Tag Archives: values

Family Values

I hear a lot about “family values,” although never more than during an election cycle.

My question is: What are family values? People tout that phrase all the time, yet when pressed, I can’t imagine that a one of them could mention a single value that would fill the bill.

values

(As an aside: People who talk about “family values” are usually the same people who say they’re fighting for “social justice,” but I suggest that most of them cannot define “justice.”)

So for people interested in values, these are the seven that I hold dear. I believe they are universal as well as personal. I believe they are inherent in our DNA. I believe that any law written anywhere should be held up to this short list of values to see if it passes muster. If so, let it be. If not, then tweak it until it does.

Life

Equality

Quality of Life

Opportunity for Personal Growth

Empathy

Compassion

Love for Humanity

Please note that Life, Equality, and Opportunity for Personal Growth are strangely similar to: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness, a phrase etched into the Declaration of Independence. Those men knew what they were talking about.

These are good values for your family. If we all taught our children to admire these values and adhere to them as adults, our society would be a better place. Our world would be a better place.

It’s never too late to adopt them as your own.

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I Think I’ll Run for President

Since I believe that the two major party candidates currently running for the highest office in the land are in it for themselves and not the country (one more so than the other), I have no option left but to run for president.

Here, therefore, is my Common Sense Party’s platform. You will see that it is not one of issues, but of values.

bunting

Every proposed decision to be made by every person in my administration will hold that decision up to this set of six values to see if it holds true and is just:

  1. Life. The Declaration of Independence promises us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. This is bedrock of my candidacy. If what you propose to do does not promote, protect, and preserve life—all life, every life, in this country and around the world—it will not pass into law. This includes the legal slaughter which is war. This includes animals.
  1. Equality. We are all equal. Every person on this planet. Period.
  1. The Opportunity for Personal Growth. Every person needs the time to reflect, to dream, to contribute to society the art that is each personality and expressed in each life.
  1. Empathy. Hardliners will get nowhere with me.
  1. Compassion. The ability to see the other point of view is central to a peaceful society.
  1. Love for Humanity. What else is government for?

Okay, you know I’m just kidding. I’m not a candidate for any office. There is too much yarn out there to be knit up into soft, warm, beautiful items of comfort. There are too many tomatoes to be grown and eaten on my homemade bread. Too many stories that need to be told through my peculiar filter.

But I am serious about the values that our candidates promote. Especially the oft-touted “family values.” What are they? Can they articulate those values? Are they the same as my values? If not, why not? Even if they are only “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” do the candidates really believe in those values?

Once a candidate’s values are set, everything else about how they will govern becomes obvious.

We all know this is a very important election. Ask these questions of not only the national candidates, but your local candidates as well.

Choose wisely.

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Spiritual Sustainability

On June 5, I presented my master’s thesis at Marylhurst University. My topic: Spiritual Sustainability: A Personal and Social Imperative. This is the text of that presentation.

Ladies and gentlemen, professors, angels and other unseen friends. Thank you for the opportunity to be here this morning, the culminating act of an extraordinary education.  Let us begin this morning by acknowledging the miracle of having a fragment of the living God within each of us, and Jesus’ spirit of truth which encircuits all of us in this room and binds us together as family. Whenever two or more are gathered, he is here, and so we welcome the presence of Christ among us today.

I have studied the life and teachings of Jesus for the past thirty years. Even so, in the early research for this thesis project, it was as if a knob had been turned and life suddenly clicked into focus. I began to see very clearly the reality which had been up to that time only theory. It has changed my life. It has changed the way I relate with everyone: my husband, my family members, my neighbors, all of you. I have a new vision of my role in life, in the world, in the cosmos, in eternity.

It all began with John 13.34: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

 Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. Not love your neighbor as yourself, but as I have loved you.  As God loves us. As the ultimate father loves his errant, stumbling, young, immature, seeking child, who is just trying to please. And isn’t that who we are? Fumbling around, trying our best to work with the challenges we’ve been given? God asks that I love that weird homeless guy on the street corner as if he were my child. He asks that I look at that meth addict who robbed us, twice, with the fierce, protective love that parents have for their children. Whew. That’s a big order. This goes way beyond Thou Shalt Not Kill.

Well, Jesus was here. He walked a mile in our moccasins. He knows about us. He knows how we are, prone to pettiness and jealousies, quick to anger and filled with ego and nationalistic and cultural pride. He knew then that the chances were slim that we would be able to achieve this in his absence unless he left us a little help. And so he did.

The Spirit of Truth. The paraclete, the helper, the comforter, the advocate. Christ’s spirit has been with us for two thousand years, to help us do that very thing that we do best – socialize. We are social creatures, and we get together under any pretext to socialize. To do business, to sew a quilt, to raise a barn, to take a class. We get together just to gather together in groups of two or more, because when we do, Jesus is there with us, whether we know it or not, whether we acknowledge it or not, whether we engage with him or not. He is with us and we like that feeling, so we keep doing it.

So we begin to make up things for us to do together. Parties, luncheons. Businesses. Social networks. Governments. Conglomerates. The more complex, the more interesting. Except that when we build these things, we let our heads get ahead of our hearts. We begin to assemble them together out of need, greed, or expediency, instead of accessing the wisdom of Christ’s spirit to formulate and work together in love, as he asked.

Today our systems are beginning to fail. Some people have too much while others have nothing. Our kids are taking drugs, getting pregnant in high school, ending up in jail. As many marriages fail as succeed. What do we do? We implement more social programs to provide high school daycare centers, and drug treatment programs in jail, and cheap, no-fault divorces. These are not sustainable fixes, because we are addressing the symptoms, not the problem.

International relations are stretched to the breaking point as we posture for one another, and we are currently fighting wars on two fronts. War! Still! Christians sending other Christians out to kill. Where is God in that system? What happened to loving every single person on this planet as Jesus has loved us? How can we privileged Americans buy a winter home in Arizona when children are starving? Would you let your natural birth child starve so you could buy a new boat? Of course not, but we all sip cocktails by the pool while our spiritual brothers and sisters starve, are brutalized, and blown to smithereens. And we call ourselves Christians.

For a while, I considered my birth into a middle-income white American family and my unlimited potential as an accident of birth. I no longer believe that. I believe that it is precisely my innate gifts and personality propensities that got me this assignment, so that I might do something with these opportunities I’ve been given.

All of our systems, from trade to taxation to health care to water delivery to food production to the crazy way we try to force round children into square classrooms, is breaking down, and we patch them together, creating enormous bureaucracies that aren’t fixing the problems at all, but are expedient for this legislative term. Or for this administration. Or for this generation.

A famous statement from the Iroquois Nation is that we should never commit a single act without considering its consequences seven generations hence. Who among us thinks two hundred years in the future when we stop to fill our cars with fossil fuel? Or throw plastic bags into the garbage?

Well, there is a solution, and it has been with us all along. We need to bring the Spirit of Truth to the table and access its wisdom. Jesus knew we’d have a tough time with all this social stuff, and of course he was right. Here we are. We’ve never needed him more. It’s time to bring the spirit of Christ back into our systems, back into our lives, back into fashion.

There are those who argue that there is no such thing as spirit, that religion is mere superstition. There are others who believe that humans will rise above and fix everything with their own creativity and ingenuity, but I see no evidence of that. I think the hand of God has been holding back the cataclysm, and we need to wake up and get about our Father’s business before that house which we have built on sand comes crashing down.

It is not my intention to stand here and preach to you. Well, maybe it is. I seem to have acquired a taste for preaching in the past three years. But we’re all smart and alert and watch the nightly news. Many people have been sounding the alarm for a long time. The world is awake and aware. I feel a spiritual quickening in the ether. We are all starving to connect, but we’re without direction. We all know that something can be done, something must be done. But what?

In the research for this thesis project, I came upon a simple formula that I think might be the answer. It is about exchanging our current aggregations of special interests for workable, interlocking systems. This simple formula can be worked on any system from the way your family communicates to the way we elect our representatives in congress. It could be the basis of local budgeting to the way we educate our children. It could change our whole world from a profit-driven economy to a service-driven one.

It all begins with intention. Intention is the beginning step of any right action. I would not be standing here if it was not my intention to further my education in this field. None of us would be here this morning if it was not for our intention to attend this colloquium. So intention has to be the initiating event. In fact, I could use the thesis process to illustrate my point. Eight of us began Dr. Carreker’s thesis class, each of us with the intention of producing a thesis and graduating this month. We had defined our intention.

The next step is to determine three core spiritual values that serve that intention. What are the core values that run our country? What are the core values that propel our education system? What are the core values that are put into play in our energy policies? How about our military strategies? Or our health care system? I can’t name those core values, and I submit that nobody else can, either. Well, this is where we consult the Spirit of Truth. This is where we bring spiritual values into our systems so that we can serve our global family instead of the CEOs and stockholders.

So the core spiritual values in the writing of my thesis were Life, Equality and Growth. Life because it is the most precious value we’re given by our creator. Equality, because I believe that God loves each of us individually and equally, and Growth because that’s what I’m doing here in school. The oak tree never becomes an acorn. Growth is part of the natural pattern.

For every spiritual value that serves the intention, we determine three expectations. Precisely, how does Growth serve my intention to produce my thesis? My three expectations were: Increased Knowledge, Greater Vision of my role in the cosmos, More Love in my heart for my spiritual brethren. Now how do I know I’ve achieved these things? The fourth aspect is measurable criteria.  These are the concrete, measurable results of the system. They are the proof. Each expectation has three measurable criteria by which we know the system is working. Some of my measurable criteria were personal, and some were defined by Marylhurst. And, in fact, here I stand, thesis bound over there on the table, ready for signatures.  All eight of us who began this program served our intentions successfully and are here this morning.

This way of bringing spirit to the table in the reformation of our systems works. It is flexible enough to be tweaked as need be, as society changes, and as new needs arise. If our health care system were built on the solid rock of spiritual values, there would never be a discussion of throwing the whole thing out and starting over. We would tweak the expectations, or the measurable criteria. Nobody would be afraid—and isn’t that part of the problem now? Everyone is in fear. Where is God in that?  

The application of my thesis is to begin this process of bringing spiritual values to our systems. I will join others who have begun to hold small groups in their homes, designing systems, with spirit at the table in the form of values. It is my intention that those people will quickly catch on to the process and hold similar small groups in their living rooms. Slowly, as our larger systems fail, these smaller, interlocking systems will take their place, and begin to undergird our society with common sense procedures, based on love and mercy and ministry, for the betterment of all mankind. Wherever two or more are gathered, the spirit of Christ is in attendance, and the power of that fact should never be underestimated.

In conclusion, I ask that each of you be fearless in your personal ministry. Reach way beyond your comfort zone. Speak your truth, embrace your spiritual brethren, no matter their geographical location, their way of life or the status of their personal hygiene. Speak always of spiritually sustainable fixes to each of our problems. In your tireless work for social justice, remember that Matthew Fox—the theologian, not the actor—said that whatever is sustainable is just. That which is not sustainable is not just. This is as good a definition of justice as I have ever known.

Each of us is a shining facet in the diamond that is humanity. Love one another with a fierce and intense affection. Let your light so shine that everyone will glorify our Father in heaven. Together we can reach that tipping point that will mark the end of our animal ways and usher in a new, spiritual age.

I thank each of you here today for coming. Together we acknowledge this amazing program of study and those who have given themselves selflessly in its creation and mission. It has been my honor to participate.

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Filed under peace, Possibilities, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, Truth

We Choose Our Lives

Those of you who are parents have undoubtedly said to your pre-teen or teen, “You’ll remember these times as the best times of your life.” We worry that they want to grow up too fast, cutting short many childhood experiences, in quest for the more alluring adult activities. I was one of those kids; perhaps we all were. Eager to get out of high school and get a job, get out of the house, get on with life.

Well, the same holds true for today. Now that I’m “of an age” I’m in no hurry to get older, but am I taking advantage of who and where I am right now? Am I enjoying my life today to the degree that some day I’ll look back and say, “Man, those were some good times.”? Or am I too busy worrying about this and that and making appointments and meeting deadlines and paying the bills to stop and think: “I’ll never be a human again. I’ll never be in this type of material body with its strengths and its difficulties. I’ll never live on such a magnificently beautiful planet like this again. I better literally stop and smell the flowers.” It’s true that I don’t know what lies on the other side of the veil any more than anybody else, but I have my idea about that, just as you have your idea about it. My point is, from every place I find myself in the future–whether it’s next week or a thousand years in the future–I want to be able to look back and say, “I took advantage of everything that was offered to me back then.”

We’ve also probably counseled our children not to burn bridges or close doors on our options, because they don’t know what the future holds. The same holds true for us. We don’t know what doors we’re closing on our future when we act irresponsibly.

There are long ugly stretches of my history that I would just as soon forget, but those are long behind me and that is not the way I choose to live today, or tomorrow, or for the rest of my days. I want to be conscious, aware, engaged, happy with who I am and what I’m doing. I want to be able to look back and know that I was present, not pining for what was, nor spending my days daydreaming about what could be in the future. There’s value in some of that, certainly, but I believe that we will some day have the benefit of perspective on our lives that we currently have on our childrens’ lives.

We’re only here once. Let’s do good works, be kind to one another, and be proud of who we are today.

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