Do We Need To Limit Our Freedom? . . .Just Askin’

The dictionary explains attaining a sense of self-empowerment, which is accepted as a true measure of freedom, this way:  “deriving the strength to do something through one’s own thoughts and based on the belief that one knows what is best for oneself'”.

Quite a while back I wrote a piece on freedom and asked the question how ‘free’ did people feel? I am now ready to concede that the only true freedom we experience is that which we realise when we sleep. Consider: there are no rules to observe when we sleep. There is no exasperating political correctness to live with. There are no feminists telling us how to live our lives according to them when we sleep.

We are/have surrendered some of our rights and freedoms to others and are being told we do this because . . . . because that ‘s what we do. That’s who we are as good Canadians.                             What a load of bull . . . t. This should not happen and certainly not at the expense of us not being able to exercise OUR beliefs in what’s in OUR best interest and religion, education and social justice to name three biggies, contribute to how we measure OUR freedoms. We wage war on other nations in the name of ‘freedom’, we destroy our environment to make more money yet we have no freedom to say ‘no’ to pipelines and windmills. We judge, we discriminate, we punish some and excuse others for similar behaviours in our justice system sacrificing freedoms in the process. One of the more perplexing freedoms or non-freedoms revolves around the right to choose when and under what circumstances we die. That decision needs to be a basic and fundamental human right with the freedom to make it yet it has been taken from us or denied to us? No one nor any government has the right to determine that FOR us. NOBODY. I alone should be able to determine what and when something is, or is not, in my best interest. This is the ultimate freedom. We can also see how our freedoms are becoming less defined.

With our efforts at trying to create a greater sense of freedom I think we have lost what freedom actually is or is supposed to represent.  The first thing we need to do is to stop trying to legislate true freedom. True freedom is the result of an inside job, well done, by each of us. Freedom is supposed to lead us to an inner peace of some kind. However, we have become monocular regarding our vision of freedom. We enact laws and rules to ensure that all folks are getting along and of course we know that that is not the case at all. It doesn’t work. The increase in violence and mass murder suggests that approach doesn’t work.

We cannot pursue wealth and power without limiting others’ freedoms and yet we have allowed the pursuit of wealth and material things to become our driving force and freedom has become a casualty of this move.

Educated people are much more difficult to manipulate than the uneducated masses. The ability and opportunity, then, of seeking and driving our own self-empowerment is often dependent on our exposure to education. Being able to gain an education is THE most important thing we need to protect if we are to enjoy any depth of freedom in our lives. This is not any more true than in the poor nations of the world. That’s why they will never enjoy their freedom.

As I pointed out above we need to look after our right and ability to promote our own self-empowerment. This is one of the ‘must do’ lessons that we need to impart to our children. At all times and in all circumstances you must protect and fight for, if necessary, your right to self-empowerment.

However, freedoms and our right to freedom-to be all we can be and to enjoy the freedom to share that vision for all may very well be our downfall. The freedoms we enjoy are made available to everyone. Yet how much of the psychological, spiritual, emotional and basic human freedoms we try to extend to other people, will likely be used against us in some way to weaken what we have and to thwart the pursuit of who we want to be?

So the question begs an answer: Do we need to limit our freedoms and our expectations of what freedom needs to be so that we can provide more of an equal and just playing field and so that we cannot be defeated by having our detractors using our own ‘rules’ against us to undermine our basic way of life?  Let me know if you have a thought or two on the subject.

How do we protect/grow our freedom?

1. We ensure that the education offered to our children is of value and usefulness in today’s world and that the curriculum is designed to service a learner centred approach. Currently it is not.

2. Never allow anyone who tells you they have all the answers to all the problems the power they are asking for in order to do it. All they seek is the ability to control you and to limit your freedom.

3. We need to pursue our own freedom plan but work to encourage as many others as possible along the way. We cannot advance our freedoms at the expense of others.

4. Consider choosing a clear idea of what it means to become all you can be and then accept no   attempts to sway you otherwise.

Anyways, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim.  Any comments can be sent to me: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com

(Please forward this article to family and friends-with thanks.)

 

My Suggestion . . . Don’t Do It

Most of us do this. Most of us are not very successful at doing this–about 90 %, in fact, don’t do this well at all. We don’t make good on the resolutions we make on or about New Years. My strong recommendation is—DON’T DO IT. Why?  I believe that resolutions are very unhealthy-certainly mentally and emotionally and even physically. Not in and of themselves but what they have come to represent among us. How many people do you know who have actually been successful at following through with a realistic New Years Eve resolution? Not that many. For me, I don’t think I know anyone.

Before I get to that lets consider the top 10 list of New Years resolutions. This should help understand a good part of the problem and why people are not more successful realizing their goals.

10. Drinking less

9.   Volunteering more

8.   Be less stressed

7.    Travel to new places

6.    Spend more time with the family

5.    Get out of debt and save more money

4.    Eat/diet in a more healthy manner

3.    Learn something new

2.    Quit smoking

1.    The number one resolution across the board is: Lose weight and get fit.

The 5 reasons why people aren’t more successful at realizing their resolutions are these:

1. We haven’t decided whether our resolution is a ‘want’ or a ‘need’ for us. We will usually do much better making changes in our lives when the things that we are considering are things that we want and not things that we need. For example one of the items on the list is to stop smoking. We have made ourselves or have been led to believe that quitting is just about the most difficult behaviour in the world to do. Really it isn’t. Those who find it difficult are those who don’t WANT to quit but rather NEED to quit. Think about it. We really don’t find it hard to make changes when we really want to do something that we feel will benefit us. As long as we see it as a benefit and the quality of our lives is enhanced in some way we will continue to enjoy the change(s) we have made.  If you look at the list now and go item by item isn’t that the truth for most of those that are listed. It’s true that anybody can quit smoking or cut way down by using the NRT-nicotine replacement therapy or any other means. However, the goal is to remain ‘quit’. It is to enjoy long lasting change and not short term abstinence. How many do we know that begin, after a while, to sneak out and have a puff or two and then just one cigarette believing that they can, now, manage their smoking problem successfully because they have been ‘clean’ now for a month or so? “I know how to do this now”, they say. This is the song that most sing as they try to figure out when the ‘wheels’ fell off.

2. Most who recite a New Years Eve resolution don’t have a plan of any kind in mind to help support their efforts.

3. Often many set the challenge so high that the goal becomes unreasonable or not ‘doable’. They are either unprepared, not knowledgeable enough or haven’t developed the skill set necessary to support their efforts. It is easier to revise the goal upward than to reduce the goal downward.

4.  Many don’t have the ‘staying’ power to see the job done to the end. They give up part way through the change process. (consider #2)

5.   No dedication to the idea of change. If your resolution is important enough to be on your list then it needs to be important enough to start working on it right away and not delay it to some arbitrary date on the calendar. Postponing it is the same as given ourselves permission to have a ‘last hurrah.’ Its permission to go nuts and not feel guilty about doing it.

 

The 5 wisdoms that lead us to change, growth and Success

1.   Be informed. Before you attempt to change something about yourself be sure to be informed. Investigate, learn and decide who you want to be–then begin to live it.

2.   Be smart. Don’t just jump in and hope that everything will turn out OK. Develop a plan that allows for change and develop a support system that you can depend on.

3.   Act directly. Commit to your idea. You have to be all in and prepared to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that comes with pain but no growth happens without discomfort of some kind. That’s the price we pay sometimes for leaving our comfort zones. Do not be deterred by those who do not support your effort to change and to grow. Many will not be happy to see you change so lessen the time you spend with those folks.

4.   Never decide in anger. Good decisions usually come from choosing what you believe to be in your best interests. Seldom do they come from anger.

5.   Follow your head and not your heart. Your head does the thinking and your heart does the feeling. We often get these mixed up.

 

When defeat is our only constant we become demoralized and a feeling of negativity begins to settle in. We start to think that we will never get to where we want to be and after that we decide that we will never get there because we are not worthy and we don’t deserve what it is we pursue. Let’s not give defeat an opportunity to become a constant. Spur of the moment resolutions often become the companion of sadness and depression. That’s why I believe that resolutions are dangerous. Don’t do it.  Be wise. Be successful.  

Anyways, that’s how I see it, All the best–Jim

Any comments pro/con will be respected-please contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com   OR go to my web page-contact page at jimcloughley.com  and please, in any event, pass this along to your friends.

7 Keys To Making Your Best Decisions And Being Comfortable With Them.

“Greed Before Conscience Means Death To The Soul”–JC

Look at the man at the top of this page and then ask yourself who he reminds you of? How many times have we felt like this or been this guy? Decision making is one of the toughest things we do in our lives and we make them almost, if not, every day. No wonder some of us are a mess. No wonder some of us experience depression, mental health problems, irritability, sleepless nights and fatigue.

So I put together a list of 9 important considerations/thoughts that will help make your decision making a much more pleasant process and will leave you feeling pretty good about how you went about your business. Your family, business colleagues, workmates and your friends will all benefit.

1. NEVER make an emotional decision when in an emotional state of mind. They seldom work out well and we often pay dearly for them later. This of course changes when life or lives are immediately threatened.

2. We need to accept and understand that the important decisions we make each day have an impact on so many others around us and that we have an obligation to make our decisions with everyone’s best interest at heart, if that’s possible. I mention this not to add any pressure but to help us get the fact that we are not alone in the universe–that we are connected to many other human beings on the planet and we owe it to them to be sure we make our decisions as best we can.

3. Always try to make favourable decisions that others (those around you like-workmates, your employer, family or friends) are likely to benefit from as well. When that happens those others are likely to do the same thing in return when they consider how their decisions might impact us.

4. We put tremendous pressure on ourselves to always make the correct decision. More often than not we think about all the negative consequences if our decision goes south and end up either procrastinating or making a poor decision just to have it done. The honest facts are that we will NOT always make the right choices. It is impossible to always be right. There are too many variables that we have no control over to be 100% correct all the time. The best thing we can do is our due diligence and then make the best choice we can. At those times, when we are not as successful as we hoped, we need to look for the learning that comes from this experience so that we don’t make the same mistake next time. Being overly self critical serves no useful purpose and just gets in our way of the next major decision to be made. We cannot see the unforeseen.

5. We need to be sure to gather as much information as we can from knowledgeable sources be they articles, research documents or first hand accounts from reputable sources so that we can be as well informed as possible.

6. It is not enough to acknowledge that we ‘did some checking around first.’ If we are making a decision that is sure to impact others we also need to be sure that we sought out more than one source. If we only look for information that we want to find or hear that is not a solid basis from which to decide anything.

7. We need to be sure that the decision we might make is not just about our own well being. It is true that our decision will not benefit everyone and usually that can’t be helped. Like being an umpire in a ball game. The decision to declare the runner safe at home plate will be loved by some and hated by others. Such is the nature of decisions made. Go back and look at number 2 again. Has anything happened recently that could impact our decision before we make it? What often comes into play here is considering the greater good vs. my own greater good. Which one are we more concerned about?

No one likes to be criticized and no one enjoys seeing others suffer at their hand so to speak. However, if we choose to follow the above as best we can the probability is that we will be able to sleep at night and that we will be OK with the person who looks back at us when we are holding our toothbrush in the morning.

Anyways, that’s how I see it, all the best, Jim

Comments are always welcome and other suggestions that can be added to the list are welcomed as well.

I Know You’d Want One But Should You Get One?

Dog
(Photographer Unknown To Me)

“I believe in second chances. I’m not sure everyone deserves one”

Therein lies the dilemma. I want to believe that everyone should have a second chance to do the right thing or to change an action or an event that happened as the result of a regrettable impulsive decision. But then how do second chances get meted out? Who decides who gets that chance and who doesn’t? Based on what? Does it matter the severity of the event? Are there degrees to consider? I’m a black and white thinker most of the time. I’m not saying that is a good thing or not but that’s who I am. I agree that it is not always the best way to be nor is it always the most fair way to be but it is how I see the world I live in. I try to be as fair and as unbiased as I can be but that isn’t always possible or enough.

How do you do things when it comes to second chances? What criteria do you use? What standards do you employ? Would you want to be treated as you treat others-by the same measures?

Here are a few scenarios to consider and I would appreciate hearing your thoughts and comments about what you would do-second chance or not: (Remember this is about giving someone another chance to right a wrong. It is not about what is fair according to your idea of right or wrong)

1. John Doe murders someone in a rage because the victim was thought to have sexually assaulted his child. He says he’s really sorry for what he has done and should have let the law do it’s duty but the anger and outrage took him over and he lost it. He asked for a dramatically reduced sentence with the promise of never doing that again. He didn’t have a record of violent behaviour. He had no legal involvement at all. John Doe was a model citizen. (It later turned out that the person who died didn’t do what he was accused of doing but that was not known at the time.) Does he deserve another chance to live his life with some purpose? Wouldn’t most respond as he did because it involved his child?

2.You hear of someone who beats his/her partner because they got drunk and angry about something they did and as a result of the beating inflicted serious head injuries and permanent damage. The person who did the beating pledges to get help with the drinking problem and given another chance will dedicate his/her life to helping others who have similar problems. His/Her point was no one knows a drunk like another drunk and he/she could help others. He/she was impaired and not responsible-right?

3. A man is caught breaking into your home in the middle of the night. You later find out that the burglar was an unemployed man who had just been cut off his benefits and had a young family to support with no means to do so. However, he didn’t get to take anything and was very remorseful and stated that he would never do that again. Does the court punish him or should the court let him off with a warning and community service?

4. How about the politician who gets caught using his/her power and position to, fraudulently, access public funds for personal gain. He’d been a faithful and dedicated public servant for a lengthy time and had a spotless record of public service. He was not only apologetic for his actions but wanted to run again and promised to donate half his salary to a local charity. His riding could really benefit from his experience and the charity could help more people in need.

5. What about the smoker who has to have a lung replaced because it is cancerous and life threatening. He had learned about the dangers of smoking from his doctor and knew it in plenty of time to avoid the eventual need for a transplant. He vowed to cut down his smoking but would not commit to quitting altogether. Does he get the operation?

6. How about the father who walked away from his family for a variety of reasons but was seen as someone who was a ‘dead beat’ dad. He was not able to pay what the court suggested he had to pay for support and therefore was banned from seeing his son until he made restitution. He found that the grass wasn’t greener and wanted to come back and try to rebuild his damaged relationship with his child but was forbidden to do so by the other parent. Should he have the right to be involved again? Hey he left once–he’ll probably run again when he gets the chance. He made his choice that’s it.

These are but a few of the scenarios that we are faced with most days as a community. They are often managed with inconsistency which creates an on-going under the surface resentment and anger among citizens. Anger and resentments mostly come from a feeling or a sense of injustice so perhaps when our systems find a way to be more consistent and fair we will experience less stress and violence in our everyday living.

So what is fair? Who gets to enjoy a second chance at turning their life around? Based on what? A big part of me wants to revert to that black and white thinking and say sorry for what is going on for you but the law is the law and there are no second chances. Would these folks have felt the same had they not been caught or otherwise held accountable for their actions–likely not. If there is no consequence for our actions then what do we learn? SHould another chance be tied to the amount of money one has?

This would be a great exercise to do with your children so that fairness and consistency could be highlighted. A great ‘teachable’ moment. Would you treat your kids the same way as you would treat the strangers outlined in the scenarios or would they ‘deserve’ different treatment. What makes it right for yours but not right for others?

Anyways, that’s how I see it, Jim

Please send along your thoughts and comments on what you would do–would you grant second chances or not and why?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Can You Guess What Is The ‘New’ Opiate For The Masses?

Poppy Fields

(Photographer Unknown To Me)

Karl Marx said that “Religion is the opiate of the people”. I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on any of this. But, to me, I don’t think he was condemning religion at all but rather was just stating that, to him, he saw religion and all of its peculiarities, branches and differing philosophies as an opiate–a psychological and spiritual drug which became the perfect diversion or panacea from having to live life day after day trying to sort out and deal with life’s disappointments, distractions, conundrums, coincidences, violence and it’s fears. It’s easier to place that burden, some possible solutions and the responsibility on the shoulders of a higher and more capable deity–the supreme commander of an unexplained and impossible to ‘prove’ existence in a different realm. There are many ‘challengers’vying for the chance to become the new ‘opiate’, such as Prozac and cannabis and alcohol has always been in the background yelling ‘what about me–take me.’ But the one that has shown to be the more resilient and a more powerful ‘opiate’ for the people is MONEY. People today will do most anything to acquire it, get more of it and to keep what they have of it at present. It has become the single most important driving force we have known and partly because of the power that often comes with it. We will cheat to get it, lie to those we care for to get it and we become secretive around how much of it we have. We have been known to sell our soul for it as well. Sounds like a religion of sorts.

This is only my perspective (something that we all have and exercise) of course but I believe money is the most dangerous ‘opiate’ for the people–ever. I use the word perspective here in this context. Let’s consider the word ‘hot’ for instance. Heat can be used as a good thing like using it to purify or it can be used to harm someone or something–to destroy. If we consider ‘assistance’ it can be seen as ‘charity’ and ‘enabling’ or it can be seen as ‘helping and caring’. No right or wrong. With money it can be seen as a tool for good or an instrument to gain power in order to get more money. So ones’ perspective is important when we consider ‘opiates’ for anything.

Where I am going with this is back to Parliament Hill where 40 ‘new’ Senators are being investigated for, allegedly, fudging their expense accounts. In some cases involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money. And this just isn’t Conservative Senators but Senators from all parties. Again, for me, this is just about greed and entitlement but the real concern is that they believe that what they are doing is justified–that is is OK. There is no remorse or contrition here. Even with their hands implanted firmly in the ‘cookie jar’ they stand defiant. They have no reasonable perspective–there doesn’t seem to be another view to explain their behaviour. That’s what makes it dangerous to me. Move over Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy. This has become the new ‘opiate’. People will now corrupt themselves, work two jobs, all but abandon their families and their responsibilities to their children for the chase and the capture of money. Many have given up their ‘religious’ affiliations to pursue yet more money because they have more time and offer out less in terms of the collection plate at church. The good service work that many churches do both domestically and on foreign soil is stopping because there is a dwindling sense of purpose. Just as Marx saw ‘religion’ as the perfect diversion for many the pursuit of money has now supplanted it as the next or new ‘opiate’. No matter however much you have it is never enough and more effort is put into gaining and controlling more of it. Mr. Harper is throwing our money around like it is his. He is buying personal favour in the world following his defeat in the next election. He may be many things but stupid is not one of them. His latest bit of federal business will cost the Canadian taxpayer $528,000,000.00 in exchange for one years military service to the ‘alliance’ to bomb the hell out of people they can’t or don’t know. This ‘generosity’ comes at a time when seniors are told that their complaints about the rates of CPP and OAS are greedy and ill founded and not going to happen. Can you imagine the politicians telling US that we are greedy. The arrogance is near criminal. But this is how the ‘opiate’ works. It kills pain and it kills perspective–both casualties attributed to this group in Ottawa.

My recommendation would be this: for all and any of those who are found to be guilty of padding their expense accounts–in effect wilfully cheating the taxpayers–would be enough cause for them to lose their pensions-completely and immediately, then they should be removed from the senate, immediately’ and for there to be a referendum called and placed on the next federal ticket at election time so that the whole country gets to decide how much longer we would like to be fleeced by those who seem to have difficulty keeping their hands in their own pockets and have lost or misplaced their perspective. If fraud is committed should they not be charged just like an ordinary citizen? Actually I think they should be held to a much higher standard because they are in breech of the public trust. Perhaps a jail term of some kind would be appropriate as well.

I end this with a simple thought. What do our children learn from the adults around them and how could we expect anything different than what we are seeing from many of our kids right now. We need to be ashamed of ourselves, as adults, for letting our kids be a part of what is allowed to happen today.

That’s how I see it anyways, Jim

To make any comments please contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR jamescloughley.com
Your comments are always welcomed whether you agree or disagree. If you know of any others out there who may benefit from this article please forward it to them–with my thanks.

10 Things We Need To Think About More Often–Such As . . .

The Thinker2

There are nights when I lay awake for hours just thinking about what is going on around us. So–what is really going on and am I one of a few who sees things that apparently others don’t see or don’t care about?

In the interests of sharing these things, here are 10 observations I have made over the last few weeks. Let me know how many of them you have concerns about as well.

1. The closer we get to being a true multi-cultural nation the less we get to enjoy our own traditions and national identity.

2. The more money we earn–the harder we work–the less we can afford.

3. The more rights other groups enjoy the less freedom we seem to have.

4. The longer we live the more sick we become.

5. The more Mr. Harper (The Teflon Man) denies any involvement in some of the ongoing scandals the more those around him seem to end up in shackles. (But never him–nothing sticks.)
6. The older we get the faster time goes by us.

7. The older children get the smarter their parents become.

8. The more we depend on technology the less safe and secure we become.

9. The more we share our country with others the closer we get to being a minority.

10.The more we accept other spiritual beliefs the less we see evidence of our own.

Actually there are 15–I lied.

11.The longer we endure political correctness the closer we come to our own demise.

12.The more we continue to place our trust in those who have proven to be untrustworthy the greater the risk of losing the hopes and dreams we held for our children and their children.

13.By trying to enforce the unenforceable the weaker and more hopeless we become.

14.The more we allow entitlement to flourish unchecked the more restricted we become.

15.The more we leave things to be done for us the more they will get done to us.

A quote by Jay Leno:
“With hurricanes, tornadoes, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of bird flu and terrorist attacks, are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?”

There will be those who agree with none of these. There will be those who agree with some of these and there will be those who may agree with all of these. In any case please let me know what you are thinking and include your comments.

Anyways, that’s the way I see it.

Thanks for your time, Jim

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