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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Shake the dust of knowing better off from your tired mind
Blink away the tears for those trapped behind their walls
Open your hands to let all you’ve clung to fall away
Strip off the uniforms and recognitions of all the groups you’ve joined

Stand naked and true, love the skin you’re in as the only identity that’s real
Feel the tenderness of your own palm and fingers, and of those around you
See all the walls for what they are — habits, just habits, whose time have come
Let your mind be a fertile soil for whatever seeds the wind may blow your way

Don’t picture them
Don’t judge them
Don’t react

Receive
Be surprised
Be emboldened
Be overjoyed

Let them sprout, let them grow
Let them show you their beautiful flowers
Then drink down their precious nectar and bring their fruit to bear

It’ll be pretty wild
But it’ll be true

Be, in your own way, one of those odd mystics spinning forward our new world

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Waves of chaos crash
while compasses keep spinning.
Inner Sun guides you.


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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.

(more…)

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Eric Arthur Blair had the opportunity to pursue the life of an educated Englishman, contributing his own part to the furtherance of the British Empire, rewarded by a steady, if boring career. It would probably have been an easier life than that of a hobo in East London, falling gravely ill and getting his belongings stolen by the hospital staff more than once, and getting his throat shot in the Spanish Civil War. It certainly may have been easier for him to avoid getting embroiled in political controversy through his social and cultural exposes.

Easier, I suppose, if he didn’t have such a burning need to explore the depths endured by those around him, and report on those struggles to the broader world.

George Orwell was the first author whose works made a profound impact on the way I experienced my world, and the framing propped up around it by my culture. I read Nineteen Eighty-Four first, then Animal Farm – A Fairy Story, borrowed from my grade school library. I was in an age of reading voraciously to try to better understand how life is understood differently by others, and these two books helped me understand how crucial it is to search below the surface-gloss of how we’re led to assume things are.

It’s more than 65 years to late to be able to thank him personally. Yet as I realized his birthday was coming up, I also realized that this August 17th will mark 70 years since Animal Farm was first published: its Platinum Anniversary.  He had finished the book years earlier, but the political climate wouldn’t allow it. The British elite still considered Stalin an ally, so his obvious criticism of Stalin’s regime was intolerable… until the Cold War suddenly made it popular.

Deeply inspired by Orwell, I wrote a book a few years ago that I fairly quickly quieted down, as I didn’t want to deal with the political controversy it was digging into. I was (and am) concerned about how Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is used as though it is a textbook for how society and economics best serves the most callous assumptions of human nature, but I didn’t feel my contributions would do much to help people consider a more egalitarian — a more humane view.

Yet, seeing these anniversaries on my calender, I decided a few days ago that I could do more to honor the impact this author has had on my life. So to celebrate the 112th Birthday of Eric Arthur Blair, today I’m putting my book up as an ebook for Pre-Order: Galifesto – A Love Story.  It will release on August 17, 2015.

It was written as a narrative, so I’m setting up shop to record it as an audiobook, and am also working on getting the print version to release the same day. This takes significantly less than spending time as a hobo or fighting in a civil war, so I figure I can do this much to help this world in its path to seeing one another with truer eyes.

If you haven’t read anything by Orwell, please visit your library and browse his section, see what catches your fancy. Or even just take a fresh look at the people you pass by in your day, holding an appreciation for struggles they silently bear in making it through this world we share. In this, I think you’ll be taking part in the impact he wished his work to have on the world he left behind.

Thank you.

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I’ve been thinking again about the addictive nature of certainty, and how tough a habit it is to break. Our Commander Brain tends to require certainty in order to feel it knows who “I am” and has the control “I need” to keep structure and predictability in our lives. That’s why it’s so important to first learn how to break the addiction to certainty, so we may be able to learn HOW to learn more about what we don’t yet know.

To break this addiction, I once spent possibly a whole year practicing being uncertain. Each time I felt I had a solid ground to stand on, to start building a new “what I know” foundation, I deliberately went searching out alternate ways to think and feel, pulling the rug back from underneath my feet. I wanted to stop allowing the habit of trying to find one solid place to stand firm forevermore. I wanted to get used to walking a path of personal growth and lifetime discovery. There will always be core values that will guide and comfort me, but these are gifts I carry in my heart, not anchors that hold me down.

Allowing myself to be trapped in the comfortable chains of certainty endangers that freedom to learn and grow.  I have to thank an article I read today for describing these dangers:

Certainty is the most dangerous emotion a human being can feel in politics and religion. Certainty stops all outside thought or reason. It closes the door and is a metaphorical spit in the face of anyone who disagrees. Changing one’s mind is the essence of critical thinking. As Thomas Jefferson himself said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.”

Fox News tried to tear my family apart: How they failed to incite my father, by Edwin Lyngar on Salon.com

We are blessed with a bright and beautiful world, and equally bright and beautiful minds with which to enjoy it. Let us practice freedom and skill in our minds, that we may live our lives with skillful freedom.

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Things I’m thankful for:

  1. Massachusetts has elected their first female senator, Elizabeth Warren
  2. Thanks to Wisconsin, the United States of America has elected our first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, who is also Wisconsin’s first female senator
  3. Maine and Maryland are the first states to affirm by popular vote the right of two people to marry whom they loved, regardless of gender
  4. Minnesota is the first state to reject by popular vote an attempt to deny that right as an amendment to the state constitution
  5. Colorado and Washington are the first states to legalize marijuana with strict regulations, taking us one step closer toward ending the failed War on Drugs and gutting the support pillars of the deadly Mexican cartels
  6. Maryland also upheld a law allowing in-state college tuition for children whose in-state high school attendance and parents’ in-state tax-paying qualifications, even if they weren’t documented immigrants

There’s so much more, to be sure, but these are my top six right now.  I have a very positive and loving view of human nature, and a faith in one another that’s reaffirmed by trends such as these.  The more we’re getting to know the stories of the diverse people around us, the more we’re coming together.

That’s all I have time for, but wanted to share.  Take care!

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Today, Ed Kilgore posted a blog called No More “Enemy Turf”, about the importance of not writing off any potential allies in your fight for what you believe in:

Yes, certain demographic categories may be “lost” to conservatives if you insist on a winner-takes-all definition, and no, aggressively pursuing support among such voters isn’t worth it if it involves abandoning key principles or essentially adopting the opposition’s point of view. But reducing the margin of defeat on “hostile ground” is often achievable simply by paying attention and not wilfully repelling voters, and in the end a vote is a vote whether it comes from a segment of the electorate that progressives are “winning” or “losing.” […]

A vote’s a vote; reducing unnecessary losses on “enemy turf” has enormous political value; and progressives need not concede, explicitly or (by silence or evasion) implicitly, religious or military voters. It’s good to see these simple lessons are being taken to heart.

I think that’s a lesson that’s vitally important in all aspects of life, not just the portion of it labeled “politics”.  Where you think there are only enemies, you are missing vitally important allies.  They may not (and probably will not) always agree with you on things you’d really like to convince them of, and they may even try to convince you of some things you really aren’t on board with.  But so long as that doesn’t get in the way of coming together to work toward much-needed help for those who need it, the work itself will provide you with the common ground you need to move forward.

And that’s the sticky point: where we feel others’ actions or beliefs are antithetical to what we hold to be self-evident, it can be awfully hard for us to give up the habit of “I’m Right, They’re Wrong, and that makes this Their Fault”.  It becomes a default mental and even neurochemical response to throw up the barriers between “Us” and “Them”, creating an addictive feedback loop that works both ways.  So instead of taking responsibility for bridging those barriers and doing what we can to create new solutions, we either get bogged down in tracing blame or just abandon “them” entirely.  Gay Hendricks’ The Chemistry of Blame is a great article to read in full regarding how this works in terms of personal relationships and “becoming a conscious creator”-style approaches, but here’s the quotes I feel are most relevant here:

There is a great fundamental issue that overrides many of the things we can do to heal ourselves and the world: the human tendency to step into feeling like a victim and blaming others, instead of taking personal responsibility.

Usually in couples therapy, the first issue to be addressed is: Are you willing to make a commitment to solving the problem? One of the most typical responses is, “Well, I’d be committed if she were.”

“Are you willing to stay completely away from blaming anyone, and instead make a sincere commitment to resolving all the issues we confront?”

There’s only one solution, and that’s to take 100% impeccable responsibility – and create a space for the other person to take 100% impeccable responsibility as well. Responsibility has a contagious effect.

As a therapist, I point out repeatedly, “Okay, having said that your husband is a worthless piece of shit, tune inside. Do you feel happier?” The person begins to recognize that although they feel that “glee-gotcha” feeling that comes from assigning blame, they don’t feel happier.

“Do you choose being right or being happy?”

It’s the same with mastering personal responsibility. Once a person shifts out of glee and experiences the real joy of claiming responsibility, everything is changed.

Like it or not, “those people” are in this boat with us, and we’ll sink if they do.  It doesn’t matter if we think we’re the only ones trying to bail ourselves out while “they” are poking holes in the hull.  It doesn’t matter if “they” feel the same way about us.  Because in reality, there is no “Us” that excludes “Them”; there’s merely “We”, all in the same boat together.  And while we’re busy getting angry or despondent or vindictive or even just exasperated, the boat is slowly sinking.  It doesn’t matter who’s right, it just matters who’s getting their hands on deck to pull our ship out of the storm.

And the thing is, at the core, we generally want to steer our ship down the same basic course.  The problem isn’t that our values are different, it’s more that we’ve gotten so sidetracked by our different perspectives on why they’re important.  Once we can set aside those differences we can free our energy to finding ways to work together toward our shared values, even if it means taking our hat in one humble hand to hold out the other.  As I wrote in Fighting Fire with Water: The Christian Role in the War on Women:

[T]he answer to the War on Women isn’t to fight back against our perceived “enemy” with the same condescension, derision and dogma we feel assaulted by.  We can’t win by returning anger with anger, and fighting fire with fire.  Instead, we must fight fire with water, returning their anger with patience and love.  We must struggle to develop new ways to show them how we’re ultimately on the same team.  We want the same things: a peaceful world where families can grow up happy and healthy and complete, cared for by each other and their community.  We need to show them how their actions are preventing these values from bearing good fruit.  We need to find better ways of working together to make our shared goals real.

And we won’t build these bridges toward our shared goals by trying to convince them their values are wrong, nor by refusing to understand how they can be as sure of their rightness as we are of ours.  This is especially difficult because in today’s world, the strongest dividers of “Us” and “Them” are on religious grounds, with the American Political Theater cycling through nonstop reruns of The Righteous Religious Right versus the The Superior Secular Left.  Each side is constantly being poked and prodded with how dangerously unhinged the other side is, and how the only way to stop them from destroying our world is through political (or literal) scorched earth tactics.

But this story has worn thin, and more and more, people are waking up to the holes in it.  I wrote When Atlas Shirked to explore how this “Us Versus Them” plot is breaking down, and share the narrative of what happens when the characters are ready to fix it.  A very young, very patriotic Christian American learns from those of other faiths who are working to strengthen families and communities, bridging the gulf where others may have widened it.  Those of other/no religions find her Christian group to be staunch allies who tirelessly give of themselves for the hungry, the poor and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  After learning of all the many (very familiar) corruptions and injustices plaguing her Orwellian American dystopia, she and countless others set aside their differences to start the heavy lifting of building a better world.

It’s a fairy tale, sure, but it’s one that I sincerely hope could come true.  I truly believe that we each have the means to make our corner of the world a better place, simply by committing to finding ways to take responsibility for our place in it.  And we don’t have to storm a capitol or go all that far from home to do make this difference.  There are opportunities all around us to help those in our very own back yards.  The more we look for these opportunities, the more they’ll show us ways we can pitch in.  It doesn’t matter if we can give only a little at first; this is one of those times where every little bit quite literally does help.

Don’t be surprised if the opportunities might be with those that others might call “your enemy”, because there are no enemies when it comes to doing what’s right.  There might be good times and ways to gently share your perspective without having to call theirs wrong, but that’s not what’s important about doing good.  The most important thing right now is to make sure that good gets done.

People are hungry.  Children are being kicked out into the streets.  The sick and the hopeless are being abandoned.  They need our help, not our ideologies.  They can’t seek shelter under our philosophies, and they can’t eat our prayers.

So there we have it: it’s our job to do what we can, with whoever will join our efforts.  The task now isn’t to bar the doors against those “on the other side”, but to open our own doors, and knock wherever we think we see a light on.  Some will get slammed in our faces, and some will open for a while, only to slam shut again.  That’s okay, it’s not up to you to make anyone else do what they need to do.  Just keep taking full responsibility to do your part.

When you’re working to fulfill your part in all this, you’ll know it’s less important to convince people of what you think is right.  You know that what’s most important is to get out there and do what’s right.  The rest will follow.

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