Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Remarkable Reverend: Seeing Beyond Soundbites

Warmest greetings.

I have been very busy giving birth to this blog site and - Wow! - this is my first blog! I don't even pretend to know the blogging language yet or just what I'm doing or how to navigate much of this blogger world. I am but a baby blogger at this point, just as I am also a baby Elder in training. But this is exciting! I need to extend heartfelt thanks to my partner, Ken, and to my sons for their encouragement and support of developing and birthing my first blog site - Strongheart. Greatest thanks go to my son, Brian, who did not cease in reminding me that "Mom, you really should consider starting a blog...", and then who finally decided it was time to come over and do some hands on support, i.e. walking me through the steps that took me from "oh, some day I'll definitely do a blog" to physically, mentally, spiritually beginning the process. So after weeks that turned into months of envisioning this next step for writing, connecting, and hopefully and ultimately having a new vehicle for sending out heartfelt ripples into the world, it is finally happening. So here I sit writing my first words for my first blog. I am excited and grateful. And I do believe in the power of heartfelt ripples that we each can send in support of creating a world that works for all.

Friday evening, April 25th, I had a deeply moving experience, and it was that heartfelt experience which inspired me to do this first blog. I watched Bill Moyers interview Reverend Jeremiah Wright on Bill Moyers Journal on PBS. You can go here to for the transcript or video of this interview: I went into viewing this episode of The Journal with an open mind, and although I knew that the reporting - the repeated soundbites and propaganda - from the corporate media were not spreading anything beyond its usual misinformation, I had no idea what I was in for as I opened myself to come to know the truth about this man, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

And I was moved to tears. My heart was so deeply touched by this incredible man - his story, his loving heart, the sweetness of his face and his energy, and his utter commitment to dedicating his life to helping others and to spreading the teachings of God through actions deeply rooted in dignity, courage, compassion, caring, and truth. Here is someone who is standing so true to his values, to truth, to the true teachings of Christianity -- and yet he is repeatedly and consistently demonized by the corporate owned media.

It is very dark when truth - and especially truth which can speak to our higher Selves and open our hearts and minds - is so distorted and denied. It is a contradiction and danger to the democracy and ideals which we Americans believe in when the intent of American "news" is to keep us disempowered, distracted, in denial, believing in distortions of the truth, and in the dark. Is it no wonder that so much of the rest of the developed world knows more of what is happening in America than millions of Americans? Or that they understand our current and historical foreign policy more deeply than so many of us do? Recognizing how uninformed I have personally been has been deeply humbling for me. And yet I am grateful for this humility. It has been the antidote for the arrogance I learned growing up when I was taught that somehow America and its people are uniquely better than other nations and other peoples. Today I have both a bumper sticker with a photo of Earth that reads Bless Us All and a flag at my home of Earth. My deep and passionate caring for life knows know borders.

Yet here in America time and time again we are bombarded with what Reverend Wright tactfully calls "misinformation". And that misinformation not only feeds our ignorance, but also fuels our arrogance as a people -- and the belief systems that keep us polarized and perpetuating great harms upon one another and this beautiful planet upon which we live. This episode of The Journal, as so many do, point in the direction of truths that are larger than Reverend Wright and the other stories at hand, truths that are potentially great teachers for us all. Therefore, my tears. Because great teachings touch my heart. And that is what my experience was as I grew to hear with my deeper being the deeper truths that are revealed in this man's story.
While I do not idolize or put this man or any human being on a pedestal of expectations for perfection, for we are all human and we all carry wounds, the larger paradox is that so many of us struggle to walk our talk as deeply as Reverend Wright. The tragic narcissism that so many of us - especially those of us who grew up white and living comfortably in America - have been taught is to point fault at others while not recognizing the need to look more deeply within ourselves. The result is that a larger context of experience, of knowing, of wisdom and compassion is elusive and underdeveloped. We could not have the current administration mirroring back such depth of narcissism if this were not true. Distraction from ourselves and what is truly happening in our world is rooted in stories like those portrayed in the corporate media of our nation. Thus this negative obsession with Reverend Wright... and so many others.

What has happened to truth in America? Have we ever truly understood as a people the deeper truths of our country and ourselves? And how is it that the American media has, in my opinion, grown as dangerous in some ways as that of those nations which we say have no democracy? Where is the patriotic fervor and outrage and demands for change that is needed to truly have a free press and a media that values truth? What can we each do to bring about news in our country that truly informs, inspires, and brings us together rather than dividing us in order to keep us a conquered people?

Years ago my very wise eldest son looked straight at me and challenged me by asking, "Mom, what better way to control a people than to convince them that they are not controlled?" Brian was talking about America. America and our planet are deeply in need of the passionate and heartfelt insights of our youth and the wisdom of our elders. Yet, as mythologist, author, storyteller Michael Meade accurately points out, not all grow into Elders - many instead grow into "olders". How can we each participate in nurturing the hearts, minds, spirits of our youth and discerning who are true Elders are? Bill Moyers is certainly a true Elder. As is Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

It is interesting to watch the trail of truth in America and how it appears to paradoxically be growing both more clear and more illusive for us as Americans. On the one hand, it is so easy to be distracted and deluded by the shallowness of the soundbites, misinformation, and infotainment that are all so pervasive in our culture today. It is easy to find ourselves thinking that we know about someone or something when, unknowingly, the truth has completely escaped us. It is easy to think that CNN tells the truth just as it is easy to miss the thread of narcissism that runs through FOX "news". It is also amazing to watch patriotism reduced and shrink wrapped to such a degree that the belief system takes hold that patriotism is measured by whether or not someone wears a lapel pin or puts their hand over their heart when singing God Bless America. (Defining, exploring, and clarifying what patriotism is will need to be a whole other blog...)

Yet, while we tolerate a corporate media that exploits whether a lapel pin is worn in an attempt to push one more elite candidate into the White House in 2009, do we accuse Christians, for example, of not being Christian unless they wear a cross? Or do we as a people look to see if our president is walking his Christian talk when he promotes and ensures that America has become a nation that tortures, that engages in pre-emptive war, that feeds the pocket of the most wealthy while taking away resources for the middle class and the poor? Do we question Mr. Bush's patriotism while he shreds the Constitution, or his "pro-life" stand as he engages in war profiteering and sends our children off to kill or be killed? Do we hold those who would crush America in order to promote Empire accountable for their astounding lack of patriotism?

Of course, so many of us do know what is going on ... which takes, I believe, great courage. It takes courage to think critically, to discern, to recognize the projections of ourselves and others, and to truly seek to see, know, and speak the truth. Because it is hard and painful and frightening to see how far we have wandered as a nation from the ideals we profess to live by. And, yet, more and more of us are also coming to see that out of all this darkness are emerging profound opportunities. And profound truths. I love the Chinese definition of crisis: danger and opportunity. There are those today who say that the generations of 25-50 years from now will someday thank Mr. Bush and the undeniable darkness which has emerged from this administration for bringing about the collapse of the military and the economic system as we know it because it is exactly these systems which have built an Empire which preys on all life on Earth. The paradox is that the perils which we find ourselves in today are made the most clear exactly because the dark shadow of America has never before been so clear to so many.

And that includes myself. Which is why I blog, why I make the time amidst my very busy life to do one more thing. This is one of my ways of seeking to create and contribute to a world that works for all. I want my unborn grandchildren to know that their Grandma Molly once did everything she could to leave a better world for them. And it isn't just my children and grandchildren I speak up for. It is all the children of all the species of all of time. And uncovering the deeper nature of things is, as I see it, such an integral part of joining hands to birth this whole new way of being together on Earth. We are moving from Empire to Earth Community, from Dominator Society to the creation of a Partnership Society. And our numbers grow daily...

And so it that today I begin my first blog by shedding light on a remarkable man, someone who touched my heart and inspired my deeper Self to share this experience. I am so drawn to the peacemakers and truth-tellers of our time and all times, to those who by the way they live their lives make this world a better place, a more loving place for others. What I now know after seeking to see beyond all the toxic soundbites is the truth of this man who is called Reverend Wright. And what I found is a human being who truly lives the teachings of Christ. And I love, honor, and respect him for that. I also deeply appreciate the larger story that is there behind this story.

And I say shame on those forces that seek to keep the truth of such important matters from us. For what this Reverend symbolizes for us all is something much bigger, much more profound than simply one human being by the name of Jeremiah Wright. And so I say shame on those forces that feed Americans toxic lies that continue to prey on our vulnerability to be polarized and who encourage and bait us to turn upon one another. The cost of this lie that somehow at our core we are not all wanting and holding the same hopes and dreams for ourselves and our children is so high, so high. Shame on those forces that distort the religious teachings of great teachers and prophets into something unrecognizable from the original sacred and divine intent. War is not peace. The death penalty, bombing babies, destroying our Earth Mother, extincting species, and denying global warming is not pro-life. Turning our backs on the 30,000 children who will die today and every day globally of preventable causes is not tending to the poor. Telling ourselves that America is always altruistic is not patriotic when the welfare of ourselves and our nation depends upon having an informed citizenry - a people who have the courage to actually know our history and to look with clear eyes upon the hard truths of our present.

Of course, remembering to not lose sight of beauty and blessing along the way is also a vital part of this process. At least this has been my experience. Holding that balance between painful and frightening truths while also holding consciousness of the profound possibilities for us all is one of the great challenges of our times.

So, on the one hand, we have John McCain's very notable changes since 2000 regarding courting the extreme religious right, moving from referring to people such as Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" to openly accepting the endorsement of John Hagee. (Please refer to for more information.) Of course, from where I sit, people like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Rod Parsley, and John Hagee are not religious people if the true essence of religion as seen as being based in love and compassion. Certainly accusing someone like myself as causing 9-11, for instance, because I am a feminist (which Falwell did), or saying that gays and lesbians brought on Katrina (which Hagee did) is about as far removed from any loving spiritual teaching or higher Truth as I can imagine. But the intent of these words, which is to divide and polarize and which, in my perspective, are not religiously based at all, are not far off from the kinds of thinking errors that led to the demonization of other human beings throughout time. And out of these kinds of thinking errors and profound distortions of spiritual truths have, at their extreme, emerged the darkest examples of human evil, which all too often have been done in the name of Allah, God, the Divine.

In Bill Moyers' interview with Jeremiah Wright, Reverend Wright gave countless tragic examples of where this kind of Us versus a Them thinking has led us as human beings both historically and in the present. He voiced many heart wrenching truths of the great and horrific harm we human beings have done to one another and the beautiful planet on which we live. In listening deeply, I was struck by the greatness of this man's courage, integrity... by his heart and soul. And yet, as many visionaries have been throughout time, Reverend Jeremiah Wright is but one more example of how a great teacher has been demonized in order to keep us from the truth -- from the higher truths that ultimately feed our hearts, spirits, souls. Instead we are asked to look for lapel pins, to not look (unless you are of the extreme religious right) when John McCain shares his gratitude for the endorsement of John Hagee, all while being expected to unquestioningly accept the corporate media's repeated and relentless assault of yet another truthteller and peacemaker, spewing over America a toxic mix of propaganda that is mind numbing and heart deadening. Such toxicity can either be completely disempowering - or it can wake us up. Such is the crisis - the danger and the opportunity - at hand which this story symbolizes.

It felt important to me to write today of this great paradox that is held in this story - that buried in all this extraordinary darkness are extraordinary opportunities. The demonization of Reverend Jeremiah Wright is but one of countless false stories which have emerged as an offering to the American public by a corporate elite who are terrified of the depths of real change that Barack Obama symbolizes and will likely bring forth if he were to become the next American President. Because Barach Obama is not bought, he is not part of the corporate elite. Rather, he is a true peacemaker and a truthteller of great integrity and courage. And, unlike most leaders, Barack Obama would expect we the people of America to participate in changing the direction of our country and the world. He has no Messiah complex, but paradoxically does indeed deeply walk and live by example the teachings of the Christ he believes in and worships. There is no breathtaking hypocrisy here.

Nor is there in Jeremiah Wright, whose true story brings us yet another extraordinary opportunity to come face to face with ourselves - to embrace both the incredible darkness we are capable of and the profound light, love, compassion, and consciousness we human beings are also capable of. What I found in the story of this remarkable man is something much, much greater than one man's story alone. But rather what I found was the opportunity to embrace the greater truths behind the small story our limited minds all too often want to believe in or unknowingly get stuck in. Here is the story of a great man. And such stories are what feed and connect, I believe, each of us with the potential of connecting with our own greater Selves.

If you missed the Journal on 4/25/08, I hope you will consider watching it now and/or passing it on to others: Thank you.

Thank you to Bill Moyers, to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and to all the Elders and visionaries who help light the way, and in doing so, help and remind and encourage us to find the inner Light of the Divine within ourselves. May we all grow strong hearts.

Namaste ~ Molly