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So, things have been very tumultuous of late. If there really are groups who maintain their power by keeping us so busy attacking “those monstrous others” that we stay blind to common ground on which to build a better future… well, I’d say they’ve been pretty effective.

I don’t think it’ll work long-term, though. Not this time. There are too many of us who have spent years working against the decay and destruction of liberties, livelihoods and lives. This work has been swimming against the tide, as the “mainstream” turned a blind eye and cold shoulder, standing firmly on the side of a White House and politicians who had a (D) after their names. Now that those letters have changed to (R), suddenly thousands to millions are ready to join those marches and pick up those banners.

Yeah, there’s apparently been some focus on making the marching and such strictly as a big protest against an enemy, rather than working together for the common good. But the experienced organizers are already in place, and that experience is in organizing to accomplish specific goals, joining people together for a specific purpose. With so much spotlight and energy being poured into getting people to stand up in opposition, it can only help those who are ready to put those new feet and hands to work.

I’m sure there’s many, many things you’d like to see working out better for your country, and for our world. I’m also sure there’s one in particular that could really use your help, and has a group in your area that’s ready and waiting for you to pitch in. Why not find it?

That better future doesn’t need a big, bold hero to make a difference. It needs hundreds of thousands of humble, small heroes making the difference we can in our own corners of the world. Even if you don’t have much, there’s some part of you yearning to give of itself to building something better. Allow that. Make your difference.

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2016 has been a very chaotic year, hasn’t it?

I had told my friends in December that I sort of felt like 2016 would be a year Outside of Time: not quite linear with the past, but neither would it be free from past influences. Meaning, just because things went a certain way in the past, that doesn’t mean they’ll go the same way now. We’ll still have to deal with them though, and it may even seem like everything from the past is coming up to be dealt with at once.

That’s exactly how 2016 has been feeling to me. Year of the Id. Everything bubbling up at once, resistant to the old ways of dealing with them.

The upside of this is that we’re getting new opportunities to resolve things that have gone unresolved for far too long. And if the old ‘tricks’ and ‘tactics’ won’t work, then we’re finally forced to resolve them in new ways. Since the old ways clearly weren’t working, this gives us the opportunity to finally move forward.

So if you are also feeling the crushing waves of chaos battering you against the shore — or, worse, the undercurrent pulling you under — take a moment to ground yourself.

Take a deep breath, then breathe it out slowly, releasing your frustration at all that arises.

Take another breath, then slowly breathe out your grief at all that has slipped away.

Breathe in again, this time opening your heart as well as your lungs, letting the breath of fresh air sustain you.

Breathe in another sustaining breath, letting the oxygen nourish your mind, opening it up to fresh perspectives.

Through breathing, create an eye within the raging storm, and let events continue to unfold for you. As they do so, practice acceptance for what’s unfolding, learning to look for the new possibilities opening up.

I have a sense that 2017 has the potential to be a truly beautiful year, filled with progress and possibilities that we hadn’t before thought possible. To get there, we’ll have to make it through 2016, learning as much as we can about how to build the space for such a beautiful year to unfold.

May you find peace and wisdom throughout whatever events are surrounding you this year, and may they bring you to a better place. Just hang onto your center, keep your eyes and mind open, and I trust you’ll make it through.

 

There’s this myth out there that Bernie Sanders hasn’t taken Institutional Racism seriously enough. The attack goes that his fight for Racial Justice is lesser-than and separate from the shared struggle for Economic Justice, ignoring the key lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King’s final fight before his asassination. We need Senator Sanders to dedicate a speech to sharing his powerful story of how Dr. King’s #OneStruggle moves him to continue that fight today.

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I’ve taken an unexpected hiatus due to “two week flu” that went almost three weeks, before turning into bronchitis. Fortunately, the bronchitis seems mild, so I’m hoping I’ll treat it better than the flu and be over it soon.

I’ve been waiting to post until I feel like I can string together coherent thoughts. Even a haiku has been tough to write, of late.

But today I happened to log on, and saw that it’s the 7th Anniversary of this blog.  Seven years, a very lucky number.

So I decided to write a post commenting on how milestones come as they will, regardless of how prepared we feel to celebrate them. I’m choosing to appreciate the seven-year milestone, then log back off to rest.

May you find a milestone or other moment of forward movement this week, and may you enjoy it!

Danny Lyon shares an insightful look into the Civil Rights work of the SNCC, including John Lewis & Bernie Sanders’ work in it.

Bleak Beauty Blog

At the University of Chicago sit-in. Bernie, on the right, Bob Brown on the left, winter 1962. At the University of Chicago sit-in. Bernie, on the right, Bob Brown on the left, winter 1962.

47,851 have visited this site since we posted the pictures I made of young Bernie Sanders in 1962. They came looking for the truth. Three major news organizations have used a photograph I made of Bernie Sanders as a twenty year old student at the University of Chicago to attack his campaign and to denigrate his early place in history.

Danny at the SNCC headquarters, July 1962. Danny at the SNCC headquarters, July 1962.

In 1962, a few months before I made the pictures of Bernie as an early civil rights  activist, I made another picture of  another young man sitting quietly in the back of a church in Cairo, Illinois. I have published that in my book, Memories of the Southern Civil Rights Movement. I knew who John Lewis was when I saw him  that morning because of his…

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Other peoples’ words and actions arise from their own past, and how they experienced it. While you can do your best to help your interactions be compassionate and respectful, you can’t control the other side of it.

It can hurt when it feels people are behaving badly toward you. Perhaps you can even do something to heal the situation. But it would be counter-productive to take on their actions as a part of yourself, letting their troubling behavior become troubles of your own.

It may help to think about why something does bother you so much, and reflect on times that have made you feel that way. Maybe there’s a pattern this feels a part of, a pattern that repeats in your life. If so, what could you do to step out of that cycle? Would you let that cycle go, so you could move on?

Above all, recognize that other peoples’ thoughts and actions remain their responsibility, not yours. Your responsibility is to build and maintain your own inner strength, within the cyclone of human experience.

May you know peace.

Whether dawn or dusk,
Change is on the Horizon.
Greet it as it comes.

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