Forsaking Revenge

I attended a conference on peace recently and there were some remarkable concepts given that I would like to share with you. It was not a session to garner answers to the world’s problems; rather it was a prompt for individuals to pursue peace within. This understanding of the pursuit of inner peace is as ancient as our common histories and as profound today as it has always been: There can be no peace in the world until human beings discover the peace we all inherently share.

And before dismissing this as pie in the sky, let us acknowledge that every venture of human kind has begun with a dream followed by an effort. So what kind of effort can be made by each of us in our pursuit of peace, both in ourselves and in the world?

Here is a takeaway from the conference that I have found most helpful in my own pursuit of peace, and one that I am sure you will agree would help bring peace to the world. It comes from the Sanskrit epic of ancient India, the Mahabarahtam, which tells the story of a war.

Time does not allow me to give the full telling, but here is the gist. A princess learns that she can prevent war if in her life she can do three things: Do not offend, do not become offended, and if you become offended, do not seek revenge. Suffice it to say, she sought revenge and the war ensued killing countless people on both sides.

Do not offend, do not become offended, and if offended do not seek revenge. Not a bad way to live, difficult perhaps, but we get good at what we practice. We have tried external solutions to bring peace – perhaps it is time we try the internal route. Put peace first, not last on your to-do list.

 

This piece aired on Thursday, Oct 12. You can hear more “Consider This” every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST on WDRT 91.9 FM.

For more on the pursuit of peace visit Timeless Today.

Photo compliments of PEXELS

 

Loyalty

I grew up in small town USA, where everyone showed up for the football games and rivalries with near-by towns ran deep. Loyalty was encouraged. Walking lockstep with the footsteps of your fathers and grandfathers was expected and anyone willing to step outside of that boundary was to one degree or another shunned. For sure they were not “cool”.

For many, high school gives way to college and allegiance remains a cherished ally. Fraternities and sororities make people prove their loyalty often in disrespectful and costly ways. And as one progresses through life and continues to choose allegiance as a way of life, the games of “us and them” continue, in politics, professional sports, work, faith and even in our families.

We have evolved into a nation of division based on our loyalties. Forget “One nation under God”. God has no say in this anymore. We have chucked our humanity for our allegiance to what we deem as “right”. We have forsaken ideals of decency and dignity for allegiances that now own us.

And apparently it has come as a serious blow to many when the cherished allegiances to football and to the flag are challenged by dissent. And I cannot help but wonder if our loyalties have now become excuses to forget our humanity. When taking a knee to the National Anthem can arouse more angst than the loss of Black, Brown and indigenous lives and the systemic oppression of poor people and the earth – we must ask ourselves if we have gone off course.

It is apparent to me that unless and until we place humanity, in its entirety, first, all else will not bear the fruit for which we hope, causing more harm than good.

Choose the allegiance that will encompass all and provide the best for all. Give loyalty where it is due. Be human first.

 

This piece aired on “Consider This”. WDRT FM. You can listen in to “Consider This” on Thursdays at 5:28pm CST

Photo provided by Pexels

Dominant White Mind

So as we gather ourselves up to face another day, we turn to the pundits to explain away the motives of a “good man” that allowed him to massacre people like picking fish in a barrel.

Let me save you some time. He was sick. He carried a disease, which has now in one way or another infected all of us. I call it dominant white mind and you do not have to have white skin to be infected.

It is a disease born of not knowing who you are. It is a perversion, a symptom of not recognizing the connectedness of all living things. Can it be healed? Absolutely. What is required for this healing? A keen desire to be alive and the humility to recognize the need are the first steps.

How can we recognize white mind syndrome? The syndrome begins by walking lock step with a society that ignores violence and promotes and even champions the perpetrators. It is a society that is blatantly racist as seen in prison statistics, educational statistics, availability of good food and clean water to people in need. It is a society that condones or turns a blind eye to the beating, raping and killing of women, the enslavement of children for sex, the trafficking of humans for menial labor, the destruction of the earth for profit, and then cries foul when these abnormalities are declared for what they are: perversions.

It is a society that revels in “us and them”. We cannot seem to step over this great divide even as it now appears we are annihilating one another. It is a society so hell bent on being angry, we have lost sight of what we are angry about…and I would assert to you we are angry because we – in our highest and truest nature – are compromised. We have forgotten who we are.

Explanations and excuses abound to cover up our inadequacies. Seldom will we allow the voice of reason to dominate. Seldom will we allow the voice of love or peace to prevail. In a few short years we have nearly destroyed countries in the Mid-East and now we are working on Africa; we have remembered the children of Sandy Hook by allowing more high powered guns to be sold; we have shot at peaceful citizens with rubber bullets, water cannons and infiltrated their efforts with paid mercenaries at Standing Rock; and we acquit police who are killing our people of color in shockingly inhuman ways. And our response has been, “Another beer please”, or whatever gets you through the night.

So while you eagerly await the girl friend’s input, the psychologist’s declaration, the clergy’s prayers and hold your breath knowing there might be another ticking time bomb just around your corner – let me remind you that this IS reversible. Stop making excuses. Stop the white fragility – and again I will tell you it is not only contained in white skin – it is a disease of the soul that has permitted ignorance to reign, and it has been reigning decades, no centuries, and it is time for its reign to end.

Stand up. Discover your humanity in its totality. Peace is waiting for you where it has always been. We are creating “good men” who are hiding their sickness from us because they can blend in to an already disgustingly sick culture. They can hide their sickness because we are all too afraid to call out the truth: we are all culpable. We pull the trigger every time we judge, every time we turn our backs to injustice, every time we make an excuse for our insistence on wallowing in our lowest – not our highest – nature. We can change this. We can. Each one of us can. It takes a bit of honesty. It takes a bit of courage. It takes a bit of clarity. And it takes a whole lot of love. There is no short cut, no law, no punishment, no forgiveness that will end the suffering we have allowed. We must heal. We must grapple with who we are, the Good and the Bad, and we must leave room for the reality that we are both and we are neither. For ourselves and for those who will come after, we can do this.

Austin to Houston

Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Gulf Region. The city of Houston and surrounding areas received over 50 inches of rainfall and the slow moving storm continued for days, slamming Louisiana and other costal areas.

It has been twelve years since Hurricane Katrina took 1800 lives and sent shock waves through the nation as we witnessed a government unable to cope or care for its people. Ironically, it was the city of Houston that opened its doors to evacuees of New Orleans and now is bearing the brunt of an even more severe and deadly storm.

So what have we learned? There is an acknowledgement that the city planners ignored nature and developed over wetlands. This is proving to be a critical error as the floodwaters rise. Then of course there is the elephant in the room as we talk about Harvey as a 500-year flood. And here in the Driftless we know about 100 and 500 -year floods and how frequently they now occur.

But what are we really learning? As I follow social media, I am touched by groups of volunteers from cities near-by the affected areas and states far away, coming with boats, supplies and hearts determined to help their fellow human beings. They understand the importance of sharing, helping and community. People are opening their homes for those who will be left homeless. Many took high risks to save another.

What we are learning, if we have the eyes to see, is priceless. We are learning the power of the human spirit. There is a game afoot and it is called kindness. And through the death and destruction of this horrific storm we are being given a chance to hold onto that, which is truly dear: We can love and help one another.

No, it will not bring back the dead, nor will it erase the hardships that many will face. But our actions and our caring will strengthen our love of life and our dignity, and that, my friends, is worth it.

Fast forward to present and Austin to Houston  – Harvey Relief efforts are still going strong. Help when ever you can however you can. Gain strength from the conviction and love of these people. 

This aired on “Consider This” in the midst of Harvey’s hit. One way we can help is to spread the good news on what we can all do to make this world a better place…thanks for reading and sharing.

Puerto Rico

There is a story I’ve heard about heaven and hell. Both have an incredible banquet set with people seated on either side of the table, but their arms cannot bend and they cannot feed themselves. So what is the difference between heaven and hell? In heaven, they reach across the table and feed one another.

As of this recording, it has been over one week since Hurricane Maria pummeled the islands and toppled Puerto Rico. It has been clear from the onset that Puerto Rico was severely hit jeopardizing water, food, health supplies, power, gasoline and living conditions for the vast majority of the 3.5 million people living there.

With all the United States military might, ships at sea, and availability of able-bodied help, one would assume this to be a no brainer. But unfortunately, red tape, bureaucracy, and a hint from the White House that Puerto Rico owes Wall Street have all served to slow down life-serving assistance to those in critical need.

Juxtapose this scenario of failed help to the armies of volunteers in the Houston and Florida areas hit by hurricane and floods just weeks prior. There are numerous fledgling bands of people coming together to step in where government has stepped down. Giving time, money and supplies human beings are showing how it can be done. They are feeding one another.

I know many of the people who are volunteering and making a difference in these places. Some of them served with me at the stand at Standing Rock. We no longer have the luxury of waiting on Uncle Sam to do what is right, perhaps we never did.

It is time for humanity to rise to what is possible, not what has been delayed. We have a choice to make; we can live in heaven or in hell. I am choosing heaven and betting more of us will.

My friend Terrence Daniels is working to bring solar power to Puerto Rico. Please help if you can.

This piece aired 9/28/17 on WDRT Driftless Community Radio on “Consider This” my spoken blog. Listen in every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.

Statues and the Living

There are numerous and seemingly compelling explanations informing us why we need to leave confederate monuments and flags standing. Reasons like: it’s part of our collective history; these were good men who should be remembered and honored; and my personal favorite: whose statue will be next on the chopping block, Washington or Jefferson?

While these arguments may seem rational and are certainly being shared by scores of people, I for one am not impressed.

Let’s be clear. I am not someone who needs a hero or heroine. I couldn’t care less about a monument, unless of course it was a monument to peace. But the irony is hard to resist. People are angry over the treatment of statues while in Charlottesville, VA on Aug 12th, almost three years to the day of martial law in Ferguson, MO and almost a year to the night of the infamous nine-hour water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullet salute by law enforcement to unarmed and peaceful water protectors in Standing Rock – now we have the juxtaposition of predominantly white, angry and armed young men shouting hate speech and blatantly unafraid of and untouched by police.

A young woman of peace lost her life as the escalation of violence between the two sides of anger clashed. A young Black man was brutally pummeled with poles. And the White House is worried whose statue will come down next…

I don’t know about you, but when a society cares more about the dead than the living, we have a problem. When a society, professes boldly, In God We Trust, and then dismisses hatred and violence with rhetoric as weak as “it is a part of our history”, we have a problem. My friends, today is tomorrow’s history and it is not looking so good right now.

In this time of unrest, think about the words you use. Think about the trajectory you are subtly and not so subtly supporting. Violence on either end of the spectrum is not helping us. If the dead could talk, perhaps they would say, this is not the path you want to go down. The ways of war and hatred have all been tried and have failed.

Let us for once take the path of peace. It is time we become our own personal hero.

 

This post aired on “Consider This”in September 2017, on WDRT ‘s Driftless Community Radio. Listen to the live stream every Thursday at 5:28pm CST. Thank you.