Economic Dignity

The definition of economic dignity has three parts, to be able to take care of your family, having the ability to reach your potential and being free from domination and humiliation. It’s from an article by economist Gene Sperling in the journal Democracy. Sperling worked with both presidents Clinton and Obama. He believes that economic dignity should drive economic policy and that metrics like GDP can be misleading and not produce the right results. In other words economic policy need to make sure for example that people can have jobs with living wages or that corporations not contribute to decreasing upward mobility. Here is how he ends his article: “Government cannot guarantee happiness. But there is little question that with wise and just policy, we do have the power to say to all our people that if you do your part, you care for your family, pursue potential and purpose without ever feeling that you have been given up on, and participate in our economy with a degree of fairness and respect as opposed to domination and humiliation. That much—that basic promise of economic dignity for all—is something that is within our grasp.”

If economic equality means anything to us, then economic dignity is a concept both powerful and useful. And as we begin to ponder national elections, gauging candidates by how closely their rhetoric to combat inequality mirrors this concept may be essential.

Yoga Training Glut?

In the Los Angeles area alone at least one hundred yoga teacher trainings began this month. It’s not a particularly demanding training assuming you are sufficiently expert with a number of poses. It only lasts a few weeks, save for the cost which can be quite steep—one I saw was $15,000—it can be available to a wide range of people. That’s a good thing, right? I am not sure. I began by looking at the name of those offering the training, 2 or 3 were unassailable experts, people with national recognition and as close to universal respect as one can in any given field. I couldn’t help but ask, how many are doing it out of commitment to their profession and how many are doing it for whatever financial gain? Then a bigger issue arose within me.  When one reads about the history of how yoga developed and why, one ends us with deep respect, and I count myself among those. Yoga is more than making your body conform to certain poses. Yoga is a way to understand the relationship between the visible and the non, a way to achieve some understanding, however small, about what lies beyond us.  That means that the teacher must be endowed with a certain wisdom to help the practitioner or would be practitioner of yoga move towards that greater goal. That is given to a few.  Perhaps that’s why when I look around at the proliferation of yoga studios, at the existing number of yoga teachers and at the projected increase in those numbers  I ask: Are we diluting a hallowed discipline, making it into an imitation of itself?

Resolutions Beyond Ourselves

Every January we make resolutions. It’s a ritual usually focused on ourselves, our health, how to better our lives. And usually those very resolutions require more effort than we may be willing to exert and so we let them slowly or not so slowly fade into the realm of what could have been. I wonder if we would be more willing to sustain the needed effort if the cause was something we believed in, a cause outside ourselves, something where we could contribute and where the very fact of our contribution would make the needed difference.  Here are examples. Please add yours and let us all work toward a cause–or causes to make this world a bit better.

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Health Span

Heart disease, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer, stroke are all diseases which increasingly occur as people age. In fact old age is the biggest risk factor for disease. A large number of people want to avoid disease and extend their lifespan. After all Star Trek’s Mr. Spock taught us to live long and prosper. New drugs are being tried, and of course there are many who might want to try whatever they think is available, anything that might prolong their life. But scientists apparently see the issues differently. The body is not constructed to last as long as some might wish. Although Continue reading “Health Span”