Racism by any other name is Fear.

I live in a community (neighborhood, county, state,…) where closed-mindedness is the norm.  I would say racism is the norm but the attitudes and fiercely-held beliefs are not limited to preferences in the shade of skin or ethnic group or even ancestry…although those are very strongly separated classifications.

People around here are deeply resistant to changing how they think but then so are people all over the world.  If it is not what they grew up with, if it is not what they are familiar with, if he is not like me in (you name it: dialect, clothing style, vehicle type, licence plate, food preference,…) then it is wrong and therefore to be condemned, resisted, and (if possible) destroyed.

Two years ago, Lawrence Krauss, “Humanist of 2015,” was quoted as saying Organized religion, wielding power over the community, is antithetical to the process of what modern democracy should define as liberty. The sooner we are without it, the better.”  I won’t venture (right now) into all that is scary with that sentiment, but he demonstrates my point beautifully; Lawrence Krauss rejects everything about organized religion because it is not what he knows, is not what he is familiar with, and people who participate in organized religion don’t sound like the people he associates with…or him.

My own beloved college-educated, successful business-man brother threw out hundreds of dollars worth of organic food from my sister’s house because he “didn’t recognize any of it; I don’t eat that stuff.”

The short-cut suggestion to remedy this issue is ‘education.’  Doctors in hospitals all over the world struggle with patients’ refusals to follow prescribed improvements in diet and lifestyle and have thought the solution was education.  Pamphlets and discharge instructions with pictures and pleas have done little.  Helps and therapies seem to have no sizable impact.  My next door neighbor was hospitalized for 10 weeks last year for complications from surgery.  During this time he was given patches and drugs to help him withdraw from his addiction to smoking.  He lived smoke free among others who were smoke free for several weeks and he even admitted he felt great off the cigarrettes. On the drive home he stopped and bought a carton and lit up before he got to the front door.

These people are not willing to face their fears of the unknown.  “You sound wierd!”  “I don’t eat that stuff!”  “I don’t think my nerves could take it.”

Some fears are huge.  “What if there is not enough to go around?  Somebody has to go without.  Why does it have to be me?”  “If we let them have their way, they are going to take over!”  “One day they are going to rise up and kill every white person they see!”

It’s fear.  That’s all it is…fear.  Fear of deprivation; fear of the unknown; fear of unbearable whatever.  But it’s just fear.

So what’s the solution?  How do you help people who have unreasonable fear?  You must help them one person at a time.  In the way a parent helps a child who is fearful of the monster under the bed, you show them over and over that there is nothing there to be afraid of.  You show the person different from you that there is nothing for them to fear from you.  You demonstrate that there is more for them from people like you than hate. You demonstrate that different is okay…and safe…and sometimes good.

I have two neighbors…brothers…who were both raised in this closed-minded community.  One went into the Navy and worked beside people of a different color and national origin.  His brother did not leave home and has never worked beside people different from himself.  One is not fearful of people who are different; the other one is …but it looks like hate, not fear.

There are specific things we can do that help get through to people who have closed minds, fierce preferences, and fear.  First, be gentle with them; they will not listen if you are forceful or you are yelling.  Second, get to a point where you see things at their level …so that you can understand why they are fearful.  Third, allow them to vent.  Hold them in a safe environment so that they will be open to revealing what causes them to be fearful,  (Sometimes, that’s all they need.)  Their venting might be scary for you but you are the stronger one here.  They need to know…to see proof…that the resolution is stronger than their fear.  In other words, you need to love them.

If you have ever been a parent and you were faced with a child who cried out, “I HATE YOU!” then you know the dynamic I am describing:  you allowed the child to cry out the unthinkable…and then you assured the child that everything between you was still okay; you still love the child ‘the whole thing…all of it…without end.’  (Yes, I’ve been there.)

One more suggestion:  use words that are not usually used in these discussions.  Avoid the cliches and button words; you know what they are.

This is how loving is done.  This is how healing begins.  This is the work of Jesus.

 

By the way, I commend Senator Tim Scott in the way he met with President Trump; Scott introduced Trump to himself….in all of the aspects with which Trump is unfamiliar and that is what is necessary for a change of thinking…

Suffering and Need – the Mothers of Spiritual Evolution

Irma has reached South Carolina and we lost power an hour ago. (I’m composing on my cell phone…by candle light.)  My first thought when the power went out was that it would be back on soon because we live so close to the source… the dam. But then I remembered the prediction of wide-spread power outages.  Such a prediction is a good one because, electrical grid-wise, we are all connected.  That’s how and why brown-outs and black-outs occur…one city knocking down another.

Some people feel that images of disasters and heart-breaking stories from around the globe are too much to handle (“I can’t do anything about it.”)  However, in reaction to the news reports concerning the people in Texas and Florida, and even in Bangladesh, some internet friends and I have been writing about how we feel compelled to expand our compassion and concern out beyond our usual circle of friends and family.   One dear friend in Ireland said that it has changed the way she prays for people.  I’m inclined to agree with her because I believe in prayer.  I also believe that this is a new era…a time for increased global awareness, accompanied by an increased capacity for global compassion.

In the same way that technology has enabled power companies to interconnect and support and back up each other, we are getting better at doing the same spiritually. On a very small scale, when I struggle emotionally, my close friends step up and fill in with comfort and encouragement until my ‘transformers’ are running again. Healthy extended families and support groups like AA have been working like this for generations but now our awareness of suffering and need is global. How can our compassion cover it all?

Inventors of technology will attest to the truth that necessity is the mother of invention. Our increased awareness of the needs and struggles of others has necessitated a greater need for deeper and larger compassion and, spiritually, I believe we are being granted that greater capacity… almost as if we are able now to turn the light switch on in a previously secret room. Whether mankind has always had the capacity to hold the whole world in its heart…but just didn’t use it much…or whether we have evolved to be able to hold the globe in compassion, I believe we are discovering that it can be done.

Writers like Krista Tippett, Jim Marion, and Cynthia Bourgeault address how we as a civilization are evolving in consciousness.  Capabilities like nondual thinking, holding opposing views in a safe mediative space, and praying for the awakened consciousness of others are taking ‘helping others’ to a new level.

One of my friends cautioned me not long ago that I cannot heal the whole world…and she is correct… but I think we are getting closer to loving the whole world in compassion, all the time.

Trump and the Martial Art of Highway Resurfacing

I have done a lot of interstate driving over the past 45 years and applaud the advances made in the process of resurfacing the highways.  This morning, I watched the process of busting up the old surface with the laying down of new surface material immediately afterwards.  I was aware that there exists only a small window of opportunity through which repairs to subsurface structures can take place.

Imagine the delight of those agencies responsible for the maintenance of subsurface structures when the highway department schedules a resurfacing.  For a water department to bust up the surface of a highway is costly and they don’t have the right equipment; to be able to make improvements when someone else is doing the busting up is almost an opportunity too good to pass up.

What has this got to do with Trump?  A lot.

Trump is intent on busting up bureaucracy and regulation.  That bust up would allow a window of opportunity through which changes to old systems can be made before the situation crusts over again.

Regardless of our feelings about Trump’s goals and intentions…his reasons for busting up existing systems… all of us would agree that there are improvements that can be made to those systems. I would suggest that we not waste valuable time and energy focusing on his motives. Our goals should shift away from attacking Trump to being prepared to implement improvements  when the opportunity opens up.  This is where the martial art comes in.

“Aikido techniques consist of entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent’s attack.”  (Wikipedia)  Don’t attack Trump; Use his efforts and energy to make improvements.  What is meant for harm can be used for good.

 

 

Celestial Navigation

On my former blog, The View from 5022, I wrote about making necessary adjustments to one’s life and efforts by using the analogy of sailing.  The post is titled “Coming About.”  A few nights ago, I performed the equivalent of pumping out the bilge, trimming the sails, and charting a new course.

To continue with that analogy, since the end of last year, I have experienced stalls, squalls, and I’ve run aground a few times.  But more recently, there have been breaks in the clouds and a freshening breeze.  When I crawled into bed Monday night, I knew there was much to be thankful for but, because of all of it, I felt a bit battered.  I grabbed a pen and the closest thing to write on, a prayer and praise journal (which was fitting), and made an assessment of the gains and the losses.

I had been struggling for months with a particular Canadian-born bank which had mismanaged my account and reversed a payment to the IRS, costing me hundreds of dollars in penalties, fees, and increases in interest.  The government consumer protection agency and the senator’s office helping me with the issue informed me Monday that the issue is being dropped.  To stay upset would only hurt me.  I tossed the issue over-board.

Inspired by the marches on Saturday, I enthusiastically volunteered my services to the senator’s office and was told someone might be in touch…at some point…maybe.  Issue tossed.

Since just after Christmas, I have written (actual letters on actual note cards in actual cursive handwriting) to 9 friends and family members.  None of them have responded.  Looking for addresses of others to write to, I came across an old phone list.  On it was the name of a former doctor who, earlier last year, had been enduring cancer treatments and surgery, a long time friend who, earlier last year, had been reeling from the emotional blow of retirement, and a former coworker, from 2001 time-frame, who was likely concerned about the future of her career with a governmental climate science agency.  I made the calls and was met with instant re-connection, filling my emotional sails with billowed hopes.

These issues and more were lined up down both sides of the pages like small fishing skiffs bobbing in the waves…but there was something else still disturbing me…

Last Summer, when preoccupied with my sister’s arrival from Alaska, I stopped attending the small Episcopal church on the other side of town.  Driving by there late last month, I saw on their marquee a notice about an oyster roast.  On Saturday, I noticed the date had been changed to this weekend.  I called.  I volunteered to help.  However, I was informed that the priest I had known there had died, suddenly, in December.  (I wrote about several of his homilies last year.  See “To the Extent that One is Forgiven, One is Capable of Loving” and “What I Didn’t Know.”)  He was one of the few people who has believed my inner experience of God.  (Father B: “You help me because you are able to hear what it is I am trying to say.”)  Recalling that he was now gone from earth, my enthusiasm was suddenly becalmed; I felt more alone on earth than I had before.

My faith and beliefs have come under attack, recently, by bloggers from opposite ends of the religious spectrum.  On the one hand, there are the bloggers who hold that all people should believe xyz, strictly and immediately.  (I respond that each person should be allowed and encouraged to be where they are on their spiritual path to God; at least they are on the path and God is not done with them yet.)  On the other, there are those who hold a larger view but accuse me of insisting that mine is the only way.  (I am out of words with that one; My way is MY WAY and I offer it as an example…nothing more.)

At the same time, ironically, I have discovered that there is a spiritual path…a Christian path…with followers who hold the same beliefs I do.  Although I have come to my beliefs, faith, and inner life the hard way, having found them, I sought to join them.  It seems, however, that although they acknowledge my interest, I have been excluded apparently because I lack the expected background and education.  So, I will continue on my own, navigating by the heavens and sailing ‘solo.’

The course I am left with is a simpler one, lacking an itinerary with specified destinations. It is more a way of sailing:  trusting in the guiding stars (Jesus and the communion of saints) and the breeze on my face.   Watching the tell tail, testing the wind, keeping an eye on the horizon (and the channel markers),…this is the stuff of life.

 

(I borrowed the image above from the web)

God in the Ordinary

A few days ago, I posted my thoughts on God’s interest in everyday, technically non-religious, and seemingly non-spiritual events like football games.

In this morning’s meditation from Richard Rohr, he does a better job of saying the same thing:

God’s revelations are through the concrete and specific.

We have created an artificial divide or dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual.

Biblical revelation is saying that we are already spiritual beings; we just don’t know it yet

 

Here’s to our learning just that!

Richard Rohr’s daily meditations are found through his Center for Action and Contemplation website.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

For the past several days, I have ramped up my reading of scripture and books about God, Christianity, and spirituality. I have also been very open and vocal in expressing my beliefs and faith. I was feeling very clear and strong, spiritually. I was functioning in the present moment and doing good work.

Then, late yesterday, I was conned: I purchased what turned out to be a very inferior product that I really couldn’t afford. The salesmen, who came door to door, misled me and misrepresented the product. When I discovered the poor quality later, I felt crushed because not only had I been careless, the young men and I had shared our religious beliefs: we had talked about our beliefs in God and the importance of strengthening that belief…long before it is too late. (one young man’s mother had just died.)  Sergio and I even discussed his desire to write, particularly when he receives divine wisdom from God.

What was worse, though, was that purchasing something impulsively when I cannot afford it, is an old pattern for me. So, not only was I crushed, I was disappointed in myself.

It got worse. Later last night, I fell into another old habit; I found myself in an imagined conversation with the people who had destroyed my financial and material security 15 months ago. (I was wrongfully fired and lost my home, income, credit, reputation, friends,…)

And it got worse still…most of last night was spent in a twilight sleep where a dozen or more memories of being mistreated, marched across my consciousness.

This morning, I feel a bit beat up and stunned.

What do you think is going on here?

Protect what is True

(repeated and expanded here from my comment to an article in Sojourners)

Those of us who hold fast to truth and Wisdom must also hold fast and protect what we know of God, love, and justice. With Shadrach, Meschah, and Abednego, we know that God can deliver us, but if He does not, we will not bow down nor worship anything else…including fear, hate, or discouragement.

It is my opinion that the best position (in addition to protecting and preserving what we know) is to rise up to take a God-perspective of our situation. ‘Bad’ things are sometimes necessary to bring about world-sized changes. There is much ‘good’ coming from this looming dark time: many people who would ordinarily be going about their business are putting more attention to their relationship with God. There is more praying, contemplating, and discussing.

This is a time to keep vigil. This is a time to bury the silver. This is a time to clarify and strengthen one’s own connection to God…and to do that with others.  These are dark times but also times of opportunity to focus on what truly matters.

I agree with Pope Francis; this is a change of era.  This is an era when seekers of God in truth can pray in silent unison while darkness builds around them.  Travelers on the paths of Wisdom, mindfulness, consciousness,… will find themselves walking alongside one another, humming the same tune, speaking the same language.  We see the same light.  We hold the same light.

Keep watch. Pray. Hold hands. Hunch up close to Jesus. Do not let the light die.

thoughts…at this new year

when things happen:  locate God and adhere

struggling?  fearful?  perplexed?  look from a different height and angle…like God’s

try Ditzler’s 10 questions.  start with:  what did I accomplish last year?  what were my disappointments?  what did I learn?

Life takes time…it takes a whole lifetime.

The past?  learn from it…quickly…then let it go.

Whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ Gods has it.

simple.  clear.  listen.

show up and serve…everything else is distraction.

let her talk

transparency:  the less you hide, the less you have to carry

prep work.  homework.  it saves a lot of embarrassment.

allow

 

People Don’t Listen…

…but that is okay because that is just how people are.  I am determined to no longer get upset when people do what people do…like jump to conclusions, make gross generalizations (that are usually wrong.), hate without cause or reason, make bad choices.  I choose to do differently but if I get upset when others do dumb stuff, then I am only making myself unhappy.  People are not going to change just because I think they would be better off if they did.

I have probably not heard much of what has been said to me about my own stupidity…but I can not be totally sure of this because I wasn’t listening at the time.

Addendum:

I think I’ll add a little recently gained wisdom to these sentiments, namely:

People Aren’t Perfect…including myself.

I do my best thinking face down in the gravel.  (I stole that quote years ago and I can’t remember from whom.)  When dusting the grit off of my cheeks last week, a loyal friend pointed out two truths to me:  1) I expect too much from people and 2) I give more than I have.

I thought I had learned point #1 a while back but I guess not, as demonstrated by the piece “What Am I Missing” and my current situation.  Point #2 has eluded me as well.  All of my life I have given to others, especially my children, more than I could afford to give…not just financially, but emotionally and physically.

These two statements are now my new mantra.  If I forget them, please remind me.