at the crossroads

hecate-1

‘Hecate’ by Claudia Olivos, olivosartstudio.com

For the past six weeks, I participated in an on-line course with Mary Pierce Brosmer about making meaning of our post-election world. Accordingly, I suspended my plan for a multi-part ‘divided we fall’ series here. Instead, I have spent the intervening weeks reading a wide range of texts including but not limited to John McCain’s February 17th remarks at the Munich Security Conference; selections from Leonard Cruz and Steven Buser’s A Clear and Present Danger, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, and Ken Wilber’s Trump and a Post-Truth World, among others.

We spent six weeks reading, sharing remarkably relevant poems written long since, writing and sharing our words, discussing, questioning, opening our hearts to difference and our minds to ‘what next.’ During this same six weeks, I traveled twice to southwestern PA to be with my sister in her final days; welcomed my third grandchild into a family filled with February birthdays; and sat with several of ‘my’ prison writers through unimaginable trauma and personal tragedy.

Clearly, this has been a time rich with change on so many levels, transformations both anticipated and not. Above all, it has been a time to open up, expand information sources, broaden opinions and challenge my role in the larger world. While a continuing work in progress, I did not want to remain silent any longer on this page. As a result, I share here my final writing for that life-questioning course of words and ideas – and intentions for going forward. Next time I will return to ‘divided we fall – 2.’

Thank you for reading. And as always, I welcome – no, encourage! – your thoughtful responses to what you read here.

AT the CROSSROADS
That November crossroads stemmed from the tangle of tarnished truths
but I was slow to go there, lost as I was in the thicket of win-lose
when the multi-faceted is what I believe. Now we are offered
loyalty or disdain, history or ignorance, hope or despair.

How can this be our only choice? We have arrived at a crossroads
of morality. And though multiply manifest, it is the voice
of truth that must prevail, the voice of compassion
for us all – earth, sea, sky, collective spirit and soul.

I knew the night birth and death converged that we are in
for deep transformation, needing not to ‘get over’ or past
but to spell truth – yours, mine, ours. A time to speak out
past the divide and into the void, to speak without ceasing.

Thus am I pulled to provide all that I can – insight
and light to help guide the lost from personal hells,
reunite torn-apart mothers with daughters, guarding
ground and reason until mutual respect shall

in deed reign, parting the darkness of derision and disgust.
We must persevere until light seeps through every crack,
shattering false divisions to reveal the common bedrock
of our shared humanity.
swb (c) 2017

divided we fall – I

constitutionbanner-unitedwestandllcI pen this post with compassion and concern for the emotionally triggering rhetoric swirling about us like so many tops. My intention is to seek shared understanding from which to move forward.

The news – fake, real, and alternative –seems designed to and interpreted as creating divisions, assigning blame, obfuscating truth. We are all in this turbulent mix. Whether we identify as Republican or Democrat, pro-life or pro-environment; whether we are more concerned about our basic humanity or our next paycheck, how our food is produced or how it will make it to our tables; we are all Americans with a mix of legitimate concerns which defy the neat categorizations of the past.

And I believe messaging is what is dividing us, far more than substance. Because the messages create an either/or extreme of acquiescence or defiance, admitting neither debate nor inclusion of difference. This is not how democracy works.

I understand why it seems refreshing, after eight years of stalemate in Congress, to witness a flurry of action in such a short time. I was as frustrated as the next person at the hobbling of the last administration. But the answer is not wanton destruction of what we stand for as a people, as a nation.

Can we not advocate with BOTH passion AND civility? Can we not embrace difference for what it teaches us with honest debate? Can we not possess BOTH a moral compass AND respect for facts?

We cannot allow ourselves to be led into unbridgeable polarization. Blind opposition to one another’s humanity can only lead to dehumanization and violence. In that, we all lose. Let us instead seek out opportunities for respectful communication and discourse.united-we-fall

freedom . . . with responsibility

Credit: socialdesigner

Credit: socialdesigner

Yesterday I could not write my weekly Friday post. There were no words. Instead I somewhat aimlessly scrolled through others’ posts, responding here and there. Today I am doubly challenged by what I have heard: sadness, of course. Prayers and solace for a reeling community. Also questions, blame, despair. And occasional reasoned cadences for change.

I have lost a child to a violent death. I have lived with an unpredictable head-of-household who harbored a gun, holding me hostage to fear. I am part of a family politically divided in the extreme whose love for one another transcends even those irreconcilable differences. I am by training and by temperament a change agent, a conscious feminine leader who strives by living example to hold the ever-growing paradoxes of both . . . and.

AND I am a lifelong adherent to ‘freedom with responsibility.’

Much of what I read yesterday railed at the failures of public education, our mental health system, public policy, politics.  It’s not a new concept that what created a problem can not be what ultimately fixes it. That’s because what is needed, at the point of so much brokenness, is a new approach. Old solutions have lost their resonance. As in not currently relevant.

I have neither the ability nor the space here to prescribe a plan for change that will fix everything. But I do have an observation I feel we would all to well to take to heart.freedom-responsibiity quote

We are in this together. What happened in Newtown could happen, has happened, in Anywhere, USA. There is no blame that doesn’t come round to include us, each and every one. It is our mindset that underlies the essential challenges of communicating and working toward real, viable and sustainable change.

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not political . . . really?!

I am not a politically active creature. Ever since ‘feminism’ first marbled across my lips, even sank into my taste buds, I have heard ‘the personal is political.’ The fundamental impact of those words, however, eluded me. For a time.

Fast forward to the coursing of ‘conscious feminine’ through my whole being – about concurrent with the National Declaration of Either/Or; add in my calling to write with incarcerated women; and I now find myself awake in a cold sweat, day and night, feverish to address everything at once.

And yet – I keep missing my self-appointed Friday blog date with the conscious feminine. Last night I learned why: I am outraged. Sputtering. Speechless, almost. At the Great National Divide between Those Who Think and, well, everyone else. It seems the latest national past time (and it’s WAY passed time for this to end) has become to elevate the lowest common denominator to the highest law of the land. Through repetition of the patently absurd (think ‘you can’t get pregnant from rape’). Where I come from, repeated wishful thinking never did make it so. A variant on Albert Einstein’s famed definition of ‘insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’

You can see how distant I keep myself from today’s political tactics.

What on earth is going on here? Well, dear Reader, it turns out we all – yes, women AND men – have urges. For sex, power, violence; as well as genuine desire for opportunity and the well-being of our citizens. AND we live, for better and worse, in a society. Which means we are in it together. What we say matters. How we act matters. Yet, along with reality and civil discourse, we seem to have lost sight of our basic God-given abilities to think, to reason. To listen. To reflect. With respect for difference; not the all-too-common derision or defiance, the coarsest acts of deception which have become the de rigeur standard of discourse by our would-be leaders.

Let’s focus on other d-words, like decency and decorum. I’ll even settle for democracy: that’s at least about the people, not a handful of very rich men asserting their unthinking opinions over and over again, hoping to move us toward change. The thinking man Einstein had it right: that’s just insanity.

English: Albert Einstein's signature Hrvatski:...

English: Albert Einstein’s signature  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

wholeness is possible

Source: motherpeace.com

“Wholeness is possible when human qualities, now usually designated as masculine or feminine, are seen as part of the spectrum for everyone.” So writes wise woman Jean Shinoda Bolen. And when you consider that ‘heal’ comes from the same root as ‘whole,’ it really makes a whole lot of sense.

In our culture that works so diligently to divide head from body, body from feeling, human from nature, politics from reality – to pit one against the other, creating a false and compelling sense of hierarchical value . . . I find myself thinking – a LOT – about healing into wholeness. As I also do when, as now, I am holding internal intensity at two ends of a seemingly irreconcilable spectrum.

The other morning I pulled a Motherpeace Tarot card from the deck spread out before me. The four of wands emerged, its golden background highlighting four young women celebrating their rite of passage with joyful abandon around a circle, centered on an altar to life. ‘Each holds a wand, symbolic of the masculine energy being integrated into their lives as they enter adulthood. The symbolism of four is stability, the four directions creating a space where something special can occur.’

I have pulled this card before at times of transition in my work. I can be very goal-oriented when it comes to moving forward with running my business, readily getting caught up in the external details of plans, schedules and deadlines. At the same time, without the centering and balancing awareness of my connection with Earth, her seasons, the four directions and their powers, I would lose both purpose and meaning of the work I’m striving to build. Without centering ground, I would be little more than hot air.

Isn’t it time to heal the divides that keep being hammered at us – or rather, driven between and among us? From where I stand, the only outcome of this trajectory is ever-increasing extremism, fear-mongering and the almost certain destruction of everything truly meaningful. What about the more realistic, sustainable and inclusive concept of integration?

What the world does not need is ego-driven leaders hungry for blind power. Nor does it need the rest of us to sit back and follow blindly as if we had no ability to think for ourselves or contribute to the common weal. What we need is wholeness—within and among us—of clear rational thinking and decisive action guided by compassion, vision and inclusion. We need to grow up past adolescent finger-pointing doings and move into ourselves as whole, integrated beings. How we will get there is through acknowledging the values, needs, hopes and fears we share as people, first and foremost. We are in this together. Isn’t it time we started to act that way?