Writing

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First day of Spring, 2006

Spring is a good time to pull out this quote, among my favorite, from a philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard:

If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible…what wine is so sparkling, so fragrant, so intoxicating, as possibility?”

That, to me, is what Spring is all about: re-discovering that sense of renewal that comes from blossoming buds on the trees in your neighborhood. By writing this, I am reminding myself today that each day is a brilliant new opportunity for re-making yourself and, by extension, loving those around you the way they deserve to be loved. Isn’t this why we’re here? To be the best friend you can possibly be to your friends. To be the best brother to your siblings. To be the best child to your parents. To be the best lover to your beloved. What else does life ask of us but to be a good human being? I say, nothing.

Stay true to this notion and happiness will follow as surely as the sun rises.


 

Is there a meaning to life and do I really care?

According to Abraham Maslow, once you have enough to meet your basic needs the human organism tends to turn his or her attention to questions more “substantive” like, what is the meaning of life? That is his theory. Mine is a little different. I propose that the very asking of the question is a clear indication that you are not living according to the way we are designed, or more accurately, to ask the question indicates that we are not living in a culture, a society or a tribe that is nurturing enough.

Since we are so removed from the experiences of our ancestors, I am merely speculating on nothing more that my (nagging) intuition, but that intuition has been right so often over the years that I have learned to heed it’s wisdom a great deal more carefully.

sequoia_coneMy theory is that we have evolved to need both intellect and intuition to accurately experience life’s remarkable wonders. Even more than that, we are not fully human unless we perceive the world with BOTH intellect AND intuition. We, as human beings, are designed to move through this beautiful life with some balance of using both to perceive. In so doing, we feel and know so much more about life than we could ever as simply rational, intellectual beings. How do you REALLY rationally explain the miracle that springs forth from a single pine cone and (somehow) becomes a giant Sequoia?

How do you REALLY explain (with your brain) the difference between the inanimate objects in our surroundings and that which is alive and self-replicating?

What does the spark that animates life look like and what is it made of?

Are our rational minds capable of understanding this? I see no signs of it.

Do you know that “something” we feel is missing from our lives, but have no name for it? It is a kind of longing that comes from being starved of a flow of knowing that comes from a developed (and trusted) sense of intuition. It also comes from the hole in our heart when we have no community to nurture us. We are alive in this crippled excuse for a society in spite of these longings. Without these connections, it is easy to see how we can wonder, ‘why am I here?’ But if we were whole beings capable of the full spectrum of knowing, if we could “see” the radiance of all the blessedness that surrounds us and all the love (in all varieties) we have within easy reach, why would we care to ask such a question?

We who feel this pain of loss can at least name it for ourselves and try to find comfort in each others arms. We can build community. That is a start.

– February, 2006


Love Is NOT Rare

This culture wants you to believe love is a rare commodity. Wrong on both counts. It’s neither rare, nor ANY kind of commodity. It’s important for us to reaffirm (and remind each other) that love is everywhere, in everything. Love is in every molecule of air we breathe and in every cell of our body and the cells of all that’s alive and in the molecules of all that is. And it’s important for you to know that love is divine. Every religion teaches, in some way, that God, or the Divine, is love. So, of course, it becomes obvious, once you begin to be in touch with your intuition this most extraordinary conclusion: All is Sacred.

The difference between us is simply the level of awareness we have about our divinity. It is NOT that one person is good and another evil. It’s all in what you think, or where you put your awareness. That makes all the difference in the world.

 


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Photo by John Jordan-Cascade

From the Fall 2009 issue of Oregon Toxic Alliance’s newsletter
Afterthoughts…
by John Jordan-Cascade, OTA Communications Manager

I spent a few hours volunteering at our Annual Toxic Toys Testing event on Saturday, November 7th. The article in the newspaper brought a flood of calls from folks who wanted to get their toys, etc. tested. I can’t tell you how many things I tested that week…and much to my surprise, a majority of dishware tested positive for some level (and many times high levels) of lead! Many toys passed the screening this year, primarily because of new regulations in place for 2009, but coffee mugs, bowls, plates: NO! I was more than a little disillusioned.The photo on the right is of the “winning” item tested with the Niton Analyzer gun I used (thank you for the loan, ThermoFisher Scientific!). This bowl had the highest amount of lead measured: 600,000 parts per million…that’s 60,000 times over the safe level set by the EPA, to take effect in 2011. I don’t know if pouring soup in that bowl would leach any lead, but why would anyone want to take a chance with their health? I also measured the ceramic container that one woman had used for years to store her filtered water. The inside of the container tested at 24,000 ppm, or 2,400 times more than EPA guidelines. She was visibly disturbed at the news and confided that she had recently tested positive for liver problems.If there’s one thing I can pass along, it’s this: don’t assume that because you can buy something in a local store that it’s free of harmful chemicals. My experience is another confirmation that we’re swimming in toxics in our daily life. We’ve got to continue to raise our awareness. My advice: please don’t be shy about raising hell with your legislators and the stores and manufacturers that sell you products not considered safe. Don’t wait for scientists in white lab coats to give you permission to speak out. Manufacturers are just not going to change without public pressure. It might push your comfort zone to be insistent, but you can count on OTA to back you up. We’re in this together. ***


The basis for a new society…

Liberal vs. conservative, right vs. left, business vs. labor, rich vs. poor, us vs. them. I think the old dichotomies that we have used in the past to frame political discourse are quickly becoming obsolete in modern politics. The reason? The monumental challenges we as a society, as a civilization face: climate change, economic depression, the increasing rate of species extinction. They all scream out for the need to redefine how we think about our world and our place in it. In my view, this is a good thing… and long overdue. For about as long as I have followed politics, I have felt we need to redefine how we frame this raucous conflict we call politics. Old paradigms must fall by the wayside if civilization is to maintain any foothold on this planet as it attempts to adapt to a crashing system based on the ridiculous assumption of unlimited growth and an abuse of nature as if it were a bottomless toilet.

The more we really see that our economy is built on top of a fragile, living planet, the more we see that we are not masters of a dead sphere of rock with a thin coating of life. We are not even stewards of this self-regulating planet, often called “Gaia” by scientists in a new field of study called, “geophysiology,” but rather humble participants; partners, if you will. As such, we are responsible for doing our part to obey the laws of mutuality that govern all life on our sacred, life-sustaining sphere.

If that sounds about right to you…if you have this nameless, gnawing feeling in your gut that something is very wrong with what we call civilization, I assure you: you are not alone. My assertion is that it is time to develop new paradigms based on a respect for our true, more humble, place in the system of life on Gaia. Let’s start by working together, using scientific reason, to determine what is right for the planet. Then put our discoveries at the center of all decision-making. Such a re-assessment can only bring a lasting harmony and help us to rediscover humanity’s true connection with the living planet. And that would be well worth the price of admission.

– December 2007


The Impossible Day (a fable)

It was quite a remarkable day and all anyone can remember, among those who can remember, was that it was a Thursday. No dates or years come to mind, though there are many conflicting claims. The weather that day was, in itself, remarkable: calm and cloudless across the globe. It was a day like no other among days to make you happy to be alive.

On this “impossible day,” as it has been referred to, there was, just for that day, an end to suffering around the world. Not a complete end to pain, but the suffering that comes from it. As if the teachings of Buddha had immediately been laid at the feet of all of us: a great bouquet of fresh lotus flowers strewn across the landscape wherever living beings walked. A great awakening to the gift of life came to the hearts of all humans–wherever they lived.

There were no deaths that day and, because of it, no mourning. It was a day’s respite from the cycle of life. There were no births that day, as if Mother Earth whispered, ‘dear Children, you are too many for me to take care of!’ Just for that day there was no fighting or violence. The soldiers could not lift their weapons, nor men lift their arms to batter those who trust them. For that day there were no homes bulldozed in Palestine, nor suicide bombs exploded in Tel Aviv. For that day the torturers could not lift their arms to beat their captives.

For that day, addicts did not feel the stinging pain of need. For that day, thieves stayed home and men with saws could not cut a single tree. For that day, the millions who hunger—from the sub-Saharan region in Africa to the lowlands of Bangladesh—felt no emptiness in their belly. For that day people from all walks of life were kind to each other and children played in parks and homes without bickering or complaining or crying.

The world was at peace and so, the news anchors of TV and radio were silent. They were befuddled and could not summon the courage to say that a miracle had visited the planet. But we knew in our hearts what was happening. For that day we did not need the media to tell us about our lives.

The religious praised God and Allah and Brahman and the Goddess. The atheists laughed and cried all day and the agnostics wondered aloud what their eyes and bones could not deny.

In short, it was as if the great spirits of all human history–Buddha, Jesus, Black Elk, Muhammad, Quan Yin, Moses, Krishna, and all Goddesses past and present–formed counsel and created a heaven on Earth. Just for that one day, what everyone had always thought impossible was real. Laid bare beneath our feet, as if our birthright.

The little I can remember I leave for you as a gift. I remember thinking to myself that finally I had proof: it is possible! We can make paradise here on Mother Earth! We do not have to die to find heaven! Paradise is ours to make. We glimpsed the possibility of it one amazing Thursday. The day before was ordinary and the day after was ordinary, but the day after the Impossible Day was ordinary only because we had chosen to make it ordinary.

I say all this because I see that we have forgotten what the Impossible Day has taught us. The Impossible Day was a gift to help us to see what can be done if we choose a different path. Now we have lost hope, where before we knew what it was like to have hope for one blessed, miraculous day.

I say all this because I believe that there is grace and forgiveness in our hearts. Each one of us has the capacity to create miracles in our lives. There is, in each and every moment, the potential to decide to have hope—it is NOT something we have to wait for someone else to give to us.

I say all this because I believe with all my heart that whom so ever says we cannot accomplish a paradise on earth is a fool that has never glimpsed the truth of their own soul. It can be done through the power that comes from collective will informed by compassionate cooperation. And more importantly…much more importantly, it is our destiny to make it real.


Currents of change in our midst…

Raise your hand if you HATE being labeled! Yeah, sure, it’s OK to label others, after all they’re the “average folk.”
But you…you’re special. Even though you scoff at the notion of being special–in public…somehow you know you are. What’s up with that?

I know.

There is a silent movement or unconnected current of change happening in civilization today. Not just political. Not just cultural and artistic. Not just spiritual. Try ALL AT ONCE!

These currents of change cut across all boundaries of race, class, ethnicity and nationality. The very idea of boundaries makes us sneer at the obsolete absurdity of it. Most of us are skeptical of media-fed notions of cool and try to avoid the shallow limitations such ideas place on us. “To thine own self be true!” would be one of many rally cries you might hear from our lips in conversations and arguments. Perhaps not in those exact words, but in concept at least. Another might be something like “No Limits!” And I can see why it resonates with us. There are really NO limits if we come to an understanding that we are, in so many ways, all one.

There is a term being bandied about that captures the commonality of what it means to be of “our kind.”

Cultural Creatives

…and there is a book about us if you have a mind to look yourself up. (OK, so your name won’t be in it, but at least you can see if you might “qualify.” I put that in quotes because we tend to shy away from judgments.)

So here’s the deal: it’s not a totally new current of change, but rather a fairly new current that just MIGHT represent (some day) the beginning of a leap in human evolution. Hyperbole, you say? Maybe. Maybe not. History will tell and I won’t be around for you to tell me I was wrong. Meantime, the very thought of it just might offer a little bit of consolation for our feeling weird, maybe even for the depth of our suffering. And it might generate a bit of hope for the future. Hope is in our own hands when you believe that you are not alone in your specialness and, even better, if you reach out to form community you just might find the joy in being alive that you and I know is our birthright.

–May 10, 2006


 

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