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'Same thing we do every night, Pinky, try to FREE the world!'

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!

I’m currently enjoying a book titled Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander. When Mander wrote his book in 1978, there was no CNN, no worldwide Web, no hundreds of cable channels streaming into our homes, no iPods, no Blackberries, and no laptops. However, his insights into how the increasing influence of television is affecting our society in our lives are quite profound.

This isn’t a book review, so I’ll just state briefly that Mander’s four arguments revolve around the effects that television has had on:

1. The critical thinking skills of human beings.

2. Our relationship to natural environments.

3. The physical and mental health of human beings.

4. The knowledge/power balance in a democratic society.

In one section of the book, Mander lays out the pre-conditions that exist(ed)—and to which television has contributed—that have set the stage for the conditions mentioned in the four arguments. In other words, in order to create the deterioration of critical thinking skills, the disconnection with the natural environment, the weakening of physical and mental health, and the drastic imbalance in wealth, knowledge and power in our society, certain things have to be consciously put in place.

He begins, "Imagine that like some kind of science fiction dictator, you intended to rule the world. You would probably have pinned over your desk a list something like this:" and he then goes on to list the eight pre-conditions.

Now, anyone (um, like me) who coaches, consults or advises others on starting a business, achieving optimum health, maximizing their creative potential or changing their lives has encountered the mental and emotional blocks that exist in people’s self esteem, self perception and awareness, judgment of others, worldview, and belief level that prevent them from setting goals, executing their plans, and moving forward with their lives in ways they desire.

So, as I read each of Mander’s eight pre-conditions for total control of the masses, it occurred to me that each thing that television has contributed to mirrors exactly a condition that I encounter among the people I coach. So, rather than repeat the eight pre-conditions here, I’m going to actually write their opposites as a prescription for how to undo the damage that television (and similar technologies) has done.

In other words, to invoke and paraphrase the famous line from the “Pinky and the Brain” cartoon, I’m going to take Mander’s list of how to rule the world, and by writing its opposite, show How to Free the World!

1. Increase personal knowledge.

Make it easier for people to know about themselves, how they function, what a human being is, and how the human fits into the wider natural systems of the universe. This will make it possible for the human to recognize what is natural and real from what is artificial and contrived. People can achieve greater control of themselves, their needs, and their health, and find the answers they need on their own without need for so-called experts and authorities from outside themselves. Personal knowledge and experience is the best authority.

2. Encourage comparisons and connections.

Show people how their present lives are connected to earlier societies, older languages, and how it all fits together in historical context. Promote and foster the awareness of and respect for indigenous cultures, natural environments, and other non-human life forms.

When people see themselves in relation to and connected to other systems, they act more responsibly and with a group ethic that benefits the whole world rather than simply the individual.

3. Connect people directly with each other.

Encourage interactive, group experiences where people interact with each other rather than with an external show, presentation of performance. For example, a spectator sport or movie date is not really a group experience because while people do gather together, each person is in their own brain, simply sitting and watching something outside of the group. We want interpersonal exchange, not just a mass experience.

4. Encourage sensory experiences.

People need to have more sensory (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste) experiences rather simply mental experiences. A focus on solely mental experiences separates the mind from the body and makes it harder to remain grounded in reality.

5. Encourage personal experience.

Encourage unique, individualized, experiential experience rather than pre-arranged, edited, crafted experiences. To develop a real understanding of the world, an individual must experience the world for him or herself rather than through the produced, edited show or performance.

6. Discourage drug use and the need to “escape.”

The pacifying effects of drug use, tobacco, food and sex nullify the individual’s desire and motivation to take the necessary actions to change their situations. However, once many of the previous strategies are implemented, and people feel more connected and personally empowered, this need to escape will decrease.

7. Decentralize sources of information.

In one regard, the Internet is already serving this by creating multiple sources of information that are competing with the traditional sources.

However, many people still receive what they consider to be valid, authentic, and unbiased "news" from single source entities. Information is power. It is also freedom. Once people—through Twitter, and Facebook, and blogs and Web sites—realize that the reality they are fed by the centralized, nightly newscasts is biased and distorted for specific agendas, then they can begin to approach a degree of freedom of thought and action.

8. Redefine happiness and the meaning of life.

As a result of the advertising-driven medium of television and its cousins of radio, print and the Internet, people have developed a skewed definition of happiness. They are taught to have certain needs, taught to connect those needs with what they believe happiness to be, and are encouraged to become obedient consumers in order to satisfy those needs. The purpose of advertising and media is to create consumers who keep the wheels of the economy turning.

It is easy to teach people a skewed definition of happiness if as a result of television, 1. They don’t value their own self-acquired knowledge, 2. They see themselves as disconnected from the past and other cultures, 3. They are unconnected from each other, 4. They are deprived of sensory experiences, 5. They get their experience and interpretation of life through third parties (TV anchors, talk show hosts, etc. newspaper editors), 6. They escape into drugs, and 7. All their information comes from a single source.

However, once a person experiences the seven steps to Free The World, it becomes easier to introduce a new definition of happiness and the meaning and purpose of life.

What’s needed

What’s needed, instead, is:
- a definition of happiness that emphasizes on expansion and growth and the achievement of one’s fullest potential.

- a definition of life’s purpose that focuses on uplifting and being of service to others.

- a definition of one’s profession that is based on the pursuit of one’s passion and natural talents.

What’s needed is to teach:

- an interaction with oneself that focuses on developing one’s creativity.

- an interaction with others that focuses on giving unconditional love.

- an interaction with the environment that is based on stewardship and not exploitation.

When you really think about it, isn’t this ideally what our educational system should be doing for our children? Is it not ideally what our careers and jobs should offer us? Is it not ideally what our everyday lives should be all about?

As you go forward with your resolutions and re-commitments to live a more prosperous life for yourself and your children and/or to make a difference in the lives of others, consider how all the definitions, habits, perceptions and opinions we have, have been fed to us all our lives, and consequently how caught up most of us are in an experience that has been created for us, and into which we unwittingly fall. Then, if life seems as if you’re a laboratory rat caught in a spinning wheel, with your brain simply reacting to pre-programmed commands, when you interact with your family after work, or your children after school, or simply with yourself, as you unwind from the day’s activities, ask yourself (and your brain) seriously, “What are we doing tonight?”

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Note: Ever wanted to direct your friends and family to a set of websites that revealed the best things about Saipan? Do what I do: send them to!

Note: Fans and followers of the book, Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan may now find copies here on Saipan at Fu Dogs & Qi (pronounced chi), Saipan’s only Asian Antiques Store, located on the first floor of the Nauru Building (the “360 building”) in Susupe.

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Until next week, remember, success is a journey, not a destination!

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