Inequality: We should all care to learn more about it

Inequality, it’s something I’ve always seen and thought a bit about through the years. As I’ve grown a bit older, one of my favorite pass times has become reading. Not reading mystery novels, horror novels or any of the like. Although I might inject that if you do read any such stories there is NOTHING WRONG with that.

Reading is a good thing.

I’ve developed a thirst of learning. From biographies to true crime, lot’s of history, philosophy, spiritual , the sciences and current events/political, I’ve found that there is usually as much mystery and horror as any novel could produce.

Inequality is a topic that interests me greatly. You see, I believe in equality. Not equality for any special interest group per-say. I commend groups that stand up for equality/justice etc.

Income inequality is quite an interesting subject on many levels. Obviously, because the is the disparaging gap in quality of life. One can argue that a rich man has earned his riches. That would be correct.

Where it becomes troublesome is where systems in place may in fact keep millions poorer to the benefit of the few. Where power is in the hands of the few to the detriment of the many. Where there is no equal opportunity. When opportunity becomes hereditary. Where an inherited fortune grows faster than a nation’s economy so that they have a larger portion of the nation’s wealth (in acceleration).

It’s quite conceivable that many great ideas and inventors have been stifled by this cycle.

And sometimes these systems also cannibalize themselves with non-practical practices meant to create wealth out of nothing. (Cue the dot net bubble…. and cue the economic meltdown of 2008)

This type of wealth accumulation may actually be a great harm to a nation’s economy. (Again, cue the 2008 meltdown…. and cue Argentina’s current financial troubles with the huge hedge fund hawks.)

Ever since I’ve heard of Thomas Piketty’s book, Capital in the Twenty-First century, I’ve been eager to read it. It has stirred up quite a bit of social commentary and a bit of a buzz.

Inequality affects our communities, our neighbours, businesses, health care systems, practically every aspect of our lives.

And to put things in perspective, one needs information. That’s why reading, for me, is indispensable. Without any information, it’s just my ideas and whatever marketing campaign and lobby groups message that happens to land in front of my face.

I would like to imagine a future, where my daughter has ample opportunity to live a life where her actual wealth levels aren’t slowly dropped into poverty levels. Even though numbers move, adjusted for inflation, many people are worse off then they would have been 25 years ago.

There are record profits and salaries for super managers. And a smaller portion of the pie for the rest of us.

Here’s an video discussion on Piketty’s book.

Working on Awareness

To be aware seems to me an ongoing mission.

Awareness is essential. Awareness can bring healing and can bring change. Awareness affects on a micro level and the macro level.

In my personal experience, I know that being aware about myself has been an invaluable tool. Becoming aware about how my own actions, my attitudes, my fears, my resentments were affecting my life was a necessity in the process of growing and maturing as a person. (And, I always seem to have far left to go!)

For me, this has always been work. And I’ve found that when I’ve not given myself time to reflect and think, I’ve seen in hindsight that I was in fact less aware of how things impacted me in my personal life then I had thought at the time.

One could say that is on a micro level. On a macro level, I see awareness being important when looking at many aspects of our social systems. Government, business… aspects of human relationships.

Without getting into a bunch of thoughts, an example of awareness or “unawareness”  would be that of greed and how it affects people. I know in my life, I want to be an example for my daughter and rather show generosity and empathy. We all try, in general I believe, to teach our kids principles like sharing, respect…etc. We, in general, try to teach kids that greed and selfishness are not good things.

But, to make sure I’m not being an example where she, my daughter, sees greed then I must make sure I’m not practising greed in my daily life. This means there is a constant “self searching”. There has to be, because without it, I lose sight.

Greed and selfishness can look as simple as not wanting to share your candy when you’re a kid. Or maybe not letting someone else play with your toys.

On a macro level, we can see it in large systems. Take huge corporations like AIG who gambled millions and millions of dollars in mathematical equations and theories that were “wishful thinking” at best. They “bet the farm and lost” then came calling for their bailouts, they promptly paid out many nice bonuses to people working the system…. who lost everyone’s investments…. but managed to grab even more in the bailouts.

It takes many many people working their jobs, working the system that created that mess… there are many cogs in the huge wheel. The common response is that people just do their jobs. Thick compartmentalization makes it so that no one takes responsibility, avoidance is simple. Makes it easier. Easier to be unaware of the effect that wiping out the savings and well-being has had on millions of people. Easier to ignore. Easier to take $$ without consequence.

Greed, selfishness, these things can creep in ever so slowly. Where something looks good, can look harmless and beneficial.

But greed, selfishness, these things blind us. Making us live as if we are unaware. Because after a short time, we just can’t see past what our focus is whether it’s keeping all our candy or coming up with new age complex derivatives that are bound to make us millions more. The cost may be a friendship or it may be the retirement funds of 100k people.

Awareness, for me, is one of the keys to growth and living a good life.

Quiet Time, Quality Time

Chippy the ChipmunkI got to spend some time with my daughter tonight, turned out to be a nice quiet evening. She was sick last night, really sick in fact, and today she was still recovering.

Still tired, we cuddled up on the couch tonight. At first she wanted to watch a movie on NetFlix, and while looking around she couldn’t really find anything or make up her mind. I had wanted to watch something with her that featured animals and wildlife. Something like National Geographic…

She’s always been interested in animals. The Toronto Zoo, for example, was one of the highlights of our trip to Toronto a year and a half ago.

We spent about 45 minutes watching a National Geographic film on a Lion and it’s on going struggle to survive. This lion being alone and always challenged by a large pack of laughing hyenas seemed quite strategic (so the story went).

This time together was great. She had never heard the “laughing” of hyenas and we got to talk and connect about nature. Also an important moment in deepening our relationship as father and daughter.

At the time these moments may not seem as important as, working on our taxes, cleaning the house, doing this or that… because “there will be another night”…etc. But we must not forget that when our kids ask us a question, maybe it’s time to focus on them to give an answer, when they need to talk maybe it’s time to slow down and listen…. and when they need quality alone time, maybe it’s time to slow down and focus on giving them the attention they need. (It’s about love)

I’m blessed to have such a wonderful little girl.

Love, a description and thoughts

We hear the word “love” a lot. Out in society among people or on TV or magazines. But what does love really mean? We (in western society) just tend to equate it to a feeling that we have for someone or something. At least that’s really how it looks like. A man will tell a lady he loves her (or a lady telling a man) and then treat them like crap.

Or, saying to the kids “I really love you”…. and scream and grunt like a pig with impatience at them just minutes later. Am I the only one who sees this far too often? (I doubt it)

Is it there more to it? What does love look like?

The following is one of the most inspiring things on love I’ve ever read. It’s out of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4 through 7.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.

Every day, several times a day, I look at my life and my behaviour in it. It’s certainly not always been this way, but in recent years I try to check myself.. I try to think about how I’m feeling as I’m feeling something and try to see if I’m living the way I believe I should live. All the while, not over analyzing. Follow me?? ;-)

To me, this short text becomes quite powerful. It is a description of what love should look like. How I should treat those “I love”. I often ask myself during the day or at the end of the day…. “have I been patient with my daughter or my loved ones?”

Have I respected my daughter or my loved ones in allowing them to be themselves, to make their choices and not be selfish with them… seeking to try and focus on filling their needs instead of my own. Giving them of my time, focus and energy. Trying to encourage them.

I must admit that I fail at this measurement each and every day in some way. In fact I believe we all do. Heck, just looking out at the world around it’s much easier to see expressions of pure selfishness and impatience than it is to see a genuine love between people.

But, it’s like exercising a muscle. Doing proper arm curls with a proper amount of weight will eventually strengthen the targeted muscles. Starting at whatever strength you have…. and it gradually builds.

The same can be said of practicing love, patience and kindness. At first (if you’re looking to see how you’re actually doing) you’ll find you make mistakes and may not even be very strong/good at it. But in due time the muscle strengthens and these characteristics become part of you as you try to consciously flex the muscle with proper form.

Be encouraged, make a difference. People like to talk about changing the world, and doing great things.

But it starts right here. In YOU’RE heart (and mine).

It’s up to you. Being a good example and saying a good word can go a long way.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man – Interesting read

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man - John Perkins

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man – John Perkins

A few days ago I finished reading a book I picked up months ago. Confessions of Economic Hit Man.

It was quite an interesting book indeed.

The topic of globalism (and the “global empire”) is one that has interested me the last couple of years and this book was a bit of a complement to some other things I had read in the last couple of years.

There is a principle , very simple mathematical principle, that says if there is a limited number of resources then the projections of continual (unending) growth seems to be a bit of wishful thinking. Because we already know that resources are limited.

I mention this because this book hits on 2 topics this principle applies to.

Principle #1 - The world does not contain an infinite supply of raw, natural materials that we can continually harvest for our needs (or maybe wants). So essentially any predictions of continued growth on natural resource is going to hit a wall. This wall or downturn in production, say in oil for example, may have already occurred.

This first principle is easy to accept and to see.

Principle #2 – There is another fairly simple principle which may hit home to many people. This second principle may be a tad uncomfortable for some but one’s uncomfortableness does not, in itself, diminish or augment it’s significance. It only means that if you don’t like this one… you don’t like this one.

This is also simple, in order for someone to be rich, many must remain poor. Why? This is purely mathematical. The very definition of “rich” is a comparison (or measurement)  against those who are not in fact “rich”.

Meaning, it does in fact describe a chasm or vast difference between what one has and what the other does not. Otherwise, there is no “rich”. There would be equality (mathematically).

John Perkins describes his part in a world that very much hits these 2 key points.

I’m not going to write at all about the contents of the book. If this seems like something that would interest you at all, I would recommend it. Much better that you read it first hand than to read a summary here. I thought it was quite an interesting book.

 

Overdue updates

I’ve always wanted to write on a variety of topics. At times I find I’ve been draining of the energy required to think and write. And…. writing is something I’ve always loved doing as a hobby.

So I’ve decided to list books that I have, that I will read and that I am currently reading. This is a little project of mine. I’ve been in “reading mode” as of late and have also accumulated a long list of books on a variety of topics to read.

So, I’ve started to add this and created a new page “Books I’m Reading“.

So I’ll be writing on some of this on occasion. As well as possibly writing on general happenings in life.

:-)

Be blessed.

How well do I listen to my kids?

Do I listen to my kids?

By asking this question I’m not asking myself if I listen to them for the answers to the questions that I ask, although I certainly do listen at those times when I do ask a question, but rather, do I listen to the things which they desire to express?

Do I really listen? Do I sit and give my 100% attention? Or do I buzz around doing this or that and “caually” listen.

I will say that I personally am not the best listener in the world (but I am certainly not the worst!). Or maybe since I’m not sure who holds the title of the best or worst it’s hard to compare to an incomparable.

But I’ve asked myself this question and have looked at how I have tendency to get busy going about my own agenda while “casually” listening to what my child is saying. And I know I’m not alone in having that tendency. Maybe I’m legitimately busy at times (and maybe you are too). Maybe I’m running on a tight schedule sometimes (and so are you right?).
Continue reading

Enjoying the journey of Life

Thinking about life quite a bit. In my time, I consider myself a very fortunate man. I don’t consider myself fortunate because my life has somehow become perfect. Nope, not at all. In fact, I like some of you who may read these very words, struggle with various aspects of my daily life. I don’t believe there are many humans alive who can (honestly) claim to have no struggles.

I guess the words of the great philosopher Billy Gibbons come to mind:

I been up, I been down

You see, in my time, I’ve tasted a bit of Hell and a bit of Heaven. I’ve tasted the depts of despair and the heights of the greatest joys.
Continue reading

Welcome to my new blog

Hey folks, Welcome!

I wanted to start this blog to share some of my own personal thoughts and experiences. Not because I think I’m right about everything or anything in particular (although, we obviously do believe we are right about stuff… we wouldn’t believe something otherwise…) but because I find it somewhat helpful to write out my thoughts and re-read them. I also find it helpful when a discussion breaks out and I hear or read someone else’s point of view. It sometimes gives me a different perspective.

So on this blog, you will find thoughts about all kinds of stuff that pertains to my life… to life itself.

I will also share about some of the books that I have read or are currently reading.

Let the fun begin!