The Hard Work of True Unity

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May 19, 2022- I was raised to listen to legitimate criticism and to own my mistakes. I was taught that the only real path to peace, in a family or in a community, comes from the commitment of everyone involved to personal growth. My parents said that anyone can be unified with those who say nice things to him/her or who have common opinions and interests. It’s the differences of opinion, however, that teach us the most.

Throughout my life, there have been a smattering of nefarious people, but for the most part, those who have been a challenge have also had useful lessons to impart. Their takes on life was simply different from my own and actually have helped balance this life, often in ways I did not anticipate.

So, I see that there is little for conservatives to gain by shutting out progressives. The converse is also true. The fact is, none of us corners the market on perfection. We don’t deserve to be castigated or made to apologize for our existence nor do we deserve a free pass for actions that will only hold us back later. The same is true with mindsets. Looking at things through different lenses, as long as it does not result in overthinking, or mental paralysis, can help us make more complete decisions.

The other thing about unity is that it never gets very far along, if a decision-maker assumes that his/her way of thinking entitles unilateral action, from a place of privilege. Witness the recent, supposedly informed decision to close an infant formula plant in Michigan. This appears to have been made in haste, based on unverified reports of contamination-which subsequently proved unfounded. Such errors in judgement, especially by government agencies which have scant oversight, only feed concerns-and conspiracy theories, that government is running amok. This is a rough parallel to concerns about police actions that seem to have been done in haste-though it is a fair point that the police are often under far more pressure to decide quickly than are the overseers of public health.

True unity recognizes the dignity, the worth of every soul. It does not excuse wrongdoing, nor does it invite self-serving individuals to subvert the process of consultation for their own ends. Rather, it sees that each one who does make such misguided efforts actually ends up hurting selves as well as the rest of humanity.

So often, it is easy to be fooled by glitz, by sweet promises or by appeals to one’s own long-cherished beliefs. In reality, there is no substitute for rolling up one’s sleeves and getting the hard work done. We’re in this together, and for the long haul.

Embracing The Whole

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March 8, 2022- Two widely-circulated photos of recent vintage have circulated around the Internet. One is the shot of two conservative Congresswomen loudly heckling the President of the United States, during a point in his State of the Union address, last week. The other is that of a small group of Russian teenagers, sporting a nationalist, presumably pro-war, symbol on their outfits.

It is often tempting to think of women and children as universally being the nurturing and the nurtured, thus lending one’s thinking towards their being universally progressive and all-accepting. Such a mindset, not giving allowance for them as complete, complex human beings, besides being somewhat condescending, misses the chance to connect with a sizeable group of people who simply view the world differently-and not always in a bad way.

Those who resist progressive thought may have a thousand different reasons for their views. Not all of it, in fact very little of it, has to do with being brainwashed by men who are seeking dominance and obedience. I have several women friends who have stood up and thrown domineering, abusive men out of their lives-and who hold true to very conservative, traditional values. Many young people have done considerable research, across a variety of viewpoints and media, and still adhere to a traditionalist take on public affairs and personal business.

Where I draw the line, for those at any point on the political spectrum, is seeking to deprive those of differing viewpoints of their right to free expression. Thus, the whole idea of rolling back voting rights is anathema to me, whereas a return to the practices of respect for others, following a modicum of social order, that is based on civility towards one’s fellow humans and taking responsibility for one’s actions, are central to the core of my being. The first concept is a progressive value: Everyone over the age of 18 who is a citizen in good standing should be able to cast a ballot in their community’s elections, clear to the national level. The rest are identified with conservatives, but really do justice to every human being, regardless of where they stand ideologically.

I think of these matters today, as the world celebrates International Women’s Day. Let everyone live their truth, and seek to gently educate those whose statements and actions show want of adjustment, in light of facts.

That Freedom We All Want, and Deserve

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January 17, 2022- About a hundred people marched from Prescott College, to and around Yavapai County Courthouse and back to Prescott United Methodist Church, as the first part of a celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , in mid-morning today. There were both impromptu, and well-known, songs being offered by local musician-activists. and people of all ages gladly joined in, as best we could.

Each year, as this observance approaches, I think about the way Dr. King was regarded by many in my once-ultraconservative childhood hometown. Many adults, including some in my extended family, swallowed the fiction that he was a card-carrying member of the United States Communist Party. When he was murdered, there were some in my high school class who joked and cheered. I personally was disconsolate. It was clear, even then, that he was working for the good of everyone.

Time and more information have combined to moderate the notions that many have about Martin Luther King, Jr., his life and his work. Revelations of his less than chaste activities have long since come to light, but without having the effect-on most people of negating the larger body of his work. It has never been shown that he was anything less than loyal to this country and to its government, despite the best efforts of those opposed to full citizenship for people of colour to discredit him. It has never been shown that he was anything less than committed to the rights of all, even those who opposed him.

There are still people who promote the notion that freedom is a finite thing. Those who crave power, above all else, variously spread the word that, if Black and Brown people are given a full seat at the table, freedom will be taken from those of European and West Asian descent. Others appeal to conservatives of all racial groups, saying that mandated collective action is inherently evil, when it bumps up against individuals creating and pursuing their own destiny. Conversely, there are those who do seek to exclude even those conservatives who are merely seeking to forge a life for themselves, without government largesse. I believe Dr. King would want us to work to overcome our self-imposed limitations, much as he did in his own life.

We all want and deserve Divinely-endowed freedoms and rights. These come with responsibilities-among them the duty to care for one’s children and family members, the trust to take part in the affairs of community, to exhibit a sane and intelligent patriotism towards the country in which one has taken citizenship and beyond that, the care and protection of our planet.

As I later walked with my hiking buddy, in her first foray into nature in several months, the notion that there should be no barriers to a full life, for every human being, other than those they impose on themselves, came to my heart. That there need be no exclusionary elite, but that each should be able to choose working with others or forging on alone, but without throwing up barriers to others who wish to achieve their goals in a different, and ethical, manner, remains my paramount wish.

Freedom is never a zero sum game.

Ten Gratitudes

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November 25, 2021, Grapevine- One of the inherent goodnesses of this day, that is so strangely placed one month after the last harvests have been completed in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, is that so many people nonetheless stop to count their blessings. There will always be those who say they have none, but that is a topic for another time. The Universe will see such people along, in its way.

I spoke with my mother and each of my siblings, earlier today, and being comforted by the overall spirit of optimism that was conveyed. My little family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner, which they put together nicely, within the framework of the usual lunch hour. The meal set me to thinking of those aspects of my life that generate gratefulness. These are what come to mind, in this time of ongoing crisis and victory, and in no particular order of importance:

  1. I am more accepted and honoured, by more people, than at any time in my life. Those who once found me strange have expanded their own viewpoints, either by dint of enlightenment or by virtue of going through life’s inevitable grind. I also find it easier to understand their pain.
  2. My judgment is clearer, more focused than it has been in times past. A good part of that comes from moving away from overthinking.
  3. Every person dear to me is in generally good health. Some are getting over mild cases of COVID, but that is more incidental than chronic. They are recovering and will be back in good stead, very shortly.
  4. Humanity is moving in an essentially positive direction. Problems of living will always be with us, and there will ever be the challenges posed by the wayward, the disgruntled and the egocentric. By and large, though, we have as a species made great strides in facing the gauntlet of a harsh world.
  5. I find much to admire, in a broad cross-section of humanity. The groundedness and tradition of conservatives meshes far more easily, in my mind, with the inclusiveness and innovation of progressives than either group sometimes can countenance.
  6. The youngest generations, even in the one-step forward, two-steps back matter of overcoming prejudice, are showing more maturity, at a younger age, by and large.
  7. It is easier to ignore the wirepullers and shrill voices of negativism than it once was for me. Keeping eyes on the prize of a better world is the only true path.
  8. People at the grassroots are taking back their communities, and not in an exclusionary or hierarchical manner. The elites will find that they must meld with the vast majority of humanity, not the other way around-despite the temporary trends in some areas towards control by artificial intelligence and autocratic structures. As people get over their collective fears, they are banding together in a united front.
  9. The growing awareness that the human body has what it needs to heal itself, and that all that is supplemental to this healing may be found in nature, is a corollary to this grassroots renaissance.
  10. The great Spiritual Teachers, speaking with one Voice, are showing us the way towards an even brighter future for this abundant planet.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 68: Staying Authentic

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August 7, 2020-

There is a fact of life, especially in today’s America, that owning one’s viewpoint, life choices and spirituality comes at a cost. There are always going to be those who think they know your needs better than you yourself know them. Being in charge of own life is not a cakewalk. Others, especially online, will appear, with demands, expectations and preferences, which may or may not dovetail with what one has planned.

You may say, “Well, isn’t that how it is, in ANY social situation?” Yes, and with seven billion and umpty-ump million people on the surface of the Earth, it will get more intensely so. The fact remains, however, that at the end of the day, it is whether I can look in the mirror and honestly say that I lived the day in a state of integrity, hopefully tempered with humility, that makes the day well-spent, or not.

I have been questioned, recently, as to why I might agree with points raised by conservatives, on one day; then agree with points raised by progressives, another day. The answer is easier than it looks. Neither group is qualitatively engaged in refuting the other’s points, with regard to those points with which I am agreeing. For example, if I say an unborn child ‘s life is worthy of EVERY reasonable effort at maintaining its efficacy, that does not mean I am advocating vicious hounding of a woman who is heading into an abortion clinic. In reality, that person should not be HOUNDED or pressured by EITHER faction in the matter. She should be enveloped, bathed, in love and have all options presented to her, in a pressure-free, NON-MERCENARY atmosphere.

If someone asks me to approve or disapprove of the current sitting President, I can honestly say I approve of his work in stemming the trafficking of women and children. I honestly approve of his working with the governments of Latin American countries, in stopping the flood of people from out of those countries and stemming the influence and aggressive behaviour of gangs-especially in Central America. There are other policies of his, of which I vehemently disapprove- such as the sending of a large corps of armed DHS agents into some of our cities-without first coordinating the effort with local governments. That situation seems to be getting more consultation-based. The COVID-19 response is a whole other can of worms-and much of the difficulty lies in both individual mindsets and in the diversity of local situations, across the country-but I digress.

Essentially, my life is not meant to be lived by going about and seeking to be a font of agreement, with each person, on each issue. I have, however, the conviction that each person who crosses my path does have points to offer, that may well be of help, in making my life more authentic. This life is still a work in progress, as is everyone else’s.

My Faith will remain as is; my heart for people will stay in place; my mind will remain flexible, as we have learned that anything can happen.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 53: Commonalities

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July 23, 2020-

I was just sitting around today, writing two more chapters of my memoirs, and musing about what it is going to take to push the dry air out of our area, after two days of looking at heavy, dark clouds that are five miles to the east. (Prescott is alot like Ojai, or Reno, a dry bubble in the middle of a rainforest).

I also think about what I like about the two seemingly opposite groups, on our social scene. Here are things I like about progressives:

  1. Value of courtesy
  2. Acting from the heart
  3. Thinking of others, before themselves
  4. Planning ahead
  5. Work ethic
  6. Inclusivity

Here are things I like about conservatives:

  1. Value of courtesy
  2. Acting from the heart
  3. Thinking of others, before themselves
  4. Planning ahead
  5. Work ethic
  6. Inclusivity

The differences are there, but we need not dwell on them. Individual initiative may be found in both groups. The welcoming of change is greater among progressives. Cherishing of tradition is greater among conservatives. Yet, both groups find room in their worlds for adaptation and preservation.

That’s where I find the state of what matters most.

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 26: Why Is The Ground Itself Steaming?

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June 26, 2020-

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.

Two Candles

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May 8, 2020-

On a Zoom call, this evening, the moderator put forth a telling message:  “It is not necessary for me to put out your candle, so that mine may burn brighter.”

Cynics may counter-“Too many lights put each other out.”

I beg to differ.  Life is not a zero sum game.  Some conservatives want a world without progressives.  Some progressives can’t wait to rid our planet of conservatives.  I find either prospect an empty one.  There are features, of extremists on both sides, that I find reprehensible-  From the alt-right:  The murder of an African-American jogger, on February 23, by two white men; the drawings of swastikas and nooses; “Rassus” jokes, told by both whites and Native Americans; ANY hint that one race is superior to another. From the extreme left:  The caricatures of conservatives as knuckle-dragging hominids; ANY defense of pedophilia (which occurs among both liberals and conservatives, by the way); advocacy of wholesale slaughter of those in power.

I’ve covered the need for an array of responsible viewpoints, in an earlier post.  So, I will end with this:  I know plenty of respectable, responsible and loving people, on both sides of the chasm.  I know plenty of decent, morally sound people, among all ethnicities, economic levels, creeds and ways of life.  My candle doesn’t need yours to be snuffed out, in order for it to shine brightly.  Come on home.

The Javelins and the Olive Branches

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May 3, 2020-

I will say a few things, straight out:  I am a regular user of natural medicines, certified therapeutic grade essential oils and organic foods (80 % of my diet is GMO-free. I also will accept only those vaccinations that are “clean”.  I recognize we need to start somewhere, in building herd immunity to COVID19, and whatever other diseases may surface, over the next many years.  We do NOT, however, need to start with 76 different vaccines, nor do we need our serums laden with mercury, arsenic or formaldehyde.  The shots I’ve taken, willingly, throughout my life, and those that were administered to my child, on our watch, were not more than 19 in number.  To the best of my recollection, they did not contain heavy metals.  The only other issue I would have with Corporate Immunization is the notion , so far just speculation, that authorities could ban people from engaging in commerce or travel, should they fail to have current immunization records on file.  Such a law would not end well , for those who enact it.

I am staying neutral in the present election cycle.  This has not endeared me to some on the Left.  So be it.  These are people who know my heart, and know full well that I do not support the politics of fear or hate.  They  cussed, fussed, fumed and walked out the door, anyway.  That door remains open, to anyone who does not threaten me, or my loved ones.  I would also recommend, to both sides, that no harm be done to any of the candidates for office, or their families-but that is a concern for law enforcement.

Fact is, ladies and gentlemen, we need one another.  Left, right, up, down and sideways-and those of us in the center, all have ideas and personal qualities that benefit everyone else.  Without the ideas of the progressive wing, we would not have the inclusion of diverse groups that make our society all the richer.  Only the usual characters would continue to dominate government, commerce and academia.  Without the due consideration of conservative values, we would have no rudder to steer this ship through some rather treacherous straits, and would very well risk being at the mercy of demagogues, for whom ideas are more important than people.

For both sides, though, there is a danger of demagoguery- as the recent histories of several countries have shown us.  There is also the classic mirror:  The French Revolution, which started with the overthrow of an incompetent monarchy, proceeded through a Reign of Terror, in which a free for all resulted in the executions of the very people who led the overthrow of the monarchy-and paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte, followed by Louis XVIII, then the Citizen King, then Napoleon III.  How that worked out for the benefit of the French people is highly debatable.

I love and cherish friends and family at all points on the political spectrum.  All I ask is that there be a conscious effort to stop demonizing those opposite oneself, as well as those of us in between.

 

On Unity

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December 16, 2019-

The subjects of who is responsible and of how much should we, as a human race, be working together, have resurfaced, in response to TIME’s selection of its 2019 Person of the Year.   I have discussed that particular matter, in an earlier post, and so will not belabour the point.

Conservatives are incensed that seemingly irresponsible progressives are in the ascendancy, with regard to environmental matters.  Those on the Left, likewise, regard ANY involvement by large business interests and nationalist groups, in the environmental movement, as suspect.

The facts, as always, paint a more complex picture.  A politically conservative team, led by Scott Presler, has made its way around the United States, cleaning up mounds of trash and debris in places like Newark,Baltimore, Los Angeles and Chicago.  One of the most reliable environmental disaster response teams on the planet is Team Rubicon,  made up largely of political conservatives, who also happen to have a solid combination of heart and disaster recovery expertise.   I have been part of a local group, here in Prescott, who cleaned up an abandoned homeless people’s camp, in early Fall of this year.  While they didn’t appreciate my political views, they did appreciate the help.

There are no shortage of people on the Left who help clean up the detritus, as well.  Indeed, Team Rubicon and Mr. Presler’s group hardly conduct political litmus tests of their volunteers.  Politics, simply put, should not be a distraction.  In the end, the Creator put us all here and we all have to live with what is.

There are as many ways to face our planet’s changing climate-which is a cycle, and no more a myth than the cycle which eliminated so much life during the Cambrian and Cretaceous Periods.  Mankind will not be eliminated by this cycle.  We do, however, have the responsibility of stewardship for our world, and there as many ways to respond to the challenge, as there are points of view.  All are needed here.

Two responses that will not accomplish what is needed are: 1. Doing nothing and 2. Throwing money, willy-nilly, at the events. Indeed, the controversial Ms. Thunberg has herself cautioned against a Green New Deal, in the sense that rushing into responding may cause more harm than good.  Plans must be made, and they need to consider as many possible outcomes in advance as is humanly possible.  Conservatives, with their command of Outcomes-based Models, can help greatly in this regard.  Progressives, with their commitment to social justice, can provide the psychological and emotional heft, as well as a fair share of intellectual awareness, to the process.

We can, moreover, do without the divisive extremism-that, “if THOSE people are involved, then count me out. ”   I would have strongly advised Greta Thunberg to so sit down with President Trump (or any other critic she may encounter) and explain her views, as clearly as possible, whilst giving him an opportunity to explain his, in a coherent manner. Neither of them are responsible for the other’s reaction, so it does not strike me as a fool’s errand.  For my part, I do not approach my own critics with anything less than dignified respect.

Unity requires no less.