Remembrance and Gratitude

November is a month of both remembrance and gratitude. Here in the United States we have Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving, but how often have you thought about them in the same context? What I mean is, how often have you thought about the veterans and what they will do for/at Thanksgiving?

“Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates that 49,933 veterans are homeless on any given night.” ~ National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what we have in our lives. It’s also a time to give back to those who are less fortunate. It can be an opportunity to “serve those who serve/have served us” and there are plenty of vets who need the help. So here’s what you can do to help, if you’re so inclined:

  • Determine the need in your community. Visit with homeless veteran service providers. Contact your mayor’s office for a list of providers, or search the NCHV database.
  • Involve others. If you are not already part of an organization, align yourself with a few other people who are interested in attacking this issue.
  • Participate in local homeless coalitions. Chances are, there is one in your community. If not, this could be the time to bring people together around this critical need.
  • Make a donation to your local homeless veteran service provider.
  • Check for places in your area that will be offering Thanksgiving dinner for homeless vets. This is one example. Check local churches, food banks, the Salvation Army or soup kitchens who might need donations of food or money or who could use volunteers on that day (or any other day, for that matter).
  • Offer to drive a veteran to an event.  The DAV has a program to make this easy for anyone wanting to help. Simply click the link at the beginning of this sentence and see for yourself.
  • Keep veterans off the streets

    “In times of war, exhausted combat units were removed from the battlefield to “stand down” in a place of relative security to rest. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down program is designed to help homeless veterans “combat” life on the streets. Stand Downs are usually one- to three-day events to provide food, shelter, clothing and health screenings to homeless and unemployed veterans. To find a Stand Down program in your community, contact your local VA hospital in the VA Medical Center Directory.

    A phone call can also make difference in the life of a veteran who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Call 877-4AID-VET, or 877-424-3838, to be connected 24 hours a day, seven days a week with help at the VA. The VA has set a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans by 2015.” ~ from CNN.com

  • Here are some more sites to give you some extra ideas:

Military.com

The Veteran’s Site (part of the Greater Good Network)

US Vets Inc.org

Milserve.org

Oprah.com

Posted in Family, Food, Food For Thought, Giving, Gratitude, Holidays, Homelessness, Hunger, Inspiration, Life, Politics, Poverty, Present, Thanksgiving, Veterans, War | 2 Comments

The B Zine

Hello, all you readers!

I wanted to let you know about a really neat collaboration of creative and amazing individuals, called the “B Zine”.  The B Zine is a collective effort by writers from the sites Beguine Again and The Bardo Group and features perspectives from all over the world. Each month, it will feature different stories, photos, poems, essays, etc. with lots of thought-provoking ideas, beautiful photos, inspiration and humor to make your day a little bit brighter.  Take a look, I promise you won’t be disappointed. ;)

Posted in Creativity, Food For Thought, Giving, Gratitude, Humor, Inspiration, Life, Literature, Peace, Philosophical Ponderings, Photo Challenges, Poetry, Prose, Social Media, Stories | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Conducive to Peace

I wanted to write something else for October’s theme of Peace over at Begin Again, and my inspiration came last week. I was reminded of how easy it can be to get sucked into things like fear and anger, even downright hatred, on Social Media platforms like Facebook.

Image borrowed from http://hellenjc.wordpress.com
Image borrowed from http://hellenjc.wordpress.com

There can be no peace where there is fear and anger. Taoist teachings tell us that Fear, Anger and Hatred are inner demons which must be fought with Chi (which is a positive, inner life-force made stronger by Virtue).  I was thinking about the idea of Social Media and how it can negatively impact us and was reminded of  verse/chapter 24 of the Tao Te Ching:

                   “He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
                     He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
                     He who makes a show is not enlightened.
                     He who is self-righteous is not respected.
                     He who boasts achieves nothing.
                     He who brags will not endure.
                     According to followers of the Tao,
                    “These are extra food and unnecessary luggage.”
                     They do not bring happiness.
                     Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.”

Places like Facebook are prime examples of how easy it is to be manipulated into these kinds of emotions. Think about it, how often do you see people boasting, bragging, being self-righteous on Facebook? There is a lot of fear and hate-mongering, too; posts that are designed to inflame passions, create rifts and sow dissent.

Image borrowed from soulseeds.com
Image borrowed from soulseeds.com

Keep in mind that there are plenty of things posted online that can be used to divide people — News, Social Media, Blogs, etc. All this “stirring up” is not conducive to Peace. Sometimes it is only when you step back from it that you can see the truth of exactly how you’re being used and manipulated and who is doing it. But you also have to remember that you allow it. Placing yourself in a situation where the inner demons will be provoked is not a good practice.

 

Image from http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/DragonKatet/peace2.jpg
Image from http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v316/DragonKatet/peace2.jpg

So be mindful. Be aware of how the Media (of any sort) relies upon your emotional/intellectual participation for it to be effective and how that can affect your sense of well being and inner peace.

Posted in Awareness, Environment, Food For Thought, Friendship, Frustration, Inspiration, Life, Media, Past Present and Future, Peace, Social Media, Tech, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

~ The Other Refugees ~

Soldier and Kitten by JustUs09 @ Photobucket.com

~ The Other Refugees ~

 He huddled under the wreckage and rubble,

That used to be his home.

His people had fled.

Still others, were dead.

So he waited, shaking, alone.

*

She searched the dust-filled, ruined lots,

For food for her newborn young.

They needed to eat.

So she scoured every street.

But of sustenance, there was none.

 *

Both were pitiful victims of war,

Forgotten, while the dropped bombs fell.

Their families were gone.

Yet, they still struggled on.

In the burning, abandoned hell.

 *

It wasn’t their fault they had nowhere to go.

They’d been born with fur, not skin.

No more soft voices, or gentle pats,

Both wondered,

If they’d ever be happy again.

 *

Then came the strangers with kind, loving care.

They brought food and they sheltered lost pets.

They didn’t have much,

But they shared what they had,

While the rest of society forgets…

 *

There are more than people who suffer in war.

Animals can be refugees, too.

Let us stop and remember

Each four-legged family member.

There’s still plenty of helping to do.

~ C.L.R. ~ © 2014

Image borrowed from takepart.com
Image borrowed from takepart.com

I came across this article the other day, as I was trying to decide what my offering would be for The Bardo 100,000 Poets For Change topic “Peace and Justice”. It struck me that there are so many animals who get forgotten in the chaos of war, and I knew that I had found my subject.

Of course it’s the people who get the attention and aid when they escape war-zones, and it’s important that we continue to help those human victims who need it. But. But there is a large segment of the population of refugees who get forgotten in the shuffle. In our haste to help the humans, the poor animals who are hurt or left behind are often overlooked. It’s sad, as is most everything about war, but it is an unfortunate truth.

The good news is that there ARE organizations who focus on helping displaced and injured animals affected by the ravages of war. The selfless people who run many of these shelters risk their own lives to help the animals left behind.  If you are so inclined, the next time that you think about donating time or money to the victims of war, please consider one of these efforts. The cause is noble and just as worthy, and you will be helping someone who needs you, maybe more than you can imagine.

Animals Without Limits

Harmony Fund

Animals Lebanon

Nowzad

SPCA International

Posted in Animal Rights, Animals, Cats, Death, Disasters, Giving, Life, Peace, Poetry, Violence, War | 2 Comments

Because we’re ALL Homos…Homo sapiens, that is

I watched a well-done short film recently that gave me pause and made me stop and think about something I’d like to share with all of you. It’s about the nature of “love” and how we express our moral beliefs of what that word means to and with each other.

We all have individual, moral beliefs. There are so many things that factor in to the makeup of our moral compasses. Some people think it’s how we’re raised. Others think that it’s due to a trait or traits with which we’re born, something deep inside the genetic code, perhaps. (Side note: There is an excellent book by Robert Wright called “The Moral Animal” which actually goes into detail regarding evolutionary genetic predisposition of morality). Still others posit that it’s a combination of both nurture and nature. When it comes to morality, “right vs. wrong”, it’s often a war between those who see things in very black and white terms and those who see the infinite shades of gray.

More often than not, peoples’ morality stems from their religion. Said religion has a dogma or certain set of beliefs that its followers adhere to and that tend to form most of their ideas about what is right and what is wrong. Society also plays a large role, in that whatever religion is most accepted in a society will also dictate what the majority of people living in that society will believe and accept as right/wrong. Religious indoctrination in any society isn’t a new trick, it’s as old as…well, as old as mankind. For that matter, all manner of wars and killing have happened because of religion and moral beliefs since very early in Mans’ collective history.  If you are part of any society on earth, you will probably be exposed at some point to different beliefs.

But what I’ve been thinking about…is how do you express your religious and moral beliefs to other people? Do you express them with love? Are you judgmental and/or hateful? What kind of living example do you present to others regarding your moral actions? To disagree with someone regarding a moral value does not imply that you hate him or her. It simply means you disagree as to whether it’s “right” or “wrong”. It’s not about convincing, persuading or converting the other person to your point of view. By the same token, it’s also not about bullying, shaming, ostracizing or punishing someone who doesn’t share your exact same point of view or set of beliefs.

You may be passionate about your beliefs. You may desperately want to convince the other person of why your point of view and belief is the “correct” one. But that does NOT give you the right to force your OPINION(S), your BELIEF(S) upon anyone else. Period. Once you cross the line of trying to force your own morals, beliefs, opinions, values upon other people, you have stepped beyond the line of respect. Respect and tolerance are both two-way streets.

image borrowed from meetville.com

image borrowed from meetville.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the film. I suggest watching it with an open mind (of course) and if you’d like to leave a comment, please do. All I ask is that you please use common courtesy and remain kind. I don’t tolerate spam and I don’t tolerate offensive or hateful remarks. Oh…and I most certainly do not feed trolls. ;)

 

 

Posted in Food For Thought, Friendship, Grief, Human Rights, Life, Loneliness, Love, Past Present and Future, Sympathy, Uncategorized, Violence | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting the “Action” in “Activism”

It’s Wilderness Awareness Week at The Bardo and scillagrace is heading up lots of amazing posts about the planet to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act being signed into law in the U. S.

Image borrowed from https://www.facebook.com/workingwithoneness Carving by Bruno Torfs ©
Image borrowed from https://www.facebook.com/workingwithoneness Carving by Bruno Torfs ©

As technological civilization diminishes the biotic diversity of the earth, language itself is diminished. As there are fewer and fewer songbirds in the air, due to the destruction of their forests and wetlands, human speech loses more and more of its evocative power. For when we no longer hear the voices of warbler and wren, our own speaking can no longer be nourished by their cadences. As the splashing speech of the rivers is silenced by more and more dams, as we drive more and more of the land’s wild voices into the oblivion of extinction, our own languages become increasingly impoverished and weightless, progressively emptied of their earthly resonance.” ~ David Abram

I wanted to write a brilliant piece of poetry for this event, but my efforts kept coming out with a negative bent, so I decided to instead make this post a mish-mash of things. It can be really hard to try and stay positive and find hope in the face of so much apathy in the world, with so many corporations hell-bent on destroying the planet just to make a profit. It can be terribly disheartening as a champion for the environment when you look at the way the odds are stacked against us, and how very much work there is to do.

On the other hand, it means that there are plenty of opportunities for all of us to find something to DO. Find an environmental cause that speaks to you, personally, whether it’s saving the rainforests, trying to keep trash out of our oceans or making sure that more tar sands pipelines don’t get built. The thing about activism is that it requires action. If you can’t be part of a climate march (Like the one coming up in NYC on 9/21/14), if you can’t get out and pick up litter in the parks, there are still lots of things you can do to help. The important thing is “action”. Whether your action is donating time, money, ideas, space, spreading the word via social media or blogging about it, taking pictures…however you choose to do it, just find a way to get involved. The more people we have taking action, the more our efforts can create a ripple effect that can move mountains (or save them from mountain-top strip mining, as the case may be).

Image borrowed from piecefit.com
Image borrowed from piecefit.com

Here’s a list of the Top 100 Environmental Websites to get you started. From animals rights, to deforestation, to environmentally friendly energy solutions, to recycling, to ocean protection to whatever else you can think of regarding the environment and wilderness, your cause is out there…you just have to find it. ;) Speaking of which, here’s a handy, dandy test to help you figure out your Environmental Worldview , which is defined as “collective beliefs and values that give people a sense of how the world works, their role in the environment, and right and wrong behavior toward the environment. Environmental worldviews dictate how we interact with nature and our attitude toward how we use the natural resources it contains.” ~ Source

 

Image borrowed from http://indulgy.com

Image borrowed from http://indulgy.com

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a video by one of my favorite celebrity environmental activists, Woody Harrelson.

Posted in Animal Rights, Ecology, Elements, Environment, Flowers, Food For Thought, Future, Health, Human Rights, Inspiration, Nature, Past Present and Future, Trees, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Willful Ignorance and Food For Thought

Image borrowed from Zappa.com

Image borrowed from Zappa.com

“The more you can escape from how horrible things really are, the less it’s going to bother you…and then, the worse things get.”
Frank Zappa

 

Rational Wiki defines “Willful Ignorance” (bolding is mine) as: “…the state and practice of ignoring any sensory input that appears to contradict one’s inner model of reality.  At heart, it is almost certainly driven by confirmation bias….Readers should be aware that willful ignorance is a mechanism that actually protects the brain from becoming unable to function in situations that it just can’t handle. An individual can never accept its whole own reality being meaningless or making no sense, as that would make it impossible to act towards any goal. Forcing an individual into such a state has psychologically been found to be comparable to the death of the higher developed parts of the brain from an outside perspective.”

Image borrowed from thedailysheeple.com

Image borrowed from thedailysheeple.com

I admit it. Life is a lot easier when I choose to ignore the things which make me unhappy or uncomfortable.  I’m not particularly proud of it, but I admit that I do it. I think we all tend to do this to some extent. It’s a self defense mechanism which allows us to feel better about ourselves, our behavior, our actions (or in-actions).  The problem is when we spend so much time in willful ignorance that others suffer, whether they’re other people, animals or plants.

Reality can be a cold bitch. Humans can be unimaginably cruel and so many times, we’re willing to look the other way.  Why?  Perhaps we feel helpless to do anything about the situation. Maybe we’re afraid of being ridiculed, ostracized for doing something differently.  It takes  tremendous courage to be the only one to stand up and say, “No. I will not do this because it is wrong.”  It takes conviction and strength of heart.  And sometimes, it takes a willingness to suffer, yourself, in order to make a point.

Image borrowed from quoteswave.com

Image borrowed from quoteswave.com

The compassionate soul cannot abide injustice and suffering in the world – it wants to help – in any way it can.  As a compassionate soul, I have to consider certain things about my lifestyle and how they affects others. In recent years, my diet has come under my personal scrutiny because of revelations about where some of my food comes from; specifically, factory farming.  It finally penetrated the veil of willful ignorance I had built so that I could continue to eat what I wanted when I wanted and not have to feel bad about it.

Am I a Vegan? No, but I’m trying to be a more compassionate consumer.  I used to have bacon every week. Now it’s once a month or less. I used to eat eggs and chicken several times a week. Now I eat eggs maybe once a month and chicken once a week. I’ve almost completely stopped eating red meat.  I’m also in the process of working on dairy.  The thing is, you have to be able to live with your conscience and find what works for you. At the same time, I understand that not everyone shares my view. I’m not out to convert or guilt trip anyone. But I do wish that more people would take a long, hard look at how their actions possibly contribute to unnecessary suffering.

Image borrowed from Pinterest.com

Image borrowed from Pinterest.com

The video below IS safe for work. It doesn’t show the blood, or violence, in factory farming, but it does show us how we, as consumers, are manipulated into embracing willful ignorance. It’s a very thought-provoking 7 minutes. I hope you’ll watch it and let me know what you think. It’s okay to be upset or disturbed by what the presenter says.  Believe me when I tell you that there are many, many other videos with far more upsetting and disturbing visuals/themes regarding factory farming.  You can Google the phrase and see for yourself. Or not.  Be warned: once you see it, you can’t “un-see” it. That’s how it works.   It’s definitely “Food for thought”.

Posted in Animal Rights, Animals, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Hunger, Life, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments