Plato, Aristotle, and Me on the Contemplative Life and Retirement

c As I approach my seventieth birthday, I look back in wonderment at my careers, defined in the broadest sense, as a student (to age 33!), then a physician and consultant, as well as a real estate developer, and more recently, as an author, publisher, and keynote speaker. Today in my "early retirement", I have been as busy as ever, jousting with challenges and opportunities, instead of simply lying on the beach, enjoying a life of leisure.

The key question may be: What is the ideal retirement life? How does one go about making wise choices as to how to spend one's time, energy, emotions, and money in the golden years? As a life long student of the sciences, religion, and philosophy, I decided to address and answer these Socratic questions by returning to some other ancient Greek philosophers for wisdom and advice.

Plato, the Greek philosopher (424 BC-348 BC) wrote in The Republic that the best life of all is the life of philosophy, of rational thinking and reasoning. The life he defined was one of contemplation and leisure, in Greek eudiamonia, best translated to modern English not just as happiness, but as flourishing. He did note that you did need to have assets (money) and a safe place in which to live to enjoy such a life.

Aristotle (384 BC-322 BC), a student of Plato for 20 years, agreed with his teacher as regards the basic concepts of the contemplative life, of seeking excellence and virtue (arĂȘte), in ones  life. However, he felt that it should not be a life of leisure, but one of action, of activity (ergon or function) in one's world. His position, clearly defined and supported in his Nicomachean Ethics, also indicated that in many other avenues of life beyond just philosophy, one can enjoy eudiamonia, translated literally as "good demons."

When I reached the age of 57, in 1995, I took early retirement because of some health concerns that might shorten my life. I had enjoyed decades as a student, with college degrees in Chemistry and Bible, an M.D. from Cornell University, pathology residency at the University of Vermont, and a stint as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer with the CDC in Atlanta. Perhaps due to some clerical error, at the tender age of 33, I was selected as Chief of Pathology at a medical center in Maine and co-founded Dahl-Chase Pathology Associates. I survived, even thrived and succeeded "in-the-trenches" of group medical practice for 25 years, as well as in consulting, lecturing and a side career in commercial and industrial real estate. In this process I gained insights and even some expertise in the world of leadership and the most important leadership skill, strategic thinking and planning.

As I entered retirement, I soon realized that I had carried with me the baggage of too much education, too many interests, too many opportunities, and too much money to simply live a peaceful and blissful contemplative life ala Plato. The greater problem was the process of selecting which specific projects would take my time, energy, emotions, and money (my favorite acronym TEEM). But then again I was an accomplished strategic planner, so this project should be very easy, both short and long term, since I may live longer than I expected.

I easily jettisoned the practice of medicine completely, by giving up my medical license. Yes, I had spent a great deal of time and money gaining those skills, but I had been consumed by it for 25 years. I had never been sued for malpractice, so why press my luck? It was easy to leave the practice, which carried my name, for I had designed the enterprise as a flattened hierarchy, maximizing synergy, the equal sharing with all the associates in the group. I did, however, maintain my contacts with key medical societies, where I networked and shared my wisdom and folly with younger physicians. It was time to give back, to be a mentor to repay my debt as a mentee. That has been most enjoyable and satisfying.

With the medical career gone, my commercial/industrial real estate career surfaced, as did my ownership in a small construction company and the Overhead Door Co. distributorship for half of Maine. As with the medical group, I shared ownership with the key managers, so again, I could easily work my way out of these ventures. It was euphemistically sort of a slow "garage sale" to get rid of real estate.

The scholar had always been was given full access to workshops, mostly on writing, and courses on cassettes and CDs. After retirement I became an even more ardent workshop junkie and a steeped myself in philosophy, psychology, and religion, as a student and teacher. Having been banished to my parent's native land of Norway for the summer when I was 12-years old (to get me away from the "bad influence" of my friends), I have always had a Viking-style lust for travel, but without the classic raping and pillaging, of course. As a result, I merged my new world of scholarship and foreign travel, and added my life long pursuit of high-altitude mountaineering, sort of mountain madness with an element of class.

My life took an odd detour on October 23, 1999, when I just completed giving a workshop on Optimize Your Life! The One-page Strategic Planner in Portland, Maine and went up Mt. Washington, New Hampshire for a weekend to hike and enjoy the late fall foliage. Unfortunately, on Saturday morning there was a light rain and clouds hung oppressively in the valley and up over the mountains. My hiking buddies declined the joys of a day of hiking in the rain, so I went up to Tuckerman's Ravine solo and then up Lion Head Trail towards the Alpine Garden Trail on my way planned hike to the Auto Road and home.

As I climbed, the light rain turned into giant snowflakes. A veritable winter wonderland had replaced a dreary fall day. I was lured into a bright winter hike, and continued on for over an hour in spite of a marked increase in the wind. Then, "whiteout" conditions forced me to stop next to a huge cairn (a pile of rocks marking the trail) to wait out the storm. I climbed into my aluminized material bivvy sack and realized that I had my cell phone with me. I made a series of increasingly frustrating 911 calls, which left me wondering if my rescuers would come, let alone find my location.

As snow accumulated on my bivvy sack, I became concerned that my rescuers would not see me, so I slowly inched my up onto the surface of the snow and opened the end of my bivvy sack to evaluate my changing world. Unfortunately, gusts of wind filled my sack and, in spite of my efforts, tore it from my body. Now it me in a fall hiking outfit in an area known as "the home of the worst weather in the world" (April 12, 1934 wind speed: 231 miles per hour).

During that long night, with wind speeds up to 98 miles per hour, as I waited for rescue I had time to contemplate by past life. I made six promises that I would keep if I was rescued: to be insensitive criticism about my misadventure, to get rid of real estate, to make amends with my first wife and son, to get rid of excessive things, "stuff" in my life, to network with people from my past, and, above all, to simply my life. What would you be thinking, perhaps promising, as you faced imminent death?

Eventually, I gave up hope and simply waited for death. However, around midnight, my rescuers found me, took me off the mountain to a regional hospital for treatment of frost injuries, severe hypothermia, and rhabdomyolysis (the breakdown of muscle tissue due to voluntary and involuntary muscle flexing in an attempt to prevent/treat hypothermia).

Soon after my discharge from the hospital, Husson College in Maine invited me to share my experience and what I had learned the hard way. My presentation was entitled:

"Lessons for Living from a Mt. Washington Misadventure" offered three admonitions, pieces of advice from near death:

1) Be prepared to die!

2) Have a plan to live!

3) Do it now!

This presentation was recorded and broadcast on National Public Radio in New England, and I was invited to share my story in a range of speaking venues. About a year later, The Learning Channel coaxed me into a reenactment on Mt. Washington, and as a result of worldwide broadcasts, my new speaking career skyrocketed, featuring the Lessons keynote. With support from Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, I am writing the accompanying "misadventure book" and have completed Optimize Your Life! a book that merges personal and organizational strategic planning. This book has become an international best-seller with a worldwide Spanish translation by Random House, the world's largest publisher.

One simple, but deadly hike had lured me into the dynamic world of keynote speaking, as well as publishing, both well outside the confines of my historic world of medicine in which I had so much formal education and experienece. This world of deadlines, promises, and challenges became as hectic and demanding as the practice medicine. What had become of my peaceful contemplative retirement?

As I work on all my six promises, I focus on the toughest, to simplify my life, I remember my days in Benares (Varanasi), India, on the Ganges, when I saw hundreds of older Indian men in that phase of life, so well defined in Hinduism, of an ascetic, the sadhu or the sannyasin. There is a rejection of ordinary life and all that it means, in exchange for a search to attain moksha, the release from the cycle of samsara, re-incarnation.  While a person may enter into this stage of life at any time, it is usually an older man that has raised his family, completed his business activities, and was fully retired. It may take an extreme form of the total rejection of household duties and responsibilities of the former stages of life. It may include the rejection of the religious beliefs, wherein ones even burns religious texts.

The sannyasins become wandering hermits, living life without any shelter or possessions. They eat when they can acquire food, but never enter into any work to acquire it; it must be given or found. They become holy men, seeking spiritual enlightenment and power, striving to achieve the true wisdom of the cosmos.  Wow! That is easy to define, but a bit extreme. However, all my other five promises would be simply eliminated.

A less dramatic approach might be that described by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs, which describes a person's motivation and resultant behavior as being determined by ones' needs. I could focus on the highest level, self-actualization and go beyond the basics of life and simply find a single "calling" and heed it.

But what single calling? I have decided that I would get rid of real estate in an orderly manner and complete succession planning for my business ventures. However, I would maintain a family life and continue my writing, speaking, and traveling on a more limited basis. High-altitude mountaineering might be over, after all, I am approaching 70 years of age, far beyond the ideal age of such risk-taking.

As the author of a monthly newsletter, I included in my January 2008 New Year's edition a list of the "10 Things I Want to Do Before I Die" and realized that I had drifted far from Plato's ideal life of contemplation and leisure. I think I will cruise through this year enjoying an Aristotelian life of active contemplation, being fully aware of Buddha's advice against striving, but in favor of living in the moment.

As I close this essay, I am forced to remember and share several paradoxes, ironies, even absurdities:

At the end of his Nicomacean Ethics (Book 10, Chapters 6 through 8) Aristotle seems to reverse himself and support Plato completely, noting that the contemplative philosophical life of leisure is the best.

The Buddha, when addressing one's life before death, gave us a poem that suggests the value, the appropriateness, of striving in one's life:

Every day a birdie on my shoulder asks:

Is today the day?

Are you doing all the things you should be doing?

Are you being the person who you should be?

Plato stated that the purpose of philosophy is to prepare one for death.
Proficiency and Education - Looking at Our Roles With the Goal in Mind - As the old expression goes, "Plan your work and work your plan." This is true for education and life skills as well in the arena of business. We must actively be involved in educating our children for both academic and personal proficiency or we fail as parents. There is just too much that will be missed if we defer this responsibility to someone else, or squander the time we have with our children by focusing only on sports and playtime. While these things have their place, I suggest a bigger picture approach to education that begins by keeping the end in sight and letting that determine the choices that you make for your children while they are young.

If you think back on the adjustment you had to make from high school to college, there were probably several things for which you wish you had been better prepared. Some of them were academic skills and tools that you may have needed, and some of them may have been personal skills. Either way, you faced the passing from youth to young adult with fears and challenges if you were like the average American school child of today. This is largely a result of the expectations that we have that "someone else has that covered" when it comes to teaching adaptation skills, or instilling learning tools that will transfer to college level work. 

In reality, this is not an effective way to parent or educate our children. If we assume that someone else has covered this topic with our children, then we assume too much and set our children up for difficulties and perhaps even failure. Take into consideration the fact that the 4-year degree that you obtained is now taking an average of 5-6 years to achieve for today's "young adults." However, by taking steps in their youth, particularly in the areas of learning methods and life skills, we can prepare them for academic and personal excellence; we can give our children systems for success and learning that they have readily at their disposal even if encountering new and varied situations. If our children know how to access these tools and how to plan for their own futures, they will be far more likely to succeed at any task they undertake, academic or otherwise.

I challenge you to think about child-rearing in reverse. We often start when our children are babies and we think about this need or that need as the situation arises. We allow the immediate skills to "drive" our training. While much of that is necessary when teaching simple survival skills and hygiene, for instance, that cannot be the habit that we fall into as our children develop. Early into a child's formative years, we must move the "driver" of their training and education from immediate tools to long-range tools. The best question I have encountered that helps to move this focus is this one: 

"Who do you want walking out the door at age 18?" While the age may or may not be exact, the question is valid. If we think about the character and skills that our children need to have to function as adults, but we think about those skills while they are still youths, then we can spend the time necessary to both academically and personally prepare them to function as adults in an adult world when they enter it, rather than just as "old children." If your child struggles in math, then they will have difficulty managing their finances, and that will wreak havoc for their future. Likewise, if your child cannot comprehend his reading well, it is likely that the fine print on applications or important documents will be glossed over. It is critical that your child's basic learning foundation be strong on all core subject areas, but also that his or her learning systems include tools to apply what they read and study. Without the ability to apply their learning, there is little more than interesting trivia being presented to them.

Likewise, if you desire that your child be able to contribute to the community around them as adults, then they should be contributing to the family environment at home. Doing chores, having a job (as teenagers), contributing to the family discussions regarding insurance or tithing, etc. are all important parts of growing up. Far too often we allow our children to remain children for far too long and then we are surprised when they make poor adult decisions after they leave home. 

With no training in adult matters while at home, how could we expect anything less than that when we release them to the world at large? Whether you send your child to a public school, private school, or homeschool, there is much training to be done as a parent, and we cannot displace this role to someone else. The school years should be treated as an opportunity to uniquely gift our children with skill sets that will prepare them for adulthood. Any school program that is just about preparing a high-school graduate, rather than a young adult, is lacking in its overall goals.
Feedback and Education in Tai Chi and the Human Experience

As a child in a post war western society of the 50's feedback was a very hit and miss affair - sometimes literally - but rarely was there useful guidance - it is only in recent times that the growth and popularisation of western psychology has led to study of human behaviour in anything like scientific observational terms and availability of that knowledge on a widespread basis. Perhaps it was this lack of constructive feedback that led me and many like me in the 60's and 70's looking to the eastern Buddhists and Taoists - early "scientific" students of the natural world - for a knowledge based approach to the human experience.

What was previously a random series of experiences and poorly understood lessons was termed the "school of life" - in fact this was a complete misnomer - there was/is very little teaching and very little learning in life skills - in fact often simply a series of falling into and negotiating traps and tests set by others followed by a struggle to recover from them.   Fortunately the knowledge we have now has the potential to greatly enhance the life learning process both externally in our social behaviours and in our internal experiences.

Re-define "objective" in a relative world what does "objective" mean?

How can we be objective about personal reality when all feedback is subjective? When you seek to define the terms then the objectivity goes since the definitions become drawn from the very subjectivity - a bit like quantum physics - you can never measure ( be objective about ) everything - that does not stop quantum theory from being a very good descriptive model of real life. Relativity = western science?

Black box meets reductionism

Neuropsychology

Internal feeling - keeping an objective measure of this feedback - a good and objective memory - the role of the teacher - the role of others.

Feedback in our bodies - the feeling of being embodied and the feedback created by the feelings created in movement.

How we can develop this process in Tai Chi mode. Feeling as feedback - physically and emotionally - to understand the way we move and the influence of our mental, emotional and physical selves on the way we are in the world.

By feeling what is happening in our bodies moment by moment, and relating that to our emotional feelings, then we can adjust our body usage eg posture and movement in minute detail, to improve our comfort and emotional state - doing this on a long term basis can improve our health and temperament by creating new and more comfortable habits.

By practice of an activity such as Tai Chi we can set up repetitive actions which enable us to observe the resulting inner feelings and to observe at the same time the emotions that arise when either moving on our own, or in concert with another. Tai Chi and other soft/internal arts also have within them the specific goal of creating a completely new habit of movement called "internal power" - this is generally sought for reasons of martial arts study - but because it is a way of moving created by allowing the body-mind to find its optimal condition of movement it is also a very healthy state.

To achieve this we need to observe objectively, understand the relation of both internal and external feedback to action and to use this understanding to guide our development.

Feelings are often the only measure that we have - if we learn to understand the reality of our feelings - physical and emotional - and their interactions - then we can develop ourselves and our society.

The goal? - resilient strength in all our human experiences - wisdom - personally and as a society. The path - change, development.

Negative feedback - positive feedback - and the role of stability. Fear as a switch from one state to the other. Strangely the more frequently useful is termed "negative" - the role of positive feedback in disturbing/destroying the status quo and moving us on to another stage.

A common life cycle - eg global warming - self regulating systems with external influences - islands of stability with the capability for chaos and catastrophe.

The blame culture - this is not feedback!

Guilt - making ourselves feel bad - to feel good about ourselves

Blame - telling others to feel bad so we can feel good about ourselves

Child development - small course corrections - information and constructive feedback.

Criminal justice system. When there are no course corrections or they don't work Rehabilitation - behaviour change via feedback. Retribution is not feedback.

The next step - how can we use this knowledge?

The human path of life and development - fulfilment, harmony and happiness. Life stages. E.g. the 8 fold way.

A unified paradigm which enables us to make sense of reality and our being within it - the positive and negative in harmony - so that we can grow as human beings. A practical philosophy that aids us in our internal and external lives.

As every there are two sides to feedback - the transmission and the reception.

Feedback is often transmitted as blame ( with the intent to make the other feel bad ) - sometimes concealed in politeness - and often presented politely in the belief and fear that feedback is blaming or will be received as such - there is a fear of simply being honest.

Feedback is often received with reluctance - for fear that it is blame in disguise and there is generally an inability to handle the truth.

There is also a great reluctance to give generalised feedback or "advice" on a personal basis - although many of us seek out the popular psychology books and a huge amount of "sharing" magazines are consumed daily.

Simple mentoring stuff is missing e.g. tooth care - dentists will tell clients what they should do but not explain why - so there is no understanding and no motivation. There is poor feedback, really only instruction - no feedback of understanding only of conclusion.

Stuff like how to look after your body and how to understand the emotional rollercoaster that we encounter through life.

The role of counselling, life coaches, teachers, gurus etc in negotiating day to day life - interpreters of events which may provide feedback.

There are problems associated with feedback:

This is where the role of education comes in - by passing on the feedback experiences of others gathered over relatively long time periods we get to shortcut to process instead of having to re-invent everything from the ground up on our own. So education is a sort of feedback by proxy - unfortunately the lessons are not so direct and are often difficult to understand especially at an emotional level - such lessons can easily become purely intellectual and "dis-embodied".

Feedback in physiological structures is well documented e.g. development of the visual cortex depends on the experience of seeing - it is inhibited if the child is kept from seeing e.g. by being kept in the dark.

Bone density and size are affected by the habitual loading placed upon them - and can be seen to operate both in the short term and over archaeological time. Muscle of course responds to lack of use and to work done.

Tai Chi instructors feedback cycle:

By placing their body in the students posture and by copying their way of moving a Tai Chi instructor can compare with how they themselves stand and move and so understand what is required to move the student from their present state to that which is desired.

The teacher may then adjust the student's body with that in view and direct their movement to positive change.

Likewise the student can learn by studying the posture and movement of the teacher, by mirroring their movement and studying differences the student can direct their own change.

In addition by putting themselves in the student's posture and movement the teacher may gain some insight into underlying physical and emotional states i.e. if I stand like you and move like you then I will actually feel like you in some degree.

We talk about "knowing your own mind" - perhaps "knowing your own body" would be more useful - in that if we know in our mind what our body needs then we can seek to achieve it.
The 2nd and 10th Amendments: The Right and Power of States to Protect Life and Defend Liberty

It is extremely troubling to note the inappropriate, or just basically wrong, responses of, supposedly, knowledgeable federal and State government officers to ignorant U.S. citizens who act and speak irresponsibly as though they know nothing at all about the U.S. Constitution and its timely purpose in today's 21st Century society.

In the wake of mass murders committed by mentally deranged human beings using firearms, there are presently individuals, and groups of individuals, around the republic clamoring for the federal government to create laws, decrees, and orders that will alter and diminish the right of the sane, reasonable, and responsible citizens of the USA to keep and bear arms, meaning firearms under the 2nd Amendment of the Bill of Rights. My friend, attorney Mark Levin, was totally correct when he recently stated that "no one, it seems, wants to meaningfully discuss the U.S. Constitution today in its correct context." Yet, that's exactly what I want to do in this essay article, regarding the sacred right to keep and bear arms.

The honored Framers of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, including James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and John Adams, with Thomas Jefferson advising from France, were not devoid of wisdom when they crafted, and the State legislatures ratified, the Bill of Rights, which were the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. A majority of that Convention refused to even discuss a constitution without assurance that a Bill of Rights would be included. Nine of the twenty-six provisions stated within the Bill of Rights were crafted from the articles of the great Magna Carta, or the Great Charter, drafted in 1215 by the Archbishop of Canterbury and signed by King John of England in June of that year, and the right to keep and bear arms was one of those articles. Of course, bows, arrows, spears, knives, and swords were the only weapons of war available at that time to the common Englishman, but as times changed, weapons, or arms, changed and improved in their lethal effectiveness. The U.S. 

Constitution was, as James Madison exclaimed in his "Federalist 44," to specifically limit the federal government in its power, and to generally empower the rights of the State governments, or the People. This principle of federalism was delineated very specifically in the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which very few of the literate citizens of the USA currently understand and comprehend. The 10th Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." This 10th Amendment has been called by some the exclusive 10th Amendment police power of the States, or the People, because it provides for an open-ended opportunity for the States to craft their own laws in order to properly police and protect their People in accordance with the specific prohibitions concerning their powers within the Constitution. 

In other words, the States have the power to legislate any State laws to benefit their people which are not specifically denied to them by the U.S. Constitution. For instance, a State cannot conduct foreign affairs with a foreign power, such as Mexico or Japan. This is a power specifically delegated to the federal government's Executive branch in the Constitution. Yet, States have the power to create their own money as legal tender for payment of debts, providing that that money is in the form of gold or silver coins. This is what might be called a joint power with the federal government, since Article 1, Section 8 specifically states that the federal government has the only power to "print" federal paper money for use throughout the USA as legal tender for purchases and debts. The State of Utah is one of the States that has created its own gold currency through a State legislated law.

Now, what about the 2nd Amendment in regard to the 10th Amendment police power of the States? The 2nd Amendment simply affirms that, "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." This constraint applies to both the federal government and the State governments; yet, if considered properly, a very interesting application proceeds from it. The federal government "cannot" diminish to any degree, or infringe upon, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, which it has illegally done by passing legislation to impose gun registration laws upon the States. Nonetheless, the States have the open-ended power to expand those laws, as does the federal government, extending greater rights to the People to keep and bear arms. For instance, the States have the right to allow their People to openly carry handguns, and to pass laws setting age restrictions for purchasing, owning, and carrying handguns; but for a State, or a federal district, to pass laws flatly denying its citizens the right to purchase, possess, and carry firearms is a blatant infringement of the 2nd Amendment. In other words, the federal government cannot denigrate, to any degree, by legislation, the right of the People to keep and bear arms. It can, however, promote the welfare of the States by promoting, or encouraging, the States to pass laws that will provide the greatest safety for the People through the purchasing, keeping, and bearing firearms.

At this juncture in this article, the practicable and utilitarian example of the State of Texas' use of their 10th Amendment police power has an important application to all of the fifty American States. The legendary Texas Rangers were a force to be reckoned-with during an early period of prevailing lawlessness on a Republic of Texas' frontier, and as a newly annexed State; and the Rangers continue to be a formidable means of effective law enforcement in the 21st Century. The old expression still applies as a basic truism in Texas, "one riot, one Texas Ranger," where the audacious, yet prudent, power and authority of a good stern person wielding a handgun for the sake of justice, law, and order is confirmed in the minds of the lawless. The States, all of the States, have an open-ended power to train and arm anyone it so chooses to protect their people. The federal government, on the other hand, has no Constitutional power, whatsoever, to place armed federal police, or military personnel, in the cities and towns of the States to enforce State or federal laws. When people from other States drive into a Texas town and see a sign in bold letters at the city-limits that says, "Beware murderers, bank robbers, thieves, and rapists... 

Our school teachers, store-owners, and most of our citizens are armed and know how to use their weapons very effectively. So, don't mess with us," it goes a long way in driving-home the reality that the people of that town are very serious about protecting their own. And they have a God-given right to do so. Any sign along a Texas highway boldly saying, "Don't Mess With Texas," goes way beyond the warning and penalties for littering. On the other hand, if you every see a sign in a city or town saying, "Beware, the FBI is on the job here," you are witnessing an expression of federal intimidation through the unconstitutional use of federal power. Federal law enforcement, the FBI, U.S. Marshalls, the Secret Service, etc. can never legally impose itself on State, county, and local law enforcement; that is, unless a federal crime has been committed, or if invited by a State to assist in an investigation.

So, when the crowds of ignorant and disingenuous people, both U.S. Citizens, legally visiting aliens, and illegal aliens, petition in front of the White House, the federal Capitol Building, and the U.S. Supreme Court for federal Executive orders, federal legislations, and U.S. Supreme Court activism to create unconstitutional laws restricting the right of the People, under the 2nd Amendment, to keep and bear arms, the reasonable and prudent People of the republic, and the news media in support of those reasonable citizens, should immediately decry such unconstitutional demonstrations and vociferously proclaim the Constitutional right of the States to police and protect their citizens under the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. All State school systems, by State legislation of laws, should very discriminately choose responsible and caring teachers, and guards, to be trained and armed with handguns to carry, and use when necessary, while on-duty in their schools, in order to protect the lives of the students and unarmed faculty from deranged murderers who steal onto their campuses. There is no doubt that, if responsible guards and teacher(s), both men and women, had been trained, armed, and present on the campuses, in the classrooms and hallways where mass-murders have been committed in the schools around the USA, the probability would have been very high that the deranged assailants would have been quickly neutralized before they would have done any lethal harm.

There are many other reasons for caring and responsible men and women to be effectively trained to carry and use handguns, as there are many good reasons for keeping rifles and handguns in the homes of law-abiding families, many more reasons than not keeping and bearing firearms. One very important truth should always be remembered when considering the importance of keeping and bearing firearms. If the good and decent citizens of the republic are restricted by unconstitutional government action from keeping and bearing arms in defense of their families, friends, communities, and the common law, the only people who will end-up possessing handguns, rifles, and shotguns will be those sinister people with criminal intents and purposes who will use the tens of millions of black-marketed firearms available to them for murderous and illegitimate purposes. It is good to also remember that the militia, as defined by the 2nd Amendment and by James Madison in his "Federalist 46," are the men, women, and adolescents of mature age, the People of the USA, who keep and bear arms in the republic.

Now we arrive at probably the most provocative element of the awful misuse of the 10th Amendment police power by the States. This has been the copycat effect of the States following federal action in imposing, over the decades of the 20th Century, unnecessary exorbitant taxation upon the People, and then woefully misusing it. This unlawful effect is inexorably prevalent in the 21st Century and has been so since 1913, when the sordid 16th Amendment was, supposedly, legally ratified by the State legislatures. For reasons contrary to the astute wisdom of the Framers, the federal government saw pragmatic purpose in making what was totally unconstitutional in 1912 apparently constitutional in 1913, that being un-apportioned taxation in the form of a federal income tax. As the proverbial apple does not, in most cases, fall far from its parent tree, the parent example of the federal government imposing un-apportioned taxation upon the States gave most of the States an incentive over time to do the same horrible thing to its own citizens. 

By the mid-20th Century, most the States had pragmatically legislated State income taxes upon their electorates, and by 1960, the States were taxing their hardworking People 2,000 percent more than King George III had unlawfully taxed the American colonists in 1775. Of course, King George III had taxed the colonists without their representation in the British Parliament, while the State legislatures pompously claimed that they were producing necessary taxation through a process based upon the proper representation of their citizens. This totally unsubstantiated claim of representation and support of the State electorates was, and still is, without merit, and was founded totally upon a false perception of what small wealthy minorities of overtaxed State electorates have claimed is being done with the exorbitant tax revenue obtained by forced collection. As it still stands since 1913, the popular desire of the great majority of the State electorates is the abrogation of all state and federal income tax through repeal of the 16th Amendment.

As the "security" of the "blessings of liberty and natural law" was the purposed end-result of the establishment of the American Constitution, as proclaimed in its often forgotten Preamble, the 10th Amendment police power was predicated upon the protection of those liberties and freedoms by the States. Moreover, the honorable Framer James Madison wrote extensively upon the sacredness of the money, the income, earned by citizens of the American republic, and the evil of a federal government effort to tax it. He fully delineated, in the "Federalist Papers" the reason why federal and State government should always seek to limit, instead of expanding, it's taxing authority upon the People.

Yet, while the States maddeningly pursue the unmitigated taxation of their People, their misuse of that exorbitant tax money in not providing for the protection of their people is, yet, another salient issue. Most of the State, county, and municipal governments use great amounts of tax money to maintain their law enforcement agencies. The standard expression used by most governors, county commissioners, mayors, and city managers, "let the police deal with violent crime that exists," and to a reasonable degree this is wise counsel, as far as the investigation, apprehension, and arrest of criminal perpetrators are concerned, after the commission of violent crimes. Yet, the 2nd Amendment was set in place as a preventive deterrent to crime, and as a protective means for the People, or the States, in order to ensure their safety and liberty; since the State, county, and municipal police cannot, in most cases, be on the scene all of the time to prevent all crimes (murders, burglaries, rapes) from happening.

While most of the States are, by far, following the unreasonable example of the federal government of legislating totally unnecessary and improper laws, their creation of their own superfluous laws and executive agencies for their execution illustrate what those State governments are not doing; that is, fully protecting their People. Since they, and they alone, have the Constitutional 10th Amendment power and responsibility to protect and serve the People, the passage of such laws by the State legislatures is essential. Most of the States are greatly over-taxing their citizens and then using that ill-gotten revenue for socialistic purposes while neglecting the need to protect their People. Those arcane 21st Century State, and federal, politicians who still stupidly insist that the honored Framers were, either, unable or unwilling to craft a meaningful U.S. Constitution for all the ages to come are doing great disservice to the republic through their blatant propaganda, which is sad evidence of their own ignorance of relevant history.

While, for example, the federal government is to, alone, provide for the common national defense by maintenance and use of the U.S. Military, the States, each and every one of them, are to, alone, provide for the maintenance of law enforcement and social order with them, through use of their open-ended police powers. In the same way that the Framers gave the States total control over the education of their People, civil rights, agriculture, abortion, and every other matter not specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, those wise men (who were assuredly counseled and advised by their sagacious wives) essentially instructed the States through the explicit letter of the U.S. 

Constitution to do "whatever" was necessary, within their power, to protect their People from criminals and their criminally destructive ways. Nonetheless, as the States continue to flippantly and carelessly tax their people and build unnecessary government bureaucracies, funding them exorbitantly, the great majority of them are grossly deficient in producing legislation to adequately protect their citizens in an age of unbounding criminal conspiracies and social and political turmoil. The criminal upending of morality and the desecration of natural law by deliberate political design brings with it heinous consequences and their pernicious effect on the American family, the education of the youth of the States, and on the ultimate mission of the States to protect and perpetuate liberty.

Therefore, in the pure interest of preserving and protecting human life and for the perpetuation of liberty, the State governments should immediately cease their obeisance to, and deferential respect for, unconstitutional federal government Legislative, Executive, and Judicial actions and properly use the power bestowed by the U.S. Constitution's 10th Amendment upon them, or the People. There is nothing more grand and godly than the preservation of human life and liberty through the proper exercise and use of law; for, as the great John Adams so vehemently stated, "We are a nation of laws, and not of men."
Can an Introvert Have an Exciting Life and Survive?

Yes, many do. Many do not.

Performers are, surprisingly often, introverts, because performing provides a perfect platform for an introvert. A performance usually involves a structured situation with behavior that is well-rehearsed; furthermore, we can usually perform without those interruptions that force us to freeze or think too quickly, that we encounter in social situations. Many of us even learned that we could pour out our feelings and enthusiasm with a feeling of safety we never found daily life.

But it's those unstructured situations we may be forced into between performances that trip us up, and leave us exhausted, embarrassed, and insecure. Many exciting careers do not involve a structured performance space. Some adventurous lives require introverts to cope with a constantly changing environment where skillful responses are required on the spur of the moment. This was such a challenge for one of my clients that he is now being treated for PTSD as he explores his introversion and its consequences. He now says of his career, "It was an exciting and adventurous life, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything in the world." But he sadly realizes that his mental and physical health suffered as a result of his career. His dawning realization that he is an introvert is helping him to reassess his considerable abilities and to recognize that he could have made choices that would have helped him cope more successfully with his career.

So the problem is really this: if you have a dream that involves adventure, and, as an introvert, you have a nervous system and mindset that says, "Slow down and be safe," you may be in what seems to be an eternal conflict situation: either you live an adventure that may also affect your health, long-term, or you sadly put aside a dream, believing you can't cope with it.

It doesn't have to be that way. You can live that life, and even educate people around you to respect your needs as an introvert.

Here are some coping techniques for introverts who want to accept the challenge.

Develop Introvert Pride:

You must have pride in your introversion and recognize the special talents you may have. Only in this way will you be authentic and honest with people around you, standing up for yourself and who you are. My client with PTSD now says that even the knowledge that he was an introvert, and that was an acceptable thing to be, would have helped him with his anxiety throughout his exciting but exhausting career.

You must learn to say NO:

One introvert client, a 45-year-old woman with a small child, had already had a stroke at that young age. She was extremely brilliant, skilled and creative; her co-workers turned to her at every opportunity to bail them out when they got stuck, and she never said "no," to the extent that she worked many hours overtime trying to get her own projects done.

Her non-assertiveness was in part due to the fact that she had been raised to believe that being an introvert was somehow not OK, and she was trying to prove that she was. She was overwhelmed and exhausted much of the time. Learning to say "no" was a high priority in our work together.

Speak up and set boundaries:

One of the consequences of developing introvert pride is that you become willing to let people see your needs, and you become willing to ask that they honor those needs.

Alyssa was part of a work team where members agreed to hold meetings online, with the documents they were scrutinizing available on Google Docs. This was in response to a statement by several members that they didn't have time to go over e-mail documents in advance of the meeting. Alyssa realized she would be in a situation where she would be asked to make spontaneous responses to ideas she was first being shown at the meeting. She asked to have the documents sent to her in advance, stating that, as an introvert, she wanted that preview to marshal her thoughts. She added that she could provide much greater value in this way.

Learn to take Mini-vacations:

George Stephanopoulos, well-known TV host and commentator, attributes his ability to live a life in the spotlight as an introvert to his habit of meditating, taking small meditative breaks during the day to regain his energy.

My client with PTSD now knows that he should always arrive 15 minutes early for any appointment or engagement, no matter how delightfully relaxed and social the occasion may be. He builds these min-vacations into his schedule, giving him time to take that refreshing, quick break.

Narrow down your choices:

The introvert's tendency to acquire and store a lot of information, from reading and just plain observing, can result in an overly-busy brain that suggests many options from which to choose. This can result in great creativity; it can also result in exhausted overwhelm.

Peak performers learn to focus and not get entranced by too many opportunities that are not in the current game plan. (This is another chance to say "no": this time, to your own brain.)

Every time you have another bright idea, ask yourself "Is this in the current game plan?" If the answer is "no," then you must say "no" to its intrusion.

Educate people around you as to what you need:

Instead of pretending that everything is OK, tell people you need more time to make decisions, to back off and think a situation through. Assure them you will provide far better responses under these circumstances. Point out instances where your thoughtfulness and reflecting paid off.

Pick your performance platform:

Introvert entrepreneur Barbara Feders, in love with nature, has created a business she calls Beauty of the Wild, in which she takes people to the wilderness on trips they would never contemplate by themselves. There she introduces them to the world she loves, a world in which she shines and can feel secure.

Not everyone can create a business to his or her temperament, but even in an environment which you have not structured, you can create your own platform. Prepare your ideas in advance of a team meeting, ask for five minutes to present them in a coherent fashion, use body language (the uplifted hand that is a "stop" signal) to hold down interruptions until you finish.

It's your stage: you can own it, furnish it, write the script with confidence... or you can forever be a bit player in someone else's life plan.
In Our Spiritual Life and Where Spirituality and Inspiration Are Concerned Seek to Remain Balanced

When Jonah runs away from God a storm arises. Ah, he did not expect that. Very few of us do.

Disobedience leads to distress.

God can let you go so far at times, and for some it can be wounding and upsetting, and of course, some never return, but with Jonah, God intervenes.

If you can spot these times in your life where Jesus Christ has intervened and rescued you, give thanks.

But, if you are on the brink of doing something dangerous and daft, in disobedience to God, don't do it. Break it off. Come to your senses.

In this case the storm came from God.

Jonah suffered, as did the sailors aboard this ship. Others often suffer as a consequence of God's people sinning.

Jonah falls asleep as he sails off on this Mediterranean cruise.

Are there not Christians who fall asleep to much of what is going on around them, politically, economically, morally, and spiritually?

Is this not a picture of a rebellious disobedient church, asleep in the midst of a storm?

You do not realise you have been asleep until you wake up!

The church can make decisions and do things when asleep which she would not otherwise make and do when awake.

The terrified sailors awaken Jonah to try and bring him to his senses.

They challenge him to pray and he cannot. When you are on the run from God it is difficult to pray.

The world will never become friendly with the Church by the Church trying to become friendly with the world, compromising here and there.

Jonah has been called to be part of the people called to be the light of the world, and at this particular moment his light is not very bright.

When Hannah poured out her aching heart to God in prayer God saw here and was so aware of her dire need and she gave birth to Samuel who became one of the most powerful leaders in the Old Testament. If you are unfamiliar with what actually happened read the account in the first book of Samuel in Chapter 1.

There are lessons reveals there which can enrich and bless our lives and enable us to receive answers to our prayers.

Of course, a man can also ask and pray with wrong motives, seeking selfish ambitious pleasures and one ought to be disappointed when these petitions are answered with the divine "No".

Did you know that Billy Graham's wife taught often that if God had answered all her early prayers she would have married the wrong man!

In our spiritual life and where spirituality and inspiration are concerned we have to seek to remain balanced and that is not always an easy 'exercise'.
An initial consultation over the telephone (30 minutes). This initial consultation is an opportunity for me to listen to you, learn more about your case and determine whether I can assist you in taking matters forward.

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Following the initial consultation, a second consultation to meet with me personally for 1 hour at my office at a mutually beneficial time to discuss your case can be scheduled.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding legal rates and fees. Please note that I practice law at a standard hourly market rate of $300.00 excluding taxes and disbursements. However, depending on the type of case, the immediacy for action and your personal circumstances, the following means for pricing legal work may be considered.

By the hour:
As simple as it sounds and like many lawyers do, but with one qualifier: I won’t charge you for minor disbursements (like printing, fax or copies). You deserve to know up front what your bill will be, not something that will vary depending on my mileage or how many faxes I send.

By the case:
Just about every other business charges this way, so lawyers should too.  Although this is not always possible in litigation, I will offer this as much as I can.

Contingency fee:
You do not pay me anything unless I recover money for you.  This may be combined with hourly or project-based billing to suit your case and personal circumstances.

Unbundled legal services:
Pay for what you need.  You might only need me to handle an especially complicated part of the case or get you started with it.
If you decide to hire me, we can discuss what arrangement, or combination thereof, will give you the best value and suit your needs. Call me today for a free consultation.