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America’s Problems at Her Southern Border are not Political; They’re Spiritual

Economic Inequality and

the Teachings of Jesus Christ

by Web Minister Paul J. Bern

U_R_socialist I have always vigorously maintained that the gap between the rich and poor is a moral problem as well as a socioeconomic problem that is in desperate need of solutions. Yes, it’s a religious problem too, and many of the religious people are causing it. They come to church faithfully every Sunday, dressed like fashion models, and go through all the motions of worship and praise, being sure to put in their 10% for that pay period. Sometimes there will even be some tears or some healing that takes place. But, as the Bible says, if we do all that and even more without compassion for all humanity, none of those church services I just mentioned will mean one stinking thing. Neither will the people in attendance, particularly the rich and comfortably well off, who do nothing to help those less fortunate than themselves. All their praising, worshiping, preaching and their exclamations of, “Thank you, Jesus!!” will be meaningless. Regarding this the apostle Paul wrote, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1st Corinthians 13, verses 3-7)

 

So we can see that at least part of the reason for economic inequality is those people who keep all they own and all they earn completely to themselves. They won’t share anything – nothing! Despite near-record levels of economic inequality, many politicians and pundits still don’t think this widening chasm is much of a problem in a country supposedly dedicated to egalitarian ideals. Inequality, the logic goes, is a natural result of different degrees of work and creativity. Some people strive harder and have better ideas, as well as take more risks, and giving them out-sized rewards is a good thing, since it encourages others to emulate this behavior and makes us all wealthier in the end. The only problem with this kind of logic, of course, is that it’s persistently contradicted by the actual facts about inequality today. In truth, inequality in America tracks more closely with a classic Marxist analysis whereby the owners of capital exploit a surplus of labor to keep wages low and generate high profits for themselves – depriving workers of a fair share of the value they are creating for companies. Yes, there are smart entrepreneurs taking big risks in America, but the more dominant face of the economy is well-established corporations run by professional managers who keep finding new ways to drive labor costs down and profits up. No wonder we’re all so broke!

 

The big losers are the people who are actually creating most of the value of these companies – the workers who make the sales, prepare the food, stock the shelves, handle the phones, expedite deliveries and so on. Many of these employees are paid under $12 an hour, which is not enough to live on – and certainly not enough to save for retirement or buy health insurance, which is not offered to most low-wage workers. All of us are hurt, too, by the way that the low-wage model drags down economic growth. If you give a low-wage worker higher wages, they immediately pump that money back into the economy through more spending. But if you give a CEO another few million dollars in compensation, he’ll most likely just plow that money into his stock portfolio or other savings vehicles, which doesn’t do much for the economy since capital is cheap right now and customers are scarce. If we want an economy with robust consumer demand, workers need to get a noticeably bigger slice of the pie. Business leaders once understood that elementary fact, but not any longer.

 

Jesus, brain scientists and even Pope Francis have asked what happens to a person who is repeatedly given a larger and larger portion of the economic pie at the expense of the workers, and the answers are clear and most unnerving. Wealth and power are dangerous for your mental health, your spiritual condition, and for society in general – especially when they contribute to the neglect of the poor and vulnerable (like the elderly, the disabled, widows and orphans). Ridding the world as it exists today of poverty is currently a fantasy. Jesus spoke of this: “The poor you will always with you, but you will not always have me” (Matthew 26:11). He also said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20). Only a few verses before this moment in Luke, he cries (quoting Deuteronomy 6:13): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus also noted, famously and controversially, that it is easier “for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:23-24). We’ll revisit that verse in another minute, so hold that thought.

 

Jesus discouraged the accumulation of wealth, worried about its effects on those who had it, and took special pleasure in helping the poor, dedicating His efforts to them. He must have shaken his head at the large gaps between rich and poor throughout the Middle East in the first century. His teachings have much to say to us who live in societies where, alongside immense wealth, dire poverty is silently growing; where the cry of the poor is seldom heeded and where Christ continues to call out to us, asking us to love and serve him by tending to our brothers and sisters in need.

 

Everyone knows that the wealth gap in the U.S. has increased dramatically. “The top 10 percent took more than half of the country’s overall income in 2012, the highest proportion recorded in a century of government record keeping,” the New York Times reported in April 2014. By the end of 2018, that number had increased to the top 5% having over half the wealth (source: Economic Policy Institute, Washington, DC). It’s a problem that makes you dizzy, and one that will never be easily solved. Indeed, the concentration of wealth at the very top of American society recalls the early 20th century, before the income-leveling measures of the New Deal kicked in.

 

The growing income gap is perhaps the most pressing issue before the world, not just the United States, as the level of misery rises among the world’s poor. Even those formerly known as the middle class, who have struggled mightily to make ends meet for decades now, face an array of problems that create mental and physical anguish on a vast scale. So let’s go back to Jesus and his concerns. Do people on the other end of this inequality equation really fare better? Does wealth really make you happy? Jesus certainly didn’t think so, and neither do I. Although I’ve never been really rich, there was a time in my life during the 1990’s when I owned and operated a small computer repair shop. For the last 4 out of 8 years that I owned that business, I earned a 6-figure income. But in the process, my life had sped up to a frenzied pace. By the time I closed that business in June 1999, I was so exhausted that I took four months off to recuperate. So I know first hand that money does not necessarily solve all problems. Indeed, it can sometimes create more problems than it solves.

 

Three Canadian neuroscientists have suggested that being rich and powerful actually makes you less happy and, even worse, incapable of sympathizing with the poor. They find that the rich and powerful among us show less brain activity in that region of the brain where human sympathy is excited. Power diminishes all varieties of sympathy, and it drowns empathy in a sea of greed. Conversely, those who feel poor and marginalized in society show a great deal of sympathetic activity. The ability to sympathize with those around us seems crucial to our survival, and it’s connected to the mirroring functions of the brain. As the research now suggests, the richer and more powerful we feel, the more attenuated will be that area of our brain where this crucial activity, which generates empathy, occurs. In fact, power fundamentally changes the way we respond to those around us.

 

Is it any wonder that when a rich young man came to Jesus asking for spiritual guidance, Jesus said what he was not expecting to hear? 16) Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ 17) ‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.’ 18) “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19) honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ 20) ‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ 21) Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ 22) When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. 23)Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24) Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’ 25) When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’ 26) Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.‘” (Matthew chapter 19, verses 16-26).

 

The young man “went away sad,” since he had so much materialistic stuff and didn’t want to let go of any of it. You know, a lot like the majority of ourselves? But letting go is essential to our own happiness as well as the world’s economic equilibrium. Jesus, and all those brain scientists would agree on this. It’s a hard teaching, but it’s important. We as a united humankind must – absolutely must – outgrow our childish need for accumulating material things. The notion that economic prosperity equals happiness borderlines on insanity because of the deliberate refusal of those who practice it to plug into reality. And so on and on it goes. The saying used to be, “On and on it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows”, remember that one? The difference between then and now is that the stopping point is finally in sight due to a series of wars and natural disasters culminating in the eventual return of Jesus Christ. Oh, what a day that will be! Question is, will you be ready? Will you make yourselves ready? I sure hope so…..

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Our ongoing crowd funding campaign has hit a major milestone. Please join us!

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This crowd-funding project, which is dedicated to ridding the earth of scrap electronics, runs until May 30th! Photo of new location shown below (3988 Flowers Rd. Atlanta, Ga. 30360), now with a significantly lowered amount needed thanks to a large anonymous donation. Many thanks to all the others who gave no matter what the amount. This nonprofit will launch this summer!! https://www.chuffed.org/project/nonprofit-electronic-waste-recycling-and-rebuilding-fundraiser
Flowers Rd. location
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What I did for my involuntary vacation

What It’s Like for a Technology Guy to Have to Do Without a Computer for an Agonizing 19 Days, or: The Lessons On Patience That God Just Took the Time to Teach Me

by Web Minister Paul J. Bern

needing Jesus By now most of my regular readers have seen the automated postings coming from myself, sent from public libraries, a Fed Ex Office downtown that’s conveniently located just a block from the subway station, and a suburban UPS Store, all with IP addresses you’ve never seen before. Hopefully those postings didn’t end up in someone’s ‘spam’ folder in their inbox. But I’m back now with a newly rebuilt desktop PC, having been forced to scrap my old HP Pavilion notebook. Not to pan HP’s products – my old portable was a 2012 model, a Pavilion 2340DX, so it lasted nearly 7 years; that’s pretty darn good.

It all started when my notebook computer started acting cranky. Actually, it had been that way for weeks. Once I realized it wasn’t a virus, I immediately backup up my hard drive. I later discovered that I got all but about the last 3-4 weeks worth of my postings, which partly defeated the purpose of my data backup. But that is when the real “fun” began. That’s when I rediscovered an old truism called “Murphy’s Law”. In case some of my younger readers haven’t seen this one before, it simply means: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.”

So there I am with a broken computer. So? So I have 2 websites, 2 blogs, plus a social media campaign that I was about to launch when all this happened, all at once. So I ordered 2 replacement parts for my notebook from 2 different suppliers, paying both of them extra money to send the parts 2nd day air. Instead, the parts arrived 2 days late, sent USPS Priority. Their priority, I suppose, it sure as hell wasn’t mine! You’ve already guessed the 2nd part. The wrong parts were sent by both suppliers. So I sent a brief social media post to my subscribers telling them why there wouldn’t be any postings for that week. Back the parts went, at which point I was forced to the conclusion that my formerly trusty notebook PC was not going to be worth the effort to repair. Not while my blogs and websites sat idle. No way.

So back to the public computers I went, this time to order a replacement desktop PC and monitor (I had a used 750Gb hard disk I was going to use). I stuck with the UPS Store for this one, since it was the closest and had the most secure network. In the meantime, a new but fairly basic model ‘smartphone’ that I ordered had arrived, and I began the frustrating task of learning how to use it (it was my first touch screen device, since I had been hanging on to my old flip phone for eons). After 3 more days, the computer arrived on time, but the monitor didn’t arrive until (predictably) 2 days later, and it was broken when I opened the box. Back to Fed Ex Office, this time for a 2nd social media update to be broadcast with Zoho.com, my social media manager app, updating everyone on my current status.

By this time I had received the refunds from the first two suppliers, so I went out and put most of that money into a used 19 inch monitor. Eager to get cranked up again, I went home and hooked everything up, only to find the hard drive I was going to use was defective. It had worked at one time, having tested it myself, but it wouldn’t work with my replacement computer because it’s a Dell, and sometimes Dell’s can be picky about what hard drives and expansion cards you can use with them. I should know – I’m retired from IT with 21 years in the business. So back to the local parts store I went, where I had sourced the monitor, and I found a new 1Tb hard disk drive at a reasonable price. It’s now installed in this rebuilt Dell tower I own, and I’m back in business. Thank God my computer skills aren’t as obsolete as the majority of Atlanta employers seem to think they are. But this seems to be the lot for older tech workers like myself.

All this has been a nerve wracking adventure, to say the least. But I didn’t lose my cool, or go off and snap on somebody, although I do remember having a few choice words for my new phone as I was learning to use it. The waiting for the parts was nerve wracking, that much is for sure. That, and the feelings of helplessness while I waited for my parts to arrive. This whole ordeal has, at several points, nearly drove me crazy. But the Bible, which is like a human owner’s manual, has plenty of things to say about the ways in which God develops patience in his followers. In this context, that means acquiring the skills to be able to put up with seemingly impossible situations.

The apostle James had this to say about enduring impossible people and situations: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James chapter 1, verses 2-4) Again further down in verse 12 of that same chapter, James wrote, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” This means that to follow Christ sometimes means putting up with a lot of people’s junk, especially when they drop it in your lap, as nefarious individuals and circumstances are so prone to do.

So as I close out this week’s message, I’d like to publicly thank God for putting me through what he has over the last 2 ½ weeks. I’m a stronger man because of it, and a little wiser too. I was already a fairly patient man, but now I’m even more so. Some would complain about going through what I just did, being faced with the possible loss in followers if I didn’t get my technical issues fixed. At one time way back when, I was a lot like those who want everything right now, or even yesterday if it were possible. But not anymore, because God has shown me the folly of such obstinate thinking. My point? Had God not taken the time to teach me these things, I would never have learned them. Not only that, but had I not made myself receptive and completely open to God’s teaching over these last 60 years, what I just went through would have sent my entire life down in flames. My whole purpose, which is sharing God’s teachings on the Web, would have been in jeopardy. But I am intact because He has made me so. And next week, I’d like to write about what would happen to us if the internet ceased to exist, owing to the fact that I just had a similar experience. Until then, shalom everyone!

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The Reasons For My Absence

By now at least a few of you out there have begun to wonder what’s become of me lately.

I posted no commentary last weekend, no midweek Bible study either, and to be honest, I won’t be able to post again Sunday either. The reason? My laptop’s main logic board bit the dust this past Saturday night, and now my only computer access is here at my favorite UPS store in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood.

So I’m sending this on this Friday afternoon to let you all know that a second-hand computer and monitor are on their way. Almost all my files are backed up, but they’re in Open Office format, which keeps me from seeing all the files. So I can’t post anything until after this coming Tuesday when the computer arrives, and even then I’ll have to manually restore everything because my thumb drive isn’t big enough to hold the entire contents of the drive. Oh well….

So, I want to thank everyone for their patience with my situation; all 11,000 of you, and I’ll be adding plenty more once I get up and running again.

This brings my to my closing remarks. I have had to empty out this little ministry’s bank account to buy all this stuff. Also, the thing that’s taking me so long to get all this done is the lack of personal transportation. I’ve been riding buses and lite rail since 2006, when my last vehicle died of old age. It wasn’t a big deal, with me being an ardent environmentalist and all. But I’m 63 now, and I’m getting old in a hurry, so my need for personal transportation has become acute as of late. My disability check (I’m a stroke survivor, have PTSD, pacemaker, etc.) isn’t big enough for me to do all this by myself.

If there are some folks who would please give what you can, even as little as a dollar, anything would help. I spent part of my grocery money sourcing this desktop PC and monitor, plus all the funds to pay the Internet and Web hosting bills
(I have 2 websites, pcmatl.org and authorrevpauljbern.com), plus the money for the light bill. Please go to https://www.pcmatl.org/contact-us to make whatever donation you can. This is the first time ever that the very existence of this on-line ministry has been threatened. Please give what you can. Thank you very much…..

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My Reasons for Writing Are About Far More Than Just Money

Outreach to the Multitudes

by Minister Paul J. Bern

wake_up Before I begin my remarks, I wish to start by thanking everyone who reads this for visiting this site/blog. You are not here by accident. In some way, God has directed you here because you are looking for answers, sometimes whether one realizes it or not. So, why would I start an on-line church with its own blog/Vlog? I have no way to pass a collection basket around like regular churches do, so why spend money out of my own pocket to do this? The simple answer is to reach out to people who are hungry and thirsty for some real truth. Moreover, I have discovered that the Bible – minus all the religious interpretations – remains the best tool to use to accomplish such a goal.

 

The first group of people that I want to reach are those who are disenfranchised by traditional religion. I am one of these myself, having had some strongly negative experiences with churches in the past. Perhaps you are a former Catholic who was molested by a priest, or you know someone who was. There are countless cases of people actually getting ripped off by other church members, and I have witnessed this behavior once or twice in the past. I have also seen churches where there was a lot of internal politics going on, churches with memberships divided up into cliques, and sometimes with much financial impropriety at the top. I can only tell you that, based on my own experiences, if you run into one of these churches or any members thereof, turn and run like crazy for the nearest exit.

 

Due to situations such as these, organized religion in the early 21st century has a huge credibility problem. Is it any wonder that so many people have stopped going to church? I hope to address this problem, plus reach out to those who no longer attend church, by implementing this web site. There is a real God, and I’m writing this to confirm what you already suspect – which is that God is not usually found in brick-and-mortar churches. Churches today, by and large, have slid into apostasy.

 

If I had to think up one word to describe this new V-log, it would be non-denominational. I have a dual love/hate relationship with church denominations. I can’t live with them because I simply don’t believe in everything they believe, or I only believe parts of it but not the remainder of their faith. On the other hand, there are so many Godly people who do not go to church due to their own lack of confidence in organized religion. But those who do so practice their faith as best they can, and try to live by the golden rule, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” To discourage Christians from all faiths from coming to this website just because of where they go to church is not what I want to do at all. The simple solution for me is to emulate Christ as He would have me to do. I will embrace all people of all denominations as the Bible commands me to do, as it is written:

 

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I become like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I become like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I become like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but I am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I become weak to win the weak. I have become all things to all men (and women) so that by all possible means I might save some. I do this for the sake of the Gospel, that I might share in its blessings.” (I Cor. 9: 19-23) This exquisite quote is from the New Testament, and it sums up what my goal is with this new blog/V-log. I want to reach out to everyone and say, “That contact you had with that brick-and-mortar church did not represent the true Church. Why not meet online instead? You can come any time, it’s always free, and I don’t demand 10% of what you earn”.

 

The problem with church denominations is they all have a separate core of beliefs that all members are expected to pledge allegiance to. No two churches are alike. One denomination preaches against the other, and all insist that they are the only ones who are right. Various churches openly compete against each other, and they do this because they have lost their focus, which is Christ Jesus crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. For me, these three things are the central focus of my faith, and it is a faith that I gladly share with others.

 

This brings me to the second and equally good reason for this blog/V-log, and that is to make God available to web surfers who have no church background at all. I want to tell you that God is real. He is the only sure thing in this temporal world we live in. Everything else is merely a distraction. That’s why He is the one thing we can all rely on in our times of need. Our lives are a free gift from God, and He wants us to be able to use this gift to the best of our abilities so we can have as good a life as possible while glorifying Him. That’s His will for our lives. The Bible tells us that God seeks people’s hearts whether they realize it or not, as it is written: “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me” (Isaiah 65: 1) This verse is addressed to all who read it, regardless of who you are, what you’ve done (or not), or where you’ve been. The publication of this website and this sermon have the same intent. It is my hope and my prayer that someone who reads this message will realize that God may be closer to them (and vice versa) than they thought.

My own experiences have opened my eyes to how broken and dysfunctional the current system truly is, particularly here in the US. Not only the religious system, but politically and economically too. I was forced into early retirement after getting sick and becoming disabled. My original plan was to get well so I could return to the workforce, but that’s not how it worked out. After being out of the computer/IT profession for nearly 2 years, all attempts at obtaining employment – either as a contractor or an employee – proved fruitless. So I looked into reeducating myself and training for a new career, only to be told that I didn’t qualify for financial aid because I had a poor credit rating (imagine that!). While all this was happening, the bottom fell out as far as wages are concerned within the IT industry. Technicians and support personnel like myself who used to make $20-35 dollars an hour are now being paid $11-14 dollars per hour for essentially the same work, and that’s assuming you’re lucky enough to have a job.

I said all that to simply say this: If America had a system in place to take better care of unemployed people, I could be an asset to society instead of a liability. For example, if we had a universal healthcare system in place, I would not have to be concerned about the cost of my prescriptions and my doctor visits because all that would have been taken care of. Instead, I find myself impoverished. For another example, if America had a system in place for retraining all American workers instead of only war veterans, I and the millions of others like me would have a way to train for new vocations and professions without cost. We can easily afford to do this because such a program is already in place.

After World War 2 Congress passed the GI Bill and sent hundreds of thousands of former soldiers back to school, paying big dividends to America in the form of tax revenues generated when these ex-GI’s eventually went back to work. If we could do it for veterans then, why can’t Congress do this for everyone else (at last check, this program is still in place)? Take all the long-term unemployed, beginning with veterans and older workers and branching out from there, and retrain them all. If I could have had a way to do this, I could have gone back to work or gotten retrained for a new profession and become a taxpayer again. Instead, I subsist on my tiny little disability check, living off the taxpayers when I would rather be contributing. So I write, I blog, I have 6 self-published books, with a 7th coming out this fall. For anyone interested, please visit my author page at https://www.authorrevpauljbern.com or at https://www.pcmatl.org/books-and-donations

In closing, this V-log and the above websites are available 24×7 to anyone who wants to use them as a mentoring, life coaching, self-help or spiritual resource. The main point is that God is available 24×7 as well. He loves you whether you think so or not, and he cares about what happens to you. Trust God and He will prove himself trustworthy to you. Give your life to Him and He will give himself completely over to you. In the process, He will love you unconditionally and eternally. The key to life and successful living are summed up right here. Until next time then, keep Jesus in your heart and thank Him daily for the sacrifice He made for each of us. Each new day is a gift from God, so treat it as such. May the peace of Christ be with you all. Shalom….

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DARPA’s 5G End Game For Humanity

thinking of getting a 5G phone? or do you already have one? get rid of it and replace it with a 4G unit. read article for details….

Left Hook by Dean Henderson

2018 3-13 Caney Mountain Aldo Leopold Cabin Site (14)In the late 1970’s scientists at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories were developing what they called a Brain Bomb – a low-frequency energy weapon which could be used on a battlefield to liquidate the brains of thousands of soldiers at one time.

This weapon was likely used by President George H.W. Bush against Iraqi troops during the 1990 Gulf War, when it was reported that thousands of Iraqi Army troops were simultaneously obliterated near Basra.  Their bodies were bulldozed into mass graves and no autopsies were performed.

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FBI Mole Stefan Halper A Crown Agent

More fascinating facts from Author Dean Henderson about what’s actually going on behind the scenes. One thing is certain — the British Royal Family are not what they seem…..

Left Hook by Dean Henderson

Image resultIn response to the Monday outing of FBI mole Stefan Halper, President Trump tweeted this morning, “Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!”

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Why Trump Is A Rothschild Tool

Donald Trump’s true role in global events is becoming rapidly apparent, and it’s not what he’s been telling the American people….

Left Hook by Dean Henderson

The moving of the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al Quds on Monday was marked by Israeli Defense Forces killing more than 60 unarmed Palestinian protestors.  It should have surprised no one that, despite the convening of a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the genocide, the US government said nothing to condemn the Israeli slaughter.  UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said,  “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”

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I will be back next week. Here’s a guest post for you. Enjoy!

Today’s guest column is from David Allan of CNN. Weekly commentary will return next week.
Which side of ourselves will prevail?

By © David G. Allan, CNN; November 16, 2016

Story highlights

  • Every day, we have the opportunity to embrace a darker path or to act in a helpful and hopeful way
  • Anger is often triggered by other emotions such as fear, rejection or desperation

This essay is part of a column called The Wisdom Project by David Allan, editorial director of CNN Health and Wellness. The series is on applying to one’s life the wisdom and philosophy found everywhere, from ancient texts to pop culture. Don’t miss another Wisdom Project column; subscribe here.

 

(CNN) “A fight is going on inside me,” said an old man to his grandson. “It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves, one good and one bad”. So goes a version of a traditional Cherokee legend (or a modern Billy Graham story).

The first wolf embodies emotions and vices such as hate, greed, arrogance, dishonesty, anger, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf represents values and virtues such as peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth and compassion.

The grandson considers the metaphoric battle and asks, “Which wolf will win?”

The grandfather answers, “The one you feed.”

 

This struggle is ours. Every day, we have the opportunity to embrace a darker path or to act in a more helpful and hopeful way.

The same struggle is sometimes evident in entire nations, which can be deeply divided along a number of overlapping fault lines: political, socioeconomic, racial, gender.

This story holds a mirror up to ourselves, individually and collectively. And we should take a long look in it. If we’re honest about the struggle and understand it more, we can begin feeding one wolf over the other.

 

Starve one wolf

The feeling of anger or the impulse of greed is often triggered by other emotions such as fear, rejection or desperation. Often, we’re not even aware that secondary emotions like anger have a deeper root cause. “Fear is the path to the dark side,” Yoda explains in one of the “Star Wars” films. “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

The first step in managing your emotions is simply being more aware of them. Ask yourself what triggers them. Look at your life experience for clues to how you react.

And of course, in some circumstances, anger and even hate are justified, perhaps useful. We should be angry at disparity. We should hate injustice.

 

But whether an emotion is justified or not, negative emotions often lead to negative actions. If you take a primary feeling like fear or uncertainty and avoid turning that into hate, you are less likely to act in a hateful way. Embrace the feelings, but guide them toward the good.

“I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it,” explained the late Andy Rooney, the Yoda of television news magazines.

You are also in control of your social and media influences. If you are barraged with messages of hate and bitterness, they will more easily impinge on your self-control. It’s important to stay informed, but be wary of listening to those who are in the business of feeding angry wolves.

 

Feed the other wolf

 

Staying in a positive and empathetic head-space is challenging, especially in times of stress, but again, being mindful of your emotions is vital.

And just as hatred and closed-mindedness can eventually lead to acts of violence, love often leads to acts of peace and kindness.

Committing ourselves to sustaining such action is the way to personal and institutional progress. Seek out and employ strategies to staying committed to something over time, whether it’s the repetition-and-reward of a new habit or the tracking of a New Year’s resolution.

 

What feeding the good wolf looks like, practically, can include these actions:

Send a positive message. Whether it’s on your Facebook feed or in conversations, communicate the good, the hope, the love.

Get involved. Give money or time, as you can, to a cause or effort that will use it to amplify positive change. It doesn’t need to be political, either; it could be supporting public media or improving the environment or literacy, or an organization supporting folks who need financial help or are sick.

Share love. Make a list of 12 people in your life and check them off as you express in a conversation, email or letter how important they are to you.

Listen. We all need to be heard. Take a little more time and really give your attention to others. Listening is love, and it naturally creates bonds of empathy and support.

Help someone you know. Identify one person among your friends and family who is particularly struggling, and understand more about what they need and how you can help.

Be kind to strangers. Kindness is contagious, a fact backed by real science. Be a patient zero to everyone you come across.

Add to this list, and share. Come up with more things you can do to increase the total amount of goodness and positivism in the world, do some of those things and share those ideas with others.

 

We can fix everything that’s wrong with us by what’s right with us. And to crib another presidential campaign line, we are the change we’ve been waiting for.

 

Don’t miss another Wisdom Project column by subscribing here.

This call to action is echoed by a lyric in the song “Man in the Mirror,” by Michael Jackson, who arguably struggled with his own inner wolves. “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”

 

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Smart Phones Make Dumb People

A little word about technology from someone who knows more than myself….

Left Hook by Dean Henderson

Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

This morning our yard was abuzz with a chorus of songbirds.  Summer tanagers, vireos, orioles, indigo buntings, goldfinches and cardinals had joined the resident bluebirds, woodpeckers, Virginia creepers, nuthatches, titmice and sapsuckers to complete the ensemble.

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