Freeing Your Mind – The Affirmation Spot for Friday October 24, 2008

Today’s idea:

“The mark of a moderate person is freedom from his own ideas. Tolerant like the sky, all-pervading like sunlight, firm like a mountain, supple like a tree in the wind; she has no destination in view and makes use of anything life happens to bring her way.”

Tao Te Ching, Verse 59

Most of us like to consider ourselves open-minded and fair. We like to think we look at things objectively and tolerantly. The fact is, however, that our life experiences have indoctrinated and biased our views.

Most of us are not, as Lao Tzu suggests, “free from our own ideas.”

The mention of certain words or concepts evokes waves of emotion that have little to do with the concept and a lot to do with the mental baggage we have accumulated. Worse, our views are often formed based on what other people have told us rather than what we ourselves know.

Since awareness is the doorway to understanding; let’s do a little test.

I’m going to list some words. As you read each word, take a moment to listen to your reaction. I’m not saying you should feel one way or the other about any of these words or the concepts they conjure. I’m simply suggesting you become aware of your blind spots and prejudices so that you can release them and truly deal with life in the open and honest way you want to.

Some of these words may cause little reaction within you, while others may cause a strong, visceral reaction. Becoming aware of your reactions is a very empowering way to take back control of your own thinking.

Ready? Read the words one at a time (silently if you like) and pay attention to your reaction.

  • New and Improved
  • Capitalism
  • Communism
  • Sarah Palin
  • Barack Obama
  • Democrat
  • Republican
  • Christian
  • Jew
  • Muslim
  • Buddhist
  • Hindu
  • Immigrant
  • Labor union
  • Russia
  • Israel
  • Corporation
  • Old
  • Young
  • Fat
  • Freedom
  • Fear
  • Math
  • Wall Street
  • Science
  • Religion
  • War
  • Peace
  • Terrorism
  • Love
  • Hate
  • Rich
  • Poor
  • Environmentalism
  • Profit

The Greek sage Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The more you examine and pay attention to your auto-reaction to things the better able you are to look at each circumstance with fresh, unconditioned eyes.

The key to freeing your mind is to ask yourself why. Why does this word evoke this emotion? What information is that feeling based on? Where did I get that information? How do I know that information is accurate? It takes a lot of strength to really examine your unconscious assumptions.

You don’t have to use this list. You can make your own list of emotionally charged words and explore your feelings.

The fact is that – for better or worse – words that create unconscious reactions when they are even uttered hold the potential to be used as manipulation. An empowered thinker is able to set aside the initial reaction and explore what is being said beyond the word.

We see this all the time in political campaigns. Labels start getting tossed around. The labels are a kind of psychological warfare because the labelers know people react to those words.

You may find that this approach helps you break free from old programming and allows you to move forward in your life.

Know thyself!

Ray

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The HumanCar® Changes Transportation – The Affirmation Spot for Thursday October 9, 2008

Today’s affirmation is:

“I believe wholeheartedly that I am part of the solution in my life and in my world.”

“Row, row, row your car gently down the road?” That’s the idea behind The HumanCar®. The vehicle is the brainchild of inventors Charles and Chuck Greenwood. It demonstrates how vision and ingenuity can create things the established order says are not possible.

Their invention comes against the backdrop of the current US presidential campaign where several candidates John McCain (R), Barack Obama (D), Ralph Nader (I), and Bob Barr (L), are championing “Energy Independence” or reform in one form or another.

Of course, we’ve heard this all before. For decades, we’ve been waiting for Detroit and the oil companies to change transportation. Instead, they have resisted, delayed, and claimed that there just are not feasible alternatives. We’ve been listening to that talk in Washington for decades too.

The Greenwoods prove that human innovation still comes from the grassroots! Thankfully, there are start-up companies – like HumanCar – that are not waiting for the fossil fuel monopoly to decide the time for change has come.

I don’t know about you, but the people in the picture seem to be having a good time. Nothing is more inspiring than to see an inventor meld human genius and creativity to develop something imminently useful and necessary.

Not every new car technology is everyone’s cup of tea. This vehicle is definitely for those in shape or wanting to get into shape. HumanCar® runs on a combination of human and electrical power. When the humans get tired of rowing the car runs on an electric motor. According to a recent CNN report, the car reaches speeds of 60 mph (97 Kph). However, some Internet test drivers claim they attained speeds exceeding 80 mph (128 Kph).

The car’s design relies on streetcar racing vehicles that date back to the 1950s. It’s a great multitasking machine allowing you to travel and get your daily workout at the same time. HumanCar® allows you to choose your own body style.

Of course, as with any new technology or idea, there are challenges to overcome. Nonetheless, it is more evidence that innovation is the key to solving our common issues.

Following is a brief YouTube video displaying the car. I believe this video was put out by the company. CNN also ran a recent story on HumanCar®.

These kinds of innovations inspire all of us to think of new ways to better our lives and our world.

Stay inspired!

Ray

Integrity of the Political System Prerequisite for Freedom – The Affirmation Spot for Friday January 11, 2008

Touchscreen Voting MachineIt is not my intention to write on the subject of politics so regularly on this blog. The primary focus of The Affirmation Spot is positive thinking and motivation.

However, what is happening in our political system does have a huge impact on our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren. To remain silent and not try be a voice for proactive positive change, seems not an option. 

The freedom to choose our own government representatives is a rare thing in human history. The process should be something we cherish, something motivating not demotivating.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich announced this morning his intention to call for a formal recount of the Democratic primary in New Hampshire. The Kucinich move follows that of Albert Howard, a minor but principled candidate on the Republican side, who initiated the process in that party yesterday.

Both men and a growing number of Americans are concerned about the integrity of the voting system and the specific results in Tuesday’s 2008 New Hampshire primary. After the 2000 election and the spectacle of hanging chads in Florida, the federal government funded a program to replace all non-electroinic voting methods with electronic machines. That program is still underway, but has been rolled out to most non-rural precincts nationwide.

Despite concerns by technology experts, privacy advocates, and other concerned citizens many of these machines are “paperless” meaning there is no non-electronic trail to confirm votes. Even the viability of a recount is questionable if there are problems.

Several technology experts have demonstrated that these machines can be hacked. This can happen without well-meaning poll watchers (our traditional method for ensuring the integrity of elections) even knowing it. Many of the people with the time to volunteer for poll observer positions are not familiar with the new technologies. This is a bad combination for open and transparent elections.

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There are several things driving this to a head in New Hampshire right now. First, is the apparent 10-15 point last minute shift away from Barack Obama towards Hillary Clinton. Second, is awareness (even vigilence) about this issue among Ron Paul supporters many of whom believe his numbers were skewed. Third, there is tremendous distrust out there among the electorate on voting system integrity after the 2000 and 2004 elections.

It is baffling how so many pre-primary and exit polls could be so wrong on the Democratic race. National pundits are at a loss to explain it other than to conclude that voters must have been lying to pollsters. CNN political analyst Bill Schneider did go so far as to include vote fraud as a third and reluctant possibility to explain the situation.

Logic dictates that it was Obama supporters, many of whom do not fall into traditional polling samples in such large numbers, would tend to skew polls more in Mrs. Clinton’s favor. Could so many people change their minds so dramatically so quickly?

On the Ron Paul side of the fence, many questions exist. One town – Sutton, NH – had to restate its vote totals after some local voters confronted them with what they knew to be faulty results. The town’s vote totals were turned in with zero votes for Paul. A family who had voted for Paul saw the results and contacted election officials. It turned out that Paul had actually received 31 votes and that there had been “an error” in transferring numbers over to the official tabulation sheet.

Anecdotally, there are numerous voting areas in the state with hundreds or thousands of voters where Paul received zero votes – something unlikely for a candidate consistently receiving around 10 percent of the vote.

There is also a huge discrepency for both Obama and Paul in parts of the state using countable paper ballots and those using electronic machines. Some of the disparity, no doubt, has to do with the “political geography” of the state. Nonetheless, it is discouraging that vote counts with verifiable means are so different from vote counts more difficult to verify.

kucinich2.jpgIn his  comments on a nationally broadcast radio show this afternoon, Mr. Kucinich stated that he was not calling for the recount to benefit his campaign. He admitted his results would probably not change significantly. He said he hears concern about vote integrity on the campaign trail, “more than any other domestic issue”.

I have personally been following this issue for several years and there is so much more to what is going on than there is time to share here.

Kucinich feels like the integrity of the voting system is paramount. I whole-heartedly concur. Democracy, real democracy, is a positive in global society. The ability of ordinary people to choose leaders and direct their own lives is the foundation for any citizen wishing to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.

It does not matter what candidate you support there must be integrity in the voting system. They say perception is reality. The perception on the part of millions of Americans (participants and non-participants in the system) is that our political system is broken.

Voices like Ron Paul’s, Dennis Kucinich’s, and it would appear Barack Obama’s are not very welcome in the circles of status quo. They enjoy broad support among people committed to reforming things. The status quo prefers things to remain, well, status quo.

Every positive stride we have made towards a more just, a more free, a more open nation and world is put at risk when we fail to question. Thank goodness there are some people still willing to do it.

Who knows what the recount will reveal? This is definitely an issue that needs to be in the consciousness of every American voter – Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Independent.

If there was even a chance your favorite sports team was being treated unfairly, you’d be upset. Why tolerate even the possibility or appearance of impropriety in our political system?

Every voter, whoever your candidate, has a right to be assured that your vote is counting in The United States of America.

I wish Barack Obama or Ron Paul had chosen to challenge this directly. Thank you, Dennis and Albert, for taking a stand for every American who wants to believe!

Be peaceful Be prosperous.

Ray

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