My book”see my book” and this blog seeks to aid the search for the authentic self, but I believe 90 percent of the world wants to obey. I believe their one and only single free will choice is what or whom to obey.

Freedom is fraught with anxiety and confusion. Freedom requires an endless chain of considered choices. Freedom is a world without red lights and green lights. It is not easy.

As this anxiety builds, the person makes a selection of choices that dictate behavior and mental processes. Religious choice probably contains the largest and most detailed of dicta. Christian, Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, etc. each having within them further choices finally arrives at a host of rules and dictates that control one’s daily and life-long choices. A strong second world of rules is cultural. National cultures, ethnic cultures, regional cultures all have stated or implied rules of behavior and thought.

Add in a variety of other sources of rules or expectations proceeding from schools, professions, affiliations, government, families, and you have little wiggle room left for independence or free choice. Diet books, health books, advice books and fashion further seek to dictate behaviors and limit choice.

We all champion freedom. We all like to think of ourselves as free, particularly in America. At least, in America, we get to make the first choice. There are whole countries and cultures where even the first choice of free will is unavailable. You are simply told from birth what you will worship and obey and you are surrounded by enforcers.

Run your day through your mind and consider how many choices you make are truly free. Look about you and see how dictated is your environment. Peer pressure alone is a significant influence. Even abstract theories, ideas, influence your choices. How many of your choices or life components are a result of belief in global warming, or protecting the environment, or political correctness….all ideas that are drumbeats in your daily life.

Now consider all of the above and visualize what a narrow slice of life remains available to free choice. “Am I in your play, or are you in mine” becomes pervasive. You are in a vast variety of plays, some of which you chose, none of which is of your own authorship. Even selecting what you want to eat off of a menu is less a matter of what you would like to eat, but more a matter of what you should or shouldn’t eat.

Freedom is hard. A daily litany of choices is stressful. It’s fifty/fifty that you will make the wrong choice. Existential angst is a real burden. What to do? What to do?

I think a healthy exercise is to review one’s daily life, as well as one’s larger life picture, and list and evaluate the various components as to which is a free choice, and which is a choice derived from another source and its influences. I suspect you will be shocked to see how little is a free and personal choice. If it is a larger proportion, you deserve to give yourself props.



The positive power of illusion and its limits

This is a blog that primarily involves itself in the issue of authenticity versus: delusion, the simulacrum, the false, the untrue. But I would like to consider today, the virtue of self-delusion, at least for a time. In times of strife and difficulty, self-delusion can provide a respite that can re-energize a flagging hope or facilitate survival itself. Optimism in the face of defeat can be energizing, and that renewal can sometimes turn things around. “Never say die!”, hope in the face of death, has saved many an explorer, pioneer, prisoner, patient. When all things seem hopeless, a self-inflating illusion can allow one to carry on for one more day, one more hour, one more minute that may make a difference. I think America, as a country, has some of this in their DNA. The Yankee “can do” attitude has often carried us far in the face of daunting odds. It is the confrontation of frontiers that proved our worth. We do not discourage easily.

Our current situation makes me think of this. Let us take inventory:

* we continue to suffer from the 2007-8-9 Great Recession.
* retail stores continue to suffer from lack of spending by the middle class.
* the middle class has shrunk in size, and recedes in purchasing power.
* interest rates have been near zero for 6 years without making life better for the masses.
* the stock market is at all time highs, but the masses have benefitted little by this fact.
* China is facing a real estate bubble and its GNP is shrinking.
* Europe went through its own Great Recession and still lingers in it. There is 15 to 25 percent unemployment in many countries.
* The Middle East in in chaos and anarchy.
* Japan, after a modest recovery, is sinking back into deflation and slow growth.
* Russia and Putin are making “throw-back” noises reflective of the Cold War. Putin invades Ukraine without international push back.
* The great Brazilian economic rise falters and most of South America is a political and economic mess.
* Africa is a mess in too many ways to list.
* Emerging Markets (i.e., the rest of the world) has fallen on bad times as an investment sector.
* We live with an inept President who seems over his head in most aspects of his job.
* Congress hasn’t done much in 6 years.
* Healthcare in this country, in spite of or because of Obamacare, is a mess.
* Unemployment, though down from its highs, is still a problem for most citizens.
* drought, fires and two severe winters in a row have become the norm.
* Our national infrastructure is falling apart from neglect.
* Our borders are porous. Millions of illegals already here. 100,000 desperate children cross over. Terrorists can do the same.
* The burden of financial entitlements threaten to bankrupt the country, yet we keep giving away more.
* There is no creative effort in Washington to solve these fiscal problems.
* Cyber-attacks threaten our infrastructure and finances.
* Diseases, viruses of unknown or half known origins and types threaten our very existence.

Shall I go on??? I’m sure I have missed a few.

Yet the world goes on. But here I focus on America. Although the polls indicate a despair of our situation. 70 to 80% of respondents feel our country is headed in the wrong direction. (When asked.) But day-to-day, I see this country continuing its life in positive ways. We still aspire. We still care about education. We still go to ballgames. We buy and prepare good food with increasing care and intention. We are still charitable to others. We have not taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands. We believe the next election may help things. Some citizens cope by not watching or reading the news. Many have given up on Washington and politicians. Television, games, smartphones, pot and fun have blocked out the long list above. Are we hopeless? I don’t think so. I don’t see it. Is that an illusion? Maybe. So we come full circle to the positive powers of illusion. Is that what is occurring? Are we in denial? Or are we just waiting out the bad times? Filling in with “artificial” good times?

A population, a country might well be able to sustain under an illusion longer than an individual can. But not forever. Take note of Egypt, Greece, Rome, ancient China, England, Spain, Portugal, France. We must get our house in order one day, or debt and neglect will destroy us. We will join the aforementioned. The positive illusion is for carry purposes only. To survive another day. But the period of survival must be well spent, or the death that threatened will prevail.

Both individuals and countries must at the crisis point, at the inflection, at the tipping point become unforgivingly honest. As I say more at length in (
see my book“), finding such authenticity is not easy, but it can and must be done if one is to improve and prosper. One can indulge the illusion only for a time. It can be a time of restoration, but that can only be short-lived. It is illusory.

Politicians will be the first to re-enforce your illusions. They are very often the creators of your illusions. They write scripts for you that serve their purposes. They create false issues that distract you from the real issues. They tell you tales that things are getting better. Ask the hard questions. Look for the facts. Stop the theater. What is one simple but available tool for ending illusion and seeking truth? What is one simple demand for authenticity? What is the way you can stop them from writing simplistic scripts that assumes your ignorance and degrades your intelligence. The vote.

In about six weeks we all have the chance to vote for change. Whether Democrat, Republican or Independent….go out there and vote for change. Stop those who feed you illusions. Stop those who would have you believe that the person and life you lead is authentic when it is not because they have written it. Take to the streets on November 4th. Mail in your ballots. Go to the polls. Tell them we are sick and tired and we’re not going to take it anymore! Don’t accept clones of the past. Short of revolution, the vote is all we have. Use it. Illusions are temporary. Reality ultimately bites. Even those who enjoy entitlements, if they are not put on a firm financial footing, they, too, will be gone. Before we have to take to the streets by the millions as we have seen in other countries, take to the streets and mails and vote. Every two years, review those whom we have voted in to represent us. If they haven’t delivered, bring in the next person. Do it till they get the message. Every incumbent should shake in their shoes each election. NOBODY should get re-elected lightly. Nobody. Demand accountability. Demand truth. Demand the authentic. See through and beyond the scripts they write for us. Are we in their play or are they in ours?