Thursday, December 12, 2013

An Open Letter to Family and Friends

(It's that time of year again.  Although I'm taking some time to remember Christmas Carols on the autoharp and looking forward to spending some time with family and friends, I also want to make it perfectly clear that I believe this season's celebration is fundamentally flawed by the pervasive Mammon worship that increasingly characterizes our society today.   So, once again, I'm sharing this open letter to family and friends to announce my non-compliance with the ritual of gift giving. -- Brother Lefty} 

"Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication, but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service."
---Mahatma Gandhi

It is my firm opinion that Europe today represents not the spirit of God or Christianity but the spirit of Satan. And Satan’s successes are the greatest when he appears with the name of God on his lips. Europe is today only nominally Christian. It is really worshipping Mammon. `It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.’ Thus really spoke Jesus Christ.
---Mahatma Gandhi

I was appalled -- but not all that surprised -- to see that Christmas decorations had become part of the Halloween displays at CVS this year.  Early birds and worms come to mind.  "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out" quickly follows. (But, I digress...sort of....)

The Mad Dash really begins on Black Friday as crowds of people stream into stores.  Sometimes pushing and shoving, sometimes actually punching each other out, people race to grab the very latest toys that the gears of Rapacious Capitalism have ground out -- almost invariably through the outright exploitation of other human beings and the destruction of the delicate biosphere that sustains Life on this planet.  What in the world does this all have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, with His gospel of Love, Compassion, and Service to the "least among us?"  What do our family rituals of wrapping, then ripping paper and ribbons and bows off more stuff, creating more landfill material in the process, have to do with Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Humankind?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Two Old Coots Telling It Like It Is: Wendell Berry on Moyers and Co.

It’s an article of my faith and belief, that all creatures live by breathing God’s breath and participating in his spirit. And this means that the whole thing is holy.  The whole shooting match. 
There are no sacred and un-sacred places, there are only sacred and desecrated places. 
So finally I see those gouges in the surface mine country 
as desecrations, not just as land abuse,  but as desecration. As blasphemy."
--- Wendell Berry on Moyers and Co., November 29, 2013

There are some years that just seem to be special. 

1969 was one of those years.  From the Left Coast to Woodstock (and throughout Europe) young people like myself were brazenly dancing ahead, bringing on the Revolution.  The stars were aligned just right or something.  We thought it was a done deal.  We were home free.  

Obviously, we thought wrong. 

Well, today I found out that 1934 must have been one of those special years, too.  Both Wendell Berry and Bill Moyers were born that year.  As this episode of Moyers and Co. shows, the Revolution is still on.  

In it for the long haul, Berry and Moyers show us exactly what the Revolution takes.  79 years and counting, each of these two treasures is still bringing it.

My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*