Monday, August 17, 2015

How To Live On Behalf Of All?

The One Sacred Vow:
What does it look like to “live on behalf of all?” How can I moment by moment get out on the tip of the wedge blade of history between the no-longer and the not-yet and live my life and die my death on behalf of all beings?

I have already lived a long life for which I am deeply grateful. I have had many successes, many failings, many learnings, much pleasure, great sadness and deep happiness. I need nothing more. I vow to give the rest of my life to relieve the suffering of all beings everywhere thus catalyzing a civilization of compassion and sustainable human development.

There are many distractions – comfort, security, fear, entertainment, food, tiredness, rest, sickness, health, ego, desire, confusion, anger, timidity, errands, nitty gritties, aesthetics, competition, and demands of others. How will I realize my vow? I will commit to six sacred arenas, five sacred actions and four sacred practices.

The Six Sacred Arenas:
I will focus the energies of my mind, heart and body on 1) mitigating climate chaos, protecting the natural environment and supporting renewable energy, 2) expanding and strengthening women’s rights and awakening gender equality, 3) promoting participatory governance institutions, policies and leadership, 4) nurturing cultural and religious tolerance and understanding, 5) creating structures of socio-economic justice including universal health, education and wellbeing for all and 6) fostering nonviolence, peace, reconciliation and prison reform.

The Five Sacred Actions:
Within the above six arenas I will 1) write and publish, 2) design and carryout my activism, 3) market speaking engagements that promote sustainable human development, 4) train groups in innovative leadership methods and 5) facilitate strategic planning events with groups, networks and movements.

The Four Sacred Practices:
To sustain my commitment to the above vow, arenas and actions and to deal with many distractions, I will 1) engage in daily meditation, contemplation, prayer, liturgy and reflection-in-action, 2) regularly deepen my understanding of my vow, arenas, actions and practices through reading, study, workshops, conferences and retreats, 3) live and work with like-minded and like-hearted people, in harmony with nature maintaining a healthy, energized body and 4) engage in acts of kindness toward everyone I encounter.

May it be so!

What is your vow? What are your arenas, actions and practices?


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What Is a Woman? Who Can Be Black?

First and foremost, we are each a human being. Then we are a sex, a gender, a sexual orientation, an age, a cultural expression, a race, an ethnicity, a linguistic participant, an economic class, a nationality, a religious affiliation, a personality type, an educational level, a health condition or a political persuasion, and so on. Beyond and deeper than these broad and sometimes superficial categories of identity, we each fashion a complex and unique self-narrative and image that is ours alone.

Our news commentators and some of the public are excited these days about questions of who is a women and who is Black, what is a woman and what does it mean to be Black. But they are missing a fundamental point. We are all human beings who suffer and desire happiness and the relief of our suffering. Yet in our societies we use identity to include or to exclude and to promote or to punish. Identity becomes a social construct, a mass perception and a device of power and control.

The irony is that at the deepest level there is no separate, static self at all but only ontological interdependence, impermanence and mutual causality. I am because you are. You are because I am. We are all the same and yet we are each different. We each change continuously. We encounter this mystery of life and death together. We each suffer and we can help relieve each other’s suffering. Kindness and understanding are all that is called for.
Can we not find our way simply to know, do and be these two responses to each and every living being? For isn't the only lasting "identity" found in values embodied and actions taken?


Saturday, May 30, 2015

Change, Courage, Serenity and Wisdom


May I realize “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This quote by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was one of my mother’s favorites. She wrote it out in elegant script, had it framed and also made into note cards. The original begins “God, grant me . . .” which I changed to “May I realize . . .” It provided solace to my mother as she lived each day. It appeared in my mind recently as I was analyzing a series of decisions and actions. What does it mean? How could it help me or you?

The operative word in the quote of course is “wisdom.” How do I discern the difference between what I cannot change and what I can? The other key concepts are serenity, acceptance, courage, change, knowing and difference.

What are things I cannot change? Death, old age and illness come to mind, both for myself and those I love. How do I cultivate acceptance and serenity in relation to each of these? We must acknowledge them, understand them, embrace them and live them with gratitude, letting go of worry and fear. What about things that I think I cannot change but actually are changeable? Should we accept with despair or serenity unjust systems and corrupt institutions that may seem impossible to change? History shows that they can be changed with the unflagging efforts of many people over time. What we each do matters; yet our whole life may be lived within an unjust system.

What are things that I can change? My own and other people's attitudes, behaviors and relationships can be changed but it is not easy. Cultural values, policies, laws and institutional arrangements can be changed, also not easy. How do I build up the necessary courage and commitment to change them when they seem so intractable? We can acknowledge, understand and work with them so that they evolve into something new, from negative and harmful to positive and healthy. What are things that I think that I can change that actually might be unchangeable by me? Sometimes other people's attitudes, behaviors, cultures, religions or institutions cannot be changed by me. We can dialogue or teach about or model new options for other people but we cannot force them to change. Sometimes we must accept them as they are with serenity and love and hope for some future change.

And how do we learn to discern and know the difference between what can or cannot be changed? This takes a lifetime of moment by moment attention, analysis, trial and error. Can it be changed? Try, did it work or not? Why? Can it not be changed? Try again, what happened this time? Why? It takes both serenity and courage, both acceptance and changing things to develop the wisdom to know the difference.

May we remain open to learning by doing, risking possibility and accepting limits, from womb to tomb.  And may this be our happiness and fulfillment.      

Monday, May 25, 2015

Worldly Power vs. Spiritual Power

Two types of power are at work in human society. Worldly power aims to control and dominate. This includes economic power, political power, cultural power and environmental power. Spiritual power on the other hand  intends to liberate and empower. Its essence is truth and love, wisdom and compassion.

Worldly power is motivated by pride and greed and uses fear, lies, hatred and violence to subdue and control others, Spiritual power, however, is animated by good will and uses affirmation and peaceful means to help others realize their true nature.  

Where do we see these two powers at work today? Worldly power is at work on Wall Street, in the big banks, the fossil fuel industry and with the 1%. Their objective is to secure and control capital and wealth at all costs to society or nature. We see worldly power in political elites. Their aim is to dominate democratic institutions by controlling media, voting laws, politicians, courts and think tanks that write the laws. We see worldly power in cultural, racial, gender and religious elites. Their intent is to negate and oppose the beliefs and behaviors of people who are different or part of a minority. We see worldly power of corporations and other institutions that harm the environment. Their way of being is to plunder and use up limited natural resources, pollute air, water, soil, plants and animals and spew carbon into the atmosphere without any regard for sustainability or concern for other living beings.

On the other hand, we see spiritual power in individuals who believe in interdependence and unity and exhibit kindness and generosity in their behavior with others. We see spiritual power in groups who maintain a culture of openness and universal human values of equality and justice and manifest compassionate action within communities, organizations, networks, policies and systems.

Worldly power appears to be so massive and dominant. Is there any hope that spiritual power might ever prevail? Are there any historical examples or exemplars where spiritual power has overcome worldly power?

The Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, among others, lived lives of and taught others about love and truth; and from their witness and example, millions and billions of people have and are attempting to live lives of compassion and wisdom. Mahatma Gandhi lived a life of and taught others about nonviolence and social justice and his words and deeds have inspired millions around the world to do likewise. Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life of and preached about equality, truth and hope. His sacrifice changed attitudes and laws around the world.

In addition to these five male exemplars, there are the lives, deeds and words of the many world changing female leaders, saints and revolutionaries. Today, we have Elizabeth Warren, yesterday, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Saint Teresa of Avila, Mary Magdalene, and on and on.  

And then there are the many amazing collective heroes: the Occupy movement, the labor union movement, the cooperative movement, the credit union movement, the democracy movement, the decentralization movement, the gift economy movement, the pay-it-forward movement, the fiscal reform movement, the human rights movement, the peace movement, the environmental movement, the green energy movement, the civil rights movement, the voter registration movement, the women’s rights movement, the facilitation movement, the gay rights movement, the ecumenical movement, and on and on.

But is all of this enough to turn the tide of human history? The only questions you and I can and need answer in relation to the seeming war between worldly power and spiritual power are: Who am I? What do I? How be I? Am I committed to pride and greed or kindness and generosity? And we answer this question moment by moment with each word and deed.

In some moments I let pride and greed take the lead and in other moments kindness and generosity. How can I strengthen my spiritual power so that I tend always toward kindness and generosity? Study, meditation, contemplation, prayer, liturgy, yoga, journal writing, retreats, being in good company, walking in nature, making vows, caring for those in need, mindfulness and relieving others’ suffering - these are just a few of the many ways of increasing spiritual power.  

Our challenge then is to use our spiritual power to transform worldly economic, political, cultural and environmental power into kindness and generosity, sustainability and participation, tolerance and justice, equality and peace.

We can do this.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Order Is Dead: Long Live The Order

“The Order is dead.” I first heard those words in Mexico in 1988. That was 27 years ago when the global Panchayat took the Order Ecumenical out of being. No longer would we live by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience within the structures, assignments and leadership of our order. It was time to be part of the global movement of those who care.

Since then former order members have done amazing things with our lives. We have facilitated thousands of events, written hundreds of books and created the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) as well as many other organizations. We have been educators, consultants, pastors, civil servants, librarians, youth workers, NGO officials (including the ICA), doctors, nurses, business managers, lawyers, artists, spouses, parents, grandparents and much more.

We have practiced community, organizational and leadership development. We have spoken out for justice, equality, sustainability, tolerance and participation. We have served the least, the last and the lost both nearby and far flung around this planet. We have grown older and some of us have died. In fact many of us have passed on. And eventually all of us will pass on. What is our legacy? Who are our descendants? Who will carry forward our spirit, vision, mission, methods and passion?

The young of course. There will always be those who care in every generation. They are among us even now. They will awaken, equip themselves and move out in service. They are the sensitive and responsive ones who are ever vigilant and at work in every country and every clime. It is these young ones who will mitigate climate chaos and promote participatory governance, cultural tolerance, socio-economic justice and gender equality.

These are our children and grandchildren, the unstoppable movement of those who care. We can count on these young ones. And before we go, we must do everything we can to support and train and inspire these our colleagues.

As for me, I am teaching grad students dedicated to public service in how to catalyze societal transformation, how to facilitate, how to lead, how to carry out strategic management, how to do international development, human development, sustainable development of individual mindsets and behaviors, communities, organizations, cultures, institutions and systems around the world. And I am a doting grandpa to two remarkable grandchildren.

I am so proud of and hopeful for these young ones. May they carry on, enlarge, deepen and make more wise and effective anything I have tried to do and invent things I cannot even imagine.



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Let Democratic Dialogue Go Viral!

What if governance were an ongoing conversation involving every citizen? What if governance were direct and participatory rather than representational and elitist? What if ensuring inclusion of the intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, perspectives and perceptions of every citizen made governance processes and outcomes more just, effective, innovative and sustainable?

This is possible and has become necessary. Without the full participation of the entire human family in policy making and program implementation, our human systems of governance and development will continue to be flawed, elitist, corrupt, unjust, impoverished and harmful to life on Earth.

We can and must do this. We can catalyze democratic dialogue at every level – local, city, county, state, nation, region and planet. Trusted conversations can and must happen anywhere, anytime, with any and everyone. Trusted Sharing, a revolutionary new app, has arrived to help make this a reality.

I am in conversation with the UN’s e-governance branch about this. But you don’t have to wait. Right now you can begin to share your views with other citizens and with government. Click here to join Trusted Sharing and start your own conversation (it's free) about an issue that concerns you. Invite your family, friends, neighbors and colleagues and invite people in government, nonprofits and the private sector. Then, as Willis Harman famously said, "don't just do something, get out there and talk." (And don't forget to listen!)

Or if you would rather join a conversation about large scale online conversations which is going on at this very moment, click here.

Let democratic dialogue spread throughout the land and around our home planet!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Join An Earth Day Conversation Here!

What if millions of Those Who Care started talking (and listening) to each other and out of this global conversation arose a movement of movements (MoMs) that multiplied their care a billion fold? (Willis Harman said “don’t just do something, get out there and talk.”)  

What if climate change gave rise not to regime change but to Civilization Change? (A compassionate civilization is possible, has become necessary and is already among us.)  

What if “now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of their planet?” (Practice, practice, practice.) 

What if saving the whales is not sufficient and saving the earth is not the issue but Saving the Humans is what is needed? (For if we don’t save all life on Earth, our species can't survive.) 

If you care about yourself, your family, environmental sustainability, gender equality, participatory governance, socio-economic justice, cultural tolerance, art, science, religion or spirituality, join the mother of all conversations by clicking right here.

Magically your mind will be transported to a virtual place named “Trusted Sharing” where you can share your trust and care with others. When you arrive at the Trusted Sharing site, sign up, and then go to this conversation site and click on reply at the bottom of your screen. Click here.

Enjoy the dialogue!

Happy Earth Day to all earthlings!

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!