Fed Flight

In the Federal Times, dated April 15, 2013, Andy Medici reported on the latest government-wide employee satisfaction survey, and it showed that many federal employees would rather call it the “employee dissatisfaction survey.” 

Medici wrote:  “More than half of employees at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Secretary were considering leaving their jobs within a year….  One employee there, who asked not to be named, said he used to love his job as a program manager but wants out as soon as possible because of incompetent management and poor leadership.  Mediocrity and bureaucracy seem to be the name of the game…”

The continuing pay freeze and planned furloughs are sending waves of panic through the federal government so that a high percentage of employees are talking about jumping the ship.  There may be a federal flight as the more employable employees or considering early retirement or moving to the private sector. 

Even though downsizing of the federal government could be a good thing, the loss of the better qualified employees is not the smartest way to get this done.  The “Fed Flight” will leave the poorer quality workers behind, making the federal government system worse than ever.  The entrenched Senior Executive Service who are to blame for much of the bad work environment will stay behind, confident that they can continue with their incompetent styles without any consequences.  Those employees who remain behind will be the basis for a government that is even worse.

And yet, healthcare, military, Social Security, our budget & monetary system, and regulation of American businesses will be under this new federal government, which will become more incompetent and bureaucratic as the better federal employees leave the work force.  Almost 690,000 employees from 292 agencies completed the 2012 employee survey, and more than 30% of those polled said they were considering leaving their jobs within a year.  The private sector is very volatile right now, so only the best qualified in the government will be able to find jobs on the outside.  That translates into a simple mathematical calculation of subtraction, leaving those federal employees who are not marketable.  

The Downside

In today’s business, executives examine proposed actions for any potential downside.  If there is no downside, then they might decide to take that action.  If there is a significant downside, then they may work diligently to avoid it.

Religion has received a “bad rap” from many who have not examined it from the perspective of a business man making a decision.  Many have a bad impression of religion, labeling it as a radical belief in something that you cannot see.  They view “holly rollers” and other fundamentalists as the typical believers.  Religion is much more than that.  It is a way to think differently.

As a businessman, I have made many decisions after doing a business risk analysis.  Have you ever approached religion with the following questions?  What is the risk of believing in God?  What is the risk of not believing in God?

Since we are not living in Roman times when Christians were being thrown to the lions and we are not living under Stalin, who murdered those who had faith, I cannot think of any downside to believing in God.  But is there a risk of not believing in God?  I think there is.

When you die, there is a possibility that you will still be thinking, but without your senses to distract you from yourself.  In a risk analysis, you might say that there is a 10% chance of this being the case.  Even if there is only a 1 in 10 chance of this happening, the dire consequences from this event would lead you to conclude that you should do anything to avoid it.

What are these dire consequences?  You are your own worst enemy.  Sensory deprivation has been used as a torture for centuries.  Without your five senses to entertain you with incoming data, your thinking is no longer distracted from internalizing or turning on itself.  The doors for nightmares are opened wide.  Your worst fears can haunt you.  If you have a fear of being buried alive, then suddenly that becomes the case.  If you have a fear of being carried off by thousands of zombies to their lair, then that will be your thoughts.  There is no end to this self-torture.  I don’t care if sensory deprivation only has a 1% chance, I do not want to risk it.

But I am not saying that you should believe in God just to avoid this potential punishment.  That probably will not work.  If you believe in God only to avoid these consequences, more than likely, that will not be sufficient.  In order to avoid this horrible nightmare, you must truly believe in God.  A tenuous belief will not be strong enough to overcome your thoughts.  And you cannot do this by yourself.  You must place your complete trust in God and leave all the consequences to Him.  It must be a powerful belief in the Creator.

So there is no downside believing in God, but there is a major downside in not believing in God. Then why do people not believe in God?  Well, I believe that many are distracted by the five senses we were discussing earlier.  They are distracted by pleasure, money, greed, lust… all the things that are in front of them.  But when their senses are removed, then they will have to face the reality that death brings.  If they are still thinking, then all hell breaks loose.  And it will be too late to believe in God.

A strong faith in God is developed over time.  I know you have heard the story about a serial killer who converted to Christianity before he was taken to the gas chamber, but the real question is:  did the murderer really believe in God and how strong was that belief?  A weak, last-second belief in God may not be powerful enough to handle the chaos that may await us on the other side.  My guess is that even “Sunday” Christians may not have a belief strong enough to weather the storm of death.

It will take a rock-solid foundation of believing in God.  And like I said, we will not be strong enough to do this on our own.  We cannot will ourselves into believing in God.  We must truly and powerfully believe or we will be cast adrift into the sea of chaos that awaits us.  The dark chaos of death is a significant downside for not believing in God.  It may be a good idea to work diligently to avoid it.

To Die, To Sleep… Perchance to Dream?

Do you recall the soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet?

“To die, to sleep– to sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.”

I have no idea what happens to us after we die, and I suspect that nobody does.  Isn’t that what Shakespeare was talking about in this section taken from Hamlet?  But the most interesting point that Shakespeare makes is that if we die and are still thinking or dreaming, what dreams may come?  That is what “gives us pause.”

I have heard stories about how detainees were deprived of their senses and how this became torture to them.  I was told that if a person were placed in an environment where they were deprived of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, they would start hallucinating within less than an hour.  And the dreams mentioned by Shakespeare actually became nightmares.  So what would happen if you died and were still thinking without your senses to entertain you?  What thoughts would you have without the distractions of life?  Would you think happy thoughts or would you sink into dark thoughts?  Odds are it will be the latter.

Even though we don’t know exactly what will happen after death, we certainly have opinions on this subject.  And these opinions cover a wide range.  But can we glean anything from these opinions?  Well, we can surmise that we are different from other animals in that we search for a creator or God.  We have called this power many names from Great Spirit, Zeus, to even God.

But do we know anything else?  There have been some who have had near-death experiences and have told stories about what happened.  But these experiences may have been just dreams that were induced by endorphins racing in to protect their bodies?  Who knows?  I certainly don’t.

Do we know anything at all?  Well, we can examine our intuition to see if we have any a priori gifts that might tell us something.  Some of us talk about having a conscience that is innate, helping us differentiate between bad and good.  And we sometimes instinctively note that somebody or something is watching over us.

What about logic?  Do we know anything from our a posteriori gifts?  After all our experiences in life have passed by, do we know any more about what happens to us when we die?  Probably not.  How could we possibly know anything outside our experiences?  Death carries us into a region where we have no experiences to deal with it.  And that makes this unknown area dangerous.  If you die and you no longer have any thoughts, then there is no issue.  But if you die and you are still thinking, then you need something to take the place of your senses.  That should be faith.

We would need faith to give us something to hang onto.  Without faith, you will be cut adrift in a sea of chaos.  Your thoughts would get caught by powerful currents and carried out to that sea.  My guess is that you would be your own worst enemy at that point.  You would torment yourself with your thoughts.  You would regret all the things you had done or had not done during your life.

You would be harder on yourself than any devil.  You would create your own hell for eternity.  You would beg to stop thinking, but you could not.  As bad as the initial thinking might go for you, it could actually get progressively worse as you might start hallucinating with horrible, fiendish nightmares.  For example if your worst fear is being trapped inside a small container, then you may imagine yourself stuffed inside such a container without being able to move.  Your nightmares will be limited only by your imagination, which is boundless.

However, with faith, you have a chance to channel your thoughts and focus on something positive, avoiding the negative.  If your faith provides forgiveness for your sins, then you can enter the realm of death without having to forgive yourself, which may be impossible.  The truth is that even though you feel like you can control things in life, you may have no control in death.  That’s why you have to have something to hang onto like a life preserver, keeping you floating above the crashing waves of chaos.  Only faith will give you a fighting chance.  But your faith must be very powerful.  It cannot be a weak faith or otherwise it will evaporate early in the process.  Your faith must be stronger than most people who claim to be religious.  It must be a solid foundation that can resist the thousands of thought waves that will crash against it and try to erode it.

Even though I don’t know exactly what happens after we die, I will not fear it because I have a powerful faith that I will be with Jesus, who died so that my sins would be forgiven.  Jesus is the lighthouse and the way in a sea of chaos.  I cannot find the way by myself.  It is only by trusting and following Jesus that I can navigate through the unknown waters of death.