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Too Much With Us

Long after Wordsworth lay down in his grave, gave up his world to the worms and moist earth for an eternal lament, the world is no longer with us.
Nature has been sold to the pipeline as though the Christ will hang from his cross even when earth falls into its fiery core.
Too many innocent burned at the stake tortured in schools, broken in factories where the economy is managed by hyenas using whips and lies.
We are not the world any more but talking ants stripping leaves, melting ice with fire
turning the verdant forests into desert.
(from Infinite Power, Ekstasis 2016)

Good, Better, Best

If you're looking for ideas on ethical gifts - here are a few that are more likely to produce gratitude for the coming year.


A membership gift for the future - The Leap Manifesto. A future of responsible policies, government and business leaders who are working beyond the next budget or election.News outlets that write as though humanity is important - National Observersubscription to a Socially responsible think tank - Canadian Centre for Policy AlternativesGroups working for and educating the public on the Environment - Suzuki FoundationBooks about living well - The Art of Power by Thich Nhat HanhGifts made by small crafts businesses - Indian Summer Leather PursesSpa treatments - Hale Aloha Wellness SpaPaintings created by artists that are still alive - Mindy Joseph PaintingsBooks of poetry by poets who are not dead - Anima Canadensis , Flightpaths, Hush, The Way of Tanka and others. Buy fair trade goods and treats, food that is nutritious, music that is inspiring, gift certific…

The Heart Will Not Be Managed

That is what they told me as I strolled through their territory. They said you can cut us all down but our roots will find a way over or under other roots. They say look at how we shield the thinnest branches and the softest leaves without telling how or where to grow. We house birds of all kinds no matter how they live or what they believe. We don’t ask for love from mice or loyalty from snakes. We have not created by-laws here, demanding that neighbours sign before entering. We don’t judge. When something invades our sky and we cannot reach the light we grow in a different direction. They ask me to look at my own ancestors for the proof, put your gears in reverse and look at where you came from as you ventured slowly out of the ocean with new found legs looking for something to eat. Then look at the first mother and the first father how they laughed and how they cried never questioning the authenticity of their tears. Look at you they say. Look at how you survived your first breath, learned how to walk, …

What is on your Holiday Gift List?

"The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs. But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us. Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption. The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists."  taken from "Too right it's Black Friday: our relentless consumption is trashing the planet." by George Monbiot.

So what would you really like for Christmas?What would you like for your grandchildren or the planet?

What I would like is leadership that has integrity, that refuses to trivialize relationships between us and the environment.  We are turning our world into a dollar store.

Haiku: Frog in Pond by Basho

Old pond frog jumped in  sound of water. Translated by Lafcadio Hearn

A Found Haiku - sort of

Please conserve water do not feed the deer pick up after your dog
(found on Salt Spring Island)


This is more an instruction than a haiku. To attempt to make this more poetic would make it less urgent. 
Tomorrow there will be a haiku by Basho that may give you some idea of what a haiku sounds like.

What Can We Have Faith In?

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King Jr. BrainyQuote


This is what is asked of us. That there are no guarantees of a map, no guarantees we shall survive, no guarantees of anything.  We have created a construct in which to live. Some of it really helps some of us, while others are trapped. Sometimes things turn out well and sometimes they don't.

Most of those who suffer did not ask for it.  Most of us suffer.

I have faith that I can find a way through the day even though I don't know everything. I have faith that compassion is a way that works for me. I have faith that I am not alone.  

We are not good or evil, but some have been damaged beyond repair.

Faith

Humility

Kissing the Earth

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

― Thich Nhat HanhPeace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Capitalism the Nightmare - Truthdig

"Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) of the world’s population is poor, living on $10 a day or less, and 11 percent (767 million people, including 385 million children) live in what the World Bank calls “extreme poverty” (less than a $1.90 a day). Meanwhile, Oxfam reliably reports that, surreal as it sounds, the world’s eight richest people possess among themselves as much wealth as the poorest half of the entire human race." Paul Street, Capitalism the Nightmare, Truthdig

This is a sobering thought for the first day of this year's Advent Calendar.

Trinkets and charms are fun to buy, to give and receive, but it almost seems as though we have given up trying to solve the worlds gravest threats, for a little novelty.

In the long run I hope for guidance from friends, science and philosophers to steer my efforts towards a social responsibility.

Can Science and Religion be partners in human exploration?

Three reasons why the BC government must stop Site C

from Andrew Weaver:


The social and environmental impacts will be devastating.

Because of the massive scale of other resource development in northeast BC, including mining, logging and oil and gas development, the Peace River Valley is one of the few remaining places in the region where Indigenous peoples can still practice their cultures and traditions. Flooding the Peace River Valley will have a devastating impact on First Nations hunting, fishing and the gathering of berries and plant medicines. These are activities that are central to Indigenous identity and which continue to play a crucial role in the health and sustenance of Dunne-Zaa and Cree families in northeast BC. The government-appointed environmental impact assessment concluded that the impacts would be severe, permanent and irreversible. This is in addition to the destruction of grave and numerous cultural sites dating back hundreds and thousands of years, as well as the loss of small farms that have been maintained for gen…

Advent Calendar 2017

I am working on this year's advent calendar, starting December 1st, like last year's but with new readings and inspirations. Some posts from last year will be used again, but mostly I will be scouring the universe for new ideas and quotes.

Students of Machiavelli have had more air time than they deserve, and December is a good month to get re-acquainted with our hopes and support for humanity. 

It has been my experience that most people like to help others, love to give gifts and find it painful to witness others in distress. Thank you for being one of them.

Humanity, Wealth and Social Justice

In 2017, 112 were killed and 531 wounded in mass shootings in America, according to a chart published by Mother Jones and Times Magazine. (Deadliest Mass Shooting US History). The chart covers 35 years and in 1982 only 8 were killed and 3 wounded.

Why is it important to record this? Probably because the NRA and US Government refuse to ban guns no matter how many news headlines make us feel unsafe. And the proliferation of social media where anyone with a connection to internet can broadcast their favourite theories - like this one, needs some facts for the balance.

Also because numbers seem to have authority over general perceptions.

But what does it mean for the future of our species? 

We are not about to become extinct - there are 7.6 billion of us on this planet. I can imagine (unkindly) some folks in their well funded think tanks congratulating the murderers for killing off some of the population without them having to pay for it. The victims of mass killing are usually poor and unkn…

Remembrance Day

Is it a lie to think young boys sent to the front lines were willing to sacrifice their un-lived lives to win something they didn’t plan?
Was it assumed for them? Barked out by the pecking order with the rules. No options once you joined the army.
You were a prop for the gun and you couldn’t even choose where or when to shit.
You who just learned how to shave started out honourable and found comradery among the others who feared the white feather from the village wives.
If being a man means living up to others’ expectations with your young scrubbed face your limbs looking for love your mind questioning the fraction of a unit you have become for some other purpose never revealed to you - does it mean you proved it?
I want you to know even though it’s too late that I love you, and
your virgin heart.

Becoming Unstoppable - the story

"They set up think tanks, sponsored and captured academic departments, brought journalists and editors into their meetings, and managed to insert advisers into key political departments. They knew that, when Keynesian social democracy was broadly accepted by parties across the political spectrum, that they had no chance of immediate success. But they were patient. Across the course of 30 years, they built their networks, refined their arguments, and brought more and more people into their orbit. They knew that when an economic or political crisis came along, they would be ready to go. As Milton Friedman remarked, “when the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up”. George Monbiot.

"They" in the paragraph above were the architects of neoliberalism - rich influential families and corporations who sought to dominate the world. Perhaps they were afraid that our high standards of living, our science and our education would make…

Pornography and Power

When I went to Secondary school in the UK, there was an incident  that remains vivid in my mind.  A popular boy in our class rummaged through the bag of a girl and found a sanitary napkin. He hoisted it up as a prize and tossed to another boy who tossed it to another.  It went around the classroom like this for a minute or two.  The girl who owned it was red with embarrassment. It was as though she was to blame for this.  She desperately tried to reach it, to snatch it from the laughing boys making sport of her menstrual cycle.


This event symbolizes so much about the values of patriarchy - values that have taken fifty years for me to understand.

The first is to blame the victim.  At the time it was clear to me that the embarrassment was not hers to own - it was the boys who shamefully took something from her and threw it around.

In a society where males win medals for killing more children than women can give birth to, life is merely a resource. Giving birth, menstruating, rape, assault,…

Quebec’s niqab ban: just how small can we be?

"As a Muslim woman who chooses to cover her h​air​ but not her face, I am not personally affected by Quebec's new law banning face coverings while receiving public services such as taking a city bus. It would be easy for me to ignore the law's broader meaning. ... (but) it has stirred and jolted me out of complacency. We must speak out against this so-called religious neutrality, and see Bill 62 for what it really is: politicizing and fear mongering toward an easy target." Idil Issa, Globe and Mail

The question is - what is happening among the halls of power that some Canadians become so small?

What are we mindful of when talk about what other people should do, wear, believe or belong to?

Where is our power to form the natural government of what is acceptable, what is decent when it's not about 'us' but always about 'them'. Are we allowing the right people to dictate what we should tolerate?

Are we really willing to tolerate oppression of the poorest …

The Ultimate Goal of Patriarchy is the End of Life

I want to clarify the line between men in general and patriarchal values propagated and imposed on human society.

In order for patriarchy to succeed, it had to kill more efficiently than the nine months gestation it took for a woman to give birth.  So the craft of war  became more than simply defending territory. It became the ritualized erasure of our human nature for the rule of centralized power. 

Civilizations built on myths of great conquerors. Histories about the exploits of the greatest killers. Inventions of race, religious ideology and ritual that transformed the teachings of thoughtful prophets into crusades. Endless games of winning and losing.
Men who celebrate life through medicine, science, education, art, philosophy and poetry must be dismissed as soft, shamed as effeminate. 

Men who have been raised with love, love their kin, and their children, understand others who love.  So it's excruciating to think of  "leaders" whose sole ambition is death and killing. 

What Does Life Want From Me?

Reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks "Judaism's Life Changing Ideas" I was inspired to ask a question that he posed, through the work of Viktor Frankl who survived Auschwitz and who turned his experiences there to create a new form of psychotherapy based on man's search for meaning.

"His view was that we should never ask, “What do I want from life?” but always, “What does life want from me?”"

Woman's and Man's search for meaning  is upstaged by family needs. The task of caring for one another is really what life most wants from us all even though it is not mentioned in the main cultural arguments.

The shallow commerce of our hyped up consumer society is best revealed in Chris Hedges article "Faces of Pain, Faces of Hope.

"Popular culture celebrates those who wallow in power, wealth and self-obsession and perpetuates the lie that if you work hard and are clever you too can become a “success,” perhaps landing on “American Idol” or “Shark Tank.” ... The…

The Labyrinth’s Prayer

Our Labyrinth, which is on earth
Elliptic is your name Your hospitality come Your turning be done  on earth As it is in the universe. Give us this day our contemplation. And forgive us our missteps As we forgive others their missteps against us. And lead us not into apathy But deliver us from hasty judgement. For yours is the journey The purpose and the story For ever and ever. Ah women And men.

(Infinite Power, Ekstasis 2016)

David Brooks, Abbie Hoffman & Culture

The meritocratic establishment, who overtook the Protestant values of America before the 60's ...  "created an economy that benefits itself and leaves everybody else out. It led America into war in Iraq and sent the working class off to fight it. It has developed its own brand of cultural snobbery. Its media, film and music industries make members of the working class feel invisible and disrespected." David Brooks, The Abbie Hoffman of the Right: Donald Trump, The New York Times.

How do we connect these different cultures in a way that enables people to talk to one another so we can learn how and where to move forward? How do we include all views in a way that makes sense? Does it need to make sense?

Worship of Power As Shared Mental Illness

A study reported in the Telegraph, written by Martin Evans, claims "The children of rich parents are put under so much pressure to succeed they are at an increased risk of suffering" ...   from anxiety and depression at twice the normal rate of children from less well off families. Eating disorders, drug abuse, neuroses and self harming were found to be much more common among wealthy teenagers.

We are led to believe  that wealth signifies skill, intelligence or talent, and wealth "proves"  success. This manifests within the psyche of offspring a duty to prove their academic or athletic superiority, otherwise they are letting their family down. Relentless pressure can be applied while parents are unaware of how it impacts their child's health.

"The American psychologist who carried out the study said many children were finding it impossible to live up to the expectations being placed on them by their rich and successful parents."

Sheri Johnson, a Berkele…

Feeding Big Man

Once upon a time, there was a village near the river like other villages, but in this village was a man - taller than everyone else. Jolly and bright, an optimist who could build huts, plough fields, catch fish too.
With each passing day the man grew more confident and villagers  more adoring and complacent forgetting their skills they focused on worship invested in hope, their eyes looking up.
So in awe of Big Man they planned how and when to feed, wash and clothe him,  elected chairmen who instructed the villagers of their duty
to keep Big Man strong and beefy.
Soon got so big he couldn't leave his house stuck behind the door, fearful chairmen marched up and down the streets in a solemn search for answers now that folk were retired, poor
keeping Big Man in style and manner to which he'd become accustomed, his appetite large and rich too big for his humble home, he demanded more – a castle or a mansion, while the villagers bore
the cost with their labour, health, and their v…