Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The gifts we need - a proposal.

Gift giving within the culture of American Consumerism is deeply troubling to me.

Have we attempted to replace what we need with cheap, hollow, plastic substitutes that leave us feeling yet more hollow?

Here’s what I need . . .

and what I think we need:

We need more love.

We need more generosity – both sharing with others and receiving the kindness of others.

We need more time to sit quietly with others – those we love and those we do not understand or do not know.

We need more peaceable conversation with no agenda except coming into the awareness of one another and perhaps the Other.

We need more quiet mornings, calm evenings.

We need more walks in nature, more swimming in streams, and more time to watch-and-listen to leaves as they flutter in the wind.

We need more hand peeled fruits and individually sliced fresh vegetables.

We need more time to talk with one another and to sit in the stillness of shared space without words.

We need more hot drinks and cool beverages in their season – with time to sip their flavor.

We need more hugs, more time to cuddle, more time to embrace.

We need more thank you cards – expressing thanks for being with one another and spending time together.

We need more compassion.

We need more time to sow seed – and harvest it.  Literally.  We need gardens and plants and the time to nurture and celebrate their mystery and bounty.

We need more opportunities to walk, stretch, swim, cycle, hike, or other exercise.

We need moments of meditation.

We need solace.

We need each other.

We need quiet.

We need the beauty of sitting together with those we love, in quiet, relaxed, unfettered calm – punctuating conversation with conversational silence.

We need more board games and time to play “tag” or “hide-and-seek.”

We need time to grieve - and we need people to sit with us in our grief.

We need to spend more time with those much older or much younger than ourselves, to remember  the beauty and fragility of where we have been and where we are heading.

We need simple crafts that create tangible goods that endure – woodworking, knitting, quilting, and building.

We need connection – with our true self – and with the true self of those around us.

We need cool showers in summer and warm fires in winter.

We need friendship.

We need some perspective on  existence – within and without a faith tradition – and we need to be attuned to how others discern existence and meaning in life and after-life.

We need imagination!  Oh! How we need imagination.

We need peaceable conversation and persons who build bridges within and among people groups.

We need to appreciate the change of seasons – the emerging blossom, the change in color in the leaves, the calm and serene quiet and beauty of freshly fallen snow.

We need wisdom - the wisdom from our elders who have lived life well.

We need the wisdom of other cultures, biodiversity and a celebration of the beauty of vibrant cultures, histories and languages.

We need gratitude.

We need calm.

We need peace.

No television or television show, no streaming video account, no social media connection, no plastic thing, no new “as-seen-on-t.v.” gizmo, no polyester stuffed pillow or plush-pet, no outfit-today that will be-out-of-style-next-season, no electronic gizmo . . . . will satisfy the deep longing of human need.

If only we were willing to intentionally restructure our lives so that we could participate in serene shared solidarity with other humans and the beauty that can be found in all Creation!

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Image from: http://www.webdesignbooth.com/beautiful-photos-of-water/

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Religious Leader's Call to Dignity

"What is the point of being a religious leader if you don’t say something that’s difficult for the people who follow you?" 

Quote and extended conversation from On Being with Rabbi Sacks

RABBI SACKS: The Bible is saying to us the whole time, don’t think that God is as simple as you are. He’s in places you would never expect him to be. And, you know, we lose a bit of that in English translation. Because, when Moses, at the burning bush, says to God, “Who are you?” God says to him three words: “Hayah asher hayah.” And those words are mistranslated in English as “I am that which I am.” But in Hebrew, it means “I will be who or how or where I will be,” meaning, don’t think you can predict me. I am a God who is going to surprise you. And one of the ways God surprises us is by letting a Jew or a Christian discover the trace of God’s presence in a Buddhist monk or a Sikh tradition of hospitality or the graciousness of Hindu life. You know, don’t think we can confine God into our categories. God is bigger than religion.

MS. TIPPETT: And at the same time — and I think you would say it as an “and” rather than a “but” — there is also a special relationship that is evident in those texts and a covenant that is particular to the Jewish people. And even as you honor the dignity of difference, you are upholding the dignity of that particularity. So talk to me about how, theologically, how you bring those things together, how they’re not a contradiction.

RABBI SACKS: By being what only I can be. I give humanity what only I can give. It is my uniqueness that allows me to contribute something unique to the universal heritage of humankind. And I sum it up — the Jewish imperative — very simply. And it has been like this since the days of Abraham. To be true to your faith and a blessing to others regardless of their faith.

MS. TIPPETT: I thought about Heschel when I was reading you, his idea of mystery as something that, in fact, at the depths even of orthodoxy, is something that religious people have in common. There is a bit of mystery to that, right, in what you’re saying.
RABBI SACKS: There is a margin of mystery. There’s something there beyond what our categories can comprehend. And it is in that margin of mystery that we have to place the relationship of the other with God. I understand my relationship to my late parents, but I can’t ever really understand my brother’s relationship. Each relationship is so private. And our relationship with God is private, but it doesn’t mean to say he doesn’t have relationship with other people, other languages, other traditions. And we will never understand that.

MS. TIPPETT: Now, I know that there — that what you’re saying has been difficult for some of your fellow Jews in Britain, that The Dignity of Difference was controversial.

RABBI SACKS: What is the point of being a religious leader if you don’t say something that’s difficult for the people who follow you? You know, you’ve got to challenge them and be challenged by them. You have to listen when they say, “Chief Rabbi, you’re going too far or too fast for us to follow.” And then you say, “OK, we'll slow it down, but I want you to come with me.” I will not allow myself to be a lone voice within Judaism.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Celebrate and Empower the Next Generation of Women Leaders

"Core religious principles, across most if not all major faith traditions, center on dignity and equality . . . it behooves religious leaders and communities to take a lead in changing norms and practices . . . so that indeed the girl child is honored, developed, and truly loved, in all societies and in all religious communities."

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Peace Day 2015

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Act. Do Good.

Act with Kindness. 

Love Justice. 

Do Good. 

“However many holy words you speak however many you read, what good will they do you if you do not act on them?” - the gist of a longer quote from the Buddha (read longer explanation here).

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Let's Sync Toward Peace - Do Kindness

A study in physics shows in yet another system that "very small interactions can add up and in the end synchronize very large systems." 

Let's each engage small interactions of kindness, love, and generosity and sync human interactions worldwide toward peace!

Link to scientific study news release.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Loss & Grief & Great Change - What helps?

What helps when you are living with loss, grief, and great change?  (From Kate Tucker, UU Minister)

"It helps to expect that you will be surprised.  No one exactly like you has ever experienced a loss just like yours. Your inner clock, your inner landscape, your intimate story, is yours and no one else's.

It helps to understand that this will take you on an unpredictable journey.  And that this change is a thing that happens in your body, not just in your soul.

It helps to know that your feelings can be complex and multiple. Sorrow and relief, love and anger, despair and hope can live together and yo-yo in astonishing ways.

It helps when you can welcome all the feelings, show hospitality, ask them all to tea.

It helps to give sorrow words - to tell your heart to those who know how to listen and love you--the ones who don't mind at all when you repeat yourself.

It helps to recognize that though your loved one dies, your relationship does not. It changes. It flows, it grows, it distills, it lives.

It helps to remember that there are things you will never know, never never figure out or reason your way to.  You will never know what it was like for your loved one to live their life from the inside. This is a holy secret and a sacred mystery.

It helps to remember that beauty does not die.
It helps to know that when grief comes, it comes as teacher. It shows us what we fear, and what we love, what we hold true. It tells us, if we listen, a hundred ways to honor our loved one. It teaches us how we wish to live our days."

~ Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Conversation with a Neighbor

We're new to our neighborhood (less than 6 months).

I engaged in a brief conversation with a neighbor I've met one other time.

Our conversation was very close to this:

Me:  Hello Richard!  I see you've got your dogs again!
Richard:  Yes!  A nice day for a walk.  You're clearly working on something here with all this lumber?
Me:  [Explain my 2x4 and 1x4 wood project.]
Richard:  Now tell me, what is it that you do again?
Me:  My area of professional interest is in solving the most tragic problems of the world?
Richard: Oh?
Me:  Yes, I'm a University Professor and  I work to understand how and why people willingly engage in violence and specifically how religion plays a role in perpetuating that violence.
Richard:  Well, I don't think we'll ever see and end to violence, what with the Islamic people and all that they do.
Me:  I have to remain hopeful that we can change the world to become a better place.  I want that for my children and for the future of the world.  Though, you're certainly correct, Richard . . . Christians for too long modeled how to murder and displace other persons and the long history of Christian violence has helped train other people, like Muslims, to attempt to use violence to move forward with their agenda.
Richard:  What did you say?
Me:  You mean, 'What did I say about the long history of Christian violence?'
Richard:  Yes?
Me:  [I offer a less than five minute review on the history of post-Constantine Christian violence tied to empires with a special note on Christian Anti-Semitism that allowed Christians to annihilate not just thousands, but millions of Jews, political dissidents, Roma, downs-syndrome children and adults, homosexuals and others, in the Holocaust (Shoah) less than 100 years ago.  I note the current upswing in violence among select areas of regionally specific Islamic traditions and note the failure of Christians to have modeled a better way toward loving one's neighbor.]
Richard:  Well, I just don't think we will ever see peace.  Have a good day.
Me:  You, too, Richard, I hope you have a great day.  It's gorgeous out today.

I was not trying to be snarky with Richard and our conversation was quite pleasant.  I was quite happy to tell Richard that I am engaged with working with the world's greatest problems.

And, I was happy to (I hope!), graciously force him to reconsider Christian violence throughout world history and not just label Islam/Islamic people as violent.  [I assumed he was Christian, most white skinned, white-haired males where I live have some claim to Christian identity.]

I do not think my brief comments to Richard were complete - and I do think Christians and Muslims have been complicit in violence.  I simply think we can not place violence on "them" while not also recognizing our own complicity in violence.

I genuinely value the work that I do and I sincerely wish persons could begin to see their own complicity in violence and the complicity of nations in violence.

I wish persons could become mindful of the complicity of religious faith traditions that have been mis-used to perpetuate violence.

I work to reshape ordinary conversations among neighbors in order to make the world a more loving place for all living things.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.

Friday, January 9, 2015

What if ?

Excerpted from:  bethechange2012 blog.

What would happen if one day we all suddenly started to feel fully empathetic with the victims of violence—and not just gun violence, or military violence, but also rape, domestic violence, violence against animals, violence against the forests and the waters of our planet? . . . 
What if I, and other Americans like me, started to actively fight the conditioning that has made us believe that the healthiest, sanest response to ubiquitous violence is to turn our gaze away and keep moving?
What if we began to lean in to the deep wellsprings of compassion and empathy that are our birthright as human beings, and act out of the power we find there? 
What if instead of accepting the constant static of violence as a given of modern existence, we began to actively tune in to it, in order to serve—each one of us—as antennae capable of picking up the signal and disrupting it, transforming it from cacophony to an entirely different, new form of activist harmony?

Full entry at this link.

Toward eupan ~

~ marty alan michelson, ph.d.