The new year brought with it a new administration, a new President and with him, a lot of hope and expectation. There is no question that this was sorely needed in a country that has seen more than its share of disappointment, corruption, ineptitude and an overabundance of bungling with resultant perceptions of futility and helplessness.
The excitement and innovation of electing out first African-American president sent a message to the world that should fill us with pride and a vastly improved collective self-image for America, as well as a removal of perceived hypocrisy with which we have languished as a people for much of our national existence.
Now the beauty of each of these various moments must be buttressed in order to be effective and reach fruition. They must be accompanied by a cumulative effect of selflessness and an almost relentless determination to reach deeply into our souls and our psyches to expose our highest natures as individuals and as a people.
So many maladies are often mentioned by our leaders who profess genuine concern for the easing of pressures and tensions of our people. It all sounds wonderful, except those who profess the most do only that. They pronounce, and then maintain positions of conflict, refusing to take definitive and decisive action at the risk of losing their power-driven positions. The naivete and self-destruction they reap upon their constituents are shameful and hypocritical to put it mildly.
Case in point, banks and credit card companies who have been permitted to perpetrate nothing less than legalized usury and manipulation through excessive fees for lateness, trivially defined, exceeding credit limits, overdraft charges, and arbitrary interest hikes unrelated to the account or company exacting the charges, and who say, "we have to Protect the Institution!" in Congressional hearings. They propose to do so by making it harder for the customers in their supposed care to pay back the debts that are surcharged.
The result is tantamount to bondage, forcing the average debtor into further debt, impossible to pay off, and then even finding themselves unable to use our bankruptcy laws which have become more punitive than rehabilitative. This is nothing more than legalized usury.
Another is the deceptive allocation of tax revenues to other than worthy or intended purposes, such as gasoline taxes, which are supposed to be directed toward a logical destination, namely highway maintenance , repairs, bridges, and portions of our infrastructure whose use bears a direct effect on these levies. All too often, the money is misused, non-used, or transferred to the general budget, and we, the unsuspecting taxpayers, are cheated once again.
The inclusion of "pork" in our legislation must be limited to laws governing their subject matter directly. The ends do not justify the means and only gives legislators a lame claim to having looked out for the benefits of their most immediate constituency.
The answers lie in our pro-activity as recently demonstrated by the "tea" parties which have surfaced across our financially bullied nation. But even more important, how many of us even know who our state legislators are? Even worse, if we know, how many of us take the time and trouble to communicate with them and voice our concerns? To sit down, take time off, write a letter, or e -mail them -- which has gotten easier and gives us less of an excuse to lie back and be inert. We can no longer be led around like blind sheep. We must vociferously express in no uncertain terms, our indignation and isolation and determine to do everything we can not to re-elect those who continue to ignore our basic needs. If gas creeps up again, let's boycott! In other words, no longer do we allow ourselves to be hapless victims.
Another suggestion which will probably convince those who read these sentiments of the insanity of the writer: there must be a thorough exercise by our purported leaders and guardians of introspection. Of a true look within, and a questioning by each. Many in our populace delve into literature commonly referred to as "New Age Thinking", writers like Deepak Chopra, Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Rhonda Byrne (The Secret) and a plethora of others who seek to guide us through the frustrations and rigors of just plain living. These are wonderful authors and they carry a message that dazzles and spellbinds but heals and cures. If only some of our leaders would access these sources. A prime example is Deepak Chopra's the Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, in which he brings forth many teachings of ancient Indian writings. We have all heard of Kharma, the reaping-what-we-sow philosophy, often transpiring across lifetimes. But what many of us need to familiarize ourselves with even more, is the law of Dharma, our special purpose in life, which each of us has, and which it is our obligation to find. Through meditation, prayer, reading, observing signals sent to us through life, something special that we as individuals can do in a unique way for the benefit of our brother and sisters on the planet.
Our government leaders need to wake up in the morning, thank their own individual Higher Power for another day of life, and ask, "By the way, Lord. Is there anything special you would like me to do for you today? And, Lord, what can I do for my constituents? What really is in their best interests?
It will take a lot of courage if the answers are received. It will mean that those who depend on contributions from special interest groups may have to spurn the self-motivated donors of these gifts. The specific demands of the lobbies may have to be ignored and other sources may have to be uncovered in order to -- excuse the expression -- "do the right thing."
We have to reach out to each other, imported or domestic! I'm for increased language education starting in the elementary schools when children are little sponges, and a constant effort to understand each other's customs and deem them fascinating, not subjects of ridicule or suspicion.
I long for the day when we no longer need to have a hyphenated prefix before the word American, and truly become the United States of America. We have to stop being so darned politically correct and fearful of being branded a "racist" if we dare criticize certain practices that have a protective effect on our populace, protect our borders, and require thorough investigations into backgrounds and a reasonable standing for entitlements.
Most of all, we have to be protective of, and gentle with each other. Not forgetting to show basic courtesies, using a kind word of encouragement, donating and volunteering time to worthy projects, not honking in a line of traffic, not coercing a driver to turn to quickly and get in an accident.
Love is the most powerful remedial force in our universe, as the books I have suggested and others like them state with unequivocal certainty.
I fully acknowledge that these measures may come across as sounding somewhat "corny," but I think in our tenuous day and age, this world might do well with a little more corn.
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