Café Communication

Social justice is clearly God’s concern.

July 11, 2018

Dorothy Day (1897-1980) was not afraid to say it strongly: “We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering. “As long as we unquestioningly buy into the egoic system, where the roots of our narcissism often lie hidden, we’re going to have problems. If we think we can say our private prayers and still genuflect before the self-perpetuating, unjust systems of this world, our conversion will not go very deep or aid in the unfolding of history. There is no one more radical than a real person of prayer because they are not beholden to any ideology or economic system; their identity and motivation is found only in God, not in the pay-offs of mammon.”

“Both church and state are threatened by true mystics. Such enlightened people can’t be bought off or manipulated, because their rewards are always elsewhere.”  [Richard Rohr]

However, those politicians and priests who are concerned with their own privilege usually prefer an unaware and superficial populace. The people in the pews are so used to this arrangement that they usually resent any forays into their public morality. “Keep it private and personal, Father,” they say. We can no longer waste time this way in the name of a God “before whom the very nations count as nothingness and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17).

‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

-Forward Day by Day

Psalms 5, 6, 10, 11 

Numbers 35: 1-3, 9-15, 30-34 

Romans 8:30-39

Matthew 23:13-26

[More from Richard Rohr] Those politicians and priests who are concerned with their own privilege usually prefer an unaware and superficial populace. The people in the pews are so used to this arrangement that they usually resent any forays into their public morality. “Keep it private and personal, Father,” they say. We can no longer waste time this way in the name of a God “before whom the very nations count as nothingness and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17). We can’t worship it any longer as we were once trained to do.

A new moon message for this time.

Face challenges with compassion and kindness and remember that not everyone has the tools that you do to see the bigger picture. It is easy to get swept up into the negative and to react to the injustices and imbalances and reactions of others. Don’t take the bait. Bring love and gratitude into your interactions and actions whenever you can and give others the benefit of the doubt even if you don’t believe they deserve it. On a positive note, this is an incredible time to launch something new, pushing the edge of what you think you can accomplish. Take a risk, make a bid for power, step up and show up with more confidence and maturity. The new moon is a time to set intentions and make commitments to how you will stay your ground and be an example for others. And it is OK to ask for help. Support is everywhere. You just have to accept and receive it.

The New moon with a partial solar eclipse (the first of three) is Thurs., July 12th, at 8:47 pm MST.

 

The power of organized people.

July 10, 2018

Richard Rohr

Center For Action & Contemplation

People have good reasons to be angry and afraid today. Poverty, racism, climate change, and so many other injustices are causing real suffering for much of the world. Unfortunately, dualistic and oppositional energies cannot bring the change we so desperately need; we cannot fight angry power with more angry power. Only the contemplative mind has the ability to hold the reality of what is and the possibility of what could be. Unless our hearts are transformed, our fears will continue to manipulate our politics, reinforcing a polarized and divided society.

Quaker activist and teacher Parker Palmer has a hopeful, but not Pollyannaish, view. He writes:

Human beings have a well-demonstrated capacity to hold the tension of differences in ways that lead to creative outcomes and advances. It is not an impossible dream to believe we can apply that capacity to politics. In fact, our capacity for creative tension-holding is what made the American experiment possible in the first place. . . . America’s founders—despite the bigotry that limited their conception of who “We the People” were—had the genius to establish [a] form of government in which differences, conflict, and tension were understood not as the enemies of a good social order but as the engines of a better social order.

As “We the People” retreat from the public square and resort to private gripe sessions with those who think like us, we create a vacuum at the center of America’s public life. Politics abhors a vacuum as much as nature does, so nondemocratic powers rush in to fill the void—especially the power called “big money.” . . .

When the Supreme Court gave big money even more power [in the 2010 Citizens United decision], it made many Americans feel even more strongly that their small voices do not count. . . . Wrongly held, our knowledge of the power wielded by big money can accelerate our retreat from politics, discouraging us from being the participants that democracy demands and reducing us to mere spectators of a political game being played exclusively by “them.” 

Palmer quotes Bill Moyers: “The antidote, the only antidote, to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people.” 

Spiritualization

“I realized that the spiritualization of our nation’s corporations is the most important development that can possibly happen for the spiritual growth of the world as a whole. Governments apparently are unable to help. Churches have not fully succeeded; however, the multinational corporations that control the lives of countless millions have the power and financial wherewithal to bring on an incredible transformation of consciousness if–if it comes down from the top.”

Walter Starke, ‘It’s All God’.

Keep going.

From a friend.

Today seems like the right time to do a thread I’ve been thinking about for a while on how to handle the seemingly never-ending deluge of depressing and disturbing news. My tips are based on my time as a CIA military analyst in which I dealt daily with disturbing content.

There are several risks to being overloaded with disturbing/negative content.
Complacency – becoming so used to the deluge that it all starts to seem normal.
Paralysis – that is, being so overwhelmed, you can’t figure out what to do/how to move forward.
 
Crisis perspective – you get trapped in the Breaking News cycle where everything seems like a potentially world-ending crisis to you.
Depression/PTSD – you don’t have to be on the frontline of a war have either/both. Disturbing content is absolutely a trigger.
 
There are also serious physical consequences to living a negative content overloaded life. I had a colleague who didn’t know he had stage 4 brain cancer because the symptoms were the same as our very stressful careers–exhaustion, random fevers, stress, and dizziness.
 
So, what do you do? First, I strongly urge you not to ignore the news/current events. Ignorance is one reason we have this society. It won’t make the problems go away & contributes nothing to their solving. Now that that’s established, here’s how to make it easier to handle:
 
1. TAKE ACTION. Volunteer for a food pantry, canvass for a political candidate, donate to a NGO, visit a sick friend. Seriously. Service of some kind in your community lets you be part of SOLUTIONS. You will see RESULTS when otherwise you’d feel helpless.
 
2. Conversely, for those who may take tip #1 to the extreme–know that you alone can’t save the world. Accept your limits. You aren’t a 7/11. You can’t always be open. At the end of every day when I reached my limit, I silently told myself, “I’ve done what I can today.”
 
(Note: Repeating that to myself did not stop me from feeling like I could have done more most days. But it was important to tell myself anyway because I am human. We are human. It’s good we *feel* things.)
 
3. RESEARCH BEFORE PANICKING. Easier said than done, but everything will seem like crisis/earth-ending if you don’t know what has/hasn’t happened before. If it has happened before, it’s can be hugely comforting to know how it was resolved and/or what might happen next.
 
 
4. GET UP & MOVE. Put the phone away, turn off the TV, log out of Twitter. Go for a walk, sit outside, get some coffee, call a friend. CIA is full of ppl walking the building with a colleague/friend. There’s a reason. Our brains & bodies need breaks from stressful content.
 
 
5. SET RULES. Because of my work at CIA, I had a rule–I only read fiction at home. I had enough reality at work. In the civilian world, I set blocks of time each day where I turn everything off–no news or social media. Let yourself recharge so you can keep fighting later.
 
6. AVOID DARK HOLES. (I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about that.) It’s easy to get sucked into the swirl of bad news. You watch a gruesome YouTube video and the next one is all queued up to play right after it. Focus on one issue at a time. Deal w/ it before moving on.
7. YOU NEED FUN. When there is suffering, war, despair, etc. around you, it’s easy to feel guilty when you have fun, feel happy, have a good meal with friends. You NEED these things. You will be better able to do good in the world if you let yourself have these things.
 
8. TALK TO SOMEONE. Often, we curl inward socially when overwhelmed w/ negative content. It’s a means of protection. One of the great things at CIA was that everyone else knew what you were going through. Whether it’s therapy or talking to your person, talking helps.
 
None of this is easy. I got burned out a lot in my career & many days recently, I’ve felt overloaded by the barrage. I’m sure you have too. But you and I can’t check out. We can’t give up & we need to stay engaged, but we can’t do that if we get overloaded. Keep going.

A commonwealth.

July 8, 2018
by the Rev. Charles Hoffacker
“David was 30 years old when he began to reign, and he reigned for forty years. … David occupied the stronghold, and named it the City of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the Lord of hosts was with him.”

There is something strong and imperial and complete about these words from today’s Old Testament reading from Second Samuel. They constitute a summary about the reign of King David. They claim a divine sanction for David’s success. But they leave out much more than they contain. The story of David, which stretches through many chapters of scripture, is far more human and horrible and glorious than this scrap of royal chronicle.

At the Palmer Art Museum in University Park, Pennsylvania, there is an oil painting from 17th century Italy that depicts David with the head of Goliath.

The artist, Forabosco, shows us David, not as a king, but as a shepherd, a teenager, the youngest of all the sons of Jesse. He has killed the giant warrior Goliath with a slingshot, cut off his head, and now carries that monstrously huge head on one shoulder, holding it in place with both hands as though it were a watermelon.

Here David embodies the unconscious grace of youth. In contrast, the head of Goliath, eyes closed, shows the tinctures of death, with a great red bruise on the forehead marking the spot hit by David’s fatal stone.

What is most notable about this painting, however, is the expression on young David’s face. He does not display the exuberant triumph of, for example, a football player who has just won a championship game. No, young David appears lost in thought; apparently he is aware that this remarkable success has brought to an end his simple existence. The life that awaits him – many more heroics, 40 years as king – will be heavy with complexities.

This young David did what Saul’s entire army did not. He killed the monstrous enemy champion, Goliath of Gath. He did not rely on the finest armor and weapons, but killed the giant with a stone from a slingshot. The Philistine looked powerful, but proved to be weak. David the shepherd boy looked weak, but proved to be powerful. And scripture all but shouts at us that God is at work in the powerful weakness of young David.

David gained power of a more conventional kind. His record as king turns out to be decidedly mixed. Sometimes he discerned and did what is right; at other times he abused his power and committed heinous crimes. Perhaps the worst episode involves committing adultery with Bathsheba and then setting up the murder of Uriah, one of his loyal soldiers. If God was with David, as today’s reading claims, then at times God must have been present with him in judgment.

The saga of David is one of the great stories in biblical literature. He is a character who haunts western culture. But let’s go a step further. David, shepherd boy and king, also haunts western politics. As we celebrate our national independence, we would do well to remember that over the last two centuries and more, our country has had its Goliath moments and its Uriah moments.

Sometimes our weakness has been revealed as strength. And sometimes our strength has been revealed as weakness. If we ask God to bless our nation, then we must remember that this blessing comes as both mercy and judgment. The living God is nobody’s national mascot, but demands that we do justice, and love mercy, and walk before him in humility.

Our country has had its Uriah moments when out of the arrogance and blindness of power, we have betrayed trust and squandered opportunity and offended God who has sent his prophets to speak truth against lies.

Our country has had its Goliath moments when, out of weakness that refuses to be afraid, we have toppled giants and beheaded them so that, however momentarily, God’s reign has been tangible.

And because our country is no monolith, but a combination of persons and factions, often the Goliath moment and the Uriah moment have been the same moment. We the people have shown simultaneously both the worst that is in us, and the best. Together we behave as David did.

And so there is reason if our national countenance, like Forabosco’s portrait of David, looks perplexed even at a moment of victory, for our national life is full of perplexities. We killed one Goliath at the time of the Revolution, when thousands of young Davids encamped at places like Valley Forge, and it has been, perhaps inevitably, a mottled saga ever since.

Let’s not focus on the Uriah moments except as background for when one more Goliath or another has been slain. But for a sad and scholarly accounting of many Uriah moments in our national life, turn to Howard Zinn’s extraordinary work, “A People’s History of the United States.” Its accounting of sorrows is relentless.

Let’s consider, instead, three moments out of countless others that have been Goliath moments in our national story, occasions when, out of weakness, Americans have found strength to slay some threatening giant.

Sometimes Goliath is despair and David hurls a stone of hope to kill him. The year was 1850, the place, Faniel Hall in Boston. The great Frederick Douglass was speaking. In the course of his address, he grew more and more agitated, more and more despairing, finally saying that he saw no possibility of justice for people of African descent outside of violence and bloodshed.

[Frederick Douglas]

Douglass sat down, and the audience fell into a tense hush. Sitting in the very first row was Sojourner Truth, a woman who knew the evils of slavery from personal experience, having been sold four times. She rose, and her deep and commanding voice spoke a sentence heard throughout the auditorium. “Frederick, is God dead?”

[Sojourner Truth]

Sometimes Goliath is weariness in well doing and David hurls a stone of solidarity to kill him. An unfinished chapter in American history concerns the labor movement and its struggles against oppressive conditions. A most unlikely David arose in the person of a poor Irish widow named Mother Jones. Some spoke her name with contempt, but she was a mother to the great masses who labored in the dark coal mines or worked 65 hours every week in the mills.

In the 1890s, she served as an agitator for the United Mine Workers where her fiery speeches would move men and women to tears and compel them to action. In Colorado, she approached a machine gun poised to open fire on a line of demonstrators; she placed her hand on the barrel, turned it to the ground, and then walked on by.

She once told a congressional committee, “My address is wherever there is a fight against oppression.”

Sometimes Goliath is a fear of strangers and David hurls a stone of acceptance, a stone of welcome, to kill him. It was a great day when these words of invitation composed by Emma Lazarus were first displayed on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor for all the world to see:

Word of welcome to the weak and rejected. An invitation for them to grow strong in a commonwealth whose only nobility is to be a nobility of character.

Whether our families came here on slave ships or jumbo jets, this invitation is meant for us and our children, and we are to offer it as well to others. Each new arrival is not a threat, but comes bearing gifts meant to build up our common life.

Our nation has had Uriah moments, reasons for honest repentance. We have had Goliath moments as well, causes for celebration. Our country is designed not to be an empire, and not to be a church, but to be a commonwealth, an experiment in democracy.

God is with us, as God is with all nations and peoples of the earth. The choice remains ours, however, whether we will offer God Uriah moments to judge, or Goliath moments to bless. Goliath moments: when strength arises out of weakness, despair gives way to hope, weariness is replaced by solidarity, and fear dissolves in the face of acceptance and welcome. There are Goliath moments still to come in our nation’s future.

“Frederick, is God dead?”

“My address is wherever there is a fight against oppression.”

“Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

The day after July 4th.

July 5, 2018

Often mis-characterized as a day of independence.

What actually matters is what you’re going to do with it.

It turns out that if you have the power to make rules, the rules are your responsibility.

If you have the freedom to make choices, the choices are your responsibility.

And if you have the ability to change the culture, to connect with others, to make a ruckus, then yes, what you do with that is your responsibility as well.

Doing nothing is a choice. The thing you didn’t say, the project you didn’t launch, the hand you didn’t lend…

But whatever we do, if we have the independence to do it (or not) is our responsibility.

-Seth Godin

Society of Friends

June 25, 2018

‘A farm in not a farm without its barn.’

  • integrity
  • equality
  • simplicity
  • community
  • stewardship of the Earth
  • and peace.

From a friend:

“All of us, culturally, and each of us individually, has a piece of the puzzle, a part of the answer; I don’t quite know the question, but I believe that the answer is peace.”

Buckminster Fuller

‘Tension is the great integrity.’

 

Tilted towards the sun.

June 21, 2018

There’s an urgency to this moment. We must choose between a world of subjects and a world of objects.

In his book Carpe JugulumTerry Pratchett has a character define sin thusly: “Sin, young man, is when you treat people like things.” 

We’re seeing the consequences of this everywhere these days: People are being objectified.  

St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-c. 394) offered a beautiful, succinct, and useful definition of sin. Sin, he [suggested], is a refusal to keep growing.

This is a growing moment. Growth is painful.

Namaste asks something huge of us: If the divinity in me recognizes the divinity in you, how could I abuse, debase, violate, or harass? I would, after all, only be punishing myself.

Here we have an antidote to objectification. Something infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive abides in me and it is from this light that I bow toward that which is infinite, immortal, mysterious, loving, and alive in you. What if this was our set-point, our baseline, the fundamental assumption we had about every single person we encountered? All our reputations precede us: We’re divine.

Mystics from every tradition testify to the aliveness and sentience of all things, that the natural world is lit up with the flame of divinity. This does and must include us. We’re not taught this. In fact, most of what we’re taught opposes this.

A world of objects is a kind of hell. A world of subjects—divine beings honoring the divinity in the other—is surely heaven. May we point our feet toward this heaven and begin the hard and necessary work of walking there.

[Richard Rohr, Center for Action]

Justice education.

June 14, 2018

The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row. The book is now a best seller on a number of lists including the New York Times Book Review and Amazon.  urrent EJI [Equal Justice Initiative] staff member and former client, Anthony Ray Hinton, spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.  His memoir is a powerful and revealing story of hope, love, and justice.

Richard Rohr, Center for Action:

Commitment to Nonviolence

Violence is awful. Violence is ugly. Violence is the saddest of human acts. As [Pope] John Paul stated, “War is a defeat for humanity.” It is so very difficult to lead people into a willing critique of their politics, their country, their allegiances, without some awareness of how violence is so often the handmaid of greed and power. 

When our lives are active and occupied in the name of doing good, there is little space for violence and doing harm.

Community

Community is the most neglected and probably the most difficult ingredient for us to hold to in the U.S. context. And for the most obvious of reasons—we have come to worship at the altar of independence, individualism and autonomy. As much as there is a deep hunger for connection, common purpose, and kindred hearts, there is a merciless, deep-rooted entrenchment in the forces of competition, freedom and self-rule.

As you might guess, when I say community I do not mean the bowling community, or even the church bowling community. Rather, I mean a community that makes very intentional commitments, including those I have mentioned so far: engagement with those of the margins, justice education or formation, simplicity, prayer, and peacemaking.

We must imagine what peace and justice look like on this earth, and we must begin the work of crafting structures, institutions, human realities that are the antithesis to division, hate, greed and scarcity, that anticipate and cultivate justice and goodness and peace.

Crossroads of identity.

June 11, 2018

As we saw earlier this year, humans need concrete and particular experiences to learn the ways of love. We don’t learn to love through abstract philosophy or theology. That’s why Jesus came to show God in human form, revealing a face we could recognize and relate to. Let’s first call justice giving everything its full due. Thus, it must begin with somehow seeing the divine (ultimate value) in the other. If we really see someone in their fullness, we cannot help but treat them with kindness and compassion.

Even as we know that every human’s being is inherently and equally good, dignified, and worthy of respect, we cannot ignore our very real differences. The problem is that the ego likes to assign lesser and greater value based on differences. Until all people everywhere are treated with dignity and respect, we must continue calling attention to imbalances of privilege and power. Arbitrary, artificial hierarchies and discrimination are based on a variety of differences: for example, gender, sexuality, class, skin color, education, physical or mental ability, attractiveness, accent, language, religion, and so on.

“Intersectionality” is a rather new concept for most of us to help explain how these attributes overlap. You can be privileged in some areas and not in others. A poor white man has more opportunities for advancement than a poor black man. A transgender woman of color has an even higher risk of being assaulted than a white heterosexual woman.  Someone without a disability has an easier time finding a job than an equally qualified candidate who has a disability.   

Pause for a moment and think about the areas in which you benefit, not because of anything you’ve done or deserve but simply because of what body you were born with, what class privilege you enjoy, what country or ethnicity you find yourself in.

In the book Intersectionality in Action, experienced educators recognize that “admitting one’s privilege can be very difficult,” especially for those who consider themselves tolerant and prefer to not use labels, “calling themselves color-blind, for instance.”

When we finally recognize our unearned benefits—at the expense of others—we may feel ashamed and that may lead us to make excuses for ourselves or overly identify with a less privileged aspect of our identity (for example as Jewish or female). Yet as we move beyond these attachments and emotions, “[We] learn that [our] privileges and disadvantages can coexist, intersect, and impact the way [we] move through different environments.” 

We must work to dismantle systems of oppression while at the same time honoring our differences and celebrating our oneness!

Our differences must first be maintained—and then overcome by the power of love. 

Infinite Love preserves unique truths, protecting boundaries while simultaneously bridging them.

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action

BIONEERS

•compound racism

•intersectionality

•justice vs status quo

•women’s leadership

‘When the current president rode a wave of white anxiety into the White House in 2016, it was part of a backlash to the Obama presidency, one that revealed an increasingly explicit white nationalism and revived an overtly exclusionary agenda: roll back rights and protections for people of color, immigrants, Muslims, women, and gay and transgender people. Then came the backlash to the backlash: a rapidly spreading awakening that all these peoples, movements and struggles are actually connected in one story. Visionary law professor and change-maker Kimberlé Crenshaw shows that it’s only at the crossroads of our many identities that will we will find a story big enough to embrace the diversity and complexity of our globalized 21st century world.’

Stay.

June 10, 2018

None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. As a scholar, Jennifer Michael Hecht proposes a new cultural reckoning with suicide, based not on morality or on rights but on our essential need for each other. “Look how involved we all are just under the surface, and let’s try to help each other.”  The communitarian is what struck me first.

We’re in it together in this profound way, and you can take some strength from that. I think that’s, for me, that’s been very important. Just feel like, obviously we’re not individuals. Wow, how could I have thought that we were on that kind of level? And it’s funny, because my two arguments, that you owe it to other people and that you owe it to your future self, are both about looking at what the individual means. Because when you look at a person within a group, and all the trends we follow, the clothes, the car, the not-car, all these trends that we follow, you realize the extent to which we’re enmeshed. And when you look at yourself and realize that you have fallen in and out of love with the same person, you have fought with friends thinking you’ll never speak to them again, and then you love them again.

It’s a great idea to write yourself a note saying, “I am happy right now despite previous depressions. Please do not do anything to inhibit this from happening again.” And go read it when you’re down. There it is in your handwriting.Remind your mood that the other mood exists. Because depression’s particularly — one of its definitions is that within depression you can’t see that you’ve ever not been depressed.

It’s impulsive. It’s tremendously impulsive. And that if you can get past the impulse, and if you can put a conceptual barrier in your head, that it can work in the same way that that chain link fence can. You just — you’ve put up a barrier. You’ve talked to yourself about this. And don’t argue with yourself. Get in bed and feel terrible, or go get help, or, jeez, playing a video game sometimes takes my mind off misery. There’s ways to get through the worst, and, really, when I’m starting out, what I’m starting out with is really just the idea of, yeah, sometimes life, for some of us, can be unbelievably painful. But don’t do this one thing. Your well-being is important to other people.

Choose to stay alive.

https://onbeing.org/programs/jennifer-michael-hecht-suicide-and-hope-for-our-future-selves/

• • • •

This past week reminded me that I need to be kinder. I never know what someone who is going through or why they are feeling the way that they do.

Oh, Infinite Creator, hold us softly in your great love. Remind us that your light connects us to all people and all things–the light alive in each of us. May we remember that we’re here on purpose, created to shine the light of love, peace and joy in our own way. Today, may we know the truth of our being and live from that knowing. -Science of Mind

What should you do when a loved one is severely depressed? Don’t underestimate the power of showing up.

YOU ARE SO LOVED AND WE LIKE HAVING YOU AROUND. *ties one end of this sentence to your heart, the other end to everyone who loves you in this life, even if clouds obscure your view *checks knots* THERE. STAY PUT, YOU. TUG IF YOU NEED ANYTHING. -LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA

• • • •

You may not feel that your presence is wanted. But just being by the side of someone who is depressed, and reminding her that she is special to you, is important to ensuring that she does not feel alone. It’s OK to ask if she’s having suicidal thoughts.

Lots of people struggle with depression without ever considering suicide. But depression is often a factor. Although you may worry that asking, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” will insult someone you’re trying to help — or worse, encourage her to go in that direction — experts say the opposite is true. 

“It’s important to know you can’t trigger suicidal thinking just by asking about it.”

If the answer is yes, it’s crucial that you calmly ask when and how; it’s much easier to help prevent a friend from hurting herself if you know the specifics.

In some cases, calling 911 may be the best option. If you do, ask for a crisis intervention team, Mr. Doederlein urged.

But remember that interactions with law enforcement can vary wildly, depending on race and socio-economic background. In cases where you’re concerned that calling police could put a person in danger, try to come up with an alternate plan in advance.

-Heather Murphy

• • • •

Check on your strong friends.

Check on your quiet friends.

Check on your “happy” friends.

Check on your creative friends.

Check on each other.

-Lauren Warren

• • • •

CDC/NPR

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent.

The rise in suicide rates was highest in the central, northern region of the U.S., with North Dakota, for example, seeing a 57.6 percent increase since 1999.

On average, there are 123 suicides per day in the United States.

We often assume that people who commit suicide are mentally ill, but this isn’t always the case. There are many factors that can contribute to suicide  that have nothing to do with mental illness, including loss of a relationship, loneliness, chronic illness, financial loss, history of trauma or abuse and the stigma associated with asking for help.

• • • •

But why are so many more Americans getting to this level of emotional despair than in the past? As journalist Johann Hari wrote in his best-selling book Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions, the epidemic of depression and despair in the Western World isn’t always caused by our brains. It’s largely caused by key problems in the way we live.

We exist largely disconnected from our extended families, friends and communities — except in the shallow interactions of social media.

-Kirsten Powers/USA Today

• • • •

Scott Simon/Weekend Edition/NPR

“I have to talk in an utterly personal way about suicide. My grandmother took her life, and my mother, who struggled against the impulse several times, said, “Suicide puts a fly in your head. It’s always in there, buzzing around.

It is risky to make generalizations about suicide — whether it appears to have been triggered by depression, job loss, sickness, romance, drink or drugs. The person who takes their life may feel alone and isolated. But they leave behind those who love them and who are left to wrestle with sleepless regrets and ceaseless wondering.

Walk up to a stranger
If you struggle, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or call 911. Or walk into a hospital or up to a police officer and say you need help. Walk into a church, mosque or synagogue. Walk up to a stranger if you have to — the kindness of strangers can be real. Do not suffer in silence or isolation. You can help save others, as well as yourself.

Harvard Business Review

The U.S. isn’t Just getting Older. It’s Getting More Segregated by Age.

Research in 2013 from demographer Richelle Winkler shows that in the U.S., age segregation is often as ingrained as racial segregation. Using census data from 1990 to 2010, Winkler found that in some parts of the country, old (age 60+) and young (age 20–34) are roughly as segregated as Hispanics and whites. This broader pattern is reflected in our neighborhoods. A 2011 study from MetLife and the National Association of Homebuilders found that nearly one-third of people over the age of 55 live in communities that entirely or mostly comprise people 55 and older.

“I think we’re in the midst of a dangerous experiment,” Cornell University professor Karl Pillemer told The Huffington Post. “This is the most age-segregated society that’s ever been. Vast numbers of younger people are likely to live into their 90s without contact with older people. As a result, young people’s view of aging is highly unrealistic and absurd.”

The extent of the isolation, of course, runs both ways — especially when it comes to young and old who aren’t related.

An array of other housing innovators, aging experts, architects, and homebuilders — including developers of senior-only communities — are contributing to the trend.

And now some of the biggest homebuilders are getting into the act. Lennar is promoting its NextGen Model, which includes space for families and “aging parents, live-in caretakers, post-college grown children, and more” under one roof, with privacy intact. Pardee Homes, another big builder, has launched GenSmart Suite to create homes designed to allow multiple generations to live together. While these efforts are usually discussed in terms of an expanded notion of family, they nonetheless contribute to the creation of multigenerational neighborhoods.

It makes sense that this innovation is beginning to happen now, as we reach an important demographic turning point. For the first time ever, there are more Americans over 50 than under 18. These numbers create both opportunity and urgency for making the most of the multigenerational reality that’s already here and that’s only projected to grow. And they force us to redefine what it means to be efficient — and human.

• • • •

Pain is often a sign that something has to change.

Our hears and bodies often give us messages we fail to pay attention to. Ironically, we are all so aware of pain, can hardly ignore it, but we rarely hear what it has to say. 

It is true that we may need to withstand great pain, great heartache, great disappointment and loss in order to unfold into the rest of our lives. But our pain may also be showing us exactly where we need to change.

Try to let the pain move through you. 

-Mark Nepo

Always remember: ‘Your well-being is important to other people. Choose to stay alive. We have need for each other.’

Leadership.

June 8, 2018

I’m sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control. Margaret Wheatley 

Center for Action & Contemplation

Richard Rohr

There is no greater training for true leadership than living in the naked now. There, we can set aside our own mental constructs, receive input and ideas from all directions, and lead even more creatively and imaginatively—with the clearer vision of one who lives beyond himself or herself. This is surely why some of Christianity’s great mystics, such as Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), and Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), were also first-rate leaders, motivators of others, and creative reformers of institutions.

Here are some insights into what every good, servant-hearted, nondual leader knows and practices, whether in community, in the workplace, or in the classroom. Creative leaders:

  • are seers of alternatives.
  • move forward by influencing events and inspiring people more than by ordering or demanding.
  • know that every one-sided solution is doomed to failure. It is never a lasting solution but only a postponement of the problem.
  • learn to study, discern, and search together with others for solutions.
  • know that total dilemmas are very few. We create many dilemmas because we are internally stuck, attached, fearful, over-identified with our position, needy of winning the case, or unable to entertain even the partial truth that the other opinion might be offering.
  • know that wisdom is “the art of the possible.” The key question is no longer “How can I problem solve now and get this off my plate?” It is “How can this situation achieve good for the largest number and for future generations?”
  • continue finding and sharing new data and possibilities until they can work toward consensus from all sides.
  • want to increase both freedom and ownership among the group—not subservience, which will ultimately sabotage the work anyway.
  • emphasize the why of a decision and show how it is consistent with the group’s values.

In short, good leaders must have a certain capacity for thinking beyond polarities and tapping into full, embodied knowing (prayer). They have a tolerance for ambiguity (faith), an ability to hold creative tensions (hope), and an ability to care (love) beyond their own personal advantage.

Jon Meacham/The Soul of America, The battle for Our Better Angels

“The Presidency is not merely an administrative office. That’s the least of it. It is more than an engineering job, efficient or inefficient. It is pre-eminently a place of moral leadership.”

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew much about the possibilities and perils of politics, wrote shortly before her death in 1962, “The course of history is directed by the choices we make and our choices grow out of the ideas, the beliefs, the values, the dreams of the people. It is not so much the powerful leaders that determine our destiny as the much more powerful influence of the combined voice of the people themselves.

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head. Any damn fool can do that, but it’s usually called ‘assault,’ not ‘leadership.’ I’ll tell you what leadership is. It’s persuasion, and conciliation, and education, and patience. It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know, or believe in, or will practice.”

-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Paulette Jordan.

June 6, 2018

‘From Sea to shining Sea. CA to Texas, Florida to Pennsylvania. The people will rise under one Sun.’

 

#IdahoGovernor2018

Who among the guards?

May 12, 2018

‘Out of Many One’

E Pluribus Unum

13 letters-13 colonies.

This was considered the U.S. motto until the mid ‘1950’s when this nation adopted ‘In God We Trust’, right around the same time the government added, ‘One nation under God’ to the pledge of allegiance.

With the unity of the 13 colonies the country was ideally formed out of many to become one nation.

‘The philosophy of the Declaration, that government is set up by the people to secure their life, liberty, and happiness, and is to be overthrown when it no longer does that, is often traced tot he ideas of John Locke, in his [1689] Second Treatise on Government.

It talked about government and political rights, but ignored the existing inequalities in property. And How cold people truly have equal rights, with start differences in wealth?’ (A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn, p. 73)

The preacher Theodore Parker told his congregation ‘money is this day the strongest power of the nation’ (p. 221).

‘The memory of the oppressed people cannot be taken away’ (p. 443).

Langston Hughes wrote in a 1930’s poem, ‘Lenox Avenue Mural’:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore—

and then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over—

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Yes, Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election, at the very least, with disinformation on the Internet—interjecting false ads, the majority of which did not necessary align with a particular candidate, but were motivated by social distruption: race.

AXIOS

Additionally, “900 [race-related spots] were posted after the November election through May 2017”.

CNN:

In the days after the November 2016 election, an increase in racist slogans and hateful messages was reported, especially in schools. The Southern Poverty Law Center found 867 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation in the 10 days after the Nov. 8 election.

Two recent examples, May 2018:

https://mobile.twitter.com/shaunking/status/994594065919324160

Shaun King on Twitter: “That is Anthony Wall, in prom clothes, being lifted off the ground and choked by a Warsaw County police officer @WaffleHouse. He had just taken his little sister to prom. And yet again @WaffleHouse called the cops. Anthony, of course was unarmed & non-violent.

Perhaps a more direct caption: #Lynching2018

’People in time, in friendly communities might create a new, diversified, nonviolent culture, in which all forms of personal and group expression would be possible. Men and women, black and white, old and young, could then cherish their differences as positive attributes, not as reasons for domination. New values of cooperation and freedom might then show up in the relations of people, the upbringing of children.

To do all that, in the complex conditions of control in the United States, would require combining the energy of all previous movements in American history—of labor insurgents, black rebels, Native Americans, women, young people—along with the new energy of an angry middle class. People would need to begin to transform their immediate environments—the workplace, the family, the school, the community—by a series of struggles against absentee authority, to give control of these places to the people who live and work there’ (Zinn, p. 639).

Rise like lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number!

Shake your chains to earth, like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you—

Ye are many; they are few!

Shelley

A community paradigm.

May 9, 2018

There is simplicity…ease…in kindness, inclusivity, and  compassion. Complexity and chaos are created when we allow ‘other’, dominance, greed, and power.

Grace is born in community, communication, and care.

A new paradigm, therefore, is created locally, which in turn effects the collective.

Not government, or policy, or military.

We, the people, can embrace our own dialogue, and meaning, without outside influences born of profit, and alternative motive.

’It’s not that there are no difference—the world is made of infinite variety—rather it is the seizing of differences, the fearing of differences, that keeps us from feeling grace.

Paradoxically, everything in life touches the same center through its uniqueness, the way no two souls are the same, though every soul breathes the same air.

The mind’s worst diseas: the endless deciding between want and don’t want, the endless war between for and against.’ -Mark Nepo

‘Living in community means living in such a way that others can access me and influence my life and that I can get “out of myself” and serve the lives of others. Community is a world where brotherliness and sisterliness are possible. By community, I don’t mean primarily a special kind of structure, but a network of relationships. On the whole, we live in a society that’s built not on community and cooperation but on individuality, greed, and competition—often resulting in oppressive economic systems, unnecessary suffering, and environmental devastation.

Today we might call powers and principalities our collective cultural moods, mass consciousness, or any institutions considered “too big to fail.” These are our idols. We are mostly oblivious to this because we take all our institutions as normal civilization and absolutely inevitable. It is the “absolutely” that makes us blind and allows us to make passing structures into complete idols. Because we partly profit from these frequently collective evils, it doesn’t look like evil at all—but something good and necessary. For instance, I’ve never once heard a sermon against the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods,” because in our culture that’s the only game in town. It is called capitalism, and we live comfortably because of it. It is only our unwillingness to question such powers and principalities, or in any way limit them (which is worship), which makes them into a false god. “The angels of darkness must always disguise themselves as angles of light.

(see 2 Corinthians 11:(14-15)

The individual is largely helpless and harmless standing against the system of disguise and illusion. Thankfully, we’re seeing many people, religious and secular, from all around the world, coming together to form alternative communities for sharing resources, living simply, and imagining a sustainable and nonviolent future. It is hard to imagine there will be a future without them.’

-Richard Rohr

 

 

Community. Local and global.

May 8, 2018

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. —Martin Luther King, Jr. 

President Barack Obama would often recite this quote, adding it “zig-zags”. Today, post 2016, the arc is seemingly particularly long, perhaps longer. And it is ‘zagging.’


I remember the happiness among the Iranian people after the Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iranian Deal, was signed, and the sanctions on their economy lifted. How they praised America and their feelings of future prosperity.

The United States acts as though it exists on this higher moral plane, when in reality, ethically, and compassionately, our behaviors, particularly among our government, are subpar, and so much karma to endure. Contemporaneously we live in ignorance and within a piouty weakening our collective community fiber. However, “we must not get distracted, and we must continue to do our spiritual work to embody the qualities that are seeking to emerge as we manifest the life we are called to live from the inside out. There are not shortcuts” [Sheila Thomas, RScP, Berkeley, California].

And the arc is indeed long.

The Beloved Community

By Richard Rohr

‘As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw clearly in the last years of his life, we face a real choice between chaos and community—we need a moral revolution. If that was true fifty years ago, then we must be clear today: America needs a moral revival to bring about beloved community. —William J. Barber II 

I believe that “moral revival” is a natural outgrowth of realizing how connected we already are: what we do unto others or to the earth, we really do to ourselves. All created beings are included in this one Body of God. Protestant pastor and political leader Rev. Dr. William Barber writes:

The main obstacle to beloved community continues to be the fear that people in power have used for generations to divide and conquer God’s children who are, whatever our differences, all in the same boat. 

The goal of the spiritual journey is to discover and move toward connectedness and relationship on ever new levels, while also honoring diversity. We may begin by making connections with family and friends, with nature and animals, and then grow into deeper connectedness with those outside our immediate circle, especially people of races, religions, economic classes, gender, and sexual orientation that are different from our own. Finally, we can and will experience this full connectedness as union with God. For some it starts the other way around: they experience union with God—and then find it easy to unite with everything else.

Without connectedness and communion, we don’t exist fully as our truest selves. Becoming who we really are is a matter of learning how to become more and more deeply connected.

Inherent Goodness can always uphold you if you can trust it. It is the trusting that is important. When we fall into Primal Love, we realize that everything is foundationally okay—and we are a part of that ever.”

In a culture that honors celebrity, a reality TV culture where it appears possible to become a president, for doing nothing, this can be difficult to accept [Thomas]. We must be in alignment with Universal Law and stay vigilant to what we think, say and do. We want the law to say “yes” to the highest idea of ourselves” [Thomas].’

We have so much ugly and hurtful Karma to answer for our in this country from our behaviors and injustices that generally preceded us, and specfically live contemporaneously.

“Karma is evolutionary action, its action that has an evolutionary impact in the sense that it affects your embodiment, your life and spirit in the future.  You never stay still, you go up or down in your quality” -Robert Thurman

‘Tuskegee Institute records the lynching of 3,436 blacks between 1882 and 1950. This is probably a small percentage of these murders, which were seldom reported, and led to the creation of the NAACP in 1909, an organization dedicated to passing federal anti-lynching laws. Through all this terror and carnage someone-many times a professional photographer-carried a camera and took pictures of the events. These lynching photographs were often made into postcards and sold as souvenirs to the crowds in attendance. These images are some of photography’s most brutal, surviving to this day so that we may now look back on the terrorism unleashed on America’s African-American community and perhaps know our history and ourselves better. The almost one hundred images reproduced here are a testament to the camera’s ability to make us remember what we often choose to forget [Amazon].’

NPR/Fresh Air

‘As the New Lynching Peach and Justice Memorial opens in Alabama, a look back on America’s history of racial terrorism, listening back to interviews with historian Philip Dray, author of At the Hands of Persons Unknown, and James Allen, who collected postcard “souvenirs” of lynchings for Without Sanctuary.’

https://www.npr.org/2018/05/04/608477810/as-new-lynching-memorial-opens-a-look-back-on-americas-history-of-racial-terrori

‘Although fairness and. Justice are beautiful gravitates by which we as human creatures try to live with one another, the storm and the germ, the termites eating the foundation of your home, the errant stone breaking your windshield, the wave swamping your little boat—these molecules of experience do not understand what is fair. They just bombard us in the endless cosmic dance of life that just keeps happening. […] Life is not fair, but unbending in its capacity to change us; that compassion is fair and feeling is just—that we are not responsible for all that befalls us [or maybe we are] only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.’

-Mark Nepo

Cat.

May 6, 2018

‘A year had passed and everything was just as it was a year before
As if was a year before
Until the gift that someone left, a basket by my door
And in there lay the fairest little baby crying to be fed
I got down on my knees and kissed the moon and star
on his head

☾ ☆

As years went by the boy grew high and the village looked on in awe
They’d never seen anything like the boy with the moon and star before
And people would ride from far and wide just to seek the word he spread
I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned
And love is all, he said.’

Collective consciousness.

May 5, 2018

‘The dynamic relationships in a family, classroom, workplace, or grassroots movement can have an evolutionary effect, creating new ways of thinking and being. Louis Savary and Patricia Berne share how Christopher Bache, a college professor, noticed what he called “collective consciousness” emerge when he gave assignments to small groups of students. Many showed abilities “as team members” that he hadn’t witnessed before in their individual work:

Bache recognized that each of the teams in his classroom had a life of its own . . . [and] enjoyed a kind of “collective consciousness.” They were thinking as one unit and each person seemed to have access to the consciousness of the others. When someone on the team made a good suggestion, everyone on the team seemed to recognize its value, so it became easy to implement with minimal discussion, without people taking sides, pro and con. 

Savary and Berne turn to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to explain how this happens:

Teilhard’s insight [that union differentiates] revealed that each student team had become a true unity, or “union.” It had also become a new being. . . . The team as a unit was more complex than any of the individuals in the team, and their shared consciousness was richer . . . than any of the team members.

Furthermore, that new being (the Third Self, or the team, itself) allowed each member to find a fuller identity and capacity within that team. Each student was, in Teilhard’s words, “differentiating” himself [or herself]. . . . In order to contribute to the success of the team, each member was challenged by that team spirit to manifest latent abilities in themselves. . . 

Love is the most powerful force or energy in the universe. That power is multiplied in relationships. Love’s potency is released most powerfully among people who have formed a relationship (a union). People who truly unite for a purpose beyond themselves become “differentiated” as they unite and work together in a shared consciousness to achieve their larger purpose.

In a true relationship, no one’s individuality is lost. It is increased. That is the beauty of Connections.
These unions that enjoy a collective consciousness become the launching pads for the next stage of evolution, as we learn consciously how to create them and use them. [2]

I see groups working creatively on many fronts, often outside church and political structures, with a growing capacity for what many call “intersectionality” (recognizing the interconnectedness of race, gender, and class). One wonderful example is the new Poor People’s Campaign led by Rev. William Barber and Rev. Liz Theoharis, and joined by people across the United States. They’re continuing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work to dismantle racism, poverty, and war. (Learn more about the Poor People’s Campaign and how you can join below today’s meditation.) Next week we’ll explore more of the generativity and healing that can happen within such community.’

-Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplations

~

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
Fifty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., people around the country are taking up his mantle, challenging systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, and ecological devastation. We are compelled to stand with those on the margins. Rev. Dr. William Barber, Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, and organizations across the United States are mobilizing thousands to mass non-violent civil disobedience from May 13-June 21 at state capitals and in Washington, D.C.
Learn more and sign the pledge at The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival poorpeoplescampaign.org

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