The first week of January turned into a week of chanting and chanting for me, not entirely by design, but a delightful accumulation of events. I signed up for “Ecstatic Chant” a six-day workshop featuring Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal and Krishna Das, not having noted that Deva and Miten were also doing the second annual New Year’s week daily 108 round Gayatri and not assuming Krishna Das would also do his regular Thursday satsang. But all were happening and I really worked at keeping up.
Managed to do every day of the 108 round Gayatri, which I find incredibly powerful. This time it also became more of an exercise in mindfulness than usual, which I’ll discuss more below. Also got to tune in for the satsang. The workshop I fit in around the other things (plus, you know, I have a life) as best I could — still have some to watch so very grateful they’re giving us a month to see the videos.
I’m not sure I have adequate words to describe how it felt by the end of the week to spend that many hours a day chanting and/or listening to chant. Extraordinary. Uplifting. Pulsating. All are true and yet don’t quite say how amazing it was. Really loved it!
The first day of the Gayatri there were either transmission problems or my YouTube was acting up — they often have trouble with signals in Costa Rica and YouTube has been screwing up for me a LOT — but the Gayatri was stopping and starting, stopping and starting. I was using my mala beads but I kept singing on into dead spaces and then picking up again with them when the stream re-started. Soon I was struggling to decide where I was on the beads and realizing the struggle was moving me out of connection with the mantra.
Thus the chant became a challenge for staying mindful. Only at the end did I laugh as I realized I could have just put the beads down… Meanwhile I considered the challenge well met when I wound up in the right place with the beads while keeping attention on the mantra. Afterwards I realized the starting and stopping and beads distraction had kept me from feeling thrown by the super fast guitar playing that goes on in sections of the 108 round version.
The next day the transmission was fine and when the –to-me– frantic guitar playing started my heart started pounding and my stomach tightened up as usual. Then I remember how the distractions the day before had kept me from reacting and concentrated on the lyrics to move me into the chant and out of noticing. Good reminder that I can mindfully make choices about how to react and what to notice, etc.
I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop sessions viewed so far and Krishna Das’ Thursday evening satsangs are always good. I will say as far as the workshop, not much was done kirtan style and many chants were new to me so while I loved every minute, listening was not as spiritually expansive for me as it is to chant the Gayatri with the Global Gayatri Sangha — often thousands of us at a time from around the world.
The overall experience of spending hours and hours in one week chanting was divine. In a future post I’ll talk about how my slow, tentative launch onto a path of chanting is contributing to the “sparkles” I discussed in the last post.
Increasingly over the last couple of years I’ve noticed the world looking more sparkly. Literally looking around and seeing things shining, sparkling everywhere.
It started from the very practical purchase of a new dishwasher. a couple of years ago. It took some months but eventually it managed to clear off all the collected lime on glasses and silverware and I started noticing how shiny they looked. But it’s kept going from there.
The last couple of years have seen a lot of movement for me on emotional and health issues, including some big shifts in outlook. A really psychic friend of mine commented recently when I talked about all that’s been opening up in the muscles in my face and how it has been changing my world that she pictured me literally getting rid of anchors all around me that had been holding me stuck in place for years. Perfect fit for how it’s been feeling and my long-time sense the tight muscles have been instrumental in “stuckness”.
This sense of being more free on many levels and finally moving forward is so powerful. And I feel like a good deal of the sparkle I see around flows from that.
A huge amount of the tightness in my facial muscles has been centered around keeping my optic nerve squeezed tight, which causes near-sightedness according to my late, amazing vision therapist, Dr. Sirota. As the muscles finally loosen, I periodically notice increments of seeing more clearly; the clear field moving outward an inch or two at a time. The opening lately leaves me feeling that the changing vision also contributes to seeing all those sparkles.
Wherever it comes from, I must say, I LOVE looking around the world and seeing sparkles!!!
Wow the last two years have impacted blogging for me; not planned just some combo of Covid , caring for my Mom since she broke her hip and coping with my dad’s estate have added so much to my schedule I’ve not managed to reorganize. At the same time, I’ve continued a process I began a while before Covid hit of trying to get back to keeping more of life on a schedule. Coping with health issues for years pretty much threw schedules and normalcy out the window; even things like cleaning and laundry were hit or miss for years.
A couple of years ago I splurged and purchased new towels to replace the old sorry ones I’d had for years. At the same time I decided I wanted to have a schedule for changing out dirty for clean. So Saturday became “towel day”. Every Saturday, fresh towels. It’s also sort of laundry day though laundry often happens more on whatever day a load is “enough”; the change is all of it gets done in the course of a week. So Saturdays, clean towels and some sort of clean laundry.
Towel day has been happening for a couple of years now and today as I shifted out last week’s for the clean ones, I realized how hugely satisfying it is to have a schedule.
Over the same couple of years, some house cleaning projects, dish washing and dishwasher schedule have also been moving into new patterns of regularity. and I’ve been happy to feel those happening too.
It’s funny for me because in many ways I’ve always been a person who fights schedules and rigid lists of what needs to happen when. But after years of chronic fatigue and muscle issues throwing life into chaos where everything became hit or miss, it’s SUCH a comfort to restore some order. I also love that the fact that I can is a reflection of how much better I’m doing.
I also love that my consciousness of gratitude leaves me feeling so happy about nice, still fluffy new-ish towels, always clean and knowing when I last put clean ones out. Small things that mean so much.
Knowing the Chauvin verdict might come in, I checked the news off and on so I heard the verdict was coming down in plenty of time to tune in. As the judge pronounced each guilty verdict my arms shot in the air and I whooped. And then I zeroed in on watching Derek Chauvin’s reaction, noting he was doing his best not to show one.
As I watched, arms still in the air, I suddenly realized my heart was feeling pulled, sad, broken. My ability to tap into others’ feelings has always existed but been pretty random and rare though it’s been growing more common recently. After a minute I understood I was literally feeling his heart break at the future he faces as if my own were breaking.
While still feeling jubilant at the outcome, a feeling of a larger picture swept over. Don’t get me wrong, I still feel he deserved a guilty verdict. But I also felt a profound sadness for how hatred and anger, left unexamined and festering, destroyed so many lives. And then for how the pandemic of hatefulness in our country (and in right wing movements worldwide) is destroying lives.
Feeling his heartbreak at the loss of life as he knew it, I understood how thoroughly hatefulness ultimately destroys the hater too, one way or another. Heartache for everyone who loved George Floyd and then for the one who caused it.
Which led to examining the enormous anger that’s been growing over the last 5 years in me. Anger that leads to lack of empathy for the percent of GQP who don’t want vaccines — I shrug and think, “self-inflicted voter suppression” without an ounce of care for those who will die or live with dire health issues. Anger that leads me to wish Repugs who’ve been spouting racist crap and cops who show no care for human life, etc. could all be lined up and shot.
I know better and I fight it and bring myself back to reminders of the fear that fuels such hatefulness and search for compassion in my heart. Again and again returning to lovingkindness and then being snared by the anger again. The part of me that can tap into a connection with someone else’s feeling can also be ensnared by collective anger. And there’s no distinguishing between righteous leftist anger vs right wing anger. In the web of all life, it’s just anger. And it impacts all of us.
I’m also frightened by the many Democrats I encounter in social media who are snotty, hateful, ready to pounce on any nuance of disagreement with exactly their point of view. I’ve made a few Twitter comments that have led to literally hundreds of people — all allegedly Democrats — spewing at me. Fortunately I don’t particularly care personally about what a lot of strangers with anger issues think about me, but I do care that these are the people who like to claim they care about humanity.
So much anger spewing everywhere. So many people on both sides who think there’s something righteous or right about unloading on people who disagree. So many people who may destroy themselves or people near them with their unresolved anger and hate issues. So many who don’t understand that vitriol and compassion really cannot coexist.
When are we going be ready to make the transformations necessary to stop having so many broken hearts?
Anyone on a deeply spiritual journey knows a major part of the journey involves looking deeply into issues, emotional blocks etc. As the U.S. has lurched through four years of crises and scandals it has become ever more clear to me that we as a society have issues and blocks to address — many of which are so pervasive they also show up as our personal and ancestral issues. One of them I’ve contemplated often is our general view of work.
I watched a news piece about a woman with her own business the other day. She picks up and delivers dogs who’ve been adopted from out of state and she loves it. Loves it so much she said “it doesn’t feel like work”. It struck me how often I’ve heard that.
On my own journey I realized long ago that that attitude correlates with a general belief that work is “supposed” to be hard, unpleasant; something you must do to eke out a living that will probably barely support you. When I quit practicing law, which I loathed but made a pretty good living at, and began doing things I loved, I instantly began to fail.
It kept going for a long time, even after recognizing that I held deep beliefs about the impossibility of financially succeeding at something you love to do. For me it also turned out my health issues needed to take precedence, but I haven’t forgotten the import of the belief work must be an unpleasant struggle.
Ever since, I’ve noticed how most people talk about work in this country. Yes, there are people who love their work and speak enthusiastically, but there’s a widespread belief among many that work has to be an unhappy drudge. When I heard this woman sounding guilty about her pleasure in the business she’s created out of her love of dogs, I felt really struck about how deep that strain of thinking goes in our society.
Imagine what a shift in that one set of beliefs would do to change the world. If everyone believed it’s possible and okay to find something you love to do or to find a way to love whatever you do for work, wow, how different things would be.
Since the pandemic started so many meetings, services, etc. are being shown or held on Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, etc. I totally appreciate the opportunity to participate safely in gatherings I love. “Chat” columns are often open to the side or just below these videos and I began to notice they offer an interesting visual of monkey mind.
Monkey mind, aka wild mind, refers to the way our thoughts tend to run wild, to chatter like monkeys. All day. Every day, masses of thoughts jumbling through our minds. I first noticed the chat phenomenon during an Ahava Center for Spiritual Living service. We had a special guest speaker, Reverend Sunshine Daye and her talk was SO good. A talk to fall into, to exercise every power of right listening on, to drink in every word. And through the whole thing, out of the corner of my eye, I could see chat messages flying by.
Once I’d noticed it there, I began seeing it all the time. During any Ahava service. During Deva Premal’s and Miten’s weekly Gayatri meditations. While Jack Kornfield gives a talk, etc. My guess would be that at in person services at any given moment many people’s minds would be composing grocery lists, choosing paint colors, remembering childhood ills, fretting over an unhappy conversation, etc. While everyone might be sitting quietly through the event, monkey mind would be busily in action around the room. But we manage to seem present because no one can see the thoughts chasing around in everyone’s minds.
With chat visually present on the screen, we can see how busily people’s minds are racing the whole time they’re supposedly chanting or participating in a meditation or listening to a deep spiritual talk. Granted, in these situations the “chatter” is generally more on topic, love emojis, repetitions of lines of the chant, comments on specifics of a talk, etc. But it still involves not really sitting with an empty mind and meditating or chanting or listening, etc.
No judgement, we all struggle to control those inner chattering monkeys, but really fascinating to watch it in action while attending church or meditation, etc. Has anyone else been noticing?
Over the many months of coping with the pandemic, I’ve been watching the enormous discomfort so many people feel about living a quiet life at home, with little social interaction. And the degree to which scary numbers are willing to risk their lives and/or the lives of others by going to parties, restaurants, bars, etc. in order to alleviate that discomfort. As one who already lived a fairly quiet and solitary life, I haven’t felt the impact from the isolation too much. But I used to be one of the ones who had to be out doing stuff all the time, keeping every moment busy. So I think I have some insight into the discomfort.
We in this country (possibly others, but I won’t speak for them), most people have trouble being alone and or living a quiet, contemplative life. The myths of the “pursuit of happiness” lead far too many of us to feel our lives must constantly reflect “happiness” and to seek “highs” and excitement that at least looks happy. Sitting still often means having time to reflect, time when buried issues arise, when thoughts about less happy aspects of life show up. Quiet invites inward exploration and grappling with issues.
As a young adult I unconsciously carried a vast array of buried issues. I had to be working, studying, talking on the phone with someone or going out to restaurants, parties, clubs, etc. all the time. I had no idea why I felt this desperate need to never stop, I just ran and ran and ran.
Health issues wound up slowing me down. Fortunately I’d landed on a spiritual path, so the path of healing became one of also contemplating and exploring: what about my inner world was creating this outer world? How did this set of symptoms/problems flow from my beliefs and emotional underpinnings? Once I moved far enough along the path I realized I’d been running from these questions and explorations all along. Also could see that being finally knocked so flat I couldn’t help but sit and be quiet was the outcome of shoving down all those emotions and thoughts.
It’s taken me years to reach the place where I not only sit with ease in quiet and silence but to welcome those uncomfortable feelings as they arise. It’s the opportunity to acknowledge them, explore them and let them go. And with the letting go comes freedom and more ease.
As I watch people rebelling against lockdowns, staying home, being quiet, I feel I understand that impulse to run around instead. But I see the pandemic as an opportunity to look inward, to heal old wounds, to become more free from within instead of looking for freedom to arrive from without.
For the first seven days of January, Deva Premal and Miten offered seven days of doing the 108 round version of Gayatri. They’ve had a weekly Gayatri on FB and later via a paid app since last spring — reaching out in Covid lockdown — and I’d loved those so much I jumped at the chance.
When I did a regular chanting practice a shorter version of the Gayatri was one of the three I chanted daily but I’d not done the 108 round version more than sporadically and it’s just been occasional on their weekly practice. I always found it powerful but the energy of doing it every day was quite amazing. There are usually 2-2.5 thousand people participating and I’ve been amazed at how well I can tap into the larger energy of the group. Powerful.
Besides loving the chant for myself, I love the association with heart and peace. They were doing the 7 days as an uplift to energy as the year began and that felt incredibly important to me, especially with all that’s been going on both in the world and in the U.S. As I’ve teetered between rage and holding a calm space, I’ve kept feeling a need to lift my energy, try to hold a higher space, etc.
It was quite amazing to sing the chant daily. Especially for the first few days I could really feel the build of energy in me. Didn’t stop me from the moments of rage, but left me feeling generally more energized and uplifted, easier to tap back into the heart space. Also feeling like my nadis were not just all being energized but as if they were being rearranged or reconfigured as well.* By the final few days I think I’d adjusted a little bit more to that huge influx of energy.
The worldwide sangha they’re forming is lovely and I highly recommend participation. I’m about to sign on with the app so I can participate in the larger array of activities they’re hosting, including daily meditations, access to a library of mantras, participation in sangha, Q&A with Deva and Miten, etc. They still offer the Gayatri free via Facebook and YouTube once a month. Click through on picture above to page where events are noted.
We so need to lift the world’s vibration now. As I’ve mentioned many times, the higher vibration of few can raise the vibrations for many more and we need to lift the multitudes who are caught at the anger level on up to the next level, where self examination and greater openness begins. If Gayatri is not for you, please find the meditation or practice that suits you and commit to it and/or if you can find a practice group or sangha with which to join energies on line, please practice with such a group.
* When chanting is 108 rounds, it’s one for each of the 108 nadis, or energy channels, which aligns you with the universe or creation.
This post is for Linda’s Litebeing Chronicles Change Challenge on the litebeing chronicles blog: How have you changed internally? Can you share some new thoughts, ideas, projects, attitudes that have sprung up as a result of your evolution? This challenge is about describing how you have integrated the lessons from this “unprecedented time” and how you have seen your unique transformation unfold.
This is kind of an odd challenge for me to participate in because for me the pandemic has mostly been like a pesky fly in the background, buzzing around and annoying, but not actually impacting my life all that much. Some external habits have changed but otherwise my life has been so much more impacted by personal events that Covid just doesn’t seem like a big factor. Any inner realizations have arisen more because of the earth-shaking issues among loved ones than anything to do with the pandemic.
In January my then-94-year-old mother fell and broke her hip. The ensuing couple of months were an exhausting round of visits to hospital, skilled nursing home, then hospital again, and back to snh while trying to keep the house up and having to re-organize several rooms in order to create pathways for a walker to get through. Sitting in a poorly designed chair at one of the hospitals threw a pattern already in my hip out massively which left me doing all this in agonizing pain.
Toward the end of her skilled nursing stay news of Covid began to break. I was so busy getting the house ready I barely paid attention. About a week after she came home we were in lockdown. The next several months involved a massive learning curve about grocery shopping when supplies were low, how to stock a pantry for a couple months’ worth of food, and making easier meals than my normal complicated menus. That was a change but I can’t say I feel it transformed me internally.
For many people staying home and being isolated has been a huge change. As a somewhat introverted only child, my life has always involved a certain amount of isolation and being self-sufficient with alone time. But I’ve been coping with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue for 30 years and that added a whole new layer of staying home and leading a very solitary life. So for me Covid didn’t change a lot on that score — in fact the rise of meetings and activities via Zoom Skype etc. has allowed me to participate more than I have in years.
I miss eating in restaurants, but my mother has long been my main restaurant companion and she still isn’t really in shape to make an outing like that, so I’d be doing carry out anyway; for me the pandemic doesn’t loom as a reason I can’t do it.
During the spring I realized my Dad, who turned 95 in May and lived almost 900 miles away, was not in good shape and started trying to figure out how I could get my mother taken care of and pay for that plus a plane ticket. Before I could work it out, I received a call that Dad had fallen and been taken to the hospital. He wasn’t hurt in the fall, but it turned out he was in such bad shape he couldn’t walk any more, then they found cancer. In three days he was moved to hospice care and five days later he died.
Covid impacted all this in that even if I’d been able to arrange for Mom’s care and get down there fast enough (which it turned out wouldn’t have been possible), neither the hospital nor the nursing home would let me in to see him. So we had phone calls every day and a couple of Zoom contacts, then I talked to him and sang via phone after he could no longer speak…. But my Dad died alone.
Had to have a Zoom service and the Marines wound up doing the flag presentation portion in my front yard with masks on. The format was born of Covid, but the service was lovely and a bunch of family and friends who live in other states and would not have been able to get here under any circumstances were able to “attend”.
Since I first left for college my Dad called me every week and for many years it has been every Saturday at 2 p.m I’m still struggling some Saturdays to keep myself from grabbing the phone a little before 2 and getting ready to hear from him. In recent years I called him other times to check up but the only sacrosanct time was Saturday and it’s going to be a while before I get used to the silence at 2.
Many things about the pandemic have slowed down and interfered with the process of settling my Dad’s estate but really the biggest hurdle has been the high level of incompetence of so many people I’ve had to deal with. For instance, the VA misfiled the paperwork on his life insurance not once but twice, causing a month delay and another insurance company wrote the address down wrong and sent forms to the wrong address, causing a month lost on that one too. Multiply that by pretty much every bank (why transfer some money on the first call when you could make 12 before someone does it??), insurance company or service provider and you have an idea of how long and slow every process has been.
In the fall my dear friend, Pat, who beat stage 4 throat cancer a year or so ago, started having health issues and found she needed to have a clip put on a valve in her heart. The procedure went okay and when I spoke to her after she was upbeat and looking forward to getting back to her healing work. Then she started falling and feeling badly and was taken to the hospital where it turned out the clip they put on her heart had sepsis on it and she’d had sepsis for weeks. She died the day after Thanksgiving. My Mom loved her too and pretty much every day one of us says, “I can’t believe Pat’s gone…”
So my life has been so hard hit by dramas and traumas related to people near and dear to me, the pandemic is just a pesky problem in the background. Yes, I get tired of the hassle grocery shopping has become. Yes, I spend small amounts of time considering where I will go and when in order to avoid being in crowds. Other than a few carefully chosen groceries at certain times, I just don’t go out. I started curbside grocery pickups long before Covid hit — other than doing it more, it isn’t a change. Yes, occasionally I miss my rare coffee or lunch meetings with friends but they didn’t happen often enough before Covid for it to make a big hole in my present. And frankly, handling all the Mom care, plus the extra time it takes to grocery shop, and the endless paperwork to do with Dad’s estate have kept me so busy I don’t have the energy to wish for more activities.
The main internal noticing for me involves deepening insights I’ve already had. Formerly neurotic and overdramatic, I’ve stopped here and there to note with surprise how calmly I’ve handled this year. Having started meditating in 1984 and practicing yoga in 1986, followed by many years of metaphysical/spiritual workshops, doing all sorts of inner/shadow work, etc. I’ve been much more calm for a long time. But I don’t think any year since I started has challenged my equanimity as much as this year, so I’m pleased to see how well all the years of practice serve even in traumatic times.
Through all the ups and downs I’ve managed to keep yoga practice regular. Meditation has been a little more hit or miss but I manage pretty often and I’m in love with Steve Nobel’s meditations on YouTube, so I’m drawn to do one pretty often. I also manage to slip a yoga nidra in here and there. And thanks to Covid, Deva Premal and Miten for quite a while had a free Gayatri meditation every Saturday on FB which became an oasis of big, loving energy. Practice always helps maintain the calm.
Through years and years of transformative work I constantly had my finger on the pulse of inner change and change happened all the time. But in this big year of political and medical upheaval in the wide world and personal upheaval in mine, I can’t say I see a big inner shift. I see the benefits of all the shifting that came before and I am so grateful for all the years of inner work and all the hours of practice.
I’m in Florida working on getting summary probate going on my Dad’s estate and doing some clearing in his condo. Sticking pretty closely to the condo as much as I can since Covid is bad here.
The only places I’ve been with other people have had strict policies about wearing a mask, which works for me as I would anyway. Today as I drove to the bank to take care of safe deposit box I realized how sinusy I am here, which always leads to worrying about my breath when I have to meet with others.
And then I started laughing because I realized I’d have my mask on when I got near anybody. Which led to realizing how great it is that wearing a mask means you never need to worry about bad breath when you’re out and about.
Some combo of growing up brainwashed by ads about the probability of having it plus actually smelling a lot of bad breath on people in my life left this as an occasional nagging worry. Now, is the ease of that worry enough to want to wear a mask forever??? Hmm…
While I’ve used Zoom and Skype prior to Covid, the pandemic has opened up new horizons wherein I’m employing them much more than before.
Previously I mostly only set up Skype with friends if they wanted me to show them a yoga or triggers of release move. Since the lockdowns, I’ve been regularly getting on Skype or Zoom with several friends whom I formerly just spoke with on the phone once a month or e-mailed and it’s been such a nice intimacy to see each other.
Most precious to me at this time: when my Dad fell and went to hospital in FL, I couldn’t go see him — not only fears about travel during pandemic but wouldn’t be allowed in the hospital. He quickly deteriorated and moved to hospice and again, wouldn’t be allowed to see him for 2 weeks had I flown down. So the last two days he was conscious they were able to set up Zoom for us on an IPad they’d just gotten and it was so great to be able to see and talk with him. Hard to say how huge my gratitude is for that.
As more and more places figure out how to do classes, meetings, etc. on line, I’m signing up for things and getting more involved than I’ve been in a while. I’m still a bit up and down with unwinding, lack of sleep, etc. and in the past that’s meant I either didn’t sign up for classes or often backed out of events I’d agreed to do. With the ability to hang out in my grubbies, showerless, at home, no driving, no parking, etc. I can get involved. And so many new opportunities are there with these technologies.
Every Saturday I’m joining Deva Primal and Miten’s weekly Gayatri/Meditation practice live on FB. Generally there are 2,000+ of us watching and I can really feel the huge energy we connect into. I’ve also gotten to hear some new Jai Uttal music and listen to a talk by Jack Kornfield.
I signed up to take a “Me and White Supremacy” class in which we’re going through all the exercises in the book. It’s being offered for free through the Holmes Institute. People from all over the country are taking it. On my own I’ve been reading Rhonda Magee’s Inner Work of Racial Justice and frankly I prefer it and wish the class was going through it instead, but the chance to hear viewpoints from all over and to join a different breakout group every week to talk is SO valuable and amazing.
I’ve also been able to join the Poor People’s Campaign. I’ve been following them for 4 years now and each time some participating friends have given me info on a meeting I’ve realized I would have to drive after dark in one or both directions and I can no longer drive at night, so I’d never been able to participate. Now I’ve participated in two virtual call-in/e-mail campaigns against McConnell on FB and joined a Zoom meeting with the KY chapter and am now on a committee on which I can do things to help from home.
The women’s group for 60+ I joined at the Spiritual Center I’ve been attending sporadically is meeting now on Zoom every month and it’s so great to be able to see everybody. The center has had streaming services all along, but it has been especially nice to tune in during this time of no in person services. I’m a night owl and not at all a morning person so I have to say it’s pretty great to be able to sit in my sweats sipping coffee every Sunday while enjoying the service.
I’m signed up for a one evening course on Krishnamurti and David Bohm…
You get the picture. Lots going on. As a continuation on the progress I’ve been making the last couple of years on moving out into the world again after such a long time of cocooning and working on health, this is pretty spectacular. What a gift!!!
Note: readers here who are also on FB with me know my father is in hospice. It definitely deserves a post or two but I’m not ready to do it yet…
Here in Kentucky a big, debated news story in recent weeks has been the tale of two protests with wildly different results. In one case, white supremacists armed with assault rifles spent two hours around the Governor’s mansion yelling, banging on windows and threatening with their guns. Not one arrest was made.
In the other, peaceful Black Lives Matter/Breonna Taylor protesters sat quietly, arm in arm on the KY Attorney General’s lawn. All 87 were arrested and charged with felonies (charges later dropped). Much outrage has ensued over the disparity of treatment.
After the incident at the govenor’s mansion, Governor Beshear gave an emotional speech in which he talked about how one of the rooms where they were banging on windows is the room where his children play and it was only happenchance that they were not there. I’ve been edgy for quite a while about protests at people’s houses — as well as politicians being assaulted in restaurants (and yes, verbally attacking someone in a threatening way is assault), etc. And listening to the governor has put me solidly in the position of feeling adamantly that both sides should cease and desist on this bit of going to people’s houses to protest.
My main reaction comes from a spiritual belief in non violence; as “Governor Andy” spoke it hit me forcefully that to anyone at home, be it a cleaner, children, grandparents, wife, etc., a huge crowd of people showing up on the lawn is violence.
But also from a legal place about where our laws and Constitution say freedom of speech is operable and where it is restricted. In this case I think the obvious disparity between a peaceful situation and a situation that threatened incredible violence — which is against the law and should have led to arrests and prosecutions — makes the concluson of racism in operation inevitable but it ignores a couple of things about protesting that I believe should guide protestors of any persuasion.
Private vs. Public Property
In this particular case, besides the general attitude of giving white people a pass, I think the differrence in place also had something to do with the different responses. It is legal to protest on public property. Protesting on private property is NOT protected by the First Amendment and has been held illegal both via Supreme Court opinions and laws.
Again, there are other laws unrelated to free speech that, in my opinion, were violated. I haven’t dug through KY statutes, but generally it’s illegal to threaten violence or assassination of an elected official and I’d say waving guns around on the govenror’s front porch (or in a state legislature, etc.) constitutes a threat sufficient to file charges. So I don’t disagree that a very different standard was in play for the thugs at the Governor’s Mansion.
A better comparison here would be the hypothetical case where the 87 protestors decided to show up outside the Attorney General’s office. In this case they’d be on public property and within their rights to protest and as long as they were peaceful, I doubt any arrests would have been made. It’s protected.
To me, given how well known it is that free speech doesn’t allow people to protest on private property it seems ill-conceived to even consider protesting on someone’s lawn. There are a lot of legal advisors around for such groups/protests whom I think should be telling people to stick to public property.
I generally find when most Americans speak of non-violence they fail to understand the full meaning of it as it is practiced in the traditions from which the idea came (and which MLK studied to create his non-violent stance). Americans often think it refers only to whether you do something physical, whether it’s hitting someone, breaking a window, throwing a rock, etc.
In Hindu and Buddhist non-violent traditions, far more is contemplated. Being non-violent means not using words to attack. It means being compasssionate in your thoughts. It means taking no action that would lead someone else to feel threatened.
When I look at the pictures of the 87 protestors sitting quietly on the lawn and imagine what it would be like to be 10 years old and looking out the window of my house to see 87 strangers sitting on my lawn because they were mad at my dad, I don’t think they’d feel non-violent to me. If I were a wife, home alone, and glanced out to see a crowd of strangers on my lawn, I don’t think they’d have to throw a brick for me to feel afraid.
Taking actions that lead other people to feel afraid is violent. Protestors who want to follow a non-violent path should stay away from private homes. And if they don’t they should realize they don’t really believe in non-violence.
This is a really tough one. I totally see the view that circumstances are so dire that some radical action is required. At the same time, I feel there are plenty of ways to make a point with a protest without frightening someone’s family members. And to do it in an arena wherein free speech is protected.
So much controversy lately has me thinking deeply about the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Many are dismissing both as products of slaveowners; because the writers were flawed, the documents are no longer valued goes the thinking. With a lifelong tendency to see both sides — a product of constantly being in the middle wihtin my family’s arguments — I see a path down the middle.
I’m a person of words, so for me, even over the years since I realized our Founders were far more seriously flawed than our history books led us to believe, the brilliance of the words they crafted still shine. Largely helped by my long-ago Constitutional Law class in law school, I see a Constitution that has been able to grow and evolve over time.
When you read through the landmark cases of generations you see how the carefully honed document left room to interpret broader truths and equities than the men who wrote it lived within. They were bright enough and good enough at writing, I don’t think it was an accident that, even though they created restrictions about gender and color, many of the actual words of both the Declaration and the Constitution leave room to dream of literal equality for all, though they may not have foreseen where it led.
The stepping stones from one SCOTUS decision to another also reflect both how we have grown as people in our understanding of what “equality” really means and how the interpretation of the Constitution has grown too. In those broad words about equality Blacks have found the inspiration to press for them to be true for everyone and that history is one every child should be learning in school.
As I reflect on Independence Day, I see room to reject the flaws of the Founders and still celebrate the brilliance of what they created and how they left a foundation with room to evolve. At this moment we are in a new stage of evolution in making the notions of justice and equality for all, without exception, true. Sometimes evolution in law drags us forward, sometimes thinkers who are ahead of the time push the law to change. Together we grow.
My cooking habit has long been time-consuming complicated recipes, especially favoring French and Italian cooking and their many layers of flavors. For years I’ve been saying I wanted to learn how to cook some faster, easier things. But, other than a foray 15 or more years ago into Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, I’ve never developed a repertoire.
As I’ve figured out stocking the kitchen and thinking through what that means in terms of meals, I’ve been studying and trying quicker, easier meals to fix, especially since I”m now providing many more meals for my mother than I used to. I’m grateful not only for a slowly building repertoire of easy, but I actually love some of the things I’ve found.
Baking and freezing potatoes, both Russet and sweet, has already become a standby. Two of my faves:
(1) Mash a sweet potato or two with a couple of dates, 1-2 T of maple syrup and a sprinkle of cinnamon. For breakfast, heat 1 to 1-1/2 cups in a bowl, add a spoonful of almond butter and a handful of homemade granola and stir up.
(2) make a batch of spiced garbanzo beans with spinach or kale, stir up a sauce of greek yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon juice and a T or 2 of honey or maple syrup, defrost a sweet potato, heat with a helping of the beans and then drizzle with sauce.
Yum to both. (and both recipes will be going up on the Scribblings blog).
Rachael Ray taught me on my long ago journey that chicken tenders are a great friend for easy cooking. I’ve been making a quicky and easy pesto chicken recipe using skinless tenders for a few years and now I’ve added a baked lemon chicken with asparagus thrown into the pan halfway through.
Still looking at recipes and making plans for expanding the list of easy go-tos — especially looking for toppings to pair with either kind of baked potato. My stores include gluten free pasta as well as jarred sauces and frozen vegetables–which I never used to keep. I’ve learned it’s easy to make a batch of meatballs to store in freezer and then just cook up some pasta with veggies steaming in basket above, thaw and heat some meatballs and tada. So looking at more pasta sauce possibilities.
It feels a bit like a burden lifted as I’ve felt I “should” cook more but have not had energy to do the former norm of elaborate meals. This new path of cooking easy and fast recipes means I’m cooking much more often than I’ve done in years and I’m really loving having more control over ingredients, choices, etc.
Another way in which the odd circumstances into which Covid has thrust us has paid off in a positive way for me.
I was never a cook who kept a pantry stocked for possible long term cooking. Had an assortment of staples I’d keep on hand, usually enough to make one recipe of each. And I’ve always tended to cook kind of elaborate dishes in big quantities. So I’d make a list of what I needed for that particular meal and get exactly what I needed.
In recent years, shopping, like most things, has been pretty hit or miss as my energy goes up and down. So when the pandemic hit and advice began circulating about stocking up for a couple of months worth, I quickly realized we were way behind the curve.
It became an interesting challenge, given all the panic buying, to get well stocked. I’ve been keeping lists going on three different grocery sites, checking in often to see who has what and which place on a given day seems likely to provide a fair portion of the list. But slowly built a store.
But, not having thought in terms of being that well stocked, I kept realizing more things that should have been on my list. And then that I didn’t really get enough of others. Slogging through order after order in which a number of things didn’t show up, I finally got us to a place of well-enough stocked to feel comfortable. Not hoarding piles, just enough.
Quite a learning curve. While I can’t say I appreciated every moment of it, I am grateful for attaining a better sense of how to keep a well stocked pantry. That includes gratitude for a series of really good articles by various chefs in WaPo with their suggestions of items for a well-stocked pantry (some of which admittedly left me blinking and going, “Geez, wtf would I do with that stuff??? 🙂 ). Especially grateful for discerning what allows me to make which selection of things.
I’m so much more tuned in to shopping not just for the meal I plan to make tomorrow but for being prepared to cook from on-hand supplies. Feeling glad to have acquired this skill. And I have to say, probably wouldn’t have happened without Covid-19.