Why are you here and How can you Make a Difference?
Today, for many Americans in the middle-class and poor the ”good life” is slipping away as inequality between classes reigns supreme. For a powerful and select few: the wealthy 1%- 2% in the U.S.is a symbol of the ”good life”. For this powerful class the goal is acquisition of as many material possessions as possible. The pre-occupation of obtaining more “stuff” leads this upper echelon of society to play by the destructive and insensitive game of “every man for themselves”. This selfish approach has led to a breakdown of the social contract of “we are all in this together”. For this group the rugged individual philosophy of the 19th Century is alive and well. Yet, it leads me to ask these questions: How can America with this selfish approach sustain its economic standard of living for all its citizens? How much is enough before greed destroys even the wealthy? Does more material abundance equal more power for the few or do we need a renewal of caring for all? Does more power and wealth for the few provide more meaning in life? What do our leaders need to do in order to turn around the polarity and animosity of the corporate and wealthy vs. the hard working middle-class and poor of society?
Our government and other societal institutions are broken, so how can we create a strategy for survival? Some people have taken to hunkering down by reducing expenses and trying to find supplemental work in a country whose unemployment is gauged to be between 9-15 % depending on how you measure it. For others they are engaged in becoming more self-sufficient in what I call a fulfillment journey which is marked by more awareness, discovery and meaningful living. On this fulfillment journey renewal is at the core of surviving. When people choose or are forced to move away from power, money and selfishness a void is created in the fabric of their social souls.
So how do you fill that void? I think the answer may be to focus on the wisdom and experiences of others who have struggled with extreme inequality and powerless situations. The written word of these sages may provide a path and ideas to fill the void with meaning, revitalization and redirection in these difficult times. Let’s look at what John Keats, a wise writer and poet, once said on this matter:
” I had an idea that a man might pass a very pleasant life in this manner: Let him on a certain day read a certain page of full Poesy or distilled Prose, and let him wander with it, and muse upon it and reflect from it, and dream upon it– until it becomes stale. When will it do so? Never, never…How happy is such a voyage or conception, what delicious, diligent indolence!! ”
Reflection: I think John Keats is recommending that in tough times we embrace a more reflective life. You can do this by keeping a journal which helps you stay more open to possibilities. I believe that the kind of meditation Keats is calling for places in the hands of all of us the opportunity to realize the dream of “a very pleasant life.