Saturday, November 30, 2013

Two Hands (Up) for Compassion

Four years before the shooting in the Sikh Temple, it was my own faith that was under attack. In 2008, a man who sharpened his anger on the jagged edge of hate walked into a Unitarian Universalist Church and opened fire killing two people and injuring eight.

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville held 200 members and 25 children that day who were presenting a stage play for the congregation. The shooting was politically motivated. The shooter railed against liberals, democrats, African Americans and homosexuals saying they were the ruination of America.

Unitarian Universalists are free thinkers and the standing joke is that trying to organize UUs is something like herding cats. Each is on a different path to faith and understanding. The bonding factor for Unitarian Universalists is that all believe the questions are the answer and each is on a quest for truth. Call it a search for the holy grail if you will-- and it may be religious (or not) but it requires no allegiance to dogma or doctrine. All faiths and journeys to God (or not) are respected. UUs are known for a common dedication to social justice and to make the world a better place.

The Sikh Temple shooting wasn't a politically motivated act. It was pure racist rage. 

Charter for Compassion

Jeremy Rifkin says we are hard wired for compassion. I want to believe him. I think it's one of those things like buying a red sports car. When your new car is a red sports car, suddenly you notice that there are a lot of red sporty cars on the road. 

Do you see in the world what you are looking for? What you are "accustomed" to seeing? Are you more inclined to notice the vibe you are "attuned" to? It's a kind of resonance. Did you know that a guitar "G" string plucked in a room of guitars will cause all the other guitars to play that same G? And if you strum a "D" all the other guitars will resonate to "D."

A drum struck in a room full of drums will vibrate all of the skins on all the drums. And if you put sand on a on a plate over a drum or music, it will arrange itself in organized geometric patterns.

Did you know that if you put a whole room of clocks with pendulums in a room swinging at different rates, when you come back in the morning they will all be swinging simultaneously?

Perhaps we truly are what we resonate with.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The 3rd Edition: "Words and Violence" and the Healing Arts - How to De-Weaponize Words

The Power of Words:

Our weekly Unitarian Universalist Fellowship ("UU church") service ends with these words: “Let us carry the light of compassion and commitment to build a better world." 

 A pledge repeated becomes a mantra and a mantra repeated becomes a vow, a deeply embedded blueprint for how one lives life. Vows coupled with strong emotions construct realities. Vows are not to be taken lightly; they change lives; they change the world. 

I am a storyteller and studio and performing artist and I believe that the arts-- particularly story and  the performing arts-- holds the greatest potential for healing a troubled and broken world.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dance as Community

Call for Peace Drum and Dance Company
Dance is a communicator, it tells "story;" dance builds community.

This brand new 3rd edition of "Words and Violence" features Performance Arts as a catalyst for change, for compassion, for human evolution in “story” conveyed:
  • Through the force of words
  • Through the eyes of art
  • Through the language of movement,
  • Through the magic of film
  • Through the magic of storytelling via “song.”
It’s part of the movement toward a new narrative on the planet– one that is compassionate, responsible and deliberately created. WE write the script. WE perform the dance and dramas. WE sing the world into being. WE are the narrators and the narrative. WE tell the story of the world. The world is a performance! Our performance!

The world is a vectoring of what we dance.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Finding the Antidote to Bullying

 We (individually at Voices Education Project) and collectively as a culture, have done a good job of pointing the finger at bullies and bullying. We have raised consciousness to the ceiling.

But the culture of violence continues. Why?
Because we have created school curricula, documentaries, anecdotes and antidotes; we say "It Gets Better," or "I Choose."

We pronounce with any number of clich├ęs, tired pseudo-encouragement slogans, and we think we motivate change. But as long as we miss the point, support and demonstrate a culture of violence, or perpetuate a disconnect between adult behavior and childrens' bullying, the violence is not going away.

We need to teach and role model social wellness.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tabloid Journalism at Huffington Post?

Well, I am now duly impressed. This is encouraging: the Huffington Post now has a section: "Tabloid Journalism." Whoa.

I once wrote a piece about an icon-- Whitney Houston, and featured how she was directly linked to Nelson Mandela and his release from prison.

Yes, that Whitney Houston.

Did you know that Whitney Houston was an anti-apartheid activist who began some freedom fighting activities in South Africa disguised as concerts where she sang about freedom? Did you know that  Houston's covert activism was one link in the long chain of events that led to Mandela's release from behind the barbed wire?

I wrote that story. It wasn't published. The editor gave no explanation or feedback. It was just... well, ignored. This was shortly after Houston's death and she was she was the manic topic d'jour so my piece was timely. I suspected it wasn't "sexy" enough or macabre enough. It was the truth. But truth often doesn't sell well; it likely wasn't tabloid enough.

A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...