Whose idea is this, anyway?

My favorite TV ad features a big eyed, sad faced, muppet-like creature that nobody wants around. Ignored by all, left to sleep next to the trash bin in a dirty back alley, it wanders from place to place, dragging its scraggly tail behind it ,until one kind soul finally opens a door and invites it inside. As it walks out of the darkness and into the light its raggedness gradually transforms, until, behold! It is magically reborn, sporting luminous rainbow colored plumage, while an audience of admirers generously cheers it on.

This heart rending spot is about ideas 

How we fear, resist and ignore them, leaving them to find their way up through the cracks of our lives far too often., I’m surprised at how good we are at doing this. And how ignorant we are of what we’re doing, most, if not all of the time.

 I’m equally surprised at how easilly we get caught in this trap ,ignoring even a brilliant  idea whose time came, so many years ago, when we first opened our doors to people, from around the world, desperate  to escape horrendous conditions, seeking comfort upon our safe, un-war torn  shores.
In a comment in the November 9th edition of The New Yorker on line
George Packer reminds us that “In the Second World War, Congress passed legislation that made resettlement in the U.S. harder for Jewish victims of Nazism than for Germans uprooted by the war Hitler started. The chairman of the Senate’s immigration sub-committee presented the problem with a loathsome flourish,  stating, ‘Many of those who seek entrance into this country have little concept of our form of government. Many of them come from lands where Communism had its first growth and dominates the political thought and philosophy of the people.’  Does this sound familiar?  Why doesn’t he just say what he means. (Too many of them are Jews. We thought that problem was disposed of)
Only the angry persistence of President Harry S. Truman got Congress to expand the numbers and remove the discriminatory provisions. so they too could live and flourish.”
New and foreign people (like new and foreign ideas) scare us.
Who knows what beliefs they harbor. What harm they might do? Do they hate us or love us? Will they adapt, or will they flounder in the thick soup of “American exceptionalism?”
At first, I was torn. But after slogging through my future- based fears the choice became clear: its time for our compassion challenged* country, which gives such easy lip service to “freedom and liberty for all,”  to do what it was created to do, by honoring the highest of its ideas and ideals.
 I hope that’s not too much to ask. Or is it?
Here’s an image to move this idea along:
Coming Home
See before you the Statue of Liberty.
See her raising her lamp higher, and beckoning the lost and homeless to Freedom’s Shore.
Become as one with her, as you sense, feel and live how it is to walk the talk of liberty and, freedom for all.
Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.
*The “Idea” ad is from GE.
* Compassion challenged is a term used by Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, in her November 3rd column on the plight of the homeless, as exacerbated by the law.

 

 

 

They voted Right: Or Is It Left?

Did you hear it? Was it loud enough? Do they get it yet? A resounding YES just echoed throughout the land. The Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to keep the Affordable Care Act in tact. Millions, including one of my very dear friends, have been saved from being thrown back into the pit of disregard and hardship advocated by those those who would have given almost anything (except their own privilege) to see this grand accomplishment go down. Foiled! The brilliant and beautiful Black Man in the White House has pulled it off again. Sorry. Too bad. La di da. La di da. La di da.

I dare say this has been a good week. Out with the confederate flag. In with Obamacare. What’s next. I bet, hope, and pray, we go three for three. The odds are good. The wind is at our backs. Any takers?

We never know what things may come.  All we do know is our intention and our willingness to follow through. Here’s an image for momentum and resilience. Use it and see what happens.

 Beating the Drum

Close your eyes, exhale through your mouth, and imagine you’re standing within a circle of light. See, feel and sense how you are beating a drum that sends out a clear and powerful message. See all those who hear this message responding to its rhythm and coming to join you. See them entering your circle and see this circle growing larger. Hear the drumbeats flowing out into the universe, becoming stronger and clearer. Feel them resonating in your heart and in the hearts of others. See and sense what happens. Then breathe out and open your eyes.

 

About what’s happening in Baltimore

What’s  going on in Baltimore?
My eyes, like everyone else’s, tell only a miniscule part of the story. What are people thinking? Where do we go from here? How do we gain traction? How do we stop going from one Baltimore to another?  Another murder. Another loss. Another riot, or rally or speech. The same awful pictures spinning out endlessly on TV. Soon becoming one big blur.

How do we sort it out? Have it make sense. Find the value, the good, the light? How do we use any of this? Anywhere? Anytime. Ever?

People come forward. Neighbors, church groups, and area leaders. Families and friends step up, put themselves on the line between rioters and police. They clean up the mess, stand together in harms way to work toward some kind of peace.

 A Star is born

The new Baltimore State’s Attorney, young, and fiery, and righteous, with a family lineage of law enforcement backing her up, has filed criminal charges against six Baltimore cops. She says “No one is above the law! ”

The people cheer. The union balks and threatens. The media is stunned and heartened. A great story. Action. Cameras. Ready, Set, go!

 The charges include:

Second degree depraved heart murder.*

Involuntary manslaughter.

Second degree assault.

But what will happen if this moment of vindication fails to be followed by convictions? Will it be enough to keep the peace? Is anything enough unless the roots of poverty and deprivation, of ignorance and prejudice,  of lack, and rage and hopelessness, and fear, are addressed? Can justice finally be done?

The head of the police union, insists: “None of the officers involved are responsible.” Really?

It’s a long shot. From here to China, at least. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Note* Depraved-heart murder, also known as depraved-indifference murder, is an action where a defendant acts with a “depraved indifference” to human life and where such act results in a death. In a depraved-heart murder a defendant commits an act even though they know their act runs an unusually high risk of causing death or serious bodily harm to someone else. 

Any questions. . . ?

 Imagery

Though most of us have not intentionally or knowingly done things that have resulted in serious injury or death to another, many of us have committed thoughtless, even mean-spirited deeds that resulted in emotional, mental or spiritual harm to another. You may use the following image to regenerate a hard, defensive, or thoughtless heart.

Healing the Inconsiderate Heart

Close your eyes and exhale a long breath through your mouth. Return to your normal breathing and go inside yourself to the place of  your heart, which you now hold  gently in your hands.  Massage your heart with loving care. Feel the hard, defended, areas releasing. As this occurs, see, sense and know that your heart is opening. Live and know how it is to experience the world, and yourself,  with an open, loving, and considerate heart. Then breathe out and open your eyes, knowing all is well.

Home on the Range: Parenting Without Borders

The Washington Post, my default paper since I left New York, ran yet another story this week about Free Range Parenting. Until I wrote this blog, I was up for grabs on it. Now, maybe not.

In case you haven’t heard, Free Range Parenting is a term conceived by families who permit  their children to navigate their home neighborhoods without chaperones at their heels, going hither and yon with the intention that they do so freely and fearlessly  While letting children roam a bit was not an issue when I grew up in the Bronx, or when my daughter walked to school on her own by the time she was seven, and my eight year old son took two busses from East 20th Street to Greenwhich Village five days a week, solo, it is now. A big one!  Not just for the families themselves but for those who choose to become self-appointed guardians of other people’s lives by way of reporting these events to police and social services like some suburban SS force — never directly to the parents themselves. Why get involved?.

There’s trouble, and people are taking sides.

When this past week, two children aged ten and six were dropped off by their parents at a neighborhood park behind my building in downtown Silver Spring, an area where kids play all the time, someone saw them walking home and called the police. The police took the bait, convinced the kids to get into the squad car just two blocks from their house, and held them there for three hours without letting the parents know that they had them in tow. Clearly, punishment due (though not labeled thus by the authorities) for the parents having already transgressed in this way once before.

Okay. Enough about police tactics and naive parenting over which we have no say. These parents need to do two things:

1. Find another way to deal. Just being “right” doesnt cut it.

2. Create a different name for their parenting program (this one reeks of idiocy).

Children are not chickens. Best not to set them free to be scared silly by ill trained cops who stuff them in a squad car, refuse to let them go to the bathroom, fail to give them somthing to eat, and neglect to notify their parents, But this is the world we live in. Pretending or wishing it otherwise won’t make it so.

I once asked a friend,from the rural midwest what he did in the summer while we New York kids went to camp. “We got up, ate breakfast, got on our bikes and didnt go home until dinner time,” he said.

Indeed. The world has changed.  A few years back,,police would not have gone looking for these kids unless the family called in a missing child report. But lets not react by sticking our heads in the sand. I hate to say it, but: it is what it is.  And though we can’t reverse time, we can exert a good bit of influence by the way we think, behave, and live our lives.

Form Children-ing Groups

My solution is this: there’s safety in numbers. Instead of “parenting groups” form “Children-ing” groups. Have the kids walk in packs like teenagers. How many of them could they possibly stuff in a squad car then?.

Beauty and the Beast: The Ultimate Triumph of Anita Hill

Who knows what made me turn on my TV at 1 a.m. last Wednesday. I’m a night owl, but once I turn the thing off, it usually stays that way. Yet the spirit moved me. And with a flick of the switch I was transported to October of 1991, when I first bore witness to those infamous hearings where Anita Hill, a young black law professor was being quizzed by an all male senate committee about her claim that she’d been sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas who was being considered for a seat on the Supreme Court. The atmosphere was rife with testosterone. And it wasn’t long before I could see this woman was in trouble,

Justification for Night Owls

But this time I saw it all from a distance. Like a Chuck Close painting, the whole portrait instantly appeared. Painful. Yet, glorious and complete. And as I watched the documentary ”Anita: Speaking Truth to Power,” and saw Ms. Hill’s journey through the labyrinth of senatorial prejudice and ineptitude, I felt not only had she been vindicated, but so had I. And so had millions more who dared to stand up for their personal truth from that moment forward.

Risk takers beware!

Initially, it appeared she had lost, that Thomas had gotten away with his masquerade. His strategy was brilliant. The one brilliant thing I can recall him doing over these past 24 years. He claimed her testimony and the hearing was a “high tech lynching for uppity blacks.” He spewed rage; he bullied the committee into an embarrassed submission and the whole event went south. The slight possibility of Hill’s triumph was lost in Republican self-righteousness, and Democratic cowardice.The committee split its vote. The decision on Thomas’ appointment went to the Senate. And he was approved, 52 to 48 — the narrowest margin in a century. It was a blot on all those involved. One that shall remain in tact forever.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, what a life this woman has led. Though there were calls for her dismissal, she kept teaching. She became an inspiration for those who wanted and needed her to shine a light into the darkness of sexual harassment and lead the way to freedom. Ah, freedom. Nothing like it. No bending over backward to please others, to fit in, to be accepted. And thus, she became a model of how to live this ethic for women throughout this country and the world.

In the beginning of the film, we hear a phone message from Ginni Thomas, made twenty years later, asking Hill for an apology,” for what you did with my husband.Yes. Mrs. Thomas said “with,” not “to.” A Freudian slip? A sexual slur? However she intended it, it was insulting. And ultimately unhinged.

When you deal with insanity, never say you’re sorry

Ms. Hill did not call back. No apology was made. Nor will it be. Ever!

At the end of the film, Anita Hill says that “honesty, dignity, and courage is what will always be remembered.”

I hope she’s right.

Some people tell me they don’t watch TV.  As though it’s not worth it. Not worthy of their time. But when I tune in at 1 a.m., on a freezing cold winter night in D.C., and get to see Anita Hill still standing her ground, I have no idea what they’re talking about.

Use this visualization to stand your own ground, and to become your own hero. It’s a good tool to have in reserve.

Become Your Own Hero 

Close your eyes and breathe out one time.

See and sense how it is to become your own hero. Know that you are connected to your Source. Imagine this Source as coming from above and beyond you, from the highest and most powerful. See and sense the blue-golden light of courage and truth emanating from this Source and streaming through you, from the top of your head through every cell and bone in your body. Feel this powerful light strengthening and emboldening your entire body and mind. As your own hero, see yourself overcoming the gremlins of fear and doubt, and doing what needs to be done.

Celebrate your power, and your new life. Then breathe out, open your eyes, and return.