Tag Archive | values

CONCERNED TO COMMITTED, TALK TO ACTION, CYNICISM AND IDEALISM

I wonder what moves people across the line from concerned to committed, from talk to action, from individual expression to organized and collective action. People can do great things when they are committed to positive action. But what is positive action?

Often it seems there is a battle between cynicism and idealism. All breakthroughs, from inventions to social leaps forward, begin with the assumption that change is possible. If cynicism wins in that battle between cynicism and idealism, creative thinking, the belief in the possibility of change and the desire to act for improvements is destroyed. So, it is important to reject cynicism and to choose to embrace hopefulness and idealism.

What does idealism mean? It means to believe that it is possible to live by a set of specific values and ideals. Idealism does not mean naiveté or even simple optimism. It is having your life’s decisions driven by your ideals. Bull-dog grip idealism means refusing to give up those values, goals and dreams. It is to persevere in spite of the struggles, the challenges and the unrelenting chanting of the cynics.

Gandhi’s teachings encourage us to become the change we want to see.

At Justice Works!, the criminal justice reform non-profit I lead for twelve years, we spoke often of our founding principles and our values. Our work was to replace the societal myths and societal secrets with solutions based on the same values that we espoused and worked so diligently to live by; safety, justice, empowerment, accountability, and collaboration. Our message consistently repeated – sometimes movingly, often quietly, always insistently – “Things aren’t what they could be, things aren’t what they should be, we can do better, and we must try.”

This bulldog drive for idealism works. In 1989, there were 69 democracies in the world, today there are 167. Rugged idealists from Lech Walesa, to Vaclev Havel, to Corazon Aquino, to millions of everyday people who took to the streets are the behind this march to democracy. The Berlin Wall came down without a single shot being fired. The Soviet Union disintegrated, and Eastern Europe was liberated. Nelson Mandela went from prisoner to president in a remarkably peaceful revolution. Peace came to Northern Ireland in a Good Friday agreement. For the first time in human history, a majority of people on our planet live under some form of democracy.

In the past 20 years there has been an explosion of growth in civil society. In the U.S., we have gone from 464,000 non-profits in 1989 to 1.1 million in 2002. Worldwide, the number of civil society organizations has grown by at least 43% over the past ten years.

Still challenges continue. We’ve witnessed the terrible day of September 11, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war, genocide in the Sudan, AIDS, terrorism, persistent global poverty, the ongoing struggle for peace in the Middle East, and more.

This is the time for action! But, how do we move from concerned to commitment and from talk to action? How do we strengthen idealism and discourage cynicism?

Idealism inspires action and change. Cynicism leads to apathy and fear. Idealists act. Cynics re-act. Idealists create. Cynics tear down. Idealists say, “Let’s go! How can I help? I have an idea.” Cynics respond: “It’ll never work. Why bother?”

When Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, she was practicing bull dog idealism. When the abolitionists insisted that slavery was morally wrong and had to end, they were practicing bull dog idealism. When the Suffragists fought for women to be treated as full citizens and equals by having the right to vote, they were practicing bull dog idealism. When Nelson Mandela repeatedly refused early release during 27 and half years of prison, he was practicing bull dog idealism. When students sat in at lunch counters, boarded buses for freedom rides, launched the anti-Vietnam war movement, marched in Tiananmen Square, and rose up in Soweto in 1976, they were all practicing bull dog idealism.

When we live our everyday lives according to our values and when we participate in social justice actions. We are practicing bull dog idealism.

And I hope that many will step it up and practice even more. Why? It’s because idealism seems to be in retreat here in America. We may be the richest country in the history of the world, but the census tells us more Americans are living in poverty – thirty seven million with more than 13 million of them, our children, living in poverty. 3.5 million people, with well over one million of them children, will be homeless in a given year in America. Virtually every day the paper is filled with new stories of senseless acts of violence. It has to stop. Around the world, the situation is much worse. 842 million people across the world are hungry, and six million children die every year as a result of hunger. About 1 billion people – one fifth of the world’s population – currently live on less than $1 per day. These numbers are not just statistics. Every single one of them represents a human being, a fellow citizen of our planet, who is struggling. They are people who need our help. I am hoping that we can find new and better ways to build prosperity, opportunity, and most of all liberty and justice for all. The solution is not a political ideology; the solution is us, as many of us as possible. Ideally we can encourage many of our citizens and the companies we engage with to join us in service. It is anyone who steps forward to be a bull dog idealist.

Gandhi also said that there were three keys to building a democratic society: the ballot, the jail and the spinning wheel or the spade.

The ballot is the basic rights – especially the right to vote – that you get by being a citizen in a democratic society.

The jail is your right to protest. It is your right of civil disobedience. Your right to put at risk the most precious thing you have in a democracy – your freedom, your liberty – in protest over some law that you think is fundamentally unjust. By doing so, you can arouse the consciousness of the citizens in the democracy to change the law.

But, Gandhi said that it was the spinning wheel or the spade that was actually the most important of the three to make a democratic society work. For Gandhi, the spade was the willingness of citizens to get out there and do the day to day work that it takes to build a democratic society; to form associations, to teach people to read, to build houses for the homeless, to care for needy children, to help feed the hungry, and to empower citizens. Gandhi believed this one – the spade – was the most important because it engages citizens directly in their democracy.

In the coming days, weeks, months and years, I hope that more and more people will dig a little deeper, and find it in their souls to work harder to make our great democracy stronger. Do it in large or small ways that work for you. Don’t judge yourself or others for their choices regarding what type of actions to take. Instead, suggest, encourage, support, and be your values every day.


MY TRIBUTE TO THE WEIRDOS

In my bathroom sits this three tiered holder of river rocks. I’m a potter. I made the small bowls myself. I call this simple thing my “tribute to the weirdos”. No, I don’t use that word in any other situation. Just this one… And, when I say this, the word is used consciously and with tenderness. I know; that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Read More…

FREEDOM WAY – LIVING WELL ON VERY LITTLE MONEY

I’m 64 years old and I haven’t worked for a salary since I was 51. From the age of 51 until last year I worked full time without pay at the social justice non-profit that I founded. That was a rare and amazingly rewarding experience. I have no plans to look for paid work in the future. I expect to live to at least 100 years old and I anticipate that my life will continue to be active, comfortable, full and very rewarding all the way to the end.

When people hear about how I live, there is sometimes a lot of curiosity and almost always there are a lot of incorrect assumptions made. The only things I usually need money for are: taxes, insurance, gas, utilities, vehicle maintenance, medical deductible for my annual checkup and teeth cleaning, some supplements, some home maintenance supplies and an occasional other “something” every now and then. Mostly everything else I get for free.

No, I’ve never been independently wealthy and I’ve never lived in poverty. Instead, I enjoy being a part of what I call the universe’s flow of abundance. If it sounds like I live in “woo-woo land”; well, that’s not accurate either. Let me explain. Read More…

A MORE COMPASSIONATE WORLD IS A MORE PEACEFUL WORLD

Our belief systems are the bedrock upon which all that we say and do rests. Our beliefs are the filters of our reality. They also create our version of reality. And, they often go unchallenged – even if they are incomplete or completely incorrect.

With great glee I have recently learned about, as they describe themselves, “a revolution in the scientific understanding of human nature.” Read More…

GIFT GIVING AND PEACE

I wrote earlier about my participation in the 29 Day Giving Challenge. Today is my 29th day. I am left pondering the concept of GIVING. Why do we give? Who should or shouldn’t we give to? How much should we give? Who benefits from our giving? Who could possibly be harmed by our giving and why? I’m not going to attempt to answer all those questions here. But, I think it’s important to pose the questions.

I am totally comfortable with making a few conclusions now. A focused giving commitment is a growth opportunity for the giver. It potentially gives people the time and focus to struggle with these questions individually. I’ve done some of this work earlier. Here is my summary of the book HOW CAN I HELP where some of these questions are addressed.  But, today I am moved by the connection between giving in our day to day lives and PEACE. If we want peace for our planet, living day to day with empathy, compassion and generosity seems like a logical and important first step. It starts in our own nation, communities and circles of family and friends.

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WHO AM I?

I don’t know how important it is to answer this question. I do know that it can be helpful sometimes because how we spend our life’s energy is directly tied to how we have answered that question. In other words, if you consider yourself an athletic person, you’ll work out a lot. Philosophers philosophize. Thieves steal. Artists create art. Loving people put their efforts on developing compassion and loving kindness.

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GROWING UP AGAIN – RE-PARENTING YOURSELF

I learned a lot from the book GROWING UP AGAIN by Jean Illsley Clarke. She lays out, in an easily understood way, the normal stages of human childhood development. Not only is this important information for learning parenting skills, it is also a road-map for people who need to and want to re-parent themselves because they didn’t get what they needed as children. But the lessons go beyond the cut and dry. From this information, it becomes easier to forgive, to be less judgmental and to embrace an optimistic and hopeful outlook. All good stuff!

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Notes on the book entitled YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

This book was not only life-defining in terms of my personal thinking and my self-image but it allowed me to shift how I spent my time. I went from working a job to working for twelve years at unpaid, purposeful work at the non-profit that I founded. That work benefited many thousands of people. It contributed to a better understanding about social justice issues in Washington State. It provided a significant source of hope to thousands of people who had long since lost all hope.

The ideas in this book not only helped me grow personally; they allowed me to live out the reality that my life’s energy could contribute to the greater good. I am very, very grateful for all of these life experiences and I am grateful for this book. By the way, if you’d like to learn more about this non-profit work, go to the “social justice” on my site.

Below is how Amazon describes the book which is accurate enough but, to me, it is a whole lot more!!

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ABOUT HOW ALL MY PHILOSOPHIES TIE TOGETHER

ABOUT HOW ALL MY PHILOSOPHIES TIE TOGETHER…
I say I’m “freer” than many people because I often live outside of everyone’s expectations for me.  I create my own plan for myself which is based on what is real and what is important to me.  I don’t waste any of my energy on materialism.  I’ve trashed the sex role junk.  I believe in the sacredness of relationships but not the institution of marriage.   Everything is connected  – responses to family of origin problems, relationship with money, decisions about the types of relationships to seek and nurture, relationship with “things”, purpose, how much to challenge oneself, defining what is “fun” or “pleasurable” etc, etc.  It can seem like these are unrelated but I don’t think they are.
Everything comes together when it’s based on integrity and purpose.

ABOUT MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MONEY…


A lot of people use money to appear to be certain ways.   For “status” and all that.  I just don’t want to use my resources for any of that.

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