Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance
  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them
  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them

Corporate structures, products, and processes permeate our society -but what do they really mean to us in our daily lives? The bottom-line mentality that drives corporate America, say Ellen Augustine (formerly Schwartz) and Suzanne Stoddard, is creating a world unresponsive to human needs, corrosive to the democratic process, and destructive to the planet itself. Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance shows the links between our mundane everyday struggles and the global corporate economy, image-driven media, and the relentless pace which consumes us all. And it tells us how we can change things by transforming both our work and leisure.

The authors use hard-hitting examples and illuminating personal vignettes about confronting fear, anger, death, family problems, and the stultifying effects of staying in the "comfort zone." They detail over 75 steps for personal and societal actions-some quick and immediate, others in-depth and long term-for retaking control of our lives. The authors include provocative questions for reflection that shock, prod, and jump-start the reader into thinking about what matters most to them.

Deeply moving, outrageous, encouraging, compelling, and inspiring, Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance blends unrelenting candor with the comfort of real-life stories of hope-and ultimately shows us that choice is the most important tool we have for reviving our lives and our world.

  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them

Read more and meet author below

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Overview

  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them
  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them

Corporate structures, products, and processes permeate our society -but what do they really mean to us in our daily lives? The bottom-line mentality that drives corporate America, say Ellen Augustine (formerly Schwartz) and Suzanne Stoddard, is creating a world unresponsive to human needs, corrosive to the democratic process, and destructive to the planet itself. Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance shows the links between our mundane everyday struggles and the global corporate economy, image-driven media, and the relentless pace which consumes us all. And it tells us how we can change things by transforming both our work and leisure.

The authors use hard-hitting examples and illuminating personal vignettes about confronting fear, anger, death, family problems, and the stultifying effects of staying in the "comfort zone." They detail over 75 steps for personal and societal actions-some quick and immediate, others in-depth and long term-for retaking control of our lives. The authors include provocative questions for reflection that shock, prod, and jump-start the reader into thinking about what matters most to them.

Deeply moving, outrageous, encouraging, compelling, and inspiring, Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance blends unrelenting candor with the comfort of real-life stories of hope-and ultimately shows us that choice is the most important tool we have for reviving our lives and our world.

  • Reveals the profound impact of the global corporate economy on our daily lives
  • Details 75 immediate and long-term Action Steps for empowering ourselves both individually and as a society
  • Offers specific tips, ideas, and resources on how to pare down our lives and open up our time
  • Provides questions for reflection that help readers to think in new ways about what matters most to them

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Ellen Augustine



Ellen Augustine (formerly Schwartz) is the executive director of Invest in Kids, which she founded in 1998 to provide scholarships and mentors to low-income, at-risk youth. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Service to Youth Award in 1999, the Women of Achievement Community and Human Services Award in 1997, and the Thread of Hope Award in 1996.



Visit Author Page - Suzanne Stoddard

Suzanne Stoddard has been an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor at the International Education Center (IEC) at Diablo Valley College (DVC) in Pleasant Hill, California for 14 years.  Co-author with Ellen Augustine (formerly Schwartz) of Taking Back our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance, Suzanne is an active volunteer on behalf of Emergency Preparedness and an avid environmentalist.  She seeks to help develop the next generation of leaders and donates time and money to organizations which encourage the thriving of the environment and of young people.

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Table of Contents

:

Foreword

Acknowledgments

Part I: How Corporate Structures, Products, and Processes Impact Our Work and Personal Lives

  1. A Time of Turbulence
  2. The Gift That Keeps On Taking
  3. The Hidden Costs of Competition
  4. This Is Entertainment?
  5. Media, Girls, and Body Image
  6. The Best Government Big Money Can Buy
  7. What Do World Trade Agreements Have to Do with Me?
  8. Time: A Nonrenewable Resource

Part II: Fresh Choices: Saying Yes! to a More Expansive Life

  1. Change and the Comfort Zone
  2. What's an Inner Life and Who Needs It?
  3. Flashpoints
  4. Nurturing What Is Precious
  5. Meaningful Work
  6. Giving Time, Getting Joy
  7. Together We Are Whole
  8. Paring Down Our Lives
  9. What Is and What Can Be

Afterword: Way More Fun Than TV

Bibliography

Endnotes

Resources

Index

About the Authors

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Excerpt

Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance

Introduction

Suzanne Stoddard

a snapshot of the pressures and potentialities
of our consuming corporate times

The lust for comfort murders the passion of the
soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

—Kahlil Gibran

 

THIS BOOK IS FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO FIND OUT WHO THEY ARE and what they are going to do about it while they still have time.

If we lived in a healthier culture, a book like this wouldn’t be necessary. In a saner society, all of us would have an opportunity to contribute in ways that reflected our unique talents, and we would take much better care of each other. We would allow plenty of time to dance, to make music, to create, to play, and to revel in being human. We would spend most of our time doing what makes us feel alive and laugh as often as happy children.

Instead, we feel stressed by the relentless demands of seeking or holding a job and from the inability to find enough time for ourselves, our families, and our communities. In our heart of hearts, we know there is a more enticing life out there, but we don’t know how to find it, and we don’t even have enough time to look!

We have made comfort a premier value and created enough distractions to suppress consciousness forever. Currently, most adults spend fifteen to twenty hours a week watching other people have experiences—in the television, video, and virtual media-rather than having their own. Most children spend twice that amount of time in the spectator realm. Because working and commuting take so much of our time and life energy, we have lost the will to spend our free hours in truly experiential activities, and to share them with the young people in our lives. But the glut of entertainment bores and numbs us. Like all addictions, it takes from us far more than it gives. And the craving to feel good all the time keeps us from feeling alive.

We buy homes that require two wage-earners to cover the mortgage. Thanks to the slick advertising that surrounds us on television, radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, our desires are teased far beyond the time or money available to satisfy them. The continual distractions of our highly competitive culture estrange us from our actual needs and natures. We’ve forgotten that joy comes from meaningful work, loving relationships, creative pursuits, personal growth, service to others, mental and physical exercise, and recreation that actually re-creates us.

Because the major media present information in a segmented and superficial way, we often feel powerless to make a difference in our own communities. It is rare for newscasters to note the cause-and-effect links between the bottom-line-driven practices of transnational companies and the loss of living-wage jobs, the capacity to protect our environment, and growing substance abuse across all age groups. Indeed, corporations have unprecedented power today, impacting far more than our paychecks and the products we buy with them.

Certainly, corporations have brought great benefits to millions of people, raising the standard of living in America to the highest in the world. Yet there have been profound unforeseen consequences that are now degrading the quality of our lives. The middle class is joining the poor as the “anxious class.” Even those who are comfortable today fear they could lose it all tomorrow. Insecurity breeds stress and puts us all on a short fuse. And the mountains of soul-killing paperwork that must be dealt with daily in order to avoid chaos are a major challenge for even the well educated and well organized.

In Part I, we present the darker side of transnational corporate growth that is rarely depicted in the mainstream media. We begin by examining the corporate infrastructure, processes, and imperatives, which are the underpinnings of our technological culture. We penetrate the many myths surrounding competition, probing its deeper impact on our work and personal lives. The need for relief from stress draws us to the easy escape of television. Yet the entertainment industry is both a conveyor and a major instigator of increasing disrespect and alienation, as well as diminished creativity and problem-solving ability among our youth. We detail the connections between the epidemic of eating disorders among our girls and the impossible standard of thinness marketed in virtually all media.

We take you directly into a Congressional campaign where carefully crafted imagery and strategically placed corporate money drive the results. We do a reality check on globalization, showing how trade treaties underwritten by transnationals promote their own highest profits at the expense of the Earth herself and of all living things. As corporations have grown from national businesses to international marketers to transnational operations—above the reach of the law of the countries in which they operate—the pace of our lives has accelerated and our very biological rhythms have been disturbed. Time is a nonrenewable resource, and taking it back has become a necessity.

Part II offers simple tools, immediate actions, and larger strategies for reclaiming our lives in a world dangerously out of balance. Into every chapter we weave personal stories about confronting change, fear, risk, anger, inertia, and family conflicts. The inner clarity that comes from slowing down, reflection, and turning away from the numerous distractions of our culture is the springboard for meaningful action in our personal and economic lives.

Change is difficult. Though we may be in pain, we rarely welcome change. Ellen’s story of being left in a Tucson boarding school because of her life-threatening asthma shows that even traumatic change can be transformative. Change can also be initiated from tapping into ancient wisdom traditions that move us away from our typically analytical approaches into nonlinear practices. Meditation, chanting, dance, and journaling soothe our spirits and plumb our depths.

Opportunities for personal evolution are generally close at hand, right in the family crucible. Those nearest us attune to our intentions as well as our actions. The situations that ignite our anger also hold the power to illuminate parts of ourselves that are aching for actualization. Because the hectic nature of modern life makes it difficult even to schedule meals together, we suggest many ways to enrich and soften family time.

But no matter how hard we try to make our family time nurturing, if we are not satisfied at work the residue taints our hours at home. Finding work that feeds our soul as well as body is no small task, yet the possibilities have never been greater. We are privileged to live in a time of paradigm shift, when the potential exists for transitioning from “jobs” to “true work” capable of healing the planet and bringing forth our deepest creative powers. The call to help humanity and the Earth can also lead us into service that offers great emotional richness.

As we forge new paths through our stressful, hi-tech world, the need for supportive associations is more important than ever. People are finding ways to relieve isolation and create community through potluck suppers, discussion circles, e-mail exchanges, and cohousing. The more real our relationships with those close to us, the fewer gaps we need to fill with expensive purchases that spend down our resources. If two heads are better than one, even more powerful are two hearts. There is synergy in sharing and collaboration. This book is a perfect example of that. Although you will see only one of our names at the top of most chapters, the book is ours together. In chapters with personal stories, we have indicated primary authorship so you will know who is speaking, but our words and ideas thoroughly entwined through the months of writing.

In offering this book, we do have a bias. We believe that the most enthusiastic and fulfilled people are those for whom life is a verb. These individuals continually find ways to learn and take risks, help and support, teach and guide, create and inspire, engage and enjoy. Because they know how to simplify and focus their own lives, they are in perpetual self-development and have a kind of fearlessness about testing boundaries. We believe that everyone is capable of living this way if they choose and that it’s never too late to change your life course. Further, we believe that the survival of our planet depends on each one of us developing that part of our nature that seeks to love and contribute to the well-being of others. Finally, we believe the planet’s survival depends on our paring down our material needs and simplifying our lives.

This book will stir up deep feelings and strong reactions. Some of the things we say will seem like an attack on your own particular sacred cows. (We know how you feel. We don’t like being told that coffee—our drug of choice—isn’t good for us.) But please don’t put the book down when you come to one of these. Bear with us. Look at what we’ve written as a provocation that can help you see things in a different light, question old assumptions, and get your juices flowing. If we only seem to present one side, it is because we feel the other side gets plenty of coverage in the major media. Let our comments fuel your interactions with competition, the entertainment industry, Barbie, and the corporate world.

This book is about both outer action and inner growth. It is subversive. It is about taking time to live in a society increasingly dominated by megacorporations that prefer we not follow our inner promptings. For, the more satisfied we are with our lives, the less we need what they have to sell. The more we esteem ourselves, the less we need expensive cars, designer clothing, and credit card getaways. The more time we take to go deep and discover our own beliefs, the less susceptible we are to the addictions and compulsions seen as social norms today. The power to choose is an incredible gift we have always had. In fact, choice is our most important tool. We can begin right now to use choice more consciously for our own and others’ benefit.

Because awareness without action leads to frustration, we offer a wide array of possible steps—small and large, immediate and long-term—to choose from. We include Action Items in boxes within each chapter as well as Questions for Reflection, and Resources at the back of the book by chapter, so you can explore the themes and issues that engage, outrage, or inspire you. Resources and initiatives toward new ways of thinking, doing, working, and being are sprouting up everywhere. It is impossible to create an exhaustive, up-to-date list of everything available, but once you make a connection with any of the resources, you will be led to others or think of more yourself as you create your own new directions.

These are extraordinary times in which to be seeking our authentic selves.

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Endorsements

"This wonderfully subversive book bespeaks a profound, yet simple truth: in a world of corporate rule, joyous, mindful living is the ultimate revolutionary act. Deeply inspiring and eminently practical. A must-read for everyone who cares."

-- David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World

"A vital guide to the self-improvement we need to move off of the self-destructive path that threatens us and our future."

-- Margaret J. Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science and coauthor of A Simpler Way

"Not just a book, but a bold and courageous expos of what is happening to our society without our conscious knowledge. It is well-documented and thought-provoking, giving substance to what most of us only talk about. It challenges all Americans to wake up, offering positive action steps that each of us can take to empower ourselves individually and collectively."

-- Rama Vernon, Founder, Women of Vision and Action and President, Center for International Dialogues

"Taking Back Our Lives is a powerful examination of the forces we all face in a society pulling us away from our authentic, deeper selves. It offers refreshing solutions that speak to the heart and uplift our spirits."

-- Scott and Shannon Peck, coauthors of Liberating Your Magnificence: 25 Keys to Loving and Healing Yourself

"Taking Back Our Lives in the Age of Corporate Dominance embodies the message of conscious evolution by giving us guidance on how to transform the corporate structure."

-- Barbara Marx Hubbard, author of The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millenium

"Taking Back Our Lives is a very courageous book by two highly qualified women who dare to speak their truth about a reality the media avoids-the corporate consumer culture eroding our democracy--and then show us practical alternatives that start right at home. A timely imperative for survival. Read it and act now!"

-- Elisabet Sahtouris, author of A Walk Through Time and Biology Revisioned

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