painting of the good samaritan

But What Would You Do About Hitler?

I’m a pacifist. I don’t believe violence is ever a good idea. Taking up arms is against my values and my values are my moral compass. Whether my actions and speech are in alignment with what I believe to be right and good is a question I often ask myself.

Not everyone feels the way I do. I have from time to time found myself in conversations with people who believe we need to “Be Prepared” with “Strong Defense.” The question they invariably raise in our conversation about non-violence is, “What would you do about Hitler?”

It’s a real question and one I now know the answer to.

I would prevent Hitler from happening.

I would call out hate speech for what it is—ignorance, prejudice, fear and ego. I would declare loudly that Mexicans are not rapists, that Muslims are not terrorists, that refugees seeking asylum for their families are not plotting to overthrow our country, suck up our resources, or infiltrate to undermine us in any way.

I would let the wisdom of an 8-year old child counter the demagoguery of a megalomaniac. Watch the videos below with an open heart. One speaks the truth with love, the other is full of lies and fear. Your heart will know which is which.

Finally, I would ask “What would Jesus do?” Yes, even though I’m more Buddhist these days than Christian, Jesus is still my model for living my values. I believe Jesus would welcome refugees with open arms and find a way to feed, shelter and clothe them (perhaps the desire to do so and the belief that it is possible is what creates miracles). Jesus would have compassion for the insanity of rulers who create such human misery and he would speak truth to power no matter what the personal consequences.

I can’t prevent war in Syria. There’s not much I can do about it other than press my representatives to work for peaceful solutions to all conflict. But I too can speak truth to power and call out lies, fear and hatred when I see them.

What would you do about Hitler?

P.S. I decided not to upload any videos of a particular candidate for president. I don’t want to be part of spreading his words around. You already know what he’s said.

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A Watched Pot…

…does actually boil. I know because I watched mine this morning. The old adage is not about temperature or water or pots, but you knew that already. The old adage is about patience, how standing over something, willing it to grow or boil or take flight, doesn’t help the process go any faster. If you’re like me you’ve interpreted this to mean, do something else while the pot is heating up—that way you won’t waste time. This is how I’ve mostly lived my life, multi-tasking, slipping 5-minute jobs in between longer efforts. Now, as I enter and activate this slowing down period of my life, I wonder if I haven’t missed a great deal of life by trying to pack everything in. It’s scattered and tense and timed and impatient. And isn’t that exactly what we’re being told about watching that pot. Don’t be impatient? Continue reading

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A Little Bit Lost

Traveling with my friend this summer brought up an interesting question—how do I feel about being lost?

I get anxious when I’m with another person. Especially if I’m with another anxious person who’s driving the car while I’m navigating from shitty Google Maps’ printed directions. When I’m by myself, I actually like when I’m a bit lost.

Notice, a bit. I don’t believe I’d like to be blindfolded, pushed into a helicopter, and offloaded into endless dunes stretching for miles in all directions. But, in a place I live or have visited for a few days, I have a general sense of well being. For years I lived in an area of New York City considered dangerous by many of my uptown friends. To me it was simply the neighborhood. I knew the shops, the families, even some of the street people. That experience makes me think most neighborhoods are far less dangerous than up-tight white people’s imaginations would lead them to believe. As none of you are up-tight white people, I’m sure you understand.

Continue reading

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Meditation II

Get into a comfortable position.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Slower. Deeper. Softer. Be gentle with yourself.

Breathe into the spaces that are tight, controlled, holding.

Breathe in to your belly, to your lower back, your pelvic muscles, your jaw.

Breathe into your feet and hands, all the way to your fingers and toes.

Breathe in, release tension, melt cares and concerns.

Remember

You are Divine. Continue reading

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It’s Like the Cribbage Board

People are different from each other. This is both obvious and simple while at the same time complex and difficult. We process information and experiences differently based on a whole host of scientific and esoteric reasons. It’s good for the species, it gives us variety, adaptability, a human for every situation.

However, when two or more humans attempt to coexist on a day to day basis, adjustments and adaptations must be made.

Like the cribbage board.

Cribbage is a card game played by counting points in each hand and pegging those points on a tall, narrow board with 60 holes in it for each player. The holes are arranged in two rows of 30 each. As a child I was taught to go up the outside of the board and down the inside of the board as the game progressed, making the entire circuit twice per game for a total of 120 points to win.

I’ve taught lots of people the game over the years. I taught my friend, Diane, 35 years ago. When we travel together, I keep the board and cards handy in my purse. Waiting in an airport? We play a hand or two. Dinner taking longer than expected? Break out the board.

Now, I taught Diane and we’ve played for many years, so you would think I’d know everything there is to know about Di and cribbage, but recently she surprised me.

I set up the board, putting the black pegs on on the side nearest her with the bottom of the board (where the pegs start their path) toward the outside edge or bottom of the table. This is how I do it. How I’ve always done it. For 50-some years, this is how I’ve always done it.

Diane looked at the board, frowned, and said, “The pegs need to switch.” I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t figure out what she meant. Sighing with exasperation, she switched the pegs to the other side of the board, turned the board upside down with the starting point toward the inside of the table, and then smiled, completely satisfied and at ease.

I was even more confused. This was just wrong. Wrong. What was she thinking? I went ahead and played the game but it felt unnatural to me. I thought perhaps it was an anomaly.

It wasn’t. Continue reading

burst4Gold

Meditation

NOTE: This was written for a women’s gathering. Feel free to adapt it for mixed groups or men only.

Get in a comfortable position with both feet on the floor or sitting cross-legged with your spine erect. Close your eyes, then allow your head to float up and away from your shoulders. Lengthen and open your spinal column. Let your back widen, making room for the lungs to stretch.

Breathe in and out, slowly, rhythmically, finding a pace that fills you and relaxes you. In and out.

Now, relax more.

Look into your heart and see there a point of white light. Allow the light to expand—brighter, softer, larger until you feel yourself floating in that light. Continue reading

Travel and Trust

Photo of Cappadocia, Turkey

Morning balloon ride over Cappadocia, Turkey.

There are probably as many reasons to travel as there are people who travel. I have a whole list of things I love about it. Art and architecture, culture and color, people, places, food and fashion. Most of all, I travel for the experience. I’m with my best friend, Diane, and this is a long trip for us—almost two full months on the road. From apartments with two bedrooms, a kitchen and spaces large enough to dance, to the tiniest of hotel rooms with two feet between the single beds pushed right up to the peachy pink walls and a bathroom where you sit on the toilet to shower with a hand held faucet dribbling water, each day is filled with unforgettable experiences. I’ll admit, I sometimes can’t remember which city we were in or what day it was, but I remember the laughter, the exhaustion, the exhilaration, the waiting, the getting through it to the next thing, and the incredible gratitude for a life that allows me to live deeply and expansively.

Along the way, I get to work on my own issues. Trust, self-confidence, authenticity, trust, courage, fear, creativity, trust and responsibility.

I said trust, right? Continue reading

Life Changing

Raja_grivasanaHow much do you think you could change your life in one year? If you really wanted it? If you faced your fears and lived fully? What would it mean to you to do that?

For me, it meant learning to be happy. Not through the accumulation of stuff or even being able to pay my bills on time. There are no external circumstances that can make me happy and I know that now. How I see my life (and my corresponding happiness quotient) is totally up to me. Learning that, and how to change the stories I tell myself when emotions begin to run rampant, has turned my life around. Continue reading

Does This Make Me Look Fat?

Day one of extended writing and all I can think of is whether my ass shows through my leggings too much.

I’m wearing one of those impulse buys—a rayon shirt cut on the bias with long tails hanging on either side. It’s a deep olive green, one of my favorite colors, and looked amazing on the rack at the street festival where I got it. I should have tried it on but the booth was closing, I was late to meet my family, and the vendor assured me I would rock that shirt. Besides, that color, the color of my 11th grade prom dress, the color of clothes I’ve loved in my life—how could I go wrong with that color?

The color still works for me. The style, I believe is more appropriate for a boyish 12 -year-old than a 60-year-old woman.

I’ve tried to wear it several times, over different pants, pulling it up in places to create folds and gathers that might camouflage my slightly poochy belly. Of course, when I do I have to reveal either more of my bum in the back or girl parts in the front. With leggings neither is a look I want to sport. Continue reading