Archive for March, 2008

Being Leader of Your Own Life

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Every few weeks I like to respond to some of the comments received about my blogs. I enjoy reading the commentary from readers, whether positive, negative or informative. My recent blog “Stay Strong to Your Convictions” seemed to hit home for many people.I was driven to write the entry amidst ongoing media publicity about the first law firm I worked for being the subject of an FBI investigation for improper billing practices. The people being wrongly billed were, of course, the taxpayers because the firm represents numerous municipalities including school districts, villages and police departments. With yet another example of the big wigs taking away from the people they are supposed to represent, I was glad I remained strong to my convictions over the years and spoke up when things went wrong. When there is an absence of decent leadership, you must find the leader within yourself.

Amy L. writes, “That was a great read, your story is something I will read everyday. You said a line I thought was so great I will add it to my work email signature.” According to Rob Nicholson, “Great article. Sometimes we lose track of what is really going on in and around us. We get caught up in the norm and pushed with the flow of the non thinking majority. Thanks for pinching me and pulling me back on track.”

That is exactly what I hoped to do with my entry. We often get caught up in the day to day struggle of getting by and feed into the very system that is going against us. Everyday is another opportunity to be the leader of your own life and stay strong to you personal convictions. From there, your energy will ripple out to the world around you to slowly facilitate change. Once in awhile, we simply need to pinch ourselves to stay on track.

With regard to another blog entry I wrote, “False Promises to Veterans And A Possible Draft”, I received an interesting update from Cindy (though I was disappointed the link with more info did not work):

“Shock and awe, academic style – an embarrassing internal dossier on the Military Scholarship Scandal at University of Illinois was put on the internet this past week:

This report reveals University of Illinois’ OWN INTERNAL DOCUMENTS that describe a detailed plan to cheat and lie about a discrimination plot against military veterans and cover up the truth from the press and politicians. I got it from The Alumni Association in Champaign.

Deans are caught cheating and lying to public officials. Public Relations officials caught lying to the press. A whole lot of people KNEW about it and DID NOTHING. The people that altered admissions procedures to target military veterans just before classes started based on a quota need to be fired immediately. These people are mean spirited crooks.

Every mother of every 10-year old child teaches basic values like “don’t lie” and “don’t cheat.” The leaders of this university need a good old fashioned talk with their mothers to remind them of some basic rules of life. Lying is bad. Cheating is bad. Nobody needs a six-figure sensitivity trainer to tell them that. When it takes a scolding from the state’s Lt. Governor to remind our President, Board of Trustees and Chancellors that discrimination, lying and cheating is bad, what have we come to?

Maybe this university needs to hire some playground police for the grownups at Swanlund that run this university. Their ethics are in the toilet and I don’t need a doctoral degree to figure that out.”

Her commentary is alarming when it comes to the mistreatment of veterans, as written in several of my previous entries. With regard to staying strong to your convictions, clearly she agrees with me that you don’t need a degree or leaders to know what is right or wrong – it’s basic knowledge, and let’s face it, we all know. Small children are taught to tell the truth, work hard and do the right thing so what happens when they grow up? Are playground police necessary to monitor adults and prevent them from doing the wrong thing? Can we even trust those monitors when they become adults?

As prices soar through the roof and human nature disintegrates, we can get discouraged. When we feel let down by the world around us, it becomes easy to slide into poor behavior ourselves. Continuing to do personal inventory keeps us from becoming part of the problem and helps us find new solutions. World leaders know we are running to keep up with basic expenses and daily demands. They hope we fail to take personal inventory so we become part of the faceless, mindless masses that feed into their greedy master plan. When we let go of our own little greedy desires and empty excuses, we already become leaders of our own lives and initiate change in the world.

Mamasaid there’d be days like this…

The Disposable World Mindset

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

I read an interesting excerpt from an article recently. It quoted Van Jones, the board president and co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. I appreciated his statements about environmentalism and the disposable mindset that leads to degradation as a whole.

Jones said, “Is a green economy only about reclaiming throwaway stuff or it it also about reclaiming throwaway communities, throwaway people, throwaway children?” He links the large prison population in the United States with the concepts of environmentalism stating, “To me it’s no surprise that the country that has the world’s biggest pollution problem also has the most prisons. We’ve got a disposable mindset: disposable products, disposable species, disposable people. We don’t see our sisters and brothers, much less the animal species, as sacred. The failure to honor the sacred is at the root of both problems.”

I was immediately struck by his words and the impact of a disposable world mindset. It’s all about fast food, fast living, fast talking and fast money. As everyone rushes to get theirs, no one else on the path matters. Grab that three dollar latte and two dollar pastry that clogs your arteries. Step over that homeless person with no food instead of eating at home and donating four dollars to a homeless shelter. Throw the empty latte cup out the car window so it lands on protected wetlands. Steal the customer of the associate who works next to you at the office to get that bonus. Stop at happy hour and celebrate by getting imbibed while you insult the waitress on a 12-hour shift. Is everyone guilty at some point of being in a destructive disposable mindset?

As we admonish officials and reject ridiculous laws, we also have to start with ourselves. As we begin to realize the imprint we all make on the world as individuals, we can more clearly recognize the lies of our leaders. This mindset has to extend to all people in society, from all backgrounds. Our own personal perspectives can’t be compromised as we rationalize about having to deal with the world around us.

Jones went on to say, “Even now, during the presidential campaign, you don’t hear a full-throated call for the sort of World War II–level mobilization that it’s going to take to avert ecological catastrophe. If you look at the scientific data on global warming, you can see that we can’t avoid a wholesale disaster unless we put this country back to work — putting up solar panels, weatherizing buildings, and constructing wind farms on a massive scale.”

While I will not get into the presidential campaign at this time, I agree that the focus is clearly not on aggressively addressing the environmental imprint on the world. As presidential candidates banter and bicker, Bush continues his war machine that eats up billions of dollars and pads the pockets of those good ol’ boys with a “throwaway” people mentality. Cloning is on the forefront and we won’t even know what we’re eating. Somehow this doesn’t seem to be improving to the world.

We need to get prepared by starting at home. While individual efforts aren’t enough to reverse the damage done, it feels better to be part of the solution rather than contributing to the problem. It all starts with a mindset. If we remain discouraged because of the negativity around us, we won’t feel motivated toward change.

Taking back personal power is a beginning. Getting your inner space back. We have lost this in a disposable, fast-paced and overcrowded society. Regaining your sense of self and creating a calmness clears the mind for rational thoughts. Those rational thoughts lead to intelligent action. As each individual takes responsibility for this aspect of themselves, we are already improving the world. When you think more clearly, you are less able to feed into the automatic actions of the world around you.

I recently discovered laughter yoga. It actually involves forced laughter to release stress, improve breathing and help you find that lost inner self through meditation. It was very effective and also reminded me of the importance of laughter. While the world around us has little to laugh about, finding that inner space gives you serenity and a positive perspective.

As our perspective improves, it becomes difficult to waste money or shun the needy. When we realize our place in the world, we learn to use our talents rather than take from others. As laughter becomes a part of everyday life, we don’t need substances or social classes to feel better. From there, we can learn to have respect for the world around us instead of using it as a garbage pail for trash – both physically and emotionally.