Studying Gnosis

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February 8, 2023- This week, my main thrust is aiding three groups of students in their study of the culture and legacy of ancient Greece. Gnosis is a generic Greek word, meaning “knowledge”, though it has come to connote knowledge of a spiritual nature. “Know thyself” is the first of three admonitions, inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. There is no time in life when self-awareness is more crucial than during the period of life known as early adolescence. So, study of the great figures of historical Greek culture-and reading some of the knowledge they imparted can provide a good measure of assurance to a struggling 11-or 12-year-old.

The teacher whose class I am covering is taking her students through several multimodal activities, in each of the cultures they are studying. Each student had to research a key figure in Classical Greek culture-from Draco to Sappho, and including Archimedes, Solon, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle and Euclid, among others. The material, of course, is age-appropriate, so there is no graphic detail provided about certain elements of that ancient realm.The lessons are of the enduring gifts sent us by the Classicists: Plane geometry, architecture, romantic poetry, the the of law, existential philosophy, dramatic plays, competitive sports, clinical medicine and basic democracy. The students also learned to write the ancient Greek alphabet, itself the precursor of both the Roman and Cyrillic scripts, and to fashion the design of the period.

Most essential, though, is that each person knows that what they carry within is a treasure to be nurtured and shared. He or she also will see that people persevered through some tough times, and that they, too, can devise creative ways to do so-with some of these perhaps becoming part of a future great legacy. If this lesson is enshrined in the child’s psyche, then this teacher, and I, will have performed a service.

Some Gave All

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February 5, 2023- On February 3, 1943, four brave men stood, arm-in-arm, on the deck of an Army Troop Transport vessel, as it was sinking after having been hit by a German torpedo. They were military chaplains, who had given their own life jackets to four scared young men and seen to it that those men went onto a life raft. The four chaplains died, along with over 200 others, for whom there was no room on the rescue rafts. They died praying with those men.

I had the honour, for a second time, of reading the biography of one of the chaplains, as our American Legion Post held its Four Chaplains ceremony, this afternoon. All gave some; some gave all. This ceremony reduces grown, hardened men to tears-proof of what I mentioned in the last post. To respond to one of my critics, the fact that some women engage in dissolute behaviour has nothing to do with the presence of nurturing energy in men, nor is it proof of gender equality. The actions of the four chaplains, and of countless men who have engaged in similar acts of love for their fellows, are the definitive proof.

All gave some; some gave all. I can only hope that, if I am called to such an action, that I will find the strength to carry it forward. Some gave all.

Who, The People?

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February 2, 2023- Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning. Legend has it that this means six more weeks of winter. Other animals did not see their shadows, thus there will be an early spring. People, like prognosticating animals, are of different minds about the same thing.

A heartfelt message appeared recently, asking me to re-consider support for the “Wokies”, who were “brainwashed”. The message cited “We, The People”, as its source. This group wants to “take the country back”.

Another group, also “We, The People”, notes that a good part of the nation has been disenfranchised in the past, and some are at risk of being disenfranchised again. They strive to “take the country forward”. So, who are ‘The People”?

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a wise woman said “All means all”, whether some are heroic and well-grounded or cowardly and self-centered. She has a keener sense of an answer to the above question. The Eternal brought all human beings into existence. Some, adopting a belief in self-reliance, grow into a conservative, business-oriented philosophy or go even further, eschewing virtually all dealings with government, above the local level. Others, adopting a communalist stance, grow into a progressive, social-justice oriented stance or go even further, eschewing any dealings with “the elite”.

We are ALL “The People”. There are countless examples of people in public life savaging each other one minute, and being compelled to seek each other out, the next. The recent exchanges during the selection of a Speaker of the U.S.House of Representatives are a mild example. A few years ago, a member of one faction of the House encountered a fellow passenger in medical distress, on a flight from Washington to Phoenix. He summoned a member of the opposite faction, with whom he had been arguing almost incessantly in the course of House business, and the two managed to save the suffering man’s life.

The best thing that can happen to any soul is to be put in a situation where interaction with someone who has an opposite, or challenging, take on how society ought be organized, is in the best interests of both. There are no “POSes” or “wastes of DNA”.

We are ALL “The People”.

The Rocks Are The Ones Who Endure

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February 1, 2023- The young man privately explained his actions, wanting to make sure that I understood and was not swayed by the chatter of others. I determined that it would be best for me to mainly observe what everyone was doing, and pay close attention to his teaching style. All in all, he led well, and engaged the students, through some rather tough subject matter. The other staff followed his lead and maintained a unified front. it was a good day.

In times past, I have been inclined to take the side of a woman, in disputes, especially if the man comes across as bombastic and patriarchal. Time has shown that this is not always fair-and that women (and girls) can certainly be devious and less than truthful as well. It is the subsequent behaviour that often gives the culpable party away-and I am not surprised if both are at fault.

Yet, it is the person who is direct in communication, sure of self and able to cut through the fog of others’ machinations and misinformation who gets my support and confidence. Often, that has been a woman, but it is MOST often the person who is being shut out by a small coterie. I have been in that situation, countless times, and so am more inclined to offer the outlier the benefit of the doubt. That happened in this case, and I am confident that the students are in good hands, all around. It’s been a good three days, even if I was mainly a fly on the wall.

Those who are towers of strength, who withstand buffeting winds, who are rocks, are the ones who will endure. Those who yammer and undermine would do well to stop, look and listen.

The Vagaries of Snow

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January 30, 2023- I recall a time, Thanksgiving Day of 1983, when the National Weather Service forecast a 100% chance of snow, for our community. The sun shined brightly, all day. There haven’t been many days since, that the NWS has been that far off base. We did learn, though, never to base either hopes or fears on anyone’s weather predictions. Penny even had had her own system- Open the curtain and look outside.

Teachers in our part of Arizona have come to like the “two-hour delay” that accompanies snow and ice on our roads, early in a given morning. It is a safety feature, of course, and allows all concerned to not have to rush out the door. Parents and guardians may feel differently, if their work or other schedules are disrupted, but such are the vagaries of weather.

The forecast, for today and tomorrow, called for snow. There was little, if any, and today was business as usual. At this age, I take things as they are and work accordingly-and so it went, nodding sympathetically at the grumbling and just doing what was needed, so that the students had a productive day. Of course, it is nicer when one can report to work at 10, instead of 8, but we signed up for a job that includes an early morning start.

January is about done, and February is expected to be dry, so whether I am working in a school, or off somewhere with the Red Cross, the days look to be fairly routine, at least as far as the skies above are concerned.

Monstrous

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January 27, 2023- Frankenstein has never been alone- at least in the minds of onlookers.

The characters in a recent historical fiction series about World War I traded the insult “Monster!”, with some regularity, as the decidedly monstrous acts, which some of them indeed committed, came to light. “Women at War” pulls few punches, in delineating both patriotic acts and inglorious schemes-among both French and German adversaries, in the early days of the “Great War”. Few of the principals are spared the consequences of their flaws, sometimes almost immediately following their acts of honour and heroism. Only two-a priest and a brothel owner, consistently behave in a truly wretched manner.

“Monster” is a seldom used word, these days, as we focus on origin stories whenever encountering despicable acts. In my life, I have encountered few hideous souls-and even they were made, not born, into monsters. I learned the details of the last one’s life, even as she was doing her utmost to freeze my soul.

I have only been so characterized once, by someone who had scant room to talk, though his life experience should never have happened, especially to one so young. When children seem monstrous, almost invariably, they have had diabolical role models, whose actions should not be witnessed by anyone. The only question is, “How far back does the monstrous lineage go?” Hitler, after all, was raised by a hideous father, whose own story foreshadows his child’s descent into demonism.

I ponder this tonight, in thinking about the most recent spates of massacre by firearm. I know many people who believe, honestly, that firearms are necessary for self-defense. None of them would think, for a moment, of using a gun on a child, or other innocent person. In each of the recent cases, someone who is either filled with self-loathing, or has been indoctrinated in the ideology of fear, has carried out an assault on innocents. Time, and juries of their peers, may well cast the perpetrators of these crimes as monsters.

For now, each of us has to weigh our own actions, daily, and rise above our own basest instincts. Let us defend innocents from those who would harm them for their own gain, and not harm anyone in our own right.

Speed The Plow

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January 26, 2023- It is amazing, in some ways, how my inner thoughts and feelings have changed thus far in a new calendar year. The cosmic focus is said to be more inner directed this year, than last. There seems to be much truth to that, even in the early weeks of the year. My thoughts, as I drift off to sleep, are less other-directed-a good thing, given that one can’t do much to help as slumber approaches.

Nonetheless, what I want for myself-and by extension, my loved ones, is more focus and keener insight on what can make each of our little worlds a safer, healthier place. As this first of three intense work weeks winds down, I have experienced some progress in that regard-and have continued to stand firm in the face of some opposition to my work, actually turning things around with a couple of naysayers, in a span of three days. I have yet to win a couple of estranged friends back, but everything needs to happen naturally and organically.

A small conflict over the process of a certain medical check-up was resolved, yesterday, and I reached a compromise with the government, so the check-up will take place in a month’s time, which is actually better for me-as March and September will be the check-up points, and I am already committed to Home Base at the beginnings of those months.

The process of what needs to be accomplished this year is starting to accelerate. As the plow forges ahead, I promise to keep it moving straight, and not to upend the soil to an unhealthy depth, but rather to mix the minerals and nutrients in a beneficial way. Let all activities this year help to bring a spiritual bounty to all those I love.

No Retrogrades

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January 25, 2023- When I’ve been asked how my day has gone, over the past week or so, I can honestly say very well. Work has been good and while I have seen only a few friends lately, in person, the vibes I get, even online, are of high positivity. In a “hero to zero, and back again” society, that strikes me very well, as giving the present lack of planetary retrogrades a fair amount of significance. This may be attributed to the air of forward thinking, of not going over old ground, that seems to happen when all planets do not appear in retrograde, with respect to Earth.

I actually am not rehashing old conflicts right now, for what it’s worth. Rather, the energy that is coming from within right now is concerned with helping a small group of students advance and being of more help to those who ask my views or for my help, without second-guessing myself. So, there does seem to be a fair amount of truth to this planetary retrograde phenomenon, recognized by cosmologists and astrologists, but discounted by those whose worldview is more rooted in tangible, earth-bound practicality.

It also helps that there is slightly more daylight now, as is usual for late January. Personal energy, though, begets solutions to long-standing problems, large and small, and generates ready answers to questions from others that appeared intractable in the dead of winter/heart of retrogrades. Plans may now start to be made in earnest, for Spring through Autumn and long-standing issues actually get resolved. This feels, the cold aside, like an early Spring.

Dignity Above All

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January 22, 2023- It was well said, last Monday, “all means all”. Any decision made, with regard to the life of an unborn child, will hopefully place the utmost value on that child’s quality of life-as well as that of the mother. The decision, one of the heaviest that any human being is asked to make, must be made by the mother-not by politicians. I’ve made that point several times, and will let it stand.

I carried a sign around Courthouse Plaza, this afternoon, a tolerated but not entirely welcome act, in the midst of a highly politicized march that was billed as a Women’s March. The message, well-crafted by someone else, stated simply: “We march on, for equality, fairness and justice for all.” All means all-and the implication, that this applies even to those who do not subscribe to a given political stance, is nettlesome to a few. I see that this is greatly evident among those who are of the opinion that an authoritarian regime is the best way to solve all the problems besetting a given nation-all the while ignoring the track record of totalitarians up to now. Invariably, the elite of both Right and Left enrich themselves at the expense of the vast majority of their fellow citizens.

In the end, no one who might have been opposed to the march bothered the participants, and only one or two of those gathered bothered with me-one of them helping to carry the sign for a while, before walking off in a huff, from some unknown slight. The kids, and their mothers, remain more important to me than any political operative-of any stripe. It was gratifying to see a dozen or so young women scattered among the marchers, taking charge of their own dignity, making it clear to the others that this is their struggle now and will be carried out on their terms. Later in the afternoon, I stopped in at a restaurant across from the courthouse and was greeted by a young woman who was grateful for those who spoke up on behalf of her generation’s rights.

The future belongs to those who do not slam the door on people with whom they might not agree or on those whom they regard as “irrelevant” to the process. The future lies beyond emotional fits, self-aggrandizement or making veiled threats against others. I may be of an older generation, but I stand with those who could be my children, or grandchildren. Hopefully, as those discomfited by my presence see that I am not going away, they will also place more value on working with the young, rather than carrying on ideological battles of times past.

Human dignity matters more.

Breathing Room

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January 17, 2023- Fifteen people graced the Founders Room, in Prescott Public Library’s main building, this evening, as Prescott Peace Builders presented a documentary on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The film reviewed what each of us present have lived, with regard to Civil Rights era and Dr. King’s role in the attainment of Civil Rights for African- Americans. What those rights boil down to is space for a physically, economically and politically hobbled people to breathe, to live full lives.

No one has said that anyone is entitled to a perfect life; no one IS. There is, though, plenty of space for freedom from being the target of assumptions from those in power and those who enforce that power. I was raised to not cross the street, when approached by a person of colour, or a person dressed in tattered clothing, or any given individual who was not acting in an obviously menacing manner. I was taught that when anyone asked for directions, they were to be given clear directions, in the most polite language possible. Essentially, every human being who crossed my path was to be treated fairly.

Those teachings became part of my being- and made getting over the subliminal messages, from the wider community, a whole lot easier. I have made my share of mistakes and have had to root out many microaggressions, but the foundation I got from my parents has eased the recognition of the Oneness of Mankind. It also made incorporating the admonition about never ASS-uming anything, about another person or group, a whole lot easier.

The day as a whole was marvelous: Safe drive to Phoenix and back; excellent dental check-up; three great meals-breakfast at Wildflower Bakery, lunch at Local Jonny’s and a bowl of soup for dinner, at Mob Burger-each served by a congenial soul. Then, there was the above-mentioned gathering, the second of three such meetings, honouring Dr. King and his legacy.

There is much breathing room, for yours truly, so far this winter.