Excuses

I have had the joy and privilege of teaching children from preschool
through middle school level.  Often, they have taught me as much as I
have taught them.  And, whereas lesson content is certainly important,
some of the biggest learning is about life itself and interaction with
others.  An example is how willingly preschoolers absorb the simply
paraphrased Golden Rule. 

Another phenomenon is that when children become of
an age to undertake homework, a new issue rears its head – the
EXCUSE.  Some children love doing homework, and the idea of the excuse
does not engage their attention much.  Others, for a number of reasons,
definitely do not want to do it, often spending more effort on evading
the requirement than they would on actually fulfilling it.  There are
many excuses for the undone work, a classic (and not often offered) excuse being,”The dog ate my homework.”  And, of course, there are sometimes quite valid
reasons mingled in with the excuses. 

The thing about an excuse is that it does not acknowledge that the
homework was not done; instead, it offers apparent and sometimes quite
creative reasons why the student should be given credit without doing the
homework.  It does not honestly acknowledge that the homework was not
done and that therefore there is not credit for doing the homework.
(Exceptions/late acceptances may certainly be given for valid reasons
that are honest barriers to getting the work which was intended to be
accomplished done.)  The excuse is an attempt to avoid the work and also
the consequence for not doing the work.

We have a similar situation in our adult world today.  We all – or at
least most of us – want a world which is fairer, less violent, more
respectful and caring, and more attentive to the needs of our planet and
its denizens.  Most of us – but not all – seem to think that it is the
job of the government to create and provide this.   The truth is that we
are avoiding responsibility.  No government by itself can possibly create
a system which is at the same time fairer, less violent, more respectful
and caring, and more attentive to the needs of the planet on which we
live.  By its nature, the power of government will first be used to
secure the power of that government, and after that, whatever causes the
government feels it wants to undertake.  True change does not come from
the top down; mutual benefit does not come from the top down.   It comes
from the bottom up.  Those of us who are expecting the government –
either heavy handed or with a light touch – to secure and provide for us
those conditions we need for optimal living, without our doing anything
much except to obey and condemn those who disagree, are operating under
the same illusion as the student who thinks he or she should get credit
for undone work if he or she can offer a creative excuse.  We cannot gain
from giving away our power and doing nothing.

Change which comes from the bottom up involves each of those whom that
change will touch.  Not many of us live all by ourselves in a cave in the
mountains.  We will all be touched by changes and doing the work of
those changes involves us all.  We can elect the leaders we want, but
with election does not come the ability to shoulder the responsibility of
each member of the community.  Those who drop their responsibility have
not given it to an authority, although they may have given their decision
making power away. The responsibility remains, even if ignored.  We can
be certain that if we give our power away and ignore our responsibility,
we will get changes which are not to our liking.  Politically, true
democracy rests on an informed and participating public – not just a
leader/leaders and followers who echo what they say.

In order to achieve the goal of a widely participating public, it is
necessary to begin listening to each other as opposed to debating,
condemning or overpowering each other.  There is what I (and some others)
call the “Law of Paradox”, which states, paraphrased, that if one holds
in mind two diametrically opposing concepts long enough, one will
eventually arrive at the center between them, which is where the truth is
most likely to lie.  If one engages in (or writes) a discussion, as
opposed to a debate or a persuasive presentation of one side only, one
understands and considers BOTH sides.  Usually, one’s conclusion falls
somewhere between the two (or more) sides.  However, even if the
conclusion reached is strongly on one side of the spectrum, it is ALWAYS
influenced by the opposing perspective.   The process is not competitive.
 What is sought is truth, not simply the power to “win”, to silence that
which disagrees with one’s own particular viewpoint.  Rarely, if ever, is
this done by big government.  It is, however, exemplified in the
consensus decision making process used by many intentional communities.

People, we each have the responsibility to think, to envision, to
discuss, to listen and to COOPERATIVELY create the system and
environment in which we wish to live, from the grassroots up. (That does not mean giving in, it simply means not insisting on all one’s own way being the only right way,
and it means treating the other with loving kindness.) Those of us
who neglect to do that are abandoning both themselves and their fellow
beings.  The more who give away their power by abandoning it, the less
habitable our world will be.   We are currently on the cusp of change; it
is time to wake up.  There are limitless excuses for being lazy, for
neglecting to do the work required of us.  The excuses will not give us
credit for having done the work.  No work means no credit, and results we do
not wish to see, about which we may find out too late.

Let us wake up and stop using excuses to try to get what we want.  Let us
realize what is being required of us, to cooperatively and respectfully
engage in discussion of how to firmly but peacefully make the changes
needed to usher us into a new way of being, known for a long time to
those willing to listen.  Our humanity and the existence of the planet
and all its denizens, including us, depends on that. 

Peace, Diane

Time to Act

2021 has arrived!   Holidays and celebrations are over.  It’s time to resume working!  The important work, however, has changed with the year. This time, our work is not simply to do a job to earn money. It is the work of healing our planet, restoring respectful and nurturing connections among our human species and between humans and the denizens with whom we share our planet and developing a social order supportive of these goals.  It is becoming a renewed kind of people, each of us the kind of people with whom we would like to live. It is the work in which each of us has a part, and which without each part, the chances of manifesting lessen.  This is the most important work we have ever had.  It is time to get started.  Time is running out.

There is so much to accomplish – work which takes physical activity, mental effort, emotional processing, spiritual energy. It is easy to hide one’s head in the sand, and pretend that all is well, and our government will do what is best for us and achieve the goal.   Opting out in such a way is abandoning the task and increasing the chances that we will all face either destruction, or an outcome we do not wish, possibly even one which negates our humanity. Why?  First, the work to be done cannot be accomplished from a top-down stance.  Big anything will not be able to get it done.  Big politics, big government, big technology, big business, big media, and the like will never, ever create a healed Earth or a healed web of life.  The “bigs” create what supports the “bigs”; Big Brother may take care of us, but will also tell us how to be, what to do, how to live, what to think.   That is the first reason.

In addition – perhaps this should be first, as it underlies the former – we are each responsible for who we are, how we grow, what we do and how we live.  For this, we do not answer to Big Brother or any “big”.  We answer to life itself, and to the results we produce for ourselves.  If one is religious, we answer to God.  Because we are responsible, we also have the power, individually and especially collectively, to affect our goals.  In microcosm, if we are adult, we can no longer blame our parents for our ills, because we possess within ourselves the power to right them, if we wish to exercise that power.    On a larger scale, we cannot blame the government, the opposite political party, religious organizations, people we think are maliciously trying to control us, people who we perceive as enemies, careless other people, being too young or too old, or anything else for what we dislike.  Each time we do that, we are giving away a bit of our power to create harmoniously, to make things right.

We need to heal our Earth, reforest, and renew her.  To that end, we also need to, among other things, adjust our economies, our lifestyles and consumption of resources.  We need to balance our consumption with our production and our capacity to renew that from which we take.   We need to create a social order that assigns equal humanity to each human being on the planet.  Note, that does not mean “same”.  Each of us is unique.  It means that we extend equal value, consideration, and use of resources to each human being, whether they are like us or not. We need to think about giving “rights” to others, not about how to get them. We need to wean ourselves from killing, especially knee-jerk killing, and replace that with respect and love.  We need to learn to listen to each other.  We need to learn to govern ourselves effectively, without relying on any of the “bigs” to tell us what to do.  We need to learn to grow food and medicines respectfully, in ways which replenish the Earth which nurtures us.  We need to eliminate war.  We need to learn to grow ourselves so that our actions, visions, and responses are rooted in the loving essence from which we all come.  We need to learn to express that essence and recognize the oneness between not only us humans but also each expression of life.

That is only the beginning, and already the task is huge.  It will take all of us to accomplish, but it is absolutely possible, despite the pull from entropy.  We can use our inner vision to project – what would the world look like if we achieve our goal?  What would it be like, if it survives at all, if we do not?  Here are two easily-read resources to check out: Brave New World combined with Brave New World Revisited, both by Aldous Huxley, and the entire Celestine Prophecy series, by James Redfield.  There are others, but those are good starts. 

Each of us has his or her own unique talent, his or her own thing that he or she loves or does well.  Large or small does not matter.  Current standards of pay do not matter.  Leading, supporting, or working independently does not matter.   Excuses to not act do not actually excuse; they only indicate an unwillingness to participate.  Even the bedridden can participate; the power of prayer and vision holding is great.  The power of extending love is infinite.  

Are you one who cares for the land, who grows food and medicines?  Are you one who can use tools and build?  Do you do best at designing structures?  Can you understand and translate the processes of nature into harmonious human activity?  Are you a cook, a teacher, a nurturer?  Are you a visual artist, a musician, a storyteller? Are you a philosopher, a priest, one who can perceive the surrounding world most of us find invisible?  Are you a healer? Are you an activist?   Find your talent and commit to the task.  In such a way, 2021 can be the year in which we respond to the challenge to grow, heal, and become.

Remember that top down does not work; top down most often gets in the way.  Big anything does not have the power to do anything for us.   Each of us is responsible for the outcome; each of us has the power to affect it. 
We can choose to give up our power, and declare ourselves helpless, or victims that need rescuing.  That sinks us deeper into the quicksand.  Each of us needs to listen to the other, and each of us needs to work.  Let us be the people who rise to the challenge.  Let us choose life.     Happy New Year!

Peace, Diane

___________________________________________________________

What Next?

I remember quite clearly the day I learned suddenly of the destruction taking place on 9/11.   I was teaching my preschool class, completely unaware of events, when a mother came in to sign out her child.    “We are under attack,” she said.  “They’re bombing the Pentagon.”  At first, I found it hard to believe what she was saying.   The day seemed perfectly normal to me.  Then, more parents came in to take their children home, and the director of the school confirmed the reports from what she had heard on the radio.      To say that the information was a shock is an understatement.  Who could be attacking America, and further, doing it successfully?  Neither I nor anyone else knew what would come next.

Something was lost that day – even more than the vast loss of life that caused immense suffering to so many people.  America lost her feeling of innocence, of being invulnerable to being hurt.  We were now as able as anyone else to undergo trauma.  We were no longer “on top”, unassailable, deferred to.   The loss angered most people.   It also changed our society forever.  The effects of those changes are now a part of our lives.

A score of years later, we are currently amidst another crisis, one of a different nature, but equal intensity.   From this crisis, too, many lives are being lost, and the nature of our nation is again changing.  The media are full of fear messages and instructions about how to cope.  People are asked to distance themselves physically from each other (especially no gatherings), and are, for the most part, cooperating with that.  Those of us who are not technologically savvy are either being left out or undergoing a steep learning curve.   Elders are being left to die alone, without loved ones in attendance.  People are losing jobs and income, and real solutions to that still have to emerge.  Other serious issues, such as climate change and elections, are on the back burner.  The increase in national debt to finance the very basic promised government help will create added stress on an already globally weakened dollar.  Everything seems to be falling apart, and no one seems to be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again.

All of which leave me wondering.  To what advantage to whom if anyone is an absence of people gathering together and of most interactions being done online?  Perhaps someone knows that answer.  What will happen to the poor and the disadvantaged?   How will our economy and business activity evolve, assuming they recover?  What will be the changes to our governing structure?  

The silver lining is that if we are aware and active, we have the chance to shape from chaos the organization that will emerge.  We have choices.  Certainly, we can sit back and wait, counting on others to take care of us and make our lives something we are happy to be experiencing.  We can also sit back and wait on the flip side of that, assuming that nothing needs be done because what is happening is needed; the loss of population and the collapse of institutions are good signs and whatever happens need not concern us now.  We can also start to envision what we would like to emerge, and to comprehend the steps we would need to take to get from here to there.  The one thing we cannot do, unless we wish to engage in a fairy tale, is to presume that after a few months everything will resume as it had been, and nothing much will change.

Perhaps we will continue to live as a people mostly living and working online.  That would be a change appreciated by some, while others will grieve the loss of being able to shop in a store instead of shopping online.  Perhaps the weak response of the Federal government, which has led to piecemeal approaches by each state as states attempt to take control of coronavirus action within their boundaries, will result in a confederation of states, rather than a central government – much as the structure of the UN.  Perhaps the rebound from social isolation will be that people meet and talk in person more than we did before.   Perhaps a heyday of machine mediated living will emerge, and we will be welcomed by self-driving cars, robot companions and helpers, and enhanced AI – we would need to do little or nothing.  Perhaps new ways of doing business and meeting our needs will emerge as the dollar continues to weaken to the point of collapse (there have already been predictions of that, before the coronavirus).   We do not exactly know what will emerge, but whatever emerges will be what we wish and design, or what someone else wishes and designs, according to the extent of our involvement or inactivity.

I have received over my email several theories and predictions about the economy and about what we should do as a result.  One group is convinced that the currency of the future will be digital, and that the wise thing to do is to learn about and invest in currencies such as Bitcoin.  Other people are more traditional; their take is that he or she who has the most gold will control the future, and that gold will again be the medium of exchange, at least until a seriously gold-backed new currency can evolve.  Not many are of my leaning, that what is most valuable is arable land and as many cooperating people as needed to tend it sustainably.  Food and shelter are basic needs.   One cannot eat gold, or Bitcoin either, for that matter.    (I am ignoring the theory of chaos populated by armed bandits that pits us against each other, individually and in groups.)  If I can, I will acquire such land, individually or in a group, however I can.    That is a large goal.   A smaller aim, one which most of us can do, is to learn how to garden, to grow our own food, and to learn the use of herbal medicines.  Some are also able to learn to lead in organizing our neighborhoods into cooperating groups.  It used to be that way – my mother told tales of growing up in such a neighborhood.  What we have forgotten, we can remember, and bring forth anew in a shape to fit our times.

It is admirable that people are responding positively to the current enforced distancing by singing from balconies, smiling and greeting each other from a distance, posting pictures in windows, and checking digitally more often on friends and family.    It is good to continually hear from the media (among more dire predictions) that we will all come through this.  These are blessings to be absorbed now, comforts that enable us to handle the sudden changes and the contra-intuitive way of being, apart from each other.  They are superb in the short term, but not enough to carry us through the long term.  We also need to  begin now to ponder the changes, the questions the changes engender, the direction in which current patterns are leading us (for example, I hear little about ameliorating climate change, which is also upon us), the directions in which we would like to go to achieve goals which we want, and the steps we need to take to get there.  We need to start talking about those things.  We need to be aware, and to take responsibility for creating that which emerges from this chaos.  We can no longer afford to be a nation of children, looking to others to solve the problems and take care of us.  In that way, we lose our power and our humanity.

Amid all that swirls around us, let us take the time and devote the energy to thinking about the questions which have arisen and to discuss them with others – both those who agree and who disagree.   Let us envision a future we want and ponder how to make the transition from here, now and in the near future, to that desired outcome.  Let us take the responsibility to create our systems, our futures, our lives.    It is certainly possible to do that.

Peace, Diane