How Much Is Enough? A Million–Two Million?

I don’t know-I guess it could be a million dollars. I remember a time when a million dollars was a great deal of money but for some these days it’s ‘chump change.’

Yesterday, as I was sitting in a parking lot in the little town I live in, a man came up to me, using a walker, and struck up a conversation with me about how he was looking for work but no one would hire him. I found out later, from him, that he had lost a leg to a medical condition from mid thigh on down. He looked to be dressed in every piece of clothing that he owned (that would be my guess anyway) with a toque on and an old baseball cap under a hoodie. He had the bluest eyes I have ever seen and a white beard that had been growing for a year or two. He seemed very mild mannered and articulate. We talked a bit more and then he said-“Say you wouldn’t have any spare change would you?I’d like a hot chocolate from Timmy’s and today seems like that kind of day.” So I honoured his request and off he went. When he had shuffled out of sight I wondered what has to happen to a man-a human being-to live a life like his?

Of course my mind took me to several different scenarios but always returned to this one: I do understand that there are many folks who genuinely care about others and do what they can to make those others more comfortable on the planet. As a complete community, however, we don’t spend much time thinking about people like this man and his story. We are too busy making money or struggling to keep what we have or have made it our mission in life to collect all the money we can before we go.

Then I get to thinking about the enormous disparity between those who get paid far too much to do what they do and those who work so hard for peanuts. How does A-Rod make 25 MILLION dollars per annum to be an also ran ball player now? How does Lebron James make 30 MILLION dollars per annum to run up and down a rectangular piece of flooring bouncing a ball? How does a guy by the name of Jay Cutler-anyone else heard of this guy-get nearly 20 MILLION dollars per annum for throwing a old pig skin full of air to some guy who can run like the wind? And what do the franchise owners say?–there is no money in owning a sport franchise. Don’t tell that to Jerry Jones who owns the Dallas Cowboys. They are currently valued at 4 BILLION dollars and rising.

But the story continues. We have big pharma who has managed to inflate the costs of some life saving medications to a level that no ‘ordinary citizen ‘can afford to pay. If you can’t pay well that sucks to be you because someone else will. How about some physicians (not all thank goodness) who were caught with their little hands in the big cookie jar recently and then had the audacity to complain about being investigated. ‘He doth protest too much me thinks.’ So much for universal health care. Tough idea to sell with a healthy 2 tier system in place now.

Then we have those big Corporations who can afford the top bean counters. The best they could do was come up with the idea of banking in Panama so their employers would NOT  have to pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of doing business in Canada. So much for patriotic gestures and a growing sense of nationalism. Profit margins are just not BIG enough I guess.

We have lobbyists in Ottawa who get paid millions of dollars to convince the government of the day to screw over the little guy in favour of the bigger guy in the name of ??? making more money while a whole group of folks are literally dying in our streets not to mention the travesty in the north with First Nations Canadians. Shame on us. It seems that for some to make a fortune there has to be those who don’t have enough. Governments have resorted to sanctioning gambling as a method of raising tax money legally. They are in competition for the public’s funds just like the casinos.

The one thing I do strongly believe is that healthcare should never-ever-be for sale. The least the government can do is to provide top level health care for everyone based on availability and possibility and not some predetermined value of what a life is worth today made by a group of people who will never have to worry about their health care plan being inadequate. What you need is what you get. Period.

Our priorities have changed and so has our perspective and, in my opinion, not for the better. At a time when churches are closing–they used to be the guiding light back in the day of ‘do unto others . . . ‘ and schools are closing because fewer folks are seeing the value of educating their kids and preparing them for the new world of business.  GREED is the new director of the day with no sign that that fact is going to change any time soon.

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

Comments are always welcome–contact me at: jim.lifechoice@gmail.com  OR  jimcloughley.com

Please pass this along to friends and family and ask them to do the same–thanks–

Isn’t It About Time . . . ?

Time

Photographer Unknown To Me

The purpose of this article is not to get all weepy and sloppy or down and negative but rather to encourage people to understand that they have been presented a gift and with each new day they will be presented another gift called ‘TIME’. It will last exactly 24 hours and not any longer. And it is an finite resource meaning that we only have so many ‘new’ days to receive it before it no longer graces us. Each day that goes by is a day we will never experience again. Some will be gifted with 30 years some will have, perhaps, 80 years to share and experience our humanity. There is no way, really, of knowing who will get what or for how long and there is no chance of creating more time. One of the great tragedies in human development is that young people, meaning little ones to those in their mid to late 30’s, don’t understand the importance and the value of ‘time’. This fact helps explain why some people try to relive their 20’s–they just refuse to grow up. We even have a name for this time frame–we call it ‘our mid-life crisis’.

Time is the ultimate gift and yet few give it much thought. We get so caught up with facing the world with all its complexities that we offer little thought about how each day will never come again and that we need to live life to its fullest every day doing what we enjoy doing. Most of us just assume that the next day will continue to appear-forever. They are wrong.

I remember when I was a little guy and I would look at my parents and my grand parents and say or think:’I will never be as old as my parents and certainly not as old as my grand parents. 40 was old and such a long ways away. Younger kids are often heard to say they can’t wait to get older so that they could do ‘older things’ like drive a car or go to the pub to drink and party. However, the older we get the more important time becomes and the faster it goes by. There is an inner sense that makes us aware that ‘time’ is growing shorter. There is just no way to slow down the passing of time. There is a panic of sorts that sets in and an urgency to do as much as you can before you can’t. When nearing retirement what near senior hasn’t said if only they could have known at 40 what they know now how different their life would have been. Some lessons are only taught by time and this is one of them.

So how can we manage our time differently. To assume that ‘we will have plenty of time afterward’–when we retire that is– is playing a fools game. What has to happen for us to get more from the time we have been given? One thing we can do is downsize–learn to live on less. If we can do this then we can quit working earlier and enjoy more. Many are beginning to do just that. As has been said:’You can’t take it with you’ so why not enjoy the fruits of your labour while you can appreciate the gift of time. I believe this process starts with introspection. We need to start asking ourselves some questions about how we have managed our lives to date and are we doing what we want to be doing or do we feel as though we are just hanging on for our very lives.

I have come to understand that there are two things that will suck the life out of us if we let them and by doing so will they will ‘steal’ our time. One of those is plotting our revenge to demonstrate what? Too many people don’t understand that to hang onto plotting revenge is to allow the ‘other guy’ to win. You are spending time thinking about someone other than yourself and the likelihood is that they don’t even care. The other thing is not allowing ourselves to forgive. That can mean forgiving ourselves for something we have done or something that someone else has done. Forgiveness means that I will no longer allow guilt, shame or anger power over me. I choose to forgive-not for ‘them’ but for me. It helps me to regain my control over my emotional stability. I become free again.

Other things to consider:

1. Do I live to work or work to live?
2. Do I (we) really need the secondary income to make ends meet or do we do it so we can have more toys?
3. What is the cost attached to chasing more money especially if more money isn’t necessary to maintain a particular standard of living?
4. Do my or have my relationships with family and children suffered because of my decision to chase more money?
5. Given that money can provide comfort to some degree does it buy me happiness?
6. How much money is enough?
7. If you could retire right now what would you really enjoy doing?
8. If you could go back in time and make some other decisions what would you do/decide differently?
9. What is one thing that you could begin to do now that would provide you with more happiness or contentment?
10.Is it true for you that time is going by much more quickly now that you are getting older? (The older you get the faster it goes)

Too of us many live in the future–the I wish place. In doing so we forget how important it is to live in the present. If you have things you want to do–get them done. Life is to be experienced not endured. It’s a matter of perspective. Are you in charge of your life and if the answer is ‘yes’ then what is stopping you from having or experiencing some of the things that you want to do. If the answer is ‘no’ then what is it you need to do to change that? If you truly believe that you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want to do then you are destined to be very disappointed with the choices you made when your time comes. “Time stops for no man” is a valuable saying. True happiness is directly related to how you choose to spend your time. Spend it wisely.

Anyways, that’s how I see it.

All the best, Jim

Please feel free to comment on this or any other articles in the archives by contacting me at jim.lifechoice@gmail.com OR by commenting on the Wordpreess site at the bottom of the article. Please pass this on if you know of anyone who might benefit–thank 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.

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