Curiosity, creativity, collaboration, compassion.
Spontaneity, self-esteem, self-reliance, morality.
Ignorance, competition, capitalism, aggression.
Complaint, dogma, habit, paranoia.
Love and appreciation.
Ego and aversion.
I observe humanity, myself included. What’s been in the news and on my mind? Landing a roving data-collector on Mars. The fatal shootings at a Sikh gurdwara here in Wisconsin. (My sister is a Sikh.) Drought and global warming. Conversations with Steve about who we want to be, how we want to live, what risks we are willing to take, what new modes of being we want to develop. Trying to see my inner self and assess it with honesty and compassion. Hoping and yearning for my children. Monitoring my energy.
We are living. We claim and generate energy, all the time. The flow of that energy is governed by our choices. (Ours and other living things’, although we humans are the ones who make cognitive choices. Plants, animals, planets and cosmic particles participate in that flow differently.) We are responsible for our choices. Are we looking carefully and critically at those choices? Are we blaming some other source for the results of our choices? Are we even aware of the results or do we look the other way?
7 billion people. We are making an impact on the Universe. Do we like the results we observe? Can we do better? Can I do better?
Denholm Elliott in the Merchant Ivory production of “A Room With a View” portrays one of my favorite wise characters. I love the scene at the pensione when he’s trying to convince two women unhappy with their accommodations to take his room which has a view.
“I don’t care what I see outside! My vision is within. Here is where the birds sing! Here is where the sky is blue!”
He is gesticulating with his dinner fork, poking himself in the heart all the while. Sometimes I need a good poke in the heart as well to wake up that inner vision. I find myself feeling bored and peevish, discontent with my fortune. Why a traffic ticket now? Why didn’t I get that early bird discount? What am I supposed to do with myself when it’s 95 degrees out, I’m wearing a tight corset, I’m at work, there are no visitors to talk to, and I’ve got no chores to do? Why am I feeling so stuck?!? Because I’m not taking responsibility and I’m not living from the inside out. I am waiting for the outside world to stimulate and satisfy me.
And the outside world would love to take over that job! There are a million things to distract and entertain and lead you from one external thing to the next. I spent 4 hours this morning at the Wisconsin State Fair, manning the Tourism booth in my 19th Century costume. A quick tour after my shift was all I needed to grab a lamb sandwich and some fresh roasted corn on the cob. I passed up all kinds of brightly colored, noisy stuff. I don’t need a chamois cloth or a giant roller coaster ride or chocolate covered bacon on a stick. They’re not really going to make me happy. I want to be satisfied from within, and I want that for my children. I tend to worry about their fortunes, too. How are they going to get a job? How are they going to pay off those student loans? How are they going to get around if their cars break down? I find myself getting anxious and peevish on their behalf, too. But really, more than catching a break, I want them to catch that inner vision. I want them to be able to be satisfied and happy and enthusiastic about life no matter what their outward circumstances show.
An inner life. Unassailable, regenerating, like solar energy that continues for millenniums. Do we even teach our children to cultivate that anymore? How are we supposed to have a moral compass if we don’t? How does a nation of outwardly motivated and distracted people develop a moral compass to guide their democratic process? I wonder about these things…..
The Raspberry School is part of the Norwegian area of Old World Wisconsin. The one-room schoolhouse dates back to the late 19th century and brings back memories for lots of visitors who went to schools like this one. One fellow I talked to said he loved telling people that he graduated 3rd in his class…and omitting the fact that there were only 3 pupils in his grade level.
Multi-aged classrooms became a “new” education idea again in the 70s when I was in grade school and when my kids were in elementary school in the 90s, but ours only spanned two grades. I remember when we all walked home for lunch in the middle of the day. No lunch pails needed.
Each desk at the school has a slate and a slate pencil (no chalk, just slate on slate) and a copy of one of the McGuffey Readers. I never used one as a child. What about you?
But I found the most fascinating thing I learned last Monday at this school was about the Pledge of Allegiance. The 1892 version by Francis Bellamy reads: “I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” With so many immigrants from different nations, allegiance to a new flag was part of public school education. It wasn’t until 1923 that the phrase “the flag of the United States of America” replaced “my flag”. Bellamy protested, but his opinion was ignored. Twenty years after that, in Japanese internment camps, all those over the age of 17 were asked if they would swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and “forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, to any other foreign government, power or organization”. It wasn’t until 1954, when atheism and Communism were perceived as national threats, that “under God” was added. Francis Bellamy’s granddaughter asserts that the author of the original pledge would have objected to this change as well.
To what or to whom would you pledge your allegiance? Liberty and equality (which Bellamy wanted to include but knew the state superintendents were against equality for women and African Americans) and justice are the three great ideas of the American political tradition, according to Dr. Mortimer Adler. Are we in agreement on supporting these ideas in the U.S.A.? It’s something to think about as Independence Day approaches. Feel free to submit an essay in the comments section. Spelling counts, but neatness doesn’t (it’d be typed, after all).
Yesterday’s post was on Resistance, and the title was inspired by my “I don’t want!” mood. Today, I am seething a bit about some things, and I’m wondering how to employ non-resistance. Actually, it’s more like non-violent resistance. How do I look at something that I feel is unjust and respond in a way that does not blame, shame or reject but does state emphatically my position and reasons and allows me to live out my values?
I don’t know how to re-blog something, so I will give you a link to a post I’ve been following and commenting on that deals with the birth control mandate in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
I’m also going to include today’s post from my fellow blogger in the UK. She has decided to respond to suffering and injustice by sponsoring a girl in Kenya.
I feel that justice matters, that women’s health matters, that population control matters, that compassion matters, and that the internet should be used as a tool to discuss what matters (and that doesn’t include celebrity hook-ups, IMO!).
Not to imply that I don’t also spend time on things that don’t really matter. Like this afternoon’s Chicago Bulls game. Which is one reason I’m rather late in posting this.
I also feel that loving the universe matters, and I want to live out that value every day.