Category Archives: Social Consciousness

Gross National Happiness

This YouTube video will take sixteen minutes of your life but could have enormous repercussions, particularly if you repost it vigorously.

A better way is possible. It’s being done right now.

We have much to learn.

Make a difference today.

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Filed under Beauty, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Sustainability

Ability is no Indication of Character

This latest revelation of bad behavior by a member of Congress should really come as no surprise. He is just the latest of a long line of elected officials who think they can get away with anything.  He won’t be the last.

To my mind, there are two reasons for this. The first, is that there is a truism that states: People have contempt for those upon whom they are dependent. In other words, congressmen have contempt for their constituents, welfare recipients have contempt for the government, labor has contempt for management and vice versa, etc.  This is sad, but when we have a system that fosters the few to have so much and so many people to have so little, this is what we get.

The other reason for bad behavior among government officials is the way they’re elected. We don’t recruit those with the highest values or the strongest character. We elect those with the loudest party line who look the part and have the most money to spend to sway voters with whatever misleading information they and their supporters can fabricate and/or spin. Anthony Weiner and his kind may be good at their jobs, but if we expect leadership from these people, we are looking in the wrong direction. The same goes for athletes.  Why are we dismayed when they fail to live up to whatever elevated standards we think they ought to abide by? They’re athletes. They weren’t elected to higher office. Their ability is no reflection on their character.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe we have real leaders with true character currently in office. But those individuals do not comprise the majority in this broken system. Were we to recruit the best and the brightest with the highest possible standards, people who will provide real role models for this nation’s (and the world’s) children, then we need to change the system.

 

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Filed under politics, Social Consciousness, Spirituality

War is Stupid

Yesterday was Memorial Day. The mainstream media (local and national) as well as social media was filled with wreaths, parades, flags and cemeteries. Lots of interviews with veterans and the widows, widowers and children of “our fallen heroes.” I’m a veteran. I know the patriotic mindset. And I know that much of what I saw yesterday was an attempt at justifying that which has no justification.

War is stupid. There’s no reason at all that those young men and women shouldn’t be living their long, productive lives with their families instad of getting blown apart and killed on foreign soil.

In WWII, the Germans were the enemy. They’re our friends now. Also, in WWII, the Japanese were the ones to kill. Now they’re our friends and allies. We waged a horrible war in Vietnam, but now, Vietnamese are very welcome here and Vietnam has now become a popular U.S. tourism destination. We take horrific delight in murdering our enemies, but then when it’s over, it’s over, and the Department of Defense (notice that this is not the Department of Offense) starts looking around for some new place to validate its existence and job security. War is stupid.

The United States could take the position that it stands for Peace and refuse to engage. For those sad countries that continue their war-like behavior, we could just pull back our aid. If they’re going to act like children, we can treat them like children. Let them know there are consequences for their actions. If they behave, they can play on the world stage. If not, they’re shunned. And if they want to retaliate: well, that’s why we have a Department of Defense.

Not only are the costs of war horrendously high for our service members, but all that cash could be redirected to support schools, our failing infrastructure, provide clean energy, economical health services and figure out a more honorable way of electing our officials.

I’m not the first one to say this. It’s been said many times before. But now, for me, it has become a spiritual issue. Are we going to actively engage the “family values” that everybody talks about? Don’t forget that the men and women who sign the papers that send our kids off to war die of old age. They, and and for the most part, their children, don’t die on battlefields. 

This election cycle, ask your candidates to itemize and explain not only the current issues, but the underlying values they hold and by which they will make decisions on your behalf.

There are no spiritual values that include war.

War is stupid.

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Filed under peace, politics, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, war

The Legend of El Gringo Grande

While in Zihuatanejo, Mexico last January on a writing retreat, my husband Al and I walked over a beautiful stone bridge that spanned a canal. This was a flood water control canal, and as this wasn’t the rainy season, there were only about 3″ of water in it, flowing across the beach to the bay.

During the day, this canal was filled with birds: ibis, snowy egrets, greater egrets, pink spoonbills, all feasting on the minnows that were silvery thick. Beautiful. At sundown on our first night there, we saw a snowy egret try to fly away with the rest, but his leg was caught in something and he couldn’t get loose.

Al had a restless night, thinking about that egret. Named him Edgar. In the morning, we borrowed a pair of scissors from the front desk of our hotel, and went to rescue Edgar.

The canal had 8′ concrete walls and a concrete floor, except for the south side by the beach, which had broken away. Al couldn’t see that the floor was broken from his vantage point, so he endeavored to wade into the canal from that side. Soon the water was up to his hips and it was clear that he couldn’t go any further. From my vantage point on the bridge, I could see the deep hole and encouraged him to go back out to the beach and come in on the north side, where the concrete floor was intact. This is what he did.

A Mexican man came up to me all in a panic and said, “What is he doing?” I pointed at poor Edgar, still sitting there about thirty yards up the canal, and told him what Al was about. “There’s a CROCODILE in that hole!” the man said.

“Al! Al!” I yelled. “Crocodile!”

Al looked around. “I don’t see any crocodile,” he said, and continued on his way.

Soon, a crowd gathered. The gentleman who had warned me about the crocodile now became the emcee of the event, giving everyone who gathered in the morning light a blow-by-blow description in both English and Spanish, of what they could certainly see with their own eyes.

Then someone called the fire department. I can only assume that having a tourist eaten in the canal is not good PR.

A Bombero (fireman) conferred with Al over the wall , then two of them went to the beach side of the canal where they saw the croc and they trained their M-16s on it until Al was safe.

Al calmly picked up the bird and while it pecked at his hands, he cut it free from the entanglement of fishing line.  

Big applause by everyone crowding the bridge.

Then he picked up the rest of the yards of old fishing line and one of the firemen told him a better way to get back out of the canal. The Emcee said to me: “Your husband, he’s”–he flexed his bicep–“grande!”

“Si,” I said.

Then he turned to the crowd, puffed out his chest and made an announcement. “Mr. and Mrs. Al,” he said. “You Americans come to Mexico and RESCUE OUR BIRDS!” Wild applause.

Al knew nothing of any of this. He just came onto the bridge, pockets full of old fishing line, and wanted to go have breakfast.

For the rest of the trip we called him El Gringo Grande. He liked it until he found out that it didn’t mean “great man,” it meant “big man”.

I say it takes a big man to brave crocodile-infested waters to rescue a bird.

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Filed under Goodness, Social Consciousness, Writing

I’m a Veteran

I spent eight years as a journalist in the Naval Reserves. During that time, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and I was called to active duty in the Pentagon at the Joint Combat Camera Center.

During that time, I worked with marvelous, dedicated people. Some were in the military for the educational benefits, some were looking at it as a career, some were closing out their long, eventful careers. And as with all jobs, one’s coworkers become like a second family. There are parties, there are luncheons, there are friendships that spring up, and water cooler talk. People become close.

I served with countless homosexuals. Wonderful, talented, dedicated men and women who could never bring their spouse to an event, could never discuss their family situation, or their relationship problems, the way most of us do at the office without a thought. They had to closely guard every word that came out of their mouths, lest they let slip a bit of information that would get them fired, their long, distinguished careers trashed. 

Just try going a week without mentioning your spouse’s name at work.

What a terrible way to live, especially since they were doing the right thing, the good thing, the thing that many people fear to do. These people stepped up, took an oath, left family and friends behind to do everything from front line combat to back room clerical work, to chip paint on Navy vessels and pull maintenance on tank tracks, all to make the enormous machine that is the US military run. And they couldn’t confide in a co-worker if they’d had a heart-rending misunderstanding, or a particularly sweet moment with a lover.

I am beyond delighted that that era of mistreating these wonderful, courageous soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines is coming to an end. They deserve to have every right that is offered to every other citizen of this country without living in the shadows, without worrying that something they do or say–even off duty!–might be fodder for a jealous coworker eager to kick them out of the promotion lineup.

I believe Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell will be a thing of the past within days. The next appropriate thing will be to allow same-sex partners the right under Federal law to marry.

Love is a good thing. Family is a good thing. Fairness and equality are high ideals. Let’s strive for those things and let the anger and suspicion fall away.

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Filed under relationships, Social Consciousness

What is a Prayer Shawl?

We can cook!

A prayer shawl is a soft item of comfort. It can be an actual shawl, or it can be a scarf, a chemo cap, a hat, a pair of socks, mittens, gloves, a quilt… Anything that is hand made with the intention of bringing peace, comfort and love to someone who suffers is, in my world, a prayer shawl.

Last Sunday afternoon, seventeen women got together at Textiles A Mano to knit, crochet and sew soft items of comfort. We talked, we laughed, we ate (boy oh boy, can we cook!) and we combined our spirits, and our positive healing energy to infuse the items of love in our laps.

This, to  me, is a sacred act. For seventeen of us (eighteen, if you include Paul Shang, who baked and brought over an amazing cheesecake) to lay down our lives in the service of those who suffer, whether we know them personally or not, is a wonderful act of love, mercy and ministry.

Most churches have prayer shawl ministries. Two of the women who came to Sunday’s event knit prayer shawls every week with a group at their church. These are the world’s unsung heroes. These are the members of The Global Conspiracy.

It didn’t take much time or energy, you know, to organize this event. I found a place to hold it (the last one, last February, was held in my living room), sent out a few emails, bought some cheese and crackers and people came. I like to think that in those four hours, we generated a great amount of calm energy to contribute to uplifting the spiritual tenor of the planet.

It was easy to do, and you could do it too.

I hope you will.

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Filed under Goodness, knitting, peace, Prayer, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, time

Consider Congress

This holiday season when so many are traveling to visit loved ones and there is such a hue and cry about airport security, consider that many congressional members–who oversee the TSA–don’t have to be screened before getting on an airplane. These same congressional members don’t have to purchase their own health insurance through the same expensive, convoluted system they’ve set up for us to try to negotiate and afford. They also set their own salaries, determine their own raises, and their own (non)term limits. They don’t need to try to make ends meet on unemployment, because they can become lobbyists when they lose their jobs, which is why we don’t have laws against those deep-pocketed special interests, either. And they declare wars in which their children don’t fight and die.

Worst of all, every election season, they come to us, pleading with us to help them fix the system, when they are the system. They are the very ones who make the laws they so convincingly want us to fix.

I like our system. I like the three branches of government. I like the two-party system. But two hundred and thirty-four years into this experiment of democracy has pointed out a few bugs that need to be addressed, and they will not be addressed in any significant way by those who benefit from them.

There is a movement afoot to stage a new Constitutional Convention, but I also know there’s a book in the works about how that can go horribly wrong, too.

What’s the answer?

You tell me. I’m not a political person, but I will work tirelessly to fix these wrongs.

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Filed under Social Consciousness