Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hiahwahnah Hudson Work: A Song of Praise

My aunt Hiahwahnah, member of the Choctaw Nation, lady of dignity and poise, proud, beautiful, intelligent, educated, loving wife and mother, teacher, my aunt Hiahwahnah. Beloved wife of my father's brother, dear friend of my mother.

I remember when I learned that there were four “h’s” in your name. The caring mother of my four first cousins, Johnny, Pam (PK), Susan and Merrilee. We used to play together in our Grand Mother Work’s front yard in Henryetta, Oklahoma, dressed up as cowboys and Indians. We would also drive up the steep hill to your house and play.

Ninety-five years, that’s a long time to live, laugh, love, see, think and feel. How can you be gone? We miss you too much. Yet you are still here in our hearts, cells and memories. I feel your strength, determination, clarity and passion.

Your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren have so much love for you in their hearts. You are legend. You are ancestor. You are great mother. And as your nephew I sing a song of praise and honor for your life and spirit.

Thank you, dearest aunt. Thank you for a long life well lived. I am grateful that I was with you eleven months ago in Oklahoma. I am grateful that you passed peacefully. I am grateful for my wonderful tribe of cousins. I love you. Farewell. Happiness and peace be yours forever.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Let Wedding Bells Ring!

What if we won’t give up on love? What if love were the answer? It sounds so simple maybe even stupid. What if it were true? What does it mean anyway?

Not too long ago when two people of different races fell in love and wanted to live their lives together, society stopped them from symbolizing this by denying interracial marriage. That of course has changed. Today if two people of the same sex fall in love there are those who are fighting to deny their right to marry.

But people are people. Love is love. And marriage is marriage. Marriage is not easy but is worth fighting for, not against. Marriage requires letting go of individual autonomy, focusing on making the other person happy, being loyal and supportive, being patient and kind, and doing this over and over until death seems to separate us. I for one learned this again this week for the umpteenth time. I don’t have to like her dog but because I love my spouse I choose to be kind to the dog.

Who would not want this challenge and blessing for another human being? The sole purpose of marriage is not procreation. In fact today because the Earth may be nearing her carrying capacity, marriages that cannot procreate may be a special blessing. And adoption is a great way to go; my wife and I did it for one of our two with very happy results.

Love will find a way. The problem is not that there is too much love and commitment in the world but that there is too little. Let’s promote and enable love and lifelong commitment between people of any race, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, nationality, political persuasion or class. Let wedding bells ring! And then happiness, struggle and gratitude can flow forth and strengthen the larger community.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How To Keep Dancing?

Getting old is a bummer. This may seem to contradict my recent 70th birthday post entitled “Getting Old Is Awesome!” But it doesn’t. Both are true. These days I am increasingly aware that the animal-body is falling apart little by little. Of course I am resisting mightily by going to the gym, eating well, taking supplements, meditating, getting sufficient sleep, teaching, writing and being with loved ones. But aging seems to be inevitable, with death never so very far away. Today I had six pre-cancerous spots frozen on my face and one biopsied. Two years ago I had surgery. Soon I will need to take steps to improve my sight and hearing. And so it goes.

Two of my dear friends, husband and wife, are ill and one is not going to recover. It is hard. What to say? What to do? How to help? One is depressed and the other confused. Both are anxious. I have been visiting each of them and trying to be helpful. I understand their situation. I lost my first wife to cancer after 35 years of marriage; she was only 60.

How do we dance this old age jig of stiffness, pain and anxiety? How do we keep smiling in the face of sickness and death? How do we continue to relieve suffering - others and our own - and catalyze a compassionate civilization with our words and deeds? How do we enjoy the grandkids and encourage our young students?

We do so by keeping on keeping on, by not giving in to tiredness or depression, by daring to dream a new world and by enjoying this fleeting life moment by moment. Such delicious warmth of sunshine! What crisp cold air! The laughter of happy grandkids! A shared meal with my sweetheart. The challenging questions of my students. Pushing aside the “but I don’t feel like it.” Reaching out, empathizing and speaking encouragement with energized voice and loving eyes.

Yes, we can. We can live this life to the end with dignity and passion. And the good news is we aren’t dead yet! I could live one more day or thirty more years. Whatever it is, it is all good. Bring it on!


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Our Crisis, Our Challenge, Our Crusade

The arc of history is bent toward justice, equality, tolerance, participation and sustainability. Today, however, we see the rising up of forces that oppose these trends and goals.

We see those full of fear and hatred fighting universal tolerance and respect for every belief and life style. We see those drunk with greed fighting economic and social justice for all. We see the prideful fighting equal rights for women and the vulnerable. We see the powerful fighting participation of all in the political process. And we see the ignorant and short sighted fighting sustainability and environmental protection.

Eventually good must triumph over evil, right over wrong, tolerance over fear, justice over greed, equality over pride and sustainability over destruction. But this victory will only happen if you and I and all persons of good will around this blue orb rise up and make it so, moment by moment.

This is our crisis. This is our challenge. This is our holy crusade.

Friday, December 26, 2014

My 2014 Report to People and Planet

In 2014 I promoted environmental sustainability, gender equality, socio-economic justice, participatory governance and leadership, and cultural tolerance and understanding.

For UN Habitat, in Nairobi, Kenya, I provided a four month organizational development consultancy for a global program on land access for the poor. And for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, I facilitated a workshop on e-governance and made a presentation at the Global Forum on Public Service and Sustainable Development held in Seoul, Korea. 

At NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, NYC, I taught courses on International Strategic Management and International Capstone (with my students assisting UNDESA and UNESCO); participated in a Leadership Initiative Community of Practice; taught a session on international development for Ghanaian women leaders; made a presentation on decentralized governance to visiting Albanian urban planners; and was invited to teach Organizational and Managerial Development, and Project Management. At the University of Aruba I taught in a seminar on collaborative leadership for educational administrators. At Oklahoma City University I made a presentation on “Four Faces of War and Peace” to a symposium on creative peace building. And at Warren Wilson College, Asheville, NC, I made a presentation to students and faculty on “The Future of Life on Earth: Utopia or Dystopia?”

On my blog site “A Compassionate Civilization” I published 45 posts. Kosmos Journal published my article on “The Movement of Movements.” The ICA newsletter “Wind and Waves” published my article on my mission to and reflections on Korea. I also published on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

In addition, I advised a new social media start up “Trusted Sharing” that my brother, former LinkedIn Chief Scientist, is developing and which will be the next big thing online.

Also in 2014 I was privileged to love and care for my spouse, two sons and daughter-in-law; enjoyed living six months near six year old grandson and four year old granddaughter in Asheville; communed with my brother, sister-in-law and nephew in Asheville; met with dear family in Oklahoma City; celebrated my youngest son's 40th birthday and my 70th birthday; and bought a house in Asheville to be near children and grandchildren. I also had a wonderful reunion with dear friends in Seoul, Korea; visited good friends in Asheville; met with dear friends in New York where we lived half the year; and stayed in touch with good friends around the world by phone and email.

To care for my health I worked out in a gym three times per week, ate mostly vegetables and fish, took supplements, meditated, read, relaxed and rested.

I am grateful for my life and for the opportunity to serve others on this beautiful planet. With so much suffering and so many challenges facing humanity, my wish for 2015 is for peace, happiness, compassion and understanding for all people and all beings everywhere. May it be so!

Photo above taken in Seoul, Korea, June 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

This Is It!

When will someone or something come to make it all okay?
When will someone arrive to transform our situation so that we can truly live, fully live?
Waiting for so long.
Longing for so much.

And what appears is a helpless baby who grows in wisdom and love and is executed by the state at the age of 33.
This one who kept the company of prostitutes and tax collectors, who threw out the money changers, who said love your enemies, surely this cannot be the one for whom we have been waiting and longing.
But if it were, what is the message we hear and know?

“Don’t wait any longer.
No one else is coming.
The fullness of time is now.
We can live and love our lives fully here and now just as they are.”

This message is good and great news indeed, that we can live our given lives, our real situations as a gift, in humility, in gratitude, in compassion, in ecstasy.
Yes, this is good news beyond anything we could ever expect or anticipate.
This is it!

All that is is good and perfect!
You, just as you are, are accepted and sustained in mystery!
The past, just as it is, is received by history!
The future is wildly open for you to co-create!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Am So Sad

I know it is the holiday season, a time of celebration, joy, gratitude, family, food and gift giving. I hate to be a downer, but I am feeling so sad. When I look within what do I find? Great sadness over being part of so much corruption and deception that does so much harm to so many. I cannot extricate myself from it. I am mired in it. It is inside me. It is me. It is my corruption and deception. It is harm that I carry out or is carried out in my name, with my tax dollars or investments, with my action, inaction or  impotence.

I am helping maintain a depraved system of lies and torture. Not just the CIA’s torture but the torture of the Earth, women, children, native peoples, the poor, immigrants and workers in sweat shops around the world. I have not personally engaged in waterboarding or beheadings but I am part of a system that makes use of drones, airstrikes, invasions, slave labor, unlivable wages, voter suppression, police brutality, hate crimes and poisoning of the Earth from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.
I drive my car full of gasoline. I turn on electricity generated by dangerous nuclear energy. I am ensnared in a corrupt, deadly system. Yes, I could buy a used electric car. Yes, I can change the source of my electricity to wind or solar. But can I stop paying to feed the beast? Can I stop purchasing products made in sweat shops? Can I be so self-aware, so diligent, so disciplined that I am free of guilt, free of the system? Or is it that no one has clean hands? We are all part of the Global Industrial-Military Empire.

How do I speak out, express my horror, separate myself from it and cleanse myself of the blood and filth? I don’t know. I will celebrate this holiday with my family. I will be happy. I will be grateful. But I will also be profoundly sad at so much suffering outside me and inside me. I will confess. I will grieve. I will do all that I can to relieve the suffering of all beings everywhere. This vow is my gift to the world and to myself. It is an impossible vow but it is more real to me than anything else. May it be realized here and now and forever.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

It Is Time For The New Humans To Act

I have been wrong. I have thought that what is needed is the reinvention of human society, of human civilization. What I am coming more and more to realize is that what is needed is nothing less than the redefinition and reinvention of the human being itself. What is a human being? Who are we? What is our essence? What is our purpose and our destiny? We cannot merely be consumers and shoppers. We cannot merely be producers and salespersons. We are not merely citizens of the state. We are not merely animals. But what are we?

Sometimes we seem so utterly depraved. We torture, murder, rape, destroy and steal. We engage in wars that kill millions of people. We put people in gas chambers. We strangle unarmed citizens who are trying to make a living. We drop atomic bombs on helpless children, women and men. We pollute the air, the waters and the soil. We raise animals in tiny cages for our food. We annihilate whole species. We pump carbon into the atmosphere bringing searing heat, mega storms, flooding and droughts. The rich live in luxury while billions of people do not have food, water, toilets and housing. Who are we? Are we devils?

Yet on the other hand sometimes we seem so divine. We share with others. We give our lives for others. We give birth to others. We nurture and educate and care for others. We create beautiful art, music and dance. We invent magnificent theories about the universe, evolution and the atom. We craft wonderful beliefs about love and truth, compassion and wisdom. We engage every day in billions of acts of kindness and understanding. We help the poor and heal the sick. We invent political systems that allow everyone to participate in self-governing. We create laws and policies that protect the weak and promote justice. We respect one another and honor differences of sex, culture and religion. Who are we? Are we angels?

This has been the question for so very long. Are we humans half way between heaven and hell, part angel, part devil? And which will we choose to embody and make manifest on this Earth? We have come so far from our caves, jungles and savannahs. We have grown into a giant of over 7 billion strong. We have erected great cities and connected humankind through the air and the airwaves. And what now? How do we wake up? How do we make the necessary leap? How do we transform ourselves? How do we die to who we have been and redefine and reinvent ourselves? And what is my role? And yours? How can you and I become the new human and how can we together create the new society?

The new human knows that each moment is the Moment of Creation. I choose to be divine or depraved in each moment. I can act out of compassion, kindness, understanding, peace and happiness or I can act out of pride, greed, fear, anger, hatred and violence. In each moment we observe, reflect, interpret, decide and act. That is it. That is how we reinvent the human being – by reinventing ourselves moment by moment. And then the new humans together invent the new society, the new culture, the new institutions and the new policies – the new civilization of compassion. There are already millions of new humans around this Earth. It is time for us to act.

Monday, December 8, 2014

What Are You Inventing With Your Life?

Even though the universe is 13.3 billion years old, because a human life lasts only one minute to 122 years, we tend to think in extremely short durations. How does this short-termism affect our decisions and actions? In politics we think in two to four year periods because of election cycles whereas the challenges we face often require 10 to 100 year perspectives and coordinated solutions. Capitalists measure success in the stock market second by second.

Also because a human body is so miniscule we tend to think about the immediate space around us rather than the scale of planet Earth or beyond. So our imaginations are often trapped in a tiny bubble of space-time. And because we are so dependent for our existence on air, water, plants, animals, medicine, other people, institutions and fiscal currencies, we are further trapped in worrying about our survival hour by hour and day by day.

How can such a creature ever raise its head and sniff the infinite? Yet the philosophers among us have done so as well as those we call scientists who have mapped the known universe of trillions of stars and its time-scape of billions of years of evolution. And yet we worry about what we will have for lunch, where we will get money to live, how we will get to work on time and so forth.

How do we live this paradox between the immense and the immediate? How can the immense help us think beyond our tiny lives to at least encompass our city, our nation our planet? How can an understanding of the vast stretches of time in cosmic and planetary evolution help us deal with the long term social, economic, political, cultural and environmental challenges facing our species and all life on Earth?

I have found that motivation and perspective are released as we expand our context in every direction – our present, past and future, our spatial sense and our understanding of intention and energy. Expanding our sense of the future is especially important. We usually think about a day, a week, a month or a year, maybe two to five years, at most 20 years. What if we started thinking about the next 100 years, the next 1,000 years, the next million years, the next billion years? How would we act differently this day, in this moment?

I think that we would realize that what we choose to do in this very moment causes and effects all time. It is as though we are sending an energetic, causal ripple throughout space-time that is vast beyond imagining. This is how everything that we take for granted has come into being. This includes such notables as the Big Bang, the universe, the Milky Way, our Sun-star, planet Earth, life itself, homosapiens, fire, the wheel, compassion, language, the city, democracy, the scientific method and the theory of evolution, to name a few of the wonders of our lives.

And where and when does this creative act take place? Always in the present moment, that is the locus of our inventiveness and responsibility, and it touches everything and everyone.

What are you and I inventing with each thought and action of our lives? What ripples are we each setting in motion for all time? I hope that I am catalyzing a compassionate civilization by how I treat other living beings and how I walk lightly on this precious Earth, moment by moment. How about you?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Privilege, Power, Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice is a novel written by Jane Austin published in 1813. It deals with conflict and love between the classes in the 19th century. It also names what is going on throughout human history including our own times. We see on every front that those with privilege and power are proud and prejudiced and dominate and harm those without privilege and power.

Men are prideful, prejudiced against, dominate and harm women. The majority or favored race is proud, prejudiced against, dominates and harms minority races. The rich are prideful, prejudiced against, dominate and harm the poor. Ethnic majorities or elites are proud, prejudiced against, dominate and harm ethnic minorities. Religious majorities are prideful, prejudiced against and dominate and harm religious minorities. Straight people are proud, prejudiced against, dominate and harm gay people.

Our names for the above are misogyny, racism, class-ism, ethnic demonizing, religious fundamentalism and homophobia. But the common denominator in all of them is that those with privilege and power tend to be prideful and prejudiced and dominate and do harm to those with less privilege and power.

What can we do to wake up from this nightmare and create societies of universal equality, justice, participation, tolerance and sustainability? We must change our mindsets, behaviors, cultures and systems from exclusion to inclusion, from pride to compassion, from prejudice to respect, from domination to collaboration and from doing harm to acts of kindness.

And how to do that? We must create and offer new education, spiritual teaching and meditation, new leadership, motivation and incentives, new symbols, rituals and stories and new policies, institutions and projects. And how to do that? We must change our political, economic, social, cultural and environmental systems. And how to do that? We must stop what we are doing and reinvent the human enterprise itself, based on values of universal compassion and wisdom. And how to do that? We must each practice, practice, practice new ways of thinking, doing and being moment by moment for the rest of our lives.
May it be so.