By Awakening the Divine Within, our Life’s Vision and Purpose are Clearer

Many times, as we experience the struggles of everyday life on this plane, we wonder what life’s lesson is for us within this specific framework or pattern of our existence. Is there a lesson in my struggles, or are my circumstances some cruel or unrelenting act? The sadness that we often feel as a result of this quandary can certainly force us to come to terms with its significance in our lives. I believe it is during these times that we confront our darkness and demons that we come to terms with life lessons that may block our sense of self-realization. As we seek to re-emerge from the abyss of not-knowing to the oasis of soul-purpose actualization, our journey and place within the world become clearer and the path towards self and planetary transformation are much more tangible. The Spiritual realm seems to put these obstacles in our path to help us grow and learn, painful as it may seem.

Many people struggle with the concept of this world being an error of perception and delusion, since this plane, as we know it, seems solid and real. Yes, I know who I am within this plane and I act accordingly. Gravity keeps me planted on the earth and the stars and planets and sun are where they should be. All is how it is meant to be, right? However real it may seem, it is an illusion. It is not real. And trust me that your experience of reality, though you may believe it is “solid” is actually quite fluid. Our perceptions of reality constantly change, nothing is ever the same. It is never the same as time passes, because it is not real. It never has been. We have partaken in a grand illusion and error in perception. We think we are separate, yet we are not. We are in communion with all that has ever been and shall be, yet we are caught in the erroneous belief that we are separate.

I first balked at this concept more than thirty years ago when it was first introduced to me in reading “A Course in Miracles”. “What, an illusion? Never! That doesn’t make sense.” And since the course’s main ideology seemed to escape me, I resisted it. It must be nonsense, I thought. Surely, billions of people would not undertake such a grand delusion and purposely create a realm of strife and limitation!

Yet, as time has passed, I have slowly embraced this fundamental concept of the Course and I understand it more fully. Why did we create a world of disease, death and destruction? The course answers rather tellingly that these evils are man-made, not of God, and then it takes the concept even further by stating since it is not of God, it doesn’t exist. Wow! When I think in this manner, I am much more profoundly aware of the limitations in this realm and I more ardently understand that my life’s purpose is centered on breaking this illusion of limitation and strife. God wants us to achieve greatness by rejecting fear, delusion, hatred, and separateness and fully embracing the opposite, which is Love. “Nothing else exists.”

This is a profoundly alternate view of examining our lives within the context of this realm and the overwhelming disparity, it seems, of trying to balance and integrate the divine with the physical. We undertake enormous challenges as we live within the physical realm with an openness to our Spiritual divinity – fully aware that as we grasp and understand our soul’s unlimited potential, we can shed old ideas that were far too limiting and self-constraining. When we are in alignment with our soul-purpose, life flows in an amazingly symphonic concert without struggle or limitation. We bring our unique gifts and contribute to the world, just as God has always intended once we have awakened to our calling and path.

So, when we are “stuck”, or we do not seem to manifest what we longingly wish to see in our lives, we must view our dreams and goals within an entirely different perspective. If we grasp the idea that we are spiritual beings living in the physical world – then we are much better able to comprehend the vastness of our potential. Yet, if we focus on limitation, it will return to us in the form of scarcity, struggle, hatred, deception, sadness and a sense of not fulfilling our destiny. If, however, we focus on the enormous potential we have within us through an alignment with Spirit, then it is possible to co-create the life we so ardently desire. As we awaken to our spiritual side, our purpose becomes much clearer, and we can shape our value system, beliefs and actions on a miraculous path to bring our unique vision to actualization.

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Coping with Interpersonal Relationships during the Holidays

Our higher selves know the exact steps to take, the right words to say – and when we follow our soul-based intuition, events flow in our lives the way Spirit has meant for us to experience. When we are overwhelmed with stress, fear, anger and jealousy, we are unable to visualize the path Spirit has before us. Let us constantly remember to forgive, embrace and resolve the past for a loving, joyful present rooted in the belief that our dreams are manifested as we release the ego’s stronghold on our soul’s development.

As we celebrate the joy of the season, let us remember that renewal and growth are upon the horizon – as soon as we are willing to accept the next phase of divinity in our lives. Creating a life of joy and peace among the troubling clamor of contemporary society is not easy. We are constantly bombarded with fear, anger, limitation, strife, disease, corruption, hate and jealousy. If we focus on these ills our zest for life falters and we feel dead inside. If, instead, we focus on renewal, growth, love, patience and forgiveness, expansion and creativity, then our lives will be filled with authentic blessings.

As we enter the next few days of the holidays where we have to come to terms with familial relationships that have either flourished or soured, then we must remember the spiritual component of that individual. It is not always pleasant facing these individuals, but it is necessary. Many times it means we confront a former abuser or victimizer. I may get so angry at my family member or close friend because they are not living up to my expectations, or they are acting with hatred and disdain. During these moments of egregious, noxious behavior we have to rise above it all and say, “You are filled with the Light of God. Although you have hurt me and made me angry, I choose to see your goodness instead of your hatred.” Then we can honestly let go of our perceptions of what we want that person to be, and allow them to be who they are, even if their actions are disdainful. We have to try to do our best not to judge.

Yet, if the toxic individuals in our immediate environment try to continually lower our energy into unacceptable depths by emotional manipulation and unnecessary arguments, then it’s entirely acceptable to remove them from our psychic awareness and physical space. That’s when we stay away from their physical presence so that we are not caught in a negative spiraling of toxic energy involving our own psyche. Toxic people thrive on chaos, anger, jealousy, competition, the need for retribution and hatred. We release their negative power over us when we choose light and understanding over the depths of toxicity and manipulative entanglement. They do not have any influence over us as long as we remind ourselves not to allow them any control over us at all. Bereft of authentic power, they are free to negatively spiral out of control by themselves, preventing any descent of our own into their freakish madness.

This means it is perfectly acceptable to let go, to move on, and while there may seem to be an absence in our lives because we miss them and the past joy they brought to our lives long ago, we have actually opened the door, through our alignment with Spirit, for much healthier relationships, connections and experiences.

Healing from the Past

To heal from the past, we must correct the errors in perception that prevent us from forgiving those who have harmed us. In relinquishing anger, fear, and hatred and completely forgiving past errors, we free our lives and hearts from experiencing emotional devastation and we can live fully in the present open to unlimited love. This is a path towards a renewed and transformed sense of Self that takes us closer to God and our true, Higher Self. Correcting errors of perception such as anger, fear, jealousy, and the need for retribution heals the disenfranchised aspects of ourselves that have long searched and yearned for clarity and atonement. The mental process of dissociation slips us further away from the all encompassing nature of God’s love and we develop a false sense of security – further emboldening the nightmarish dream rather than awakening from its terror and stronghold on our emotional and mental well being. In the process of trying to escape or avoid emotional danger, we actually create more negative disowned energy by psychically dividing aspects of ourselves and furthering the split between our personality and Spirit.  We should, instead, pray for healing and integration and infuse our shadow selves with rehabilitative energy and careful, spiritual nourishment. This consistent and repetitive nature of denying the present by emboldening egoistic divisions within our psyche takes us further away rather than closer to the spiritual realm. Our task is to remember Spirit’s unlimited ability to heal all atrocities rather than creating more perceptual errors which obscure our spiritual sight. Any act that is not of love is counter to the world of Spirit and is an illusion, further reminding us that our task on earth is to heal and awaken from this dimension’s obsessive identification with the physical and its associated anguish.

Coping with Betrayal in Our Relationships

I have been considering, for quite some time, what the topic of my next blog post would involve.  So many events have occurred over the past few months that I delayed my posts because I was so overwhelmed by the continual manifestation of unwanted occurrences in my life. I kept thinking, things are going to improve and by then I will have a much more comprehensive perspective.  Well, things did not get better.  In fact, circumstances turned for the worse and then they continued to deteriorate.  Why were these horrible events happening, I kept asking myself? What have I done to deserve such treatment?  Why is this happening?  Why me?

As my world crumbled, I continued to focus on what was most important at the time: finishing my first semester in graduate school at University of Houston (pursuing a graduate degree has been a long-revered goal of mine) and keeping my eyes open for career opportunities, as my career had taken a most definite reversal and had stalled.  A dark cloud seemed to hover over me and no matter how hard I tried to escape the abyss of depression and fear in which I had found myself, nothing seemed to work. I was lost, yearning to become and feel complete again.

I have been a student of new age spirituality for years and years, and I knew that from all the spiritual lessons I had learned, these events were happening for a reason. But why now?  This is a time when my career should flourish and I should enjoy abundance and a wealth of opportunities. The fifties are often considered the most important time in life when careers are at their highest and we experience the very best in friendships, relationships, and key moments of self-actualization.  Unfortunately, for me, nothing seemed to work.  I was stuck.  Friendships that had long been the cornerstone of my emotional ecosystem of support were no longer there. Friends that I had turned to for years and years to get through the rough times were either emotionally or physically absent, unable to reach or stubbornly indifferent to my circumstances.  These experiences brought about a revelation on just how significantly friendships change over time and the dynamics that shift our interpersonal relationships.

For many of us, we choose to enter romantic relationships and marriage because we want and need emotional support.  Life is meant to be shared and it is not much fun to be alone.  So, whether we intend it or not, our secondary and tertiary relationships, outside of our partnership or marriage, take a back seat.  We are so focused on our romantic relationship, partnership, or marriage, that we no longer provide the support that we so often gave our “bestie” or best friend throughout the years. For someone, like myself, who is not currently involved in a romantic relationship or partnership/marriage, this lack of caring or emotional indifference is a slap in the face.  We all remember those times during college when we swore to always remember our best buddies and to be there during the rough times and even in some cases, we made promises never to forget or abandon our “best friend forever”. The song “The Promise” by the group “When in Rome” certainly comes to mind:  “If you need a friend, don’t look to a stranger, you know in the end, I’ll always be there….”

Unfortunately, time mars such an endeavor during middle age and perhaps even before then.  Changing dynamics within our lives and friendships mean that we shift our priorities.  Those of us who are single probably endure the most of many friendships where a one time “best friend” or “close friend” just checks out.  And the friend that checks out may not even be aware of it!  It just happens.  It’s a part of life. However, if one exercises even a semblance of emotional intelligence, it is obvious that our most revered friendships deserve care and attention, particularly when one is experiencing a life-threatening situation and is in dire need of support.  I find it difficult to understand how anyone could turn their backs on a dear friend when they need assistance during a crisis.  Such abandonment is most definitely a slap in the face and requires us to reevaluate and examine the place, if any, this relationship should have in our lives.

Middle-age is a time when we experience a multitude of changes.  Those who have children witness their bundles of joy head off to college, our careers often have extreme demands, and our partners/spouses also have their challenges to which we must attend.  Inevitably, this is a time when our parents need us the most.  When our parents age and we tend to their needs and concerns, or we witness the cruelty of old age and all the illness and despair that can often accompany such a grueling time of life, the experience has the effect of forever changing us, the caregivers.  We have witnessed the ravages of time, despair, and illness, and we are changed. Forever.  We are not the same. And this change in how we perceive the rest of our lives is very significant.  It is painfully understood just how preciously fragile our later years are and how eye-opening it is to prepare for those last chapters in our lives. We see ourselves in our parents.  In the next twenty years or less, the same challenges that aging has brought upon our parents will affect us.  And will we have the same level of support that was provided to our own parents?  Those of us without children wonder what will happen, should the time come, and of course it will, when we will need assistance just to get through the day. And this realization certainly changes our existing interactions within friendships and relationships.  While the opportunity to bounce back from an illness or a bout of depression in our twenties and thirties was easily realized, we suddenly experience an epiphany that in our fifties, time is short. There is not that much time left, and when the “life-clock” stares at us in the face, this realization alters our perceptions, our relationships are reevaluated, and we question how they fit within our lives. Are they contributing to our wellness and happiness or are they bogging us down, contributing to depression or a sense of despair? Therefore, it is logical that we remove these friendships from our lives or limit their influence on our happiness, given that our time on this life is short – there is only one attempt at this life and it is certainly not a dress rehearsal.  It is “opening night” every single day and we must make the best of it.

So, does this mean that we just arbitrarily begin to dump our friendships? I have never been a fan of “fair-weather” friendship.  I believe that true friendship involves being there for our friends during the bad times as well as the good. Those who have even a modicum of emotional intelligence will know that dumping relationships is not easy to do and it should never be done lightly.  Especially if there is a desire on one side to continue a friendship/relationship, we should give it a decent try and should not arbitrarily cut people off. Specifically, when a friend is in a dire situation, we should do our best to provide some level of support; perhaps they are fleeing domestic violence, their life is in danger, or perhaps they need not just an ear, but help transitioning or need a temporary place to live while they sort things out. So much for those drunken promises when we were younger, in college, or in our twenties.  Those promises are certainly broken when harsh realities surface – especially harsh realities as I have described.

Recent events in my life have brought me to the realization that I cannot rely upon familiar sources of support – either because of life’s design or through unfortunately stubborn individual choices.  The ecosystem of emotional support that one may have experienced in earlier decades is significantly altered or non-existent as time passes. Changing dynamics within relationships shift the support system and it is important to recognize and adapt to these patterns.  When a crisis occurs, this shift can seem like an earthquake, so it is better to recognize the signs as they occur and adapt as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Otherwise, the very events that you thought could never happen may quickly appear within your life and the associated daunting challenges may overwhelm you when your support system is no longer there. Throughout such a seemingly adversarial environment, it is even more important to tap into our inner divinity and find a closer relationship with ourselves and God. By remembering our spiritual essence and acting in accordance with the laws of the universe, we will take giant leaps forward and will flourish once again. We discover and develop our divine, spiritual essence as we cope with unbearable situations and make soul-based, spiritually-aligned decisions during critical circumstances.

At this point in my life, I am facing a new chapter, a new beginning. And now, more than ever before, I call upon spiritual principles to assist in coping with the numerous challenges that are occurring simultaneously.  When one experiences life-threatening or changing events, it is vital to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can assist in reaching out to resources to help solve such problems.  The second action is to find emotional support however you can, through forming new friendships, seeking new support groups, or reengaging existing friendships.  When we experience a crisis, we must seek support, and often during these difficult situations, the people that we have called on for emotional support in the past are not able or willing to help us, so we must seek out other sources.  We must continue to move through the process, to heal and to remedy the problems that have led us to such disastrous circumstances.  Throughout such a process, it is very important to stay connected to our sense of a higher power, the divine source that can lead us through the darkness to light, peace and understanding.

Multiple circumstances arise out of fear, misunderstanding and jealousy.  When we examine the bulk of problems between ourselves, family members and close friends, it can often be deduced that the source of contention is a lack of communication, a misunderstanding, or a long-held grievance rooted in ego-based jealousy. When we stare deeply in the face of danger and reckon with our own mortality, a new awareness arises from such a crisis.  When we realize that danger exists in our lives, we must seek light and guidance from God.  It most definitely signals the need for a shift in consciousness that affirms: “I will not become a victim.  I deserve to live my life without fear, without the fear of losing my life.  I belong in this world and you will not take it from me.  You can threaten and bully, but you will not take away my spirit, for it is eternal.”

That shift in consciousness requires a great deal of soul-searching, meditation, and a commitment to see beyond the current situation to its resolution.  It means that we are most likely forever changed by such dangerous circumstances, but we must move forward, toward light and understanding, and with the sincere desire for peace, unity, and communion with God and spiritual principles. Every action has a reaction, and we are certain to experience karma through every decision that we make. The universe has a unique way of correcting itself and it is important to be forever open to the infinite number of possibilities that God will send our way, but only if we are open to receiving his miraculous assistance. We must try, even with our busy lives and multiple responsibilities, to make decisions that take us closer to the divinity that resides within each of us. Decision-making in the converse takes us away from Spirit and sets off a chain of unwanted occurrences in our lives. With every decision that we make, let us ask ourselves if the action we are about to take places us closer or further away from Spirit.  We owe it to ourselves, families, loved-ones, and closely-held friendships to act with kindness and Godliness, even when our physical lives remind us of scarcity and limitation. And lastly, when our loved ones or friends reach out for help amid the most daunting of circumstances, we should open our eyes and hearts and do what we can to help. It may not be our direct responsibility, but it is the right thing to do. In fact, how we respond to a friend’s sincere request for assistance may make a world of difference and save his or her life.

When we act in accordance with the laws of the universe which demonstrate consistently that scarcity and limitation are not real, they are illusions from which we have the ability to conquer, then we are open to miraculous and divine intervention. When the realization dawns that we are not held back by self-imposed constraints or limitations, then a new world appears upon the horizon and we can truly become what we have always dreamed and desired. The universe leads us through a pathway to an enlightened version of ourselves:  The Higher Self that God always wanted us to manifest here on earth is suddenly tangible. A new World, a new Self, and a new Consciousness.  It is as if we awaken from a nightmarish dream and remember who we were at the very beginning of time: joyful, abundant spiritual beings with unlimited potential for love and the wonder of the universe. If we are open to his divine assistance, he leads us to that beautiful place within our lives where we can become a better version of ourselves by remembering that we are creations of love, light, abundance, and divinity instead of fear, limitation, mistrust, anger, jealousy or delusion. When we shift our perceptions from darkness to light, fear to love, and scarcity to abundance, divine intervention awakens us to a world of infinite new possibilities.

May the love, peace, light and understanding of God be with you now and forever.

The Meaning of Success

This is a topic that has meant various things to me throughout the years,  and one that I have pondered over many times.  I can remember very clearly in my younger years in undergraduate school just how concerned and frightened I was on whether or not I would succeed.  I had these notions in my mind about what success meant.  Indeed, it was what I thought others viewed as success that guided me instead of listening to my own intuition.  I have found repeatedly that when we place control outside of ourselves, when we place others in control of our happiness, then we ultimately will “fail.”  It does not matter how much money one makes or how outwardly successful one may appear; if we do not listen to our own intuition, if we are guided by the perceptions of others, then happiness and a sense of accomplishment will elude us.

Success is something that is extremely difficult to quantify and it is highly subjective. During my undergrad years, I consistently worried about becoming successful.  Did I have to earn a certain amount of money?  Did I need to become famous? What if I never found a true sense of fulfillment?  Repeatedly in various courses ranging from psychology, sociology, literature, economics, advertising, marketing and many others, Erik Erikson’s psychoanalytic theory was discussed. It was so highly popular then that every time I came across it I experienced a kind of dread.  I remember thinking “Oh no, not the eight stages of personal development all over again!”  And I was fraught with anxiety about whether I would experience fulfillment through the wrangling of each stage in personal development posed by Erikson.  Eventually, as I experienced life and became more well-grounded and “successful” in my own eyes, then I became less anxious about my prospects of self-actualization.  Yet, I believe that the continual search for success and meaning within our work lives and our lives in general is the hallmark of the contemporary struggle to find purpose within our often-chaotic environments.

Recently, I watched a TED Seminar video in which Alain de Botton spoke on this very subject. I believe he is very much on target when he states that we must view our definitions of success through our own lenses.  Our fear of being judged by others often prompts us to make decisions so that we will not feel a sense of inferiority in relation to others.  Yet, when we act from this perspective, we often create needless problems. I have seen it occur in corporate sales environments, where the focus is not on solving customer issues or encouraging collaboration between team members, but on the soul-less pursuit of “winning” at the expense of others.  Healthy competition always has its place within corporate environments, but when individuals act out of balance within these settings, doing so creates an atmosphere of mistrust rather than cooperation.  And when this happens, the corporation ultimately loses because not everyone is operating within the appropriate framework to bring their unique contributions to the company.  They are focused more on out-performing others instead of the more important tasks of solving customer problems, increasing efficiency, and working together to create unique solutions that benefit everyone.

Therefore, a healthy work environment is a vital component of living and contributing successfully. When we operate within a supportive, healthy atmosphere, then our efforts are more focused on bringing about the objectives that create win-win scenarios, vs. destructive tactics such as pillaging over the backs of others to be the number one salesperson or to sabotage the success or experience of others due to jealousy, fear or misunderstandings. Does this mean that we always act perfectly in relation to one another?  Certainly not.  No one is perfect and no one should pretend to be, but you can certainly feel a difference within the workplace where leaders are visionary and provide all employees the operational framework and corporate culture to bring their unique gifts to the table to advance the company’s goals and objectives.  Any actions by individuals to thwart this open environment certainly can lead us to a sense of frustration.  Even when operating in such a dysfunctional environment, we must stay focused upon our inner uniqueness and the contributions we bring to our projects, teams, goals and aspirations. We can become an inspiration to others by allowing our unique gifts to shine and lead the way towards visionary business practices in which everyone is encouraged to participate within a finely woven fabric of shared values and goals.

Success is going to mean something different to everyone – and certainly, monetary compensation and wealth building are excellent examples of achievement.  Others focus on the advocacy of the marginalized and disenfranchised, and receive an enormous amount of satisfaction by helping others in need or furthering a societal cause. Who is one to judge what is more powerful or more important?  I think that Alain de Botton’s speech on success highly resonates with my own ideas of self worth, and we should view our lives through our own lenses, not through the perceptions of others, if we are to achieve a sense of fulfillment within our careers.  Our self-constructs of “what we do” often permeate throughout our entire perception of ourselves and create either the feeling of accomplishment or the despair of not having achieved our innermost goals and desires.  While we may need the support of others to achieve our own sense of success, we should not rely upon or become too heavily influenced by acceptance or rejection from others.  The compass of our achievements is expertly guided by our hearts, intuition, and unique perceptual framework.

Suggested Material:

de Botton, A. (2009). A kinder, gentler philosophy of success. Lecture presented at TEDGLOBAL 2009, Oxford, England. [Video].  Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_a_kinder_gentler_philosophy_of_success

Immigration Reform

I recently wrote a review of an article from The Washington Post on Immigration Reform for my graduate course in Employment Law. The content of this review is below, and I welcome any comments on this controversial issue.

Immigration reform has been a turbulent issue for quite some time, and it has been the cornerstone of Trump’s agenda during the election and as a vital component of his initial strategies as President. Trump won the election primarily by appealing to the working and middle classes. This population has been adversely impacted by immigrants who compete against American laborers for lower-paying, unskilled jobs. Trump’s historic upset against Hillary Clinton was due, in part, to his messages of bringing jobs back to America, protecting the nation against immigrants who may take away American jobs at home as well as making it more difficult for companies to outsource. While I am not a fan of the Trump administration, or the discriminatory measures that he has initiated such as the Travel Ban on the Muslim population, I do, agree, that we need to protect the American middle class from further erosion. Job losses, outsourcing, factory-closings, and wage pressure have all contributed to a deleterious impact on the working and middle classes. While I disagree with his tactics, the idea of protecting the American landscape and American workers is a popular one.

A recent article within The Washington Post by  David Nakamura (2017) touches on this controversial issue by describing Trump’s proposed policy of limiting immigration to individuals with higher education vs. those who enter the country and compete against American laborers for lower paying positions. A “merit-based” approach would essentially reshape our immigration policy to curtail the massive influx of unskilled labor. At issue is the family unification approach where these individuals initially enter the country and then later bring their families as well, contributing to the overage of unskilled labor that competes with American laborers. The administration’s view is that a merit-based system would curtail entry to the country for those immigrants who are unable to make a living for themselves. This definition is somewhat vague and leads to multiple considerations and guesses as to the actual scope of such reform. In addition, it is unlikely that The administration will succeed with Trump’s plans for immigration reform since he has alienated much of America with the discriminatory and unconstitutional travel ban as well as heated, racist, and bigoted remarks that have spawned movements across the nation to oppose Trump’s orders and legislation. His policies and orders have contributed to intolerance and bigotry and have resulted in a world-wide rebuke of his Presidency and administration. It would be wise for his administration to initiate policies that make sense for America but while also upholding our most basic, constitutional freedoms and human rights. We want the American middle class to thrive and to limit the ability for immigrant workers to take away jobs from citizens, but we also want an inclusive and fair America, the foundation of which forms the most basic values we uphold and revere within our society.

Pro-immigration groups and many grassroots organizations within the country view restrictive immigration measures as counter to our policies of diversity and inclusion and seem to indicate the vast potential for disparate impact upon thousands and thousands of foreign nationals. While we want to take care of the American worker, we must also understand that we are a nation made up of immigrants, and severe restrictive efforts to limit migration, while they may appear neutral, are forms of deeply-rooted prejudice, fear and discrimination that can hurt our country and economy over the long term. We are a country that has welcome, open arms, and we must remember not to alienate ourselves from the rest of the world. Those American workers who are competing with immigrants for lower paying unskilled labor would be better served if they were encouraged to obtain advanced education or certifications to improve their careers and workplace opportunities.

Trump’s restrictive immigration stance is highly indicative of a strategy reflective of the 1920’s negative response to waves of immigrants that entered the country during that time, and immigration patterns did not increase until the “family-oriented” system returned in 1965.

So, how the Trump Administration’s stance on immigration will work is still questionable. While most of America embraces an inclusive, diverse nation, we also must look at the realities of the labor market, to make certain that there are enough jobs for our citizens while also welcoming the diverse talents of our immigrant community. Where the administration’s policy seems to be strongest is in attracting highly educated and skilled workers to help improve and contribute to the economy while not displacing American workers within the working and middle classes. Many high-tech companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, support inclusive immigration policies to attract qualified, diverse candidates. Shutting the door to these individuals seems entirely unjust and un-American. At the same time, we must make certain that we are building up our working and middle classes so that wage pressures, outsourcing and displacement do not affect this vital sector of our economy and nation. The best of both worlds would include embracing diverse immigrant populations that positively contribute to our economy and that do not threaten our labor workforce with displacement. This will take strategic implementation of immigration reform and should never rely upon scare tactics, division, racism, disparate impact, or unconstitutional practices.

Nakamura, D. (2017, March 6). It’s not just deportations and the border: Trump seeks to remake the immigration system. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/a4231b52-fec5-11e6-8ebe-6e…

The 2016 Election and The Future of America

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Painful Defeat

As I turned on the TV last Tuesday evening, I thought to myself, “This is going to be a long night.”  I wholeheartedly believed that Secretary Clinton would win the election and that the next day we would all wake up to victory.  I, along with most of the country and perhaps even Trump himself, did not think  that he had a significant chance at winning the Presidency.  But the night started out with Trump ahead by a few electoral votes and my stomach was feeling quite uneasy:  was this the pattern that would follow throughout the rest of the night?  If so, then Sec. Clinton’s chance at the Presidency would elude her once again.  Then, Florida became more and more ominously red, then North Carolina, then Ohio, Pennsylvania, and of course, Michigan and Wisconsin.  Who would have believed that the working class workers that had long been the stronghold of the Democratic party, the part of the voting population that had helped Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to the White House, would elude Secretary Clinton and vote for Trump?  Certainly, Trump’s messages of intolerance, misogyny, racism, and bigotry along with his own propensity for denigrating women would preclude him from the nation’s highest office.  And Secretary Clinton ran a flawless, well-organized campaign.  Her messages of unity, respect for women, minorities and LGBT rights seemed certain to hold together the Obama Coalition which would propel her to the White House. Unfortunately, this was not the case.  The working class in the Midwest and in the Rust Belt who felt betrayed by the Democratic party and who felt that they didn’t have a place within contemporary political policy voted against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump.  Trump’s “deplorables” came out in droves and sent him to the White House….at least through the Electoral College.  It appears that she will win the popular vote by a substantial margin, and while that is enlightening and provides hope, it will not lead her to the White House.

The Electoral College, its Limitations and Bias

This is the second time since 2000 that the Democrats have been stung by the Electoral College.  The disaster of the Gore/Bush election, where Florida was a hotbed of contention and then later a Supreme Court ruling that seemed to decide the election, and now again, in 2016, with the Secretary’s electoral college defeat by Trump. I know that the Founding Fathers envisioned the Electoral College as a buffer to protect the nation against a tyrannical despot who may potentially sway most of the American population with extreme, prejudicial ideas or inflammatory rhetoric. It seems, however, that in a twist of irony, the Electoral College is now bound to elect the type of candidate that the Founding Fathers so ardently wanted to protect from the nation!  I sincerely believe that we should abolish the Electoral College and go with the Popular Vote.  Perhaps a compromise should be put in place to ensure that candidates will not “ignore” the smaller states.  But twice within 20 years the Presidency will not go to the candidate with the plurality of the popular vote – and that, in my opinion, is a political tragedy.

It is also a tragedy that the Democratic Party erred with the Caucasian, working class population.  After all, this is the voting segment that had always supported President Bill Clinton during his years of the Presidency.  Why was the President’s advice ignored?  Why didn’t the campaign, with its numerous resources and messages of unity and inclusion, reach out to this population to ensure victory? Instead of viewing this segment of the economy and population as “Deplorables”, the campaign should have listened to their needs and unheard voices.  If the Democrats had done so, then Secretary Clinton  would have possibly won the election. I think a lot of the miscalculation was in the campaign’s belief that Sec. Clinton could hold on to the Obama Coalition 100%.  We see from some of the numbers that she did not hold on to the voting groups  that elected Barack Obama and we certainly see that the Caucasian, rural working class voters propelled Donald Trump to victory.  Why did these voters see him as their savior?  How could these individuals vote for someone who has admittedly stiffed the working class even in his own business dealings.  How would someone who was born into privilege and who has built a gaudy empire on casinos, hotels and the disastrous Trump University suddenly become the spokesman for the common man?  The fact that Sec. Clinton did not tap into the needs of these voters is, unfortunately, part of the reason for this historic and painful upset.

Transitioning to a Trump Presidency

Now there are fears that Trump’s messages of hatred, intolerance, racism, bigotry and misogyny will inform the next four years of politics.  I certainly hope not.  My hope is that Trump will stop the rhetoric in which he engaged and inflamed the voters during the debates and election and will become much more moderate and inclusive as President.  The protests are growing louder and louder each day with many of the masses exclaiming “NOT MY PRESIDENT”, and so he would be wise to continually have an open ear to both sides in order to compromise.  Many times, in politics, foes become allies to heal the country and to bridge the divide.  Trump should wisely halt the train wreck of attempting to overturn much of Barack Obama’s legacy, as he will face extraordinary resistance and this will create much more division in an already divided nation.  Trump should work together with his advisers to formulate strategies and initiatives that will truly keep the nation at the forefront of the developed world, vs. pandering to the prejudicial wishes of a portion of the voting population that helped him get to the Oval Office.  I think we can all tell that Trump is realizing just how far over his depth and capabilities he has placed himself.  He cannot overturn Obama’s legacy of eight years within his first 100 days without substantial resistance, even from members of his own party.  He must form a government not on rash decisions based on electoral promises but on initiatives that are truly for the greater good of this country.  This is not an easy task and he has his work cut out for him.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Concession Speech

So right before the election and afterwards, I came down with the very worst case of “stomach flu”.  Was it anxiety about the election?  Anxiety about what the future holds?  Or was it food poisoning?  Whatever it was, it threw me for a loop, and then with the election results, since I am a true-blue fan of Secretary Clinton, I was catapulted into a state of bewilderment and a sense of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. When she gave her concession speech the next morning I, along with at least half of the country, felt her pain.  I had purposely not involved myself too emotionally in the election because in 2008 I painstakingly watched every move of the primaries between Obama and Clinton.  And now, while I am a wholehearted Obama fan, at the time, I was staunchly in favor of HRC winning the nomination.  When she lost the primaries to Obama, it seemed like the loss was entirely unjust. Everyone remembers her historic concession speech in which she lamented that she had not been able to shatter the “highest, hardest glass ceiling”, although after the primaries it had 18 million cracks in it and provided her the impetus to continue her career.  There was certainly a great deal of sadness, but we knew she still had a place in politics, and we could rest assured that the momentum from Obama’s campaign would most likely get a Democrat back in office, which we so sorely needed after eight years of the disastrous Bush Presidency. And there was an extraordinary feeling in the air because we knew that if Obama succeeded, he would become the first African American President of the United States, and this was indeed history in the making.  We had no idea at the time that Obama would actually deliver on his campaign promises.  Obama has undoubtedly earned his place in American politics as one of the very best Presidents of our great nation, because he has initiated legislation that created jobs, improved healthcare and helped promote LGBT equality.  The vast accomplishments that his administration has put into place should not be thrown out the door by the next regime that wants to pander to the needs of part of the electorate who feel they have been abandoned because of the progressive movement.  Politicians cannot be everything to everyone, so we must be realistic in our expectations of our leaders and the process.  But it is frightening to think that Trump may very well initiate legislation that will satisfy some of the deepest prejudices within America. Instead of dividing the country even further, Trump should take the high road and initiate legislation that promotes fairness, creates jobs, improves healthcare and protects the disenfranchised.

So, during the 2008 primaries I was so disappointed in HRC’s loss to Obama that this sort of jaded me, and I lost interest in politics for a while and held my guard up during the 2016 election.  Perhaps I was concerned that all the polls and predictions were somehow inaccurate?  Perhaps I had become so cynical of this process that I wanted to remove myself from the agony of defeat should it happen?  Such is politics. And we should remember, as the Secretary stated during her concession speech, that our causes are not something that we should pay attention to once every four years; we should consistently fight the good fight and they should become part of our everyday lives – as exhausting as that challenge may seem!

Moving Forward from the Election

So, when Hillary Rodham Clinton took the podium the morning after the election, we knew she had been up all night.  We knew that she was crushed emotionally, and that this was the most difficult thing she had to do, to concede the election to a candidate so seemingly unfit for the Presidency.  But with grace, class, and unusual heart-felt candor and simplicity, she spoke to the nation and her supporters about unifying the country, giving Trump a chance to lead with an open mind, and assuring her supporters that though this was not the outcome any of us wanted, we still needed to move forward towards a peaceful transition of power, since it is a hallmark of our democracy and a value we all cherish. She reminded us to continue fighting for what we felt was right because it is “worth it.”  And most everyone was in tears when she made certain to emphasize that the power of our dreams should not be forgotten and that we should get back out there to fight for the causes that we hold dearly since we are all “valuable” and “powerful”. She mentioned that she also offered to work with the President Elect to help bridge the nation’s differences because the nation is evidently much more divided than we originally thought.  All of this she took on with great bravery and class and we all looked up to her even that much more.  During much of the speech, her heart was overflowing with sadness and she nearly broke in tears.  It is evident that Secretary Clinton has worked her entire life to help the marginalized and disenfranchised in this country and in the world.  Now was the time for her to hold the very highest office, to break that “highest and hardest” of glass ceilings. As President, Hillary Rodham Clinton would have enacted legislation to bring about the necessary societal changes that have been the cornerstone of her presidential aspirations and the causes for which she has so ardently fought throughout her life.  As Americans, we had the opportunity to elect a leader who truly cares about the unity and strength of this great nation.  But that’s not going to happen with this election. Her supporters must recognize that.  Unless we can sway the electoral college to break from tradition and vote for her in December, Trump will be our President.  And, as she says, we must have an open mind and give him the “chance to lead” so that he can be a President for “all Americans.”  Let’s hope that his Presidency is inclusive rather than divisive, that he listens to viewpoints from the other side, and that he truly examines the pertinent issues facing the county not from the perspective of a candidate seeking office or popularity, but as a visionary leader of the Free World committed to the principles our nation holds so dearly within our hearts and in our minds.

 Let us All Work Together for a Bright, Peaceful Future

And, of course, it is not just the politicians that will influence our future. Politicians alone cannot solve the nation’s problems; we should work in concert with our leaders to create the national culture and environment that will truly show the world that the United States continues to remain at the forefront of human rights, peace and dignity. We can effect change within our communities and environments by promoting peace, reaching out to the other side, and by recognizing our differences as strengths instead of encumbrances.  If you are a leader in a corporation or organization, empower your employees to be the very best by recognizing and utilizing their unique contributions. Let us all remember, as Secretary Clinton stated in her concession speech, to continue fighting for the causes that are closest to our hearts; the American political process demands that we continue the fight, allow our voices to be heard, and hold our elected leaders accountable.  Let us continue to be a shining example to the rest of the world by uniting as a progressive global leader while initiating change, promoting peace, establishing fair trade practices, improving the world economy, and continuing to make this country the very best that it can be by protecting the disenfranchised and empowering all Americans to contribute in the political and legislative process.  The American Dream is still alive, but it is up to each and everyone of us to make our dreams and the dreams of future generations a reality.