Upon going through my usual morning rituals, I found a message on my phone, informing me that I was expected to start up a Non-Governmental Organization, the purpose of which would be to “save the world’s destitute children.” I was to found the organization and become its president.
Just so we’re clear, this is the wish of an over-exuberant online contact, whom I’ve never met, but who regards me as a family member. What is also clear is that I will help this person with legitimate goals, but I am NOT going to undertake the founding of an NGO, and become its head.
I will always strive, in an unofficial and voluntary capacity, to help the children of this world and support those of normal working age, whose careers are still underway. I will be 70 years of age, in late November, and while I realize that the election just prior to my birthday will be between two septuagenarians, that is THEIR choice. After forty-four years of working, I will be finished with being at someone else’s beck and call. I will still be robust, but am not working 60 hours a week.
My inner being is getting attention, especially during this period of sequestering. I am, and will be, taking part in the Harmonic Convergence that is goiong on, from today until July 14. Spirit guides, who these days prefer to be called Soul, are still telling me to prepare for time on the road, later this year and early next, and to go abroad, for much of the next four years.
Jesus once alluded to the fruits of presumption as despair. I take each day as it comes.
This morning, as I stirred my brain, I noticed that someone had stomped away from this page in anger, over what apparently was my disagreeing with those who see things strictly in black and white terms. (No pun intended).
I’ve always marched to my own drummer, and have seen no contradiction between the fierce independence and love for tradition of the conservative and the unconditional love and inclusivity of the progressive. It’s always the extremists, the disquiet ones-often, but not always, self-centered and self-absorbed, who wheedle their way in and among those on both sides of the aisle-and sow doubt.
I don’t buy their wares. I personally share all four of the traits mentioned above. As I’ve mentioned many times, my upbringing made this second nature. There is a hole in my heart, right now, in feeling that each side, more than ever, feels shut out by the other AND is more than willing to “simplify” matters, by reacting in kind.
Regarding historical figures, I remind one and all that every person who has ever lived is a complex, imperfect and not universally-loved figure. Public figures are all the more subject to this. Abrahma Lincoln, for example, was as enlightened on the subject of race, as a Midwesterner of the mid-Nineteenth Century could be expected to be. He opposed the expansion of slavery into Kansas, saw that slavery was an organically dying institution in the North, and thus focused his Emancipation Proclamation on the Confederacy-both to crash its economy and to release people from bondage. We have no idea how Reconstruction would have played out, had he lived through his second term. Yet, those who rush to judgment point out his having said that Blacks would never be equal to Whites (Lincoln-Douglas Debate, 1858) was proof of his undying disdain for the Black race. The eminent historian Henry Louis Gates, Jr., however, leaves the door open, seeing the 16th President as being on “an upward arc”, with regard to his views on the subject. (“Lincoln On Race and Slavery”).
Here, for good measure, is also an assessment of his 1862 condemnation to death, of 38 (out of the 300 who were convicted) Santee Sioux warriors, in the aftermath of the Mankato Massacre. While not exactly sympathetic to their particular case, he was beginning to pay attention to the degradation being suffered by the Plains tribes. Again, it may be argued that he was on an “upward arc”. Then came Booth.
I maintain my own independence of both left and right, and seek only to grow further in the light. If I disagree with anyone’s baser points of view, it is for that reason alone. I love you all, regardless.
In the end, the Fourth of July observance at Mt. Rushmore did not result in death, explosions or wildfire. I don’t share, in wholesale fashon, either the conservative or liberal vision of America’s future-but I see good points in both.
I believe in hard work, and I believe in equal pay for that hard work. I believe in preserving, and learning from, history; I also believe in not sugar-coating the hard aspects of that history. If a story is brutal, tell it anyway. If a story is uplifting, so much the better.
I believe in freedom to innovate, and I believe in following a fair and just set of laws-which do not fall victim to either the urge for vengeance or the urge for unbridled anarchy.
I see many good things that have come out of our hybrid culture. I also see much room for improvement. I see goodness in a pioneering spirit. I also see that it is only a good thing for this country to acknowledge and celebrate the foundation that was already here, with my First Nations ancestors, when that pioneering spirit took root on the periphery of this continent, and our neighbour to the south.
European-Americans have given much to our society, but they are far from the whole ball of yarn. We would be, and could still be, a lesser nation, were it not for the African-Americans who are yet rising from the ashes of enslavement; were it not for the First Nations, who already had a civilization when Europeans arrived; were it not for the Asians who built the transcontinental railroads, only to be kicked and beaten, literally and figuratively, by those who saw menace in what they did not understand; were it not for the Hispanics, who also predated English-speaking people, in much of the country.
Some, on both ideological ends of the spectrum, have given in to a subculture of fear-with its propensity for violence, for lies about the other side and for hubris about the “superiority” of their arguments. In both cases, there is much anger, rooted in pain. That is why, while cutting off and deleting messages and comments that I know are completely false, I will listen to those of any philosophical position, who come from a place of truth.
No group of people is lacking in value, in strength, in beauty, in worthiness.
I stayed in, all day, except to step outside, this evening and appreciate the stars and Moon. The galaxy and, in the late night, our solar system neighbours, transmit a certain energy, that does affect our moods and can impart spiritual energy, if we are open to it.
Most of us realize that there is no point in planning to travel out of the country, as long as we, collectively, represent a definite threat to the well-being of people who have largely done their due diligence, have suffered from their own homegrown cases of the pandemic virus and who have embarked on a road to recovery.
That has not stopped some of the more innocent and tender-hearted souls among my friends in other countries from contacting me over social media-asking when I am going to add a Whatsapp account (not until at least 2022, when I still hope to visit Asia and the Pacific basin); when I will get to Africa (2023) and when I can write up proposals that will help energetic, but uneducated, farmers get assistance from NGO’s. I have already begun sending one group some information about Microgreens-a labour intensive effort that will bring a highly nutritious means to food security. Actually putting together a scholarly “grant-type” proposal is not something with which I have much experience-but it’s something I can try, which will certainly be more beneficial to people in disadvantaged communities than sending them money- a simplistic and, ultimately, debilitating act.
The rest of the world does not want Americans to flood out of this country, in the midst of the pandemic. At the same time, the rest of the world is not going to let Americans just sit behind these borders and act as if the people of other nations do not exist-nor should they.
No matter how dire things get, between now and October-or even beyond, we remain one human race and only by caring for one another as for ourselves, can we truly rise from whatever rubble piles up-and shine again.
The year masquerading a decade is halfway gone. I see my preferred candidate for president is back-going to be with families who have lost a loved one, to show support. I see there is no end to the egoism and snarkiness of people who claim to be in the avant-garde (There is no such thing, in reality). I see no end to the rage and mayhem that are on the agenda of extremists. I see that schools will be closed here, until mid-August. I see that the wisest of parents are letting their children breathe fresh air and get a goodly amount of sunshine. I see people are arguing, because that is the only thing that seems permissible in the name of fighting the virus.
My Cosmic Advisor says to focus on what we are for, not what we are against. So, I am for microgreens; hydroponic food projects; grassroots efforts to tutor and safeguard children; listening to one another-without feeling the need to one-up or dominate; taking natural supplements; supporting troubled pregnant women and teen girls-so that they don’t subject themselves and their babies to abortion; relieving police officers of both their need to use excessive force and their being required to perform social counseling services-because the designated social agencies are too caught up in office politics and stroking the egos of their agency heads; supporting local small businesses; people learning new skills.
The year that is masquerading as a decade is halfway done. There are many things which I support.
In the sport of American football, it is frequently said that “The best defense is a good offense.” This has made its way into the legal profession, as well, and seems, unfortunately, to be widely applied in many areas of life these days.
When both sides are engaged in offense, with no room for discourse, the cacophony is exhausting. I recently stated that judgment, in its true state, was reserved for the Divine. A member of my own Faith roared back that, essentially, he had every right to judge someone whose behaviour was obviously reprehensible.
Well, no, he does not. The defensiveness that leads to viciously attacking another person is rooted, completely, in insecurity. The same is true of political extremism, right and left. It is also found in religious fundamentalism, which exists in EVERY Faith on the planet. Jim Morrison, of the Doors, once sang, “People are strange, when you’re a stranger. Faces look ugly, when you’re alone.” The problem is, the more one attacks others, the more s(he) is likely to savaged in kind. We see the Far Right (QAnon, etc.) claiming that the Left is a collective tool of the Fascist “Deep State”. We see the Far Left (Antifa, etc.) returning the volley against the current Administration. This back and forth is fueled, as well, by the inconsistencies and secrecy exhibited by both sides. Secrecy, outside of an individual’s private business, or military strategy, is rooted in insecurity.
I was raised by parents who taught there is always a grain of truth to what someone is saying. Acknowledging that one truth CAN be a way to help the errant person move away from those beliefs and sentiments that are problematic. No, it may not work immediately. It may not, in some cases, work at all. It is, however, something to consider.
The best defense is, actually, being in it for the long haul.
Each day, as I walk downtown, Granite Mountain rises above the northwest horizon. I have hiked to the summit,twice. The first time was in April, 2011, with Aram. The second time was after I returned from Europe, in September, 2014. As it happened, the photos from that second climb were lost, when in a relapse into my mental fog of 2011-13, I put the SIM card into its slot in the computer, without using the guide sleeve. That took care of most of the photos from the latter part of my European visit (Metz, France to Berga, Germany and Frankfurt, Part II) plus Granite Mountain, Part II.
So, as it had been six years, anyway, and ,there is a two-day cooling off, before the July Oven heats up, I took a hike up Granite Mountain-not all the way to the summit, but to the closing-off point, past which peregrine falcons are in the last part of their nesting season.
I wanted to make this trip more about Granite Basin and Blair Pass, the approaches to the peak, anyway, so this was especially worthwhile.
Here are some of the scenes of those areas, and the lower part of the mountain.
All told, I met five people along the trail, including the runner. It was thus a bit more active than six years ago, when the only soul I met was a young lady, who appeared out of nowhere, took my picture and disappeared just as quickly. I encounter souls like that, every so often, but not today.
This was a perfect day, in an area where perfection can come as easily as a brief walk to a bouldered area for a picnic as from a hard march to the summit. I stopped upon hearing the first faint peeps, then headed happily down.
I listened to a couple of Bluegrass bands, this afternoon, as well. One of them was comprised of three little girls, who sang cheerfully and intensely. Listening to them move seamlessly through a nearly one-hour set, I had only one thought: Long may they know only peace and safety.
Yesterday, at the same time of day, I was participating in a wrap-up of a Unity Week Conference, online. We collectively traversed four socioemotional roads: Via Positiva; Via Negativa; Via Creativa; and Via Tranformativa.
The first, as the name indicates, was an acknowledgment and celebration of all in one’s life that is positive. We sang, swayed and shared happy sounds. The second, opposite to the first, was an acknowledgement of all that is negative in one’s life. People laid on the floor, wherever they were, and were given permission for catharsis. Many moaned, cried aloud, screamed and wailed. I was glad the neighbours were not coming to the window to check on me. Having had an emotional release, after watching a gut-wrenching video on the reality of the Confederacy, on Friday afternoon, I was pretty much catharsized out for this one. It was good for those who have been through extreme trauma.
When we came back together, it was to acknowledge the pain, as a group. We then proceeded on Via Creativa, and tapped into the inner talents and creative energies of each of us. Finally, we gathered in small groups, discussing, very briefly, the possible transformations we might bring to bear, from this conference and into the work that will lead to Peace Weekend (September 20-21). This longer road is Via Transformativa.
I had thought that July and August might be quiet months of toeing the line of those loud voices demanding that everyone stay in their homes. Upon reflection, though, avoiding criticism from the Left, or from the Right-for that matter, is not what is going to bring peace to this world. I have to leave Home Base, if necessary, to do Red Cross work, to help plan this event in September and if need be to go to the sides of those who are suffering.
The key to overcoming COVID19 lies not in timidity, nor in maintaining the appearance of ideological purity (a chimera, at minimum). It lies in being sensible about precautions (masks, yes, but mainly hand washing and being aware of one’s surroundings) and in obeying actual laws-not loudly expressed opinions.
Today was largely spent in a Zoom conference, concluding Unity Week, an 8-day conference, in which I only obliquely participated, largely through addressing topics that need to be faced, if true unity is to be achieved. The closing sessions, therefore, caught my undivided attention, addressing the Four Roads one must traverse, in reaching a point where contributions to society will be meaningful.
More about these Four Roads (or Vias), in the next several days. This evening, my mind went back to simpler times. I walked downtown, after the conference had reached its closing remarks and extended farewells. The aim was to sit up on the roof of Raven Cafe, and catch the salsa and funk that was emanating from the rooftop’s makeshift stage.
Wouldn’t you know it? There was an hour’s wait, for any spot on the roof. I’d already eaten dinner at home, anyway, and so went up the street to Frozen Frannie’s, and grabbed a refreshing cup of goodness, then headed further, over to the Courthouse steps, enjoying pina colada and berry frozen yogurt. A group of children buzzed around me, alternately sliding down the short incline, tussling, and engaging in a game of hide and seek. It’s always reassuring to see that, COVID or no COVID, life is going on, and parents are taking their families to places where fresh air and exercise are not monitored by draconian elements.
After enjoying my frozen treat, a seat in front of a tree beckoned, closer to the Bluegrass band that was occupying a festival stage. Sitting on the lawn, taking in a bona fide North American art form, was a perfect ending to the evening. Another group of kids was dancing up a storm, twirling around, as the band played the songs of Bill Monroe and John Prine, among others. When it was time to get up off my haunches, I noticed something was missing from my childhood: Grass stains. Lawns sure have changed, in 60 years.
It’s been hot and dry here, this month, as it usually is in Arizona, during the month of June, and often during the first half of July. There are high clouds, that keep the sun from becoming too blazing in intensity, and sometimes, we get the cooler air that’s left over from the storms that are hitting the Rockies and Great Basin. The monsoons, though, come from the south and southeast of us.
The very ground, though, doesn’t usually sizzle. I feel it starting to smoke, this year, though. Earth has a memory, of how her children, whose remains lie in her near crust, have been treated- often in the name of profit; sometimes in the name of convenience; most often in the name of ego gratification-which takes the other two along for the wild ride. She also has a memory of how she herself has been treated.
Reckonings have, historically, been very hard-and are resisted by those who are being asked to face the music. So it is now. There are events that have already happened and those yet to transpire, which have caused, and may cause, me to wince. Many of the great national heroes of our past are being lumped with those who challenged our country’s more enlightened social constructs.
The Confederates, even with the attempted revisionist history of the period 1985-2015, are still relatively easy to relegate to museums and scholarly study. I have visited Stonewall Jackson House, in Lexington, VA and learned that he taught his male slaves to read and write-using the Bible as text. I have learned that he was an organic gardener and herbalist. I recall thinking that, well, Hitler was a vegetarian. There is a difference between Thomas Jackson and der Fuehrer, in terms of degree of supremacism. Nonetheless, Stonewall OWNED people.
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, and John Tyler each owned people. They did great things for the Nation, but they OWNED people. The Presidents from the northern and midwestern states didn’t own human beings, but they supported the institution of slavery, to one extent or another, right past the Emancipation Proclamation (which only freed the enslaved people of the states which had seceded). New York City even had a plan to secede from the Union, in 1864, to guard Wall Street’s investments in cotton and tobacco.
All Presidents, with the possible exceptions of William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, had blindspots when it came to the First Nations-and, except for Lyndon Johnson, none had a true sense that African-Americans were the equals of European-Americans. There were limits to how much the country was willling to do, to set things right.
For purposes of this post, I will stop by saying that “Liberals” and “Progressives” do not have a sterling track record, when it comes to empowering and working WITH those for whom they claim to support. There are many paternalistic efforts being made, which only draw the condemnation of conservatives and their supporters among the African-American and First Nations communities. Doing things FOR people has only resulted in a lack of progress for these communities.
I remind those on the Right, though, of two things: The Democrats who actively engaged in segregationist policies, until 1970, or so, became Republicans, at the invitation of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, in the 1970’s and’80’s. Donald Trump is accelerating that effort, in the current era. Secondly, there is still a climate of fear being stoked, by the leaders of both parties, but the Republicans are in charge-and can fire up the machinery of pushback.
Personally, I see value in some aspects of both sides of the aisle. There remain these, however: African-Americans, for lack of a better collective, are not “Negroes”, “coloured people”, or even “people of colour”. There is no “Negro Problem”. Native Americans, asking for their land titles, are still not intent on destroying long-established communities with diverse populations. I was in Maine, duirng the Penobscot Land Settlement. The once and again owners of 2/3 of the state’s land did not evict anyone from that territory. The settlement was legal and financial, not socially disruptive. It was gratifying, as the Penobscot Nation includes some of my distant relatives.
Both sides would do well to get past hatred of the other and dispense with any air of superiority, especially when approaching the communities about whom they claim to care.
Here is a link to a very important, and challenging, presentation. It is worth a lot of thought, in my humble opinion. God bless America.