Non-Violence or Violence?

It’s hard not to think about the anger exhibited across our country now, on both sides of the political fence. If some force IS trying to divide our nation, it’s doing a darn good job. In my town, several of eighty protesters were recently arrested in a run-in with cops. This after 15,000 diverse people marched together peacefully on January 21st.

I realize how different their angry words and actions were from Martin Luther King’s non-violent protests. Can you imagine what would’ve happened to the all-persons-are-equal-movement if African-Americans, and those of the same mind, had marched through the streets angrily shouting with bullhorns and waving damning signs? We have a very long way to go on the issue of racism but if MLK Jr. had led angry mobs, we would’ve gone backward, maybe even further back than to the days of slavery. In order to be effective when working for positive change, we set out from a peaceful place of understanding that all points of view must be represented and that compromises will be made. When our motives are sincere and not selfish, good change happens.

As for the issue of everyone (except those earning the minimum wage) paying taxes, we live in a great country made of people who have always known the importance of public education and transportation, of health care and Social Security retirement, of the roads that connect our states, and of a strong military to protect our country. We are blessed to live here and to do our part for our country–and to share with those who have not been as fortunate as us, who only need a hand up. We need to remember that until we have listened to another’s story, we usually don’t know what we’re talking about. Let’s make peace, not war.

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Why is Being “Right” More Important than the Truth?

Breathed Into BeingWe all have a tendency to suspect people and things that are different from ourselves. (Maybe this is a remnant of an innate instinct for survival. If so, only a shift in consciousness will cause us to look deeper.)

The thing is, it’s too easy to not listen to each others’ stories and label others and their behaviors with overused, derisive names. And in the face of blow-back, politicians have learned how to promote our suspicions of others using suggestive words, instead of the stereotypes. They know us well–there’s always been mistrust between generations, but in our time, the race, religious and political issues have intensified beyond anything we could ever imagine. Why is that? Why don’t we respect and listen to each other? This rejection of ‘the other’ only fuels hatred and the destruction born from it.

Why is it so important that my opinion, or yours, be shouted above all others? When we’re harsh, critical and judgmental reflexively, why can’t we see it? Why has being pompous and “right” become more important than seeing the truth–and the solutions to our problems? Where have all the thoughtful people, the peacemakers, gone?

The Spirit of America is Dying

RunnersI thought it was pretty awesome when President Barack Obama was elected: I was worn down by the previous administration’s policies, the divisiveness in Washington, the lies about nuclear weapons in Iraq, the wars, all the lives lost and massive numbers of injured soldiers and lives, and the billions of dollars the wars had already cost. Then came the crash of the stock market at the end of 2008, which led to so much loss for so many Americans. It’s important to note here that no one person could have taken the helm in January, 2009, and had all the answers for America’s problems. But add in absolutely NO cooperation in Washington, D.C. for eight years and here we are, a country breaking.

I was happy Barack Obama was elected because of the way he thought and that he could see potential for healing and the bringing together of all the American people. I was ecstatic that I would live to see that coming-together day.

Instead, voices grew sharper and are now so extreme, I often think, “That’s crazy talk!” If only those shouting the loudest realized that we cannot hatefully indict others of something unless it lives inside us, too. It is our own beliefs that gnaw on our minds, keeping us fearful and paranoid, causing us to accuse others of what we ourselves are.

Those of us who can see the good in others no matter their race, religion, country of origin, etc., need to speak up and call hateful speech what it is. We have one Constitution and it is for every American citizen, not just the privileged few, those who believe it exists for their race or skin color, their religion, or their sexual preference. Truly, the United States of America will cease to exist if hateful speech and actions win the election in November.

There are no perfect humans; we all have flaws and idiosyncrasies, whether Democrats, Republicans or Independents; Christians or Jews or Muslims; or black or white or brown. The spirit of our country is dying and we all need to open our minds and hearts to the solutions that will bring peace and prosperity back to our country and to every citizen.

Why? Because we are beloved spiritual beings in physical bodies that need care. Our Creator doesn’t see skin color or country of origin. He sees our hearts and souls and our hopes. He wants peace–He does not want us to hate each other. He wants us to help each other. We can call hateful lies and spiteful opinions ‘truth’–but that doesn’t make it so.

We Can Heal the Rifts Between Us

Sometimes we humans get stuck in righteous indignation: ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ Most of us do this to some degree—about a pet idea, a philosophy, a rule or personal law. It’s human nature—but it’s not the best in us. When we think, ‘I’m not budging from my position,’ we’re stuck in our self-centered muck. In most situations, living effectively is inclusive and about building a way forward together.

The inspiration needed to solve our problems is not born of shouting our opinions, no matter how grand the surroundings. Insight grows from looking within, from listening for the still, small voice we call our conscience or guide—and that is the crux of the problem. When we’re focused on solely our own agendas, we may as well not have an inner guide. The effect of ignoring our highest selves is the same as denying our highest selves.

Repub Dem FlagThe truth is, neither of our political parties has it right because they will not cooperate, and this is a sad state of affairs for the American people. Our country’s problems are monumental, and for some reason we love to listen to politician’s campaign promises as if we believe them. They know how to wield the power they’re given, but they wield it selfishly, without consideration of our constitution or the American people. They call this the American Way. It’s a game and they play it well, calling us ignorant buffoons behind closed doors.

Answers are born of sincerity and listening, of inspired brainstorming. We need successful businesses to provide good jobs and we need homes, quality educations, the opportunity to live with stability, real health care and love for the health of the land/water/air we depend upon. (Some children need food. The children of America belong to all of us and they need, they deserve, our wise and responsible care.)

We need to want to heal the rifts between us–rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, Christian and non-Christian, educated and uneducated, white collar and blue collar, male and female–in order to re-establish a true democracy and an economy based on invention and providing quality products and services–not on the complex manipulations of the elite and their ‘financial instruments.’ Most Americans, as far as I can tell, are not ‘driven.’ We can’t keep up with financial maneuvers necessary to accumulate vast fortunes–we just want to live decent lives of meaning, shared with family and friends.

If we’re going to have those decent lives of meaning, we’re going to have to get involved and speak up. We’re going to have to voluntarily pull the wool off our eyes and stop pretending that someone else will fix our problems.

We Can Do Better

Women TogetherWe’re experiencing an epidemic of protecting our own views, without consideration for the other’s ideas–or what is best overall–and this tears apart relationships, from friendships to a government of two uncooperative parties.

If we take a look at the history of humanity, only a few enlightened teachers have been born to teach us about authenticity, intention, the power of our thoughts and actions (and their effects), and the value of cooperation. It would appear that those teachings have been wasted on us, but I don’t think that’s true. Our current situation reminds me of being pregnant and the baby, the new life, grows until it can no longer be carried and must be born. We’re in labor, at the really hard part where the shoulders have to be coaxed through an opening not quite large enough for them to pass. But they do!

When the new life is born, we’ll look at each other not as insane enemies (which I’m embarrassed to admit is how I feel sometimes) but as other parts of ourselves. Whenever we’re defensive, thinking or acting separately, we’ve pulled away from the higher truth that we’re made of the same essence, that we’re all children of the One Creative Force. Of course, we can choose to raise our own opinions up and look down on others, but it won’t solve our problems. We obviously can’t work them out on our own: We need to seek the answers from the highest and best parts of ourselves. We need quiet time for prayer and meditation, to go within, from where the problem-solving, inclusive, inspired and healing answers are born. We need to do better, and we can.

The End of Intolerance

Intolerance pictureImagine the pain of being born into a body that is often a target of violence or torment: dark skin, too large, toothless; obviously disabled, diseased or homosexual; or simply being a child at the mercy of someone bigger and stronger than you. Most ‘light-skinned, right-sized’ people with no obvious differences will never understand what it is like to be hated or persecuted for the bodies we live in.

I’ve had African-American people, men, women and children, see me coming toward them as I walked my Akita-mix, Max, and move quickly away from us. “He won’t bite, I promise,” I said. One woman answered, “Uh, HUH,” and she crossed the parking lot. One man turned after I spoke and said, “Lady, when we see a white person with a dog, we know to get out of the way.” In high school, I read a book called Black Like Me. The journalist, who believed black people exaggerated their racial problems, died his skin black. I can’t remember how long he remained black, but he was shocked by how differently he was treated in the same places he had always hung out, and by the dangerous things that happened to him.

My friend, Anita, says that we each live at varying levels of awareness that are measured by how much we focus on ourselves, our thoughts and opinions, and our desires, and this determines whether or not we even see the needs of others. She’s right, of course, but don’t you wonder if we can do better? Underneath our skin, we’re all the same—same bones, muscles, organs and minds. We separate ourselves by race, country, religion, gender, education, and politics, but these are false barriers, for our bodies were all created by God, to be vehicles for the souls granted us by our loving Creator. This means we all carry within us the potential to be helpers and healers, peacemakers and way-showers to the place where there are no more broken hearts. When every human being on Earth is valued and all hearts are healed, we will know that God lives among us.

In times like ours, we must stand up for what is right. Intolerance must come to an end before peace can reign on Earth. And peace is our destiny.