Friday, February 03, 2006

# 126: Caught in a Trap, Can't Get Out

The title of a song Elvis sang about 30 years ago has more profound meaning than just describing a romantic entanglement. The biggest trap we are in is this: Like it or not, we were put on this earth without our permission, with no easy way out. The second trap: We are captives of our physical bodies that genetics gave us. We may love that trap or feel we have been cheated. There isn’t much we can do about it, other than give our bodies the best care possible. By the way, this post ended up becoming quite serious and lengthy. Therefore, just sit back and relax, if you can.

Above and beyond the above-mentioned traps, the world is full of hundreds, if not thousands, of unimaginable traps. Some are not too bad, some are bad, some are deadly, and of course, some are benevolent. Most of these traps spring from our desires, needs, wants, genetics, cravings, laziness, bad luck, the cruelties of life, our stupidity, etc. One difficult trap to escape from is when one is born in ignorance and unequaled poverty. I was born in that type of environment, except my ignorance was not genetic but ignorance of what the world was all about. My poverty was extreme, although not from laziness, but because of communication and the physical shortcomings of my parents. It took most of my life to escape from that trap, even though I am still hindered by the environmental repercussions. The worst part was that I never knew it was a trap, but just took it as part of life. Many people in that type of trap never get a chance to escape, but are there for life.

Most, if not all, humans are born lazy, some more than others. To somehow become aware of the damage laziness can do to anyone is hidden from most until it may be too late. If laziness is not genetic in some individual, it most likely is instilled in their youth, by parents or peers. If some learned how to be lazy from parents, they either mimic their laziness, or because some parents did not allow their children to do things for themselves and gave them whatever instead of making them earn their keep, as it were. My father was a cripple; therefore, since I was a young boy, I had to do the things my father couldn’t do. That type of attitude stuck with me all my life. That unfair responsibility and lifestyle as a youth was actually a blessing as an adult. There isn’t much good that can be said about laziness. This trap will hinder the lives of most who won’t admit they are lazy or can’t/don’t desire to escape.

Greed without challenge is the most denied trap of all. Did you ever hear anyone admit, “I am greedy. I want all that I can get my hands on.”? I don’t think so. Well, instead of calling it “greed,” we gave it a respectable name: “the good life,” “prosperity,” “wealth,” “energetic,” “go-getter,” etc. Those who became wealthy as a result of their greed can purchase anything their selfish hearts desire. That must be why the New Testament is always bad-mouthing the rich and doesn’t have one good word to say about them. The negative aspect of greed is that it can never be satisfied; it promotes waste and laziness; it makes the possessors proud, arrogant, boastful, and not considerate of the less fortunate. One does not have to be rich to be greedy. There are many poor and stingy who are greedy. Most people don’t consider greed an undesirable attitude, and therefore, it doesn’t seem like a trap. Regardless of what one calls it (always wanting more) or how it is regarded, it is a trap which leads to wanton and unfulfilled lifestyles.

The most prevalent traps spring from our desires. The things we desire, good or bad, are the things that ensnare us. I believe desire makes poverty. True wealth is when a person is content with little and has only a few modest needs. Desires display need, and need displays inward poverty. If, by some chance, a person could eliminate all his/her desires, that person would be the wealthiest person in the world. Desire is men’s/women's downfall. Since we are all caught and can’t get out of this trap, we can at least be aware of what our desires are telling us about ourselves. Notwithstanding, the fewer desires we have, the wealthier we are. (No desire equals no needs; no needs equals true wealth; and true wealth equals contentment.)

Sex is a natural desire, but when it becomes inordinate, in whatever way, it will keep a person discontent and never satisfied. Now that pornography is easily available on the internet, it is making that desire unrealistic and has become a cause for divorce, adultery, premarital sex and heartbreak. Can a person get out of the porn trap? I am certain one can, but there must be an all-consuming effort. When a person gets involved with extramarital or unnatural sexual activity (outside of marriage), there is something in one’s life that is missing. In a later paragraph I will give you my vantage point of what I believe it is.

For certain, the most destructive and deadly self-imposed traps are those of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and dependency on other harmful substances. They are traps/habits that are not easily broken. When the body is addicted to anything it becomes dependent upon (a stupid necessity), in many, if not most, cases, it will be a lifetime trap which will take them to the grave. It is hard for me to believe intelligent humans can be that way. Most of us love our bodies and desire to care for them to the best of our ability, except for this group; they continually inflict chaos on the ones they love. I have a question for the readers of this post: What motivated these people to start and then continue such a regimen? I have an idea; what is yours?

Here is an extremely sad trap: having to live with children that are a constant problem, or a partner that is unfaithful, unkind or unloving, etc. They may be forced to live together for the good of their children, for financial benefits, out of fear of being alone again in an unfriendly world, or out of other emotional fears. This trap can lead many to a life of sadness and despair. The old Bible adage holds true, “Happiness is the best medicine.”

A trap that has been around for years is having to live with terminal sickness, disease, or deformity. Others dealing with traps are the mentally impaired, seriously injured and the elderly shut-ins. They have only one option: make the best of it by the “grin and bear it” slogan. This trap can be the most heart-wrenching of most traps.

Without a doubt, television is the most widespread trap in the USA. Even though there may be some informative and educational material on public television, the majority that is seen on commercial TV is mostly junk/trash. This junk has been molding the lives of Americans for over 50 years. Repeating what I wrote in a post a week or so ago, “We become like those we gaze at” if we want to or not, like it or not. Some will say to themselves, “Oh, we would never do that or act that away.” The producers “in the know” would say, “You think so?” TV is purposely made to addict watchers into wanting to see more and more. In fact, it is fair to say that without a doubt, TV is the most loved and needed trap in all America. What is wrong with watching TV? Plenty. If anyone is old enough to remember what life was like before the TV era, they would remember how the family was a unit. They all shared in activities that consisted of real living. The majority of what is on the boob tube is make-believe. And we become part of that make-believe world. For anyone who claims he/she is not trapped by watching TV, just tell yourselves you won’t watch it for only one week. After one week, if you didn’t miss it one bit, you made me into a liar.

I was once asked, “How many mouths do you feed?” The person was referring to how many debts I have. The interest that is paid on our debts is feeding/filling the pockets of how many? America is a debtor nation. We have more debts than any other nation. In fact, I heard on the news the other day that for the first time in our history, the average American savings account is minus 5%. That is scary. Meanwhile, our credit-card debt is climbing every year. Could it be said that people with debt/s are in a trap? If it is a house, motor vehicle, credit card, etc., one won’t be released from that trap until one pays up, if ever. Of course, one can always file for bankruptcy–more on this subject in the next paragraph. The trouble with this trap is that rich people are getting richer on our hard work. We work and they get our money. Sounds stupid. The Japanese are a saving nation and ridicule Americans for the stupidity of their uncontrollable debt. I predict that something dreadful will happen if we don’t stop charging. Things can only be stretched so far before they snap. And we are at the snapping point.

The credit-card trap infuriates me to such a great degree that it makes me want to scream and wring necks. They are the modern-day mafia. In the olden days, the mafia broke legs; this modern mafia breaks the whole person. Let me explain. With new laws passed putting no limits on how much interest they can charge on credit-cards, along with new bankruptcy laws that favor credit-card companies, people who don’t pay their balance at the end of every month are/can be at their mercy, and they are cruel. Here is what they do: First, they check one’s complete credit record, going back many years to find some sort of violation/s in their record: things as small as an unpaid parking ticket, unpaid library fine, late payment on a utility bill, a one-day- late payment on an old credit card, a late payment on the home mortgage or rent, etc. In other words, when they know there are violations on your record, they will send you an unreal offer of no interest for the first year, and after that only something like 8%. Then they wait a while until you have charged a fairly large amount. Now they send you a notice of a past violation. Your interest is now up to 20% or more. After that, they wait a few more months and they send you another notice of another interest-rate hike for another past minor violation. Now they say you are high-risk and raise your rate up to 35%. They also raise your minimum payment amount. They don’t raise it too much, but just enough so you will only be paying interest. That way, even if you don’t charge anymore, your balance will remain the same or more. Now they have got you, hook, line and sinker. So the only thing you can do is to file for bankruptcy. They got you again. Now the new law is such that if you are single or your spouse or you (if you are married) are working, you will have to pay back a large amount of your credit-card debt. They collect that money by garnishing your wages. Most employers don’t like to go through the hassle and paperwork of garnishing wages and may let you go. That is enough to drive an honest person to rob banks or kill, and I can understand. This credit-card trap is one of the cruelest situations a person/s can inadvertently get into. Repeating, my advice to anyone who receives a credit-card offer that sounds too good to be true: It is a legal scam. The fine print (3-font) that comes with every credit offer is mostly double-talk. It is written with ambiguous and deceptive words, deliberately making confusing and unintelligible statements that even a good lawyer may have a difficult time making heads or tails of what is being said. Corporate lawyers are taught to write that way in college. That way the credit-card company will screw you legally by you agreeing, with your signature, to all their terms. Even if your record is clean, they may still solicit you. And if you fall for their ploy, what they do is occasionally make the due date on a Sunday; and if you pay on Monday, they get you for a late payment and also raise your interest rate. This makes me believe that this great country has an unfair government that is made up of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy. Remember, in order for these unfair laws to exist, it is the crookedness of Congress and the President that enact them. Therefore, a democracy is only as good and honest as those who run it.

Let me get to a trap that is not so frightening; or is it? Nutrition. Many Americans are hooked on a trap of either eating too much, eating fast food, or both. Fast food is mostly unhealthy and expensive compared to homemade meals. Some will say, “We don’t have the time or desire to cook three meals a day.” There was a time when going to a restaurant was reserved for special occasions. Now it is an everyday occurrence.

The problem started when moms were forced to go to work in order to help pay the families’ debts. But some that are not included in that 9-to-5 trap get stuck in the “mama trap.” I am by no means belittling the female gender as being only a wife and babysitter. I know for a fact that it is an extremely trying job with great responsibility—24 hours a day, 7days a week—to be a mother, wife, dietician, babysitter, housekeeper, banker, chauffeur, and teacher. And most often, her only compensation is “blood, sweat, and tears.” When most men come home from work, they can rest from their work. The wife/mom does not have that privilege.

Eating is a trap we will necessarily remain in for life. Most of our addictions are optional, but not eating. Then comes the question of nutrition, although I know many are becoming more health-conscious, thank goodness. We still tend to eat foods that taste pleasing to the palate while putting healthy, bland-tasting foods on the back burner. Also, our overeating is a national disgrace. That is one reason 65% of Americans are either obese of overweight. Could we get out of this trap and go back to the eating habits of the good old-fashioned days when an overweight person was the exception? I don’t think so.

Another thing Americans are in love with is the lack of enough physical exercise. And I can understand. To exert oneself to get the stimulation the body needs in our sedentary culture is not easy and will never become popular, regardless of how often we watch “The Biggest Loser.” This trend is extremely dangerous, not only for the extra cost of our health care industry, but for the pain and distress that accompany the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many more diseases unheard of 100 years ago. This is a horrible trap to be in, with no easy way out. It is not easy to work out every day or so, to get one’s heart beat going a bit faster for a while, especially when everywhere we turn, we hear or see the words, “Take life easy: eat, drink, and be merry.” This trap will lead many to a lifetime of sickness and disease. To get out of this trap, we must get moderate exercise (a healthy trap). Without getting into serious sports, we could walk, ride a bike, swim, jog (for the younger folks), do light weightlifting, walk stairs (if one is lucky enough to live in a high-rise), etc. Actually, anything that speeds up the pulse: Do this three of four times a week—I am not talking about looking at the pictures in “Playboy” magazine. Make sure not to overdo it, or free-radical production will increase.

Stress is an insidious trap that is not mentioned as much as it should be; it is a health buster. I believe it is as bad as overeating, lack of exercise and other unhealthy habits. How does a person get out of this trap? In some cases, a complete lifestyle change is necessary. In fact, I believe long-term stress can be worse than all other negative things we are engaged in. The problem is that when we are stressed day-in and day-out, we think of it as normal and don’t recognize it as stress. It could easily be called the super wrinkle-maker.

The trap of being hateful and sinful is enjoyed by many, and most don’t have any desire to change. Most won’t admit they are hateful, but one can see it on their faces. Hate and sin form certain lines on the face that can be identified a mile away. Certainly, this is not true of the young; it will take at least 40 years before their mean disposition is visibly evident. President Lincoln, an extremely perceptive person, was looking for a person he could appoint to a certain vacant cabinet position; one of his advisors recommended a certain well-qualified person. After Lincoln met him, he told his advisor, “I don’t like his face.” The advisor said, "He can’t help what his face looks like.” Lincoln retorted, “Every man over 40 is responsible for his face.” These ungodly people thrive on their hateful and sinful life, and no one is going to take away their enjoyable trap.

Have you ever wondered how and why some of the things we do become habits/traps? Here is a clue: Do something once, a habit is started; do it twice, a trap is set. Or, avoid doing something beneficial once, a habit is started; avoid it twice and the trap is ready to spring. I think this post is telling, more than anything else, how cruel and unfair life could be.

How do God and His Son Jesus Christ fit into this world that is full of traps? The majority of these traps are a result of violating either one or more of some spiritual or physical laws. And there is a remedy for some of them. Start/attempt to live life in a way that corresponds with the universal laws that were created by God. This seems like a simplistic answer, and it is. Though it is simple, it will be extremely difficult for anyone to escape whatever trap they are in. The end result to those who succeed will be the encasement into a tender trap of God’s making. This Godly trap may sound like a piece of cake, or a walk in the park, but a person will have to make every effort and use whatever intestinal fortitude he/she can muster up to not only remain in this benevolent trap, but to believe and live in a way that is pleasing to God: the most challenging life in existence. To put it another way, fill oneself with as much Godly substance as possible; that will, slowly but surely, force the unwanted trap/s out of one’s life.

I am certain that I did not mention all the traps we humans are ensnared in that exist in this unfair world. If anyone knows of any more, send me a comment or email me, and I will add them to this blog.

1 comment:

JC said...

David, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But,the only traps not from satan are the benevolent ones that are from God. For example, where I am now, I could not leave, even if I desires to. My trap is heaven on earth, and I love it; who can ask for anything more? Again, I agree, we must not keep our minds on our malevolent traps but on God's power to release us from them. Nevertheless, it is benificial for us to know where we stand, and then leave the rest up to God. Of course,, our part is to remain obedient to His commands.