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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Greatest Key to Success

"I never let schooling interfere with my education"
Mark Twain

I've been studying some of the great social and political movements of the past. By great I mean those that were found significant enough to be kept in our history books and legends. I find myself struck by a profound truth. I shall reveal it in a moment.

People in our society have some funny ideas about the keys to success. Yet I find myself realizing that most of them are lies.

Lie #1 - Education leads to success
Under this lie, it is assumed that one cannot be successful without a college degree. This has manifested itself in our society through the assumption that for most occupations candidates must have at least a bachelors degree to be taken seriously. Evidence that this assumption is a lie can be found by looking to successful men like Bill Gates who dropped out of college to start working in the computer field. We all know what happened with that.

Lie #2 - Great wealth assures success
With rare exception, accumulated wealth seldom survives more than two generations before disappearing into oblivion. Too often the children of wealthy individuals have no appreciation for the wealth responsible for their upper class lifestyle and clearly no ideas on perpetuating it into the future. Instead of absorbing this appreciation and knowledge from their parents, they become spoiled and lazy, guaranteeing their future failure.

Lie #3 - Poverty guarantees failure
Men like Chris Gardner are proof this is a lie. Chris Gardner raised himself from a poor, homeless father to being one of our nation's top, successful stock industry experts. Mr. Gardner is also a living example of the profound truth I have finally come to recognize.

Note that I did not say I discovered the truth, but said I finally recognized the truth. The truth was there all along and used quite effectively by men like Bill Gates and Chris Gardner. This truth has a name.

Allow me to introduce Personal Motivation.

Personal Motivation is a sad, lonely fellow in many cases. Like most of us, people pass by personal motivation everyday, never noticing its there, waiting in the dusty wings of our minds. Personal motivation survives on crusts of dreams and quenches its thirst with our flights of wishful thinking. The personal motivation of most people subsists much like the homeless citizens of our inner city.

People like Bill Gates and Chris Gardner have rescued their personal motivations from the streets and proven how powerful personal motivations can be. From the margins of society, these two men have built personal empires that most of America envies without ever realizing they too can have such success.

We as activists can learn much from men like these. We too have our dreams; dreams of what our world could be like, if only we would address the many problems facing our civilization. The one thing lacking, most of the time, is our own personal motivation.

Too many times we feel our activism is done because we have no choice. To truly have the energy and dedication necessary we must awaken our personal motivation. For me, mine was awakened by the revelation that it is my nieces and nephews who are going to bear the brunt of the issues we have failed to address over the years. I love them dearly and have no desire to leave the world in such a mess, no more than I would leave a gun and ammunition laying around the house when they visit.

My personal motivation is to improve our society not for myself, but for those who come after us. But the truth is, I cannot do it alone. I need the help and mutual assistance of all those who wish to improve our society. I read postings and blog entries every day from people worried about where our society is and where it is going. I say its time to do something about it. We have the technology to fix many of the problems in our world. Those that cannot be fixed by technology will no doubt take greater effort, but we can do it!

All we need is the motivation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Good Riddance Day

Writer's note: This article originally appeared through my work with Helium (www.helium.com) and I felt it was time to share it with my audience here.


People taking pictures, lists, even fully paid mortgages and publicly shredding the documents in what is quickly becoming an annual tradition.

They call it "Good Riddance Day."

THe Good Riddance Day movement is, for all intents and purposes, a type of reverse New Year's resolution. Instead of developing new, improved selves and habits, we are supposed to let go of past mistakes and bad habits. This year one man's list included giving up his addiction to shoplifting.

It sparked me into thinking about things we as a society need to give up in order to move onward into the future.

We need to give up racism. This is probably one of the biggest wastes of human energy in the United States. From wasted energy committing racism to the wasted energy seeing racists behind every tree, car, and building corner. Both extremes must go. They are useless. No ... they are worse ... they corrupt and distract us. They are not useless, they are malicious. The sooner we say good riddance to them, the better.

We need to give up consumerism. This does not mean to stop shopping for food, clothing, etc. What this means is for us to think about what we are buying. Are we buying something because we need it (like food), because we really wnt it (like a computer), or simply because it is the latest thing (like an 8GB iPod when we already own a 4GB iPod that we only have 2GB of music on)? If we settle for a $12 pair of store-brand pants instead of $50 Levi pants, we free up considerable money that we could save in the bank, invest in mutual funds, or afford other things that we really want, like taking our significant other on dates more frequently (yes, mental and emotional goods are important too).

We need to give up credit use, both personally and nationally. Right now we owe so much as a nation it would take an entire year's income from everyone to pay it off. This is not just an economic issue, but an issue of national security. Some of our biggest creditors are China and Saudi Arabia, two countries who have proven to have less than our best interests at heart.

We need to give up or put off pork-barrel projects until, if and when, we can actually afford them. Our government is one of the most wasteful structures and organizations known to modern man. It needs to be put on an economic diet, for the health and safety of us all.

We need to give up selfishness. Think of those who are less fortunate than you. When you see on of the red meters in places like downtown Denver, Seattle, or whatever town or city you are in that let you donate to the homeless programs of your community, put a dollar or two of change into it. If you see someone who is homeless and they ask you for help getting lunch, take them to McDonald's or Taco Bell and buy them lunch if you are worried about them spending the money on drugs or alcohol. And for God's sake, turn off the TV when your kid asks for help with their homework. Stop being so selfish with your resources like time and money. If you give just a little, you help improve our entire society, and it really doesn't hurt you. In fact, you just might end up feeling good about yourself for a day or two.

We need to give up road rage and recklessness. Is it really worth risking killing yourself or someone else, just to get to work five minutes earlier or to "get back" at someone you think cut you off on the freeway? There is a man sitting in the state pen right now in Colorado who thought that it was. He is serving time for murder for causing a road rage related accident on a freeway in Aurora, Colorado that killed two people.

The list could go on and on. Think about all the things wrong with your community, your state, and our nation. Make a list if you have to. Then shred or burn it. Let all those things go. Then join with your fellow citizens and lets make the necessary changes in our society to make those things relics of the past.

Let's work toward the day when our children ask questions like "what was war" or "what do they mean by pollution?" Together we can make it happen. We just have to let go of the past and say good riddance to it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Activists Beware

It has become obvious to many of us that there has been a profound shift in the conduct of our government, particularly during the Bush administration. This shift has brought increased pressure and harassment against those of us who are trying to make a positive difference in the world.

This shift has brought violations of free speech, violations of free press, violations of free associations, violations of free trade, violations of free travel, violations of ... well, I think you get the picture ... all in the name of national security. Things that were considered acceptable and normal in a democratic society only a few months ago are now bringing seizures of property by Homeland Security, arrest and disappearances of independent reporters, and a spiraling environment of fear and surveillance by what is rapidly becoming the most oppressive government in the world.

This means the environment for activists like you and I is becoming increasingly dangerous, which is typical in a society on the verge of collapse. The sad thing is, it doesn't have to happen, but can only be prevented if the government backs off from this campaign of terrorism. Yes, I said it, the United States government has, itself, become a force of terrorism in the world, particularly against its own citizens. Those who don't believe me had best start paying attention to what is happening.

Another part of the threat is, it is not just at the national level that this is happening. Local governments are joining in. Just last September (2007), a student at UCLA was tasered for trying to get a straight answer out of John Kerry. And this was after John Kerry told them it was alright, that he was willing to answer the question. Considering that tasers have been proven to be potentially lethal, this act was irresponsible, dangerous, and oppressive to the student's right to participate in an open-to-the-public event.

The Bush administrations invocation of "free speech zones" that isolate officials from any signs of protest against their policies was expanded in March (2008) to force "Free Tibet" protesters away from the path of the Olympic torch. In Denver, in preparation for the Democratic National Convention, the police department already has an area chosen for a "free speech zone" that all but guarantees convention goers won't be "inconvenienced" by hearing anything from the protest groups. They are already spreading word that even passing out protest fliers may (read will) result in arrest for trespassing ... including the otherwise open-to-the-public sidewalks around the convention center.

Censorship has also raised its ugly head, particularly if the subject matter has to do with global warming or anything that might threaten the strangle hold the oil and coal industry have on our economy. James Hansen, a noted and respected scientist with NASA, was the subject of a recently published book, Censored Science by Mark Bowen, that reveals his reports and those of other NASA scientists regarding global warming issues have been officially censored for years. Just this past week (July 2008), we have learned that Vice-President Dick Cheney's office intentionally removed EPA testimony about the health impact of global warming from the congressional record, citing concern over the science involved, a decision made by NON-scientists who have done ZERO research.

Individually, the myriad of events may seem insignificant, but when viewed in the broad spectrum of events, a disturbing and dangerous pattern emerges, screaming, as the title of this post says ...


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Common Sense on Sex Offenders

This was originally a comment post I wrote on another blog site. I thought the content important enough to revise and post here.


It saddens me to see such strife on issues like sex offender residency restriction laws when it seems most involved in the conversation (if you can call it that) seem to have no idea of the reality regarding sex offenders.

According to the Department of Justice, convicted sex offenders are the second least likely to commit a like offense within ten years (less than 8 percent). The least likely are single-incident murderers (less than 5 percent). Under closer scrutiny, reoffense for child molestation is comparable to that of single-incident murderers.

Additionally, those who do reoffend are most frequently those who are under the stress of unemployment, harassment by neighbors, and instability in or lack of adequate housing.

Residency restriction laws also interfere with the application and enforcement of the "Megan's law" provisions each state has by denying the sex offender the ability to establish a reliable residence. Those that do often find malicious neighbors registering a "day care" within the restriction distance of the sex offender's new residency and in short order, a notice for the sex offender to move immediately with a time frame as little as 24 hours in some municipalities.

These facts alone refute the claims that there is no argument against the residency restriction laws. These laws have, in direct violation of constitutional law no less, denied sex offenders not only a place to live but participation in religious activities, educational opportunities, and even significant work opportunities. They essentially, after the sex offender has done his or her time, add the punishment of banishment from society altogether.

Yes, what they did in the past was heinious, but so too are the actions our society is doing to them after the fact. We cannot and must not use their past conduct to justify throwing out everything our nation represents, which is exactly what we are doing with these laws. In our desperate desire to protect our children, we are forgetting who we are.

And lastly, I ask each of you this ... if it was, one day, your own son or daughter who was caught up in a sexually-based offense, would you want them banished forever from society? Check out www.rickyslife.com before you answer that.