Short post, today. Just wanted to share this thought before going back to work...
I am preparing a presentation for this Genocide conference and just got to the part about the apology. These survivors of the French WWII deportations keep saying they want an apology from the train company for deporting them and/or their families to the German border where they were then taken to Auschwitz by German train drivers.
Of course we can understand they want an apology. But many have refused the apology when it is made. Some first refused the apology because it was only given in English, then it was refused because the survivors claimed it was only given to serve the company's greater business interests.
This has caused me to think and read more about apology in general. What are we looking for? Have you ever received an apology and it did not feel as good or cathartic as you had hoped? A hoped-for apology, once given, rarely seems to have the effect we suppose.
I think this might be because we do not want the words "I'm sorry," we might want the person or company to fully share our understanding of the world and our experience of it! Impossible. No one knows what it was like to lose your parents in the WWII deportations. Even others who lost their parents had different experiences. I discovered this talking to survivors. One told me that she felt so close to her mother and could always feel her after she was gone. The other has little recollection of her mother.
So we can never really understand. So why do we apologize? To say that we care?
The work then goes to the victim..not to forgive, necessarily, but to let go of the hope that the other will ever understand the loss or the experience. And to let go of the idea that we will ever be at the same levels of spiritual development or that the other person is who we want them to be. They may apologize but never change. That's the pain. Now, in the case of the train company, yes they changed, of course. After the war, no more deportations. In interpersonal conflict, however, I think what we hope for is not an apology perhaps but for the evolution of the other.
I think the act of the apology is so interesting because it highlights our fundamental separation -- I am not you and you are not me We feel the gap in these moments.
Yes, the Buddhists and Levinas fans are yapping in my ear saying that we are all ONE and some native american tribes telling me when one is wounded the community is wounded.
But I find, in the moment of apology, the reminder how little we can see and experience this oneness. The separation feels most palpable when we work to try to close the gap.
This past Sunday, I found myself at Luther Place, a nice church in central DC. It was bound to happen as several of my friends are luther PK (Pastor's kids).
The sermon was by Pastor Karen (Sorry I wrote down her full name but tossed out the program after the final "amen!")
The psalm she quoted resonated with me for personal and global conflict.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
This resonated with me because it reminded me of all the times we make decisions when we are in the proverbial "night", when we really ought to wait until the muddied waters have settled.
We draft policy, make decisions about people, sign contracts, and create rules too often from the place of weeping in the night. Now, I do acquiesce that there are times when this make sense. There is a difference from a decision coming from a place of sadness and one coming from that deep place, that place you get to when you say "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore" and you do what you do...throw out the foods that make your organs rot or stand up for yourself etc.
But this is usually not the place from whence our decisions come, politically and personally. We too often make them from our weeping, not trusting that the joy will return and with that a new clarity about how to proceed. Reading the IChing is a good thing to do when we find ourselves weeping over the conflicts we're handling (personal or global). It's a good thing because it's so confusing, it slows down any rash decision making. It never really takes me to joy, at least so far, but it reminds me that for everything there is a season and that making decisions impulsively in a weak state, rarely does much for anyone.
If you're reading this, you've lived life long enough to know the boomerang effect of decisions made from your weeping versus those from your joy. We're launching these boomerangs all day while we're living into the ones we threw last week, last month, last year.
So, I guess the moral of this post, if there is one, is to not make a decision while we're crying about the boomerang that hit us in the head. Take a deep breath and wait for joy, she'll know what to do.
Joanna Macy, renowned Eco-philosopher and spiritual activist makes the claim that gratitude is subversive in her book "world as lover, world as self."
I about fell off my yellow aluminum chair a moment ago when I read it.
When I am in a really cranky place and people tell me to try gratitude -- frankly I want to tell them to go stuff it. When I look around and list everything I am grateful for it does seem to plug the leaking boat.. The sinking ship of emotions. But you are still left sloshing around in all the negative thoughts that got in before the gratitude activity.
But "gratitude as subversive?" .. This is yummy because it appeals to the irate and rebellious one who wants to stay that way. Subversive, yes, I feel like something subervesive.
So what did she mean by this?
She meant, she says, that "thankfulness loosens the grip of industrial society by contradicting the predominant message: that we are insufficient and inadequate"
Ahhh! Terrific. I just want to dance when I read that. We don't need more clothes, a nicer bank teller, or a bigger tax refund (all good things)...
We need to yell "blech!! I feel like crap and I am totally grateful anyway. So take that you racket"
So here it is, I am grateful for
1. This weebly app that allows me to write this blog on location
2. That the rain has stopped at least for today
3. The fact I just remembered I need to get a Father's Day card
4. That I live in an apartment and don't need to change my windows each season
5. That I no longer seem allergic to yellow jacket bees
6. That it seems no matter what city you visit pigeons and squirrels are always there - kind of reassuring
7. That Renoir's "the boat party" lives at the Phillips collection and I can visit it anytime.
Ok. So I no longer feel cranky or the need to be subervesive... Writing that list made me feel like I wanted to go illustrate a children's book.. But I needed Macy to lure me in with "subversiveness" so the rebellious teenager inside could calm down enough to enjoy this precious day.
"What will you do with this one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver
Today's blog is inspired by Abraham Hicks' June 25th, 2005 workshop in Portland Oregon. You can order it off their website. I had the lovely opportunity to spend time with this lecture last week bobbing comfortably in a great rocking chair at Heather Cumming's Hotel Rei Davi in Abadania, Brazil.
If you don't know Abraham Hicks, you can find tons of free material YouTube...but please read this first, we're just getting started...
We Are Not at War
"We are not at war" Abraham tells the audience. Don't say that, they recommend. You are not at war. The United States might be, but let's be clear about language and really thinking when we speak because words create, words promote, words perpetuate...so let's think about it.
Right, I am not at war. This is not to say that I am not a voting citizen of a country that is and I may choose to voice my opinion. However, when speaking to friends and family, I need to be clear. I am not at war and I am unwilling to take on the identity of being at war.
Now hear Abraham out because this is a politically incorrect and potent approach to conflict resolution.
Why Does War Come About?
Abraham says this is because so many people do not know that they create their own reality.
Wow. I just have to take a moment after writing that sentence. It's a really big thought.
They claim the more people understand that they are creating their own experience, the more they will give up war.
This might be true, but I'm not sure I want to be the one to tell them. Can you imagine telling a screaming man with a machine gun that he's creating his own reality? Seems like timing is important here. Maybe mentioning it softly before the machine gun is in hand. Because at that moment he's already about to create (or end) my reality.
Whose Side is The Universe On?
Any student of history or classical literature has come across many examples of poetic and not so poetic cries as they head out to battle that God is assuredly on their side. Yes, starting with the Bible.
1 Chronicles 5:20
And they were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He was entreated for them, because they trusted in Him.
But we know that "God" cannot be on everyone's side. Or can she?
According to Abraham, what they call "Source Energy" is not on anyone's side, rather it is trying to help all inner beings achieve what they are seeking. In my opinion, their use of the term "Source Energy" resonates a touch the idea of Adam Smith's invisible hand. They discuss the universal forces not working like communist central planning, but rather those of the free economy. It's kind of a libertarian model of divine understanding. (Suits me perfectly)
Mais, bon on continue..as the French say...let's continue.
Ignore the Murderer
Ok, don't ignore the murderer, but don't give too much attention to the murderer or they say "you keep yourself on the island with them." Rather, turn your attention to a new vision not one filled with violence. Relax, chill out, turn off the news, live your own life.
They say, the answer isn't peace it's connection to my own life. I mind my own business and do not have to get you to do anything differently.
They think this model will work out in the end...Or, I suppose, it would lead to peace before someone shoot or kills us. That's the hope. Seems like a good model, if we can achieve it in time. And of course, we have a better chance if we all believe we can.
Yeah, John Lennon, you're not the only one.
It's Not a Broken World
Despite what the news media and many many many information sources tell us, "it is not a broken world" Abraham says. And it's not our job to fix it anyway. They say, if you do, you get only the opposite. You push against war, you get more war. The "War Against..." model isn't working. War against violence, war against drugs...I think we know this now. I just wanted to add it here one more time, in case this blog was the tipping point. You know, the point at which everyone takes as totally obvious and true that launching a war against something doesn't bring about the kind of peace we want. Or at least not without too many causalities.
Choose for Yourself
Yes, you choose for you, I choose for me. That's the good part about the foundation of the USA and capitalism. If you want to eat jelly donuts, get headaches and clog your arteries, go forth! Enjoy. I'll have a salad and we'll probably never meet except at the DMV.
I like the choose for yourself model with a few caveats. My mentor at GMU really pushed me to think about "choice." People rarely can imagine the choices beyond those they see people making around them. They do not see limitless possibilities. For example, it's difficult for a gang member to see their gang membership as a "choice." Once you are in, the world is so self-reinforcing, escape hatches are not visible.
Creative folks like Isaac Asimov have enough imagination to think themselves into a better reality, but "what do the simple folk do?" Well, in Camelot, they whistle, or so they say. A whistle might pause a downward spiral, but lacks the creative momentum to move us into another reality.
So, to me, it's not just about choosing for yourself, it's about launching your imagination...(see earlier post on the Garden of your Mind)
The Abraham Hicks quotes and summaries were taken from Abraham Hicks Publications; Law of Attraction in Action. Episode Two. Abraham Workshop Highlights. Portland OR June 25, 2005.
Now get out of here and go create some delicious future for yourself with that underused imagination of yours.
This is a little vignette -- a story about my cab ride last night and how my cab driver and I had a conversation that brought a bit more ease and peace between our two countries. Little conversations count. Little exchanges of peace...there will be a tipping point.
Here it is...
After a 24 hour journey from Brazil back to DC, I decided to treat myself to a cab back to my apartment. The cab driver noted how nice it was to have a singing client...guess I was.
He said "you must not be from the east coast."
I laughed and said "I'm from New York, but maybe it was the 5 years living in San Francisco. How long have you lived here?"
"And before that?" I asked
"Afganistan," he replies as we drive past the Pentagon.
"You know what I think of when I think of Afghanistan?" I asked
"What?" I imagined he thought I would say something about the war, the soldiers, the pain.
"The Book of Kells!" I said.
"What's that?" He asked.
"It's a Bible from the 6th Century that is so beautifully illustrated that people visit it from around the world. It's located now in Dublin. Do you know why it makes me think of Afghanistan?"
"Because the only place they could get the color blue in the 6th Century was from the land we now call Afghanistan."
"Oh, yes," he said "In the northern mountains that's where the blue rock is. We have lots of jewelry that color. "
He asked me a bunch of questions about what BC, BCE, AD and CA meant. I told him about how the refer to the calendar in relation to the birth and death of christ, but that in academic circles, the calendar is spoken about as "Before the common era" or "in the Common Era." This is a way to talk about the date for those who do not want to refer to Christ.
He then told me it was the year 14-something in the Muslim calendar. He said their calendar began after the death of the Prophet Mohammad. Ah! but we didn't know what year Mohammed was born and then spent the rest of the cab ride trying to figure out when Mohammed lived and the state of Islam in relation to the creation of the Book of Kells. Was Islam existent in the Northern Mountains when the traders came for the blue color to make their Bible? Was the color blue traded through the Silk Road?
We wondered, explored, and tried to imagine the trade route from his home to Ireland back in the 6th Century. it felt like a National Geographic special. I'd much rather consider the world through color, history, and trade than through the lens of distrust, violence and war. That's what we did....