Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Reflection: A Teaching From Maria

Before we go to today's Friday Reflection, I have a little venting to do. It'll be brief, I promise.

When I stopped off at Joe's Deli after work today, the mood was subdued. Joe reported that a 29 year old kid from the neighborhood had been killed last week in Iraq. Got shot by a sniper, a little south of Baghdad. The Army had just sent his body home, and he was to be buried Friday.

Right behind me, the TV was droning away. As Joe told me about the young man, I made out the sound of a CNN Special Report, which went on for as long as I was there—at least 20 minutes.

Was it about the situation in Iraq? About the Lebanese war? Or the genocide in Darfur, the starvation in Niger, or an update on the diplomatic crisis with Iranian nukes?

No. It was about the planet Pluto, and whether or not it rates as a planet. Mind you, this was somewhere between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, prime news time.

Then I came upstairs and switched on the Mac, and saw the headline story on MSNBC. Pluto.

The mass media have lost my last ounce of respect. They are blind, senseless, cloying, superficial, vain, self-promoting, servile dogs. Whatever fetches a buck and a Neilsen rating, while avoiding offense or discomfort at any cost (including, and especially, truth) is worth airing over the events that matter most.

So I do here call on anyone who cares about the Earth and the next generation (and the one after that) to demand that the mass media start showing some vision, some responsibility, some sense of the urgency of the times we are living and dying in. Let these morons know that you're onto their studied ignorance of what matters in this world. Click the graphic above for FAIR's Media Contact Listing page. If you're at all geeky, you can easily make up an email distribution list containing all the worst offenders against truth. Spam the bastards: write them all and blast them through and through.

If you'd like some help in articulating the importance of this moment, you can use the text from my Earth Day post; or you can offer the words of Andrew Harvey, below. If you have kids, do it for them; if you don't, do it for all the innocents who are being murdered, ethnically cleansed, starved, tortured, or oppressed around the world. Pluto, I am sure, can take care of itself.

...a Great Death is unfolding at the same time as a Great Birth; they are emerging simultaneously because they are interdependent. Here are the seven aspects of the Great Death:

1. Population explosion. Demographers believe the current population is expected to triple to 9 billion by 2050—3 billion more people than the planet can support.
2. The growth of fundamentalism. Rather than coming together and relinquishing their claims of exclusivity, the world's religions are retreating into violent separatism.
3. Nuclear proliferation. the unprecedented spread of weapons of mass destruction is a great (and growing) threat to life on the planet.
4. Ecological devastation. One hundred-twenty species disappear into extinction every day, our seas are polluted, the Amazon is on fire, Antarctica is melting, and on.
5. Our technological worldview. we have turned the Earth into a great cement garden. Being disconnected from the natural world impoverishes our spirit and imagination.
6. Corporate media. Instead of being informed about the true dimension of the crisis and our role in it, we are subject to an avalanche of celebrity trivia, half-baked news, "reality shows", pornography, and violence.
7. The "Coca-Coma" puts us in a state of anxiety, depression, and fear, keeping us addicted to our destructive, consumerist way of life. While we chase after what keeps us hectically busy but never fulfills us, we have no time and no peace, the essential ingredients of a spiritual life, and the key to discovering our divine identity.

(from Spirituality and Health Magazine, Sept/Oct, 2006).


Friday Reflection: Maria's Lesson to Us

Perhaps you have been taught, from childhood onward, to get along; to play nice with others; to assimilate yourself to your surroundings and subject yourself to your superiors. Working in corporate America, I see this psychological dynamic at work every day, and feel its pressure within myself as well.

So I have made a point, particularly in light of the dangers that the coming generation will face, to teach my child to disdain hierarchies; to validate her anger so that it doesn't degrade through suppression into a "war-feeling" (rage); and to express herself very clearly and firmly, wherever she feels wronged or unjustly treated. Again, most kids are rigorously taught to "just get along;" but I find that the biggest brats are the ones who have been the most violently subjected to this kind of an imperative. And they tend to grow up to become "diplomats" like John Bolten. Kids that are encouraged to express anger rather than contain it tend to be amazingly civilized and socially adept.

The following was written by my 12 year old daughter in a heated moment, after I had given her some disappointing news. Our planned Labor Day getaway, which would include a visit to The Chatham Fair, along with a couple rounds of golf, would have to be cancelled. I found out I have to work that weekend, to test a big deployment of a major system that management had decided urgently needed to be in production by (get this) 9/11 (believe me, folks, I couldn't make this shit up!). After writing it, she was almost instantly back to her joyful, playful self, assuring me today that we could easily live without going to the Fair, and get our golf in another weekend. I present her work exactly as she wrote it, by herself and on her own computer (and in the color that she chose for this message). It's addressed to my bosses at work.

☹ I am very mad ☹

By subjecting my poppy to working you meen people have made many others give up things just to satisfy yourself the list below is just a couple of thing me and my family have bin made to give up ☹

You have made my poppy give up his hard earnded resting weakends and he has to miss the chatum fair and golfing and seeing his brothers and sister and seeing his friends new house and wife and bringing his cat with him. ☹

You have made my cat night give up getting outdoors and felling fresh air and happiness and finally feeling nice since she just got 8 teeth pulled and you are depriving her of these privligaes. ☹

You have made my mother give up having a nice vacation by heself witch she was saposed to take wile I was with my poppy and you have stoped her from that and you have made her have to bring me☹

You have stoped me from seeing my auntie and my uncles witch I haven’t seen in over a year and ou have stoped me from going to the chatum fair which I haven’t gone to in over 3 years and you have stoped me from going golfing which I haven’t done in 1 year and you have stoped me from having the joy of the outdoors ad bringing my cat with me and I am very disappointed with you and I would go on with things but my hands hurt☹

So I hope that you are satisfied in what you have done you mean people I hope you have to work as long and hard as every one else and I am the the only one who has a family deprived of a nice holide so I hope you are happy ☹

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