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Where Are We Headed?
Posted Jan 27, 2011

Consider This:
Posted Jul 16, 2010


Where Are We Headed?

Where Are We Headed?

Posted by Jay Littell - Jan 27, 2011

Where are we headed? As individuals? And as a country?


The following entries are about CALL (defined below) and "where we're headed."

They're also about LEFTOVERS.

Leftovers for the INDIVIDUAL? Things about us that aren't so nice. The aspects of ourselves we hardly ever talk about. Things like judgment, jealousy, disabling fear. My call is to sometlhing greater than judgment, etc.. That's where I want to be headed in life

Leftovers for the COUNTRY? How about the fact that ALL of us (through no fault of our own) are dealing with what remains after the feast on Wall Street? Or the colossal mess created by Bernie Madoff. Or - and they say it was preventable - the Gulf oil spill. What's left over after someone else has carved up the pie. We're called to better than that. Is that where we're headed?

Either individually or as a country, we have a call to grow. And to blossom.

In everyday life I don't see a whole lot of "blossoming energy" out there these days. So, while there are many good things happening, there's a lot of bad news, too.

I'd like to have a hand in cheering us on toward making it better.. I'd also like to call us to something other than leftovers in life.

Blessings,
Jay

(Call - It's the experience of being led, or summoned, to do something. Or to be someone. It's as if you're being strongly encouraged. To head off in a particular direction. Given real-life practical limitations (responsibilities, mortgages, etc.), you may or may not be able to heed and follow that call, and you still know it's there.)


******************


>>> Chapter One - Politics AND the Individual.

(1/10/11) - My reaction to the shooting of the congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona? It's twofold. The first comes under the heading of "own your own stuff, Jay." As a longtime observer of politics, I can get pretty frustrated and angry about what goes on in Wahington, D.C. When I'm in that state, my own "stuff" is more likely to show itself: calling opponents nasty names - sometimes of the "expletive delted" variety; casting doubts on their motives; or being overly sarcastic. Own your own stuff, Jay. Be aware of what you're doing, back off, and argue - in a civil way - for your point of view. So that's my frist reaction to the news from Arizona. My seond? How in the name of God - or anything else that's Sacred - have we allowed ourselves to create such monstrously irrational political and economic systems? Systems that foster uncertainty and anxiety. Systems that have people losing their jobs, losing their houses, and their hop. eWhy don't we - collectively - own the fact that we've created monsters? So, if that's true, how do we fix them? I'll bet if we put our heads together, we could figure out how to create something better. Now, THERE'S a vision. A collective call?
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>>> Chapter Two - The Individual, and storms that can make it difficult to follow our own individual calls.

(11/19/10) - I sometimes allow myself to get maneuvered into little boxes that don't define me. That don't serve me. These are the little boxes that skew my vision of the world surrounding me. For example, how about the fear-based one that has me worrying "why didn't he call me back? He must be mad at me." Or another one that has me in a snit about "what the (expletive deleted) is the matter with this damn computer program I've been trying to get to work? GO, damn it." Whatever these little boxes are all about, they don't define me. Or you. We're called to transcend them. Easier said than done? Yes, absolutely. And yet the need is still there. To rise above them, and/or not to get stuck in them for too long.

Isn't it interesting that we sometimes get attached to certain outcomes? Perhaps like someone sending us an email or text. Or someone calling us. If those things don't happen, we're likely to get upset. It's hard to get detached from those "wish it would happen" energies. In another setting, and well before emails, wasn't that the lesson of the Buddha?

>>> Chapter Three - Why aren't we on-course politically?

(10/15/10) - Over the years Marianne Williamson has been an important observer of our individual psyches. It was to our collective psyche, if you will, that her best-seller, "The Healing of America," was direted. In it, she says that the central problem of our government is that there's no mission statement guiding its activities. Interesting observation. If you were to think about a mission stement for the government in Washington, DC, what would its major bullet points be? Do you think that listing would be different from the one implicitly contained in documents forged by the founding fathers? Or, do you think it would be different? Why aren't we, on a national level, talking about any of these kinds of questions? Why not?

In its political decision-making, the tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan measures something they call "Gross National Happiness." Your reaction to that term? Perhaps it's "yea, cute, looke like a cheap parlor trick to me." Cynicism aside, what if we measured something like that in this country? Mission statement, anyone? "Call," anyone? Interesting questions, these.

>>> Chapter Four - Crucial decisions we make as Individuals.

I like this old Native-American story so much that I included it in "Soul Sailing." Maybe you've heard it before. If so, I think it's worth repeating: An elder was teaching his grandson about life. He said, "A fight sometimes goes on inside me; it's between two wolves. One represents evil - he is envy, greed, arrogance, guilt and ego. The other is good: he is love, joy, peace, humility, kindness and generosity. The same fight will sometimes go on inside you, and in others." "Which will win?" responded the boy. The elder replied, "the one you feed."

>>> Chapter Five - Political VISIONING anyone?

I like what Arianna Huffington said recently. It was contained in an article she wrote for the Economist magazine (12/9/10. page 42). She writes this: "I predict that 2011 is going to be all about hope 2.0, the realization that our system if too broken to be fixed by politicians operating from within it (Tunisia anyone?) - and that real change will come only when enough people outside Washington demand and make it politically risky to stick with the status quo." She goes on to maintain that "if America's politicians continue to 'lead' by sticking a finger i the wind to see which way it's blowing before deciding what to do, hope 2.0 is about changing the direction of the wind." I agree. Which is one of the reasons why I'm such a believer in both public financing of major elections:and term limits. ("Violating free speech?" Nonsense. It's nothing more than the richest kid on the block trying to gain an unfair advantage in selling his wares. Enough. Let's give EVERYONE an equal chance to be heard.) Changing the direction of the wind. How's that for a call?

There's an interesting and powerful word that all of us should be familiar with. It's the word "republic." If you don't know it means, it's worth looking up. It's that important.

>>> Chapter Six - The individual, Staying the Course, and Bad Words. First, the (not so) bad words.

(1/17/11) - Just why in hell do we put up with things like the Wall Street meltdown? (Does anyone remember the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1970s?) Why do we put up with a political system that allows the Gulf Coast oil spill? With a system that allows people like Bernic Madoff and Jack Abramoff to do their dirty work? Are we too damned stupid to figure out how to PREVENT those kinds of things from happening? I mean, really; don't you get frustrated and angry when you hear about all of this? Damn.

Concerning the fiasco on Wall Street, an article (page 1, business section, "New York Times," 1/28/11) about the blue-ribbon panel on the meltdown said this: "The [panel's] chairman, Phil Angelides, said he hoped the report would help bear witness to a preventable catastrophe." They, the bankers said they'd regulate themselves. Did they? The evidence points to a resounding "no." So if the bankers don't like regulation, as a friend from California used to say, "tough tacos." Are we, collectively, too damned stupid to figure out how to prevent things like this from happening? I mean, REALLY. Knowiedge of the co-called seven deadly sins has been around for a long while now. Centuries and centuries. Damn.

>>>Chapter Seven - A Centered Individual leads to a Centered Political System.

How to create centeredness? Calmness and serenity? Simple. Three things to do: "ABC." The first one, "A," is for "Action." DO something. Don't just sit there. Move around. Exercise your body. And your mind. I like the Will Rogers line "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." So "A" is for "Action." The second, "B," is for "Breathe." Remember that the importance of conscious breathing has been talked about for literally thousands of years. Breathe deeply, and slowly. Concentrate on the process of taking air in, and then letting it out. Use this focused time on inhalation and exhalation to still and quiet your mind. Relax into the process. So "B" is for "Breathe." Don't forget this one; it's that important.. "C" is for "Choose." Make intelligent decisions about how you want to proceed. Another favorite line of mine is this one, from the "Conversations with God" books:: "You are in every moment deciding who you are." Easier said than done? Deciding to remain on-course? Yes, aboslutely, and important nonetheless. Use "ABC" to stay the course. And keep focused on your own call.

>>> Chapter Eight - An Important Word.

(1/24/11) - The word "telos" has stuck in my mind for lots of years now. I first came across it in an undergraduate course in political philosphy (What did Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, etc. think the state should look like). Telos was used by a commentator who referred to the political philosophy of Aristotle. As the acorn's telos (from the Greek, meaning "end, purpose, or ultimate aim") was to grow into a tree. people's destiny was to live in peace and harmont with one another. That word stuck in my mind then, and it still does. What's your individual "end, purpose, or ultimate aim" in this lifetime? Do you want to be the best friend you can be? Or perhaps the best father or mother you can be? The best boss? Or a thousand others. At your funeral and/or memorial service, would they say you had lived out your telos? Switching to the larger political system, would others say of us that we collectively lived out our call to be the best USA we could be? What would they say of us? Individually? And collectiely? Interesting questions, these.

>>> Chapter Nine - Poli Sci 101 and Its Relation to All This.

(11/3/10) - In the 1960's, Tom Wicker was a well-respected columnist fot the "New York Times." Called "In the Nation," his column was widely read in its day. Coincidentally, the subject of one of those columns was to be - twenty years later - the topic of my doctoral dissertation in political science. Wicker's piece talked about the influence wielded by three special-interest groups - oil men, carmakers and construction people - in planning transportation policy in Calfornia. In the 1920's, 30's, and 40's. The upshot of all this, not surprisingly, was that transportation monies went to build freeways rather than public transportation. (Parenthetically, the well-known anthropologist, Oscar Lewis, wrote a book called "The Big Four" in which he detailed how four railroad magnates (including Leland Stanford, James Crocker, and Samuel Huntington) had virtually dictated public policy in the California of the 1800's.) As I've said, Wicker's observation - and classes, books, and graduate school - later turned into the subject of my dissertation. That study revolved around the notion of "non-decision making," or the conscious exclusion, by established decision-makers, of certain policy alternatives they find threatening to their interests. My dissertation examined how the issue of agrarian reform had been dealt with by the government in Colombia, South America. And, again not surprisingly, I found that "agrarian reform" (as with transportation policy in California) meant addressing one set of policy alternatives as opposed to others. In the case of Colombia, not land redistribution but the building of roads and irrigation systems. Tom Wicker, in the 1960's, Jay Littell in the 1970's, and present-day politics. Interesting connections.

With the exception of just-plain wackos, isn't terrorism all about frustration in NOT being seriously heard when it come to political decison-making? These people get frustrated. And they do things they wouldn't ordinarily do.

Is terms of the political system, is that our call? To have the system continually discriminate against certain viable policy options? To have a whole bunch of people who are regularly frustrated and angry? Isn't that what the current (2/4/11) mess in Egypt is all about? We're a long way from that here in the USA; Egypt just reminds us of the power of consistently pent-up frustration and anger.

>>> Chapter Ten - As Individual People, Lessons for All of Us

(1/31/11) - I just finished a terrific book, with some lines in it that struck me very personally. Perhaps they'll do the same for you. The writer, a gay man and his partner, both from the city, decide to pull up stakes and go live - per Henry David Thoreau - in the country. In a self-deprecating and entertaining way, the author describes their journey. It's these lines that jumped out at me:

"My life here - like everyone's life - is an ongoing duel between right and wrong, decisions made and decisions squandered, courage vs. inertia, dreams that you dream and dreams that you make come true.

But my ongong duel - my city-country tango - seems to work well: I may wander our woods in women's jeans, shop for mole killer at the country store in giant Gucci sunglasses, and never be able to live off the land like Thoreau, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what's happening around me, what's happening inside me.

I have learned it's not about REINVENTING (emphasis in original) myself, it's about BECOMING (in original) who I always knew I could be."

For me, that passage is all about "call." Well said, Mr. Wade Rouse. From his book, "At Least in the City Someone Could Hear Me Scream."

>>> Chapter Eleven - As Individuals, following a Call.

(2/2/11) - I heard Karen Armstrong (the author of well-regarded books on the history of religion) say, "Jesus wasn't asking people to BELIEVE (emphasis in original) in him or his teachings, but to COMMIT (emphasis original) to them." That makes a lot of sense to me. His time among us, she continued, wasn't so much about a belief in himself as someone special (which he surely was) but a belief in what he taught. (Parenthetically, read Matthew Fox's book, "TheComing of the Cosmic Christ," for a related message.) To Jesus, the principles - love your God and your neighbor - were the important things. In another part of Armstrong's talk, she said something else that caught my attention: "Love, for Jesus, doesn't mean falling into the arms of another, but keeping tha other person's best interests in your heart." As in the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." So simple. And yet sometimes so complex. Call, anyone?

The following is probably the shortest quote in "Soul Sailing.". I came across it in a church bookstore, in a section that features those short quotes from famous people. I loved this one: "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary use words - St. Francis of Assisi." I liked it so much that I bought the framed version; it now hangs on the wall over my desk. And although these words were uttered by a Christian monk, I think they could come from virtually any religious and/or spiritual tradition. How about the unversality of the Golden Rule? It kind of defies boundaries, doesn't it?

>>> Chapter Twelve - Egypt

(2/5/11) - Protesters have been flooding the central square in Cairo for weeks now. In my mind, they're tired of leftovers. They're tired of having their calls defined for them by Mr Mubarak. What will happen and how will it all turn out? My sense is that cooler heads will prevail in Egypt and that Egyptians, with their long and proud history, will steer a moderate course ahead. I have been privileged to see Egypt first-hand. A friend, who married an Egyptian and raised her two daughters in Egypt, reported that one of them - having been among the protesters - said she felt proud of her country. With few exceptions, she felt as though her countrymen were handling themsleves well. I think she's right. They have accomplished great things. Let the written record of what they've done show "Sustained Applause."

>>> Chapter Thirteen - Calls

(2/8/11) - Your call is going to be different than mine. "Yea, that's obvious," you may be saying to yourself. Yes, it is. And, if you're anyting like me, you sometimes forget it. I often do that as I compare myself unfavorably to someone else. Do you sometimes do that, too? My call is going to be different than that of other people. Simple, and yet difficult sometimes to remember, particularly when I'm in the midst of coming up short against someone else. Let's not forget; a call is not "better" or "worse," it's just "different " Your call is unique to you. It's your godhead speaking to you. You ignore it at your peril. Round peg, square hole anyone?

>>> Chapter Fourteen - Egypt

(2/11/11) News reports today indicate the President Mubarak has stepped down from power and appointed his vice president, Mr. Suleiman, the head of government. What news! A cataclysmic event in Egypt, and in the Arab world. Does the word "republic" come to mind? It was an important word for our own founding fathers in 1776. It refers to a particular system of government. While power temporarily rests in the hands of governmental officials, in a republic ultimate power is reserved for the people who make up that political system. "Power to the people" anyone? I think President Obama ought to trust the Egyptian people to know what's best for them, and elect a government that best represents their collective interests. We in America have historically not done a very good job of trusting others to run their own affairs. Witness Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, or "Manifest Destiny" in Central/South America. If we believe in free elections, we need to live with the consequences of those elections. If we mindlessly support leaders and/or dictators who do our bidding rather than listen to their own their citizens, we ultimately pay the price. Does Iran come to mind? Witness also the widespread suspicion with which we're viewed in many parts of the world. Let's trust that the call of others - in most cases - is not necessarily all that different from our own. That's been our call - a "republic" - since 1776. It's been a powerful one worldwide. Let's continue to take the high road in that regard. THAT'S our call..

>>> Chapter Fifteen - What Touches Your Soul?

For me, one of the things that lifts and energizes my soul is good music. And I regularly try to immerse myself in it so as to be inspired. To be connected - at the very deepest levels of my being - with who I am. I was recently reconnected with one of those pieces of great music. Two years ago a friend loaned me his VHS tape of Leonard Bernstein conducting "West Side Story." After returning it, I later found a DVD version (Deutsche Grammophon #477-7101). bought it, and again fell in love with Bernstein's wonderful music. There is SO much terrific singing on this particular version. One.song that especially touched me was "One hand, one heart." On this video, it was sung by Tony (Jose Carreras) and Maria (Kiri Te Kanawa) as they declared their love for one another: "Make of our hands one hand, make of our hearts one heart..." The sight of these two great voices singing such gorgeous music, to such tender lyrics, sent me into the stratosphere. That's one of the musical things that touches and energizes my soul. Hearing music like that charges me up to deal with the "stuff" of everyday life. What are some of the things that touch YOUR soul? That energize YOU?

>>> Chapter Sixteen - "Stuff"

I decided to have the furnace serviced this year. The company I had been dealing with advertised a $99. special. With additional things that had to be done, the bill ended up being $180. And the bills just keep on coming. Oh joy!

>>> Chaper Seventeen - Two great films. And their relationship to how we, as individuals, sometimes see things. In my book, "Soul Sailing," I call those perceptual lenses through which we see things around us "Looking Glasses." Looking Glasses sometimes serve us. And sometimes they don't. I like these films because they're redemptive and illustrate both kinds of lenses.

Once again I've seen the film, "A Single Man." On a whole variety of levels, what a wonderful and fascinating movie. (And then there's the fascinating commentary section after it's over, with Tom Ford, the director, and the film's four major players. Spiritual lessons abound.) The film is about priorities, teaching moments (in the gun shop, "we're having a two-for-one special, how about one for the little lady?"), desert experiences, and isolation versus connectedness. For me, there's something in virtually every frame. And then there's the superb acting, especially from Colin Firth. Together, the performances completely envelop you in the overall story. Wow! What an extraordinary film!

Another? For Christmas, a good friend gave me Walt Disney's version of "Alice in Wonderland." She suggested I watch it once again as an adult. And as I did so I was enchanted. My inner child loved the supremely silly characters. And, with adult eyes, I appreciated all the serious issues - about judgment, for example - raised by the movie. I loved the cheshire cat's supremely condescending question, "Whhhhoooooo Aaarrrrrrrre Yooooooouuuu???????" And all the while with smoke-rings billowing forth from his mouth. I also loved the Mad Hatter's "unbirthday" party, complete with its stunning animation, and its "move down, move down" lines. And then there's the part of Alice's journey in which she comes across the Queen of Hearts. Constituting both judge and jury, she's fond of bellowing "Off with their heads!" But my all-time favorite is another scene from the Mad Hatter's party. It's when he tries to fix the White Rabbit's watch. "Well," says the hatter, with incredible disdain for those who can't see the problem, "HERE'S what's wrong; there are all these little wheels inside!" Supremely silly stuff. Maybe that's why my friend gave it to me; "go ahead and lapse into your silly side more often, Jay." Good friends are like that. They call you to be all you can be. I give thanks that she's in my life. I'm also going to give my little boy permission to come out and play more often.

>>> Chapter Eighteen - "Why Bother?"

Do I feel like going to a men's group meeting tonight? No. I end up going, because I almost always feel better after having attended. I feel energized. And I feel motivated to stay focused on - in those well-loved words - "the big picture." And, after the meeting, do i feel like shopping for a simple dinner party I'm having tomorrow night? No, not really. I end up doing it because I know I'll have a good time with good friends. And when I think of all the "doingness" involved in getting to the meeting, and shopping, I can easily fall into "why bother?" Do I surrender to it? Or do I just bite the bullet and do it? Decisions, decisions. The just keep on coming. With distressing regularity.

>>> Chapter Nineteen - The "Blahs"

There are some days when I feel, as a friend used to say, "Yucko." A blah day. No energy. No get-up-and-go. No desire to do anything other than the "HAVE-to's." The problem is that there are sometimes too many of those blah days. For me, the lesson is obvious - and sometimes not so obvious. Take the pressure off yourself, and get through them as best you can. Don't dump on yourself because on this particular day you haven't got energy to burn. If I get too anxious or too hard on myself, I'm likely to get snippy and unpleasant with people around me. Find a way to put those blah days in the past tense. And if the day itself isn't bad enough, there's an annoying song that keeps going through my head: "the sun'll come out tomorrow, tomorrow..." And I absolutely LOATHE that song. Trite. Stupid. Phony. And sung by a little girl who always has this annoying smile on her face. Etc, etc, etc. And, despite the fact that I don't like it very much, the song has a message. Damn. Get through these kinds of days, Jay. Just get through them and put them in the past tense.






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Consider This:

Consider This:

Posted by Jay Littell - Jul 16, 2010

CONSIDER THIS:



>>>Why Don't We Change Lobbying Practices in Washington?

An article in Time magazine (7/12/10), headlined "The Best Laws Money Can Buy," summarized the role that lobbying plays in the nation's capital. It stated that $3.49 BILLION was spent to hire more than 11,000 lobbyists who work for 1900 lobbying firms in D.C.

The article reports that more than 2000 lobbyists registered this year to lobby for the financial industry, more than every member of the House and Senate.

It then asks: What do these firms get for their clients? Lower taxes - about $10 billion, it's estimated. How? By pushing through exemptions (or loopholes) in complicated tax bills for the people who hire them.

The author of the article, Steven Brill, demonstrates that these lobbyists chipped away at key provisions of the so-called Volker rule; the paragraph beginning on page 31 of the article, "by the time the bill was finished..." makes for fascinating reading.

There's too much detail to go into here, and the thrust of the article (and many others on the subject of lobbying in our nation's capital) is that the law-making system is badly broken.

Hw to fix it? Brill reports that a tax on lobbying has been discussed. That tax would finance a new research arm of Congress. Its job would be to provide unbiased advice on pending legislation to balance the lobbyists' input. Another idea that's been proposed? A constitutional amendment stripping for-profit corporations of First Amendment rights.

After considering all this, does the phrase "the best government money can buy" come to mind?

>>>Why Don't We Substitute "Fair Trade" for "Free Trade"?

This country was founded on a vision of what it could be. In the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers summarized that vision. It was one where people's "inalienable rights" included "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

As I read news reports these days, I don't see a whole lot of happiness out there in the real world. One way to make it a happier place?

Why don't we adopt policies that emphasize "fair" trade? Is there anything that's "fair" about our current trade policies?

And does it, by ANY stretch of the imagination, promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Lines of people at food banks? People losing their jobs, and their houses? Yes, we have free speech, but do homeless people accord more importance to free speech or something to eat?

Our ancestors are the people who brought to the planet a new and better way of organizing ourselves politically. They had a vision of what they wanted their new society to look like.

Does it look anything like that today? No. Not even close.

So why don't we fashion a new vision for our trade policy? A lot of people would be upset if we did. They're the ones who holler the loudest, so they usually get their way. But, overall, we'd ALL be better off if we substituted fair trade for mindlessly worshiping at the altar of so-called free trade.

Have you looked at the trade deficit numbers recently? Have you calculated how much interest we're paying on the national debt? Those numbers are STAGGERING, and they're getting bigger all the time.

Have you seen the film "Walmart - The High Cost of Low Prices?" You should have a look at it. VERY interesting.

We in this country are good at creating visions. Visions of something new. Something, and you'll pardon the expresssion, that's "out of the box." Why don't we create a vision of what we'd like to see world trade look like? Why not? Are we going to let the hollerers have their way yet again? Interesting questions, these.

>>>Revert back to PAPER ballots, counted by hand?

Voter machines can be hacked into. We all know that. Why do we continue to fuss around with them? Could it be because of lobbying by the computer makers?

Do they make public policy? Or do we? Let's remember the very first phrase in our Declaration of Independence: "We the people..."

So what if the TV networks don't get to call the race as fast as they have in the past. Is speed important? Or is accuracy? We the people...

>>>Free air-time for political candidates?

It's all about TV these days, so why don't we require television stations (which take advantage of publicly-funded infrastructure) to donate a certain amount of coverage during political campaigns? To individual candidates: "here's where I stand..." Why not? The stations won't like it, and it would benefit many more people than the station's owners.

Why not?

>>>Find Ways to Promote Happiness?

"There's no doubt NOW; this Jay's a wacko," you may be saying to yourself. Maybe, and maybe not.

What about reminding people, through a publicly-funded TV station, that there are ways to create happiness: practice positive thinking, meditate regularly, do things that nourish you, and the like.

Until recently, people thought all this promote-happiness talk was woo-woo. Not anymore. It's getting some major attention these days, and not just from crackpots. Google "power of positive thinking" and/or Professor Martin Seligman. The latter is a well-respected academic who has written extensively on the subject; his work is definitely not woo-woo; it's backed up by solid and well-designed research into the subject.

Why don't we regularly encourage promote-happiness discussions on TV? Why not have a broadcasting outlet with a mission? - that of helping to promote satisfaction and happines.s

Why not?

>>> Why Not Teach Kids, EXPERIENTIALLY, About Judgment?

A few years back, Oprah did a program on the role of judgment in the lives of teenagers.

And rather than talking about the subject - who's "in" and who's "out," what's "cool" and what's not - in the abstract, she found people who had put together a program designed to show high school students what judgment FELT like.

In this program called "Challenge Day," students were asked to gather themselves into "in" or "out" groups - whether they, for example, were right-handed or left-handed, members or non-members of sports teams, and the like.

I happened to see Oprah that day and was astounded at the ways in which participants got involved in the program, and the experiential learning they received by participating in Challenge Day.

What if we made this kind of program available to kids nationwide? We read a lot about bullying these days. Wouldn't such a program cut down on this problem in our schools? It certainly couldn't do any harm. And probably a whole lot of good.

>>>Why Don't We Emphasize Consumer Privacy?

I ran across a headline in the New York Times a few years back that summarized all this. It read, "Europe Zips Lips, U.S. Sells Zips" (page 1 of Sunday's "Week in Review" section, 8/7/05).

The article's subtitle read: "In Europe, privacy is a right; In America, it's an economic commodity."

Why do we in this country allow people's privacy to be violated? So that corporations can buy and sell information designed to make them more money? And do we wonder why people are so cynical about their political and economic systems?

And maybe that's one of the reasons why the terrorists dislike us so much. And don't want those systems transplanted into their countries. Perhaps they think there are some things more important than the almighty dollar.

If you want to read further, consult two books that I came across a few years back. The first is "The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy," by T. R.Reid (a well-respected journalist). Read his chapter 6. The second is "The European Dream: How Europe's Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream," by Jeremy Rifkin (another well-regarded author/commentator). Read his first three chapters.

>>>Why Don't We Realize How Much Pollution We're Pumping into our Atmosphere? Climate Change Anyone?

The numbers below are from the United Nations name of org...... finish


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