Editorial #10
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A Guest Editorial By William Meade -

From REG # 18

Stop Amusing Ourselves to Death...
Look Within

TV may indeed be inducing paranoia and fear in our society. But we have the choice of whether or not to watch it.

In the wake of recent abhorrent violence, both at home and abroad, we are all asking, "What can be done?" Many are calling for retaliation, more restrictions, more laws, more punishment, more treating the symptoms of a society full of hatred, anger, distrust and despair.

Why is society more overtly violent today than it was 40 or 50 years ago? Apparently, we have changed in some negative ways. Perhaps the time has come to search deeply for causes of these negative changes, rather than continually treating the symptoms.

Today, common belief is that material success is the main purpose and focus of human existence. This belief has led to selfishness and a willingness to let others be harmed if it benefits us whether financially or otherwise. Would it help if we taught and demonstrated to our children that the highest purpose in life is to mature into a caring, loving person?

Accepted thinking says violence and killing can be stopped by repaying the perpetrators with violence and killing (prisons and executions). We have been trying retaliation and retribution for decades, and even centuries, but just looking around us today tells us that that way doesn't work! Isn't it worth changing our basic belief systems to see if better solutions can be found? The most hideous types of violence are glorified in today's popular culture and entertainment vehicles such as TV. Adults feel it is all right for them (and often their children) to be entertained and Amused with gore and murder. Perhaps we need to set a better example for ourselves and our kids!

Many people profess to believe in the great religious leaders who teach or taught that evil can only be overcome with good and hatred overcome with love. But most of these so called believers, seem to think that these principles do not apply in the "real world." Of course nothing is a 100-percent immediate solution, but it seems likely that a radically different approach is called for today. We desperately need to begin the process of solving our problems and healing the hatred that is tearing so many of us apart.

In our society, killing unfortunately has been accepted at many levels as justified, to accomplish military goals, to create "economic growth" from a once-living environment, to produce our "food" from animals, and to punish those who also kill (in "non acceptable" ways).

Perhaps the time has come to start developing more reverence for life in our personal lives, which will eventually be reflected in society at large and the representatives we elect to govern us.

We seem to be at a crossroads: We can pursue our present course, pessimistically repaying killing with killing while teaching our children to be materialistic, fearful, selfish, and violent. Or, on the other hand, we can change at the deepest levels. We can strive for a life-affirming existence that values service to others above self satisfaction, kindness and gentleness above ego and power, and an underlying belief system that says clearly: To harm one another is absolutely unthinkable behavior.

If we choose the latter course it will take great willingness and conviction. Only a few will change at first, and it will take time to alter the course of our own nation and those around the globe.

But before we say it can't work, let's think about where our present values and beliefs are taking us. The rewards of positive change can be great, and contagious!

Most people whine and complain about all the negatives of our society, rarely posing any solutions or taking any action to change it. There is however, a plan of action that all citizens of our planet can begin in order to achieve a fulfilling, peaceful and sustainable future.

Anyone can follow and undertake this plan of action. It is written with the intent of having a profoundly beneficial effect on the world's social and environmental problems, through a compounding effect.

Changes for the better don't usually begin with governments or institutions, instead they begin within the hearts of average people. For beneficial shifts to occur in society, not everyone has to be counted on to change. Even a small percentage of people, working for the good, will begin a ripple effect which can encircle the globe and change the direction of environmental and social problems.

By its very nature, this plan deals with changes in an individual person's philosophy. This approach is taken because the world's difficulties largely arise from problems such as individual greed, materialism and the condoning of violence in all its forms. This plan is compatible with all religions that work for the good; it does not promote any particular religion or political position. The more of these suggestions you are able to adopt the greater will be your impact. If you feel you can adopt only a few, remember that each one will make a difference.

If we believe people will never change, then that negative belief will become a self-fulfilling prophesy, and problems will grow only worse. But if we know people can change for the better and most important, if we are personally willing to adopt new attitudes and actions, beneficial change can occur with amazing speed.

We should all consider acting upon this plan, these following suggestions as if our very survival depended on it, for indeed in the end, it does.

1. Face our world's environmental and social problems with honest acknowledgement of their severity. Don't try to ignore or escape reality. Study the problems, be willing to look for underlying causes and equally willing to make personal changes which may require effort and sacrifice but will bring a deeper sense of inner growth, peace, and harmony.

2. Strive to live life according to the highest values of goodness, truth and caring for all life, human and animal. This is a lifetime growth process and will become clearer as we practice quiet introspection's, study and reflection, seeking out our own special role in the healing and helping of all life around us. This effort will become a meaningful part of life's work, whatever one's vocation or circumstances. Our planet has an exploding human population of over five billion. In order for people to be able to strive for a better existence, we must move toward a sustainable population, without starvation, war, or killing our own species. This will require our evolving to a population of less than three billion. Our part can be to plan for smaller families of one or two children, or adopt unwanted children. Although developed countries don't have the rate of population growth of third world countries, we must remember that in a lifetime, one child in an affluent country will consume over a hundred times more natural resources than a third world child.

3. Develop an ongoing desire and effort to simplify our lives. Society has historically been on a path toward encouraging accumulation of possessions as a sign of accomplishment and success. We are now realizing that this path does not bring inner fulfillment or peace, but results in the depletion of Earth's resources and deprivation for those less affluent. Recycling is important, but more important is reducing our consumption of material goods and the amount of waste thus created. We should diminish the role of the automobile by driving less frequently and using more efficient cars, supporting and converting to non-polluting vehicles and mass transportation. We should also support and use only natural and non-polluting methods of climate control and refrigeration, as the use of CFC's and burning fossil fuels are the two major destroyers of our atmosphere. In addition to these environmental concerns, the greed for material possessions becomes obsessive, and complicates and compounds our lives making it more and more difficult to achieve any kind of inner peace and fulfillment. We become tied to our possessions, they become a ball and chain upon our lives, dragging us down into a morass of fear, jealousy, and resentment and drowning us under a sea emotional conflict. Instead of possessing we become possessed by material wealth. The true measure of a successful life, is not that of accumulating and dying with the most toys. A successful life is measured by how many lives you affected in a positive way from having lived. Therefore success is measured by how much you give to others.

4. Improve our personal lives in such a way as to make us healthier, happier and more useful to the world around us. Abandon habits that are destructive to health. Develop a diet of vital foods: fruits, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Greatly reduce or eliminate the intake of meat, fish, poultry and other animal products. Their production is the most costly to the environment in terms of water depletion, topsoil erosion, deforestation and water pollution. It also contributes to many current major health crises. Develop sensible sleeping habits. Exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. Choose freedom from drugs, intoxicants and stimulants. These personal changes will strengthen our inner peace and we will then be able to contribute to an outward universal peace. Do not be discouraged if you cannot attain these goals all at once. The most important thing is a conscious and ongoing effort.

5. Build thought patterns that are always positive. We all know there are major problems in our society and in the environment. However, we have the choice of seeing them as insurmountable tragedies or as opportunities for growth and improvement. Negative thinking can absolutely destroy us, while positive thought is a powerful force for good. We each have and make this choice again and again every day.

6. Follow the universal truths that tell us to overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth and hatred with love. These are not new thoughts, only their practice would be new! Respect all creation. Do not kill any living thing if it can be avoided. Reject violence in any form; it deadens our senses to every greater cruelty and destruction. See love as the active concern for growth and welfare of all living things, and not just a selfish desire for affection.

7. Cultivate the higher self, and the self that sees us in relation to the good of the whole. Understand that we are not separate from our fellow human beings nor are we separate from all living things and life processes. We are inter-linked in global interdependence. Understand that we cannot find fulfillment and happiness for ourselves alone. We can find solutions to problems only when we realize the oneness of all, and work for the good of all. With this viewpoint, war, violence against others, and the destruction of our environment cease to be acceptable options.

8. Keep your mind free from worry and give of yourselves. We can not be happy if we are worried about what has happened in our past. We can not be happy if we worry about what the future might hold. We can only change what we have the power to change, and accept what we do not have the power to change. If we are to attain any semblance of inner peace in our lifetimes we must begin to learn selflessness. Giving of ourselves, giving to others, with no expectation of return is the true path to inner peace and fulfillment. The more we try to practice this simple and easy philosophy, the more we will grow toward happiness and the journey toward inner peace which should be our life's goal.

No one can practice these principles and follow this path perfectly. It is the effort of attempting to practice them as best we can on a daily basis, that will lead to unbelievable changes, in ourselves, our perspectives, our growth, and eventually in those around us and in the world.

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