Saturday, October 22, 2011

Same Place, Different Time

Catching a vision for life was the focus of my day.  In a strange sequence of events (for me, it seems that strange is my new normal),  I found myself being forced to wait and think about my desires.  I won't kill you with my rambling words from my original draft where I hunt down a thought and then beat it to a bloody pulp once I capture it.  I will say though, I thought about what a man named, Brooks, who is near 60 shared with me, "There are two types of people in this world.  Those that sell their bodies and those that use their minds."  Having a job is selling your body, using your mind, is knowing people and building relationships that are in agreement to produce a desired outcome.  Now, this doesn't really seem so profound, but the thoughts that followed led me to go out for a day with just myself.  I felt drawn to see places where I used to go and to reflect on the passage of 23 years to see the changes that have happened here in my hometown and to share glimpses of my home.  I think it was the first time I had felt like and acted like a tourist in my own city.  I took out my camera and became the observer.

In looking at the here and now, I am fortunate to be here.  Minneapolis is a beautiful city, kind, and in different ways, it's thriving.  I shot pictures of places I looked at growing up.  I noticed places that had changed, the cityscape had been altered and retouched.  Once place I was drawn to was the State Theater.  In my youth, it was my church, the former Jesus People's Church, where ironically I had performed with their youth group.  I had been on that very stage for our congregation.  Over 23 years ago, I watched that church fall under its own weight of multiple scandals that included embezzlement, sexual affairs, and statutory rape.  I don't know why I stayed as long as I did, almost to the point of the actual doors finally closing.  It seemed like as I became an adult, I saw my innocence die with my church.  I choose to think that it was my ignorance instead of my innocence, but that may be wishful thinking. I saw the conflict of teaching and the reality of living life. 

Today, as I looked at the State Theater, and see the image of 'La Cage Aux Folles', I remembered a night that changed my life.  It was on Hennepin Avenue, at this very spot I had made my first openly gay friend.  At the time he was suicidal over his orientation and had been openly condemned by a youth pastor.  I found him crying, and instead of walking away, we walked up and down Hennepin Avenue together, holding hands as I listened to his confessions.  It was the first time in my life where I began to realize that the practice of condemning people, or more accurately, hating people, was anything but 'Christian'.  I didn't talk him out of suicide.  I listened. He was the one that chose life. Too often people think they have to save people or change people when we don't possess that kind of power or control over others. All I did was to just accept him as he was.  I chose love over judgement, even though my belief 'system' conflicted. 

It's 23 years later and the State Theater's marquee was a reminder that change is very much a part of life and that sometimes all you really need to do for someone else is just accept them as they are.  Love always wins, though not always in the way that you might think. Maybe that is why I smile so much, after all, it's the best way to take on the world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Believe A Liar - The Lying Trust

"When you are at one with loss,
The loss is experienced willingly.
He who does not trust enough
Will not be trusted."--23rd Verse Tao

George Orwell's famous quote about truth being a revolutionary act in times of universal deceit has been pasted all over the world, often linked with another writer's angry words.  I know I am guilty of using his quote when I have tried to illustrate my point with all of the injustices I have witnessed.  At times, voicing my opinion with the anger of an impotence of how we all seem to be ripped to shreds with our passions when we view our global inequities and abuses of empire powers.  Those empires, those power structures are what the individual screams against, just aching to be heard that offers what exactly?  Is it a solution?  Is it a promise to solve everything?  Is it for what exactly? 

Today, while trekking across the city, I paused and at random I opened up the Tao to the 23rd Verse.  It's/was a nice verse that starts off with listening, but in the version I had, the closing phrase read as follows, "It is by not believing in people that you turn them into liars."  For the past five years I had felt the falling away of everything I believed in.  The symbols of what I considered to be true was cracking up my carefully prepared and planned out life in order to create the emptiness I needed, but one thing I had not counted on was the fear that came with the emptiness or my personal denial of the fear that was inside.  The term, 'real' was gone and Truman Capote's work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" flashed once again in my mind.  I was Holly Golightly, the REAL phoney and I started to laugh because it started to make sense.  I believed I was real.  I believed I was fake.  I was angered by my exposure for the little lies I allowed myself to believe along the way in my life, but I still had it all wrong.

It wasn't bad that I believed.  It wasn't bad that I lost my faith.  It wasn't good either because it was just a state of being.  What was wrong was that I wasn't giving anyone a chance to go through their journey.  What made my information more true or correct than anyone's?  After all, this subject called truth, is merely what is accepted.  Truth is merely controlled information.  However, we get angry with the controlling factors because, in my humble opinion, we have the strong desire to control ourselves in as many aspects as we can.  However, what we forget, is that we teach each other along the way.  We don't know it all.  We don't like to admit we don't know it all.  We also don't all have the same experiences though they can be replicated to a certain point.

It could be said of any system that if one uses disbelief in one's instrument of control (say government), the resulting effect will be a nation of liars.  Count how many times you encounter different people throughout the day and don't believe their words.  We challenge every compliment as false praise because we judge from our own actions.  Is truth a kindness without motive?  Are lies really just to keep our ego protected in order to protect an image of how we want to project ourselves to the outside world?

Perhaps, what is the deeper issue is that we embrace lies more than we embrace the truth.  Perhaps thinking about the many ways we lie to the world starts from the outside to the inside.  We are told the world is dangerous.  However, what makes it dangerous?  Is it our expectation of there being "bad" people in the world?  

I know I am no closer to solving the puzzle, no closer to providing a usable answer than to say just one word.  Trust.  

What emotion does that bring out in you?  For so many, it brings out just two emotions.  Love or Fear.  Whether we realize it or not the unconditional surrender to either one of those emotions is present in us from the time we were born into this world.  We come here blindly trusting or blindly fearing by our ability to bond with our mother.  It's why babies die if they aren't touched.  We feed off of our need to be loved and to love.  

What we yearn for is not to lose that magic of being able to love because more than anything it enables us to see with human eyes the world with possibility.  It restores the beauty that goes missing when we only see how bad it is.  

Perhaps that is why, throughout the ages, power structures have killed so many men and women that looked at the world differently.  We don't need to silence those messengers.  We need to pay attention and ask a simple question, are we willing to allow each other to grow into their own power?  Are we willing to stop fearing the good that is within us all?  Are we willing to see that even though all of us lie for various reasons, there is a deeper truth that is also buried within.   The truth can surface if we can look through the embedded lie and have faith that goes beyond the lies we tell ourselves in order to feel safe and secure in the world.

The first person we all have to stop deceiving is that reflection because no matter how open and honest we claim to be, it doesn't really begin until the journey starts within at your own pace.  Then your world can finally change because at that moment, you are at peace.  
Still failing at life and it feels wonderful because I have another chance above ground to go further down the road.   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Silver and Gold

Irony according to Fowler's.  "Irony is a form of utterance that postulates a double audience, consisting of one party that hearing shall hear & shall not understand, & another party that, when more is meant than meets the ear, is aware both of that more & of the outsiders' incomprehension.

No.  That doesn't quit work.  I comprehended what was placed before me.  As a matter of fact, I became rather excited.  After wading through the months of stomach churning thought of ever working for two entities, government or corporation, I found a rebel organization with a capitalistic cause.  Not for the sake of profit alone, but the sake of really helping others secure their future in a way that can protect their families.

I smiled.  It feels like being Robin Hood singing an Olivia Newton-John song,  "Let's get physical".  It's knowing that it really isn't too late.  It's not about doom or gloom, but I smiled as I found loop holes around prospective reclamation acts.  Think about it.  A way to do what you need to do without worrying about privacy and having a government take away what was set aside for profit. 

This isn't a commercial, but what I am saying is that happiness, feels good. It feels like a rung, a step towards a bigger dream which, goes well beyond the tools of acquisition. 

My invisible road has been a strange one.  It's taking through all of the different elements of life.  It's giving, receiving, learning how to ask and learning how to listen to others and yourself. 

What makes me happy, is just knowing inside that even using material tools, you have an opportunity to do something much more than working towards safety and security.  I think the coolest dreams have always been when you incorporate others and just let yourself create.   When your ego doesn't matter, when competition isn't the goal, you get a vision that 's a choir when you become selfless.

One step at a time.  One smile at a time.  One vision at a time, until we can all be free.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Protests and it Fashionable?

Hello Readers, Friends, and life voyeurs,

I came to peek in on my blog, thinking that if I let it be idle, no one would be reading.  After all, I touched a subject that rips at many of us.  Then again, there are so many people who are totally desensitized, possibly because they don't care about anyone, including themselves.  It's amazing what people have sacrificed for material things, careers, and approval.  To some degree, we are all guilty of killing what we love most to have success.  I have still felt lost at moments, almost impatient for a sense of being something to someone, forgetting everything I learnt abroad, almost being pulled under.  It's a sense of seasickness or self sickness, perhaps.  That is the one vacation you can never take, one from your own company.  Where can you go from yourself?   Well, that is when you focus on the world and others, and that is precisely what I did for the past few years to feel a sense of 'cleanliness'.  Perhaps I wanted to rid myself from everything I suspected but didn't want to prove.

I found there are two types of blindness, intentional and unintentional.  The intentional type comes from desiring to trust blindly.  Those are people who are incredibly close to that fall in this category.  The reality is we don't want to find anything wrong with them, after all we have enough flaws within ourselves that competing in this area is often not wise.  Institutions fall into this category as well.  Blind loyalty, to a cause, to a belief, to a mass emotion.  The list of forbidden things to speak of was always religion and politics.  Beliefs are what people die for.  Interesting that our loves are used against us to such a point that it ignites hates and passions that 'make us feel alive'.

Recently, the Occupy movements are starting to sweep across America and to be honest, I haven't watched any of the televised reports or read most of the mainstream press because of how few of the major papers know anything about investigative journalism anymore.  6 major corporations have consolidated all media.  That is very worrisome because corporations are concerned with profit and can and do control the messengers.  

Earlier this year, I decided to return to America, rather than to stay in China and teach another year.  I felt within me that this year, was a pivotal year for us, as a people, as a nation, because we are actually learning more about the world and we have been learning more about how our government has been controlled by outside sources.  We have learned how it has been by the contents of a wallet and not character that people are placed into office by those who have deep enough pockets.  Our politicians have been purchased all around the world to exercise the will of others.  We know it, and have wondered if there is really anything we can do about it.

Personally, I have been wondering if we are serious about changing our ways.  I have read many of the signs the protesters carry.  They are life stories on cardboard.  They are the rule players who are pissed off that the game was rigged against them.  In short, it's not really about anything important, not really.  

The complaint can be summed up in a word.  Money.  

The typical American is upset that all of the material is gone, they are in debt, lost their homes, pensions, government assistance, and Occupy Wall Street is our venue, for now.  We are going to quickly learn that we do have to change this whole game that no one is supposed to discuss.  This game that has only a few winners and far more losers.  

We haven't cried out for peace.  We haven't cared that we go into other nations and strip their resources.  We are mad because we paid for Wall Street bonuses.  We are mad that we paid for the bail-outs of AIG, big banks, and continue to fund the Military Industrial Complex, The nation of Israel, and all of those chemicals that are dumped on us (which was authorized in public law, hidden in a National Defense Authorization Act).  We want to know why.  We really want to know the truth, even if it hurts to know the truth.  I never liked doctors that withheld information from me.  It would make me distrust them even more.  Truth, in its complete ugliness, can be a tool or a medicine that begins its work to either cure or kill you, but you must deal with it and not run from the pain it may cause.

So, I am asking a hard question.  Are we just complaining instead of doing something about it?  Let me flash back to earlier this year.  There was a protest in March 2011 in front of the White House.  I was there as an observer.  I was there to speak with the protesters.  I wanted to record the events of Veterans for Peace, and looked at how the public viewed these protesters.  It was kind of astonishing that people seemed to not care about our presence in the middle east.  The Washington Post wrote a one paragraph blurb in the back pages. Total media silence usually sends a message about it not happening in America.  I also witnessed 105 people get arrested and one of the people caught my eye.  Colonel Ann Wright, US Army and former State Department Officer (back when Colin Powell was running the State Department).

Here is Colonel Wright getting arrested.  I didn't get a chance to talk to her before they put the zip strip on her  wrists, but she gave me a smile.  
Mary Ann Wright (born 1947) is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She received the State Department Award for Heroism in 1997, after helping to evacuate several thousand people during the civil war in Sierra Leone.[1] She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

She was a passenger on the Challenger 1, which along with the Mavi Marmara, was part of the Gaza flotilla.
Source: Wikipedia

Here, without fans or much fanfare was a person who reminded me of the Buddhist monk I had met in South Korea that looked at his life and realized he had spent 20 years on the mountaintop.  This peace protester had made a career based on the passionate need to tell others to say no to anything nuclear, a total of 30 years holding a vigil that was actually more tied to a partner than nuclear weapons.  In a strange way, I had found a love story and a public display of passion to change the world.  30 years passed and the world had not changed despite the images and signs.  We do things that are dangerous in this world.  They disfigure people and we do know radiation kills.  We have yet to see the full horrors of Fukushima.  Chernobyl wasn't pretty either.
 Is it that some people feel things more intensely than others?  Is it based on a measure of personal pain that one endures until they have to scream?  Why aren't we horrified enough to stop harming the world?  Is it that we just can't do without all of those shiny things?
 I stopped by the nuclear protester's tent with a new friend I had made on this journey.  Sometimes we can't see what the impact will be, who will be touched by the life sacrifice she made.  However, something to really think about, if the world suddenly stopped using nuclear weapons and energy, this woman suddenly loses her purpose.  Think about it.  What would she do next?
 If we ended poverty in the world, just think about it, we wouldn't have to worry about having nuns in Calcutta caring for the sick and needy.  One of the nuns smiled at me and thrust emblems of Mary in my hand.   I guess vows are vows.
 I haven't stopped caring about people.  Humanity is still achingly beautiful and horrific.  To see this man in a drained fountain within a mile from Capital Hill illustrates perfectly how we all are in trouble.  I went there when it wasn't fashionable, but out of a pure need to ask myself who we are.  It was a choice that wasn't safe or secure.