Anger, Compassion and Meekonomics


I think that revolutionary anger, like all anger, hides a deeper, slower sadness about the essential human condition, and it is through contemplation, not action, that we can come to terms with it.

Combat, territoriality, conflict, sickness, aging, dying: these are not foreign to human life, they are inescapable parts of it.  We are capable of evil as well as good; greed is in our nature along with altruism.

We cannot run from tragic aspects of ourselves; we can only conquer them by facing them squarely and incorporating them into our knowledge of ourselves as whole.

We must slow down.  We must move from our heads to an examination of our hearts.

The true revolution is an honest respect for the differences of others; forgiveness of their sins because their sins are ours.  We must, above all else learn compassion.

How can we learn compassion from anger?

Only through time.  Stephen Rechtschaffen, “Timeshifting; Creating More Time to Enjoy Your Life”

I apologize for the long quote that opens this post.  I don’t often incorporate such large chunks of other people’s work within my own but Rechtschaffen’s comments on anger, violence and the root of conflict hold such profound truth that to edit them further would have been doing a grave injustice to both you the read and Mr. Rechtschaffen himself.

I also apologize for taking so much time in this space lately to pull things out of Rechtshaffen’s 1996 book on the spirituality of time.  This book obviously moved me in unexpected ways, this is the last post on it though, I promise.

The quote above comes toward the end of the work.  Rechtschaffen is beginning to sum up his theory on reclaiming time and he hits on what I think is a profound truth about conflict and anger that we all experience.  Anger, according the Rechtschaffen “hides a deeper, slower sadness”

How many times have you met an angry person and thought to yourself, “how sad?”

How sad that someone is harboring such negative emotions?  In many cases in my experience it has been obvious to everyone around that the angry person is really just masking and avoiding a deeper, more personal emotion.  It comes out as anger when they don’t want to appear weak or afraid but some form of pain or sadness is usually at the root of it.

I haven’t talked much about the core concepts of Meekonomics lately.  Mainly because I’ve been focusing on the latest round of edits in preparation for the release of the second edition coming this spring, but this latest reading has helped me refine another aspect of Meekonomics, namely; compassion and understanding.

To be truly meek you cannot be sad or angry.  As I have defined it many times meekness is a willing submission of power in order to achieve a greater good.  To be meek you must set aside your own agenda and work with people of various backgrounds and opinions.  In order to do that you must come to terms with your own anger, inner sadness and conflicts.  In my book I call it the Love Mentality which is only achieved when we understand and conquer our innate Ruler and Caretaker Mentalities.

Rechtschaffen rightly states that in order to integrate our internal conflicts into a functioning whole we must slow down.  We must be willing to experience our emotions in order to work through our internal conflicts.  Don’t fight them, don’t rush past them – meditate on them.

Meditation is not to be confused with dwelling on your emotions however.  Dwelling on your emotions is to simply repeat over and over that you feel a certain way until it wells up in you and you explode in a burst of violence or collapse into a deep depression.  Mediating on your emotions on the other hand tends to be a much deeper experience.  Mediation goes beyond the mere feeling and asks the question, Why?.

It is not until we stare into the why of a feeling that we can move from our heads to our hearts and are truly able to learn from the experience.  Meekonomics theorizes that when we learn that on an international, macro-economic scale, we can change the world!

For more information on the general theory of Meekonomics write to: themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or buy the book “Meekonomics; Kingdom Economics from a Love Based Mentality” here or from Amazon.

The Pacifist and the Three Star General


In my day job as a Financial Security Advisor I have the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people.

In actuality, everyone is extraordinary in their own way, from the entrepreneur who discovered a new way to teach kids to love the Arts (my first client) to the 61 year old letter carrier who still works 10 hours a day with a smile on his face and love in his heart and the stay-at-home mom who stopped counting the hours she spends keeping her kids happy healthy and wise after she had her fourth.  I count all my clients not only as extraordinary, but I draw inspiration from them as I go about everything I do.  That’s why the person I met last Friday had such a profound impact on me.

About twice a year our office hosts a full meeting of all the affiliated Financial Advisors in our city.  In any given year there are about 150 of us.  The management gives some basic updates on our performance, recognizes a few of the top players in each product line and lays out some goals for the coming months, then they turn the morning over to a guest speaker.  Usually the guest is a top player from one of our offices in another city or someone sent down from head office with a specific message that corporate thinks we should here.

Ho-hum…

We mark our time, sign the attendance sheet for our Continuing Education credits and get out of there as fast as we can so we do what we get paid for.  But this year was different.  This year we had the opportunity to hear from a truly extraordinary Canadian; General Rick Hillier (retired) of the Canadian Armed Forces.

I’m an unapologetic pacifist.  (That doesn’t mean with you think it means, more on that in previous posts here and here)  So I am a bit skeptical of anything a military man might have to say but if there is one thing that the military can teach everyday civilians, pacifists included, it’s how to practice and cultivate leadership.  And there is no greater leader in the history of the Canadian military than Rick Hillier.

Hillier made his mark on history as the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2004 and as the Chief of Defence Staff, the Canadian equivalent to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from 2005 to 2008.

Here is what I, a pacifist, learned from Canada’s top military man on leadership.  Hillier calls it the two step cycle of leadership.  Step one, provide inspiration – tell stories, show the way, take concrete action and give people the tools to do their jobs.  Step two, draw inspiration – listen to their stories, ask them where they want to go, let them take action, ask what they need from you to do their job.  Repeat!

General Hillier spoke to a room of 150 Financial Advisors for an hour and half.  Honestly, it felt like ten minutes and at times there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  He told us a bunch of stories about showing the way, taking action and providing tools, and at the end he quoted another great Canadian to sum up it all up.

“Vision without a plan is just a fantasy and you’re wasting your time.” – Mike Babcock; Head Coach Detroit Red Wings and Canadian Men’s Olympic Team (2010 Gold Medalists)

Meek people can be great leaders.  In fact I am convinced that meekness is an essential trait for true leadership.  The key to Hillier’s two step cycle of leadership is meekness.  You have to be able to step back and allow others to lead you and inspire you in order to provide leadership and inspiration yourself.  You have to release your grasp on power and hold it in an open palm in order for true respect and power to be given to you.  At the end of the day, that’s the definition of true leadership and I’m glad that our military is staffed by men and women who get it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Meekness


Every once in a while I feel compelled to explain why I use the word meek to describe the work I do and the movement I’m trying to start through this blog, my books and my public speaking.  As I say in the introduction to “Meekonomics; How to Inherit The Earth and Live Life to the Fullest in God’s Economy”; meek is one of those bible words we don’t use in regular conversation anymore and as a result it has lost much of its meaning.

This past week I finally started reading Dietrich Bonheoffer’s seminal work on the Christian life; “The Cost of Discipleship”.

Originally published in 1937, at the height of Nazi Germany, it’s a clarion call directed at German Christians to reject the godless politics of National Socialism and return to an uncompromisingly orthodox understanding of scripture.  It’s precisely this kind of writing and preaching that landed Bonhoeffer in a jail and saw him hanged by the Nazi’s just two weeks before the allied armies would have liberated him.  That, and the fact that he was implicated in a plot to murder Hitler could apparently get you killed in the 1940s, go figure.

Now, over seventy years after it was first published, and in a Christian culture dominated by right wing political ideology, the message of “The Cost of Discipleship” remains just as relevant as it was in Hitler’s Germany, and for a book written in a different era, it’s a surprisingly easy read.

Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of Matthew 5:5, which I base most of my writing on, is perhaps the most clearly profound explanation of this biblical passage I’ve ever read.  I don’t poach the work of other authors very often but I’d like to take this opportunity to quote Bonhoeffer at length and allow his writing to speak for itself.

“Blessed are the meek:  for they shall inherit the earth.”  This community of strangers possesses no inherent right of its own to protect its members in the world, nor do they claim such rights, for they are meek, they renounce every right of their own and live for the sake of Jesus Christ.  When reproached, they hold their peace; when treated with violence they endure it patiently; when men drive them from their presence, they yield their ground.  They will not go to law to defend their rights, or make a scene when they suffer injustice, nor do they insist on their legal rights.  They are determined to leave their rights to God alone – non cupidi vindicate, as the ancient Church paraphrased in.  Their right is in the will of their Lord – that and no more.  They show by every word and gesture that they do not belong to the earth.  Leave heaven to them, says the world in its pity, that is where they belong.  But Jesus says; “They shall inherit the earth.”  To these, the powerless and the disenfranchised, the very earth belongs.  Those who now posses it by violence and injustice shall lose it, and those who here have utterly renounced it, who were meek to the point of the cross, shall rule the new earth.  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer; The Cost of Discipleship

I really have nothing to add.  Instead I challenge you to meditate on that for a bit and ask yourself; are you ready to inherit the earth?

What’s Your Attitude Toward Power?


 Blessed are the Meek, for They Will Inherit The Earth [Matthew 5:5]

So over the past few weeks, while I’ve been working on this series from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount this has been the one that I’ve been looking forward to the most and I’m sure on a blog called The Meekonomics Project many of you have been wondering how I would treat it as well.  To any of you who have taken the time to read portions of the book I’m working on (Meekonomics 101; How to Inherit the Earth and Live Life to the Fullest under God’s Economy) this will come as no surprise; being meek is all about releasing our hold on personal power. 

I’ve said many times before that meek is one of those so called bible words that has fallen so far out of common usage that we have to spend quite a bit of time reminding ourselves of its’ definition before we can do any analysis of where it fits in the context of this passage. 

Webster defines meek as;

  1. Enduring injury with patience and without resentment
  2. Deficient in spirit and courage
  3. Not violent or strong

With respect to Mr. Webster, these definitions are quite simply wrong and not at all what the bible translators intended when they chose the word in the first place. 

True, to be meek means to endure and to be patient and not resentful, and meek people are generally not violent but to be deficient in spirit and courage, or weak are not characteristics of a meek person, at least not in the biblical sense.  A better definition of meek is to consider a broken horse. Horses are strong, powerful and majestic animals but when they are bridled and put to work under human direction they are often said to be meek.  The horse in this situation has not lost any of its strength, power or majesty in allowing itself to be directed by another but it has submitted to a greater purpose.  Under the direction of a human master the meek horse is now capable of pulling a load or plowing a field, something that under its own power it never would have attempted.  In the same way when we submit ourselves to God we are able to achieve greatness beyond our wildest imaginations, greatness that we never would have even considered had we remained our own masters.  That is what I believe Jesus is getting at here when he says that the meek shall inherit the earth.  If we submit ourselves to God we will do things that are so beyond our wildest dreams we may as well have become masters of the universe!

Later on Jesus calls his disciples to him and reminds them that the way of the world is for the strong and powerful to oppress the weak but that is not to be the way in which his followers act. 

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” [Matthew 20:25-28] 

This is an example of meekness in action.  So is this; 

The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. [Matthew 23:11-12]

Blessed are those who submit their personal power to a higher authority and serve the needs of others, for they will receive everything.

So what’s your attitude toward power?