As long as we all buy into the paradigm that tells us war, violence, strife and terror are the only possible reality, we're going to get more of the same. Join us in envisioning a new reality, a paradigm of peace. Let it start inside individuals, spread to families, and radiate to our communities, our country, our world. Will you put one of our magnets on your car to let others start to think about peace?
A quarter of all proceeds go to organizations that are working toward a more peaceable future. This quarter's donations will go to CARE's efforts in Darfur.
Kim Pleticha is the editor of a small parents' publication in Austin called Parent:Wise, and I recently picked up a copy while waiting for an appointment. (Unfortunately, the current issue has not been posted online as of today.) I was surprised and delighted to find an editorial on True Patriotism that summed up and amplified many of my own vague feelings that somehow get stirred up on the Fourth of July. I do love this country, and I love it because of my reverence for the courage, wisdom, and supreme humanity of the men who risked their lives to create it. That those same men would be appalled by the pseudo-democracy emerging in the last couple of decades (and the last six years in particular) brings me little joy. However, Kim Pleticha has some wonderful musings on what it means to be patriotic today.
She began the piece by taking on the common lament that our media is responsible for our sorry state of cultural and historical awareness:
But in blaming the media, we may as well blame ourselves. The media program TV for us: news ratings are broken down into 15-minute intervals, which means media corporations know almost exactly when you (or the person with the Nielson box) switch off the TV. If you aren't interested, the media aren't interested, because they can't sell ads and pay for programming if there aren't any eyeballs on the screen. If Paris Hilton draws more eyeballs than the War on Terror, then Paris Hilton gets more airtime. It's simple economics.
She then goes on to address the role that parents play in educating informed citizens within a culture of ignorance and apathy:
If we give [our children] the impression that apathy is OK, that understanding their basic Constitutional rights is unimportant, that not paying attention to the world around them and their place/responsibility in it is perfectly acceptable, then we have nobody but ourselves to blame if we lose the freedoms we currently take for granted.
And on to the meat of the argument:
Embracing patriotism should not be confused with espousing nationalism, which Albert Einstein once called "the measles of mankind." Paatriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first, former Prime Minister of France Charles de Gaulle said. The distinction is important. Patriotism is rather like a parent's love for a child: you may love your own child above other people's children, but you also love other children and want the best for them.
When you look at it that way, you understand that true patriotism is not limited to any one political party or set of beliefs; neither should it be ignorant nor blind.
President Teddy Roosevelt said patriotism means standing by the country -- not by a public official. Most important, Mr. Roosevelt said, "it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth."
So that is what parents must do. We must teach our children not to take lightly this country's freedoms, nor ignor its transgressions. We must educate them about the legacy they have inherited: the brilliant and, yes, the base. Navigating the future requires knowledge of the past.
This is my wife taking her first look at our newest daughter, Baby Josie, born on Tuesday after a challenging labor and an unscheduled C-section. Talk about heroic efforts and the marvels of modern medicine. In the old days, one or both of them could easily have not survived such an ordeal. The cord got wrapped around the baby's neck, so when Dawn was pushing, the baby's heart rate kept dropping. When they made the call to go into surgery, this whirlwind of nurses and technicians descended into the room, threw scrubs at me, and told me to follow them. My other daughter, age 3, was waiting in another room with Granddad, and I wanted to bring her in to see Mom before the surgery. Talk about a range of chaotic emotions!
Once I got my scrubs on, I had to wait on a bench in a hallway for what seemed like an hour while they prepped Dawn. They finally came and got me. In the next room, or on the hall above, they were doing heavy construction, so as they're cutting my wife open, there are all sorts of slamming and hammering noises literally shaking the room. After a while, they called me to look over the curtain because the baby was out. She was gorgeous, but I still hadn't heard her cry. They took her over to the incubator, and seconds stretched and stretched. "Why isn't she crying?" Oh, she will, assured a nurse, she'll cry in just a second. I could see three people working on her, and my heart felt like an old punching bag with some of the stuffing bursting out of it. Finally her first little cries rang out, and our panic was jolted into uncontrollable elation. I've never experienced anything like the rollercoaster I was on that day. Everybody's fine now, and three days later we came home.
This experience, and my previous daughter's birth as well, have made me realize that every human being walking the planet is a living miracle. I once heard a Buddhist story about the likelihood of each incarnation of a human soul being like an ocean in which there floats a wooden ring. Every 100 years, a solitary sea turtle swims to the surface of the ocean, and if he happens to surface with his head inside the ring, that's the same odds of a soul actually incarnating in human form. Our lives are not random accidents. We are all connected. Each human being is, as Emerson said, "part and particle of God." And, if even just for a moment upon being born, every human being is an expression of Love. How quickly we forget where we came from!
If we could tap into and harness the power of that bond between mother and child, and remember the transforming power of birth that touches all who draw near to it, then perhaps we could begin to heal the human race. I am grateful for my wife, whose courage and willingness to suffer have stretched my love, respect and awe for her. I am grateful for the rest of my family, who have selflessly come to support us with loving help and encouragement. I am grateful for the nurses and doctors who have worked so hard to be able to do their jobs so that they can safely bring new lives into the world. I am grateful for friends and neighbors who have cut my grass, watched my older daughter, cleaned our house, fed us, and provided good company in sharing this incredible experience. Experiencing the birth of a child reminds us of the ultimate goodness of the Universe.
If you've ever wanted to meet Christians who practice what they preach, it would be the Simple Way community in Philadelphia. They just experienced a great loss when their community center, established in one of the lower SES neighborhoods in Philly, burned down a couple of days ago. Visit their site, and send them some money if you're so inclined. They exemplify the Two Great Commandments: "Love God, Love Your Neighbors."
If there is going to be lasting peace, it will come from the integration of the Divine Feminine, which manifests as the creative, nurturing, interdependent, receptive, and above all, loving elements that are common to humanity in all its diverse forms.
The conference takes place in Dallas from July 10-15, and if anyone reading this is planning to attend, please contact me about sharing your experience here on Peace Meme.
Just when things with the blog felt like they were petering out, and as I've been staring at this stack of leftover Support Peace magnets, I'm driving down Mopac in Austin yesterday and I pass a car with one of my magnets on the bumper. The coolest thing was, I didn't know the folks in the car! A Sign from the Universe!
Incidentally, my trusty old Dodge Ram in the picture was sold last week in order to provide a downpayment on a 2004 Toyota Sienna minivan, thus completing my transformation into yet another overweight, middle-aged, Caucasian suburban Dad. My daughter and I wept in the front lawn as the new owner drove away, with Mary Sophia sobbing, "Why is he taking our truck?" Because I'm old, sweetie, and when your new sister arrives (any day now!) we'll need extra space in the car.
So long, old Peace Horse! I'll miss you!
PS, anyone looking for used cars, er, pre-owned vehicles, I highly recommend CarMax! We had a great experience there. If you're in Austin, go to the South location and ask for Brandon; tell him JC sent you!
Ted caught up with me through the amazing power of the Net, and turned me on to a great new forum for peace and prosperity, a site called Break Down The Walls. It's got several categories, each with some questions or food for thought. The discussion builds as as people leave posts and comments. I'm focused on kick-starting Peace Meme right now, but hope to find time to hang out and see what develops at this new hot spot.
38. The disintegrating and dying of our false self is our participation in the passion and death of Jesus. The building of our new self, based on the transforming power of divine love, is our participation in his risen life.
It's always amazing to me that whenever I put down a practice or a daily reading discipline, when I return and pick it back up, it's as if I'm always at the right place for that particular moment of life experience. The dying of the false self and the birth of the new self is an experience that seems to need repeating on a fairly constant basis. When it takes decades to create a false self -- the masks and layers with which we cover up our true, divine essences -- you can't just take it apart in a day. So I'm still working, and now returning once again to daily practice, and with that in line, hopefully returning to sharing my thoughts on peace and practice.
For those new to this blog, these principles are from Father Keating's classic, Open Mind, Open Heart. I also, when I'm practicing, start my morning meditation with a reading from The Daily Reader for Comtemplative Living, a collection of gems from Father Keating's work. At the beginning of this month, a service at the Church of Conscious Harmony reminded me of how far away I'd been drifting from my spiritual practice. The following Monday morning, I woke up early to do my sit. Here's what the Reader had for the first two days of my return to centering prayer practice:
Where are you? This is one of the great questions of all time. It is the focus of the first half of the spiritual journey . . . In Genesis 3 it is the question God asked when Adam and Eve had taken off for the underbrush after their disobedience . . . This marvelous story of creation is not just about Adam and Eve. It is really about us. It is a revelation of where we are. The same question is addressed to every generation, time, and person. At every moment of our lives, God is asking us, "Where are you? Why are you hiding?"
Beginning the Spiritual Search for God
All the questions that are fundamental to human happiness arise when we ask ourselves this excruciating question: Where am I? Where am I in relation to God, to myself, and to others? . . . As soon as we answer honestly, we have begun the spiritual search for God, whic is also the search for ourselves. God is asking us to face the reality of the human condition, to come out of the woods into the full light of intimacy with him. That is the state of mind that Adam and Eve had, according to the story, before their disobedience. As soon as they became aware of their separation from God, they headed for the woods. They had to hide from God because the loss of the intimacy and union that they had enjoyed with him in paradise was so painful.
Where am I? That's a good daily question. How often have I headed for the woods of sleep, television, petty political bickering, heavy meals and cold beer? How often have I taken the easy way out, and then wondered why I was so discontent? The good news is, you can always turn around and head for home, where the heart is. So, where are you?
Forgotten, but not gone? That's me, perhaps. Winding down from an insane sprint to the end of a semester (both as a teacher and as a student), I had my parents visit at the end of May, then my summer counseling practicum began on June 7th. I've been focused on the imminent arrival of daughter number two, and the overwhelming process of counseling live clients. And, as I've alluded to in some of my "recent" posts, a sense of blogging burnout, a feeling that nothing's going to change as a result of my own paltry thoughts and expressions.
But that's a cop-out, isn't it? They say all narrative is driven by conflict, so does a blog about peace naturally run out of gas? It seems all the angry bloggers in the world can't find enough hours in the day to post on the latest outrage. I still believe peace is possible. I still believe each individual can make the world around them slightly more peaceful. I still believe in the "100th monkey" theory that says if enough of us get it, some sort of critical mass will be achieved and ALL of us will get it -- but the "evidence" to the contrary is extensive and pervasive.
I have a couple of writing projects going on at the moment (or at least thinking about writing projects!) that have to do with a new paradigm of business, one in which masculine and feminine elements of human psychology/spirituality are expressed in financially viable enterprises. Perhaps as I cogitate on these matters, I can re-integrate a daily writing practice through the blog. It would be nice to bring Peace Meme back from the dead. So, out goes the intention -- we'll see what comes back . . .
Meanwhile, cool site of the day, Anita Roddick's eclectic collection of all things sustainable. Found a great collection of Peace Posters on it.
Longer Peaces Articles for Leisurely Reading: This is where I put longer posts so that they won't clog up the Peace Meme page. I hope you'll take some time to leisurely peruse these articles, as they represent the philosophical underpinnings of what I'm trying to do with this site.