(For an audible version of this Blog please scroll to the end)
The state of the economy is currently on many people’s minds. High prices and instability in the financial and commodity markets are leaving many concerned about what the future may bring. A feeling of uncertainty hangs heavy in the thoughts of those watching as the world appears to loosen at its political and social seams. It’s often difficult to concentrate on much of anything else as the news networks and social media provide a constant and relentless drumbeat of negative speculation. It’s easy to feel hopeless and fearful, not knowing what to do or who to turn to in such times of turmoil.
Difficult times require difficult measures, or so we’re lead to believe. Often those at the leading edge of such circumstances, politicians and pundits alike, have played a part in putting the rest of us in such a state of unease. They debate and deflect, cajole and coerce, instead of doing the required work to right wrongs and provide reasonable solutions to society’s problems. Many we have placed in positions of power and trusted to produce positive results have apparently become drunk drinking from the wellspring of power and control which lay within the territorial boundaries in which we elected them to tread. I suspect they are just as lost and confused as any of us would be if we were to venture into a strange land without a proper map and moral compass to guide the way and create a safe path to the future.
It’s easy to let anger and frustration get the best of us in situations like this. Some may even lash out in unproductive ways, towards those they feel have wronged them somehow. This often comes from a feeling of injustice in the face of the elimination or hindrance of what we believe to be right and which has provided us with our sense of security, safety and comfort. We take it personally when we feel threatened by those we don’t know and who don’t know us, our thoughts, and feelings and beliefs. Those beliefs are often considered sacred and why wouldn’t they be? After all we’ve been assured through constitutional authority that we will be free to believe and act upon our beliefs as long as it doesn’t result in the physical or psychological harm to others through the taking of their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The rub comes when we begin to suspect that we’ve given over our freedom to pursue such beliefs to those whose interests are not aligned with our own. Does anyone else notice the irony in this?
Live and let live seems to be an exception in today’s world of new rules. The New Normal, as it’s sometimes referred to seems to champion the idea that differences in thought and appearance should control our actions and reactions in how we must relate to others in our ever changing environment. It’s no longer normal or even acceptable to act in a civil way towards those people and ideas we find ourselves disagreeing with. We don’t discuss we argue. We don’t listen we scream. We don’t agree to disagree and move on. Instead we deem the only way is our way and we must crush anyone who doesn’t agree with the collective “We” with which we agree.
It’s as if the new rules of engagement are ones of a scorched earth policy. Sadly the ground being burned is that which resides in our psyche. We’ve become bankrupt not just economically and politically but in our thoughts and actions as well. More and more we find society, mimicking emotionally and morally, what we are witnessing on a national if not global scale. We hear talk of a Great world wide Reset controlled by a governing body of self proclaimed world elites when what we truly need is a personal and individual reset. It’s not the one being bantered about on the world stage these days in places like Davos by the likes of the World Economic Forum that is required for change because the economy of scale begins with the individual and it isn’t the economy of financial markets and consumer goods we need to begin with. It’s the economy of self.
A few years back the catch phrase floating through the halls of political power is that it takes a village to raise a child. Okay, I understand the logic behind the idea, but I also believe it to be a narrow minded model. I’d rather rethink this idea and suggest that it takes a child to raise a village. Or rather the ability to look at the world through the eyes of a child. What I feel we lack and desperately need are attributes each of us was born with and exercised with delightful abandon as a child. These are imagination and creativity. More specifically the ability to imagine beyond our current reality and then apply our creativity towards designing the tools and processes with which to make our imagination become real. If we continue to let the village raise the child without changing the village we end up with the same results as we always have. Why not suspend disbelief and let the child show us how to dream again? Thoughts have a way of becoming reality when they are looked at from a different perspective than the usual one. The first step in this process should be inspecting our village to understand its economic value system and the driving forces behind it before letting it raise children in its own likeness. In other words who’s controlling the town square? Of late we’re seeing that leaving this task for others to do can lead to some very unacceptable consequences.
Each of us, as individuals, is accountable and responsible for our personal thoughts and actions. The wild cards if you will in our deck of accountability and responsibility are the influences we’re dealt or draw in the game life which ultimately determine what our thoughts and actions will be and how well this house of cards we build becomes. These influences are usually a mixture of good and bad experiences, our role models or lack thereof, and the beliefs we accumulate in late adolescence and early adulthood. We all end up being an amalgam of the things we experience and believe to be true about ourselves, others, and the world around us. Some will help us shine brightly or become tarnished while others that do shine simply slip away from our grasp. The village most certainly does raise us. But it’s those we choose and are encouraged to connect with who will truly shape our hearts and minds.
While traveling the path to self discovery we’re constantly barraged with the marketing message that what matters most isn’t what dwells inside us but rather it’s the physical perception others have of us which will ultimately determine our actual value. It doesn’t take much more than honest introspection to understand that this often harms, and even destroys the self perception of a person as they are encouraged to constantly compare themselves to others. Just like the economic, financial and commodities markets are manipulated by those seeking power and control so is the commodity of exploitation and control of the minds of others for gain and profit.
Individuals are certainly much more than what they are lead to believe they are through clever marketing tactics. Once they are exposed to ideas that differ and perhaps are even contrary to those they’ve accepted, simply because the village said so, a new world begins to emerge. Critical thinking is a real thing and we’d all be better off as individuals and a society to exercise this commodity more often than we appear to do.
It’s when we open our eyes and wake up to the false dreams planted in our minds by others who are simply shouting at us for personal gain that we can see more clearly what has been happening in our village.
We’re manipulated beings. In fact manipulation of populations is a very big business. Whether the motivation of the people and circumstances influencing our thoughts and actions is benign or malignant we’re affected whether we wish to be or not. When we’re young and impressionable we can’t often escape the fact that we depend upon others to take care of our physical, mental, social and spiritual needs. As we get older, and hopefully become exposed to more and varied influences we begin to experience an epiphany of sorts. The world becomes bigger, badder and more beautiful than we may have previously imagined. We succumb to its influence. When we do we also become more vulnerable to the manipulators who seek to control our decision making power. Yes, this is a power. In fact you may be surprised to learn that we all carry a superpower inside us. If we didn’t there wouldn’t be so much attempted coercion by others to gain control over it.
This power we possess is what I refer to as ‘Commodity of Self’. Simply defined this is your perceived value by others who wish to have what you represent to them. It’s this power that is desired for exploitation by others so they may harness your power for their purposes. The purposes they have in mind are often not to your benefit although they are most often portrayed as such. Think of your thoughts, beliefs and actions as a personal currency that someone wishes to take from your private bank and put into their own. It’s easy to misjudge and think of this as a simple transaction like money. Except with money there’s generally an exchange of some kind. Your dollars for whatever product or service they’re selling. With Commodity of Self it usually doesn’t work out that way. It often involves something much deeper than a simple exchange. In fact it’s generally a one way transaction. You get the thoughts and ideas they are peddling while they get your credibility with peers, your ability to influence and coerce, your loyalty and your integrity. You purchase a belief or purpose and they get your heart, mind and soul. There’s one more thing they get and its the most precious of your Commodity of Self. This is your time and attention spent working for their purpose when it could be better invested elsewhere.
Throughout our life we decide in what bank we will place our personal ‘Commodity of Self’. There are four banks actually. I mentioned them earlier and they are labeled physical, mental, social and spiritual. Our personal ‘Commodity of Self’ is invested between these four banks in whatever form and amount we choose. We’re told if we get it right then our investment will be paid out to us in the form of a balanced life, meaning we don’t put too much of our ‘Self’ in one or two categories at the expense of the others. Unfortunately life and its circumstances often introduce other investments in the form of motivations and opportunities to us. As do those who are vying for our personal ’ Commodity of Self’ for their own purposes as I explained earlier.
The key to much of life’s happiness as far as I’m concerned is being aware of your ‘Commodity of Self’, and investing yourself wisely. Just like money, even more so actually, is the importance of investing ourselves in the areas that will give us the best rate of return. However we can’t think of Commodity of Self in the same way as we think of financial or other physical investments. Often a wise investment does not result in a direct return to you, but rather one that you receive proxy benefit from by investing in those things that pay forward to benefit the lives of others. By placing our Commodity of Self in areas that will be of real, not just perceived benefit to others, we are investing not out of greed or selfish intent, but to be of service in ways money never can. Money is simply a fiat currency for our transactions in our comfort, sustainability, motivations and interests. I fully understand that we can give money to help others, but money comes and goes as easy as the ocean’s tide goes in and out. It’s here today and then is gone tomorrow. When you invest your ‘Commodity of Self’ you are giving without an expectation of return. The only interest you receive on your Commodity of Self is the interest you show to those you choose to give it to.
Before we can invest we must do what could be called priming the pump. In an old hand pumped well a little water had to be poured into the apparatus before the pump could work and cause water to flow. We must first invest some time and resources into our Commodity of Self’ on our self, before the flow will begin. This is where we invest time and effort into discovering where our creative interests dwell and what we must do to increase our ability to flow. Along the way we will inevitably discover things about our self that we are better off changing or modifying before we are ready to give to others. We often have and idea where we need the most help and healing in our lives. Sometimes there are family, friends, colleague and counselors who will be there to help us see our ‘Self’ more clearly or perhaps in a better light. At other times we are on our own. We find ourselves moving down that path of healing seemingly alone. I believe this is where the trait only humans possess on this planet,that we know of anyway, must comes into play. We are born with this trait and exercise it most often in our formative stages of life. This trait is none other than imagination. This unique trait is what helps us develop a creative curiosity which all too often is distracted out of us by much of public academia and certainly through social and corporate exploitation.
Humans are meant by our very nature to be creative. We can’t help ourselves. It’s what we do when we quit fooling ourselves into thinking that others can do it for us while we just tag along for the ride. Engaging in someone else’s creativity may be enjoyable but it is simply not the same as being creative for yourself. People are called creative when they identify a problem, need, or pain point and create a solution to ease that problem, need or pain. This need may be universal or it may be intimately personal. It really doesn’t matter if you choose to share what you create with the world or not. What matters is that you engage yourself in the creative process and then add the experience and outcome to your ‘Commodity of Self’ account.
We all have a need for a personal and creative outlet through which we can safely explore and exercise our expressiveness. As much as we may think, or be coerced into believing it, money can’t buy us happiness. It may purchase a fleeting endorphin rush or as sense of security, but it will never equal the feeling of creating something which brings purpose and meaning to your head, heart and soul. You don’t have to create perfectly, professionally or even nicely. You just have to express yourself honestly and openly.
I’ll leave you with a thought and a question to contemplate. In fact I’d love your response and what you think about what I’m about to share.
Without question this country and world we are currently living in suffers under immense stress and pain in so many ways. It plays out almost daily in horrific acts of violence on the whole of the world stage. It affects our government, our communities, or families, friends and our own lives personally and deeply. We may think we are immune or impervious to the negative messages and influences which surround us, but we are only fooling ourselves if we choose to think so. We all hurt mentally and emotionally when bad things happen whether we feel they directly affect our lives or not.
My question to you is what is the possibility that these negative things we experience are catalyst for other negative things? What if these horrific scenes that play out on our screens, large and small, whether real or fictitious, news stories, movies or video games, are the unrecognized and unseen line of dominoes which begin to fall and send our family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances over the edge, into the abyss of unfathomable despair, where the sense of helplessness and abandonment is so suffocating as to cause them to react in extreme ways that we cannot and may not ever understand?
If so, how might we help? Is legislation the answer or would having a more aware and willing village to help through Commodity of Self investments be a more creative answer to the pain and hurt many people are feeling these days? Perhaps introducing creative channels in rhetorical villages everywhere to allow people to express their feelings safely and in non-judgmental settings would be a start. I’m not an art therapist, but there are many in society who are equipped with the right academic background to create such an opportunity. If you are one of these folks please be in touch. Perhaps having such an outlet before bad actions become reality would help us all feel more secure in an uneasy world. Please let me know what you think. I’d honestly appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with those of you brave or curious enough to engage with me.
I appreciate your eyes and ears as I share these Blog posts. This is where and how I invest a portion of my own ‘Commodity of Self’ in the hope that it will pay dividends to others and not just to myself. If you know of anyone who might like to read or listen to this post or others like it please do send them my way, thedavisartslegacy.com It’s the only way these messages will get out and the only way that this investment I’m making will grow and begin to pay forward to others. You may not agree with everything I share. I wouldn’t expect you to. But hopefully there are a few ideas among the many I share that will helpful to you in positive ways.
Until next time.
© 2022 Michael D. Davis All Rights Reserved www.thedavisartslegacy.com
(permission is hereby granted for this Blog article to be shared in full only if accompanied by this credit line)
You Can Listen to this Blog Here: