emma gonzalez

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photo by SIMON MATZINGER

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” EMMA GONZALEZ

We rise every morning anticipating a great day filled with joy, happiness and safety in our daily endeavors.  We hug our loved ones as they go out the door about their day’s agenda.  We expect to see them later, don’t we?

We know life has no guarantees, but we trust in goodness and mercy.  Emma Gonzalez chatted with friends before classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas not knowing that there were a few whom she would never again see alive.  Shots rang out, young people were murdered and Emma’s life was changed forever.

One would think that fellow Americans would rally around the survivors who, on that morning in Parkland, witnessed life’s hell.  That’s who we are, isn’t it?  Many good people responded with open arms and words of consolation.  One would think that a nation in mourning over the losses in this tragedy and so many prior school shootings would come to terms with its obsession for weapons and violence.  One would think that, wouldn’t they?  So, what happened?  No, seriously, what has happened?  Emma and many of her protesting friends were ridiculed and name-called.  Some were mailed death threats.  Congress debated, state governments passed band-aid laws to placate their constituents and then the next school shooting devastated more families and communities.

It seems like years ago, but the Parkland shooting happened just last year on February 14th.  We saw the rally in Washington, D.C., we were amazed by the crowds and dignitaries attending and marching.  We said that this event will surely change the minds of politicians and effective gun legislation will be enacted.  Seriously? What happened?

In her new release, Madonna gives a shoutout to Emma Gonzalez incorporating parts of her speech in the lyrics.  Please take a few minutes to listen and reflect not only on the events of that horrific day, but also what we have become as a people.

May 03, 2019 · Madonna, in a statement shortly after the release, revealed that she wrote “I Rise” as a way of giving a voice to all marginalized people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their minds. She added that as 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of pride, she believed the song will encourage individuals to be themselves, speak their minds and love themselves. MADONNA – “I Rise”

“They say a good guy with a gun stops a bad guy with a gun — We call BS! They say guns are just tools like knives and are as dangerous as cars — We call BS! They say that no laws could have been able to prevent the hundreds of senseless tragedies that have occurred — We call BS…” EMMA GONZALEZ

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HERE COMES THE SUN – serenity prayer

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photo by JOHANNES PLENIO

Perhaps it’s an age thing – at this advanced chronological time in life, the ways of personal survival which have been learned and applied successfully over a lifetime, no longer hold validity in the eyes of the ‘younger ones’, those who are far more intelligent and cognitive.  Perhaps their ways are more sensible for today’s times; but, my way is exactly that – MY WAY.  And I still like my way.

Ahhh, did someone get out of bed this morning with an attitude?  You?  Spouse?  Children?  Neighbor?……Me?  Even the normal yoga, meditation, and exercise routine did not prepare for the annoying, “Well, you should do it my way, it’s better,” from the first interloper of the day.  Hmmm, go back to bed and start over?

Politicians, telemarketers, door-to-door salesman, Bible-thumpers can be annoyances.  Car salesmen, loud rap music, insurance agents, Republican neighbors, slow drivers in the passing lane can be annoyances.  But, loved ones should not be.  We call them loved ones because we love them and they love us.  And that’s all we need to know.  Let’s not categorize them as annoyances.  So, how can we do that?

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things (insert people) I cannot change….”

“…courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Yes, a few simple words with a huge promise can redirect my day, and yours.  Memorize the serenity prayer, say it out loud, repeat it again and again and again until you mean it.  And then receive the blessing of unbridled serenity.

and now that you are calm and serene….here’s an annoying thought from a Texas lawmaker

Responding to a vaccine researcher who urged Texas lawmakers to reverse the upward trend in vaccine exemptions – ” state Representative Jonathan Strickland told Dr. Peter Hotez to ‘do our state a favor and mind your own business.  Parental rights mean more to us than your self-enriching science.'”  VACCINATION IS SORCERY

PLEASE GIVE 4 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO LOVE OUR EARTH

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HERE COMES THE SUN – give thanks

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Somewhere in our world the sun is always rising – unfailingly.  It doesn’t need my permission or your approval.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do the same in our daily routine?

The most difficult part of my day are the first few hours upon rising.  Do I want to be awake?  Do I feel like swinging my legs over the bedside?  Will my first steps be pain filled or comfortable?  What should I do first?  What appointments do I have?  What chores must I do?

STOP!  Just stop.  Rewind the tapes and start over.  Let’s open eyes to the surroundings of a peaceful bedroom – the colors of the walls which are soft and relaxing, the whir of the ceiling fan bringing cool air to my face, the photos on the nightstand, the heirloom hanging on the wall, the cat quietly stretching and waking up with me, the smell of bacon being prepared by my spouse – it’s going to be a great day.  Ahhh, the anticipation of the first cup of fresh coffee.

No, don’t get up just yet.  Yes, of course there is time for a short gratitude list.  What am I grateful for this morning?  More importantly, whom am I grateful for?  Thank you for breath, for health, for peace, for companionship, for the roof over my head, for sobriety.  Now, sit up, stand up, fill those lungs with fresh air, feel the beat of a steadfast heart, raise those outstretched arms upward and thank the sun for shining on us, for making our earth a paradise for all to enjoy and a treasure to protect.

and now…from the wisdom of climate change deniers

Yes, there is a silver lining to the catastrophic melting of our polar ice caps…

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.”  SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO during a presentation to the ARCTIC COUNCIL in Finland.

PLEASE GIVE 6 MINUTES OF YOUR TIME TO LOVE OUR EARTH

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HERE COMES THE SUN – rise up joyously


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SEBASTIAN VOORTMAN photographer

If I were a miracle worker, every child on earth would have a breakfast waiting for them on the kitchen table, every mother would have the resources to feed her family with nutritious foods, every father would have a job that provides for a comfortable home, every morning would fill the house with cheer, sunshine and laughter.

But, I am just me.  So, I guess the little things I can do to make this world a better place will have to suffice.  Feed myself in a way that leaves food on the table for the next person, live my life without excess comfort, bring whatever cheer I can to those less fortunate.  Love the Muslim brother and sister down the street the same as I love me.

HAPPY RAMADAN, MAY WE SHARE TODAY’S SUNSHINE EQUALLY AND JOYOUSLY.

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KUDOS TO CORA

(FILE UNDER MEN OF COURAGE & MORAL CHARACTER)
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Alex Cora, manager of the 2018 baseball World Champions Boston Red Sox, has confirmed that he will not attend a White House reception with his team this Thursday stating his native Puerto Rico has not sufficiently recovered from Hurricane Maria to celebrate.

“We still have a long ways to go,” Cora said in regards to the state of Puerto Rico. “That’s our reality. It’s pretty tough to go celebrate when we’re where we’re at. I’d rather not go and just be consistent with everything.”Alex Corasmiley 3

from here to eternity

burt lancasterHmmm, sounds like a great title for a movie.  From the collective “huh” I’m hearing, I must assume many of you young’uns don’t remember Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra, Ernest Borgnine and a host of Hollywood celebs in the 1953 movie.  It follows the tribulations of three U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Hawaii in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Actually, I’m not here to do a movie recollection.  Let’s talk about eternity.  Let’s discuss from here to eternity.  Assuming we are all living in the here, where are heaven and hell and when is eternity?  Several years ago as I was dangling from a stepladder picking oranges from my prolific side yard tree, three strangers – a well-dressed lady and two gentlemen in suits – strolled onto my yard.

“Hmmmm,” I thought to myself, “either the FBI has caught up with me or it’s Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The tracts and Bibles they were carrying were a dead giveaway that it was not the FBI.  I love my JW brothers and sisters, I love anyone who has a passion for living by a moral compass and sharing concern for the plight of mankind on this earth.  But, I have never understood the invariable first line of their proselytizing speech.

“Do you know where you are going when you die?  Where will you spend eternity?”

With all the kindness I could muster teetering on a ladder with a bucket full of oranges, I did my best to reply calmly to the three, “No, I don’t know and you don’t either.”

I don’t know and you don’t either.  For us mortals, assuming the cloak of humility necessary to unfailingly believe “I don’t know” is one of the most difficult hurdles on a spiritual path. Every one of us has wanted to know the inside scoop about heaven, hell, and eternity.  Does it exist?  Where is it?  Who is there?   My grandfather, a deeply devout, humble trekker, advised me years ago, “if your grandmother’s mother is in heaven, I’m telling St. Peter to send me to the other place.”

I loved that man.  He was unassuming, gentle and faithful to what he believed to be truth.  During his final years of life, grandpa read his Bible every day and prayed a lot.  I believe he got all his loose ends tied together before he died, but never did he tell me how or what to believe.  He never shared with me what he believed unless I asked.  Even then he was very careful to advise me that heaven, hell and eternity were mysteries that each man and woman must address within the sanctity of their own inner spaces.

That is, perhaps, the greatest challenge to anyone who treasures the words of Sumi – “It’s your road and yours alone.  Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”  Or, as the words in Hamlet advise, “To thine own self be true.”

With so much noise spilling from pulpits and the mouths of proselytizers, it can be difficult to discern personal truth and follow personal moral compass.  Most of us have not yet mastered living in today, so why saddle ourselves with questions about eternity?

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be still and know

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Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup is overflowing.

Be persistent in asking.  When in that quiet inner space, don’t be timid with requests.  The answer will always be ‘yes, no, or not now’.  But, whatever the answer may be, be assured that our internal GPS has got us covered and will bring us safely to the next plateau of life – if we heed our inner voice.  Very simple, degree in rocket science not required to know what our conscience tells us in those quiet moments.  The secret, if there is any secret, is to slow down, be silent, still the wandering mind, and listen.  Ask for guidance and it will be given.  Be still and know.

Seek joy and happiness relentlessly.  Life around us changes with every passing moment.  We must also adjust.  Our central core of understanding has an amazing capacity to adjust.  What was yesterday’s ‘golden oldie’ is today’s old fogey flashback.  When we hang on to the ‘way things used to be’ we are stifling what needs to happen now in our continuing growth.  Doesn’t mean we should give up values, the moral compass which has been a lifetime beacon; rather, it means evolving those values to make sense in today’s crazy world.

Centuries ago when one element of society disagreed with the beliefs and actions of another, it could find a new, uncharted continent to settle and follow its philosophy.  Vacant, unexplored land has disappeared and it has become a matter of species survival to learn co-existence with a variety of races, creeds, and religions.

Namaste🙏

it can be heaven or hell

you can choose where you abide

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“….there’s a place to go where the eagles fly high, the rivers run deep, the grass is lush.  In that place there is peace and kindness, no violence nor intolerance.  Whenever solace and rest are needed, this internal heaven can be right here and right now or we can allow it to carry us a million miles away.  Joyfully, in that space the good vibrations of the soul embrace a higher calling.” (1)

“Most of the world religions have some concept of heaven and hell. Why? Because human freedom matters. We have to be given the freedom to say no to love and life, and one word for that is hell.” Fr. Richard Rohr (2)

LIFE…yes life can be heaven or hell.  It’s a choice each human must make regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof because it has nothing to do with religion or faith or concepts of God.  This choice is life’s golden ticket.  Have you ever been amazed by the man standing on the corner with a cardboard sign asking for food or work and upon talking to him realizing that this man is happier than you are in your comfort and material security?  Or, conversely, speaking to your wealthy neighbor at the grocery store who is buying steaks and lobsters for a Sunday dinner hosting twenty relatives and she is absolutely distraught because her investments earned only $125,000 last year?  Heaven or hell – we choose where we spend life.

Why spend precious ‘now’ moments reliving past transgressions, reviewing years-old grudges against others, fearing the current political scene, comparing yourself to the Joneses next door who just bought a new Mercedes, feeling angry because your co-worker, Mary, got the promotion you wanted?  STOP! just stop and look at the roses in your garden, the great kids or the terrific spouse you have, the reliable pickup truck parked in your driveway.  When the last breath is drawn, that stuff and those resentments will not matter.  What will matter is how the miraculous gift of life was used to serve and to enjoy.  We choose how we use life, whether we opted to spend it in heaven or hell.

Living in a state of awe and amazement over the multitude of blessings bestowed is not only for monks and mystics.  We, too, can participate.  It’s our choice.  How we communicate, how we conduct our interactions, what mindset we entertain will be our heaven or hell.  We must be very conscious of where we allow the mind to traverse.  Much of the world seemingly opts for a life lived in hell.  Why?

“As we observe our politics, antagonism appears to be the primary style of communication today—how to fight and win, how to be suspicious, how to be hateful, how to tell lies. Who can we exclude now? Which race, religion, or group is unworthy? (All in the name of God, remember!) That’s simply hell right now.”  Fr. Richard Rohr (2)

(1) GOOD VIBRATIONS

(2) https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/

 

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My friends, this is happy music.  “Good Vibrations” was a hit in 1966 composed and produced by Brian Wilson.  It’s the stuff which entertained us at sock hops, cruising down Market Street on Saturday nights, picnicking at the beach.  THE BEACH BOYS popularized a genre of music which did not focus on the Vietnam War, protests, and street violence.  Their toe-tapping sounds gave way to the soul’s underside with the advance of THE ANIMALS, ROLLING STONES, BOB DYLAN, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX, DOORS carrying us to darker spaces.

A blogger, unless blogging for profit, tends to trek through hills and valleys of creativity.  Some days simply do not inspire anything worth writing.  It could be laziness, but the truth of the matter is that quite often the weight of the world is overwhelming.  Wearied to the core by social, political, and religious upheavals continually bombarding all the media screens and soul’s conscience, there are times when retreat is necessary.

For many Vietnam War era men and women, the protest days are over. Instead, there’s a place to 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.  Whenever solace and rest are needed, this internal heaven can be right here and right now or it can be a million miles away.  Joyfully, in that space the good vibrations of the soul embrace a higher calling.

Namaste. 🙏

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“I have seen something that will haunt me to the end of my life. That there were children, little children. And what they had done ― ‘they’ I mean the enemy ― they had dug pits. It seems there was no room anymore in the gas chambers. They would throw those children in the flames, alive. That we have seen that and not gone crazy is, that’s a miracle. … For a while I thought maybe I, maybe I was still a prisoner of my nightmare.  But then I met friends, and I told them the same images, and I found documents corroborating it. What we have seen, it’s true.” (1)

No, don’t ever try to fathom the depraved depths of mankind’s inhumanity towards fellow man.  It’s a place too dark, too evil for the soul to enter.  But, we must remember the hell which had been leveled against innocence, against the children and the helpless, against men, women and children who did not fit the acceptable pattern of Nazi Germany.  We must remember these horrors lest that cowardice occurs again in the world of the 21st century.  Today’s political events indicate that we are not above the hatred and intolerance which permeated the white nationalist mindset ushering in the 3rd Reich and its Holocaust.  Never forget the history of mankind’s capacity for darkness and evil.

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(1) ELIE WIESEL