The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 33: Staying Un-Ugly

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July 3, 2020-

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.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 25: Monumental Possibilities

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June 25, 2020-

I see that Arizona’s Confederate Memorial, ensconced on the State Capitol’s Wesley Bolin Plaza, is cleaned up and the focus of more civil protests than that of a lone vandal, who splashed red paint all over it. The namesake of the Plaza himself had a checkered record on Civil Rights, having grown up in a rural area of west central Missouri, and adopting a “live and let live” attitude towards the former Confederacy. He readily permitted the erection of this monument, in 1962, and spoke at its dedication. At the same time, he did not stand in the way of the advances made by nonwhite people in Arizona, after the passages of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Many argue that Confederate forces were fighting against the United States of America. The heart of the matter is a bit more disconcerting. They were fighting FOR a vision of the United States that was doomed to failure-secession or no secession; victory over the North, or not. Chattel slavery was either abolished, or on its way to abolition, in the countries which had fueled the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, in the first place-by the time Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, in 1863. This table gives a complete account of the installation and abolition of both slavery and serfdom, from ancient times: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_abolition_of_slavery_and_serfdom

It remains, though, that slavery is reprehensible, in all its forms. There is much to be done, in eliminating the chattel aspect of imprisonment, for example. Finally, there is enough civic awareness for people to recognize that the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution contains a loophole:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The involuntary servitude part has been used as justification for inmate labour, for nearly 140 years. More people than is often recognized have been incarcerated for relatively minor offenses, and the majority of these have been Black-or Native American.

Last July, I visited the South Carolina State Museum. It has, in aquiet corner of the first floor, a Cofederate Relic Room and Military Collection. There, and in small museums in Charleston and Greenville, is where the first state to secede from the Union, in 1861, has chosen to present its Confederate past. There are statues around the state, as there are across the South-and across the nation. These will continue to be problematic, as we move towards a true sense of unity in diversity.

My own thought is that, no matter where the statues, flags and memorabilia of the Confederate past are presently found, they are best placed in a current, or future, museum of history- or National Historical Monument. There is already a Museum of the Confederacy, that is nested under the National Museum of Civil Rights. No one is proposing razing Confederate cemeteries, or closing our National memorials to the event, anymore than we would want the institutions that commemorate the War for Independence, French & Indian War, the conflicts between First Nations and settlers, or the Holocaust of World War II, to be shuttered and forgotten. Conflict is a hard teacher, but it is a true one, and must remain so, if we are to avoid reverting to the very behaviours that brought on the conflicts of the past, in the first place.

We are already witnessing severe proposals, across the country-to remove memorials to just about every historical figure who had blind spots, when it came to some, or all, people who weren’t white. This has extended to other parts of the world, as well. Washington, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt despised Native Americans; U.S. Grant was of two minds towards the original inhabitants of this country; Churchill despised anyone who wasn’t European; Gandhi had to overcome his bigotry towards Africans. When it comes down to it, most of us have had to go through personal growth, when understanding and fully accepting people who “don’t look like us”.

Nelson Mandela had it right: Reconciliation, not revenge, is the most promising path forward.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 15: By Definition, Part 2-Does Behaviour Define Us?

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June 15, 2020-

I referenced traits,yesterday, in considering how people sometimes define who they are, by their external qualities or, unfortunately, how OTHERS see them.

We have also reached the point where many are judged, defined, by something they did, or said, years or even decades ago. There will always be those who look under rocks, to find fault with others. There will always be those who jump out from behind a bush, and scream: “I remember when YOU did this to ME!”

I am not referring to heinous crimes, like rape, molestation, gross physical assault, calumny or theft. Those need to be brought to justice, and there should be no statutes of limitation. I am referring to personal slights that are stored away and used like traps-often by mentally ill people, for whom treatment is a far better option than revenge.

Essentially, what I want to say here is: For those personal slights, those shortcomings that were not heinous, I will apologize, and I claim the right to live the changes I have made in my life. Everyone else who is in similar straits deserves the same right.

These are what define me: Unconditional love; commitment to the health and safety of children, adolescents, women and the elderly; commitment to equality and dignity for all, regardless of physical traits, level of development; sexuality or philosophical stances; the prevalence of humaneness over profit-motive or doctrine.

Each can find redemption. Each can make the change.

Ad Hoc Authority

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May 26, 2020-

I began reading the National Geographic, for the month of June, whilst doing my laundry, this afternoon. One of the opinion pieces, about the effect of satire and humour, in getting people to understand science, contained the curious statement that “most scientists” agree the GMO-foods are safe to eat-and that Jimmy Kimmel says they’re safe to eat, as well.

I have never heard Mr. Kimmel speak, about anything. When people talk about dietary or nutritional matters, their main frames of reference are: Their dietary needs and preferences; their investments (GMO foods are lucrative) and their aversion to what they see as lapses in efficiency (Small farms and organic methods are often cited as being “inefficient.”)

I also have a problem with “most…….”. It reminds me of the phrase, “They’re all doing it”. Not being a lemming, or a sheep, I have to weigh trends in my mind, before followong along. Nebulous citations, or quoting lay people, who may or may not be authoritative, or articulate, are not altogether convincing.

Many of the problems into which we have fallen, today, are the results of having followed the words of the loudest voice in the room. Ad hoc authority figures have risen up, at various levels of national life-and in other countries, as well. They set policy by feeling their way. I have to caution my readers, to revert back to conducting scrutiny, to the best of your ability, and not taking anything at face value.

Things that may, or may not, be safe, are not ascertained by saying “The scientists say it’s so!” What scientists? Working for whom? Where are their studies, and the peer reviews, published?

Dreams Not Deferred

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May 21, 2020-

After visiting the newly reopened American Legion Post 6 and stopping by Bill’s Pizza for a couple of slices, which I then enjoyed at a park bench, in Courthouse Square, I headed along North Cortez Street, and made note of more places re-opening, this coming weekend.

It was another of life’s sublime pleasures, to see a fairly good cross section of our area’s graduating high school seniors, lining up in their vehicles-sedans, trucks, SUVs and Jeeps, preparing for a motorcade through downtown, after which they would go to Pioneer Park, on the north side, for a group celebration. I stayed around and cheered all of the grads, as they drove by my perch on the outside of a long-defunct Chinese restaurant.

This group has been challenged to complete their course of study, in ways not seen since World War II. People of my parents’ generation may well identify, yet at least they got to finish school in their buildings. This spring semester, at all schools, has been an intense swirl of innovation-much of it accomplished on the spur of the moment. The best of it has relied on inquiry and discussion, followed by students coming up with solid new ways to accomplish things that had relied on formula, for far too long.

I had little to do with the achievements of this class of seniors, but I did cheer one young lady, a special needs person, who learned the value of setting personal boundaries and safeguarding herself, without, thankfully, having to undergo trauma. She can now take her place among those pursuing, and realizing, their dreams-hers being to work as a cosmetologist.

May each of these remarkable souls make their mark, not waylaid by any future misfortune-either greater or lesser than the one that interrupted, but did not dismantle, their last year of high school.

Staying My Course

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April 19, 2020-

Sitting in my comfortable abode, I am pondering the various reactions to both COVID-19 and to the policies that have arisen in its wake.  I base my own responses, to the cacophany of  ideas, pleas and outright demands that people are making, of one another and of the powers that be, on my inner voice and on the messages from my spirit guides.

1.  Isolate, or sally forth-  Many say:  Stay put, you’re old and at risk!  Others say:  Don’t let the “guvmint” tell you what to do.  Get out and enjoy life!!   Me:  I have lots to do around Home Base, for now.  I can get out, just a bit, support restaurant friends and the Farmers’  Market, with take out orders, wash my clothes and take a nature walk, now and then.  I will hang close to home, until at least June 1.

2.  Get tested, or lie low-   Mainstream health activists say:  Get tested!  Some add:  What’s so terrible about getting microchipped?  Others say:  Don’t trust Big Pharma-or the Gates Foundation!! Diet and exercise will suffice.  Me:  I will get tested, if the public health experts mandate testing for the whole populace.  I would only get vaccinated IF there was a guarantee that no human body parts were used in the serum, not to mention any heavy metals (Mercury, lead, etc.) .  I will never agree to be Microchipped.  I do have a predominately organic diet, free of GMOs and use only natural supplements, derived from therapeutic grade essential oils.

3.  Open society back up, or extend restrictions-  We basically see that ultraconservatives and people of colour are in rare agreement, in demanding that society open back up, immediately.  Watching white supremacists and Native American activists say the same thing is quite fascinating.  The Other Side says everything from:  “Give this two or three more months” to “Whatever we do, let’s not open schools back up until the vaccine is ready-even if it’s August, 2021.  In fact, let’s keep everything shut down until that day comes.”  This scenario-partly pragmatic, but mostly fear-based, is wishful thinking, and would probably require martial law  in order to be effected.  Me: I go with 1-2 more months, with society gradually opening up, in the meantime.  Schools ought to carefully re-open- one month late, in places, in September, of THIS year.

These are my humble responses, or additions, to the cacophany.

 

 

Views from A Deep Place

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April 16, 2020-

The young girl read her poem  She thanked Coronvirusdisease2019, for bringing things to a halt, for making us take notice of one another and for showing us that we need to use our time more wisely.

I joined a Zoom call this morning, with people from Jordan to New Zealand, from Bolivia to Alaska, joining together in prayer, and a short series of Talking Circles, organized by the Four Worlds International Institute, a spiritual connectedness center, run by First Nations people, in Surrey, BC-south of Vancouver.

Most of the time was spent in prayer and thoughtful remarks.  The young girl and her father, Bedouins from Jordan, offered very cogent remarks about the state of the planet and fervent prayers for all humanity to recover fully, from the current crisis. They were followed, not long after, by an Israeli Jew, singing a prayer in Hebrew.

This session lasted two hours, and will be followed, on a daily basis, by a Mayan gentleman, offering  a prayer at sunrise.  It will be followed, on a weekly basis, each Thursday until May 21, by a similar prayers and Talking Circle format.

A Talking Circle, for those not familiar with it, is a small group of people talking from their hearts, one at a time.  Customarily, a Talking Stick is held by the person whose turn it is to speak.  No one else may speak until that person finishes.  A person may not have a second turn holding the stick, until everyone in the circle has had a chance to speak-though one with nothing to share may pass the stick to the next person.

In the current, digital format, the unmute button serves as Talking Stick. Everyone remains muted, except the person whose turn it is to speak.  Six of us, three from Arizona and others from as far away as Norway and Fiji, spoke briefly in introduction to one another.  I am sure the conversations will become deeper, as the weeks progress.

This sort of discourse will be where the ideas for spiritual regeneration come.

Light, Out of Calamity

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March 27, 2020-

In some of mankind’s darkest moments,  advances have come from the suffering, like small mammals coming forth after the Age of Dinosaurs.  These advances, in short order, became a part of the fabric of human culture.

After the Great Plague, of the Fourteenth Century, Europeans began to return to embracing science, rather than superstition, in treating illnesses.  The primacy of Cardinals and Bishops began to face widespread scrutiny, and the stirrings of Protestantism were felt.  The Catholic Church itself had to make changes, under Ignatius Loyola.  Advances in scientific discovery came, as a result of these trends.

After the American Civil War, the Red Cross was started, by Clara Barton, as a means of assisting soldiers, in time of calamity.  It quickly expanded to help society at large, in times of disaster.

After World War I, movements to assist disabled and unassisted veterans, in returning to civilian life began, with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. These organizations still make large scale efforts to assist those who suffer from dislocation, or from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After World War II, mass production of houses, the science of rocketry, television and large computers became part of the civilian world, having been first advanced within the military sphere.  From large, room-sized computers have come hundreds of technological products, many of them falling into the realm of nanotechnology.

Now, we will await the advances coming out of the struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Teleconferencing, already available for business, government and limited conversations between family members and other small groups, has exploded in use, as nearly every group, which conducted its business in person, has found ways to meet virtually. Even when the crisis has ended, I can see the sheer range of teleconferencing leading to its continued wide use among the public at large.  It will also greatly modify the educational process, even more than it has to date.

The retrofitting of factories that produce a wide variety of products, from airplanes to distilled spirits, are now also producing items that will help face the virus.  Ventilators, medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer will still need to be stockpiled, even after this virus has spent its rampage.  Preparedness will not soon, if ever, be relegated to the realm of memory.

There will be many tasks, which the technology and skill sets coming out of the current crisis will need to be called to perform. Not the least of these is completing the still gargantuan effort to provide all homes with clean, running water and reliable heat or cooling.  This work will occupy post-pandemic humanity for years, if not decades.

Out of  the darkness comes a greater light.  Baha’u’llah teaches:

“O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.”

 

 

Staying Golden

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March 13, 2020-

As it happened, Friday the Thirteenth saw the climate of upheaval hit a pause button,at least as far as society as a whole was concerned.  Of  course, COVID19 has yet to run its course, and many are out of work, however temporarily.  Remedies,though, are in the offing, both medically and economically.  Perhaps, by next Tuesday, toilet tissue will be on the shelves, for more than an hour, again and there will be a sense of recommitment to work and study, as colleges and universities at least adjust to online curricula and some level of financial support comes from a Congress that is intending to work through the worst of the crisis.

This is the first open-ended challenge that humanity, as a whole, has had in a good many years.  The other such calamities had human faces:  The Axis Powers; Mao’s Cultural Revolution; September, 2001’s terrorist attacks.  There were natural catastrophes that were more specific, in terms of dates and locations:  Each of the last three viral epidemics; the hurricanes of 2005-until present;  the great wildfires and ensuing floods; the many tornadoes, most recently those that hit central Tennessee.

It is being,and will be, handled better than at the onset.  Governments are learning that the commitment to public welfare needs to be specific, all hands on deck and long-term.  The people are learning that there are times, when being physically distant is an act of love.  Both institutions and individuals are learning to trust science.

We are learning what the Gold Standard, in institutional and social life, actually means.

Transference

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March 6, 2020-

I went into work early today, to have a conversation with my supervisor as to her assessment of my work so far.  I had a concern about how well I was being accepted by the close-knot staff, as there have been some expressions of hostility this week.

I need not have worried.  Both my supervisor and co-teacher are more than satisfied with the work I’ve done up to now.  They both want me to stay and finish helping our special needs student-and I will.

The legacy of Penny’s time and energy with me is, primarily, that she helped me get out of my own little world, giving up alcohol straightaway in 1981, being more present and comfortable in the presence of others, than I had been before we met.  It was, arguably, the first time I truly felt accepted by a woman, outside my family, since high school-when I had relatively little trouble getting along with my female schoolmates-even if I didn’t see myself as “dating material”.    Thus, what I viewed as rejection by others had much to do with my self-rejection.

Penny helped me transcend a lot of my self-doubt.  Some of it resurfaced, in the first years after her passing, but gradually, with travel to Europe, Oahu and northwestern North America, I began to recognize that I was not unworthy of acceptance and true friendship, from a wide variety of people.

My tent is huge.  I like people from a number of backgrounds- so whether their musical tastes are Classic Rock, European Classical, Country, Bluegrass, Zydeco, Blues, Jazz, Hip-hop,  Metal, ( but not “Death Metal”), Powwow songs or Folk, I enjoy their gatherings.  Whether someone is a person of size, svelte, or (like me) somewhere in between, it’s everything else about them-their character, primarily, that matters far more.  The same goes for other physical attributes.  Ditto, with political leanings, so long as the individual is not clamouring for the death and destruction of those with opposite leanings, be they conservative or liberal.  I like my friends to leave their silos and, at least occasionally, listen to the opposite point of view with open ears and minds. Everyone has a piece of the Truth.

So, the most influential soul ever to grace my world still has a day-to-day impact on how I view myself.  The spirit tells me to exude love for those around me, as well as for my own self, as life is hard enough for most people.