A blog about our shared experience…

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Family-ship

Originally posted at Nineteen Months:

“If love and agreement are manifest in a single family, that family will advance, become illumined and spiritual; but if enmity and hatred exist within it destruction and dispersion are inevitable…”

It is entirely natural that we human creatures feel the urge, need and desire to connect to each other. From our earliest moments as a species, that feeling had been a necessary part of survival. We have had those other humans that we were born into, and then those that we grew and developed around…all essential to our learning about our special experience in this universe. We have moved through stages of feeling tied to the safeguarding and protection of the family unit, to the tribe, to the state, to the nation and most recently to the level of the world. Many of us may still have doubts and concerns about that last part, because we are still maturing into that stage, and all of us have not been entirely good at playing nice in this global sandbox…all too often it looks like the children’s game “King of the Hill”, but I have no doubts that we’ll get there…

“…This is likewise true of a city. If those who dwell within it manifest a spirit of accord and fellowship it will progress steadily and human conditions become brighter whereas through enmity and strife it will be degraded and its inhabitants scattered. In the same way the people of a nation develop and advance toward civilization and enlightenment through love and accord, and are disintegrated by war and strife…”

Like so many of us who have been thrust into “adulthood”, not really knowing for sure what that means and requires of us, being at the level of …read the rest of this article


A Little More on Race

Greetings all,
I’m normally reluctant to approach a loaded topic that easily becomes divisive, but I do want to open this space up to explore on it…

I will say up front that no conversation on race(among MANY other topics) is complete, and would be poorly served to be concluded with shallow and superficial treatments on what the deeper roots and causes are of the funny part of our collective experience that we call race.

Here’s a small bit from a conversation I had with a friend, where he asked me a pointed question about my experience with race:

Below are a couple of video posts from Jay Smooth which speak very well to some of the nuances around race that we should reflect on: (more…)


Individualism

Post originally published at Nineteen Months

e·go (g, gn. pl. e·go)
1. The self, especially as distinct from the world and other selves
2. In psychoanalysis, the division of the psyche that is conscious, most immediately controls thought and behavior, and is most in touch with external reality
3 a. An exaggerated sense of self-importance; conceit
b. Appropriate pride in oneself; self-esteem
[New Latin, from Latin, I; see eg in Indo-European roots. Sense 2, translation of German Ich, a special use of ich, I, as a psychoanalytic term.]

The individual units that make up society, each one of us, play a concrete role in how our social reality is shaped. If we buy organic, even the Wal-Marts of the world take notice and change or add to what they stock up on. If we respond to large banks’ taking advantage of people through exorbitant charges by moving your business to local banks and credit unions, the Bank of Americas of the world will trip over themselves to change some long-standing policies. In so many areas of social reality, each individual’s decision makes a difference, and the differences that I’ve thus far described are only economic. Companies like Google have designed a different kind of workplace environment from many companies of their size to improve the creative atmosphere for those doing the innovating, rather than stuffing their employees into bland cell-like cubicles. All this demonstrated to me the power of the individual to shape reality.

The other side of this reality for the individual, though, is what I’ve heard described as “unfettered individualism”, which I understand to be closely related to ideas like “survival of the fittest” and “may the best man win”…a mindset that sees “my driveway”, “my yard”, “my job”, “my space” and the like. In short, ways that we’ve managed to teach ourselves and each other in this country to think of ourselves as …Read the entire post here


Know Thyself?

“When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed freedom, for that is the greater prison. When this release takes place, then one cannot be outwardly imprisoned.”
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

An element of life that manages to come up countless times in conversations I have is the things on which we place value. Some things are measurable like televisions, video game consoles, household income and the like. Then come the things that are much harder to measure like service, kindness, intelligence, spirit, security love and quality time. Some of these things can be essential to one’s feelings about quality of life; others can feel essential to aspiring to higher standards of behavior and living. I feel that each individual must engage in a meaningful and thorough introspective search in order to identify the needs one has that can determine where value lies.

There are some whose feelings regarding security lie at the base of what they value, and many of the things they feel joy from, connection to, and attraction to have everything to do with how much security comes with the relationships they form and how those relationships (more…)


Governance: Unity and Interdependence

An organization whose work I highly respect identified three sets of principles that can assist in a search to rethink governance, one of which is “unity and interdependence”.

I’ve seen trends in my lifetime that have made it clear that we are naturally and inevitably moving toward higher and higher levels of global interdependence: the FAA and international flight travel; the rise of the European Union; and even electronic product availability deeply affected by the earthquake (and its resulting fallout) in Japan all show a global trend that brings to my mind the “human body analogy” that I mention often.

Each of the arrangements mentioned describes an agreement that transcends national boundaries and international rivalries and conflict. Some of it is motivated by economic factors; others seem to be the result of an understanding that the individual units (more…)


Governance

I’ve gone into detail in previous posts about individuals and communities, but have yet to devote much attention to the third participant in society: the institutions. What qualifies as an institution generates a vast and weighty list, including local, national and international organizations; media organizations; governments and their agencies; and the institution of marriage. This spectrum of institutions shares many identifying features, but the one I wish to reflect on is structure.

All institutions have a structure in order to effectively administer to its objectives. What shape that structure takes has everything to do with the approach taken in building it. Many structures are chosen from among the existing models, based on the desired outcomes of that institution.
What I feel must be considered, though, is whether the models currently in existence can effectively administer to the needs of a changing age that requires flexibility and adaptation to meet the exigencies of our time. For instance, in the discourse on politics, there is frequently being voiced a need to think beyond the two-party (Republican vs. Democrat) system, and rethink how we might find a less divisive method of electing officials to serve our country in an official capacity.

This clip from a show called “Crossfire”, which tended to deal with the varied positions in US political matters in an adversarial way, clearly demonstrates to me the power of this rising voice in the discourse to rethink this combative approach to political structures in place:

An analogy that I will refer to frequently is that of the human body. This quote is one of many that Bahá’u’lláh refers to in making clear the interconnectedness (more…)


Cycles of Violence

“During the last six thousand years nations have hated one another, it is now time to stop. War must cease. Let us be united and love one another and await the result. We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment. If we see that unity brings Light we shall continue it. For six thousand years we have been walking on the left-hand path; let us walk on the right-hand path now. We have passed many centuries in darkness, let us advance towards the light.”
-‘Abdu’l-Bahá

I’ve had a heavy occurrence of conversations about human behavior, and in particular, verbal and physical violence, from snide remarks to open war. As is often the case when I notice such patterns, the vast and weighty trail of atrocities that have occurred over time made me think about their source. Reflection on the topic of human atrocity and its connection to “cycles of violence(more…)


Assumption to Reassess: What Motivates Us?

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I believe not that we have souls, but, rather, that we are souls, growing and developing individually and collectively in these vessels that we call bodies. I feel that there’s more to our interests, motivations, and choices than survival, material prosperity and physical pleasures. On a regular basis, I feel selfless love, altruism, humility, detachment, fair-mindedness, a yearning for justice and a willingness to sacrifice for the common good. We presently have few ways to measure or quantify those very real parts of our experience, (more…)


Assumption to Reassess: Are We the Sum of Our Materials?

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet…”
— Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club)

It appears to me that there are models of human nature that have been implemented into policies that we live under that appear to bring us to less-than-favorable results. One of these is the materialistic model of human nature that tells us that consumption and pursuit of sensual pleasure is the path to human happiness. Many reading may feel the compulsion to deny a buy-in to that model, but it remains a powerful standard by which many of us measure our own progress, whether it be physical beauty, fashion, status, sexual fulfillment or the many other things that we process in the dark recesses of our minds.

This excerpt from a book called “One Common Faith” comes to mind:

“Consumer culture, today’s inheritor by default of materialism’s gospel of human betterment, is unembarrassed by the ephemeral nature of the goals that inspire it. For the small minority of people who can afford them, the benefits it offers are immediate, and the rationale unapologetic. Emboldened by the breakdown of traditional morality, the advance of the new creed is essentially no more than the triumph of animal impulse, as instinctive and blind as appetite, released at long last from the restraints of supernatural sanctions. Its most obvious casualty has been language. Tendencies once universally (more…)


Anatomy of a Solution

When I try to look at challenges in my life, my community and in the world, I find it imperative to approach those challenges at the source rather than the symptoms. Having grown up with natural healing and chiropractic as preventative measures before seeking more intensive medical treatment, I feel that the approach of seeking the source of the problem is a good way of assessing what kind of treatment may restore health to system in question.

For example, the spine is the main pathway for messages between one’s brain and the rest of the body, most importantly the organs. If there is a vertebrae out of place, it could potentially cause those vital messages from the brain to be slowed, or far worse, not be sent at all. One can imagine that something that could be perceived to be a heart or liver issue might have been assisted by adjusting the vertebrae so that those organs could receive the regulatory information they needed. One could feel a lack of circulation or pain in their fingers, and choose to apply a pain medication, but would only be alleviating the symptom of a larger problem. In this way, I wish to approach the majority of the issues that come to my mind and attention.

This excerpt from a document entitled “One Common Faith” captures some elements of this idea:

“Few will disagree that the universal disease sapping the health of the body of humankind (more…)