Wednesday, February 18, 2009
We are certainly living in tough economic times and indeed many people have lost a lot. But this article is meant to take a more positive look at current events because even though many people have lost much of what they “have” they didn’t lose who they are. And if they think they did—they have it all wrong.
In the spirit of Valentines, I want to talk about love.
There is not a religion that does not preach “to love your neighbor as yourself.”
But just let us say we hate ourselves, does that give us license to treat our neighbor wrongly, meanly, abusively?
That religious tenet is predicated on the belief that we actually love ourselves.
So I question whether there is so much hate displayed toward each other in the world today because on some level most people hate themselves. Or HOW they love themselves is completely wrong.
For the many who don’t know me, I’m a journalist who has interviewed the who’s who for quite some years now. I have had the opportunity to meet billionaires to heads of state, from prime ministers to musicians. I have met them on their way up and some on their way down. I’ve seen them humble and often way too haughty. And what I have observed up close and personal is how many of these people (and not just them) come to define themselves and love themselves for what they own and their titles and their status. Many of them are hiding under the banners of success because they don’t love themselves enough to stand alone. Get into a conversation with anyone and within five seconds they ask you what you do for a living and vice versa. We have all become so impressed by external trappings that we come to mistake those things for who we really are. By our affiliations and titles we convince ourselves of our own greatness. And then some sad day comes along, such as today’s economic hardships, and all the materialistic things that have come to define us are swept away. And so many find themselves with an identity crisis and don’t quite know who they are or if they are worthy of love. They sink into depressions because they don’t have that business card to give out anymore that says, Vice President of Shmendriks Incorporated. And in order to hang onto their status and titles, or to secure them, many behave dishonestly, and they lose the better part of themselves for illusory gains. When you sacrifice the better part of yourself for success, how can you still love yourself? And if you love what's fake about you, how can you ever love what's real, authentic and simple in another?
All of life today feels like an American Idol contest or reality TV show with only one person who makes it to the top and everyone else, well, is considered the loser—not good enough. So no wonder we walk around paranoid, jealous, self hating and frequenting psychologists. And then we go to the book stores and therein we find thousands of books each book selling you on how to be the best lover, the best wife, the best cook, the best talker, the best YOUTUBE star, the best con artist. Basically what these books are saying is that we are not good enough—we have to be the best—and so again we walk away with a broken spirit because at the end of the day we are not the best computer-savvy-sweet-talking gourmet cook who’s awesome in bed and can sell anybody anything and earn $15 million if we study chapter 4 on “how to be the best at everything at all times by Wednesday morning.” There is a much better book that came out a long time ago called the Bible and maybe, if more people read it, they’d get back to the core and really become the “best” person they could be.
I am by no means diminishing ambition, the desire to succeed or success itself. But I really feel we have turned toward false gods and now that they have let us down, we are crumbling.
During these very hard economic times each of us should take a much more loving look at ourselves and realize that all the materialistic things we own, or don’t own, and the lofty positions we have held or have never held, are not what make us, US…And if you think they do—then you don’t really love yourself or know yourself.
Ask any survivor of the January airplane crash if they were thinking about their cars, their money or their jobs as their plane was plummeting into the Hudson. One guy even took off his pants after they crashed because he thought it would help him survive. I truly believe that when each of us will truly learn to love ourselves for who we are only then can we really love anyone else.
Don’t forget, the greatest people in history left us not golden treasures, but pearls of wisdom and a legacy of love.
There are those who say that when a person dies and goes before the heavenly court on his day of judgment, he is not asked why he wasn’t as good as Moses was, or as Jesus was, or Ghandi was, he is simply asked, why weren’t you as good as YOU could be. If you enter that contest you are sure to be, the next American Idol.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
You know we are living in sad times when a peanut butter sandwich can kill your kids. Poison in our lunch boxes, tax evaders running the treasury. What's next? Pedophiles running the board of education or Ahmadinejad running the missile defense program?
With so many depressing headlines, we can't help but worry about the future. But I fear we are forgetting to focus on the most important aspect of it – Generation Next – our youth. I'm not only concerned with the salmonella sandwiches we are giving them, but with what we are failing to give them: morality, values to live by and role models to emulate.
There are many causes behind almost every one of today's upsetting headlines: greed, corruption, official malfeasance – and let's not forget our own apathy to make all these wrongs right.
But I have news for you. Kids watch us silently, and when we fail to fight wrongdoings, we serve to endorse them. And the kids take it all in.
(Column continues below)
Did you know that today's youth spend approximately six hours a day in front of a screen, either the TV, the computer, video games, iPhones, etc.? So, who is filling the moral gap for them? Tom Daschle? Rod Blagojevich? Michael Vick? Timothy Geithner? Britney Spears? Can you imagine taking the morality of all these individuals, putting them in a blender and then pouring this slimy smoothie into an impressionable youth? You'd end up with an alleged mother-beating dog-killer who doesn't wear underwear while shafting the country as he auctions off a Senate seat for which he refuses to pay taxes. Just add a splash of vermouth to the mix and you have a future congressman.
The biggest oversight failure we are guilty of today is neglecting to morally edify our youth, to teach them right from wrong – not only by preaching but by doing. It has been scientifically proven that screaming at the anchorman on your TV will do nothing at all. So, don't just be a grouch potato; get up and make a difference. Lead the way by example. Activism is just as contagious as apathy.
This new generation is tomorrow's regulators and senators, and if we don't serve as active role models, tomorrow may very well be worse than today. There is already a trend for teens to text nude pictures of themselves over their cell phones. How truly revealing, literally, as to where they are heading.
That is why I am thrilled that Kellogg's didn't go soggy on this one and will not be renewing Michael Phelps' contract. Along with his medals came a duty of responsibility. Had he faced zero consequences, we would once again have taught Generation Next: You can do anything and get away with it. He got the "gong" because bong was wrong. Am I being a bit harsh? No, I'm being terribly merciful to the next generation. What saved everyone on Flight 1549 was that they had a consummate professional who lived his life by following the rules and perfecting himself. Can you imagine if it was some pilot who had cheated on exams and got away with it, who was an alcoholic and got away with it, who got his job because of nepotism or lofty connections and got away with it? Guess what? There wouldn't only be six dead geese; there would be 155 dead passengers floating in the Hudson.
We have to stop falling for all these people who cheat us and then go on the apology tour and cry on prime time about how sorry they are. We can't keep forgiving them like abused housewives. If we fall for everything, how can our youth ever learn to stand for anything. The future, yes, may very well be on all our minds, but let's never forget, it's in their hands.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Stop shouting at the TV anchor and please write, call, protest, and make your voice heard and be an active participant in your own future.