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Showing posts from March, 2008

Do people really change?

I hear alot of talk on blogs that centers on trying to figure out how to change people. Its not so much psychobabble as it is about trying to find out how we can get people to open their eyes and see things differently. But its also about trying to figure out how we can get people to make the kind of changes in their lives that will save the planet, reduce consumption, vote for the right person, protest unjust wars and policies, etc.

Today I'm going back to square one and asking whether or not this is possible...do people really change? Those of you who know a bit about my story might find that a strange question coming from me. I was raised mostly in East Texas in a family/community that is extremely right-wing fundamentalist christian. And up until I started openly asking questions in my 20's, I bought it all. So if I'm any example, of course people can change...and alot!

But the question for me is not so much did I change, but did I find what was there in the first place.…

Right Brain Nirvana

In a comment to my diary below titled "Questions on good and evil," tampopo provided a link to an amazing video that I wanted to highlight here. The speaker is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who teaches at the Indiana University School of Medicine. After years of studying the brain and its chemistry, she had a stoke, and learned some amazing things from the experience. She recently gave a speech titled "Stroke of Insight" at a TED conference where it is summarized like this:

This is a powerful story of recovery and awareness -- of how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

(The speech is about 18 minutes. But its well worth the time)

Renewal

Its Easter today and spring came this week - or so says the calendar. I'm not a Christian, so I'm not celebrating Easter. But I do love the messages associated with this time of year... renewal, rebirth, light from darkness.



This last week has felt confusing to me as we observed the fifth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq followed almost immediately by the advent of spring. It felt like the darkest of nights was pressed too close for comfort against the possibilities of a new day. Emotionally I haven't been able to move that fast. And just to underscore the point, we've gotten 5-6 inches of snow where I live in the last two days. Indeed old man winter is fighting to give way to the coming of spring.

For many of us this winter has been a long one. And I'm not just talking about the weather. The worst of it started 7 and a half years ago when the Supreme Court declared George Bush to be president. That was all followed closely by 9/11, Afghanistan, t…

Questions on good and evil

Sometimes I wonder if four people who have so little in common in how they have lived their lives can all be said to be of the same species. And yet, that is what we have here. Four examples of human beings. My question is this...how does that happen? Perhaps, for some of you, this is not an important question. But to me, it might be the biggest of them all. I obviously want to understand how someone becomes like Archbishop Tutu as opposed to Dick Cheney because I want more Tutu's and less Cheney's. If we can begin to understand how that happens, maybe we can start to fix things, at least for the future.

Of course, some would call it fate or the will of God. I don't buy that. The other way of looking at it involves the nature vs nurture debate. As is our normal habit, we tend to see these things as polarities, ie, its either genetics or environment. If it's all genetics, we're back to fate and the whole question is a moot point. But if environment plays a role, then…

Seeing What Isn't There

A few years ago I watched a documentary about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It had a huge impact on me because after watching it, one question hung in the air: How is it that these women could see so clearly what needed to change when most other women had been accepting the status quo for centuries? We have names for these kinds of people...pioneers and prophets.



A few months later I heard a woman speak about leadership. She said something I'd never heard before...that leadership requires seeing what isn't there. I immediately related that idea to the lives of Anthony and Stanton. They had a vision of what the role of women could be that did not yet exist. And they fought with everything they had to make it happen.

I began to wonder what I wasn't seeing yet.

I think the process of figuring that out takes at least two things. First of all, we have to question most of our assumptions about what currently is. As long as we continue to accept how things are, we'…

WTF Hillary??!!

From The Chicago Tribune:

In a Cabinet-style setting, surrounded by retired military leaders, Sen. Hillary Clinton said the public should ask whether Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama has met the criteria needed to become the nation’s commander in chief.

“I think that since we now know Sen. (John) McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it’s imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold,” the New York senator told reporters crowded into an infant’s bedroom-sized hotel conference room in Washington.

“I believe that I’ve done that. Certainly, Sen. McCain has done that and you’ll have to ask Sen. Obama with respect to his candidacy,” she said.

Calling McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee a good friend and a “distinguished man with a great history of service to our country,” Clinton said, “Both of us will be on that stage having cros…

Be Radical

As many of us try to find ways to change the trajectory of our system both outside and inside the political system, we often run into roadblocks that get in our way of feeling successful. What can we do on a daily basis to create the kind of radical change we're looking for?

I think one of the things that gets in the way of a truly progressive movement is that we keep thinking we have to change everything that's wrong with the world. That usually means we get stuck with having to change what others are doing. Sometimes we can have an impact on that, but its an uphill battle for sure. And when others aren't interested in changing, we feel frustrated. Mohatma Gandhi, on the other hand, challenged us to "be the change we want to see in the world." I believe that's where our power lies...in ourselves.

Another thing that I think gets in our way is that we can feel small and powerless to actually have any impact. We get trapped into feeling like we can’t alter the c…

Reclaiming Awe

One of the many cesspools we'll have to clean up post-Bushco is our language. There are words I find myself avoiding because they have been so tainted with lies and evil that their original meaning has been mutilated. A project like that doesn't rate as high on the priority list as things like ending the war in Iraq, stopping the use of torture, addressing climate change, fixing the economy, and joining with the people of the gulf coast to restore their home. But it is something I hope we can do along the way.

For me, a word that is seriously in need of restoration is "awe." I just hate the fact that every time I hear that word these days, I think of the destruction and death "shock and awe" caused in Iraq. Its such a beautiful word and it was used in the most vile way imaginable. So, my hope is that we will not only end our perpetuation of violence in that country and at least TRY to find a way to make amends for what we have done, but that we will also rec…