Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Wish For Us All For 2012

My wish for each of us in 2012 is happiness -- an increasingly authentic, evolving, deepening happiness rooted in growing consciousness of compassion, love, beauty, joy, truth, caring, and our connection with all beings and all that is. My wish is also that we grow in our awareness of suffering - the suffering within ourselves and that of other beings - and that through this growing awareness we experience our courage, our circle of caring, and our capacity for compassion expand. I am aware that many of us as conservatives, as progressives, as human beings have grown disillusioned with President Obama, with there being no sense of any emerging Reagan or perceived wisdom in any potential leader of the Founding Fathers. Yet, perhaps in all this we are each being asked to become the leaders we have been waiting for. In the midst of national and global violence, poverty, and environmental destruction, I see more and more that our true enemies are not people, but rather are to be found in ideologies, hatred, and ignorance. May we each grow in the antidote to these poisons. May we grow in consciousness of the beauty of our true nature. This is my wish for us all in 2012. ♥

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Long Ties to Koch Brothers Key to Cain's Campaign

It continues to be true that, in choosing to inform ourselves, there is an imperative to follow the money:


Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has cast himself as the outsider, the pizza magnate with real-world experience who will bring fresh ideas to the nation's capital. But Cain's economic ideas, support and organization have close ties to two billionaire brothers who bankroll right-leaning causes through their group Americans for Prosperity. ~ Ryan J. Foley

Don't Think of a Pig: Why "Corporate Greed" Is the Wrong Frame

By Frances Moore Lappé and Anthony Lappé

As the Occupy Wall Street enters its fourth week, the meta-narrative around the rapidly spreading movement is beginning to take shape. From CNN to Fox News to many protestors themselves, one central slogan is sticking: corporate greed.

During an inspiring visit to Zoccutti Park, we saw abundant posters with slogans like "Another Mother Against Corporate Greed" to "Corporate Greed is the Vampire."

OWS has historic potential. It's already succeeding in raising questions typically buried by the mainstream media. We want it to gain power fast, but much will depend on how its core message gets framed. As linguist George Lakoff argued in his seminal book Don't Think of an Elephant, "frames" have enormous power.

Unfortunately, smashing "corporate greed" is not only limiting, but we fear it's bound to fail. The "we are virtuous, you are evil" message is admittedly, a great way to get people fired up. But does it get us where we need to go?

Recall, by contrast, the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King didn't rail against the racists; he demanded the end to laws that allowed racists to damage people. Going to great lengths not to demonize foes, he called on Americans to live up to our own ideals.


So let's call the crisis what it is: the rise of privately held government.
It's happened in part because for decades Americans have been told, and too many got swept up in the fairy tale, that we have to turn over our fate to a force that works on its own without us: the market. It's "magic," Ronald Reagan assured us, is all we need.
Once we buy that notion, we're done for, for wealth accrues to wealth to wealth until we end up with a society that a 2005 Citigroup report famously dubbed a "Plutonomy," in which the top 1 percent control more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. And an America where inequality is now greater than in Pakistan or Egypt, according to the World Bank. ~ Frances Moore Lappé

10 Myths That Keep Us From Creating The World We Want

by Frances Moore Lappe

From "Diet for a Small Planet" exactly 40 years ago, it dawned on me that humans are actively creating the scarcity we say we are trying to escape. Whoa! Why would our bright species do such a thing? Researching my new book, "EcoMind, Changing the Way We Think to Create the World We Want" (Nation Books), I discovered that it is the power of ideas. I learned that neuroscientists are increasingly finding that while most of us think that "seeing is believing," that, no, for human beings "believing is seeing." Our core ideas about how the world works determine, literally, what we can see and what we can't. From this groundbreaking science, I argue that some of our most common assumptions are perversely aligned with nature, including human nature. They block us from seeing possibilities emerging all around us--the solutions in front of our noses. Here are 10 of those ideas and ways that an eco-mind--one that thinks in connectedness and continuous change--might rethink them. I welcome your response.


Myth #1: Renewable energy would take too long. Our economy is hurting now and we can't afford to wait.

Truth: ...Today, 95% of Costa Rica's electricity comes from renewable sources, and Germany is set to reach nearly 40% of its electricity from renewable in a decade. Then visualize what's still untapped: The sun's energy reaching earth over just five days is greater than all proven reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas.

Open Letter to that 53% Guy

by Max Udargo


I briefly visited the “We are the 53%” website, but I first saw your face on a liberal blog. Your picture is quite popular on liberal blogs. I think it’s because of the expression on your face. I don’t know if you meant to look pugnacious or if we’re just projecting that on you, but I think that’s what gets our attention.

In the picture, you’re holding up a sheet of paper that says:

I am a former Marine.

I work two jobs.

I don’t have health insurance.

I worked 60-70 hours a week for 8 years to pay my way through college.

I haven’t had 4 consecutive days off in over 4 years.

But I don’t blame Wall Street.

Suck it up you whiners.

I am the 53%.

God bless the USA!

I wanted to respond to you as a liberal. Because, although I think you’ve made yourself clear and I think I understand you, you don’t seem to understand me at all. I hope you will read this and understand me better, and maybe understand the Occupy Wall Street movement better.


"The commitment we’ve made to the working class since the 1940s is something that we should both support and be willing to fight for, whether we are liberal or conservative. We should both be willing to fight for the American Dream. And we should agree that anybody trying to steal that dream from us is to be resisted, not defended." ~ Max Udargo

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Some thoughts on joy and sorrow...

When I had not begun to open to the grief in my own heart, when emotions - especially strong ones - scared me to death, I was incapable of sitting with yours. I have a lot of empathy today for what it is to live without having made friends with and embraced my own broken heart. As we grow older, it is my experience and belief that the cost of not being on a heart path only increases, showing up in illness, addictions, depression, broken relationships, etc. because our relationship with ourselves is broken. Many of us grew up in families who did not teach and support us in striving to be wholly who we are. And we certainly live in a grief phobic culture, one which tells us that something is wrong if we are in grief and we need to just have a drink, go shopping, turn on the TV, have sex, caretake someone else, get religion, exercise, work, or any host of other activities - some of which can be healthy - but which can also often take us outside of ourselves in the form of distracting us from that which most needs attending. I'm just so grateful to have been on a path for many years now of making friends with my own grief. And no longer being afraid of yours. Joy and sorrow are intertwined and both equally as necessary to being Alive...

Kahlil Gibran says it beautifully here:


Monday, September 12, 2011

In the Aftermath of 9-11...

I have been learning to be more courageous, to look more deeply, to discern, to expand my circle of caring, to be more humble & more conscious. I am filled with greater gratitude for each day & greater consciousness of it's gifts. I am passionate about cultivating & nurturing love within myself such that the ripples I send out into this beautiful world will increasingly be kind, compassionate, loving. I hold my loved ones in my heart with even greater tenderness. How has 9-11 changed you?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bolivia Set to Pass Historic 'Law of Mother Earth' Which Will Grant Nature Equal Rights to Humans

by Keph Senett

With the cooperation of politicians and grassroots organizations, Bolivia is set to pass the Law of Mother Earth which will grant nature the same rights and protections as humans. The piece of legislation, called la Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, is intended to encourage a radical shift in conservation attitudes and actions, to enforce new control measures on industry, and to reduce environmental destruction.

The law redefines natural resources as blessings and confers the same rights to nature as to human beings, including: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered. Perhaps the most controversial point is the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

In late 2005 Bolivia elected its first indigenous president, Evo Morales. Morales is an outspoken champion for environmental protection, petitioning for substantive change within his country and at the United Nations. Bolivia, one of South America's poorest countries, has long had to contend with the consequences of destructive industrial practices and climate change, but despite the best efforts of Morales and members of his administration, their concerns have largely been ignored at the UN.



Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca: "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values." May we all follow this wisdom!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Hafiz: Wise Men Keep Talking About


Time is the shop
Where everyone works hard

To build enough love
To break the

Wise men keep talking about
Wanting to meet Her.

Women sometimes pronounce the word God
A little differently:
They can use more feeling and skill
With the heart-lute.

All the world's movements,
Apparent chaos, and suffering I now know happen
In the Splendid Unison:

Our tambourines are striking
The same thigh.

Hafiz stands
At a juncture in this poem.
There are a thousand new wheels I could craft
On a wagon
And place you in -
Lead you to a glimpse of the culture
And seasons in another dimension.

Yet again God
Will have to drop you back at the shop
Where you still have work


~ Hafiz ~

(The Gift -- versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)

Web version:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Doctors to McDonald's: Stop Making Our Kids Sick

Frances Moore Lappe
Author, "Diet For A Small Planet"

This week an open letter to McDonald's signed by 550 health professionals appears in full-page ads in newspapers across the country. Their message? Real simple: "Stop making the next generation sick--retire Ronald and the rest of your junk food marketing to kids," said signer Dr. Steven K. Rothschild, Associate Professor of Preventative Medicine at Rush Medical College.

The letter's signers also include Dr. William C. Roberts, Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Cardiology, Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and Dr. Deborah Burnet, Chief of General Medicine and a pediatrician at University of Chicago, as well as the Hollywood immortalized doctor, Patch Adams.

Their letter coincides with a McDonald's shareholder meeting in Chicago where 14 institutional investors will introduce the first resolution ever to call on a major corporation to deal with its public health impacts as well as shareholder liabilities for these impact could carry.

In a campaign coordinated by Boston-based Corporate Accountability International, the doctors describe the epidemic that alarms them: A full third of American kids are obese. And thanks to diets high in McDonald's-style fast-food it's estimated that one in three American newborns will develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetime.


"I've grown certain that the root of all fear is that we've been forced to deny who we are... Even the fear of death is nothing compared to the fear of not having lived authentically and fully." ~ Frances Moore Lappé

Monday, May 16, 2011

John O'Donohue: For a New Beginning

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Web version:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mary Oliver: Spring


a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness,
her perfect love.

~ Mary Oliver ~

(House of Light)

Robert Bly: Warning To The Reader

Sometimes farm granaries become especially beautiful when all the oats or wheat are gone, and wind has swept the rough floor clean. Standing inside, we see around us, coming in through the cracks between shrunken wall boards, bands or strips of sunlight. So in a poem about imprisonment, one sees a little light.

But how many birds have died trapped in these granaries. The bird, seeing freedom in the light, flutters up the walls and falls back again and again. The way out is where the rats enter and leave; but the rat's hole is low to the floor. Writers, be careful then by showing the sunlight on the walls not to promise the anxious and panicky blackbirds a way out!

I say to the reader, beware. Readers who love poems of light may sit hunched in the corner with nothing in their gizzards for four days, light failing, the eyes glazed...

They may end as a mound of feathers and a skull on the open boardwood floor...

-- Robert Bly

Quotes In Living With Humility and Compassion

Stephen Levine


"We are motivated more by aversion to the unpleasant than by a will toward truth, freedom, or healing. We are constantly attempting to escape our life, to avoid rather than enter our pain, and we wonder why it is so difficult to be fully alive."

"Simply touching a difficult memory with some slight willingness to heal begins to soften the holding and tension around it."

"Those who insist they've got their 'shit together' are usually standing in it at the time."

"When your fear touches someone’s pain, it becomes pity, when your love touches someone’s pain, it become compassion."

"If there is a single definition of healing it is to enter with mercy and awareness those pains, mental and physical, from which we have withdrawn in judgment and dismay."

"There is nothing noble about suffering except the love and forgiveness with which we meet it."

"God is not someone or something separate but is the suchness in each moment, the underlying reality."

"That which is impermanent attracts compassion. That which is not provides wisdom."

"Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind."

"How soon will we accept this opportunity to be fully alive before we die?"

Making a Living (Economy)

By David Korten

We’re wasting our resources subsidizing a war economy, sprawl, and consumerism. What we could do differently in a living economy.

In a world rushing toward environmental and social collapse, there is no place for war, speculation, auto-dependent sprawl, toxic contamination, and wasteful consumption —activities that generate a major portion of current GDP. This massive misallocation of resources is an artifact of a mistaken belief that human prosperity is maximized by unrestrained global competition for resources, markets, and money to drive growth in the consumption of whatever goods and services generate the greatest private financial profit.

The living economy frame shifts the focus from making money to making a living. This simple shift in perspective shines a spotlight on the many ways we can simultaneously improve the quality of our lives while reducing our human burden on the biosphere.



In a living economy, the rights and interests of living communities of living, breathing people engaged in a living exchange with the natural systems of their bioregion properly take priority over the presumed rights of artificial corporate entities that value life only as a marketable commodity and operate by the moral code of a malignant cancer. Protecting the boundaries of the community from intrusion by predatory corporations is an essential function of any responsible government. ~ David Korten

Monday, March 14, 2011

John O'Donohue: For Lost Friends

For Lost Friends

As twilight makes a rainbow robe
From the concealed colors of day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of night,
May we lose no one we love
From the shelter of our hearts.

When we love another heart
And allow it to love us,
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels.

May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
That whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench.

Though a door may have closed,
Closed between us,
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inherit;

Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;
Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them the peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Web version:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Old Age is a Gift

Thank you to my dear friend, Lynn, who first shared this with me...

The other day a young person asked me how I felt about being old. I was taken aback, for I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, she was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question, and I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old Age, I've decided, is a gift.I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be.

Oh, not my body ... the wrinkles, the baggy eyes, and the sagging butt. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my mother!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends,my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need,but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70's,and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will.I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.They, too, will get old.I know I am sometimes forgetful.But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.

So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think.

I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. So, to answer your question,I like being old — it has set me free.I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).

(Contributed by Gabrielle who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico)


When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless, that it doesn't have any resolution, that this heart is huge, vast, and limitless. You begin to discover how much warmth and gentleness is there, as well as how much space. - Pema Chodron

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Blue

The Blue

You can have Egypt and Nantucket.
The only place I want to visit is The Blue,
not the Wild Blue Yonder that seduces pilots,
but that zone where the unexpected dwells,
waiting to come out of it in the shape of bolts.

I want to walk its azure perimeter
where the unanticipated is coiled, on the mark,
ready to spring into the predicitable homes of earth.

I want to stroll through the pale indigo light
examining all the accidents about to rocket into time,
all the forgotten names about to fly from tongues.

I will scrutinize all the surprises of the future
and watch the brainstorms gathering darkly,
ready to hit the heads of inventors
laboring in their crackpot shacks.

A jaded traveler with an invisible passport,
I am at home with this heaven of the unforeseen,
waiting for the next whoosh of sudden departure
when, with no advance warning, to tiny augery,
the unpredictable plummets into our lives
from somewhere that looks like sky.

~ Billy Collins ~

(The Apple That Astonished Paris)

Web version:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mary Oliver: The Poet Dreams of the Mountain

The Poet Dreams of the Mountain

Sometimes I grow weary of the days with all their fits and starts.
I want to climb some old grey mountain, slowly, taking
the rest of my life to do it, resting often, sleeping
under the pines or, above them, on the unclothed rocks.
I want to see how many stars are still in the sky
that we have smothered for years now, forgiving it all,
and peaceful, knowing the last thing there is to know.
All that urgency! Not what the earth is about!
How silent the trees, their poetry being of themselves only.
I want to take slow steps, and think appropriate thoughts.
In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

~ Mary Oliver ~


Web version:

More Powerful Than We Know: Interview with Tim DeChristopher

by Brooke Jarvis

Facing jail time for civil disobedience, Tim DeChristopher on why “we have more than enough power” to stop the fossil fuel industry.

Two years ago, in the waning days of the Bush administration, Tim DeChristopher was a 27-year-old college student who went to a protest. The rights to extract oil and gas from public lands in Utah were being auctioned off, and DeChristopher, concerned about the eventual impact of those fossil fuels on
climate change, was determined to stop the auction. Someone mistook him for a bidder and offered him an auction paddle. He began bidding on land parcels, eventually winning 22,500 acres (for a total bid of $1.8 million, which he had no intention—or means—to pay) and calling attention to what the Department of the Interior later determined was an illegitimate auction.

On Monday, a federal court will convene to decide if DeChristopher is guilty of two felonies for his actions that day, charges that could land him in prison for up to 10 years and lead to fines of $750,000. You might think that kind of consequence would dampen someone's resolve, but DeChristopher is more convinced than ever that ordinary people have the power to stop even the most entrenched interests—provided we recognize that power.


Brooke Jarvis: From Tunisia to Egypt to Wisconsin, this is certainly a time when the power of people’s movements is evident—and particularly the quick, viral way they can spread as the success of one movement inspires another to begin. What can we learn from the uprisings of recent weeks?

Tim DeChristopher: Throughout the few weeks of the uprising in Egypt, there was never really any doubt that the protesters would eventually take out Mubarak. It was totally clear: They knew they had this level of power and were committed to exercising it. What we're missing is that commitment to exercising the citizen power that we already have. In Egypt, once they made the decision that they were going to be a powerful force, there was no stopping them.


The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow. - Jim Hightower

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mohandas K. Gandhi

A Little Meditation Goes a Long Way

by Jason Marsh

A new study offers the strongest evidence to date that meditation can change the structure of your brain.

I consider myself something of a prospective meditator—meaning that a serious meditation practice is always something I’m about to start… next week.

So for years, I’ve been making a mental note of new studies showing that meditation can literally change our brain structure in ways that might boost concentration, memory, and positive emotions.

The results seem enticing enough to make anyone drop into the full lotus position—until you read the fine print: Much of this research involves people who have meditated for thousands of hours over many years; some of it zeroes in on Olympic-level meditators who have clocked 10,000 hours or more. Pretty daunting.

Well, a new study offers some hope—and makes the benefits of meditation seem within reach even for a novice like me.

The study, published last month in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, suggests that meditating for just 30 minutes a day for eight weeks can increase the density of gray matter in brain regions associated with memory, stress, and empathy.



What's encouraging about meditation is that even if we shut down, we can no longer shut down in ignorance. We see very clearly that we're closing off. That in itself begins to illuminate the darkness of ignorance.... Everything is material for the seed of happiness, if you look into it with inquisitiveness and curiosity. The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment. There always is the potential to create an environment of blame -- or one that is conducive to loving-kindness.

- Pema Chodron

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Question by Rumi

One Dervish to another, What was your vision of God's presence?
I haven't seen anything.
But for the sake of conversation, I'll tell you a story.

God's presence is there in front of me, a fire on the left,
a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks towards the fire, into the fire,
another toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly in the stream.
A head goes under on the water surface, that head pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire,
and so end up in it.
Those who love the water of pleasure and make it their devotion are
cheated with this reversal.
The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth saying, I am not fire.
I am fountainhed. Come into me and don't mind the sparks.

If you are a friend of God, fire is your water.
You should wish to have a hundred thousand sets of mothwings,
so you could burn them away, one set a night.
The moth sees light and goes into the fire.
You should see fire and go toward the light.
Fire is what of God is world-consuming.
Water, world-protecting.
Somehow each gives the appearance of the other.
To these eyes you have now, what looks like water burns.
What looks like fire is a great relief to be inside.
You've seen a magician make a bowl of rice seem a dish
full of tiny live worms.
Before an assembly with one breath he made a floor swarm
with scorpians that weren't there.
How much more amazing God's tricks.
Generation after generation lies down defeated, they think,
but they're like a woman underneath a man, circling him.
One molecule-mote-second thinking of God's reversal
of comfort and pain is better than attending any ritual.
That splinter of intelligence is substance.

The fire and water themselves:
Accidental, done with mirrors.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The New American Oligarchy

This is a powerful article, well worth the read. Please consider passing on...


There is a war underway. I'm not talking about Washington’s bloody misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, but a war within our own borders. It’s a war fought on the airwaves, on television and radio and over the Internet, a war of words and images, of half-truth, innuendo, and raging lies. I'm talking about a political war, pitting liberals against conservatives, Democrats against Republicans. I'm talking about a spending war, fueled by stealthy front groups and deep-pocketed anonymous donors. It’s a war that's poised to topple what's left of American democracy.

The right wing won the opening battle. In the 2010 midterm elections, shadowy outside organizations (who didn’t have to disclose their donors until well after Election Day, if at all) backing Republican candidates doled out $190 million, outspending their adversaries by a more than two-to-one margin, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. American Action Network, operated by Republican consultant Fred Malek and former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, spent $26 million; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plunked down $33 million; and Karl Rove's American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS shelled out a combined $38.6 million. Their investments in conservative candidates across the country paid off: the 62 House seats and six Senate seats claimed by Republicans were the most in the postwar era -- literally, a historic victory.

Knocked out of their complacency, no longer basking in the glow of Barack Obama's 2008 victory, wealthy Democrats are now plotting their response. Left-wing media mogul David Brock plans to create an outside group dubbed American Bridge in response to Rove's Crossroads outfits that will fight in the trenches of 2012 campaign spending. Many more outfits like Brock's will surely follow, as liberal and centrist Democrats brace for a promised $500 million onslaught by the Chamber of Commerce and others of its ilk.

Even the Obama administration, which shunned outside groups in 2008, has opened the door to a covert spending war. The Democrats will now fight fire with fire. "Is small money better? You bet. But we're in a fucking fight," Democratic strategist and fundraiser Harold Ickes told me recently. "And if you're in a fistfight, then you're in a fistfight, and you use all legal means available."

The endgame here, of course, is non-stop war. No longer will outside groups come and go every two years. Now, such groups will be running attack ads, sending out mailers, and deploying robo-calls year-round in what is going to become a perpetual campaign to sway voters and elect friendly lawmakers. "We're definitely building a foundation," was how American Crossroads president Steven Law put it.

This is what nowadays passes for the heart and soul of American democracy. It used to be that citizens in large numbers, mobilized by labor unions or political parties or a single uniting cause, determined the course of American politics. After World War II, a swelling middle class was the most powerful voting bloc, while, in those same decades, the working and middle classes enjoyed comparatively greater economic prosperity than their wealthy counterparts. Kiss all that goodbye. We're now a country run by rich people.


"What the present Supreme Court, itself the fruit of successive tax-cutting and deregulating administrations, has ensured is this: that in an American “democracy,” only the public will remain in the dark. Even for dedicated reporters, tracking down these groups is like chasing shadows: official addresses lead to P.O. boxes; phone calls go unreturned; doors are shut in your face." ~ Andy Kroll

Egypt: Lessons in Democracy

by Stephen Zunes

Could 2011 be to the Arab world what 1989 was to Eastern Europe?

Together, the unarmed insurrection that overthrew the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia and the ongoing uprising in Egypt have dramatically altered the way many in the West view prospects for democratization in the Middle East. The dramatic events of recent weeks have illustrated that for democracy to come to the Arab world, it will come not from foreign intervention or sanctimonious statements from Washington, but from Arab peoples themselves.

While many observers have acknowledged how unarmed pro-democracy insurrections helped bring democracy to Eastern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia and Africa, they had discounted the chances of such movements in the region, despite Tunisia being far from the first.

There has actually been a long history of nonviolent pro-democracy struggle in North Africa and the Middle East. Egypt wrested its independence from Great Britain as a result of a massive nonviolent resistance campaign launched in 1919. In Sudan, military dictators were ousted in nonviolent insurrections in 1964 and 1985, though the democratic experiments that followed were cut short by military coups a few years later. In 1991, in a nonviolent struggle succeeded in ousting the Traore dictatorship in Mali, despite the massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters by the armed forces. Though it is one of the poorest countries in the world, Mali has been one of the most stable and democratic countries in the region ever since. The recently published book Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization and Governance in the Middle East documents numerous other popular pro-democracy movements throughout the Arab world.

The current struggle in Egypt—the center of Arab media, scholarship, and culture—has enormous ramifications for the region as a whole. The predominantly young secular activists who initiated the struggle reject not only the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak but also conservative Islamist leaders; they have put together a broad coalition of young and old, Muslim and Christian, poor and middle class to challenge a brutal corrupt regime which has held power for nearly thirty years. Like-minded civil society activists are organizing elsewhere. Indeed, 2011 could be to the Arab world what 1989 was to Eastern Europe.


"As long as the United States remains the world's No.1 supplier of security assistance to repressive governments in the Middle East and elsewhere, the need for massive nonviolent action in support for freedom and democracy may be no greater than here." ~ Stephen Zunes

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Poem: Love After Love

Thank you to Ron for sharing this beautiful one with me...
which I am moved to pass on....


Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~ Derek Walcott

I share this on the 33rd anniversary of my twin brother's death....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sabbaths 1985, V -- Wendell Berry

How long does it take to make the woods?
As long as it takes to make the world.
The woods is present as the world is, the presence
of all its past and of all its time to come.
It is always finished, it is always being made, the act
of its making forever greater than the act of its destruction.
It is a part of eternity for its end and beginning
belong to the end and beginning of all things,
the beginning lost in the end, the end in the beginning.

What is the way to the woods, how do you go there?
By climbing up through the six days’ field,
kept in all the body’s years, the body’s
sorrow, weariness, and joy. By passing through
the narrow gate on the far side of that field
where the pasture grass of the body’s life gives way
to the high, original standing of the trees.
By coming into the shadow, the shadow
of the grace of the strait way’s ending,
the shadow of the mercy of light.

Why must the gate be narrow?
Because you cannot pass beyond it burdened.
To come into the woods you must leave behind
the six days’ world, all of it, all of its plans and hopes.
You must come without weapon or tool, alone,
expecting nothing, remembering nothing,
into the ease of sight, the brotherhood of eye and leaf.

~ Wendell Berry ~

(A Timbered Choir)

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