipulated currency — or “phantom capital” as we called it in previous documents. In these cases, rather than representing real value, it exists on paper only. One of the most common examples is when I buy a house for $100,000 which appreciates to $150,000. On paper, I now have a new $50, 000 worth of capital — money — although nothing new has been created. If I own a business, there is a more complex set of opportunities to create “paper” money. This new money is simply the function of agreed upon accounting and regulatory conventions, which can be changed, hidden, accelerated, diminished, or otherwise manipulated to conform to the wishes of those in control.

In a parable in Luke 19:23 a man is scolded for not giving his money to the bank, who would have charged usurious rates on the money. This precedes the oft quoted phrase: “to him that hath shall be given, and to him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

The “haves” and the “have-nots” are the groups that create financial energy in a macro system. Jesus said, “the poor you shall always have with you.” Like stirring a pot of soup, its flavor results from the process of energy generation. Some of the ingredients must die that the soup may live. The cries of the dying, though, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (See James 5:4).

“Only the strong survive” is an oft quoted phrase. It provides justification for the tasty broth of the system that is created by stirring the soup to the boiling point. And the financial elite are able to enjoy the tasty delights of the energy created by the soup of financial fantasy.

There’s only one problem: as they enjoy their tasty bowl of soup they forget that it has no real nutrients.

Soon after eating, they will get the runs, because there’s no substance to their meal. Manipulated currency is like a house of cards. Some of them will realize the lack of substance, and feel fear tugging in the stomach — just before the diarrhea starts.

Eternity will laugh

Job 41:10

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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 Love Walks In

by on Oct.29, 2010, under Core Values, General Updates, Politics/Economics, Relationships, Spirituality

I’ll never forget the time when my oldest son was about 15 years old and he had done something that made me so angry I was seeing fire (I cannot remember his crime, because forgiveness has washed it away). I had determined that when I went to pick him up I would give him the tongue lashing of his life. Something strange happened, though: the moment he came walking toward my car, feelings of love washed over me. All I could say to myself was, “Yeah, that’s my son!”

At that moment, whatever he had done didn’t really seem to matter when measured against the lifetime love that I have for him. Events will pass; love stays.

We all know that among our families and friends we have numerous experiences where friction occurs. The true measure of our love — of various kinds and dimensions — is our ability to deal with those tests and trials constructively or destructively.

Often relationships are based on rules. A rigidity around those rules is the cause of the end of many relationships. However, when love walks end, patience, kindness, understanding, and other qualities help us enlarge our tent to embrace each other in our humanity.

Many people feel that rules are necessary to have order in and  among a group of people. And they are right. If we stop there, however, it becomes somewhat like a bed frame without a mattress. And certainly we are left without a warm quilt for long winter nights. When love walks in, our humanity is recognized, and we feel protected –not just supported.

People in the Christian faith often use the Ten Commandments as the basis of their living. The paradox, though, is that the very churchmen who were the arbiters of that code of law killed its heir — thus rendering the law null and void.

Before this heinous crime was committed, though, that master teacher said, “I’ll trade you ten commandments for two: just love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

When we begin to understand that all of the chaos and abuse we are experiencing from the personal to the group to the national and international levels is coming from this one stem, then we will be on our way.

Fear and Love sit at opposites: one destroying the other.

Our economic policies, our culture wars, and our political struggles all reflect our inability to let love walk in.

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Bed Bugs in the Queen’s Palace

by on Oct.16, 2010, under News Commentary, Politics/Economics, Spirituality

Recently there has been an outbreak of beg bugs in our country. New York has been especially hard hit, which is the queen of commerce and power. Reportedly some of the landmark venues have at least temporarily closed due to this pestilence. Some have suggested that travelers might unknowingly bring the creatures in their garments from other countries and seed their domestic dwellings upon their return.

Ironic isn’t it that the powered elite are more likely to travel than the unemployed who (1) would not shop in the expensive New York stores, and/or (2) would not engage in foreign travel? While we certainly cannot say that this is an irritant for the rich and famous, we can say that it has not discriminated against the upper class.

And the upper class — or the powered elite — is what most of us aspire to become. The abundance of money is certainly one aspect of its appeal, but the locus of power is no less appealing. Indeed some members of the powered elite are deemed so because of their power rather than because of their wealth.

Recently Columbia University convened the first Elites Research Network conference. This is very interesting at a time when one little $75,000 house  in Maine has caused a foreclosure crisis that threatens to become the bed bug for the nation’s largest banks.

Just like the BP Oil Spill, the Goldman Sachs ordeal and other recent events, unforeseen consequences of routine behavior can disturb the locus of power. No such disturbance is necessary when power relations are maintained in an equitable manner.

Equilibrium is maintained in the universe and all is at peace.

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I’ll Have the Cherry Pie, but Not the Chocolate Cake

by on Sep.13, 2010, under Core Values, News Commentary, Politics/Economics

In these days of obesity, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to skip the chocolate cake and eat the cherry pie if we want to lose weight. Clearly, we must reduce all of the sweets and calories in our diet in order to accomplish our goal.

And yet in our goal of social harmony our strategy is just like eating one dessert while forsaking another. That is absolutely fine as long as we do not fool ourselves into thinking that we will accomplish our goal of peace and prosperity. The “weight loss” of excess tension and turmoil can only be realized by giving up both the cherry pie and the chocolate cake.

These desserts are being used here as metaphors for the prejudices that we like to hold on to (some unconsciously) against people who belong to “other” groups than we do. There is almost an infinite variety of groups among which we can divide and identify ourselves. These differences can enrich us — like the flowers in a garden — or they can be used to play the zero sum game.

Recent events, centered around the Muslim community, are really no different that many previous forms of prejudice focused on other groups. The gift from the Universe is that what we have not seen before, perhaps  we will begin to see now; the Universe brings us many teachers. Unless and until we decide to go on the diet of “love thy neighbor as thyself”, we cannot achieve the goal of peace and prosperity. Instead, the energy of love will be sapped by the energy of fear, producing destruction.

Scripture says God is love and we cannot love God — whom we have not seen –  and hate our brother who we see everyday. That is dishonesty.

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Question of the Week – Loneliness

by on Dec.04, 2009, under Question of the Week, Relationships

We humans have a fundamental need to belong; we need to feel emotionally connected to others.  When we do not experience enough human contact in our lives, we feel lonely.  Loneliness is especially common following the death of a loved one or the ending of a relationship, or when a person spends much of his or her time at home.  Loneliness may be spiritually enlightening, but it could also lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of depression.  That is why it is essential for those who do feel loved to seek out and extend a hand to those who are becoming disconnected.  A little bit of human kindness and compassion may prevent a great deal of anguish.

What elements in your life distract you from noticing those with social needs?  When you do notice someone who might be lonely, what fears cause you to hesitate in engaging him or her?  How valid are those fears?  When you begin to feel lonely, does receiving a phone call, a visit from a friend or a pleasant conversation make a difference?  Who do you know right now who could use some extra support?

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