Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an example of holidays that come and go without much notice for most people. When I ask non-black school kids about it they are aware it is a holiday and that it is named after a person, but that is about as far as it goes. As for customs and traditional celebrations shared by all across America, one would have to be a private investigator to find any actual celebrations of the holiday. Although I knew in my teens who Dr. King was and what he did, at least on some basic level, I was oblivious to any holiday that didn’t give me presents or have some cultural traditional celebrations involved in the holiday. For most of my life MLK Day came and went without notice except when it interfered with my ability to visit my local bank. This is an unfortunate state of affairs for such a great humanitarian and civil rights activist. The holiday commemorating his honor is celebrated in many countries across the world, as it should be. This is indeed a holiday that deserves worldwide celebration and has the potential for being the catalyst for real change when it comes to human rights, and under that banner can serve to be a global uniting holiday.

Some may take issue with the proposal that this holiday be celebrated, and indeed some have renamed the holiday Civil Rights Day. I see nothing wrong with commemorating the great man who made such necessary change for the betterment of humankind’s welfare and inspired so many people of his time and beyond. He was not just a black leader fighting for black rights and against their oppression. He was a humanitarian and proponent of civil rights. “This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.” (Coretta Scott King)

Sadly, the instrument of a holiday has failed to be the spark to ignite people into action and realize the “fulfillment of his dream.” Like so many holidays that have not taken root in society with specific celebratory customs and traditions, such holidays are doomed to continue to pass without notice. One objective in the ruminations this year about holidays is to take the worthy holidays that go relatively unnoticed and propose a way to observe and celebrate such worthy occasions. Although the commemoration of Dr. King through education and speeches will likely, and should, be a part of this celebration, the memorializing of Dr. King is not the objective. Truly great men wish to be remembered and honored by living their teachings, not in remembering them and paying homage to them. This is how MLK Day should be observed, by action like he did.

The first of two observance traditions I propose for celebrating MLK Day is for people to get involved. Taking a page from New Years’ resolutions, one would choose a civil rights issue they care about and get behind the cause for the coming year. This does not mean that previous causes would be ditched, but most people have a limited amount of time and resources, therefore, choose one and get active in it throughout the coming year. Do what you can to make a change. It can be as a prolific activist out protesting and marching, donating to an organization fighting for the cause, writing blogs about it, whatever. The important thing is for us to no longer sit passively by turning a blind eye to the causes we care about because we think we don’t have the time.

The second tradition would be honoring Dr. King’s primary protest tool of marching. The holiday should be filled with every city across the globe holding fundraising walks (currently nonexistent) for relevant organizations, such as the ACLU. The event would also be the time for raising awareness of civil rights and the current civil rights issues of the time. A local, possibly global, civil rights issue to bring to light is the treatment of Muslims. Globally, could be the plight of the Syrians. Like any organized walk, there would be booths and events promoting various civil rights issues. Walkers can carry banners touting the civil rights issues they care about to promote awareness, all the while raising money for a worthy cause.

This is one way Martin Luther King, Jr. Day could become the holiday it should be. As I’ve said many times before, it starts with you. What will you do? Share you thoughts in the comments.

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Internet Censorship

The Internet is a decentralized interconnected network of computers available to all people of the world, at least in theory. Unfortunately there are governments and other entities that inhibit some people from getting access to the Internet or censor it. The initial point of contact for the majority of people will be their Internet service provider. Assuming one can afford the exorbitant and continually rising cost of an ISP they will have access to the Internet. But there are others in the world who are unable to get access to the Internet because they do not have adequate access or cannot afford the cost. Then once one does have access to the Internet, the censorship begins. We have all heard about the massive censorship in China, but even places that are “free,” such as America, are censoring people and continually attempting to further regulate, monitor, and censor the Internet. Sadly, but not surprising, most of this is spurred by big business.

It is no secret that America is a plutocracy, and it is as a result of such wealth from businesses, primarily the movie industry as of recent years, that the practice of bribing politicians to enact laws that favor their bottom line have become the default course of action. Instead of the government representing the will of the people, they force the people to fight back through various activist campaigns. These large corporations thus far have failed with their master plans of controlling the Internet as a result of these grass roots campaigns, but have still won in significant ways. After failing to get COICA passed, the legislative bill morphed into PIPA, which was placed on hold, and eventually the SOPA bill was introduced and subsequently placed on hold. The people should be aware that these have merely been placed on hold and not necessarily gone away. They may be publicly conveying the attitude that they are looking into the public’s opposition to the bills, but are likely further colluding with big money to find a way to placate the public and get the bill passed. After such setbacks by the movie industry, albeit likely temporary ones, the MPAA decided to bypass legislation and the people altogether and conspire with the big five ISPs AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. They formed agreements with these ISPs to monitor and censor their customer’s Internet usage. After early failed legislative attempts already mentioned and their failure at criminalizing and prosecuting individuals, they felt such action was the most prudent. Now, for those unfortunate enough to be doing business with such despicable companies or continuing to support the MPAA with their consumer patronage, they will have their Internet traffic monitored. Should they feel you are doing something they do not like, they will call or send an e-mail threatening you with legal prosecution, which will never come. After about six warnings, they will begin to throttle your Internet connection, slowing it down to the point of virtual uselessness. This is how our corporations and government choose to deal with the people. There was a time in American history when corporations feared the people. We had a culture of taking our business elsewhere when dissatisfied with a business. Sadly, today, people are like frogs gradually being boiled alive.

The movie industry likes to claim that they are loosing billions of dollars to piracy and therefore need to take such drastic measures. This is nonsense propaganda. Every year they have claimed to be losing money, all the statistics show they have made record-breaking profits. The real issue is the corporations’ laziness. They do not want to listen to what the people want and try and find a way to adapt their business model to the modern age and what the people are asking for. The TV industry continues to find ways of forcing us into watching commercials, even though the vast majority of people do not want them. The movie industry wants to charge outrageous prices at the movie theaters and even more obscene prices for snacks. People do not want to spend a small fortune to take their family to see a movie and hope it is good. People usually would prefer having the movie available for rent via some sort of online service. In recent years the movie industry has finally been coming around a little in terms of providing the people what they want, but still have a long ways to go.

There certainly is piracy of movies. That is undeniable. However, it is not as rampant as the movie industry likes to make it out to be. Most people lack the technical know how or knowledge on how or where to obtain pirated movies, let alone pirate the movies themselves. Then there is the modern younger generation’s culture of sharing and remixing, which has been inappropriately likened to piracy. The true pirates are small in number comparatively and the vast majority of them are not interested in getting something for free. There is a large proportion of them who will pay for a movie if they enjoyed it after watching a pirated copy, or choose to go and see it in the theater afterwards. It is often a sort of screening process. But as pointed out earlier, it has not been and is not a threat to the industry’s bottom line.

The MPAA needs to stop criminalizing their patrons and instead start listening to them and providing them with what they want. For better or worse, the Internet must remain decentralized and available to all. This does provide challenges for legal authorities. To date they have gone about things in a misguided manner much like the MPAA. They spy on people through monitoring traffic and shut down sites. When authorities do it they deem it as lawful, but when a hacker does it, they deem it deplorable and unlawful, even if the hacker is shutting down a site the legal system would have likewise shut down if they had the ability. The Internet is like the Wild West of old. It is open, untamed, and decentralized. There are certainly people doing things on the Internet that should be brought to justice, such as child pornography. Unfortunately the legal authorities usually take the lazy approach and go after the people consuming the material. Indeed, they do create the demand, but it is the people initially exploiting the children and providing the content that need to be brought to justice. Shutting down sites does nothing, they just pop up again under another site. Prosecuting people who use bittorrent does nothing. Bittorrent is not good or bad, it is merely the delivery system of data. The MPAA throttling your Internet speed because you used bittorrent is like the government shutting down interstates and highways because some people use them to transport contraband.

Bottom line is the people need to take back their consumer power; the political system needs to purge the corruption; the MPAA needs to stop whining like spoiled children and give their customers what they want; and the legal system needs to man up to the challenge of properly going after criminals without resorting to taking away the free and decentralized aspect of the Internet.

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Holidays

Holidays are a time of celebration steeped in traditions intended to bring a culture together. Unfortunately, many holidays have either been implemented by a dominant mythology that was popular at a particular time in the culture’s history or have been hijacked by mythology. In the case of America, this would be Christianity. Therefore, rather than uniting a culture, an American culture, it serves to divide the culture or at the very least create subcultures with the mentality of us and them, and in some cases us versus them. This is to be expected with the evolution of a culture and its traditions and holidays, as the nature of evolution is not deliberate. When we think of holidays and what they should be accomplishing one may think superficially that the end result has been achieved. But has it? This sort of thinking is viewing the situation from one’s own bubble. If one were Christian, for example, one may think that it indeed does unite a culture, family, etc., but what about all those who do not celebrate Christmas, or those of a different mythology, such as Judaism or Hinduism? No, holidays today do not serve their intended purpose in a modern world. Today’s world is about globalization, and our holidays should reflect this, uniting us as sentient beings, not as people of a particular country or a subculture within a particular country.

Staying with America as an example, there is Thanksgiving, a mythological holiday rooted in Christianity. This holiday, being endorsed as a national holiday by the federal government, from a government that is not to endorse any one mythology over another, is celebrated by the yearly genocide of turkeys for our gluttonous pleasure. It may have been instituted as a national holiday with all good intentions, specifically for the purpose of attempting to unite a torn country, but we have grown and matured as a species since the 1800s and our choice of holidays should reflect this.

To give one more example, without going into each holiday, is Christopher Columbus Day. A country attempting to celebrate its discovery by an absolutely heinous person who did not even actually discover the country. What is to be done? Are there more worthy alternatives? Should countries and cultures be looked down on for celebrating their country or their culture?

Certainly I do not feel it would be beneficial to look down on any person, culture, or country, but I would also argue that celebrating such holidays only runs counter to uniting the people of the world as one. Although, it may be a viable option if people were able to celebrate some set of global holidays in conjunction with their cultural ones — and indeed it may even be a necessity.

The challenge for a solution is not an easy one from the perspective of coming up with viable alternatives but also from the perspective of getting the people of the world to embrace such a global and uniting outlook. One could look to the UN International days, a sort of international holiday schedule. Although I do not have any disagreement with most of their observation days listed, I do not think it is a viable option. The vast majority of the UN’s observance days are more protests or international recognitions of global situations that need to be remedied, for example 6 Feb. for zero tolerance of female genital mutilation. A terrible situation that needs to be dealt with, but what about when it is dealt with? There really is not anything for people to join together as one and form a tradition around.

On the other hand, one must realize that holidays rarely ever are eliminated they merely adapt and evolve. Therefore, the trick is to find suitable and appealing alternatives to some of the customs and traditions that a country or culture celebrates that are not inundated with such mindlessness such as the mass consumption of alcohol, or the genocidal killing of turkeys. The alternatives need to be equally appealing and enjoyable, as well as something that is a treat because it does not take place but on rare occasions throughout the year, such as the eating of turkey on Thanksgiving. It would not be so special if it were a foodstuff that was consumed on a regular basis.

What we are left with is a deliberate evolution, and in some cases simply dropping, each country’s and culture’s holiday festivities so such cultural practices are no longer divisive as well as adopting global holiday celebrations to promote the global unity of the human species through common celebrations and shared traditions surrounding the holidays.

I shall not propose adaptations to existing holidays or new ones here. Rather I shall discuss them throughout the coming year. Instead, I shall present some guidelines I am confident would set one on the right course for such an endeavor and would welcome the reader’s contributions to this subject.

Existing holidays should be scrutinized. Despicable holidays, such as the aforementioned Columbus Day for America, should simply be done away with. As for the holidays that have been hijacked by mythology or that are truly of a particular mythology’s heritage, if the majority of the population, including those from other mythologies and the secular, celebrate it, then effort should be taken to secularize the holiday so all can be enthusiastic participants in a shared traditional celebration. This is how existing holidays could potentially become a truly cultural uniting occasion without giving up its cultural specific celebrations. As for new global holidays, the observance and the traditions surrounding it must be secular, although various subcultures can certainly adopt additional mythological significance for their particular subculture. In such a way the holiday would be a global uniting force with shared customs and traditions surrounding the festivities, while those of one mythology or another can likewise enjoy the holiday among themselves with their own mythological significance grafted onto the holiday. In addition to the holiday being secular, it must also be promoting something exemplary. For example, a holiday such as New Year’s as it is celebrated in America, which is steeped in superstition and merely an occasion to get drunk, may not be a candidate for being exemplary. However, if a holiday were about promoting the uplifting and aiding of those less fortunate, perhaps would be worthy of consideration.

Remember, it is not the governments that give us our holidays, they merely recognize a dominant cultural observation. Such change, even on a global scale is not beyond the realm of reality. It starts with you.

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Resistance is Ridiculous

I’m amazed that I still commonly encounter people who are resistant to meditation and the Buddhist mental cultivation. This resistance stems from those who still take mythology as a religion to heart. Mind you, most of these folks are the typical religiously afflicted in that they believe in something resembling the mythology they subscribe to, but don’t really know it, study it, go to church, etc. nothing new here, so I won’t beat a dead horse.

Rather, what is most amazing is the unwillingness for such  infected people to take an interest in learning so as to correct faulty or misguided understandings. Surely, as has been discussed time and time again, there are some who have turned Buddhism into a religion. This doesn’t mean it’s correct, no more than someone perverting the Christian mythology into a cult.

Buddhist philosophy has influenced so many great thinkers and disciplines of our time, or else they’ve reinvented what Buddhism has taught long beforehand, that it amazes me there is still a resistance to meditation. It’s akin to fearing the Jungian approach to psychology because it differs from their Freudian beliefs. Sounds absurd I know, but that’s essentially what people are doing by scoffing at meditation. Buddhism offers a philosophy of mind that has long influenced other disciplines and sciences, while meditation is the primary mode for cultivating the mind with such philosophies. It’s not enough to intellectually understand that beating your wife is an act that should not be engaged in. A person must do something to change the mind for any real and lasting change to take place and have the new behavior or mindset arise naturally. Meditation is such a tool.

In today’s world, we spend a third of our lives preparing for the complicated world we’ve created. Unfortunately, few people take the time to cultivate their minds. What we end up with are people who know how to get a job, are trained in a skill, but lack the appropriate mental qualities and skills that come from mental cultivation to deal with the workplace social dynamics, work stress, money stress, marriage stress, and on and on. Since everything comes from mind, it is a glaring oversight to ignore the cultivation of our minds, which the vast majority of people are doing. Let’s get over the fear of what we don’t know or understand, rise above the prejudices that mythologies instill in us, and move toward a better mind for a better world. Mind you, there is nothing that says you can’t still worship and pray to whatever deities you may believe in while practicing meditation to further cultivate your mind.

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Counterfeit Integrity

The religious institutions across the world have always exerted power and influence over the laity. Consequently they have had influence in matters of business, politics, and indeed every aspect of life. This authority bestowed upon them has been a result of their being perceived as noble and upright people, who were well-educated, or became so during their ordination training. As is common with groups that have exalted status, common etiquette, even laws, evolved where it was not permissible to criticize a member of the clergy or portray them in a manner that was undignified and could taint their image. Between the laity turning a blind eye to transgressions and the clergy maintaining a strict image to be presented to the laity, the entire institution becomes a façade. This has been, and still is, standard practice in the religions of the world, including Buddhism. But it’s becoming increasingly impossible to maintain this image today.

This counterfeit integrity is being perpetuated by both sides. The laity, who cling to a religious and faith-based mentality are highly susceptible to abuses by the clergy, who can do no wrong in their eyes and therefore must be acting in the best interest of the people. In their eyes the religious institution they endorse is infallible, and it must be perceived that way in order for the religion to provide the sought after comfort. But in order for them to maintain that outlook, they must compartmentalize their minds, keeping the facts and critical thought locked out of the rooms where their faith is kept. The two must never collide or their entire foundation of comfort will come crashing down. Perhaps this is a contributing factor to the throngs of people washing their hands of believing and serious participation in religion today but whom still claim religious affiliation out of habit, or more accurately, fear of letting go entirely.
While on the flip side, the institutions and their clergy maintain the illusion of a character beyond reproach along with the complementary etiquettes so as not to shake the faith of their followers and to keep others who think critically at bay and in the dark on the goings-on behind the curtain. They feel they are doing the religion a favor and being compassionate toward the laity by doing everything they can to not shake their faith. This approach raises the clergy above everyone else merely because of his being ordained, as opposed to being viewed as a person, just like them, who has risen above, in theory, the more coarse defilements thereby becoming honorable. The latter is a true Noble One that can serve as a mentor to the laity, an inspiration to them of what they can aspire to also, as opposed to a vessel the laity can gain salvation through.

The laity of today are turning their backs on religion and shelving it right alongside all the other mythologies of antiquity. The modern mind being better educated, knowledgable of the world around them and its phenomena, able and willing to apply critical thought, is seeing through the façade of the institutions. Today we are more often than not indoctrinated into the mind of reason before we are indoctrinated into a religious mindset, giving us a fighting chance to see reality. With the laity being able to dissipate the smoke screen and see their religion, its institutions and clerics more clearly, they begin to realize they are often more ethically aware and responsible than the clerics that are supposed to be guiding them.
In the last decade with the child rape epidemic of the Catholic church, sexual improprieties of other Christian clergy and Buddhist teachers, and the atrocities against humanity in the name of Islam; the religious laity have had a wake-up call and are screaming fraud as they jump ship. These horrendous breaches of ethical conduct aren’t new, it’s simply that the people have had their eyes opened to it and are no longer taking it lying down. They’re demanding the clergy not be able to hide behind their “religious laws” and institutions and be held accountable instead of being permitted to be above civil law. The exalted status we ascribe to religion must be earned and not given out of tradition or social obligation. If the clergy wish to be treated as honorable and respectable, then they must act like it, and not depend on smoke screens, cover-ups, secrecy pacts, and lies to portray an image to the masses like a magician performing sleight of hand tricks with coins.

It’s time to stop condoning these behaviors by no longer turning a blind eye and demand that the clergy and religious institutions of the world have integrity and be noble and accountable to the people, instead of hiding behind an illusory integrity. If they behave the way they are supposed to, then there is no need for the secrecy or the laws and etiquette that are designed to protect the clerics and institutions from scandal. It’s time for them to man up and be what they profess to be or else step aside and let those who actually have moral integrity take the reins.

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Freedom

People have different ideas as to what freedom is and it’s usually based upon their circumstances. There are some common themes among them, but all these differences raise the question: What is freedom?

The main definition found in dictionaries will explain freedom as being able to act or speak as one wishes. In addition to this, there should be no retaliation for so doing. Sadly, there are stories in history of people being executed or having their tongues cut out for expressing freedom in this manner. Perhaps we should delve a bit deeper.

Possibly the most popular thought of freedom is to be able to do what one desires, when one wants. This is logical and straightforward. We punish criminals by taking away this freedom, or punish a child by means of restriction. To test the assumption of this outlook on freedom, one only needs tell a teenage kid they can’t go out with their friends tonight. It becomes explosively clear that people believe this is the meaning of freedom. Is this as good as it gets? A freedom that can be given or taken away? No thank you.

If money is lacking, this will also intrude upon our freedom, along the same lines of not being able to do what one wants. It may be pleasurable to drive a Mercedes Benz, or take a vacation to the Caribbean, but that takes money. This can be easily remedied by working more and saving. So people strive to earn more money by working harder, getting raises, searching for better paying jobs, and working overtime. It is felt that then the freedom desired will be realized. However, this solution falls short of satisfying the “when one wants” portion of freedom. In addition to the fact that one’s freedom will be deprived, or severely compromised during the pursuit of a solitary freedom. Forcing one to pick and choose and thereby not fulfilling what one wants”.

What about religion? Many claim that religion gives them freedom. Usually religion approaches freedom from the standpoint that the soul is free. Nobody can take that away. By being “saved” there’s nothing further to worry about. This is unacceptable. Freedom that can’t be had and maintained while alive, is a freedom rooted in fallacy and is therefore useless.

To expose the elusive secret of freedom, we need to ask what is it that decides what freedom is? What is it within us that decides this, or makes the choices? Some may call it destiny, fate, soul, mind. At a closer examination, it can be seen that what’s inside defining and choosing freedom is actually flawed. People have been conditioned in a particular way regarding freedom, among virtually everything else, thus, the varying opinions. It’s obvious, so far, that freedom appears to be dependent on something. Dependent upon having a belief in a soul, getting what one wants, etc. This line of thinking is deluded and unacceptable. Freedom is something inherent in everyone. It cannot be taken away, or manipulated by external phenomena. It for sure isn’t dependent upon dying to realize. It can be realized while alive and in all situations.

Attaining the liberation talked about here is a matter of looking within oneself. Beginning to see how the mind discriminates as a result of being programmed, and freeing oneself from these discriminating thoughts.

Getting what one wants, when it’s wanted, is conditional and conditioned freedom. There is something that has caused a person to want a bigger stereo, the newest brand, or the biggest speakers. If it doesn’t happen, or there’s difficulty in getting this, then there is anxiety and unhappiness. Now the elusiveness of freedom is beginning to be revealed. Happiness, or more accurately, contentment, is freedom. Freedom is contentedness. Getting the stereo is dependent upon what in life has caused one to want it. In this particular situation it’s likely to be pride, this sense of individual identity, or the desire for appraisal from one’s peers. Look closely, it’s all conditioned and dependent. This isn’t freedom, it’s slavery—at the mercy of one’s whims, desires and wants. If they’re fulfilled, one feels happy and has a sense of freedom. If they aren’t gratified, then liberation isn’t experienced. Freedom is therefore being free from these mental defilements. Still aiming for an ideal future, but being content when it’s beyond one’s control.

There are many paths one can follow to realize this kind of freedom. All entirely dependent upon one’s way of thinking. Many claim to be the best way, but what one person would find useful or acceptable, another may not. What’s important is that one’s perverted view of freedom be recognized, so the search can begin. There’s no single, immediate solution. Any path chosen will require effort. Looking within oneself is a difficult and often frightening undertaking for many people. But it begins with that first thought of dissatisfaction with one’s current view of freedom.

So begin introspection, walking the path, running the path—but begin.

Genuinely bidding all realize freedom.

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A Compass for the Young Adult

PDF Version

This dissertation will act as a compass for life, pointing merely to the varied directions in which one may venture. The individual only, can decide upon the actual path to be traveled including the choices in dealing with various obstacles. The two directions of concern on this compass at this time deal with adulthood. One can be done with virtually guaranteed success; the other is a considerable, yet worthy cause. As with any adventure undertaken, one must have the bare essentials relevant to the undertaking. These essentials form the nucleus required for success. Ask what the difference is between growing into adulthood and being an adult with honor? The former path requires nothing; the latter requires a nucleus in order to succeed. The focus here will be the formation of this nucleus, which is required for becoming an adult with honor. All are capable of venturing this direction. However, without the attainment of this nucleus, failure is inevitable. Which path will one choose?

Character

A person’s success is in direct proportion with one’s character, making this a shrewd starting point. This is the nucleus that has previously been mentioned. Because an innumerable amount of attributes may go into the formation of one’s character, one needs to look through the microscope so-to-speak, and see what components are absolutely essential, for without them nothing else can happen with any degree of certain success. These aggregates that form the nucleus of the character all fundamentally have to do with the mind. Three in all, the well-cultivated mind, people skills and a code of honor are what will give a person’s character the necessary integrity to not only be accepted, but also be respected. Once this has been achieved, one will possess the necessary qualities for deciding what further complementary character traits to add to this nucleus, thereby providing the required ingredients to achieve whatever one has deemed worthy.

Mind

A person’s intellect is one’s ability to think. To be able to think there must be some raw materials for this intellect to use. Developing the logical and creative spheres of the brain will result in a balanced and well-cultivated mind, thereby providing the raw materials in which one needs to think. The creative side explores new ways of putting knowledge to use, while the logical aspect provides the necessary raw data needed to keep one grounded to reality. Just like a professional athlete keeps the body finely toned, likewise one should keep the mind well cultivated. This well-cultivated mind must remain calm in the midst of adversity and focused upon any given task. If haste, fear or any emotions are permitted to enter the mind, one’s thought processes will be adversely affected.

Interaction

The way in which one deals with others is a fine art that can make or break a person. It may be a sad reality that one is judged by looks, but if one wishes to “play the game” then to an extent one will need to observe this fact—and if one chooses to live and be apart of society, then “playing the game” is precisely what one is doing. Although this is but an example, the skills and knowledge one must attain for dealing with other people spans from etiquette to basic psychology. Now will be the time to rethink the wisdom of mom always squawking “say please and thank you”, “think before you speak”, among countless other wonderful words of wisdom kids love to roll the eyes at. This is a topic that requires a book to do it justice and a lifetime to perfect. Such a book is available for the serious minded by Dale Carnegie titled How to Win Friends and Influence People. Possibly no other text on this subject was done quite to perfection as this. Meanwhile, strive for compassion towards others and it will be tough to fail at dealing with people.

Code of Honor

There are those who consider a code of honor and a person’s spiritual being to be one and the same. For immediate purposes these will be considered separate but integral to one another. This spiritual aspect may be taken literally with regards to religious orientation or symbolically, referring to that part of a person that is concerned with morals and ethics. Ultimately this will be what guides the mind, thus guiding one’s life. Although one may become successful by possessing moral and ethical qualities reviled by society, a wrongfully directed mind can have disastrous consequences. Cultivate and utilize this spiritual aspect of one’s being to form the code of honor. This code will be the final ingredient providing the glue that holds the entire nucleus together. This system of principles or rules in which one lives is what provides the stick in which one is measured. Other people may not know exactly what one’s code consists of, but will inadvertently make reference to it when asked what sort of person someone is. Phrases such as “always on time” or “his word is gold” may be uttered. Think of the code of honor as providing the attributes to be remembered by. This code will either positively or adversely affect other people when deciding to give or withhold respect. One may have appropriate people skills, but if people do not respect the individual, one’s endeavors will be in vain. Likewise, if one has a keen mind and lacks the skill to deal with other individuals, the likelihood of one’s thoughts being given just consideration is negligible. Those whose respect one will earn will be directly related to one’s code of honor. Cultivate the spirit so as to have a rightly directed mind, thereby making this code honorable and positively meaningful. Then make it tangible and dare to live by it.
Once one has a well-cultivated mind, sufficient social and people skills cemented together by a code of honor, respect and success are inevitable. These key components form the nucleus of a person’s character. This character is what brings success to fruition, with success being defined by what one personally places value or importance on in life—what life means to the individual. So consider the best character as being the one that is accepted and respected regardless of the environment in which it is placed.

Body

Further consideration should be given to one’s body. With the adage of mind, body and spirit all that remains in this equation is the body. It has not been included within the nucleus previously mentioned because it is possible to succeed and be respected without being fit. Fitness as it is used here includes muscular toning, flexibility and nutrition, thus providing a balanced level of fitness. The shape one is in affects physical performance that may be needed to realize goals as well as the ability to think and retain information. Think of a monarchy of antiquity: the king is the mind, making the spirit the wise advisor to the king and the body is the working class. The indispensable ones that make it all happen. Good health fuels the mind, frees the spirit and is a significant factor in providing happiness and longevity. Take care of the tool that not only keeps a person alive, but also helps provide a means of making one’s dreams a reality. Above and beyond this all that is necessary is to have a good laugh everyday and enjoy the pleasures of life.

Money

Money is the breath of society, making it a necessary topic in relation to success. Although one’s own definition of success will ultimately determine the true importance of money in one’s own life, it nevertheless is an issue that can, at the very least, impede one’s progress. Knowing some fundamental points about money will, like the nucleus of character, provide the foundation to build upon. This foundation begins with an understanding of the truth about what money is. Money’s only use and function is the attainment of something else. One must think carefully about one’s attitude toward money when seeking to attain it and hold on to it, strictly for the sake of having it. Although one should not be a miser, one should also not be a spendthrift.
Living within one’s means will put life and finances into harmony. By keeping expenses and spending below what one is earning means one is living within one’s means. A further threat to this concept is the temptation to buy now and pay later. Think of any mentality adverse to this theory as a python that will slowly constrict and squeeze the life right out of one’s aspirations. Be careful not to think of this concept as being simple and trivial. It has a way of sneaking up on even the most astute. Before one knows it, one is married with two children and requiring two complete incomes just to make ends meet.
Now that one has a handle on income and outgo, consider paying oneself first. The government, for example, among hoards of others places a hand in one’s pockets. Place one’s own hands in the pockets first, removing and setting aside at least ten percent of all net income. This payment to oneself is for the sole purpose of investing. The purchase of appreciative assets such as land would be considered an investment. Purchasing finer clothes and treating the family to a fine meal would not be considered an investment worthy of this hard earned money. Any endeavor that results in the increase of money as a direct result of it’s being outlaid qualifies as an investment. This monetary slavery is essential for proper handling of this money, so make it work as hard as one has worked for it.
With regards to initially obtaining money one should carefully choose a career. One will likely be doing it for most of one’s life, so enjoy it. Besides deriving pleasure and satisfaction from the career chosen, consider the way in which one is paid. Working for a wage plus a commission would be a way of handling this consideration. While the wage provides the safety net, the commission removes the roof, allowing one to essentially dictate how high the income may rise. Furthermore, the act of living within one’s means should also be integrated within one’s occupation. Keeping overhead down and an appropriate level of professionalism in perspective, one will be taken seriously and provide further protection of the money one has worked hard to get. In other words, it is not necessary to arrive to work wearing silk finery if one is a carpenter.

Congratulations on making it this far. Most disregard any compass readings. Some simply want someone to give directions from point A to point B. Still others do not care one way or another, simply content with whichever direction a path takes them. This dissertation merely provides the compass. It is left up to the individual to decide which direction to go and what additional qualities need to be assimilated into the nucleus of the character to make one’s chosen path a reality. At least now no paths will say “No Trespassers”. Being an adult with honor and ultimately being accepted and respected into adulthood is a crowning achievement at this major crossroads in one’s life. The serious-minded is left now with further recommended works for one’s library. Hold the head up and walk on.

Recommended Works:

The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill: All self-help literature, motivational speakers and the like are mere echoes of this fine work.

The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason: An indispensable work on the fundamentals of money.

Enzyme Nutrition: The Food Enzyme Concept by Edward Howell: Causes one to think how humans were intended to eat.

Franklin: Writings by Benjamin Franklin: A collection of his writings. Pay special attention to The Autobiography and Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One.

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