It’s Your Cage; It Can Be As Oppressive As You Want It To Be
Follow me on this, I promise it’s all about artists.
Election season is here in the United States and personally, I hate all politicians on both sides of the isle because their job security is not related in any way to performance.
That’s an accident looking for a place to happen.
Is that just me?
You can relax, this isn’t a political rant of any kind. I have my beliefs just like you, but I disdain both sides of the isle because the system doesn’t foster performance when job #1 is just to get reelected. This means they really don’t give a damn about any of us or the country simply because they don’t have to.
They care about your vote, and ALL politicians will pander to you, looking for the biggest common “heart-string” threads they can pull to gain the most votes.
Until Congressional term limits are in place, where the politician incentive changes from “what do I have to do to ride this gravy train a little longer” to “I don’t have much time to leave my legacy so I better get to work” we will continue down the same path. Sadly.
Until the proper, appropriate, intelligent motivations are woven into our political structure, the sour arguments, talking points, and voting process will stack up and linger unnecessarily like garbage in a compulsive hoarder’s home.
I liken it to a group of people standing around a swimming pool, each of them with a different colored cinder block, spouting endless spirited nonsensical rants based on their thoughts, fears, and beliefs, for the purposes of convincing the other side that their cinder block will actually float.
Until we reimagine the cinder block, it just isn’t going to happen regardless of your beliefs.
Our current arrangement allows us to change said political system as a people, without permission from Congress (via a Constitutional Amendment), but we won’t.
And this brings me to my point.
This is where my prior statements morph into your reality as an artist.
Right now, we live in a country where, for the most part, there is equal opportunity. Yes, it’s flawed, but the opportunities are there.
For thousands of years all kinds of people have been persecuted, enslaved, exterminated, controlled, oppressed, etc., including blacks, Jews, women, Irish, Italian, witches, sorcerers, all religions, gays, people with different skin tone within their own oppressed race, handicapped, the outwardly vocal dissenters, etc.
Now, just in this election, we have full term black President nearing the end of his legacy, and so far out of the four front runners in the Presidential race, 1 is a Jew, 1 is a woman, and 1 is a Latino of Cuban decent.
Here’s my point. Yes we are flawed. Yes, there is always room to improve, but we have opportunities for anyone who wants to grab the brass ring.
But, most people won’t.
Most people won’t out of fear.
It’s a very real fact that most people secretly don’t feel they’re worthy of it.
Only King Arthur can remove the scimitar from the stone.
This fear manifests itself in the form of convenient stories we tell ourselves that are designed to create forgiveness,
Forgiveness for failing to believe.
“But I’m not King Arthur so I can’t grab that sword.”
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“We’re the 99% not the evil 1%”
“I need to be perfect before I can bring my art to the world.”
“I just need that record deal and THEN I can be serious about my artist career”
There is still rampant slavery in this world and no politician can EVER promise you that they can somehow change the system to create an equal outcome for every person.
Yes, you’re a slave.
You’re also the slave master.
While your opportunities can be changed by a different political system, your outcome can only be changed by you.
Did you catch that?
While your opportunities can be changed by a different political system, your outcome can only be changed by you.
We are all prisoners held captive within our own cage.
How far you choose to expand your reality is completely up to you.
I’ll give you an example, here is a GREAT video of Tony Robbins being interviewed by Lewis Howes (I love Howes’ podcast).
Robbins talks at length about giving.
The more you give the more you receive. He was barely making a living at one point when he offered a kid a college scholarship with these rules:
- You must have a B average
- No Drugs
- You can’t go to Jail
- You must do 20 hours of community service each year.
The community service was a strategic component he placed in there to systemize exposure to giving. This requirement ensured that the beneficiary could experience the biological and mental change which occurs within a soul when it gives.
Since then, Tony has expanded this amazing scholarship program exponentially but you’d be amazed at how many kids turn down the scholarship because either they, or their parents, don’t believe they should be giving they believe they should be getting.
They find the 20 hours of community work requirement offensive so they pass on the gift!
There’s that rusty cage I was talking about.
Incidentally, about 27 minutes in Tony talks about the 99% and their views and attitudes towards money. He says that money is a magnifier of someone’s real self. If you’re mean you’re going to get meaner with money. If you’re generous you’re going to give more with money.
I personally like the fact Tony states about how half of the population of our planet live on $2.50 per day or $900 per year. Which comparatively in the context of the whole planet, places the poverty stricken Americans, the lowest of the 99%, in that evil 1% category that they love to hate so much.
Think about that.
I find it extraordinarily entertaining when these 99 percenters bash capitalism and capitalists via social media from their iPhones. Nothing like ignorant irony.
Listen, most people are standing in a bucket and trying to lift themselves up. Until these people learn to get out of their own way, no institutionalized equal outcome ideologies will help them.
In your band somebody has to be the spiritual force, the leader. Somebody has to be John, then somebody has to be Paul, somebody has to be George, and somebody has to be Ringo.
There will always be hierarchy in all animal species.
We’re wired up that way.
To be uplifted we need to have hope.
We need to believe that we can really succeed.
Then we need to learn how to do it.
What we don’t need is any buffoon telling us we’re being held down by the man.
Because if we really believe that then it’s true.
EVERYBODY has to overcome obstacles to succeed and those obstacles don’t ever go away after you succeed.
We don’t need any respected “expert” making us feel these hindrances are somehow “institutionalized” or out of our control, rather we need to think of them as anticipated speed bumps.
I have massive respect for individuals who were smart enough, worked hard enough, and were driven enough to get out of their hood, their oppression, their cage, their former reality and make a real dent in the Universe.
I lose that respect when they become famous and use their voice, with the reach of their new found megaphone to complain about their lot in life. To complain about what they had to overcome to get their success.
I want to vomit when these achievers, these people who manifested their dreams into their reality whine and jump up and down about persecution, money, unfairness, blah, blah, blah.
All they are doing is sucking the wind out of the sails of anyone from their designated oppressed community who has an inkling of hope to achieve the same success.
They’re inadvertently proliferating the very problems they content they’re trying to solve.
Hey, not for nothing, but some famous people proliferate on purpose because it makes them feel relevant or the social problem actually makes them relevant, but I digress.
In a misguided attempt to shine a light on their struggle to help others, they are enslaving millions of people on the receiving end of that megaphone by implying that life is impossible because it’s unfair and it’s out of an individual’s control.
They naively believe that some social change is going to make the world a fair place and help their downtrodden people rise.
Do you see? They’re putting the results of their outcome on someone or something else.
Isn’t that kind of an excuse?
Then their besieged people respond by doing nothing; waiting around for the world to change.
Stuck in that cage because now that the onus isn’t on them, it’s the world’s fault, and until it changes to make it easy for them, why try?
What these famous achievers should be doing is telling them it can be done!
Why won’t they learn how to empower these people intelligently?
There are no equal outcomes.
Here’s another example.
ABC had a hit show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
If you haven’t seen this show the producers would find people in need of a new home. The benefactors were vetted by an incredible story that would touch the hearts of America, ABC would then send the family on a luxurious vacation, and build them a brand new home while they were gone.
They demolished the old edifice and built the new house in one week!
For instance, you’d have a couple with 7 kids living in a 700 square foot house.
EM: HE would pay off their current mortgage and build them a 4,500 square foot house; absolutely free.
This concept sounds so beautiful, and it is, but you have no idea the psychological and societal landmines ABC unearthed on this show.
In a sense this platform promised an equal outcome, didn’t it?
Every lucky subject gets a brand new spacious free house, no mortgage, taxes paid, and their insurance paid.
Well, not exactly as it turns out.
In the first 5 years of this TV series, they had to change the rules to protect the winners from themselves.
Too many of the winners ended up destitute again.
Yes, they got their mortgage paid, a brand new free house, a new car, much better life at no cost, and then somehow found a way to get right back down to being broke again.
What would happen you ask?
The winners would spend the money allotted to cover taxes and insurance on things that weren’t taxes and insurance.
They’d take mortgages out on their free house that got them out of squalor to go on vacation, live like a rock star, or start a business that they weren’t smart enough to know they didn’t know about.
Some of the people would lose the house because they couldn’t afford the utility bills in the new home.
That’s right, after having zero debt, after all the new relationships they could’ve made in the community from the 2,000 to 4,000 volunteers who would show up to build this house in a week, it ended up that the winners couldn’t figure out a way to make an effort to earn a little more money for the electric bill in the new roomy home.
This is because they never believed they deserved it so they never stepped up their game to rise to the occasion.
They clearly weren’t being held down by the man, here. They were being held down by themselves.
They couldn’t find a way to use the benevolence to pick themselves up and literally blew it.
This happened OFTEN.
ABC was forced to create rules that wouldn’t allow mortgages to be taken out on the home, untouchable escrow accounts had to be set up ensuring the taxes, insurance, and utilities could be paid for the next 5 years to guarantee ABC that these people couldn’t screw themselves.
The winners were pathetic.
I don’t say that to be mean or to be condescending.
ABC vetted them because they were pathetic which made for good TV. ABC amazingly created a show (which made tons of money by the way) that congregated thousands of local volunteers to help someone in need in their community. The network and these volunteers gave some poor, broken souls a new house, sometimes new vehicles, bills paid for 5 years, and a helping hand to lift them up out of their poverty stricken reality.
What ABC discovered was that all too often, the new environment, new things, and the new situation did not change the reality of the people they were helping at all.
These people were pathetic because they believed they were pathetic.
New house, new clothes, new car, same old person.
SIDENOTE: This is amazing. Over 50% of the people who were helped by ABC were grateful for the amazing opportunity. The other 50% became instantly entitled and began making snotty demands during and after production.
Demands for “appropriate” transportation, “appropriate” behind the scenes cuisine, they would turn their noses down on the color of a brand new SUV they just received, etc.
Every society is like this.
Including you and your band.
“Come down off your throne, and leave your body alone. Something must change. You are the reason you’ve been waiting for so long.”
You are the answer to overcoming your troubles.
It’s your cage.
It can be as big as you want it to be.
It can be oppressive as you want it to be.
It can be abundant as you want it to be.
It can be full of love if you want it to be.
It can be creative if you want it to be.
In your cage you can live the dichotomy and suffer like the rest of society tells you that should because it’s the right thing to do (and they can’t figure out how to escape it), or you can step outside of your pitiful little cage, be courageous, and push forward in the face of fear and ridicule.
Take a deep breath, experience some failure, and LIVE the life you always dreamed of.
You need stop thinking about what you don’t have because it doesn’t matter.
You have to concentrate on your gifts, on what you DO have and build from there.
People of influence love to help people who get it; people who they feel are on their way.
It has little to do with your talent.
It has everything to do with your mindset.
Are you a slave?
Are you enslaving yourself?
Are you a corporate slave?
A slave within your relationship?
A slave shackled by the misguided thoughts and beliefs of your parents?
A slave to your own ineffective methodologies that never seem to work because you refuse to change tactics?
A slave to your own ego?
A slave because you believe someone else is going to be responsible for your outcomes?
Well, no election, major TV network, record label executive, recording studio, management company, booking agent, songwriting partner, and certainly no amount of money is going to free you from your own shackles until you retool your brain.
Here’s a good example, we recently lost the incomparable Merle Haggard. Merle was born poor white trash. By the age of 18 his voluminous rap sheet resulted in a 15 year jail sentence. Merle escaped from jail 17 times. This is why he was moved to San Quentin State Prison because the state of California couldn’t figure out how to contain him in a jail. It was in San Quentin where Merle saw Johnny Cash play live and decided to change his life forever.
He had nothing and was not captive to a figurative cage, rather a real cage. He was released serving 2.5 years of his sentence and changed his mindset.
He had no contacts in the music industry.
What he did have was his songs and an unrelenting drive to succeed.
Hag gave absolutely no one permission to take that drive from him. The rest is history.
Sadly, like the subjects on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, many of you will get some incredible opportunities and completely blow it due to your ignorance.
Many of you already have.
Ignorance is changed into potential power with education and knowledge. There are plenty of very inexpensive sources for education that only require your action and a couple bucks to implement.
FYI, Tony Robbins doesn’t have a college education, but he did read 700 books in 3 years when he first started getting his act together.
Why aren’t you reading?
Applied knowledge is turned into real power.
That’s a power that only you own.
It’s a power that will continually create opportunities for you.
No person, no government, no 1-percenter, and no election can take power like that away from you. Ever.
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.
You have everything you need right now; no more, no less.
The question is what are you doing to pick the lock on your cage?
P.S. I challenge you to read 1 book a month with the subject matter being whatever you feel you need to help you further your artist career.