The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Freedom of Religion

In my Facebook world, the decision regarding a mosque to be built at Ground Zero is topic of discussion this morning.

By turns, I’m emotionally outraged and sympathetic towards elected leaders.

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See, President Obama, by daring to even speak publicly about this subject,  has placed himself in the ever-fun world of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”

On the one hand, supporting construction of a building to worship at the altar of a religion that was used (in a twisted interpretation) to inspire and motivate suicide bombers is an affront to the patriotism and emotional solidarity of the Christian Majority.

On the other hand, he did promise during his inauguration to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Which, via the First Amendment, contains guidelines regarding Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, etc., etc….

In common terms, Separation of Church and State.

If the builders have followed all regulations regarding zoning, permit and licensing laws, then, it seems the Constitution would uphold them proceeding, regardless of whether they build a Starbucks or a Mosque.

The announcement of such, however, lures the Patriotic Heart with calls of, “Hey!  I’m capable of ticking you off.  Come out and play….”

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In contradiction of my usual manner (flying off the handle and eloquently stating my outrage via a 10,000 word blog) I instead listened to my rational self.

“What’s going on in the background while this bonfire is being fed?”

I find it interesting that Congress reconvenes on September 13th.   And you had better be registered to vote no later than October 4th.

Cyberspace Security Act 2009 and Illegal Immigration Reform bills are making their stealthy way through chambers and across desks in our nation’s capital.

I also keep track of the activities supported by Big Pharma and those who genetically modify seeds.

In your understandable emotional angst, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball.

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I refer you to page 179 of Customs and Culture by Eugene A. Nida:

“Legislating or ranting against socially harmful practices is not likely to have much effect.  Preaching itself is relatively useless unless it offers something distinctly better”

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Dear reader, if I’ve bumped once more into your sacred beliefs, I am truly sorry.   But I cannot help but remember there are Muslims who were born and bred in this country, who fight by the side of their fellow American soldiers, who get up every morning, kiss their spouse good-bye and hope both they and their children all return home at the end of the day, safe and happy.  Who contribute their minds, hearts and hands to local economies and new discoveries.

So for my part, I’d like to see a Center for Education at Ground Zero.

I’d like to see a ring of buildings that allows visitors to learn about Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna (I like this, god of divine love and joy, plus Humor!), Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Yi Ying, Ben Franklin….the list goes on and on.

See how quickly I got from listing prophets of religions to secular leaders?

The wise and faithful come in various shapes, sizes, nationalities and beliefs.   We each have the opportunity to create more distress and add to the hate in this world, or contribute to tolerance and peace.

I remember 9/11 vividly.   By day three, my broken heart could no longer stand anymore TV viewing.   It soared to hear Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.  (I’m a big fan of kickin’ arse… when needed…)

I did not personally know anyone in targeted buildings.

I do, however, know what’s it’s like to lose a beloved suddenly and unexpectedly to an enemy I didn’t see coming.

I’m just asking for us to please, not keep repeating our past mistakes.

Not all Germans were Nazis (Albert Einstien and Oskar Schindler come to mind)

Not all Catholics served as torturers or supporters for The Inquisition (two of my favorite Catholics are Galileo Galilei and Nostradamus.)

And from what I’ve been exposed to, there are plenty of Muslims requesting,

“Please, Please do not lump us in with those nuts….”

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I know it hurts.  It seems like condoning actions of those you ardently oppose.    But we sacrifice our own Freedoms when we say,

“Yes, there’s Freedom of Religion and separation of Church and State, just not here, and not for you….”

I Think, Therefore…

… I am confused.

A recent message from a friend put the fact that I think too much at the forefront of my thoughts.

Again.

Thanks, really.

Current teachings regarding spiritual enlightenment and aware living are heavily into touting “Peace through Silencing the Mind.”

Some recommend meditation in odd physical poses to gain quiet Nirvana.

Others propose staring at an object and being ‘present’ to its’ being without labeling or defining it.

Still others advise there is no way to shut up your mind, you just have to let it do its job and be very selective of when you will actually pay attention to it.

Over-the-counter medications are there for those of us who like short cuts to not-thinking via deep, drug-induced sleep.

All different paths to reach one goal:

A quiet mind.

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I like Eugene A. Nida’s commentary of our current society’s inclination to think too much.

In Customs and Cultures, he points out that indigenous, primitive cultures isolated from modern civilization do not consist of lower intelligence individuals incapable of deep and critical thought – rather, they are comprised of individuals who have not been exposed to as many choices and varieties of information.

This results in less personal angst and a ‘child like faith’ of those who live simply and in seclusion -vs. the personal struggle and never-ending skepticism of the educated and sophisticated believer.

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I was also recently led to the lecture, The Paradox of Choice, presented by Professor Renata Salecl to the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacture and Commerce. (RSA)

She takes an in-depth view at the harm caused to the individual in a society comprised of unlimited information and choices.

And the ludicrousness of societies in which choices, which really aren’t choices at all, proliferate. (Signing  a paper saying you freely choose to register for Military Service, when in fact you are required by law to do so is one example she gives.)

Her take on the matter is not really focused on how we think too much, but how society based on personal choice is both liberating and detrimental at the same time.

Liberating, because you have access to information and endless choices.

Detrimental, because if your life doesn’t go well, there is no one to blame but the person who made choices…i.e. yourself.

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In our society, we are inundated with an endless stream of information, advice and choices.

Therefore, we think a lot.

For our own survival, we must analyze and choose from an almost endless array of options.

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C’mon, show of hands… Who heard this line during their childhood:

“What, in heavens name, were you thinking?”

How many of you actually dared to reply:

“About having fun with no thoughts of the consequences…”

Big no-no.   Growing into a responsible, productive citizen means you are to continually think about the consequences of your actions.

See how we’re surrounded by conditioning to think, only to be later told we do it to much?

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As usual, no conclusions or answers, just some questions regarding just how we’ve ended up in the shape we’re in….

I just rented the DVD series, Ascent of Man from the library…. maybe it will have some information regarding where, exactly, the “off” switch is in my grey matter…

Quit Dressing like a Prostitute…

“Fully equipped with our own sets of values, of which we are largely unconscious, we sally forth in the world and automatically see behavior with glasses colored by our own experience” – Customs and Cultures by Eugene A. Nida, 1954 edition, page 2

Mr. Nida’s book opens with the following story:

Local church elders loudly opposed the suggestion by missionaries that women of the congregation be required to wear clothing concealing their breasts when attending Church.  In that part of the Congo, the well and fully dressed female citizens were all too often prostitutes.

In other cultures examined by Mr. Nida, full-length grass skirts were the adornments worn by the modest.

Bare breasts and covered legs = Proper Decorum.

(I will also note that my stretch marks, sagging abdomen and full hips would fetch a very high bride price in some cultures.   Here, I’m just ugly.)

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My own foray into examining my rigidly held beliefs came during the fads of black hair, black nails and clothes designed to detract from, rather than add to a person’s attractiveness. (at least from my viewpoint.)

While attending a Mother-Daughter outing, sponsored by my mom’s employer, we shared our Country Dinner playhouse table with another multi-generational pair.

I was younger than both the moms and older than the fourth member of our party.

There was subtle criticizing going on by the older generation of the style of dress and hair, that was easily observed to be followed by the youngest member of the group.

Dangerous waters if I’m to open my mouth at all.

I do not like the current style.

However, I dislike open disdain of another’s choices, (especially when those choices do not interfere with the life and liberty of others) even more.

Time to take a stand.

Deep Breath……

“I guess I ponder why it seems teenagers are doing their best to make themselves ugly when compared to current standards of beauty.   Perhaps it’s their way of rebelling against our tendency as a society to “judge a book by its cover”, much as our celebrated Civil Rights heroes did in their day.”

Dead Silence.

Then an excited, “That’s exactly what it’s about, though I didn’t realize it until now!” from the youngster.

“Well, you have a point.” from the elders.

Rest of the day spent in enjoying our time together, regardless of our differences.

In my mind, success.

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Given recent losses in my own life, I feel I’ve gotten even better at identifying what’s important and what’s not.   I’m sort of arrogant in my self-proclaimed status of ‘one who determines if such and such will really matter in a hundred years.”

I’m also pretty proud of my willingness to put myself in the position of receiving a lot of public criticism – even though I’m sensitive by nature and careless comments quickly forgotten by those who uttered them haunt me for years.

I’m also really aware of “Pride goeth before a fall….”

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When confronted by issues that immediately ‘offend’ me, I’m more likely now to first examine exactly why I’m offended, rather than justify my offense.

Sometimes, there really isn’t rational basis for my reaction.  I have a choice to let it go or hold onto it.

Other times, I have to choose between either speaking up or condoning actions not in tune with my beliefs via my silence.

And sometimes, I have to re-arrange my internal priority list in order to be true to myself and stay out of Hypocritical Territory.

Not an easy path to walk.

Dissenters label it, “neurosis and co-dependence issues”

Supporters call it, “Aware Living”.

And I often draw the fire of both sides.

Ah well.  “If they’re shooting at me, they’re leaving someone else alone,” is my motto….

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Sometimes living the Golden Rule is more about meeting folks where they are at, rather than giving them what you say you want.

Learning how to love others without betraying myself is something I haven’t quite mastered.

But at least the knowledge now resides in my “I Know I don’t Know” file cabinet.

Birds of a Feather…

When I was first introduced to the world of  “thought controls matter, we live in a divine matrix that continually creates reality based on our thoughts and actions”, I felt very alone.

For one thing, much of the literature regarding this theory was seen, in turns, as blasphemous by the religious of my circle and psuedo-science by the PhDer’s.

For another, commenting on why we are here, what our purpose is and how the universe works sans proof of ordination or at least a Master’s Degree in astrophysics is regarded as either sin or mal-practice in our society.

And last, but not least, were the allegations that I think too much and would be more useful if I did something “productive”.

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My journey into exploring and questioning my own existence and the set-up of the system I was born into has led me down many paths of inquiry touching on all aspects of my daily life; food, local resilience, healing, community, spirtuality.

Slowly, but surely, my circle expanded to include folks who had opened themselves to opinions different than they were raised with and who had come to some of the same conclusions I had.

In my excitement to share what had inspired or worked for me, I connected with those relieved to find companionship with another they could discuss these ideas with.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “I’m so glad to finally find someone to talk about this with.   I’ve had no one.  My family is not ‘into’ this ….”

I also heard, “No one else is interested in this.”

My reply?

“There are more of us than you think.  You just have to be willing to start the conversation.”

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Our basic make-up and evolution have left “a fear of disapproval” deeply imbedded in our DNA.  For thousands of years, the survival of our species depended upon each member of the tribe behaving in a productive manner with the welfare of all at the forefront of all actions.

Ostracism from your ‘tribe’ in a harsh landscape devoid of grocery stores, homeless shelters and hospitals meant, in all likelihood, your death.

Individual Survival depended upon being approved of by the tribe, or at least tolerated at the edge of the fire ring and supper table.  Everyone was daily aware of their inter-dependence upon one another and the world they inhabited.

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Our complex society which enables us to survive, whether through our own efforts or from the charity of others, does not erase our deep conditioning of seeking the approval of our ‘tribe’ in order to survive.

On the flip side, our current reality allows us to change tribes without starving right away.

Those who go about changing or leaving tribes, are by turns labeled:

“psychopath, heretic, radical, boat-rocker, crazy…”   Go ahead, fill in the blank.

While some may stand up, speak  “Hey!  This isn’t working and I think I know why” and be acknowledged as speaking the truth, there may also be backlash from those in their circle:

“Yes, you’re right, but what can we do?”

“True, but quit rocking the boat.   You keep it up and you’ll get us all in trouble.”

Or, as one in my circle is fond of saying, “Would you stop?  I have to live in this community.”

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Over the years, I have been accused of aggressive, argumentative behavior.  In my quest to not only examine my own beliefs but also try to better understand the beliefs of others, allegations of, “always trying to start a fight” have also been levied.

I love to debate – pick a topic, take different sides and then examine the subject down to the nth degree.  Helps me to more clearly see various perspectives of an issue.

It also exposes me to what Landmark Education graduates label as the DKDK area of my life.

The things you “Don’t Know you Don’t Know” – which, to their perspective, is the majority of the pie graph that illustrates the human existence.

My passionate nature in defending the side I chose is usually my undoing.

I secretly think the unease some feel when faced with the knowledge they haven’t really examined their beliefs is the true cause of a friendly debate turning into a perceived personal attack.

Often my questions to those who disagree with me are not even founded on intents of conversion or swaying  – Rather, they are my attempt to better understand another’s viewpoint.

For my mind, deductive reasoning is king.   Often, my side of the conversation goes like this:

“Okay.  But awhile ago you said (insert whatever you want) and now you’re saying (insert complete opposite).   My brain does not know how those two things can co-exist in the same time and place without contradiction….Please elaborate….”

The recipient of this statement most often takes this as more a ‘You are so wrong and I’m so right” statement, rather than my attempt at a teamwork approach to unraveling the mysteries of life….

You know, the whole “Two heads are better than one” approach.

I’ve never figured out exactly why….is it my tone? my flaw of getting so focused on thought processes that I forget how to temper my speech?  my fatal blind spot, “They love me and I love them, so we can discuss anything without there being problems….?”

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Even today, in my low energy state that is more likely to result in a shrug of the shoulders and ‘okay’ when faced with the disapproval or criticism of those in my circle, I still need an outlet for my thoughts.

So I’ve turned to blogging.

It’s really a win-win situation.   I get the intellectual discourse on topics of interest to me with folks who have pondered the same things AND no one can complain about my passionate ramblings.

I mean really, who was it that decided to come to my ‘room’ and read the entire discourse?    I didn’t stand in your living room or across the from the funeral of your son and shout my beliefs in such a loud voice you couldn’t block it out.

I just put my thoughts, “out there” and my readers chose to digest them.

Or spit them out.  And now they know better than to bookmark my site, because it doesn’t work for them.

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Beliefs are funny things.   They are the answer to Gary Craig’s riddle,  “What weighs nothing and yet has the power to start wars?”

In my quest to examine both my own and the status quo of our society, I unwittingly, time after time, stomp on the ones held by others.

Truly, it’s not on purpose.

More a wandering around in a dark containing other bodies,  by a blind woman  trying to find the light switch.

So sorry I bumped into you and caused you pain.

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To that end, today starts my blogging of what I’ve labeled as ‘pearls of wisdom’ via Eugene A. Nida’s work, Customs and Cultures.

Copyrighted in 1954, this book came to me via a garage sale.   I wasn’t even aware of the subtitle until I started reading it, days later, while on retreat at the abbey.

Turns out, it was the attempt by an early convert to Christianity to educate Missionaries on the anthropological history of the tribes they visited.

A linguist and translator by trade, Eugene A. Nida, via his words, shows how easily we can go forth and destroy our fellow man,  simply by not examining our own beliefs and not attempting to understand the context and history of those deemed ‘different’ from us.

He also eloquently recounts the dangers of DKDK.

His words spoke volumes to me.

Which means I now must write volumes about it…