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Continuing Conversations on the Human Spirit

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Personal Comment

A Blown Steriotype

On my way to work today I pulled up behind a Ford Ranger pickup at a busy intersection. Waiting on the light I began scanning the vehicle for clues about its driver. A large sign was posted in the rear window “Tune In To the Rock 106.9″ . I could hear thudding bass sounds throbbing from the cab.  “Kid,” I thought.

I continued my investigation. Hanging on the rear window was the telltale gun rack. “A redneck kid who happens to like Rock,” I then concluded.

A little to far to make out what caliber weapons were hanging on the rack, I surmised high-powered with large scopes, maybe even AK47, just as well go big when I was imagining. I drew closer.

As I moved within striking distance of the Ranger bumper the racks contents became clearer, fly rods and spinning gear. “What!” my head screamed. “This can’t be!”

What self-respecting kid with a gun rack and a Ranger would be carrying fishing gear where guns ought to be? I was stunned.  My mind couldn’t hold the dissonance.

Then I began to laugh at my propensity to build profiles with little information. 

Aha!

There was the time when my son discovered the backside of his right hand. “Aha! Eureaka! There is something back there! Incredible,” you could just see him think as it finally clicked. “This thing has two sides and I am in control of what I see.” It was a Copernicus Moment for someone only a few months old, and everything sprang from there: pushing away from the breast, lifting himself in the bassinett (remember bassinets), reaching, turning other things over, looking under things, pushing and pulling things to see them move (even if it was off the countertop), eventually walking and then watchout!

It all began with that first aha moment. Wikipedia calls it the Aha Effect or the Eureka Effect. So cool. Life is full of self evident truths that reveal themselves as we grow, as we open our eyes, as we put together the seemingly random pieces of experience that we collect. Remember the time you discovered what the phenomenon of balance felt like? Or how to make (not just sound) music from a string? Or how to whistle? Remember the time you realized that they loved you and would not leave you? Remember the time that you discovered that you could actually hurt someone elses feelings…I mean really hurt them? Do you remember when you discovered that some things heal themselves and some things remain open sores? Do you remember when you discovered that death was not final? There are so many aha moments that make life a continual unfolding journey. So much to learn. So many things you don’t really have to dig for, simply open your eyes!

Civil Conversation Project

 Krista Tippett has begun a new project called the Civil Conversation Project.  We do need to find ways to converse about passionate issues with a dispassionate respect for the honor of the other. I liked the idea that one entry point is to consider the values shared with the adversary. They are often values that reach deeper than the disagreements we confront. I liked the question, “What concerns me about my own position?”

There needs to be a way to achieve more vulnerable conversation by opening our selves and positions in open discourse, i.e. David Gushee in Sacred Conversations. Typically discourse occurs as thought each conversant is holding an undisclosed hand of presuppositions and values that are not up for discussion. The purpose is to win each round (or point) as one manipulates skillfully through the opposition, truth “be hanged”, or used as a bludgeon to disable the opponent. Respectful conversation on the other hand attempts to understand the other as “legitimate”, as having developed out of a history of “real” experiences that shape the person as well as the opinion. Such conversations must begin with MY READINESS issuing from my discomfort with former ATTACK strategies that have laid waste the realization of our common humanity.

Eyes Wide Open

The Buddha was asked, “Who are you?”  The Buddha answered, “I am awake.”

If we are to travel the path of awakening, does it not also include awakening ourselves to difficulties we have functioning as a collective? Even religious collectives have difficulties functioning ethically and faithfully. We can not afford to allow patriotism or religious devotion to close our eyes to what is really going on no matter how behaviour is rationalized or explained. The path of awakening is unafraid, eyes (outer and inner eyes) wide open. Here are two examples:

Daniel Ellsberg

Apache Helicopter Footage (grewsome footage, watch at your own discretion)

New Republic responds to the Wikileaks phenomenon.

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