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Sunday, December 31, 2017

ARDUOUS कठिन beschwerlich ardu 艱鉅 つらい и взрывоопасных مشکل



WHO AM I?
     I hope that this is an arduous time for you.  Arduous, or “tough” times mean you are being challenged and tested by life.
     How much “grit” do you have? Grit is comprised of determination, willingness to withstand the pain. To call forth determination, or grit means that you are willing to sacrifice for your goal.
     Big goals call forth big challenges.
That means you are rising to the challenges by growing, learning, gaining experiences. The more difficult the experience, the harder you have to work.  The harder you work, the greater the capacities you develop. The greater capacities, the more you can accomplish and achieve. That means your life can become more abundant. The more abundant your outer life becomes, the more inner strength you have.
    
WHY AM I HERE?
     The challenges we receive lead us to the fate we have for our life. That fate and those experiences are directed by the star our spirit self has chosen to follow.
     Is it you who is finding your fate, or is your fate finding you?
     Is it your star which you are following? Or, is the star leading you, drawing you forward into the future you know nothing about?
As you move forward on your path, you may begin to realize that it is absolutely necessary for us to have challenges, a path, fate and a star, otherwise, our struggles seem random and meaningless.

WHAT DO I WANT?
     What is the gift we receive? We receive the giver.
     Who is the giver?

“I feel my star,
My star finds me,
I feel my fate,
My fate finds me.

My life and the wide world are one.

Life grows more abundant for me.
Life grows more radiant within me.
Life grows more arduous for me.”
-   Rudolf Steiner

     This is a time of testing.
     Why in the world would anyone want their lives to be more arduous?

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

IT WAS MARLEY, ALL RIGHT



I was visited by Jackob Marley, the late partner of Ebeneezer Scrooge. It was Marley all right, he was dead all right. He had that kerchief tied around his head so his jaw wouldn’t fall open. (If his jaw hyper-extended and dropped open then he had this surprised, astonished expression in his eyes and could only stand there speechless, gaping at you and the world with his tongue flopped around like a naked mouse but that tongue could never reach a lip to make a sound. That’s why he tied his jaw closed.)

     It was damn sure Marley all right. He wore that same old 1800s night cap and night shirt but now with a lot more rips and tears where as he wandered about, it apparently had got caught on bushes and stuff. Worse, he was pretty well along with rotting. You could tell by the smell. And the oozing stains. It was a wonder that his arm didn’t fall off or something.

Scrooge told us Marley had been condemned to walk the earth for eternity never to find rest or peace, rather “incessant torture or remorse”. I wonder if Dickens, who made that  condemnation, ever thought about what ol’ Jakob would look like now, 180 years after his death. A ghastly reminder of the fate that awaits us all if we take up the lifestyle of Jackob Marley – namely greed – and don’t change like Scrooge did.

     Maybe you’ve forgotten who Marley was?

Marley and Scrooge were teenage friends. They had been apprenticed together. They set up one of those nineteenth-century “counting houses” which we today would call an investment “bank”, though bank was just s loosely used designation then as it is today when describing hedge funds and the current money machines. Marley himself called it “our money changing hole” a description as appropriate for the 1830s as it is today.

     Scrooge & Marley had seats on the London Stock Exchange and were brokers in the 1800s like Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney or others were on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). They paid themselves handsomely – more than handsomely. Like executives today, their salaries were comparatively in the millions which today add up to billions.

Marley and Scrooge parted ways seven years before Marley showed up at Scrooge’s that Christmas Eve long ago. Apparently, after he left Scrooge and Marley, Marley had gone on an “acquisition amble” around the world which had accelerated his greed nature and rocketed his income. Marley’s greed always becomes visible and evident in his chain of penance which he wore that night when he first haunted Scrooge.

Oh yeah, this is never just a visit, and a chat; it is a fearsome haunting.

Marley’s original chain was, as Dickins tells us, was “long and wound around him like a tail; it was made of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, deeds, ledgers, and heavy purses wrought in steel.” And that was only the chain of the first seven years Marley had walked before he haunted Scrooge. His chain when he haunted me now included what he gained from his walks about the earth and on his acquisition ambles during the last 180 years!

     A miniature tall, diamond encrusted building represented Corporate Empires, all of them. Like glittering diamonds strewn all over the world. The industrial era of the 1800s made forming corporations and collecting corporate capital easy, especially when linked with technology. When railroads came along, now there was a real “engine” of capitalism!

     His original chain had miniature railroad cars, for J. Gould’s railroads of course, Marley inspired all the the Robber Barons of 1865 – 1890 who habitually cheated and robbed investors and consumers. One of those cars was labeled “14th Amendment – Equal Protection for Corporations.” That was the first step toward corporations as persons.

There was a Silver Dollar representing the corrupted the U.S. government. And, a gold snake symbolic ruthless, predatory activities they carried on with each other comparable to those of the robber barons of medieval Europe.

     Marley’s chain had a sack of sugar, a bottle of whiskey rope, beef jerky and a pack of cigarettes representing the most notorious of the trusts were the Sugar Trust, the Whisky Trust, the Cordage Trust, the Beef Trust, the Tobacco Trust, John D. Rockefeller's Oil Trust (Standard Oil of New Jersey), and J. P. Morgan's Steel Trust (U.S. Steel Corporation).

     An empty cup which he twirled  symbolized the best law which, in Marley’s opinion, he had helped pass in all those years, bankruptcy. Bankruptcy! What a concept!  Great, greedy giants take risks and if they fail, they off load employees and expenses for pennies on the dollar with no consequence for the management, other than financial rewards! Small people lose everything, executives get bonuses. Mentioning it brought the glint of a little tear to Marley’s eyes. (A tear of joy? Probably.)

Today all corporations who feel they are not making as much profit as possible can get protection by bankruptcy. Auto companies, their suppliers, airlines, coal companies, steel companies, casinos, President elects, manufacturers of all sorts, go bankrupt to shed labor contracts, environmental protection costs and so forth. Hundreds of examples dangled like multi-colored braids on Marley’s Chain: Delphi Automotive, owned by GM until 1999, declared bankruptcy in 2000 to cut union wages from $30 an hour to $10. Hardly uncommon. But, CEOs salaries go up! Jakob Marley, oracle of misery to some, lined the pockets of the wealthy and guided them to increased profits.

He lifted his chain and pointed at Monopoly houses and hotels.

Of course! Mortgage debt, another Marley favorite! And there was a small bobble-head figure, clothed in black, representing NINJA loans – No Income No Job No Assets – nodding, nodding. A player in the 2008 stock market crash – jaw dropping for everyone but Jakob Marley (whose jaw is tied into place.)

     Marley now has a globe on his chain.  On it are tiny pins for the country economies where he depressed wages and increased profits until they approach the rate of the 1960s! Fie on workers rights! What minimum wages? Child workers, you bet! The ratio of debt to disposable income for the super wealthy in the U.S. alone, went from 60% to 140% in 2007 – unprecedented in economic history! Consider how much the rate has accelerated in third world countries or China where American industry fled to boost profits.

     Why not? This is the era of science and technology which gave us the internet! So a Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite whirled like a drone about Jakob. Silicone Valley has new, special place on Marley’s Chain. Europe struggled with the EU; New York had its day, the District of Columbia was Obamaized, Hollywood now battles the internet companies for content. Technology is still the easiest way to get into a new “money hole” as Jakob would say and grin, of he could grin without unfortunate consequences.

     But then I noticed the pill bottles, hundreds – hundreds? Thousands! - of tiny bottles, the most profitable part of Health Care. Here you could see Big Pharma, big profits from pain, cancer research and opoids. They represent the latest result of Jakob’s ambles, shifting the thinking from science for advancing human health to science for advancing corporate health. Nice!

     Marley’s chain came to an end. He twirled it. He delivered his message.

If you remember, Scrooge was shocked by the haunting of Jakob Marley, by the sight of Marley, by the weight of the chain and the fact that Marley was required to haunt the earth dragging this chain of sins forever.

We Bohemian Bourgeois (BOBOs) of today smile and won’t let Jakob penetrate our smug, gold-plated hearts. We doubt he’s even real at all. That’s how it was for Scrooge until he realized he was Marley. He had the same ambitions, goals, and loves. His heart was the same, cold and hard.

     Scrooge came to be convinced that if he did not change his ways, he – we - would have the same fate as Marley. If there was no generosity in Scrooge’s soul – in our souls – if we did not help the most desperate amongst us, then the Ghost of Christmas Present (as in this Christmas, as in Now), will also appear and show us our Fate – this Fate for the world:

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from under your skirts. Is it a foot or claw?”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it.” Was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

“From the foldings of its robe, it brought forth two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man, look here. Look, look down here,” exclaimed the Ghost.

“They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have fulfilled their features out, and touched them with it s freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled the into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.”

“Scrooge startled back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.”

“Spirit, are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it,” cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand towards the city.”

“Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end.”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ...

The bell struck twelve - Midnight”(1)


(1)    A CHRISTMAS CAROL, an  1843 Novella by Charles Dickins

(C) Copyright 2017, Jean W. Yeager All Rights Reserved

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Monday, December 18, 2017

CHRISTMAS SHEPHERDS – PART 1

A shepherdly-crude retelling of an old story.


WHO AM I?

I am Gallius. My friends Huckle, Muckle and I are on our way to Bethlehem to sell our sheep to pay our taxes. Tonight we will sleep outside, near our flock as we do most every night. I am the steady force among we three. The seasoned and reasonable one. I’m the one who made the plan for us to be out tonight. A beautiful night. Clear, star-filled, with the constellation of Aries, the Ram, overhead and protecting us.

        Muckle is my hot-headed, fat-boy, low rider friend. Muckle wears his pants down low, around his butt, beneath his tunic ’cause he thinks it’s cool!  Cool, all right, literally. Thinks he could be somebody special if he moved into town.  Somebody special in Bethlehem? Save me. Still, he is the one whose dear wife made us food and made sure Muckle didn’t forget it.

        Huckle is the tall, skinny dude who wants to eat and fight. He’s always convinced there is a wolf lurking about. Edgy. Touchy. Sensitive. The “chip on his soldier” kinda guy. Ready to fight. He hates authority of all sorts. He grew up throwing stones at the Roman soldiers, those damn foreign fighters who occupy our land!
        But Huckle likes to drink and he’s the one who brought the wine for later. Good old Huckle!



WHY ARE WE HERE?

After we had eaten some deliciously seasoned mutton that Muckle’s wife put up in oilskins, we naturally got to talking about taxes. Taxes. Why would ANYONE be out in the fields tonight when it’s supposed to sleet? Move our sheep to sell tomorrow so we can pay our taxes. Poor men work and sweat so hard so that the government can dominate us!?

        Great God! Taxes will be the death of the working man! You can’t imagine just how much I have to pay and it doesn’t seem like the government under Caesar Augustus and our local civic authorities give a flip!

        We argued, and it got pretty heated, really. That stupid Muckle thinks we should rise up and protest! Can you imagine shepherds protesting in downtown Bethlehem!? The place is totally FULL! Caesar decreed that everyone has had to return to the place of their birth to be taxed!? Just a clever ploy to fill up the motels, if you ask me.

        I will admit we had been drinking. But it will be a cold night. We like a good, full wineskin after such a long, cold day. After we drink, we like to sing. Better sing than fight amongst ourselves, right? So we sang. The old songs. The camp songs. The military songs! Then we danced around the fire. Not graceful, more leaping really, but we needed to keep moving. It was gonna be a long night. We danced until we got tired and then we laid down and tried to sleep.

        Then it started to ice over us. Oh, great.



WHAT DO I WANT?

I was snoring near our small fire wrapped in my cloak, when I had a dream and in my dream I heard singing, and it wasn‘t any of our croaky shepherd singing, it was glorious. And there was light glorious, golden light and in the light was an angel singing to me in my dream and she was urgent that we had to run to Bethlehem. Now. Tonight. And then, zip. She was gone. I woke up. I looked around. Ice. Just before dawn, frozen over.

        Huckle and Muckle were still asleep. I got up, slapped myself as warm as I could, put some wood on the fire, then started waking the fellows. They DID NOT want to awaken, so I stuck my crook under their butts and tried to lever them upright. But, once they woke up, they admitted that they too had dreamed, the same dream, seen the same angel.

        We had to go to Bethlehem, we were commanded. To a stable. Where a miraculous child lay. An angel sends us to find poor couple in a stable!? Gifts! What gifts could we give that child? Wool, I have wool. Milk, Muckle had some milking ewes. Huckle said he would give them a lamb.

        Let me think a moment about how we’ll get there and I’ll get back to you.


© Copyright 2014, Jean W. Yeager
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CHRISTMAS SHEPHERDS – PART 2

An Innkeeperly surly re-telling of an old story


WHO AM I?

I am an Innkeeper and three, smelly shepherds showed up, banged on my door saying they were looking for a woman who was having a baby! They had their hats in their hands and bowed real low-like, except the tall guy who looked VERY INTENSE.

     Shepherds! On my life... I sent them away with a kick and a curse! Good God what a smell! If my guests, who are well-paying guests, were to see that lot groveling and bowing and stinking and gesturing to the sky and saying all sorts of gibberish, they’d wonder what kind of place I run!

     I run a respectable place. I protect my guests if need-be. So, I didn’t tell them Shepherds about the old man and the girl who are outback in the stable. None of those Shepherd’s business, I say.



WHY AM I HERE?

They said some kind of nonsense about an Angel coming in their dreams. An angel. Really?! To Shepherds? Why would an Angel go to Shepherds? Especially them three? They reeked of sweat and cheap wine. Said they were seeking a miraculous child that was going to be born – a child of The Most High!

     Ha!

     A child of the Most High? Certainly that old man and girl wouldn’t be carrying no child of the Most High and have no money?! 

     Most High folks stay INSIDE.

     Not likely. A girl way-out-to here with a baby, and that tottering old geezer, no money, leading a donkey, so I did the right thing and I put ‘em out back in the stable.



WHAT DO I WANT?

Money! I only take in people with money in purse! I was being uncommonly KIND to let them use my stable. Why did I do that?  It’s so unlike me! But, that girl, she was... well, she was RADIANT. She was so young. So tender. So brimming with tenderness. Well, like I say, it caused me to act so against my nature. Oh, well, one act of kindness once a year can be forgiven, eh?

     If those Shepherds had looked like they had any money, I’da sold the information about the baby. Angels!? Right. Ain’t seen no Angels around here, this is Bethlehem!


© Copyright 2014, Jean W. Yeager
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