Sunday, April 26, 2015

David Steindl-Rast: Divine Presence


Any place is sacred ground, 
for it can become a place of encounter 
with the divine Presence.

Brother David Steindl-Rast: Wherever We May Come Alive

 
Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is 
a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. 
But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades 
all realms of our being... Wherever we may come alive, 
that is the area in which we are spiritual.
 
Brother David Steindl-Rast
 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke: Widening Circles


I live my life in widening circle
That reach out across the world. 
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it. 

I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
And I still don't know: am I a falcon,
A storm, or a great song? [I, 2]
 

Howard Zinn: The Power of Truth


The challenge remains. On the other side are formidable forces: money, political power, the major media. On our side are the people of the world and a power greater than money or weapons: the truth.
 
Truth has a power of its own. Art has a power of its own. That age-old lesson – that everything we do matters – is the meaning of the people’s struggle here in the United States and everywhere. A poem can inspire a movement. A pamphlet can spark a revolution. Civil disobedience can arouse people and provoke us to think, when we organize with one another, when we get involved, when we stand up and speak out together, we can create a power no government can suppress. We live in a beautiful country. But people who have no respect for human life, freedom, or justice have taken it over. It is now up to all of us to take it back.
 

 

Sen. Warren to Those Promising TPP Would Be So Great: 'Prove It.'

Senator explains that real reason TPP remains so secret, even as Congress begins voting on measures to ram it through, is because 'if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.'
 
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President Obama and top Republicans pushing hardest for TPP are saying people should just take their word that it would be a good deal, explained Sen. Warren on The Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday evening. "I just don't think that's reasonable."(Image: Screenshot/MSNBC)

Prove it. Let the American voters, the press, and the global public see and read the fine print of this so-called "free trade" deal.

That's the basic message contained in a new statement released by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) after President Obama said earlier this week that she and other opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were "wrong" when it came to their objections to the pending 12-nation agreement.

"We’ve all seen the tricks and traps that corporations hide in the fine print of contracts. We’ve all seen the provisions they slip into legislation to rig the game in their favor. Now just imagine what they have done working behind closed doors with TPP." —Sen. Elizabeth Warren"The Administration says I'm wrong – that there’s nothing to worry about," Warren wrote in a blog postaddressed to constituents and the general public on Wednesday. "They say the deal is nearly done, and they are making a lot of promises about how the deal will affect workers, the environment, and human rights. Promises – but people like you can't see the actual deal."

Warren's statement came as members of the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday evening—despite an attempt by Sen. Bernie Sanders to slam the brakes on the process—voted to pass trade promotion authority, or Fast Track, that would give President Obama and his administration the ability to negotiate the final terms of the TPP (as well as a similar deal with Europe), while relegating the congressional role to "all or nothing" up-or-down votes on the trade pacts.

Passed by a vote of 20-6, the Fast Track measure received support of seven Democrats on the committee and all but one Republican. In addition to Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), who co-sponsored the bill, the other Democrats who voted in favor of Fast Track were Sens. Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.).

In his recent comments, Obama has called the TPP the "most progressive trade deal in history," but critics like Warren have responded by saying if that is true—if the deal is so great and wonderful—why won't the administration release the details so the American public can see for themselves? Though lawmakers have received numerous briefings and can see draft versions of the agreement, they are forbidden from disclosing the details of what it contains.

So why hasn't the deal—other than through bits and pieces of un-sanctioned leaks—been made available to the general public even though corporate interests have had a seat at the table throughout the multi-year negotiating process? According to Warren, and despite assurances from Obama and others, the reason is simple: "We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it."

She continued:
For more than two years now, giant corporations have had an enormous amount of access to see the parts of the deal that might affect them and to give their views as negotiations progressed. But the doors stayed locked for the regular people whose jobs are on the line. If most of the trade deal is good for the American economy, but there’s a provision hidden in the fine print that could help multinational corporations ship American jobs overseas or allow for watering down of environmental or labor rules, fast track would mean that Congress couldn’t write an amendment to fix it. It’s all or nothing.
Before we sign on to rush through a deal like that – no amendments, no delays, no ability to block a bad bill – the American people should get to see what’s in it.
Please continue this article here: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/04/23/sen-warren-those-promising-tpp-would-be-so-great-prove-it

Friday, April 24, 2015

Rilke: If We Surrender

How surely gravity’s law
strong as an ocean current
takes hold of even the smallest thing
and pulls it toward the heart of the world.
Each thing—
each stone, blossom, child—
is held in place
Only we, in our arrogance
push out beyond what we each belong to
for some empty freedom.
If we surrender
to earth’s intelligence
we could rise up rooted, like trees.
Instead we entangle ourselves
in knots of our own making
and struggle, lonely and confused.
So, like children, we begin again
to learn from the things
because they are in God’s heart
they have never left him.
This is what the things can teach us
to fall
patiently to trust our heaviness
Even a bird has to do that
before he can fly.
– Rilke

Tom Engelhardt: The Future Foreseen (and Not): A Letter of Apology to My Grandson

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A Pox on Twenty-First-Century America
'Though you don’t know it yet, you’re already living in an increasingly lopsided world whose stresses only seem to be multiplying,' writes Engelhardt to his young grandson. But that's not the entire message. (Photo: YeeChao, Koh/flickr/cc)
 
Dear Grandson,

Consider my address book -- and yes, the simple fact that I have one already tells you a good deal about me. All the names, street addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers that matter to me are still on paper, not in a computer or on an iPhone, and it’s not complicated to know what that means: I’m an old guy getting older. Going on 71, though I can hardly believe it. And that little book shows all the signs of where I’m headed. It wasn’t true a few years ago, but if I start flipping through the pages now, I can’t help but notice that the dead, with their addresses and phone numbers still beside them, are creeping up on the living, and that my little address book looks increasingly like a mausoleum.

Age has been on my mind of late, especially when I spend time with you.  This year, my father, your great-grandfather, who died in 1983, would have been 109 years old.  And somehow, I find that moving. I feel him a part of me in ways I wouldn’t have allowed myself to admit in my youth, and so think of myself as more than a century old.  Strangely, this leaves me with a modest, very personal sense of hope. Through my children (and perhaps you, too), someday long after I’m gone, I can imagine myself older still.  Don’t misunderstand me: I haven’t a spiritual bone in my body, but I do think that, in some fashion, we continue to live inside each other and so carry each other onward.
 
As happens with someone of my age, the future seems to be foreshortening and yet it remains the remarkable mystery it’s always been.  We can’t help ourselves: we dream about, wonder about, and predict what the future might hold in store for us.  It's an urge that, I suspect, is hardwired into us.  Yet, curiously enough, we’re regularly wrong in the futures we dream up. Every now and then, though, you peer ahead and see something that proves -- thanks to your perceptiveness or pure dumb luck (there’s no way to know which) -- eerily on target.

The Future Foreseen

Back in 2001, before I even imagined a grandson in my life, I had one of those moments (and wish I hadn’t).  It was sometime just after the 9/11 attacks when, nationwide, Americans were still engaged in endless rites in which we repeatedly elevated ourselves to the status of the foremost victims on the planet, the only ones that mattered.  In those months, you might say, we made ourselves into Earth’s indispensible or exceptional victims.

In that extended moment of national mourning (combined with fear bordering on hysteria), the Bush administration geared up to launch its revenge-fueled global wars, while money started pouring into the national security state in a historically unprecedented way.  It was a time when the previously un-American word “homeland” was being attached to what would become a second defense department, secrecy was descending like a blanket on the government, torture was morphing into the enhancement of the week in the White House, assassination was about to become a focus (later an obsession) of the executive branch -- and surveillance?  Don’t even get me started on the massively redundant domestic and global surveillance state that would soon be built onoutright illegalities and rubber-stamp legalities of every sort.

In October 2001, I had no way of grasping most of that, but it didn't matter.  I peered into the future and just knew -- and what I knew chilled me to the bone.  I had mobilized decades earlier as part of the antiwar movement of the Vietnam era, which was in its own way a terrible time, but when I looked at where our country seemed to be heading, as the president promised to kick some ass globally and American bombs began to fall on Afghanistan, I had no doubt that this was going to be the worst era of my life.


Pema Chödrön: Everything Has To Go


All of us are like eagles who have forgotten that we know how to fly. The teachings are reminding us who we are and what we can do. They help us notice that we're in a nest with a lot of old food, excrement, and stale air. From when we were very young we've had this longing to see those mountains in the distance and experience that big sky and vast ocean, but somehow we got trapped in our nest, just because we forgot that we know how to fly. We are like eagles, but we have, but we have on underwear and pants and shirt and socks and shoes and a hat and coat and boots and mittens and an iPod and dark glasses, and it occurs to us that we could experience that vast sky, but we'd better start taking off some of this stuff. So we take off the coat and the hat and it's cold, but we know that we have to do it, and we teeter on the edge of the nest and we take off. Then we find out for ourselves that everything has to go. You just can't fly when you are wearing socks and shoes and coats and pants and underwear. Everything has to go.

- Pema Chödrön

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