In a Conscious Society Bling is the New Fur

I remember walking down the street in my fur coat a few years back and having someone ask me if I knew how many minks died for my fur. I stopped wearing fur. I stopped because I did not need it, it was a luxury, it was a sign that I had made it – it was ego food. I understood the question. Now, with the world so small, and the suffering so great – so unavoidable – I wonder if we should not feel the same sense of responsibility that we feel for helpless animals, for helpless humans.

There was a time when your choices were beautiful sparkling diamonds or dull glass. It made some sense, if even in a superficial way, to want a diamond. But today, there are faux diamonds that cost a fraction of the cost and sparkle with equal brilliance – so one has to ask oneself why buy the diamond? What is it’s value in our world today? What if you have a ten thousand dollar diamond, trade it in for a one thousand dollar cubic zirconium and give the nine thousand dollars that you have left to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa? Then your diamond would have value., it would show much more than what you can afford to have, it would show what you are willing to give. Wouldn’t it be cool, rather than wearing a five thousand dollar blouse that says you are filthy rich, wearing a five-dollar tee shirt that says, “The money I planned to spend on a blouse is feeding a village in India”. How cool would you be?

Bling says to the world, “I am wearing this because I can afford it and I have nothing better to do with it than waste it on show”. Yes, it just does. No one can watch the homeless and displaced, the diseased and dying in this country and around the world and then spend thousands of dollars on things, which announce, “It’s about me”. Not today. Today we don’t need to spend thousands, millions of dollars on precious gems in order to sparkle. We can spend a fraction of that on semi-precious gems, give the rest to those in desperate need and not only sparkle from the gems, but glow from the heart. I believe that today it would be much more satisfying to wear something that doesn’t say “I have made it because I can afford to drip in diamonds” but something that says, “I have made it because I can afford to feed a village”. The oohs and ahhs are much greater today and much more long lasting when you show what you give rather than what you wear.

If our success in a profession is measured by the amount of money that we are paid, that is ok, if we understand that our true worth is measured by what we give. The point is that there is no need for bling today, it doesn’t look better than faux bling, but trading that bling in for heart does look better. We cannot outlaw bling anymore than we can outlaw fur, but it would be nice to ask someone dripping in bling, “How many children’s bellies could be filled by those earrings?” “How many villages could be educated against AIDS with that ring?” And perhaps, while we are at it, we should ask ourselves how much does it cost to make a house a home, and how many children can we give a home to for the price of a ten million dollar house?

I am not advocating ego denial. I am advocating a sense of satisfaction that not only feeds the ego but also feeds the soul. Trust me, it feels better to give to give to children in Somalia than it does to give to salespeople in Harry Winston, Proving to a child that faith has reason, God is alive and that there are angels is so much more gratifying than the stares you get from sparkling down the street in jewels. And who could honestly say that a tour of a mansion you built could hold a candle to a tour of the hospital you built in a village that has not even seen a doctor. Save a mink, don’t buy fur, Save a child, don’t buy bling.

Living The Good Life Is Not Good In A Starving World

17360_1_230jpeg images45 mother_and_baby_by_johnmccabe

I remember walking down the street in my fur coat a few years back and having someone ask me if I knew how many minks died for my fur. I stopped wearing fur. I stopped because I did not need it, it was a luxury, it was a sign that I had made it – it was ego food. I understood the question. Now, with the world so small, and the suffering so great – so unavoidable – I wonder if we should not feel the same sense of responsibility that we feel for helpless animals, for helpless humans.

There was a time when your choices were beautiful sparkling diamonds or dull glass. It made some sense, if even in a superficial way, to want a diamond. But today, there are faux diamonds that cost a fraction of the cost and sparkle with equal brilliance – so one has to ask oneself why buy the diamond? What is it’s value in our world today? What if you have a ten thousand dollar diamond, trade it in for a one thousand dollar cubic zirconium and give the nine thousand dollars that you have left to buy mosquito nets for children in Africa? Then your diamond would have value., it would show much more than what you can afford to have, it would show what you are willing to give. Wouldn’t it be cool, rather than wearing a five thousand dollar blouse that says you are filthy rich, wearing a five-dollar tee shirt that says, “The money I planned to spend on a blouse is feeding a village in India”. How cool would you be?

images6 159380-top-7-celebrity-shopping-destinations images2

Bling says to the world, “I am wearing this because I can afford it and I have nothing better to do with it than waste it on show”. Yes, it just does. No one can watch the homeless and displaced, the diseased and dying in this country and around the world and then spend thousands of dollars on things, which announce, “It’s about me”. Not today. Today we don’t need to spend thousands, millions of dollars on precious gems in order to sparkle. We can spend a fraction of that on semi-precious gems, give the rest to those in desperate need and not only sparkle from the gems, but glow from the heart. I believe that today it would be much more satisfying to wear something that doesn’t say “I have made it because I can afford to drip in diamonds” but something that says, “I have made it because I can afford to feed a village”. The oohs and ahhs are much greater today and much more long lasting when you show what you give rather than what you wear.

halle_diamonds2 6265-poverty-kenya-children-of-kibera-slum-nairobi

If our success in a profession is measured by the amount of money that we are paid, that is ok, if we understand that our true worth is measured by what we give. The point is that there is no need for bling today, it doesn’t look better than faux bling, but trading that bling in for heart does look better. We cannot outlaw bling anymore than we can outlaw fur, but it would be nice to ask someone dripping in bling, “How many children’s bellies could be filled by those earrings?” “How many villages could be educated against AIDS with that ring?” And perhaps, while we are at it, we should ask ourselves how much does it cost to make a house a home, and how many children can we give a home to for the price of a ten million dollar house?

I am not advocating ego denial. I am advocating a sense of satisfaction that not only feeds the ego but also feeds the soul. Trust me, it feels better to give to give to children in Somalia than it does to give to salespeople in Harry Winston, Proving to a child that faith has reason, God is alive and that there are angels is so much more gratifying than the stares you get from sparkling down the street in jewels. And who could honestly say that a tour of a mansion you built could hold a candle to a tour of the hospital you built in a village that has not even seen a doctor. Save a mink, don’t buy fur, Save a child, don’t buy bling.

It Is Time For Us To Embody the World That We Envision

“Look at yourself, Look at what you are and measure it against what you imagine you are and what your conscience tells you, you must be. Be shocked, America! Be stunned, be overwhelmed by what you see, and feel at the center of your being the purifying fire of remorse.”  Frederick Douglass

This is a small world.  And perhaps it is the shrinking of the world that will ultimately bring us the era of peace that has been prophesied; it is, after all, this small world which has brought us to the entrance of war.

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?”

Frederick Douglass

You see, this shrinking world, has dragged the poor, the slaves, and the under privileged into the ‘grand illuminated temple of  ‘liberty’, a temple into which they may only enter carrying a tray of food to serve, a broom to sweep, a new brick to lay, or through the medium of television.   While the wealthy are spared constant images of poverty flashing into their homes over the airwaves -the poor are not afforded the same courtesy.  The wealthy have claimed ownership of the world’s resources.  Lush fruit trees grow in the back yards of the poor but they may only labor in the fields collecting the harvest, they may not eat of it.  The poor go hungry and children die of starvation even in the wealthiest country in the world.

The ability to communicate and to see what goes on in every country affords the oppressed a view of lives which they would not have otherwise known, and it is through those images of wealth that the poor are faced with the clear reflection of their own poverty.  The world is overburdened by mans inequity and mans psyche is overburdened with pain.  People see that there are opportunities they do not share, and yet, those opportunities are advertised as basic human rights.  They see that all they need to advance in life is a good education, but they will almost never be afforded that education.

Now, the technological advances that have turned an entire planet into a neighborhood where to wealthy unknowingly parade their wealth before their neighbors who have nothing.  Every revolution on the planet has been seeded by this.  I have heard many people who had grown up poor, before the world became so small, say that they did not feel poor or feel badly about being poor because everyone else was in the same position. It is when the poor must endure not only their suffering but the constant exposure to those who are greedy and wasteful that the poor, feeling a loss of value, rebel against those who hoard the wealth.  Without a sense of self-worth, without a sense of value, man finds little left to live for and often is vulnerable or unconsciously seeks out a cause to die for that in some way will give value to their having lived.

We live in a world of uncomfortable neighbors who, were it not for technology, would not be so forced into acknowledging the circumstance of the other. Along with creating animosity that had not existed before, between nations and people who really would not have known each other in such intimate terms, it has also created a way to kill each other with a minimum of effort and a maximum of emotional detachment.  Yet, there is something else, something much more important that the shrinking world has made manifest.  It has forced mankind to come face to face with its own hypocrisy.  This hypocrisy is no less evident in a country whose Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

This country can state this in its declaration of independence while at the same time supporting slavery and the annihilation of its native peoples.   In an industrialized and technologically advanced world it is necessary to have a workforce that is at least minimally educated.  Because of this necessity, those who once suffered oppression without the education which would awaken their awareness of being oppressed, are now informed of the inequity in which they exist.

The ignorance which once shielded the division of classes is being technologically erased and so society can no longer sustain the division.  We live in the information age, the age of knowledge and knowledge breeds discontent.  What you know can hurt everyone.  Without ignorance, the hypocrisy of inequality is exposed.  Without knowledge, those with vision can only dream, but, with knowledge, those with vision can and do change the world.  Ignorance veils the truth, but once exposed, the truth does set us free.

We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression everywhere in the world. The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want . . . everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear . . . anywhere in the world.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is an inevitable truth that whatever we use to selfishly build ourselves up, will one day be used to tear us down.  At whatever moment we make the choice to use any of God’s gifts to advance one over another, we have secured the weapon of our own demise.  What goes around comes around, what is sent out will return.   The technology that the few have used to covet the resources of the earth that belong to all, is that same technology that is exposing this misuse and forcing mankind to look at what we are, as Frederick Douglass said, and measure it against what we imagine ourselves to be.

Technology has made secrets more difficult to keep and it will slowly but surely make abuses more difficult to profit from.  Those who we have elected to govern us have used our trust to place themselves in positions that transform them from representatives of the people to representatives of only themselves.  Ours has declined into a government that represents the interests of those who govern and not those who are governed. If our representatives in congress voted for the people to have the same health insurance and pensions that they themselves enjoy, we would have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.  At present, in the United States, we have a government of those in power, by those in power and for those in power.   In the coming lean years, it will be advisable to remember the next paragraph of the Declaration of Independence which states:

“That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security-Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government.”

It is foolish to underestimate history.  We study history so that we do not repeat it.  And yet, repeating it is all that we ever do – new set same play.  When will we come to the understanding that we own nothing, we are entitled to nothing above that which every other human being on the planet is entitled.  We are permitted the use of the earth’s resources so long as we understand and accept the responsibility of that use. When resources are limited they must be equally shared.  History has shown us over thousands of years of wars, revolutions, and natural disasters that what we do not share will inevitably be taken away.

When AIDS was used to judge the lifestyles of homosexuals, it was loosed upon those who judged.  We are waiting for Judgment Day, unable to see that it has been here for many years.  The world looks more and more like a comic in the New Yorker magazine depicting Big fat pigs with cigars stepping on little ant sized people.  Those who are the guiltiest of the injustices greed are distorting religion, particularly Christianity to justify their actions.  Greed today, calls itself Capitalism, but it is what it is regardless of what we choose to name it.  It is the worship of mammon, and we can’t dress it up to be anything else, God sees what it does to the little people and calls it what it is.  How can anyone call themselves Christians and not live as Jesus Christ lived?  During his 40 days in the wilderness he was given a test.  It is a test we are all given, particularly in the country. He could have had mansions and servants traveling the world in luxury but that was not the wealth that he chose, who could choose that wealth today and call themselves a Christian, maybe a Christian wanabe in some lifetime, but not a Christian.  The basic tenet upon which almost every religion is built is that we are to love our brothers as ourselves, do unto other as we would have others do unto us. I have to believe that only by losing everything will those who hoard everything ever learn.  That they do not see what they are doing because if they saw, they might change only to save what they have and not learn the lesson of giving.

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed.” .”  Isaiah 6:9-10

Many individuals on earth who share the dream of One World are joining together to reach out and aid those who are still in the dark.  We are learning that our survival is intricately connected with the survival of everyone else on the planet because they are our neighbors, we are no longer a world-we are a neighborhood.  One person cannot have a net worth of several billion dollars, while millions of children around the world starve to death.  The world is now a neighborhood and those children are our neighbors’ children.  If we do not protect our neighbors’ children, eventually it will be our children who need protecting, and we will be alone.

“A certain heathen came to Shammai and said to him, “Make me a proselyte, on condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot.” Thereupon he repulsed him with the rod which was in his hand. When he went to Hillel, he said to him, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn.”  Judaism. Talmud, Shabbat 31a

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  Albert Einstein