The common good involves social systems, institutions, and environments that work in a manner that benefits all people. Parts of the common good include:

  • A good and affodable health care system
  • peaceful relations with the remainder of the world,
  • a just legal and political system,
  • a system for safety that is equitable,
  • an unpolluted natural environment,
  • a flourishing economic system.

As you have surmised, all our social problems in one way or another are linked to how well these systems function.

A fundamental problem for the United States in promoting the common good is that we have developed a taste for individualism. Americans place a huge value on individual freedom, personal rights, and following their own lead.  We do not want others to interfere with our pursuit of our individual goals and interests. It is virtually impossible to convince people that they should sacrifice some freedom, some personal goals, and some self-interest, for the sake of the “common good”. 

Different people have different ideas about what is worthwhile or what constitutes “the good life for human beings” and differences have increased during the last few decades particularly during the Trump years.  The voices of women and minorities have risen in volume as inequality has become more severe for marginalized groups. The most divisive group in recent times is the white working-class male who has witnessed jobs going away, lifestyles damaged, and lack of empathy. They are willing to be violent and are often led down paths that are not in their best interests.

And even if we agreed upon what we all valued, we would never agree about the value these factors have in our lives. The relative value of healthcare and saving Mother Earth would engender considerable debate and hostility. This tendency to disagree will diminish interest in the common good.

The costs associated with the common good are never shared equally. It is logical to expect wealthier folks to pay a greater percentage of the cost than those with less wealth or income.  But that is not often the case in America.  The wealthy have many subterfuges for hiding income and investments, many of them legal.  Yet if we made strides in achieving the common good, the wealth inequality would narrow. 

These problems pose considerable obstacles to those who call for more consideration of the common good. Still, appeals to the common good should not be dismissed. It is critical that Americans reflect on broad questions concerning the kind of society we want to become and how we are to achieve that society. Storming the Capital Building will not do it. The challenge we have is to view ourselves as connected members of the same community with shared goals, while respecting and valuing the freedom of individuals to pursue their own goals.

We simply must open our eyes, look across the room, the street, the division, the West Virginia border—and reach out to that neighbor, offering our hand, our compassion, and our heart.  Doing so crosses boundaries and cultural differences; it makes new cultural rules; it cares for the stranger. Love turns strangers into friends.

In any relationship, love causes us to cross boundaries to discover one another, to support one another, to heal one another When we do this, when we go crazy with affection, and offer kindness to our neighbor across the street or in Montana, we make a new kind of space between us. We make space for discovery and curiosity, for learning and growing. We make space for sharing stories. Maybe, we will change our view based on a novel approach or what others share.  (I have done this with others, and it works).  We can learn to see the world not only through our own stories, but also through the stories and views of other folks. I would love to know what kind of America members of the Proud Boys want to see. Do they want an authoritarian form of government with Trump as the dictator?

Most will say this will not work. How do we know, have we ever tried?


Male domination, white culture, and rigid capitalism have limited our individual power and freedom for so long that it is difficult to imagine anything else. As a nation, we are talking a lot about the first two items, but not so much capitalism. And yet, it is the driver of this system that perpetuates our systemic problems.

Capitalism is a system of largely private ownership that is open to new ideas, new firms, and new owners. Capitalism’s attractiveness has long been recognized to be its dynamism and innovations and its selectiveness in the innovations it tries out. At the same time, capitalism is also known for its tendency to generate instability, often associated with the existence of financial crises, job insecurity and failures to include the disadvantaged.  

The argument in favor of capitalism differs from the classical case for a competitive or free market economy.  Adam Smith’s thesis two centuries ago was that the presence of many buyers and many sellers competing with one another in the marketplace would weed out wasteful resource allocations. In equilibrium conditions, one person’s earnings could not be further increased except at the expense of another’s. 

Capitalism is not a free market economy, but instead, relies on innovation as its primary growth mechanism, and this depends upon a host of entrepreneurs willing to risk capital on an idea. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Thomas Edison are examples of men willing to risk change and attract capital to put the idea into play. And many small business owners do the same thing but on a smaller scale.

Yet innovation is not the only aspect of capitalism on which there is not yet much fundamental understanding. The influence of capitalism on fluctuations is not addressed in standard monetary macroeconomics or in the “real business cycle” thinking.  It is obvious that jobs are far more precarious in the capitalistic economies than in the state-run ones, where governments try to avoid any rocking of the boat and to backstop with assorted job protection laws.  

Capitalism’s proponents respond that the right both to hire and to fire freely helps to embolden firms to take the risks of job creation and thereby raises the average level of wages and perhaps employment too. However, capitalism fosters long swings in economic activity, as measured by employment and unemployment rates, and of far greater amplitude than those detectable in the more controlled economies. Perhaps, when contractionary forces strike, the prompt restructuring that firms in a capitalist economy undertake does dampen the size of the slump that follows. The rigid posture maintained by firms in controlled economies, with their strictures against layoffs, entails a much deeper and longer slump. For the average person, losing a job is costly and provides a justification for blocking or moderating long slumps in a controlled environment.

The biggest problem with capitalism is that it is best only for the elite, more able, and advantaged participants, who can find rich rewards from its stimulation and challenges. There is much resistance to the integration of the less able and less advantaged into the economic sphere.  This is the question of economic inclusion.  Quite possibly, there is little cost from a failure of highly corporatized or highly socialized economies to include the less advantaged, in those economies. It is often deemed acceptable to have only a minority of the population in the labor force.  Far more may be at stake in the inclusion of the less advantaged where the business sector is predominantly capitalism.  If these capitalist business sectors offer relatively good job satisfaction and personal growth but offer relatively high wages in comparison with the pay in underground and domestic activities, then an appreciable deficiency in inclusion arises from the gap between low-end wage rates and the median wage. The resulting decline in employability will be deemed unacceptable and may impose high social costs on virtually everyone.

Even more difficult than the task of measuring these social effects of capitalism is the problem of finding solutions to them if solutions exist. And that problem is now more difficult since our country (USA) has grown aware of how fortunate we are to have had the capitalist engine driving its development over the past two centuries and how valuable this engine can be again.  So, the West is faced with a conundrum: How does society respond to the social defects and deficiencies of capitalism without choking off capitalism’s potential dynamism? Among the issues are whether retraining can address job losses, how long-term booms are to be treated, and whether employment subsidies are cost-effective as a remedy for a deficiency in inclusion.

Why can’t the United States be more fair or equal. When Americans declare that “we live in a capitalist society” what they’re often defending is our nation’s peculiarly brutal economy.

Those searching for reasons the American economy is uniquely severe and unbridled can find many answers in religion, politics, and culture. But many are finding answers derived from our “cotton” economy of the 19th century. Long rows of cotton in need of picking, cotton houses for the sorting and selling, and slave auction blocks for labor provided the engine for the birthing of America’s low-road approach to capitalism.

Slavery was a source of phenomenal wealth. By the eve of the Civil War, the Mississippi Valley was home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Cotton grown and picked by enslaved workers was the nation’s most valuable export. The combined value of enslaved people exceeded that of all the railroads and factories in the nation. New Orleans boasted a denser concentration of banking capital than New York City. What made the cotton economy boom in the United States, and not in all the other far-flung parts of the world with climates and soil suitable to the crop, was our nation’s unflinching willingness to use violence on nonwhite people and to exert its will on seemingly endless supplies of land and labor. Given the choice between modernity and barbarism, prosperity and poverty, lawfulness and cruelty, democracy and totalitarianism, America chose it all.

So, when there is concern for those marginalized by our brutal system, all conservatives begin to shout “socialism”.  That is a key word that frightens all Americans even though most don’t understand the concept, nor do they recognize that we already have elements of Socialism in our economy. (Watch out for your Social Security!!)

But among our Senators and Congressmen, I believe they relish the idea of participating in the dynamism of capitalism but have not the entrepreneurial acumen or measure of invention to do it themselves.  So, they ride on the coattails of the broad swath of Americans and participate in the largesse. Our government fosters the continuation of this barbaric system for its own growth and benefit. When will Americans wake up? The rest of the world recognizes our flawed practice, and we keep voting for more of the same.


Jams, Jellies, and Preserves

For seventy-five years, I have been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. In my early years it was, by far, the best food item my dear mother made.  The prime reason for the quality was the jelly part—it was made by my grandmother.  Every year we drove to the farm to get our annual allotment of jams, jellies and preserves made from berries and fruit collected by me and my cousins in late June and July.  The jelly was my favorite for the PBJ and toast.  But the jams were the best on biscuits and waffles.  How about you—do you pick jam, jelly, or preserves? Did you ever wonder what sets these wondrous delicacies apart?


Jams begin with fresh fruit (ours was usually picked in the morning and made in the afternoon or next morning) that is cooked until it breaks down into the consistency of a sauce.  It is a much thicker spread than jelly, and is made from chopped, crushed, or puréed fruit, and sugar. Pectin—a water-soluble fiber that occurs naturally in most fruits, with the highest concentration in the peel or skin—is also added to reach a thicker consistency,

Jam typically contains fruit pulp. High-pectin fruit such as citrus fruit, apples, cranberries, and blackberries will set well once the fruit and sugar have been boiled and the pectin is activated. My grandmother used lemon juice as an ingredient for low pectin fruit such as strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and apricots.


Jelly is a fruit spread made from fruit juice and pectin. In the presence of heat, acid, and sugar, the pectin helps the mixture thicken and gives jelly (as well as jam and preserves) their spreading potential. After the initial cooking, jelly is strained through a piece of muslin or a ‘jelly bag’ (grandma) to remove bits of fruit pulp, which explains why jelly looks more transparent than its spreadable relatives. Jelly is the smoothest of all three spreads, and its flavor is sometimes overpowered by the gelatin.


Preserves are a thick spread made from fruit cooked with sugar. Preserves require large pieces of the fruit, or the whole fruit, unlike jams and jellies. That’s what lends preserves their differentiating, course texture. Preserves use most of the fruit and have smaller pieces of chopped fruit mixed with sugar to retain the freshness. They can be mixed with a syrup or jam to hold them to hold the fruit together.


Jams, jellies, and preserves all contain the same ingredients, with the difference being the processing of the fruit. While jelly has the smoothest texture of them all, jams are a bit thicker, and preserves boast the most body, thanks to their chunky fruit pieces. Preserves use the least amount of pectin since you are working with the larger pieces of the fruit. Marmalade is the same as a preserve, but is a term only used for citruses. I am not a fan of marmalades, but……….in a pinch……they will do!

I deeply miss my grandmother’s culinary skills, although she failed in not passing them down to her daughters. But she got me into adulthood with her delectables.  I have never tried to make a jelly or a jam or preserves.  Why should I try, when Jamison’s Store is so close by and has a wonderful choice of homemade varieties of the sweet spreadables. My favorites are the blueberry peach jam and the damson plum jam.  WOW__what a delight. 



Humans come by certain characteristics naturally. This is called human nature or the essence of humankind.  Humans in large measure feel as if they are dying on the inside but put on a pretty face to hide it.   We are hiding from our true selves and putting up a false front that develops over time—a learned characteristic.  Confusing at best—why do we act this way and how is it part of being human.

The fundamental dispositions and characteristics that humans are said to have naturally include ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. The term is often used to denote the essence of humankind, or what it ‘means’ to be human.

Most animals stay with their normal behavior patterns. But humans have language skills and greater brainpower which permits us to develop many more elaborate systems of rules, taboos, and etiquette

Humans are constantly sorting the world into categories, predicting how things work, and testing those predictions which is the essence of science.

Our feeding behavior is also exceedingly odd. Most animals just eat. I watched a squirrel sit in place under our bird feeder and munch on sunflower seeds dropped by the birds. He just ate.  On the other hand, we make it a meal usually at a set time with different foods for each timeframe.  Is it fun to eat eggs or pancakes at dinnertime?  For some humans, this is too far outside the norm.

Nothing is quite as puzzling as our predilection for clandestine copulation. Why do humans have sex in private?  Why is sex a fearful subject for humans?  We are preoccupied with denying and escaping it. We need a therapist to tell us how to do something that is wonderful and so natural.  Our religions, particularly Christianity, have not helped to appreciate the intimacy and wonder of our sexuality.

The truth is that while much attention has been given to the need to love each other and the environment, the real need is to find the means to love the dark side of ourselves—to find the reconciling understanding of our ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted human condition that is causing so much suffering and destruction!

Certainly, we have invented excuses to justify our imperfect competitive, selfish, and aggressive behavior, the main one being that we have savage animal instincts that make us fight and compete for food, shelter, territory, and a mate. 

It overlooks the fact that we humans have altruistic, cooperative, loving moral instincts—our conscience—and these moral instincts in us are not derived from situations where you only do something for others in return for a benefit from them.

We have an unconditionally selfless, fully altruistic, absolutely lovinguniversally considerate, genuinely moral conscience. an unconditionally selfless, fully altruistic, absolutely lovinguniversally considerate, genuinely moral conscience. Our original instinctive state was the opposite of being competitive, selfish, and aggressive: it was fully cooperative, selfless, and loving

Once our self-adjusting intellect (EGO) emerged it was capable of over the management of our lives from the instinctive orientations we had acquired through the natural selection of genetic traits that adapted us to our environment.

It was at this juncture, when our conscious intellect challenged our instincts for control, that a terrible battle broke out between our instincts and intellect, the effect of which was the extremely competitive, selfish, and aggressive state that we call the human condition.

Our intellect (EGO) began to experiment in understanding as the only means of discovering the correct and incorrect means for managing existence, but the instincts—being in effect ‘unaware’ or ‘ignorant’ of the intellect’s need to carry out these experiments— ‘opposed’ any understanding-produced deviations from the established instinctive orientations.

The intellect was left having to endure a psychologically distressed, upset condition, with no choice but to defy that opposition from the instincts. The only forms of defiance available to the conscious intellect were to attack the instincts’ unjust criticism, try to deny or block from its mind the instincts’ unjust criticism, and attempt to prove the instincts’ unjust criticism wrong.  So, we became ego-centric, self-centered, or selfish, preoccupied with aggressively competing for opportunities to prove we are good and not bad. The EGO unavoidably became selfishaggressive, and competitive.

Our True Self was banished to the wasteland of our being—submerged deep within. It takes massive effort to bring the True Self to light.  The EGO wants to separate and project uniqueness.

But I want to love and be a part of humanity. The struggle continues.



One of my greatest fears is to have no purpose for my life—the feeling of being superfluous.  I no longer want to be the center of all things and I no longer want to be separate or unique. I want to be part of the human experience and be engaged with my brothers and sisters.  This is the way I will grow, learn, and love.  I do not want to be ignored.

It is far worse to be ignored than to be disliked.  Ignoring someone is a not-so-subtle form of abuse. Purposely ignoring someone is rude, immature, inconsiderate, cruel, and petty.  It is extremely damaging emotionally to the ignored.

I cannot abide being ignored by people who want to hurt me for some reason.  These folks are generally selfish and have little respect for me or themselves. It gives them power and control over me in their mind.  In fact, many of them think they are the victim, thus making my feelings irrelevant.

It is amazingly easy to blame someone else for your problems.  If so, ignoring someone is a means of avoiding the problem until it goes away.  Being angry with someone and ignoring them is an immature way to avoid dealing with a situation.  Ironically, it usually makes matters worse.

Punishment for perceived slights is the common reason to ignore someone.  It becomes clear that these folks are too selfish to care about me and my feelings.  They do not realize the damage the silent treatment may cause.

When someone gives me the silent treatment, they think it will make me better.  Also, these folks could just be avoiding a confrontation, and not realize they have gone about it the wrong way.

At times life is hard and individuals handle problems in different ways.. Figuring out the right way to deal with things is not always easy. Nonetheless, when someone’s existence and feelings are dismissed and disrespected, they feel devalued, unworthy, and insignificant.

The silent treatment can be a mind game for some people, and in some cases can be used as a form of psychological manipulation. It also increases stress levels, which leads to more feelings of grief and abandonment.

So you are being ignored and you are left with a slew of unanswered questions and uncomfortable emotions. What to do? What to do?

Each time you feel ignored by someone, the causes, and potential solutions will be slightly different. In some cases, it may not be possible to get a full picture of what has happened.

However, there are ways to properly deal with these circumstances regardless of how you know the person and what they mean to you in your life.

Through trial and error, I have found a cooling off period to be the best first step.  You will not get to the bottom of the problem right away. Let the person have an opportunity to reflect and consider whatever has caused them to ignore you. Try to find other things to occupy your time and attention!

This cooling off period is just as important for your well-being as it is for the other person. You both need ample time to consider what actually happened. If a resolution is possible, it is much more likely after a break.

You would be surprised at how many people assume they are being ignored when in fact they are not! It is possible that other explanations exist.  It may be that the person is busy or in a stressful situation or is in a bad mood and ignoring everyone.

When you know for sure that someone is ignoring you, it is so easy to jump to all kinds of dramatic conclusions.  In the majority of cases, being ignored is temporary and does not mean that something awful is going to occur. And, in fact, you can reduce the likelihood of a bad outcome by ensuring that you do not overreact.

When you think you know why the person is angry, you can begin to work out how to talk to them about it. Think about how they might have read too much into your actions or how they could have been over-sensitive about a conversation topic. Remember that even if you do not think the anger is justified, understanding it will still help the relationship.

Most likely you will end up talking to the person who has been ignoring you.

If you are dealing with someone who has been ignoring you because they are hurt or angry about something you have done, it’s often the case that an apology is the quickest way to move on. It is always safe to believe you played a part in causing things to go wrong. Offer a sincere and explicit apology that stresses your understanding of what you did. This proves you are serious and not just lazily doling out a token apology.


Happy Holidays!!

Looking for a stocking stuffer?

How about


We often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardless of what is going on around you. It is deep seated and life altering. Happiness can be a transient emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to be grateful regardless of the circumstances.


For those who have already bought this book,



There is no greater purpose in life than to love.

Ask yourself this question: Am I ready to live fully and freely?

Then FOREVER STALKING JOY is a book that explores your path to a bigger life!

We often confuse joy with happiness, but they are not interchangeable. Joy is from within, regardlees of what is going on around you. It is deep seated and life altering. Happiness can be a transient emotion, dependent on a situation. Joyful people make a commitment to be grateful regardless of the circumstances.





Generous people are able and willing to give. They give both financially and of themselves, in a way that benefits the recipient. Their gifts may include time, money, things, and encouragement.

People that give truly and freely do so because they care. They hope to see a better world and hate to see others suffer and are willing to do something about it.  Some people actually give to get, but truly generous people give simply to give. They don’t ask for anything in return. The only benefit they receive is the knowledge that they are doing their part to improve the world.

True giving happens when you are overflowing from the inside and cannot help but share. When there is so much love within you that it has to flow to others or you would burst open. There is no thinking involved, no willpower in such sharing. It just flows out. If you have to force yourself to be kind, to love, to feel compassion, you have missed the first step of filling in your own self with these emotions.

Generous people are optimistic and do not get tangled up in the misbelief that their small contribution is seemingly worthless in the grander scale. These people recognize the impact they can make through their giving and they continue doing it. They don’t give in order to impress others or broadcast how much money they donate or their impressive works of service. They do so quietly and humbly.

Giving of your time and talents often requires patience. The world isn’t going to change overnight. People who are giving understand that this process takes time.

They understand that life is about more than them. It’s about humankind in its entirety. Generous people acknowledge their part in the overall scheme of things and actively pursue their role to make the world a better place.

It takes a lot of energy to give of yourself. It requires time and motivation too. People who give not only tend to be more energetic, but also become even more energized by the very act of giving to others. They take a stand for their cause and help spur others into action. They recognize areas of need and help connect people and resources to fill these gaps.

Do you wish you were a more giving person? Generosity doesn’t always come naturally for some of us, but it’s our hope that this list of characteristics of generous people will help reveal areas to cultivate in our own life to become a truly generous person. Generosity is therefore not a random idea or haphazard behavior but rather, in its mature form, a basic, personal, moral orientation to life. Indeed, generosity is a virtue and to practice it for the good of others also necessarily means that doing so achieves one’s own true, long–term good as well.

Generosity is a learned character trait that involves both attitude and action. The virtue in this action is giving liberally along with an actual practice of ongoing giving. In a world of moral contrasts, generosity entails not only the good expressed but the rejection of many vices such as fear, greed, and selfishness.

Generosity also involves giving to others those things that are good for them, not just things that are in abundance. Generosity always intends to enhance the true wellbeing of recipients. Given that generosity is a virtue, to practice it for the good of others also necessarily means that doing so achieves one’s own true, long–term good as well.  So generosity, like all of the virtues, is in our genuine enlightened self-interest to learn and practice.

Generous folks have the right attitude about money and wealth.  It is so easy to use money as the scorecard for achievement. Instead, they treat money as means to acquire things they need, and not an end in itself.  This belief enables them to spend money on others as well themselves.  Having their name on a donor list is irrelevant.

Acting generously makes you feel good because you are helping others.

I think there are times that I have given to satisfy my ego which is not a good practice. Many people appreciate music and the arts and have given to assure that the orchestra stays in tune and the opera is available, but these often are done with fanfare and acclaim. Yet there is something very satisfying to give someone help that they need to survive.

I am concerned that generosity may an endangered character trait in today’s world. Our survival is conditioned by our ability to negotiate contracts and engage in the economic exchange of goods and services.  Do we have the time or the inclination to be generous?  There is so much suffering in the world that our efforts are never enough and we get discouraged.  Still, it is better to be a part of something than do nothing at all.



Money gives you freedom and choices.

You can decide where and how you want to live when you have a good income or financial resources. On the other hand, when you do not have much money, choice may be something that you cannot afford. The choices available to you may not really be choices at all.  But how do we decide that we have enough?

Our sense of well-being, comfort, and peace of mind has less to do with how much money we have — and everything to do with how we think about it. In most cases, regardless of how much we actually have in the bank — we only have enough when we think we have enough.

So when is enough really enough? For me, I began to feel comfortable when I crossed the $80,000 income level.  Above that level, emotional well-being corresponded to my individual temperament and life circumstances rather than any extra income. Below that level of income, my happiness was diminished by higher levels of stress related to climbing the ladder.  In that endeavor enough was never enough.  I could always make one more call or plan one more sales presentation.

The level of a person’s expectation rises steadily with the level of income. While increasing income does not change a person’s emotional happiness on a daily basis, it does make people think of themselves as happier and more successful.  This confirms that happiness and feelings of well-being are less dependent on the amount of money you have, and very dependent upon what you think about it.

If you are so fortunate to be earning an amount that gives you the sense of well-being, don’t compromise or sacrifice yourself to make more. If the increased income does not come relatively smooth and naturally into your life, then think carefully before you pursue it. Maybe, probably, perhaps what you are making right now is enough.

Take time every single day to look around and be thankful for the things in your life. Remember, whatever we focus on tends to grow in our experience. If you spend more and more time being grateful for the small things in your life, they could add up to being way more than enough.

Develop your own emotional measuring stick for personal happiness and well-being. Most of us use an external measure far too often and then are surprised when we do not measure up. When we get in touch with those things that make us happy — regardless of whether anyone likes it or “gets it,” then it does not matter how much money you make. Love jogging or gardening or riding your bike? Then do it. Enjoy playing with your kids or your guitar? Then do it. Like to read or hang out with your friends? Then do it. Most of the things that make us smile and feel happy are unrelated to our income. Start separating those qualities and focus on them.

Find something to get passionate about. Have you ever been around someone who is on a mission? If we don’t think we have enough, there is a chance that we are focusing on a fear of loss.  Fear comes into our life when we believe that we will not get everything we deserve OR we are going to lose everything we have. People who are passionate about things are focusing on something that so inspires them that they are not worried about gain or loss. Get involved in something bigger than yourself and you might be surprised at how “good enough” and “rich enough” you feel.

Start hanging out with people who are happy and satisfied with their life just as it is. If you spend time with people who are never satisfied and always wanting more, more, and more, you’ll soon feel the same way. Instead, surround yourself with those who realize life is much more fulfilling and spectacular than how much they make or what they own. Hang out with people who have passion, who regularly help others, and who know what makes them happy from the inside-out, and you’ll start doing the same.

 Instead, it might be SMART to start realizing that our well-being and peace of mind start within. That is probably the only way to discover we have more than enough just as we are, right now.