Tag Archives: Inspirational

AWAKENING TO WHAT YOU SEE

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

Do you see what is front of you or do you see what you want to see?  How accurate is your perception of things?  Do you seek out information on a topic before forming a judgement?

Look at the picture above.  What do you see?  It appears that the woman is balanced on the edge of a log, but living intimately with gravity, as we all do, is what we see here really possible?  What is really happening?  Did the camera simply catch her in the split second she touched the log before falling forward to the ground?

My first perception is that she is off balance and will fall.  On the other hand, maybe she is leaning back far enough to balance on the edge.  Or perhaps the picture was photo shopped. What do you see?

We Constantly Interpret What We See

On a daily basis, we are faced with situations that are not clear, and we have to interpret what we see or hear. The conclusion we reach is very much based on our previous life experience.  For example, my first response to the above pictures is based on having been a dancer and dealt with balance, weight, and movement.  As a result, I believe that the picture was taken a split-second before she would fall.

Gustave Flaubert said, “There is no truth.  There is only perception.”  We can collect facts about any topic, but what we experience usually affects how we think and feel about that experience.  For example, since the last U.S. election, we never know when we can trust the president’s comments because they are often his emotional response to a situation not based on facts or reality.

He sees virtually everything in relation to how it makes him look powerful or weak and ignores the way his actions affect many of the people who voted for him.  Twisting facts to support one’s political agenda is not unusual, but it is clear he cannot see beyond his own emotional needs, and they are based in his fear of not being powerful.

Negative Thinking Is the Result of Fear

Negative thinking is created by underlying fears and may cause us to think that we are facing a problem when it is simply a challenge that can be easily solved.  If we choose to see it as a serious problem, we create an emotional block that may prevent us from seeing a simple or easy solution.  Realizing that fear is getting in the way and letting it go will help us see the solution.

Look at this the picture above:  rose petals on a keyboard.  What do you think has happened here?  When I first saw it, I thought of the roses I’ve received from my love on Valentine’s Day and how reluctant I often am to throw them out even when the dry petals begin to fall.

As I continued to gaze at the picture, I thought of other scenarios.  A couple had a fit and someone threw a rose at the other and it hit the piano instead.  Or the couple has broken up and the roses have been left to die like the relationship.  Or the rose is lying there because it fell from the vase on the piano and no one has picked it up because the pianist is no longer in that house.

What We See Is Based On How Carefully We Look

How we see a situation is often based on our past experiences.  It is also based on how carefully we explore what has happened.  Look at the following nature photo.  Glance at it quickly, then away.

Now go back and study it for a moment.  Do you see more than you did with a glance?

This is a bit like reading articles on Facebook.  If you only skim the titles of articles, you may have missed the real point of the writing because most titles on Facebook are created to catch attention, not to inform. So the topic that you see in the title may have little resemblance to the information in the article.  This is why it is important to fact check our own perceptions.  Is what we see at first really the story?

Informing ourselves about major issues that affect us can shift our perceptions to what is real rather than just what feels good. For example, why did people think Trump would help those most in need just because he said it.  There was no history to support these promises, but so many people trusted what he said without looking further. They never looked beyond the surface.

Knowing Ourselves Helps Us See More Clearly

When we develop the consciousness to look at our own perceptions and prejudices and be aware of what they are, we are able to make better choices. If a friend makes a comment that reminds us of our mother’s criticism when we were young, we can think, “Ah ha,” and choose not to lash out at that person because we know the anger we feel arises from the past, not the moment.

So, were there moments in your day when the past or your predictable thoughts side-tracked an exchange with another?  Did you “blow off” reading an article because it was written by a journalist you label as too liberal or too conservative?  Did you discount your teenagers ranting about the unfairness of a teacher because the kid is always too emotional?

Getting more information and looking deeper helps us see more clearly.  What have you seen today in a new way?

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

Related Articles: Awakening to Peace and Wholeness Beyond Fear, Awakening to Where Kindness Has GoneThe Destruction of Hillary Clinton: Sexism, Sanders, and the Millennial Feminists

 

 

AWAKENING TO EFFECT CHANGE

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”  George Bernard Shaw

BostonZest.com

BostonZest.com

Jonquils are filling the yards with their bright yellow blossoms although it is still February and technically winter.  I want to enjoy them while I can because I am suspicious of how long they will last.  We still have March ahead, that crazy month that can’t decide if it is winter or spring, creating infinite frustration for those of us who want the winter to be over.

Much more than human nature, the nature around us has, in the past, been more predictable.  We could count on the seasons to appear at appropriate times, trees to leaf out, and flowers to bloom at approximately the same times every year.  But this predictability is less certain now with the extreme changes caused by climate change.

CHANGE IS OCCURRING

You don’t have to be a scientist to know that something different is occurring.  All you have to do is pay attention.  Perhaps those who have never been close to nature really don’t notice the changes.  It is hard to imagine that, but perhaps it’s true.  Still the scientists are the ones who have been paying the closest attention and have collected the data.

Unfortunately, we are now living in a world of “fake news” and “alternative facts.”  Still, if you take the time to pay attention to what is going on and have been living for at least 20 years, you cannot help but see some changes are real.  This winter where I live has had weather in the same week that varied from the 30’s to the 60’s.  This is not ordinary winter weather.

IGNORING CHANGE IS UNWISE

There is no value in ignoring change. When we refuse to accept change and keep believing we can recreate the same life despite enormous changes, we are dreaming.  At some point, we need to act.  For example, many people in the coal-mining parts of our country really believe that their coal mining jobs will come back.  Despite what Trump says, this is highly unlikely.  So, what are the choices?  They can move or live in poverty or live on welfare.  Those who have been able to get training in another field or have moved to areas where there are jobs have created new lives for themselves.

Since I’ve moved more than once in my life to get a better job or one I like better, I have had trouble understanding people who remain stuck to only one vision of what life can be.  But reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance helped me understand the dynamics of this situation, and I highly recommend the book.

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With Trump’s actions and threats, many of us feel fearful of how our lives will change.  After the election, I delusively hoped that somehow Hillary would become president particularly when it became clear that she had received three million more votes than Trump.  But at least I knew how the system worked and knew I was delusional.

But what we have seen in this election is that many people believe that Trump cares about them, and if they are white males, I guess that’s probably true.  But everyone else is clearly in jeopardy because of the changes he is making and wants to make.  Change is afoot like Bigfoot rampaging through the village.

CHANGE OFTEN REQUIRES WISE ACTION

So how are we reacting to this?  Some people are just throwing up their hands and saying they have to accept it.  This is the way it is.  Give him a chance.  But sometimes accepting change means acting.  It involves realizing that a change has occurred that has shifted the core of our lives.  Life is not the same, so we have to change if we want to see progress rather than stagnation.  We have to adapt to the change.

The question is always how do we do that?  Well, we have to take action, meaningful action.  Currently, huge numbers of people across the nation are protesting and communicating with their senators and representatives on the national and local level to protect their rights and the rights of others and to try to solve the problems that are burdening their communities.

womens-march

PRESERVING DEMOCRACY REQUIRES ACTION

As a democracy, people should be active.  We have to vote.  We have to educate ourselves about issues and candidates.  We have to participate in local issues.  What we are seeing now is that the populace, in many instances, will stand up for itself and that is a very good thing.

So, what can you do in your life?  With so many changes taking place, it can be intimidating.  But choose just one thing and begin to do that regularly.  Make it something that matters, and that will vary depending on where you live.  When that one action becomes a part of your life, if you have time, add another.

CHOOSE ONE ACTION A DAY

Although I’m still in the middle of trying to decide where to direct my action and integrate it into my life, I have become involved with a group working to end child poverty.  It breaks my heart to think any child is hungry, and I’m afraid there are many in my state.  We can’t always depend on the government to solve our community problems, so we have to be the ones to effect the change.  After all, that’s what a democracy is really about.

What change can you effect change this week?

©2017 Georganne Spruce

RELATED ARTICLES:

AWAKENING TO RELEASE OUR FEAR,   DANCING TO THE DANGER OF ASSUMPTIONS, AWAKENING TO TAKE THE NEXT STEPAWAKENING TO OUR MISDIRECTED PASSIONTRANSFORMING THE FEAR OF CHANGE

 

AWAKENING TO ACCEPT REALITY

“Reality is how we interpret it.  Imagination and volition play a part in that interpretation.  Which means that all reality is to some extent a fiction.”   Yann Martel

Home at Ocean

How do you envision reality?  Is it based on facts or feelings?  How can you determine what is real in your life?

In the United States, we are all having some difficulty determining what is real. We elected a man who tweets whatever he is feeling or thinking at the time, and what that response is may change the next minute.  So how can we know what to take seriously that he says and what we should ignore?

Reality Isn’t Clearly Defined

It’s quite a challenge.  Although some of us may have had people in our lives like that, it doesn’t necessarily mean we know how to deal with the constantly changing dynamics.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that we know what reality is with these people.  It would be nice if reality were always obvious and clearly defined.

As Yann Martel points out, “Reality is how we interpret it.”  It isn’t cut and dried.  It isn’t a set scientific principal we can count on.  When my first husband left, it seemed like a terrible thing.  This man I loved had betrayed me.  The marriage I valued was over, yet the result of that experience, painful as it was at time, was in the end a good thing for me.  A least that’s how I interpret it.

With more freedom in my life, I was able to pursue my love of modern dance and take chances I would never had taken before.  Because I was so heart-broken at first, I went into therapy and through that came to understand myself more deeply.

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Passage of Time Affects Our Interpretation

Time also makes a difference.  As time passes, the way we interpret an event may change because we are able to see the consequences of the action that took place.  For example, right now we are dealing with the results of an election that some celebrate and others despise.  While we may predict what will happen when Trump actually becomes president, we do not know exactly what that reality will bring.

If We Don’t Like the Facts, We May Ignore Them

Throughout the election many voters ignored several realities.  Trump never paid many people who worked for him and had had thousands of law suits filed against him.  Why aren’t more people uncomfortable with this.  This behavior does not indicate he’s someone who will keep his word or that he has respect for the working man or woman.  Why do they think he’s going to save them?

In order to vote for someone like this, the voter has to ignore this record of reality.  This is a factual type of reality. The law suits are on the books.  There is only one reasonable interpretation of these facts.  He doesn’t keep his word in business deals, so why would anyone believe he will keep his word as president?

We May See Only What We Wish to See

Many created the fictional character Trump to fit their own wishes and desires.  That fictional character will “drain the swamp,” create jobs, and make like better for all who voted for him.  He will also focus on helping those in need despite choosing people for his cabinet that have little experience in the area they will manage or who are billionaires more likely to preserve their privilege than increase their taxes to pay for what the average citizen needs.  The idea that these people will act totally out of character when there is little in their backgrounds to support that hope is truly fiction.

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So why do we choose to believe things that don’t seem reasonable.  Perhaps we get false news so the choice seems reasonable based on the “facts” we’ve found.  Maybe we just believe that if we believe it, it will come true.   I suspect we believe it because it is what we want to hear.  It looks good, it sounds good, it smells good.  Until we look at the underside.

Ignoring Facts May Be Dangerous

Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer.  It was a shock.  I’ve always lived a healthy life except for the 30 years I smoked cigarettes when I was younger, but I believed that I would never have cancer.  However, the doctor could see the tumor and when it was biopsied, the test was positive, so there was no doubt that it was cancer.

It was difficult to accept this reality because I felt fine and had no symptoms.  But there was that positive test.  Could it be wrong?  I could have chosen to ignore it, but I had had a friend a few years earlier who ignored her colon cancer until she was in Stage 4.  She died a few months after being diagnosed because nothing could be done to save her.  That was the reality.

So, I had the surgery and it was successful.  I am fortunate.  My cancer was slow growing and had not grown into the muscle layer around the bladder.  I have regular checkups and they have been clear.  I’m so glad I decided to face the facts, make a wise decision based on them, and as a result, I have been able to continue a full and healthy life.

Patterns of Behavior Reveal Reality

It is true that the facts are not always the only thing we need to take into consideration when we make a decision.  We have emotional and spiritual considerations also, but it is important to observe what is actually taking place in a situation and if there is a pattern of behavior to observe.

Father Tossing Daughter

I’ve read too many stories where women who are in abusive relationships keep thinking the abuser will change his behavior although he never does.  That pattern of behavior is a fact, just as Trump’s belittling of women or the disabled is a fact.  We heard the words directly from his mouth.  It tells us that this person does not respect others, so why would he respect us.  To expect respectful behavior from someone who constantly disrespects others is a delusion.

Why is it important to face reality?  Because it can help us to live a better life, make better decisions, and be more successful in all we do.  It may remind us that our imagination and choices help shape our reality, but that reason and observation as part of our decision-making will serve us as well.

© 2017 Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO NEW THOUGHTS

“Change your thoughts and change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

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How do your thoughts affect how you feel? Do you feel threatened when you are exposed to new ideas? How do you deal with that?

One of the most startling moments of my life was when I attended a Unity church many years ago. Amid other points a workshop speaker was making, he emphasized the point that our thoughts create our emotions, not the other way around.

Our Thoughts Create Emotions

Having always been a rather emotional person, I thought, “Wait a minute. That can’t be right.” But over the next few days as I contemplated this idea, I realized that behind every fear or angry feeling I had there was a thought related to it. What I had heard at the workshop began to make sense.

After choosing to practice this idea that changing my thinking could change my emotions, I discovered that I could let go of many fears. Instead of focusing on all the things that could go wrong in a situation, I could focus on what I wanted to happen. I learned to expect the best. As a result, my life seemed to go better.

That doesn’t mean that what we envision will always happen, it just means it’s more likely to manifest. Expecting the worst in life doesn’t help or move us ahead. If we expect things to go badly, we probably won’t make as much effort to create what we really want.

Expressing Negativity Puts Negative Energy Into the World

The U.S. election his year is a perfect example of how powerful our thoughts can be. The negative thoughts flying through the air from candidate to candidate are increasingly creating fear and more anger. That kind of negativity damages those who speak it and those who receive it. Can you imagine how much damage will be done if those with the most violent and disrespectful attitudes win?

Respect Creates Positive Energy

How can we use our thoughts to benefit and change our world for the better? Shall we start with simple respect? There are so many opportunities to practice respect every day even when we come into contact with ideas and people we don’t like. Being respectful doesn’t mean we have to agree or accept situations we don’t like; it simply means we treat each other like worthwhile human beings.

Our actions, as well as our thoughts, create energy in our lives. We can choose the quality of that by taking control of what we think, by not acting only out of emotion, but by examining the situation and deciding what we think first. What are the pros and cons of making a certain decision? Is there fear involved? Why?

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Fearing Those Who Are Different Doesn’t Help Us

A member of my family once told me that he feared Muslims; however, he had never known one. In contrast, another family member had the opportunity to get to know a young Muslim woman, became friends with her, and learned a great deal about her that she respected. So often, it is what we don’t know that frightens us, and the only way to change that is to educate ourselves and be willing to open our minds to visit with people who are different.

When I began teaching high school in the New Orleans Public Schools in the 1990’s, my greatest fear was that I would say or do something that would offend someone. Most of the teachers and all but one of my students were African-American.

That fear came from an experience I had had in college. Eating dinner one night with an African-American friend, I had made a “stupid” comment as I tried to empathize with her. I was not a prejudiced person, but I had rarely had an opportunity to know an African-American person, and I focused on our similarities, not our differences.

As a result of my misstep, when I went to teach in NOPS, I was afraid that I might say something insensitive without really knowing it. Fortunately, I seemed to get along with everyone and I was never accused of being insensitive. The longer I worked in that situation and got to know individuals, the more I learned about the culture, and the less fear I felt.

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Changing Our Thoughts May Create Peace

Learning to change our thoughts and choose what we think is a powerful lesson. Experience with what we fear may help us, but ultimately we need to find ways to let go of the psychological fears that keep us living in narrow spaces. Diversity is a reality in the modern world and it’s not going to change. If we are to live happily and at peace, we have to learn to respect our differences.

The current election is just one opportunity we have to change our thoughts and our world. We need to educate ourselves about the candidates, observe their behavior, and know that if they do not treat each other respectfully, they certainly are not going to treat us with respect. In a democracy, our right to vote is a powerful tool we all need to use.

Change Our Thoughts To Help Others

But our respect also includes being aware of those in need in our society and caring what happens to them. Most people in need are not in that situation because they have been irresponsible, but because they haven’t had the opportunity to do better. In fact, many may have been taught that they can’t succeed, and they believe what they have been told. How we treat others can help change their thinking too.

How we think is our choice. Let us begin to choose compassion, love, and respect for one another, sending positive energy out into the world. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

What thoughts do you need to change to make your life better?

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                         ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Posts:  Awakening to the World, Part 2, Diversity, Awakening to Live without Fear, Transforming the Fear of Change

AWAKENING TO THE LIGHT

“For we have not come here to take prisoners or to confine our wondrous spirits, but to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light!” Hafiz

Photo: Georganne Spruce

Photo: Georganne Spruce

What choices have you made recently that have lifted your spirits? Do you create unnecessary limitations in your life? How can you release those and free your spirit?

In winter the light in our lives falters, especially in the mountains where fog may surround us or the evening sun may disappear quickly behind even the lowest peaks. It seems like the gray days with rain and clouds are endless alternating with only a few days of bright sunlight.

But this winter, the lack of light is about more than the weather. Around the world, violence and the deep need of people cry out haunting the days of our lives. In our own country, the negative and destructive promises of some of the presidential candidates go beyond anything we have ever seen, and the way some congressional leaders refuse to do what the people elected them to do is barbarous.

Share Our Light

At a time like this, where can we find the light? Only within. Last night I listened to the story of a friend’s journey as she hiked the El Camino de Santiago, and what struck me most was the way her inner light shone throughout her story. She was so excited and appreciative of the way other people helped her: of finally getting a meal with lots of vegetables, of finding coffee on the trail when there had been none to start her day at the hostel, getting her cell phone fixed by a man she’d just met.

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It wasn’t that she never complained, because there were definitely challenges, but what impressed me was the way she chose to focus on every little thing that was good. That light energy radiated to everyone she met along the trail. As Maya Angelou said, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

We Must Free Ourselves From Limitations

Not only do we need to avoid taking others prisoners, as the Congress is trying to do, we need to avoid making prisoners of ourselves. When we give up, lose our courage, believe we can’t change what is, we imprison our spirit. The reality is that our spirit is always free if we are willing to go deep within and find that quiet place where loving guidance appears. By going deeper, we may find better solutions to the problems we need to solve.

We need to ask, “What can I do to enlighten my life?” Do we need to meditate more? Do we need to spend more time with friends? Do we need to develop a gratitude practice? Do we need a support group of some kind? What will bring more positive thoughts and feelings into our lives?

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Create Your Own Light

We may have a lot of excuses, but not all of them matter. Many are just excuses for taking the line of least resistance, but they confine and keep us from experiencing what may light up our lives. We have to choose to leave the darkness behind and step into the light even when we aren’t sure what will happen. We need to find the courage to create the light that we need in our lives, regardless of the season.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                     ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

How do you bring light into your life?  Please comment.

READING AT MALAPROPS IN ASHEVILLE: Sunday, February 28 at 3:00 I will be reading my poem “Soul Mate” along with several other NC women writers published in It’s All Relative: Tales From the Tree.

Related Posts:    Awaken to Love the Light, Lighting Our Darkness, Awakening to the Dance of Light

AWAKENING TO WHERE KINDNESS HAS GONE

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa

4-730_Silence_hdWhen do you make a point of being kind? Do you consider yourself a kind person? What helps you the most to be kind?

Enjoying the Silence

Today is a day when I am enjoying the silence. Off and on, snow flurries distract me. My husband is away working much of the day. The multiple dogs that walk down our street are staying home so my vocal dog is bored and sleeping. At lunch I read rather than watch the news.

I’ve started reading the Science of Mind magazine’s daily readings and meditations and this month’s theme is “silence.” Perfect. These readings help me start the day with more attention to quieting my mind, and that has not been an easy thing to do lately.

In fact, in order to preserve a healthy state of mind, I may have to give up Facebook. I like what my friends say and post, but the political comments that others, some of their friends I guess, are simply tasteless and mean. When did we exchange respectful debate for vicious attacks? Where has the kindness gone?

Disagreement Can Be Civil

In high school I learned to debate. We faced each other respectfully, armed with information and specific ideas to support our point of view on the subject of the debate. We took turns presenting our viewpoint and listened as the other side spoke so that we could respond to the points they made. The language was informed and civil.

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Our Negativity Spills Out Into the World

Now, I realize not everyone has been trained in debate, and some have not been trained to use kindness when faced with different ideas. As Mother Theresa points out, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” When we express hate or anger when we are faced with differences, we infect ourselves with negative energy and it spills out into the world.

The consequences of this are not good. We now live in such a diverse world and country that it is almost impossible to avoid different ways of thinking and unique cultural attitudes. We do not need to agree with everyone, but if we want a peaceful world, we need to find a kind way to disagree. As Samuel Johnson once said, “Kindness is in our power, even when fondness is not.”

Turn to the Silence

It’s a choice. As a nation, we have chosen to focus on competition, always winning, always achieving. We are obsessed with football despite the mental damage the impacts do to the players. We have to be the winner. We have to have the most money, the biggest house. And we pay a huge price.

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If we want a peaceful world, we have to practice peace in our own lives and create positive energy that embraces those around us. We have to encourage cooperation and understanding and not see ourselves as the winners or losers. When a conflict arises, what do we do when confronted with another’s anger? Be still. Listen. Do not allow that anger to engulf us. I often imagine a globe of light or love surrounding me so that the negative energy will bounce off and I will feel centered.

We must also try to remember: this is not about me even when it appears to be. We resist the temptation to defend ourselves or the presidential candidate we support or the friend who is being attacked.   We try to show compassion or empathy for the other person’s distress. “I understand you’re upset with me (or Hillary or Bernie or Donald, etc.).” We might even say, “I understand your concern” or say kindly, “I’m sorry, I have to go now.” Then when the person calms down, it may be possible to have a conversation with them.

Photo: penspen

Mother Theresa & Princess Diana Photo: penspen

How Do We Live With Unkindness?

As Mother Theresa points out, we have the power to choose to respond with kindness in many situations and the choices we make echo into the future. I often think about the presidential candidates that are congress people or work with the president. When they have viciously attacked each other in a campaign, how do they go back to working with each other after that? How do they let go of the hateful things their colleagues have said and done?

Not only do we need kindness in our personal lives, we need kindness as a part of politics. We can be kind and still disagree, but what will it take to change a government that feeds on undermining the other side at the expense of the public they are supposed to serve? I have no answer. I just know that I will vote for the sanest person who represents what I believe the country needs. Hopefully, that will also be someone who knows how to create peace and has the courage to be kind.

With all the chaos in the world, I am meditating again. Each day I must have some moments of silence to remind me that I don’t have to be part of the chaos. I have to remember to be kind to others and myself.

How do you express kindness during a conflict in your life? Please comment.

© 2016 Georganne Spruce                                                                ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Ernest Holmes, founder of Religious Science, Let’s Not Fight, Six Steps for Resolving Conflicts

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

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