Essay on Power (Warning: Political Content) 5/31/2020

(This post is dedicated to my beloved Warriors for Justice, who, of course, went down to Seattle to join in an important protest, or supported those who went by staying in contact all day. Many of the things in this post came from them, even during the chaos of the day.)

Unusual for me to be speaking out like this…I tend to steer clear of politics on my Blog (and actually in my life) but I am a 60’s Flower Child-Peacenik, currently living in the Seattle area so the last two nights of protesting the horrific death of George Floyd, have been rough.

Then seeing that too familiar evolution, from protesting into rioting, well, it all has me flashing back to my youth.

Even back then, during countess Vietnam war protests, and passionate civil rights work in the deep South, I rarely approached things politically. Instead, these were Spiritual events and times in my life.

I find the same is true for me now. Earlier in the week, when I heard the awful news story about George Floyd, the content of the video they showed, on TV and online, shocked and dismayed me. Somehow I selfishly related most closely to this one woman on the sidelines, screaming repeatedly, while she had to see that policeman commit that murder. Her panicked and desperate plea, rising above the crowd noise, was something like “He’s trying to talk to you. He’s trying to tell you something.”

I feel like I have been that woman my whole adult life…just trying to advocate…as loudly and as effectively as I possibly can. In a way, I’ve done it for my living. It is my life’s work.

Probably more than any other teacher, I have tried to live the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so this morning, I am spiritually crumpled…just crushed to have to see where we are right now, as a people. So much tragic, senseless, horrendous violence…

They are trying to tell us something.

THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING!!!

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I don’t however believe, like some, that all the work we all did back in the 1960’s was a waste, or was not successful. As the Dalai Lama says, “If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant”.

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I woke up this morning wondering if it was time to get out the poster board and paints, and find those old marching shoes? Or if it was time to think about how to pass on this baton I have held onto, mostly fiercely, for my whole adult life.

I’m still not sure but here’s how I am deciding.

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I pay very close attention to things that cross my path, no matter their form. If something is in my face, I believe I can learn from it. A song, a dream, a comment from a friend, an event, the squirrel on the bird feeder…again…anything can carry an important message. So when I woke up this morning with the movie (and book) Absolute Power, by David Baldacci on my mind, it stopped me…though it took some work to get at why. If you don’t know the story (spoiler alert) it is about who actually has absolute power over whom? The US President, over everyone? A black mailer over the President? Or a daughter over her father.

Huh? Yeah, that’s what I said too. What does this have to do with right now? What the heck is the lesson here?

But then I remembered my experience of the previous night.

Here’s how it went for me.

I am in our extremely remote Mountain Retreat, 300 miles from our home which is outside Seattle. I am alone here because James is gone, jamming with the guys tonight, some 50 minutes away from here. I know there are protests happening back in Seattle because several wonderful friends (the previously mentioned Warriors) are texting from the rally in downtown. I turn on the TV (we only get one live channel over here) to do my once-a-day check in on the virus, but am instead greeted with Breaking News interrupting the regular news programming.

Between the TV and my friends texting and sending live videos from Seattle, I now see the shit is hitting the fan all over the country. This is upsetting, and I no longer care about the stupid virus at all.

Then, interrupting the “Breaking News” about rioting, which has superseded the regular news, comes an Emergency Broadcast System Weather Warning, “crawling” across my screen, voice drowning out the riot newscaster’s.

I suddenly care a lot less about tear gas, rubber bullets and shots fired 292 miles away. I now have to gather up the cats, and prepare the house and cars for a huge thunder storm with 70 mile an hour winds, hail the size baseballs, oh, and probable TORNADOES, headed my way in a way shorter amount of time than it would take James to get home!

So the shift for me, of absolute power, went from one form of life and death, that is most likely to be present for the coming years, Covid 19 (unless we want to try drinking Lysol)

…to another, that will undoubtedly last at least until the election (“looting will lead to shooting” threatens our president?? “Our most vicious dogs will be sicced on protesters???”)

…and then finally, shifting once again to the most urgent absolute power of all…

Mother Nature.

No contest! Mother Nature (some might even call her God) wins hands down.

She’s just plain bigger and louder!

With her awesome weapons of hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, she wins every time!

So here’s what I’ve decided; I’m in too many high risk health categories to protest in a crowd these days, masks or not. I can’t even walk far enough to get in a good March but I am still with it enough to continue my spiritual journey. And I can still write my thoughts and beliefs and still look for things to inspire those younger (and healthier) than me.

I can pass on the baton but still wear this mantle for a while longer.

 

Here is some inspiration, and even ammunition, for the current battle for Power in our country.

Please listen and watch and do let me know if it is useful. I so want to be contributing!!

 

And an older, Jackson Browne, get-off-my-butt to fight song, that is still frighteningly true!!

 

All of our protesting in the 1960’s may not have made visible, permanent changes, that we get to actually see “in our lifetime”, but I would not trade a single minute of the deep, passion and purpose-filled, spiritual life I have been blessed to live.

And, with that wreath of flowers in my hair,  I still believe we will find our way…

 

 

PS Two more things about Seattle…1) you know you are there when the Police Force is riding their bikes, decked out in their shorts, and RIOT GEAR, and 2) the day after a riot you see this:

 

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Volunteers in Seattle, cleaning up after the riots the night before…

Reblog from my friend Karuna

Please, please…for our grandchildren…

Dalai Lama Quote

“To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.”

― Dalai Lama XIV

Martin Luther King Day 1/20/2020

Over the Holidays, I started binge-watching West Wing on Netflix…well, to be honest, I should say RE-binge watching. I actually own the fancy boxed set so have seen every episode many, many times…just not for a while. (We currently don’t have a single DVD player in the whole house.)

I started it again in early December as a distraction from some personal drama, but I quickly realized how much I have needed this kind of political antithesis for quite a while now.

Trump Escapades Inundation should be a category in the DSM-5 under the PTSD diagnosis heading…

My only real connection to POTUS is that I truly empathize with his hair issues, my own having thinned dramatically enough that I have to experiment with all manner of the “comb-over”.

Watching the brilliant portrayal of how life in the West Wing, and in our country, could and should be has been just as inspirational this time through as all the others.

I am a die-hard Aaron Sorkin fan and have absolutely loved everything he’s done; all the movies, and TV shows, especially Sports Night, the Newsroom, and the way too short Studio 60. We need a ton of sentimentality and idealism these days just to counteract some of the other stuff that’s happening. And Sorkin is the master!

The last episode I watched had the following quote in it.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of start.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And then I remembered a couple of days ago I saw the episode where Aimee Mann singing James Taylor’s wonderful song, “Shed a Little Light”.

So in honor of MLK day, and to do my part, for just a few moments, to distract from all the…well, you know, I found 3 versions of this beautiful song.

The first, just the song so you can concentrate on the lyrics (printed right below).

Next, a really moving cover by The Maccabeats and Naturally 7  that James Taylor himself really liked!

And last, another wonderful, uplifting version by James and friends.

If you can sit through all three versions, you’ll be singing right along by the end, and maybe even a little inspired to Keep on Trucking no matter what unbelievable thing you-know-who does tomorrow.

1st version…

“Shed A Little Light”

Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth.
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, that we are bound together
in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill, don’t give me no light from a TV screen.
When I open my eyes I wanna drink my fill from the well on the hill,
do you know what I mean?

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist, there is a hunger in the center of the chest.
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
and though the body sleeps the heart will never rest.

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us.

All men and women living on the Earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood.
2nd version, James’s favorite cover…

 

 

3rd version, sing along. I dare you!

 

Thank you Dr. King, for being one of my most important teachers…

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge-Peace 11/26/19

Inspired by

I feel so lucky all of a sudden because my mind is reeling with all the places where I have felt true peace. Most of them, I have no photos for…like the beaches in the Southern Lau group of the Fiji Islands…beaches so deserted I had absolutely no problem believing mine were the very first human footprints in that sand…ever.

Or a baby sleeping on my chest. Or cat or dog or….

Or the aftermath of beautiful love-making. (Yes, I said it…and definitely no photos of that.)

In my everyday life, one of my favorite places to get calmed and grounded in peace is the porch swing at our Mountain Retreat. It’s not just the view, though it does look out over a beautiful, peaceful valley.

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There is simply something magical in the energy right there, in that spot.

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The swing, with the huge addition to the house being built all around it.

We have all taken naps there. It’s just that peaceful.

BUT here’s what this challenge really brought up for me. A week from now, on December 8th, almost 39 years ago, we lost John Lennon.

It was a heartbreaking day for me but there was a gift in it I have been grateful for again and again all these years.

I remember the moment I found out so clearly. I was stuck on a bridge in typically frustrating commuter traffic…stop…go…stop…go, when I noticed that every one of my pre-set radio stations was playing a John Lennon song. Uh oh.

I knew what that probably meant. Sure enough, I heard the official announcement when I switched to NPR (National Public Radio).

I burst into tears.

You know how when you are driving, especially slowly, you catch movements in the cars right around you. We were stopped and something in the car just on my left caught my peripheral vision. I turned to look, my make-up running tears streaming, and found a young man half my age, looking right back at me. He was also crying. We locked eyes for an intimate eternity, and there is no doubt in my mind, we were sharing the same devastating moment. It was confirmed when we both rolled down our windows and realized we were listening to the same song on our car radios. Imagine.

It was almost as if our intense connection spread because around us, there was a small cluster of about 8 cars that did not move for several minutes, even though the traffic ahead had opened up. No one behind us even honked.

I don’t know how to describe this but other windows must have been rolled down too because through the air, floated snippets of Instant Karma, Imagine, and Whatever Gets You Through the Night from pumped up radio volumes all around us.

A strangely and powerfully peaceful moment…

For years, I have shared this story as an illustration of the truest form of human intimacy. An example of how we can be completely connected with anyone, including total strangers…no judgment, no bias, no words even necessary. We can connect with almost anyone through shared pain or shared joy. It’s the same experience we have when we make eye contact with someone else who is also watching a baby, or kitten playing, or a Mama duck herding her ducklings across a road. There is complete peace in those moments, sadness or delight….because for a moment, we know that we are all in this together.

Just imagine finding enough ways to co-experience this level of harmony…that we might actually save ourselves……….

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Peace