Why Hillary Lost   part 2

At the Womens March this January, the word intersectional

was widely visible.

Google gave me this: “Intersectionality (or intersectional theory) is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination.”

I believe this focus allowed men, women, children, dogs (I saw no cats) of all ages and sizes, economic interests and everyone who wanted to be represented there to be there. It was the most harmonious experience I have ever known; there truly was room for us all.
This mood/feeling was not active during the election. I saw in the young man’s rejection of Hillary (I mentioned yesterday) the cry for separation. Devotion to separation, to the isolation of our own type or group identity was the Cri De Coeur during the interminable period leading up to the vote last year. By the time we voted, we were ready to kill one another.

Last year wasn’t so much about age as attitude. The delicious taste of freedom to hate, to blame, to say things that hadn’t been said “for eight years.” To take ourselves to such an extreme focus as not to see anything else.

We must seek a better outcome. To be here in this human body, on this earth plane is to seek wholeness and the more we include, the better off we are. We depend on the tree, the bee, the lion and all who show up here. There is nothing among us expendable or valueless. Please join me in listening to the originator of this most useful word. Let Kimberle Williams Crenshaw speak from her Ted Talk to all our hearts.

The Mine Field

So much news – fake and true – is swirling about. So much to respond to, react, beware, act on. So many petitions to sign, money sought and I want to give. I want to give my heart and mind to the mysteries of this immediate life. I don’t know what will happen next. Some, more prescient than I, have noted the coming of these times and predicted them. I didn’t notice. Where was I? I was basking in my liberal world, so many gains I thought unassailable. I didn’t see it coming. My eyes were filled with tears of joy for me, for my “other identified” friends and loved ones. Where was I? I was in Washington D.C. which finally felt safe. I was in the corners of this Rebublic where I finally felt safe.

Will I be able to sift through all this information? Will I be able to know what is true from what isn’t?

Luckily for me I subscribe to a Buddhist newsletter – unluckily for me, even after way over three decades of adherence to this philosophy, I find it nearly impossible to implement – easily.

OK, so nothing’s easy. I get that. I really get that now! Here, for instance, is advice under the heading, “There Is No Blame.”

OK, right there I’m behind, not up to speed on this one. All I’ve been looking for is who and what to blame! “There are no human enemies,” says Sylvia Boorstein, “only confused people needing help.”

I couldn’t agree more – about the needing help bit. And the confused, ignorant people. Exactly how I see it, yes.

I listened to Van Jones express his fear of the people who voted for the president-elect. He said he was afraid of his supporters, not those who voted for him – he might agree with me that they are the confused needing help. No, he said, it is the people who support him in his daily tweets/life, the ones who give him policy ideas and recommendations for cabinet members.

It’s hard to think about the powerful having more power and easy for me to fall into the well of complicity in thinking I have no power to help the earth hold us all better. I have as much power as I ever did, it is there for me to take when I get through my distractions.

Blame, anger and despair are my chief distractions now and I look at them as resistance to action, excuses, if you will. The seduction of finding and assigning fault feeds the Ouroboros of my anger. Taking Sylvia’s lead – reading her article to the end – I leave you with a quote.

—“the familiar image of an infant left in a basket on a doorstep with a note pinned to its blanket: “Please take care of me.” The natural impulse, for all of us, would be to pick the baby up, to care for it. I try to think about the world as an abandoned baby, left in dire straits by parents who could not care for it well. Could we be the benevolent agents who pick it up and, without blaming, take care of it?”

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LET’S GET REAL

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not change the world of the black men and women – the grandparents of the men dying today and yesterday and the day before – who were alive in that year. But it did put the possibility of equal rights in our minds if not our hearts.
In 1963 I was traveling with my husband and four month old baby daughter across a vicious ice storm in the Oklahoma panhandle. We were freezing cold in the night of slanting sheets of ice, our VW Bus only heated with acceleration and we were hardly making any headway to bring on the heat.
Kennedy had just been assassinated and nothing felt sure or clear in our young lives. We were heading to Monterrey California to the Army Language School where my husband would learn French and probably be sent to Vietnam. (He ended up not going to Viet Nam – in its wisdom the army sent him to Germany because he already spoke German fluently.)
We saw in the storm ahead a glowing motel sign, it was late, our daughter was crying, we were bone tired after driving since four that morning. We walked into the office, there was a black couple ahead of us. The man behind the counter told them there were no more rooms. I pulled my husband’s sleeve. “Let’s go,” I said. He said, “wait,” without looking at me. I hesitated and stayed behind while he went to the counter. The man smiled, “last room, sir,” he said.
I wish I could say that I got the other couple and we shared the room but they were gone and I was shocked into numbness. In that moment I didn’t understand. I looked at my husband and was about to say something like, “but I thought they had no room.” Maybe I did, I don’t know. I only know my own confusion, my distaste for the experience and my wish for change.
There are thousands like me, who want change and who have ideals about how “things could be better.” But the walls I ran into, run into are like the ones from my childhood where I had to sit through movies like The Robe and others of that genre, scared, in a seat alone because the people who brought me could not sit with me. They were taking me on their days off because my parents were neglectful but they could not take care of me by sharing my space – or me sharing theirs. It would take me years to figure that out by myself, nothing was ever said and now I know they could have gotten arrested if someone had noticed. I’m glad children were not “seen or heard” while I was growing up.
This has not gone away.
Yes, there is progress, but the opportunities of the races are not the same, not even close. You know it and I know it. The difference between 1963 with no Civil Rights Act and after its signature in 1964 and years following, was none. Twenty years, thirty, forty – the motel manager – depending on where it was located – probably wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did. But I am very cynical about what people can get away with. The disadvantaged are targeted at the same rate they were when I was growing up, the banks, the realtors, the school districts are little different. How could we have so much “no change” if things were actually enforced? Why would we still need busing if we have equalized our neighborhoods? We haven’t equalized anything. We are awash with bullets now, then we had ropes and we still have the attitudes of the men, and the women behind them, in white sheets holding their ideas, their customs, their entitlements as shield and sword for their intolerant righteousness.
We need better. Too long have we looked upon most of what we see around us as “other.” Whether an animal or a tree or the earth itself, we think, doesn’t have sensations, feelings, intelligence.
Do yourself a favor, don’t name. It’s the first step in separation. We know enough now to have discovered that there exists communication – communion – all around us. Look for communion. Take it when you feel it. Let your nascent or sophisticated vision of your universe expand. Expand with it.
John Muir said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he[sic] finds it attached to the rest of the world.” And don’t be looking to be right or smart, Muir walked through miles and acres of American Native cultivation thinking it was “wild” land. It was, we all have different ways to cultivate. Get to know yours.
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Earth Day

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Earth Day: The History of A Movement

“Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.”

Today, call it Earth Day or anything you like, is a day just like any other. It is what we – each one of us – makes of it.

Morning Poem
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

 

Silence is Deadly

I’ve been quiet. I notice it’s hard for me to think what to say. This has happened before. When I am waiting for someone and something out of my control to make a decision that will change my life, I get really quiet.

A few years ago in 2004 I stood in front of a tribunal of congregates, my peers and colleagues in a Congregational church of which I was a trustee. A meeting was held among parishioners to vote whether or not Paula and I could get married in the physical body of the church. A number of parishioners turned out for discussion. Another group wrote notes and e-mails to the minister who had been preaching equality in sermon after sermon. There was a note to him mentioning that if Paula and I could marry then he could marry his grandson and keep his healthy retirement package in his family for as long as he could foresee.

And if I found that argument specious, there were more to choose, some I knew about, many I didn’t. People who knew me would ask me why I was attempting. Why was I in the church at all? The answer for me was that my daughter had asked – she later regretted it! – to participate in various church-related activities. Paula and I showed up. It’s what I say to anyone who asks – “show up, be reliable, be ready to love.” Now I’m more likely to add, “be ready to be loved,” and in its absence, vacate the space!

I didn’t come out until after Stonewall, after I had my children, after I had grown up not knowing there was “one more thing” to be different about. I appreciate that, I wasn’t ready to face the world of the 50’s with that much difference. In the spring of 1969 I was 25 with two children and as far away as I could get from my “upbringing.”

Later a lover’s mother would call my mother for support and succor. When asked how she felt about my being a lesbian my mother said, “oh, I have two other children, I don’t have to think about Pam at all.” She had said to me years before to “keep That in Boston, don’t bring It here.” I didn’t.

And that brings me to my wondering now, as we wait for DOMA, is our silence not helpful to those who would we were not here? I grew up where silence was the default for anyone not in the clear majority. When I would speak up it was assumed I was not telling the truth or that I was making it up. I truly think that today we have such “fast” change because we have been allowed the mainstream for a while. We have turned up, shown up, been counted and not made much of a difference. I used to joke when marriage was first an option that a line around the city hall in a few towns was about what people were going to see. We are not so many and our influence is not about sexual orientation. We are like everyone else. I think that’s what’s so funny to me, our perceived impact is huge compared to our mass.
The arguments against our civil rights would be funny if I weren’t dependent on them to tell me where I can stand.

Rhythm

A friend called me and asked why I hadn’t posted for awhile. I guess I got out of rhythm and I’m having my second cataract surgery on Thursday this week. It’s “simple” but still involves my eyes so not so simple really. After the first surgery 3 weeks ago it was quite miraculous to see clearly – out of one eye! So my brain’s a bit fuddled and monovision does not a depth perceiver or a reader make. I’m looking forward to getting back to balance – literally. She suggested a fuzzy photo as a way of explanation, for me I’m just waiting to type without my face so close to the screen!

Also the election left me confused. After a lot of phone banking, hand-wringing and poll cursing I’m left with a lot of wins – confusing to this stubborn rebel looking for change. I’ve spent my life so far working to right what I consider wrongs. I grew up with signs for “coloreds only” and am used to civil wrongs and unequal lots of things. So it is exhilarating to meet with co-workers on phone banks to talk about building on the wins we’ve just won. I find myself planning to work even harder to bring sanity to what has become a polar and very parochial election process.

In the sixties I was elated to be part of a generation of iconoclasts who did I think stop the war in Viet Nam, who did open society to huge change and I’m proud of that. What I find disturbing is that more of those ideas haven’t stayed around. I find it disturbing that the battles weren’t won. Some are forgotten – who thinks of the ERA on any consistent basis. Why should we have to have the Lilly Ledbetter Act, as important as it is, when the Equal Rights Amendment  would have made it unnecessary.

So, with my next lens, I want to help create news to remember, news that turns to history and policy and something the generations to follow can build on and trust. I want to see clearly to build a foundation on what we’ve done and what we will do. I want to stand next to all of you, different views, opposing positions, and varying abilities yet loyal to the larger commitment that each of us has a right to pursue happiness, peace and lives of our choice.

I hope each one of us will put down out partisan signs and put out energy and faith for all of us. We have a lot to do and it’ll be easier to work together.

 

What Matters

Paula has been up in New Hampshire since last month. She and campaign workers of all ages have been working in states near and far to them for months. Yes most of them are younger, without homes, jobs and families to take care of while those of us who have those things do what we can. We cross borders to help. For disasters, family gatherings, celebrations of all kinds.

I live in an area of three states where a few steps takes you into another tax rate, school system, set of rules and regulations. When Paula and I moved from Massachusetts, where we were legally married, to Connecticut where we had to do a ceremony with a justice of the peace to get some of the rights we had left behind reinstated, we joked that if we moved to New York, which we abut, we would have to do something else. At the time – six years ago – each state was separate and unequal.

Now they all recognize us. Cross pollination of people and ideas, different ways of being has made it easier to see the humanity in us all. When we cross a barrier we take a step in the unknowable. How will we create change, how will we be changed. I know for my own self that when I went door to door campaigning for Obama last election my life was changed forever. I am not easy with people, shy in a crowd, even shyer at your doorstep. In 2008 all the passion I experienced in my life – the civil rights movement, all the issues of the 60’s, Stonewall, and Equal Rights – came into play. I felt these issues come together in a tsunami of action I could take and believe a difference would be made.

I went door to door with a man I respected as very savvy, very used to the world I was stepping into. At the end of each day he remarked on my effectiveness, my ability to inspire and my compassion. He hardly said a word, he let me lead. Transformation. I don’t think others were as surprised as I was. The fire within me had found a place to go and a voice to give it oxygen. When I was going house to house I felt I was making the difference I was born to. I felt like the story I’d heard of the man on the beach after a storm putting stranded fish back into the ocean. When someone looked at him and the miles of beached fish and said, “you’re not making much of a difference,” and he replied, “I am to this one and this one and this one,” as he picked fish after fish and put them in the water.

I am changed by my actions. By reaching out I got feedback I couldn’t have gotten otherwise. As we get to know each other, we change. As we reach out to touch we are touched. We are not acting without the combined actions of people worldwide who we may never meet but whose light, air and water we share. If there is inequality of opportunity there is no peace among us. Yes, we are different and we don’t have to like what each one of us does or doesn’t do, but we share what we share – this earth, this life, this time – and peace within diversity is our choice. Take yourself out into the world. Stand your ground. Be a friend, love yourself, know you are loved.

Democracy

Susan Griffin writes in her 2008 book Wrestling With The Angel of Democracy, “…whenever you restore what has been excluded or repressed from your mind, you also rekindle the vitality of your thought.”

Though the consequences are often concealed, exclusion has a deadening effect on our conscience, our affect. Whether we are talking about rape, race or religion, when we leave  our hearts out of the equation, when we distill a thing beyond its essence, we loose our morality.

Today new ways to read, to learn, to listen and be heard are invented and manufactured every second. We have i-Everything, Kindles, Nooks and all manner of distribution of ideas and images. No image will make us a better person, a wiser neighbor by itself. We must create our own humanity in every moment.

In this moment of democratic trials it is often hard to find democracy. Where in all the talk is freedom, where the Declaration of Independence? Emerson said, “you must Be the Declaration of Independence.”  Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Be Peace” has been a slogan and call to action.

Where are we if we are not “here now?” Where are our hearts and minds when we speak glibly of rape or inequity of pay or opportunity? Where is freedom if we are denied choice or we cannot love and marry who we choose? Where is liberty when we are denied the basic justice that comes from someone listening to us?

Who says all this and who listens? We become numb to inequality. We loose ourselves in vapid debate. We repeat and hear repetition, say what has been said to us, losing our souls in the process.

Let us not turn our hearts where our minds go. Let’s look ourselves in the eye and say, “I am intelligent with my heart and mind, I am curious and without judgement, I am loving and I don’t leave myself out of any of it.”

John Franklin Stephens, a young man with Down syndrome published this letter to Ann Coulter. It is a must-read!


Mystical Fire

This is a mud painting with the mud obscured. One of my fervent readers named it “Mystical Fire.” I like that name so much, I took it! I come from the mud, grew up with it but have no earth in my natal astrological chart. I got it elsewhere. The fire is in the chart, big time. And we’re all mystics. We all have a lift to our souls and hearts, we all feel the music of the spheres, the voices we share.

One of the funnest things I get to do everyday is set people on the path of their own genius. I get to show them how beautiful, how smart, how creative they are. I get to listen to the music of their minds and parse their brilliance. It’s a wonderful thing to do – I was going to say “life,” but I thought that was too much!

For me the painting shows me we are connected to that which we do not know, cannot see but feel, intuit, love. There are parts of ourselves we inhabit and other parts we travel to in moments of bliss, pain, desire. Our notion of what we can do, of what is ours never quite butts up against the real thing, the real Us. The real Us is like sunrise or sunset. It seems fleeting even though it’s there all the time. But those moments when we see ourself in that best light are the moments we let the whole trajectory of our life just be. We can rest in the knowledge that we have enough to do the next round, and the next. We trust. We believe. This is faith. It can be grasped, it can be taught, it can be anyone’s inheritance. It is within reach.

I love this poem from W. H. Auden

 

Wandering lost among the mountains of our choice,
Again and again we sigh for an ancient South,
For the warm nude ages of instinctive poise,
For the taste of joy in the innocent mouth.Asleep in our huts, how we dream of a part
In the glorious balls of the future; each intricate maze
Has a plan, and the disciplined movements of the heart
Can follow for ever and ever its harmless ways.We envy streams and houses that are sure:
But we are articled to error; we
Were never nude and calm like a great door,

And never will be perfect like the fountains;
We live in freedom by necessity,
A mountain people dwelling among mountains.

W. H. AudenIn Time of War XXVII (1938)