Monday, January 26, 2009

The Three Deceivers - Part V

I dropped the ball a little, but if you were following my postings on The Three Deceivers, here is the final essay. I still haven't received my book, darn it, but I am really looking forward to reading it!

Part V - Friday, January 16, 2009
Did you notice that all three alternatives were 11 letter “S” words? Maybe that will make them easier to remember which in turn may make us all more aware of them and hopefully more capable of implementing them in our daily lives and in the way we think about ourselves and about our world.

I have loved the experience of trying to capsulize each of the three Alternatives in these short articles, but I may have only succeeded in whetting your appetite to read the full explanations of what Serendipity, Stewardship and Synergicity are and of how they can be put into practical practice. You can get it all 5 segments by clicking here.

I would also love to get reactions and feedback from you my readers. Just go to and comment, or send e-mail directly to me: you can comment on these short segments or the book if you decide to get it.

Today, in this final article, let’s summarize (and please forgive me if the summary takes on a Spiritual tone, because the central things that separate the Three Alternatives from the Three Deceivers are spiritual in nature.

As we said earlier, all three of the Deceivers are useful as economic principles. We live in a world that is obsessed with all three, and a world that is viewed, by most people, through an economic lens.

Ownership and the right of property is the basic and foundational principle of a free enterprise system, and is the motivation that makes it work.

Control fits well and factors into both the macro and micro economic model. The Fed controls interest rates, Government tries to control fiscal and monetary policy, and Individuals try to control spending and cash flow. Control is a good economic objective.

Independence is often the goal within the economic model. "Financial independence" is a term we throw around a lot and all think we want, even though none of us can quite define exactly what it might entail.....some combination of unlimited resources and limited needs I suppose, instead of the opposite which is what we all seem to have.

So CO&I are very useful and perhaps very desirable economic concepts, though even when confined to economic definitions they tend toward win-lose competition, envy, jealousy, and pride. The real problem with them comes when they "run over the economic banks" (excuse the pun) and spill into our paradigm for the bigger picture, and even into our spiritual perspective. If we think we own our house and our car, it’s too easy to think we can also own our kids, or our circumstances, or our opportunities....or the many other things that in fact can be owned only by God.

Why COI is the Perfect Formula for Unhappiness in Today's World

Unhappiness could be defined as working hard for something only to discover that it can never be completely achieved and that even the part we do achieve is empty and hollow. The stories are so old that they are almost clich├ęs....someone working so hard to possess something, thinking that it will bring him happiness, only to find that he has traded his real chance at happiness for it.....or desperately seeking independence, only to find loneliness and isolation.....or trying to control things that can't be controlled and being driven nuts by it.

At the heart of the deception is the false claim that CO&I are the conditions that bring happiness. Actually, the opposite is true. By obsessing over CO&I, we set up the very conditions that insure ever greater unhappiness. We stress and then overload ourselves because of the illusion of ownership. We isolate and harden ourselves trying for independence. And we fool ourselves into frustration by trying to control everything.

The times we live in make us so susceptible to the three deceivers. In earlier, more agrarian times, our dependence on God and interdependence on each other was more apparent. Big, uncontrollable things, like the weather, were more apparent to us and affected us more. And there were not nearly as many "things" in our lives that we could think that we owned. Today, with our sophistication and our isolation from nature, and within our cocoon of technology and artificial environments, it becomes easier to think that we independently own and control things. The very artificiality of our world enhances the deception and multiplies our unhappiness.

"Wrong" as in False

“Wrong could be defined as morally wrong (bad) or as factually wrong (false). To one who believes in God and in his omnipotence, CO&I are simply and eternally false concepts. We own nothing (except perhaps our agency or ability to choose). We control nothing (except perhaps, someday, ourselves). And we are independent of nothing in an eternal life where we all affect each other (and rely on our Maker for life itself.

It is important to see "things as they really are" if we are to become the true children of God who perceive both the possibility and the difficulty of returning to Him. The great gift of God’s word is the insights it gives to who we really are, and what our relationship to each other and to God can become. These divine insights tell us (and make us so thankful that we know) that we are anything but independent, anything but in control, and anything but owners. Only God is those things.

Wrong because they Separate us from God

It has been said that the best definitions of "right" and "wrong" is that Right brings us closer to God and Wrong further separates us from God. When you think you own something, it separates you a bit more from He who owns all. When you think you control something, it separates you a bit more from He who controls all. And when you think you are independent, it separates you a little from He on whom you depend. Humility is a quality that draws us closer to Him, and the illusion of CO&I is destructive to humility and constructive to pride.

What the Three Alternatives can give Us

What we are all looking for, in the Three Alternatives, is insight.... new and better (and more accurate) ways to look at the world, at other people, and at ourselves.

Over the last three days, we have established the Three Alternatives...three alternative paradigms or "ways to view the world" that can take the place of the Three Deceivers. The exciting and adventurous (and faith promoting) attitude of Serendipity can replace the obsession of Control. The humble and guidance seeking approach of Stewardship can substitute for the prideful and self-centering addiction to Ownership. And the connected, trusting and inspiration-drawing perspective of Synergicity can take over for the false notion of Independence.

Should you decide to buy a copy of The Three Deceivers, you should know that the first quarter of the book is devoted to pointing out the problems with the three Deceivers, then you flip the book over, reading now from the Three Alternatives side, and the other three quarters of the book tries to provide methods and exercises that can gradually allow you to adopt and absorb the new attitudes, new approaches, new world views (and new definitions of success) that we call the Three Alternatives.

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