About Me

My photo
Los Angeles, CA, United States
I am a writer, photographer and musician living in Los Angeles. In the last few years, new written work--numerous plays, screenplays, and two novels--have demonstrated this to be the most productive period of my life. The journal I have also kept for thirty-five years has, of late, become a personal sounding board for my thoughts on peace and the state of the world...about which I remain hopelessly optimistic! My writing here will be in tandem to video "Peace Talks" I have recorded, and which will be released throughout 2011. You're welcome to visit my website, the "Studio 5" link, to see my photographs. As a classically-trained pianist, I have been composing music all my life. Two guitar re-mixes of piano music are attached here, as well as several music videos, including "Consider Peace" the title track of an up-coming CD. Balancing writing, photography and music has been a long and challenging path...not to be recommended! Yet this very Aries diversity reflects an enthusiasm for the modern world of which I feel very much a part.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Enough of the flag-waving!

Okay, a week of this is enough!  Am I the only one not crowing at how we murdered someone in their bed; how revenge can be called “justice”?

Certainly, we’re a free country.  We can kill anyone we want to, then call it any name we like (”defense”?)   All of humankind was given free will...to blow up Twin Towers, and to hunt down, torture and kill the masterminds.  
But both acts define us; they define the fanatic for what he is; and they define the nation so disturbingly gleeful at revenge.  I, for one, see no “justice” here.  
The flag-waving and talk of pride at being an American, as I’ve heard over and over again on TV this week, is simply distasteful.  There’s more than a hint of mob mentality going on here; not just the enthusiastic shouts of a lynching, but where even questioning our response to perceived wrong-doing could be tantamount to siding with the devil.
How does mirroring the action of a murderer make us any better?  Have we not been guilty ourselves of killing innocent people?  
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of coddling Bin Laden or any local thug on the street.  But the fist-pumping zeal I’ve witnessed this week; so-called Christian people conveniently deciding when “God’s Law” does not apply...if nothing else, it’s a lesson in the shifting sands which ARE “morality”.  
Ever notice how attackers never see themselves as the aggressors, but as defenders?  Something is “right”...until it isn’t.  It’s all good until something no longer suits...and then it’s bad. (Donald Trump said we should invade the Middle East and simply take the oil we need...and we're still worrying over Osama Bin Laden??!)
More to my point is this: how does killing--and celebrating--define us?  Who will we deem worthy next?   Do these acts really take us to where we say we want to go?  Hating war and loving peace are NOT the same thing.  
Let’s look at this and start re-thinking...and please, don’t kill the messenger!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The score: 99 to 1

For a writer, there are few things as daunting as a blank page.  Its like getting into a car knowing you have to go somewhere, but like a bad dream, you don’t know where it is you have to be.  And the clock is ticking! (Why is time always running out?)  In fact, life’s moments are just racing by as one faces the void--a very luminous one on a 27” Mac--whose quiet force stares back with the assurance that it is a much better brain than you...and you damn well know it!
The diarist Anais Nin, who was a huge influence early on (when I lived in London in the 70s), said she could never not find something to write about.  As one looks out--more through screens than windows--at the fast-changing world, it is hard, particularly as a writer, not to add one's two cents.  Indeed, having nothing to say would almost disqualify one from the Writer’s Club.  

(A literary agent I met defined a highly prolific, but as-yet unpublished writer as merely “busy” as opposed to “working”.  So who IS a writer?...But I digress.)
Lately, the big world beyond my cyber window-screen has seemed particularly daunting.  The geo-political changes alone, to say nothing of the tectonic ones, are so big; so world-shattering--literally--that one hardly knows where to begin to address what is going on.  The polarization on every front--extremists to the right of me; extremists to the left of me!--are pointing to each their own doomsday scenario.  And against all logic and the voice in our hearts, too many have been convinced that maintaining wars and rich bankers equals freedom...belief's that clearly are not taking us to where we say we want to go.  
Then these words:  “Start with a one inch picture frame.”  That’s the best writing advice I was ever given.  Begin with the smallest detail, then pull back.  Don’t start globally; there’ll be no end to the description required.  Start with one, not one hundred.
Which brings me to my point (yes, a point, after all!).  We’re still 99 percent "We the People" vs. the 1 percent who own almost everything and keep nearly all profits.  (A fact, by the way, not some left-leaning jargon.)  One-man-one-vote is still our ultimate political power.  A one inch picture frame may not seem like it reveals very much; but collectively...well, that may be our last hope to create a global landscape that includes everyone.  What democracy that's left resides in our humble vote, and it remains our ultimate power.  Let's use it before they, the one percent, start spinning that against us, too.  Unthinkable, maybe...but can't you see them trying?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Is it life or just distraction?

What with house guests, business-building, Spring cleaning, the earthquake and tsunami (watched, eerily, live on TV); the continually riveting news in the Middle East, and turning sixty, all within the month of March, I just haven’t had the focus to write here.
My third novel, at about the halfway point, seems to be on hiatus, and I fear for its future.  All the months of piano practice gaining finger strength leading up to my early December recording session has largely been lost (though not the confidence gained, thank goodness).  Even my computer got a virus, so I’m working, uncharacteristically, on my 27" Mac, a daunting machine which continues to whoop my ass, as I wait for my dear PC’s return from the hospital.
But April is upon us, a sunny Spring indeed here in L.A., and I’m ready to go round again.  Because it’s all about cycles.  Little cycles--the routines of each day; and the ever-larger ones that ripple out all around us, the results of our action (sometimes our inaction!), within the context of a rapidly changing world.
And what a world!  Hopeless optimist that I am, I see each day as a symbol of Life’s eternal, rejuvenating fertility...perhaps another term for God’s forgiveness.  Considering how often we, as a race, have f’d things up, the days keep coming, world without end, literally!  Another opportunity to “get it right”.  And if that ain't love, I don't know what is!   
So, one tries to forgive one’s self for the little lapses.  Either that or blow our brains out, which, again, we might have done long ago had Life’s unfolding days and years not  proved there IS another chance.  So many opportunities for change, in fact, that we finally realize we even have a choice as to how we want to proceed.   
In changing, perhaps fearful times, how DO we proceed?  “Our minds derail us with logic that is supported by fear,” so said an Oracle.  We can test our inner guidance system by asking, “Does this feel like love?” or “Does this make me afraid?”  People who are afraid of change will always revert to fear-mongering, be it political tyranny, or some other teaching that conditions “salvation” on the  subjugation of our heart’s voice; a voice that only speaks the language of love and unity.   
Like the earth seen from space, that Voice knows no national boundaries.  That Voice reflects our innate unity like a loving promise.  As times get shaky; with change afoot on so many levels (as we grow up as a race!) I believe we’ll be best served acting out of love which unifies instead of fear which divides.  Have the “old ways” served us?  Would we be in the precarious state we’re in if they had?  Is the trajectory of our collective actions taking us to where we say we want to go?
Change is the very definition of Life’s Process, and make no mistake, life will go on whether we like it or not.  So, what is a change--an action--we can trust?  “Does this feel like love?”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Reconnecting with an Old Friend.

I recently connected with one of my best friends from high school, a woman with whom I’ve been out of touch since 1984.  She is now the mother of six grown kids, and the grandmother of 21…make that nearly 22 grand-kids; and lived most of her post-L.A. life in small to very small towns in Utah and Washington State.

We talked on the phone for a long time, and I kept listening for the familiar girl I knew as a teenager, but it was a very distant sound indeed.  Our lives had gone in such different directions:  hers burrowed deeply into family, her local church and community; dealing with long-standing health concerns.  Mine, married for seven years to an English girl I met living in London; no kids; an artist and gay man standing on the world stage with my own long-standing struggles to balance three creative pursuits as a writer, photographer and pianist-composer.

We’ve each done what we had to do; made choices based on circumstance, and to lesser degree perhaps, out of sheer will to shape the life we wanted.  Add to that a little luck that swung both ways, and the results of simply hanging in there, all totaling the very different lives we’ve made. 

Yet what struck me was that no matter how different our circumstances have been, they have both been the result of a certain kind of focus on the moment, the accumulated moments that become the substance of our experience.  And in that regard, our lives here on plant earth—all our lives—are no different from each other.  We’re all souls working it out in an amazing dance of present moments in concert with our family and friends, and on a larger field, our community, our nations and culture each with their own collective slants of character, points of view and over-arching destinies.

Like viewing the Earth from space with its fragile, borderless nobility, our souls, too, are part of One Thing:  Life.  Yet in the context of an ageless planet, our “local” differences (including our intransigent theologies) are revealing themselves to be unsustainable;  contrary to the Living System of which we are most definitely all a part.  Have we forgotten that our lives are as noble as the stars turning around us?  That the limitless sky is a metaphor for our ageless souls? 

So I say Thank You to an old friend for reminding me that our seeming difference over time and in experience connects us no less.  We’re all connected.  To the extent we don’t make that fact part of our collective experience, we will continue to have the divisive world we’re living in…and which, sadly, we now have the power to destroy.  Do we grow up as a race before life as we know it disappears, or as a result of that occurrence?  In either case, the Earth (and, I trust, our souls) shall live on.  So the question is What kind of world do we want, and do we have the courage to claim it...now?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Couple of Lunatics!

Suddenly we’re television hostages to TWO delusional crackpots:  Moamaar Gaddafi and Charlie Sheen.  The former, a spoiled, tyrannical dictator, has the fate of millions in his hands, and the outcome will affect us all.  The other guy is just a spoiled, tyrannical actor, whose only direct victims are his kids.  Both are claiming air time with weird tirades against the notion they should be denied…anything!  Clearly, neither are familiar with the word “No”.

Fortunately, CBS has given a severance cushion to the laid-off employees of Sheen’s TV show—never a job guaranteed for life.  But the people of Libya are literally fighting for their future.  All in all, an interesting study in contrasts.  Gaddafi is the product of everything that’s been wrong with our geo-political alignments for forty years.  It’s almost awe-inspiring to realize that watching his fall—and our waking up—is to witness global history in the making. 

Sheen represents something a lot closer to home:  our fascination with celebrity; and the fantasy of “freedom” money can buy:  babes, drugs and the kind of arrested development we might have dreamed of as teenagers, but grew out of when we realized we had to paddle our own canoe.   Yet this guy is 50, with five kids!  He’s got two porn stars as live-in “goddesses”, and never needs to worry about money for the rest of his (possibly short) life…not unlike Gaddafi, now that I think about it.  And they’re both crying victim….go figure.

One hopes that Sheen, unlike the Libyan, still has time to wise up—meaning grow up.  Meanwhile, I have to confess that the television spectacle of these dueling train wrecks is just too much history-in-the-making to turn off.  Call me shallow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome...and welcome wisdom, too!

Aside from the most left-leaning radio stations, namely Pacifica’s KPFK here in Los Angeles, I have never---and I mean never---heard on prime time network television the kind of honest and extended discourse about global policy in the Middle East as I’ve heard in just the last few weeks.  Suddenly, Egypt, Libya and other Middle Eastern countries are being discussed not just in the context of oil and our dictator “friends”.  

For decades Egypt was Mubarak; Libya was Qaddafi; and the reality of millions of oppressed people simply never entered the dialogue. How much more of the world do we see (has been portrayed) only through the prism of national interest?  Yet lately on our TV screens, beyond the chatter about “policies” and "friends", are (gasp) real people, all with kindred aspiration to our own.  The protesting masses simply want to live in a world of peaceful co-existence, where dignity and the right to self-determination reign. How were we blind to such huge masses of oppressed people for so long?  Why now, are millions risking their lives to have what we’ve had all along—at their expense?  

But overnight our eyes are opening.  Suddenly, “we the people” is taking on a whole new meaning.  And frankly, it's a little scary.  Because if we mean what we say about “liberty and justice for all”, does that mean them, too?  If not, why not?  How will all this upheaval affect us?  What kind of world do we really want?  This IS the question.

These times are an awakening for the entire human race.  The new realities are forcing us to look at ourselves in a whole new way.  This is called expanded consciousness; another word for wisdom.  How much richer the world will be with these ancient cultures actually participating in the global discourse as we shape our new Century.  I, for one, welcome the new faces into the global--the human--community.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

“The King’s Speech" or “The Social Network”?

I saw “The Social Network” under the most modern of circumstances:  quite literally under threat of Oscar’s legal wrath should the Motion Picture Academy DVD I was loaned fall into the wrong hands.  Several run-throughs assured me that the film was as good as I thought it was on first viewing.  So very “now”!  Such a testament to these early 21st Century times, and on so many levels.  I loved it.

Then last night, I saw “The King’s Speech” in equally special circumstances:  as the guest of my friend Ed Voralik who works at the theater where we watched the movie together.  Another excellent film.  In every way as representative of its time as “Social Network” is about the here and now.  Both address the challenges of a new technology:  radio in the 1920s, and the Internet today.

More broadly, these films also deal with social mores; and most interesting to me, the language of very different times.  In “Social Network”, it was the style of language that so nailed its present-day timeliness; no less so than the “king’s English” grounded “The King’s Speech” in its era.  From the value placed—-the savoring!-—of elegant phrasing, to the colorless mumbles and tweets of today....what opposing bookends to illuminate the arc of social style spanning our parent’s generation to the present one.

It wasn’t until I lived in London in the mid-1970s—and especially working at that most British of institutions, Harrods (said with rolled Rs!) for over two years—that I began to value the English language as a means of beautiful expression, more than the very American functionality of simply getting from A to B.  I discovered that language could be about the journey, not just the destination. 

If movies are meant to be entertainment, allow me the analogy of snack food.  “The Social Network” is pizza & beer---delivered.  “The King’s Speech” is rich chocolate purchased at a century-old English sweet shop.  Both can save the day, for sure; but they reference more than just taste.  The difference also highlights a fast-disappearing grace and style, which I vote to remember by honoring “The King’s Speech” with the Oscar…..I’m just saying.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's hard not to be inspired...

I keep coming back to the upheavals in Egypt.  As someone pointed out, what we're NOT seeing are cries of "Jihad" or "Death to America".  Those people protesting in the streets simply want their human dignity back.  They want freedom to choose their destiny, which means no more dictator, and no more thugs imposing "security".  The more people rally, the harsher the spotlight focuses on all that's wrong with the political status quo in Egypt, AND the forces which have maintained these policies--and, yes, that includes our own actions in the Middle East as well as many other places.

"Egyptians will decide...not the U.S." said one protester's sign.  And we are slightly jolted with the "affront" of this sentiment.  Why?  Because we're so used to dictating the terms.  We've been doing it the world over for one hundred years.  We, of course, frame our actions as benevolent.  What aggressor ever identifies himself as anything other than a "defender"?  Think about that.

Aggression need not only be militarily.  Of course, we have the muscle (and sadly, the stomach) for that, having "defended" ourselves brutally in Iraq and Vietnam to name but two places. (And to what end?)  Aggressive policies can also be implemented using money and business to cause a more pernicious kind of creeping violence--what Gandhi called the violence of poverty.  To that end, in countries throughout the world we cannot deny our complicity (think Haiti, or Central and South America).  One whiff of populism--asking for simple fairness!--is stamped out with cruel force.  Clearly, these policies are not the way to peace.  Quite the opposite....obviously.

Only policies with peace--not just financial stability, but true peace--as the primary goal will lead to peace.  Hating war will not lead to peace.  Loving peace WILL beget peace.  Let's consider the ramifications of peace as it affects the individual--not the state--first.  When we, as a race, finally see that what we're doing politically, militarily, financially and ecologically is NOT the road to the peace we say we want, then considering peace will be our only option.  Why wait until it's our last??

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quoting Former H&G Editor Dominique Browning...

An excerpt (slightly edited) from the former "House & Garden" editor's blog "Slow Love Life" (dot com)...a very good read:

"There is nothing to say about the extreme poverty of India--and its contrast to extreme wealth--that has not been said a thousand times over the centuries. I have nothing to add to the conversation about it. But I am somehow honor bound to bear witness. Nothing--no book, no article, no warning--could have prepared me for the shock. Three hundred million people living without access to electricity, or clean running water to drink, much less for plumbing. Think of the millions of gallons of clean water used to flush toilets in middle class homes; our waste get better treatment than do millions of people.

"While I was watching the sunrise over the Taj Mahal, my gaze kept returning to the men shitting in the open field--it took me a long time to understand what I was seeing. I kept wondering, where are the women? A few days later, I happened to meet someone whose husband, she told me, is “obsessed with the subject of waste treatment.” I learn that the women shit only at night, under cover of darkness. The chronic diarrhea that plagues the poor is not just a health issue for women; it causes a terrible social stigma as well.

"There is no way to be hard-hearted about enormous poverty, yet it is equally impossible to be always heart-broken. We need, perhaps, soft hearts, hard eyes--a clear gaze? We see how environmental degradation plays out: who gets the clean water and filtered air; who lives under the belching smokestacks and bathes in the sewage.

"India and the United States are brimming, booming, beautiful countries. We have a choice about how we will go on living: up to our eyeballs in shit? Or cleaning up the mess we’re all making."

Enough said, no?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Time to Clean House

Someone asked what I meant by “cleaning house”? In the context of these writings, it sounds like a pretty “sweeping” call to arms, and I guess it is…albeit peacefully. But let me explain.

When we decide to change houses, it becomes a time to assess things. Re-evaluate. Decide what will, and will not work in a new space. The old couch may just be wrong in the new living room. Out! What about that treasured heirloom? No need to disrespect it, but maybe put it in a private place as a valued memory. Certainly, it’s time to look around for a few new things.

Are you getting the picture? Some of what we’ve been holding onto as a race…well, we’ve got our house backed up so badly we’re choking on the mess. In fact it’s killing us…that is, if we don’t kill each other first. It’s even gotten beyond saying things are “right” or “wrong”, ‘cause even that argument will kill us eventually. No, what we’re doing—politically, socially, ecologically, financially, even religiously—is simply not working. Not if we want to get to that place of do-unto-others mutual respect which truly IS sustainable. It’s not only time to clean house; it’s time to move!

So, what to put into that metaphorical new house--the beautiful world we long for? What one-size-fits-all kind of basic thing will actually work that embraces everyone’s individuality and still makes us want to get along? What is a fundamental belief so all-inclusive, so obvious that we can all actually agree on it? Something that will work with us; that will adapt and function to be sustainable as we go forward?

Well, folks, it’s simple and it’s “sweeping”: We’re all One. If we get our heads around that and act accordingly, we will change the world…naturally! Let me add, too, that I’m not suggesting any kind of uniformity. Quite the opposite. The beautiful and amazing part about Life is that its parts are not the same, and never will be. Change and diversity are the very Process itself! But we are all individuations of that One Thing called Life. We’re as one with the stars as our eyes are with sight, and our fingers are with touching. And we’re all One with each other. To the extent that we resist this innate fact (of life!), we’ll have the accumulating mess we’ve got right now. Consider peace. It’s so simple.

Monday, January 31, 2011

If I may quote....

Just in case you missed it, allow me to quote a new reader of this humble blog who added his comment to my "Liberty and Justice for All" post.

"Peace maintained by threat of force is an impostor, a cork in a volcano.
US aid is used by our "allies" to keep their domestic indifference and diplomatic failings from spilling over onto our balance sheets and out of our headlines [emphasis added], and those seem to be the only criteria by which its success is measured."

Clearly, Egypt is not the only country we call our friend, whose people are held down by threat of force--yes, like a cork in a volcano.  These policies are NOT the way to the peace we say we want. Sleepers awake! It really is time to "own" our policies; admit we're NOT necessarily helping by propping up tyrants and dictators just so we can be the "success" we look like on the surface. What price are we paying in our heart of national hearts? It's a tough thing to admit, but until we really see it--that supporting dictators may not be the road to true and lasting peace (or liberty and justice for all)--we'll continue to be surprised that people want to hurt us; and we won't make the changes that could stop the pain...the world's pain.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Liberty and justice for all...and our friends, too?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about what’s going in Egypt right now is the light it is putting on what’s going on here at home. What our government officially calls “foreign assistance” has $1.5 billion dollars earmarked for Egypt in 2011, the fourth largest recipient of US aid. Only Afghanistan ($3.9 billion), Pakistan ($3.1 billion) and Israel ($3 billion) have more aid requested for them. And those are just the “official” numbers.

In fact, according to our government’s own Web site, www.foreignassistance.gov, Uncle Sam doles out “more than $58 billion a year in foreign assistance”. Presumably, all these recipient countries, like Egypt, are our “friends”.

It’s hard for us to deny the Egyptian people’s desire to be rid of a dictator. But what about our other “friends”? Are they the models of the “liberty and justice” we pride ourselves on being? More to the point, how worthy--by what criteria--are they being recipients of our "assistance"? What if even more countries decide to rise up against their corrupt and repressive governments? Will a change to more equitable policies for the people still qualify them as our friends?

Which begs the question: How do we judge our friends? Apparently not the same way the people in the countries we befriend do. Most of them are living in oppression. And as in Egypt, they want out. Considering the world's present policies and trad-offs, that's a pretty sticky dilemma.

Real, self-sustaining peace and harmony just ain’t gonna happen if we don’t mean what we say we mean, or practice what we preach. Our focus on the “bottom line” does not include the human cost. Like the products we buy and sell, like the planet we exploit, people, too have become expendable commodities. Close a giant factory here to find cheaper labor somewhere else? It's just business! Health care for all in the richest country on earth? Socialism!

We equate “peace” with the stability to insure the uninterrupted flow of corporate profits, and that most assuredly includes the flow of oil. And for that, we tolerate the intolerable—-especially if it’s in our “friends’” back yard—-paying billions in dollars and priceless national treasure for the luxury.

Friends, consider this a blessed opportunity to start considering peace.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Decision Time: Whose side are we on?

I have shied away from discussing politics here simply because I believe we won’t find answers for the world’s problems through the very means that have put us in the mess we’re in. As a race, we’re at the brink of Decision Time as to how we want to proceed on this planet, and all signs—financial, social, ecological, religious, and political—speak to the fact that what we are doing simply cannot take us to a road of peace and harmony we’ve longed for. We’re running out of time; isn’t that perfectly clear?

But some things are hard to avoid addressing. Take the latest events in the Middle East. Nothing I’ve seen recently portends more to “Decision Time” than the snowball effect of change that is suddenly rising, first in Tunisia, now Egypt and Yemen…and who knows where next. People, most of them young and educated (and male, of course), are taking to the streets demanding an end to the tyrants and dictators who have run their countries for decades. These majority demographics of 15 to 29 year olds are saying No More to corruption and repression—in other words systems maintained by state-supported torture at the hands of not-so-secret security forces or "morals police".

And, oh, how they’re squirming in Washington!

On the one hand, our official stance is to support the peoples’ right to speak out. Yet we can’t quite say we oppose our own long-standing policies of supporting repressive regimes we’ve either propped up financially, owe billions to, or have depended on for oil for as long as their corrupt governments have been in power. So whose side are we on?

Change for them would obviously be a good thing. But keeping “stability” (the bedrock of corporate prosperity) under the conditions rightly being protested---well, it’s all getting kind of awkward, isn’t it?

Do we support upsetting their cart of rotten apples? If we do, won’t that mean our own applecart of relative comfort and stability may also be upset? And then, who knows? Maybe OUR disaffected will start looking at the disparity between rich and poor (1% owning 95%) and start protesting, too. And how would our leaders respond to that? It’s a scary thought, especially since we spend more on our military than all the other countries in the world combined. Would “we” start turning that might on ourselves? And in whose name? For “our own good”? Excuse me; for whose own good??

Do the people know best or the corporations? Oh, but wait; corporations are officially people now, too. Well, what if we the people start protesting corporate policies? Who do we complain to, our Congressman? We know who they're working for. So who’s going to save us? I’m really confused...and a little scared. Whose side should I be on? I’m an American!

Yes, folks, it’s decision time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What do we want to be when we grow up?

You probably heard it when you were a kid: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Some of us are still asking that question...I know I am. Every day is a process of "growing up"; of finding out who we are, and how we can express that call from within that is always encouraging us to be "ourselves writ large", to quote author Jean Houston.

In so many ways, our world IS growing up. Our science and technologies are leaping forward, literally taking us into a future that we couldn't have dreamed of just fifty years ago. Even what we've learned from some of the mistakes we've made--I'm thinking ecologically, here--mean we're better prepared to respect sustainable principals going forward. We welcome new ideas; indeed, our governments and industries support development and insights with the goal of "improving" our lives.

Yet there's one area that's strictly "hands-off": our religious constructs. Our holy books are, essentially, written in stone, and there seems to be no room for even considering that it might be time to re-evaluate what is and is not working according to books--and interpretations--conceived eons ago.

As such, we're stuck. We're stuck in our beliefs about the unfailing rightness of these great books, and it is that righteousness that is closing our minds to the possibility that maybe--just maybe--what we're continuing to pass on or believe as "fact" isn't actually working to take us to a place of loving, peace and harmony.

Now, let me be clear. I am NOT advocating the dismantling or abolishing of religion. ALL of humanities great books (not only the "religious" ones) exist to address that deep and timeless voice in each of us. We created them to do just that, and on a personal level, they have always been a source of inspiration and enrichment. But at the level of society at large, these same books have been--and still are!--justification for some of our most "ungodly" suffering...in the name of all that's holy!

Clearly, something's amiss. To say my book is more right than your book...well, what works on that level should be plain enough. The seeds of destruction are planted right beside the seeds of hope, and one only has to look around to recognize the fruit of that field. In fact, out perceived differences have escalated right along side our technological abilities to literally destroy ourselves. Some progress!

My personal feeling is that we're on some kind of brink. Whether one finds that frightening or inspiring could mean the choice between growing up as a race, or death by the hand of our current beliefs. Our religious ideas have so permeated the way we construct our societies and our systems that any kind of resolution according to the rules we've been playing by simply cannot take us to the place peace and harmony we long for.

I say it's time we advance our religions as we've advanced in so many other ways. Expand our spiritual wisdom as we've expanded our knowledge of the material world. Let's recognize what isn't working within our belief systems, and yes, within our religious books and teachings. Let's find in them that which unites us. Because it is only our IDEAS that are keeping us separate. In the sphere of Life Itself, there is only one energy, and we're all part of it...no exclusions; no "better". There is only Oneness; it is our fundamental and most natural state. We CAN make a better world. We KNOW it's possible if we could only get out of our own way. In the name of our very survival, we have to grow up as a race. Let's start by embracing Oneness as a way to peace. I can't see any other way.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

G.W. Bush said it: "It's about peace."

Our former President was asked what the war in Iraq was really about. His answer: "It's about peace."

To my ear, that's about as Orwellian as it gets. Looking for solutions to the world's problems by applying the same action that contributed to the mess we're in--then calling it something else (peace?)--won't take us to where we say we want to go.

War is not peace; pretty obvious, no? But hating war is not the same as loving peace. Those are two entirely different paradigms. Loving peace, then making decisions--political, social, financial, ecological and spiritual choices--with truly peaceful goals as the desired result...that's the road to lasting peace.

A race whose goal, like a corporation (and remember, they're people, too!) is simply to "have more" will never have enough. Maximum consumption will only end when resources run out. The systems we've created are so dependent on exploiting all available resources--people included--for maximum profit, that the kind of change this world needs could only be considered "collapse" in the eyes of the very few percent who hold the wealth and make decisions for so many.

Yet "having" more, and "doing" what we're doing is actually killing us, and of course there will be consequences. Change is inevitable; the question is, what kind of "brave new world" do we want to experience? Survival means a paradigm shift in the way we see ourselves; what we mean when we say "me" and "you" and "us". I believe that only a deep recognition of our innate connectivity, all man-made constructs aside, will change our world. Only an epiphany of global scale will bring this about...or when we're faced with a literal life or death decision about how we'd like to go on. Well, folks, we're there now! And like G.W. Bush said, it IS about peace; only not by expending what life we have to make war, or tolerating the scale of global poverty that Gandhi described as a form of violence.

We KNOW we can do better. We CAN change. But like any journey, it will start by taking the first step. How about we start considering peace.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Peace Talk # 2

Are we believing in what's killing us?

There are a whole lot of teachings out there, in books that go back thousands of years, that have plenty to say about death and doom. They even say that killing and suffering is the right thing to inflict on ourselves and others...in the name of "all that's holy", if you please. Well, I just don't believe it!
I DO choose to believe what will nurture my soul and the souls of others are words--anyone's words--of love, compassion, patience, forgiveness and non-violence. These are the things I KNOW are going to lift us up and be the source of healing and redemption in a world crying out for answers.

Some beliefs simply will not take us to the place of peace we've dreamed of for so long; peace which I truly believe is possible if we listen to our hearts, not what we've been told to believe about God and the "evil" nature of human beings. Does your heart--not your learned constructs, but the voice inside you--say inflicting pain on others is the right thing to do? (And consider Gandhi's words, that poverty is a form of violence.)

The truth is, we're all One family; Life itself excludes no one. We can all be angels and saviors for each other. Let's not be making political, financial, ecological and social decisions that lead to a quicker death. Let's choose life.
And these choices can begin by considering peace.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Haiti, one year later...and our global future.

"Rebuild Haiti," was the battle cry, one year go, January 2010.
A year later, well over a million people are living in tent "cities", where disease and rape gangs are a constant threat; and the rubble from collapsed buildings still litters the streets. The recent election was as much a fraud as elections in Haiti have ever been. For a century, one whiff of a truly populist movement was stamped out by thugs and torturers paid for by the ruling elite. If Haiti's generous neighbor to the north (that's us), really wanted to "rebuild Haiti", we would have allowed it decades ago. Instead, in the face of great wealth amongst the top one percent, subsistence living for the masses remains the status quo--much as it has in Central America and other countries around the world for all the same reasons. Who are we kidding?

But this blog is about considering new answers. The history books speak for themselves (depending on who's doing the writing, of course!), so one need not rehash here. I think it's safe to say there won't be any real political solutions designed to better everyone's life acted upon any time soon, in Haiti or in this country. Religious solutions either, given the righteous stance dividing us further. As far as sharing the wealth, the very great wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer...well, we can forget about that, too, right?

The "answer" will only come from a fundamental shift in the way we see ourselves as individuals in relation to each other. The fact is, we're all One. We're one energy, part of one all-inclusive gestalt called Life, which dismisses no one as less important than someone else. It is our sad constructs that are bringing the world to its precarious state. I don't believe we can look outward any longer for meaningful, long-lasting solutions. A new religion? Some other political hope? For all our best intentions, what we're DOING isn't working to take us to where we say we want to go: to a world of peace, love and mutual understanding.

Hating war is not the answer. Loving peace is a start, then acting in loving ways. In other words, "being loving". We need to BE something else. Embracing our Oneness will automatically put us in a loving place because what we would want for ourselves and our families would extend to every other living being. Such a change will only come from within. What will it take for loving awareness--embracing Oneness--to fill the heart of every man? Yes, "people say I'm a dreamer; but I KNOW I'm not the only one." Join me. Join us. Let's Consider Peace.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

So, here it is...

Below is the first of my "Peace Talks", twenty-six of which, with the help of my most capable friend Matteo Zanetti, have already been recorded, and will be released bi-weekly through the year, both here and on YouTube.

As I've said before, all this is just a shout into the darkness; one lone voice with a few ideas suggesting ways to heal our ailing world. Because one thing's for sure: as one observes the political shenanigans in Washington (and in most places, alas), whatever they're doing is not about solving fundamental problems. They best any of us can hope for from our politicians is another shaky buttress to forestall collapse of the entire house of cards--social, political, financial and ecological--which we've created from beliefs and constructs that clearly are NOT taking us to where we've always said we want to go: to a world of peace, love and unity.

We know we can do better. We know there is another way. We just can't seem to decide on what...and how. I suggest we start not by DOING anything. For all our best intentions--even in the name of God!--we can't seem, as a race, to head off a trajectory of tragic consequences. But by BEING loving; by recognizing and embracing our inherent Oneness, then acting on that new sense of Who We Are, the healing we crave, and its beautiful results, will come...naturally. All this could start right now if we start considering peace...at least consider it!

Peace Talk # 1

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Making matters."

Artist Ann Hamilton said it. "Making matters." Just talking about doing something is not the same as the experience of actually doing it. Life, lived to its fullest, is the experience of living, not sitting around waiting to respond to outward circumstances. "Making it happen" is what activates our imaginations and our souls. BEING that which we want to be is, ironically, the state from which what we want to happen WILL happen. (What is faith, after all, but putting the cart before the horse!)

But as I always say, "Life is a life's work." To "have it now" (as the actress Cloris Leachman told me forty years ago about realizing my dreams), can sometimes take a lifetime. It sure has for me! Like everyone, I'm still in a state of becoming. Hell, we're all just making it up anyway, aren't we? Sometimes our best laid plans fall flat as a pancake. Yet another day unfolds, and that's the meaning of "World Without End". There's no shortage of time in the universe, or in our souls. Sure, life is short, but from a soul standpoint, there's no end in sight. Go boldly! Be that which you aspire to be--not aspire to have, but BE--now!
All the best for 2011. Good luck....we'll need that, too!