Corporations: Rich But Sad?

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What is a country? A piece of land? That’s part of it. What really makes a country is the millions of “units” who inhabit it: citizens, people!

Can you imagine a country with no people? It would be useless, and meaningless.

How about a smaller entity: a company, or a big corporation, what is it? It’s a business, indeed. It’s there to make money by selling a product or service. Could a business exist without customers and providers, buyers and sellers? No! Then the money alone is useless and meaningless without the people who create and sell, and the people who pay and buy!

But companies could function just like a despotic country: The top executives and owners make all the money, while the workers make minimum wage!

You know one example too well: Wal-Mart! It’s where one branch could close the day having made hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the cashier goes home having made $8 an hour, from which he or she will even give a few dollars in taxes!

What would we think of a country where the president and ministers are rich and happy, but the citizens are sad and poor? It’s a country which needs a revolution!

Why don’t we feel the same about corporations that don’t make their employees happy?!

It’s totally right that the CEO makes more money than the cleaning crew, but the question is: how much more?

The question is: What is the quality of life of the cashier compared to that of the owner?

Thankfully, many young (and BIG!) companies are now adopting a new culture of making the work place fun and the employees happy (think Google and Zappos, for example).

It’s not only about paying people enough; it’s about the quality of the hours they spend at work.

What does a company that is rich but sad have to offer to the world, to life?

As customers, we should use our money and voice to vote for companies that care about its people, and against the ones that use people as mere means to make money.

Money is here to serve us. Once people are used to serve money, the world becomes a toxic place. That’s what it is now in many places and cases. It shows how much the lack of compassion and humanity is at work!

The math is simple and clear: Corporations – Lack of compassion + low quality of life for most employees + abundance of money for owners and top executives alone = very bad deal for our world!

We Are All Billionaires!

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My income is no greater than my expenses. I’m in debt. I am not rich. Am I poor?

An accountant can calculate our net worth accurately. But none but us can calculate our comprehensive net worth, our real life wealth.

See, wealth is not only monetary. We often overlook other assets in our living account balance. Our “income” is not only the money that we make.

If we’re healthy, we’re wealthier than the sick in terms of health.

Would you lose your eyesight and get $10 million instead?

I wouldn’t, which means I have a quality that is much more expensive than the ten million!

Would you go to prison for 5 years and get a million dollars for it?

I wouldn’t go to prison even for one year for a million dollars. Therefore, every year of life that I live free is worth more than a million dollars, only it terms of freedom!

Every good friend, every brother and sister and parent adds up to our wealth. Would you trade your sister for a million bucks? If not, that means you have what is worth more than this very sum of money. How about a loving spouse, would you trade her or him for 2 million? If not, then you have something more precious than millions of dollars!

Next time you see this expensive car driving by and you say to yourself, “God, why can’t I afford such a car!”, ask yourself if you would take the car and lose your legs or your hands! If not, you have something more precious than the car, you’re already rich!

Or when you pass by that glorious house and sadly wonder why they can afford such a house and you don’t, ask yourself if you would take the house and get a terminal and painful cancer!

Would you trade your intellect for a billion dollars? Get the billion and go with a blank mind? I damn wouldn’t, even for a trillion dollars. We have in our little and fragile heads something more precious than a trillion dollars! How incredibly rich!

If we think of the monetary worth of all our assets that we overlook we will never feel that we’re in financial trouble. We’ll see the abundance that overwhelms us. And as the wisdom goes, we get more of what we focus on. If we feel rich, without money, the money will end up coming too.

Is Egypt’s Revolution Safe?

Democracy and freedom have long been non-existent in the Arab world. Arab citizens aspiring for radical reforms in their societies thought that they would witness none in their lifetimes. They hoped their children and grandchildren might be the generations seeing these dreams come true. Until…!

Until the current generation surprised us, and did the unthinkable! Armed with mobilization and coordination tools that weren’t there a decade ago – Internet, blogs, and social media – the youth of Tunisia and Egypt broke free from the fear, and empowered millions to finally take it to the streets and do what they always dreamed of doing: demand the fall of their dictatorial regimes, and stay there until the heads of the regimes completely leave the scene.

Egypt in particular is very significant to the whole region. Culturally, Egypt is the leader of the Arab world. It shares borders with Israel, and was the first country to initiate peace under President Sadat. Mubarak has kept Egypt in a state of fake stability. To the outside eye, it may have seemed stable. We knew better! Egypt was sitting on a time bomb. The explosion was inevitable. We just didn’t know how it would happen, and how ugly it would be.

It took place, and it wasn’t ugly, at least from the side of those who exploded; the pro-freedom protestors. The task wasn’t a breeze. You had a president who had been in power for thirty years. During the last decade, if not earlier, he had been grooming his son, Gamal, to be the next president. Gamal had many friends too, and he brought them to power. The gang was free to do as they pleased. They had no limitations of any kind, not even keeping a thin safety net to avoid a revolution of the hungry. Under Gamal’s peak power, prices doubled many times, those who used to be middle class joined the ranks of the poor class, to name a few disasters. In short, if you were not one of the lucky friends of the regime, your life became increasingly unbearable.

This regime of historical corruption had to take many measures to sustain its existence over the years. They had a green light to do as they wish for that end. In almost every institution, only the worse of men rose to the top. A man or a woman who could say “no” or have an independent opinion wasn’t to hold any leadership position. State Security wasn’t at all for the security of the State; instead, it was “Regime Security”. People weren’t any safe exactly because of this extremely powerful and numerous security monster. Mubarak and his regime had built a huge, complex and powerful institution of corruption that transformed Egypt into a private property of their own.

Then we had the Revolution. Mubarak made one concession after the other, usually too late, and completely disconnected from the millions of determined protestors. The Egyptian army seemed neutral, but on the ground, Egyptians felt that the army was closer to them than to Mubarak. When all of Mubarak’s speeches didn’t end the massive troubles, and the protestors didn’t seem to lose their momentum and determination to stay in the streets until he steps down, Mubarak was forced to step down, probably by the very Army who initially refused to obey his orders to shoot and bombard the peaceful protestors.

We could think that the nightmare is over in Egypt, that we will finally focus on building a bright future for this great country now that Egyptians are over with the criminal and paralyzing regime of Mubarak and Co. I wish it was so!

Just imagine a mafia-like regime that had been building itself and securing its powers for decades, can you see it completely fade away once Mubarak left the presidency and went to his palace, some 370 miles away from Cairo?

The mafia that stole hundreds of billions of dollars, and whose security arm imprisoned, killed, tortured, kidnapped, sexually harassed and even raped opposing activists would not honorably accept the defeat and leave the stage to the winners. Yes the head has left the scene. But he’s living unharmed and unrestricted in an isolated palace, with all his family, who were also partners in crime. Will Gamal, the ambitious son who wanted both wealth and power, just accept the fact that his once so bright future turned into a black page of Egypt’s history? Like any mafia, we don’t know all the members, the helpers, and the informants. They could be in the least expected of faces and places. Mubarak, Gamal and their invisible mafia are definitely still working behind the scenes, and we’re seeing the sure signs of their presence!

Let me tell you one of today’s (Thursday 24th) “signs”! One of Egypt’s most important pro-Revolution thinkers, Tarek Heggy, disappeared from Facebook! Such a trivial incident, you would think? Well, first of all, don’t look down at Facebook, it’s where revolutions start nowadays! Now let’s go back a few weeks in time. During the Revolution, when nothing was sure yet, and the Regime not believing that it could be defeated, Heggy was clearly supporting the uprising and its sole demand: taking the Regime down. His Facebook account kept disappearing, his recent posts deleted over and again. At the exact same time, other popular pages and accounts supporting the uprising were deleted or suddenly posting naïve calls for Egyptians to accept the great concessions accomplished so far and go back home! Read: hacked by the Regime’s e-oppression department.

The Revolution successfully over, Egyptian State TV suddenly became censorship-free. There, where he used to be banned, Heggy had his first interview. He spoke freely about the former regime, made Gamal Mubarak look stupid, and even declared that he was going to submit important documents to the ICJ against one of the big figures of corruption under Mubarak, who fled to Europe. Scheduled for another interview today, Heggy posted a status on Facebook stating that the interview was cancelled a few minutes before its scheduled time, due to “political interference”. A few minutes later, his account disappeared again! Who’s still exercising their e-oppression in the shadows?!

Within the last few days, an Egyptian priest was murdered in his home. Some homes belonging to the Bahai minority were burned down. Christians organized protests demanding the arrest of the killers, joined by Muslims, who were never mentioned in some shady opposition newspapers that date back to the former regime (which had organized opposition, for decoration purposes!). The former regime was already found to be connected to the terrorist attack against the Church of the Saints earlier this year. Dividing Egypt’s Muslim and Christian population has always been one of the regime’s favorite techniques to turn anger away from politics, with the added bonus of having good reasons to keep Egypt’s Emergency Law which has been in place for 30 years!

Many Egyptians fear a counter-revolution. They are right in their fears. We still have the same prime minister appointed by Mubarak during one of his “concessions”. We still hear news of activists being arrested. Those arrested before the fall of Mubarak are still in prison. Some of the dirtiest and most corrupt figures of the regime are still free. None of the killers of hundreds of protestors was investigated.

This is why we still have calls for the Revolution to continue. We want this prime minister gone. We want everyone guilty of corruption, torture and murder in court, for a fair trial, including Mubarak and his family. At least the ones we all know of their corruption and crimes. Only then this great Revolution of Egypt will be safe, and the youth who created it can focus on building a solid future for Egypt, without fear of mysterious thugs kidnapping them, one by one!

When it’s Good to be Bad!

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We spend much of our life at what we now call: “work”. We have 168 hours every week, we spend one third sleeping, and the rest is almost fifty-fifty between work and life! Should I say: work/working vs. life/living? That would be a dull situation, but is part of many people’s life!  

We can say something nice and idealistic like: we should only do work that we love. True, in theory. The whole system today is not designed to make it such an easy task though. Since the industrial age, when people, or workers (that’s us!) were required to work in assembly lines, humans were mostly expected to operate like machines. Go to work, do the exact same thing over and over and over, get a paycheck at the end of the month, spend all of it, etc. You know the vicious circle.

Now more people realize that job satisfaction became almost a life or death choice. It’s moral life or death! Mental, psychological life or death! I don’t know about everyone, but I’m speaking for myself, at the very least!

Fixing the system itself is not a one man’s job. Every one of us is none but a “one man job” anyway! Therefore the task will not be quick and will not be easy, the task of doing something meaningful and finding satisfaction in what we do for half of our waking life.

What is a job that brings satisfaction? That sounds like a straightforward question. It just occurred to me. But to answer the first part of the question (what job?), we need to define the second part, the goal (satisfaction): what is satisfaction in a job?

I didn’t write this post to answer this question; rather, I wrote it to pose the two-part question.

What is the satisfaction that we’re looking to have in our jobs?

What are the possible jobs that could bring us this kind of satisfaction?

To properly answer the questions, one important guiding thought to keep in mind is to come to terms with what we’re not good at. I, for one, am not good at repetitive tasks. Let me say it differently: I’m bad at doing the same thing over and over and over. Finding myself in this situation will drain my energy and almost drive me insane. Once I master a task completely, I need to move on to something else or I will sink in boredom. This is my ultimate weakness, which could turn into an advantage in different situations. We have to realize what we’re bad at, because our weakness is the strength of another person. There is nothing wrong with that, life is designed so people work together and complement each other. Ideally, the world needs some switching of roles: everyone should move to that other place where someone else is being miserable, but we can be happy and do a good job. But that won’t happen on a global level. We need to do it one person at a time, starting with ourselves!

Yes, it’s not only good, it’s a must to “realize” that we’re terribly bad at certain things! It makes the difference between a life of misery and a life of productivity and fulfillment.

Organized Crime Beats Unorganized Good Intentions!

Ithaca Falls

The Mafia is very powerful, Hollywood gave us many proofs. Why they are powerful is because they operate as united families, each one helping the other, and every member of every family being strongly committed to the big goals of the “community”. Their goals were, or are (they’re still out there?!) evil and harmful. Selfish. Enriching to a small group of people, but destructive to the broader community.

Organized crime is successful because of its very same descriptive name: “organized”!

People of good intentions have at least one lesson to learn from criminals, about efficiency. We already see Organized Good Intentions at work (look at non-profits and charities), but the world needs much more to function properly. There are way more UGI (Unorganized Good Intentions) than OGI!

We have enough people believing in justice and sustainability to change the world, but most of them are operating individually. Their influence is therefore negligible. The same number of people networking and working together would sweep away many wrongs and problems, like a strong tsunami of goodness and wellness. We now have networking tools, a fertile Internet and its universal fruits, that never existed before in human history. It should make OGI much easier and more attainable.

We need to look around and spot the like-minded and like-hearted people. Find common goals. Form small “mafias”! Every small mafia will then connect to the other kind and unselfish mafias of the world. Together, those mafias working their Organized Good Intentions will restore the sanity of our Earth, dethrone the happy criminals roaming freely, and ensure a livable Planet for the generations to come!

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