Rethinking it…

bigstock-Silhouette-Of-Man-Jumping-29319146-440x440I spent about an hour this afternoon with a good friend at our local coffee hangout, Downtown Subscription, here in Santa Fe.  The topic of our conversation was, as usual, the election.  What went wrong and how.  Who was to blame, if anyone.  How to “fix it.”  As we talked in low, even tones, I could hear the anger and frustration behind our words.  Even though we spoke of healing and reconciliation, we were still furious with the rigid stance of the patriarchy, the ongoing misogeny, racism, bigotry, gross dishonesty, and just plain greed— in this country and in the world.  We were painfully aware of the extent of the divide between different groups of America’s people– and even more painfully aware of how we ourselves have contributed to widening that gap.  “Given all this,” I asked, “how can we really come together?”  “I don’t know,” she replied.  And indeed, we don’t know.  “But we have to try,” I added.  She agreed, and we planned to meet again soon.

Later, though, I remembered that when everything falls apart, it’s usually because something else is coming into being.  What this will be is unknown.  Perhaps it’s something this society, this planet, has not yet experienced.  We hope it will be good, benevolent– that at minimum it will cause no more pain– that it will acknowledge the deep wounds of the millennia and somehow begin to heal them.  But if we are truly honest with ourselves, we are also exquisitely aware that it will be what we create, through our thoughts and the actions that follow them.

Charles Eisenstein speaks to this most poignant of moments in human history in his essay The Election:  Of Hate, Grief, and a New Story.

If we are to heal, this is what we must continue to remember:  we really are what we think.

Calming the Storm

unnamedLike many of you out there, I was stunned by the results of Tuesday’s election.  I am old enough to remember WWII and the face of a man very much like Mr. Trump, a man who also ranted and raved and eventually came up with a “final solution” to his own bigoted, violent, psychotic misperceptions of those unlike him.

Being very much human and a “damned liberal” from early childhood, I have bounced back and forth between anger and fear, pausing only for short breaths at confusion and entropy.  What do we do now?

So I was greatly moved by this post from Avaaz, which I read this morning.  I hope it will help you as it has helped me.

Sometimes in the darkest moments the brightest lights shine. Let’s make Trump a force that brings the world together, to fight for everything we love.

With hope,

Ricken, Alice, Emma, Christoph and the whole Avaaz team.

PS – Here’s a letter with some more thoughts on the moment we’re in, and the plan going forward:

We wanted to write from the heart about what just happened in the US, and what’s happening around the world.

The shock is justified – the most powerful nation in the world will be led by a breathtakingly ignorant, bigoted, violent, pathologically lying, sexually predatory, vengeful, authoritarian, corrupt reality TV star. Those aren’t insults, they’re facts.

How is democracy coming to this? How do we deal with it? We want to offer 5 points:

    1. Acceptance – we can’t wisely change anything about the world or ourselves if we don’t first accept it. So take a deep breath, and let’s face it. President Trump. And Trumpism striving for power in many of our countries.
    1. Holistic Evaluation – I can’t find a better phrase for this idea, but our brains have a deep negativity bias. We are easily overwhelmed by fearful focus on the negative, and we make awful judgments when we are. This is how demagogues rise. We can’t let it happen to us. So looking at the situation holistically, here’s some reassuring points:
      • He’s not all-powerful – The US President faces many checks and balances from Congress, the constitution, the courts, his own party, and foreign leaders.
      • He was recently a liberal! – Trump is dangerous, but not a maniac. He has praised Hillary Clinton and donated to her campaigns and many of his positions are more reasonable when you scrutinize them. “Building a wall” is just saying he will physically police the US border. It’s distasteful, but not crazy. Much of his party opposed him because he wasn’t conservative enough!
      • He’s tapped into legitimate concerns – Trump’s supporters are not simply a racist ignorant mob. Polls show at least half are people who are well aware of his faults but are desperate for change, hate Hillary Clinton, and are willing to gamble on him.
      • The “people” are not with him – Trump lost the popular vote in the election (he just won through the US’s quirky ‘electoral college’ system). So don’t think this was a landslide.
    1. Focused Alarm – now that acceptance and holistic evaluation ensure we’re not freaking out unproductively, let’s focus our concern where it most needs to be:
      • Climate Change– Trump says it’s a hoax and wants to tear up the Paris climate agreement. Climate Change threatens our species and we’re running out of time – but IF we can make sure that world leaders don’t slow down, but speed up, the US alone can’t destroy us. The rest of the world will drive a clean energy revolution that will make renewable energy much cheaper than fossil fuels – the US will be forced to switch by simple economics.
      • Fascism – we just don’t know what kind of leader Trump is. Is he a Berlusconi, the Trump-like Italian billionaire Prime Minister who was outrageously corrupt and ridiculous but not a fascist? Or is he a Mussolini? We will have to watch like hawks and respond fast to the tell-tale signs of eroding the rule of law, rigging the electoral system, intimidating the media, or promoting hatred of some minorities.
      • Terrorism and War – Trump’s instincts in the campaign were to call for things like murdering the families of suspected terrorists and introducing widespread torture. This direction is a gift to ISIS and will fuel the global conflict with militant Islam. His ideas are mostly illegal, but we’ll have to watch closely and push back hard – domestically and through US allies – if this erratic man-child uses the US military brutally.
    2. It’s the Media Stupid – Despite ALL evidence to the contrary, the American public overwhelmingly sees Hillary Clinton as MORE dishonest and corrupt than Donald Trump. This, by itself, is the reason why Trump is president. And it’s the media’s fault. US network news devoted more time to coverage of Clinton’s totally BS email scandal than TO ALL POLICY ISSUES COMBINED. One the one side, we have ruthlessly sophisticated partisan propaganda media pushing Trump, and on the other an ‘impartial’ media that chases fake scandals and ratings and suggests false equivalence between the sides in the name of appearing balanced. This is the dynamic that gave us Brexit as well. We desperately need a smarter media. Very few organizations campaign on this, and Avaaz needs to.
  1. This is a HUGE opportunity, let’s rise to it – change doesn’t happen in a steady, linear way. We human beings learn best from crisis and calamity. Our brightest lights emerge from our deepest darknesses. World War II gave us human rights and the United Nations. And the darknesses of Trumpism could help us build the most inspiring movement for human unity and progress the world has EVER seen, to not only beat back the Trumps in each of our countries, but to do so with a new, people-centered, high-integrity, inspiring politics that brings massive improvement to the status quo. Let’s get to work on it :).

With hope, and apologies for the long memo,

Ricken and the Avaaz team.

Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Letting go…


The past many months and weeks have been full ones.  As any gardener knows, it’s a lot of work to create and maintain a garden, and lately gardening has been a central theme in my life.  My actual garden included expanding our backyard patio, digging new beds and filling containers for flowers, veggies, and herbs, and creating a fountain.  In deeper ways expanding the focus of our nonprofit, Orenda Healing International, has been the overriding theme, and we celebrated with the launch of our online publication, Four Winds Journal, in mid October.

All this is good!  But the other day I realized that I was feeling totally drained and didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or do anything.  Add to that the current political debacle and it’s easy to understand why someone might feel that way.

However, there are underlying reasons for burnout as well, and reading Lena Stevens’ November update, I suddenly saw how holding on to  disappointment and resentment have added to the mix.

The theme for the month of November is forgiveness.  Letting go.  Releasing what has held us back, kept us down, and drained our energy for days, weeks, months– even years.  Heaven knows there’s a lot to forgive– in ourselves, in others, and in what we see happening in this country and in the world at large.  But once upon a time, not so very long ago, I discovered that forgiveness in its true sense was the key to healing and the one action that literally saved my life.

And what is “its true sense?”  Very simply, it’s understanding that each of us, whoever we are and whatever we do — no matter how it looks– is probably doing the best that we can in that moment.  We are human and therefore fallible.  We are also divine and continue to aspire to real reconnection with Spirit.  Relaxing vigilance, forgiving that which hasn’t worked and isn’t working, embracing beauty and gratitude– these are stepping stones on that path.