On Being Positive

If folks think that maintaining a positive attitude in today’s world comes easily, I can posemotibunch.jpgassure them that it isn’t.

When we are enveloped in such blatant cruelty to other human beings—strafed daily with offensive, verbal assaults on our person and our differing ideas—staying positive through all of THAT is quite a trick.

Every morning we have to armor up and set our defense shields to “DEFLECT” just tosupersademotri.png make it through the day. That’s a little sad, don’t you think? (Insert SAD- face emoji here for emphasis.)

Yesterday I watched a lovely, gentle person I know try to defend her immigration/child separation Facebook posts against cruel, heartless comments that countered her message.  I offered my simple “HEART-LIKE” (insert HEART emoji here) to her just to let her know that I stand hearteoti9with her, if only from a distance; but at the same time I know that when we engage on social media with people who strongly disagree with us and disagree with who we are as loving individuals, then they are NOT really our friends, even though they might be on our FRIENDS list.

And if we can’t handle their unkind comments, then we must either remove them as our FRIENDS or stay off the PUBLIC airwaves—it’s that simple.  But then it isn’t really simple, is it?  In fact, it’s a large, complex issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Unfortunately the level of venom in today’s public discussion has reached such fever ick emoti8.pngpitch that it’s like watching a foot-long hotdog being torn apart by two ravenous dogs. Something’s gonna give there—and within seconds that once-whole hotdog will never be seen again—at least in the same form that it previously was. (Insert “ICK!” emoji here.)

How can we be positive about the present state of our declining human condition?

A couple days ago I heard someone on a news show discussing what was happening to our sense of civility in general; and this person said something that I agree with: We are in an unmasking period in human interaction where the “shadow-side” of human nature is dislikeemoti84.jpgrising to the surface for all to view and assess.  No more pretending to “tolerate” others. (Never did like that word “tolerate”)

I agree.  Clearly we don’t tolerate dissension now. We don’t tolerate views that differ from our own. We don’t tolerate people who do not look like us or act like us, or talk like us. We don’t rise above our prejudices or biases—we embrace them, right? We remove the mask and say “Hey those of YOU who do not look or think, or act like me, … I hate you! And I’m proud of hating you!  So there!  Deal with it!”

As we now look closely at that unmasking of our deepest and darkest human natures, we say, “Yes, bigotry and prejudice, and racism, and homophobia, and xenophobia, etc….YES, …these all exist in our present world society and in each of us to some degree; and we are not as culturally and consciously advanced as the civilized people that we once believed our nation and the people who compose it, were thought to be.  We are barbarians still—pure and simple—we are still immersed in our primal fears of scarcity and fears of personal annihilation, and we are incapable of rising above those fears!”

We fear “otherness” in general, and in today’s permissive environment we act out those fears in the most putrefying and nauseating ways imaginable.horrifying emoti5

And that’s not just emoji “SAD-face” folks—that is emoji horrifying!    (Insert that nasty thing here.)

 

But yet, ….the POSITIVE from this great unmasking is that people can no longer hide behind who they once pretended to be—because they have been unmasked–unmasked by themselves in all their acrimonious glory–they have all exposed themselves for their true feelings on just about every imaginable subject—whether you wanted to know them or not.

gagmeface6

 

(Insert big “SMILEY-face” here.) ……

 

No, …that’s the “GAG-me” emoji.

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Conundrums

Some part of me knows that whatever is happening around us or in the world at large is likely a part of something far bigger than my own comprehension and concerns.

changevoteThat same part of me that knows this, also knows that severe irritants are often the catalysts to extreme but necessary change.

That’s all well and good, but I think that this same part of me that is so all-seeing and all-knowing should now move from the back seat to the front because the view from my vehicle’s windshield is becoming much harder to navigate through when so much smoke and debris have clouded the road ahead.

What I know for certain: Something BIG is happening behind the scenes.  I know this because I can FEEL it.  It is in the energies rippling through us at present.

I don’t know exactly what that BIG thing is other than it feels a lot like the energies of mass rebellion.

When major shifts in awareness occur they don’t usually come with pounding fists andchangeandcourageflag screaming animosities—although those are the results of voices too long ignored.  No, genuine awareness shifts come in more quiet clandestine ways. Those are by far the sneakiest and most effective changes made around us.  I think that is happening now.

The biggest conundrum I personally face is the one of determining the right response for me to what I am seeing and feeling happening to this country and to the world we share.

Of course I want to rant and rave, to stomp my feet and shake my fists. I want to shout: “Stop being so stupid people!  Don’t you see what you are doing by allowing this constant insanity to persist?”

And yet I know that adding to the venomous airwaves only increases the likelihood that no real, higher consciousness change will occur.

What I view as hopeful and extremely powerful are the semi-quiet, large gatherings of people—voters—who are ready for full-scale change out of representatives to congress.  swarzneggerquotecourage.pngThey feel, like I do, that if our elected representatives are allowing this presidential insanity to continue, then they are not really concerned about our democracy, our constitution, or our nation’s defense or perpetuation.

They are more concerned about “tweets.”

That’s a bit disconcerting, don’t you think—for Congressional representatives and senators to be concerned about presidential “tweets.”

Long ago, Stephan Crane wrote about a young, civil-war soldier’s wish for a bloodstained uniform to show others he met along redbadgecourage.jpgthe road that he wasn’t the coward that he had just proven himself to be, because the blood itself stood as “A Red Badge of Courage” for all to see, even when he wasn’t courageous or brave enough to face the enemy fire head-on that day he ran from the battle.

IT’s a bit of disheartening to see so many in Congress afraid of a little battle of words when they are so willing to send our soldiers into real battles to die for our supposed American ideals that they themselves are so afraid of upholding.

My personal conundrum is how to be “positive” about this ludicrous yet deadly serious situation.

Well, the one positive choice that I do see in all of this chaotic mess is the plan to change out our elected representatives with new ones who DO care about our American ideals and our democratic constitution.

That sounds like a good plan to me.  No conundrum there.

Let’s just do it!

Archetype as Manifestation

om symb.jpgReading a blog post on Hinduism, I ran across a sentence that stated that Hinduism is often thought to be polytheistic (many deities) but actually it is monotheistic (one Supreme Being which is TRUTH); and the various other Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicted in statues and iconic art are merely manifestations of the Supreme Being. They are the recognizable ways that TRUTH manifests Itself in the world that we know.

True, this may be one person’s opinion/perception in general on the subject. But it spurred a thought in me that each of the iconic manifestations (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha, Tara, Kali, …etc.) which handle specialized functions and forces of the arch black.jpgrecognized Hindu Universe, were similar to archetypes—specific behavioral patterns depicted in a generalized, recognizable form for the collective mind to grasp.

In no way can I, nor would I, try to adequately explain one of the most complex, ancient belief systems of humanity, but I can recognize that religions in general were often created to help people conceptualize/rationalize the interacting forces of their lives from birth to death—to help make a type of sense to how fragile their lives often seemed.

  • What’s the purpose, the reason, or the point of LIFE in general?
  • Why come into this existence for so short a time and then leave with little evidence of our having even been here?life purpose.jpg

Well, religions have tried to supply those illusive answers. Some folks might be satisfied with those answers, and some may not.

But what most religions do is to provide their followers with a purpose of life narrative that many find comforting in some way. To be believable, that narrative needs a cast of characters to provide the story’s action. Those action characters often provide the religion’s examples of the human-like behaviors to admire or detest—the should’s and should not’s examples—the goodness aspects to emulate and the badness aspects to avoid.

With deities, however, it is not so much the human attributes and failings that are primarily important about them, because their importance lies in the affecting forces of the Universe that they represent—forces for destruction or creation—forces for condemnation or adulation—forces for cruelty or compassion—forces for personal defense or protection—forces to block adversity and to clear obstructions.

These forces are often depicted as recognizable human-like figures—meaning that they are ARCHETYPES—a collectively recognized symbol representing a pattern of thought or behavior.

Example: When Shiva or Kali manifest in the world—watch out! shiva.jpgThey both represent destruction.

So if we wish to change our social and cultural concepts of how the world around us should function and flow, perhaps we should examine the archetypes/symbols we often associate with peaceful co-existence.

If we truly want to manifest a loving and compassionate world, we need an archetypal model to emulate. That may be the draw of Christianity, where you have an entire religion based on a recognized symbol of love and compassion for all in Jesus.

In Hinduism or Buddhism it might be represented by Tara, or Buddism’s Avalokiteśvara (male Bodhisattva) or Guanyin (female Bodhisattva) who also represent mercy and compassion.  But the point being: There are recognized archetypes already existing that represent the desired state of being. We don’t even have to create them. We simply need to utilize them as archetypal examples of loving forces for the betterment of humanity.

I am NOT a fan of organized religions. But I do recognize that their function is to promote models of positive human behavior and right-attitudes for humanity’s peaceful co-existence.wild angel.jpg

So perhaps if we focused less on the doctrine espoused by these religions and more on the general intention by all for positive, peaceful human co-existence, then there would be less necessity for warrior archetype to remain the primary action hero of today’s life narrative. Let’s switch to SAGE archetype for awhile. We need a little less automatic reaction and a bit more consideration before action in the world we occupy.

It’s a stretch, I know. But it’s definitely worth the effort.

Remember that an archetype is representative of a pattern of behavior, so what behavior is most productive for all of our futures? Hatred and destruction only create more of the same.

Love and peaceful co-existence assure that there might actually be a tomorrow to enjoy.

I vote for that.love hate.jpg

God’s TRUTH

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. kalidescope stained glass
It fell, and broke into pieces.
Everybody took a piece of it,
and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”
~ Rumi

 

Love this poem by Rumi, but then I usually love most of his poems. However this one really struck me after my recent experience with trying to help some friends save a dying church congregation.

Clearly I love my friends and valued our united effort to create a better spiritual environment for all involved, but I did NOT love the scripted “churchiness” requirements of the experience—the dogma, the empty ritual, the traditions of doing something a certain way because it had always been done like that, and the dictatorial manner of the pastor deciding the church’s focus.

That kind of ‘pseudo-spiritual’ experience is definitely not for me—in fact it is the very church ladyreason I shunned churches in general for most of my life—because of the phoniness and hypocrisy of the experience.

Even from the start I knew that my participation in the group endeavor would not be easy because of my personal views on organized religions (Religion and spirituality are two very different aspects of believing in something greater than oneself, and while I am deeply spiritual, I am not a fan of the restrictive, entrenched, self-perpetuating structure of religious teachings.).

But again, I love my friends and wanted to help them pull off this effort successfully—to rebuild the dwindling congregation for the small-community betterment.church.jpg

After sitting with clenched teeth through eight months of services/sermons over what was being said and done at the pulpit and altar, I decided I couldn’t continue what felt to me to be a ridiculous charade and poorly disguised ego-trip for the preacher.

As Rumi said above, my piece of the mirror didn’t reflect what was being said and done there, so to me, it could never be MY truth. And I don’t feel bad about quitting the group endeavor or for leaving my friends there who are still a part of it.

What I would feel guilty about is if I hadn’t quit, because then I would be betraying my own self—my own spiritual connectedness that always feels pure and direct.

A week ago someone said something derogatory to me, and I let it go without responding or feeling ill will toward the person for saying it; and my best friend said to me that I was being a good ‘Christian’ about the situation.

rumi religion.jpgI had to bite my tongue to keep from saying back to her, No, ….that was being a good Muslim, or a good Jew, or a good Buddhist, or a good Jainist, or a good Taoist, or a good Hindi.

 

What I actually was demonstrating had nothing to do with any religion in particular, but with ALL in general: I was being a good PERSON!

We throw these religious labels around far too easily to separate us from others—to make distinctions between US and THEM—and what THEY believe as opposed to what WE believe.

But the entire point of living this life is to recognize our similarities and our sameness, not accentuate our differences. character quote

So to me, if you want to build a better world and create more loving and peaceful environments for everyone, including yourselves, then be better people, not proselytizers of elite-ness and separation from those who don’t share the same piece of God’s TRUTH mirror that you have in your hand.

Let’s put all those mirror pieces back together and then look within the reconstructed TRUTH mirror because it is only God’s TRUTH when it is in Its wholeness.

gods truth

“American Crime” – Studies in Character

I love a good character study, whether enjoyed through reading a good book or a watching a dramatic presentation.charac quote.jpg

Nothing says “humanity” better than witnessing exposed human foibles and a character’s visually-recorded self-delusion.

It’s the mirror we all stare into but seldom realize who we see because we are so busy watching ourselves acting in different bodies with strange faces that sometimes appeal to or repel us.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who watches it, but our present television offering is the black hole of attention consumption. It sucks away our hours, our days, and our lives. We watch renditions of LIFE rather than actually living it.

And in return, television media gives us…….um,……I mean besides all the blatant money-grubbing advertising, …it basically gives us little other than being an insomniac’s last refuge or a 50-inch, rectangular pacifier.

I wouldn’t even call most viewing options “entertainment” as much as I would call it varied flavors of escapism—escapism geared to your favorite obsession or fear.

So when I, in my own escapist foray, ran across a really good dramatic series based mainly on character study utilizing creative character dissection, I took notice.american crime

I’ve trolled the Netflix options many times. Some series are so-so, some hard to get past the first 4 minutes, and some were fairly interesting. But if you are really into character studies, I would suggest the series called “American Crime.”

It’s certainly not what I expected it to be, and gladly so. The main actors are some of the best, and are well-known in their own rights, but combined together in this unusual format and artistic renditions of “life as it actually is, not as we project it to be” they are superb mirrors of human self-deception, self-destruction, and self/family annihilation.

And that is the ironic title’s claim: “American Crime” – it explores the cultural/societal/legal crimes we commit daily on ourselves, our families, muslim women.jpgand our communities.

Why on earth would that be interesting or entertaining to watch?

Because it is so revelatory in each unveiling episode. You relate to the de-masking of the characters—their proposed aspirations, their genuine woundedness, and seas 2.jpgtheir hidden weaknesses. Through each of their depictions, you see how easy it is to slide away just a little from your own integrity and end up in a complex situation with the sudden choice of now facing the evolved problem head on, or trying to bury it deeper in even greater deception coupled with harsher future consequences. (Hint: they all go for the latter one.)

What I liked most about the two season series other than showing the same actors in alternate character universes, was that there really were no clear good guys—no clear child protectbad guys depicted in the show. There were no easily distinguished heroes and no pure villains, although some were implied and assumed until proven not to be.

In each season’s dramatic character exposition, there were only flawed people like you and me, making one or two choices that led to violent repercussions and forever tainted lives because of their simple acts of greed, lust, loneliness or self-loathing.character are you

The most prevalent theme I took from both seasons was that all of us need love and acceptance, openness and understanding. But without those necessities, we live shallow, deceptive, and destructive lives that eventually implode.

It isn’t that our lives are fated to be that way—it’s that we choose our fates because of those unmet needs.

And that is the biggest crime.

The OPEN Mind

Limitation is so unnecessary.

open.jpgWhen we focus so tightly on a single issue or a single viewpoint, we limit ourselves and our outcomes.

You don’t need to do just “one thing” in your life when you can do many things. You needn’t “specialize” in a certain subject or a course of study unless you feel that “one thing” is the single guiding force of your life. Specialists in nature are often a rare, isolated species, and are the ones most prone to extinction because they limit their food sources.

While there are advantages to a tight mental focus, there are disadvantages to limiting your frame of reference so severely that you exclude other possibilities. When you zero in so tightly on a concept or even an ideology, you restrict any other explanation from penetrating your mind set.einstein quote.png

I don’t mean to be the judgmental finger-pointer here but in today’s world, being able to keep your mind OPEN to a problem’s solutions is an attribute, not a detriment.

Not only are we, the residents of this world we all share, still ignorant to the answers to all the world’s problems; we aren’t even aware of the best questions to ask pertaining to those problems.

That might sound critical of what is presently occurring in the world’s greatest problem spots, but world problem-solving depends on increasing your base knowledge of the issues, not restricting it; and single-point perspectives with limited options only create the same scenarios we’re trying to dig ourselves out from now.

Case in point: If you ever have the opportunity to go through Mediation Training please mediationtake it. Mediation is where a mediator helps two or more parties define their key problem issues; then she helps them to successfully resolve their problems in a mutually beneficial manner.  That training will help you realize how difficult it is to help two very different viewpoints find and accept common ground to build a better future outcome based on mutually beneficial goals.toddlers.jpg

It’s a lot like getting toddlers to share a slurpy even if they have two straws.

What you usually encounter in Mediation is that combatants are often like the two primary political parties mid-election year mayhem: There is the standard stalemate caused by “my way or the highway” thinking or the “you are so WRONG how could you ever be that stupid” viewpoint expressed by one or both participants in the mediation.

Emotion rules the disagreements, not rational thinking.

common groundBut the mediator’s goal is to find common ground between the two deadlocked camps, which means that if you are the mediator you have to dig deeper into each combatant’s wants/don’t wants to find out what the REAL issues are behind their immovable stances.

You’d be surprised what deeper wounds and hidden agendas are revealed in this process.

Sometimes the disagreement has nothing to do with the subject in question. The acrimony between the two camps is often pure, raw woundedness raging on whatever ground it can find to take its stand.  Those are tough situations to resolve amicably. A good mediator (not the same thing as a negotiator) earns every dollar s/he makes.

And the single most difficult task at hand for any mediator is to encourage the participants to come to the table with an OPEN mind—a mind willing to consider an option not previously proposed.

An OPEN mind recognizes that the “highway” is meant for two-way travel, and being “wrong” is often just a shift in perspective to being considered “not so wrong.”backyard.jpg

Common ground is the single unifier most sought by a good mediator. Once that is established then a mutually beneficial outcome can be defined for both parties. And once the emotional aspects of the arguments have dissipated, the warring parties are more willing to consider rational solutions to the dilemma.

But the key component to any problem resolution is that all participants must somehow achieve and maintain an OPEN mind state that is willing to simply consider ALL possibilities.kids.jpg

As dedicated as we are to our own viewpoints, stubbornness and intractability are less productive outside the nursery-school playground.