Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sharon Salzberg: A Dedication to Kindness

May we all increasingly be the peace our world yearns for. ~ Molly

Photo by Molly
A dedication to kindness offers us a chance to try to make a real difference despite the obstacles and unhappiness we might face. No matter what our belief systems, actions, or status, we are joined together in this world through the strands of relationship and interconnection. That suffering child, orphaned through a tsunami, who we see in Indonesia or Sri Lanka is part of our lives, as we must not forget that. There is nothing that just happens only "there" anymore - not a war, not an exploitation of the weak, not a disease, not a hope for change. We need to stop reinforcing the sense of dehumanization, of "us" and "them," of separation that leads to wanton cruelty in the first place.

And if tomorrow is going to look any better than today, we must realize that the currency for compassion isn't what someone does, right or wrong - it is the very fact that that person exists. Commitment to the possibility of kindness cannot be discarded as foolish or irrelevant, even in troubling times when we often can't find easy answers. If we abandon the force of kindness as we confront cruelty, we won't learn anything to take into tomorrow - not from history, not from one another, not from life.

Even if we are encountering cruelty, we must try to understand its roots and determine not to be the same as those acting it out. We must determine not to simply keep perpetrating the forces of separation and disregard. If we don't make the effort, what will we really have accomplished?...

We can all keep on trying, through the extension of lovingkindness to others, and make the effort to pay attention to them in an inclusive way rather than splitting them off into the "other" - the "different" ones who can be hurt with impunity. This doesn't at all mean that we will like everybody or acquiesce to everyitng that he or she does. It doesn't mean that we become complacent or passive about naming wrongdoing as wrong or about seeking change, sometimes very forcefully, with our whole heart.

Practicing lovingkindness does mean that we learn to see the lives of others, relay see them, as related to our own lives. It means that we open up to the possibility of caring for others not just because we like them or admire them or are indebted to them in some way, but because our lives are inextricably linked to one another's. We use the practice of lovingkindness meditation as a way to recover our innermost knowledge of that linkage as we dissolve the barriers we have been upholding and genuinely awaken to how connected we all are.

- Sharon Salzberg
Excerpted from The Force of Kindness:
Change Your Life with Love & Compassion

Parker Palmer: The Decision To Live Divided No More

Photo by Molly
I believe that movements start when individuals who feel very isolated and very alone in the midst of an alien culture, come in touch with something life-giving in the midst of a death-dealing situation. They make one of the most basic decisions a human being can make, which I have come to call the decision to live "divided no more," the decision to no longer act differently on the outside than one knows one's truth to be on the inside.

- Parker Palmer

Monday, September 26, 2016

Imagine the Difference

While much of America seems to be getting more and more divisive, 
I'm going to be holding doors open for strangers, letting people 
cut in front of me in traffic, greeting all I meet, exercising 
patience with others, and smiling at strangers. 
I'll do this as often as I have the opportunity. 

I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where 
unconditional is invisible and being rude is acceptable. 

Join me in showing love and respect to others. 
Find your way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love. 
Because today, sadly, hate is gaining ground. 
Love must begin somewhere and love will overcome hate. 

Imagine the difference if we each purposely love a little more.

- Anonymous

Thích Nhất Hạnh: Be Ready to Learn

The depth of soulful wisdom here is a great gift. May we remember to catch ourselves when we are building walls and shutting down and shutting out and clinging to beliefs that may limit us. May we continue to open our hearts and minds with the awareness and courage and humility that recognizes that there is likely a larger picture beyond the one we see, and yet another beyond that, and on and on. Life is so amazing, so amazing when we seek to open our hearts and minds and listen. Bless all the wise ones who illuminate a path of receptivity, lovingkindness, courage, compassion, and love. These are the teachers who help us to remember what we have forgotten. ~ Molly

Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from your views in order to be open to receive other's viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

- Thích Nhất Hạnh


CIA Torture Whistleblower: 'Quest for Peace Must Be Part of Election'

"Instead of arguing which candidate would be more likely to use drones, more likely to bomb our enemies, real or perceived, or more likely to use the stick, rather than the carrot, we must demand that those candidates commit themselves to the pursuit of peace both here and abroad," says John Kiriakou.
CIA whisteblower John Kiriakou as depicted in artist Robert Shetterly's "Americans Who Tell the Truth" series.  (Credit: Robert Shetterly)
"Our country is in crisis," John Kiriakou says
The CIA agent who was jailed for blowing the whistle on the United States' illegal torture program has made a statement about what the nation's electorate must demand from White House hopefuls this election season.

The whistleblower, John Kiriakou, was sentenced to 30 months in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty to releasing the name of an officer implicated in a CIA torture program to the media and violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

"Our country is in crisis, whether it is because of our apparently seamless escalation into a permanent wartime economy, our inability to wage peace in the Middle East and South Asia, or our national compulsion to prosecute and humiliate national security whistleblowers," he said in a statement. 

"The quest for peace must be a part of our presidential election. Instead of arguing which candidate would be more likely to use drones, more likely to bomb our enemies, real or perceived, or more likely to use the stick, rather than the carrot, we must demand that those candidates commit themselves to the pursuit of peace both here and abroad. 

"Without peace, we will continue down the long road toward anarchy and hatred," he added. 

Kiriakou made the statement ahead of receiving on Sunday the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award.

SAAII said in a statement that the whistleblower "was the first U.S. government official to confirm (during a national news interview in December 2007) that waterboarding—which he described as torture—was used to interrogate al Qaeda prisoners. Kiriakou also stated that he found U.S. 'enhanced interrogation techniques' immoral, and that Americans are 'better than that.'"

Kiriakou has previously said that "the entire torture program was approved by the president himself," and that he doubts the U.S. government "would ever have the guts to charge someone at the level of a Dick Cheney or of a CIA director ... with crimes against humanity."

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Parker Palmer: An Integral Part of Life

Wholeness does not mean perfection.
It means embracing brokenness
as an integral part of life.

- Parker Palmer

"We No Longer Live in a Democracy": Henry Giroux on a United States at War With Itself

Sunday, 25 September 2016 00:00By Leslie Thatcher, Truthout | Interview 
To transform our society into a democracy, we first have to dismantle the myth of democracy as currently defined. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)
"Too many people today accept the notion that their fate is solely a matter of individual responsibility, irrespective of wider structural forces," writes cultural critic and theorist Henry A. Giroux, in his new book, America at War with Itself. "This much promoted ideology, favored by the rich, suggests that human relations boil down to competition and combat. People today are expected to inhabit a set of economic relations in which the only obligation is to fight for one's own self-interest." This troubling trend is not only profoundly anti-democratic, but also works to eliminate structural, systemic and social concerns from public discourse, creatingwhat Giroux has described as "organized powerlessness."
In the following interview, Giroux -- a professor for scholarship in the public interest at McMaster University and a member of Truthout's board -- explains the background to the war metaphor and deconstructs its everyday use in the US. Finally, he evokes a politics of possibility which begins by making visible the linkages among a vast array of issues that undermine democracy.
Leslie Thatcher: Henry, could you give a brief list of the many ways America is at war with itself and the most recent battles or campaigns of that war?
Henry Giroux: FDR once said, "A nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself." This is happening in the United States in the most literal sense, given that our political and economic system are wedded to a market-driven system willing to destroy the planet, while relentlessly undermining those institutions that make a democracy possible. What this suggests and the book takes up in multiple ways is that the United States is at war with its own idealism, democratic institutions, the working and middle classes, minority youth, Muslims, immigrants and all of those populations considered disposable.
War has taken on an existential quality in that we are not simply at war; rather, as Étienne Balibar insists, "we are in war," inhabiting a war culture that touches every aspect of society. War is no longer an instrument to be used by political powers, but a form of rule, a general condition of the social order itself -- a permanent social relation and organizing principle that affects all aspects of the social order. In fact, the US has moved from a welfare state in the last forty years to a warfare state, and war has now become the foundation for politics, wedded to a misguided war on terror, the militarization of everyday life, and a culture of fear, which have become its most important regulative functions. Politics has become a comprehensive war machine that aggressively assaults anything that does not comply with its underlying economic, religious, educative and political fundamentalisms.

David Korten: Want National Security? Dismantle the War Machine

A military response to violence creates more violence. For real security, 
we need to stop climate change and work toward shared prosperity.

Published on
"We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined." (Photo:Daniel Achim / iStock)

The recent 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade towers was a reminder of the terrible consequences when a nation ignores the lessons of history—including its own recent history. The U.S. military budget is a tragic example.

We currently spend roughly $598 billion on defense, which is more than the next seven biggest military spenders combined: China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan. This represents 54 percent of federal discretionary spending. In return, we get an ability to rapidly deploy conventional military power anywhere in the world.

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center was the most devastating foreign-sourced attack on the United States since the War of 1812. It was carried out by a largely self-organized band of 19 religious fanatics of varied nationalities, affiliated with a small, dispersed, and loosely organized international network. We responded by invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. This led to hundreds of thousands of pointless deaths, destabilization of the Middle East, and a cost to the U.S. Treasury of some $4 trillion to $6 trillion.

I view all this in part through the lens of my experience as an Air Force captain during the Vietnam War. I briefed pilots headed for Vietnam on the psychological consequences of bombing civilian populations. I later served in the Defense Department’s office overseeing defense-related behavioral and social science research.

The available research on the psychological consequences of bombing was clear and predictable: It unifies the civilian population, just as 9/11 unified the U.S. population. The same is true for mass military operations against dispersed combatants who blend in with and are indistinguishable from civilian populations. Conventional military operations work only when there are clearly identifiable military targets that can be hit with limited collateral harm to civilians.

The United States bears no risk of invasion by a foreign military force. And the terrorist threat, which comes from bands of loosely affiliated political extremists, is substantially overblown. Furthermore, it is fueled by the much greater security threats created by environmental abuse, global corporate overreach, and the social divisions of extreme inequality. Under circumstances of growing physical and social stress from environmental devastation and inequality, politics easily turns violent. Violence is all the more certain when people feel deprived of alternative avenues to express their rage at being deprived of a dignified means of living.

Please continue this article here:

With David Korten at the Green Festival, Seattle, W