Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Taking Personal Responsibility for our Actions

Who's really responsible for our behavior? Is it other people? Society? Capitalism? Parents? Religion?

When it's all said and done; we are responsible for all of our actions -- good, bad, or otherwise.

Whenever we accomplish something wonderful, something that we're really happy about, we are the ones who did the work.

Sometimes we attribute our accomplishments to a higher spiritual authority.

We are always present in all of our actions.

Nevertheless, we all must admit that in the final analysis, regardless to where our inspiration and motivation comes from, we still must take the necessary actions.

Many of us are taught from early childhood some types of moral and spiritual principles to govern our behavior.

Whether it's the Decalogue, parental folklore, the Vedas, the Gita, or some other principles, we are taught that we're personally responsible for our actions.

We are always present in all of our actions.

Some of things we're taught are that it's wrong to steal, lie, cheat, murder, disrespect our parents, mistreat others, commit adultery, use drugs and alcohol, and so forth. If we do these things, then we will be punished by society or by our religious and spiritual beliefs.

Unfortunately, most of us do break one or two of the moral and spiritual principles. And when we do, we seek solace in our beliefs to assist us with forgiveness.

We need something or someone to tell us that we are forgiven for murdering a helpless person, stealing the automobile, and using excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol.

We are always present in all of our actions.

It's really not our fault. We were doomed by birth to act the way we do. Someone misled us. Our parents whipped us too much. The school teachers picked on us. We were poor and lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Our skin color resigned us to societal inferiority.

After awhile, it becomes easy for us to not accept personal responsibility for our actions. It's always someones fault other than our own. And to further absolve ourselves of any responsibility, all we have to do is pray for forgiveness and everything is taken care of.

We are always present in all of our actions.

Similarly, we can move on with our lives without ever having to face or understand the beliefs causing the behavior. This allows us to believe that it's always someone else fault, the system, our upbringing, lack of education, and so forth that's really responsible for our actions. And this is probably correct.

What and how we're taught as children affect our actions. Where we live affect our actions. What we believe about ourselves -- skin color, poverty, education, and so on -- affect our actions. We are victimized by our actions.

We always present in all of our actions.

For us to truly understand the meaning of personal responsibility, we must first understand how we were conditioned to live as children. We must be willing to examine our moral and spiritual training without placing blame on others.

To do this, we must believe, and then know, that we have the power to overcome our childhood teachings.

Similarly, we must understand and accept that we're always present in all of our actions. There's nothing that has ever happened to us where we were not present. And we also will be present in all of our future actions, which means we can act differently, if we choose to.

When we reach the awareness of personal responsibility, we are clearly aware that the years we spent developing and cultivating our deleterious behavior did not magically disappear because we wished or prayed it away.

No, we had to overcome the behavior by first understanding its origins and then taking the action to overcome it.

We are always present in all of our actions.

Perhaps there are people who can wish or pray away their behavior. Unfortunately, most of us have to face our behavior, and understand its origins before we're able to begin the lifelong work to overcome it.

By placing blame for our actions on our moral and spiritual beliefs only takes us further from the realm of accepting personal responsibility for our actions.

Whenever we remove ourselves from being responsible for our actions, we create more suffering and victimization in our lives.

Regardless to how others treat us, the impact of their actions can only affect us because of our beliefs and values. It's  our judgments about their actions that give them power over us.

We believe we have been hurt, victimized by others, when in reality we have abdicated our own power by becoming their victims.

We are always present in all of our actions.

Our Creator gave us the power over our own thoughts and actions. This power is absolute, irrevocable. It is ours to use on this journey any time we desire to do so. And we do use it everyday to create actions that have the power to inflict both happiness and suffering on ourselves and others.

For us to move beyond victimization -- holding someone responsible other than ourselves for our actions-- to an awareness of mindfulness, we must relinquish some of the things we have been taught about personal responsibility.

We are always present in all of our actions.

There's no one to mislead us, except us. When we accept blindly what others teach us, we place ourselves in the darkness of their minds. We shut out the light of enlightenment within us.

Enlightenment is within us to keep alive the power of creation.

WE are always present in all of our actions.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Who's Responsible for Health Care?

There's an epidemic of unhealthy diets destroying millions of children and adults in this country. We all must inoculate ourselves from this dreaded virus. To do this, we need some information and resources on how to begin buying and eating healthy foods.

The current debate over health care reminds us of the importance of having good health, and of not ending up in a medical facility where our lives depend on the limits and coverage of our insurance. So it's important for us to do every thing we can not to become ill and need medical attention

Today, there are many young people, particularly, young, inner-city and rural girls, who are fully developed by the time they enter junior high school.

They are typically overweight, with bloated stomachs that require second looks to determine if they're pregnant. Unfortunately, some studies speculate they are the victims of hormones from the food they're eating.

There's little debate about the harmful effects of daily diets of fast foods, fried meats, chips, candy, ice cream, and so on have on poor, inner-city and rural families of all races, but seemingly more startling and devastating is the impact on  African American and Latino families.

When we are young we don't think very much about dying, much less about eating unhealthy foods. We think we're going to live forever or that we will never really grow old.

Unfortunately, we do grow old and die. Frequently our deaths are premature and caused by unhealthy lifestyles. Many of us succumb to debilitating illnesses --diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, kidney failure, and so forth -- resulting from years of  unhealthy diets and emotional stressful lifestyles.

The current debate of the affordability of health care for everyone is laudable. If, for no other reason than it makes us think about health care, it causes us to look at how we're treating our own bodies and minds.

Now, whether it will do anything to spur us to changing our diets or engaging in daily exercise, that remains to be seen.  Most of us are stuck on our lifestyles.

Some of us, like myself, are vegans. We are striving to be mindful about what we eat and also what we think. It's a choice available for us to choose. All of us don't have to make the same choice. There are other ways to have healthy diets and relatively clean minds.

Nevertheless, we must become cognizant of the deleterious effects certain foods have on our bodies and mind. And regardless to the government paid or unpaid heath care, we still must make some significant changes in our diets and our responses to food and exercise.

Beyond the political rhetoric, there lies us. We are real people fighting to live in a world where we don't always have the financial resources to be treated special.

No one is going to treat us as if we are important, because to society, the world can function without us. In other words, we are not some important political person who's needed to pass laws to govern how we should be treated when we become ill and require medical attention.

Meanwhile, if we flip the script on them, and begin to treat ourselves as very important people, then, hopefully, we will begin to take better care of our health. If we don't do this, then we must surrender ourselves to a health care system and take our chances.

Perhaps if we took better care of ourselves, we wouldn't need to suffer needlessly. We could minimize our illnesses by changing our diets, exercising more, and practicing daily meditation or prayer to mitigate our stress.

We don't have to be sick; at least at the rates we are now.We are responsible for the foods we eat, the drinks we drink, the anger, the sedentary lifestyles, and the beliefs that someone really cares if we are ill.

We can do something ourselves to prevent most of our illness. There are enough resources available on the Internet, television, books, health food stores, and so on to guide us on how to select healthy foods. And then we can share this information with our neighbors and friends whom we notice are eating too much unhealthy foods.

Here's a simply formula, not a medical one, for having healthy lifestyles:

1.  Eat and drink in moderation.
2.  Lighten up on eating fried foods, particularly meats and french fries.
3.  Include lots of fruits and vegetables in our meals.
4.  Eat oatmeal or another suitable cereal for breakfast.
5.  Eliminate soft drinks, drugs and cigarettes.
6.  Read the labels on all the products before buying them.
7.  Eliminate color additives from our food.
8.  Spend at least one hour each  day in meditation or prayer.
9.  Spend at least 30-60 minutes a day doing physical exercise.
10. Treat yourself like you plan to live for a long time.

These suggestions are not from a medical doctor. They are common sense things we can do to improve our health. And by doing them, we minimize the risks for illnesses.

This doesn't mean we won't ever become ill, it means we are mindful of our bodies and minds.And of the foods we eat and thoughts we think.

Enlightenment means becoming mindful of what we eat, drink, and think. It requires us to accept personal responsibility for our lifestyles.

It's important to remember that we cannot buy good health, we have to earn it.