Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
Today, on the first day of a new decade, we can look back on the first ten years of the new millennium with a sense that we’re not off to a very good start. Especially in the U.S. We are reaching the end of capitalism as an economic model for the world and it is causing us all kinds of pain as the flaws in this system are catching up with us in any number of areas. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can remember being indoctrinated into how capitalism provided prosperity and quality through competition. Various models of success were trotted out showing how big companies competing with each other would provide us with better goods at lower prices.
It was a common opinion that people working for profit were necessarily more efficient than non profits and government services and that this more than made up for the profits they extracted from the system.
Hasn’t quite turned out that way has it? One of the great “surprises” of the capitalist system is that when you base your economic system on competition you are eventually going to be left with one big winner who survived and thrived not by being creative, smarter and more innovative, but by being excessively controlling and willing to test the society they function in to its limit in order to satisfy their personal goals. In a capitalist system, winning is represented by having the most money and the entire system is set up to make sure that those who get it, keep it. Our entire legal system is rigged to favor those who have the most resources. Spirituality has been de-emphasized.
In capitalism, what we have is a system that rewards people for being the most selfish pigs possible. With very few exceptions everyone at the top of the economic ladder is like this. They don’t see themselves this way of course, they give to their charities and whatnot, but these are not spiritual people by any stretch of the imagination. And why should they be? In our society, we don’t value spirituality, only the hollow shell of it exemplified by going to church.
Not surprisingly, we worship this selfish piggery with the countless books, articles and air time given to it. In the health care battle, this is carried to extremes when networks publicize the rising stocks of insurance and health care companies without mentioning the implied pain and suffering this causes to millions of Americans. This is all handled under the umbrella term “business.” Incredibly, business people are often referred to as community leaders and are seen as important parts of their cities and states. They are not of course, how could they be? Their goals have nothing to do with the community they are in.
All of this occurs because we place almost no emphasis on actual spirituality. It is not valued in our society as evidenced by the fact that it is almost never mentioned in the media, the people who possess it are somewhat marginalized and it is weighed against the backdrop of money. It’s not enough in our society to be spiritual, you have to be successful as well. In fact, you cannot be valued without success.
Spirituality is about caring for the welfare of your tribe; in my case, the U.S. It is about placing humans in higher regard than possessions and finding meaning not in our personal glory, but in the satisfaction of easing suffering and hardship and helping others achieve more. It is about finding meaning in our connections with other humans. Spirituality, ultimately, is the pursuit of happiness, which cannot be achieved with possessions. Possessions are meant to ease suffering and drudgery and provide entertainment. When they have accomplished this, having more possessions does not add to our lives. What spirituality and happiness tell us is when we have enough.
When the rich pursue happiness instead of possessions they simplify their lives. Big houses and properties must have a small army of people keeping them up, from gardeners, to handymen, to maids, nannies and cooks, and all of these people have to be managed. If a manager is hired, that manager must be managed. And on it goes. This is not necessarily a happier life, just a different one. The rich do not spend less time managing their lives, they just spend it differently. Those that pursue happiness find that simplifying makes their lives happier by not being business managers in their own homes. Smaller properties mean less upkeep and fewer people to deal with. Fewer possessions means fewer things to worry about. They discover that having a lot of stuff can get in the way.
It is just as possible for the rich to be caught up in the possession game as the rest of us and find that fueling their egos with long vacations and trips to exotic locales can leave them feeling just as unsatisfied and feeling trapped by the experience as we might feel if we just HAD to see every single movie that came out. If you ever hear someone say: “Oh Barbados wasn’t nearly as good as the Cayman Islands” or something along those lines you’ll understand what I’m saying. It is possible to be caught in a monotonous trap of having vacations.
I actually had an experience like this. My father, who is pretty well off, got an inheritance from his parents when they died, and has been using the money to fund annual trips for his kids and their families. That includes me: a free trip for a week every year to a Club Med or similar destination. Sounds great doesn’t it? Who could pass that up? Me, that’s who. Let me explain:
When my Dad started up these annual vacations, of course we went and we had a fabulous time. For the first four years or so. Then, the sameness of it started to catch up with my wife and I and it started to be less of a fabulous experience each successive time until finally, the enormous hassles of traveling outweighed whatever joy we were getting out of the experience. The free trips to exotic locales wasn’t worth it anymore and we stopped going; the rest of my family did not understand, but that didn’t change anything, I had to follow my own happiness.
We can only create meaning in our lives through our interactions with other people, not with our personal pleasures. I get this and the truth is, I’d rather write a popular article that other people find helpful than lounge in the Caribbean. It is spirituality that guides us in making these choices and when we commit to them and understand what happiness really is, then we can see how insane the priorities of most of the world really are.
Spirituality, in this context, is not merely a concept or belief system, but an important tool for navigating our lives properly and getting the most out of the only one we have. This applies whether we’re blue collar or insanely rich. We need spirituality to actually live our lives.