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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Every morning when I rise, I turn on the TV and my computer, scour the latest news stories and find more depressing news about the economy. I imagine a lot of people do the same thing as I do, especially if they are out of work, or their livelihood is being threatened in some way. We are looking for a little drop of hope in a sea of gloom. But in some ways, we are also drawn to the negative economic drama with a morbid curiosity, almost like some are drawn to tabloids and the latest gossip around the water cooler. There is something in human beings that makes us this way.

I was in a conversation with another person the other day; we both threw dramatic economic stories or statistics back and forth between ourselves with almost a kind of morbid glee. In the end, we laughed and she drove away and I walked back into the house, both with smiles on our faces. In spite of the misery, we love the drama.

Have you ever seen that American television series "Cops"? I am ashamed to say that I have, although not recently. It's another one of those reality-type series where they follow police officers as they deal with all kinds of miserable people. A lot of them are domestic disputes, quite often somebody is drunk and people are brawling and it's like watching a train wreck. It's the lowest of the low for these people, they all appear to have serious problems like alcoholism and abuse issues, some of them are small time crooks, behind on their payments or out of work and certainly down on their luck. And it's a TV series. Imagine that.

So we say that we want to hear good economic news, and I know that on one level we do. But on the other, we want to watch Bernie Madoff, the guy who created one of the largest ponzi schemes in history, go down and go down hard. We want to see the big, bad companies fail because we resent their blatant opulence and fat wallets. But if they do fail, it hits our wallets.

Here in Canada, we are somewhat smug because our banks have managed to weather the storm so far. Most of the time we hate the banks, but at this point in time we are holding them up with pride. What a contradiction we are. Rush Limbaugh says he wants President Obama to fail. 'Is he crazy?' we ask. Yet there are many here in Canada who want Prime Minister Harper to fail too, simply because they can't stand the guy. I can't stand the guy either, but failure is not an option.

Thoughts are very powerful things...and out-of-control thoughts are dangerous. The $65 Billion ponzi scheme that Bernie Madoff created all began with one thought. Think about it. So, as drawn to the drama as we are, we really have to start turning our thoughts around. We have to work hard at looking for the positive and finding a way out of this mess, not just personally, but as a country and as a planet because it's more obvious now than it has ever been that we are all in this together. A Buddhist will tell you that you must always pay attention to mind...that is the beginning and the end of everything.

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts - The Buddha

IJ