Tuesday, September 23, 2008

For GMR...

photo by grassrootsmsw
Aloha Party at HSB

“Greater than scene is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

Eudora Welty


Cheers and thanks to you and your wise teachings of living, being, and practicing outside of the "frame." And, the ripple effects multiply and flourish...


Monday, September 15, 2008


photo by grassrootsmsw

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.


Give your best anyway.”

-Mother Teresa-

Each and every one of us carries our histories and stories. We all honor and celebrate that which has created the joy, love, and happiness in our lives.' We savor each precious moment and person who made us smile and laugh...it is part of what defines who we are, how far we have come, and how we move forth.

We have countless ingredients that build upon the kaleidocope of what is our life.

Often, what can be more defining and shaping are the painful stories which have created the feelings of loss, grief and sadness within us. These are the stories we tightly hold close, in a secret part of ourselves.' Holding this in isolation, seemingly protects us from judgment, and sometimes from a truth that is too painful to place or voice in the light of day. After all, we live in a world and society that prefers to see strength and resilience. Innately, the human instinct draws us to fit into a world where we belong and are understood and accepted. And, yes, most people want to be surrounded by happy and positive...

But what about those who have experiences and secret demons and can't find their way back to the happy places'? What about those who suffer silently, just because they don't want to be rejected or don't want to burden others' with their troubles'?

What if each of us reached out to someone whose pain was silent but recognizable and just offered presence without questions or solution? Their pain...our pain...it may be different in source, but it is still pain.

I am thinking of a special and dear colleague...her pain is real and how she has been secretly coping reminds me that we, as a society, can do better, heal more, and learn to embrace that which is scary or foreign to us. It's about accepting and holding humanity in every form, without judgment, and always with an open mind and heart.


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Untangling the roots...

photo by grassrootsmsw
Hendri's Beach

Deepak Chopra: Obama and The Palin Effect

Posted: September 4th, 2008

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palinʼs message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

--Small town values -- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

--Ignorance of world affairs -- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.

--Family values -- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.

--Rigid stands on guns and abortion -- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

--Patriotism -- the usual fallback in a failed war.

--"Reform" -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Interpreting Open versus Closed

photo by grassrootsmsw
Casco Viejo, Panama

"We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don't waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the "closed" mode. But the moment the action is over, try to return to the "open" mode—to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done. In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent."

John Cleese