Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting To Be Cool

Out of the mouths of the innocent. I once had a “mature,” but rather naïve program attendee, who bespoke an obvious truth, as she was observing it, circa 1985, in a most perplexed voice.
It used to be that women were supposed to be in charge of the family.Then it got to be that men were supposed to take on the household chores. Now it’s the women again.Well,here we are, perplexed again, as to how things are “supposed” to be. 
Me! Me!
Today, while the election campaign eats up our time and attention, looming ahead with only Hurricane Sandy to obscure our attentiveness, it might be cool to be a Democrat or a Republican, or an independent, or whatever.

Take your pick, depending on your Peace Buddy Pod of choice.  What to do. What to think. So many options, so few real choices. 

Tomorrow, whatever you chose today might not be cool.
I’d really like it to be that everybody gets to be cool, at least that’s what I consciously tell myself. 

On that note, today,  I am applauding Farrell Keough, chairperson of Engaged Citizens, for his article, “Political Polarization: That Is The Question.” Farrell is one of the sponsors and members of our organizing committee for the “Overcoming Polarization" kickoff event, scheduled for Tuesday, October 30 (if Hurricane Sandy does not force our reschedule).

I appreciate him, most, as the one whose community building efforts, drew Sue’s and my attentions and inspired the event, initially. Now New Horizons’ hats are, also,  off to Pattee Brown of Rockwood Brown Communications & Radio Host of WFMD’s Frederick’s Forum for producing the event -- and -- Envision Frederick for joining with us to form an organizing team to make it happen (if “Sandy” allows.)

In Farrell’s own words --
“As noted by others, when we wake up on November 7, it will not be the end of our nation. Some of us will be sorely disappointed while others may well be elated. The question remains, what and how will we continue our communication with each other once this election is over? 
This question is of paramount importance as we all are in this together. We are a United Nation in which we have a representative democracy – in short, our elected officials are to represent a broad constituency. We are that constituency. 
If we are polarized toward one form of ideology, and those elected represent another ideology, how will we get our representatives, neighbors, friends, etc., to listen to our views and perspectives?”
With so many perspectives coming together with goodwill for the “good of the whole” at our coming event, we can’t be in too bad of a shape, no matter how things turn out, at least, not on our local level.

But dontcha agree, above all else, that everybody is hoping that he/she gets what he/she thinks is best for ME! Me!!!  Me!!!

I certainly do, at least for now. I wanna win! Human nature, right?
But how about if we play the game .a new way; a Possible Human, Possible Society way?
Then we’ll see about the morning after.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Something is a amiss

Something is amiss when a country such as the U.S.A., at this point in time, has an absence of genuine,  seasoned heroes, of voices that speak of wisdom and maturity, voices that unite its great causes.
Murat Yagan has been mentoring
Anastasia and New Horizons on peace
building since 1999.
Where are the voices of the unrivaled leaders to help guide our still adolescent country to its maturity?

Where are the voices of wisdom and reason, now, when we need them most to draw attention to the iniquities in our character bashing and smashing?
Where are our revered, wise elders to help us move beyond the disrespect being bred by our current electoral process?
Surely there will be a morning after the election wherein, somehow we will need to move beyond the chaos and find ways for the loser of this election to save face, rather than be humiliated. This will be the time when we must set our differences and controversies aside and place our feet aright on the forward path that goes beyond these.

The past few days, since last week’s presidential candidates’ debate, I have found myself hungering for the wisdom of elders; those voices that could help me, assist all of us who would listen, to see the light that seems so dim in the heat of this campaign.
I wondered what JFK would suggest had he grown old as an elder statesman of our country. What would Martin Luther King, Jr. advise us now? How would Gandhi  guide us with his words?

I googled Desmond Tutu, looking for insights. Finally, it occurred to me that my organization and myself were truly blessed to have Murat to mentor us. So I sent my plea off to him. I will let you know what he says, if and when he answers.  He is getting close to 100 now and his time is used very carefully and wisely. I do not know if what we Americans are into now will warrant his attention.
In the meantime, just simply setting my heart and mind to reaching out to his is a great comfort.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The power of the myth

It occurred to me after I had posted my last blog that Camelot is, and always was a mythical place. Then it occurred to me that, on the other hand, if we have no stories and/or myths to capture our imaginings we can often truly be lost.
Another consideration, however, is that when we project our hopes and dreams onto others, particularly our leaders such as Obama, we oftentimes sacrifice what might be beautiful realities for stories. Later, if fate does not, first, conspire to do away with the projected object, opportunities may arise in the course of human affairs that allow for the myth and reality to align themselves.

Perhaps this is the opportunity that the, so-called millennials, have at hand, these days, as some of the more outspoken take Obama to task for their disappointments with him and, in the process, allow themselves and their hero to do a significant bit of growing up with it all.
Real deal or not, myths 
exert a powerful force.
It was truly a great loss that those of us who came of age in the 1960s never had the opportunity for this type of reckoning with JFK. So much of our reconciling of the man with the myth had to be done in our minds without the real person. I also missed this opportunity with my father who died when I was still early in my adult maturation.
Thus I think that It may be an enormous gift that today’s young voters and Obama still have so many years ahead, G-d willing, to settle things up, regardless of who wins this election and who does not.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Where is the light? Gone like the eagle?

Here we are many decades after my first husband and I answered the call to “ask not what our country can do for you/us, but what can….”we do for our country. And, here we are, again, approaching what seems to be a national shifting of consciousness as a presidential election looms ahead.
Over the years, the spark of our youthful idealism has dimmed many times over as we witnessed the demise of our trusted leaders, lost to us by murderous acts and the follies of greed and the lust for power.
"How can you buy or sell
the sky...."
So here we are, now, left with uncertainty as we approach this next election, wondering if there are any leaders left on our national scene to whom we can turn to light the pathway to which the ascendancy of our national pride summons us.

Thus I ask myself, again, “Where is the light to which Camelot drew us so many years ago?”
Is it gone, like the eagle, as Chief Seattle lamented in his famous response to pressures from the U.S. government to buy the native lands of his people?

How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us.

If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.

The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What difference does it make?

Showing up as who you are and for what you believe
A dear, now deceased, friend of mine, Rabbi Edwin Friedman, had a formula for making radical changes in relationships, families, congregations and communities.  I grant his formula this recognition for helping me bring about radical changes in myself and because of the results I, personally, have attained by applying it. The success Ed’s formula has afforded me, especially when I have found myself in a particularly challenging organizational snag.

Ed credited three major elements, consistently working together, to be particularly important in healing dysfunction in any human system. I have found this to be so in my experience.
The lift is the
The three elements are:
  • Self-definition;
  • An investment in connection with others; and
  • Handling oneself with a non-reactive presence.
Some people quite naturally come to the displaying of the tenets of this formula in their lives and relationships. Call it an innate affinity for human relations, an instinct for building unity or simply a fellow feeling. Such individuals often serve to magnetize collective good works from others. Others are a bit more challenged.  I certainly was, even as I was beginning to write this blog.

I never knew Ed to hold that his formula brought about any significant lift in the lives of those with whom he consulted, as in lifting people up to awe. But I know that it did as did he. But he did always believe he was immensely effective, utilizing the organizational principles he professed.  That was Ed, “not always right, but never in doubt.”
However, in my own inimitable way,  I discovered that when I apply his formula to important interactions in my life, time and time again, almost magical results seem to flow forth. Not necessarily immediately, oftentimes, more subtle than dramatic, but come forth they inevitably do. This blog site has afforded me almost endless opportunities to experience the kind of impact on myself and others that Ed claimed. (His, now classic treatise for clergy, Generation After Generation, as well as his posthumously published, Failure of Nerve, attest to this wisdom of his.)

The rewards to me from consistently challenging myself to “self-define” and keep reaching out to readers of this blog site has helped me do away with many of the thousand and more masks I was hiding behind before I began writing it. Much to my surprise, blogging has truly been a wonderful exercise for me in developing ever increasing adeptness with Ed’s formula, particularly if the third element, handling myself with a non-reactive presence, is put into effect.
The gift is the lift I create for myself and others, a taste of reaching the peak of the Mountain of Awe.

That’s the difference showing up as who you are and for what you believe can make, alongside a healthy dose of diplomacy, compassion and personal integrity.