The New Group of World Servers Journal
celebrates and shares
seated in Spirit,
standing in strength,
walking in wisdom,
rooted in reverence "
The Goodwill Resolution
Goodwill is one of those bland terms that we associate with Christmas and thrift stores and spare it little attention or thought... Even Webster's dictionary gives it short shrift, describing goodwill as: "friendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude".
It's interesting that something so simple and homely should be capable of such truly profound effects. I dare say, if a majority of humanity decided today to make the ongoing expression of Goodwill toward ALL life on this planet their New Year's Resolution for 2014, and actually made the effort to color all their interactions throughout the year with this simple kindly attitude, by New Years Eve of 2015 we would be living in an utterly changed world!
Goodwill is love in action - one of the lowest, easiest to understand expressions of love. Almost everyone can understand it and it can be applied to every sort of situation and interaction without any special skills or knowledge. Young or old, rich or poor, educated or not, we are all equally capable of expressing goodwill.
This quote from the Australian Kindness Movement: "In the book 'Megatrends 2000', it tells us "The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will occur not because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human." In our lifetime we will realise the awesome power that can be created when we join together in a common cause. A phrase has been mentioned in the media recently - "the world's other super power", which refers to the power of the world's citizens, of 'people power'."
One of the articles in this issue is about some of the ongoing activities of the Occupy movement - activities motivated greatly by goodwill, that express well the "power of people" coming together to accomplish good in the world.
The Kindness Movement website goes on to site some strictly personal benefits as well: "In the book 'Meaning & Medicine', author Dr. Larry Dossey tells us, "Altruism behaves like a miracle drug, and a strange one at that. It has beneficial effects on the person doing the helping; it benefits the person to whom the help is directed; and it can stimulate healthy responses in persons at a distance who may view it only obliquely." Paul Pearsell writes in his book 'The Pleasure Prescription', "Modern research shows one of the most pleasurable of all human acts is also one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and for others. Gentle, caring selflessness results in significant health benefits."
So it seems we have little to lose and much to gain in making Goodwill the focus in our lives in 2014. We gladly offer the following articles and videos as inspiration and encouragement in discovering the many ways in which we can express goodwill. If nothing else, they will begin your year on a pleasantly positive note.
In closing we would like to thank Mara Friedman and Deborah Ann Dawson for so generously sharing their art and poetry with us. They make this issue a feast for the senses!
May 2014 be blessed abundantly by the spirit of Goodwill.
The Meaning of Goodwill
"...Goodwill is an expression of “the will to that which is good and ought to be”. It is no longer to be misinterpreted as a sentimental or negative kindliness, but as a practical and dynamic force for constructive action, capable of remaking the world."
Courtesy of World Goodwill website
Every now and then, I'll meet an escapee, someone who has broken free of self-centeredness and lit out for the territory of compassion. You've met them, too, those people who seem to emit a steady stream of, for want of a better word, love-vibes. As soon as you come within range, you feel embraced, accepted for who you are. For those of us who suspect that you rarely get something for nothing, such geniality can be discomfiting. Yet it feels so good to be around them. They stand there, radiating photons of goodwill, and despite yourself you beam back, and the world, in a twinkling, changes.
Step into the light!
Daughters of Gaia unite and grow!
Rainbow sisters hear this call!
Within your heart there is all
you will ever need to know.
Cherish your heartsong
and you will flow
down the stream of compassion...
Daughters of Gaia unite and grow!
Step into the light!
Goodwill Toward Non-human Persons
The overall focus of the Ageless Wisdom teachings regarding goodwill is on bringing about right human relations. We have the opportunity and responsibility, though, to reflect beyond humanity. After all, the theory of hylozoism, which underlies all esoteric teachings, “posits a living substance, composed of a multiplicity of sentient lives that are continuously swept into expression by the ‘breath of the divine Life.’ This theory recognizes no so-called inorganic matter anywhere in the universe and emphasizes the fact that all forms are built up of infinitesimal lives, which in their totality—great or small—constitute a Life, and that these composite lives, in their turn, are a corporate part of a still greater Life. Thus eventually we have that great scale of lives, manifesting in greater expression and reaching all the way from the tiny life called the atom (with which science deals) up to that vast atomic life that we call a solar system.”
So we are all part of the One Life, along with the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. What we know from cosmology is that these kingdoms are all part of a single interconnected energy field and that the dynamic of interconnectivity and a free circulation of energy is as important as each of the individual kingdoms. While esoterically it is clear that each kingdom has its own place and function in the whole, it is easy for us to unconsciously operate in terms of Aristotle’s assertion of the scala naturae (the ladder of nature), which rank-orders life forms with humans at the top.
The Concept of Personhood
Historically, our practical relationship with members of the first, second, and third kingdoms has been that of ownership and exploitation. Animals, vegetables, and minerals have been viewed as resources for our own use without regard to any moral rights that they might have. We may have been benevolently protective, especially in the context of the environmental movement, but we have not necessarily thought of “goodwill” in our interactions with them because we have not thought of them as entities in their own right—or as being “beyond use.” These include the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, the Nonhuman Rights Project, and Wild Law UK, as well as community action groups such as the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. Through a range of initiatives, various jurisdictions are now moving beyond the rights of natural persons (i.e., human beings) and juridical persons (e.g., corporations) to also recognize the legal personhood and accompanying rights of nonhuman entities.
Dorothy Riddle is a psychologist, feminist, economic development specialist, and author of the award-winning 2010 books, Principles of Abundance for the Cosmic Citizen and Positive Harmlessness in Practice. Dr. Riddle has consulted in over 85 countries (including 74 developing economies) and authored twelve books. She is listed in the Who’s Who of American Women, the World Who’s Who of Women, and the International Who’s Who of Professionals. Currently Dr. Riddle serves on the Board of Directors of the School for Esoteric Studies and is the Director of the Service Growth Project, which is responsible for two portals that track the activities of over 1,000 organizations engaged in social change: Supporting Spiritual Development and Supporting Values-Conscious Business.
Silent Among The Reeds by Deborah Ann Dawson
The Next Great Turning
A growing awareness of our interconnections could revolutionize our culture. Interconnectedness is an idea whose time is coming. Like sustainability, the momentum of history is gathering around it.
What do I mean by interconnectedness, and why is it important? In this issue, we’re using the term to refer to the various ways each of us is part of an on-going exchange of material and information with the world around us. It means recognizing that we – like all of Earth’s life – depend on the same atmosphere and the same water; that we – like all of the physical universe – are inescapably linked at a quantum mechanical level; and even that we are more closely linked mentally than we usually acknowledge.
If we are interconnected in these ways, then our full self extends beyond the boundaries of our skin. In a culture based on a deep understanding of such interconnectedness, individuals would be as loathe to hurt their neighbor, or the ecosystem, as we are now loathe to stub our toe. Behaviors and institutions for the common good that now are maintained through the dubious means of moral persuasion, guilt, and (at times) force would become self-evident and natural. It is just the sort of thing that this suffering planet needs its humans to wake up to.....
Dr. Robert C. Gilman, Ph.D., President of Context Institute, Founding Editor of IN CONTEXT, A Quarterly of Humane Sustainable Culture. He has been an Astrophysicist, a Sustainability pioneer, and is now a Planetary Era midwife whose primary focus is the Foundation Stones project.
When you extend your goodwill in every direction, regardless of
circumstances, you begin to see that we are all one.
Autumn Meditation by Deborah Ann Dawson
Communion and Community
"It’s easy to think of family and friends as "community," and everyone else as strangers, associates, rivals or even enemies whom we just have to cope with in order to make a living, do our time, get ahead, etc. It’s easy to think, "I’ll practice community as soon as I get home from work, as soon as I get out of prison, as soon as my boss stops picking on me, as soon as …"
It just doesn’t work that way. Our community is exactly where we are at every moment during the day; exactly whom life places in front of us at any time. That idiot, that lecher, that bully, that con, that cop, that bureaucrat who drives us up the wall – everyone we see, hear, or meet must be respected as a brother or sister on the path, even if they have no idea there is such a thing as a path.
For thousands of years, religions, philosophies, saints, and sages have tried to help us find the answers to two simple questions: What are we doing here, and how can we make life work? When we look at the similarities between the great "Wisdom Traditions," we discover that they all point in exactly the same two directions: inner transcendence (Communion), and unselfish behavior (Community).
In response to the first question, "What are we doing here?," the Holy Ones have all said first, It’s way beyond your understanding, so give up trying to figure it out with the mind; and second, Look within, look beyond the mind, be still, go to the Secret Place within the heart. In other words, they point to an experience of direct contact with the Christ – Allah – Great Spirit – The Almighty-Yahweh – Buddha Mind, etc., which can only be found by going inside.
A word for this which no tradition would argue with is Communion. The great religions and masters tell us to diligently seek Communion. The only way we can restore Community and Communion in our society is first to restore it in our own lives: Just practice Community in everything we do, and take time each day to see Communion beyond all names, forms, or identities....."
Bo Lozoff is a spiritual teacher who has worked extensively with prison inmates and those recently released from prison. He is director of the Human Kindness Foundation in Durham, NC, and co-founder of its acclaimed Prison-Ashram Project. His books include We’re All Doing Time and Just Another Spiritual Book. Bo and his wife, Sita, received the 1994 Temple Award for Creative Altruism in recognition of their many years of service around the world. For further information, contact the Human Kindness Foundation, PO Box 61619, Durham NC 27715, 919/383-5160,
www.humankindness.org. Bo died in a motorcycle accident in 2012.
Even if you have seen this video it's worth watching again...
12 year old Severn Suzuki speaking at the Rio Earth Summit
Severn is an activist and writer who has been speaking out about social justice and environmental issues since she was small. At age 9, she started the Environmental Children's Organization (ECO) with a group of friends committed to learning and teaching others about environmental issues. In 1992, with ECO, Severn attended the Rio Earth Summit, where, at the age of twelve, she delivered a powerful speech that garnered worldwide attention. For this she received the UN Environment Program's Global 500 Award in Beijing the following year.
child of earth, it is your friend, awake from sleep
child of love, it is safe, feel your jeweled heart deep
child of spirit, it is true, these precious gifts are yours to keep
Which works better, competition or cooperation? The answer, without equivocation, is cooperation. Although most people are surprised by this, scientists have repeatedly verified it in hundreds of studies since the late 1800s. Yet big business, the educational system, the health-care community, and most parents continue to encourage competition, almost totally neglecting the power of cooperation. None of these groups realizes that unabated competition may be costing billions of dollars in sales and overall decreases in human achievement. Furthermore, researchers have shown that too much competition may cause poor health. Yet we continue to hold the cherished belief that competition (not cooperation), to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, "is the royal road to success."
If in fact competition brings out the "beast" in us, then research demonstrates that cooperation surely brings out the "best" in us. This finding has been held in virtually every occupation, skill, or behavior tested. For instance, scientists who consider themselves cooperative tend to have more published articles than their competitive colleagues. Cooperative businesspeople have higher salaries. From elementary grades to college, cooperative students have higher grade point averages. Personnel directors who work together have fewer job vacancies to fill. And, not surprisingly, cooperation increases creativity. Unfortunately, most people are not taught cooperative skills....
Perry W. Buffington, Ph.D. better known to his students as “Dr. Buff,” is a licensed psychologist with over 20 years of private-practice, consulting experience who teaches a number of psychology courses as an adjunct professor. He has thirteen books and numerous refereed journal articles to his credit, and he has also penned thousands of articles in periodicals. In addition he is keynote speaker and a media personality.
“The non-violent resistor not only avoids external, physical violence, but he avoids internal violence of spirit. He not only refuses to shoot his opponent, but he refuses to hate him. And he stands with understanding, goodwill at all times.”―Courtesy of Goodreads
Reflection by Deborah Ann Dawson
Two Years After the Eviction of OWS,
Two years ago today, when Occupy Wall Street was evicted from Zuccotti Park, many wondered what was next for the movement. Two years later, we profile five projects that got their starts in the encampments and are still making change today.
It was a cold night in late January 2012. The New York subway doors opened and a tall, dark-haired, 30-ish young man dressed entirely in black—leather jacket, jeans, and boots—stepped into the car. Hanging from his backpack were an orange plastic bullhorn and a small drum; tied on top was a thin sleeping mat.
He was one of the small army of Occupy Wall Streeters who had been driven from the park on November 15—two years ago today. He and some friends had been camping out in a vacant house to prevent the bank from foreclosing on it, he told us, but the winter weather had forced them to leave.
After protesters like him were evicted, no one knew where the movement was going and what it was going to do next. Two years later, though, the answers to those questions are beginning to become clear.
One way to get a handle on what became of the Occupy movement is to track the continuing work of its participants, five of whom we've profiled here. All of them were active in Occupy encampments, and now they are focused on channeling the energy and commitment to direct social action that fueled the movement into ensuring that Occupy groups born in the parks will continue to grow and work for lasting change....
Ann Kathleen Bradley wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Ann is a Manhattan-based freelance writer and graduate of Union Theological Seminary who is interested in the intersection of spirituality with social and economic issues. Her articles have appeared in Spirituality and Health, Chrysalis, and Science of Mind.
A beautiful Video with Charles Eisenstein
A taste of the feature documentary,
Occupy Love. This is a community funded film. "Love is the felt experience of connection to another being. An economist says 'more for you is less for me.' But the lover knows that more
for you is more for me too. If you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody, 99% and 1%."
“At this very moment enormous numbers of intelligent men and women of goodwill are trying to build a better world. But problems are born faster than they can be solved.”
Flame of Surrender by Mara Friedman
5 Reasons to ServeWhat doing things for others does for ourselves.
At the height of the dot-com boom in 1999, a few tech-savvy friends and I walked into a homeless shelter to give without any strings attached. Our motivation? We just wanted to serve, and quickly discovered that such a practice of selfless giving is something that we all have access to, no matter who we are or what we do.
Our trip to the homeless shelter led to us building a website for them at no charge. That experiment in giving blossomed into an organization called ServiceSpace, which went on to develop and gift websites to thousands of small nonprofits. But the ripples didn't stop there. ServiceSpace has now evolved into a remarkable incubator for dozens of projects, including an online good news portal, "Smile Cards" that spread kindness, and a gift-economy restaurant in Berkeley and rickshaw in India—all touching millions of people.
It's not just what we do that matters, but the inner impetus behind our action that really counts.
While the external impact of these projects is tremendous, what is most striking is the fact that ServiceSpace doesn't fundraise, has no staff, and remains 100 percent volunteer-run. Everyone involved is driven simply by the volition to grow in service. In a world dominated by financial incentives that appeal to a consumption mindset, ServiceSpace is a counterculture invitation to engage in small acts of generosity, continually shifting towards a mindset of inspired contribution.
It's a beautiful fact that in practicing kindness, we can't help but deepen our understanding of how inner and outer change are fundamentally intertwined. Here are five reasons to serve that we've discovered through our own journey....
Nipun Mehta is the founder of Servicespace.org, an incubator of gift-economy projects that aims to shift our collective narrative towards greater generosity. This article is a result of a collaborative effort that included several ServiceSpace coordinators. Nipun was honored in the Winter 2012 issue of YES! Magazine as one of The YES! Breakthrough 15.
“In practice, there is no grand chasm to cross. Just do the small act of kindness for the person in front of you, right now. Small acts may or may not change the world, but they definitely change you. And when you look at the world with fresh eyes, it’s a whole new realm of possibilities.” From the Yes! Breakthrough 15
Three Stages of Generosity
When Nipun Mehta, founder of KarmaTube and ServiceSpace, was invited to a TED conference about teaching compassion, he shared his journey of learning the three stages of generosity: Give, Receive, and Dance!
Lessons from a Pay-It-Forward Restaurant:
At the Karma Kitchen, people enjoy a meal that’s already paid for—and are invited to continue the chain of generosity. In the process, organizers and participants alike learn the transformative power of gratitude.
Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu; a place where the meal is served as a gift by volunteers, and at the end of it guests receive a bill for a total of $0.00.
The bill comes with a note that explains their meal was a gift from someone who came before them. If they wish to pay it forward, they can make a contribution for someone who comes after them and help keep the circle going. This restaurant is called Karma Kitchen—and it actually exists. And over the years, running this pay-it-forward restaurant has taught us at KindSpring.org a great deal about gratitude.
It baffles people to know that Karma Kitchen has no tracking systems—we don’t monitor how much individual tables receive and how much they give. Instead, we just focus on giving everyone a genuine experience of generosity.
When we started in 2007 in Berkeley, Calif., we had no idea whether we would sink or float....
Pavithra Mehta wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Pavithra is a co-architect of ServiceSpace.org and one of the creative forces behind KindSpring.org. She is also the co-author of Infinite Vision: How Aravind Became the World's Greatest Business Case for Compassion.
Shroom'in by Deborah Ann Dawson
"Remove gratitude from the
fabric of our lives, and ... we become more prone to a sense of
entitlement and less available to a sense of life’s wonder and
Rita Pierson, a teacher with more than 40 years of experience, talks about the value and importance of human connection (relationships) in a kid's education. She believes that if most kids grew up not being afraid to take risks, not being afraid to think, and who had an advocate, our world would be different. Every child deserves a champion, she says - an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of relation, and insists that they become the best they can possibly be. Educators are born to make a difference. Check out how this teacher teaches a beautiful lesson outside her usual classroom crowd.
Video courtesy of
“Once again, we are
reminded that awakening, or enlightenment is not the property of
Buddhism, any more than Truth is the property of Christianity. Neither
the Buddha nor the Christ belongs exclusively to the communities that
were founded in their names. They belong to all people of goodwill, all
who are attentive to the secret which lives in the depths of their
breath and their consciousness.”
The Future of Cooperative Learning
In a time of accelerated and
massive change, when conventional resources are quickly being depleted,
cooperative effort is needed to navigate the “rapids of change.”
The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.
What would the world look like if cooperation was the primary societal driver? This is the question that we, as practitioners, need to ask ourselves every day. In Australia just recently, we have experienced an outpouring of cooperation on a scale previously unseen, where tens of thousands of people took it upon themselves to simply turn up and work together collaboratively with perfect strangers, to clean up the mess left by the devastating floods in Queensland. The ‘mud army’ made news around the world, for a short time, until the media cycles moved on. In Victoria, similarly, the ‘sandbag army’ is (at the time of writing) following a relentless, massive ‘moving inland sea’, cooperating unstintingly to protect the homes of strangers against nature’s wrath. Stories of personal heroism and altruism are shared daily by those touched by Australia’s 2011 disaster which has deluged an area equivalent to France, Germany and the United Kingdom combined.
” A good community will not be invented, discovered or “just grow.” It must be forged from the purpose and quality of the lives of the people living in it.” Arthur Morgan
The first question is why did they do it? ....
JULIE BOYD is a national and international educational consultant, community advocate and professional counselor. Julie was recently appointed Educational Advisor to a consortium to build a number of next generation schools. Julie has worked across all three systems of education in every state and territory in Australia since 1990. Her school regeneration frameworks provided the initial platform for several statewide projects at state and National levels and her curriculum development model and digital curriculum assisted development of curriculum frameworks in four states. Julie is also an author, individual, group and organizational counselor, curriculum developer, publisher and parent. Julie Boyd Education
Speak Your Truth by Mara Friedman
Can Football Teach Boys Compassion Instead of Aggression? Two Videos Show Us It Can.
Two videos making the rounds online show us what happens when boys embrace their vulnerability and support one another's emotional needs.
From a young age, I understood that groups of boys were often dangerous. And I don't mean dangerous to girls. That is also true. But the danger I am talking about here was to me. Groups of boys are dangerous to boys in those groups.
Masculinity is a daily test, and it was among groups of boys that the testing took place. Who was the biggest? The fastest? The strongest? Who was the smartest? Who could get the most girls? How much do you bench? How big is your penis? Can you dunk the ball? Hit a home run? Throw the ball the farthest? Who looks the best? Whose family is the most "normal"? Who’s the richest? How can you prove your masculinity to the group each and every second that the group is together?
This is why I quickly learned to dislike camps and sports and locker rooms, places that were sure to be masculinity testing grounds. And, so, I often avoided these places not because I doubted my masculinity but because I didn’t want to have to constantly prove it to others.
But what if groups of boys were a place of safety and acceptance for boys? A place of love, a place where the word love could actually be used, and said out loud about a group member about another boy.
What if boys were comfortable enough to cry with one another and stand with one another against the cruelties of life?
In two recent and powerful videos making the rounds on the internet, this fantasy has become reality.
In the first video, we learn the story of a middle school football team in Olivet, Michigan, that, without the knowledge of their coaches, designed a play for their learning disabled teammate so that he could experience the joy of scoring a touchdown. As one of the players, Nick, explains, "we really wanted to prove that he was part of our team and he meant a lot to us."
And while the teammate in question—Keith—learned how awesome it is to score a touchdown, that is not the most profound part of the story. Justice Miller, the team's wide receiver, was perhaps most impacted by this team decision. While Justice admits that he would never have thought of designing the play, he tells us through tears how this experience made him think about caring about others, about "trying to make everyone’s day and everyone's life."
In the second video, we learn of Danny Keefe, a six-year-old boy in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, who has a speech impediment and wears a suit every day, both of which have made him the target of bullying. His school's football team, for which he serves as water boy, came to his defense. They decided to have a "Danny Appreciation Day," where the entire football team dressed like Danny so that, in the words of the team quarterback, Tommy Cooney, they could "show Danny that we love him, that we love him very much." The team calls themselves a "band of brothers."
I hope the boys in these videos are starting a trend. Maybe an internet meme. Perhaps boys everywhere, especially those on teams, will start telling one another that they love one another. I am certain that these boys' parents and coaches have taught them well. But it was so important that the boys themselves were strong enough to lead, to work together, to love one another, and to show us all that masculinity does have room for compassion and love.
The fact that the boys in these videos are football players is fascinating and wonderful. That they could love and protect one another this way while playing a violent "manly" sport is amazing. This is a lesson that many professional football players—and I am thinking of Richie Incognito here—should learn.
I sincerely hope these boys continue to lead the way. I, for one, wish they had my back when I was their age. I could have used a band of brothers.
Ariel Chesler wrote this article for the Good Men Project, where it originally appeared. Ariel is an attorney in New York, where he lives with his wife and two daughters, and one cat. He is the son of feminist author and psychologist Phyllis Chesler.
The Empathic Civilization
We humans are soft-wired for sociability, affection, to
belong, and to empathize. The question is "Can we extend our empathy to the
entire human race, fellow creatures and biosphere?" If we can imagine that
possibility, we can save our species and our planet! Jeremy Rifkin's talk on the
empathic civilization is mapped out in a stunningly visual and cohesive way.
"It's what each of us sows, and how, that gives to us character and prestige. Seeds of kindness, goodwill, and human understanding, planted in fertile soil, spring up into deathless friendships, big deeds of worth, and a memory that will not soon fade. . . ."
Autumn Lace by Deborah Ann Dawson
An article that was written in 2001 for the
Utne Reader on
democratic society based on Goodwill, and defining a political platform for the "commons".
Building the Good Society
Notes toward a political platform for the commons
Universal health care: This would include natural health treatments and psychological therapies, both of which save money over the long haul by preventing serious medical conditions.
A fair electoral system: How about a voting system in which the guy who gets the most votes wins? Even better would be proportional representation (common outside the English-speaking world), which allows third and fourth parties to bring fresh ideas into the political debate without becoming spoilers.
Full employment: Any society that glorifies work as much as we do ought to offer every citizen the chance for a worthwhile job. Even in a recession, there are slums to fix up, trees to plant, and the unfortunate to care for.
Far more federal spending on schools than on the military: Education is a better national security investment than weapons and warriors. The popular T-shirt says it all: “It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber.“
A 6-to-1 ratio between the highest-and lowest-paid employees in any enterprise: This might have the added benefit of coaxing some of our more greedy and ostentatious billionaires to relocate in the Cayman Islands.
Four weeks paid vacation for all: A movement is already under way to give Americans the same kind of free time that Europeans, Australians, and the Japanese enjoy.
A hummable national anthem: Ours isn’t so bad for an old battle poem plastered atop an English beer hall tune, but it’s time for an anthem more people are willing to sing. Maybe “This Land Is Your Land” or “All You Need Is Love.“
A strongly unionized workforce: From weekends off to civil rights legislation, labor unions have been the sparkplug of significant social improvements. The right-wing drift of recent decades can be attributed more to the decline of labor’s power than to the fading of 1960s radicalism.
Natural and historic preservation: More parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, historic districts, and generous tax credits for saving scenic landscapes and landmark buildings.
Unstinting support for the arts, humanities, and basic science: Think of tango festivals, touring comedy revues, cool museums (Gloria Steinem’s girlhood home in Toledo?), and new revelations about dinosaurs and dogwood blossoms.
Topflight public broadcasting free of corporate purse strings: Imagine great investigative reporting, live poetry slams and salsa shows, original dramas by emerging literary talents, and humor of all varieties. Like the best of BBC, but in the many accents of America.
Diversity. Character. Color. Charm: Scrap the melting pot and grab a stew pan so we can savor all of America’s spicy flavors. Let West Virginia celebrate its Appalachian splendor, Detroit its African-American and Arab-American heritage, Boulder (and Halifax) its burgeoning Buddhist sensibility, and Gilroy, California, its famous garlic.
Greater global awareness: We give shamefully small amounts of nonmilitary aid to poor nations around the planet even as U.S. corporations exploit their people and environment. Adding insult to injury, many Americans show little interest in anything happening beyond our borders. We’re losers in this situation too, missing out on great ideas from other cultures that could help solve some of our own problems here at home.
Jay Walljasper's new book is All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons and he is editor of the website, OnTheCommons.org. He is also a contributing editor of National Geographic Traveler, Senior Fellow at Project for Public Spaces, an Associate of the CitiStates group and the cities columnist for Shareable.net. He was editor of Utne Reader for fifteen years and author of The Great Neighborhood Book. His website is: JayWalljasper.com
Pacific Madrone by Deborah Ann Dawson
I am breathing in the smell of
Love thy neighbour, for he is me
Two thousand years ago on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, a lonely traveller was attacked. No one—not even the priest who happened by—extended a hand to help the man. But just before he lost consciousness he saw a friendly face hovering over him and felt two strong arms lift him up and put him on a donkey. When he woke up the following day, he was at an inn; his wounds were dressed, his thirst quenched. His benefactor had moved on, but had paid the man’s medical and hotel bills. “Who is this man who spontaneously took pity on me?” asked the traveller. The innkeeper smiled. “His name is Samaritan.”
.....Practising compassion: Compassion can be practised anywhere: at airports, on beaches or in shops, whenever we are together with other people. Try this five-step exercise around friends and strangers. Do it discreetly and try to do all the steps with the same person.
With your attention geared to the other person, tell yourself:
Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
See more at: The Intelligent Optimist
Tijn Touberis a musician, writer and teacher. He writes a regular column for The Intelligent Optimist, interviews and writes articles and has authored 3 books. He and his partner Kris started City Lights (an initiative to open up homes for regular meditation). Tijn also gives regular master classes (including the Secret of Genius) to businesses and Silence Concerts with his partner Kris.