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2017 Reflections and an Invitation

humanityMy sense is that 2017 will (continue to) test our humanity and our devotion to freedom for all on this planet. Here in the United States, a question seems to be around how much do we truly believe in a democracy, in some version of this radical experiment of a government for and by the people? What are we willing to do do make it happen? How do we make it happen when the people are so diverse?

I feel the core challenge of this year will be to our sense of humanity. How far are we willing to go to support the health and well-being of other people and this living planet? How much violence targeted at specific people or groups of people will we tolerate? When is enough enough? When will enough of us unite to create realities that are more compassionate and considerate of the well-being of all living on this planet? What will motivate us to organize in ways that are effective at protecting people who are being violated and harmed? How creative can we be in this process?

I believe that we are actively controlling how long it will be before the human race is extinct. And some races are at threat of becoming extinct faster than others. I think we have some critical choices to make this year that will have broad future implications… that will influence the kind of suffering that our future generations will have to endure or not. Your children, grandchildren, and the children and grandchildren of people you don’t know.

Some Miriam-Webster definitions:

humanity
1: the quality or state of being humane
2: the quality or state of being human

humane
1: marked by compassion, sympathy, or consideration for humans or animals
2: characterized by or tending to broad humanistic culture

As I was sensing into 2017, three phrases spoke to me.

Spiritually Guided - As I see it, we are in way over our heads. The challenges that we face are immense and the complexities are so intricate. While our logic will be pivotal for wise action, I believe that we need to be sourcing our guidance from that which is beyond logic. For me, that is a spiritual source. I believe that my actions and those who I am acting with will best serve if we are being spiritually guided.

Wiser Together - The wisdom of lone leaders does not get us to a place of collective liberation. Nor does the wisdom of lone cultures. Now is the time for groups of diverse people who are able to be wise together. Groups of people that can listen deeply, learn from each other, and act together. Groups that are stronger and wiser because of their differences and are able to work and learn from and with one another.

Fluid Communication - The more effective we are at communicating with each other, at passing important information and fine-tuning our interactions so that we can work well, live well, and speak well to each other… the more we will be capable of collectively achieving. This also helps us to be informed about what is really needed and what is and isn’t working.

An Invitation

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This year is going to require all of us to be taking the best care of ourselves as we are able and to be supporting one another and the neighbors that we don’t yet know in taking care of themselves as well. It will also require, as in the definition of humane above, that we tend to the broad humanistic culture.

If there is kindness in your heart that is able to feel compassion, sympathy and consideration for humans and animals, please don’t look away this year. Please see the other humans on the planet with you, as much as is possible. And when your heart feels moved, step towards them. Stand up for their right to a quality life, the right for their culture to exist, the right for them to experience freedoms or support that you experience. Let’s flow together with whatever 2017 brings us, with love, courage, creativity and compassion.

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Follow the Leadership of People of Color

I firmly believe that any hope of us (whichever us you want to insert here) moving forward and creating a more peaceful and just world/country/community will require that we follow the leadership and guidance of people who are traditionally marginalized and thus already have experience navigating around the dominating cultural patterns of discrimination, violence and unjust laws, policies and practices. This includes people of color, gender queer folks, differently abled folks, etc. I also believe that there is cultural wisdom about leadership, building community and collective action that some of these groups have been carrying for generations and that wisdom is desperately needed in these times.

Let’s break the cycle of habitually giving power and credit to the dominant White male perspective. This is not to say that White men (or White women) don’t have an important part to play in change and transformation. And… this isn’t the post where I will write more about that nuance. Stay tuned for that one… or leave a comment and let me know what you want me to write about!!

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We Are All Needed in Community

Please keep praying for these dear souls… in North Dakota and in your hometown. Severe weather. Extremely complex conditions. As you pray, recognize that we who are in warm, safe-ish homes with our basic needs taken care of… our prayers are strength and grounding for others who know we are connected to them when they need to draw on the strength of that which is larger than themselves. This is part of what we must learn to do… to be extensions of one another… both in prayer AND IN ACTION. Winter is here across this country, people are facing extreme weather conditions and the threat of oppressive forces that are not concerned about their well-being.

My whole life I have been told that in urgent times, in times of crisis, people will step up to act in courageous ways that decenter themselves and allow the greater good to become the center of their focus. I have spent my life work praying and acting in hopes that we could get to that place without crisis. It hasn’t worked. Perhaps we are close now? What is your role, what is your part to contribute in helping this world transition from the destructive habits that perpetuate a system that keeps so many suppressed and suffering and Mother Earth spiraling out of balance while others have access to the resources that provide a ‘comfortable state of living’? May we each listen deeply and find the centeredness, strength, love and courage to do our part in this moment of life. <3

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The Power of a Single Prayer & People Banded Together

I cannot express how much gratitude I have for the indigenous leadership of this movement… at this moment in time. I am learning so much. I am humbled. Please listen to Lyla June Johnston. I pulled out some of her words from the video, but you should listen to the story directly from her. It’s theatrical and she’s speaking serious truth. <3

“The people banded together to create a historic wonderful model to the rest of the world about how a single prayer can change everything. The people decided together that they would choose to use their prayers as a way to heal their own waters, their own people, and the waters of even those who chose to oppress and beat them.

These leaders, indigenous peoples, have created a blueprint which the world can follow which says that we do not need to lift a weapon or arm to change the world. Further more, our deepest strength comes from praying for all our relations. We can actually create a massive change when we adhere to the principles of non-violence, forgiveness, and prayer.

This is a model to the rest of us. Our strength comes from stepping out into the darkness against all odds and saying, you know what, I’m gonna try anyways. No matter where we are, if we are motivated by prayer, kindness, and the audacity to try against all odds, that we might just create a world wide movement.
We must take a moment to celebrate.

We must take a moment to celebrate the fact that we have united things that have never been united. We have united the Federal government with indigenous peoples. We have united Christians with indigenous peoples. We have united war veterans with non-violent peacenics. We have united Muslims with Christians.

The world has come together to put their stake in the ground and say, “Yes. We love our planet. We love the water. And we believe in creating some sort of solution to the century’s long issue of the oppression of indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.” This my friends is a victory, the first step to many more victories that we will have in the coming years and decades.

We have made history today by creating a critical mass where even the most Right-winged news sources cannot ignore the power and the beauty of this movement.
We have proven the efficacy of:

  • the strategy of nonviolence
  • the strategy of compassion and unconditional love for our enemies
  • having hope in the middle of the dark night when nothing seems possible, and stepping out and giving it a shot anyway.

Please, let’s all give a prayer of gratitude.
Together we have created a beautiful demonstration of human unity.

Lyla June Johnston

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Facing Race 2016

Screen Shot 2016-12-06 at 2.41.52 PMFacing Race Conference 2016
Largest multi-racial, multi-issue, intergenerational national gathering dedicated to racial justice
2300 people in Atlanta, GA
My notes from the conference

A cohesive multiracial movement is our best hope.
Rinku Sen, ED of Race Froward and Publisher of Colorlines

We gotta show folks what it looks like when we love and protect each other. Within our movements, we have to give each other the benefit of the doubt more often… And understand our different roles.”
-Linda Sarsour, ED of Arab American Association of New York

We’re stronger if we are not only united, but coordinated.
-Alicia Garcia, Co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter

Here are the top things that I left feeling clear that these need our attention.

  1. Fierce Urgency — A fascist moment is coming. The only thing that will stop it is us. A cohesive multiracial movement is our best hope. Rinku Sen
  2. Organize and Be Community — Invest in each other. Our fates are intertwined. We need to unlock the humanity of this country. Alicia Garza. Organize. Find each other. Bring forth a system that works for the good of all life on mother Earth. This is our responsibility. This is why we are here. Live the power of the people.
  3. Top priority is Protection of the Most Vulnerable — undocumented immigrants, Muslims, queer and trans, Blacks, women. Designate sanctuaries. Find ways to let people know who they can call, where they can go. Create local first response teams that can take the place of government institutions. Teams include roles such as witnesses, copwatchers, medical and mental health people, legal people.
  4. Radical Imagination is needed right now. Keep imagining radically different potentials for this next stage of our existence.
  5. Our Issues Are All Interconnected. Various movements and efforts must unite. We have to double down on what deep solidarity in practice looks like. We’re stronger if we are not only united, but coordinated. Alicia Garcia This includes all the suffering people.
  6. Whiteness — We must talk about, understand and address Whiteness — Whiteness is an identity formed out of violence and trauma. We must address it head on to move beyond its grips.
  7. History holds so many keys to what has already happened that we can learn from and not replicate. I am listening to the audio of the book the People’s History of the US and it is so valuable to understand the institutional and systemic racism this country was built upon
  8. Media. Who is telling it and what the narrative being told is, is key. Pay attention to who you get your media from. Create media.
  9. Ancestors & Future generations – The ancestors are with us. And we act in service to future generations. Avenging the suffering of our ancestors and earning the respect of future generations.
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Writing What’s On My Heart… & Why

write

I am feeling called to write more. I don’t yet know the path and pattern that will help me carry though with this… but I have faith I will find a way that feels in alignment with all else calling to me. Your encouragement, suggestions of things you’d like to read from me, and gentle witnessing are welcomed. Accountability is probably a good thing too!! Below are some recent facebook posts that share core expressions of what’s up for me.

June 24, 2016

My desire~

  1. To bring down these harmful and oppressive systems and institutions that are violent, unjust, and destroying lives and cultures.
  2. To cultivate a world rooted in love, vibrating with healthy connections of care, respect, and shared responsibility for nourishing life, all life.
  3. To do the above in community, with family. Working, organizing, acting, praying, grieving, celebrating with people I love… being creative, witty, and wise as we find ways to do the above without using the master’s tools… to be spiritually guided by forces bigger than ourselves, helping each other to stay grounded and healthy, to stay joyful and loving, to take care of ourselves as we take care of each other, as we stay committed to change and freedom.

I believe we must be able to be with both— the intensity of the facts of what is happening on our globe right now and the ability to embody the world we want to live in. To the extent that we are able, we must sit with the discomfort and the angst, the rage and grief, of the news, verdicts, and faces of state-sanctioned and hate-fueled violence and the impacts of systems built upon an order of superiority, oppression, discrimination, and abuse of power. And we must experience and celebrate love, joy, connection and well-being. We must bathe in nature and loving relationships and the pleasures of beauty, art, touch, dance, laughter and celebration. This is all a learning curve for me… I am speaking to myself just as much as I am sharing with anyone who is still reading. I want to join in this challenge with all of you. I believe in your good hearts and I believe that as a collective we could actually make a difference.

From Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Let’s be about this work today. What will you do to get us closer to freedom, good people? ?#?letsdothis?
If you aren’t aware, a lot has happened this week.

July 4, 2016

Such a mixture of realities in my heart today… and lately. I haven’t had the words to shape into posts in response to all that is happening, all that I am feeling and experiencing. My relationship with social media causes me to feel a sense of responsibility to write when I am feeling intense feelings or am aware of significant events happening. As a big ‘feeler’ in the world, I am often called to share my experience… perhaps it will be an invitation for others to see a different perspective or tune into current events. Perhaps if I share how I am coping or not, strategies I am using or needing, it will be valuable for others who experience so much intensity in life. Sharing is also healing for me as it helps me not feel isolated in the intensity I experience. Lately, however, the feeling side has over-powered the public writing side as I sit with one mass tragedy or trauma or circumstance that baffles or invokes tremendous grief in me, one after another, while also attempting to live balance in my life and with those I love.

So without much commentary, here is what I am seeing on my facebook stream and in the news right now that impacts me. First hand accounts about what this holiday, the 4th of July, feels like for a slave, some Black people, some Native Americans. Warnings about how the fireworks impact people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those who have lived amongst gun fire and explosions and are triggered by the sounds. Pictures of fireworks, family picnics, fun times on the water. Insight about today’s new moon. Continued grieving for these mass killings happening every other day it feels like… in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Syria. Hundreds of innocent people dying. Teachers protesting and being targeted for their protests in Mexico. Indigenous peoples of the global South organizing for the protection of the Earth, their people, and their cultures. Queer, LGBTQ+ People of Color making their voices heard about the inequities they face from all directions, the violence and lack of protection and security. Black folks standing up for their people, their right to live the promoted values of this country. And here locally, the grieving, anger and organizing for the young man killed by a police officer in Asheville 2 days ago and another young man killed on Sunday.

{…. taking a deep breath….}

May as many of us as possible truly ACT in ways that bring about Freedom and Liberation for all.

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We Are All In This Together

BoatSinking

This image flashed across my sea of Facebook, labeled as OUR SOCIETY. One of those images that says so much and continues to speak to me long after it has left my field of vision.

 

Other possible captions that I see in my society and feel in myself:
  • “That’s horrible. I don’t know what to do.”
  • “Those poor people. I wish there was some way I could help.”
  • “I feel compassion for their suffering and pain. I will pray for them.”

…and continue living life as if the water is over there.

The structures that are made to hold our society together and take care of our people have gaping holes in them. Healthcare and quality education are not accessible to all. Protection under the law and justice is not accessible to all. The ability to make a living wage, eat a healthy meal or have a place to sleep is not accessible to all. Safety walking down the street or using a public restroom is not accessible to all.

And the planet that we live amongst, that provides us water, oxygen and food to sustain us, shelter from the elements, is being destroyed. The species that live along side us are becoming extinct… “That’s horrible. I wish there was something I could do…”

There are many of us for whom society’s systems do function, the systems adequately serve us.

Privilege1 (1)

We can work hard, get a job, afford healthcare, and walk down the street and enjoy almost any city we visit. We can trust that if we are in trouble and call the police, they will likely act to protect us. If we find ourselves challenged in a court of law, the system will judge us fairly in the ways it holds us accountable for our actions or sees our innocence. We are equipped with good educations that help us to think critically, feel empowered to follow our dreams, and even use our degrees to work our way into or out of situations. We have access to healthy food and even time for leisure that keeps our bodies and minds in good shape to face the challenges inherent in being human. We can kiss the person we love in a public setting and only feel love. We can leave our house when we want to, not hindered by physical or mental challenges. We can take a day off for vacation or self-care and not worry about how our bills will be paid.

These are privileges that should be human rights… but currently are not. There are racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious and ability identifications that make these rights accessible to some and not to others. There are ideologies that support these inequalities — values and mindsets that prop up a system of oppression and superiority, strengthening a system of haves and have-nots, and creating a system that works for some and doesn’t work for others.

I believe there are enough of us with enough privilege that we could stand up to these destructive and violent inequalities.

We have the ability to work together to make being human a more thrivable experience for more people living on the planet… to make life for our grandchildren more bearable. But it requires that we recognize and act on the fact that even when life is working for me, I am still intrinsically connected to those whose boats are sinking. My boat is sinking too.

So many people are stressed and exhausted, pouring all of their life force energy into trying to empty the water out of the boat – trying to survive in systems that are rigged against their success. So many others are trying to save the boat because they know we are all in it together, they are working tirelessly to transform the current systems or create entirely new systems. And there are still many who sit back and continue on with ‘business as usual’, perhaps well-intentioned with compassionate thoughts and genuine uncertainty as to how to contribute, but still without action to stop the sinking boat. In a place of survival, priorities become simple and straight forward. In a place of privilege, options are abundant and priorities have to be intentional.

How are you positioned on the boat? What are your priorities?

Mlk

I am reminded of this quote from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

If you’re not in the process of bailing out water right now,
please make sure you are actively supporting folks that are.

#TakeCareOfEachOther #WakeUp #WeAreAllSinking  #ThisHasToStop  #SelfCare&CommunityCare

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