Black & Brown Lives Matter

The Protest & March in Washington, DC — June 6, 2020

Photo by Bebe

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, 12 days after George Floyd was brutally murdered by a Minneapolis policeman, I went down to Lafayette Park to be one of thousands of people from the Washington, DC metro area to go down and push back against a brutal system taking the lives of black and brown people. It is a brutality occurring for more than 400 years—ever since the first human being was taken from his or her home to serve another human being without pay, without basic needs, without rights, and without dignity for these humans were taken as slaves and the takers took their humanity as well. 

Photo by Bebe

I went down to the protest despite the global Coronavirus pandemic that has shut down the DC area for 2.5 months and taken 110,000 American lives. A disproportionate number of people who have died from Corona have been black and brown people who are black and brown. This is because of structural and systemic racism that have marginalized entire communities and people. It is a brutality that is baked into our systems denying people essential services, justice, and rights just because of the color of their skin. Black and brown people are failing because they do not have proper health care, enough grocery stores, enough community and supportive services, proper education, or access to high paying jobs that locks millions into poverty. 

Racism is a Global Pandemic that has Lasted for Centuries

Photo by Bebe

It too is a global pandemic that is much older than six months. This pandemic has gripped the world for centuries, and it grew stronger and became institutionalized when Portugal and other European kingdoms began the transatlantic slave trade in the 15th century.

In America, the first slaves were brought to Jamestown in 1619. But this is a worldwide pandemic growing stronger in recent years as racists ideologies have steadily increased everywhere. The cruel, barbaric death of George Floyd by a white police officer and three other officers that was captured on camera ignited protests around the world that are pushing back on its growing strength. But there have been many sparks before this one ignited a huge global response. 

Photo by Bebe

This is why I braved the Corona pandemic, as did thousands of other people from the DC area, so that I could be one more body (perhaps anti-body) in an immune response to a much older pandemic that has brutalized and killed far more people. The DC protest was an organic response that swelled into marchers who almost encircled the perimeter fence Trump set up to protect himself after being rushed down to the White House bunker on a Friday night when the first wave of protests began to sweep across the country and world—protests that have been sustained and have grown into a second week and occurring everywhere—in cities, in suburbs, in towns and rural communities.   

Photo by Bebe

The Black Lives Matter Protests in DC

In DC, there were shouts and chants, but there was also joy permeating the DC protests expressed through music and dance and singing. The newly named Black Lives Matter Plaza was a gathering point for this powerful demonstration of joy and celebration of life. To me, this was one of the most a powerful part of this protest for it demonstrated boldly the strength, endurance, and resilience of people who have suffered for generations under the ignorance and structural racism that has been baked into every layer of the systems we live within.  I bet this joy bothered Trump more than watching the marchers, but all of it was vital to be expressed and heard and understood. Another powerful part of the protests is the spontaneous ecosystem that has emerged supporting all the protestors who come with free food, free water, and medical support. This is truly inspiring.   

Photo by Bebe

Enough is Enough — Pushing Back on Racism

Even if you cannot participate in a protest, each and every person, especially white people, has an opportunity to expand personal knowledge about racism. Now is also a time to grow and strengthen our empathic abilities. Both are needed to push back and go past the constricting systematic racists systems and beliefs put in place by our forefathers and that we have all been taught.

This was written on the Department of Justice — Photo by Bebe

Now, is the time to push steadily on every boundary, on every level, which includes responsible social media, safeguarding truth, safeguarding justice, and voting, but it also includes deep cleaning of our minds. Each of us is responsible for implicit and overt biases that exist inside our minds. They are our beliefs and opinions. Each of us must find them and dispel beliefs that do not serve us anymore. One measure of if an opinion or belief is worn out and needs to be discarded is asking yourself who does this benefit and who is left out? And are the people left out hurt by the belief? 

This takes practice. It is not as easy as it appears because we have all developed blind spots that hide the truth all around us. So, to get rid of the blind spots—one needs to listen, one needs to grow their knowledge by seeking and delving into diverse sources of knowledge and perspectives that are different from what we have known and are comfortable inside. To cling onto these old beliefs is dangerous to us all because we are all connected and we need every individual to participate in our shared reality to overcome the next great challenge humanity must met together, and that is Climate Change. To disregard one human being, one human voice, we will not make it because we are all one human species, and we are all connected.

Local artist Rich Shaadryan is painting hope on the boarded up buildings in DC. See www.richshaadrayan.com for his work. Photo by Bebe

Together, we can change the world.

Some of the Images from the Black Lives Matter Protests in DC

This is an artistic tribute of my experience at the protests on Saturday, June 6, 2020.

Video Tribute to all the protestors and people all the world standing up for justice for all people everywhere in the world.

Music in Video

Life Size Ghost — Image from EP Review by Faded Glamor

Mt. Wolf – Life Size Ghosts (Catching Flies Remix) by Catching Flies – The Stars-EP album. I discovered Life Size Ghosts through Apple Music. “Catching Flies is an English musician, DJ and record producer from London, England. His sound has been described as sitting on the “smooth, mellow side of electronic music” somewhere “between Flying Lotus and Bonobo” and “contains shades of everything from hip hop to house, from soul to jazz.” – From Wiki

Image from article entitled Language of Soul By Emily Tan

Brown Power by Zeshan B – Melismatic album. I discovered Zeshan through an interview on Weekend Edition with Lulu Garcia-Navarro: Zeshan B On ‘Melismatic’ And Creating Music That Champions Brown Power    

Jon Batiste cover of Hollywood Africans

Smile by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album. I discovered Jon Batiste in a rebroadcast of Live From Here with Jon Batiste the guest host. It is a wonderful show you can listen to by clicking the link.

Green Hill Zone by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album

IDK (fet. Bjay McFly) by Bebe O’Hare – Made, Vol. 3 album. I discovered Bebe O’Hare through Apple Music. She is a Chicago native who has captivated fans and garnered respect as a rapper, singer and songwriter. Follow her on Twitter, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Flyin’ Home cover photo

Flyin’ Home by Hannibal Leq – Flyin’ Home album. I discovered Hannibla Leq through Apple Music. You can follow him on Facebook.

What a Wonderful World by Jon Batiste – Hollywood Africans album.


How I Am Examining My Beliefs & Biasis

Marchers in DC on June 6, 2020 — Photo by Bebe

In a time like this, it is my instinct to preach, which I come by naturally as my father was a pastor. But I will choose instead to turn this preaching on myself and focus on self-knowledge and self-development. These are some of ways I am working on myself to dispel my worn out, dysfunctional beliefs.


“Racism in America is Like Dust in the Air”

I heard Kareem Abdul-Jabbar interviewed on CNN about an Op-Ed he wrote in the Los Angeles Times. In this essay, he says “racism in America is like dust in the air. It’s invisible until you let the sun in. Then, you see it everywhere.”  He says other really important things in this Op-Ed, and I have been thinking about this and the dust.  It seems to me as a white person growing up in America, we are exposed to all this dust and it settles inside our minds and over time it turns into shapes and objects (these would be our beliefs and opinions). But, if we went inside and did a solid housecleaning and we cleaned and dusted all these shapes and objects that have accumulated inside our minds, they would just disappear because they are made of dust. They are fragmented beliefs and opinions of the systems we have grown up in… systems that punish everyone when they step outside of expected norms and values… the problem is Western Civilization’s norms and values have brutality baked into them and this is hurting everyone, most especially black and brown people.  These beliefs need to be cleaned out and thrown away.  And, I am following Kareem on Twitter now.  My social media needs a better diet! His article is titled: Op-Ed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge.

LA Times Op-Ed by By KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, MAY 30, 2020, 7:29 PM

A Leader Cries Because A Leader Embraces All of Their Humanity

Anderson Cooper spoke with Professor Cornel West after the beautiful funeral of George Floyd who was laid to rest today in Texas. Cornel West was speaking so eloquently and passionately about what this moment meant. I was tearing up when I realize Anderson was too. This interview is worth watching. It embodies truth, justice, dignity, resilience, and joy.

Image from CNN — click CNN to view the interview

Consequences of Racism

I heard Clint Smith on the TED Radio Hour. Clint Smith is a writer, poet, teacher, and Emerson Fellow at New America. He is so smart. His TedTalks are powerful antidotes to the dust and infection of racism. He has done two talks. One is one “The Danger of Silence” and the other is “How to Raise a Black Son in America.” Collectively, they have been viewed more than seven million times. For the TED Radio Hour episode, he discussed “The Consequences of Racism.”

TedRadio Hour — Clint Smith

What is Next?

Call To Mind: Spotlight on Black Trauma and Policing — “White comfort Trumps my liberation.” “Normal wasn’t good for me. We ain’t going back. Normal wasn’t good for me.” We need a new philosophy… a living philosophy to build a new cultural container for transformation — This is at about 1 hour 7 minutes. This entire discussion is so important. If you only look at one of these resources, listen/look at this one.

MPR News: The death of George Floyd, a black man killed while being forcefully detained by a Minneapolis Police officer, has sparked peaceful demonstrations and destructive riots between protesters and police in the Twin Cities and across the country. MPR News host Angela Davis had a discussion with cultural trauma experts Resmaa‌ ‌Menakem‌, Justin Terrell, and Brittany Lewis about the most recent high-profile incident to become an example of historic racial injustice.


Policing Wasn’t Always This Way

Policing Is An ‘Avatar Of American Racism,’ Marshall Project Journalist Says: Lartey is a staff writer for The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Lartey notes that America’s model of policing is a relatively recent phenomenon: “Policing wasn’t always this way. It wasn’t always this big. It wasn’t always this bureaucratic,” he says. “Modern policing — the policing that you and I and listeners recognize today — is really a product of the 20th century.” He says that Floyd’s death — and the deaths of other black people in police custody — highlight the need to change a broken system.

FreshAir: Protesters hold a portrait of George Floyd at a demonstration against police brutality in New York City. Policing “wasn’t always this big. It wasn’t always this bureaucratic,” journalist Jamiles Lartey says.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

‘I Want to Touch the World’

The Daily remembers George Perry Floyd Jr. who nearly 30 years ago told a high school classmate that he would “touch the world” someday. Manny Fernandez, who is The New York Times’s bureau chief in Houston, went to the funeral in Houston of an outsize man who dreamed equally big and whose killing has galvanized a movement against racism across the globe.

Photo from The Daily: A memorial to George Floyd in Minneapolis.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Here, Again

Intense and informative, This American Life present 4 compelling acts about this moment in time. It is introduced this way: “An exhaustingly familiar story. Maybe it’ll have a different ending this time, but maybe not. We hear what different people said and did one weekend in reaction to the killing of George Floyd.”


Mr Eastside

This is another This American Life that tells about the other pandemic that is taking so many good people, trusted people, people who are making a difference in the world away from us. This pandemic is also striking black and brown people at a higher rate. This story tells about one precious life lost: “Some of the first Covid-19 patients to arrive at Henry Ford Hospital were police and others who’d attended a community breakfast in early March called Police and Pancakes. Aaron K. Foley has this story of this breakfast and of one man — Marlowe Stoudamire — who ended up at Henry Ford.” (20 minutes) 

This American Life — The Reprieve — Mr. Eastside

Ingrained Injustice

TEDRadio Hour: As protests for racial justice continue, many are asking how racism became so embedded in our lives. This hour, TED’s Whitney Pennington Rodgers guides us through talks that offer part of the answer.


How Can We Win Kimberly Jones Video Full Length David Jones Media Clean Edit #BLM 2020 What Can I Do

“We are the land of 10,000 communities, as well as 10,000 lakes… this is time to reflect on trauma through voice…” Lady Midnight on Live From Here on June 13, 2020. Her album is all about how to process death and grief… that’s what it means.

Moral Decision Making

Image from Hidden Brain podcast — DNY59/Getty Images

The Hidden Brain is always illuminating, and this weekend I listened to Justifying The Means: What It Means To Treat All Suffering Equally. 

It is all about “when we are asked to make a moral choice, many of us imagine it involves listening to our hearts. To that, philosopher Peter Singer says, “nonsense.” Singer believes there are no moral absolutes, and that logic and calculation are better guides to moral behavior than feelings and intuitions. This week, we talk with Singer about why this approach is so hard to put into practice and look at the hard-moral choices presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

And, I still need to listen to this one: 

Image from Hidden Brain podcast — Hannah Groch-Begley listens to Dylan Matthews play the ukulele at their home in Washington, D.C. Dylan had hesitated to buy the ukulele because it felt like too big of an indulgence.
Shankar Vedantam/NPR

Playing Favorites: When Kindness Toward Some Means Callousness Toward Others.

If we do a favor for someone we know, we think we’ve done a good deed. What we don’t tend to ask is: Who have we harmed by treating this person with more kindness than we show toward others? This week, in the second of our two-part series on moral decision-making, we consider how actions that come from a place of love can lead to a more unjust world.


Social Networks — Just How Unbiased Are They?

Image from RadioLab — (  Simon Adler )

Radiolab re-aired a show about Facebook titled: Post No Evil. It is about our social networks and how they police their platform, or more aptly, how they do not police their platforms due to implicit (or not so implicit) biases.  Brief highlight: Breastfeeding, beheadings and bombings, Facebook has rules to handle them all. Today, we explore those rules and ask what they tell us about the future of free speech.


Rabbit Hole

This is a riveting podcast. I have only heard the first one, but I am hooked. This is such an important topic in the Age When Everyone Is An Expert and Has An Opinion (or do they?). This series gets down into the trenches of how the social media platforms manipulate us. Highlight: “What is the internet doing to us? The Times tech columnist Kevin Roose discovers what happens when our lives move online.”

Screen shot of the NYT series — Rabbit Hole

White Lies

Image from NPR’s White Lies podcast

About a month before George Floyd was brutal murder by a Minneapolis police officer, I had listened to the NPR broadcast of the podcast White Lies. It is about the Rev. James Reeb who was murdered in Selma, Alabama. Three men were tried and acquitted, but no one was ever held to account. Fifty years later, two journalists from Alabama return to the city where it happened, expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt and memory that says as much about America today as it does about the past.I listened riveted to each episode that unravels the web of lies white people told and continue to tell about their role in perpetuating racism. One thing that really resonated with me is that even white people who cross the lines that have been baked into our systemic systems of racism are victims of brutality, like Rev. Reeb. Anyone in our modern Westernized capitalistic systems that does not obey and serve the corporate masters is subject to inhumane and cruel retaliation that can become particularly savage when white people cross the invisible lines of standing up against racism and fighting for justice and equality for all people. Rev. Reeb was white and killed for supporting the protests in Selma and the killers were protected from the law for more than 50 years by the White Lies. And, it is still happening today. Take for example a man you admits to being a leader of a Ku Klux Klan in Virginia uses his car to hit peaceful protestors: Man who allegedly ran over protesters is an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Virginia officials say.

These are the segments from White Lies:

Introducing White Lies

The Murder Of The Rev. James Reeb

The Who And The What

The Counternarrative

The Sphinx Of Washington Street

The X On The Map

Learn Not To Hear It
A Dangerous Kind Of Self-
Delusion


“All Our Voices Make A Difference”

This is one of the compelling messages that NASCAR drivers put out in a video against racism and inequality. I have to admit I have held a negative bias against NASCAR, but these men are changing my mind. They are showing us how to change inside out! I saw the interview on CNN and could feel Bubba Wallace’s candor and commitment not to just virtue signal but act. He was speaking on behalf of all the drivers who collaborated to make this video. This is huge because this hits right in the center of Trump’s base, which until this moment has been unmovable. It is moving now. Watch it.

NASCAR drivers unite against racism and inequality

“Bubba Wallace says NASCAR Confederate flag ban is about inclusion at races, not getting rid of it everywhere.”

“Wallace, the only African American driver in NASCAR’s top series, said he and his colleagues understand that for many, the flag is about heritage hot hate, and they aren’t trying to tell anyone what to do in their personal life, but he wants all fans at the track to feel included.” — both quotes and full article can be read on the Fox News Channel

But the cruel, dispicable backlash has begun as NASCAR announces a noose was found in black driver Bubba Wallace’s garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama over the weekend. Learn more in Justin Wise’s article in The Hill published June 22, 2020.

Photo from Fox News Channel article on Confederate flag ban at NASCAR races

Native Americans Need Justice Too

Photo by Joe Catron in the Grist with article by By Bill McKibben on Aug 22, 2016

Let us not forget the oppression of Native Americans. After 525 years, it’s time to actually listen to Native Americans. This is an older article dating back to 2016, but our brothers and sisters from our Native communities have been fighting hard for clean water, equal rights, and justice. In my previous post, I told how I met Sioux Z Dezbah at the 2017 Women’s March and how she had been shot in an eye from a rubber bullet and almost lost her vision.

Excerpt from this article: “It would mean that after 525 years, someone had actually paid attention to the good sense that Native Americans have been offering almost from the start. It’s not that American Indians are ecological saints—no human beings are. But as the first people who saw what Europeans did to a continent when given essentially free rein, they were the appalled witnesses to everything from the slaughter of the buffalo to the destruction of the great Pacific salmon runs.”

Special note about Bill McKibben. He is a Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at my daughter’s school, Middlebury College, and he a founder of 350.org as well as a member of Grist’s board of directors. I just participated in a Zoom talk with Bill McKibben a week ago.


Black Lives Matter — 1965

James Baldwin’s “Black Lives Matter” Speech (1965) 

He is speaking about our inner guidance systems of reality: Our beliefs, opinions, assumptions. He elegantly speaks about the importance of one’s state of mind and how easily it can be blinded by cultural, system-wide biases and built in brutalities. It is well worth listening to. With COVID, we have time to slow down. Ask yourself two questions in this moment: Where are you putting your time and attention now? How is this growing your reality?


I continue to add to this list under Resilience Resources, which can be found on this site under the category listed below. To explore more on how to combat racism, please see these resources.

EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLES BEGINS BY BRINGING EVERYONE TO THE WORLD TABLE: While one human being any where in the world remains oppressed, so do we all.


Mapping Black Lives Matter Protests Around The World

This map is too darn cool not to include here. Just heard this aired on Here & Now:

More protests are planned Monday in American cities to support Black Lives Matter. They’ve been happening every day for weeks after the police killing of George Floyd.

To help give some perspective on the scope of the demonstrations, one man created an online map that shows the many cities worldwide standing up for racial justice.

Here & Now’s Tonya Mosley speaks with Alex Smith, a geographic information system analyst in Tucson, Arizona.This segment aired on June 22, 2020.

Map created by Alex Smith, a geographic information system analyst in Tucson, Arizona. Click here to see the map in real time.

Invisible Man

Just before I headed down to the DC protests, I heard Scott Simon read the first page of Invisible Man (no, it is not the one on TV now). This Invisible Man is a classic written by Ralph Ellison who had put his life on the line to fight in WWII only to return to an America that spite and despised him.

This is the Opening from: “Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison

I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me, they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination - indeed, everything and anything except me.
Nor is my invisibility exactly a matter of a biochemical accident to my epidermis. That invisibility to which I refer occurs because of a peculiar disposition of the eyes of those with whom I come in contact. A matter of the construction of their inner eyes, those eyes with which they look through their physical eyes upon reality. I am not complaining, nor am I protesting either. It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves. Then too, you're constantly being bumped against by those of poor vision. Or again, you often doubt if you really exist. You wonder whether you aren't simply a phantom in other people's minds. Say, a figure in a nightmare which the sleeper tries with all his strength to destroy. It's when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time. You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognized you. And, alas, it's seldom successful.
One night I accidentally bumped into a man, and perhaps because of the near darkness he saw me and called me an insulting name. I sprang at him, seizing his coat lapels and demanded that he apologize. He was a tall blonde man, and as my face came close to his he looked insolently out of his blue eyes and cursed me, his breath hot in my face as he struggled. I pulled his chin down upon the crown of my head, butting him as I had seen the West Indians do, and I felt his flesh tear and the blood gush out, and I yelled, "Apologize! Apologize!" But he continued to curse and struggle, and I butted him again and again until he went down heavily, on his knees, profusely bleeding. I kicked him repeatedly, in a frenzy because he still uttered insults though his lips were frothy with blood. Oh yes, I kicked him! And in my outrage I got out my knife and prepared to slit his throat, right there beneath the lamplight in the deserted street, holding him in the collar with one hand, and opening the knife with my teeth - when it occurred to me that the man had not seen me, actually; that he, as far as he knew, was in the midst of a walking nightmare! And I stopped the blade, slicing the air as I pushed him away, letting him fall back to the street. I stared at him hard as the lights of a car stabbed through the darkness. He lay there, moaning on the asphalt; a man almost killed by a phantom. It unnerved me. I was both disgusted and ashamed. I was like a drunken man myself, wavering about on weakened legs. Then I was amused: Something in this man's thick head had sprung out and beaten him within an inch of his life. I began to laugh at this crazy discovery. Would he have awakened at the point of death? Would Death himself have freed him for wakeful living? But I didn't linger. I ran away into the dark, laughing so hard I feared I might rupture myself. The next day I saw his picture in the Daily News, beneath a caption stating that he had been "mugged." Poor fool, poor blind fool, I thought with sincere compassion, mugged by an invisible man!
Most of the time (although I do not choose as I once did to deny the violence of my days by ignoring it) I am not so overtly violent. I remember that I am invisible and walk softly so as not to awaken the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers. I learned in time though that it is possible to carry on a fight against them without their realizing it. For instance, I have been carrying on a fight with Monopolated Light & Power for some time now. I use their service and pay them nothing at all, and they don't know it. Oh, they suspect that power is being drained off, but they don't know where. All they know is that according to the master meter back there in their power station a hell of a lot of free current is disappearing somewhere into the jungle of Harlem. The joke, of course, is that I don't live in Harlem but in a border area. Several years ago (before I discovered the advantages of being invisible) I went through a routine process of buying service and paying their outrageous rates. But no more. I gave up all that, along with my apartment, and my old way of life: That way based upon the fallacious assumption that I, like other men, was visible. Now, aware of my invisibility, I live rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century, which I discovered when I was...


Racism is a killer pandemic spanning centuries…

Mind Viruses — Bebe

It gets into the mind this way…

Ig-nor-ance by Bebe

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In the Heart of the Sea of Grief and Guilt

Recently, my husband and I watched the movie: In the Heart of the Sea. It is based on a true story about a whaling ship the Essex that was rammed by a sperm whale in 1820. The whale sunk the Essex about 3,000 miles from the shores of South America. Several books have been written about this disaster then and since. The movie is based on a book of the same name written by Nathaniel Philbrick and published on May 8, 2000. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction that same year. The movie does an admirable job dramatizing events that led up to the sinking of the Essex and the crew’s 90-day struggle to survive storms, hunger, and despair. The movie also depicts how Herman Melville came to write his magnum opus, Moby Dick, though there are some inaccuracies in this part of storyline as well as in the main plot (see the video below). I think it is interesting to note that Melville was born on August 1, 1819 (one year before the Essex sunk). He died September 28, 1891. Moby Dick was published in 1851, essentially the middle span of his life.

The movie begins with Melville tracking down the last living survivor of the Essex, Thomas Nickerson (this is not historically accurate). 

From Wiki: “In 1850, author Herman Melville visits innkeeper Thomas Nickerson, the last survivor of the sinking of the whaleship Essex, offering money in return for his story. Nickerson initially refuses, but then finally agrees when his wife intervenes. The story turns to 1820: A whaling company in Nantucket has refitted the Essex to participate in the lucrative whale oil trade, and 14-year-old Nickerson signs on as a cabin boy.”  Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea

According to the movie, the rainy night Melville arrives, Thomas is consumed by his inner demons because he has never spoken about his ordeal. It is eating him up from the inside and causing hardships for himself and his wife. After some back and forth about the money Melville is offering Thomas to tell his tale, Thomas finally relents. Melville is shown listening and taking notes while Thomas sinks into the memories that are haunting him. I will not retell any more of the movie, except to highlight a few scenes that stood out to me as relevant to me personally and to our time, which is presently 2020. This is exactly 200 years after the Essex was sunk by a whale, which is weird… but I’ll get to that later.

The first thing that struck me as pertinent to our time was the importance of whale oil to the life and commerce of the early 1800s. It was whale oil that lit the Western World from Europe to the Americas, and then following the fracture lines of colonization to light the entire world. The movie does an excellent job depicting how the whaling industry operated. It shows how the corporations of this time were eager to mine the fortunes to be had from whale oil. And, it would become painfully clear just how willing these corporations were of doing despicable things in order to safeguard their money, their hierarchical structure, and their systems of commerce focused on profit at all costs.

At the end of the movie, there is a scene that hints at the discovery of oil that comes from out of the ground. It is a nod to the fossil fuel industry that will soon replace the whaling industry in less than 40 years after the sinking of the Essex. It is also a nod to the transfer of blueprints from hard-hearted industry to another. However, before the whaling industry would decline, nearly every species of whale is hunted to the brink of extinction. I could barely watch the scenes in this movie when the men of the Essex successfully hunted and killed a beautiful bull whale, then stripped him of every ounce of fat he had, which they boiled down to make the treasured Nantucket whale oil. By 1820, whales in the Atlantic had grown scarce. Thus, the Essex had to sail around Cape Horn, a dangerous strait between South America and Antarctica, to reach the whales in the Pacific. But, even here the whales were being hunted aggressively, and so they were moving further and further away from the continents to get away from man. But, man followed them.

* * *

The next scene I feel is germane to our time was when the men were boarding the Essex in Nantucket Bay. On the docks, there is a group of pilgrim-like people who are praying for the men as they board the Essex. You can see this scene at 6 minutes and 30 seconds in the video below. The preacher is heard saying: 

“Oh Father (…) ensure they return safely with a full ship, so that the white flames of Nantucket’s whale oil continue to light our homes and fuel the machines of industry that drive our great nation forward as our noble species evolves…”

Clip of the Preacher’s Prayer from In the Heart of the Whale at minute 6:30

This video is from The Cynical Historian who brings up a very important point about framing.

As you read the rest of this blog, consider the different ways humans frame reality. We can’t help it really. It’s the price we pay for consciousness. And, there is a price for being able to make a choice other than what instinct would have otherwise dictated we do. Time is a framing device that our minds use to distinguish between a moment in the past and a moment yet to be. Money is a framing device most people who live in Western Civilization must use to make a living and to acquire a station in life. Western Civilization itself is a framing device (For more on this frame of reality, see How to identify imperialistic thought (Yurugu series #2)).

Frames are helpful because they encode observations about when something like this happens that follows. Frames serve as shortcuts in thinking that can help us make decisions quickly when we encounter similar situations again. But, all frames leave out critical parts of reality. And, it is these parts that get left out that can really mess us up when we encounter a situation that we really don’t understand… like the men on the Essex when they encountered a whale that was not acting like any whale they had ever encountered before. Sometimes our misjudgments and lack of seeing reality as it really is results in terrible consequences. What is being left out of the dominant modern frame imposed by Western Civilization?

This idea of our species being noble and evolving ever forward plays out again after the Essex has been sunk. The men have been adrift for many days and nights and days. They are surviving on a single piece of hard tact per man per day, and a very small one at that. They are also allowed a single swig of water each day. Since the ship did not sink as dramatically as the movie depicts, the men had time to strip the Essex of her sails and supplies, but only what they could fit into the smaller boats they took out to chase whales, now turned into their life rafts. However, these three boats were hardly big enough to hold enough supplies so the men might survive their 3,000-mile journey back to civilization, especially since they were caught in the doldrums of the equatorial region of the sea. Thus, it does not take long before the men are slowly starving to death. Just before anyone dies, they come upon an island. It is a deserted island, but it provides a short respite from their ordeal. Soon; however, they eat up everything edible on the island. So, they have no choice but to shove off in their little boats again to try to reach the mainland if they want to live. 

This is where the next scene occurs that I feel is closely connected to our time. It is the night before they are to set sail to try to make it back to South America. The first mate Chase speaks with the Captain Pollard about their differences. He is making a peace offering because he knows there is no other way to survive but to set aside all differences and work together from a place of unity. Chase comes from a working-class background. He is a man who knows his trade, which is whaling, and he is very good at it. According to the movie, he was supposed to have received commanded of the Essex, but it was taken from him because of his social class. It was given to Pollard instead because he came from a rich family within the whaling industry. But, Pollard did not know his trade, not like Chase did. Needless to say, there were problems. Pollard accepts Chase’s peace offering, but continues to cling to the idea of the supremacy of man saying something like… “God put us here to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all creatures.” Chase replies, “Does it look like we are so supreme given where we are at right now and what has happened to us.” Neither men at this moment has any idea how much worst their situation is going to get, but I think Chase senses things are probably going to get worse before they get better. And, they do get worse–-they get a whole lot worse.

* * *

After the movie, I thought I might dream about a white whale ramming the Essex. But I did not dream about a whale. Instead, I thought about all the signs I missed one month earlier when my beloved dog Cider died in my arms.

ALL ALONG THE ANCESTORS WERE GUIDING ME HOME. Whale, Sea Turtle, and Heron by Donna Alena Hrabcakova
WATER AND BONES. Women with Rib by Donna Alena Hrabcakova
Cider Dog
Cider-Fox by Donna Alena Hrabcakova — Alena drew this picture about 3 weeks after Cider passed. My husband, I, and surviving dog Sasha were on a walk retracing the last run I took with Cider before she died. On that last run, Cider and I saw a fox. Cider was thrilled about seeing it and barked so vigorously. One would hardly guess she would be dead in less than 48 hours. She loved looking for foxes, and we saw them many times in the months before she died. While we were walking, Alena felt this image rising and drew it then sent it to me. We both felt it was Cider’s beautiful spirit saying: “I am still here.”

That terrible night occurred two days before Christmas. Her heart was racing so fast and her breathing labored. Her body was suffocating because it could no longer keep up with the depletion of hemoglobin in her blood. This was because she was bleeding internally, but we did not know this. The signs were subtle, even the doctors to whom we took her dead body in hopes they could revive her said it would have been hard for them to diagnosis her in time to save her. The symptoms she had displayed, I completely misread and misunderstood. I will not recap this super sad story. You can read it in the previous blog post, but her sudden and tragic death set me back adrift upon my inner sea of sadness, grief, despair, and now guilt, growing waves of guilt. It is a sea that has steadily risen inside me after a decade of struggle that got a whole lot worst just after our family vacation in 2015.

This would be the last vacation our family could afford due to mounting unfortunate and deteriorating circumstances. Now with hindsight (and this movie), I can see that this moment was when our family shoved off from our desert island. We had no idea we had already been rammed by the whale, or maybe I should say the buffalo or bull–or perhaps the buffalos were trying to bring our attention to our imminent danger just ahead of us in time. This really happened to us that summer.

After this trip, every fragile idea and frame of reality we had ever harbored about what it takes to create and sustain a home and maintain safety and security would be shattered, one painful one after another for 5 years in ways that were unreturnable to what we had known before. When people find themselves in such circumstances, overwhelming guilt is inevitable for how else can one confront such devastating losses and continue moving forward? The only other feelings I can say that I was aware of underneath the guilt was terrible despair, overwhelming helplessness, and a rumbling anger… a dangerous anger because this type of anger can blow up into hate, especially when a person feels abandoned, forgotten, or even worst, discarded, dispensable, disposable.

So, you see, guilt is a pretty good armor during times like these because it masks these other more threatening and extreme emotions bubbling up from unfathomable depths and threatening to submerge one’s already shattered ego. At least by feeling guilty, a thin veneer gets created, making a papery barrier that insulates the conscious part of one’s self from those other parts where these powerful emotions churn–and where one can feel these emotions could transform into forces that could sink the listing Ship of Self.

When our frames of reality are first shattered, the feeling of being cast adrift on a vast and foreign sea is almost inescapable. And perhaps it is necessary for these old frames pretty much have to be shattered or abandoned, just like the Essex had to be abandoned after it was rammed by the whale. This is so because they have failed us in significant and fatal ways. After one abandons the mother ship that had been carefully constructed by one’s former smaller frames of reality, one is suddenly confronted with a vast and bigger reality–one that is a great deal bigger–like Pacific Ocean bigger. And, this reality can be brutal. When one finds oneself adrift on this great Sea of Misfortune and Sorrow and sailing in a boat that is too small to sustain you for long, or even worse, clinging to a piece of wreckage, pretty much the only thing you can do is hold on for dear life. One also lacks the most basic tools to navigate by, so it can be hard to get one’s orientation. It is a lot like the situation the men who abandoned the Essex found themselves in without their tools of navigation, or at least, very few of them, which they needed to find their way back to civilization.

If you can hold on during such extreme times, and there is no guarantee that you can because I am talking about catastrophic circumstances that happen to perfectly normal and good people. These are events that come out of nowhere, they cannot be predicted, and they occur through no fault or short coming of the individual (well at least not from our current frames of reality, the ones we are taught from birth and punished if we don’t follow the rules our modern systems purport… so there is a bigger thing going on). These are events that just happen, and they happen to everyone like weather. They are crippling events, even lethal, regardless of whether they originate from inside oneself or come from outside like the whale who rammed the Essex. Now, I understand it is hard to spot a person in such a state. After all, they have ventured outside of the normal frames of reality in which we have all been taught to operate and to stay inside. Thus, such a person may be as hard to spot as the men of the Essex who were 3,000 miles from where most of the other humans who could have helped them were congregated. However, if you do happen to spot someone enduring such trauma and crisis, it is essential to believe this person and be kind to them. Pay them extra attention, so they know they are not disposable like a piece of trash to be thrown away because they are broken at the moment. It is important to do this because these individuals have survived a disaster, and they now possess information about reality that those of us who have not endured such a trial of survival still need to know in order to grow.

It is difficult and draining to support a person in crisis. I will not lie about that. And, inevitably survivors begin to grapple with the whys: why me, why now, why my beloved, why is the world like this? This is hard too, and these are not easy questions to answer. In fact, often they cannot be answered, only endured. But, catastrophic situations might be essential for our collective survival because they force us to confront our most cherished ideas, beliefs, and frames of reality. They force us to grapple with the unanswerable and re-examine how we have come to our beloved beliefs and mental frames, but ones that have kept vast parts of ourselves submerged in our unconsciousness–good parts and bad parts. When we begin to see these parts as a whole, we start to understand how they are essential to be integrated into our growing field of consciousness. Both superior and inferior qualities are essential to help us make more balance choices and live more wisely. With parts of ourself still submerged, we tend to move through the world in a lopsided way. We get stuck just like the men from the Essex who got caught in the doldrums. We do not move forward any more. Rather, we go around in smaller and smaller circles. It is only when we confront and integrate these lost parts of ourself that we can begin to move forward again. And, if bad things continue to happen, we have grown a deeper reservoir of fresh water inside ourselves, this is wisdom, and we can draw on it to help survive and recover from our ordeals a little more quickly.

Eventually, as we continue to do inner work, we also confront the knowledge that what we did not know or understand contributed to the situation that caused us so much pain and suffering and to those we love. This can be difficult knowledge to bear. However, it is precisely this sort of knowledge that help us grow and transform ourselves and our situation. It is a choice of course to grow, and if we do choose to grow, then a lot of work is going to be needed to build a bigger boat. In fact, you are probably going to have to grow the wood, to turn into timber, to build your shiny new Ship of Self because now you are working beyond the frames of reality most people still must work within. This not easy. And, it can be very lonely. And, you need to build it yourself because only you have the blueprint for who you are and what you need to do. There will be many setbacks and challenges because no one has tried to be you before, and so you have to figure it out the hard way, which means lots of failures. So, I do not find fault with anyone who chooses to go back to a smaller frame of reality because, heck, it’s really scary out there. And, now the world has shown you just how harsh and dangerous it can be. And, it has also illuminated how utterly helpless you are. The biggest problem doing this is succumbing to a bunker mentality. So, moments like these tend to mold and shape us in the most significant ways…for the rest of our life… and these choices can ripple backwards and forwards along our thin strand of time… the one each of us spins and contributes to our shared reality.

But, if you choose to build this bigger Ship of Self, then just like Captain Pollard had to confront the idea of human beings a noble species put here by God to circumvent navigate the world and rule over all other creatures, you have to confront it too because it is an idea that forms some of the foundational aspects of Western Civilization. But, are we really so noble? Do we really possess the intelligence and wisdom needed to rule? I wonder if our species might have been better named Homo intelligentes rather than Homo sapiens. It seems to me we are still trying to get there…to wisdom.

STANDING ON MY ANESTRAL LANDS: GIGLOVCE, SLOVAKIA by Donna Alena Hrabcakova

I can say with absolutely certainty that I am not noble enough to rule the Earth, nor do I possess the intelligence, or more importantly the wisdom, essential to reign as a supreme being. But now I want to transition from this speculative stream of thought, to say 2015 was also the year this movie In the Heart of the Sea was released. I didn’t see it then. It turns out a lot of people didn’t see it then. 

“In the Heart of the Sea was one of two flops released by Warner Bros in 2015, the other being Pan.[20] It grossed $25 million in North America and $68.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $93.9 million, against a production budget of $100 million.[3]”  Wikipedia: In the Heart of the Sea

But, had I seen it in 2015, I would not have the thoughts I have now here in 2020; not that they are anything special, except possibly to me. During, these five years of mounting misfortune, wreckage, and deepening despair, I often saw myself floating on a piece of wreckage on an endless sea that I dubbed the Sea of Sorrow. It was an inner sea; I drew it many times, as the image below shows (see blog The Sea Within Us). It was also during this time that I came to understand how this sea had been created by my own unconscious choices, but I was not alone in these choices. I had been taught to make them by my culture, by the collective systems within which I must abide to survive. These are carefully crafted frames of reality created by mere mortals who were crafting corporations and all sorts of other systems to run our shiny new modern civilization. And, there are many systems that rule our civilized world: systems of commerce, systems of class, systems of favoritism, chauvinism, sexism, racism, anti-Semitism, and many other isms and frames used to exclude certain people while elevating others.

The Sea Within Us by Bébé

And so, this is why I very much relate to the suffering and hardships of these men of the Essex. Though I must admit I also rooted for the bull whale protecting his pod after the men harpooned one of his females who had a calf. One might say I am divided individual, and Carl Jung would agree with this. Indeed, to be human is to be divided inside. It is another price for being consciousness. How we resolve this divide can determine everything.

After the bull whale successfully saved the mother and her calf, my sympathies returned to the men and their dire situation. Sure, they were surrounded by water, but it was water they could not drink. Sure, the sea was filled with abundant food, but it was food they could not reach. It was rather as if they floated on a vast desert, and actually that is what happens inside of us when we accept frames of reality that are ultimately too small for who we are and what we ultimately need to do in our life. The men of the Essex had most definitely ended up in the middle of the Pacific partly due to their own poor choices, but in a greater part, they ended up their due to the priorities and short-sightedness of the industry for which they worked. A system of commerce hungry for whale oil that made it impossible for the men to turn back home until they had filled their ship with this precious oil. A hunger that would soon be replicated in full within the nascent fossil fuel industry about to burst out of the ground–imagine that.

* * *

The next day after watching this movie and not sleeping very well due to my great guilt over Cider’s death, my husband and I went for a run with our older surviving dog Sasha. I pointed up into the sky and said: “Look — that cloud looks like a White Whale.”  

Cloud Shaped Like Whale — Masterfile

This was not the cloud I saw, but I think we have all seen clouds that look like White Whales at some point in our life. Captivated by the movie, and now by the cloud, a thought popped into my head: “The world has been struck by the White Whale again.”  

It is clouds, is it not, that are being screwed up by climate change? Either they are growing too big and dropping too much water causing torrential floods, which are only supposed to happen every 100 years or so, but now seem to occur every other year around the world. Or, it is clouds that blow up into mega-typhoons and hurricanes that are far more devastating and deadly with terrible winds and tidal surges. Or, it is clouds that just don’t form at all, evaporating before they can release their precious water further inland from the sea, leaving the land dry and parched and extremely susceptible to wildfires and devastating famines due to droughts that never end.

KOALA — I Weep for You Australia by Donna Alena Hrabcakova — This is just one of the precious species we are losing every day…

Today, we live in a modern world that is populated by nearly 8 billion people, most of whom no longer understand the wisdom of our ancestors or the people who still live closely connected to nature and understand the balances necessary to sustain life. We live in a world where we no longer hear the wisdom of animals and life all around us, really enveloping us and sustaining us. We have become a people who are blinded by ideas of success, glory, and riches to be had in our grand new industrialized world. It is a world we created, but one begotten by short-sighted schemes and greed. And, there is a price for this too.

Recent data shows 2019 was the second hottest year on record.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screen-Shot-2020-01-20-at-12.44.03-PM.png
Popular Science — 2019 was the second warmest year on record—here’s what this means for our future: New government data shows climate change is (still) heating up — Kate Baggaley, 1/17/20

As our man-made world, powered now by fossil fuels rather than whale oil, pushes nature’s delicate balances ever more out of whack, balances that nature worked out over billions of years, our framing of reality is snapping–just like the timbers of the Essex splintered after the whale rammed the ship. It is 200 year since the Essex sunk, and in this incredibly short amount of time, Earth is breaking, all because of our extreme enamoration with oil and coal.

PBS NEWSHOUR: Could bushfires erode Australia’s climate change ‘inertia’?

The price for our collective short-sighted industriousness is going to be paid by all of us. No one will be spared the consequences of the choices made for far too long. We have changed the world to our liking, but it’s not to the liking of life. Despite this, corporate interests guarding their profit margins stay the course, like Captain Pollard going straight into the hurricane. It is a course that supersedes the needs of life on Earth… a dying Earth… an Earth rammed by the white whale. But this time, there is a twist to the story because this time we are the whale. We are the ones ramming our ship that is carrying us through the vast and desolate emptiness of space, and believe me, if we have to abandon this ship, where we end up is going to be a lot harsher than the Pacific Ocean, probably unendurable. This whale that is living inside us feeds on the powerful emotions that are found in great abundance within our inner Seas…of Sorrow, …of Despair, …of Grief and Guilt and …of Helplessness and Hate. Believe me, or don’t believe me, but modern life is full of people who have fallen into such seas.

If we happen to catch a glimpse of how our personal blindness and short-sightedness has contributed to this current moment, it is often overwhelming, and so, it is quickly concealed or we blame someone else for our sad and sorry fate. But soon, there will be no one else to blame. Soon, our individual seas will spill over and merge with every other sea spilling over to create one gigantic wave of despair for this will be the only emotion left to feel, if we survive that long. Much of this will be because of what our small frames of reality have wrought. Most likely, it will be a prolonged and brutal odyssey, just like the men of the Essex endured… unless we wake up, unless we change our frame of reality, unless we put aside our differences, unite, and help each other do the inner work essential to survive what is coming next. 

This is not easy or pretty work, but what lies ahead of us is not easy or pretty either. Even though the situation is dire, each and every one of us can take action this very moment. This action is to heal ourselves and to help others heal. It requires one magical, elusive ingredient, which is love. It begins by self-love and being gentle with yourself. Love is what can stop this wave of destruction. But, love is work. 

This is what I have learned about healing love:

Is quiet, unless it needs to roar.

Is kind, but not stupid.

Puts others needs above ones own needs and desires, but sees through false appeals for assistance and insincerity, then it simply nods and chuckles.

Listens, hears, and understands what others say.

Waits…sometimes a long time…without judgment… if judgement is necessary, love has a good argument with the Self… and pays attention to all the information, good and bad, then weighs it fairly with the intention of discovering truth and implementing justice.

Rearranges time to do the right thing… rescue a stray dog, listen to a lonely person, help someone in need… these are the moments that really matter… when someone else’s needs truly supersede your own.

Is inclusive knowing all beings are utterly dependent on each other to survive and thrive on Earth.
Protects the rights, dignity, and well-being of all living beings.

Penetrates through everything… it is the great mixer of the universe, but even as it passes through every visible thing in the universe, it does not change or destroy a thing or being in any way, not like hate does, which also penetrates everything, but when it does, it rips things to pieces… love unites, bonds, supports, comforts, and sustains.

There are many other qualities to love. I still need to learn more. But, I am ready to keep learning. I am ready to deconstruct and reconstruct my frames of reality daily, if needed. Are you ready to do intense inner work? Are you ready to build a bigger Ship of Self by growing your own inner strength, resilience, wisdom, and capacity to love deeply? All of this is absolutely essential to be ready for the Great Transformation or whatever is supposed to come next because it has begun. There is no time to waste. Earth has already started listing severely to the side from the ramming we have given her.

THE EL CAMINO OF GRIEF. 
A dream of me in my Russian fur hat on ancestral land — by Donna Alena Hrabcakova
WHEN YOU BECAME LOVE AND BLISS. Blair in the afterlife — by Donna Alena Hrabcakova



* * *

One final thought on the importance of doing inner work since I’m all worked up about it. Many people think that we are on the cusp of a Great the Transformation, a Shift, or Metamorphosis, or Great Awakening of Gaia…but if we have not done critical inner work to get ready for it, to grow big enough for it, whatever you think is coming next, will not necessarily be what you think it is supposed to be. Nature does not care one wick for the transformation of consciousness or even if we survive as a species (case in point, note what happened to the dinosaurs). If we leave it up to Her, we might just all be transformed into Banana Slugs (see the 2nd song in the video below: Muy Tranquil — it’s at about 8 minutes… ah Cider is in this video! It is a concept video for one of the characters in the story I am writing).  

We are the ones who stepped across the Matrix of Minds into consciousness (I explain what this is in the story I am writing, which you can read when I finally get the 1st book out; otherwise, just make up your own explanation). Now, we must make a choice. One of the choices is to learn how to love ourselves fiercely. And, I am not talking about narcissistic love. I am talking about the kind of love that leaves us in great grief when our loved ones are taken from us through death. This is how we save Earth. It begins with you. It begins with healing yourself, and then helping others to do the same. It is time-consuming, messy work, and one slides backwards all the time, it’s very frustrating… but one does not give up and one does not wince when another to small frame of reality is shed. Of course, this is painful, but without pain we do not grow.

I have included my friend Alena’s paintings, lots of them, because she is showing us through her art how to get back to inner, deeper spaces inside ourselves through dreams and visions and imagination. It is only here where we can see inner storms rising and circumvent navigate them in order to survive them. It is here where we learn that we can live a lot more simply and happily than we have been told. It is here where we can learn how to see, feel, taste, and hear our way back to what is really important, and that is love. When we love fiercely, we fight for truth and justice. We fight for life and self-determination. We help each other grow our fields of consciousness, so that we can all make better choices. Alena brought my attention to Robert Moss who recently published a blog on soul loss and recovery. Much of what I have written above can also be understood as soul loss. This is a beautiful analogy to what happens to us when we face situations and circumstances that overwhelm and crush us. He says: “Understanding soul loss and how our Active Dreaming approach facilitates soul recovery and helps us become shamans of our own souls.”

So, activate your imagination…make time to dream…find ways to re-engage your inner world, and most of all love deeply. When you find yourself in grief, which is a natural consequence of deep love, do not fear it… embrace it. Let it help you shatter your previous frames of reality because they were probably too small for your soul, which needs a bigger body and mind to do what it came here to do, so grow! All the while, love yourself and help others in whatever way they need. We will not survive any other way unless we put aside our differences and unite as a force of healing love for life.

Drawing by Bébé from video blog: It Came From Inside and Tribute to Cider

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Jewels of Indra’s Net

I wrote the following as a reflection from a series of conversations people from around the world had to discuss the climate crisis. As I looked through the wondrous materials considered and assembled by the Conference Weaving Now What? Deep Dives, I was dazzled by the jewels in the Now What?! Consciousness Deep Dive Conversation Harvest. Immediately, I thought of Indra’s Net. Before telling you why, it is important to understand what this net is. And, to find out more about Now What, visit the beautiful new site: Now What?! The art of being fully human in a time of crisis

According to Wikipedia: Indra’s net is a metaphor used to illustrate three essential concepts:

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • Śūnyatā (emptiness) – This is a Buddhist concept that has multiple meanings depending on its doctrinal context. It is either an ontological feature of reality, a meditative state, or a phenomenological analysis of experience. [I believe for something new to emerge there must be space for it, thus this feature of reality both outer and inner is essential to all who seek to bring into the world a kinder, gentler, restorative reality.]
Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • Pratītyasamutpāda (dependent origination) – This concept “is commonly translated as dependent origination, or dependent arising, is a key principle in Buddhist teachings,[note 1] which states that all dharmas (“phenomena”) arise in dependence upon other dharmas: “if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist”.  [I cannot think of a more essential concept to consider as we engage together in these sessions and others along with the weaving done afterwards. I always need to be reminded what dharma means. There is no single English translation for this word. Essentially it is the behaviors that make life in the universe possible. I think fits beautifully with us joining together in conversations that seek to understand and uplift behaviors that sustain life on our planet. If we don’t understand each other, we are indeed stuck.]
Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • Interpenetration (coalescence) – This concept developed from the Huayan school. It  holds all phenomena (dharmas) are deeply interconnected, mutually arising, and every phenomenon contains all other phenomena. Various metaphors and images are used to illustrate this idea. The first is known as Indra’s net. The net is set with jewels which have the extraordinary property that they reflect all of the other jewels, while the reflections also contain every other reflection, ad infinitum. The second image is that of the world text. This image portrays the world as consisting of an enormous text which is as large as the universe itself. The words of the text are composed of the phenomena that make up the world. However, every atom of the world contains the whole text within it. It is the work of a Buddha to let out the text so that beings can be liberated from suffering. [So, there you go. Perhaps this is why Indra’s Net popped into my mind as I read through the jewels, which is only a tiny piece of the harvest and this is even a tiny part of what is happening when we connect with each other and seek mutual understanding. We are indeed reflected in each other. We are the jewels in the Indra Net enveloping Earth.]

I imagine two wonderous Indra’s Net. One net holds our universe. It is woven by time and space that create the matrix holding everything we see in our universe. The second Indra’s Net is like the first, but this one wraps around our beautiful Earth. All life on Earth create the threads that are woven together to create this web. Humans have taken on an exaggerated importance in this web because of the level of consciousness we have attained. I am not going to delve into my thinking on this now…perhaps later… but suffice it to say we have changed the matrix from which we were born, and now we have a Herculean Task upon our shoulders to repair what has been damaged by us so life may continue to exist on this precious jewel in the larger Indra Net—Earth.

I think when we come together and listen to each other, we repair Earth’s net. Each of us has a special place and unique abilities that are needed to sustain Earth’s Indra’s Net. Each human being is informed by individual passions, interests, experiences, and failures. Some of us are really good at speaking, others are really good at organizing, still others are healers, and others bring visions. Each human being weaves part of this wondrous web enveloping Earth. To heal and repair our net, Earthneeds all our insights, energies, passions, and gifts.

So, this is the idea that struck me as I read the harvest material from the conferences, deep dives, and other conversations. It seems to me every human being is a jewel in Earth’s Indra’s Net. Through us the energy needed to repair, strengthen, and heal this netis made visible. We are essentially portalsof transformation, and it is going to take as many ofus pulling in the same direction as possible to change our collectivefate.

I have not had much time to read everything, nor did I have participate in the Deep Dives, but what I have seen is beautiful pieces of wisdom being pulled up from depths inside ourselves. Wisdom that has become submerged and lost due to current ways of thinking and living in our world. Let me stress the weaving being done through our collective action is utterly essential for the moment we are in now.  

Given limits on my time at this moment, I am only able highlight a few of the jewels that caught my attention as I looked through the excellent excel chart being created to preserve some of the harvest from this collective work. There are also notes and videos of Deep Dives and from parts of the conferences taking place around the world. My selection of a few of the jewels in no way diminishes any of the other jewels.I am a simple and small portal of consciousness informed by my individual experiences, passions, dreams, and failures. All this naturally limits what I can see and how I see it. But, then thisis the beauty of Indra’s Net. Each jewel is unique and reflects every other jewel in the net. I suspect there are as many jewels in Earth’s Indra’s Net as there human beings alive on the planet, and the energy coursing through the webbing of this net is the wonderous life alive on Earth right now.

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • The first jewel I want to highlight is one that I saw reflected in several discussions. This is the jewel of sacred ceremony. We need to remember our thoughts are powerful. They are able to collapse the infinite sea of possibilities in which we all swim into a single thread of reality. We do this by thinking, choosing, and acting (or not acting). Moment by moment we contribute our strand of reality to all the other strands being created by every living being on the planet. As the strands interweave, this becomes our shared reality. Humans have become particularly powerful in sculpting our shared reality by using our minds gifted with consciousness (or cursed – as many world myths account this moment as man’s great fall). I write about this in other places, so I will not delve into my meaning here, but only say humans emerged from a more primordial state of consciousness into the state we understand it as today. This singular accomplishment allowed humans to not only perceive the world, but to apperceive it. I will talk more about this ability to apperceive our world later, but for now, I will simply provide you with a definition of it: 

From Wiki: Meaning in psychology – In psychology, apperception is “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.”[2] In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience. The term is found in the early psychologies of Herbert Spencer, Hermann Lotze, and Wilhelm Wundt. It originally means passing the threshold into consciousness, i.e., to perceive. But the percept is changed when reaching consciousness due to the contextual presence of the other stuff already there, thus it is not perceived but apperceived.

Apperception is thus a general term for all mental processes in which a presentation is brought into connection with an already existent and systematized mental conception, and thereby is classified, explained or, in a word, understood; e.g. a new scientific phenomenon is explained in the light of phenomena already analyzedand classified. The whole intelligent life of man is, consciously or unconsciously, a process of apperception, in as much as every act of attention involves the appercipient process.[1]

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • The next jewel is the significant of language in constructing our realities. Here again our ability of apperception is powerful for we have civilized and cultivated most of the world simply by seeing possibilities different from what nature originally provided for life to exist. And, so here we stand at the edge of every moment with this power to apperceive infinite possibilities, and language is the tool we use to share our visions of what is possible. So, yes, it is a commanding tool in constructing our shared realities because it allows us to cooperate in collective action. 

It also comes with peril, as this group of jewels point out, for we can misunderstand each other if we do not take care in truly understanding how words are being used and what is truly being said. Our ability for language is an ability that we have perhaps grown too accustom to wielding. I really like the idea of reconnecting with other cultures and languages. This is a beautiful way to understand how utterly diverse our ability to communicate with each other is… and through communication, our ability to co-create. Human cultures and civilizations have unfolded in so many incredible and diverse ways across space and through time. So, getting stuck in our head with words that have become too small for our current reality is a trap, and it is good to learn how to get out of our self-created thought traps. Gaining perspective of different languages, different cultures, and even different ways of communication (e.g., dance, visual art, dreamtime, empathy), helps us re-appreciate our ability to communicate with each other in so many different ways. This I believe helps us to perceive nuances better for every word is really a universe. Here is one of my favorite shorts by  Dr. Maya Angelou – Power Of Words

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • The next jewel is learning to let go of the story. Here the question was asked: What are the actions I might take now that allow me to fully offer my gifts in service to what is needed in response to the possibility that everything is going to work our just fine or it is not going to work out? I think this is wonderful because it helps one to understand they can take an active role in telling the story unfolding right now about Earth and her fate (or a passive role). I think most of us began to believe (for me it was around the 6thgrade) that our voice does not matter, that our thinking will never be good enough, and that our internal knowledge is wrong and has no place in the world of educated men (I do use men here purposively). 

To survive in our modern civilization, we learn how to bend ourselves and squeeze into the tiny boxes of perception and apperception that are allowed by the systems dictated to us by our modern, civilized world. Most of these systems come out of Western Civilization for this civilization has had a huge propensity to colonize the world with its particular brand of thinking and mindset. For humans living in modern Western systems, there are patterns for how to make money, where to live, how much free time to spend with friends, family, or anything else that is important, even how to think and use our minds. Since so many human beings are born into this system, we do not even realize how much control of our shared narrative we have given up by making ourselves fit into this story being told mostly by powerful ones inside of Western Civilization. 

Most of us do not realize how shallow the conscious waters have become inside of this great narrative. But, we have been told we must swim only in these designated waters—conscious waters that are too shallow to sustain us much longer. I think other cultures and civilizations have not taught this out of their people. This is why we need our indigenous brothers and sisters, but we do not need to misuse their precious knowledge (as another Jewel cautions), rather this knowledge is inside every person trapped inside Western thinking, we need to marshal our courage and venture back into the deep end of our conscious capacities. This is where our indigenous brothers and sisters can be guides, but we must do the work.  And, help each other to take a more active role in telling our personal story that becomes part of the collective story…this is so important. Active storytelling is a precious jewel—indeed, it is a super ability.

Another really critical element in this list of jewels is letting go of the ending of the story. When we let go of what we hope or want the ending to be, we put ourselves squarely in the present moment. This is where our power is. It is not in the past (we’ve already been there). It is not in the future (we are not there yetand thusour choicesare only future possibilities). It is NOW—this is where we choose our thread of shared reality. This is where our voice can help guide the flow of the collective story being told about Earth and its inhabitants. By letting go of our attachmentto what the ending needs to be or should be, suddenly all possibilities open up again. 

In this moment of infinite possibilities, we can get about doing what we are so good at doing. In fact, we have evolved as human beings to not only perceive the beautiful world around us, but to appercept it. I am using apperception in the psychological meaning of this word, as defined earlier: “the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole.” With this ability, we become transformers. It is what we do better than any other species on the planet, and that is to take our individualized toolbox (the mind) equipped with individualized knowledge, experience, and hopefully wisdom and create something new. Even when we don’t employ our wisdom, when we choose from the infinite number of possibilities swirling around us every momentof every dayand act on one, we collapse the infinite stream of possibilities into one possibility. This becomes our thread of reality. 

Indra’s Jewels — Art by Bébé

So you see, we are more powerful than we think… and yet, just like the Buddhist concept of Pratītyasamutpāda, we are completely dependent on each other making the best choices possible to survive within our shared reality—the web we weave together. What a dilemma!  

The world cannot be saved by one human being, not even by the most powerful and rich 1 percent of human beings. I don’t know how many it is going to take to save Earthfrom the looming climate crisiswe have woven into the story, but it is probably going to take asmany of us as possible who are awakening to our new role as narrators in this collective story. So, releasing the ending you want is essential because to be a powerful narrator, it is essential to see the present moment for what it is and tell this story as accurately as you can… how you avoided the rocks or boulders in the stream, how you saw and out smarted the poisonous snake laying wait in the rocks, how you navigate the stream of possibilities.  

These are power stories. They have always been power stories from timeimmemorial.  Now we must learn how to tell these powerful stories about ourselves again against the backdrop of our modern age with all its distractions, pain, and fear thatcreates chaos meant to keep us docile and frozen in non-action. Or at least trap us in polarized action. Such action simply gets cancelled out by its equal and opposite action by others trapped on the other side of a false divide. It is a trick of the powerful narrators of our time who currently control most of our collective narrative. Too many of ushave fallenintotheir trap, makingus desperately grasp at things beyond our reach. This especially happens whenwe lose the firm ground of our inner reality; then, we are especially at the mercy of nefarious forces trying to control the collective story through fearmongering  and other dramatic techniques. 

We must grow stronger consciously. This is how we strengthen Indra’s Net because each one of us is a jewel in this beautiful net. We can help each other by giving freely our time and attention to lift each other when we falter or fall.  We don’t have to leave anyone behind. When we stand on the plain of our present moment and really see what is in front of us, we are powerful beings. This is a link to some of my early writing and visual storytelling about these ideas. This began to emerge inside of me more than two years ago: Consciousness Waves.

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • Another jewel is pain. Here another critical question is asked: How do we create a space for pain? So much of Western Civilization is focused on avoiding pain at all costs. I don’t know about you, but I grew up feeling it was not OK to admit to feeling pain. Physical pain was fine to admit. Everyone can clearly see if you have a scraped knee or broken arm. But, emotional or spiritual pain…this was scary. Often it is assumed you did not follow the prescribed rules you were taught, and thus you are the cause of your own pain and deserve to suffer. No one deserves to suffer. Hardly any of us has such control over all the things that impact us, it is ridiculous to blame a person in pain for their pain. But, so often this is what we do. I have been going through a year of pretty intense pain, I can tell you one thing: Pain focuses ones attention and time like no other stimuli. Pain tells us something is wrong, and it prods us to seek solutions. When we are in pain, trivial matters, mindless distractions, the things that use to fill our time fade away and the mind focuses on finding solutions. [I captured this idea in a fantastical little story about my trials in The Divine Dodo – Hanga Dyra Mingja.]
The Divine Dodo — Hanga Dýra MingjaArt by Bébé

So, yes, make space for pain. Do not be afraid of the power pain offers. Perhaps this is what victim blamers are really afraid of… the person experiencing pain finding their power making them no longer so easy to control. Finding solutions to things causing pain is absolutely critical. 

In this collection of jewels, there is also discussion about the power of music. I write about the power of music in another story I am writing, so I will not wax on about it here. I will simply say our ancestors understood the power of music and how it can inspire action in the minds of individuals and groups. We have forgotten the power that music and dance give us. We have let them become co-opted into the realm of entertainment and money-making. It is so much more than this. It is part of our internal guidance system. Find your song. Find your dance. This is how the universe moves and expresses itself through us. Our magical powers to transform reality rises from inside of us and through us… and it is through our collective action that what rises from inside our minds is made visible through our collective action in the world—this is our shared reality. 

Indra’s Jewel — Art by Bébé
  • Another jewel closely connected to pain is grief. Indeed, grief as this group discusses, breaks open the heart. The group also shares a beautiful poem expressing grief exquisitely. Grief connects us to our empathy. Our empathic powers are needed now more than any other time in human history. To me empathy is not just understanding that someone else is in pain or is grieving, but it is the capacity to stand beside the person who is suffering, to bear witness to their pain knowing we cannot take their pain from them, but perhaps we can help them hold it for a time… maybe help the person endure it, however long it takes. 

I think really powerful empaths can absorb into their own bodies other people’s pain, anger, grief, and the unbearable emotions. I think our ancestors and indigenous people understand how this works and know how to help transmute these powerful emotional states. But, this takes time and skill to understand and most of us in Western Civilization have lost this ability. However, Medicine men and women around the world still possess it, and known how not helping people navigate these difficult parts of the journey can impact the health not only of the individual suffering but of the entire group. In most modern cultures, we have lost the rituals of transformation that can transmute and balance these negative and destructive energies with their equal and opposite energies. It is here where we have our power as individuals and as groups in helping each other find and maintain balance so that wisdom can rise and shine brightly. 

This is all I have time to reflect on right now. I wish I could do more, and I am sure my thinking and efforts to communicate are inadequate for the rich reservoir of ideas, thinking, collaborative efforts transpiring through this collective work (collective action of transformation) unfolding right here and right now.  I can only encourage each person who has participated in the dialogues or who is just discovering these resources to use your own unique toolbox of thought, perception, experience, ideas to continue strengthening this net we are repairing together. We do this by providing our time and attention in whatever capacity we feel called to do and with whatever time we have available to do so. Time and attention are the most valuable resources in the universe. It really is all we need to be powerful narrators of our personal stories, which of course become a part of the collective story of Earth.

The Thing That Feeds on Fear and Sadness — Art by Bébé

Postscript

After writing this, I came upon readings and conversations about the importance of emptiness. I quite frankly did not understand how absolutely essential emptiness is when I wrote the above. I intend to write more about it when I have time, but for now I must devote most of my attention to finishing editing the story I began 7 years ago (almost to this day for I remember first finding the thread to the story I have been writing ever since late one September afternoon–this story is Sapience). And so I leave you only with a quote from Carl Jung whom I was reading and finally understood the power and importance of emptiness. He said:

“The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result this explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall a prey too. “

“If 30 years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warriors ready for death–why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. Private life, private aetiologies, and private neuroses have become almost a fiction in the world of today. The man of the past who lived in a world of archaic ‘representations collectives’ had risen again into very visible and painfully real life, and this not only in a few unbalanced individuals but in many millions of people”

“There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but at first only as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. When a situation occurs which corresponds to a given archetype, that archetype becomes activated and a compulsiveness appears, which, like an instinctual drive, gains its way against all reason and will, or else produces a conflict of pathological dimensions, that is to say, a neurosis.”

— The Portable Jung, The Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, p. 66-67

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We Are All One Human Tribe

Enigma has a song called The Same Parents, and of the many videos of this song, my favorite one mixes a highly technologically state of being human with ancient states of being alive. This is something that fits well with me since I love skating back and forth across huge expanses of space and time searching for the visible and invisible forces shaping us all (e.g.,  What Do I Do With the Mad Inside Me? and Wake up, Wake up and Is Collective Transformation Possible and We Are All Connected).

ENIGMA – The Same Parents ( Seven Lives Many Faces )

Today, many people realize we are in a moment demanding deep wisdom combined with meaningful action and sacrifice so our children and grandchildren might inherit a world capable of sustaining life. At times, it feels like facing a massive tidal wave of indifference, denial, and unawareness of the growing signs that if we do not stop what we are doing to the climate (and very soon…perhaps less than 12 years!), then we won’t even be able to mitigate the worst effects of the ever increasing and more destructive climate catastrophes. Even worst, there are people in this world who do not want to change the status quo because they are profiting from the systems pushing us all over the climate cliff. These are powerful forces. They are unconscious in nature and surround us night and day as revealed by the confusion and division keeping us from working together to make positive and sustainable change. Soon Earth’s delicate ecological balances will be pushed too far.

As a ray of hope, I am dedicating this post to highlighting some of the people and groups around the world who are pushing back against these destructive forces… people who embody the changes Earth needs Now.

Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan
Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan

One courageous person is Cynthia Addawan who lives in a mountainous region of the Philippines where her people continue to live in tribes and protect their land from intruders. She told me how most of the young men in her tribe are still trained to go to war using spears and bolos and how the Spanish colonized her country for almost 333 years but were not able to conquer the mountain tribes (her people). Then, the Americans and Japanese came, but her tribe managed to retain their originality and culture (not easy in the face of the steady swept of Western Civilization bent on creating one gigantic monolith civilization). Over time, she described how her people adopted more peaceful ways of settling disagreements. Since the 1980s, there have been few tribal issues leading to war, and recently they celebrated indigenous month, which includes commemorations of ancient war dances. This festival is not meant to encourage young people to go to war, but rather to realize the richness of their tribal traditions and how the mountainous tribes have come to understand and practice more peaceful ways of dealing with differences and conflict today. Thus, the commemorative war dances celebrate their shared heritage and help the youth understand and value the journey the mountainous tribes have taken to avoid conflict and sustain peace. She read my blog about Mr. Rogers and is now reading some of his wonderful work to her classes for she is a teacher and understands how important it is to teach the children and youth about handling strong emotions. She is also working to establish a Climate School in the Philippines and collaborating with people around the world to do this. She says beautifully, “I am so concern about all the children—the little angels of this earth. We owe them a planet and a future. We have the power and responsibility to give them a better place to live, and one way to do this is to conserve the environment. This is one legacy we can leave them. Another is to help them control their mad emotions and to channel these energies into something that is beneficial both to them and to other human beings.”

Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan
Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan

Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan
Kalinga Day — Photo: Cynthia Addawan

Another person working to help save our civilization is Hans Jørgen Rasmussen. He sees helping children and youth in their activism worldwide as one way to help. With more than 30 years of practice as a psychologist behind him, he understands the dynamic forces confronting young people today. One of his approaches is listening to and being open to standing by a person who is facing a challenge or a personal crisis by availing himself to be supportive as a dialogue partner—you might call it a coach—whereby he gently helps people experiencing a difficult part of their journey by listening. He understands he cannot solve another person’s problems, but he can walk beside them in empathy and compassion. By doing this, he offers support as the person figures out a solution for themselves and finds a way forward, and while dealing with their challenge, they often find unknown resources in themselves resulting in an empowering process with personal growth a by-product of this process. Other ways he is helping to address the threat our civilization faces is by applying his skills in psychology, coaching, and teaching to: 1) start a Climate School in his home town & create a Climate website: Saving Our Planet; 2) build a collection of climate change related videos: The Climate Cinema; 3) co-found a NGO named Saving Our Planet that offers awareness raising concepts such as The Climate School free of charge to organizations, institutions, and groups; and 4) start a climate awareness project in collaboration with a large private school and a university in Turkey, where he spends the winter… and he’s just getting started. 

My friend Lucy Rist is founder and runs Girls in Sports—which is a Swedish-based charity that empowers girls through sports and outdoor adventure. Recently, Girls in Sports was selected as one of 5 international organizations that will work together through this international initiative called Girls in the Lead, helping girls become leaders. Through this initiative, Girls in Sports is collaborating with four other organizations based in South Africa, India, Germany, and U.S. to build capacity to empower girls around the world. 

My friend Alöna Litovinskaia is designing an innovative educational curriculum for children and youth that will help connect them to the enduring value of nature and working together. Part of the curriculum involves play where children and youth explore and engage together in a natural setting called Kid’s Land. In this space there are many challenges that require them to use their creativity and work together to solve problems in a playful, fast-paced world they are creating as a group. With the help of facilitators versed in art and architectural, management and psychological, as well as educational backgrounds, kids design, plan, build, and settle upon rules and laws to govern their country. She says, “It’s going to be a great and fun practical and social experience for growing minds!” To see more exciting elements of this new space and vision, visit Newa.

My friend Hannelie Sensemaker WorldPainter Venucia is on a journey to explore and embody Whole Person (Embodied Wholeness) Living, Relating, Creativity and Innovation. She is sharing her life’s work through the JOY Generation, which is an embodied wisdom and adventure portal helping to transform the world through JOY. The JOY Generation Portal is the playground where our younger generations can take part in self-discovery adventures and have access to wisdom, inspiration, and guidance as they engage with peers around the world. The portal offers access to 3 interactive web nests; namely JOY Planet, JOY Rides, and JOY Festival (JOY Generators believe good things come in 3’s!). Without a JOY Planet, we cannot thrive, and thus, this is the home of JOY Casts that talks with individuals across the globe who share wisdom, insights, and other possibilities in her series: Your World or Mine? The second aspect of the JOY Planet is the Joy Panorama Interactive Multimedia Multi-Sensory experiences that provides opportunity to explore phenomena and concepts impacting the ability of humanity to thrive. As humanity fails to find solutions to so many dilemmas, in JOYSense, Hannelie and the JOY Generation team share a variety of Collective Sensemaking downloadable, online, and physical experiences. Hannelie is a seasoned author, public speaker, facilitator, and radio host.

Fyodor Ovchinnikov is a facilitator for the Just, Sustainable, and Flourishing Future seminar, which is part of the Young Professionals for Sustainable Development Program. This program provides professional development for young professionals seeking opportunities to align their careers with the UN Agenda 2030 or to make a career transition to a different sector or industry while focusing on some or all of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Many participants report making useful professional contacts with mentors and panelists, building long-term peer support relationships, learning about relevant networks and opportunities, and feeling supported, inspired, and more confident integrating UN SDGs into their work as hallmarks of the program that they found genuinely helpful. If you are interested in mentoring our participants, apply here: https://www.una-sf.org/mentors. More information about the program: https://www.una-sf.org/ypsdg

These are just some of the compassionate and passionate people around the world working to make a difference to secure a sustainable future. We have a longs ways to go to ensure our children, their grandchildren, and 7 generations forward have a livable planet. This is our legacy. We begin by taking the first step together. No other time in human history have we been as deeply dependent on each other as we are Now. We need to hear every voice for today we stand as one global human tribe where every member’s choice is a vote for a sustainable and livable planet, or not. We have never depended on each other as we do Now.

Now is the time for wisdom and for working together.

Other Voices and Places Helping to Change the Tide:

In Seattle, a youth driven group has established Zero Hour. They have also taken the bold action of suing the state of Washington for not taking enough action for a sustainable future (WA State Children’s Trust Lawsuit), and they are doing so much more (visit their site)!

Also, checkout Youth4Planet International for innovative ways to help youth help the planet.

Teens Marching at the People’s Climate March of 2017

High School Seniors Who Skipped Prom at March for Science of 2017

College Students Marching at the People’s Climate March of 2017

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Sustain the Flame

Two years ago, the United States was flipped upside down. In response, millions and millions of people walked or took metro or rode their bikes or got on buses to the mall in Washington, D.C. They came from across the country, and if they couldn’t get to D.C., they marched where they were–and around the world!

I went too and interviewed more than 30 people that day. Following is the blog I wrote along with a one minute short and the citizen’s documentary I made from that day. In the one minute short, a marcher holds a sign saying “This is not Normal.” Now, I think we see just how abnormal this period has been, and how dangerous it is. We can and must heal the divide that has put us here. Trump is not the cause but a symptom of a deeper wound. So, once again, our stories matter, especially those that reach across the divisions that threw us into this moment. This is work we need to do together and with compassion, understanding, and love. It does not mean blindly accepting the current reality because this reality where Trump claims “I alone can fix it” is taking us down the wrong road. It is a road the world has been down before for Hitler claimed he alone could fix Germany’s problems more than 75 years ago. And so, two years later, every person’s voice and story is still very much needed from both sides so we can see with greater clarity our shared reality and heal the wounds that have put us here. In the following piece, you will see the seeds of my growing awareness of the importance the stories we tell about ourselves, our families, our communities, country, and world.

2016 Post:

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé
Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t like crowds, and protests cause prickly sensations to crawl up and down my body for I am by nature a deeply shy human being, but I feel propelled to go down to the mall, and not only attend the protest, but also to interview people and find out why they have come and what their fears are. I feel like I need to gather their voices like water in a bucket ahead of the DC swamp that is about to be drained. Pushing me forward like a powerful wave is a story I began to write 5 years earlier that is set 150 years in the future. Devastating climate change has utterly reshaped the social-ecologic-geopolitical order of the world. Nation-states fall due to the enormous economic burden of trying to engineer themselves out of climate disasters. In their place, huge corporate states rise. As this new order takes form, there are good corporate leaders taking us in the right direction (e.g., banning all fossil fuels), and there are bad corporate leaders taking the world the other way. One evil leader eliminates the good leader, erases all his work, and turns the world, perhaps irrevocably, in the wrong direction. This is where my fictional story begins—and sadly, this is where our country seems to be today; a moment when conscious forward movement has halted, and now rapidly recedes pulled by intense yearnings for the past, which looks safer than pressing forward into an unknowable future—a force being harnessed by nationalist and populist movements worldwide. But this is an illusion to make America Great by looking backwards for one cannot step into the same spot of a river twice because it constantly flows forward, just as consciousness flows forward through time. Turning our backs on where we are going is as good as sailing blind into the oncoming rocks. As a country, we are undergoing a “pretty big” identity crisis where the thin veneer of what we thought was a normal and healthy democracy is cracking, and now we boldly step into the children’s fairy tale of the Emperor Wearing No Clothes(or perhaps this is just liberals feeling this way today as conservatives used this same metaphor 8 years earlier). Regardless of whether liberals are justified to feel this way now or conservatives were justified to feel this way before, the more important question is what do we do now when more than half of the country feels left behind?

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I don’t have answers, but protest is a start. It is a sign our democracy is still resilient and flexible enough to self-correct when the pendulum swings too far to the left or right. Protest is a counter force that emerges to try to rebalance when the collective balance gets knocked off center. After protest, comes the hard work of finding a way forward that does not exclude, abandon, or diminish any group of people in this country (or world)—one that can stay cohesive and evolve. Every person regardless of if they are black, white, brown, rich, poor, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Buddhists, immigrant, legal, or “illegal” is vital to this process for every individual is a part of the fabric of our collective reality at this moment in time. When even one person is left behind, injured—physically or psychologically, ripped out, or banned from entering, the collective fabric of society is damaged and weakened. Thus, the work of moving forward needs to include everyone’s voice so that a bigger, better narrative can form and evolve, one that is more conscious than the one Trump has temporarily tapped into through the fear-based rhetoric Steve Bannon whispers into his ear based on the Alt Right narrative, which is strangely one-sided, warped, off-center, immature, and backwards looking. Why is this important—because narrative is a powerful device that acts like a high-powered antenna capturing and focusing an individual’s attention onto a narrow band that can be harnessed by the narrative creators—good or bad, narratives are powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

When I set out on January 21, I did not understand any of this. I was simply compelled by my fictional story to go down to the Women’s March and gather voices of people who came from across the country to express their fears and concerns. As I talked with people, I felt reassured in my own unsettled feelings; then as I assembled their voices into this documentary, I felt re-energized to continue my own forms of resistance to find a better way forward.  I began to understand by collecting and sharing our voices, we can come to understand each other better, which is essential to define the emerging narrative that will help us holdthe centerof our core democratic beliefs and system for this moment in time galvanizes how just how precious and fragile democracy is everywhere in the world. Here in the United States, it’s hard for me to believe anyone really wants to tear mothers or fathers from their children simply because they didn’t get into the country the right way.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Listen to Kraig Moss’s interview on the CBC where he talks about going to 45 Trump rallies and was called Trump’s Troubadour, but now he feels betrayed by him and terrible about all the families being ripped apart due to aggressive ICE raids, arrests, and deportations of individuals—tactics that seem motivated more to meet quotas set by the new administration rather than really finding the “dangerous” illegals to deport. [Kraig Moss]

Do we really need to hire 15,000 more border agents and build a useless wall—what about employing innovative technology to do this work. I understand there is a need to have a lawful, orderly, and fair way to get into the country, but do we need to fix it this way—by tearing families apart and taking money and resources away from critical services such as after school programs that disadvantaged youth need so desperately, not to mention the long list of things Trump’s budget proposes to cut in the name of putting America First. Rather, his budget looks more and more like the citizens of America are being put last as a fearful, selfish, cruel, militaristic, and unpredictable (perhaps even insane) country emerges instead.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Now, we must gather our voices and listen to each other—and, most importantly, we must understand and respectdiverse points of view in order to wrestle back control of our collective destiny from the forces that have taken advantage of healthy differences between the left and the right, made them starker, and widen the natural gap; then, these forces have pushed both sides to the very edge of the chasm that opened where the darkness of the human soul looms larger and more threatening than it has in a long time—hurtling us into this moment! We have entered a time when truth, compassion, and dignity are under attack. Even science and the judicial system are being called into question by our elected leaders. What is even more disturbing is individuals we have elected to govern, specifically the ones holding the majority vote, continue to go along with and protect bad behavior (e.g., bouts of extreme narcissism, pathological lying). It is something we have not seen in the United States for many years, and perhaps we have forgotten how to recognize such a threat.

In my fictional story, my characters’ deal with a similar threat and must rely on empathy, intuition, and love to survive. I believe we must call upon similar super powerstoday! These qualities of human nature exist inside all of us, and I believe stories of every kind help us consolidate our inner resources so we can learn how to be better human beings.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Stories can be powerful places where people can go to gain insight—even wisdom—and to be re-energized. Perhaps even more important, stories help us recognize threats that come from within our own psyche and inspire us to resist bad behavior and destructive choices. Perhaps they provide a short cut in learning how to do the hard work of self-reflection needed to be a wiser, kinder, and more courageous person. Some stories even show us how to recognize and respond to existential threats and provide a pathway off a course that could destroy an entire civilization, even the world. We can change the fabric of today’s political toxic rhetoric because we are the fabric; we are its weavers! We can help each other address the important issues confronting our nation by creating space for every voice to be expressed, heard, and understood.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We choose the quality of the thread we contribute to our shared reality through our thoughts, choices, and actions; therefore, I believe we can Hold the Centerand stop this receding tide of human consciousness as witnessed by the Women’s March, the day without immigrants, the day without women, the march of Native Nations, the Science and People’s Climate Marches, and many other marches, protests, and gatherings as well as a host of emerging organizations such as Indivisible, Better Angels, and others that when combined with new tools capable of linking us together in coordinated and purposeful action such as DemocracyOS and Resistbot create a powerful counter force!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

I know this is easier said than done, but the process has already begun, and this is my small contribution to the emerging narrative that will guide us forward in becoming a more inclusive, conscious people. As we weave our voices together, we create a bigger, better, more powerful counter narrative. One strong enough to reabsorb the distributing Alt Right narrative and pull both sides back closer together so a bridge can once again exist where true democratic discourse can take place and where we can once again set about the work of building and sustaining a healthier, inclusive, creative, and more compassionate society; not the polarized, distracted, mean-spirited one that has grown out of the gap.

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

Together, we grow stronger and wiser for this is the flame—and each of us has a role to play in guarding it because it lives inside us. Do not let yours go out…share your voice, listen to each other (especially opposing views), and participate in the slow and steady work of creating a better, more healthy democracy for everyone—one that shines once again like a bright light that can guide the world if we let it! Thank you to everyone who spoke with me at the march! Your voices are the narrative of the documentary I have made on the Women’s March, and they are helping create a bigger, better narrative rising in great resistance against the fearful one temporarily possessing the country. And, thank you for watching this documentary—for you are creators through the simple act of applying your timeand attention—indeed, this simple act (often taken for granted) is powerful!

Women’s March 2016 — Photo by Bébé

We are the light, and we sustain the flamethrough our personal narratives, so infuse wisdom into yours—it exists all around us—it’s in every moment of every day and in every thought as we flow together through time!

— By Bébé

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