Tag Archives: Cooperation

AWAKENING TO THE POWER WITHIN

“WHEN THE POWER OF LOVE OVERCOMES THE LOVE OF POWER, THE WORLD WILL KNOW PEACE.” JIMI HENDRIX

Which do you prefer to be—loving or powerful?  What do you do when you feel powerless?  When you act in a loving way, how does that feel?

We are living in a world where too many countries are under the control of people obsessed with power and who are committing horrendous crimes against their own people in order to show how powerful they are. But their power is only external.

 External Power Has A Limit

External power has its limit. Sooner or later it comes crashing down because its own corruption undermines its authority by not respecting reasonable limits, or those whose needs are ignored rebel. In this country, our new administration is ignoring the needs of those who elected the president; instead, he is serving the corporations who are obsessed with making exorbitant amounts of money.

In this country, the rebellion has already begun. People are speaking up at town halls and by writing, calling those in Congress, and voting. These are the external actions required in order to make the necessary changes. They require time, energy, and commitment.

These are powerful actions, but there is another equally powerful aspect of life that must accompany action. Within each of us is the capacity to love. Those who are obsessed with power often see love as weakness. But it is, by far, the strongest weapon we have.

When we act from love toward another, we fill our deepest need. When we feel loved, we feel secure, knowing that we can weather the storm because love holds us together deep inside.  Love is the power within that leads us to compassionate solutions.

Love Leads Us To Share

Loving others encourages us to reach out to those in need.  It means we act from the heart.  We act from within because we love and care about others.  If we act from love, we don’t eliminate programs that feed hungry children or provide medical care for low-income women. We don’t prevent immigrants from war-torn nations from entering our country.  If we act from love, we respond responsibly to prevent further crisis from climate change, provide health care for everyone, and support programs that train people who have lost their industrial jobs so they can move to jobs in sustainable energy fields.

 

Not Loving Ourselves Leaves Us Powerless

So, what keeps us from doing what will help everyone? Here’s the problem: we have to love ourselves before we can love others. When we don’t love ourselves, we feel weak, powerless, and need external power over others to feel we are okay. In addition, we may look down on those who have less. We make the excuse for not sharing because we believe those who have less don’t deserve help because they haven’t worked hard enough.

Our Obsession With Money Is Unwise

In this country, making money is a major way to obtain power, and now those who make the most money are determined, in many instances, to retain the power to make more money without any controls. There is no limit to the amount of money they need, and they are allowed tax loopholes that make it possible for millionaires to pay a smaller amount of tax than the middle class.

Helping Others Strengthens Us

When we love ourselves, we don’t see helping others as taking something away from us. We see it as sharing, an expression of the love and compassion we feel for others. When others are taken care of, we feel peaceful. We feel good about ourselves and our communities.  We don’t need to acquire large amounts of things to feel good.  We value family, friends, and enjoying the work we do because love grows within us as we travel this earthly journey.

Stopping Violence With Love

It is no surprise that the places where we see the most violence in our cities are the areas where the poorest and most neglected people live.  When you lack so much, how can you not be angry, and anger leads to violence. But what if we spent tax money, not on the military and wars that make the president feel powerful, but instead channel our love and money into the inner cities to create education, jobs, and health resources that will empower those who are mired in poverty.

We will never lose if we do what is loving, for love is the most powerful force that exists.  It is deep and rich and guides us to find what we need to do in life to make a difference that counts. It leads us to peace.

What loving thing will you do today?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:  The Power of Love (Huffington Post), 5 Ways to Deal With Conflict Effectively, Awakening to Effect Change

 

 

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AWAKENING TO RACIAL EQUALITY

“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

publicphoto.org

publicphoto.org

After years of teaching, summer always feels like a vacation to me although I’ve been retired for years. I think of summer as a time to go swimming, hike through the forest, plant flowers, and wake up feeling happy and energetic. It’s just a joyous, free time when I don’t have to work hard at anything.

But this summer feels more like winter than summer. The intensive rain or extreme heat keeps me indoors and that intensive summer energy vibrates within like it is ready to explode. Then there was last Wednesday and the shooting in Charleston and the darkness descended like a shadow of winter.

Public Shootings Create Grief For Many

My soul has lost its joy. It feels like the middle of winter when there’s little to do and the cold makes going outside miserable. It feels like the 60’s all over again with the endless murders of anyone who tried to change things for the better and stood up against racism.

Congress of Racail Equality

Congress of Racail Equality

To say that the death of nine people in Charleston was tragic is an understatement. It is a turning point and we cannot ignore it.   What real progress, if any, has been made is merely a shadow of what we still need to accomplish.

We Must Take Action Against Hate

It’s true we are grieving for many reasons, and we have to grieve and feel, but soon we need to move beyond that and find that “invincible summer” within ourselves—that part of us that will take action, that understands we are all human and must be treated humanely. We must harness our energy and take action this time in a way that permanently changes the face of racism in this country.

For one thing, I want to know how we can keep other young people from developing the hatred that motivated Dylann Roof. What really pushed him over the edge? I believe it was more than what he read on the internet. He said the people in the Bible class were so nice he thought about not killing them—but he did it anyway.

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For a moment he felt the light but it didn’t matter because he was already lost in the darkness of hatred. And yet those who lost their loved ones refused to let him take away their love, so they forgave him. When you’ve been the victim of hate, to return it only expands it. They understood that. They found their “invincible summer.” I am deeply touched by their choice to love.

Only Love Can Heal Racial Equality

Is there an invincible summer within me? Maybe. I felt it for a while as we attended a solidarity gathering at St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church on Friday. The message was given by the minister there who grew up in the Charleston church where the shooting occurred. He lost dear friends. He was grieving deeply, but that “invincible summer” shown brightly through him.

He urged us all to action—white and black. It’s time to stop fooling around and look at the issues that create the kind of hate that creates violence. It’s time to improve education and employment opportunities for everyone. It’s time to regulate the sale of guns so that the mentally unstable cannot get them. It’s time to stop incarcerating young people for minor crimes. It’s time to fix what is terribly broken.

Urban-News Photo

Urban-News Photo

Racial Equality Creates Opportunity for All

In every city there needs to be serious conversations about how to make life better for everyone. Perhaps this shooting haunts me deeply, not only because of its tragedy, but because it reminds me of so much of what I saw in New Orleans during the years I taught there. In five years I only had one white student. Most were African-American or mixed race.

I saw poverty, hunger, and children with parents who could not function, usually because of drug addictions or because they held down multiple jobs to feed the family. They went to school in buildings smelling of mold and urine. In one school the bathrooms were so filthy, students wouldn’t use them. They would cut class and go home. And my highly intelligent students were harassed by some teachers who were incompetent. This was all before Katrina.

We Need to Release Our Obsession With Always Winning

In this country we are obsessed with a competitive, hierarchical mentality that creates a need for being the one who wins despite our democratic foundations that state we are all equal. Our equality is an illusion. Two of the things that have happened during my lifetime that have been detrimental to society and contribute to the rash of public shootings have been the loosening of gun sale regulations and the ease with which young people can find sites online that encourage racist attitudes.

When we need to always win, to always be superior, even if violence is the only way we know to win, it is always rooted in fear and often those that act on this impulse are not mentally stable. For those who need mental health services, there are fewer choices because so many are being cut. Couple that with the ease to obtain guns and we have a serious problem.

Public Media Needs to Create Shows That Show Our Humanity

In addition, the kind of films and television shows that are commonly watched are very violent, and even the nonviolent programs, the characters are often despicable. One of the most popular is “House of Cards,” but the main character will stab anyone in the back to get what he wants. I’ve heard people say they are addicted to it. That’s because our dark side is drawn to the darkness in others.

If we are stable adults, we have the strength to resist this, but a child or teenager who is vulnerable, particularly one who is a loner longing for attention may see those powerful, negative personalities as heroes. That dark one becomes a role model for becoming a hero.

There was a time when entertainment as a whole was pretty harmless. In the beginning of television there were high quality dramas written by major writers. There were funny, harmless comedies. It’s true that the characters were often idealized, but there were few really evil characters around. It was a more positive world that we as young people were exposed to.

War Veterans Working Together

War Veterans Working Together

People Need Positive Role Models in Life and the Media

So why do we continue to tolerate this? It all comes down to money. If it makes money, it is tolerated. Hollywood knows that stimulating people’s fears will draw them into the dark stories. The image of becoming a hero by killing people has pulled many a young person into committing horrendous acts. Dylann Roof wanted to do what he thought no one else was willing to do—be a hero and get rid of “those people” whom he perceived as trying to take over his world.

So we are left with a dilemma. One of our basic rights in this country is free speech and our constitution gives us the right to bear arms. In “the winter of our discontent” we must find a way for these freedoms to co-exist and to create an “invincible summer. What are we going to do about it?

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                                                            ZQT4pQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Eckhart Tolle: Holding onto Negativity (video), Charleston Shooting Opens Unhealed Wounds, What Solutions Are Commonly Proposed to Solve Racism

AWAKENING TO UNUSUAL DELIGHTS

“If man is to survive, he will have learned to take delight in the essential differences between men and cultures. He will learn that differences in ideas and attitudes are a delight, a part of life’s exciting variety, not something to fear.”  Gene Roddenberry

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A village pushing our truck out of a sand dune in Senegal

Are you generally open to new experiences or do you avoid people and situations that are different from what you are comfortable with?  How do you react to people with a different point of view?

The Delight of A Sacred Toast

When I traveled to Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant in 1994 with 12 other teachers from Louisiana, one of the events that stood out in my mind was drinking a toast with palm wine.  Because it spoils easily, it is rarely exported, but it was a drink that frequently appeared in the African novels we read in a Teaching the African Novel course we had taken the year before. It seemed exotic and rare, and I was very excited to know how it actually tasted. The experience was quite special because we drank it as a good-bye toast as we left a sacred space where we had witnessed a sacred ceremony performed by a water goddess.  It was a toast to the connection and friendship we had experienced that day with the Africans.

The wine tasted like fermented pineapple juice and I never tasted it again, not even at the West African restaurant I frequented in New Orleans where the fried plantains were perfect and the greens hot and spicy compared to the mild ham and greens of my southern childhood. But the wine was merely a symbol for the extraordinary experience of living in a different culture for five weeks.  And yet it wasn’t so different, for much of the New Orleans food had its roots in West African, just as other New Orleans traditions were translations of West African ritual.  The whole experience made the world seem smaller and more connected for me.

Appreciating Nature’s Surprises

When I lived in the middle of Nebraska among the flatlands where trees were scarce, I remembered all the stories I had read about those who settled the west. Actually, living there amid the blizzards of winter and the high winds taught me to appreciate the stoic nature of those who ventured into the unknown.  Seeing the Sandhill Cranes landing by the hundreds on their yearly migration reminded me that nature presents us with unusual delights even where its beauty is usually so subtle we may easily overlook it.

The Beauty of Humility

There was nothing subtle about the beauty I saw in New Mexico where color and art enliven the beige expanses of desert.  I have always been drawn to the Native American culture’s connection with nature, but it was an act of humility that touched me most deeply.  When a Native American child is spoken to by an adult, they gaze downward and do not make eye contact.  After dealing with many “in your face” teenagers over the years, I was deeply touched by this expression of respect and humility.  I was most grateful for this unusual delight.

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Dancing in New Mexico

New Experiences Teach Us Spiritual Lessons

When we avoid anything that is unfamiliar, we miss many of life’s delights.  Each point of view that we encounter is an opportunity to learn about another and to find a place where our beliefs and experiences connect.  We will change our world one person and one encounter at a time.  The time of separation is ending, and to resist it only creates difficulties.  Our greatest lesson is to be who we truly are and to accept others as they truly are.

I’ve learned that when I really resist something, it’s usually a sign I really need to look at it more closely.  There’s a lesson hidden in the issue or in the person I avoid.  Recently, I experimented  by deliberately sitting next to a person who usually irritates me.  My intention was to be at peace no matter what the other person said or did.  Several times I had to remind myself of that intention, but I was able to release my attachment to resistance, and as a result, my experience was pleasant.

Choose Peace Rather Than Judgment

When we cling so desperately to our religious or political dogma that we are unable to see any value in other points of view, we usually do that out of insecurity.  We are afraid of what is different, but the irony is that our only real security in this world is to understand each other and respect different points of view.  This doesn’t mean we have to choose another’s lifestyle as our own; it simply means we respect their right to make different choices, and when our lives intersect, we choose peace rather than judgment.

What is something different that you have learned to respect in another person?  Please comment.

© 2012 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Nebraska’s Annual Sandhill Crane MigrationWhy We Fear the UnknownPersonality:  Why We Fear Doing Things Differently

AWAKENING TO LOVE THE WORLD, Part 3, COOPERATION

“Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together.”  Robert Redford

Do you feel at ease working cooperatively with others?  Are you able to give up a little of your control in order share leadership? What if all nations worked together for the good of all?

I belong to a spiritual group and we’have been puzzled lately about how to handle a situation.  Our team leader is stepping down, and others who would make good leaders are too committed to take on more responsibilities.  Finally, one long-time member agreed to be the leader with the understanding that he needed “back-up.”  Three of us offered.  Out of this situation, we created an agreement that all four of us would work together as a team of leaders.  Since we are all devoted to the success of the group, this was an excellent solution.

Learning to Love Compromise

I’ve often been in situations where one person wanted to dominate, and they felt diminished by having to cooperate or compromise.  Having to share our power requires a calm ego, an open-mindedness, and an acceptance that we may not know it all.  In the news this week, Barbara Bush said, “I hate that people think compromise is a dirty word.  It’s not a dirty word.” I agree with her.  Compromise is one way of cooperating.  It requires looking at the options or differences and identifying the most important areas and how they can be implemented for the good of all.

Valuing Cooperative Skills

As a teacher in high school teaching English, I often used small group discussions or group projects to let students be creative and interactive with the literature.   However, I think that what they learned about mutual respect and cooperation was far more important than what they learned about the literature.  They learned to listen to each other, express a difference of opinion respectfully, and work together in order to create an excellent project that was a result of all their ideas and that fit the assignment requirements and expressed their point of view.

Releasing Resistance to Create a Cooperative Spirit

Don’t we all need those skills?  Don’t the leaders of all nations need those skills?  I realize it isn’t always easy to be cooperative when we feel things aren’t going in a direction we like.  Unless the decisions being made are destructive or unhealthy, it is always a good idea to ask, “Why am I resistant to this idea?”  Ego always has a reason for resisting.  At that moment, if we are willing to look at our own patterns, we may discover our resistance is very personal.

Maybe this situation mirrors a situation we experienced in childhood or with a spouse or friend.  By having the courage to honestly examine our thoughts and acknowledge the issue behind the resistance, we can separate our personal issues from the current discussion and release the resistance. This awakening frees us to act with a more cooperative spirit.

When have you had to put aside your preferences in order to solve a problem through compromise?

© 2012 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles:  To go deeper with this topic, view Where the Law of Attraction Assembles All Cooperative Relationships, and don’t miss this one:  Trying to Work With a Boulder