Ancient Lessons About Reducing Anxiety and Embracing the World

Despite feeling tremendous relief just a few nights ago, when Catharine Masto Cortez was declared the winner of the Nevada Senate race and my wife, and I, danced around the living room⎼ today I feel heavy once again. Why is that? I was so happy the Democrats exceeded expectations and maintained control of the Senate. The outpouring of support for the rights of women and to vote has clarified for all that the GOP war for autocracy can be stopped.

 

But sometimes, we get so caught up in a situation, a worry, expectation, and lose any perspective. We might be too frightened, traumatized, or invested and we see things only one way, as if the moment stood isolated in time. And we lose sight of how the situation came to be.

 

We might lose sight, for example, of just how traumatized we all were by past threats and those still looming. We have the GOP barely gaining control of the House and, of course, keeping control of the Supreme Court. And their leaders, DJT and others like him, are still threatening to seize the Presidency, avoid prosecution for their crimes, and impose their will on the rest of us. And the chaos they might yet cause, with their program of hate, lies, and division, and denying the factual results of this and past elections.

 

But not only is no human an island but no moment. The past sets up the present, as this moment educates the next. One moment’s mistake can lead either to another mistake ⎼ or to insight, when we can allow our heart, mind, and senses to be open to it.

 

I was reading a book by Joan Sutherland, a Zen meditation teacher, called Through Forests of Every Color: Awakening with Koans. In chapter two, she talked about how a new form of Zen developed in China in the eighth century in response to catastrophic times. Over just ten years, two-thirds of the population died due to rebellion, invasion, famine, and disease. The Tang dynasty of the time went from a flourishing empire to, afterwards, a barely surviving one, where life was so tenuous.

 

Of course, this mirrored back to me our own time, marked as we know too well, with so much disease, so many climate disasters, and the threats mentioned earlier of violence, and the attempted destruction of our democratic form of government.

 

No moment is the same as any other, but how did people, in awful times in the past, or going through awful times today, cope? Can we today, or those from the past, reveal ways of living that can help us through the pain to something we could welcome, to ways of living that meet our needs and strengthen our humanity?

 

I especially look to people like Zen adepts, those who have spent years studying the mind, body, and heart, and living harmoniously with others and nature. According to Sutherland, the Zen adepts and innovators of the 8th century,  realized that trying to escape their world through a narrow path to personal peace or religious ceremony would not serve them or their culture. They needed a sense of immediacy and, awful as it was, they got it….

 

 

*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Right Now, Election Fatigue is Just Part of What It Means to Be a Caring Human Being

Outside, it’s cold. In the 30s. As it should be in November. The trees, except, of course, the evergreens, are bare, brown, and leafless. Yet the sky is that deep morning blue. And it feels like it will warm up. Even though I’ve been enjoying the warmth lately, almost a week in the 70s, it’s a disconcerting warmth, almost scary in being so unseasonable.

 

Last night, election night, I kept checking in on the results until around midnight, when I went to bed. And then I had an interesting time watching my mind.

 

Rachel Maddow and others from MSNBC had earlier talked about surprising results showing that Democrats could possibly hold onto Congress. And many DJT picked candidates, awful and unfit for office, like Herschel Walker in Georgia, Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and Lauren Boebert in Colorado, could all lose. And these losses would show the GOP how much of a liability DJT was. And this would, ideally, lead the GOP to renounce DJT and all he represents.

 

For too many GOP, all that mattered was their power. Absolute power with an absolute ruler. Competence didn’t matter to them. Ethical behavior didn’t matter to them. Serving the people, and working to “establish justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common Defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty…” ⎼ the constitution didn’t matter to them.

 

Many didn’t seem to realize that if they served an absolute ruler, their power would depend on HIM (if it’s a him, and it would be). They’d lose any independence. Their future, their character, their well-being, all up to HIM.

 

And for me, in the dark of night, there was such a wondrous desire to say “we could win this. We could maintain control of Congress. We could hold onto the chance to promote justice and domestic tranquility, and act to benefit the welfare of all the people.” But I couldn’t say that out loud, not even out loud for only my own inner ears to hear. I couldn’t risk jinxing it. What ego, to think my thoughts so powerful! So, I listened as deeply as I could until the sound of moonlight filled the room.

 

Then thoughts of the worst scenario showed up. I felt afraid. My stomach tensed, my hands reached up, knocking off the quilt that covered me. I heard lines from different GOP, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, saying the first action of a new GOP House would be to impeach Merrick Garland. Then maybe impeach President Biden and destroy the remnants of democracy. The whole legion of DJT followers, election deniers, spreaders of disinformation, were all ready to deny any elections they’ve lost once again. All working to take away health insurance protections, Social Security, voting and abortion rights, working to turn the US into a a wasteland of lies, resentment, and hate. All to serve the mad quest for absolute power….

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

After the Vote, the Wait: Facing the Chaos of Numbers, Avoiding Deception, and then, Please, Let There Be News to Celebrate!

After the vote, we listen. We watch, and we breathe.

 

We know this has been an intensely stressful time, stressful few months, stressful 6 years. We know so much is at stake.

 

We face the chaos of listening to changing numbers on the news, the mad attempt to know before we can know, to get it over with. To be at peace. To feel safe ⎼ while too many of the GOP do all they can to interfere in and make sure we distrust democracy, foster hate, demonize and threaten with violence any opposition. We remember Jan. 6, Buffalo, Charlottesville, the attack on Paul Pelosi⎼ and so much more.

 

We know it will take many hours, or probably days, maybe weeks. Only later will we seriously consider what we did right, and what more we could do in the future. Now, we know we voted. We did something. We’re only one person amongst millions.

 

So, we breathe in and out as gently as we can and recognize the tension in ourselves. We’re as kind as possible to everyone around us because we know we need kindness ourselves. We need patience.

 

Only with this kind intensity can we then think clearly. Observe clearly. We assume nothing until we have sufficient fact-based information and analysis to know for sure. And then we’ll be ready for whatever happens and able to do what’s needed to protect and expand democracy, our future, and the well-being of our communities.

Do Not Assume. Research, Then Vote: For the GOP to Claim They Care About Violence Against Most Americans Is Laughable

It’s easy to make assumptions in all areas of life. Back in 2016, many people who opposed DJT assumed he could never win and so didn’t vote at all. Who would vote for a racist, narcissistic tv personality and real estate developer except other racist developers?

 

Even today, people might assume they know what will happen in some of the elections. For example, we might assume a Democratic incumbent Governor in New York, Kathy Hochul, will easily defeat a GOP challenger who still repeats lies about the 2020 election and opposes abortion rights for women. But according to FiveThirtyEight, Governor Hochul holds, now, only a 6 point advantage in polls. 6 points is wonderful, but in New York I’d expect it to be more.

 

According to Quinnipiac, crime is the most often cited issue in the New York election and the GOP are supposedly winning that issue. Is that reporting and polling accurate? Republicans have been using it to drown out the tides of anger about their  program of taking away a woman’s right to control her own healthcare, right to abortion, and family planning, or anger about the GOP assault on voting rights and democracy.

 

The GOP have incited violent crime throughout the nation, opposed efforts to reduce gun violence, and threatened with violence anyone who opposed them, Democrat or Republican.

 

The Jan. 6 investigation revealed that DJT not only incited but tried to lead the Jan. 6 assault on our nation. Since then, there’s been a record rise in attacks on members of Congress. On Friday, 10/28, a follower of DJT, inspired by lies and hate speech against Democrats, broke into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home, and assaulted her husband with a hammer. Then Fox disinformation media host Jesse Watters suggested the suspected attacker, who fractured Mr. Pelosi’s skull, should be released from jail, because “people get hit by hammers all the time.”

 

The GOP leader not only incited an attack on the US Congress, but consistently acted to undermine the rule of law. States under their control suffer more violent crime than states led by Democrats. So, for them to try to pretend to care about the rule of law or stopping crime (except when it’s directed at them) or for anyone in the media to support their claim is laughable.

 

Even now, the GOP are calling on people to use the threat of violence to intimidate voters, as in Arizona where armed followers of DJT’s lies are trying to frighten voters from putting their ballots in drop boxes. The GOP are purposefully de-stabilizing society by undermining community feeling and trust, creating fear, and inciting hate in the form of racism against black, brown, and Asian-Americans, anti-Semitism, hate of LGBTQ+ people and others.

 

When we feel we have little or no power or are hurting, we might assume we know what we don’t know. The realm of what we don’t know is always infinitely larger than what we do know. We use the illusion of knowing what will happen to bury our anxiety in the face of an unknown and possibly frightening future. But this tactic can make the situation worse….

 

*To read the whole piece, please go to The Good Men Project.

What We Once Had, We Might Not Have Ever Again: Speaking for the Majesty of an Eagle Taking Flight

Listen. It’s raining. Luckily, it’s not yet snow. For the last four or five years, we have become more aware of how extreme and precious the rain can be, switching between either drought or flood. It comes like a storm, harsh, or like a shadow, then it’s gone.

 

But not today. The rain is steady, and the sound is beautiful. Like the sound of crickets and cicadas, the wind, and the waves of the sea, it’s absorbing and surprisingly comforting. For the moment, it even washes away any anxiety over the election.

 

Even the muted light is soothing today.

 

I notice the fallen leaves, yellow, burnt orange, a bit of startling red. The leaves almost cover the deep green grass, which is eagerly drinking in the rain. The earth is thirsty.

 

I close my eyes and just listen. The sound gets more distinct. There are currents in the rain. The pace of falling water speeds up, creating a wind of rainwater pushing against my body even though I am in the house. Then it softens to barely a whisper. What before seemed steady and continuous is now revealed as something else, something unique in its pace. When I simply listen, there is more to hear.

 

Two days ago, my wife and I drove into town. From the opposite side of the road, just before the farm stand where we buy corn in season, an eagle rose out of the tall grass. Majestically and ever so slowly, it took flight right in front of a dark van. Its wingspan was wider than the van, yet somehow the eagle wasn’t hit. It flew off in front of my car window, unhurt. But the driver of the van barely maintained control of his vehicle and then pulled off the road and stopped.

 

We can easily assume so much. That one moment will be like the previous one. We walk out of the memory of yesterday’s door and drive on our memory of yesterday’s road.

 

We might assume that because we can (hopefully) vote, now, or because we have (hopefully) protections on the job now, or can get Social Security, or healthcare, we will have it tomorrow. We might tell ourselves or others we will have it no matter who wins the election on Tuesday, November 8. But as the GOP have said, all this can and will end if they win control, just as they work to take away a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her own health and when or if to have a family.

 

We need reassurance that our world won’t totally flip over on us. But to get that, we must pay enough attention, and be ready to act, so we’re not shocked when today almost slams into the windshield of our car….

 

 

*This is an update of a blog from October, 2020.

 

**Please go to The Good Men Project to read the whole article.

The Republican Party is Evil Beyond Redemption– A Letter from A Friend

A friend, Alan, sent me the following post as a letter, and I decided to share it with you. It is his piece, his conclusions, and research, and very timely. Please consult his links if you question his conclusions.

 

The Republican Party is Evil Beyond Redemption

by

Alan Silverman

 

It is difficult to quantify evil. I will try.

 

Richard Nixon won the Presidency of the United States by convincing South Vietnam not to sign a peace treaty ending the Vietnam War. He then extended the war four more years, murdering millions more human beings. Finally, he abandoned American prisoners of war to die in Southeast Asia.

 

[See articles on Nixon’s treason at politico.com,  millercenter.org. SmithsonianArticle]

[Schanberg article on Nixon abandoning our POWs in Vietnam]

 

I’m seventy five years old. DJT’s January 6 insurrection is the third confirmed treason by a Republican President in my lifetime. Reagan’s Iran treason being a possible fourth.

 

The second treason was when the Bush administration outed CIA officer Valerie Plame to punish her husband for saying George W. Bush was lying to justify invading Iraq. Pure simple undeniable treason. Bush, Rove and Chaney took so many morally indefensible actions; it’s easy to overlook Valerie Plame. It shouldn’t be. It highlights Bush’s disastrous decision to invade Iraq while the Afghan War still hadn’t been won.

 

First and worst was Nixon’s treason to win the 1968 Presidential election. Worse than Trump’s insurrection because they botched it. Richard Nixon’s worked to perfection.

 

Through an intermediary Nixon approached the South Vietnamese delegation to the Paris Peace talks and talked them out of signing the peace accords. He told them he would give them a better deal than the Democrats.

 

Theorized for decades, now proven by tape recordings. Nixon made the offer, the South Vietnamese broke off negotiations, Nixon won the election and the Vietnam War continued four more years, killing millions more human beings and further tarnishing America’s image in the world.

 

Nixon also knowingly left perhaps a thousand American prisoners of war in the hands of our enemies. Not many people know about this because an official government investigation in 1991 said there weren’t any POWs left behind. By that time neither party wanted to know otherwise.

 

I found this out in an interesting way. After retiring from IBM I opened my own PC consulting business. Syd was a customer of mine. One night he called me and said he lost an entire article on his computer. Not unusual considering my client base. I once found a novel in an author’s recycle bin. Finding Syd’s article wasn’t that easy, but I was able to recover it for him. He was appreciative.

 

That article was about how Nixon abandoned our POWs in Vietnam and knew it. I immediately flashed to the Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter. Hell of a thing to read at one in the morning, dead tired.

 

Syd died in 2016. I knew Nixon had probably committed treason in an attempt to win the 1968 election. I never knew he succeeded. The South Vietnamese pulled out of negotiations shortly before the election to help Nixon win.

 

Being a computer scientist, I am very logical. Please read the following and see if it makes sense to you:

 

“Richard Nixon won the Presidency of the United States by convincing South Vietnam not to sign a peace treaty ending the Vietnam War. He then extended the war four more years, murdering millions more innocent human beings. Finally he abandoned our warriors, American prisoners of war, to die in Southeast Asia.”

 

That is undeniable evil. Evil without justification. Evil in intent and outcome. Nixon’s treason betrayed the men and women who fought for America, killed millions of human beings and altered our world’s path to something far worse.

 

DJT didn’t make the Republican Party evil. Since 1968 the Republican Party has been led by amoral psychopaths who don’t give a damn about other human beings, start wars for no reason and cheated on Democracy until they destroyed it.

 

Individual Republicans can be decent human beings. They cannot be moral human beings because their leaders are evil.

 

Every moral human being must vote for every Democratic candidate in every election until 2025 at least. That gives humanity a chance.

 

My profound thanks,

Alan

 

Alan Silverman protested the Vietnam War at the 1968 Democratic Convention. He later graduated with a degree in computer science and worked at IBM as a system programmer. Still later Al met New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for reporting on the Cambodian Genocide. The movie “The Killing Fields” is based on Schanberg’s life.

 

 

The Time Has Come: Right Now Our Future is Created

Right now is our time. For months if not two years, we’ve thought and worried about the upcoming November 8th election. And right now might be the last chance we have to influence the outcome and to vote. Right now, our future is created. Right now, our wishes, needs, and dreams can be recognized, or our worst fears realized. In some states, early voting has begun. In Georgia, for example, it begins October 17. If we act now, we can help secure the immediate future we need and hope for.

 

We all know this. The choice before us is both wonderful and dreadful. We have the opportunity to advance and protect our rights and the workings of law and justice, to protect our loved ones and community. To protect our natural world.

 

On the one hand, Democrats have worked for our interests, not always as well as we’d hope but as much as we could expect considering the nature of their opposition– considering that so many in the GOP are still lying about the election that Biden clearly won. Democrats made mistakes, but so have we all. They’ve passed some of the most important legislation in decades, to protect our health, environment, jobs, education. And they’ve done this even though much of the press refused to emphasize the good they’ve accomplished, the gains made by Biden, in terms of protecting labor and making healthcare more equitable.

 

On the other hand, besides perfecting the bald-faced lie, the GOP are firmly the party of autocracy if not White Nationalism. They cry about freedom, but want the freedom restricted for themselves. They oppose⎼ voting rights for all, choosing who we will vote for and having our vote counted; they oppose protecting the right to make health decisions for our own body, deciding if and when we have children, who we will marry , if we will have clean air to breathe or a climate that sustains human life. They oppose allowing us to decide what we will read and if we can afford to go to college.

 

The GOP, as signaled by Justice Thomas in the Dodds decision overturning Roe v Wade and overturning established legal precedent, threatened to destroy marriage equality and even the right of access to contraception. They talk about rising inflation and problems in the economy and try to blame problems their policies have helped create or worsen on President Biden. They opposed the Inflation Reduction Act en masse, after years of failing to create or pass any positive, meaningful legislation of their own when they controlled Congress, yet the states they control take the money provided and try to claim the benefits as their own, the coming jobs, infrastructure improvements, reduction in prescription drugs and healthcare. In 2017, they reduced taxation on the rich and have consistently worked to increase the sickening and unsustainable wealth gap. When taxes on the rich are lowered, economic threats rise and the rest of us are forced to make up the deficit. According to the latest Federal Reserve data, the top 1% of Americans hold more wealth than the lowest 50%.

 

Always remember, and bring this to the voting booth: Autocracy means only one person, or group is free⎼ and DJT is all about himself and rule by himself alone. For the rest of us, the vast majority of us, autocracy means oppression; it means the end of the rule of law and possible incarceration without due process. It means the whole vehicle of political and economic power is driven by the interests of only one person or group and they can run over the rest of us as they please. When you have no political power, all your power and freedom is curtailed.

 

Autocracy means living in fear and surrounded by hate. This is one reason why DJT and many GOP have supported Russian disinformation about Ukraine and the 2020 election. They want to unite with fellow oppressors and have become soldiers for autocracy. Putin knows he can’t defeat the U. S. with arms, so he is trying to destroy democracy with lies.

 

So right now, we must do all we can to get access to the news and get out the vote. Democrats, if we support them, have a good chance of keeping or even increasing control in the Senate but the House is clearly threatened. We can give financial support to, or make calls for Democratic candidates, or write cards to voters in our own neighborhood, not only for Congress but for a state’s Attorney General who can control how votes are counted. We can work as poll workers to ensure a fair and safe election and counter the GOP push to entrench those who will do their bidding and undermine the election. We can work to protect journalists and get out truth. [The links* provided in this paragraph provide ways to take action.]

 

During the DJT years, anxiety in the US increased dramatically. Trump Anxiety Disorder became a major psychological problem. Then the pandemic happened and anxiety increased even more, especially in Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American communities. Just before the 2020 election, anxiety increased and then decreased after President Biden was elected, although levels are rising once again.

 

Acting to win the election of candidates who will work in the interests of Democracy and for most Americans not only improves the chances of creating the political system we need, but of reducing the fear and anxiety many of us feel.

 

 

*Please consult the links above; in the first paragraph if you want to find the dates for early voting in your state. Or in the third to last paragraph, to find ways to help GOTV and elect Democratic candidates. Some GOTV campaigns are ending this week.

 

***This blog was syndicated by The Good Men Project.

 

 

 

The Hideous and the Beautiful: A Good News Newsletter on the Two and the Infinite Sides of Humanity

There’s so much in our society and world right now that angers or frightens me, but also so much that is providing optimism, maybe, or at least, reassurance, that what we need or wish for is possible. I’m often tempted lately to write a good news newsletter to cheer up and energize myself and others.

 

First, there is the news that our legal system is greatly damaged but not broken. In 2021 and 2022, the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery were found guilty of murder and hate crimes. The DOJ has also increased its efforts to prosecute hate crimes.

 

Secondly, it has been so jarring and has created such anxiety in so many of us to see DJT’s obvious criminal, unjust, even traitorous actions escape any legal consequences, until, maybe, now. The Jan. 6 Hearings have and will continue to present for all to see (if they’d look) new and old evidence of DJT working to violently overthrow our constitutional democracy. Then there’s the evidence collected at Mar-A-Lago that DJT illegally took government documents, including classified files, with him as he left office. He obstructed investigations into that theft.  And the DOJ has opened investigations into his election interference, and issued over 40 subpoenas to people in DJT’s orbit. He faces a very good chance of a criminal indictment.

 

The GOP cry they must enact controls on voting (i. e. suppress the vote) due to voting fraud, but the evidence shows their claims are disinformation. Such fraud is a GOP created myth.

 

The biggest voting fraud is by DJT followers, some of whom are now being held accountable. For example, GOP officials and lawyers, such as Sidney Powell, have been exposed for breaching and illegally sharing voting information. In Michigan, DJT’s pick for attorney general is being investigated for a conspiracy to get access to voting machines. There is Representative Scott Perry in Pennsylvania and a GOP election official in Troy, New York, named Jason Schofield. According to the DOJ, Schofield “was arraigned on an indictment charging him with unlawfully using the names and dates of birth of voters to fraudulently apply for absentee ballots for elections held in Rensselaer County in 2021.”

 

Then we have criminal investigations against DJT in Georgia, fraud investigations in New York. And the investigation into DJT fraudulently raising money to fight a fraud that never happened, but he spent the money for his own personal uses. Some of these charges could result in jail time and/or disqualification from running for office.

 

Thirdly, with abortion, the GOP have exposed their heartlessness. Having an abortion is an awful choice to make, but it’s a mother’s choice. The GOP are not only trying to rip from women the right to make decisions regarding their own bodies; they’re demonizing mothers who want the right to decide when, how many, or if they have children. They’re trying to ensure women are legally considered second to men.

 

This has frightened and angered so many people. And GOP Senator Lindsey Graham’s call for making abortion illegal nationally just increased that anger. The number of those registering to vote to protect the right to abortion even in red states like Kansas has increased dramatically, and with young people as well as women. The whole election calculus is changing. In many states, the number one concern motivating women and young people to come out and vote is abortion, second only to protecting democracy. This is happening in many other states as well.

 

People are saying, “enough.” …

 

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

Nothing Improves Our Sense of Strength, Or Expresses Better Our Ability to Care and Love, Than Helping Others ⎼ And Helping Others Vote.

Bob Dylan’s song, the “Masters of War,” has been in my mind lately, about the “masters” who do nothing but destroy and create unspeakable fears, the worst fear being to bring children to life⎼ or to love.

 

Since 2011 or so, levels of fear and anxiety have been increasing in this country and most of the world. We know this too well. And lately, it’s been getting worse, and not due just to the pandemic. Remember “Trump anxiety disorder”? Even though DJT is no longer in office, he and his supporters have continued to make the world more frightening. Then add economic strains, the climate emergency, and the war in Ukraine and what we face is increasingly disturbing.

 

More and more people have been feeling they have no future, or that our political system can no longer handle the problems we face. Especially young people feel political leaders can no longer do anything good for them. Many are furious at Biden for various reasons, for not pushing more for the elimination of the filibuster in the Senate so laws to protect voting and abortion rights, and our right to a world that is not burning up, could be passed. And in the past, for his role in limiting Senate investigation of claims of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas to Anita Hill, thus allowing him to be seated in the Supreme Court. Biden actually voted against Thomas’ confirmation.

 

Biden can in one moment be so competent and caring, such a relief from the GOP who came before him, and in the next can seem to not get it at all. He often distances himself from the progressive wing of his party. He met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Salman, who is responsible for so many malignant actions including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. So, yes, pressure the President. We need to hold politicians responsible for actions they have actually done. But I fear this anger might lead some people to not vote Democratic.

 

In the case of meeting with the Crown Prince, Biden was using old fashioned politics when what we needed was courageous leadership. But we need to remember he was responding to those suffering from, and holding him responsible for, high gas prices and inflation. Should we hold those yelling about gas prices responsible for Biden talking with Ben Salman to get more oil?

 

We must remember that it is the would-be “masters” and the anti-democratic mass of the GOP who are manipulating this fear and it is they who need to be held the responsible.

 

Their goal is to shock us, get us to turn away from speaking out and political action. The GOP  not only try to directly suppress but also control the counting of votes. They are trying to convince us voting does nothing, there’s no power there. Or convince progressives that Democrats and Republicans are the same or convince moderates that Biden Democrats are too progressive….

 

*For information on GOTV campaigns, click on the GOTV links.

**To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.

 

Acting So We and Our World Awaken Together: Patience is Powerful

We all know we’re living through one of the craziest, most dangerous times in recent or maybe all of human history. I keep asking myself, what am I missing? What more could I do? Where is it all going?

 

We understand mostly by placing one moment in the context of time and memory, by discerning implications and possible futures. But so many of the possible futures being predicted by the news, social and intellectual media are too dismal to consciously consider. Maybe we can help change the future we are seeing by changing how we think about the   present we are living.

 

I am drawn here to a book I mentioned in an earlier blog, The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers, by Eric Weiner, and his chapters on two philosophers not often paired together: Simone Weil and Mahatma Gandhi.

 

The chapter on Simone Weil is about “How to Pay Attention.” Our culture is hooked on speed⎼ and speed, according to Weil, is the enemy of attention, careful consideration, and even joy. Due to the speedy pace of our lives, we can lose so much. We can get caught in, addicted to this repeating cycle, speeding up to catch what is speeding by. And what makes this even worse is the pandemic, added to the injustices, lies, shocks and constant chaos manipulated by DJT and his allies to undermine our sense of stability and our belief in democracy.

 

Desiring is not the problem. The problem with desire is that we can lose ourselves in it, lose even the object we desire in the desiring itself. It robs our attention. A heroin addict doesn’t crave heroin, Weil argues, but the experience of having it. Even more then heroin, the addict craves the relief of the mental and physical agony of not having it. Buddhist teacher, author, philosopher David Loy explained that desire, craving can cause us to feel we are lacking, wrong, powerless, or deficient.

 

The Latin roots of patient are suffering and endurance. When we are more patient, we feel stronger, more in control. We can endure even suffering, and find ourselves happier, clearer in mind, calmer in heart. We can be present in the moment, and thus feel more open to what might come.

 

And then we pay better attention to what or who happens. Weil shows us that inattention is in fact selfishness. When impatient, we reduce others to what we can get from them. When patient, others are fellow travelers who teach us about our own journey.

 

When impatient, we focus on the fruits and yoke action to results. When patient, we make progress even if there are no visible fruits.

 

And how do we fight, now, for our rights, our freedom, and our world?

Gandhi was the father of the movement to free India from British rule and establish an independent nation. He believed he must try to root out the disease of oppression even if it meant suffering hardship himself….

 

*To read the whole article, click on this link to The Good Men Project.