Time for a summer break! See you next on August 7th. In the meantime, thanks for reading and following my work. Enjoy your summer!
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As we in the USA celebrate our nation’s independence this week, my mind and heart are flooded with thoughts and feelings. I am deeply saddened by the prevalence of hate and xenophobia in our society; by the loss of a fundamental sense of ethics, personal integrity and responsibility, and truth; by the lack of appreciation for education, knowledge, expertise, and wisdom gained from experience; and by the lack of basic human respect and compassion that is becoming commonplace. We’re not in a good place.
Most people would place me on the liberal and progressive end of the political and social spectrum. Yet my political views are not actually shaped by politics itself, but rather by my passion for lifting up the human spirit. I am committed to empowering people and societal systems to evolve toward their greatest potential, and to doing my part to create a world that works. Therefore, I’m interested in ideas and action that support the health and well being of our planet, a sense of wholeness and mutual respect within our diverse society, and the general well being of all individuals.
That said, I’ve been particularly disturbed of late by all of the calls to join the “Resistance” – to stand up and fight against whatever the “other side” is trying to do, with very little vision or positive constructive action to foster communication, good will, and forward movement. It’s time for a new approach.
E. F. Schumacher, a 20th-century economist and author of Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered, wrote:
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger,
more complex, and more violent.
It takes a touch of genius –
and a lot of courage –
to move in the opposite direction.
Add to that the words of actress, poet, and civil rights activist Ruby Dee:
The kind of beauty I want most
is the hard-to-get kind that comes from within –
strength, courage, dignity.
In today’s “Great Breaking Open,” we are all called to stand tall in what we believe and in who we know ourselves to be deep in our heart of truth. There is a place within us where, if we dare to let ourselves touch it, we can experience a visceral pull towards the matrix of creation and connection that binds us all together. The human spirit thrives when we acknowledge and respect the interconnectedness of everything. Do we dare to view the world through that lens? Do we dare to let that awareness guide us in our perceptions, choices, decisions, and actions?
Resistance reinforces separateness, difference, and competition. It pits us against one another in us-versus-them battles where all that seems to matter is that we come out on top. In the end, the battle only serves to strengthen or empower the “other.” It reinforces what you are fighting against, and gives no energy to what you actually stand for. Furthermore, it drains the human spirit rather than lifting it up.
The old adage says: What you resist persists. Father Richard Rohr says it more elegantly in one of the core principles of his Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico:
The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.
Oppositional energy only creates more of the same.
So what if we as a society were to stop resisting, criticizing, and demeaning what we don’t want and the people who represent a different viewpoint, and instead, create a clear vision and strategy for what we do want?
To this end, I invite you to join me in the “Persistence” movement – to stand for a vision and strategy for our world that comes from deep in the heart of your interconnected being. I invite you to come up with a vision of a world that works. Not a fancy, complex vision, full of details, but rather a vision of the world that you long for. The simpler and clearer your vision, the more powerful it will be. And then, put all your focus and attention on taking one step each day to start creating that world. Today, just one step. And then tomorrow, another step.
Given our current conditions, that may not always be easy. Yet as I reflect on Ruby Dee’s words above, I realize that we only find our deepest strength, courage, and dignity when we are faced with challenge or threat. When something threatens our fundamental well being as individuals and as a collective, many of us have been conditioned to fight against the threat. Our focus becomes to destroy the threat rather than to actually create something new.
Alternatively, we can create a vision for how things could be better and start taking action toward that vision. We can choose to stand up for who we are, for what we believe, for the dignity and respect of the human spirit, and for the common good of all. And we can call out our leaders to do the same thing. It will take all of us together.
We don’t have to have a vision for how to solve everything. However, until we breathe into our hearts and get in touch with the interconnectedness of all, we will continue creating win-lose battles. When we put our focus on the care of the whole – the care of the whole of society, the whole of the planet, and the health and well being of each individual – we can make progress in creating a world that works.
Nido Qubein, author, speaker, and president of High Point University in North Carolina, said:
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go;
they merely determine where you start.
Challenges exist everywhere. Conflicting views are a part of life. Yet they don’t have to define our lives and our countries. Choose the high road. Instead of starting from a place of resistance, choose to start from a place of vision and forward action. Walk towards the creation of something greater than where you are now. Choose to focus on what wants to be created for the good of the whole. Be persistent. Persistence can move mountains.
In the context of today’s incredibly complex and challenging world, John Lennon’s iconic song, Imagine, might be interpreted as oversimplified and naïve – as a feel-good, kum-ba-yah moment. Yet it might also serve as a call to action from the heart. The a cappella group Pentatonix recently recorded a version of the song that carries a strong and powerful message. I offer it to you as my Independence Day gift. You’ll find the five-minute video below. Be sure to watch through to the end. The first part is beautiful, yet it’s the second part that holds the power.
Let this Independence Day be the day that you stand up for the well being of all – for the human spirit. Let it be the day that you speak as clearly as you are able about what you will create, not what you will oppose. Let it be the day that you join with others in a “Persistence Movement” for the co-creation of a world that works.
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