life-sustaining society

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

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“If there is to be a livable world for those who come after us, it will be because we have managed to make the transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society. . . . While the agricultural revolution took centuries and the Industrial revolution took generations, (the Great Turning) has to happen within a matter of years. It also has to be conscious—involving not only the political economy, but the habits, values and understandings that foster it.” —Joanna Macy – Pace e Bene

Can we do that?  We, who have been the most voracious consumers of this earth’s resources, who have built an empire on the backs of slave and immigrant labor, who have tilted the political process in favor of the corporate elite, who have widened the gulf between the prosperous and the poor, who have thumbed our noses at environmental consciousness….can we do that?  Not over the course of centuries or generations, but within a few years we must make our decisions.  Can we build a life-sustaining society which honors the entirety of creation?beard-beggar-face-35015

 

RESTORATION

photo of path in between woods during autumn
Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

YES MAGAZINE

Years ago when living in Pennsylvania, it was a short Sunday afternoon drive to the mountaintops of the state’s share of the Appalachian Trail.  An autumn trip on interstate 81 provided spectacular color and views of the surrounding countryside.

Unfortunately easy access to this mountain interstate also provided to the city of Philadelphia an inexpensive place to dump their garbage and to international corporations cheap land for construction of gigantic distribution centers.  Landfills and warehouses began to dot the views along the roadway.

Strip mining for coal also became more profitable because of the interstate access.  It was cheaper and easier than the shafts and tunnels of traditional mining.  Huge gouges appeared in the previously pristine landscape.  Pennsylvania was not the only victim as other states such as West Virginia suffered the same pillage and rape.

I receive newsletters from YES MAGAZINE via e-mail.  Today’s mailing details the recovery efforts of one such mining area in West Virginia.  Dedicated environmentalists, enlisting local residents facing unemployment due to a decline in coal mining, are attempting to build farm communities over the filled-in mines and covered-over landfills where the devastation occurred during the past decades.

Granted, it’s an economic undertaking to improve the lives of local residents, but can we also see these works as acts of love directed to restore our Creator’s creation? Love is not only for mankind, but for every mountain, every river, every forest, every tree, every creature put here for our enjoyment and need.

“I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce.  But you came and defiled my land and made it detestable.”  JEREMIAH 2:7

Scroll to the bottom of the page provided above in the YES MAGAZINE link for a free subscription to their newsletters.

is it still night?

 

monk holding prayer beads across mountain
Photo by THu00c1I NHu00c0N on Pexels.com

How can we determine the hour of dawn, when the night ends and the day begins?
‘. . . when you look into the face of another human being and you have enough light to recognize them as your brother or sister. Until then it is night, and the darkness is still with us.'”

—Sheila Provencher

Pace e Bene

EMANCIPATION

The word emancipation has been used frequently over the past few days – and it should be.  When we can celebrate together as One the freedom of all, we will then be socially emancipated.  All groups of immigrants coming to America’s table of equality desired emancipation – Germans, Irish, Asian, Catholic, Muslim, etc.  It’s an innate destiny to live our lives as designed and intended by a Higher Power.  Our nation is unique in that we have historically welcomed any who wish to be  a part of our melting pot culture.  Lady liberty, standing in New York Harbor, shares these words:

“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!”

But, emancipation is more than the freedom granted by society.  It is also personal and spiritual.  That shameful habit that we have hidden within hoping no body would discover our little secret, that unlawful act we committed decades ago, that extra-maritalPicture1.pngconfession (2) affair with our best friend’s wife….all waiting for the grace of emancipation.  It can happen only when, “we admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  STEP 5, TWELVE & TWELVE, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Getting honest is not a fun thing.  It can be heart wrenching and difficult.  The Big Book tells us to be fearless and thorough in our personal inventories.  But, there is a light at the end of that dark tunnel.  It is the freedom brought about by the emancipation of our souls.  For some of us it is a return to foundational principles learned young, but then squandered during our addictions.  Come to the table where equality dwells and find your freedom now.

“…..if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  JOHN 31-32

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Christian blinders

St. Francis of Assisi was raised by his wealthy father in luxury and social privilege.  He loved to party with his young friends and remained isolated from the poverty which was the norm for most of society during the Middle Ages.  His transformation occurred while riding away on horseback to join the Crusades, a worthy undertaking for a man desiring to prove himself to his family and friends back home.

Lepers were social outcasts who were feared, according to stories about Francis, greatly by the young man.  Approaching a leper along the highway, he turned his horse and rode quickly the other direction not wanting to see or engage this man who was rejected by society.  However, whether by conscience or whether by God, Francis could not remove the image of the diseased man from his mind, decided to turn around, determined to face this fear and spent time with the leper thus conquering his unfounded prejudice.

St. Francis, Jesus of Nazareth, Clare of Assisi, and documented mystics throughout history laid the foundations for a Christian philosophy which transcends popular belief that sin is the inherent nature of man and that ‘salvation’ is the goal of faith.  Contrary to this contemporary Christian doctrine is the concept that mankind is a community of brothers and sisters who, in loving co-existence with the entirety of Creation, are designed to serve one another in peace and fellowship, engaging those at the bottom of the social ladder in service rather than aspiring to climb the ladder to a promised salvation in a far-away heavenly home thereby avoiding the ‘lepers’ of modern society, the disenfranchised.

In years past, blinders were put upon work horses to avoid distractions in the field or along the road.  It seems that some of today’s Christians voluntarily put on blinders to avoid the dark side of today’s world, to avoid the distractions of intolerance, racism, hatred, white nationalism, homophobia, Islamophobia, homelessness, poverty.

Garth Brooks famously sang “Friends in Low Places” back in 1990.  Could we (and I include myself at the top of this list) search the lowly places for those who have been cast by the wayside, commune with them, walk the talk with them, look beyond that which makes them different from us and somehow connect in solidarity with the One who makes us one humanity?

Perhaps we could get down into the nitty-gritty of humanity, love those whom St. Francis and Clare of Assisi loved, stand shoulder to shoulder with the ones Jesus addressed in the Beatitudes as “blessed”….perhaps then we could shun those Christian blinders (human and doctrinal) which prevent us from seeing the world as it is.

Maybe we need to look in the ‘low places’ rather than the heavens for Jesus?

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my coloring book

 

Remember your coloring books from years past?  Bugs Bunny, Casper the Ghost, Sleeping Beauty?  Great, creative pastimes for young minds.  I became very adept at staying within the lines, using appropriate colors, and displaying my masterpieces on the refrigerator.  It is, even today, a wonderful pacifier for tumultuous times.  We now have digital coloring books.

Well folks, coloring books
ain’t what they used to be.
Below are examples of
what is now available for the parent
who wants his/her child to grow up with……..

the right stuff

 

…….be sure to order yours now just in time for the 2020 elections

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we’ve come a long way, baby

“VA recognizes that Veterans are composed of diverse populations with unique needs and is committed to serving all with dignity and respect. June marks LGBT Pride month and provides an opportunity to shine a light on how VA supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Here we focus on Veterans who identify as transgender.” VA RECOGNIZES PRIDE

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In 1969 I was investigated by ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) for alleged ‘homosexual’ behavior.  I faced a dishonorable discharge if found guilty.  My legal counsel provided by the Navy advised that I deny the charge, “Don’t admit to anything.”

A few months earlier I had been admitted as a surgery patient to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital, my duty station.  The night prior to surgery I was administered a drug which I was told would help me to relax and sleep.  (I later learned that it was sodium pentothal.)  Waking up the next morning groggy, I remembered the dream I had the previous night.  Several fellow hospital corpsmen accompanied by the head of hospital security interrogated me about my sexual activity.  As I learned later that was not a dream.   I was drugged and questioned thus leading to the investigation.

The charges, however, were dropped.  I was a naïve, 22 year old, scared to death of being discovered and just happy to let the entire fiasco rest in peace.  Today my response would be different, but that was 1969, I was a GI (government issue) with no rights and I resorted to my most accessible escape – alcohol.

I thank God that members of the LGBTQ+ community today do not face the same intolerance that I feared as a young man.  The crusaders, the marchers, those who suffered injury and death, the men and women who were abused for living their inner truth – to all of my brothers and sisters in PRIDE – a huge hug and thank-you for making it possible on this day for a gay veteran to read about the  VETERAN”S ADMINISTRATION welcoming us as part of their family.  It’s not perfect, but BABY WE’VE COME A LONG WAY.

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kumbaya

So all you white folks think another round of ‘kumbaya’ sitting by the campfires is going to fix this problem?  Really?

Black Americans, Latino Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, gay Americans, Muslim Americans, immigrant Americans, poor Americans, Native Americans, disenfranchised throw-away Americans, almost all those who have not been living in ‘privileged’ white America would probably disagree.

Racism, bigotry, intolerance, hatred will not disappear with legislative work, more laws and Constitutional Amendments, additional streets named after black people, Pride parades on our streets, and conciliatory memes on social media.  Protesters of differing skin tone marching with linked arms carrying meaningful signs are a start, but when America finally reckons with the malignancy which has been festering in its heart, only then can healing begin.  It begins when each of us looks deep into the heart which directs our lives, takes an inventory, does a housecleaning, and strives to treat others the way he wants to be treated.  Very simple Bible School stuff – the Golden Rule.

That healing will see communities fostering tolerance and inclusiveness, churches welcoming all neighbors, job and educational opportunities available to all, local governments working for every citizen, each man caring about the welfare of his fellow man.

There are those, mostly unaffected by racism or hatred, who want to maintain things as they have been for many generations.  There are those who pray every day for equality and opportunity for all.  There are those who don’t really care.  And, of course, there are those sitting around the campfire singing kumbaya thinking, “what do we have to do to placate the groups who have been abused?  What do we have to give them?”

It can’t continue this way.  America has to fix its heart problem.

American preachers, if they claim Christianity, must begin to preach what the Gospels teach – love and brotherhood, the community of mankind, the ministry of Jesus.  If the preacher-man’s message is not one of inclusiveness, love and service to all of Creation, if he is spreading the gospel of merited affluence, the gospel of exclusive white rights to eternity, then that preacher is spewing lies from his pulpit.

American governments – national, state, and local – must abide by the Constitutions and laws which they have sworn to uphold. Those laws promise equal justice and equal rights to every American.  No man is more equal or more privileged than another.  No man is less protected or less entitled.  Sadly, the truth of our American justice system begs to differ.  We must change that.

American social-media (ah yes, the media screens) must be held accountable, without encouraging censorship, for the ideas, thoughts, and words that are allowed for public consumption.  Is it too difficult to believe that the colonial framers had never imagined the vicious vitriol and lies that would someday claim protection under the 1st Amendment?  We must become responsible for self-policing what we allow into our heads and what we accept as truth.

American teachers, dedicated to a difficult and thankless job, must be the most open-minded of all of us – they are expanding our children’s minds to the world of new ideas and concepts.  Our willingness to fund excellence in education says much about who we want to be as a society.

American parents, you are wonderful, but from whom did I learn the n-word?  When did I begin to believe that 12 year-old me was somehow superior to the migrant laborers who worked the fields in the summer?  Who taught me the words to ridicule the lone Jewish boy in my school? Parents, your children are all ears and eyes.  They are listening and watching and then replicating.  What do you truly want them to learn from you?  Are your prejudices and fears being passed on to the next generation?

HEART WORK.  We all have a lot of heart work to do.  Are you willing?  Am I?  Our country is depending on all of us getting this right.  No more mushy kumbaya moments.

LOVE

 

 

 

the beast vs beauty…and the winner is?

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…..instead it should be that or your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”  1 Peter 3:3-4

How’s your good heart today, how’s the beauty of your inner self?  In today’s trying times we cannot give in to ugliness; if we do, then ugly has won the battle.  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all allude to a creation (yes, that includes us)  that is made in the image of God.  We are made in God’s image.  We are created beautiful.  Our inner selves are made of nothing but beauty.  Let that beauty outshine all the ugliness that the world throws our way.

beauty and ugly

from tinybuddha.com courtesy of unitarian universalists

 

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