Thriving at the Brink of Disaster
A book about the changing times we live in and the changes we will soon have to make
Shared by: toddlev
Revolutionize Your Life Before the Next Crash WISDOM PRESS A Division of Inspiring Revolutions, LLC Beverly Hills, CA 90212 Copyright © by Todd Levinson All rights reserved No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission except in the case of brief quotations within other literary works. Printed in the United States of America First Edition, 2007 Library of Congress Cataloging-In-Publication Data Levinson, Todd Thriving at the brink of disaster: revolutionize your life before the next crash/Todd Levinson.–1st ed. p. cm. ISBN: 978-0-9796621-1-9 (hardcover) ISBN: 978-0-9796621-0-2 (pbk.) 2007930067 Cover designed by Brandon P. Alms Author Photograph by Linnet Tan www.inspiringrevolutions.com To the best of your life and this world Contents PROLOGUE: Revolutionizing Your Life ALIENATION INTO INSPIRATION THE TRUTH OF THIS MATTER 1 5 9 SECTION ONE: At the Brink ONE: We Are at the Brink of Disaster SUPPORT FOR OPTIMISM AN OPTIMISTIC PARADOX TRUE OPTIMISM TWO: The Building Forces of Change IN SEARCH OF TRUTH TRUTH LIVES THE SHAKY LADDER SYNDROME A DISHONEST CONVENIENCE THREE: The Looming Crisis THE GRAND DELUSION THE FACTS DON’T LIE… BUT WE DO TEMPTATIONS OF EASY MONEY THE GOVERNMENT DEBACLE FOUR: How We Got Here A PAINFUL CASE OF OPTIMISM COERCION VS. DESIRE AS THE TIDE TURNS 17 18 20 23 26 28 31 34 37 41 42 45 47 50 54 54 59 61 SECTION TWO: The Inevitable Expansion of Time FIVE: The Triumph of Truth WHAT IS TRUTH? TRUE STRENGTH THE POWER OF PERSPECTIVE SIX: Cycles of Change THE GRAND CYCLE AMERICAN INDIVIDUALISM UNDERCURRENTS OF CHANGE SEVEN: Freedom over the Structure THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE 67 68 76 81 90 92 96 100 107 107 CHANGING AMERICA THE GREAT HUMAN DIVIDE AN AMERICA DIVIDED EIGHT: Growing Pains of Progress THE CRISIS POINT GIVING UP TO GETTING MORE THE TIME OF NOW THE ACTION OF NOW 114 119 122 129 130 134 140 145 SECTION THREE: Thriving at the Brink of Disaster NINE: A Principle That Makes the World Go Round THE ISSUE OF CHOICE YOUR CURRENT CHOICES LIFE SPEAKS… DO YOU LISTEN? THE LEVELS OF CHOICE TEN: Unearthing the Fire Inside THE HIDDEN FIRE THE LIMITS OF FREEDOM THE IMPULSE TO CHANGE TO BE, TO DO, TO HAVE ELEVEN: Change Your Life or Life Will Change You THE IMPENDING STORM DREAMS, NIGHTMARES AND THE LAND OF BLAH PROACTIVE MIGHT TWELVE: Your Unique Breath of Life CREATIVE INSPIRATIONS THE COLLECTIVE BREATH THE SPARK OF LIFE INSPIRATIONAL FEELINGS OF CHANGE THIRTEEN: Rekindling the Flames of Your Fire THE MEANING OF YOUR LIFE TOUCHING THE DEPTHS OF YOUR SOUL DISCOVERING THE CURRENT DEPTHS FOURTEEN: Preparing to Face Your Walls of Fear FUELING THE FIRES OF PASSION OUR EDUCATIONAL NIGHTMARE A MANUFACTURED CHOICE FIFTEEN: Refining the Flames of Passion A TALENT IN THE MAKING THE FREEDOM OF RESPONSIBILITY TRUE OWNERSHIP 153 154 158 160 165 169 170 174 178 182 188 188 192 201 204 205 209 214 216 220 220 225 234 242 244 249 255 260 260 269 273 SIXTEEN: How the Other Side Lives TAKING A DIP ON THE OTHER SIDE WHERE PASSION MEETS COMPASSION ASK NOT WHAT OTHERS CAN DO FOR YOU SEVENTEEN: Home is where the Heart is THE WHOLE PACKAGE EIGHTEEN: The Moment of Choice THE BASIC CHOICE OF LIFE THE PERFECT PLACE SYNDROME SHORT-TERM GAIN, LONG-TERM PAIN THE ILLUSION OF CONFLICT THE ONLY TRUE CHOICE NINETEEN: Crossing the Threshold of Change DYING TO LIVE, LIVING TO DIE CULTIVATING THE COURAGE OF LOVE TWENTY: The Transition to Glory AS DESTINY UNFOLDS HIGHER PEAKS, WIDER CIRCLES THIS MOMENT OF TRUTH THE AGE OF INSPIRATION THE DAMS WILL BREAK. THE W ALLS WILL BURN. EPILOGUE: The Story of Life 278 279 280 282 293 300 304 305 307 312 316 319 324 327 331 338 338 343 346 352 353 358 SECTION FOUR: Inspiring Extras LIMITED EDITION: Personal Statement from Todd Levinson Give the Gift of Inspiration The Inspiring Revolutions Experience Unearthing the Fire Inside Revolutionizing Education The World of Wisdom Phenomenon SNEAK PREVIEW: Lasting Peace 363 366 368 370 373 375 377 PROLOGUE Revolutionizing Your Life T he image has become permanently imprinted on my mind: my grandfather, gentle yet passionate, a survivor, sits at the head of the table, my grandmother by his side, quietly in support and always running the show. Throughout my life I’ve made it a point to engage my grandparents in sharing their lives with me as it draws me into another world, their world, where the past unveils a wisdom that always manages to find relevance in my daily life. My visit with them today is no exception. As my grandfather begins recounting captivating stories of the Holocaust, (stories I always listen to as if hearing for the first time), his voice is weak and withering, and he speaks with a sense of purpose, as if telling them for the last time: He’d been working in the fields of a German concentration camp near the border with Russia. The conditions were harsh, the outlook bleak. But he held the power of hope in his heart and a sense of freedom in his mind and one day noticed that, because of his position in the lineup, the Nazi guards couldn’t see him. Rain poured down, further clouding their vision. He saw the flicker of an opportunity and knew the doors of freedom open only for those willing to walk through them. He ran into the growth of the fields and dove to his hands and knees. Hidden from view, he crawled long and far through the mud, heading toward the barbed-wire fence that lined the GermanRussian border. There, Nazi guards were stationed every fifty to a 2 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE hundred yards so no one escaped. My grandfather positioned himself between two guards. He could see his destination. Beyond the fence, on the Russian side, he knew he could not be killed – it was an illegal act carrying the death penalty for German soldiers. Only a thin slice of space now separated him from the dream he’d held onto so long. His heart raced, and he could barely see for the rain. The first swift step, driven by passion, fueled by adrenaline, set the course of events in motion. The soldiers saw him and raced to head him off. But as they drew closer, my grandfather had only one focus, one dream. He knew that hope without action is just a floating thought in the mind while hope with action is a true act of faith. My grandfather had faith. His life is the ultimate expression and validation of the ideas in this book and is a true testament to the power of inspiration and its absolute necessity in the face of large-scale crisis. This book isn’t just about personal empowerment and selfimprovement, or simply about the current trends of our society. It’s also about how our individual choices, feelings, and actions fit into and influence society. It might seem odd to begin a book about larger, collective issues with such a personal and emotional story. Those kinds of books are generally more technical than emotional, more abstract than specific, more of the mind and less of the heart. This book will explain how this divide between the personal and collective realms of life is actually one of the very problems now leading us toward crisis. When we don’t believe that our personal lives relate to the larger fields of politics, international relations, and economics, we tend to feel alienated from the process and refrain from becoming involved. But if citizens aren’t involved in society, the structure of society will inevitably buckle under the weakness of its people’s support. A political system without the participation of its people won’t reflect its people and is thus doomed to failure. International negotiations that don’t embody its people’s ideologies and feelings will never last. A national economy with a vastly uneven display of contribution and distribution is bound to crash. The few cannot for- THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 3 ever hold up the many. Dependency never reigns supreme for long. Under such pressure, the system eventually collapses. Our society is currently divided in just this way with only a small percentage of people dictating political decisions, choosing our foreign policies and actions, and accumulating and controlling massive amounts of our wealth. Alienation is seeping into various corners of our society, and it is the mission of this book to begin to mend these broken fences so we can understand the incredible power we have to direct the course of our lives, alter the direction of our society, and thrive in a society advancing quickly toward a major crisis. In fact, in times like these, with accelerating change and growing social instability, we must remain vigilant in seeking to understand what’s happening in the world around us and fully embrace the level of freedom and power we possess so that we can thrive in the collective experience and change it when needed. It is no mere convenience, no sheer luxury, but an absolute necessity to develop and use our freedoms as individuals because, as a nation, we are now living at the brink of an economic disaster. Throughout this book, you will see words like “freedom,” “inspiration,” “responsibility,” and “truth.” These words won’t remain vagaries as they commonly do in public discourse. Many times you’ll hear leaders use them without any discussion of what they mean, assuming you’ll believe they’re upheld simply because they’re spoken. Here, we will explore their deeper meaning and thoroughly examine what they are, why they’re vital, and how they function in our lives. By the final page, these words will hopefully resonate with vitality, strength, and purpose because they mean so much to the quality of lives we all live. When we don’t understand, cherish, and uphold these principles, we are not free in this world. The truth will always set us free, but we must know what the truth is and have the freedom to seek it in order to capture its benefits. All crises are about freedom. They come to strike down the prison walls of our minds to show us what’s possible for our lives. They are times to reflect on and remember what’s important in life – times when we’ve lost so much that we realize just how precious 4 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE our lives are. So we choose to spend more of our time focusing on what means the most. You realize what means most to you through the feelings you have inside. When you’re out of touch with yourself, you don’t have the freedom to be yourself because you don’t even know yourself. Under such circumstances, crisis eventually comes to set you free by shaking up the limitations of your current life so you’re left open and ready to explore the untouched aspects of yourself and see the possible freedoms ahead. And when these problems of alienation and limitation are society wide, crisis is also society wide. We are now facing these kinds of individual and collective issues. Many of us would insist that we are indeed free. But do we act from the truths we feel inside? Do our careers stir our passions? Are we able to promote our life ideals? In how we contribute to society, do we compromise important aspects of ourselves, neglect feelings that move us to feel alive, or hold back the true value we possess? And if doing the work we choose leads us to sacrifice our ideals and numb our passions, why do we continue doing it if we are really free? There are those who say the system doesn’t allow for it and those who blame their own fears. But these reasons are just reflections of each other because a system can’t be limiting unless its people are limited to begin with. When people feel fear, they look to their systems for protection and soon become dependent on them. These protections later become the very limitations that restrict their freedom. In this way, the limitations you’re currently facing in your own life are based on these same fears, protections, and dependencies. And because this lack of freedom exists on such a large scale in society, we are now headed toward crisis. Yet this isn’t a book of pessimism but of optimism. True optimism doesn’t believe that conditions will always be desirable but rather that we can take our conditions, whatever they might be, and use them to guide ourselves toward what we desire. The darkness of coal becomes the brightness of a diamond when subjected to pressure. By the end of this book, you will understand how your own life and your society can undergo this same kind of revolution THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 5 by building strength from the increasing pressures of a changing world. In a world of cycles, the shifting tides of life render our old structures obsolete so that we can then journey forward into a new age. This is revolution; revolution is change. When we depend on our structures without questioning and changing them, we risk living in the past when the past is no longer relevant to the present – a status ripe for crisis to strike. Revolution comes to overturn the old structures and pave the way for the next progressive idea to take hold. The new innovative idea is what we call an “inspiration.” This inspired revolution causes changes in the way we think, the way we feel, and our overall way of life. It happens within individuals, societies, and the world at large. We are now faced with this kind of revolution, and we need to be proactive in helping it unfold in the minds, hearts, and actions of the people of our nation. If not, we will be subject to the consequences of our complacency. In the pages ahead, you will have a journey to make and freedom to take. Enjoy the journey… FROM ALIENATION INTO INSPIRATION For many, the notion of an upcoming crisis is no news. All it takes is looking around and tuning into the feelings of our culture to see the forces of change stirring. Fear and uncertainty abound. Dissatisfaction is brewing in the hearts of many who are now living monotonous, uninspired lives. Conflict is escalating abroad, while complacency has been replacing possibility at home. These developments are no passing fads but rather vital signs of significant relevance, products of a growing alienation, symptoms of a widening disconnection, and indications that our collective society has gradually gotten out of hand because we have chosen to have no hand in it. Pay attention to the signs. Time spent watching television has reached astronomical levels as people choose to live their lives vicariously instead of investing time in their own active, “hands-on” 6 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE experiences. Our voter turnout is and has been low for quite some time, a sign that citizens don’t believe their decisions will actually result in “representatives” who truly represent their needs and wants. Finally, in this nation that so prides itself on its wealth and productivity, people are still striving to be financially “free” so that they can work without worry or, many times, retire and not work at all. But why would anyone want to retire unless they were somehow not doing what they feel they were meant to do, what gets them exited, what thrills them to the heights of passion? These trends signal a definite and dangerous lack of active participation in life, and, if they point to any participation at all, it is the participation of coercion rather than desire. If you allow others outside your life to determine the direction of your livelihood instead of trusting and acting on your own knowledge and feelings, your life is destined to resemble something drastically out of touch with the person you truly are. Furthermore, individuals who are out of touch with their society will feel like they have no real influence in society. When, as a result, they can’t thrive in society, they even start to feel out of touch with, and like they have no real impact on, their own lives. The individual and collective have developed a dangerous split, and this book aims to demonstrate both the necessity of and a path for bridging this great human divide to bring these two worlds closer together. The time to effect these changes is now. The globalization of our lives will only put more pressure on the fault line of this rift in our national and global experience. There are many books that discuss whether globalization is beneficial or harmful, but this issue is ultimately irrelevant because globalization is inevitable. The more important questions relate to why it’s happening, what it means for your life, and how you can help direct it to be the most productive and constructive experience possible for your life, your society, and your world. With the inevitability of this change, a crucial issue will be whether you’re able to sustain a sense of individual choice, connection, and inspiration. Alienation, as described above, will always breed crisis, and the separation of our individual choices from our personal and collec- THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 7 tive experience is an assured formula for this alienation. If you feel disconnected from a society that is changing, you won’t be able to cope with and adjust to those changes. Regrettably, in this constantly developing world, too many of us have chosen this path, settling for isolated lives in which we feel overwhelmed by, and often at the mercy of, the larger forces around us. Have you ever felt lost in this world, with no place to express what you know you could create if given the chance? If so, you are certainly not alone. But you must distinguish yourself from others through the daily choices you make about what you do with your life and how you live in this world. In this book, you will have the chance to do just that. If you compare today with years past, you can see that we live in times of extraordinary freedom and opportunity. Of course, there are still unjust inequalities that must be remedied – and we must do what must be done to remedy them – but when we don’t embrace the freedom we already possess, what possibility do we have to reclaim more? You can’t learn to run if you don’t know how to walk. You won’t earn your dream job if you haven’t acquired the knowledge and developed the skills for that job. It’ll be difficult to make lots of money if you’ve never developed a productive means to make that money. And influencing the policy that affects your life simply won’t happen if you haven’t even informed yourself of the intention and effects of that policy. The path from alienation to inspiration is the path of freedom, and it’s time for all of us to begin embracing more of our freedom. Unfortunately, inspiration is a word often misconstrued by a good portion of society, perhaps because it has become so cliché in our culture. Many times, it’s misinterpreted as only a fuzzy feeling of inactive bliss. But, at its core, an inspiration is a progressive idea that can bring us freedom because of its ability to lift us beyond the challenges of the day. In business circles, it’s the seed of innovation, leading us to new ways of solving any one of life’s many perpetual problems. A collective inspiration is a new idea that sets society free, such as our nation’s inspiration to bring greater democracy to poli- 8 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE tics, whereas an individual inspiration sets a person free by aiding his unique creative expression. That expression leads to innovation, such as Henry Ford’s inspiration to transform the method of manufacturing cars. By following his inspired ideas, he added not only to society but also to his own freedom. Of course, there are ecstatic feelings that come along with the freedom of personal expression, but they’re not the only aspect or the core of what it means to be inspired. Ultimately, the freedom in a nation is meant to give individuals a more open path to pursue their personal inspirations, and we are definitely far from that end. Life won’t let you run far or for long from the freedom you innately possess. It is the fundamental essence of our nation, but we have squandered it in many ways, at many times, for too long. In this way, the current path of our nation demonstrates that we have forgotten much of who we are, what we can do, what we have, and what we stand for. And herein lies the main reason for our situation. Society has been progressing, but many haven’t been progressing with it, and they have therefore fallen behind because they are still working from an old model of the world. The effect of this kind of ignorance, though it might be unintentional, is always crisis. If you pay attention, you can even feel the initial rumblings now. As you read, you’ll come to understand what these rumblings are and where they are guiding us. And while there are many possible elements to this crisis, we will focus mostly on one: the strong case for an approaching economic crash. Unlike many books on this topic, this one won’t spend too much time dazzling you with numbers for proof of the crash ahead. These numbers reflect effects rather than causes. Instead, we’ll be covering the kinds of solutions you’ll need to effectively move forward with your life as well as the life principles and psychological traits that, throughout human history, have unfailingly led to crisis. Fully comprehending the recurring actions, thoughts, and emotions that repeatedly play a role in individual and collective crises can help you avert crisis and even thrive in crisis and in life more generally. The ideas in this book are, therefore, not simply for the upcoming moments in time but for a lifetime. At the same time, THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 9 my hope is that they provoke massive collective action before the approaching crisis instead of because of it. THE TRUTH OF THIS MATTER There will inevitably be naysayers who don’t believe this kind of crisis is occurring or is even possible in this day and age. In any society, there are always individuals who ardently believe that they and their fellow citizens are somehow different from and have evolved beyond people of history who have made similar mistakes. Interestingly, these individuals often stand to lose the most in crisis – the stable job, the security nest egg, or the family home. They are victims of their own selective reasoning, choosing only to consider evidence that shows them that everything will remain all right. Unfortunately, these convenient beliefs aren’t so convenient once crisis shows them to be based on unsustainable principles. Confucius said that “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” By doing so, you remain open to recognizing and embracing the equally valid truth of ideas different from your own. On the other hand, you can’t be convinced of something you’re not ready and open to be convinced of, even when you know it will assist you in achieving your greatest dreams and deepest desires. Your current ideas would have to be valid all the time and hold up to the highest scrutiny to be as true as you probably think they are. Most of the time, this just isn’t the case. So be willing to question and discard your most cherished beliefs and feelings about yourself and the world because they’re often the ones that prevent you from learning new ideas, embracing new beliefs, developing new skills, and experiencing new emotions that may be needed to live your life to its greatest potential. A commonly quoted adage explains that it isn’t what you don’t know that holds you back but is instead what you think you know. And the more dearly you hold to your beliefs and emotions, the more intensely the world will challenge them. Faith is certainly 10 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE an important part of life, but when faith becomes too rigid and isn’t inclusive of varied ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, its isolating walls will inevitably have to come down to open you to a fuller experience. Dogmatism never endures in the long run. Life always seeks to balance you from your unbalanced misconceptions because… An unbalanced idea is a double-edged sword. While faith in an idea can be extremely valuable because of the power it gives you to follow through and succeed, faith without questioning can lead to a level of rigidity that blinds you from the truth and importance of the opposite idea. For instance, one reason for our unstable set of circumstances is that we’ve come to think of our freedom in a severely unbalanced manner. Today’s freedom is very much the freedom to have without the need to do. As a result, we’re taking more from life than we give, which is a chief cause of the economic crisis we face. Our freedom therefore isn’t balanced by responsibility, leading to a crisis that will, in some ways, leave us to feel less free through its consequences. Ideas that are taken to extremes always possess these possible dangers, and are also likely to bring about the very crisis that leads to their demise. Accordingly, it’s essential to be receptive to new ideas and actions that may at first be difficult to accept and actively embrace. The tendency toward black-and-white thinking can often cause you to miss the important shades of gray in between. Every perspective has a grain of truth… …as well as a degree of falsehood, and neither the ideas within this book nor the ideas opposing those in this book are perfect and free from this reality. If you’re reading this book simply to validate what you already think and feel, this isn’t the book for you. First and foremost, this book is about questioning what already is, while digging to the deeper truths inside yourself and at the core of life. So don’t take for granted any of the ideas you read here until you’ve sufficiently THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 11 put them to the test yourself. Test them in your mind; test them in your heart; test them in your experience. Look to the past as well as the future. Ideas are only true to the extent they apply to a broad range of circumstances at the deepest levels of our being. Test every relevant idea both broadly and deeply. In these pages, you won’t simply be told of the connection between the individual and collective; or that inspiration and crisis are different sides of the same coin; or about the need for increased freedom and responsibility. You will learn how these connections work and be asked to prove them in your life. Learning is different from knowing, and the difference is personal experience. This book’s intention isn’t only for you to know about your innate freedom and power but also for you to experience it as a reality. Sir Francis Bacon argued that “Knowledge itself is power.” Acquiring knowledge can help you on your path to building power, but it can only give you a sense of power and not yet actual power. The true power of knowledge is its ability to form a basis for your actions and results. No action, no power. Knowledge in and of itself is only potential power. Taking action to follow through on your knowledge is the true expression and test of that power. Without knowledge, you possess no foundation for action, and, without action, you give away your freedom and power. This book aspires to help you experience this power while also inspiring you to use it effectively in what can be seen as a fertile breeding ground for collective crisis – a seemingly complacent nation in an ever more quickly changing and complex world. In fact, because of the fast pace of change and the growing interconnectedness of the world, it has perhaps never been so vital for you to understand and embrace your true, potential influence and connection with yourself and the world as a whole. 12 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE Through this book, you will come to understand the crucial connection between inspiration and crisis. You will see that if you don’t make of your life what you are meant to make, you are calling for crisis to show up on your doorstep. Life isn’t predetermined in any way that denies your freedom to choose, but you are certainly given passions, talents, and mental and emotional inclinations that form a platform for your choices. Along these lines, you’ll realize that when you live by and live out your individually unique, selfchosen, and self-directed inspirations; you don’t just thrive in your own life nor do you simply add to the thriving of society, but you even thrive in a society on the verge of crisis. You will therefore be changing alienation into inspiration, crisis into opportunity, and disaster into achievement. The motivating force behind this book is to demonstrate the ultimate choice and power we have in determining whether and, if so, how the collective crises of society affect our lives. To this end, you will be learning why crisis happens and what it entails so that you can know when it will occur and how to prevent it or handle it when it comes. Besides the knowledge and understanding you’ll be gaining, you’ll also have the opportunity to participate in revealing activities. It is in the spirit of this book to guide your reading to be more than just an intellectual endeavor but a meaningful emotional experience as well. Some activities will exercise your mind. Others will lead you to the depths of your feelings. In anticipation of these activities, there will inevitably be readers who don’t feel entirely confident grappling with intellectual concepts or, conversely, those who think they have no need to further develop their mental skills. On the other side, there will be readers who refrain from immersing in any of the “touchy-feely” activities. Both of these human abilities (i.e., the intellectual and intuitive) are fundamental to life, are at the core of how to thrive in life and crisis, and can always be improved. If you skip ahead of these activities, you’ll only cheat yourself. Furthermore, it’s our lack of confidence as well as our overconfidence that have led us to this tenuous point of our collective lives. Through this book’s ideas and activities the insecure can discover faith and the prideful can find humility. THRIVING AT THE BRINK OF DISASTER 13 To fulfill this book’s promise, we will start, in Section One, with an explanation for what’s now causing and why we may soon be facing a national economic crisis. By understanding the causes, you’ll be able to see the solutions that must be instituted in both your life and society. Section Two then explains crisis in more general terms so you’ll understand the nature of crisis overall. If we don’t take time to understand our lives in general, we are stuck reacting to specific momentary events with no idea of how they all relate. This section will bring all crises into perspective so we can understand those of the past, resolve those of the present, and avert those of the future. Finally, with an improving understanding of the current social environment and an overall picture of crisis in general, we will return in Section Three to your individual life and explore how you fit into the larger collective experience. Society will only change through our individual actions because we are its lifeblood. During this section, you will be guided along a path of ideas and activities meant to return you to a self you may have abandoned long ago, or perhaps never discovered, but which you will have to embrace and live by to thrive in our current world. The structures of our nation, the foundations for our thinking, and the complacency of our actions are no longer supporting us in this personal and necessary journey. We will therefore have to return to the inspiration that has driven us from our beginnings as a nation. The American Dream has given life to this nation for more than two centuries. Your dreams contribute to that dream and are in fact the major reason for it because our collective dream is first and foremost about individuals pursuing their unique dreams. But in an economic system that takes more than it gives, inflates the economy above its true capacity, and centers more on what you possess than on what you can do, the American Dream turns into an American Scheme, and, if we allow things to unfold as they are, it will soon become an American Nightmare. A land of opportunity can only become a land of opportunity when it is made real through progress and action. Progress isn’t achieved through manipulation of numbers, superficial policies, or massive acts of consumption. We 14 REVOLUTIONIZNG YOUR LIFE achieve progress through creation, and creation comes from individual inspiration. Because our society needs us to thrive so that it can thrive, and because our society isn’t currently supporting that journey, something will have to give. A personal and collective revolution must occur. The question is whether you’ll revolutionize your life before or because of the next crash. Start now with a decision, and the revolution will begin.