Everything Counts

Everything Counts

 

The Conference

The conference room was sunny.  One complete wall was a window, linking those in the room with the intricacies of the temperate rainforest just beyond the conference building’s grounds.  Most impressive was the way the sunshine appeared to flicker among the leaves as they moved gently in the breeze.  The effect was peaceful.  Possibly that was the intent of the room’s situation and design – to create a feeling of peace among those who consulted or sometimes debated there.

The participants in this conference slowly entered the room and quietly found seats around the central table, which was supplied with small snacks and cups for coffee or tea, should a participant wish that.  On one side of the table, the environmentalists arranged themselves; the other side was occupied by those who wished to end war.  The groups were not enemies; neither were they yet comrades in an effort to achieve both their goals.   The leader/main spokesperson for the environmentalists was a tall woman who looked to be at least part indigenous.  Her face was strong and vibrant, but not what one might interpret as exceptionally beautiful.  She had long, dark-brown hair, and a generally friendly mien, but one which also seemed to brook no nonsense.  Chief among the delegation of those who advocated abandoning war was a quite handsome black man of medium build.  His stance seemed to say that he had survived many struggles and come through with an exceptional balance.  Those wishing to abandon war had called the conference, hoping to join forces with those who wished to save the Earth.

The woman spoke.  “Now that we have gathered here,” she challenged, “please do explain to us what is to be gained by our adding to our focus the abolition of war.  It is difficult enough to make an effect on those who seem determined, on purpose or through neglect, to destroy our Earth.”

“First,” Martin (for that was the man’s name) replied, “I thank you for taking the time to come here to confer with us.  We understand how busy you are; we ourselves are similarly occupied.  It is my sincere belief that this time will prove productive for us both.  There are many reasons that cooperation with each other will strengthen both the efforts for peace and the efforts to renew the Earth.  I will let my colleagues present them to you, after which, I will request that you and your people also offer suggestions and ask questions.”

Robin, the woman, graciously offered, “We are ready to hear you.”

Martin gestured to the woman sitting on his right.

“With respect,” she began, “we both have the same ultimate goal.  You desire peace between people and nature so that the Earth and its denizens and humanity as well can flourish.  We desire peace between people, so that the destruction of civilization and the despoiling of our living spaces will cease.  These goals are two sides of the same coin; people who are not at peace cannot be at peace with either nature or each other.  People who are not at peace cannot stop destroying the Earth or each other.”

She nodded to Robin and Martin and turned her gaze to the delegate who sat beside her, a mildly stocky older gentleman with glasses.  Clearing his throat, he began.

“I think we can engage in projects which at once fulfill both our goals,” he asserted.  “Fort Strong, a major military base in the deep south of our country, has been holding intensive air and land military drills supposedly in the name of defensive readiness, but, we believe, in preparation for a major overseas attack.  We wish to decommission this military base.   Fort Strong is also one of the worst polluters in its area; it is a Superfund for nuclear waste, debris from its artillery ranges is often dumped into the surrounding rivers, and the noise from the target practices has driven most of the wildlife from the area.  It has cut down the forested areas surrounding it for a security barrier, and is also conducting research into new diseases, endangering the people in the base and in the surrounding area.  Its commander is known for having no respect for either nature or anyone promoting peace.    We believe that in joining forces to develop strategical protests and governmental lobbying, we can either dismantle or diminish this base.”

On the gentleman’s right sat a small lady, about four and a half feet in height, but who was in no way invisible.  Her posture and her vivid eyes gave evidence of her passion and attention. The gentleman invited her to speak.

Bowing to the environmentalists courteously, she expanded upon the topic of mutual interest.  “It is not only forts, honorable people, but also the survival of the denizens of the sea.  The ships of our navy routinely use sonar echoes to navigate and discover what might be hiding in the sea around them.  These sounds deafen and ultimately kill many of the species who live in the sea.   For example, we recently discovered a dead whale calf washed up on the beach.  In this case, the calf was killed by a boat’s propeller, which it could not navigate around because its sonar, its hearing, had been destroyed by the sounds from the ships.   The ships also pollute the sea, discharging their untreated waste into it.  We know that the health of our oceans and their denizens is also of great concern to you.  Here, too, we have converging interests, which will be far better addressed if we educate and cooperate with each other.”

Martin spoke again.  “My friends,” he urged, “as I sincerely hope you are, it is time we joined to prevent the destruction of both the Earth and the extinction of our species.   It is now your turn to speak.”

The reader is left to imagine Robin’s response.

This vignette was written in response to a prompt from a course created by World Beyond War, which course I have been pursuing.  Besides responding to the prompt, which was to write a dialogue between an activist for the environment and an activist for eliminating wars, in which dialogue the environmentalist asked why the groups should cooperate, this vignette serves another purpose.  We are currently engaged in massive struggle for the planet, for the survival of our species, for social and economic justice, and for right relationship to each other, to the Earth, to all the denizens of the Earth, and to the creative matrix (intelligent energy, God, the Whole – many names).  We are surrounded by the struggle, the chaos, which precedes change, and we do have some choice in the nature of that change.

What is evident is that the entire situation is in itself a whole, each part related to another.  Similarly, in the vignette, one can see that the struggle for the environment and the struggle for ending war are related.  What is also evident is that passivity or apathy is counted as a negative.  Not being active or at least vocal is the equivalent of allowing change which is not desired to proceed.  We are called upon to take a stand; no stand is in itself a stand.

To effectively choose among options and take a stand is not a quick and easy matter.  One must first pursue and understand the depths of the chaos – to discover and digest what is going on beyond the surface.  What is actually happening?  There is more than what is apparent on the surface.  What direction is it taking?  What is the logical result of this step or that action?  Is a given direction one which we perceive to be consistent with life, with the values we hold?  What are those values?   What steps would need to be taken to lead to implementing the values we wish to see?  (I do believe the first steps lie in healing ourselves to act with integrity, according to the values we profess.) For example, we may believe in cooperation, the well-being of the group.  Have we been given a chance to discuss cooperation, competition, individual and group good?  Can they coexist in balance?  Are they out of balance, or going in a direction that may lead to more destruction?  Are we given a chance to evaluate differing options, to decide what is true cooperation, or are we told to do this and that because it is said that the group benefits thereby?  That is not cooperation, it is obedience.   Do we believe in blind obedience to earthly authority?  Making distinctions is important.

Each of us has a role to play, and each role affects the outcome. No one is less important than anyone else. We are not same, but we are equal in value, and we each have the gift and effect of sovereignty, of choice.   We are free to ignore all this and take a “whatever” stance and just go with whatever flow is in the moment and not really think much about it.  We are free to choose the victim stance.  We are also free to choose the stance of one who co-creates.

There is so much to be done.  Healing the Earth and midwifing peace are only two.  Each of us has a large or a small part to play.  What is your part?  Are you a healer in any way?  Do you work with the wounds of the psyche?  Do you care for the soil, plant trees, or grow herbs?    Do you teach (pick your topic)?   Are you the glue that keeps a family going?  Are you one who can relate science and technology to nature itself, and heal the dichotomy?  Are you in love with nature, or do you think the world is better off governed by technology and AI?  Are you a being who radiates love and positivity around you?  Are you an expert at visualization and prayer?  an artist?  a musician?  Whatever your talent or calling, it can integrate into a healing whole or resist that whole.

Try thinking about it.  See how many areas you can find in which work needs to be done to create a sustainable, nurturing, compassionate, just, and respectful outcome to the present chaos.  See what might be working against that.  Notice what your part might be.  How, while continuing to give yourself the nurture you need, can you activate the contribution of your part?  We are in the midst of chaos.  The time is now.  What will we create?

 

Peace, Diane

Staying the Course

We are in the penitential season of Lent and nearing the purifying practice of fasting during Ramadan.  We are engulfed in a huge transition, the end of which we may envision or guess, but cannot yet see with certainty.   We are exhausted by restrictions engendered by a worldwide virus, and even with vaccinations available for many, there is no return to “normal”, whatever that may now look like.  Our politicians seem to be busier attacking each other than working on cooperative solutions.  Economic instability is a looming threat.  Many people, including me, are feeling burdened and have ‘had enough, already’.  It would be so nice if we could count on Easter, Eid, or Passover, celebrations that they are, to end the chaos around us.  It does not seem that it will be so.

The well-known teacher Sandra Ingermann, in one of her workshops, advised those listening to never “sit down during the dark night of the soul.”   It is advice that is relevant to the times.   I do not think that she means to never relax or have fun; in fact, she encourages people to relax in nature, to let the healing and calming energy of nature enfold them.    To not sit down means to not give up, to not let the weight of whatever one is processing cause one to stop engaging with life, to allow an apathy or hindering depression to take over and prompt one to withdraw from the growing and the change.

Change and its seeming disorder are always with us.  Change is rarely patterned logically, nor is it predictable to the reasoning mind.  Change is kaleidoscopic; the patterns can be beautiful or not, but they fall as they are, responding to a present moment.   Sometimes it seems insane, yet, in the long run, change often brings a higher result.  Is not spring in the heart of winter? The Chinese symbol shows that Yin is in Yang, and Yang is in Yin – the two are forever joined as one.

The Arctic peoples know well not to lie down in the snow in the dark and cold of winter, no matter the weariness one may feel.  Just a few minutes of lying down in the Arctic cold and dark causes an exit from the planet.  Similarly, it is when we feel the most burdened and disheartened that we must carry on, walking not as if we were about to fall under the burden, but standing straight, breathing calmly, finding beauty, and expressing kindness to all around.   It is also good if we will sing, or dance from time to time.  This is how we come through into the light after the dark.  It takes discipline.  It takes faith.

Part of carrying on through the dark is holding the highest vision we can of an outcome that nurtures the planet and its denizens and our fellow humans.  It is not a matter of having our own way only, of power over others.  It is not a vision simply of relief from suffering or the weight of our burdens.  It is creative, drawn from the love of life we all intrinsically possess, if we are willing to see it.  The particulars of individual highest visions may vary, but their ultimate goal is the same, the benefit of all concerned.  It is a vision born of love.    Such individual visions, combined, cannot but help to bring the highest good to all.  It is not always easy to hold the highest vision, but it is the way to what we seek.

With Passover, Easter and Eed upcoming (and yes, St. Patrick’s Day, too), let us set our individual intents to walk our paths with confidence a while longer, and use our celebrations as encouragement along the way.

Peace, Diane

Nature Teaches Community

The other day, I turned on the TV to a relatively slow-moving documentary in hopes of a few minutes of spacing out or relaxing without thinking too much.  Flipping through the channels, I chose a nature documentary, as I love nature and relax when I can spend time with it.  Then, I got drawn into the program, and emerged sometime later impressed by how in nature, with the exception of a few lone creatures such as some predators, life grows in community, in flocks, hives, herds, packs and, even in the plant kingdom, groves of trees and other plant species.  Cooperation and community seem to be one of nature’s imperatives, structures which ensure that various groups of living species can thrive.  I had been subliminally aware of this before; now, it impressed me.  Perhaps the nature that many of us humans seem intent upon destroying is giving us an insight into how we ourselves may survive.

Much human organization is in large units called countries, states, cities, and the like, but historically and increasingly these huge, organized entities are less and less like a true community, in which the benefit of the smallest member is as important as the benefit of the whole.  For the majority, the true organization seems to be separate.  Once there were extended families and close neighborhoods.  Those morphed into the mobile nuclear family, and then into units of singles or of temporarily allied singles, roommates.  At the same time, relationships became more fluid and of shorter duration.  All that may have benefited the consumer economy, as multiple units of fewer people each required, for example, each its own vacuum cleaner or dishwasher or clothes dryer.  However, it has left the majority of us separated from each other, from nature and from community.

Those of us who will look can see for themselves the effect of the combined lifestyles of the mainstream.  Weather has become more destructive and unpredictable.  Soils are becoming less fertile as our pesticides destroy them.  The rainforest is disappearing.  The extinction rate of species has accelerated exponentially.  The ocean is acidifying, and parts of it are dying.  We ourselves are facing the aesthetic and health impacts of pollution, and – whether we realize it or not – of separation from each other, from nature, and from the creative matrix from which all emerges.  It is not only species of our fellow beings here on Earth who are facing extinction, but also we ourselves.

In our state of separation, we seem to have turned to our science and technology to save us from the truth that we are connected not only to each other, but also to the Earth itself and all the species on it in what is often called a web of life.  For many of us, the belief that we are masters of all other life, and that we do not have to change our ways because our science and technology will absolve us of consequences and will create habitats for us that are safe and nurturing, despite what happens to everything else.  Even though the wisest of scientists understand the connection to nature and that much of scientific progress has been an imitation of nature, many people seem to be unaware that in taking the stance we do, we are destroying ourselves along with the other life that we destroy.

What would it be like if we returned to community and taught ourselves to live sustainably on the Earth?  What would it be like if we were to seek out nature, respect nature, and develop ways which were in harmony with nature?  What would it be like if we had as much access to trees, soil, clean air and water as we currently have to concrete, cars and pollution?  What major changes would we need to make to ourselves to achieve that?

We have models; groups of people have for some time now banded together to create what is called intentional community.  Not all of them are the same; many are quite different.  In nature, a herd is not the same as a hive or as a flock.  Some are urban; many are rural and are learning and practicing sustainable and regenerative agriculture.  There are artists and scientists and craftspeople, farmers and businesspeople and educators, and people of different persuasions.  People of like mind tend to live together, and each group respects the life and orientation of groups which are different.  This is a new system.  It does not rely on a large, overseeing government to regulate and provide for us as if we were children who could not do that for ourselves, as if it were OK for us to not think very deeply.  It does not rely on what is outside of ourselves, the products of corporations or the results of politics to find and implement the ways in which we need to behave to reverse the process of destroying our Earth, its denizens and ourselves.  Community presupposes that we in cooperation with others are responsible for these things.

It is crisis time.  We inch closer and closer to an irreversible tipping point.  It is time to wake up, to save ourselves from collectively hurling ourselves off a cliff.  It is time to transcend our distractions of pandemics, differences (all of us are equally human), wars and internal conflicts that would silence or eliminate whichever group of us “lost” political battles.  It is time that we realized that we are all in essence one, coming from the same source, equally valued and equally responsible.  It is time we work together and form community – learning from those of us who have begun before us and contributing our own perspectives as we grow.  We need the time of cooperation; continued competition and conflict, continued emphasis on “winning over” will succeed only in destroying us all.

Let us all, whatever groups we affiliate with, whatever beliefs we hold, whatever our wounds or state of healing, realize that the other is a sister or brother and come together to create community.   Let us learn to work cooperatively together.  Our well-being and our survival depend upon it.

Peace, Diane

Focus

Focus

Several years ago, I had cataract surgery. I had worn glasses for poor vision before the surgery, but it was not until my ability to change visual focus naturally was taken from me by the surgery that I realized the importance of focus, at least visually.  The surgery removed my cataract-clouded natural lenses and replaced them with artificial lenses, giving me clearer vision but restricted to a specific focus, a far vision focus suitable for driving or walking.  To change my focus, I now require glasses geared to the focus I wish to achieve.

As important as focus is visually, it is exponentially more important when it comes to what we pay attention to.  I am not saying when it comes to what we believe, but what we focus on.  We may believe in the existence of extra-terrestrials, but not pay much attention to it, and also not be graced with flying saucer sightings.  Or we may believe that love conquers all but pay attention to the ways people hurt and betray each other, and have a very difficult time finding the love in which we believe.  It is the attention that counts; we attract what we pay attention to, one way or another.

We are currently in a time of chaos and transition.  In time, from this chaos will emerge a new way of being, of organizing, and perhaps even a new kind of human.  At the moment, the possibilities are myriad.  Richard Bach, in his book One, talks about parallel lifetimes, each a reality due to the choices that were made by the individuals (in the book’s case, he and his wife) that led to the different directions each life takes.  We are now in a kind of energy vortex, and the choices we make now will determine the course(s) our lives take.  There are so many possibilities.  Bach’s book, when I first read it, sent me into a kind of mental overload; I simply could not hold in mind simultaneously the many parallel paths he explored, all existing but hidden from each other except as he explored them. Now, I can see clearly paths forward in several (of course, not in all of the possible) different directions.  One direction is favored by the media and will lead to a result we may not have expected.  Others are also valid directions, each with results depending on the premise that underlies that particular path.  It is still overwhelming, and the temptation to follow those paths into the future and become preoccupied by that effort can be a siren call.

This awareness is a good thing, not something to become blind to.  We need the ability to follow into the future the outcomes that our choices of today can produce.  We also need the in-the-moment ability to sense what is going on amidst the chaos.  However, given that what we pay attention to tends to be what we manifest, the focus on what we are doing NOW, juxtaposed to what we have thoughtfully determined we want, is the most important.  We must resist the temptation to submerge ourselves in the “good old times” of the past (or in the traumas and suffering and anger and blaming), or to get lost in the maze of future possibilities and the fear some of them can produce.   We need to keep a focus on the present moment; this present moment is the space we have to create what we want to see.

The question is, what, in this present moment, do we want to see long term???  It is not simply how we must react to a situation to which the media promotes ever more fear, so that we believe that we have no choice but to follow the promoted story and keep our feet on that path, but what exactly do we want as the more beautiful, nurturing life we can envision?  (Although some of us may not want that, preferring a more contentious life that seems to assure more power or a more compliant life that promises more security.)  Rarely has armed opposition or inimical struggle brought about a lasting and fully positive outcome, and rarely has abdication of our individual power done that either.  There is a middle ground.  Yes, we need to learn to live cooperatively with each other, and with a sense of community.  First, however, we must heal ourselves so that we can not only envision a healed existence, but also act in the present moment based on what we envision.  Do we envision a world which is peaceful, which has abandoned the practice of war?   We must first be peaceful ourselves, having ceased to fight.  Do we wish to live in a world surrounded by the generous beauty of the natural world?  We must first become a part of nature, healing her as we heal ourselves.  Do we wish to live in a world of plenty?  First, we must be plenty ourselves, generously sharing with others of the plenty we have.  Do we wish to live in a world in which we are respected and appreciated for our talents?   First, we must learn to respect others, to appreciate their talents, and to retain our sense of awe, of wonder. We must carefully choose our visions.  Should we envision that which destroys or diminishes others or Nature itself, we will ourselves be destroyed and diminished thereby.  We must be careful choosers, and we must then be that vision we welcome into ourselves.  What we are doing in this present moment is our focus.

Our focus can be expressed in our actions, in our thoughts and in our souls. Whichever ways it is expressed, we must first choose to form and maintain the focus.  Before we can form and use focus, we must wake up and take the responsibility of knowing that no one or no thing else will save us, while we do nothing.  It is time to awaken and carefully create our visons, and to grow in strength to use our focus to heal and nurture our surroundings.  It is time to bring responsibility and creativity, life, and loving nurture as a response to apathy and entropy.  It is up to us.  What are we going to do?

 

Peace, Diane