Problems in America (and the Industrialized World)
And why only you can solve them
In so many ways, it’s funny that I am even bothering to write this; because I am really not all that concerned about the ever growing problems in America and the world. Like most people, I feel that I can’t solve all the world’s problems on my own. I also do not have children, so I’m not as concerned about the future as I would be if I did. Strangely, I believe it is this indifference that allows me to look at problems objectively and offer unbiased solutions. Though I am writing this book about America’s problems; most of what I am writing will be equally applicable to similar problems common to other industrialized nations.
Like most Americans, I have ridden an emotional rollercoaster caused by personal concern for the ever growing problems in America. I hoped that the politicians who held views closest to my own might be able to change things back to the way they were when America seemed like it would continue growing endlessly, providing opportunity to those willing to work for it. I also harbored anger and resentment towards politicians with opposing views; feeling they were ruining America. Over time and with maturity, I’ve now come to the realization that my single-minded viewpoint was the main cause of these feelings and emotions. I now lean more to a view that the country, the world and even the universe is unfolding exactly as it should be. This has removed the emotional aspect of my thought process, allowing me to see plain facts without personal attachment.
Most people will find many of my alternative views on modern life to be upsetting or offensive, and even cause some folks to become downright angry. This is because it is not easy to separate yourself from your emotions. If you experience these feelings, it is because these ideas may be outside of your comfort zone, and that you are somewhat locked into either traditional or modern ways of thinking. It is not my objective to upset you, but rather get you to think about what you think about, and question why you cling to ways of living that make your life less than ideal. Expanding on this train of thought, you will begin to gain insight into why large groups of people who share your views have the combined effect of creating huge problems in the larger arena of society.
If you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to commiserate or sympathize with your problems, there are lots of people out there for you. Though I am a reasonably compassionate person, I am setting aside that compassion for the purpose of providing you with information that is simple and matter of fact. Though many people attach various feelings to many of the subjects I will be covering; in the end; these subjects are bound to the concrete realities of today’s world.
The writers of America’s Constitution wisely agreed that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Somewhere between then and now this has somehow turned into the modern concept that “all men are created equal and that they are guaranteed by their government certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Happiness”. The main difference in these two statements is that the latter one indicates that the government is responsible for making sure we are happy, rather than being free to pursue happiness.
Most people would agree that children should be happy, but also understand that things that make them happy aren’t always the best for them. Parents who do give their children whatever they want to keep them happy may be very popular with their children, but aren’t necessarily being the best parents. Politicians who similarly give people whatever they want to make them happy might be popular politicians, but aren’t particularly good leaders. Unlike parents who aren’t really required to be popular with their children, un-popular politicians don’t get elected. If children were allowed to elect their parents, do you think they would elect parents who hamper their fun with endless rules which require hard work and sacrifice, or parents who promise them video games, junk food and the latest fashions.
I am by no means an expert. I do not possess a college degree or specialized training in any of the subjects I am writing about. I believe this is actually rather beneficial as experts and specialists usually operate within the framework of their training; and I am more of an open minded free thinker. I have actually spent my life working as a generalist in the field of maintenance and repair. What I am skilled at is identifying problems, finding out what caused them, and providing a solution. My career has also allowed me the pleasure of getting to know people from all walks of life and all corners of the world.
Most people think in ways that are tied to their political beliefs. Though I am somewhat interested in politics, I am not a very political person. I was raised by democratic parents, but found myself identifying with the Republicans for most of my early life. I have now come to believe that both of these parties have their own agendas; and that both have had ample periods of time when they were in power; that if they were interested in solving our problems, they already would have.
Religion also has a great influence on the way that people think. I was also raised as a Catholic, so I have a pretty good understanding of what it is like to be religious. Due to circumstances in my teens, I lost my faith and left the Church and God, and know what it is like to be a non-believer. During my twenties and thirties I went through a soul searching process and spent a great deal of time reading the religious and spiritual books of many faiths including, several versions of the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavd Gita and the Tanakh. I also read Esoteric and New Age books on Magic and Spirituality. I am presently a spiritual person with my own unique set of beliefs. I most identify with Modern Esoteric Kabbalism; which isn’t really a religion, but rather an incorporation of the wisdom of all religions and beliefs, and a continuous search for truth and enlightenment.
It is not my intention in any way to change people’s faiths or beliefs through these writings. My hope is that you can “think about what you think about” within the framework of your present faith. If you believe that your faith is “the one true faith” I can respect that. In many ways, that is how a true believer should feel. I would recommend though; that even if you think everyone else’s faith is wrong; that the world will be a better place if you respect their right to be wrong. Whether my beliefs are right or wrong, they again add to my ability to remain objective and present opinions that are not divisive.
The most interesting and helpful thing I have learned from Kabbalism is that things are multi-sided. I have found, that what seems to be simple and straight-forward is not always so. Many of the things we think are unquestionably the good or bad or right things to do, are not always necessarily so. The problem is, we see things in a single dimension or view, and base our decisions on the single side we are able to see. A simple example of this is generosity. Generosity is good thing, but you wouldn’t leave your wallet or purse in the subway or the park, so people in need could help themselves. You also wouldn’t leave the door to your home open, so that cold or hungry people could come in at their own discretion to warm themselves and grab a snack from your fridge. The point here is that too much of a good thing is not necessarily a good thing, and the simple truth of “balance in all things” applies to good things as well as bad. A converse example is; that stealing is wrong; but when Robin Hood steals from the rich to give to the poor, we seem to believe his stealing is justifiable and therefore acceptable.
Past and present generations of societies have been stealing from future generations for quite some time in the name of generosity or charity, or other more modern terms like welfare or assistance. Other worthy causes, such as education, medical assistance, disaster relief, elderly assistance, foreign aid, job creation and so on. In the present; all of these causes seem important enough to justify borrowing money from the future, but what will happen when that future arrives. Do you really think that future generations will somehow magically figure out a way to pay back an ever spiraling debt? Borrowing for all of these amicable reasons might even make sense if it was having a positive effect, but many of these situations just seem to be getting worse despite the ever increasing funds they require. Because of our one-sided thinking, we tend to behave like ostriches, and keep our heads in the sand hoping everything will be ok. It won’t. None of this is earth shattering news. Everyone seems to know this, but the general consensus is that not much can be done about it. I will address many of these issues, their causes and the only real solution there can be. The solution is you. You have to change.
All people have thousands if not millions of things in common, and a few dozen things at most that differentiate us from each other. Why then are we so divided on so many issues? Though very few people would be willing to admit it, we are generally selfish and self obsessed. If we were less self centered and possessed a deeper understanding of how all of our individual actions add up to the society we live in, we might begin to see things get better.
Our basic needs are really very simple, but our desires seem to be unquenchable. Most of the civilized world is caught up in an endless need for bigger better homes and cars, and the latest unending streams of electronic gadgets, toys and media devices. All of this is further fueled by the relentless advertizing which constantly bombards us from every direction. Technology has made so many amazing advances in the past four or five decades, but if you’re willing to see both sides of the coin, it has also brought as many; if not more; problems than it has solved.
We seem to becoming more and more dissatisfied with life and society and most of us have become experts at pointing out what the problems are; it’s the Government, or the Banks, or Big Business, or the Democrats or the Republicans or the rich or the poor etc. Most of us go on believing that all of these problems are beyond our control, and that our behaviors, beliefs, habits and obsessions have nothing to do with any of it. Yet there are so many things that individuals can change, but go on refusing to because it doesn’t suit their preferences or their lifestyles. Yet these changes; if made by large numbers of individuals; could profoundly change society for the better.
Few people will deny that the world is changing, or that life in the industrial world seems to be getting worse as time goes on. The blind faith that technology is capable of solving all of our problems also seems to be waning. Poor and undeveloped nations who rely on the industrial world to help them rise out of poverty are also suffering from our decline. People in these nations who have no hope of life improving are increasingly finding it more attractive to join fanatical religious or revolutionary groups who promote terrorism and see the developed world as their enemy. Even some of the industrial world’s own citizens are becoming so disappointed with society and their perceived hopelessness of their situations that they are also beginning to retaliate with violence.
For better or worse; the world will continue to change regardless of whether you follow the advice in this book or not. Despite this; you can greatly increase the chances of improving your life and your community by following what is really just conventional wisdom and good common sense. Knowledge is easily acquired through study. Wisdom on the other hand is the ability to make practical use of the knowledge you have acquired. This is why; for example; it’s much easier to read and understand the health hazard warning on a pack of cigarettes, than it is to quit smoking.
I am not a health nut, or an environmentalist, or a religious zealot. I’m actually just an average person who struggles with many of the habits and obsessions common to the rest of society. What does set me apart from most people is the fact that I am ever increasingly aware of how the things I may enjoy in the short term moment have immediate and lasting effects on my health, happiness and society.
Though many people will refuse to admit this; the industrialized world has gotten worse because the people it is made up of have gotten worse. Society on the whole has gotten dumber, fatter, unhealthier, more reliant on both legal and illegal medications, less financially responsible and less physically active. We have also taken increasingly less responsibility for our own self reliance. Happiness seems to be becoming ever more elusive while anger and frustration seem to be more common place.
My hope is that this book opens your eyes to a better understanding of the issues I will cover. This isn’t really meant to be a self help book, but rather a book that hopefully makes you realize you really are the person best suited to help yourself; and your community. If you are unhappy with the way thing are, then at least make an honest effort to change them. Try doing things differently if only for a few weeks just to see what happens. You can always go back to your usual routine, but at least you will know what it feels like to live a different way. I don’t always live a healthy lifestyle, but when I do, it changes the way I feel almost immediately, which in turn begins to change my behavior. The first thing I quickly begin to notice is that I feel better and I think much clearer. Even if I do revert to an unhealthy lifestyle and start to feel sluggish, run down and tired, I know it’s my own fault and I can change back to feeling better. Personal change and improvement are often very difficult, but they can also be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. Society can only change for the better if the people that make up the society change.
We each have to find our own balance in life. I have always had a fondness for many of life’s decadent pleasures, which I am continually learning to enjoy in more reasonable moderation. Enjoying these things infrequently makes them all that more pleasurable. These pleasures can vary widely for each of us and may include things that most people might think of as good behaviors like dieting or playing sports; which can also become destructive if we go overboard. Obviously things we find highly addictive and self destructive should be omitted completely.
You already know many of the ever growing problems of societies in the industrial world. The media and politicians are constantly pointing them out for you; they do this for their own self serving purposes. The government simply continues to spend money they don’t have to maintain the status quo for a while longer. This can only put off the inevitable disastrous conclusions of modern societies present path for so long.
In esoteric thought, the terms microcosm and macrocosm are used to teach us to see that lager and smaller examples of the same thing. An aging person (the microcosm) is similar in many ways to our aging country (the macrocosm). Aging people can make better health choices early on, which can be empowering because it gives them the feeling that they are in control of those choices, versus waiting until the same choices are forced upon them by health issues. It just feels considerably better to say I decided to live better, than to be told by a doctor you have to give up many of you favorite unhealthy foods. The same will be true for self sufficiency in America. If you are at all capable of becoming self sufficient, and you do so, it will be a lot different than having the need to be self sufficient thrust upon you by the inevitable government financial shortages almost certain to occur in our society. Additionally; if you are presently unnecessarily relying on the government for financial support, you are not only insuring that the impending financial disaster will occur sooner, but that the truly needy will suffer unnecessarily. Keep in mind that freedom is what makes America great. Those who rely on the government for support will also be its slaves. This is why a great majority of Americans are locked into voting for a particular party, even if they strongly disagree with many of the parties’ views.
So; if you are truly interested in real solutions, this book will give you a clearer insight into how these problems came about, why they continue to exist and grow worse and what can be done to solve them. You may not see the results in your life time, but merely be the first generation to do more than pay lip service to future generations. It really is up to you.