Welcome to the Upper Class

Some Republican politicians shock me when they make statements like these.

“My tax plan will benefit the working class.”

“We must show how much we care for the poor.”

“It’s not only the rich who’ll benefit…”

“We don’t have to worry about the upper class.”

“Crime is concentrated among the lower class.”

By adopting the language of Karl Marx they surrender to socialism.  Socialism’s core belief is secularism whose paramount doctrine is that there is no God directing humanity; no God decreeing morality.  Socialism insists that all you see around you is materialism and it owes its origins to nothing but unaided, random physical and chemical processes.  It follows that every human being is little more than about $9.50 worth of common chemicals cunningly arranged. A little carbon, some oxygen and a dash of hydrogen; throw in some potassium, nitrogen, and a few other elements, and bingo! You’ve got a person.  This is the central organizing principle of secular fundamentalism.

What about hopes and dreams?  What about inspiring memories of great ancestors?  What about selfless love and devotion?  All of that is nothing but biological determinism.  Perhaps you mistakenly think you’re drawn to charity, compassion and altruism but it is nothing more than a few neurons firing in your brain creating illusions whose entire purpose is only biological survival.  You are no more than a cat, a cow, a kangaroo or a camel.  You are an animal.  You may be smarter than some animals. You may have less hair than some animals. You may run slower than some animals but you run faster than others.  They eat, defecate, mate and die.  So do you.  You are just another species of animal.  That, in a nutshell, is the sacred sacrament of socialism.

Naturally, if you are an animal, you need either a zookeeper or a farmer to whom you belong.  He will take care of you and you owe him all your productivity.  The center of your existence is not the ‘G’ of God but the ‘g’ of government.

Rich and poor have specific meaning in the Bible and do not define anyone’s essence.  Unlike animals, humans are touched by the finger of God and can grow.  Animals have only a present.  Unlike anteaters and zebras, we have a past and a future as well.  Was the pitiful tycoon, Howard Hughes, living a lonely and paranoid existence really rich? Is the young and underpaid medical resident working 12 hour shifts and sharing a tiny apartment with three other doctors-in-training, really poor?

A goldfish without enough food can be thought of as poor.  A mouse living in a grain warehouse can be considered rich.  But those terms do not apply to humans.  For humans those terms are relative.  No matter your finances, you can easily find someone with far less than you as you can find someone with far more.  Look one way and you can feel rich, while a glance in the other direction can make you feel poor.

As for the term ‘working class’ just who is that supposed to mean?  Almost everyone I know goes to work five or six days a week and that includes most of the super-successful people I know.  Most heirs to large fortunes as well as those bequeathed significant trust funds work hard in various enterprises.

As for the terms upper class and lower class, most politicians use them as synonyms for rich and poor respectively.  This sheer nonsense is predicated entirely on the underlying belief that humans are just like any other livestock.  Upper class horses race, lower class horses pull wagons and get turned into glue.  Upper class bovines breed while lower class buffalo pull ploughs.

The truth is that none of these terms apply to humans.  There is a very good reason why the Bible opens with the words:

In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
(Genesis 1:1)

rather than:

In the beginning God created everything.

or, if you prefer the poetic:

In the beginning God created the entire universe and all that is in it.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains what the words ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ teach us that would not have been conveyed by ‘everything’ or by ‘the entire universe.’

Heaven means the spiritual attributes of reality while earth refers to the physical.  God is teaching us right from the very outset that the world is both a physical and a spiritual reality.  There are things you can measure in a laboratory like food and water, and there are equally important things you cannot such as love and loyalty.

We humans, created in God’s image are chiefly distinguishable from animals by our ability to know the spiritual.  Indeed, our lives would be painfully incomplete without it.  Most of the important decisions and choices confronting us every day require us to weigh spiritual implications as much as we evaluate the physical.

I delve into this informatively and entertainingly in this special episode of my new podcast.  If you have any desire to learn how to include spiritual factors in the decisions you make you should click here and listen for free now.

Oh yes, as for upper class and lower class, what do they really mean?  Upper class people, regardless of their bank balances, are people who honor their past and plan for their future.  Lower class people, regardless of their riches, live only in and for the present.  Having abandoned every vestige of self-restraint, they succumb to every momentary urge and condemn themselves and their unfortunate offspring to utter hopelessness.

Please help a few young people that you know step onto the escalator that will lift them to the upper class.  I ask you to do so by giving them a copy of Hands Off! This May Be Love. This is one of the most important books we have published and especially in the climate surrounding young adults today it provides food for thought that is indispensable for the shaping of a successful life.

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Do the Wright Thing

If you’re trying to build a business, sustain a marriage, raise children or if you’re engaged in any other long-term challenging project, there is a lesson to be found in the story of flight.

It was the fall of 1900;  Wilbur and Orville Wright were living in a tent on the barren windswept sand dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, about 75 miles southeast of Norfolk, Virginia and about 200 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina.  Today you can easily drive to Kitty Hawk via the concrete Wright Memorial Bridge, but the Wright brothers had to take a hazardous two day sail in a leaky old schooner from Elizabeth City on the Pasquotank River.

Once there, everything was a challenge.  They constantly worried about their business and their father and sister back in Dayton, Ohio.  Drinking water, food, and supplies were hard to come by. The wind repeatedly demolished their tent.  But of course the wind was why they were there in the first place.  Each time their primitive gliding machines were damaged, they meticulously rebuilt them.

At that time, it was positively assumed that flying was impossible. Even the Washington Post categorically declared that, “man cannot fly”.  That was all there was to it.  The Wright brothers were surely engaged in a fool’s errand.  Traveling backwards and forwards between Kitty Hawk where they tried to fly and Dayton where their bicycle business needed attention, they struggled with failure after failure for three long years until they finally flew a heavier-than-air machine for the first time in human history on December 17th, 1903.

One can but imagine the countless disappointments, frustrations, doubts, and worries that must have plagued Orville and Wilbur year after grueling year.  They were alone, neither brother having married. They didn’t even have a coach, let alone a therapist.  They were mocked for their dreams and for their determination.  Yet there is no record of the brothers having suffered from depression or even from periods of melancholy.

Let’s see if we can understand the Wright brothers’ emotional equilibrium by traveling further back than a mere 110 years ago.  The first person who suffered from sadness was Cain.

…and Cain was very angry, and his face fell.
(Genesis 4:5)

Cain was the first person in history to think of bringing God a present.

…and Cain brought a gift to God from the fruit of the earth.
(Genesis 4:3)

He was quickly imitated by Abel who did the same, bringing his gift from among his sheep.  God approved of Abel’s gift but rebuffed Cain’s.  Consequently, Cain was very upset.

God immediately asked Cain what was bothering him.

And God said to Cain, ‘Why are you upset and why is your face so down?’ 

(Genesis 4:6)

Now that is a very strange question for God to have asked Cain.

Cain surely should have responded: “You ask why I’m upset?  You ask why I’m feeling down?  Isn’t it obvious to you, Lord?  I’m miserable because you rejected my gift even though I was the first to think of bringing You an offering!  That’s why I’m upset.”

With such an obvious answer, it is a strange question for God to have asked.  Even stranger is that Cain does not supply that obvious answer.  In fact, Cain says absolutely nothing in response to God’s question.  So God continues talking to Cain who seems to ignore Him and heads off to do away with his brother.

Ancient Jewish wisdom explains God’s question by explaining that the only time God permits us the indulgence of despair and sorrow is if there is nothing at all we can do to change our circumstances.  Under all other conditions, God prefers that we set about solving the problem causing the gloom.

…the Israelites lifted their eyes and saw the Egyptians chasing after them and they were frightened and cried out to God.
(Exodus 14:10)

And God’s response?

And God said to Moses, why do you cry to me, order the Children of Israel to march forward.

(Exodus 14:15)

The Israelites were scared and dispirited as they stood impotently on the shores of the Red Sea watching their foes draw nearer.  God permits them no emotional weakness or passive hand-wringing.  Instead, God directs them to take action to solve their problem.  This they do.  They start marching into the Red Sea and in response, God splits it.

One might have thought that one occasion when unmitigated sadness is allowed is during mourning. Yet ancient Jewish wisdom stresses that even then, after a short period, we should focus more on extolling the memory of the deceased than on immersing ourselves in sorrow.

The Hebrew word for ‘mourner’ AVeL is the same as the Hebrew word for ‘but’ AVaL.

                                                                                                                        אבל              אבל

mourning           but

Even mourning has a time limit and an intensity limit.  We might be in mourning, BUT the memories are good.  This is the end of everything, BUT life continues.  How can I continue living without that person?  BUT you can.  Even in the sorrow of mourning, after an appropriate interval, we are expected to reintegrate ourselves back into what is now the new normal of life.

It all becomes clearer now.  God asked why Cain was miserable because He expected Cain to do something about it.  God expected Cain to look into his heart and understand why his gift was rejected.  Cain should have taken the necessary steps to right his relationship with God and all would have been well.  God even gave him hints of how to accomplish this.

…if you behave better, you’ll be accepted…

(Genesis 4:7)

Like so many of us, Cain was immersed in his feelings. Rather than changing himself, he disastrously struck out at his brother.

The Wright Brothers succeeded by responding differently than Cain. They reacted to each setback, not with anguish but with action.  Each failure propelled them not to heartache but to exertion and effort.  So whatever grand life challenge we find ourselves engaged in, our response to setback and failure should not be a retreat to passive and self-indulgent sadness.  Positive action is the antidote.

If I may be personal for a minute, it was quite a blow when KSFO cancelled my top-ranking radio show in exchange for paid programming. I quickly researched alternatives and began broadcasting at WC4Y.com, adjusting to a very different type of show. I appreciate more than you can know, those of you who followed and stayed with me through technical and other difficulties. Having made my own efforts, God has now blessed me with a new opportunity, a podcast on the Blaze radio. I hope you will enjoy my new podcasts. In celebration, we put our Library Pack PLUS on sale right now. Save over $25 on this incredible package of twenty-three illuminating and entertaining resources full of action tips for a better life.

LibraryPackPlus with BSB, April 2014

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Grow Without Gaining a Pound

Success in life is not, as is popularly claimed, who you know.  Neither is it what you know.  While those two are both important, success in life ultimately depends upon what you are.  And by that I mean whether you are a petty, little person or whether you are a great giant of a human.  Tiny little people fail, those with huge and humble hearts succeed.

What is more, a big-minded individual on the wrong track can more easily navigate a turnaround than someone small who tends to remain stuck where he is.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that while on route from Egypt to the Promised Land, Israel encountered several nations including Amalek, Amon, and Moab.

The Amalekites, intending genocide, attacked Israel from the rear, targeting the weak and vulnerable.

 Remember what Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt; how he confronted you on the way and struck at your rear, all who were weak straggling behind you, when you were faint and weary…

(Deuteronomy 25:17-18)

God’s response to the Amalekites was to declare them Israel’s permanent enemies deserving of total obliteration.

 …you shall blot out all memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens, do not forget.

(Deuteronomy 25:19)

The Amonites and the Moabites refused to give even the basics of bread and water to the Israelites. God’s response to them was that they could never be accepted as converts to the faith of Israel.

 An Amonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord… Because they did not meet you with bread and water on your way out of Egypt…

(Deuteronomy 23:4-5)

 To summarize:

Amalek must be wiped out.  However, prior to that, any individual Amalekite may convert to Judaism. Jewish history actually contains examples of this happening. In contrast, Amonites and Moabites may not be attacked, but they may not convert.

One would think that intending to commit genocide and terminating the people of Israel is a greater evil than failing at hospitality.  Yet, mysteriously, Amonites and Moabites are permanently disqualified from becoming Jewish.

One clue to solving this mystery is that selfishness easily explains the actions of Amon and Moab.  By ignoring the hungry Israelites they saved themselves both the trouble and cost of feeding the tired travelers.  Amon and Moab gained by their meanness.

However, when Amalek attacked, they had nothing to gain.  Indeed, their attack carried costs which they were quite content to bear.  They were driven by ideology.  An evil ideology to be sure, but they were not driven by the pettiness of Amon and Moab.

Here is a timeless truth of this story.  God wants His people to grow to greatness.

In order to make sense of it all, we must understand the distinction between great and small as clearly as we understand the distinction between good and evil.  There are actions which are great and good, just as there are actions which are great and evil.  A soldier risking his life to save the lives of his comrades or parents selflessly devoting themselves year after year to the nurturing of their children are actions that are both great and good.  Stalin was undeniably evil; he was capable of such incalculable wickedness because his personality and abilities were great.

There are actions which are small and good just as there are actions which are small and evil.  Smiling rather than scowling when we are out and about is a small and good action whereas failing to remove from the sidewalk the fecal mess deposited by your dog is a small and evil act.

Amalek is great and evil whereas Amon and Moab are small and evil.  Most small and petty people remain forever that way.  They do small good things or small and bad things, but they are always small.

However, those of greatness, even if they use their greatness for evil, are capable of transformation.  Ancient Jewish wisdom tells of a notoriously successful and ruthless robber.  One day he encountered a rabbi who inspired him.  His great powers that had been dedicated to evil, soon turned to good.  He ended up marrying his mentor’s sister and became a great rabbi whose wisdom is taught to this day.

We can similarly transform our lives by shedding the shackles of smallness.  When we stop thinking small, stop acting small, stop harboring trite jealousies and thoughts, and stop seeing ourselves as capable only of small achievement, anything becomes possible.  Striving for greatness of soul and spirit opens the way to never-imagined vistas of brilliant opportunity.  But the key is escaping the prison of pettiness.

Learn to give generously of both your emotional and material self.  Learn to be magnanimous towards all.  Ignore insults the way a high-flying jetliner ignores delinquent on the ground futilely throwing stones at it.  Learn to spend your time only on pursuits that befit a great human being.  Let all your speech be worthy of posterity.  Learn to be great.

I realize that I have given you true and worthy advice in much the same way that I might advise an aspiring painter, “Just put down on canvas what your soul sees.”  It’s not so easy.  Knowing what to do doesn’t translate to being able to do. My advice is to start with speech, and I’d like to suggest using my audio CD, Perils of Profanity: You Are What Your Speak as a guide. Its scope is more than just profanity, though that is a scourge of our time, and it provides a worthy tool for enlarging your income, your social life and most of all, yourself.

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Never Marry Your Aunt

 

One of my least favorite laws was the National Speed Limit law of 1974 that mandated 55 miles per hour as the legal maximum.  Government assured us that it would save gasoline that, back then, we were lining up at gas stations to buy at, gasp! 55 cents a gallon. Of course the law did nothing of the sort, not even cutting the country’s fuel usage by a half of a percent.  Furthermore, I was hardly the only citizen who utterly ignored that law.  While cruising at a comfortable 85 along some straight and deserted highway in Montana or Nevada I was frequently overtaken by cars whooshing by in a blur.  Finally recognizing its futility, Congress repealed the law in 1995 returning speed limit decisions to the states.

How did they come up with the 55 miles per hour number back in 1974?  I hate to disillusion you, but some anonymous bureaucrats sat in an anonymous committee and pulled the number out of the air.  I’d have theorized that perhaps a brave and anonymous bureaucrat did it all on his own but then I realized that bureaucrats only make decisions from behind the safety shield of a committee.  So it was a committee that determined the magic number to be 55.  They could also have ruled 50, 60 or even 70.  Whatever they decided would become the law.  There are other laws like this; filing your income tax return by April 15, walking barefoot through the airport metal detector, and not buying more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks in New York City.  Laws like these are proscriptive laws. Some person or group of people with authority, proscribed them to be the law.  They could have made tax day May 29, they could have said you have to strip to your underwear at the airport, and they could have made 12 ounce Slurpees the maximum allowed.

However, there is another category of laws that I call descriptive laws.  These include the law of gravity which says that anyone who steps out of a window on the twentieth floor of a building will plummet downwards to a sudden and fatal stop on the sidewalk below.  There is no bureaucratic committee that can modify that law to apply only on Mondays.  This law does not proscribe. Instead it describes how the world really works.

Boyle’s Law and Charles’ Law state that expanding gases must cool down.  These convenient two laws make refrigerators and air conditioners possible.  There is no bureaucratic committee anywhere that can repeal these laws.  They were not created at the whim of Robert Boyle or Jacques Charles.  They describe reality.

Are Scriptural laws, for instance the one prohibiting men from marrying their aunts and women from marrying their nephews, proscriptive or descriptive?  (Leviticus 18:12 & 20:19)

In other words, would violating this law result in a penalty only if caught by a law enforcement officer or is the consequence intrinsic and automatic like gravity?

The first clue is that God’s concern is clearly not genetic. If it was, the Torah would also prohibit men from marrying their nieces and women from marrying their uncles.  Yet marriages with exactly the same genetic element are permitted.

What possible reason could God have for prohibiting a man from marrying his aunt but permitting him to marry his niece?  Likewise, why prohibit a woman from marrying her nephew while permitting her to marry her uncle?  While we need to listen to God regardless of whether we understand His reasoning, we are supposed to look for underlying truths He is imparting to us.

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that that most women yearn to look up to the man they marry.  Sadly, many men discover that when poor conduct costs them the respect of their wives, the marriage is challenging to sustain and very hard to rescue. (While women also need to be respected by their husbands, it is a different form of respect.) Could the law we are discussing help tilt the odds towards successful marriage?

Ideally, in a thriving society, marriages draw inspiration and guidance from ancestors.  Many homes proudly display pictures of grandparents on the walls.  How often I hear women say, “My husband’s grandfather taught him how to…”  In my own case, I know how influential my wife’s grandmother was in her life. We even named our oldest daughter after her.

With admirable multi-generational awareness in a healthy family, a patriarch or matriarch is vitally important.  Now, if a man marries his aunt, then she is one generation closer to the cherished grandparents than he is.  This makes it just a tiny bit more difficult for him to retain his wife’s respect.  After all, she is a closer link in the transmission than he is.

However when a man marries his niece or a woman marries her uncle, the husband is a generation closer to the grandparents and the family heritage.  This is admittedly a small matter, but marriage is so difficult to do well and so remarkably rewarding when it is done well, that even tiny little things can make a difference. With this seemingly random Biblical law that affects very few people, the Bible provides a practical lesson even for those of us who don’t marry relatives.  It has nothing to do with arbitrary, proscriptive rules. Instead, it describes a feature of marriage and intergenerational life we would all do well to understand.

Many of the details in the first three chapters of Genesis provide descriptions of spiritual laws that God built into male/female relationships. We can ignore or object to these laws, or we can embrace and take advantage of them (even when our government and society condemn us for doing so). We expand on many of them in our 2 audio CD set, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden. Every couple, from dating to those celebrating Golden anniversaries can enjoy and benefit by learning how God’s world really works. Today more than ever, you need to make sure that those you love get exposed to the truth. The Supreme Court can proscribe laws; Genesis describes them.

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Grab That Ox

Almost everyone can tell when a synagogue or a church is in the final stages of decline.  The impending extinction is usually caused by changing neighborhood demographics or sometimes by a leadership crisis but the signs are always conspicuous.  Diminished attendance; few young women, a sad-looking facility showing signs of neglect. A roof needing repair, walls needing paint, and missing light bulbs reflect deferred maintenance.

Similarly, a country that is losing its vitality and sliding down into decadence reveals certain characteristics that serve as an early warning system.  One surprisingly significant sign is hostility towards private citizens owning property.  It starts off subtly by stressing the rights of renters rather than owners and then gradually grows to criticize landlords, owners of commercial and industrial property and others who have successfully acquired property.  Eventually censure of property-owners turns into condemnation to justify government agencies raising property taxes imperiling ownership, and ultimately seizure of properties, always for the “public good” of course.

This pattern has nearly always accompanied the decline of empires, nations, and societies and can easily be observed today in Europe as well as in N. America.  The growth of an economically viable society under stable and limited government is in itself something of a miracle.  It is far from the natural order of things and to a great degree, depends upon a government not only refraining from confiscatory policies but actively protecting citizens’ ability to acquire and own property.

The Bible clearly reveals how emphatically God desires for people to own both real estate and movable property.

… nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor shall they learn war any more. But each man shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree…
(Micah 4:3-4)

The prophet is not talking about people sitting under any old vine or fig tree but under their own.  Furthermore, ancient Jewish wisdom declares that the proximity of the topics of war and owning their trees in these verses suggest that violence and war are best avoided by each citizen owning property.

Not only does God want all His children to own property, but He is apparently uneasy about ownerless property.  Take a look at this:

When you encounter the ox or the donkey of your enemy wandering you shall surely return them to him.
(Exodus 23:4)

Intriguingly, the same idea is repeated with some variation later in the Torah:

You shall not see the ox or sheep of your brother wander off, and ignore them; you must certainly return them to your brother. 

(Deuteronomy 22:1)

Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches three timeless truths from these verses:

First: If you encounter obviously lost animals wandering around, you don’t have the right to ignore them.  As soon as you spot them they become your business and you are obliged to take all necessary steps to restore them to them to their owners.  God doesn’t care for ownerless property and He counts upon us to help owners retain their property.

Second: In Exodus, the second book of the Torah, we are directed to return lost property, even that belonging to our enemy.  Surely we’d have been able to figure out that if we have to treat our enemy’s property this respectfully, then we need to do so for our brother’s property.  Thus the verse mentioning brother in Deuteronomy, the fifth book, seems superfluous.  The answer is that God is teaching us that by interrupting whatever you are doing and going out of your way to return lost property to your enemy (Exodus 23:4) you can eventually transform him into your brother. (Deuteronomy 22:1)

Third: By mentioning helping one’s enemy first, God is telling us that He wants us constantly to be working on overcoming our inbuilt, unworthy natural tendencies.  A very understandable part of our beings exults at seeing our enemy’s valuable animals lost and wandering.  “That will teach him to be such a scoundrel,” we self-righteously tell ourselves.  Yet God tells us to work at overcoming our ignoble instincts.

The same applies to training ourselves never to become angry, not to be lazy, or any of the numerous other negative tendencies and instincts we possess.  They may be natural to us, but that doesn’t make them permissible.

Another area where we need to overcome a natural tendency is envy, which leads us  to equate poverty with virtue.  It is a natural instinct but a wrong one to tell ourselves that those with far more property than we have must have ‘cut corners’ and must be greedy, unworthy folks.

By remembering that part of God’s plan for human interaction demands that people own property, we can, in our own small way, help to preserve our society.  We can help curb the natural tendency of our culture, entertainment and politicians.  By remembering the Biblical approach to humans and their property, we can, in our own small way, help our synagogues and churches remain fiscally healthy and reverse the societal decline that flows from envy and hatred of those who wisely own some property.

In case you’re wondering what inspired me to write this Thought Tool, it was partially the fascinating questions that my wife and I receive from readers asking about economic, family and social issues.  We receive many puzzling and perplexing questions and we answer one a week.  So many of you have expressed interest in this aspect of our work that we have published an irresistible anthology of 101 of the most intriguing questions we have received. It is easy reading that packs a punch and you can get it on sale today.

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and Amazon Kindle too

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