Are you looking for a good cause? Does considering how to distribute accumulated privilege, wealth and resources seem a worthy cause? Can you throw all the money in the world at a problem and solve it? Now wait a minute! I’m not talking about handouts or an overtly simple, superficial or diplomatically popular solution to eliminate human suffering. What if you had all the power that was necessary? Is it conceivable to feel satisfied and safe? Can we hand that to the next generation?
The Rolling Stones lyric, “You don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might get what you need…” comes to mind. The matter seems oversimplified by politicians and blurred by gurus and mystics selling workshops, all vying for your attention, focus, vote and dollar – your time and distraction from your own life.
It’s clear that all of our progress with science and technology have not resolved our fears – fears of each other or fear for safety and the uncertainty ahead. The top 1% continue to rake up more than their share. In that respect, absolutely nothing has changed in thousands of years. From the industrial revolution to the Internet – most of us are in the same predicament.
If you are fortunate enough not to be the lower 500 million people on earth living in extreme poverty (of 8 billion today) maybe there is a legitimate claim that all the progress has really lifted your quality of life significantly above that of your ancestor’s. But is that really the standard? Or is the standard what’s really possible relative to what you fantasize from seeing a Facebook or Instagram post, seeing a movie, watching TMZ or what you may believe is possible for the top 1%?
Or is it reasonable (AND RESPONSIBLE) to set your sights on something in between – perhaps some level of satisfaction that exceeds your basic needs, but a little higher to extinguish – to throttle back your passions and desires? Maybe just enough … to the degree you act with consideration, honor and respect for your fellow man?
I don’t know exactly to whom I’m addressing here … it seems to be a more honest, seeking and modest bunch who might find interest in what I have to say. It doesn’t seem to be widely shared or spreading like wildfire, but that’s not the intent here. It’s getting deeper, one-by-one. Now, back to the point here …
I just listened to a wealthy man speak in frustration over setting up a business for his son. His 23 year old son would rather chase girls in a more pretentious city than tend to the foundation his father has laid for him. ‘Oh the problems of privilege’, right? The father grew up in poverty in Poland, migrated to the land of opportunity and muscled his way to the top of the underground food chain here in Central Texas. The kid just doesn’t get it. And why should he? He’s moved by his primal urges and repeating his father’s patterns. All the characters in the play have just changed costumes. Many are just as confused about their roles and opportunities. “Where we fight our parents out in the streets to find out who’s right and who’s wrong …” life is predictably, unpredictable – indeterministic and reality is not quite as black and white (as some hoped).
Look around on social media or even watch a football game and you have to wonder about our role models, or whatever behaviors are celebrated or highlighted to fill the voids in our lives. I just watched an athlete make an incredible play. I was in awe. Then my heart sank as he stormed off the field shoving a regular looking guy, an usher who had inadvertently been at the wrong place at the wrong time. This common and relatable guy probably making $15 an hour at the most dared wonder across the path of one of today’s “heroes”. The hero recklessly threw this man to the ground as he also moving millions (of advertising dollars as well as the focus of millions of human minds) in disgust over losing a game where more fortunes are made gambling, moved from one rich pocket to the next, rather than feeding starving mouths or tending to that lower rung of the world.
Throughout history we’ve looked the other way. We had to. It was how we survived. We’re still doing it by and large. Everyone knows the Emperor is probably screwing the little boys and girls. It’s just the way it is. Right? We have to forget to survive.
Admittedly, it’s too painful for most of us to hold our contradictions in our mind at one time. And the resources to help us do that are not all that accessible. And who really wants to take the time? Make the effort? They call it ____. I can’t even think of the word right now because it’s so taboo or just the way my brain works. But, I trust it will come back to me before I hit “publish” just in time – hopefully for your best vibe or rhythm!
And to imagine that if someone is watching and holding us to one of these statements we make, acts we demonstrate in our lives – in one context and then make another, entirely different statement in another …. I mean, what’s that about? Maybe that’s the real secret. We are not these simple minded, two or three dimensional beings that are either red or blue, black or white. We find ourselves dealing with relationships, limits and boundaries whether we live in the illusion of democracy or communism, whether our environment is progressive or “old-school”.
What if all those slaves had not been put on ships and taken to the New World because they were black? What if the color of their skin actually had nothing to do with it? What if it were as simple as those with the advantage have always taken advantage of the others. Is it seldom that anyone with privilege acts with restraint? Are we always just getting as much as we can get? That famous athlete gets a massage and wants a happy ending? He’s got millions? I mean, if you were the one rubbing his muscles and just one intimate moment away from the possibility of elevating your life to the front cover of the magazines at the grocery checkout … what would you really do? Can you relax and let yourself examine that possibility?
If someone acts with restraint is there something wrong with them? Do we look around to see where the camera is located? Is somebody trying to build a story or manipulating their image? NOBODY does anything JUST BECAUSE. Do they?
Do we know when enough is enough? If there’s no parent in the street when the kids are trick-or-treating, what’s going to happen? Is it that different than that rich kid not buying into his father’s plan? His life could be easy if he’d just show a little respect and discipline that even his own father couldn’t muster when his own father was 23 and exploding with humanity – struggling to contain his own sex and violence. Maybe you don’t relate to the privilege or conformity to the father’s scheme. For that matter, consider the Halloween scenario: do you trust yourself or your children not to take too much candy, i.e. that second handful, from the well-to-do house down the block? How do you behave when nobody’s looking and you could take a little more than you need?
Equitable distribution of the achievements we’ve made to elevate many of our lives on earth are not about passing a law or starting a movement toward equitable distribution of wealth. Such shouldn’t be in the hands of the exceptional. Such power belongs in the hands of the common person. It’s about how we carry ourselves. How we are honest with ourselves and our needs versus our excess desires.
Sometimes it is easier to get up in the morning knowing I’ll be seeing this or that sexy actress on the set later in the day. Fantasy takes over. It could and has been a reality. How do I rationalize this with myself or even dare explain that to my partner who accepts and loves me completely? The object of this fantasy, the beautiful actress knows nothing about me other than some playful superficiality. So that’s the human condition. I’m no different. There are no exceptions.
Who am I to say? Just play the cards you’re dealt. Make it less about talking or judging what’s going on with others and deal with your own circumstances as they unfold. Here it is! COGNITIVE DISSONANCE! The phrase that so commonly escapes me. Breath into this when you encounter it. It’s a great way to grow and avoid the regrets that many people fear they’ll feel at the end of their life.
Breathing into your cognitive dissonance leads to feeling deeply. Consider the beautiful actress in a scene rehearsal. She asks me if I’m gay when I was feeling more sexual thrust than any man had ever withheld from acting upon her. It took her breath away. She was so desirable – that was undeniable. Looking deeply with passion and love deep into her eyes, I realized how she’d missed so much. It didn’t seem fair to her. To have such exquisite beauty, shape, form and style – to have no depth, no foundation for intimacy. I suppose in my own way I gave her the sex she needed and more, the lust lingered and so did I as a mystery. That’s my game. My little revelation if you dare to follow.
So it’s much more than being emboldened or entitled by the Me Too movement. That has its place – so don’t get me wrong. But … maybe that’s just the point – or is it?
When someone … or even better, when your conscience asks you, “Why did you do that?” Own your answer. Be honest with yourself. Was your behavior deliberate or reactive? Were you following or leading? Were you joining the group? Were those words from you or mommy or daddy – is it what your kids want because you feel guilty and lost? Did what you did … does what you do actually relieve that itch, satisfy that lust or quench your thirst? Were you doing what you do to be noticed, heard or seen? Was it about recognition? Were you just doing it “BECAUSE YOU CAN” – meaning you can get away with it? Were you playing the game just like those in dominant positions of power? Did it benefit you or your friends or your children? Do you realize how much power you really have?
I don’t believe in much. But I do believe this is precisely where the distribution of true wealth begins. Owning your power in the moment, stoping to recognize such in the stream or flow of circumstances as they unfold before you is reaching into mastery. It is paying honor to your own dignity and life. It’s elevating the value of your life to act above the routine, the momentum of social media and advertising, the dogma of our institutions, to take a moment to really be your unique and free self.
To do just this is the challenge before you. It matters not – your story, your position high or low. It matters not – your title, status, sex, race or condition. In the hierarchy formed in this maze of our consciousness, you do matter. It does matter where you focus and what you value.
Examine your life and love wisely. Dare to be wild with that power.
It is precisely this step that if done JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN will ultimately make all the difference.