Thursday, July 26, 2007

Silent Spring for the economy?

In 1962, Rachel Carson wrote the groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. It explored the issue of synethetic pesticides and fertilizers which were being spread in massive quantities and how this was creating the unintended consequences of environmental destruction. Most specifically, the impact of DDT on the eggs of bald eagle resulted in shells so thin they cracked and thus bald eagle populations were being decimated. When the national bird is facing extinction--it is time for action. Thus, Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring' awoke a nation, the environmental movement was born and the awareness of how interconnected we are through our actions and policies led to real changes. Today, the bald eagle populations have returned and are growing and the changes instituted as a result of her work have benefited us all.

In 2007, Riane Eisler wrote a book--"The Real Wealth of Nations" (RWN) . And I think this book will prove to be the 'Silent Spring' for the economy. In RWN, we are able to see the 'unintended consequences' of economic policies that are now threatening our extinction as a nation--and possibly even as a species.

When we're facing extinction--it is time for action. Thus, Riane Eisler's Real Wealth of Nations is here to awake not only a nation--but the world.

This book is a solid exploration of the current economic model which has its foundation in a belief system of Dominator/Dominated while also providing a template for change. Eisler shows the historical context of how this dominator/dominated system emerged over hundreds of years so that today, we are all born into this value system and never question its validity. Eisler's unique ability helps you see what we so take for granted or as "normal" and view it from a new perspective. It leaves you realizing that the way we're currently running our economic systems is less than optimum--for people and the earth--and that there is another option that will be far more successful economically, socially and environmentally.

The new option is based in a new belief system--which brings back into play a 'value' which has been ignored for too long "caring". Caring as a value has been relegated as a soft/non-monetized action--therefore in a dominator/dominated economy, it has no measurable value. The future economy will shift from win/lose (dominator/dominated) to win/win (caring) and in this change, discover not only can we have a vibrant economy, we can have a world that works. For example, currently we see a 'stay at home mom' has having no impact on the GNP...but in a caring economy, her value can actually be monetized at around $134,471!

As Rachel Carson's Silent Spring showed--we can examine a policy, change it and end up in a better place than before. Riane Eisler's Real Wealth of Nations shows that in examining the dominator/dominated value, changing to a caring value, we'll end up in a better place than we are now!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

SICKO 2...will we change?

SICKO, Michael Moore's new film clearly shows that our health care system is a costly debacle that is leaving us unhealthy and financially strained. But for me, the scariest comment came as a result of his asking whether or not we could change our system. I think he was talking to a man from France and this gentleman said to Moore, "Here in France, the gov't is afraid of the people and responds to our protests...but in America, the people are afraid of the gov't and are afraid to rebel'.

I sat there and thought--boy is he right. And that's it in a nutshell....we're afraid. Even worse, we're afraid of our government--and we're afraid to come together to insist on changes that would benefit 90% of us because we've been conditioned by the massive media/corporate story that says "Universal health care is a lose-lose proposition". We've become so complacent in the 0-5 reactive/unconscious/victim story that even when we're staring insanity in the face, we shrug and walk away.

Because the real 'lose-lose proposition is the current system. The Corporately controlled, money-driven health care system is a lose-lose proposition for all but a few people--those who either own the stock of an insurance company and have benefited directly by increasing stock value OR those who work at the top levels of the insurance corporations. All the rest of us are in lose-lose. We know it, and Moore's film shows it to us in black, white and color.

I'll make a bet though--we will not protest. We will not come together in droves and insist that this terrible system be changed. By the end of the summer, SICKO will be a blip on the screen. And by next year, 50 million will be uninsured.....and we'll all just keep crossing our fingers that nothing bad happens to us and we don't have to deal with this archaic, unhealthy system--because if we do, it won't be pretty.

HOWEVER....just in case you would like to consider doing something--here's a link to Michael Moore's website's recommendations to get you started. We all need to get involved--we need to get Congress to work for us--that's their job.

Moore asks at the end of the films "Is this what we've become?". The America he grew up in, the one I grew up in--was an America that cared for each other. Now, its every man for himself. We have to ask how that transition happened--and whether we'll stay trapped in it. We don't have to but if we remain stuck in the 0-5, unconscious, victim, passive role, we stay trapped. Every day--any of us can switch to the 6-10, conscious, active role and when we do, change happens. First in little ways--and then in big.


Saw SICKO last night. It is a classic Michael Moore film as we watch him traipse around the world exploring health systems in a number of different countries and comparing them to ours. We get to meet dozens of people and their horror stories as their lives have been turned upside down as a result of dealing with the American health care system. Ironically, the gentleman he profiles at the start of the film--the one who lost two fingers and then, because the cost to reattach his fingers ranged from a low of $12,000 for one and $60,000 for the other--ended up only reattaching the less expensive one because he didn't have insurance and that's all he could afford--lives in my area. I actually met him last week! Seems like a charming guy.

SICKO is a good film and no matter what side of the political spectrum you are on--it is impossible to watch this film and believe that we've got a system that has to be maintained. Our system is not based in health care--it is based in money--designed to enrich a few in the insurance companies and their stock investors--and nothing else. We've actually enslaved ourselves into this system--we made it up, we can make it something else! And we'll need to because with 45 million uninsured, and a good majority of those who are insured being routinely denied care--it is a system that is crashing in on itself, bankrupting America's businesses and leaving us #37 on the list of 'quality of our health system'. Yes, #37 despite the fact that we spend more money on health care than any other developed country.

True story--about 10 years ago, I worked with a fitness center and we approached an HMO in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA. Based on the perception that HMO's desire to keep subscribers healthy as a way to have strong profits ( in that, if they're healthy, they won't need expensive services--thus prevention makes fiscal sense) , we approached Sentara Health System's, Optima Health insurance plan and did a 'prevention' presentation. We would offer the fitness center at reduced rates for their subscribers and we would offer Life Puzzle programs at their office sites to teach prevention lifestyle behaviors. All with the goal of keeping them healthy and thus the HMO would be more successful.

At the end of the presentation, as most of the group left, one gentleman remained. He happened to be a friend of the fitness center owner--so we asked--what did you think? Do you think Optima Health plan would pick up such a contract? He looked at us, thanked us for a wonderful presentation and then shook his head and said, "No, I don't think it will be picked up." We asked why--and I will never forget his answer--he said, "We're not in the health care business--we're in the money making business. It doesn't really matter to us whether people use services or stay healthy. If they use a lot of services--we'll just raise our rates--our profits are ensured no matter what!". We left shocked...but sure enough, in the early 2000's... HMO rates skyrocketed. Double and triple inflation--justified by the 'cost' of services for all these people. As I watched the news, all I could see was this group laughing its way to the bank!

And so now what? Will be decide to examine a system that benefits few and leaves us with an inferior health care system or will we just shrug and say "well, that's the way it is". Well, you know where I stand--its time to go 6-10 proactive and change this into a system that works!
It is doable--but only if we get involved.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Be Your Own Role Model.....

In session with a woman the other day--a woman who is by all rights successful in her professional life--but floundering mightily in her personal life--especially when it comes to relationships.

But the gist of our session really revolved around getting her to see the 'copy cat' style of life she was living. She grew up in a dysfunctional home that left her feeling as if she'll never be "good enough" but damn if she isn't running her SELF ragged trying! She also grew up in a dysfunctional culture--that has shown her violence, jealousy, emotional dramas with extreme highs and lows as the norm between couples. Television, newspapers, movies all seem to concur that it is normal to be jealous, insecure and emotionally rollercoastering when in a relationship.

So, I challenged her to really examine this! I know that humans are notorious copy cats--that's how we make puzzles right? We open up the box, we spread out all the pieces and then we prop the box--and begin copying the picture on the outside of the box! Only that doesn't work in Life Puzzle-making--there's no picture on the outside of your box--you have to have the courage to design your own!

When I said this to her, her response was "Well, what do I use as a role model?"--and she was so totally serious that it hit me like a lightening bolt. I responded back with "You--you are your own role model--make it up, do what do you want vs. what you've been seeing (which obviously isn't working!!). She just sat there stunned. Then she pointed at herself and said "Me, how do I know what to do?"

I laughed and pointed out the Choosing Continuum I have hanging on the wall in my office. I said, "See the 6-10? At the top it says "The new paradigm: Whole Life Making. Currently requires person to discover and create for themselves a life based in a balanced lifestyle."

I went on and said, "The model you were shown clearly doesn't work--you're in your mid-40's, you've copied it as well as anyone could possibly do--but you're very unhappy--so it obviously isn't the right model. So, almost anything else you try is going to be better than where you are now! You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by having the courage to become a full Life Puzzle maker. Use the basic framework and ask--what do I want--and then work towards it"

She sat there for a few moments and then started laughing! "Me," she said. It totally wowed her that she could work towards creating her own role model--she, like most folks, was standing by, waiting for someone else to say "You're good enough now--you can own your own life."

I shook my head up and down and said, "Yes...just you--go for it".

She left my office with a puzzled look and a smile on her face. There's a lot of work ahead as she explores the 16 action areas of her life and asks "what do I want", but she now knows that she's the only one who needs to make these choices any more~
Enough is Enough

I was chatting with folks about the 7/07/07 Live Concerts around the world sponsored by Al Gore and focused on global warming. A big topic that keeps coming up is the economy--well, the consumer economy. That unless we confront this elephant in the living room, we really can't make much of a dent in the global warming issue. Oh, yes, great to change the lightbulbs but its got to be much bigger than this.

So, the story goes something like this: Yes, global warming is a problem but in order to correct it, we've got to stop consuming at the massive levels we're used to consuming at. But if we stop consuming then the economy will tank, this will result is global crisis with millions of people out of work and no way to pay bills, etc. So, we shut our eyes and keep consuming because what else can we do??? And even if global warming is an issue, even if we are running out of resource materials to make all this stuff and thus, decimating the earth--right now I've got a mortgage to pay!

Thus, we stick our heads in the sand and no one--not even Al Gore for god's sake--is willing to address the consumer economy. But I marvel how no one can envision a solution that is right in front of our faces! The word is sufficiency--enough. We need to build an 'enough economy'--and in the process, yes, we'll create greener businesses, we'll massively slow down our consumption but done with consciousness--we could plan for a 10 year transition to 'enough'.

What does an 'enough economy' look like? Well, first there will be plenty of work--but each of us will work 'enough' and no more. What will we be doing if we're not working the crazy rat-race pace we currently do in the consumer economy? Why, living of course! Building all the other pieces of our Life Puzzle! Taking time for exercise; eating healthier food; (much of which we'll have time to grow ourselves), being there for our children; (who we've certainly abandoned in the consumer economy because we're always working!) being there for our communities; (you can spend a whole lot less on taxes when you have time to do so many of the services we now pay others to do); living fiscally responsible lives; (instead of the debt-burdened mess that comes with a consumer economy) and having time to reconnect to friends, family and the earth!

It's so totally doable if we start talking and planning for it now. And we may as well--because here's the double whammy we're confronted with:
Right now we keep consuming at record pace because we're afraid if the economy shuts down all hell will break loose. But doing this increases the impact of global warming and sets us up for massive system failures--or all hell will break loose!. The end point of this game is that eventually everything shuts down anyway (and worse case scenario--humans are off the planet!)

Now, an 'enough economy' that essentially brings Life to the front instead of money/stuff will result in lots of changes right now--that's for sure. But these are changes we can prepare for and manage--there are lots of folks working on new green businesses, reassessing our 'success indicators' so we factor in true cost accounting--thus businesses will change to meet these new indicators. Yes, in transition it is going to be a bumpy ride--but look at the endpoint! We have healthier lives, happier families, more secure communities and a global world working on the premise that 'enough is just that--enough' and joyous to boot.

So...take a moment and start thinking--what would your life look like if your focus was on just on 'enough'. That you really looked at how that can be defined for you and then start heading towards enough. What would change in your lifestyle? Would you work less? Would you sell off tons of stuff you don't need, use or every really wanted? Would you have time for your spouse, your kids, your community?

It is time to say "Enough is enough--we've consumed too much! It is time for a switch and that switch is Enough".
YOYO or WITT....which story works?

Cultural story---I talk about this a lot in Life Puzzle making because everything Life Puzzle does is to help people see the current cultural story--which by and large is the 0-5 reactive, unconscious, maintain status quo at all costs story--and begin to question that story with the new 6-10 proactive, conscious, self-responsibility towards designing a life that works.

America has been defined by the 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps, every man for himself, go West young man and find a fortune" story for the last 100 years. Well, at least it has been in the literature and it certainly is something we've become accustomed to believing is the way to live. And right now we seem to be at the extreme of this story. As the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the divide between the two of them as been growing steadily over the last 20 years.

But is YOYO (You're on your own) really the American cultural story? Oh yes, its definitely out there--businesses flourish on it...but do humans? Because at the same time as we talk the every man for himself success story, underneath it is a broader story that we're there for each other. Look at Hurricane Katrina--while the government was a failure, everyday Americans took over and helped.

Is the more true American cultural story WITT (We're in this together)? Whether Hurricane Katrina, 911, the Asian tsunami, flooding in Texas, a tornado in Arkansas--people come out to help each other in droves!

In the media--it would appear that YOYO is the story we hear all the time. Reports of Goldman Sachs employees receiving huge bonuses are praised as we reward individuals taking charge, making money in the extremes. Yet at the same time, 45 million people are uninsured and we know we have to find solutions because America is not a country that is comfortable watching this type of disparity become a norm in the land of plenty for all.

So which is it YOYO or WITT? Here's what I can tell you. While YOYO seems to have the upper hand right now, history will bare out that it is not a system likely to be the long term winner. Humans are social creatures and we need each other. I predict that as we continue to push the extremes of YOYO...where a few have a lot but most do not, the dissatisfaction of this system will result in a crumbling and WITT will takeover.

YOYO appears to work for the few on the top--but I can tell you--that is a false illusion! All the work I've done for the last 10 years with Life Puzzle is primarily a result of YOYO's showing up at my door! They would arrive saying "I've got everything I'm supposed to have--house, cars, kids, stuff' so I should be happy now...but I'm not! What's wrong with me????

And I would say...the picture of what you think will make you happy (essentially a YOYO story) doesn't work. It is missing too many of the pieces necessary to make you whole. Life Puzzle teaches a WITT story--and it does because if you look at humans over the last 150,000 years--what you'll find is that for all but the last 10,000 years, we've lived a WITT story. Our shift over the last 10,000 years to a YOYO story has brought us to this crisis--because YOYO is deeply unsatisfying in the long run while WITT works forever!

So, take some time today and ask your SELF...YOYO or WITT? What works for you?