Poverty: Speak Differently, Think Differently, Act Differently

Excellent article from BillMoyers.com  because speaking and thinking about poverty differently will allow us to create different, more effective solutions for change.

Two main points that are the focus of the article:
1. “we need to stop talking about the economy in ways that make it seem like the weather. The economy is a result of the rules we create and the choices we make. The people who are struggling to make ends meet do so because we have built — through intentional choice — an economy that produces inadequate incomes for more than one-third of all Americans. So we need to have a real debate about what to do to build an economy that doesn’t produce such misery.”
2. Instead of saying “poverty” or “the poor” – which is abstract and no one identifies themselves this way – use terms from real experience “such as not being paid enough to cover the bills, making difficult trade offs between basic necessities, inadequate or irregular work hours or not being able to save for retirement or college. Then you have to quickly connect it to shared values. In our research, the most powerful value was family — not only do people identify family as a primary identity but it is the fear or reality of not being able to provide enough for family members that motivates people to get into the debate or take action. (emphasis mine)
To read the full article click:

New Life

carved_goose_eggshell_25112013___1_by_peregrin71-d6vlqgiThe Passover Seder meal and Easter Triduum ritual — are both celebrations of spring and the end of winter, at least in the northern hemisphere. But more than this, both holidays are also celebrations about moving away from what enslaves and diminishes us – into a new and transformed life.

We remember the stories, the history and the courage of a people who envisioned a better life, for themselves and for their communities. They trusted, they persevered and they were willing to sacrifice for empowerment and autonomy, even if it meant death. No small feat.

New life generally requires dying to the way things were. New life means experiencing a death of some kind, whether you are a slave in exodus from Egypt or a crucified criminal as Jesus was proclaimed to be. But the stories teach us that we can trust that there is more than we know. We can trust that God doesn’t want suffering for us. God will bring something wonderful out of the torment and suffering humans inflict on each other — something more beautiful than we can imagine.

We get hints of what transformation can be like. To see more transformations like this carved goose egg shown above, click here.

Happy spring to all – and a wonderful new life!

You may also like Walk Out of the Tomb, You’re Invited! and What is Your Story?

The Gift of Rejection

InnerPeace1Sometimes experiences that are most hurtful can actually be a gift. Such is the case for those who have experienced scapegoating or rejection from those they love. A friend of mine was feeling the pain of having been shut out by most of his genetic family after coming out as a gay man. His father wouldn’t speak to him, his siblings and others refused to return his calls or emails. He was no longer invited to family events. As is often the case, family members were twisting the story to say that he had separated from them, that he had rejected them – to justify their scapegoating behavior.

All of this was truly painful for him – however it was also a gift. This young man had the benefit of knowing immediately who was actually his family. He knew without doubt who in his life would love and accept him unconditionally, as he was, for who he was. He knew immediately who would support him in living an authentic life – and who would not.

Sometimes this knowledge is invisible to us. Until a life-changing event (perhaps a divorce, death, serious illness, or revelation like my friend’s above) we may not realize that some relationships we hold dear are actually not loving at all, not supportive, not accepting.

Similarly, if you witness family members shutting someone out, gossiping or treating others badly, know that given the chance they will very likely do the same to you. Stand up for someone being treated badly – don’t collude with your silence. Don’t participate in the tribal mindset.

If you are unwilling to stand up for someone being mistreated for fear of rejection yourself, then know this: your fear is an indication that you are not being unconditionally accepted – you have already been rejected.

Unlike this young man’s so called “family,” when we really love someone, we want them to live their best life. We want them to leave toxic, abusive relationships or even relationships that make them unhappy or depressed. We aren’t interested in manipulating them or those around them. We don’t begrudge them their success, happiness or joy. Rather, we are interested in deeply listening to the story of their life journey, to their struggles and hopes. Likewise we are willing to share our journey with them too.

True acceptance, deep listening and sharing are the hallmarks of those who are actually our family, regardless of arbitrary genetic linkage. If you have felt the heart-wrenching pain of being abandoned, manipulated, scapegoated or rejected by those you love – see it for the gift that it is. Focus on deepening and encouraging relationships that are supportive and caring. Be with those who love being with you and who you love to be with!

What do you do with your suffering? Use your knowledge and experience of rejection to strengthen your emotional resilience, non-judgment and compassion for others – especially those who are excluded and marginalized. This is the mark of emotional and spiritual health. This is the mark of becoming truly human.

Walking in the Rain

Today it is softly raining and autumn colors are just beginning to show. Time to throw on a raincoat and go walking in the woods . . .

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

Photo A. Meshar

A bit like finding yourself in the middle of a Monet painting – nourishing eyes, heart and soul.

Endlessly Connected

prairie & smoothies 007These last few days of summer vacation before school begins allow for some relaxation and reflection. Recently the prairie in our development was mowed. While it was growing, we could see how butterflies, fireflies, hawks, chipmunks, rabbits, and birds of every color made the prairie their home. Until the prairie returns I’ll miss its color, scent, green coolness and soft textures. The prairie was an entire ecosystem – all interconnected and interdependent – the way our planet is interconnected, but in miniature.

We are a part of this interconnectedness and interdependence. Our health depends on the health of the planet and all the species who exist within its biosphere.

The lie of our culture is that we are somehow separate, competitive individuals. Ancient wisdom and modern science tell a very different story. Greed and violence happen when we are less than human. We are all interconnected and interdependent. Our natural inclination is to cooperate, to support, to care and to collaborate. This is what indigenous cultures have known for thousands of years. This is what the world’s major religions teach.

Because we are interconnected, those who suffer elsewhere on the planet are a part of us. The suffering of others hurts us in ways that we don’t yet understand – but nevertheless it hurts us – even if it is because we may become callous to its existence, our hearts hardened.

Our inability to care for ourselves, each other and the entire planet happens when we are less than who we are meant to be. This inability to care is the root cause of violence on every level – verbal, emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical.

Love and care begin within. Health begins within. We must learn to speak kindly to ourselves within our own minds. We must learn to fully respect our bodies and minds. Eat and drink only what brings health to every cell. Watch and participate in activities that inspire, delight and challenge.

We can endlessly shape and change our minds, bodies and relationships. One practice is to start each day by making just one choice that is healthier than before – either physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. After just two weeks a change can become a habit. Justice begins within.

Those made poor also offer us a chance to open our hearts and grow. They offer us an opportunity to change – to become engaged, to learn about how we create poverty. Those made poor offer us a way to become healthy by becoming more connected, more compassionate, more fully human.