Blogging is a form of activism. You can be an agent of change.

January 17th, 2012

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

In the U.S. our legal system maintains that the burden of proof is on the accuser, and that people are innocent until proven guilty. This tenet seems to be on the chopping block when it comes to the web if these bills pass, as companies could shut down sites based on accusation alone.

Laws are not like lines of PHP; they are not easily reverted if someone wakes up and realizes there is a better way to do things. We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.

The people writing these laws are not the people writing the independent web, and they are not out to protect it. We have to stand up for it ourselves.

Blogging is a form of activism. You can be an agent of change.

by Jane Wells
from Help Stop SOPA/PIPA, January 10, 2012
Wordpress.org blog

I am the people – the mob – the crowd – the mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?

January 6th, 2012
The crowd at Lincoln's second inauguration

The crowd at Lincoln's second inauguration; image from the Library of Congress

I am the People, the Mob

I AM the people — the mob–the crowd–the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is
         done through me?

I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the
         world’s food and clothes.
I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons
         come from me and the Lincolns.
I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand
         for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me.
I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted.
I forget. Everything but death comes to me and
         makes me work and give up what I have. And I
         forget.
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red
         drops for history to remember. Then–I forget.
When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the
People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer
         forget who robbed me last year, who played me for
         a fool–then there will be no speaker in all the world
         say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a
         sneer in his voice or any far off smile of derision.
The mob–the crowd–the mass–will arrive then.

by Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878 – July 22, 1967)
from his poem I am the People, the Mob can be found in many anthologies

Happy Birthday, Carl Sandburg

I wonder – what he would have thought of the Internet? :)

We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing

December 16th, 2011
reading Pride and Prejudice

Camper, reading Pride and Prejudice

“It has been a very agreeable day,” said Miss Bennet to Elizabeth. “The party seemed so well selected, so suitable one with the other. I hope we may often meet again.”

Elizabeth smiled.

“Lizzy, you must not do so. You must not suspect me. It mortifies me… I am perfectly satisfied from what his manners now are, that he never had any design of engaging my affection. It is only that he is blessed with greater sweetness of address, and a stronger desire of generally pleasing, than any other man.”

“You are very cruel,” said her sister; “you will not let me smile, and are provoking me to it every moment.”

“How hard it is in some cases to be believed! And how impossible in others!”

“But why should you wish to persuade me that I feel more than I acknowledge?”

“That is a question which I hardly know how to answer. We all love to instruct, though we can teach only what is not worth knowing. Forgive me; and if you persist in indifference, do not make me your confidante.”

by Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)
from Pride and Prejudice, 1813
Chapter 55
image – Joe Jakeman

Once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters

December 13th, 2011
Lava flow crosses a road in Hawaii

Lava flow crosses a road in Hawaii

Life is difficult.
This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

by M. Scott Peck (22 May 1936 – 25 September 2005)
from The Road Less Traveled
Problems and Pain
image – US Geological Survey

I think this is a little like going right past if the proverbial glass is half full, and confronting an empty glass. An empty glass is still a glass. It can be filled. It won’t always be filled, even when you’re thirsty. And, being unhappy about emptiness won’t fill that glass with water or wine or anything else.

The “great truths” Peck mentions are The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism:

  1. Suffering exists
  2. Suffering has causes
  3. Suffering can end
  4. The truth of the eightfold path (leading to the end of suffering)

I first read M Scott Peck in high school. He’s one that I’ve come back to, off and on over the years.

His reference to Buddhism went right by me at the time. Some books get broader and deeper, just because we were there.

I’m posting this right now because we’re in the home stretch of the Holiday season. In my half of the world that means it’s wet, cold and dark – Seasonal Affective Disorder weather. A lot of us are broke, busy and not blessed with close families. Even if we are looking forward to festive gatherings, we may be pushing too hard, hoping to be too busy to dwell on the past. Otherwise, this is a great time to look back and re-assess… and though that can easily be a double-edged sword, half full or half empty, a life is still a life. As I wrote above, “It won’t always be filled, even when you’re thirsty.” And unhappiness about emptiness won’t fill anything.

In a meditative state, emptiness just is. Emptiness can be an open place.

When facing mourning, emptiness is both a rite and a right of passage.

When when confronting change, emptiness is a challenge to change one’s fate. Make space for change without moving on convictions and watch out for backlash – nature abhors a vacuum. Following through is where the weight lifting happens. Think of the momentum of weight in motion: follow through and be brave enough to seize momentum… and momentum there will be.

This is a great time of the year to embrace contributing to change on a community level. Some deep needs can be addressed in simple ways. Drop a can of tuna into the food bank bin next time you go grocery shopping… and instantly become part of something larger.

Writing Prompt – December 12, 2011

December 12th, 2011

QuoteSnack offers fresh quotes several days a week, attributed and linked to a confirmed, published source. In addition, I’ll sometimes post a writing prompt with simple instructions. The next post will be a quote that has something to do with the prompt, so you can take a peek at differences or similarities in how someone else relates to using the same words.

There is no wrong approach. Don’t worry if something seems to be a lot more emotionally charged than it is on the surface, or if some prompts are duds for you. This is a mind-opening exercise; anything is possible.

The Prompt

Directions:

  1. Be ready to write, word processor open, or pad and pencil in hand. Set a timer for five minutes.
  2. Clear your mind.
  3. Click “Reveal Writing Prompt” below, and look at the prompt for the space of one deep, quiet breath.
  4. As you start the second breath, clear your mind of expectations.
  5. Write, full on, whatever comes to you, for five minutes. Do not stop to correct anything – just go.
  6. When the time is up, you have to stop.
  7. Get up and wiggle. Move. Laugh. Growl. Pat self on back.

You’re welcome to leave comments about the experience and anything that comes of it, including links or even your entire prompt-generated exercise. However, please don’t look at any comments until after finishing your own writing. What you’re doing right now is a personal thing.

If I tell you I’m no good, you know I’m lying

December 6th, 2011
half face stare

I have enough sense to realize that there can be no number one

On being talented – Oftentimes people come up to me and ask, “Bruce, are you really that good?” I say, “Well, if I tell you I’m good, probably you will say I’m boasting; but if I tell you I’m no good, you’ll know I’m lying.” I have the absolute confidence not to be number two, but then I have enough sense to realize that there can be no number one.

by Bruce Lee (27 November 1940 – 20 July 1973)
from Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living (2000)
image – Haleyface

Dare to Strive

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.

December 2nd, 2011
ripples in a pond

To help a human being (you) must be able to accept him as he is.

We can get in touch with another person only by an attitude of unprejudiced objectivity. This may sound like a scientific precept, and may be confused with a purely intellectual and detached attitude of mind. But what I mean to convey is something quite different. It is a human quality – a kind of deep respect for facts and events and for the person who suffers from them – a respect for the secret of such a human life. The truly religious person has this attitude. He knows that God has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass, and seeks in the most curious way to enter a man’s heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by “unprejudiced objectivity.” It is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to let himself be repelled by illness and corruption. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses. I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow-sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment in the case of persons whom we desire to help and improve. But if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is. And he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.

by Carl Jung (26 July 1875 – 6 June 1961)
from Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Psychotherapists or the Clergy
by Carl Gustav Jung, William Stanley Dell, Cary F. Baynes

Housekeeping ain’t no joke

November 29th, 2011
caption

Alcott House - A happy home, with plenty of food in the larder

“Mother isn’t sick, only very tired, and she says she is going to stay quietly in her room all day, and let us do the best we can. It’s a very queer thing for her to do, she don’t act a bit like herself; but she says it has been a hard week for her, so we mustn’t grumble, but take care of ourselves.”

“That’s easy enough, and I like the idea; I’m aching for something to do — that is, some new amusement, you know,” added Jo, quickly.

In fact it was an immense relief to them all to have a little work, and they took hold with a will, but soon realized the truth of Hannah’s saying, “Housekeeping ain’t no joke.” There was plenty of food in the larder, and, while Beth and Amy set the table, Meg and Jo got breakfast; wondering, as they did so, why servants ever talked about hard work.


by Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888)
from Little Women or, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, Volume 1
image – smart destinations

Little Women Make Good

Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott!

Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” at the request of her publisher, who was on the hunt for a bestseller for girls. The first volume was published September 30, in 1868, when she was 35 years old.

An instant classic, Alcott’s chronicle of the fictional March family spawned sequels, films, a play, an opera, a musical and Japanese anime. There was even a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, awarded for the 2005 book “March,” a Geraldine Brooks novel about the family patriarch’s experience in the Civil War.

When “Little Women” was published, Alcott already had decades of professional writing experience. She had long dedicated her work to supporting her family. They were a progressive group of Transcendentalists, contemporaries of Emerson and Thoreau. Alcott herself was a strong advocate for women’s issues, which is evident in her female characters’ broad mindedness. They may have been homemakers, but that wasn’t all they were.

“Little Women” books have given generations of young readers female role models, and a peek at sisters crossing into the world of women. My mother presented Louisa May Alcott books to me almost as a right of passage, and I devoured them all. My own daughter was more excited by Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” a story about a girl’s journey through space, time, quasi-science and personal discovery.

Is “Little Women” outmoded? Maybe a little. None of the March girls grew up to be doctors, but I’ll bet they’d be proud if their granddaughters grew up to be like Marie Curie or Benazir Bhutto.