New Years 2008

"The neglect of rising poverty against the background of religious extremism can only complicate an already difficult world situation. The war against terrorism is primarily perceived as a war based on the use of force. However, economics has its own force, as does the desperation of families who cannot feed themselves. Militancy and greed cannot become the defining images of a new century that began with much hope. We must refocus our energy on promoting the values of democracy, accountability, broad-based government, and institutions that can respond to people's very real and very urgent needs." - Benazir Bhutto

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Isaac Asimov

"To seek vengeance on a dumb thing is blasphemy." - Herman Melville, from Moby Dick

I am not a religious person but do like to consider myself someone who tries every day to walk the walk sans jargon. This really comes down to honesty, honoring the needs of others and treading lightly on this precious earth, in my opinion. Nonetheless, I’ve always had a strange fascination with the psychology of religion. Why do some people subscribe to tribal following while setting further analysis aside for a collective effervescence? It seems inflexible religious bias has stirred the pot of clashing ideals. And as these ideals clash, rather than learn from one another, war will keep breeding more war. To look upon this rationally, it is clear that this system is broken and that the time to evolve out of this cycle of samsara, or elected human suffering, is now.

On the Sunday before Christmas, we went to Plains Georgia and met Jimmy and Roslyn Carter. He teaches Sunday school to adults at his hometown church. He is someone who is walking the walk with scripture in hand. I admire Jimmy Carter for his humanitarian efforts and consciousness-raising, so to meet him was an honor. His lesson was about transcending the boundaries of difference and reaching out to those who are unlike us.

In the past seven years, America has fallen into an emotional depression. I noticed it more poignantly during my visit to France this fall where in comparison, lightness prevailed and a more joy-filled acknowledgment of others was the age-old decorum. Here in America as we witness unprecedented governmental corruption, lies, media manipulation, and greedy imperialism, at every turn I wonder how on earth it could get any worse. I’ve struggled to maintain faith in this country.

But as I’ve learned from the lessons life has dished out personally, we don’t evolve as individuals if every day is rosy. When the universe presents obstacles, they are usually opportunities to broaden our compassion and elevate our consciousness so we can become a bigger vessel. This is how we derive meaning.

Among individuals, the seas are shifting in America. Policymakers are clearly not consulting their moral compasses, but many of my friends are. A sea change is happening, I feel it. This year my husband and I received many Holiday cards including descriptions of the charities each friend or family member has chosen to help. My husband began sponsoring a child from Lesotho, a five-year-old who likes to draw, named Emmanuel. We are both helping to support a grassroots school in Mexico. This year, I decided not to contribute to any political organizations. My father sent funds to a family in his hometown Vernonia that was devastated by the NW coasts winter floods.

I think that as catastrophe and war surround us, we as individuals are beginning to shake the numbness and rise up. This is what we must do. Extend ourselves with one generous act at a time.

It has been said that once the fruit is plucked from the tree of knowledge, the way back to Eden is barred forever. If we choose to balance the ‘unknown’ with self-determinism, we acknowledge responsibility. This is how we will start the revolution for evolution.

Happy New Year