Archive for October, 2007

Lessons from Limbaugh

>     Turkey is mobilizing to invade northern Iraq to attack the Kurds. The United States House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is about to pass a formerly introduced resolution condemning the ethnic cleansing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire (read as “former Turks”) that occurred hundreds of years ago. Several former U.S. Secretaries of State see the resolution’s passage as untimely, antagonistic to Turkey, the probable reason for the mobilization of Turkish troops on Iraq’s northern border, and an ill portent for the likelihood that the U.S. military will be able to continue to use Turkish air space and passageways to move troops into Iraq.
    On it’s face, and at first glance, I’d have to agree. But we live in challenging times that demand we think beyond the surface of things as well as for ourselves. So, upon further glance, I see a different reality.
    Ethnic cleansing is reprehensible whenever and wherever it occurs. As a Jew, I am gratified that the world, albeit late in coming, acknowledged Hitler’s and the German peoples’ efforts to exterminate certain ethnic and religious groups, mine included. To this day, Holocaust deniers and those who give them a platform, raise my ire. I can imagine that Armenians, who were the object of just such an effort by the ancestors of today’s Turks, have waited long and painfully for acknowledgment of the horror their ancestors experienced.
    I am proud to be part of the nation that is willing to step up and publicly make such an acknowledgment and condemnation. We must never be silent about an attempt to exterminate a people because they are different from us…primarily because they are us. We, the people of the world, are simply variations of a common theme called Humanity. To deny or injure one part of us is to inflict, inevitably, pain upon all parts of us.
    As for the fear-based propaganda being touted that such a resolution will “anger Turkey” and thereby cause it to retaliate against both us and the Kurds…a step they obviously took today by passage of a resolution to invade Northern Iraq…well, let me digress to something I heard today on the radio.  
    Rush Limbaugh was speaking about Hilary Clinton’s recent statement that she thinks a woman in politics needs to have “skin as tough as a rhinoceros” then likened herself to Eleanor Roosevelt in terms of criticism endured. Mr. Limbaugh, in an attempt to mock both Hilary Clinton and Eleanor Roosevelt by reference to the rhino comment, said that “there were likely no two First Ladies in history more frequently cheated on by their husbands” than the two of them. Somehow, Mr. Limbaugh blames the moral failures of Bill Clinton and Franklin Roosevelt on the women they were married to rather than on the egocentric, immature and misguided choices made by the men themselves.
    Which leads me to Turkey and it’s reaction to the pending U.S. resolution. If Turkey chooses to respond with military aggression against the Kurds and closure of it’s air and ground space to U.S. troops, that will be the responsibility of the Turkish government and it’s people, not the fault of the U.S. resolution.
    Remember the old saying, “It’s not what happens to you it’s how you handle it?” Well, that’s it. That’s how it works.
    I think the U.S. Resolution is a good thing but only halfway to being a great thing. It needs to condemn the action against the Armenians and it needs to also forgive the Ottomans for having behaved poorly at the time.
    Acknowledgment + forgiveness. It’s the motto of the State of Israel and the Jewish people towards the Holocaust. “Forgive but never forget.”
    There are a few lessons to be gleaned form this most current dilemma.

    1.  Harm done to one is harm done to all.
    2.  Behavior is personal and responsibility for choice remains with the one doing the choosing.
    3.  Official acknowledgment of reprehensible behavior by a government is a reasonable act.
    4.  Without forgiveness, pain and hatred fester.
    5.  With forgiveness, all parties are liberated to move past the moment.

     Infighting within the U.S. over the resolution, U.S. condemnation of Turkey absent forgiveness, a reactive, aggressive response by the Turks, a cycle of blame, anger and aggression…these are all part of an old paradigm that has repeatedly failed to create a better world, or a better way.
    Let us take this opportunity to take responsibility for how and why we act, and react, as we do and step into the light of a new paradigm where compassion for our diversity and forgiveness for our humanity are the principles that guides us and the foundation upon which we build a better future.
    Oh yes, and one further lesson, Mr. Limbaugh.
    Men who blame women for the poor choices they themselves make need to grow up.

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The Dalai Lama's Smile

> President Bush is meeting this week with the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.  The meeting will take place not in the West Wing where the President usually meets with heads of state and dignitaries, but rather in the residence quarters. The “downgrade” appears to be an attempt to placate the Chinese who are enraged at the meeting. China has claimed Tibet as a part of China for years, while Tibetans claim sovereignty during much of the same time period and seek it still.
    This morning, Conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck was mocking the Dalai Lama’s well known smile and joyous demeanor by saying, “Well, that’s really working for him, isn’t it? Tibet still isn’t free.” Mr. Beck, it should be stated, is generally a hawk on military matters as he believes we are living in the “End Times” and Armageddon is just a Mullah away. He further believes that the only acceptable Presidential candidate in 2008 will be one willing and able to “pull the trigger” so to speak to take out the bad guys when they come for us.
    So, it’s no surprise that he misses the meaning behind the smile.
    I have never been in the presence of the Dalai Lama, nor do I know if Mr. Beck has. But I have been in the presence of a Buddhist master. His very presence and countenance so affected me that for days following that meeting I not only felt calmer, more centered and closer to the concept of world unity, but those around me visibly noticed and commented on my own changed behavior.
    I have also been in the presence of countless politicians, local and national. I have never felt calmer, more centered or more united with humanity as a result nor have those meetings ever had any lasting positive effect upon me.
    Mr. Beck’s implication is that a smile and joyous inner sense of peace will not help the world situation in any significant way. But aggression and war, the modus operandi of the politicians and people in power, have never helped the world in any significant way either and they’ve had their crack at it for at least 2000+ years now. So, before we are so quick to write off the smiling monk, perhaps we should give joyfulness and love of humanity a try.
    It’s often said that we in the West do not understand that the “bad guys” have a long range plan fostered with patience because they believe their “mission” is ordained by God.  
    Now I don’t know for sure, and this is only a guess, but I believe that observation is also applicable to how the Dalai Lama must feel about his “mission.” He too has a long range plan that is fostered by patience and ordained by a higher power.  
    If I were a betting woman, I’d place my money on the Dalai Lama and others like him. There are more and more of us re-awakening from a long, delusional sleep to the power of positive thoughts, good deeds, right speech and a joyous countenance.
   Personally, I believe in a Creator. And if truth be known, I’d place yet another bet. I bet the intention in creating All That Is, if in fact we could see that intention, would look exactly like the smile on the Dalai Lama’s face.
    I think I just heard a voice say, “Pay the woman.”

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The Distraction of War

>    When a child is a toddler wanting to do something the adults don’t want him to do, it’s a pretty common behavioral technique to pose a distraction to get the child’s attention off of what he’d rather do.
    This is the historical purpose of war.
    While it is true that individuals can and will have differences that lead to conflict, it’s the conscious organization and management by others of small, unresolved conflicts that has been the foundation for large scale violence and destruction throughout history. The manipulation of the many by the few, for the purpose of distracting the many from pursuit of more life enhancing goals, is how people who crave power obtain and maintain it.
    Allow me to share a personal example of how managing conflict at it’s source preempts the possibility of larger scaled conflict that is  later manipulated by others.
    Last year I went to Santa Fe to visit a friend, Katharine, who lives there. She and I met a few years earlier at a Buddhist lecture in New York City. We felt an instant bond and although living in different cities (I in New Jersey and she in Maryland at the time) we developed a rich friendship based mostly upon telephone communication and 2 or 3 in-person visits. So, when I flew to Santa Fe last year to spend 4 days with her at a resort in Taos, it was new territory for us both. We did well for the first two days, but by the third tensions were rising over our apparent differences and preferences. By the fourth day, we had checked out of the resort and were headed back to Santa Fe, hardly speaking. The drive back was long and silent. When we reached Santa Fe, we went to have lunch at an outdoor cafe where the tension could no longer be contained.
    Both Katharine and I are strong-willed women on lifelong spiritual paths. We each know Who We Are and our direction comes from within. The power of our respective energies fully engaged in mental, verbal and emotional “battle” at that cafe was palpable, and held the potential for much destruction.  Although we were each firmly rooted in our “positions,” we were also acutely aware of the potential for loss…the loss being both the harm we would inflict as well as the end of the friendship.               
    Recognizing the possible outcomes, we each chose to honor the bond between us by allowing the other sufficient space to hold her personal integrity while simultaneously each relinquishing the need to win. 
    Put simply, Love prevailed over Fear.
    Both Katharine and I believe in reincarnation. In since talking about what happened in Santa Fe, we each feel that we had many such encounters in prior lives that ended poorly, with one or both of us harmed. Whether or not you believe in such things, one thing is certain.
     We all establish patterns of behavior personally and collectively that, unless altered, produce the same outcomes over and over.
    Such is the case with aggression born of difference.
    If Katharine and I had not been able to respond to one another as we did, but instead walked away harboring anger or hatred for the other, those feelings, captured within ourselves, would have become a breeding ground for even more anger and hatred.
    When one is holding anger and hatred, it is not possible to be inner-directed. It is only possible to be manipulated by those feelings, and others, who know how to play upon them and fan the flames of destruction.
    War is the natural outgrowth of millions of personal patterns of ineffective conflict resolution enlarged to collective behavior. Those patterns, small and large, are based upon the inability to allow another their rightful place in the world and the mis-perception that so allowing would somehow diminish the allower.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    When we use our personal power and creative energies to pursue and explore our own path rather than depleting ourselves by trying to influence or power over the path of another, we are enhanced not diminished. As importantly, we eliminate the possibility that anyone or anything will have the opportunity to play upon those misdirected feelings and distract us from the true purpose of our lives.
    We are not children, although we may act like them at times. Let us stay focused upon changing our own personal patterns. When we are able to do that, there will be no further need for parental or politically induced distractions.
    No further need for war.

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Ann Coulter: Tyrannosourous Rex

>    Ann Coulter, columnist, author, speaker, and political commentator is a dinosaur. She and others like her are on the verge of extinction. They refuse to see beyond their own limiting and divisive beliefs in order to catch the wave of unity that is sweeping the globe. It’s not that they don’t sense the global change taking place, it’s just that they want to obstruct it, making a conscious effort to re-frame the tidal wave of change as a “return to Socialism or Communism” rather than the evolutionary leap to honoring diversity within unity that it is.
    For a long time, Ann Coulter, and the Conservative Christian Right she represents, have spoken in exclusionary terms of “us vs. them”…”Republican vs. Democrat”…”Conservative vs. Liberal”…”Christian vs…well…that one was just taken to an entirely new level by Ms. Coulter.
    It seems that earlier this week, in an interview on Donnie Deutsch’s CNBC’s cable show “The Big Idea”, Ms. Coulter stepped completely out of the shadows and stated that the United States would be better off if everyone were Republican and Christian. As if that were not thinking small enough, she went on to say that “Jews” needed to be “perfected” by becoming (I can only assume) messianic Jews, or, born again Christians.
    If a Jew needs to be perfected it is safe to conclude that in my present state I, as a Jew, must be imperfect. Now, I looked into the mirror earlier that morning and every morning since Ms. Coulter made her beliefs known, and I have not observed my obvious imperfections. What I see in the mirror is the same thing I see when I look into the eyes of any other living being…the image and likeness of God. Quite simply, perfection. It’s a perfection best described by a dear friend who passed away a couple of years ago and who taught me, “We are all born perfectly imperfect.”
    It is for each of us in our own way and using the gift of Free Will to take the situations and character we are born with and elevate them through good choices, deeds of service, and right speech. Right speech, by the way, is not the political Right Ms. Coulter espouses. It’s using words carefully chosen in a way that does no harm. Suggesting that people who do not see the Creator as you do as being not only wrong but in need of changing their beliefs to match your own is arrogant, condescending and dangerous. The arrogance and condescension are obvious on their face. So let’s take a look at the danger.
    Caesar, Attila, Hitler, and a host of other politicians also believed that their view was the only view and certain imperfect peoples needed to be either converted or eliminated. While Ms. Coulter only spoke to stage one, the conversion process, history shows that stage two is never far behind.
    I think it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Ms. Coulter is very bright and attractive. But there were bright and attractive dinosaurs as well…even those with silky hair and long, lanky legs…and they are extinct as well because they could not adapt to the inevitable changes that came their way.
    We are living through a transition unparalleled in human history that is expanding, exponentially, the abilities and scope of human consciousness. It is a time of comprehending, in a most profound  manner, how we are all connected and interdependent, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or status on the food chain. Thinking otherwise is a futile attempt to stand firmly rooted in quicksand.
    Someday, in a world where respect for life regardless of form will be the norm, children born into harmony and unity will be able to see politically right-wing Conservative Christians in the Smithsonian…as an exhibit.

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A Little Common Sense, Please

>    One of the troubling reports to come out of the shooting at an inner-city Cleveland Tech School yesterday that killed 2 students and wounded 2 teachers, is the allegation that students tried repeatedly to meet with the Principal over concerns around the assailants behavior and ongoing threats but she apparently could not find the time to actually conduct those meetings.
    It seems unlikely and odd that someone in the position of being responsible for the education and welfare of a group of school students would have their priorities so misaligned… and yet I’ve run into the same lack of common sense in an affluent, suburban white school district.
    We live in Cherry Hill, New Jersey with some of the highest real estate taxes in the state to fund what is seen as an outstanding school district, with Presidential Blue Ribbon recognition to show for it. We also have a history of alcohol, drug and suicide problems among our school age children. So, when we moved here 5 years ago and there were two teenage suicides in the first 3 years, I volunteered my experience to the Drug and Suicide Prevention Task Force.
    My experience was not my law degree nor the fact that we had a school age daughter enrolled in the district. It was that I had tried to commit suicide at age 23. 
    My volunteering efforts were welcomed and I was invited to sit on the Task Force. I attended two meetings and quickly recognized the familiar symptoms of political correctness and bureaucratic dysfunction. After the second meeting, there was yet another student suicide and the Task Force “mobilized” a community-wide grief and counseling event at one of the High Schools. After an assembly event where the Superintendent was to speak (his daughter had attempted suicide a few years prior) we were to break out into smaller groups in separate rooms and talk more personally with the students.
    A politically connected and affluent male member of the community with a personl history of clinical depression, who is active in both the school district and a local synagogue, was going to speak with the children in each room. He had done this every time there had previously been a suicide. I offered to speak to the individual groups as well, explaining that as a female who survived an attempted suicide and gone on to college, law school, a successful career and family, my story might resonate better with the female student population.
    My offer was ignored then outright rejected.
    The priorities of the “powers that be” are, usually, maintaining the powers that be. In so doing, those in positions of power often spend too much time making sure they are fortifying their position rather than adequately performing the duties of their position.
    There’s a great quote from the movie “American President” when Michael Douglas, playing the role of President of the United States, arrives at a press conference unannounced and taking the microphone says, “I’ve been so busy trying to keep my job, I forgot to do my job.”
    If the allegation against the Principal in Cleveland turns out to be true, then she will have to “own” that quote as well as the memory of 3 dead and two injured people which were, perhaps, the result of her misplaced priorities. On my homefront, I left the Task Force shortly thereafter and slipped quietly into the night where our school district is concerned.

    That is, until last night.

    Last night was “Back To School Night” at Cherry Hill East High School where our daughter is a freshman. We walked through her roster, spending 10 minutes with each of her teachers. When we got to Health and PhysEd, her teacher told us that he has 50 students in his class because the Board and others of “the powers that be” decided to underfund the staffing of that department by 3-4 teachers. He also had his classroom size cut in half (at the same time the amount of students was increased) to provide more space for the World Civilizations and English classes
    Here’s the rub. It’s in the Health class that stress, suicide, alcohol, sexual relations and drugs are taught. So, common sense was  cast to the wind as those who make the decisions that matter either willfully, or blindly, failed to focus on what matters.
    As I told the Assistant Principal last night, “I am all for academics. I went to college, have a law degree and am a writer. But if a person does not have the emotional stability to handle the stresses of the world in which they live, the best college and best paying job in the world will not prevent an inevitable disaster.”
    I am hopeful that the Principal in Cleveland, although belatedly, is today reassessing her priorities and will live her life differently as a result of the tragedy.
    I am less optimistic about our School District based upon past performance. However, I am about to slip not so quietly back out of the night I went so quietly into when I left the Task Force.
    Perhaps if they did not find me of value then, I can be of help now by assisting them in re-prioritizing their values.

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You think?

>    I watched a video clip of Prime News with Erica Hill on CNN online yesterday. The piece was about a reality TV show called “Intervention” that aired a story tracking an alcoholic woman as she, among other things, takes several long, last swigs of vodka from a bottle then gets into her car, drunk, and drives off. Ms. Hill interviewed both the director of the show and a professor of ethics from Syracuse University. The issue under discussion was whether or not the shows director had an obligation to “step in” and prevent the obviously intoxicated woman from driving, thereby putting herself and others at risk.
    You think?
    Well, their respective positions were as follows. The director said that it was a reality show and, therefore, not their duty or obligation to intervene with behavior that someone would otherwise have taken part in anyway without the presence of the cameras and witnesses. The professor said that while there was no legal obligation to do so, there may have been an ethical/moral obligation for the director to intervene.
    You think?
    All agreed upon conclusion (including Ms. Hill) that the reality show has a good and valuable purpose which is to show the less-than-glamorous side of addictive behavior and the benefits of intervention. So, you could say CNN ended the story on a positive, upbeat note, highlighting the overall benefit of “Intervention.” After all, it’s a show that conveys a positive message.
    You think?
    I mean is anyone thinking?
    While I don’t question the ability to use TV to educate and elevate our thinking minds, what exactly were these people thinking? Are we so far afield from true reality that justifying and rationalizing the promotion of destructive behavior and the profiteering that can be had from it is a good use of technology and the media?
    I used to practice law, and I know doctors who practice psychiatry, and both lawyers and doctors have a legal and ethical duty to report knowledge of a pending crime or action where an individual’s behavior will place them or others in harms way.
    Now, I’m not holding a reality TV director to the same standard as a lawyer or a doctor. At least not the same legal standard. But ethically and morally, don’t we all, as fellow members of humankind, have an obligation to assist one another in mitigating harm when we see it?  Is it enough to say that “it was going to happen anyway so why should I get involved?”  Doesn’t that
abdicate personal responsibility in every situation?  If I see someone being
beaten, should I not attempt to intervene in some way to assist the
victim…whether it’s a call to the police or more immediate intervention? Can
I walk away with peace of mind saying “If I hadn’t been there they would
have been beaten anyway.”
          You think?
   I think not.
          It is not enough to invent the technology, it’s incumbent
upon us to use it wisely.

    There is evidence all over our planet that intelligent life
existed thousands of years ago in highly developed civilizations about which we
have little or no understanding. What they were able to accomplish, to this day,
defies our comprehension. Yet they are gone. Disappeared without apparent
    There’s a theory among spiritualists and others that at one time, the
“lost continent of Atlantis” was as technologically advanced
as we are today. But, through misuse of the power they had harnessed they
destroyed themselves. The belief is that we have reached that point again and
are getting, what is essentially, another chance to do it right.
    I think that doing it right involves using what we have
harnessed for the highest good of all concerned. I also think that standing by
and watching someone put their life and the lives of other in mortal danger
without making any effort to intervene before the fact is not the
highest good for all concerned.
    We are capable of so much more.
    You think?

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Making Sense

>    In Crandon, Wisconsin a young man, recently out of high school…a boy, really…holding the position of Deputy Police Officer, went on a rampage shooting, killing 6 children ranging in age from 14-18. He ran following the murders and, hours later, was killed by local police when negotiations for his surrender collapsed.
    Is it a gun control issue or a background check issue? I think not.
    We live in a world where violence, in all it’s ugly forms, has become so commonplace and so widely available for viewing, that it’s really an issue of “When are we going to take responsibility for the society we have allowed to grow up around us?”
    I say “allowed” because without our consent, condoning and economic support as consumers of the news, movies, video games, television shows, magazines, books and whatever other means by which violence is marketed, it would not have the standing and be the lucrative income generator it is. But more than that, we would not have become hardened, slowly over time, to the adverse effects of so much exposure to maiming, killing, and destruction.
    We live in a society (and a world) where a famous sports figure can murder his wife in a fit of jealously and, with abandon, continue to seek the spotlight…and receive it. A world where the head of state of a terrorist nation is granted the status of honored guest and invited to speak to our youth at an accredited and acclaimed institution of higher learning. A society where “reality tv” is comprised of death-defying acts of survival and “winners” are the ones left standing after destroying the competition without regard to ethics or consideration for compassion.
    Are we shocked when a teenager then murders 6 of his peers in a display of unbridled rage? Perhaps still somewhat shocked..just not surprised.
    Our lack of surprise should be the real shock. It should shock us out of the self-imposed dream state we live in and shock us into an awareness of how we have institutionalized violence. It should make us ponder the question “If what we give our thoughts, attention and energy to creates our reality, is it a surprise that violence, in the form of terrorism, has found it’s way to us?”  Whether it’s the terror of one boy murdering 6 of his friends or 19 terrorists murdering 3000 of our citizens…it all begs the question, “What is my personal responsibility for the perpetuation of violence?”
    We are not powerless nor are we helpless in this matter. We have choices, every day, around that which we chose to read, watch, speak, and give our attention. Remedies start small and local but eventually  spread large and wide.
    What can you do?
    Remove the word “hate” from speech. Do not watch or purchase violent video games. Do not watch violent television shows. Do not read about violent acts of crime. Do not allow anger to drive your behavior in ways small and large. Do not watch or patronize violent sports. Do not purchase violent toys for children. Do not seek revenge. Look for the ways violence crops up in your immediate life and make efforts to eliminate it.
    Slow down. When we are burdened with more than we can do it’s a common reaction to express the stress we experience with anger. Model a more “civilized” and “natural” lifestyle for the children…for they are watching and learning from us.
    In this highly technological and rapidly paced world in which we find ourselves, we spend too much time interfacing with technology and too little time interfacing with Nature. Go for a walk, daily. Spend more time outdoors. Breath deeply. Hug and be hugged. It’s not some cute, New Age philosophy. We are human, social beings and need the warmth and interaction of other human, social beings. Without it, we lose our way.
    So, perhaps the important questions to come out of the murders in Crandon, Wisconsin are “How isolated did the murderer feel? How much time was spent cultivating his values. How often did he have the love and affection of those close to him? How much time did he spend watching television/video games/internet violence? Were his parents involved and knowledgeable about who he was and what he was struggling with, feeling and doing.”
    Sooner or later, each one of us is going to have to come to grips with the world we have co-created and responsibility for the one we continue to co-create. In order to change that which we do not like and find unacceptable, we are going to have to change ourselves and how we do the things we do in order to co-crate new and more acceptable ways of co-existing.
    Until we take responsibility, and make those changes, there will be more O. J. Simpsons, more Crandons, and more Ahmadinejads.
    That’s how it works.

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What We Think We Know

>This week, surgeons and immunologists from Duke University Medical School published their “discovery” in the Journal of Theoretical Biology that the appendix, long thought to be a useless organ, plays a vital role in the overall functioning and balance of the human anatomy. It seems the much discounted organ is a virtual breeding ground and manufacturing plant for the good bacteria and flora so vital for the proper functioning of our digestive systems. 
    I don’t know why we continue to think that Creator, in It’s literally infinite wisdom, somehow gets it wrong…or superfluous…rather than accepting the fact that what we do not yet know about the brilliance and complexity of All That Is results not from Creator’s negligence but rather from our own limited view… at any given point in time.
    The culprit behind this ongoing ruse we play upon ourselves is ego. Ego causes us to think we know everything, and that what we do not know, or understand, must be the fault or lack of another. I see it daily in our daughter. She’s 14, and whenever she does or does not do something, the fault always lies with something or someone else outside of herself. If she is rushing too fast and drops a dish and breaks it, the reason is “The stupid dish dropped” rather than “I dropped the dish.” Or if asked a question for which she does not know the answer, the reply is “You didn’t ask me the right question” rather than “I don’t know.”
    Well, a 14-year-old is supposed to be self centered, self-absorbed and always right. That’s the developmental stage they’re passing through. And it’s never their fault because they’re finding their way in a complex world and developing a healthy and independent sense of self. So at 14, it’s still okay to think you know it all.
    The problem arises when we, as adults, fail to outgrow that stage. When the development of a healthy and independent self is surpassed by the unrestrained development of a malignant ego which causes us to think 1) that we are the center of the Universe and 2) whatever we don’t understand about that Universe is irrelevant. It’s this perspective that leads us to repeatedly and wantonly ignore the independent rights and sacred space of anything on the planet that we deem to be insignificant or immaterial to OUR existence. If it’s purpose or meaning for existence isn’t readily knowable and useful to us, then it’s okay to conclude that it must be expendable or inherently lacking in value.
    The appendix is just the latest example. We do it with “lesser” life forms, the environment and Mother Earth all the time. We use and abuse all that we’ve been gifted out of ignorance and our resistance to accepting the perfection and unity of All That Is.
    Everything and Everyone in our world is an integral part of an incomprehensible creative effort. But it’s only incomprehensible to us. That Which Created All That Is comprehends All That Is. The fact that at any given point in time we may not comprehend it is our limitation. The sooner we step up and acknowledge this fact, and behave accordingly, the sooner we are likely to live in harmony with All That Is.
    When I was a child I would bump into inanimate objects, like a table or chair and because I had trouble pronouncing the word “excuse” would say out loud “coobie chair” or “coobie table.” I did this for several years until the adults around me “corrected” me and I stopped.
    It’s many years later and my interests and studies have taken me full circle. There was no need for correction, after all. Everything and Everyone is made up of the same basic elements…simply vibrating at different rates of speed. The chair, the table, the spotted owl, the Muslim, the Sahara…all were deliberately created with a specific purpose. And when we fail to understand or respect the uniqueness of all, and thereby neglect or abuse our gifts, we need to say “coobie.”
    Coobie, appendix.

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Extracirricular Insanity

>    A 10-year-old Chinese girl’s feet and hands were bound and she was put into a lake in China for three hours and forced to swim “like a dolphin” to stay afloat. Oh, I’m sorry, she wasn’t forced. Her father, a Chinese swimming coach, said she insisted he do that to help her “train for her goal of swimming the English Channel.” He didn’t risk her life at all, the father continued, because “he swam behind her” the entire time.
Right. Aren’t all 10-year-olds driven by a compulsion for competition by risking their safety and/or their life to break a world’s record?
    It was only 4 years ago that our daughter was 10. I remember it vividly and death defying acts (other then an occasional ride on the “Wolf” at Great Adventure) were not a high priority for she and her friends. So what’s up?
    While the news story from China appalled many worldwide, it struck a way too familiar note to me. We live in an affluent, suburban, New Jersey community and these kids are driven to not only excel in academics, but also to take every possible extracurricular activity they can fit into their day so that they can “compete” for that treasured admission’s spot at the future University of their choice. They are driven to each of these activities by their parents who, I believe, are literally the driving force behind all this drive to succeed.
    Left to their own devices, kids don’t think about college at ages 8, 9, or 10. And when they do, it’s because they’re hearing it at home. Sure, there’s the occasional Mozart or Michaelangelo or Tara Lapinski…who are born with an internal passion to pursue a particular talent or skill. But they’re the exception not the norm. The children of today (and it’s not confined to the U.S. but endemic in all technologically advanced countries) are being stressed to the breaking point to compete, achieve and excel. Their sense of worth is not being derived from Who They Are but rather from What They Do and How Successfully They Can Drown Out The Competition.
    Like the swimming coach father in China who does not see the connection between his own passion and how he has driven his daughter to pursue it, I have personal experience with this one. 
    Parents who think their unfulfilled dreams and internal fears don’t influence their children…listen up.
    Both my parents were children during the Depression when fear of economic survival was the order of the day. Later in life, and shortly after my birth, my father came home from work one day and told my mother that he had quit his well-paying job because he was working 7 days a week, day and night, and he didn’t want to spend his life doing that. She responded with anxiety asking him, “How are we going to survive? We have two little children (I had an older sister). How could you do this?”   
    My father rallied and went on in life to become a successful, self-made millionaire, having never gone beyond high school for financial reasons. All I ever heard him say was that if he could have he would have been a lawyer. It was he life-long regret. At age 9, I wrote an essay in school that started out “When I grow up of course I want to be a wife and mother, but first I want to be a lawyer.” Age 9!
    So here’s the shocker. I grew up to become a lawyer and have an irrational fear of lack even though I’m an artist at heart and always had more than I needed  to survive. Yes, I had totally internalized both his regret and her fear.
    Now, let’s take parents who are less subtle than mine. Let’s take the one’s who are actively pushing their children to compete and succeed and grow up way too fast…or the the ones who are throwing them in lakes with hands and feet tied to sharpen their survival skills. What effect are they having on their children. And to what end?
    There’s and old saying, “Boys will be boys.”  How about “Kids will be kids.” If you’ve got the occasional Mozart, by all means allow that genius to pursue his or her passion. But if you’ve got your pretty standard issue kid, let her grow up at the rate Nature intended, get out of her way, and let her bloom and flower in her own time, not yours.
    And if you’ve always wanted to swim the English Channel or go to Harvard…you go for it.

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House Call

>    Our house is sick. Yes, a house can get sick the same way a person can…by being out of balance and holding on to old energy. Sound a bit “out there?” Not really. Allow me to explain.
    We bought our house 6 years ago from two elderly people who had raised their family in it and were going to retire to Florida. We gave them their asking price without any counteroffer. They seemed lovely and honest people. On the disclosure form, they stated that the house never had any water leakage. The morning after settlement, we awakened up to a thunderstorm and an inch of water in the sun room. We contacted the sellers but they refused to address their obvious lie, so we sued them and settled for the cost of building a new room.
    We then hired a contractor to do some major renovations elsewhere in the house and, it turned out, he was a fraud who did half the total job at half the competency level and refused to make good on anything. So we sued him and got a judgment against him for the actual damages plus fraud.
    A few months ago we had flooding in our basement and the damage required gutting the room and re-finishing it. We had an insurance claim for part of the renovation.
    Then, as we were about to tear down and rebuild the leaking sun room, lightening hit it and bent the metal frame and cracked the glass. It’s not repairable so it’s being torn down and rebuilt. The replacement cost is totally covered by our homeowners insurance.
    Finally, (I hope) we refinished the hardwood floors in the house last week and the contractor used a toxic polyurethane to seal the stain and I became ill with labored breathing. We had to move out of the house for 4 days into a hotel and get another contractor to come in an re-sand all the toxic material off and re-do the floors. The first contractor is returning our deposit and paying for our hotel and food expenses.
    See, I told you. Our house is sick.
    Now there are two ways to look at all of this.
    Door number 1 is that we are under some sort of curse, bought what is essentially a “money pit” and are the innocent victims of insurmountable bad luck.
    I prefer door number 2. All matter is composed of energy. Energy can be positive or negative, in or out of balance. When there is too much negativity, the energetic balance must be re-established for optimum performance.
    The people who lived in this house before us were not honest people. At the very least, we know they set out to intentionally lie to us, so I think it’s safe to assume that after 28 years of living in this house, it took on an excess build-up of negative energy. Behind door number 2, that negative energy is being released through the experiences our family has been having since we bought it.
    I’ve “owned” several properties in my life thus far. Philosophically, I have always taken the position that I’m just a steward of the land for the time I live on it…meant to turn it over to the next person, improved and more enriched than when I received it. So I see this series of events, this purging of negativity, as the improvement and enrichment that is my chosen path.
    While it’s all been challenging, to say the least, the Sellers eventually paid what they should have reduced the selling price by, the contractor who did the renovations is about to have a Sheriff’s sale of his property to meet the judgment amount, the insurance company will pay for the new sun room, and the flooring contractor will refund our deposit and pay for the hotel and food expenses. So I think the outcomes speak to my underlying belief. I will leave the property improved and more enriched that when I received it, and while that can be a daunting task, you always get the help you need to do the job your meant to do.
    Oh, and one other point.
    While the house has been clearing itself of old energies, so have the inhabitants. My husband, daughter and I also have a lot of negative energy stored up (as most of us do) and over these 6 years we’ve been clearing that as well.
    I guess that’s what they mean when they say that when you’re house shopping, you always know the one your “meant to buy” the minute you find it.
    This has been the prefect house.

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