Summer 2002“Compassion is the radicalism of this age".
-The Dalai Lama
As I prepare for our annual migration North to Maine for the Summer, I pause to reflect on the past year and the future. In recent months, I have found it exceedingly difficult to refrain from projecting my shadow shamelessly onto the other; be it Bin Laden or President Bush. It is easy to assume that the so called "axis of evil" (states who sponsor terrorism) or Al Quaeda are the root of the problem. Or, on the other hand that, our government is the great satan, that not only do we deserve it, but that there may be some grand conspiracy and our own government is perpetrating the "terror". I try to find a reasonable middle ground. I try not to vacillate between the extreme opinions. I have tried to stay clear of speculation, of conspiracy theories, of the governments warnings of the next "eminent attack". I have tried to limit my intake of news. I have pondered whether or not limiting my intake of current events is wise or foolish. Is this how Fundamentalism begins, by closing off information, or is it how Liberation begins, by deciding not to be controlled, manipulated and told what to think by the media? I think that we must learn to move past "black and white" thinking. We must learn to break through the tendency to be on "this" side or "that" side of an issue. We must learn to hold the conflict. I am not saying that we can't or shouldn't form our own opinions, but how many of us are really forming "our own" opinions and how often are we just falling back on what we have been spoon fed by our parents, mentors, the media or some other favorite pundit. I recently read that Adolf Hitler said "the greatest ally of a dictator is that men just don't think." We must find a way to turn this thing around. I am not capable of solving the worlds problems. But, I can affect my own state of mind and I can be aware of the effect I have on those around me. I've put together a few little lists of things we can do individually and collectively to increase our sense of well-being and to make our world a better place.
Ten daily practices
- Hydrate ( I recommend drinking a gallon of pure water a day.)
- Eat Right (eat 3 well balanced meals aday. Consider how much of the earths resources are used in the production of the food we consume. consider eating more soy products.)
- Be physical (exercise, walk, bike, or play a sport with friends)
- Study (learn all you can about the subjects that interest you.)
- Make some money ( work. we have to eat and pay the rent, compare the practice of being responsible, to the desire to obtain, to being greedy.)
- Make Art (make anything. it is freeing. photograph, collage, draw, paint dance, play music, sculpt, make videos, believe in it, develop it, enjoy it!)
- Meditate or Pray (find and practice a spiritual discipline.)
- Sleep (get at least 8 hours of sleep to recharge and dream.)
- Love (develop a few close honest relationships.)
- Know Thyself (be clear. write. keep a journal. record your dreams. be honest with yourself. If an issue arises between you and another person, look at it and decide if the issue is yours or the other persons. If it is your issue, own it, and be aware of how and when it surfaces and work on it.)
Little things we can do to make the world a better place
- Clean out our basements. Clean out our closets
- Take care of something that we own that has been neglected
- Visit a person in our neighborhood that we don't get along with
- Drive less. Take a bus or train. Bike or walk the next time we go out.
- Take a small trash bag along on our walk and pick up trash
- Spend more time paying attention to nature
- Drink Fair Trade coffee (ask coffee shop if their coffee is fair trade)
- Turn off our TVs. Turn off our Computers
- Buy a Hybrid car
- Visit a homeless shelter, volunteer time for a cause we believe in
- Call, write, email our congress members. Be Relentless!
Some collected suggestions for nonviolent action (based on a talk given by Jim Wallis (editor Sojourners magazine) April 23rd 2002 at Mother Bethel's Church in Philadelphia)
- Admit that the threat of Terrorist Violence is Real
- Avoid "Bad Theology" (good vs.evil rhetoric is not productive)
- Avoid stances such as "anti-American" or "my country right or wrong"
- Address and attack the roots of Terrorism (poverty, injustice)
- Have a personal "no tolerance policy" for the violence (/terrorism)
- Oppose "war on Terrorism" by offering viable alternatives (ie. world court, U.N., intelligence)
- Assert the power and the promise of Non-Violence
- Realize that "Peace is not a Position, Peace is a Path."
- "Change the direction of the wind" (politicians are finger lickers, holding their fingers up in the wind. Speak up. Act. Change the wind.)
- Keep the Moral Reflection Alive!
OK, one more list and I'm outta here. Here's my Summer 2002 reading list
- Boomeritis by Ken Wilber
- Is There No Other Way by Micheal N. Nagler
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- The Wounded Healer by Henri J. Nowmen
- Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
- Awareness by Tony DeMello
- Beyond Guilt by George S. Johnson
- The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
- Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe 10. Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell)
"The line separating good and evil passes, not through states, nor between classes, nor between parties - but right through the human heart." - Alexander Solzhenitzyn "Everybody knows that Something is eternal. And it ain't houses and it ain't names, and it ain't the earth, and it ain't even stars....everybody knows in their bones that Something is eternal, and that Something has to do with human beings. All the greatest people who ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you would be surprised how people are always losing hold of it. There is something way down deep that's Eternal about every human being." -Thorton Wilder (from Our Town) Have a good Summer. May Peace be in your Hearts.