Saturday, May 31, 2014

Alan Cohen: Those Who Love You

Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made 
or dark images you hold about yourself. 
They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; 
your wholeness when you are broken; 
your innocence when you feel guilty; 
and your purpose when you are confused.

Alan Cohen: The Seed of Transformation

Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. 
Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. 
Terrify and terrific. 
Every negative experience holds 
the seed of transformation.

Einstein: Our Task

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe,
 a part limited in time and space. 
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling 
as something separated from the rest, 
a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. 
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, 
restricting us to our personal desires and to affection 
for a few persons nearest to us. 
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison 
by widening our circle of compassion to embrace 
all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

 Albert Einstein


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jack Kornfield: An Invitation

You hold in your hand an invitation: 
to remember the transforming power of forgiveness 
and loving kindness. To remember 
that no matter where you are and what you face, 
within your heart peace is possible.

David Whyte: Sweet Darkness


Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure 
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds 
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.
~ David Whyte ~
(House of Belonging)

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou: A Brave and Startling Truth

A Brave and Startling Truth 

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet 
Traveling through casual space 
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns 
To a destination where all signs tell us 
It is possible and imperative that we learn 
A brave and startling truth 
And when we come to it 
To the day of peacemaking 
When we release our fingers 
From fists of hostility 
And allow the pure air to cool our palms 

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet 
Whose hands can strike with such abandon 
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living 
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness 
That the haughty neck is happy to bow 
And the proud back is glad to bend 
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction 
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines 

When we come to it 
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body 
Created on this earth, of this earth 
Have the power to fashion for this earth 
A climate where every man and every woman 
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety 
Without crippling fear 

When we come to it 
We must confess that we are the possible 
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world 
That is when, and only when 
We come to it.
- Maya Angelou

Remembering Maya Angelou

 Memories of Maya

I heard the news this morning. My eyes filled with tears and I went to Ron to just be held. Maya Angelou has died at the age of 86. I wept.

Several years ago Maya Angelou came to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland and I was thrilled to be in the audience. I will always remember how the entire sold out crowd rose to our feet in the same moment when she first entered the room. This was a woman to be honored. This was an extraordinary woman. A woman who also reminded us of how extraordinary we all are.

What an amazing experience that evening was! I do not remember everything she said, but I do remember how Maya Angelou made me feel. What a gift. Afterwards I was able to be on stage with her. I clasped my palms and bowed to her, then shook her hands. I thanked Maya Angelou for how she has touched my heart. And the heart of untold others.

Many years before that, I happened to be home one afternoon at a time I was usually working or busy with my young children. On this day, however, I turned on Oprah Winfrey, not knowing that Maya Angelou was being interviewed in her home by Oprah. I was mesmerized. And I will always remember Maya Angelou speaking about negativity. She spoke of the power of our words and our energy. Dr. Angelou shared her belief that someday we will be able to measure negativity. She clearly knew and described how negativity can inhabit a home, furniture, walls, and get under our skin and into our cells, our bones, our hearts. Maya Angelou went on to describe how she handles situations when something derogatory is being said by someone, anyone, about another human being. She stated that she could have a home full of guests, but that if she hears someone across the room expressing negativity toward or about anyone else that she would raise her hand in the air - demonstrating with her arm raised and her finger pointed with authority - and clearly exclaim, "Stop that! Stop that right NOW!!"

Which really impacted me and prompted me to immediately begin to try this practice with my three sons and their friends. And myself. Somehow I believe it may have worked better for Maya Angelou at that time than it did for me and within my own home and heart. But the impact of that wisdom, that deep knowing of the utter importance of kindness, respect, caring for our fellow human beings and ourselves stayed with me. And over time deepened in me. And in my sons. Seeds were planted that each year bear more fruit.

And I am forever grateful for this beautiful soul. I miss her dearly. And I thank Maya Angelou for her presence and passion, her courage and infinite caring, her wisdom and great heart, which will always be with me. And with all of us who loved her.

Namaste ~ Molly

George Monbiot: The Impossibility of Growth Demands a New Economic System

Why collapse and salvation are hard to distinguish from each other.

Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 by
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham(1).The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. We simply can't go on this way.
Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems(2). It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.
To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.
Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained(3). But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and the pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, as the most accessible reserves have been exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.
On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable(4), the Ecuadorean government decided that oil drilling would go ahead in the heart of the Yasuni national park(5). It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as blackmail or you could see it as fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich: why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills(6), will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America(7).
Please go here to continue this article:

Obama: 'I Believe in American Exceptionalism with Every Fiber of My Being'

President's foreign policy speech at West Point leaves progressives with plenty to criticize

- Jon Queally, staff writer
Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 by Common Dreams
President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's Class of 2014, Wednesday, May 28, 2014, in West Point, N.Y. (Photo: AP)In a speech rife with incongruities and contradictions, President Obama set out his vision and defense of U.S. foreign policy on Wednesday at the West Point Military Academy in New York.
In the speech, Obama announced that he believes "in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being" and spoke repeatedly about "American leadership" and "American strength."
Progressives and foreign policy experts on the left, however, were quick to criticize the president's speech from various angles via their Twitter accounts with many noting that for all his grand rhetoric on the nation's special place in the world, the United States under his leadership has done little to inspire and much to undermine such a role. From assaults on human rights and the flouting of international law to serves its own interests, many critics charge, the United States continues to export militarism while undermining efforts to create a more just and peaceful world.
A sampling:
For the complete article, please go here:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Reflections On Gratitude


In the midst of my often too busy life, of my awareness of the suffering of we humans and other beings, of my consciousness of the multitude of crises which we are faced with at this time on Earth, etc., etc., I am also reminded of the utter necessity of laughter, love, beauty, nature, connection, kindness, tenderness, hugs, humor, gratitude. 

Nearly thirty years ago an early therapist suggested I develop a gratitude practice. I did not know what in the heck that meant or what it could possibly look like, feel like, be like to "practice gratitude." Didn't he know that I was thawing out from my young lifetime of shutting down, shutting out, shutting up and that now that I was beginning to open my eyes and my heart that everything was serious, serious, serious?!?

That was then. Thank God/Goddess/Mystery. 

In these lovely evening moments tonight it has come to me spontaneously to write what first comes to mind, right now, that touches my heart with gratitude...

Ron, my oh-so-sweet husband.
My three amazing sons.
Their amazing wives.
Brian and Marita's new home.
That maybe I'll get to be a grandma sooner than later. Maybe.
That there is this lovely brief moment of setting sunlight out my window.
The countless beautiful and dear people in my life and in my heart.
That my mom is near.
That Mom told me tonight - again! - that she is so proud of
what I have done with my life.
That miracles happen.
That I get to Wake Up. 
Nature, Wild Places, Mother Earth.
Springtime and all the seasons.
The connection we share with all beings.
That I save spiders and other tiny creatures.
That one of our three kitties and one of our two doggies are hanging with me.
That we have dogs who will bark to alert us to there being racoons in the pond.
That the racoons whose mischief woke our dogs who woke us just before 3am 
didn't eat any of our fish.
That each of my sons are on their paths.
That I get to have this life, this amazing life.
That I can cry.
That I can laugh from my belly.
That healing happens.
That the seeds of kindness are continually growing.
That Ron and I just planted even more flowers.
That my altars permeate our home.
That Ron's altars permeate the outside of our home in the form of 
lush, lovely, wild jungle-like beauty everywhere.
That this list could go on like my love for Ron does,
which is to infinity plus one.

What does your list look like? ...

Hands clasped, bowing 
to us all.


From a Vietnam War Veteran: Why War?

This piece came to me through a friend, who received it from a Vietnam War vet, who received it from another vet... May we listen...

Photo from Veterans For Peace

This post is written by my father, Arnold Stieber who was infantry in the Army stationed in Vietnam from 1970-1971. He is currently the coordinator of the Chicago chapter of Veterans for Peace.
War -- conflict resolution by violence. Memorial Day -- a day to remember those killed in wars. More than remembering, Memorial Day is reality for me. That reality began in 2003 and was amplified in 2013.
In 2003 my military experience burst into my consciousness after 32 years. Late one night I turned on the TV. The movie Platoon was playing. I had never watched any violent shows nor read anything about war or Viet Nam since I left there and my role as an Army infantryman in March of 1971. The scene was a U.S. patrol entering a village. I saw the dark skinned children with their big dark eyes, skinny bodies and ragged clothes -- and it all came back like a lightening bolt. The sights, the sounds, the smells. Stunned, I turned off the TV and sat in a darkened room.
The next day began a frenzy of activity. Unstructured for the first few months, I consumed a world of information. At 57 years of age with an MBA and an active business career, I was almost totally ignorant of many aspects of life. Information on war, peace, politics, world affairs, religion, organizations, books, magazines, videos, DVDs, radio and TV shows -- and the list grew with each passing day. I needed structure.
I finally formulated two questions: Why war? Why do we so proudly send our children to kill other children?
Why war?
Howard Zinn helped with his book The Peoples History of the United States. Marine Major General Smedley Butler, a two-time Medal of Honor recipient, helped with his booklet, "War is a Racket." Many other authors and people and programs moved me along the path.
My studies revealed that the main causes of war are money and markets
. There is always plenty of flag waving and bluster about the "evil ones," but every war I've studied, once you begin peeling back the layers, has the same core.
War is the best business in the world.
High profits, little competition, products rapidly used, and the price is seldom questioned. Weapons are the number one export product of the USA. Hundreds of thousands of people are employed in the death and destruction industry. Thousands more spend their lives teaching at war colleges and military schools. Other thousands plan wars and "covert actions." Mercenary companies and CIA operations are a major part of U.S. "foreign policy." But the war business depends on conflict. That leads to the second question.
Why do we so proudly send our children to kill other children?
A country cannot have a war, and those in the war business cannot sell their products, unless we the people are willing to sacrifice our children.
How can we be convinced to sacrifice our children?
There are many ways. 
The first is to generate fear. 
The second is to continually present the military model for conflict resolution -- violence -- as the solution.
Go into any park and you'll probably see a military statue or a canon. Veterans' memorials are everywhere. Parades are lead by weapons carrying veterans and the military. The military carries the flag into sporting events. Many in the military now ware Combat Battle Dress (CBDs) when they are in public. Everyone in the military is now called a "hero." POW-MIA flags fly from post offices and other buildings. Highways are named after wars, war veterans, and generals. Battleships are named after presidents. We have civil war re-enactments. Our language is violent: " I could just kill my kids," "bullet points," and sports announcers inject "kill," "beat," "destroyed" into their descriptions. There are also video games, weapon toys, paintball parks and TV and movie violence. All of these lower the barrier to hurting others. They are an ever-present message that violence -- the military model -- is the solution to conflict.
In 2013 I watched the Chicago Memorial Day parade. Thousands of children of color, dressed in military uniforms, passed by. It stunned me. I've learned that Chicago Public Schools are the most militarized in the nation. Over 10,000 children are learning the military model of taking orders and solving conflicts with violence. The parade, for me, was not about remembering those who died. The main message was convincing the children and their parents that the military model is the "American way."
This year I'll be back at the parade -- holding a sign of peace. Please join me and members of the Chicago chapter of Veterans for Peace. If we can influence just one child or just one parent that the military model is not the answer, that's one child who will not have to suffer the physical or mental pain of legalized death and destruction.
Memorial Day. 
Remember the dead, all of them, from all countries, civilians and military. 
Dead because of the military model.