Thursday, December 31, 2009
Recently I had two separate but related experiences. I attended a training through my work as a Department of Human Services Child Welfare caseworker on trauma bonding, and I watched the preview films and advertisements in a Regal Cinema as I awaited seeing the movie Avatar. I do not often get out to the large movie theater venues. Yet, each time I do stray beyond the small local theaters, I am struck with how it is getting worse. Dramatically worse. In awaiting Avatar to begin, I grew to increasingly feel like I had walked into a science fiction story. Then I turned to my eldest son who sat to my right and Brian said exactly what I was thinking: "1984".
My one negative experience of the otherwise outstanding Avatar is that the really "bad" guys were too one dimensional and, therefore, lacking in a sense of depth and being real and believable. Yet, this was essentially an amazing film which illuminates a larger perspective with many layered and nuanced deep meanings and profound messages that are very relevant to our times. Paradoxically, the advertising messages leading up to Avatar held a plethora of shadows also reflecting the dark side of our culture, replete with mind, heart, and spirit numbing glitter, glorification of violence, the allure of materialism and the dictate to buy, buy, buy. The people up on the huge screen were consistently one dimensional and noticeably disconnected from anything with any depth of truth, heart, and meaning. The repeated enticements to join the military were especially offensive as our youth were portrayed in ways which used them - used them to glorify fighting, violence, war. There were no images of the horrors that I have been witness to in attending veteran's events over the years where our soldiers share their PTSD and how it feels to kill, and all too often when who they have killed is a mother or child or other innocent civilians. There was also no mention of the deeper reasons why our youth are sent to kill and be killed on foreign soils or who really benefits. Contrary to "supporting the troops", these messages up on the big screen exploited our soldiers and the youth that were being enticed to join the military and, as such, were deeply disrespectful and disturbing.
As we sat together in the movie theater, my two sons and daughter-in-law and I all acknowledged to one another how this violence to one's soul was painful to see and experience. And especially that it has become so "normal" in American culture.
How can this be - what has become so normalized in American culture? . . .
Maile McCluskey is an amazing therapist. She has worked with one of my clients for over a year around this mother's history of generational trauma. The more I have come to know Maile and the work she does, the greater the depth of my appreciation and respect for how she makes possible a depth of healing for her clients. Maile (pronounced like "smile" only without the "s" and with a long "e" sound at the end) isn't just a therapist with different degrees after her name. She is a woman of great wisdom, strength, and heart. Being a trauma survivor myself, there has been a part of me that has wished that I could have found someone like Maile to support me in the early years of my own healing work 25 years ago. Of course, today I also recognize and am grateful for all the pieces of my story, including the most challenging and difficult ones. I know that all of these experiences have blessed me with the depth of compassion, caring, and growing wisdom that I possess today.
With humility and gratitude, I also recognize that there is always more to open to and learn. And now this significant new perspective which weaves it's way through seemingly separate and different experiences. As Maile spoke about trauma bonding, and after years of doing my own personal and professional work, much of what she shared was already familiar to me. But there was also this new depth of insight which I find myself continuing to notice and integrate.
In our training, it was easy to recognize the trauma bonding in our clients - those who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other forms of violence and neglect. Maile talked about Stockholm Syndrome in which victims become aligned with their abuser, and the components of this syndrome, which include: (1) a perceived threat, (2) small acts of kindness, (3) isolation, and (4) a perceived inability to escape. In moving more deeply into discussion of trauma, Maile highlighted that core to trauma bonding is a promise, and how it is that this promise comes to be threaded and woven through any trauma bond. Also important to note is that hidden in this promise is the use of seduction, power, fear, and intimacy.
Understanding the promise inherent to any trauma bond illuminates how it is that something that is experienced as "normal" to some can appear crazy to others. One can wonder why a victim of domestic violence won't leave the perpetrator or how the horrors of the holocaust happened or how the aftermath of 9-11 occurred right here in America. Identifying the promise is key to understanding the traumatic bond. Yet, also key to understanding the craziness of the trance that any of us is capable of in the wake of a trauma is to grasp the awareness that in the process of trauma bonding a severe deadening occurs to one's intuition. As the victimization of the vulnerable individual or even whole society occurs, red flags that go up are minimized, ignored, or denied. No matter the cost, what is right under one's nose cannot be seen. This is the power of the promise. And this is the price of the injury to one's instincts in the aftermath of a trauma.
It is easier to look at trauma bonding as something which occurs to others, such as the children and parents who come into the child welfare system or the followers of a Jim Jones or Adolf Hitler. Even though there is some vicarious traumatization that can occur when we are witness to the trauma of others, there can still be the safety of some detachment when we see it in another individual, another family, another religion, another cult or culture.
It is sometimes much more difficult to look at and, often, to even recognize our own traumas and resulting victimization. Traumatic bonding can be subtle enough to not even penetrate conscious awareness. And this is how it can be both insidious and powerful: we fail to recognize how traumatic bonding doesn't just happen to those other people out there. It can also happen to anyone, including ourselves.
Maile McCluskey began our training on trauma bonding with asking each of us to reflect on our personal experiences when 9-11 happened. Maile reflected how at that horrific time there were groups of people connecting everywhere, often total strangers and from a diversity of backgrounds. There was an instantaneous bond which was emerging from this profound shared trauma. This was a gift, a strong light in the midst of the horror of such darkness. The immediate bonding that arose as the towers came down reflected the positive side of trauma bonding. We came together to support one another.
Individually and collectively, we Americans also had a new depth of vulnerability which was ripe for exploitation. And thus the dark side of our trauma bond. With 9-11 and it's wake came the trauma, the promise of protection, the increased - but for many subtle - victimization, followed by red flags (often hidden behind the American flag) which were ignored or not recognized because, in the midst of our trauma, we had fallen under the trance that comes with injury to our instincts coupled with the power of the promise.
So, yes, whether reflecting on the aftermath of 9-11 or sitting in a Regal Cinema awaiting a movie to begin, war is peace and other forms of 1984 are in our midst. AND knowledge is power. May we each find the courage and passion to increasingly recognize, embrace, learn from, heal, and transform our own individual and collective trauma and victimization. There is a depth of life lessons, empowerment, and profound blessing to be found in the midst of the darkness which is part of the human experience. May this New Year see more and more of us seizing the moment to individually and collectively further awaken our hearts and work toward creating a world that cares for all beings.
Namaste ~ Molly
How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~ Anne Frank
Although the connections are not always obvious, personal change is inseparable from social and political change. ~ Harriet Lerner
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. ~ M. Scott Peck
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
This is a short but deeply powerful video about the book Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy. It poses five powerful questions which may be important for each and every one of us to consider: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tjfx7diJ-ug
From the Moral Economy Project website at http://www.moraleconomy.org/:
What is right relationship? A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, resilience, and beauty of the commonwealth of life. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
OVERVIEW OF RIGHT RELATIONSHIP: BUILDING A WHOLE EARTH ECONOMY
Most people have been conditioned to accept the operation of the economy as an article of faith. Unlimited growth and wealth accumulation are seen as the "natural law" of the economy and nothing can be done to alter this fact -- even if it means the integrity of Earth's ecological and social systems are severely damaged in the process. This "inconvenient truth" is now a moral challenge. We are faced with a choice: bring the economy into right relationship with the planet and its inhabitants, or suffer the consequences -- the increasing destruction of Earth's life support systems and social structures. Drawing on the Quaker principle of "right relationship," the book Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy presents a proposal for bringing our economy, our ethics, and our environment into alignment.
May we each work to create an economy and a world which honors and supports life on our Earth Mother.
Monday, December 28, 2009
My middle son and daughter-in-law insisted that I see this film they had just seen and that I'd heard some, but little about. Last night I joined Kevin and Kristin (for their second time; next they plan to see it at an IMAX theater) and my oldest son Brian to see Avatar. I don't even have words. To say it is amazing and communicates so much on so many levels is too small. If you already haven't, you'd just have to see it for yourself to understand...
Sunday, December 27, 2009
One of the questions which I find myself asking again and again is how can I truly and with increasing depth live my values? Whether we are Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan, walk the Red Road, or practice any other religious or spiritual tradition, how do we each walk our talk? What are the daily, large or small, subtle or overt choices and actions that we each make? Certainly, caring about one another is core to all spiritual teachings. And implicit in this caring, I believe, is actively choosing to learn about and work to end poverty.
I grew up believing that there was nothing I could do to help the starving people of the world. This belief system persisted as an adult until I began to actively explore the roots of poverty and gradually came to learn that poverty is no accident and that something absolutely can be done to work towards ending poverty, here in America and across the planet. Once Americans truly get it - and choose to care - that we are less than 5% of the global population, but consume 25% of it's resources, I believe that we will begin to not just reframe the term "redistribution of wealth", but that we will demand it.
The small actions we take do matter. There is a reason, for instance, why I refuse to shop at Walmart. There is a reason for taking a stand against the WTO, NAFTA, and CAFTA. There is a reason to look at the tags on the products we buy and explore the practices in other countries. There is a reason to look deeply into the way we each choose to vote and to follow and hold accountable those in positions of power. And the list goes on....
Please go here for more information about the powerful documentary film The End of Poverty:
Doing research ourselves and helping one another to be informed is crucial - please pass this on. Tag, we are all it!
“This book trumps most of our accounts of the global warming crisis.” –author Bill McKibben
“Al Gore should share his Nobel peace prize.” -The “New Scientist”
“This is a tremendous book and well worth anyone’s time to read…. You’re in for a treat—Craven is funny as well as exceptionally clear, and wise.” –Kim Stanley Robinson, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of the Mars Trilogy and Science in the Capital
“This is a terrifically thoughtful book…. Cravens book shines an illuminating floodlight on how we think about global warming.” –Ross Gelbspan, author, “The Heat Is On” and “Boiling Point”
On Amazon: http://snurl.com/kjpvp
So now “What’s the Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate” is available from Amazon and other sellers through the links at www.gregcraven.org, as well as your local bookstore (I hope!).
What the critics are saying: http://www.gregcraven.org/en/the-book…
You might find the results interesting, and hopefully, helpful: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list…
Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Psychologist and neuroscientist; Emory University Professor
As the president's job performance numbers and ratings on his handling of virtually every domestic issue have fallen below 50 percent, the Democratic base has become demoralized, and Independents have gone from his source of strength to his Achilles Heel, it's time to reflect on why. The conventional wisdom from the White House is those "pesky leftists" -- those bloggers and Vermont Governors and Senators who keep wanting real health reform, real financial reform, immigration reform not preceded by a year or two of raids that leave children without parents, and all the other changes we were supposed to believe in.
Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.
What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.
What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.
Award-winning journalist and author of The Shock Doctrine
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone's fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China's fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.
There's plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn't use it. If Barack Obama had come to Copenhagen with a transformative and inspiring commitment to getting the U.S. economy off fossil fuels, all the other major emitters would have stepped up. The EU, Japan, China and India had all indicated that they were willing to increase their levels of commitment, but only if the U.S. took the lead. Instead of leading, Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.
(The "deal" that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world's biggest emitters: I'll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal.)
I understand all the arguments about not promising what he can't deliver, about the dysfunction of the U.S. Senate, about the art of the possible. But spare me the lecture about how little power poor Obama has. No president since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn't threaten the stability of life on this planet. He has refused to use each and every one of them. Let's look at the big three.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Greg Mortenson website: http://www.gregmortenson.com/
Central Asia Institute: https://www.ikat.org/
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time: http://www.threecupsoftea.com/
Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan: http://www.stonesintoschools.com/
Pennies For Peace: http://www.penniesforpeace.org/
America's Best Leaders of 2009
Published in 2006, Three Cups of Tea has sold more than 3 million copies in 39 countries. It is also required reading for Special Forces troops deploying to Afghanistan and has garnered praise from Pentagon heavyweights like Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates
. This has made Mortenson a valued unofficial adviser to the U.S. military, a development that surprised him. "I was actually fairly critical of the military at the Pentagon after 9/11," he says. Pennies for Peace, founded by Mortenson in 1994 with schoolchildren who used their spare change to help him raise money for his first school, accepts no federal funds "and never plans to" so that it will not be "perceived as an arm of the U.S. government." Mortenson has, however, hosted commanders at his schools and visited dozens of bases to brief soldiers. "I can say the military in the last two years has gone through a huge learning curve. In many ways, I think the military is far ahead of our State Department and political leaders."
Fighting Terrorism With Schools Five Questions For Author Greg Mortenson
Now we have crossed the border into ground zero of the war against terrorism. In 2004, CAI opened its first school in Afghanistan; this year, our 39th. Including tent schools in refugee camps, we already educate 39,000 Afghan children, mostly girls. Taking our mission into a war zone has proved enormously challenging and dangerous. Yet my commitment to educating girls has only grown stronger. Indeed, we hope soon to complete a 200-mile line of girls’ schools directly through the heart of Taliban country.
Five Questions For Author Greg Mortenson
Explain the African proverb: "If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; if you teach a girl, you educate a community." Women who are educated are much less likely to condone their sons getting into terrorism.
Greg Mortenson Teaches US Military About Waging Peace
Three Cups of Tea has become required reading for US senior military officers, US Special Forces in Afghanistan, and military personnel from several other countries.
Build Relationships, Author Tells Cadets
Education, he says, is the best ammunition against misogynistic terrorist regimes like the Taliban. "We can drop bombs or hand out condoms or build roads," he said, "but if we don't educate the girls, nothing is going to change."
"If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before 9/11. If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs." — Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time)
“Sometimes the acts of one individual can illuminate how to confront a foreign-policy dilemma more clearly than the prattle of politicians. Such is the case with Greg Mortenson, whose work gives insights into an essential element of fighting terrorism.” —Trudy Rubin, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“ What Greg understands better than most—and what he practices more than anyone else I know—is the simple truth that all of us are better off when all of us have the opportunity to learn, especially our children. By helping them learn and grow, he’s shaping the very future of a region and giving hope to an entire generation.” —Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Dharma and Politics by Jack Kornfield
* * *