Dear Wealthy Man

I saw you – you were hard to miss. The words that come to mind are … strong. Casual. Decisive. Direct. Healthy. Vigorous. These are all excellent qualities, to be admired. And although I don’t know you, I can guess that you are admired. Many people aspire to be like you. Many people look up to you, and respect you.

But as you are no doubt aware, many other people resent you. Some probably even despise you … dare I say, hate you. Maybe that authoritative veneer, which I can’t help but be attracted to, comes partly from wanting to make your skin so hard that the resentment will just glance off of you, without sinking in. Because if you paid attention to every person who has a problem with you and the wealth that you hold, you would never get anything done. I get that.

I just read a wonderful speech by Kofi Annan. He used to run the United Nations and no doubt ran up against the most massive wall on the planet – the wall that is firmly in place to protect the status quo. He is a very, very good man, who keeps on trying despite all that he is up against.

By the way, Wealthy Man – I can tell that you are a good man, too. I just wanted to point that out at this juncture, in case you had started to decide to shut yourself down here. I mean it – I can tell that you want to do something good. That’s why I’m talking to you. I’m not just saying that. I see it.

Anyway, in Kofi Annan’s speech, he alludes to “economic inequality”. But he doesn’t talk about it. Instead, he talks about “political inequality”. He’s referring to the fact that all of your wealth basically buys you extra votes. It’s supposed to be “one person, one vote”, however, it isn’t. We all know that. If you are rich, you pretty much have access to more influence, more pull, more media, and therefore, more potential say over who gets elected. Given that, it’s basically the fact that you have more votes. Annan is an expert in democracy, and he’s making an observation in that area.

But maybe he knew better than to weigh in on economics, since he’s no expert in that particular topic. He is not an economist. He is not a banker. He is not an industrialist.

This is where YOU come in, Wealthy Man.

You are the expert in economics. The more holdings you have, the more of an economic expert you are. That is just common sense. I’m going to say a few things about economics here, out of necessity – but be aware that I am the exact opposite of an expert.

Now here’s what I want to say to you about money, Wealthy Man.

In my humble opinion, the world desperately needs your help, when it comes to wealth and resources. Things aren’t good right now, as we all know. Things might be breaking down. Resentment, hatred, division, and conflict are trying to rise. That’s difficult, since people are evolving and global inter-connection makes us all aware of one another, on a scale never before seen. So, sowing hatred is harder than ever before. But it’s still being done.

Who is the person most excellently placed, Wealthy Man, to help figure out a better way? YOU are.

I had an interesting discussion with my son the other week. He told me that it’s “obvious” that new laws which will re-distribute wealth among the population is the “only way” to fix the discord and instability that inevitably stems from economic inequality. But, as I told him, he is thinking “binary”. He is thinking in “either/or” terms. Either you keep all your money, or else, somebody has to come along and order you to divest yourself, and then, they will decide how best to spend it.

But you are understandably leery of such a plan. How can the government know better than you how to spend your money? After all, as we have said here, it’s plainly obvious that you are the expert when it comes to money. Look at what you have. You were probably given resources, and look what you’ve turned it into! Look at what you have accomplished. You didn’t squander it. You didn’t lose it. You won. You are a winner. Nobody could ever quibble with that.

So, being a winner, you would be the best placed person to help figure out a new blueprint, for a new world. You, and people like you, are the best people to help us with how to fix this mess. I don’t know anything about economics. I find it bewildering. I have no suggestions. But I bet that YOU do.

In my ignorance, I do have a little bit of wisdom. So here’s what I would say. Maybe “redistribution” is the wrong way of thinking about it. Think “opportunity”. Think “jobs”. Think “usefulness”. Think “contribution”. I know that you already do that, otherwise you would not have the business success that you do.

But could you please take your attention off of yourself, and apply what you know about these things to the whole planet? Everybody wants to be useful. Everybody wants to contribute (unless they are broken). Everybody wants something to do. Everybody wants to earn what they get. This is human nature. Whoever said that this isn’t true, was wrong. That much I do know.

How can all of you wealthy people get busy with helping the world get back onto its feet after 2008? Could you maybe work together on it?

I guess the biggest barrier to all of this, is a lack of trust. People have been suffering for a very long time, and maybe they don’t trust you. Their ongoing resentment at their own lack of opportunity, at the lack of justice, means that you are going to face up to a different kind of wall, than the one that Mr. Annan had to keep looking at while he headed up the UN. Your wall, the one that you face, is made up of all the people who comprise the powder keg that keeps simmering, threatening to blow.

How will you build up some trust? How will you defuse this powder keg? How will you convince people that you are a good man, and you mean well? That’s up to you.

Because you’re the expert in being a good man. I see it in you. Personally, I trust you. I am placing my hopes in you, Wealthy Man. I don’t want our institutions to be destroyed. I don’t want widespread destruction. But we can’t have the status quo, either.

That is my challenge to you. And I am confident that you are up to the task. Don’t think “binary”. Think “wholistic”. Be creative. And please do not let us down.


My first novel

Well, I took the plunge and self-published my first piece of fiction. It’s up live on Amazon Kindle today. I have a lot of mixed feelings … it’s scary. Trying not to be excited.

I wrote it in January, and the first draft went very quickly. Aspects of this story were in my head for many years, so it all poured out very fast. Then I went back a couple of times and polished it up. I am happy with it.

The tone of the book is unusual. There’s a feeling of innocence, but yet, some of the themes are things that many adults face in their lives. Addiction. Loneliness. Fear. But there is also joy, love, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

I wanted to write something that anybody could read, so I kept it simple. But it does deal with metaphysics and logic, hopefully explained in a way that makes the ideas accessible to everybody who wants to read it.

I guess this blog post is me engaging in marketing or advertising, but I also wanted to chronicle what it feels like to put yourself out there. I’ve never tried to get paid for anything I’ve written before. This is a first. I’m not asking you to buy it. I’m just saying that I wrote it. And I think that I need somewhere to journal the whole experience, so that’s what this blog will be for, from now on.

I also wrote another novel, which is a “prequel” to this one. The second book is all about the cousin of this book’s main character. I don’t like that book as much as this one though. I wasn’t as happy with it. It deals with some things that are very personal to me, so it was more uncomfortable for me to write. And I’m not sure about the trajectory of that story either. But since I’m going to keep the price low, maybe people will give it a try anyway. We shall see. I will put that one up for sale in a month or two.

So I am torn about whether or not to also offer a paperback version. You see, this book is kind of about trees and the woods. There is a real woodland aspect to it. How can I write about trees, and then sell it in a paperback? Isn’t that being a hypocrite or inconsistent? I love trees. To me, they are real creatures with personalities. But … I would need to use paper. So I don’t know what to do. For now, I’ll just leave it as an ebook.

I love REAL books though. I love book stores. I need to figure out the formatting for the paperback version, i.e. page numbering, Table of Contents, and get a proper hard book cover done. Luckily I found a great artist who helped me with the ebook cover – Cherie Street. So, all things considered, I’m going to do it – offer a paperback option. Eventually.

I hope this isn’t too boring. It’s all about “me” and my experience as a self-published author. But maybe writing about it could help somebody else out there, who also wants to publish a book. It wasn’t hard to do, after the writing part was done.

So here’s the link to the book.

You get eggroll

I saw a 1968 Hollywood movie last night – and musing it over, it’s about metaphysics.  But it seems to be about something else – a blended family.  It’s called “With Six, You Get Eggroll”.  WARNING:  do not read the rest of this blog posting, if you haven’t seen it yet and want to be surprised.  Because I have to get into the entire plot, including the pinnacle of the film, in order to show you how it’s about metaphysics.

A widow with three sons, one of whom is teenage, dates a widower with a teenage daughter.  Predictably the kids are angry and hostile to have their deceased parent replaced by a stranger.  The parents try to work around it as best they can, then they get fed up and just get married, announcing their nuptials to the kids only after it’s done.  Chaos ensues.  They try to alternate households, to be fair to everyone, while putting their too-small homes up for sale.  The title of the film comes from an amusing moment when the youngest child says, while they are at a Chinese restaurant, “I’m so happy that we’re all together!  Because with six, you get eggrolls!”

Long story short:  the parents have an argument; the Dad falls out of a camper being driven by his wife, in his underwear; he ends up wearing a dirty restaurant uniform, wandering the streets; two road accidents happen involving a chicken coop; the chicken coop driver tries to beat up the teenage son; more chaos ensues; the entire family goes before a judge, with an entourage of hippies at their side.  Silly, right?  And finally, because of the argument, the two auto collisions, and the attempted assault, the whole group pulls together as a real family!  How do we know?  Because the daughter refers to the teenage son as “my brother”, and the son in turn refers to the male parent as “my father”, while arguing before the judge.  The parents hug and the movie ends abruptly.

What a wonderful illustration of metaphysics, alternate timelines, conjecture, false causative conclusions, and actualized potential!

There are two ways to understand this chain of events.  Both are mere conjecture, only “what ifs” based on what happened, what didn’t happen, what could have happened, and what couldn’t have happened.  Are you with me?  This is a very valuable exercise.  I didn’t know that there were real philosophers hidden in Hollywood.  I’m glad to know it.

The central figure in this movie is not the Mom.  It’s not the Dad.  It’s not any of the kids, nor the well-meaning, meddling sister in law.  No.  The central figure is the jerk driving the chicken coop, who tries to assault a teenager.  Because if it wasn’t for him, this group would not have pulled together as a family.

This last statement is the error that’s commonly made.  “Something bad needs to happen, for anything good to happen.”  That’s just wrong.  Now I’ll explain how this erroneous thought involves metaphysics, conjecture, and alternative timelines.  Stay with me now.

What did happen was that this jerk driving a chicken coop, who got into this family’s way on the road twice, causing two collisions (thereby raising the aggression level), and then raising his fist to a teenage boy’s face in front of his step-father and step-sister, was involved in a chain of causation which ended up with a very happy, well-bonded family group.  But the most important fact to take away from all of this is that this is not the only way that the family group could have bonded.  Yes, we are into alternative timelines at this point.  Because in order to assert that “this is the only way that could have happened”, you have to imagine that it didn’t happen.  “If this hadn’t happened, then they wouldn’t be a bonded family.”  That is imagination.  You’re into the realm of alternative realities at this point – the alternative reality where there were not two road accidents and an attempted assault, followed by a heated courtroom scene – with hippies.

Now, if we are going to get into non-events, such as “what if this didn’t happen?” then let’s do it.  I have a different take on it and I would argue that my understanding is more correct.  It’s based on potentials, and actuality, as well as imagination.  If those who espouse “bad things need to happen for good things to happen, and this movie plot is an example” can draw upon their imaginations to make their incorrect point, then so can I.

Here’s the correct take on it.  This group pulled together as as family, because that’s who they are.  They have this potential within them, it just needed to be actualized.  The actualization of their potential as a family could happen in infinite numbers of ways.  It was bound to happen because of who they are, and what they do, and what they are likely to do.  And the triggering cause for this actualization to occur does not need to be a bad thing.  It could easily also be a good thing.  One can imagine many positive alternative scenarios, causing chains of causation to arise, which result in family bonding.  And these chains of causation need not involve any bad actors.

In fact, even if the argument hadn’t happened, and the Dad didn’t wander around the streets in his underwear, and the two motor vehicle accidents hadn’t occurred, this family group was SO headed towards emotional bonding that it may have even happened that same day, with the same speed.  One could say that this was a family waiting to happen.  A clue to that is in a scene just before the chaotic pinnacle of the film.  The mother finds a way to bond with the daughter, having her do a list of chores to show her what’s involved in running a household – and then sends her off to go and have fun and relax, demonstrating that she will teach her without using her.  The daughter kisses her step-Mom on the cheek, showing that her hostility has vanished.  That’s the REAL pinnacle of the film, because it demonstrates the potential for loving family being actualized, out of something positive – the willing performance of chores.  Another clue comes from the fact that it’s the daughter who first shouts “He was going to hit my brother!”, starting a cascade of pronouncements from the rest of the children showing that they have now bonded.

So, the REAL cause of the bonding emanates from the mother-daughter moment, which happens BEFORE the jerk with the chicken coop comes along.  In fact, when you see the chain of causation in this way, with the daughter at the centre, the chicken coop driver reduces from “central figure” to “mere bit player”, playing a role of catalyst which could just as easily have been filled by anybody else.  He isn’t important, after all.

So, rather than saying “This films proves that bad, chaotic stuff needs to happen in order for people to bond together”, which is incorrect on the above analysis, one could say “This film proves that people carry within them the potential for a certain positive outcome, and one way or another, this outcome is bound to occur – call it ‘fate’.”  The outcome of “well-bonded family group” emanates from these facts:  these two are good parents, they love eachother, they love their kids, and these are all good kids, who are eventually bound to appreciate one another via any number of infinite potential chains of causation, only one of which occurs during the film, and in this case, happens to involve a bad actor doing bad things.

Finally – the title is interesting.  The small child says, “With six you get eggrolls!” but the plural “s” is missing from the film’s title.  So we are left with eggroll.  Families are based on a woman’s eggs.  The “egg”, which symbolizes life’s “potential”, is actualized in the film.  Her egg is born, with a new loving family.  That’s why they call it “eggroll” in the title, rather than “eggrolls”.

Say, maybe I should try a career as a film critic?