Syria: What's Really at Stake 
The signs are all over the place, on the news, on our home-pages, on street corners. They’re held up by soldiers, citizens, protesters and proponents. They’re shouted during town hall meetings, in TV interviews, on the floors of Congress. Syria: Go In. Syria: Stay Out.

You can stop reading now if you are hoping I have an answer to all this; I don’t. What I do have is a question that can help us get to the answer. This blog is not taking a political stand; it is taking a personal one.

From the outset, let’s be clear – doing nothing is doing something. Saying “no” to anything means saying “yes” to something else, so the question is what are we as human beings saying “no” and “yes” to?

It has been said that the only two emotions in human experience are fear and love. We’re always somewhere on that continuum and every action we take (and don’t take) falls toward one end or the other of that range. When it comes to intentional human destruction, there is no “neutral.” When it comes to “U.S. Interests” the answers get a little fuzzy.

On the “fear” side of U.S. Interests we have self-protection in the form of: 1) Losing face – the President has gone out on a limb, and what does that say to the world about our own resolve? We’ll look weak and wishy-washy and we can’t have that. 2) It’s none of our business – we aren’t the world’s police force. So what if they gas their own people? What does that have to do with us? We have too many problems here at home – first things first. 3) Don’t meddle in the middle east – they’ve been at it with each other for centuries and if we make them mad, they’ll just come after us.

On the “love” side we have our sense of humanity: 1) Syrian children – at this writing over 450 children were gassed by the very people who are supposed to protect them: their government. By any estimation, our humanness compels us to derail this slaughtering juggernaut. 2) Mass migration - at this writing over 2 million refugees – half of them children – have fled for their lives. We in the United States need to look around our homes and our neighborhoods and schools and workplaces, say goodbye, and start walking to Canada, wondering along the way if or when we will return to our home, and what it (and we) would look like if we did. 3) The rest of the world – not just the middle east – living in the shadows of dictators, knowing at any moment they could be sickened, burned alive and evacuated at the whim and ego of one man, knowing no one will care enough to “draw a red line” defining human decency.

What’s been happening in Syria is no different from what happened in Nazi Germany, or in Rwanda, or Bosnia or any number of genocides and “ethnic cleansings” that took place throughout human history. This sad testimony to the intention of a few brings contrast in high relief the indifference by the many. We’ve seen this intention and indifference in our Current Events classes when we were kids in school and in our newspapers and home pages as grown-ups, and while the reality touches us in varying degrees, in all our study and observation and education, how many of us asked ourselves what we would do if we were the targets? What would we expect of a watching world? And what would we do if we were the ones being called on – no, begged - to stop the killings and human obliteration?

Make no mistake – it is our humanity being tested here. Not politics, not strategy, not tactics. What do our actions or lack of actions say of our fear or love of humanity? How will today’s world see us? How will tomorrow’s? Will our children’s children look at us and say “You stood by while a madman killed hundreds of children? You knew what was happening? And you did nothing? To protect yourself?”

If human decency isn’t a U.S. interest, what does that say about who we are? And who we have become?



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The Topic is Gun Control; The Issue is Who We Are 
The gun control debate in our country was enlivened once again since the heart- and gut-wrenching slaughter of 26 children and adults in Sandy Hook, Connecticut right before Christmas last year.

Our historic post-tragedy momentum might not wane this time, however. Perhaps it’s the continued sadness of the holiday memories we all formed in the days following the shooting: the already-baked cookies going uneaten, letters to Santa already sent, toys wrapped, forever unopened. Our own connectedness to the affected families and that wounded little town will not let us go.

Some gun rights advocates were grateful for the ensuing winter holidays, Presidential Inauguration, Martin Luther King Day of Service and recent cold snap, appreciating their unintended public weakening of the firestorm. Our customary inertia as evidenced after Aurora, Tucson and Columbine could have added to that weakness. Instead, a heartbreaking connectedness and a “not-this-time” determination is guaranteeing the continuation of the blaze.

Maybe it’s taken the national and global outrage over the unceremonious and merciless end to the lives of 20 little six-year olds to push us over the much-delayed edge of finding a way to end gun violence in the United States. Whatever the reason, it’s time to raise the bar in this country for acceptable carnage by firearm.

With the right to bear arms at one end of the second amendment spectrum and a shoot-‘em-out, free-for-all at the other, finding our way to some compromise should be easy. I say “should be” because there’s lots of space for ideas, alternatives and safety nets in that range; whether or not we have the will to put aside our own egos to make that middle ground a reality remains to be seen.

With too many questions surrounding language, players, and constitutional principles, I won’t pretend to have any answers in those areas. I can, however, talk about intent and higher purpose.

It has been said that the only two emotions in human experience are love and fear. I say “in human experience” because we live in that “yes/no”, “is/is not” dimension. In the Universe, however, there is only love and in our human existence, we either love or we don’t. And when we don’t, the interruption of the love of who we are shows itself as some kind of fear: hate, judgment, shame, anger, indifference. And when fear goes unrecognized, disregarded or minimized long enough, it turns to rage.

And there is nothing more dangerous than an enraged person with a gun.

The lofty intent of love around the world can sometimes produce this fairy-dust sprinkled image of everyone holding hands and singing Kumbaya, and while that’s nice, that’s not the love I’m talking about.

The love I’m talking about is the one that takes us inside our own souls to examine why pretending to blow people up scores points and is considered a “game.” It’s the one where we create movies of human butchery and call them “entertainment.” It’s the one where owning an assault rifle – whose only purpose is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible - is considered a “hobby.” It’s the one where dollars to treat people with mental illness are dried up but dollars to build prisons and wage war are considered balancing a budget.

If love is the only thing in the universe and living out that love through our human existence comes in the form of creativity and expansion and beauty, each one of us needs to look at the soul of who we are and see how our intent and higher purpose are served by creating fear - real or imaginary.

Our daily living, what we buy, how we talk to each other, what pass-times and energy will we allow in our homes, what emotions we create – with intent or as a by-product – all need to be examined by each one of us. We are a planet of individuals; collectively, we are humanity.

Twenty little children in a tiny town have reminded us that our connectedness to each other starts with our connectedness to ourselves and fulfilling the intention of our existence one at a time and together.

The topic might be gun control, but the issue is who do we want to be? And what we will allow into our individual and collective souls?






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standby generator 
it’s october. the end of this month will be a year since the ice and snow of an out-of-season weekend storm brought down many trees and power lines in our area, disconnecting us from heat, water and flushing toilets. i was participating in the mind-body-spirit expo that saturday, and was a little over an hour from home. my husband kept me informed by cell phone about mother nature’s mounting fury…which was getting more frightening by the minute. i left the expo early - the roads were quite the adventure - and three hours later i was in our driveway listening to the loud “gunshots” of the crack crack cracking tree limbs falling in our yard under the heavy wetness of the snow.

nine days later, we were still without power. we did have a generator on the porch going almost night and day - a blessing keeping some heat and light going (we have 14 hours of dark at this time of year). nine days of 19th century living gave us a good idea of how important power is our lives.

we decided to get a standby generator. that’s quite the gadget. it’s connected to our propane tank at one end of the line, and at the house at the other end. if the power goes off in the house, the generator pulls fuel from the tank, then something magic happens, and voila: power in the house. we don’t need to run every appliance in the place, but i’ve come to realize that heat and water are basic food groups, and with that generator, we won’t need to endure the long-term effects of a great storm such as that of 2011 again.

the whole process was a bit of a saga. permits, contractors, ditches (snake nests and wasp nests threw us a couple of curves), inspections, electricians, inspections, tests, inspections, propane suppliers, inspections. oh, and did i mention inspections? we just need one more test, and then we’re done; it’s been about a year, start to finish.

as i reflect, these past months of outdoor construction and upheaval have been a running image of my inner spiritual practice – reminding me of the need for personal standby power…what desiderata calls “nurturing strength of spirit to shield in sudden misfortune.” the metaphor of digging trenches, heavy equipment, power lines and snake nests could go on forever, i suppose, but it all starts with permits…and continues with ongoing inspections and lots of tests.

right after the storm of 2011 and the standby generator process was underway, god was back in his heaven and all was right with the world. but the law of detachment tells me all was always right with the world; i was just attached to a different world, losing my sweet disposition toward the end of those nine days. my standby personal power generator needed some work.

the storm of 2011 has passed, but there will be others. i’m more prepared now. power will flow uninterrupted. lights will stay on. warmth will continue. toilets will flush.

…and the house generator will be ready too.

love to all,
marie


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a spiritual conspiracy 
i've been rereading something of an essay sent to me a number of months ago by a friend who has been following my work. i have come to know him through his wife, with whom i work, and i was gratified when i received this essay from him; he is deeply spiritual.

i want to share this with you. if you're reading my postings and following my work, this spiritual conspiracy applies to you.

"a spiritual conspiracy - be the change you want to see in the world...it comes from the intelligence of the heart."

on the surface of the world right now there is war and violence and things seem dark. but calmly and quietly, at the same time, something else is happening underground. an inner revolution is taking place and certain individuals are being called to a higher light. it is a silent revolution. from the inside out. from the ground up. this is a global operation. a spiritual conspiracy. there are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet. you won't see us on the tv. you won't read about us in the newspaper. you won't hear about us on the radio. we don't seek any glory. we don't wear any uniform. we come in all shapes an sizes, colors and styles. most of us work anonymously. we are quietly working behind the scenes in every country and culture in the world, cities big and small, mountains and valleys, in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands. you could pass by one of us on the street and not even notice. we go undercover. we remain behind the scenes. it is of no concern to us who takes the final credit but simply that the work gets done. occasionally we spot each other in the street. we give a quiet nod and continue on our way. during the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs but behind the false storefront at night is where the real work takes place. some call us the conscious army. we are slowly creating a new world with the power of our minds and hearts. we follow, with passion and joy, our orders that come from the central spiritual intelligence. we are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking. poems - hugs - music - photography - movies - kind words - smiles - meditation and prayer - dance - social activism - websites - blogs - random acts of kindness. we each express ourselves in our own unique ways with our own unique gifts and talents. be the change you want to see in the world. that is the motto that fills our hearts. we know it is the only way real transformation takes place. we know that quietly and humbly we have the power of all the oceans combined. our work is slow and meticulous like the formation of mountains. it is not even visible at first glance. and yet with it entire tectonic plates shall be moved in the centuries to come. love is the new religion of the 21st century. you don't have to be a highly educated person or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it. it comes from the intelligence of the heart, embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings. be the change you want to see in the world. nobody else can do it for you. we are now recruiting. perhaps you will join us, or already have. all are welcome. the door is open." - author unknown.

___

love to all,
marie



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end of confusion 
some of the most rewarding work i do is with the inmates in the “living the power behind bars” discussion group i conduct in the new jersey department of corrections. i’ve come to know many of these individuals at a personal level and while most of my work the past couple of years has involved women, i have recently been participating in a program in a men’s prison, and am in the process of pursuing my own discussion group there as well.

in our initial meeting with these inmates, i only ask for their first name. how long they’ve been imprisoned, what their offenses are, their release dates or prisoner numbers and last names are not germaine to the issues we discuss. the first message i instill is “i’m not here to help you forget where you are; i’m here to help you remember who you are.”

and that’s where this blog is coming from.

the verdict was handed down in the sandusky case late friday, and it’s clear jerry sandusky is going to spend a long time behind bars. i’ve been asking myself how i would handle his presence in one of my classrooms.

the work i do is keeping focus on the distinction between “life” and “life situation.” your life is who you are; your life situation is where you live who you are.

our life is the unfolding of all that is in the universe – the intention of the universe. the natural evolution of life is through creation, expansion, abundance, love. this is who we are as human beings, and as such, we are whole, nothing needs to be fixed, nothing needs to be healed. our lives are perfect, and our “wheels fall off” when we forget that.

our life situations are where we need the work. we recognize our particular life form as manifesting in five senses, three dimensions and opposites in all form: yes, no; sound, silence; light, dark; is, is not. and the vehicle for the choices we make in those opposites is our ego. if we live authentically – that is, keeping who we are as our primary reality – in our choices of relationships, behavior, roles we occupy, we live in harmony with each other and with the intention of our existence. if we live egoically – that is, keeping what we “want” as our only reality - we run the risk of hurting each other and, because we are all part of this intention of life, we hurt ourselves.

whenever our actions are intended only to serve ourselves without regard to the harm we’re doing others, we are forgetting who we are and literally fighting our true nature and the power of all that is. creating an environment where we can respect this distinction and keep healing as a priority in our life situations could be an end to any confusion of why we’re here, and a major step in our evolution.

love to all,
marie


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