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Compassion and Congress

Compassion and Congress

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As anger at the taxpayer-funded salvage of America’s largest banks and most inefficient industries exploded into rage over enormous reductions in care to the most vulnerable people in America – the young, poor, ill, and frail – the focus of rage and ridicule has become Congress.In a simpler time, addressing self-serving members of Congress might have been effective. But the times are now different. Many Americans assume that unrestrained corporate contributions lie beneath the dysfunction of Congress. In a simpler time, addressing these activities might have been effective. But the times are now different. A very few individuals and most large corporations now possess a hugely disproportionate amount of the wealth of America while millions of Americans plummet once unthinkably from middle class into poverty, but that is not what makes the times different.

The times are different because our way of evolving has changed. Relationships and institutions that are built on old values and perceptions have increasingly become dysfunctional, and this is now impossible to ignore. These growing dysfunctions are not limited to America. They are appearing world wide. The old perceptions include power as the ability to manipulate and control, and the old values are competition, discord, hoarding, and exploitation of one another, the Earth, and all else that can be exploited. All of this has now become obsolete and counterproductive to our evolution. New perceptions that are emerging in their place include power as the alignment of the personality with the soul, and our new values are becoming harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Our evolution now requires these things. In other words, old ways no longer work, and that is why anger and rage at self-serving individuals and institutions is useless and destructive. It produces only more of the same – anger, rage, and self-service. It imposes one will upon another, and that now prevents our evolution.

Our new way of evolving has created a startling insight: If we have no compassion for those who have no compassion, we become like them. We contribute the same as they to the human experience. We fuel them. They become proxy actors for our own greed, righteousness, opportunism, and lack of compassion. Even more startling is a new perception of social activism is emerging the creation of compassion in myself. To consciously develop the abilities to think, speak, and act without making others villains for the unavoidable reason that when we see others as villains no matter how callous, self-serving, brutal, or destructive their actions are – we see ourselves as victims.

Developing compassion for Congress and politicians is a good way to begin practicing the new social activism, if you want to make effective changes in the world. Perhaps the most startling new insight of all is that there is no other way to effectively change the world.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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The Way You Sing It

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A friend took a trip to New Orleans after Katrina. He is a jazz musician and singer. He has been most of his life, and he feels that jazz is the greatest thing that has happened in America. Playing in a club with local musicians, he was invited to join the second line of a funeral the next day, a gig that paid him $150, some food, and another chance to play the jazz he loves.

The first line in a New Orleans funeral is the mourners. They grieve, cry, and remind everyone of what is happening. The second line is the musicians. They begin the procession with a dirge, stopping at clubs and bars along the way where they are fed and given drink. As the procession continues, the dirge slowly morphs into an unabashed celebration. “It’s the same song!” he exclaimed.

My friend knows grief and mourning. I met him at a memorial jam for his son, also a musician, who died young with cancer. Musicians who had played with him over the years, and also with his son, gathered with their horns, guitars, keyboards, and drums. “Jazz is pure America,” he said. “A community of equals that keeps creating something entirely new together.” They played through the evening. Then they showed us the second line, beginning with a mournful song that ever so slowly, and then with enthusiasm, transformed into an uplifting joy that swept us all into it. How could the same sad song become a song so joyful?

Some say that life is a sad song. Others say it is joyful. I say its not the song, it’s the way you sing it.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

Occupy Wall Street – A Thousand Thanks

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A thousand thanks to the people in Liberty Plaza and places like it who are giving voice to much that is destructive and painful about our social structures and what lies beyond them. Your presence and courage and commitment are water to the great tree of awareness and freedom that will grow if it is tended carefully. Fortunately, each of us is responsible for tending it. Freedom from fear is the only freedom that now unlocks the prisons of hatred, violence, prejudice, and greed. The kindness of some police officers in NYC is on display to the world and so is the brutality of others. The greed of banks that engorge themselves on the losses of millions of people are on display around the world, and so also are the alternative social structures that will replace them. A thousand thanks are not enough for the glimpses of these emerging structures you are giving us.

You are showing us new forms of cocreation that are built on harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life and contrasting them with old forms that are built on manipulation and control. These new social structures are taking root in Liberty Plaza and places like it and in millions of us as we watch and hold the vision of a new world, a world without victims and without villains, a world where heinous policies are relentlessly uprooted and destroyed and where the people who create and execute them are not hated but constrained appropriately (think of handcuffs and bars). In short, a world of love, growing out of awareness and responsibility, consciously constructed with intentions of love, a world with the courage to experience fear fully such as anger, vengefulness, and righteousness challenge it by not acting on it, and cultivate love instead.

This new world will emerge strong and healthy from the decay of the old world not because the dying world is supported by a wealthy few while billions of us are eager for the new world. It will replace the old world because billions of us will tend the tree daily, even in difficult times, challenging hatred, anger, greed, and revenge in ourselves by choosing awareness and love instead. In short, the new world will grow strong and healthy while the old world dies because the old world is based on fear and the new world is built on love, clear, conscious, responsible, courageous, and capable.

Love.
Linda & Gary
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OCCUPY YOUR HEART

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The Occupy movement continues to spread around the world despite beatings, arrests, evictions, and the loss of so much personal property, frequently by people who have little personal property. The energy in general, as far as I can see, is not defiant in a superior way or angry in a personal way. As Martin Luther King, Jr., said in his famous I’ve-Been-to-the-Mountain-Top speech the night before he died, There are some kinds of fire that water can’t put out. He was on fire and so was the civil rights movement in the United States with courage, clarity, and commitment unto death. Now another fire is burning. Its intent is not to consume Wall Street, but to occupy it, to make it our own, to become one with it in order to change it for the better. There is no other way to change something or someone for the better except to occupy it first. The only person you can occupy is yourself. That is why the only person who can change you for the better is you. Without your decision to change and your commitment to change, you will not change.

Religions cannot change you. If you are angry, you will become an angry Muslim or Hindu. If you are righteous, you will become a righteous Christian or Jew. No dynamic other than your own ability to distinguish within yourself between love and fear and choose love can change you, moment by moment, decision by decision. In other words, the only things standing between you and the compassionate, wise, and creative person you want to be are matters of choice. Your choice. No one can occupy your generosity except you. Who can occupy your patience when impatience roars through you? Who except you can choose not to act with judgment when all of your thoughts are judgmental? Your life is yours to live, no matter how you choose to live it. When you do not think about how you intend to live it, it lives you. When you occupy it, step into it consciously, you live it.

At its best the Occupy movement expresses this, draws from it, and creates with it. It is a movement of self-responsibility uniting countless self-responsible participants an impossibility for the mind to grasp but not for the heart. Commitment and creativity cannot be captured and handcuffed. Inspiration cannot be jailed. The heart cannot be contained. Who can occupy your heart except you? What will happen when you do?

Love.
Linda & Gary
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Paris – What Can I Do?

Paris – What Can I Do?

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The first thing you can do is look inside yourself. Look at the emotions you feel. Were you shocked, overwhelmed, angered, righteous, grieved, humiliated, or despondent when you heard the news? Did you feel superior to the suicide bombers? Did you judge them contemptible? Did you want to go to war with them? Are you already at war with them in your mind? Did you want to eliminate them so that you can be safe again at home with your beliefs and those who share them?
We all have experiences such as these, even if we think that could not be possible. The more you explore your personality with courage and integrity, the more of them you will discover. These parts of your personality originate in fear, in the pain of powerlessness that they can not be safe and feel valuable until everyone sees the world as they see it. They are rigid, closed, and disdainful. They exclude. In Paris, they killed.

When you experience all the parts of your personality, you give yourself the ability to choose among them – to change the parts of yourself that disdain and would kill or to act on them. The people who killed in Paris chose to act on them. They did not change the world. They contributed more to the world of what the world is already built on – fear. They worshiped at the alter of power as ability to manipulate and control, to detonate the bomb, pull the trigger. Everyone who wants to change others, impose a belief, and inflict harm worships at the same alter whether in the name of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, or science.

Now the choice is ours. We can disdain and kill, or we can create harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. We can contribute a new power (authentic power) to a new world, power as alignment of the personality with the soul.

We cannot make this choice if we do not realize that we have it. That is why looking inside yourself is the first thing you can do when you read about the attacks in Paris or you think about them. These deeds, and all deeds like them, are reminders to us that we have a choice.

Love.
Linda & Gary