by Michael Gryboski
Newscast Media DURHAM, North Carolina—Americans are increasingly giving more to
charity, but less of that money is going to the church, according to a newly-released
report. An annual research report released Tuesday by the Giving USA Foundation and
the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found that Americans are
increasing their donations to charities.
For the year 2013, Americans gave approximately $335 billion to charity, which
represented an increase of 3 percent when adjusted for inflation.
However, the percentage of giving to churches declined by 0.2 percent, or 1.6
percent when adjusted for inflation. CONTINUE TO FULL ARTICLE>>
Newscast Media NEW YORK—This is the third and final part of the series Collective Consciousness. One of our greatest desires as humans, is to be left alone, without someone else trying to impose his or her will against ours. This is evident with the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements that believe government and the large corporations have overstepped their bounds and need to be held accountable. Despite both movements having been infiltrated by dubious elements, they originally started with good intentions. The same goes for the Arab Spring that was eventually infiltrated by external elements in order to delegitimize it.
The problem with imposing one’s will against another is that the person or entity with the power to do so, will forever be restless to a point of near-paranoia. Consider the story of Dionysius as told by Cicero in his masterpiece On The Good Life. Dionysius became tyrant of Syracuse at the age of 25, and remained in power for 38 years. He was born in 430 B.C. and ruled the city from 405 until his death in 367 B.C. It was a superb and immensely wealthy city, and he held it down using involuntary servitude.
According to reliable writers, we are told that he was an efficient and hardworking administrator. However, his character was evil and malevolent: and for this reason it is impossible for anyone with a clear eye for truth to avoid regarding him as an unhappy and paranoid man. For even at a time when he believed nothing was beyond his powers, he failed to get what he wanted.
Due to extensive family connections, Dionysius possessed many friends among his contemporaries, yet he did not feel able to trust a single one of his associates. Instead, he placed his personal security in the care of slaves, whom he had picked out of the households of wealthy citizens and set free. He also enrolled in his bodyguard fugitives on the run and uncouth savages. In other words, Dionysius’s determination to maintain his tyrannical rule virtually caused him to shut himself up in a prison. He even refused to entrust his throat to the mercy of a barber, ordering his daughters to shave him instead. So these young princesses had to perform the humble job of trimming their father’s beard and head. However, when the girls grew up, he felt unhappy about letting them have the use of iron instruments, and instead got them to singe his beard and hair with heated walnut shells.
Dionysius had two wives: Aristomache, who was as Syracusan like himself, and Doris of Locri. Whenever he visited either of these ladies at night, he first had to thoroughly inspect and search their rooms, lest they have hidden weapons. Around his own bedroom, we are told that he arranged a wide trench to be dug; it could only be crossed by a wooden board, which he himself drew inside the door every time he wanted to shut himself in.
He was very fond of playing ball-games, and the story goes that once, when he was about to take off
his tunic for a game, he handed his sword to a youth whom he love dearly. One of his friends told a joke: “Here at least is someone you are prepared to trust your life to!” The young man then smiled. But Dionysius ordered both of them executed because he didn’t think the joke was funny, nor was he impressed when the young man he had trusted smiled at it.
This action caused Dionysius great sorrow than anything else that had happened in his life. The story is an illustration of the contradictory nature of an oppressor’s urges. You can only satisfy one, at the expense of another. Dionysius indicated later on in his life that happiness is out of the question if you are perpetually menaced by some terror. As for himself, the possibility of returning to lawful courses and restoring to his fellow citizens their freedom and their rights was no longer a possibility for him. This is because during his thoughtless days as a youth ascending to power, he had entangled himself in such terrible crimes and committed so many guilty acts, that he could only return the sanity at the cost of his own destruction.
Although Dionysius was so deeply suspicious of disloyalty, he showed how much he missed having friends. Indeed to be without the company of “true” friends, without the pleasures of a social life, without anybody to fully confide in privately was a truly deplorable fate—especially for someone who had received an excellent education in his earliest years, and was a thoroughly cultivated person. No one who deserved or wanted freedom could possibly be a friend of Dionysius.
I will conclude this series by demonstrating how St. Augustine would explain the global awakening, esponsible for bringing people across the world together to fight for a common cause. In Augustine’s De Musica, Book VI, verse 50, he writes: “By Prudence, the soul knows where to take a stand. To this station, it raises itself by Temperance; it turns to a righteous love called Charity (Caritas), and Fortitude and Justice go with it—since Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice operate best in adversity.” PART I: The Collective Consciousness Has Been Globally Activated>>