still walking the path

Some years ago, I became vegan. It happened incrementally over a period of many years, until it became a conscious decision. That decision was a way point along a much longer and larger spiritual journey. I did not realize at the time that it was a choice that would facilitate my capacity to continue deeper on that journey, to walk a path of compassion.

Lately, I have been pondering the spiritual metamorphosis that continues to blossom in ever more amazing ways in my life. 

Even as all the church buildings were shuttered last year, I suspect the ensuing months were very spiritual ones for many folks. With so much on our minds, the constant fear peddling, loss, and our limited in-person contacts, who could help but be introspective, reflective about what actually matters? 

Now, as we attempt to reclaim our freedom and ways of life, the spiritual self cannot be ignored. The spiritual self is integral to all facets of the way forward. Rather than be corralled into an ever-smaller world of fear-driven mindsets, protocols, and division, the spiritual self expands and aspires to wisdom in the broadest spectrum.

It seems we are at one of those classic forks in the road. We stand at a moment of opportunity to reach toward a much more whole and healthy kind of society. 

The spiritual self points to the path of compassion, to love not fear. 

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collared cows

Collar-free, so far

Lately I stumbled across some information about a company that makes collars for animals in agricultural operations. The solar-powered collars are used to manage the animals wearing them: everything from creating virtual fences to tracking the animal’s location and providing health information right down to when it’s coming into heat. The collars are also used to drive the animals to different locations, using auditory and sensory cues.

While all this seems to be right there on the leading edge of technology in animal agriculture, I find this application distressing. Animal agriculture is distressing to begin with, but amping the whole thing up in such simultaneously intimate and impersonal ways has very disturbing implications in my mind. Where, ultimately, does this lead?

“What we do to the animals, we do to ourselves,” writes Will Tuttle, in his book, The World Peace Diet. He describes the “boomerang effect” – the notion that “as we sow, so shall we reap.”

Tuttle carefully details numerous ways in which this plays out, demonstrating the connections between our oppressive, exploitative practices with animals and related human issues like obesity, rape culture, disease, drug use, stress, confinement, lack of privacy, and so much more. I was astonished at the parallels when I first read the book years ago, but easily saw the truth in it.

And now here we are in 2021, in our pandemic-altered world, where we have had a taste firsthand of just how easy it is for humans to be labeled, branded, herded, confined, medicated, and tracked like collared cows. The only difference is that we just voluntarily carry our devices – and pay for them – instead of wearing them around our necks. 

While technology and medicine can do awesome things, everyone should be deeply concerned about the capacity to overtly or covertly exercise impersonal control over individuals and populations in very personal ways (whether bovine or human), who it is that would presume to exercise such a capacity, and why.

I mean, just look at what happens to cows.

Despite or because of the immensely powerful scientific tools we are now capable of wielding, it is imperative we find our way forward with compassion and connection.

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truthful

Truth seems an ever more elusive thing on the lips of the ones that rule and sway, so scant now that every word becomes just another exhausting mirage. But step into the garden, and sit with any simple bloom. Let its beauty unfold and speak to you. Without a syllable, nature brings the truth.

compassion, respect, dignity

In these times of fear, worry, and stress, it is really more important than ever that we demonstrate compassion, respect, and dignity. It helps us all if we can do that.

So it makes me sad when I read or hear vehement rhetoric concerning various issues that only serves to alienate and to shut down meaningful dialogue.  Yesterday, once again, I ran into a diatribe in which folks holding minority opinions on vaccines were written off as “anti-vaxxers” and in a very negative way. In the typical step further, too, they were dismissed as stupid.

It’s a pretty basic phenomenon that intolerance does not win hearts and minds. Nor are censorship, thought policing, and shunning markers of a healthy society.

The people being written off this way are just like anyone else finding their way through these difficult times. They have families and friends they deeply care about. 

There are a multitude of reasons why they may hold the position they do.  It’s not outlandish to consider them just because media, government, corporations, and the people around you espouse and promote a single point of view. The skeptics are just as much entitled to their opinions as anyone else, and sometimes well-buttressed with research too.

I can’t help but wonder if the folks doing the dismissing aren’t subconsciously and fearfully questioning the security of their own position. Such a person “doth protest too much, methinks,” borrowing from Shakespeare. Or, perhaps, there is simply a very strong need to put their virtue or their presumed intelligence on display. Or maybe it’s just groupthink.

And if you want to complain that the vaccine hesitant folks (or those with other similarly marginalized opinions) are the ones who are trolls, perhaps give some consideration to the notion that some of them are noisy because they are never given a real hearing. Vaccine skeptics have been vilified for decades with support from corporate media and government.

The skeptic’s position is perfectly legitimate in the context of “science.” Science necessarily involves skepticism, questions, doubts. It drives ever-closer looks at things. Science is not good science without it. The person who insists “the science is settled” especially in the midst of a huge, long-term experiment apparently does not understand science.

Regardless, whatever side of the fence a person is on relative to any issue, let us move past all the righteousness and approach each other with fundamental respect and compassion. We all have to get through this thing, through life indeed, together. We will be a healthier and stronger society if we can do that on this issue and others.

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just questions

What becomes of children raised in a society laser-focused on fear and separation?

What becomes of people in the context of ever-deepening loss of community, connection, and culture?

What happens when people lose their personal privacy, integrity, and decision-making?

What becomes of a society that loses respect for differing opinions? A society in which debate, discourse, other points of view, and ideas that don’t fit the narrative are not acceptable, but rejected and censored away?

What happens to people’s health as social fabric disintegrates and the true tenets of health are ignored, obfuscated, and not supported?

What happens to a society relying on quick fixes like experimental medical treatments instead of actually taking care of health through true nutrition, exercise, rest, purposeful work, and good social connection and support?

What becomes of a society which tolerates the loss of autonomy and freedom, and the growth of state regulation, propaganda, and tyranny?

What becomes of children raised in a society that is very good at virtue signaling but fundamentally lacks compassion?

Just questions…

vocation of angels

I have had a few angels in my life. I have some right now, I suppose. 

I imagine that the loved ones I have lost must be very, very busy in the next life. It’s rather ridiculous to imagine they have time to notice what’s going on in the old one, but, every now and then, it’s clear, they do. I wonder how that works. I wonder if I will understand it when it’s my turn.

I hope I can be one of those. I hope I can somehow arrive at just the perfect, most needed moment, and say the right words. I hope I can somehow arrange a smile on lips otherwise trembling with tears. I hope I can be that space where you know you are okay, that someone genuinely sees you, whole and utterly accepted even in the mystery that you are. I hope I can be the arms, always open, that somehow hold you, making no demands. I hope I am that place where whatever love you bring, no matter how disguised or disfigured, is always enough. I hope I can be the infinite love that was always there even when you couldn’t feel it.

Because the angels — they have done all those things for me. 

I suspect the next life is just as busy as this one. I am not in the camp that supposes there is a lot of lounging around with harps on clouds. No, it’s busy, it’s full, it’s beautiful, it’s creative, because how could it be less than this life? 

Evidently, though, it’s somehow even bigger. Because I know the angels are there. They’ve made that apparent, transcending space and time and dimensions I don’t have the capacity to imagine. I am grateful. And I am trying.

compassionate new year :)!

Perhaps 2021 can be the year we begin to build in earnest our own compassionate culture. After 2020’s time of introspection, its heavy dosing of fear, its many questions, lessons, and losses, maybe we can feel empowered to build something new.

We see, after all, the technocapitalist drill does not serve humanity, the other beings, the planet, quite so well. It’s really good at some things, but compassion — a key element for life — is missing entirely.

Let’s make this year the one where we bring deep, fundamental compassion to the system.  Let the system shiver and learn to adjust, or crumble.

Love. Health. Abundance. Creativity. Freedom.

we deserve better

Hell, yeah. It was a breath of fresh air to see first Tulsi Gabbard and now, yes, even Donald Trump, call out and expose the supposed Covid relief bill Congress pushed through. If it wasn’t already apparent, the approval of this ‘bill’ demonstrates such open contempt for the American people that no doubt can remain in the mind of any thinking person about the breathtaking, evil corruption in our “representation.” 

The 5,000-plus pages of brazen handouts to an astonishing array of entities, both foreign and domestic, under the guise of Covid relief is beyond insulting, it is criminal. The people we’re paying in Washington need to be fired, yesterday. 

And where, by the way, was incoming Joe Biden while this reprehensible act played out? After the fact, he suggests that he’ll push for more assistance in the next bill. Sorry, Joe, but your “down payment” is a day late and a dollar short. Come on, man.

Failing an overthrow of Congress, I’d settle at this point for a clean Covid Relief Bill, with none of the outright theft and sleight of hand that constitutes the majority of what Congress just passed. This would be a bill that includes actual relief for the people. And that does not amount to any 5,000 pages, mind you. While that’s going down, let’s boot Pelosi, too, and have some real discussion on healthcare for pete’s sake.

The people. That’s us. The ones paying these cretins. The ones paying for all this corruption. Wake up. Step up. We deserve better.

go ahead, change the world

As we all watch our leaders in Washington struggle, yet again, to bring themselves to serve the people instead of, say, defense contractors, who can help but wonder what we can do. 

As we watch even the progressive “squad” demur from forcing Medicare for All to a floor vote during a pandemic, we wonder just what it will take to effect real change. 

Each day, as we see the President-elect prepare to nominate yet another empty-suited crony to a top position in the new administration, we struggle to know how real change, positive change will come. 

We feel powerless, helpless to change this massive system that rolls along and over so many.

And yet, it is we who really do hold the power in our hands. Short of organizing, beyond organizing, there is one simple thing each of us can do that would immediately trigger change towards the world we want to see. 

If we all really want peace on earth and good will to all beings, we will walk away from using and eating animals. It’s that simple. And it’s something any of us – yes, even you – can do.

The uncomplicated act of refusing to participate in our society’s oppression, abuse, and killing of animals on a scale beyond imagination is the beginning and the key to massive, positive societal change. 

If our society really embraces a whole food plant-based diet, we will witness profound changes in everything from much-improved health to a reversal of climate destruction (and just in the nick of time). We will break the grip of the cabal of corporations on government and in our lives.

We will change the world in amazing ways, turning toward a compassion-based way of life instead of the cruel competition that we were taught to believe is inevitable and normal. 

Cruelty, killing, impoverishment, suffering, control is not normal. Nor is it inevitable. We have the power to change it for the animals, and, in so doing, we will change it for ourselves and our culture. We will change it for our children, and theirs.

So simple. It’s something you can do. It’s enjoyable. There’s tons of support and information. Be delighted by what you discover.

YOU have the power. Step up. Go ahead, change the world.