Things get really heated in an election year. But so much time, energy and resources get misdirected. Most of us just want to be free. And we look to the political system to help us with that. But if we really want to be free, we need to know who is threatening our freedom, how they are doing it and how best to counter-act the threat. Politics is really not about Republicans vs. Democrats or Liberals vs. Conservatives. Politics is and always has been about the Haves vs. the Haves Not. If you look back over the last six thousand years or so of civilization, you can explain most of history by how two basic principles are playing out. The first is the Haves have to remain the Haves and the second is the Haves have to be protected from the rabble (the rest of us).
The Haves have used different strategies down through the years to maintain their needed sense of balance. For a long time, there was Royalty. There was also Religion. And there has always been the Military. Today there is Banking.
Not very much of the population can be the Haves at any one time, so you can imagine how threatening the concept of democracy must be to them. But they noticed that the idea of democracy is popular among the masses and uprisings are inconvenient. So, to keep their incredible share of power and resources while maintaining the façade of democracy, more intricate tactics had to be devised.
Since the Industrial Revolution there has been Banking and Corporate ownership. But also nearly every other major social institution – from the media to public education to home ownership to the judicial system to the two-party political system – is designed to keep the masses in their place. And we obediently stay there. And national politics in the US is tightly choreographed. What are the chances that a nation as large and diverse as the US would have only two political parties and they’d always run neck-and-neck?
A major personality trait of the Haves is that they are insatiable. The concept of “enough” is a weakness to them. The world is now so owned that if one Have wants more, they pretty much have to take it from another Have. An African proverb states that “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” The twentieth century was the bloodiest century in human history. Millions and millions of blades of grass got trampled. And even though the Haves profited incredibly from all the wars, they noticed that wars were getting less popular among the masses and besides, with the advent of the atom bomb, they might not be able to keep themselves as safe from each other anymore.
So no more big wars. Little skirmishes here and there can still be incredibly profitable, but no more “world wars”.
Perhaps as a concession for the incredible destructiveness of WWII, the Haves allowed the development of a middle class. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but historically and economically, a middle class is an anomaly. Without some kind of meddling and intervention, such as Unions and government regulations, a free market should never develop a middle class. (Who ends up in the Middle Class when you play Monopoly?)
So the Haves are in a pickle. They are driven from the inside to continue increasing their holdings, yet they are reticent to start big wars to do it. So they are recanting their generosity and moving to do away with the Middle Class.
The result? Over the last twenty years, corporate profits have skyrocketed while the average American’s disposable income has decreased. While the wealth of the wealthiest has greatly increased, the number of Americans living in poverty has increased by the millions. This trend has been going on long before the crash of 2008, that just accelerated it.
And, over the last couple of decades, the Haves have grown much more emboldened. They used to try to work behind the scenes, in secrecy, making us the “mushroom people” (you know, kept in the dark and fed a bunch of manure). But now they are blatant. Wall Street bail-outs, Citizens United, the Patriot Act, Internet censorship, Media consolidation, indefinite detention…the list goes on.
You might be wondering why I am talking about this stuff when my primary concern is health.
For several reasons. First, the medical literature is very clear that when people become impoverished, their health declines. There is a strong direct correlation between a person’s income and their health, up to a point. Most people are not insatiable. Most would be happy with meaningful work, a good roof over their head, adequate clothing, the ability to buy and eat good food, enough money to take a vacation once in a while and to retire. Much above this level, increased wealth does not lead to increased health. Most people don’t need to own seven houses and forty cars and 5000 pairs of shoes to be healthy. So, as a healthcare professional, I’m concerned about the social and economic forces that move more people into poverty.
Second, your personal health is not independent of the community in which you live. You cannot personally be healthy and live in a sick community at the same time. I think we forget this in our society. We’re exercising, eating as best we can, taking supplements, going to yoga, getting counseling and meditating, all the while living in a society that is intrinsically unhealthy. Trying to be healthy in our culture is like walking upstream through a rapid.
Most people are kind, caring and loving most of the time. Most people see the wisdom behind the rule of law, the benefits of education, the need to help each other out. That’s why our systems work as well as they do. That is why our society works as well as it does. Believe me, I know things could be worse. But I also believe they can be better.
So what makes our society unhealthy? What is John Bradshaw seeing when he says that 99.5% of families in the US are dysfunctional? How can we make healthier communities?
The answer, as I see it, is surprisingly simple: make the main focus of our society be to raise children to be humane and strong; support families and develop social systems to do that.
Imagine a society where the vast majority of people were humane and strong. By humane, I mean kind and caring – not just for those they love, but for themselves and all of the planet – a wise citizen of the world. By strong, I mean someone who believes in themselves, has strength of their convictions, is self-transcendent, self-actualized, a master of their fears.
Can you see how such a society would be totally counter to the desires of the Haves? Humane and strong people could not be manipulated or controlled by advertising. As the Haves see it, the masses must be controlled and kept powerless. Fearful people give their power away. The main focus of our society now is to raise our children to be fearful. We’re afraid to let them play outside. We’re afraid to let them walk to school. We’re afraid of germs. We’re afraid of Terrorists.
Fearful people believe what they are told, they react more from emotion than reason. They have their minds made up and are incapable of considering new data that contradicts what they already believe. Fearful people give their power away and the Haves sit at the top of the heap and rake all that power up for themselves.
There are only two motivations in life: Love and Fear.
How are your motivations divided between the two?
How much are you motivated by Fear vs. motivated by Love?
The level to which our society is fear-based is the level to which it is unhealthy.
To raise healthy children, to create healthy societies, we need to question the very foundation upon which Civilization has been built. Rather than letting the Haves grab all the power and run the world, perhaps we ought to treat people with insatiable material appetites for mental illness. They’ve obviously got some messed-up belief systems inside.
Businesses would do better if people everywhere did better. How much are those global corporations making off the billions of people on the planet who live on less than ten dollars a day? They ought to be trying to grow the middle class, not destroy it. Sure, they can make tremendous profits by raping and running, by pillaging and burning, but that’s not sustainable, that’s not in the higher good of all, that’s insane by any reasonable definition. When the middle class is gone, then they’ll have to go back to fighting amongst themselves to increase their holdings and we’ll go right back to world wars, with devastating consequences.
The point I’m trying to make is that freedom is our birthright. Free is who we are as divine beings.
Freedom is important to our health. No one gives us our freedom but the Haves love to take it away. To stay free, we need to figure out how to be healthy with our fears. We need to be mindful of how, when and to whom we give our power away… and make good choices from a Spiritual perspective.
We all have very similar needs and wants. We want to make life choices for ourselves, we want to take good care of our families, we want our children to be happy and we want to be happy. These are universal and reasonable wants held by most who are mentally stable. Why would someone else not want you to have your life this way? When most people in a community have similar needs, then community-based solutions make the most sense.
(When what you want becomes more important in your mind than how you treat others and yourself, you are set up to abuse others and yourself. To most corporations, the need for profit is more important than how they treat people or the planet. That’s how we got here.)
We can run our schools so that the needs of the students are more important than the needs of the school system. We can have healthcare where the needs of the patient are more important than the needs of the healthcare system and so forth.
The best way we can take our power back from the large multi-national corporations is through non-violent non-participation. Just don’t buy their stuff.
But most importantly, don’t stop caring.
Hold onto that aspect of yourself, it is a very important part of who you are. When we stop caring, they’ve got our power. Hold onto your personal power even when you are in situations over which you have no control. Whether you hold onto your power or give it up is just a personal choice you make moment by moment.
Be aware, watch yourself, be sure of your convictions, your choices, your words, your actions. Such awareness is a practice and it gets better and easier the more we practice it.
We are only victims when we are over-powered. But you are more powerful than you realize and victimization will happen less and less the more you move into your power…and the more we work together to create a world that supports us being healthy and happy. When you do get overpowered, you can re-group, take stock, learn, and come back stronger and smarter.
The road to making this world a better place starts at your own front door. By virtue of their actions, the insatiable Haves have shown themselves to be insane. Don’t let crazy people run your life.
Care and be aware.
Practice non-violent nonparticipation with the corporations you don’t agree with.
And work to make a society that raises our children to be humane and strong.
Steven M. Hall, MD
Copyright 2012 Steven M. Hall, MD