Where am I Safe?

If I extrapolate the events of 6-Jan – the violent insurrection of the democratic institutions of the United States of America – I am left wondering where am I safe.

If I’m employed in a state Capitol where guillotines designed to execute elected officials are installed on grounds near the state house, am I safe? What about a hangman’s noose erected on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol if I’m a page or an intern?

If I support minorities  – as people I know myself to be – in peaceful protest, and armed militias with no legal authority patrol the streets, am I safe?

If I have a dissenting opinion with someone online who is entrenched in conspiracy theories, am I safe?

If I dare to defend a light rail passenger who is being threatened by a racist, am I safe?

If I am a black citizen walking to the corner grocery or fixing a flat tire, am I safe?

If I am Latinx and am grocery shopping or attending a food festival, am I safe?

If I am gay or trans-sexual and I am protecting the person I love or I am holding public office or I am serving in the military, am I safe?

If I and others – Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist – are gathered in a place of worship and we welcome a stranger, are we safe?

In all of these scenarios and countless others, I’m on my own – and so are you – and it’s a dangerous place to be in this moment. If, in a democratic republic there is no accountability for crimes against people, legislative institutions or the Constitution, we are nowhere and nothing – nothing more than people wishing for… or asleep to… protections that we have been unwilling to defend.

We have many of the wrong people in elected office. What they are engaged in is not service to this country or to us. Elected officials are permitted to represent us only because we choose them. Our choices then create our daily reality. Congressional members who poison our Constitutional values with hate should be expelled.

Until and unless we are willing to confront the cancerous truth about this country’s history of separation, dehumanization and hate, the escalating threat to each of us – the clear and present danger – will tear and finally destroy the fabric of that which we say we hold dear – our own freedom.

Freedom is not trapping myself in someone else’s lie by repeating it. It’s self-oppression. I oppress myself by feeding on others’ – and my own – hate. I degrade myself as I degrade others.

Voices of hate such as that of the current president have no place in a society, the tenets of which proclaim the value of all humanity. He must be removed and must be prohibited from holding any future public office.

The values canonized in the Constitution are not static. They require each of us to enliven them through tolerance and acceptance, actively recognizing ourselves in each other and defending the safety of others as vigorously as we hope others will defend us.

We are the ones who must purge hateful rhetoric from public conversation.

Our words matter. Our calls for accountability matter. It’s the only way we get to live as the people we say we are.

How will you use your voice?

#silentthingswithinus

 

Do you Hear Your Solstice Voice?

The winter solstice is a time to be fully present – in the stillness, in the deep and utter quiet, in the detail of the world around us, and even in expectation of the return of light.

My voice, arising out of winter solstice, is expressive of just such detail. I have the simple luxury of living in a beautiful, green, peaceful environment – one that easily promotes listening for the voice that comes through us – not to be confused with the frenetic voice of the mind.

In the quiet, I am reminded of all that is vibrant, alive, creative: a deer family whose restive comfort extended to our back yard; a young rabbit whose interest in equally-aged garden greens provided nourishment for us both; a tiny chipmunk storing walnuts for the winter in my flower pot, a secret which I keep. In season, it was quite a show.

My celebration of the incremental return to light is simple appreciation of that which I observed. My own reading of this piece can be found here.

DECEMBER 22

In

stillness,

Earth sustained.

Darkness, mournful

in meditating

incremental demise,

as sunlight, its own midwife,

arises – open secrecy

its intent. Winter solstice at its

back, thickened clouds descend, fog politely

suspended over the dance of droplets

reverberating on paved spaces

of other seasons. The taut, hard

day awakens in promise:

opening sleepy eyes,

rejuvenescence

of sunlight, a

slippery

shower

with

new

intent

upon its

purpose. As yet,

not a hummingbird

shoving among the web

of branches. No frenetic

chipmunk; not a bunny baby

lusting leafy lettuce, nor the deer

family taking sunny repose in

yard’s alcove. Their wisdom at rest, no

longer a need to tolerate my

inane greetings. I pledged to keep

fast the secret hiding place

of walnuts, of deer paths

trodden, of shared stares

of animal-

human eyes.

Advent

of

Light

now an

inflection

point on a curve

of unwellness, of

sadness, of fear, of loss.

May I celebrate the Light

by distilling loneliness to

friendship, by converting poverty

to plenty, by enjoining attitude

with beautiful spaces, by finding wealth

in relationship, by dreaming

others’ dreams as my own, that

donning my clothing may

clothe others; that as

we rise in Light

we know

only

One.

How do you voice that which feeds you?

“Her Mother Whose Sweatshop Wages…” It’s Our Turn

A voice that definitively announces its intent without speaking; a voice of lasting action that speaks covertly:

“Her mother, whose sweatshop wages had gone to her brother’s education, left behind secret college savings for her daughter and a will to accomplish what Celia had been denied”, as quoted in a broad Intelligencer remembrance by Irin Carmon.

Celia Bader died the day before her daughter, Ruth, graduated from high school knowing that she had put in place the mechanism to launch her daughter’s brilliance. Celia’s voice, as surely as any and every voice lives in others, spoke lovingly, forcefully through the ages.

For those of us who felt the blood drain out of our hearts last Fri, there simultaneously arose sweeping, almost overwhelming gratitude and reverence for the strength, brilliance and humor of the woman whose life we were gifted.

Ruth’s brilliance and evolved awareness of inequality were inversely proportional to the lack of precedent of such cases when she began bringing them on behalf of clients of the ACLU.

Carmon: “In the 2013 voting-rights dissent that earned her the Notorious RBG nickname, Ginsburg offered an addendum to Martin Luther King Jr.’s suggestion that the arc of history eventually bent toward justice: “if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

The “steadfast commitment” Ginsburg added to King’s statement is becoming increasingly hard to discover in the minds and hearts of the American electorate.

A strong voice in dissent is as powerful as any from a bully pulpit or Chair. Ginsburg’s voice led us to recognize, and elevate, her as a thought and action leader we accepted and, ultimately, honored. We slowly began to recognize the stark inequality she challenged.

Inequality in and of itself, as sinister as it is, is only the precursor to a permanent downward spiral into authoritarianism. Today, there is a real risk of the McCarthyism of the 1950s – careers, families, livelihoods destroyed – spreading like a cancer at the ignorant, malevolent, pernicious behest of the current president and his enablers. Those cancerous tentacles are now undermining the integrity of most American institutions – including governmental agencies designed specifically to enhance and protect our lives.

Our voices in dissent need to arise in bellowing defense of our sacred Constitution and way of life. Americans are not immune to the wretched, unprincipled damage we see occurring in Washington every day. We are living it – and we are the only ones who can stop it.

Lincoln Project podcast guests Alex Givney and Camille Francois alert us to the execution of raw power for its own sake as “soft authoritarianism, on the way to tyranny.” Their documentary, Agents of Chaos, details exactly how we, as citizens have been the successful targets of chaotic interruption of our civil society.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is secure. The legacy of our country as a true democratic republic is reliant exclusively on our acting upon her addendum of “a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

She recognized unfair practices as unfair to everyone. Regardless of our personal political preferences, we acknowledge that universal unfairness, as well. We must now recognize and act upon the challenge of our collective lifetime – that we are, indeed, what we’ve been waiting for, that it’s our voices alone that will protect us.

Whose voice is living through you? What sacrifices did your family make that you have lived to benefit from? Whose life will you benefit? 

Whose life will I benefit?

Use your voice. Bellow. Now.

#useyourvoice

#ruthbaderginsburg

 

When You See Something, Say Something

“Let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution.” Words as relevant, as impactful, as critically important in today’s civil vortex as they were when John Lewis spoke them during the Civil Rights Movement.

Mr. Lewis’ life was dedicated to holding this nation up to its ideals of equality and justice for every person. Through his loving presence, a presence of forgiveness of those who beat and repressed him, a presence of insistence and strength, he posited the rights spelled out in the Constitution as the foundation for civil action.

The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

On 6-Dec-2019 the U. S. House passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act restoring protections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.  The Supreme Court had previously struck down federal oversight of elections in states with a history of discriminating against minority communities in the Shelby v. Holder 2013 decision. The House intended to restore that oversight. The House bill sits, stalled, on the Senate Majority Leader’s desk.

The right to vote is sacred, a fundamental piece of a free society. John Lewis: “We must go out and vote like we’ve never voted before.” In addition to vigorously supporting the right of every person to vote, John Lewis’ voice – now, my voice – demanded continuing and unyielding action to fulfill the promise of the Constitution.

Our words really do live in others. If I can see or feel myself in other human beings and acknowledge that my words matter, would I not hope, and even expect, of myself a voice that speaks fairly and fully for everyone.

We all are beneficiaries of Mr. Lewis’ courage, voice and soul force.

We live in each other. Whose voice do you want to represent?

 

We Should Not be Led by Those Who Cannot Lead

Whose ideological voice is leading you?

Not recalling the exact moment, I do remember reflecting on the evolution of my own thinking, politically. Raised in a moderate Midwest Republican home, I could later understand how – not why, but how – my father admired George H. W. Bush. Dad admired few people. They were largely those who were the First. They were the First Wave of men who landed on Normandy Beach, the vast majority of whom lost their lives immediately. The few others he admired were his contemporaries in the law practice… those who he may have perceived as more brilliant or, yes, those who also served in World War II.

The evolution of my thinking, politically, seeped into my consciousness over time, circling me almost indescernibly as predator circles prey, hanging quietly in the air. It long predated the moment when I actually began seeing myself in all others.

People fly into our experience to dance on our souls. Some flit away leaving an imprint that lives in us for the rest of our lives. If we are very, very lucky, one or two may take up permanent residence. Who are those teachers in your life? How have they transformed the thinking of who you are in the world? Can you be honest with yourself about how you might see your role in the world differently if you mustered the courage to emulate that person whose qualities you so admire? Can you summon the courage to give that elevated role VOICE?

If can I see even a bit of my life experience in others, how can I not act on their behalf while I’m acting on my own? Can I not understand that the simple comforts and opportunity of my life experience are that which others seek? When I remember that it was my birthright, I ask why others shouldn’t have it.

So, the moderate political persona of George H. W. Bush may seem appealing in today’s world of separation and confrontation. Yet, it was really nothing more complicated (or nefarious) than one person seeing his or her values in another. For me, it has nothing to do with the physical attributes of that person or his/her personal history. Feel into that relationship, and you’ll recognize it’s universal.

voice verification

Courage, please. How, you ask?  Step way outside yourself to vocally support someone who is already exercising the courage to speak for others. It’s really a small step but, what you’ll realize in doing so is that it is very, very easy. And you join the big human picture in doing it. How would I do that, personally? I’d take a week’s vacation to canvass for a candidate who speaks for us all, not just for me as a privileged white female.

Are you being led ideologically? Is that really who you are and what you’ll show up for in the world? How many others can your voice speak for?

Use your voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

The Voice of a Handwritten Letter

This is not a poetry blog. This post is a different variety of declaration urging people to use their voices.

Recently, I gave the gift of the poem that follows to a 60-year friend for Mother’s Day. It began as a remembrance of the letters we wrote as kids leveraged with the delicious detail of handwriting terms, of my friend’s mother’s passing, and as poems do, evolved into a lament of the fact that our kids don’t experience the joy of a handwritten letter. 

IN OUR HANDWRITING

We

held hands

in pale vellum.

Confidences were

penned, licked, sealed, received.

Cursive lines of love disguised

as the details of summers in

Maine, in Florida, from the south rim

of the Grand Canyon when our objections

to separation went unheard. Teenage

upstrokes borne of ‘60s hope for a

world of love. Warm summers, easy

flourishes. Secrets of bad

boys we loved, descenders

too delicious to

cast aside. Young

skill sets, no

r e m o r s e.

x-

height,

practice

for restraint

neither of us

wanted. Unprepared

for the mother of love,

gentility, kindness, the

community’s baseline for

care, to show us how to live without

her. Allographs of wholeness descended

into stressors, curves of pain, disbelief.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, love

sleeps in the next room, cancer

notwithstanding. The hand

of penmanship, in

hers now,

delicately,

one last

time.

20180601_173045

After a very challenging week, a co-worker penned a note of thanks to me for my patience, professionalism, support and counsel. Such a gesture of appreciation in a business environment is not often given. I can say that the note’s influence continues to resonate. I read it every day.

The importance of using our voices intimately, oratorically, conversationally, poetically and in prose cannot be overstated. Neither can the case for penning deeply personal thoughts and wishes to others. It’s the highest form of personal expression and tribute.

 

Having a Voice can Include Silence

Silence takes many forms. Recognition of inner stillness, the stillness we all share. A chosen absence of speech, which is often quite powerful in conversation or debate. A reaction to circumstance or event.

Silence, I was reminded by Gaston Bachelard, a French 20th Century non-conformist whose interests and education spanned from mathematics to philosophy to chemistry to physics to poetry to architecture, is also “the source of our first suffering… and lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak.”

The world is full of talk today, yes? Little of it, though, is other than superfluous banter at others and not genuine conversation with them. It’s often disparaging, disrespectful and even demeaning.

Frequently, our most important conversations lay dormant, remaining latent as a result of the fear of any number of things, including perceived lack of qualification or authority, or the risk of humiliation.

Herein lies Bachelard’s point. A voice suppressed or withdrawn or belittled is, indeed, a form of suffering. It’s a missed opportunity to connect with others in ways that promote growth, understanding and acceptance. It’s the most important vehicle of self-expression we have, and far more important that any superficial expression.

I have many interests, and I can even muster an opinion. But bigger topics, even risking areas of disagreement, are what intrigue me because there is no one right answer to any question.

I respect courage, self-reflection, equanimity and, yes, silence in its most powerful context. They’re all wonderful tools to build relationships and societies of fairness and diversity. One conversation at a time.

Welcome to SilentThingsWithinUs.