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I Have Been Arrogant, Insensitive, and Stupid. A Confession...

Posted By: Randy GageMay 22, 2020

A couple weeks back, I wrote a blog about who I wanted to become when this whole pandemic was in the rearview mirror.  (ICYMI, read it here.) The message seemed to resonate with a lot of people who shared both online and off, the many things they desired to achieve during their time isolating at home.  It was wonderful to see people committing to better health, personal development, and seeking wisdom.  Even though I came down with COVID-19 myself, I still made great progress on my list.  Judging by the response, it seems a lot of you did as well.

This is what happens when you look for hidden blessings.  Knowing that every challenge offers an opportunity, and setbacks are simply stepping-stones to becoming the person you are meant to be. 

This is not to minimize the real and tangible harm this pandemic is producing.  Personally, it’s been a very arduous process trying to build my lungs back up.  Just making my bed or tying my shoes has me breathing like I climbed five flights of stairs. And I’m truly one of the lucky ones.  The lives lost and economic devastation are heart-breaking.  Still in times like these, we must always look for the good that may not be so apparent, the lessons which will help us be stronger, wiser, and kinder.  If we do this honestly, the pandemic has ripped away the façade and exposed the ugly, depressing, and brutal truth…

The system is broken.

The gulf between the wealthy and the poor is too great.  We don’t have a functional safety net in America.  (And, as best as I can tell, not many other countries.)  And there is systemic and inherent obstacles built into the process that stacks things against the disadvantaged.

I could rail against governments, the media, and the economic model in general.  But I’ll just concentrate on me. I have been arrogant, callous, and foolish.  Being considered a prosperity guru, it’s kind of my job to help people focus on the ways they can reframe their mindset, replace limiting beliefs, and use their minds to manifest prosperity.  As you know, I often point to my own story:  A high school dropout who made it.  Being in jail at 15, getting an opportunity, and making my life over. Overcoming alcoholism, drug addiction, and HIV to live a healthy life.  Failing at two businesses but persevering to become wealthy.  Getting shot, left for dead, and living to tell about it.

I’m living proof that the American dream is alive, that it’s possible.  But let’s be honest here.  The America dream is definitely more possible for some people than others.

I went to court for armed robbery as a white kid in Madison, Wisconsin.  The default setting there was, “He messed up, but he’s a good kid who deserves another chance.”  If I would have been a black or Hispanic kid in Detroit, Chicago, or LA, what would the default setting have been?  Kids of color can get seven years in prison for shoplifting a pair of sneakers.

When I got shot, I received amazing medical care, and when I was diagnosed with HIV, had insurance to cover the $3,000 a month medication needed to live.  There are people still dying in Africa, not because there isn’t a treatment, but because they can’t pay for it.

Yes, I got off my ass and worked hard for what I got and still work my ass off every day.  I don’t live in entitlement but try my best to add value to receive the blessings I receive on a daily basis.  But god dammit, the world is a tough place right now.  I’m trying to support five households during this crisis because the system has left them behind.  You can call me a socialist or even a fucking communist; I don’t care. We need to have a real conversation about the ways we’re failing our fellow humans.  We need to acknowledge that the health care system is broken.  And we need to reevaluate our welfare and education systems.  Have a serious conversation about the viability of programs like universal basic income and other alternatives.

Healthcare workers should not have to beg for the protective gear they need to safely treat patients.  People who get cancer shouldn’t have to file bankruptcy in order to receive the care they need.  Parents should not have to run “Go Fund Me” campaigns to finance an operation so their child can walk or receive a prosthetic.  We ostracize people with depression or mental health issues and they’re killing themselves by the thousands. Suicides were over the moon before.  Now they’re the epidemic within the epidemic.  A society that can look away in these kinds of situations is an immoral one.

Gig economy workers have to be protected in safety net programs like unemployment, worker’s compensation, and safety regulations.  There are 11 million undocumented Americans.  We can’t just let them starve because they don’t qualify for government assistance programs or die because they don’t have insurance coverage. (And if you think they should not be helped because they’re not citizens, you don’t deserve America.)  We send our soldiers to war and then don’t provide adequate mental health counseling, medical care, or employment opportunities when they return.  Apparently, no one at the Department of Defense ever prepared an action plan for how to handle an epidemic on a ship or submarine before.  Far too many kids don’t get nourishment without school lunch programs.

What kind of system would subject doctors and nurses to begging for PPE on Facebook during a pandemic?   There has been an outcry to better protect our first responders and health care workers.  Rightly so. But also think about the warehouse workers, delivery drivers, and people picking our produce.  When I was sick with COVID and isolating alone at home, being able to get some chicken soup delivered by Instacart and UberEats was a great blessing.  You’re probably grateful for people who are providing essential goods and services to you.  But the people providing these services are predominantly poor.   They’re taking great risks without a safety net, and many of them are doing this because they have no other financial options.

This pandemic has me ashamed how arrogant I have been with my beliefs.  

Please note: this is not about lockdown versus opening back up.  The system is broken in both scenarios. There are too many people falling through the cracks.  The unbanked and undocumented. The homeless and mentally ill.  The poor and undereducated.  Even the government rescue and relief programs have perpetuated the inequity and injustice. Exactly how did tax cuts for billionaires get into the relief package?  (One day I hope we discover the specific congresspeople and senators that slipped that into the bill. Journalists, you know what to do.)   We have multi-billion-dollar corporations getting PPP loans while thousands of neighborhood restaurants, dry cleaners, and shops will never reopen.  Companies that took billions of dollars in relief packages are bolstering their balance sheets while they prepare to layoff thousands.

I’m not going to debate the different political ideologies here.  But that’s a conversation we need to have at some point.  But for now, we have to do better... 

A society cannot remain prosperous if it doesn’t provide equal opportunities for all.  I’m not going to try and shame you, nor tell you how to act.  I’m writing this for myself more than anyone else.  I can just tell you that this pandemic has been an extraordinary wake up call for me to own my conceit, superficial assumptions, and deficit of empathy.  But if by chance your heart and soul are also scarred by the injustice we’re perpetuating, here are a few things to consider.

If you can afford it, keep paying your housekeeper, pool cleaner or other part-time assistant who might fall through the cracks.  If you can “adopt” an undocumented person, gig worker, or someone without a home, please do so. FFS, step up your tips to those rideshare, delivery people and others!  Be extra kind to those employees at the pharmacies, groceries, and warehouse stores.  Be extra generous when you take care of your mailperson, UPS driver, condo employees, and others come holiday season.  If you can, donate to No Kid Hungry, Charity: Water, Humanity Forward, your local food bank, or other organizations helping the less fortunate.  The next time you get the privilege of casting your vote, do so mindfully.

Government can’t solve all our problems.  Non-profits can’t pick up all the slack either.  There is systemic bias and discrimination built in the system.  We need to talk about it, and we need to find some better solutions. Not telling you who to vote for, or what you should do.  Just publicly saying I’m ashamed I haven’t done more personally and resolving to do better.  And if this pandemic exposes the shortcomings of our system and more people respond, then it really will be a blessing in disguise.


- RG

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  • 36 comments on “I Have Been Arrogant, Insensitive, and Stupid. A Confession...”

    1. You have written many posts that have amazed me, surprised me, shocked me and even moved me. Today you bring to the surface something that I couldn't put my finger on it or define it. Now I can. It's called the social injustice fatigue. I have been feeling it. You have read things that go thru my mind and will be published in a book, yet today this stirs a deep down pain that has lingered for many years. Thank you for writing this confession that now becomes a great reflection and introspection.

      1. I've felt the "social injustice too Jorge. It's been amplified - that awareness - bc of the spiritual community I support and that nourishes me with "the allness" of spirit. We are the solution, individually and collectively.

    2. Yes. It was broken before, and that brokenness is inescapable now. And those who have learned how to create the live they choose cannot resort to shaming and blaming those who have not yet done so else the "life we choose" is a life we will ultimately lose.

    3. Dear Randy, sorry to hear you got nobbled, but you know what to do...I was having a general tidy up and I came across some of your old cassette tapes, posted on them was your picture when you had hair and even a beard, what a transformation you have gone through, so much better now...1st daughter Molly is now 14, one of her friends has already had anal sex with one of her mother's friends.. to keep Molly on the right track I bought her some Ponder.. Open your Mind to Receive... so I reread it myself and she reminded me of our true properity.. Love as Always .. Graham UK

    4. This is so wonderfully expressed. It reaches the soul and says, "Step up!"
      We really need people who want to do something good for someone else.

    5. Great blog today Pookie. Very well stated. I am very glad you are feeling better. Keep taking care of yourself!

      This thing has certainly changed the way I see many things. I am also starting to see a lot of people in the marketing world stand up against the "white privilege" norm that is so prevalent in our society. Beforehand......and I am guilty of many would just remain completely neutral and look the other way in fear of losing does not have to be a vigilante....but it is nice to see some leaders say....Enough is Enough...this is bad...and it is very real.

      I remain optimistic but yes we must do more.

    6. Thanks for bringing this conversation Randy. We need the brilliance of a new conversation. There is a "higher power"; we need to become it, collectively. #ItsALLaboutLOVE

    7. Thank you for expressing what I have been feeling. You did it so eloquently. now I add you to the list of so many friends that have covid-19 and friends who lost lives ones to this virus.
      There is much that we can do, little things that we can do I make a huge difference to someone. Vote, share, be kind. That is part of prosperity. Right? The yearning to do better as an individual, community, country and world. To use our aspiration and faith in ability to be better. To make changes.

    8. Great post Randy.. but jeez, how the hell did you get COVID-19? I thought you were self-quarantining from the get go? Scary..

      1. I had it very early. probably was incubating alredy when I started self-isolating. I had already gone to the doctor because I couldn't breath. Though I had a clogged aorta or blood clot on my lungs. But didn't have fever so we didn't even think about Covid at that time. Later learning about 40 percent of people don;t have fever.

    9. Gosh Randy, excellent post, and I hope others will spread your message far and wide, even viral. And please don’t be too hard on yourself.

      It’s confusing that hardly anyone has figured out that we are on this rocketship called Earth, together.

      This is our only home. There’s no other planet we can move to that we know of.

      Why isn’t it common sense that it’s in our best interest to care for our planet, and for each other?

      It is sad how society has ignored this. I’m not singling out any country, it’s global.

      As time goes on, the consequences are stacking up in an increasingly dangerous manner.

      I don’t have any quick resolution.

      But recognizing and admitting to the problems opens the door for solutions.

      Supporting those causes that align with the values we hold dear does make a difference, because we know much can be accomplished through strength in numbers.

      I send my prayers and loving wishes for your speedy and complete recovery. May the illness you experienced dissolve into the nothingness from which it came.

      Much love and be well.

    10. I understand what you're saying. But I'm surprised to hear this socialistic idea coming from you. I've been a long time fan of yours. And I like in your books how you explain the free market system. You say it's like an island where the moochers try to take the water pipeline you just built. If that happens then initiative goes away and the whole society collapses. You got rich from free market capitalism and now you're supporting universal basic income? Do you want the next generation to have the same opportunity to get rich that you had? Or do you want a form of communism in the name of helping everyone? I think it's easy to say that we should give more when your a multi-millionaire. Its harder to say that if taxes and inflation start to eat away at a lot of people's retirement. I'm confused when I see people who get rich from capitalism then are 'noble' and bash it? I do agree there's lots of problems in society that are hard to solve; but I'd like to be in your position before saying we should start giving away everything..

      1. Hey Chad, first of all, let me say I hear exactly where you're coming from. I didn't intend this post to be a complex presentation on what the best economic model will be. That would take a book, or ten. And I'm not saying I advocate UBI, but that we need to take a serious look at it. I'm not a member of any political party any longer, but I have skewed towards Libertarian positions of less government and more individual freedom. Looking at them in light of the pandemic, I no longer believe complete unfettered free enterprise is the answer. I do see a role of the government in areas like the courts, police and army, but now also believe it must be better involved in protecting the people who haven't been able to get to self sufficiency.

      2. I've been thinking along these lines too. I am no expert in political economy, but I am slightly disappointed in this post. But then we can't agree all the time.

      3. I’ve been reading a lot of history lately. What strikes me is that creativity has a chance when the struggle for survival is removed. Throughout the 18th & 19th centuries, inventions that moved us forward came from those who were wealthy enough not to have to spend their time working to sustain life so they had the time to create. The abundance of art, poetry & other writings were produced by those who had a stipend so their survival needs were assured. I’ve seen a great deal of creativity from people who are furloughed from work during the pandemic. Freed from the need to simply work to live, what are we all capable of? What creativity & inventiveness could be released if UBI were introduced? Sure, not everyone would be so productive, I guess, but given the freedom to choose, I believe society would benefit massively from an outpouring of creativity. Great post, Randy

    11. When I was in Vietnam, Saigon, I was sipping coffee, this is quite hard to describe, A completely disformed guy turned up laying face down on his home made skate board,I gave some cash, and I never seen such a smile
      Graham uk

    12. Brilliant. I walk beside you! That we taxpayers have put over $1 million into the Trump Organization just for his golf outings to his resorts--that billionaires with no experience now fill cabinet spots--that oil and gas companies have been granted a "by" on paying their leases on Federal lands--the list goes on. And I am stepping up, Randy.Writing, calling, sending money (yes to a housekeeper who I haven't seen in 3 months), marching (something I have never done before) and I know it's not enough. Your essay says I must do more. Thanks for writing this.

    13. So powerful!!!!! You out into words everything I want to say and feel. I love who you are. You’ve always been a spiritual inspiration for me and always seem to post something I’m feeling at the right time. I’m blessed to know you and so happy you made it thru the Corona Virus illness. ❤️

    14. These are wonderful thoughts Randy and I know all the things you have been through and what you've become. I wish you were on a more public platform so people could hear how you express yourself. Keep talking though as we all need to hear it. Thank you for all you do.

      1. Yes we've watched each other go through a few things, haven't we! As far as a bigger platform, if you happen to bump into Ellen Degeneres, please let her know I'm available!

    15. Laid it out bare. Grateful, sharing on my facebook and twitter pages. Continued thanks for your beacon. Keeps me close to where I need to be.

    16. Congratulations! I will re-examine my conscience yet again, thanks to you. That is one thing you can take pride in. You have given thousands of people the inspiration to examine all areas of our responsibility to society. Not just during this epidemic but through the financial crisis of 2008 and all the other situations. You have made me angry, happy, embarrassed, considerate, inspired. Take credit for the work you have done and thank you. We will continue to examine our contributions to all levels of society taking our inspiration from your honesty. THANK YOU.

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