Monday, February 27, 2017

Jack Kornfield: Did I Love Well?

If you have the privilege of being with a person who is conscious at the time of his or her death, you find the questions such a person asks are very simple, "Did I love well?" "Did I live fully?" "Did I learn to let go?"

These simple questions go to the very center of spiritual life. When we consider loving well and living fully, we can see the ways our attachments and fears have limited us, and we can see the many opportunities for our hearts to open. Have we let ourselves love the people around us, our family, our community, the Earth upon which we live? And, did we also learn to let go? Did we learn to live through the changes of life with grace, wisdom, and compassion? Have we learned to shift from the clinging mind to the joy of freedom?

- Jack Kornfield,
adapted from A Path With Heart:
A Guide through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

Rachel Carson: Man's War Against Nature Is Inevitably a War Against Himself

But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself...
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race. Wonder and humility are wholesome emotions, and they do not exist side by side with a lust for destruction.

Rachel Carson

Fracking Brine Leak in North Dakota Reaches Missouri River, Prompts State Democrats to Call For More Regulation

It is so hard to feel so powerless in the face of the enormity of the power and greed of the fossil fuel industry. I am very aware that what's in the ground needs to stay there and that we need an all out fierce commitment to get off fossil fuels and onto renewables as soon as we can. And I'm aware that the fossil fuel industry has blocked these efforts with everything they can with their power and money and propaganda. Now this. We must stop poisoning our Mother. ~ Molly

A pipeline leak near Williston, North Dakota, that began January 6 has spilled 3 million gallons of brine — a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing. The leak has reached the Missouri River, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
It’s the largest saltwater spill in the state’s history. Brine is considered toxic; it is saltier than seawater and often contains other fracking fluids and petroleum.
The leak contaminated two creeks near Williston: Blacktail Creek and the Little Muddy River. The Little Muddy River empties into the Missouri River, one of the town’s sources of drinking water.
State health official Dave Glatt told the Associated Press that given the size and volume of the Missouri River, the contaminants were quickly diluted. But Karl Rockeman, the director of water quality at the Department of Health said “high readings” of contamination were found where the Little Muddy meets the Missouri, the Williston Herald reported.
The number of spills from North Dakota’s booming oil industry has risen steadily since 2006, the New York Times reported in November. A Times investigation found that 18.4 million gallons of oil and chemical substances have leaked into the North Dakotan air, water and soil between 2006 and October 2014. The Summit Midstream leak follows on the heels of a 50,000 gallon oil spill in the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana — the second oil spill in the river in four years.
Clean-up has already begun, but contaminated water trapped in ice may slow down the process. Oil and fracking spills have already proven difficult to clean up in North Dakota; a spill near the town of Alexander in 2006 is still being cleaned up the Associate Press reported.
The saltwater spill has prompted North Dakota Democrats to call for increased monitoring and regulation of the industry.
“It should not take a 3 million gallon spill to realize that this monitoring is needed,” Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, told the Associated Press. “If North Dakota does not get this under control, the feds are going to step in and do it for us. And nothing is going to slow the oil industry down like the federal government. We want to protect our environment first and foremost but this also will be good for industry in the long run.”

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Brené Brown: The Birthplace of Love

I love Brené Brown and all those who have illuminated the path of shedding my armor and opening my heart. I love her book, Daring Greatly, and highlighted so many pages that I might as well have tossed a bucket of yellow paint on it. And now I love that my youngest son, who will be 30 in April, can't put this book down and tells me that he's highlighting whole pages. Blessed are all those who speak to our hearts and souls and help us remember what we have forgotten. The path of peace is truly through the courageous vulnerability of healing and opening of our hearts. May each of us root more and more deeply into our spiritual paths and become conscious of how it is that we can be the peace our world yearns for.
Bless us all on our journeys ~ Molly 

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.

  Brené Brown,  
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms 
the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Jeremy Scahill: The Fraying Of Our Democracy

With Jeremy Scahill
I think we [Americans] are going to look back and realize that the civil liberties that we've given up in the name of security, the authority that we've given Democratic and Republican presidents, all have contributed to a fraying of the fabric of our democratic republic.

Jeremy Scahill

Daniel Ellsberg: The Courage We Need

The courage we need is not the fortitude to be obedient in the service of an unjust war, to help conceal lies, to do our job for a boss who has usurped power and is acting as an outlaw government. It is the courage at last to face honestly the truth and reality of what we are doing in the world and act responsibly to change it.

- Daniel Ellsberg

Henry Giroux: The Responsibility of Education to Transform Legitimating Self-Interest as a Virture, Consumerism as the Noblest Act of Citizenship, and Militarism as a Cherished Ideal

As I continue to passionately work to see and shed veil after veil of my unknowing and ignorance, I find that there are so many layers which have brought us to the place where we find ourselves today. Looking at education is an illuminating part of this process. And as more and more is revealed and made conscious, running parallel with new awareness are questions... so many questions...

What has happened to education in America? Why do as few as six people possess as much wealth as half the global population? Why are we the one developed nation in the world still "debating" global warming? Why are we engaged in endless war? Why are we so highly polarized into us versus them rather than connected as compassionate human beings? Why have we not heeded Martin Luther King, Jr.'s warning against the triple evils of racism, militarism, and excessive materialism? Why do so many of us turn our backs and close our hearts and minds to the great suffering of so many others? How is it that the polar ice caps are melting at a critically alarming rate and that there is a a third great extinction happening? Why don't these issues make the news or, worse yet, why are they denied? Why do we allow ourselves to be limited to narratives which are toxic, like that we must choose between jobs or a healthy environment? Why is "environmentalist" a dirty word to anyone? Why are we not being educated about the impact of neoconservatism and neoliberalism on American politics and on what has happened to education and to our culture and the world over the past 30-40 years? Yes, there is so much good that is happening in the world. And that does not lessen the profound importance of asking these questions and countless others.

Henry Giroux is among those who addresses these issues and more with wisdom, integrity, depth, consciousness and heart. He has authored more than 60 books and is one of North America's most influential public intellectuals. He has also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Educational Research Association.

I first saw Henry Giroux interviewed many years ago on Bill Moyers. And since that time I have come to know and love Henry Giroux. I love him. I love his courage and fierce commitment to truth and how he tirelessly works for justice and to help us heal our world. He inspires me! Because he doesn't turn away from all the shadowy, messy, dark places we humans have been increasingly indoctrinated into not seeing much less doing anything about. And he speaks to the most urgent needs of our times. 

Among those at the very top is the need to deeply transform education in America. We need education which wakes us up to how it is that we humans can become more humane, more whole, more connected, and more conscious of and committed to a higher good for us all.

Bless us all on our journeys of awakening ~ Molly

As co-conspirators in the neoliberal takeover of the social order, higher education today has little to say about teaching students how to think for themselves in a democracy, how to engage with others, or how to address through the prism of democratic values the relationship between themselves and the larger world. Hence, students are treated like commodities and research data - or, worse, as institutional performance indicators - to be ingested and spit out as potential job seekers for whom education has become merely a form of career training. Students are now being taught to ignore human suffering and to focus mainly on their own self-interest, that is, they are being educated to exist in a political and moral vacuum. Education under neoliberalism is a form of radical depoliticization, one that kills the social imagination and any hope for a world that is more just, equal, and democratic.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the slow death of the university as a center of creativity and critique, a fundamental source of civic education and a crucial public good sets the stage for the emergence of a national culture that produces and legitimates an authoritarian society. The corporatization of higher education may, in fact, qualify as one of the most serious assaults against democracy. Certainly, it gives rise to the kind of thoughtlessness that Hannah Arendt believed as at the core of totalitarianism. A glimpse of such thoughtlessness has been on display at Rutgers University, which in 2014 presented an honorary degree to Condoleezza Rice while offering to pay her $35,000 to give a commencement speech. This gesture was clearly motivated by political interests, for how else to explain giving such a prestigious degree to someone whom a number of people consider to be a war criminal? This example is only one of many that exhibit how higher education has now become firmly entrenched in what President Eisenhower once called the military-industrial-academic complex...

The seriousness of the declining numbers of public intellectuals who are willing to address important social issues, aid social movements, and use their knowledge to create a critical formative culture cannot be overstated. Moreover, the retreat of intellectuals engaged in the struggle against neoliberalism and other forms of domination is now, alarmingly, matched by the rise of anti-public intellectuals who have sold themselves to corporate power.... These so-called intellectuals are the enemies of democracy and strive to legitimate modes of identification and values that buy into the notion that capitalism, rather than humanity, is the agent of history. They do not critique democracy for the sake of improving it; rather, they do everything they can to undermine democratic principles. These intellectuals are bought and sold by the financial elite and are nothing more than ideological puppets using their skills to destroy the social contract, critical thought, and all those social institutions capable of constructing non-commodified values and democratic public spheres. Their goal is to normalize the ideologies, modes of governance, and policies that reproduce massive inequalities and suffering for the many, while generating exorbitant privileges for the corporate and financial elite. The growing presence of such intellectuals is symptomatic of the fact that neoliberalism represents a new historical conjuncture in which cultural institutions and political power have taken on a whole new life in shaping politics. And it is precisely on the ideological front that neoliberalism has surpassed any preceding versions of capitalism in gaining ground, through legitimating self-interest as a virtue, consumerism as the noblest act of citizenship, and militarism as a cherished ideal...

Higher education has a responsibility not only to search for the truth regardless of where it may lead, but also to educate students to make authority and power politically and morally accountable. Higher education is one of the few public spheres left with the potential to sustain a democratic formative culture. When it is engaged in communicating critical knowledge, values, and learning, it offers a glimpse of the promise of education for nurturing public values, educated hope, and a substantive democracy. Democracy places civic demands upon its citizens, and such demands point to the necessity of an education that is broad-based, critical, and supportive of meaningful civic values, participation in self-governance, and democratic leadership. Only through such a formative and critical educational culture can students learn how to become individual and social agents rather than merely disengaged spectators. It is imperative that current and future generations be able to think independently and to act upon civic commitments that demand a reordering of basic power arrangements fundamental to promoting the common good and producing a meaningful democracy. 

- Henry Giroux
Excerpted from America's Addiction to Terrorism

Michael Parenti: Reflections on Democracy, Capitalism, Oppression, Tyranny, and Revolution

I am deeply grateful for Michael Parenti and all those who have helped me and countless others lift the veils of our ignorance and illusions. There is great need for the shadow side of our nation to be explored, understood, owned, healed, and transformed. There can be no solution for that which is denied and not known. We can stop colluding in blaming and scapegoating others, we can come to understand American foreign and domestic policies, we can cultivate consciousness of the roots of violence and oppression and suffering, and we can learn the lessons of history which continue to tragically and horrifically repeat themselves today. My ongoing prayer is for our individual and collective awakening. Another world is possible.
Peace & blessings ~ Molly
Quotes by Michael Parenti
The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments.
Conventional opinions fit so comfortably into the dominant paradigm as to be seen not as opinions but as statements of fact, as 'the nature of things.' The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us.
The first atrocity, the first war crime committed in any war of aggression by the aggressors is against the truth. 
Between 1831 and 1891, US armed forces - usually the Marines - invaded Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Brazil, Haiti, Argentina, and Chile a total of thirty-one times, a fact not many of us are informed about in school. The Marines intermittently occupied Nicaragua form 1909 to 1933, Mexico from 1914 to 1919, and Panama from 1903 to 1914. To 'restore order' the Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, killing over two thousand Haitians who resisted 'pacification.'  
With unfailing consistency, U.S. intervention has been on the side of the rich and powerful of various nations at the expense of the poor and needy. Rather than strengthening democracies, U.S. leaders have overthrown numerous democratically elected governments or other populist regimes in dozens of countries ... whenever these nations give evidence of putting the interests of their people ahead of the interests of multinational corporate interests.
In destroying country after country, the US Empire is doing well. One devastated country after the other has made it clear that any nation which pursues independent sovereign policies and attempts to better its own position and the state of its people becomes a target for the US Empire.
Far from being reluctantly propelled into hostilities by popular war fever, leaders incite that fever in order to gather support for their war policies. Thereby do they attempt to distract the public from pressing domestic matters, serve the overseas interests of U.S. investors, justify gargantuan military budgets, and present themselves as great leaders.
In societies that worship money and success, the losers become objects of scorn. Those who work the hardest for the least are called lazy. Those forced to live in substandard housing are thought to be the authors of substandard lives. Those who do not finish high school or cannot afford to go to college are considered deficient or inept.

The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. The live green earth is transformed into dead gold bricks, with luxury items for the few and toxic slag heaps for the many. The glittering mansion overlooks a vast sprawl of shanty towns, wherein a desperate, demoralized humanity is kept in line with drugs, television, and armed force.
The problem with capitalism is that it best rewards the worst part of us: the ruthless, competitive, conniving, opportunistic, acquisitive drives, giving little reward and often much punishment-or at least much handicap-to honesty, compassion, fair play, many forms of hard work, love of justice, and a concern for those in need.
Ecology's implications for capitalism are too momentous for the capitalist to contemplate. The plutocrats are more wedded to their wealth than to the Earth upon which they live, more concerned with the fate of their fortunes than with the fate of humanity. The present ecological crisis has been created by the few at the expense of the many.
A tiny portion of the population controls the lions share of the wealth and most of the command positions of state, manufacturing, banking, investment, publishing, higher education, philanthropy, and media... these individuals exercise a preponderant influence over what is passed off as public information and democratic discourse.
[The ruling elites] know who their enemies are, and their enemies are the people, the people at home and the people abroad. Their enemies are anybody who wants more social justice, anybody who wants to use the surplus value of society for social needs rather than for individual class greed, that's their enemy.
The conservative goal has been the Third Worldization of the United States: an increasingly underemployed, lower-wage work-force; a small but growing moneyed class that pays almost no taxes; the privatization or elimination of human services; the elimination of public education for low-income people; the easing of restrictions against child labor; the exporting of industries and jobs to low-wage, free-trade countries; the breaking of labor unions; and the elimination of occupational safety and environmental controls and regulations.
It is ironic that people of modest means sometimes become conservative out of a scarcity fear bred by the very capitalist system they support.
You will have no sensation of a leash around your neck if you sit by the peg. It is only when you stray that you feel the restraining tug. 
People who think they're free in this world just haven't come to the end of their leash yet.
The worst forms of tyranny, or certainly the most successful ones, are not those we rail against but those that so insinuate themselves into the imagery of our consciousness, and the fabric of our lives, as not to be perceived as tyranny. 
The dirty truth is that the rich are the great cause of poverty. 
To oppose the policies of a government does not mean you are against the country or the people that the government supposedly represents. Such opposition should be called what it really is: democracy, or democratic dissent, or having a critical perspective about what your leaders are doing. Either we have the right to democratic dissent and criticism of these policies or we all lie down and let the leader, the Fuhrer, do what is best, while we follow uncritically, and obey whatever he commands. That's just what the Germans did with Hitler, and look where it got them. 
Global warming is already acting upon us with an accelerated feedback and compounded effect that may be irreversible! We do not have eons or centuries or many decades. Most of us alive today may not even have the luxury of saying 'Après moi, le déluge' because we will be around to experience it ourselves. And if you think it will be 'interesting' or 'exciting,' ask the tsunami survivors if that's how they felt. This time the plutocratic drive to 'accumulate, accumulate, accumulate' may take all of us down, once and forever.
If the test of patriotism comes only by reflexively falling into lockstep behind the leader whenever the flag is waved, then what we have is a formula for dictatorship, not democracy... But the American way is to criticize and debate openly, not to accept unthinkingly the doings of government officials of this or any other country. 
Democracy is not about trust; it is about distrust. It is about accountability, exposure, open debate, critical challenge, and popular input and feedback from the citizenry. It is about responsible government. We have to get our fellow Americans to trust their leaders less and themselves more, trust their own questions and suspicions, and their own desire to know what is going on. 

Revolutions are not push button affairs; rather, they evolve only if there exists a reservoir of hope and grievance that can be galvanized into popular action.