Monday, April 30, 2007
A Call To Your Conscience
These two young women are 8th graders from a Jewish school in Denver. They have done impressive work to help the people from Darfur. They raised a few thousand dollars and they have worked with the Colorado legislature to pass a bill to divest from Darfur. Colorado was the 10th state to pass legislation requiring us to divest our funds from companies who do business with Sudan. Click here to find out what your state is doing about this.
From the Save Darfur website:
"Darfur has been embroiled in a deadly conflict for over three years. At least 400,000 people have been killed; more than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter."
We were asked to write to our legislators and the Prez, divest our personal funds from the Sudan, and bring awareness to others (now you can't say that you didn't know about this!).
Did you know that Fidelity invests in companies that help fund the genocide in Darfur?
And did you know that China is not only destroying the culture of Tibet, but they are also supporting the Darfur genocide? See this article from the Brookings Institute: Calling on China: The China-Darfur Connection
Question: Do you think that it is possible for our world to be a loving, peaceful place? Or do you think that people are innately power-hungry and violent? Your comments on this blog are welcome.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Rally To Stop Genocide in Darfur
What if blood was "running like water" in the U.S. and no one cared?
You can find out about an event near you at SaveDarfur.org
If you live in the metro Denver area, I'll see ya at Cheeseman Park at 1:00.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Death or Just Changes?
During our big rainstorm this week, the mountains and foothills got snow. In the foothills, everything came together - wet snow, wind, and water-logged earth - to create a situation where trees broke and/or pulled up out of the ground. My friend lives on 15 acres, and he figures that 150 trees are broken or toppled over on his land. I HAD to see this.
Like my experience last fall in the desert, I saw once again that everything changes. The way we think things are... well they are only that way in this moment.
Does anything die? Or does it just change?
"Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer." ~Shunryu Suzuki
...and BEARS! Oh my!
Bear footprints on my friend's property. He had seen these prints when they were new, three hours before this photo. We followed the trail, but never found the bear. I guess that's a good thing.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
A Thousand Pictures
3 standing tall and proud in the background
3 crouching in the foreground
6 Marines posing in Fallujah, supposedly the "Graveyard of Americans".
6 young, strong men with battle hardened countenances.
6 marines in great health posing with rifles, deep in enemy territory.
How brave they look, how American.
They can go to any country in the world, kick ass and take pictures to show the folks back home what their tax dollars are paying for.
That picture of my buddies and I, is forever in my mind, yet slightly changed.
Private Perez was killed by a car bomber at a vehicle check point.
There's only 5 Marines in the picture now.
Sergeant Silva lost the use of his left leg after a rocket attack and now is addicted to painkillers and booze.
There's only 4 Marines in the picture now.
Lance Corporal Dubois joined the Marines to help conquer his heroin addiction. After 3 years clean and sober, he came home from Iraq a broken man, and turned back to heroin. He overdosed two months after we got back.
There's only 3 Marines in the picture now.
Corporal Allen's stress and emotional problems got the better of him and he started beating his wife and children. 2 years after Iraq he's in prison, without a family.
There's only 2 Marines in the picture now.
Private First Class Anderson got dishonorably discharged for drug use 5 months after we came home. Rather than turn to his family for help, he wanders the streets of southern California, begging for money, food, work.
There's one Marine left in the picture now, and it's me. Am I still alive?
I might be physically breathing, but I'm dying inside. So really there aren't any Marines in that picture and without those Marines it's just a picture of a shattered city in a devastated country.
What Do You Know For Sure???
Do you know it because someone told you?
And why do you believe them?
Is your life based on second hand information?
How do you find your own truth - your own path - that is not really just someone else's story?
I hear so many people telling me how something is, and I wonder how they can be so definitive. I listen to pundits tell us what we need to do and why, and I ask how they can possibly be so certain.
Did you see Bill Moyers last night? Listening to the interviews with other journalists, I really heard how the government wanted the story building up to the war to be a certain way, so they put out their version of truth and the journalists bought the line without checking out any other sources of information. And the story was all made up. And those lies have cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
It is hard to separate out what we experience to be true from what we are told is fact. We are not able to know everything, and we don't feel very cool if we have to say, "I don't know, so I don't have an opinion."
Peter Kenyon, an NPR correspondent based in Cairo who has been to Baghdad eight times, says in the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, "In so many conversations I have about the future of the [Middle East] region someone says, 'You Americans think every problem has a solution. This is the Middle East. Here we know that there are some problems that just don't have solutions.' They may be right."
As an American, the idea that something may have no solution is hard to accept. But how do we know for sure that there is always a solution to things??? Who told us that?
Something to think about...
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Ten Years After
Today is the 10 year anniversary of our move into this home. I have never lived anywhere 10 years before.
Me and Mikey and Buddha and Kitty and Mr. Duck and Mrs. Duck and the Northern Flicker that knocks itself out beating its head on the vent on our roof every morning.
Life is good.
(Every time I see ducks on a pond, the song "Ducks on a Pond" by the Incredible String Band comes to mind. It is a very weird song and I love it. You can hear a part of it on Amazon but if you are able to pull it up on Rhapsody, you can hear the whole thing. It'll grow on ya.
Power Through Deceit
I admire the strength of the Tillman family as they have had to push for truth at the same time they grieve the loss of their son and brother.
Read Kevin Tillman's testimony at a congressional hearing.
Labels: Kevin Tillman
Monday, April 23, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
One Man's Acts of Terror is Another Man's Holy War
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Follow the Women
I wish that I would've known about this before (and been healthier and been in bicycling shape). Maybe next year...
Two to three-hundred women from all over the world just finished a Follow the Women bike ride through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
From their website -
The aims of Follow The Women are to:
* raise awareness of how the current situation in the Middle East affects the lives of women and children in the region,
* show solidarity towards women in the region,
* increase support networks between women all around the world,
* fund a counseling center in Ramallah, Palestine for the victims living in that area of conflict,
* bring an end to violence and suffering in the region.
Showing Up, Part 4
Last installation of
Notes on Action in the World
By Rabia Roberts
(click here for part 3)
Several years ago someone told me a story about a man named Robert Desnos. He was a surrealist painter who lived in Austria during World War II. He was known for his faith in human creativity and imagination. Like many artists during that time he found himself rounded up by the Germans and taken to a concentration camp.
We can imagine the scene there - bleak and hopeless. Hundreds of people lying sick on bare pallets in rows of wooden barracks. They work, they try to sleep. Every few weeks they notice that groups of them have disappeared. There is a gray pallor over everything.
One afternoon a truck pulls up in front of the barracks where Desnos is staying. Young guards herd Desnos and others outside and up onto the truck. It drives them outside the camp where everyone knows the gas changers are. The men are silent, exhausted, and sick beyond despair. The truck stops in front of a brick building and the guards motion with their guns for the men to come down off the truck.
One by one they haltingly jump down. Suddenly Robert Desnos leaps from the truck and grabs the hand of the man in front of him. He turns the palm up and asks, "Here, let me read your fortune! Ah!" he says with his eyes sparkling, "You will have a long life! And many children too!" He reaches for another hand and the message is the same, "You will have a long life! Much success! Many children!" He moves from one to the next, telling their positive fortunes. The men start to laugh. Here they are standing on the edge of death yet eagerly thrusting their hands at Robert Desnos to have their fortunes told.
The young guards are baffled by this joyous energy and the incongruity of the situation. They are thrown off balance. They don't know what to do. Finally they motion with their rifles for the men to get back into the truck, and they drive back to the barracks. A year later Robert Desnos is dead from typhus, but we know this story because many of the men in his barracks survived that day and were freed at the end of the war.
We wouldn't normally consider Robert Desnos a social activist, and by all accounts he was an atheist, but he "showed up " to his moment. Despite being sick he was not numb. His faith in human imagination allowed him to recognize the joy and possibility of life, even in that desperate moment. He wasn't trying to fix anything. He had no idea what the consequences of his game would be. Without calculation he was serving his moment with the fullness of his humanity.
I tell this story because it demonstrates how accessible healing action is to each of us. The potential of each situation, each moment, and our own imagination, is enormous. What limits us is the fixity of our preconceptions and judgments. They keep us from showing up with open minds and open hearts.
And here we can see how the "inner life" of spiritual development and the "outer life" of worldly action align. Freeing ourselves from old patterns of thinking, and relating to our world is identical work, whether it is called spiritual or secular. The work asks us to show up and be receptive to what is, without judgment. Then opportunities for healing arise naturally. And the realm of what is served, whether we see it as outside of us or inside, is the same.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Showing Up, Part 3
Notes on Action in the World
By Rabia Roberts
(click here for part 2)
(Italics below are mine - I find this sentence to be true, powerful, and beautiful)
Action that is creative in this way is an organic process. It rarely comes about all at once. The next step is only apparent when the previous one is completed. It is an iterative process with its own appropriate pace. And this process can seem inefficient, even messy, as differing points of view are aired and debated, or trial projects are started and discarded. But working in this way allows people to explore their diverse ways of understanding what is happening. It also gives each of us more freedom to experiment with who we are and how we can best serve in a particular situation.
This kind of iterative and open-ended approach is not always welcome in modern fast-paced culture. Instead we are schooled to have clearly stated goals, to know what we want to have happen in the shortest possible time, and to have a plan for maneuvering others to our point of view. "Showing up" to the needs of a situation in the way I am describing may seem inefficient or even uncertain. Instead of pushing our beliefs, we listen to others; rather than trying to fix a situation we wait to see how we can best serve what is evolving. Serving a person or a problem in this way rests on the recognition that the nature of life is sacred and that its mystery requires our utmost humility as we engage in the work of healing. From the perspective of service we are all connected; all suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse - and guidance - to serve our world emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.
In fact, "fixing" or "helping" is not a relationship between equals. In fixing we see other as broken. A fixer may see others as weaker than they, needier than they are, and people often feel this implied inequality. The danger in fixing is that we may take away from people more than we give them. We may diminish their self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity, or even wholeness.
When we try to fix people or situations we may feel our own strength, but when we serve we don't serve with our strength alone, we serve with our totality and we draw from all our experiences. Our limitations serve, our wounds serve, and even our darkness can serve. My pain is the source of my compassion; my woundedness is the key to my empathy. Service is a relationship between equals and it heals us as well as others. Seeking to fix the world is ultimately draining and over time we may burn out, while serving the world is renewing.
And we can't serve at a distance. We can only serve that to which we are profoundly connected - that which we are willing to touch. We serve life not because it is broken but because it is holy. We learn that our humanity is more powerful than our experience alone. Personally I find this recognition liberating and the ground of a contemplative approach to living.
Tomorrow we end with part 4
New Shoulders. New Blogger. Who Could Ask For Anything More???
AND I am now FINALLY on New Blogger (whatever that means). I know I now have this label thing to do at the bottom. Any other stuff will have to be figured out when I want to spend some time with it. Anyway, this was a long time coming, and now I no longer feel left out.
Before (16 days ago)
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Showing Up, Part 2
Notes on Action in the World
By Rabia Roberts
(click here for part 1)
And how do I show up? With my questions and commitment to listening. Each year I experience greater humility in the face of all I do not know. I do not try to "fix" those I encounter or persuade them to be different. I listen. Sometimes that is all I have to offer - simply a person willing to bear witness to someone else's reality. In the early years of my work with Elias in the tribal lands of northern Thailand and Burma we asked a village elder, "What can we do for you?" I was expecting a request for money or medical supplies. The village elder replied, "We want our story heard." Throughout our travels we have found that powerful healing is evoked in simply listening to a person's story. Without engaging them from a preconceived position something magical happens when people feel truly heard. A bridge is built and one is no longer a private person concerned only with taking care of me and mine, or maintaining a point of view.
It became clear to us that what we had to give that might be of benefit for these tribal peoples was the ability to bring others to listen to them. For nine years we led "Interfaith Solidarity Walks" into the region bringing westerners and Asians to listen and learn from the Pagayaw (Karen) people. Today these Solidarity Walks still go on, led by a coalition of tribal young people and urban Thai activists. From the hundreds of gatherings and conversations that have occurred because of the Walks, many beneficial projects have been initiated and the tribal people themselves have developed increasing capacity to consider issues together and articulate their deepest concerns.
We had no idea how our lives could serve this situation when we made our first encounter. It would have been easy to think we weren't prepared to respond to an unknown situation, especially since we hadn't created a plan ahead of time. This is what we are taught at school and at work - be prepared! Have a plan and know how you can execute it. What I am suggesting here flies in the face of that advice. It suggests that problems can be solved creatively when we show up to them in an alert state of "un-knowing". This approach requires faith, not only in ourselves but in the world as well.
Each situation has its own information embedded within the relationships that comprise it. If we are patient and curious the natural "intelligence" of the situation will reveal what is needed to heal those relationships. To be sensitive to this intelligence requires that we slow down and learn to hold the focus without needing to drive an agenda. We may need to wait for hours, weeks, or months for the moment when right action is clear. And we may not know for some time what success will look like when the action is complete.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
4 bombs kill 178 in Iraq
More people are killed in Iraq every day than were killed at Virginia Tech this past Monday. I am sad for the pain that the families of the Virginia Tech dead are experiencing. And I am sad for the pain that the families of the Iraqi dead are experiencing.
The sanctity of life is not defined by color, religion or country.
On the way to the hairdresser, I was so happy with my new accomplishment that I started thinking about doing something new and drastic with my hair in order to celebrate the new me.
But I didn't do anything different. Even the new me doesn't want to color my hair or get some kind of cut where I'd have to get it trimmed every couple of weeks.
So, I still look the same.
But I am VERY DIFFERENT. My arms are moving farther and farther every day!
Showing Up, Part 1
Here is part one:
By Rabia Roberts
Living a spiritual life has always included for me both an intensely inward, contemplative practice of liberation from my identifications and judgments, as well as the challenging aspect of outward service dedicated to justice in the world. No matter how much my own life over the years has become more serene and fulfilled, the world continues calling me to respond to its suffering.
How can I best serve? What action is appropriate? Should I serve in my neighborhood or in distant lands? The world's problems are so enormous, what can I do that might make a difference? I have often asked these kinds of questions myself, and I hear many others asking them as well. In these pages I would like to recount a few of the lessons I have learned during my life about spirit, service, and right action.
Several years ago Elias and I met with the late Cambodian monk, Maha Ghosananda, in a Buddhist temple outside of Bangkok. He was known for his work in war-ravaged Cambodia where for years he led fellow monks and lay people in peace walks from village to village, encouraging the distressed population to build the spiritual and civic basis for safety, trust, and peace. During a decade of these walks he was accompanied by thousands of Cambodians, and others from Asia and around the world, walking through the countryside to support these aims.
We met this saintly old monk in a garden of the temple and asked his advice: "How best can we serve our world?"
His simple answer became a fundamental guideline for our own work as activists. He said, "First you must show up. Be present to the suffering. Ask questions. Listen. Then what you are to do will become apparent. Right action will arise from this."
His words were a reminder that healing is an intimate act. We cannot do it from afar. We can pass legislation and devise ambitious projects, yes, but enduring peace is built when people show up to each other's suffering and encounter each other in their vulnerability and common humanity.
We don't have to go far to practice this advice. Showing up in full presence to our aging parent or a troubled adolescent, or volunteering at a battered women's shelter gives us an opportunity for compassionate, expressive action. These encounters stretch our hearts to embrace more of the world. They call us out of our comfort zone.
Four decades ago I went to Selma, Alabama to work with Dr. Martin Luther King in the American civil rights movement. As part of our training to practice non-violence in the face of threats from southern white people, he reminded us that our values are not created by what we read or think. They do not arrive from a sudden outbreak of emotion. Our values, Dr. King said, come from the perspective of what we see when we get out of bed in the morning. It is what we hear, see, and feel each day that determines our view of the world and our place within it. In the end we are moved by the circumstances we find ourselves in. Dr. King urged us to have compassion for the whites who were defending their racist world view because when they woke up in the morning all they saw was the precarious nature of their sheltered lives and privileged positions. I knew from that point that regularly in my life I would find ways to be with those less privileged than myself in order to open my heart to the realities of their lives.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Some springs, we have enough water to flood this low land. If there is water like there is today, the frogs will fill the air with song. I wonder... where do the frogs go when this returns to its arid dryness...
Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail o'er the canyons and up to the stars
"Nobody sees a flower - really - it is so small it takes time - we haven't time - and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time." - Georgia O'Keefe
Friday, April 13, 2007
I thought that the reason that the visualization gave me strength was because I was "doing it for them". But I have realized that it is helping, because thinking of them is bringing my heart to a place of mercy, and thus, I soften.
Now to also find the mercy for myself...
And I look forward to the day when I can soften as much thinking of W as I can when thinking of my dear teacher.
...how easy it is to brush aside another's pain
...the softness of pain when I don't see it as "my pain" - can only do this for just a moment. So far.
...resistance, resistance, resistance
...the pain that is resistance
...the release that comes with tears
...the need for compassion at all times, because hardness hurts so bad
...the CRAVING for a warm, sunny day to toast my shoulders in
...aaahhhhh, the hardness in craving
...and the softness of letting it go
Thursday, April 12, 2007
People like him are not supposed to die.
I fell in love with him in the 70's.
(talking about when he tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope) Oh, she says well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore. - Interview Public Broadcasting Service (2005)
THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED
FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
- Vonnegut's Blues For America 07 January, 2006 Sunday Herald
From Harvey Wasserman's article on Vonnegut last year:
"Our economy today is not capitalism. It's casino-ism. That's all the stock market is about. Gambling."
"Live one day at a time. Say 'if this isn't nice, I don't know what is!'"
"You meet saints every where. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society."
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Just When I Thought It Was Safe...
I don't recommend this for anyone. This sucks.
I started physical therapy yesterday.
I have to do PAINFUL exercises EVERY HOUR all day every day. This is the kind of pain that I would usually like to avoid at all costs. Deep, burning, joint ripping.
So for now, the schedule is:
On the hour - beeper on my watch goes off. Mind tries to think of something, anything, important that must be done before I stretch.
Twelve minutes past the hour - realize there's nothing that is more important that stretching, so begin the work-out
Half past the hour - finish stretching, try to recover
On the hour - Begin above routine again
I'm realizing that I have led a very blessed life. I am learning so much appreciation for what people go through. When I see someone on the street, I have no idea what that person has had to experience in order to get to that moment.
As I stood in the physical therapy gym yesterday, trying to work one of their torture gadgets, my view out the window was THE JAIL. The jail where people are locked and their freedoms removed. The jail where some of my friends spent time last year. Hmmmmm..... On a better day, I think I could find an artful correlation between the Jefferson County Jail, the torture chamber of the P.T. gym, and the limitations of this body right now. But that will have to wait for another day.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
The Fast Runner
The movie took me away to a different world where people had to work together in order for all to get their needs met. Community was critical for survival. Life was simple, while the elements were very brutal.
The movie is based on an Inuit story that is at least 1000 years old. Peter Sellars, when introducing it at the Telluride film festival said, "In most cultures, a human being is a library." We have forgotten that we are libraries!
In the time that this movie was set, it was obvious that when one person caught a seal, the meat had to be shared with everyone. A tribe needed all its members to be healthy and to contribute to the well-being of all. Now, we are so separated from the kill, that the need for community and cooperation is not so evident.
And that is a big loss for our species.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Code Pink's Toy Soldiers video.
How long will it take for us to figure out that IT'S NOT WORKING TO KEEP DOING THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER???
A Good Friday
I am a little spacey from the drugs, but I am HAPPY!!! The procedure was a success! My shoulder joints are ecstatic, but the muscles are wondering what just happened. I won't be posting any "after" photos for a little while, because, on my own, I can't move my arms any farther at this time. I either have to walk my hand up the wall or have someone else move them. BUT THEY MOVE!!!
It is hard to explain the relief that I feel. It's like getting out of a straight jacket - after 4 months.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who reads the blog and lent me their support here, via email, through phone calls, etc. I carried all of that love and support with me and it helped immensely.
I am also so grateful for the staff at the surgery center, all of the bodyworkers who supported me emotionally and physically, and all of my teachers who have taught me practices that were way beyond valuable.
(I feel like I'm accepting some award or something...)
What an awesome journey this has been.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
A Quick Note from Michael
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Stay tuned for "After" photos when I will be bending like a willow!
Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind. - Bruce Lee
Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon, in their article, The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV write about MLK's work during the years 1965 up until his death in 1968. You know, the years that we don't hear about because MLK was speaking against the Vietnam war, our foreign policy, and the structure of our society that allows for deep economic hardship for some while others live in wealth.
From the article: King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" - appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."
"I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of a thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger that evil triumphant." - Martin Luther King, Jr in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 (from the King Center's site)
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
The doctor will put me under general anesthesia, then manipulate my shoulders and break up the adhesions that have caused me to lose sleep and limit my activities.
I am doing what I can to support my shoulders so that they are willing to let go under the doctor's skilled hands.
I am very lucky. I live where I can take hot baths to ease the pain, and I can pay skilled people to give me acupuncture and bodywork. Every day I appreciate the fact that if I lived in another part of the world, I would not have this kind of support.
My sponsored sister (through Women for Women International) lives in Nigeria. She is 47 years old and can neither read nor write more than her name. The house that she lives in has no electricity and no water. She uses kerosene or gas for fuel and gets her water from a neighbor. Oh, and there are 28 people living in the same house with her.
My sponsored sister probably would not be able to take a hot bath every morning to relieve her pain.
Thinking of that, I have even more gratitude for the hot baths I am able to have.
To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance. - Buddha