Standing At the Edge

standing at the edge

the first step

is the only step

-even now, by jill sabella & rosemerry wahtola trommer

A New Year, and what are your resolutions? I prefer to think of them as dreams, dreams I’ve resolved to make real.

Here are a few of mine:

  • More play. I don’t get enough and it is beginning to show.
  • More collaboration. I want to work with and alongside people more rather than on my own.
  • More poetry. I received a beautiful little gift called “even now” for Christmas. It has only 3-line poems resembling haiku, accompanied by artwork of only three brushstrokes. Minimalist, profound, I’ll be sharing them here.
  • A devotional book. I’ve long wanted to publish a devotional based on humanist spirituality. I can’t figure out how to get it started, but start it I must.

In order to do anything or add anything to our lives, I believe, we must stop doing something else. Law of equal and opposite reaction. If I want to do these four things, I will have to stop doing some other things.

That’s a tough one, especially if the “stop doing” list involves other people’s expectations. Family members have a way of making us cling to old behaviors, since it often benefits them emotionally.

Don’t try to tackle all of the emotional hurdles at once. Standing at the edge, the first step is the only step.

Advertisements

Open Letter to the NJ Governor

Dear Governor Christie:

I am writing as a father, concerned citizen, and representative member of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition, which upholds the dignity and worth of every human being, and wishes to see social justice in action in our state.

I also represent the Gun Violence Prevention task force of the UULMNJ – Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.

Our goal on the GVP task force is not to “control” guns or take them away from law-abiding citizens, but rather to work to prevent gun violence, a very different aim.

The New Jersey Assembly passed A. 4126 (keeping firearms away from those convicted of domestic violence) by an overwhelming bipartisan majority last week (60-2). The companion bill previously passed the Senate unanimously.

Please sign A. 4126, denying firearms to those who commit domestic violence. This is one way to make progress on an issue that is admittedly fraught with controversy, but that needs the attention of our public servants and state leaders in order to move forward.

Lives that will be lost if perpetrators of domestic violence are permitted to have firearms.

You have promised to sign this compromise bill. Now I call upon you to keep your promise and sign A. 4126, which will protect the lives of the many women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.

These women and children have no say in what their physically powerful male abusers can and will do to them, especially after they try to report behavior. When an individual is acting in anger and with physical force, he will often punish even those he claims to love, if they talk to anyone or go to the police.

Mandatory firearm removal from these individuals is one more common sense step to take in protecting those who find themselves trapped in this frightening and life-threatening situation.

I ask you again to please sign A. 4126 into law to reduce gun violence and protect the citizens of our state.

Stop Voting For The Capitalists: They Hurt The Working Class

People sometimes (often?) vote against their own best interests.

Capitalism is designed to accrue wealth to the owners of production. That doesn’t include you and me. It doesn’t include white working class voters. It doesn’t include most blacks, women, or Muslims either. It does include Donald Trump.

Capitalism caused this mess. The anger and “I’ve lost my f***ing mind” attitude in the poor rural counties is the result of poor conditions created in the working class by the very capitalists who got their votes, the very capitalists who promised jobs and then took them overseas, the very capitalists who trumpet “energy jobs” and encourage whole communities to put all their eggs in that basket only to have it go bust after those same capitalists decide to relocate or run out of resources to mine or drill out.

Capitalists promise the world to the working class. They promise us that if we elect them, they will help us all prosper and strive and work for a better life. But in reality they practice trickle-up economics. All of our work and striving benefits them. Everything trickles up to the .01% of the super-wealthy. That means away from your community, your family, your local government, your schools, your roads, your hospitals, your lives.

Capitalists do not have the interests of the common person in mind. Capitalists do not have white Trump voters in mind. Capitalists do not have black Clinton voters in mind.

Capitalists do not have anyone in mind but themselves. This is a natural human tendency and not surprising, but it becomes dangerous when carried out by people with immense power, status, and wealth, since their actions have a disproportionate affect on everyone else.

stop-capitalism-300x225The capitalists want to protect themselves at all (human) costs, grow themselves and their empires at all (human) costs, and preserve the (human) resources needed to produce the goods and services that made them wealthy at all (human) costs.

We have not yet done a good enough job of dialogue about why this is important, why it affects ALL of us when powerful white capitalists put people down.

It serves the interests of the Capitalists to divide us and keep us from talking to each other. Meek people who stay in their place, stay in their cubicles, and regard each other as a threat, become better workers for those who own the means of production.

White working class people, please understand: Capitalists are not on your team.*+ The only reason they trumpet your values is because you are tools to them, to their success, to their fame, to their lifestyle.

If you are angry about this (as I am), if you feel like “the elites” don’t care about you (you’re right, they don’t), if you feel like you have had the shit beaten out of you and you would like more support (you’re not alone), realize what is causing all of this to happen.

This will continue until we work across the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to stop it.

If you have had it up to here and you can’t stand anymore, STOP VOTING FOR THE CAPITALISTS.

*Disclaimer 1: Clinton and the Democrats have not always been on your team either. I am not saying they have done a better job. Many rich Democrats are just as guilty of this sort of Capitalist 1% behavior.
+Disclaimer 2: I realize I am lumping people together here. I do so for the sake of making a clear statement. I recognize that people who practice within the capitalist system are not all bad. Bill Gates is a good person. Warren Buffett is a good person. I own my own (very small) business, and value entrepreneurship. There are many businesses and corporations that practice good and fair treatment of people and funnel money to good causes. However, even Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, when they get a tax break for their charitable contributions, for example, funnel money away from local governments who can do the most good fixing roads and providing help to working people in the form of job services, health care, child care, and so on. This is precisely the point: Capitalism is designed to funnel money to the top, and even the benevolent people like Gates and Buffett end up reinforcing it despite their best intentions.

 

Should We Protest The Inauguration?

I’m torn.

Part of me agrees with Clinton that we need to let Trump now assume office and give him an open mind and heart. I do believe he needs a chance to govern.

The other part of me wants to protest at the inauguration.

If I do, it will not be to say “he’s not the president.” Some protesters already have said that, or made signs to that effect. That’s not helpful.

Rather I want to say, we aren’t going to lie down and let him mistreat people, let an election platform strewn with overt sexism and racism stand without challenge.

 

Magical Thinking Part 1

I like magic.

My favorite entertainers growing up were magicians. I loved seeing people disappear, get sawed in half, or switch places with someone else (who was usually tied up in a box of some kind.) I am a card trick aficionado.

So at a recent conference on teaching violin, I was interested to hear the presenter say that he aimed to help students move from “magical” to “real” thinking. Students do better, he asserted, when they do not expect results just from wishing it were so. Only an actual change in behavior in the real world results in a different or improved outcome.

IMG_2191

Incorrect wrist position makes it hard to play in tune.

On the violin, that translates to a physical change in how one moves. Simply wanting it to sound better won’t change anything unless that wish is accompanied by actual change in movement. That resonated with me, since for most of my violin career I have been mystified by a lack of good tone in my playing, and only recently have discovered teachers willing and able to point out the physical changes necessary to accomplish it.

Correct wrist position

Correct wrist position

In other areas of life as well, attention to the real, physical, flesh and blood world is of paramount importance. If we want to get along with other people, make money, have friendships, and make a meaningful contribution, we will have to observe and understand the world as it actually is, rather than what we want it to be.

Ironically, the magic comes out as a result of such understanding and effort. I can cast a spell with my violin, and teach my students to do so, because I take time to understand the science of the violin. I can affect the world with an entrancing beauty, when I get involved in what is real, what produces such sound.

Take a GoodMinute

  1. When have I affected others positively by paying attention to the real?
  2. What do I wish for in a magical sense? If I could take a small action toward that wish, could I pull it into the real?