This is a lesson taught too many times already, and yet, here we go again down this destructive and terrible path. Fear makes it all too easy to lure one down this ugly road.
There is still time to stop it, to say no to the devastation of further segregation and all that goes with it. We must have the courage to stand against it.
In an environment drenched daily with fear, we must say no to the fear and reach instead toward our own inner intelligence and compassion. It is a matter of survival: our own, our children’s, and for healthy and free societies around the world.
Do not be one that stands aside and watches as your brothers and sisters are shunned and segregated.If you would be healthy and whole, stand now for love, stand for freedom.
Can’t help but be thoughtful today about freedom and government. Today marks US Independence Day, commemorating the moment when the colonies shook off King George III and declared their independence.
“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” the declaration tells us, are “unalienable Rights,” and that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
And here we are, 245 years later, now with firsthand experience of a noun that shouldn’t really be in a democratic lexicon, “lockdown.” Now, in a time when we have somehow adjusted to government/corporate censorship of individual voices and information, and, especially of late, the labelling of dissenting views as “extremist.” Now, when our personal information, communication, medical choices, and whereabouts are tracked on an epic scale. Now, when the sudden bombing of a distant nation, also holding people with unalienable rights, barely registers, and when information is suppressed, withheld, or manipulated by what was once known as a free press. Now, when taxes are siphoned from the masses and put to pockets and purposes perhaps not quite in keeping with the notion that “all men are created equal,” as the declaration noted.
But such things happen dependent on the consent of the governed and on the tax dollars of said governed. It is with the forbearance of the people that malfeasance blossoms.
Just like other animals, each one affirming Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, we need to be present, alert, and protective of those unalienable rights. It is on us to actively pursue and empower leadership that supports and implements our rights and the vision we hold for our free country and world. And, in that respect, each one of us must be a leader, awake to and informed by our innately compassionate hearts.
The nation looks on with sadness and grief at the Miami-area building collapse. As each day passes, some victims are found, many more still missing. It breaks our hearts to think of what happened to those individuals, and to think of the terrible impact on their families and friends left behind.
And yet, in the midst of this grief, as if there is not enough death and destruction, the Biden administration sees fit to launch airstrikes Sunday targeting “Iranian-backed” groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.
According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, seven people on the ground were killed. This comes after February’s destruction of nine buildings by the US in Syria, killing at least 22 people, also targeting Iran-backed militias, with seven 500-pound bombs.
Iraq’s military spokesman decried the US air strikes as a “breach of sovereignty.” As if anyone should have to put that in words.
As we embrace the terrible unfolding of grief in Miami, it should also give us all pause to consider the grief of victims and their families on the receiving end of military strong-arming around the world. So much incredible loss and grief through the years.
Let’s put a stop to such intentional death and destruction. Let’s look instead to healing, communication, and cooperation for a world in which we can all live safe and free from designed, deliberate disasters.
Somewhere along the line of my vegan/spiritual journey, I came across a short, affirmative prayer for compassion:
Compassion encircles the earth for all beings everywhere.
The prayer is uttered every day by people like me who have discovered it through the Circle of Compassion website here, or the World Peace Diet website here, or perhaps by meeting someone from whom they learned it. The idea is that every day at noon, we take a moment to stop and mindfully repeat this prayer.
Compassion encircles the earth for all beings everywhere.
Turns out, I find myself saying it almost every time I am out on a walk or a run. Invariably, I will see a squirrel or a bird or deer tracks or a butterfly or a dog, and the prayer comes to my lips. Sometimes, it is a person crossing my path that brings the prayer up in my heart. I usually say it four or five times in English, and then I say it as many times again in French.
Compassion encircles the earth for all beings everywhere.
It changes things. It changes me. In the years that I have been saying this simple prayer, and visualizing compassion encircling the earth, it has helped me to rediscover and feel the depths of my own compassion. It has helped me to feel my own connection with other beings. And those feelings change how I travel through life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?