Going to Hell in a Handbasket,Part 3
First, I apologize for taking so long to post this. I have been unusually busy this past several weeks, and getting this to you fell down several notches in my to-do list. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.
Well, we’ve all been through a lot as we’ve discussed and argued about social mood. This topic has obviously struck a chord. You’ve sensed that something is wrong, and I presented one possible explanation of why you’ve felt that way.
Of course, some of you were already quite aware of all of this.
And, some of you think I’m full of it. I wish you luck. Hopefully your refusal to see what seems obvious to a great many people won’t come back to bite you. Those of you who have magical solutions, good luck to you, too. Let me know how that works out. I’ve found some of the more bizarre ideas highly entertaining.
And though I didn’t set out to make this a political discussion, a lot of politics ended up coming out. To those of you who think it’s just great that the people in charge want to continue the process of centrally controlling and regulating everything under the sun, redistributing wealth, getting rid of fossil fuels, and so forth will, I suspect you won’t be so supportive once the consequences of these things begin to affect you personally, as these changes will affect you in ways you will not like.
Over the last year (and before I ever brought up the idea of social mood) I’ve been discussing something that is basic to the human experience, but often denied: that we have little or no control over many aspects of the human condition.
(If you’re new, consider reading these posts: The Human Condition, Don’t Know Where It Came From, my series on Seeing Things the Way They Really Are—there are others.)
This lack of control was perhaps less obvious during the recent period of extremely positive social mood (which topped in about 2000), and also because in wealthy countries many human problems are less severe. Now that social mood is turning negative, this lack of control will become more obvious.
Many have asked me what to do to be more prepared. Unfortunately, there is no way to be totally prepared for everything that could happen. Asking me for solutions is a bit like asking, “What do we do now?” when your car has already driven off the cliff. There certainly are ways to be more prepared for what is to come, but many situations in life have no magic solution, and this is certainly one of them.
So, take my ideas for what they are: the best I can come up with in a difficult situation based on limited information. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, or even the best answers. I’m just someone with his ear to the ground, and who is reasonably intelligent and pretty good at synthesizing information—and, who happens to care what happens to you. Ultimately, though, you need to be self-reliant enough to do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
Unless you’re over 70, you’ve probably never experienced society-wide hard times. Because of the good times we’ve lived in, we’ve come to expect that all problems have a solution and that everything generally ends well. The truth is that sometimes things end well and sometimes they don’t. Ask those who lived in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.
And, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that all is lost. You DO have some influence over how things turn out for you.
Some people, when they realize what I’ve said about the human condition is accurate (that there are many things over which we have no control, and that everything is impermanent) become depressed or disheartened. Society dresses up much of human experience so as to mask those things that are difficult to acknowledge. If we discover that these fairy tales are untrue, it can be quite a shock.
All is not lost, however. There are four things you do have a choice about—IF you are aware enough to see how you create them:
1) How you feel…
2) How you behave…
3) Which people and situations you attract or become attracted to, and…
4) What meaning you assign to whatever happens.
Right now, unless you can see how you create your reaction to world events, you’ll probably assume, as most people do, that the events themselves create your reaction. In that case, the events happening these days will trigger you to create unpleasant emotions. Based on those emotions, you may behave in ways that don’t serve you, attract or become attracted to people and situations that do not serve you, and assign non-resourceful meanings to what happens.
My goal in presenting this information about social mood was not to talk about Obama or Glenn Beck or in any other way to start a political discussion. I brought it up to help you become more aware of how you create your response to social mood and get swept up in it. This awareness will allow you, to a certain extent, to avoid falling in step with the prevailing social mood. If you’re aware of your own impulses to feel hopeless, or angry, or some other unpleasant emotion, you’ll be better able to remain independent of social mood. Awareness creates choice.
Though this is easier said than done, my first suggestion is to be realistic about the way things are. Life is what it is. It has moments of joy and anguish. Someone will always be in power and will take advantage of others. Others will strive to be kind and to alleviate the suffering of others. There always will be wars and conflict. Many things will always be “unfair.” Sometimes the innocent will suffer and the undeserving will benefit. Random acts will happen; some will be tragic and some will be wonderful.
If you believe that things “should be fair,” you’re putting yourself in a double bind, fighting a fight you have no chance of winning. Things have never been fair, and never will be. You can decide to be fair, but you can’t count on others to do the same, and you can’t count on the physical forces of the universe to “be fair.” That’s just a fact of life.
And, things aren’t all bad. There are many awe-inspiring things about life: Great music, films, dance, fiction, and other arts. There are people to love and care for and interesting things to do and learn. There are exciting challenges to be met. There are full moons on summer nights, star-filled skies, stunning waterfalls, gorgeous music, amazing athletic feats, beautiful women, handsome men, touching moments with friends, and laughing children.
Life is just life. You, though, are in charge of what it means, how you feel about it, and what you do with it. Though many people and situations randomly cross your path, in most cases you are in charge of which people you interact with, and which situations you end up in.
The key to all of this is awareness. If you’re unaware, you’ll create much of your life on automatic pilot, outside your awareness, based partly on how your nervous system was programmed during your early years and partly on your automatic response to the mood of the crowd.
To the degree that you’re aware, the meanings, feelings, actions, and the people and situations you attract become a choice. Once you have a choice you’ll always choose what serves you. It doesn’t serve you to feel hopeless. If you feel hopeless, a non-aware part of you is calling the shots. As such, you’re more susceptible to the mood of the herd.
So work on becoming more aware. Please, faithfully use your Holosync. Make it a part of your routine, like brushing your teeth. Though you aren’t in charge of a lot of what happens, you are in charge of what the world means, because that comes from you.
If you focus on all the dreary things in the world, and add hopeless meanings to them, you’ll feel hopeless. Instead, acknowledge that life is what it is and let go of wanting it to be perfect (even while you work to make it better). Focus on how you can help, what you can learn, what you can experience, and who you can love. If you do that, you’ll feel good most of the time.
I don’t think it’s possible to completely step out of the prevailing social mood, but you can step out of it to some extent. When social mood is negative the amount of suffering in the world increases. In such times human beings treat each other even more badly than in times of positive social mood.
You don’t need to participate in negative social mood—though without enough awareness you’ll be tempted to.
So, first and foremost, become more aware.
Here are some other ideas:
Become as knowledgeable as possible about what’s really going on: Given all the competing information, some of which is quite biased, this isn’t easy. What’s more, you might not have the motivation to become well-informed. Plus, the situation is always changing, so staying informed is an ongoing process. You have to enjoy finding, evaluating, and absorbing information about the world. These are historic times. Become interested.
Be as objective as possible. Don’t just look for more information to confirm what you already believe (and don’t think, “Oh, I’m not doing that,” because you probably are). Purposely expose yourself to information that expresses a different point of view.
You’ll need criteria that allow you to evaluate the information you find. I’ve spent decades reading information about history, science, philosophy, political science, the financial markets, human psychology, and many other subjects. This, along with personal experience, becomes part of my criteria.
For instance, I spent my younger years ardently studying Marxism and other leftwing approaches, which at the time seemed very compelling. As a result, I know what such people think, why they think it, what they want, why they want it, and their strategy for getting it. I also know, from studying history and from talking to people who have lived under socialism, what grim results these approaches create.
Some of you think you have good criteria, but your posts reveal that you’re missing many parts of what you need to know. I’m not saying that my criteria are perfect, but they are based on a lot of study, and a real desire to find out the truth, and I still spend several hours a day studying and researching these subjects.
You can also rely on experts who sift through a lot of information and make it available to you. Finding which people provide good information, though, takes time. You often have to follow someone for months or years and see their track record before you can tell. There are no shortcuts.
Some questions I hope you will ask yourself:
Do you really understand how the financial system works? Do you understand how a free market REALLY works? Do you understand the difference between a free market economy and the type of economy that exists in Western countries today? (What we have now isn’t a free market.)
Do you understand fascism and how it works? How a republic works? How socialism really works? Could you identify each of these systems by their characteristics, actions, and outcomes? Do you know the pros and cons of each? Or did everything you know about any of these come from someone who is a biased proponent or opponent of it?
Without understanding the above, how can you evaluate what the proponents of each are saying, and how the proposed actions of your government will affect you?
Do you understand how the political process works, not just in your own country, but in other societies? Do you understand how these processes have evolved and changed over many centuries, so that you understand why things are the way they are now? Do you understand the US Constitution (or the founding document of your own country) and why it was framed in a certain way? Much of this is no longer taught in schools in the US, so that most people under 50 don’t know very much about it. What they have been taught is often biased.
Do you understand the historical conflicts that come to a head during times of negative social mood?
Do you understand the developmental stages societies move through (as described in Spiral Dynamics, for instance) and where different countries are in that developmental process? Do you understand how a society’s developmental level affects that country’s motives and actions?
If not, how can you evaluate what is happening in the world?
Do you understand how the laws of nature work? Can you tell when something is proposed or assumed that isn’t possible given those laws? Are you up on what science knows about how the world works, or are you scientifically illiterate?
If so, you have no real and clear criteria for evaluating many things that other people say.
Do you have an understanding of human psychology and what motivates human behavior, including an individual’s developmental level? If not, you’re at a disadvantage in dealing with people, and in evaluating potential leaders, their motives, and their proposals.
It’s understandable that most people don’t have a lot of accurate criteria in these areas. It takes a lot of time to understand these things. If you don’t have this education, be willing to admit it. Don’t make pronouncements about something you don’t know much about—or believe what someone else says just because they sound confident about it.
Get out of debt now and begin to save some money, even if it means cutting way back on what you usually spend. Being in debt is going to be dangerous in the next few years. And I mean DANGEROUS. In fact, being owed money will also be dangerous, because many people won’t be able to pay.
Have some resources “outside the system” (ie, not in a bank, perhaps even not in your country). The degree to which you do this depends on how many resources you have.
Consider having 3-6 months of stored food and water and other necessities, just in case. Have a way to get around if it comes to a point where you can’t drive. Figure out what you’ll do if public services temporarily break down or are rationed.
Personally, I would own some gold.
Consider going to Everbank.com and setting up an account in Swiss Francs, as it is probably the strongest and most stable currency right now. Dollars have lost about 20% of their purchasing power since 2000. That trend will probably continue. If you decide do this, though, be willing to have some criteria about when to switch back into your own currency, or to some other currency, or out of all currencies and into gold. Things are always changing. No investment goes up (or down) forever.
If you don’t pay attention and develop the ability to respond with intelligence to what happens, financially and in other ways, you have no one to blame but yourself. Learn something about how these markets change and be willing to watch them. If you aren’t willing to do this, stay out of them.
Get to know your neighbors. Enlarge your circle of friends. Create or enlarge your support circle. We’re going to need each other in the coming years.
Make a list of all the free things you can do that are enjoyable and are good for your soul, cost little or nothing, and don’t involve fancy electronic devices: reading, spending time with family or friends, listening to or making music, building or repairing things, taking walks, playing with children, making love, playing sports, watching the clouds float by, exploring your city or neighborhood on foot, etc., etc.
Look for ways to serve others. Many will need various kinds of help in the coming years. What could you do to provide it? Think beyond your own needs. Doing so will make you happier.
Be willing to be a leader. Be willing to sacrifice for others even when the prevailing thinking is: “It’s every person for him (or her) self.”
Become as self-reliant as possible—intellectually, physically, and psychologically. Looking to the government or other elites to take care of you puts you in their power, and believe me, that’s what they’re hoping for. Strive to rely on yourself and to be as free as possible. Be sure to read How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, by Harry Browne. It will change your life.
While you’re being self reliant, also be open to intimacy and connection with others. Self-reliance doesn’t mean isolation.
Be one of the people in the world who, regardless of what happens, continues to be loving and compassionate. Be part of the solution. Care, and show it.
I see myself as a synthesizer and communicator of ideas, and someone who does his small part to alleviate the suffering of others. What is your role?
Appendix: Information Resources
I’ve been asked for a list of information resources. Some of these are free and on the internet and other cost money—in some cases, quite a bit of money.
This is of course a partial list. And, there’s more to this than just getting “accurate” information. I also learn from the inaccurate information I read or see (what certain people are saying in order to create a certain perception or to further their own ends, for instance).
I read many financial newsletters by people who keep subscribers to the degree that what they say turns out to be accurate. Though ALL humans are biased in some way (or at least have a limited perspective), I find that these people are at least doing their best to find out what is really going on, rather than promoting a certain political or cultural point of view (though they often have one).
Here are some of the things I read (some of which are not completely unbiased–some things I read because I want to see what information the mainstream is receiving–I read it knowing that it is biased):
From Robert Prechter and the Elliott Wave people (www.elliottwave.com) :
The Socionomist (newsletter about social mood)
The Elliott Wave Theorist
The Elliott Wave Financial Forecast
Elliott Wave European Financial Forecast
Elliot Wave Asian-Pacific Financial Forecast
Elliott Wave Global Market Perspective
Also check out Robert Prechter’s books, especially Conquering the Crash
The Aden Forecast www.adenforecast.com
Decision Point www.decisionpoint.com
Dow Theory Letters written by Richard Russell (this is my very favorite source of financial information) www.dowtheoryletters.com
Check out Doug Casey (www.caseyresearch.com) Very well respected.
John Mauldin (google him–free newsletter read by over one million people) www.johnmauldin.com
Wellington Letter (Bert Dohmen–very good, pretty expensive) http://www.dohmencapital.com/index.htm
Anything by Martin Weiss. He is an investment advisor and commentator on the economy (some of his stuff is free, very good)
Stratfor (A service providing high-level geopolitical intelligence and analysis—in case you want an objective view of what’s happening in the world, what the different issues are between countries, regions, ethnic groups, etc., the interests, opinions, and motivations of each group, and so forth. All the news agencies use Stratfor, as do many multinational corporations and governments. This is pretty much “just the facts, ma’am.) www.stratfor.com Some of their stuff is free.
The Daily Reckoning (free)
The Economist (best weekly news magazine in the world, though it has its biases)
I watch a lot of TV news, though I am aware that what they show is selective. I find that Fox, contrary to what many people have been led to believe, is actually the least biased and the most likely to show both sides of an issue. I make my own interpretations of events, though, rather than adopting the interpretation of TV commentators. As I’ve said, I like Glenn Beck. Try watching him. See if you don’t like him, too, and find that he isn’t at all what you’ve been led to believe. You might not agree with him, or like some of what he says, but he isn’t lying, as many people on the left claim.
I also read the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. USA Today is a good barometer of what the masses are being told. It is quite biased, both in what content to present and in how it is presented. I find that Time Magazine and Newsweek are mostly garbage, but they do give you an idea about what the general population finds interesting.
The New York Times is a good source, though they are extremely liberally biased. If you want to know what mainstream liberals and progressives are thinking, this is your source.
The books of F.A. Hayek are great (read The Road to Serfdom), as are books of Harry Browne (especially How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, which is one of the most important books I’ve ever read), and Ludwig von Mises (not easy reading, though). Von Mises’ Human Action is a masterpiece.
Thomas Sowell’s book are extremely good, especially those about economics. They are easy to understand and will really open your eyes. Google him and you’ll find hundreds of his newspaper columns, which are bite-sized morsels of wisdom and rationality. If you really want to go more deeply into economics, read Hayak and Ludwig von Mises.
Will and Ariel Durant wrote a multi-volume history of the world (The Story of History) which will take you years to read, but is worth it if you want to understand history.
The books of Barbara Tuchman (historian) are fantastic. Also Arnold Toynbee (major historian).
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer is fascinating, and you will see uncomfortable parallels to things happening today.
Consider reading up on the history of the labor movement, the works of Mao Tse-Tung (or however they spell it these days) or works about him. Learn something about Lenin, Marx, the Fabian socialists, the early 20th century progressives, and other related topics. Wikipedia is a good source.
It’s also quite instructive to read up on the history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Gibbon, is well worth reading. Read about the history of Islam, given the role Islam is playing in today’s world.
For a broad scientific education for a lay person I suggest the non-fiction books by Isaac Asimov, which are fascinating and easy to understand. Though he is a science fiction writer, his books about science are fantastic.
Books by Steven Pinker are fantastic for info about the mind (How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Language Instinct, The Stuff of Thought, etc).
It is also important to know something about psychology, systems theory, and human development.
I also read a lot of books written by top scientists for the well-educated non-scientist. I subscribe to several science magazines. I am also quite well-read in all the literature about Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Sufism, etc), and its western off-shoots (New Thought, Theosophy, Alice Bailey, etc.)
I highly recommend Why the West Rules–For Now, by Ian Morris. This recently published book gives the latest info from archeology, sociology, and history about the entire sweep of human history from the earliest evidence of human beings up to today. Morris’s writing and storytelling is witty and engaging.
Go to Amazon. Browse. Read the reviews. Use Wikapedia to read about some of these subjects.
I could go on and on, but this gives you a few ideas (in fact, a lifetime of ideas, and I’m leaving out many categories and many good sources in those I’ve mentioned). I realize that to do all of this probably seems like an impossible undertaking. Be relaxed about it. Start with one or two things and see where it takes you. Do it because it’s fun to learn.
Above all, become more aware, and strive to be kind to people.
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