Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Get to it

Here's the thing you just don't want to work with:

If you don't feel some good-natured fear every day, you're holding back.

The sense must be, better to be shielded than alive. Friend, this is the ultimate life-killing compromise, and mistake. If you want the experience of complete happiness or aliveness, you have to open to the sensations of complete fear as well as complete joy. Like all passing states, fear only stays long enough to show you what you need to see. Avoiding fear just keeps you in the shielded fear cycle. You know you're not enjoying that. Have you had enough?

So, just get to it. Take a step into the fire. That one, right in front of you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dear One Percenter

Dear One-Percenter,

Hello, how are you? I understand you’re doing just fine these days, but hey, what’s new? You seem to consistently do quite well. I want you to know, I’m happy for you. I feel happy when I hear that people are doing well.

I’m writing to you because you belong to a group you may have heard about recently, the top 1%. Hey, don’t turn around and look for someone else; yes, I’m talking to you! Remember, you and your fellow One-Percenters are everywhere. Every town has some of you in it. Every state, every company, every group does. One way or another, you can notice that you are materially better off than 99 of your fellow travelers.

I'm sure you're aware that some of those in the other group, the 99-ers, have been going through tougher times than you recently. Some of them have been out of work, for a little or a long while. Some of them started off behind the eight ball from early on, and have never found a chance to gain ground. Some of them will never have the capabilities and means to provide much for themselves, in terms of care, housing and the day-to-day consumables necessary to keep body and soul together.

I’m writing to you, One-Percenter, to ask if you would consider one of the following opportunities, through which you could help all of us out. My request is simply to ask you if you’d be willing to look around your place, see if there’s anything you’re not using, and chip any of that extra in for the greater good. Think Goodwill on steroids. You know how good it feels to get rid of what you’re not using, right?

The good news, I’m thankful to report, is that we have a couple of ways we all got together and agreed on, to keep everybody okay during tough times like these. We’re just hoping you could hand off your extra to any of these efforts.

The first way we’ve already established I’ll call Agreed Community Support. This one’s where we all pitch in to a big pot, and then take from it when someone’s having trouble maintaining themselves at our agreed humane minimum living standard. Now remember, we all agreed to this concept, and continue to agree to it every time we make that heartfelt handoff we call a “tax.” And yes, I know we tend to squabble over what this agreed minimum is, how much everybody ought to pitch in, what we use it for, and when it’s okay or not okay to ask for help from the pot. Still, we’ve set this up for good reason. Think for a moment. If you suddenly found yourself without means, for some reason, what standard would you hope we could all afford to help you maintain? This has happened to your fellow One-Percenters from time to time, so remember that it could happen to you. Be honest, not too extravagant and also not so miserly as to impoverish yourself, because you of all people will have noticed that all totaled, there’s more than enough to go around.

Now, can you ask yourself, are you sure we’re providing at that level for those who are in need of some help today? And if not, are we really so strapped that we can’t?

There’s been talk that we believe we are too strapped as a group. There’s talk that the One-Percenters bear little responsibility for the condition the 99-ers find themselves in. Really, is that true? Certainly, as a One-Percenters, you’re happy to proportionately partake of the benefits you enjoy when the 99-ers are doing well. Doesn’t it stand to reason for One-Percenters to partake equally in those times of group losses and difficulty? As much as you have benefitted by the work and trade of the 99-ers in your own material success, should you not benefit them back in equal measure when they’re in a tough straight?

Considering all of this, I write to ask you this: what will you do, right now, that will reflect what you believe about this? Is there some extra lying around that you’d like to throw in the pot? Is there some way you could communicate to the people making decisions about what’s going in and out of that pot, letting them know that it turns out you actually have some spare resource you’ve seen your way clear to return to the group?

Let’s move on to the other main way we keep everyone okay. I’ll call this way Optional Community Support. There are a lot of the same considerations between the Agreed and Optional ways. The big difference is that with Optional, you get to make an active choice about putting money into the pot in order to help, and you can channel your help in specific directions that feel most likely to succeed.

I’m hoping you’ll think very broadly about the Optional support avenue. Of course there are many groups that can use a direct transfer of your extras, and will deploy your gift wisely and well. Please hand off whatever you’re not truly using so they can put it to good use. Equally enjoyable, I want to suggest, might be for you to manage your own sharing effort. For instance, if you or an organization you’re associated with have some accumulated extra tucked away, sitting in some safe haven, you have the option to free it up and out to the whole. Or maybe ongoing you or your group are receiving quite a bit more than the agreed humane minimum. Good for you, you probably worked hard for it. Now it might feel good to take part of that, make a case for something you’ve dreamed about, and gather some people to give it a go with you, for pay. I see some of you doing just that, and truly, the people involved look like they’re having a pretty good time. I think that approach sounds lots more lively than staring at your extra as numbers on a page, as though something that flimsy could somehow communicate safety or security, never mind actual happiness. And that’s really the bottom line, isn’t it, living somewhere comfortably above the minimum level and being happy doing what you do? Think of how many more engaged, grateful people you could spend your time with, if you went Optional in this way.

Hey, it’s been great catching up, thanks so much for listening. I hope things continue to go well for you. We all wish you well, dear One-Percenter.

All the best,