No Ordinary Love

We have a need. It may not be as obvious as our need for air, water, food and shelter, but it is there. Some call it peace, but it was there before the word “peace”. It’s a feeling and I’m quite certain it’s in everyone.

These days of unrest, of turmoil and uncertainty can suck life from us drop by drop. The image of the vampire was born of this. Horror stories of the living dead are meant to scare us. But to what end? Our efforts and our desires drive us to stay alive. We want to live. Yet the challenge before us is not to merely survive; our challenge is to flourish. And that can seem illusive and insurmountable as the walls come tumbling down.

Battle lines are being drawn on nearly every front. We are fractured and divided over the most ridiculous things. It’s weary making, if you let it.

Or we can follow our need. There is a place within us that is the eye of the storm and where we can find strength and solace.  Love can take you there, but it’s not superficial love. It is the kind of Love that wells up inside when you least expect it. It is the kind of Love that calls for our attention and our care. The manifestations of this Love are kindness and compassion and with all the things that are demanding our focus right now, let us not forsake this Love.

The world is asking us to take sides. And we will take sides. But as we do, we cannot ignore the cry of our heart. We cannot walk into the battle without our armor. Take time to know the Love that holds you. It is no ordinary Love.

 

Tremendous thanks to Prem Rawat for helping me tap into the Love. You can find more at Timeless Today.

The photo is a poem of Hafiz

No More Excuses

The new covid relief bill is in the making and millions of dollars are being slated to go to the Pentagon in one form or another. The Republican measure includes billions for F-35 fighters, Apache helicopters, and even more to appease military lobbyists.

The manufacturing corporations who will benefit are in states where Republican Senators may need to “bring home the bacon” in order to win re-election in the fall. And while my friends on social media explain to me that this is how it’s always done, I’m stymied by how ignorant many on Capitol Hill remain on the plight of the majority of Untied States citizens. And more importantly I am shocked that far too many of us are not speaking up to remind them.

In August, the federal eviction moratorium is set to expire. There is no moratorium relief offered in this newly proposed bill. By October, it is estimated that some nineteen to twenty three million – renter households could be in jeopardy of eviction – and yet the Republican HEAL act, as it is known, is flagrantly ignoring this potential upheaval of human lives.

There are those on the Hill who are still fighting the good fight. Senator Sanders is among them, but unless and until the majority of citizens join in the cries for economic and racial justice, greed will continue to lead the pack. It’s time for more people to come to the aid of the few who have never given up on what this country can truly be.

An election in November will not save us if the trajectory of division and greed prevail. A united voice of the citizenry that demands compassion and kindness over militaristic power must emerge.

For that to happen, sitting on the sidelines can no longer be an option.

 

PHOTO BY NANCY WONG compliments of wikipedia commons.

PROTESTORS LOCK ARMS IN FRONT OF THE INTERNATIONAL HOTEL TO PREVENT OFFICERS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT FROM EVICTING THE HOTEL’S TENANTS IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS AUGUST 1977.

Through the Eye of a Needle

There is a lovely canopy of green that blankets my world this time of year. From May through October my cabin sits in the midst of it. My closest neighbors are deer, coyote and a variety of birds, small animals and insects. Through these months as I sit in the silence of an Internet and television free environment, I have the opportunity to think and to feel.

During the days, I catch glimpses of the news, and from social media I learn what many are thinking. For the most part we think about and are driven by what we believe. We have an allegiance to what we believe and so we seek the company of people and of the ideas that uphold those beliefs. This is the beginning of the isolation and the division we are witnessing today. We have become more invested in our beliefs than in our humanity.

Today I took a moment to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and was a bit surprised that I remembered it. When I got to “with liberty and justice for all” I was jolted by the memory of why I stopped saying it. For me, it simply wasn’t true.

The sentiment is lovely, the ideal is honorable but I couldn’t pledge allegiance to something that did not exist. It brought me to that incredible moment when belief and knowing collide and you must choose which you will follow.

To leave beliefs behind is not easy. It’s like passing a camel through the eye of a needle. But I have found a simple solution. I follow my knowing. And I am honing my knowing to some very basic things: our humanity is what we share and kindness is our greatest strength. “Liberty and justice for all” will be born of this.

 

 

Photo is a Czech movie poster to Czech film Velbloud uchem jehly (1936). A comedy film with an allusion to the “eye of a needle” aphorism.

Play To Your Strengths

Summertime social distancing is pretty easy when the venues are the open spaces. Living near Wildcat Mountain State Park and the Kickapoo Valley Reserveoffers immense beauty, incredible night skies, and lots of people seeking to escape their cities during the pandemic.

Nothing new, except for this: the gratitude that people are expressing for the land, the quiet and the simplicity. The appreciation is palpable. It’s as if, the world has had to come to a stop to help us remember how intoxicating living on the earth really is…

We’ve had a young man visiting who enjoys fishing. Nearly everyday he explores another of the wondering creeks that feed into the Kickapoo. When he returns, he recounts the trials of fishing but he also delights at the beauty he witnessed and I get to enjoy his enjoyment as I listen. Sharing this little piece of heaven is easy when appreciation gushes so readily.

People stop by, eager for conversation. Hoping to hear some good news and relieved when no hardships are discussed. Rural people are accustomed to solitude. We are accustomed to challenge. For the most part we love the land and try our best to do no harm.

And now in these summer months as people seek solitude and the immense beauty that is here, we can welcome them and invite them to be here conscientiously. Maintaining social distance and wearing a mask while entering our businesses is a sign of respect, not of weakness.

Autumn will soon be here and winter will be on its heels. If we’ve not yet learned the importance of protecting our selves and our loved ones, the cold months may bring a harsh visitor to our doors.

We have great strengths. Now it’s up to each of us to use them.

Nothing Less Will Do

Native peoples and environmentalists celebrated this week as a judge ruled that the Dakota Access Pipeline should be shut down pending a full impact review. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been cancelled and the Keystone XL Pipeline was stalled again in court. In addition, public pressure on a Washington, DC football team is forcing them to remove their racist name. Finally.

“Take your knee from my neck” is the silent and not so silent sentiment among people no longer willing to suffer senseless inhumanity.

While monuments of bronze and granite are being toppled, it is the ideals of colonialism and capitalism that are being unraveled. We are learning the torturous costs of building empire and the dismantling of it is long overdue.

Goliath does not go down without a fight, but the battle will not be won on his terms. The battle is won by conviction and the knowledge that there are better ways to coexist.

We do not have to fear this transformation. We have explored the brutal side of humanity; now let us lead with kindness and respect.

In these uncertain times, the certainty is this: to the people who have fought tirelessly for water and the earth; for those who honor their ancestry with a will to do more than endure; and for the ones who recognize that humanity is far greater than we have ever allowed it to be – this is our time.

Mainstream politics may not reflect it. Some religion may fight to conceal it, but this resurgence will not be stopped.

The strength and the resiliancy of our communities will be reflected by how we care for one another, how we listen to one another and how we honor one another. Nothing less will do.

 

Photo taken at Oceti Sakowin camp. My time in the camp continues to inspire and direct my course. Water is Life.

Compassion Demands It

Circumstances have a way of teaching us who we are. Earlier this week ten chicks were hatched and the mother seemed stellar. But overnight she had pecked one of the chicks and it was nearly dead. I took it in and gave it water, warmed it and watched it revive. Two days went by, the chick strengthened and I thought, “let’s try”. Mom and babes were on a walk-about and I let the chick join in. All seemed fine, so I left for a short time. When I returned, there was the chick, pecked and disheveled in the dirt. I picked it up and this time it was much worse.

I couldn’t wrap my head around why. Sure, she may have sensed something about this chick that I could not see, but regardless of the why, the hen was being true to her nature…and so was I.

Compassion is a brilliant part of being human. It enlivens our heart and keeps us present to life.

Defund the policeversus keep the police just as they are, is the hot debate of the day. And if you follow the logic that says human nature is bad, then you are probably all in for militarized police.

But humanity is not single sided and if there is bad in us, there is also good. We have tried punitive measures. They have not worked. They have been used to harm people and surely they have brought harm to the men and women who wear the badge. What is being asked of us is to consider new approaches that could bring better results for everyone.

It may not be a smooth transition to restorative justice and community policing, but it is the path before us. Wisdom would say we should try. Compassion demands it.

 

Thanks to WDRT 91.9 Driftless Community Radio for continuing to air “Consider This” every Thursday 5:30 pm CD.T

 

Humanity Rising

Apparently evolution is a slow process. A few hundred years ago, some people decided to break free of King George, and declared: all men are created equal. This was a great ideal for a new beginning. But then they were slammed by their own ignorance of how to treat “others”. We may have left the king behind, but we carried the imperial desires of conquest and greed into this new land.

Later, we helped defeat the Nazis, but we ignore the fact that they took a page from the United States’ playbook on how to systematically eradicate people. Our history taught the Nazis. Think on that.

Caught in the lies and the shame of it all, we have allowed ‘ole time religion and crooked politics to morph into the travesty we now call leadership.

But there is this positive note: many of the descendants of the people who were brutalized by the Doctrine of Discovery and of those who were enslaved to build this country, have never given up. We should be grateful for their strength and for their effort. We should stop hiding our shame behind militarized police and stop supporting the corporate kings, who now rule the land.

We should be grateful: for the constant reminders of what it means to love the land; grateful for the resilience of those who choose to triumph with love instead of fear; and grateful for the opportunity to make it right this time.

It is a beautiful land and it needs to be preserved. And yes, we are all created equal and with the unalienable right to Happiness. In spite of all the violence and the struggle for justice, there are those who still remember we are one race.

For that I am grateful.

Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate,

You are alive. You live in a most exciting time. You live at a crossroads in humanity and choices are very clear. You can continue to plug away at the dying systems you see floundering around you or you can reimagine and recreate something new and better for yourself and those who come after you.

To do this you must take stock of your strengths and your passions. You are alive. You hold within you great seeds of possibility that are yours and yours alone. There has never been another you. Cherish that. Honor the seed of your becoming and let it grow. Nourish it with kindness and respect. Allow wonder and remain a student of Life, regardless of what comes.

Give of yourself. Volunteer. Plant a tree. Tend a garden.  There is so much awaiting your loving touch.

And allow your cup to be filled. Accept kindness. It comes from strength not weakness.  Hone your gifts of humility, hope and courage. They will remain your steadfast friends throughout your life.

Do not curse your time, nor accept curses of others. You have potentials that have yet to be tapped waiting for you. Carry on.

And to those who fear for them: your fears are your own to unwind and discard. Do not pass the baton of fear. Systems crumble but from their ashes the phoenix rise. Do not doubt that something better can emerge from this unsettling time. It is never too late to reconcile errors of the past and make way for a better tomorrow. Forgive yourself for doing what you were told instead of discovering what was meant for you. In the time that remains you, find peace.

Do Not Be Deceived

Do not be deceived. Masks, no masks; rioters versus protestors; defund, no reform the police; pandemic or flu; economic crisis for many, capital gains for a few. Confusion is easy in this moment. Intentional confusion brings hopelessness and inaction. And that is what some are working towards, that we will become hopeless and impotent.

But there is a way I have found that cuts through confusion and provides the courage for action, and it simple. Listen to your heart.

I cannot remove the image of a knee on the neck of a man from my mind. That image is enough to keep my heart on track. There is no rationale; there is no excuse, which could make me falter. I may have been taught racism, but I have come to a cherished understanding: we are one people. And there is no amount of fear or hatred that can alter the conviction of my heart to see human dignity restored.

When people defend the systems of racism, which are crushing all of us, I realize they have traded their humanity for some vague notion of law and order. They are human beings who have left dignity behind.

When I listen to my heart, I am uplifted beyond doubt. I am freed from confusion. Anger is transformed.

When I hear people talk of the virus “culling the herd”, I know they have suffered the loss of their heart. They have forgotten the preciousness of each life and that is something our leaders have yet to understand.

We don’t have to debate ignorance. We don’t need to give power to the greedy.  Transformation doesn’t need to take time. It can come in a breath and it is born on the wings of understanding.  Don’t be deceived. We all hold the key.

Listen to your heart.

Respect

If you support the words and actions of this president, this piece is not for you.

If you want people to obey unjust laws, this is not for you.

If you believe that destruction of property holds the same value as systemic injustice towards of people of color, this is not for you.

If you are pushing for a civil war, this is clearly not for you.

If you are hoping the election will save us, it’s not for you either.

If you think change isn’t possible; I encourage you to think again.

This is for the Ones who recognize we are one People, one Race.  It’s for the Ones who won’t allow systems to control our human narrative.

It’s for the Ones who despite the entire struggle, can still make hope take action, and can still choose kindness over fear.

This is for the Ones who are picking up the pieces in shattered neighborhoods and who are feeding and clothing their communities. It’s for the Ones who are growing food and providing shelter, knowing that winter’s on the way. It’s for those who are stepping up to have the hard conversations. And for those who are not standing down in the face of militarized force.

The rhetoric of violence has been dominant too long. It’s time to let the healing begin. Yes, in the midst of absolute chaos, let the healing in.

Find your strengths, find your allies and fight like hell. Not with violence, but with the resolution of those who know it is our time.

Don’t tolerate ignorance. Save your energy and your passion for those you love and for creating something new. The old will wither and die. Let it die.

Stand firm in our common humanity; it is worthy of respect. And so are you.