Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bell Hooks: There Is Light In Darkness

There is light in darkness, 
you just have to find it.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: What Is Most Dangerous

Nothing in the world is more dangerous 
than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. 

MLK Today: Taking the Blinders Off White Privilege

How far have we really come since Dr. King's passing in 1968? Could those who argue that we now live in a truly post-racial society be wearing the blinders of white privilege? Consider the following.
Have we achieved Dr. King's goal of eradicating racial prejudice?
Some would surely say yes. For example, I dined at a fairly pricey French restaurant the other night, and there a conversation took place between me and the white woman sitting next to me. She lived in an elite area in Manhattan's Upper East Side but also had a vacation home with her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I currently live. I grew up in New York City; that was our common ground.
She said, "Before Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke up supporting the black protest of the choking and killing of Eric Garner, there weren't really any racial issues in New York. We had gotten past that."
"That's simply not true," I retorted. "The racial tension had been there all the time. De Blasio didn't create it. Many folks, especially black folks, knew it was there all the time."
From where did this woman derive her perception? I don't think this woman was mean-spirited; in many ways, she was quite intelligent. However, a certain psychological intelligence was absent--the ability to know that her framework was her own white, wealthy experience.
She had the unearned privilege of never being disadvantaged by racial stereotypes. She had the privilege of not having to listen and feel the pain of her fellow black New Yorkers, many of whose stories and perspectives clearly wouldn't match her own. She had the privilege of needing neither data nor experience but nonetheless feeling free to issue her definitive interpretation anyway.
In short, she drew on her unconscious privilege to conclude that racial prejudice was a thing of the past.
Is "colorblindness" the key to being judged by the content of our character?
Many argue, "If colorblindness was good enough for Martin Luther King, then it ought to be good enough for a society that still aspires to the movement's goals of equality and fair treatment."
Much of the argument for colorblindness relies on a superficial reading of the "I Have a Dream" speech, where Dr. King said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Proponents of this view argue that King believed that the end of racism would be achieved when Americans no longer saw race.
What allows many folks, especially white folks, to maintain this belief? There is no data that I know of to support the notion that this kind of colorblindness helps alleviate racial disparities or racial injustice. In my experience, many who espouse this view are simply unaware of what it is like to live in a dark-skinned body. They have the unearned privilege of not having to think of themselves racially.
Dr. Beverly Tatum, the president of Spellman College, conducted a regular experiment with her psychology students. She asked them to complete the sentence, "I am_____." She found that while students of color usually mentioned their racial identity, white students rarely mentioned being white. The same was true for gender, where women were more likely to mention being female. She concluded that racial identity for white folks is not reflected back to them and thus remains somewhat unconscious.
In short, black folks simply don't have the privilege of not seeing themselves as a color and know they will be seen as such, while many white folks easily enjoy not seeing their own. Trying to not see race before we are truly awake to racism's ugly present and past assigns racism to our individual and collective shadow, rendering its harm more insidious as it hides in what presents itself as goodheartedness or innocence.
To quote Dr. King, "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
Please continue this article here:

This Photo Captures The Tender Moment A 102-Year-Old Woman Fell In Love With A Shelter Cat

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Barbara Bates, the adoption coordinator for a Texas animal shelter, was there with her camera when 102-year-old Iona L. and 2-year-old Edward discovered each other.
"It just filled my heart," Bates says about the scene in the shelter lobby. "The kitty just snuggled right up to her. Matched her outfit she had on.
"I said, 'Iona, do you mind if I take your picture?' And she said, 'Honey, I sure hope I don't break your camera.'"
She didn't. Far from it:
woman with cat
Photo credit: Barbara Bates/Montgomery County Animal Shelter
Iona's cat had recently died, so last week, she and her son took a trip to the Montgomery County Animal Shelter in Conroe, Texas.
"I'd had him for 10 years," says Iona, who asked The Huffington Post not to use her full name, citing safety concerns. "I needed a companion."
Edward won her over right away.
"The way he cuddled upon my shoulder reminded me of the cat I'd just lost," she says.

Iona's had cats her whole life. In fact, she says one of her favorite pictures is of herself as a teenager with a cat on the family farm. She'd been milking cows, but a bucket tipped over, and the photo captured a lucky kitten reaping the delicious spillage.
Now it's Edward's turn to be spoiled rotten in what might be his first indoor home.
"Oh my, he's very happy," Iona says.
For her part, Bates says she had "no hesitancy" about Iona adopting Edward. To start, Iona's son promised that should anything happen to his mother, Edward would remain in the family. But also, Bates believes that Edward is good for Iona, and she for him.
"My photo tells me Edward immediately sensed that Iona had lots of love and security to offer him," she says.
And that love is priceless.
"To me, an animal gives you life, that a person can't, or material things can't," Bates says. "You come home from a stressful day, and they want to kiss on you. It just makes everything bad go away. So it just touched my heart. And I'm just glad that what I felt came out in the photo."
Check out other wonderful adoption photos on the Montgomery County Animal Shelter Facebook page.
Please go here for the original article:

Friday, January 23, 2015

John O'Donohue: The Question Holds The Lantern

Michael Frye Photography
The Question Holds The Lantern
Humans have an uncanny ability to domesticate everything they touch. Eventually, even the strangest things become absorbed into the routine of the daily mind with its steady geographies of endurance, anxiety and contentment. Only seldom does the haze lift, and we glimpse for a second, the amazing plenitude of being here. Sometimes, unfortunately, it is suffering or threat that awakens us. It could happen that one evening, you are busy with many things, netted into your role and the phone rings. Someone you love is suddenly in the grip of an illness that could end their life within hours. It only takes a few seconds to receive that news. Yet, when you put the phone down, you are already standing in a different world. All you know has just been rendered unsure and dangerous. You realise that the ground has turned into quicksand. Now it seems to you that even mountains are suspended on strings.
If you could imagine the most incredible story ever, it would be less incredible than the story of being here. And the ironic thing is that story is not a story, it is true. It takes us so long to see where we are. It takes us even longer to see who we are. This is why the greatest gift you could ever dream is a gift that you can only receive from one person. And that person is you yourself. Therefore, the most subversive invitation you could ever accept is the invitation to awaken to who you are and where you have landed. Plato said in The Symposium that one of the greatest privileges of a human life is to become midwife to the birth of the soul in another. When your soul awakens, you begin to truly inherit your life. You leave the kingdom of fake surfaces, repetitive talk and weary roles and slip deeper into the true adventure of who you are and who you are called to become. The greatest friend of the soul is the unknown. Yet we are afraid of the unknown because it lies outside our vision and our control. We avoid it or quell it by filtering it through our protective barriers of domestication and control. The normal way never leads home.
Once you start to awaken, no one can ever claim you again for the old patterns. Now you realise how precious your time here is. You are no longer willing to squander your essence on undertakings that do not nourish your true self; your patience grows thin with tired talk and dead language. You see through the rosters of expectation which promise you safety and the confirmation of your outer identity. Now you are impatient for growth, willing to put yourself in the way of change. You want your work to become an expression of your gift. You want your relationship to voyage beyond the pallid frontiers to where the danger of transformation dwells. You want your God to be wild and to call you to where your destiny awaits.
You have come out of Plato’s Cave of Images into the sunlight and the mystery of colour and imagination. When you begin to sense that your imagination is the place where you are most divine, you feel called to clean out of your mind all the worn and shabby furniture of thought. You wish to refurbish yourself with living thought so that you can begin to see. As Meister Eckhart says: Thoughts are our inner senses. When the inner senses are dull and blurred, you can see nothing in or of yourself; you become a respectable prisoner of received images. Now you realise that ‘eternal vigilance is the price of liberty’ and you undertake the difficult but beautiful path to freedom. On this journey, you begin to see how the sides of your heart that seemed awkward, contradictory and uneven are the places where the treasure lies hidden. You begin to become true to yourself. And as Shakespeare says in Hamlet: To thine own self be true, then as surely as night follows day, thou canst to no man be false.
The journey shows you that from this inner dedication you can reconstruct your own values and action. You develop from your own self-compassion a great compassion for others. You are no longer caught in the false game of judgement, comparison and assumption. More naked now than ever, you begin to feel truly alive. You begin to trust the music of your own soul; you have inherited treasure that no one will ever be able to take from you. At the deepest level, this adventure of growth is in fact a transfigurative conversation with your own death. And when the time comes for you to leave, the view from your death bed will show a life of growth that gladdens the heart and takes away all fear.
John O'Donohue

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster's -- "only connect." But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.
The writer George Monbiot has called this "the age of loneliness." We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander -- the creator of Rat Park -- told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery -- how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.
But this new evidence isn't just a challenge to us politically. It doesn't just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.
The above is excerpted from an excellent article, which you can find here:
The full story of Johann Hari's journey -- told through the stories of the people he met -- can be read in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores and read more at

Brené Brown: Fear Of the Dark

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. 
It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

John O'Donohue: Lovely Luminosity

In the human face, a life looks out at the world and also looks in on itself....When bitterness, anger, or resentment are left untransfigured, the face becomes a mask. Yet one also encounters the opposite, namely, the beautiful presence of an old face deeply lined and inscribed by time and experience that has retained a lovely innocence... In such a face a lovely luminosity shines out into the world. It casts a tender light that radiates a sense of wholeness and wholesomeness.

- John O'Donohue
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke: Entrance

Whoever you are: in the evening step out
of your room, where you know everything;
yours is the last house before the far-off:
whoever you are.
With your eyes, which in their weariness
barely free themselves from the worn-out threshold,
you lift very slowly one black tree
and place it against the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world. And it is huge
and like a word which grows ripe in silence.
And as your will seizes on its meaning,
tenderly your eyes let go. . . .
~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~
(The Book of Images, trans. by Edward Snow)
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John Trudell: We Are the People

We are invisible to them because we are still the Human Beings, we're still the People, but they will never call us that. They taught us to call ourselves Indians, now they're teaching us to call ourselves Native Americans. It's not who we are. We are the People.

- John Trudell 

Photos: Edward Curtis