Florence Scovel Shinn, born in 1870, was a metaphysical author best-known for her 1925 book, The Game of Life and How to Play It. While some of the language and ideas no longer resonate, her work deserves attention for those interested in the Law of Attraction and in particular, those who are both spiritual and ambitious.
One of Ms. Shinn’s most interesting statements is “Fear is only inverted faith: it is faith in evil instead of good.” This is one of the most powerful statements I have ever heard about fear, or faith. We live in a world that shows us many ways in which evil is real and powerful. There are many unsavory things, and they won’t go away by me choosing to dwell on them or not.
But what do we believe about good and evil? I recently read a book about cognitive bias that contained the whopping over-generalization that evil is more powerful than good. Hollywood movies used to have good guys and bad guys that could be clearly distinguished, but now a protagonist likely to be deeply morally ambiguous, pathologically neurotic, and/or in the process of transforming from a protagonist to antagonist. Perhaps it’s more realistic to think that even a hero has flaws, but if we cannot imagine people who both do good and are healthy, than what hope do we have of ever living healthy lives where we do good things? Who are our role models?
Florence Scovel Shinn teaches that there is only one power, rather than two, and that power is God. This is a difficult idea to grasp. She believes that each of us was once a part of the infinite intelligence (that some call God) but that our own “vain imaginings,” or separation from the Divine, are the root of evil. And that separation begins with fear. In the Christian tradition, God is the creator of heaven and earth, but the devil, Lucifer, is a fallen angel. He became the devil by separating himself from God.
You don’t have to be Christian, or even a deist or disciple of any organization or teacher, to believe in good. Some people believe that religion is mostly metaphors, while others believe that various religious scriptures are the literal and singular Truth with a capital T. Most all religions talk about love, and how we are supposed to love each other. Some religions talk about how we are supposed to love not only humans, but to show compassion and gentleness for all living beings. But how many of us have had experience with religion or ideology that caused us to feel guilt, shame, and fear, instead of love? How many of us have used religion or ideology to judge others as less worthy than ourselves?
Finally, how many of us believe that good is stronger than evil? On one hand, a person could say that a question as broad and general as “Which is stronger, good or evil?” is impossible to answer. And many of us haven’t given it much conscious thought. Some of us are sensitive to all the times that history has shown evil triumph over good. But I would argue that most of us either believe that good is stronger than evil or that evil is stronger than good, that we can consciously change that belief, and that just having a belief that good is stronger than evil will make the world a better place.
When you are afraid, you are expressing a belief in evil. When you have faith, you open the door to the possibility that there is something or someone that is bigger and stronger than you and your separation from the source of infinite love and abundance. When you invite that something into your life, through faith, whatever that wonderful thing is, it can heal you and make you whole again.
This content is copyright, 2016, Moira Cue / The Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.
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This life we have been given is truly amazing. We create what we want. If you want to fly across the world, you can make some money, buy a plane ticket, and do it. You can even make a whole lot of money, and buy your own plane if you really want to. If you want to write a book, make a song, dance, or paint a picture, you can do that.
If you want to fall in love, you can be loving, meet someone, and fall in love. You can make money, buy a house, and live your dream. The only thing stopping you is you. If you feel stopped, look at what you tell yourself and what others tell you. Validate your self work, and do not tolerate others who do not tolerate you or your dreams. Dream bigger every day.
The Art of Success–is truly then, the manner of correct thinking. All success begins with action, and all action starts with thought. If your thinking is off, your action will be either non-existent, or worse–incorrect action. The first key to success therefore, is knowledge. A very simplistic outline of success could look as follows;
Determine what you do NOT want. Knowing what you want, entails knowing what you do not want. Be sure to know what you do not want, so you can avoid the unwanted from happening.
Determine what you DO want. Determine your Top Most Goals and Dreams. Write them down.
Write down the steps necessary to reach each goal, including your top goal. Find out what is required to make each step happen. Prioritize your goals in terms of long term, mid term, and short term. Looks at your goals regularly; when you wake up, during the day, and before you go to sleep, if not more.
Educate yourself. Read and study what you need to learn and know to make each step happen. If for example, you want to be a top actor, read about the top actors and how they made it to the top. Find and locate the best acting coach, and study acting.
After your education and training is great, then take action. Do the steps necessary to achieve your goals.
Realize that education, study, and learning should be a life long goal, and that you should never stop studying, training, and learning, to become and stay the best you can be.
Be certain that your environment is free from distractions, including people who may invalidate your goals and plans.
Get a mentor to help guide and coach you. Remember that the top Olympic athletes have coaches, and even the President of the United States has advisors to give him advice on what to do in different areas of their specialized knowledge. The wise seek the counsel of others, not try to do everything themselves. Leverage others. And never be afraid to ask questions to get more information if you do not know something.
After you have achieved your goals, find a way to help others along the way. Mentor someone else in turn for example, or donate some time to a charity or other worthy cause.
Always focus on what you do want, not on what you do not want. Be optimistic. Not unrealistic–but optimistic. Negative attitudes and pessimism kills. Surround yourself with those who are more successful than you. We tend to gravitate to the level of those around us.
Be of service to others, and give back.
Be thankful. Show thanks have gratitude for all you have. We are blessed.
I wish you great success! Questions or comments may be addressed to me through the contact form on this site.
This content is copyright, 2016, Hollywood Sentinel, Bruce Edwin. All rights reserved. The Hollywood Sentinel makes no claims regarding any product or service advertised and assumes no responsibility therewith.
Does your organization practice diversity, professionalism, and inclusion? I would argue that each of these values represents a level of commitment to the same core principal, in ascending order of ethical strength and subtlety. While each value has its place in the contemporary work world, I believe that inclusion is the most important goal to strive for.
Diversity and professionalism can be stepping stairs on the upward path to inclusion, but only if leadership is self-motivated to engage in constant questioning of the status quo. The danger in the “step-by-step” approach is that each step can become a plateau, wherein the organization becomes comfortable at one level and doesn’t go any farther.
An organizational commitment to diversity often focuses on hiring and retention statistics and avoiding legal liability. Adopting policies such as mandatory sexual harassment training for managers, hiring targets for minorities, participation in surveys, and official diversity committees out of fear reduces diverse people, including women, to statistical targets at best; and potential fires to be handled with caution, at worst. It seems true that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. It is also true that quantifiable results, such as the number of African-Americans on your Board of Directors, or the presence or absence of discrimination lawsuits, are the fruits of a particular work culture, leadership attitude, and environment. The root of the problem is deeply held, even subconscious, beliefs of not only the people “in charge,” but the people who come to work for your organization with prior experiences of victimization or discrimination based on their identity. If the main reason you or your leadership engage in a particular course of action is to not get sued, or to decrease future financial loss after a successful suit, than that action is reactive rather than proactive, and your organization should consider moving up the ethics ladder to review and address matters of professionalism from a more holistic vantage point.
On the other hand, there are cases wherein a formal investment in diversity programs signifies progress. Is if your organization refuses to review its own diversity metrics (at least internally); has been the subject of an EEOC disciplinary action or investigation; or has problems retaining women and diverse people at upper levels or with retention in general, then looking at the metrics is a good place to start. If there is no prominent member of your organization who is not white and male and/or from an Ivy League school, certainly you might want to bring in a consultant to ask why that is, and keep an open mind. Don’t assume there is a lack of qualified people applying for jobs with your organization. Upper management or HR may not realize that compared to other organizations of your same size and industry, you have a higher or lower percentage of various ethnicities, so when you analyze the numbers you might see patterns that lead to more important questions. Is diversity not only a product of the organization, but of the industry itself? If so, what factors favor parity in one industry and not another?
There are entire industries that need to start with diversity: Look at the overall numbers in engineering (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/2013/tables.cfm). Or, closer to home for this author: Look at the numbers of contemporary (i.e. living) female artists exhibiting solo shows in major museums globally compared to the number of women who go through art schools (http://www.artnews.com/2015/05/26/taking-the-measure-of-sexism-facts-figures-and-fixes/). Worse yet, look at a historical list of the highest sales prices for paintings. There are no women artists represented in the top 65 individual sales, and only two men who are not European or American descent (both are Chinese). The most obvious answer to this question could be that one of these industries (engineering) enculturates its own with so called “left-brain,” solutions-based, rational thinking that tends to emphasize the calculating areas of our brains over the care and connectivity centers—so “leveling the playing field” is an alien concept when participants are less aware of the “field” as a sphere of human interaction and more aware of direct, concrete objectives. But art, which traditionally engages the “human story,” is simply a field (much like Hollywood) wherein there is no traditional employer-employee relationship for the makers of individual works of art (or music or entertainment), hence a field wherein threat of litigation plays little to no deterring role for exploitation, and individual personalities battle for “celebrity” status.
A culture that thrives on professionalism (or civility, if you prefer) would exclude cultural appropriation at the expense of the minority. It isn’t professional to boost yourself over others while trampling them under your feet. It isn’t professional to take credit for others accomplishments, pay a person less than she is worth because she lets you get away with it, use racial or sexual slurs, or make someone so uncomfortable that she drops out of your school or company. I’ve had the pleasure of working in organizations led by men, who happened to be white and well compensated, who had this kind of class. Because these leaders saw their subordinates as professionals first, it was easier to do my best work than in other environments where unprofessional and gendered comments were the norm.
But there’s still a higher plane of organizational virtue: inclusion. I often hear the words “diversity and inclusion” brandied about as painter Hedda Sterne famously heard the phrase “great artist,” as if one word. To me this is a pity, as I feel we lose so much of the value of inclusion when we look for diversity reductively or mechanistically. When we strive for diverse work forces, or to give diverse voices cinematic exploration, rather than inclusive work forces or works of art, we only go skin deep. There is an assumption that if a person isn’t a member of a protected class, he or she has never experienced discrimination. There’s an assumption that you can take a snapshot or run your metrics, and know if you are certifiably diverse. There’s an assumption that traditionally excluded people are being “let in” that smacks of paternalism. An inclusive approach throws all assumptions about identity out the window. It’s not management that defines the beingness of their employees by checking off boxes. An inclusive approach is one where real differences, as experienced by the Self, rather than culturally or politically constructed sociology of difference, are given room to be. A progressively inclusive workplace, for example, might create dim, quiet spaces for employees who are disturbed by bright lights or too much noise or accept an introvert’s desire to avoid the company picnic (regardless of disclosure or existence of a formal autism diagnosis). A progressively inclusive workplace would hire art school graduates or creative consultants and ask “how can we be more creative” during Board meetings. You would see not just different skin colors or sexual orientations, but different personalities, different politics, different religions, working together.
My personal working hypothesis regarding inclusion, perhaps due to indoctrination in, first, empiricism, and secondly, a “post-” everything ethos, is that the differences we don’t see—arbitrary epistemological boundaries—are more individualistic and profound than differences attributed to diverse variables. Though there is so much overlap that diverse variables become the simplest way of pre-judging others. By “arbitrary epistemological boundaries” I mean the invisible hierarchy of values which are unique to every field of knowledge as historically defined, without elimination of Western or ‘civilized’ bias. (Two excellent books exploring gender and nature, Carolyn Anne Merchant’s The Death of Nature, and Leonard Shlain’s The Goddess Versus the Alphabet, were key to my early inspiration in this regard as well.) Historical divisions between commercial activity and the academy, art and science, ethics and all other fields of endeavor, have created poly-fragmentated dissociation en masse. We go to work exclusively to make money. We go to school exclusively to learn. We make art exclusively to express ourselves. If we question the impact of any of these activities on non-human life, we have stepped outside of all -ologies other than ecology. Competition and cooperation have prescripted dominant-subordinate relationships in various settings.