I’m Thankful For the Voice of …

Writing is a process of mining layers of dreaming and intuition, and then offering it to the world’s voice in thrusts of courage.

I hear voice in all things. When I intuit sentience in animals I hear the animal’s voice, its connection to others of its species, its family unit, and its interdependence with its environment. I feel the complex interactions, the richness, of the animal’s life.

So on the Thanksgiving weekend, the voices of taste, writing, family, service, freedom, history, Earth and Spirit self-excavated. Simple bits of gratitude for some of life’s voices.

Still life harvest decoration for Thanksgiving

VOICE 

Taste

Herbaceous hand of moss and peat in French press,

a sweet column of Sumatran steam infiltrates senses

40 parallels away

Writing

Long enough listened, fear, shame, grief, remorse, repentance, re-commitment

no longer the sharp elbow to whispers of silence, reflection, empathy, comfort, truth, divinity, awe,

the voice of vertical self-purification, empowerment

Family

8 mm low-octave joy

manning the blinding light bar on a 1957 Christmas morning,

impervious to sleepy eyes

Service

Breath of Presidio officers past,

steeled in Golden Gate,

incarnate in eucalyptus

Freedom

The tenderest spot of sacrifice,

historical, contemporary service emancipates our chained hands, hearts

restlessly underlies colorless purpose 

History

Argued self-governance in perpetuity

Families of variety, integrity, diversity, equality

“With malice toward none, with charity for all”

Earth

Filtered sunlight politely suspended

over an archical band of redwood salal,

a massive red and yellow slug an emblem of scale of its environment

Spirit

In Light,

in my presence,

as my father transitioned

 

Use your voice.

Oprah Made Me Laugh Today

It’s been awhile.

Oprah slides into a folksy, communal speak when she wants to emphasize something we already know to be true… an open secret… and it almost always engenders laughter.

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Aside from it feeling really, really good, laughter reminded me that the ferocious energy of concern I have for the health, well-being and future of this country has recently over-taken the, frankly, tender set of sensibilities that are my foundation and the sustenance of a healthy personal, professional and spiritual life.

Nonetheless, Oprah’s recent public appearance in Georgia caused me to clarify what single attribute in a candidate for public office I believe to be non-negotiable.

Here’s how I answer my own question. If I consider the issue of self-empowerment solely through one’s own hard work, a historical tenet of the moderate Republican platform (and no such moderate platform remotely exists in today’s conservative discourse), I can understand the merit of the idea. What’s missing in its viability and in conservative gun, immigration and health care philosophies is what Republican candidates never speak of: an intentional statement of support for the well-being of others.

Language such as, “standing for the values that matter to all others”; “collaboration is the first responsibility”; and “the change we need has to come from valuing and respecting every voter” is evidence of a person, a soul, infused with mutual, universal respect. These are Stacey Abrams’ words. Stacey hopes to make history on Tue as the first black female governor in the U.S.

This is language I insist upon in any candidate who has my vote. A candidate who cannot or will not acknowledge our shared humanity as being integral to how this country thrives and how we live in this world has not yet learned the simplest lesson of love. The lesson is simply to recognize and accept what is spiritually true about myself and all others.

Stacey Abrams’ speech is honest speech. She confesses having to, “manage the limits I’ve put on myself”; to include romance novel writing as a key piece of a balanced and expressive life: “writing is cathartic to me.. it’s one of the ways I can soothe my soul”; to managing debt (three college loans): “If you’re rich, debt is considered a mark of greatness. If you’re poor, it’s considered a mark of inadequacy.”

So, again I say: We need a bigger tent. The Democratic party needs a tent so large that its members’ commitments to honoring racial, religious and economic diversity, affordable education, local and national consensus-building and vast environmental protections literally vaporize the small, small voices of hate and separation.

We have an unprecedented opportunity to move this country in a whole, meaningful and progressive direction. The election of Stacey Abrams and innumerable other bright, energetic, fearless candidates this Tue is the United States of America righting itself,  turning a corner with the sun on our shoulders and supporting every citizen to live her or his greatness.

“I come as one, but I stand as 10,000.” Maya Angelou.

VOTE.

Here is My Vote

I voted:

  • FOR a governor who protects health care coverage for all and Medicaid for those who need it; who supports a woman’s right to choose and women’s essential healthcare; who supports protection of public lands, clean air, water and stringent environmental protections; who pre-emptively legislated against off-shore drilling for oil.
  • AGAINST legislation that would end Oregon’s commitment as a sanctuary state; against racial profiling; against the forced use of local police as a deportation force; against legislation that is self-defeating and discriminatory against the wide spectrum of people who work in every Oregon industry.
  • AGAINST legislation that would unfairly strip away quality healthcare, including abortion care, from low-income residents.
  • FOR legislation allowing the issue of bonds for financing affordable housing in a market that is increasingly unaffordable.
  • FOR a surcharge on retailers with total annual revenue over $1 billion dollars to fund the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund, which funds clean energy projects and clean energy job training.

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I also voted FOR:

  • A country that cares for its weakest residents, its disabled, its sick, its elderly.
  • A country that is still striving to provide accessible, affordable high-quality education for everyone.
  • Courageous businesses that are committed to paying all their employees a fair, livable wage.
  • A country whose residents ALREADY recognize that the rights of LGBT people should never be any different than their own.
  • A country that so deeply cares for its own residents that its legislators are permanently committed to clean water and deep environmental protections.
  • A country that takes a leadership role in funding sustainable energy options.
  • A country that reflects every and all family units.
  • A country that abhors racism and misogyny.
  • A country that values EVERY life as unique and valuable.
  • A country that stands for the premise that women are the absolute equal to men.
  • A country that finally recognizes when its highest duty is to remove a fascist president from office.

THIS IS WHY I VOTE.

 

I Will Vote in the 2018 Mid-Terms Because

  • The world I see for my son, his family, and their families’ futures still has coral reefs, old-growth forests and vast expanses of pristine undeveloped land that I have national ownership in.
  • Self-education on critical issues opens me to the ideas and challenges others face, which enriches my life.
  • The rich ethnic heritage of black, Hispanic and Asian women is as important to them is as my ethnicity is to me. We are each other.
  • I support leaders who have the courage and self-reflection to honor animals’ Your Vote Counts buttoncontributions to human lives.
  • I want the restoration of serious conversation about issues that matter to Americans like health care, preserving the environment and gun violence, not junk inflammatory issues designed to separate us.
  • I actively support courageous young adults who insist on free and safe school environments.
  • I support the basic human right of legal recognition for who one chooses to love, and for legal recognition of each person’s service in government and in the military.
  • Inspired leadership is now a requisite skill in any elected official I will consider voting for.
  • I insist that my elected leaders represent the entire country with courage, intellect and grace.
  • I expect leadership that respects and reflects the extraordinary variety of beings who live in this world and who want to partner with each other.
  • I cannot, at this time, afford the privilege of feeling fragile from the assaults to my sense of decency, self-respect and autonomy.
  • I will not tolerate self-aggrandized ignorance in my political leadership.
  • Michael Soule reminded me that our global crisis is really the Sixth Great Extinction, Earth’s only extinction event caused by an animal [us], not volcanic activity or an ice age.
  • I now feel forced to examine how I contribute to global warming, and to hold myself and my elected officials accountable.
  • I’m reminded that, unlike a Chinese exchange student after college graduation, young American adults are not pigeon-holed into a subsistence job and into a dormitory with a shared bath and a pre-written future.
  • As Wendell Berry wrote: “We need to go now and again into places where our work is disallowed, where our hopes and plans have no standing.” Those places are critical to the quality of life of every being, and they must be preserved.
  • Another woman’s sexual assault is as important to me as my own.

VOTING IS VOICE.

Courageous Men Listen to the Voice Women Already Hear

I have come to know deeply that my voice is strong and that my words matter more than I could once have possibly imagined.

I intuit, feel and hear a voice that has its foundation in love. The love from which this voice emanates permeates every word so I must choose words with care.

A single voice from its deepest source is, actually, the voice of everyone. It ignores things like ego and judgment, history and accomplishment, temperament and lifestyle, opinion and desire, dogma and affiliation.

It’s the voice that waits patiently while we think we have another agenda.

I have come to realize that the voice asks for more of my attention when I sense the violation of others. Violation has nothing to do with fairness or equality, which are subjective.

I’ve also noticed that once in awhile violation partners with courage to become voice.

When I hear the voice of violation and I sense its underlying courage, I recognize it as a catalyst to act.

The voice of action is completely desensitized to apathy, fear or conformity. In its calmly insistent way, it compels action.

Assault… verbal, physical, emotional… is violation. It has no qualifiers.

This is a voice for the final cessation of men’s brutality againt women.

The world I see is extinguished of the battering, belligerent, dominant behavior men impose upon women. Men in this world have the courage to listen to their own aspect of the voice which guides them away from brutality of any kind and into partnership and counsel.

Our business team

The voice that speaks softly also softens experience. It frequently produces the effect that the events, people and circumstances that surround me have a surreal quality; yet I circle around to the felt understanding that what’s in my experience matters.

I have come to know deeply that my voice is strong and that my words matter more than I could once have possibly imagined.

I know this to be true of all others.

When Will I Be Ready to Act?

If I am honest with myself about my own accountability, how would I answer the following questions?

“In looking back we shall all record how we responded to the escalating horrors of the last four years. And as we do so, there are questions that each of us will have to answer. What did I do? Could I have done more? And could it have made a difference? Did I let my prejudice, my indifference and my fear overwhelm my reason? And how would I react next time?”

As reported in the Washington Post, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked these questions about the horrific Bosnia conflict where estimates were that one hundred thousand (100,000) people were slaughtered. These were war crimes and a small number of people were ultimately held accountable; however, accountability can do nothing to diminish crimes to humanity of this magnitude.

at the "UNICEF Goodwill Gala: 50 Years of Celebrity Advocacy" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA 12-03-03

Read the questions again. This exact set of questions applies to the very situation we are living in the United States today. With the rule of law under attack, with critical institutions under assault, with a president who is executing retribution against an “enemies list” of public officials and is intentionally, deliberately dividing this country’s citizens, I have to be brutally honest about my own accountability.

What are we willing to tolerate from an elected leader who is a despot? Where are the congressional voices who should be speaking out in utter outrage? Where are they? What is the tipping point?

Kofi Annan died today, 18-Aug-2018. He was called soft-spoken, patrician, courtly, charismatic and measured. In his quiet demeanor, he was an elegant figure of moral authority. Annan “seemed to radiate an aura of probity and authority” [Alan Cowell, New York Times].

Voices of real power are not ugly, divisive, narcissistic and assaultive. We each have voices that are many times more authoritative than our despot president.

What does my voice of authority sound like? If I bring Kofi Annan’s questions into the present, they are: What am I doing? Can I do more? Can I make a difference? Am I letting my prejudice, my indifference and my fear overwhelm my reason?

Personal action must accompany honest accountability. The voices who should be protecting us are silent. We know how to protect ourselves and each other from the worst that humanity can offer.

We simply need to act.

 

Others Literally Live in Us, and We Live in Them

Can we yield to the quiet impulse to extend our very best selves knowing others will live it?

What traits, behaviors or ideas present in us do we notice as having originated in others? How do we carry those into the world to influence others? With awareness? With care?

20180401_120501.jpgIf I even loosely examine these questions, I recognize that parts of my speech, including innocuous things like colloquialisms, my attitudes, and my formulated opinions had their origins in family, friend or business relationships. Others literally live in me. In fact, we are vehicles for one another.

Naturally, as parents we have the ability to profoundly impact how our children see the world, how they form and maintain relationships and how they treat others. It’s a weighty responsibility. It is no less true and no less consequential in our adult relationships.

I practice what I term alert hesitation when speaking with others. I create space for a response that comes through me from a place other than a quick mind. It allows for what my spiritual teacher calls “knowledge born of direct experience.” It, in no way, impairs critical thinking or the ability to challenge another’s view as a point of discussion.

Speech is malleable, and each conversation is an opportunity to practice. Alert hesitation allows speech to flow into language, while perhaps even when making a vigorous argumentative point, that isn’t demeaning or deleterious. Sometimes, moments of alert hesitation generate space for unexpected responses that are kind, humility-filled and have depth.

Is what I have to say the part of me that I wish to live in someone else?