all you need is love

….and now a message from the “beat bugs”

I wish you could see me now.  Sitting here at my desk with a big grin and a giggle welling up in my soul, I had to share this video with you.  The Beatles classic puts the majority of the world’s pressing issues into proper perspective.  Enjoy it and as we read the quote from Anuradha Vittachi below let’s find consolation in knowing there are many, many more humans (and bugs) on this earth who believe in love rather than hatred.  Love will prevail.

“While scientists look desperately for medicines and mechanism to avoid catastrophe, many others are beginning to realize that what is needed is not only externally administered remedies, preventative or curative, but an internal change in the way we behave, a hard second look at the values which have brought us to this dangerous brink.”  ANURADHA VITTACHI, earth conference
 
 

 

IT’S A GREAT DAY – be successful

success is not the destination – it is the journey

You and I have within us the ability to make this day part of a successful journey or a meaningless struggle leaving us weary and eager to simply bring the day to an end.  We have that power when we first arise in the morning.  Don’t grab the phone to check messages, don’t turn on the TV to catch up on news, don’t open the newspaper to front page headlines – just don’t.  Say no to all that noise and listen to your own voice for a few minutes.  What do I want this day to be like?  How will I make this a day that will be memorable?  What can I do for the next hour or two hours that will set this day apart from all the others?

We have been designed to live our lives with unimaginable success and contentment.  It all begins before throwing back the blankets and swinging our legs out over the bed.  Just be still for a moment and open the day with a gratitude list.  Listen to your breath, feel your heartbeat, wiggle your toes, then hear the voice inside which says, “I love you, I really do love you.  You are worthy and you are perfect just as you are in this moment.”

Confirm that inner voice and plan a perfect day.  It will be one in which everything that happens leads to another leg of your journey to success.  Namaste. 🙏

ain’t going back no more

I spent too much of this past weekend reflecting upon my stint in the Navy as a hospital corpsman during the Vietnam era. I returned to the insanity and chaos of the war years as I remembered and honored my brothers who died in those jungles and rice paddies of Vietnam. Tonight, my soul aches anew. I still sometimes feel guilt for not being one of them. I should have been there beside them. For many years I thanked the God of my understanding for keeping me safely out of harm’s way. Today it’s easier to simply say I was just one of the lucky ones. My number was not drawn, my reassignment orders did not say Marine Corps training for assignment to Vietnam. But, was I really one of the lucky ones? They paid the supreme price, the family received condolences, insurance money, a flag, and a medal, and another warrior found eternal peace having died a war-time hero.

My duty station was the Philadelphia Naval Hospital. Having completed training as a psychiatric tech, none of the schooling prepared me for the pain I saw of returning warriors broken in limb and mind. They shared their horror stories, stories of terror and fear in the rice paddies and the jungles where they stayed high on dope just to survive the craziness that filled their minds. Those who lost arms and legs were rehabilitating in the orthopedic wards on the other side of the hospital grounds. They visited my wards in their wheelchairs and together the broken ones tried to heal one another.

One of my special assignments was that of body escort for a returning corpsman killed in action. My military bearing was never up to snuff from my first days in boot camp and it did not improve with time, but I somehow stayed out of trouble and made rank. It was considered an honor to escort a fallen warrior. I had lots of time to think as I rode with the dead young man to his funeral site in Virginia. I met the grieving family at the funeral home and began doing what body escorts are supposed to do. After the body was lowered in the ground, after the volley of gun fire, and after final taps from a nearby hillside, I returned to my motel room, cried like a baby and got drunk as hell.

I friggin hated war, I hated Vietnam and most of all I hated the government which had sent thousands of courageous men to their graves for the enrichment of the privileged, white boys back home in the safety of the USA. From that day forward my life tail-spinned into the drunken story of a sorry-assed man who couldn’t forgive himself for still being alive while too many had died. My untimely discharge from the military gave me ever more reason to pursue a new found career in drinking. Espousing anti-government sentiments from my barstool pulpit, I spent many nights with Jack Daniels and Cutty Sark informing other barroom patrons of the inherent evils of ‘their’ government.

I have detailed my sobriety story many times on this blog. It is indeed a miracle which has led me to self-forgiveness and acceptance of things which I cannot change. My drinking was my way of leaving my personal jungles and rice paddies behind and I am OK with it. I titled this post before I started writing it and now I know it’s a lie. I must go back remembering those who died, those who came back broken in spirit and body, and those who never again had a chance to live normally. They are all a part of my story and I can never forsake them.

Duane, Bryan, Joe – I’ll see you when I get there. SEMPER FI

ADAGIO FOR STRINGS – samuel barber

“the first casualty of war is the truth.”  SENATOR HIRAM JOHNSON – 1917

I’ve been sitting here at my desk for over an hour trying to compose an appropriate, patriotic weekend post for this Memorial Day.  I’ve been sitting here remembering past holidays when I proudly displayed American flags in the front yard for Memorial Day and July 4th.  And, sadly, all that fills my mind are the mournful strings of Barber’s Adagio for Strings.  I remember those sounds from the movie, PLATOON.  It was a somber commentary on the truth of our 1st defeat as a country in battle.  It was  a story which needed to be told about Vietnam, the divisive war which lined the coffers of the American munitions/defense/industrial complex at a cost of 1.4 million casualties of which 58,220 were courageous American warriors.

I won’t put my flags out this year and probably not for years to come.  I may die never again displaying those flags.  Absolutely, I continue to honor and revere those who serve and those who gave their lives in service, but today I kneel with sadness rather than salute with respect the flag which represents a once proud nation led astray by greed and corruption.

A friend recently reminded me that we don’t have to agree politically or theologically to continue loving one another.  I hope he is right and for today I will hold on to that thought for the comfort needed to survive this darkness.

MAY GOD BLESS OUR NATION AND MAY WE ALWAYS SALUTE THOSE WHO SERVED AND DIED.

MAY GOD BLESS ALL THOSE WHO SACRIFICED COMFORT, SECURITY AND LIFE TO DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND EXPRESSION.

 

$$ MONEY $$ – is it overrated?

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Lord knows I have carried a basketful of stupid decisions and irrational choices in my lifetime which have determined my ‘prosperity’ status.  But truly,  my recollections from years past point simply to a contented life earned and learned by living a simple life.

We were not prosperous by today’s standards.  But, in my eyes, we were the most affluent and blessed people on earth.  Stuff and money did not matter.  We did not compare to the Joneses.  I never went to bed hungry, never walked to the school bus in rags, never slept without a blanket.  Life was good.  In retrospect, what made life good was the fact that just about everybody we knew lived as we did.  We counted our blessings everyday, helped those neighbors who had fallen onto tough times, worshipped in a beautiful country church with other folks who knew the meaning of sharing, compassion, and humble faith.  Oh, a few thought they were special and had the inside track to God, but most of us just accepted that maybe we didn’t really know all the answers and we tried to live a life that pleased family, friends, and neighbors and in doing so, hopefully pleased God.

Yes, we had abundant security even if we did not have money.  We depended on each other knowing that the world would have to end before any one of us would abandon the other.  Do we have that security today?  Do you know your neighbors’ names or where they were born?  Would your community feed you, house you, and clothe you if hard times hit or would you need to pitch a tent in the woods and eat bugs and lizards?

Compassion prevailed back then because we were a community of individuals who knew each house and family along the country roads leading to church, to the general store, to the Ford dealer, to the Grange hall, to the telephone office where an operator manned (or womanned) the switch board 24 hours a day, and to the undertaker’s house to which  each of us would someday take a quiet journey.  Everybody knew everybody else – Mrs. Johnson’s bouts with depression, the Mitchell children needing new shoes, the insurance agent’s penchant for Jack Daniels, and the milkman’s weekend trips to the city to walk on the wild side.  We did our best to live right, but none of us were cocksure of eternity and none of us claimed to have the answers.  Life was a mystery and we knew it was wise to leave it as such.  In that simple, uncomplicated, unsophisticated bygone community of farmers, our lives had meaning.  Life was precious and each member of that community had a sense of belonging.

Today’s times are troubling.  The ones who proclaim to be spiritual leaders seem to be speaking from both sides of the mouth, their lives betray the words coming from the pulpits.  Some houses of worship have become palatial with a senior pastor, junior pastor, assistant pastor and a staff of office help.  Preaching hell and damnation for those who don’t adhere to their narrow litany of thou shalts and thou shalt nots, they go home to an equally impressive mansion with amenities and ‘stuff’ which most of the congregation cannot afford.

The gospel of prosperity and exclusion which I am hearing from numerous religious leaders nationwide starkly contrasts to the teachings of Jesus that I remember from my little country church years ago.  Humility is lacking, compassion is lacking, love for every member of humanity is replaced by an attitude of tribalism.  The strident position of excessively cocksure Christians evidenced today is alarming.  “You are going to hell, but I’m not because I have discovered the path to salvation.  I am a believer, you are lost.”

I don’t remember in my younger experience that Jesus taught any of those things which extreme-right fundamentalists are pumping from their pulpits.  Maybe I wasn’t listening well enough, maybe I missed the spiritual boat just as I missed out on the prosperity boat.  But, you know what?  I would not trade the soul security and contentment which I learned in that country church attended by simple folks who practiced a gospel of humility and social justice.  I would not trade the peace of mind I have for all the promises today’s prosperity preachers dangle from their pulpits of hypocrisy and intolerance.

Just a few thoughts from a simple man who still believes there is more to life than money.

 

PETE BUTTIGIEG – candidate

By now, if you live on this planet, you have heard about Pete Buttigieg.  The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has splashed across our screens with an exciting, energetic message for a weary America and much needed relief for those of us who are viewing the currentPETE BUTTUGUEG Administration in absolute disgust and revulsion.  In opening salvos, the man who some say cannot possibly win the Democratic nomination has referred to his tenure as a Mid-west city mayor as more public service than the current President, his executive experience as more than the current Vice-President, and his military service as more than the President and Vice-President combined.  Mastering eight languages, the Harvard graduate and Rhodes scholar who served in Afghanistan freely speaks of his marriage to Chasten, his husband.

Listen up, America.  The closet days are over for men like Pete and Chasten.  Some Americans do not like the lifestyle, some people are in strident opposition, but this country is in desperate need of guidance and direction from men and women who have risen above the slander and name-calling of a prejudiced minority with a message that will reset our destiny.  Whom we love and what we do in our bedrooms, whether gay or straight, is not the business of our government nor does it have bearing upon the multiple challenges facing our country.  The abilities and moral qualities this candidate brings to the race for President gives us a choice between a man with a moral compass and a President totally lacking that same compass.  It’s a no-brainer that Pete should be a bona-fide contender with the necessary credentials to challenge the current President.

PLEASE TAKE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT MAYOR PETE


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MARIANNE WILLIAMSON – candidate

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MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

What can I say about Marianne Williamson?  If you have not read her books or listened to her motivational seminars then you have missed a great opportunity to know a woman who is uniquely spiritual in a non-religious way.  She has paid the dues of growing up in the 1960s and 70s amidst the rebellion, protesting, and ‘experimenting’, found her way to the sanity of sober-living in a drunken, crazy world.  She has remained grounded in her personal faith walk through the same challenges and travails which we all encounter. Humbly and graciously Marianne leads others to an understanding of what the world needs to do to ensure the earth’s survival in these tumultuous times.

Her prayers speak to and for a hurting, broken world system seemingly intent on self-destruction.  The verses address the realities of hatred, intolerance, greed, racism and xenophobia.  The answers are always the same – humility, self assessment and surrender to a power beyond earthly restraints.  We do not have the resources within ourselves to address the depths of our depravity.  Only a Higher Power can look upon us with enough love and forgiveness to change humanity’s destructive course.  Call that power God, Love, Spirit, Enlightenment, Source, Oneness – it is universal and available to all mankind.

Read with me now excerpts from Marianne’s prayer for America. (this was published in 1994 in her book ILLUMINATA)

“……We give thanks in our hearts for the founding of this country.  We give thanks for and bless the souls of those who came before us to found this nation, to nurture and save it.

cropped-candle.png…..May this nation be forgiven its transgressions, against the African-American, Native American, and any and all others.  May our lives be turned into instruments of resurrection, that the sins of our fathers might be reversed through us.  May the beauty and the greatness of this land burst forth once more in the hearts of its people.

…..May this country once again become a light unto the nations of hope and goodness and peace and freedom.  May violence and darkness be cast out of our midst.  May hatred no longer find fertile ground to grow here.

…..May we be repaired, may we be forgiven, may our children be blessed, may we be renewed.”  Amen

Marianne Williamson has declared her candidacy for President of the United States.  My initial reaction was shock and disbelief.  She’s too nice, she’s too honest, she’s too spiritual….she’s too easy a target for all the slanderous, devious, spiteful, dishonest rhetoric which we have learned to accept from the political world.  She’ll never survive the hatred.

But, she’s a perfect candidate!  Who better to neutralize the quasi-religious element of Christianity posing as America’s savior?  Who better to return a sense of decency and decorum to our nation’s capital?  Who better to restore our standing in the world as a people with an unmovable moral compass?  Who better to heal America’s soul sickness? Who better to resurrect the Lady in the harbor?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

In Marianne’s world miracles happen.  Mine too.  She’s not a polished politician, just a decent human being.  Let’s have the audacity to be kind, to be loving, to be great as a nation.  Let’s wage peace.

A DEEPER LOOK AT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

 

“you said come just as you are”

 

photos by LARRY PAUL BROWN

There’s a place I go where the eagles fly high, the rivers run deep, the grass is lush.  In that place it is peaceful and kind, no violence nor intolerance.  Wildflowers wave in the gentle breezes as the freshness of nearby pine forests fills the air with breath after breath of luxurious serenity.  I sit in the grass, admire the beauty of the flowers and  marvel that truly there is a heaven on earth.

And then, when that which is called reality reins in this escape to a quiet place, I return reluctantly and sadly.  But, I know that someday this kind and peaceful place will be a permanent home where I also shall soar with the eagles breathing in the freshness of eternity.  Come with me, won’t you?  We can go there just as we are.

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Every one of us has a story to tell.  It usually reflects on the brokenness of a past life which carried us to places that were more like a living hell than heaven.  Sometimes it involves drug addiction or alcoholism. Often it is a story of abuse and deprivation at the hands of someone whom we trusted.  Or we may return to the horrors of sex abuse and physical assault when telling our story.  The common thread with each one of our stories is the final surrender of the pain and suffering to an unseen, unfamiliar power.  We somehow, miraculously, discovered healing and acceptance.  We recognized and embraced our inner beauty and greatness.  We became willing to believe that our past lives, though never to be forgotten, should no longer be baggage to slow down our journey through sobriety.  And with each passing clean and serene day we discovered a special place where eagles soar, water runs deep, and grass is green, a place where peace and kindness greet our morning sun.

Drunk and reeking of alcohol, I met my unseen, unfamiliar Higher Power in a bar room as I staggered past a man who grabbed hold of me and said, “Son, do you want to be free?”  My blurred vision couldn’t really focus on the man and upon finally making my way to the door, turning around to see who had spoken to me, he was gone.  I demanded of the bartender,

“Who was that man that just grabbed me by the shoulders?”

“Sir, it’s just you and me in this bar room.  Nobody else has been here in the past hour.”

Do you want to be free?  Free of substance addiction, free of behavior addictions, free of self-imposed hell?  Lean into the Master and receive your miracle.   Matters not whether we name it Higher Power, the Source, God, or Spirit, the salvation we seek will welcome us with open arms and a hearty,

“Welcome home, son.  I have been waiting for you.  Now, come just as you are; sit with me for a while.  We have some catching up to do.”


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NAOMI KLEIN – capitalism

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photo by PIXABAY

NAOMI KLEIN, “NO IS NOT ENOUGH” “With unleashed white supremacy and misogyny, with the world teetering on the edge of ecological collapse, with the very last vestiges of the public sphere set to be devoured by capital, it’s clear that we need to do more than draw a line in the sand and say ‘no more.’ Yes, we need to do that and we need to chart a credible and inspiring path to a different future. And that future . . . has to be somewhere we have never been before.”

We know, we all know that the violence, hatred, greed and intolerance in today’s world cannot be sustained.  Most of us also know that the destruction of the earth’s resources for financial gain cannot be sustained.  We must transcend to a place where polar bears and rain forests are more esteemed than stock portfolios and asset holdings.  The consequences of ignoring the pleas of nature will be dire.  Do you hear Mother Earth screaming?  No, she’s not calling to us for assistance; rather, the scream is at us for being so stupid and self-indulged.  She knows the earth will recover and flourish – we, homo-sapiens, will not.

Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, referred to the melting polar ice cap as ” a wonderful economic opportunity for international trade…..West to Asia shipping routes across the ice free Artic would cut shipping times by 2 to 3 weeks.”  Perhaps Mike would be ecstatic with the prospect of Atlanta, Georgia, becoming a major Atlantic seaport after the waters have risen to cover the entire eastern seaboard.  Charleston and Savannah will have gone the route of ancient fabled Atlantis.  That’s right, Mike.  Who needs polar bears?

Naomi Klein, in her book, is speaking to unfettered capitalism, the kind that doesn’t value polar bears and rainforests.  But, run-away capitalism relies on all of us playing the game of consumerism.  It’s a relatively new game plan that did not exist generations ago when the wood cook stove was an heirloom handed from generation to generation or the wooden furniture was truly made of wood and lasted for centuries.  My grandmother’s first encounter with “throw-away” was a roll of paper towels.  She washed out the sheets and hung them behind the stove to dry.  😍

We can beat the capitalists at their own game.  Don’t buy their products and the money flow reverses.  When the bottom line for stockholders declines, management and ownership will need to change the game.  It’s not at all complicated.  My grandparents mastered consumerism out of necessity.  The family car was not replaced until the wheels no longer turned.  The old Frigidaire refrigerator in the kitchen was not replaced just because it did not have the latest gadgets and dials.  It served faithfully for 30 years with a freezer that served up hundreds of gallons of home made ice cream.  Designer clothes for school were not purchased every year because we all wore clothes without fancy name tags until they had no wear left in them.  Our shirts were JC Penney hand-me-downs.  We learned how to conserve natural resources because we had a deep reverence for the earth.  Too simplistic, you say?  Just learn to say no to the incessant flow of advertising on your media screens and half the battle is won.

Of course the consequences of allowing the corporate world to rape the earth are huge.  But, so are we.  Collectively, we have a voice bigger than anything that comes off Madison Avenue or Wall Street.  Each one of us can decide today to put off that new phone or flat screen.  We can choose to have a vegetarian dinner tonight instead of beef raised on land that once was a rain forest.  We can wear that same old pair of sneakers for another year.  Grandma and Grandpa will be proud of us.  The polar bears will love us.

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“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth.  All things are connected like the blood that unites us all.  Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it.  Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”  TREATY ORATION 1854 CHIEF SEATTLE