Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Thought for Today

     Here's a wonderful quote from Howard Zinn, the late historian, playwright, and social activist:
I would encourage people to look around them in their community and find an organization that is doing something that they believe in, even if that organization has only five people, or ten people, or twenty people, or a hundred people.  And to look at history and understand that when change takes place it takes place as a result of large, large numbers of people doing little things unbeknownst to one another.  And that history is very important for people to not get discouraged . . .  . History is instructive.  And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper.  Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy.  And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Don't Resist, Part 2

     Last week we were discussing how it is futile to resist the people or social or political issues we see in our world today.  Rather than resist, be open.  Show compassion.  Listen.  Be tolerant.

     But I see that as a first step.

     It has become more and more important in my mind that we take the next step, which is to lead.  While it is good to be home and meditate to develop a compassionate heart, it is vitally important at this time that we also go out and work.  We need to be leaders in how to put our actions where our hearts are.  Some examples:

     Do you care about the hungry?  Donate food or volunteer at a food bank.

     Do you want more equality for the underprivileged?  Serve as a tutor or donate to works programs.

     Are you concerned about the environment?  Write your congressional representative.  Give generously to animal protection agencies or nature conservation groups.  Pick up trash.  Recycle.  Don't drive so much.  Teach others to do the same.

     I've only scratched the surface.  There are a million ways that you can lead.  But it is important that every day, even in a small way, you take the charge to lead.  Your actions count.  Let's make this world a better place.

(image courtesy of

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Don't Resist

     I've ranted before about how resistance is futile in combating the social and political changes we see in our world these days (you can read about it here.)  Remember, resistance only breeds resistance.  We need a different way.

     I found a wonderful quote by the Zen teacher Normal Fischer who addresses this very issue:
As a spiritual practitioner you are more committed to caring for others than you are to a side or a cause.  Caring for others doesn't mean caring only for the ones you are sympathetic to; it means all others.  If it's only some, then you're gong to end up being aggressive toward the others who seem to behave unjustly toward the ones you care about.  And aggression breeds aggression.  You might win with aggression, but there is always backlash, and pretty soon you lose.  I have seen this many times.  I am convinced that only real, heartfelt nonaggression works in the long run.  And this isn't something you can just decide you are going to feel.  It is challenging to be genuinely caring and loving.  It takes spiritual work, psychological work, meditation, cultivation.  But there is no doubt that, for me, this is the only way.
     Wow, what a challenge.  But it really is the only way.  And it is the necessary foundation for the next step.  More on that next week.

(image courtesy of


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Let Your Voice Be Heard

     Here in the United States, we face an important election in the next few days.  I think far too many still have the attitude that we should let "others" make the decisions and then live with the results as best we can.

     May I offer a different point of view?

     Imagine if you were in a band, and as a flute player, you decided that you wouldn't play because you didn't feel like it.  Or maybe you felt that your little instrument wasn't as big and loud and impressive as a tuba or French horn.  Or maybe you felt that you didn't have as many years of lessons as the oboist and were an inferior musician.  Or maybe you were just feeling ornery or lazy.

     What would the band sound like without your flute?

     Probably not great.  Every voice matters.  Every point of view matters.  You matter.


(image courtesy of