Protests: Public, Private and Non-Violence

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…

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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.

Non-Violence

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

 

Over too soon

I’ve so enjoyed this more relaxed version of national blogging month, I’m sorry it’s over.

As much as we reduced the requirements, I still didn’t manage to meet them.  I think with this one I’m two short on posts.  I did read blogs almost every day but commenting was sporadic and, since I’m only on FB and Twitter and fairly carefully curate what I put on each, the share on social media requirement was unlikely to be met from the get go.

But the last couple of weeks have been a rough go on the face unwinding/then not sleeping issue so I’m fairly pleased I managed to be in it at all.  Though I’m also sorry I didn’t hit the requirements, the pleased part mostly wins.  For a lot of the miserable years this has been going on, I’d have just disappeared from the challenge.

It’s been a treat re-connecting with a few folks from the past, finding some new people to follow, reading new and different things, etc.  I’m wishing we did this more often.  Not too often 🙂 … but more

Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Spinach

Normally this would just be on the Scribblings blog, but since I’m participating in the blogging month with the Cheer Peppers and I only signed this blog up, you get to see it here too 🙂 A healthy way to have “mashed potatoes” for Thanksgiving

Scribblings from the Bluegrass

Cooking in water

Several years ago I saw a Rachael Ray episode on Thanksgiving for which she prepared a dish with mashed potatoes and parsnips with spinach and parmesan stirred in.  It sounded so good but I wanted to try using cauliflower instead of potatoes to make it healthier.

Substituting 2 cauliflower heads for the potatoes, it turned out great but was a lot of work. Since then riced cauliflower has become popular so I hunted for a recipe for mashed cauliflower using the riced version–so much easier.  Then I used aspects of both recipes to create this one.

Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Spinach

  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 16 oz packages riced cauliflower (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 parsnips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup reserved water from cooking cauliflower
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 6-8 oz fresh organic baby spinach or kale or 10-12 ounces fresh spinach…

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Just fillin’

As we get closer to the holiday, I’m spending more and more time on groceries and early prep (since i have trouble standing for long periods, I’ve worked out a plan for fixing things that can be frozen ahead, etc. so the dinner comes together in increments) and finding myself so tired I can’t think well enough to write.

I ran back into this video from the Voices of Service audition for the last round of America’s Got Talent.  I so LOVE their rendition of Katy Perry’s Rise — I’m only sorry that the time limits for the audition meant we don’t get to hear them sing the whole song!  Have fun:

What voices can tell us

In a long ago teaching — one of the teachers at Nine Gates, but I no longer remember which — mentioned a quote about never trusting a person whose laugh doesn’t come from their belly.  It was about the sound and feeling the energy in it — if it comes from the belly there’s a difference resonance.  One of those moments that struck deep for me and I’ve remembered it and pondered and listened to voices with more care ever since.

The listening has helped me be aware that you can learn a lot from voice resonance and, if you’re really listening you can hear if there is sound coming from the lower chakras and/or the heart or only from the top.

I’ve been noticing a trend in which more and more people’s voices are high pitched — shrill to me — and come only from their heads.  It started with hearing lots of women on House Hunters whose voices made me wonder how their spouses managed to live without earplugs.

Increasingly I’m noting it as a spreading phenomenon.  Now I’m hearing these voices all over television, in public places, etc. and it’s men too though their naturally deeper pitch makes it a little harder to catch.  To me they sound like they’re 5 and just took a suck off a helium balloon.

A voice pitched only in the head is the voice of someone cut off from their body, cut off from emotions.  This doesn’t mean you have to make some kind of judgment, but when you hear it and understand there’s a disconnect it’s an important piece of knowing who someone is.

It tells me this is someone who’s likely stuck at some childhood stage with buried emotions.  This kind of stuckness usually has impacts on behavior and can make it much easier to understand what’s going on when faced with sudden withdrawal or fury or tears, etc.

I’ve also, to the best of my ability, followed changes in my own voice, from tiny and only in my head to generally feeling vibrations in my heart and solar plexus when I talk that I — at least to myself — feel have changed the quality of my sound.  A few long-time friends have commented a number of times that my voice sounds different from one time to the next and often there’s been a round of emotional release or body work opening muscles in the interim.

In another direction, listen carefully to the voices of people who’ve meditated deeply for years or, even more notable, pay attention when someone you know comes back from a week at a meditation retreat.  Their voices hold many more vibrations and tones, a fullness and richness.

What I’ve been contemplating is what it means in our spiritually disconnected society that we have such growing numbers of people whose voices are only in their heads. Who have buried traumas so deeply they’ve created blocks that separate their heads from their bodies so they’re always living in their heads.

The epidemic of people with neck issues is a major symptom of this — one of the big ways people cut themselves off from their bodies and from the tones of the root, second, third, heart and, often, throat chakras.

Don’t have any answers or suggestions for government intervention 🙂 , just noticing and wondering…

 

Falling behind

Even with our reduced/easier schedule for NaBloPoMo this year I’m struggling.

Deepak Chopra chose this month to start one of his 21 day meditation events and I signed up. I’m only a day behind at this point, which is highly unusual for me.

Then a friend recommended a free on line video course called Time of the Sixth Sun.  The videos are around an hour and-a-half each and stay up for only 24 hours, so it’s been a bit of a dash to keep up.  Watched the final one today then found out they’re going to make them available again this weekend and, as I found out too late to see the first two, I now have more to watch.

Another friend passed along yet another free online video course exploring Eastern medicine and cancer.  It started while the “Sixth Sun” was still going so for a couple of days I juggled watching two long videos and doing the meditation while also, you know, having a life. And I’m about to juggle both a couple more days.

An abundance of good stuff, but sorry, it has sidetracked my attention from blogging challenges.

Pioneering women

Not long ago I suddenly thought of my grandmother’s friend, Sunshine Sweeny.  I only knew her in passing, but I loved her name and she lived down the street from the home on Third Street to which my grandmother and aunt moved when I was 12.  I wondered whether the house there had been passed down in the family or whether she purchased it later.

A couple of months later my friend Cecy came to town.  I met her when she had just turned 13 and I was still 12 because my aunt knew her mother and they lived down the street  We decided to take a nostalgic tour of Third Street (pictures of each of us in front of “our” houses are going up on the Scribblings blog), so I took the above shot of the house I recall as Sunshine’s — across the alley from Cecy’s old house–while we were there.

Then I started doing some poking around.  I didn’t find out a lot about Sunshine but one main item was that she took over the family farm, which I thought answered the question about the house.  Her sister, Mary, however, was well enough known there’s quite a bit of info and Sunshine is mentioned here and there.

Neither sister ever married and both had levels of education and held positions that were very unusual for women at the time.  Their father was a doctor and I’m thinking both parents get a lot of credit for raising such independent and aspiring girls.

Sunshine shows up in the 1907 University of Kentucky yearbook as being on the “classical course”.  Somewhere after she began to run the farm and I found her in a KY gov publication as being on the executive committee of the Kentucky Sheep Breeder’s Association in 1917.

In 1914, she directed a group of women conducting a campaign against illiteracy in Lexington. It was part of a movement across the state.

Also in 1917 Sunshine and Mary went to Europe to serve food in canteens for troops in WWI under the auspices of the YMCA.

MARY SWEENY

 

Mary graduated from Transylvania University in 1899 (Transy for folks elsewhere, is a highly regarded little liberal arts school here in Lexington, founded in 1780, the oldest college west of the Alleghenies), received a Masters from University of Kentucky and then another Masters from Columbia in 1912.

She taught physics and chemistry at Campbell-Hagerman College, during which time she introduced hot school lunches to western Kentucky. Then she taught Home Economics at University of Kentucky, becoming head of the department in 1913.  In 1917 she was appointed chair of the U.S. Food Administration in D.C., where she trained citizens on rationing food in wartime.

Next she became dean of Human Ecology at Michigan Agricultural College and then the Merrill Palmer School in Detroit, where she worked with the American Red Cross on nutrition in the inner city, creating a program that later became Head Start.

She also spent time in India, starting in 1939, won a citation for bravery in WWII and was a consultant in China on child welfare.  In 1965 she was named to the hall of Distinguished Alumni at University of Kentucky.  The citations in her Wikipedia article lead to some pretty interesting pieces about her.

Since neither of the sisters had children and I’m not sure if there were siblings, I don’t know if there’s anyone to remember their contributions so I wanted to produce this little reminiscence in honor of their pioneering lives.

Another fun aspect of the research for me was running into SO many prominent Lexington names.  People who were friends with my grandparents, whose children my mom and her sister knew, whose grandchildren I met.  People who owned stores downtown.  Louis Hillenmeyer was in the Horticulture Society in 1917 and a couple of generations later Hillenmeyer’s is still a major name in the nursery business here.  So cool to see the history.

Anger in the air

Screaming it out

In a recent post I alluded to experiencing some irritability lately and the first couple of days of this week had me at such high levels of feisty and cranky I’ve been doing some contemplating.

The orange man held a rally here in town on Monday and I’m pretty sure some of it was me picking up on the great numbers of angry people who converged here to attend and the angst of those who opposed and gathered outside in protest.  Now that the election is over, I’m much calmer so I’d say that was a lot of it.

But since anger was a big issue in my early inner explorations and a lot of the processing work I did during the Fischer-Hoffman Process* involved releasing huge amounts, I try to stay aware if I think another issue seems to be surfacing.  I did the Fischer Hoffman 1992-93 and for I’d say 10 years after, every time I unearthed an issue with angst attached I used “the process”, identifying the source and pounding pillows, etc.

Without intending to, I drifted away from doing it and most of the release in the last 15 years or so has been at the agency of body work therapists and/or me using the triggers of release work and opening something up.  When I first encountered Ellen, the F-H facilitator, at Nine Gates during third chakra work, we used some techniques Gay Luce added, which she called “emotional hygiene”.

I used to do those off and on as well, my favorite being one where you take a somewhat wide stance, clasp your hands, inhale and hold your breath, and then raise and lower your hands while bending forward as if you were chopping big logs with an axe.  You keep swinging for as long as you can possibly hold your breath.  Then exhale and repeat as necessary. It’s a great way to shake some of the daily irritants of life and, if something is bubbling up, it is also really effective at getting it to the surface.

Remembering the work has me thinking it would be good to incorporate the chopping on some regular basis and also exploring whether I feel a round of the process is in order.  I know that besides picking up on community energies, the current round of muscle releases in my head is off-loading some old and/or ancestral and/or past life issues locked in for most of my life.

Most of the time I try to look at this long healing road as a good thing, both (1) from the standpoint of being freed of physical pain and problems and (2) especially for healing the emotional issues lurking beneath.  But I’m realizing there’s a level on which I’m pretty angry about the huge disruption in my life this has caused for YEARS, especially the precarious financial situation in which it has left me.

So I’m thinking it’s time to dust off the process tools — as best I can remember them now 🙂 — and plan a session.  And some chopping.  Definitely some chopping.

The return to lovingkindness chanting is definitely also helping but since these bouts of temper keep arising in between rounds of chanting I’m feeling the anger needs to be addressed.  Disappointing to be back to this, yet I also know every bit of clearing any one of us does contributes to lifting the anger out of the Oneness, so I feel committed.

*Ellen, having been a facilitator for many years had devised a deeper and longer version.  The original process, now called the Quadrinity Method, is still around but not the same as her work.  Since her death, as far as I know there is no one doing her variation.

The Ah in God

Contemplating the divisiveness these days on many issues, especially religious, I’ve been thinking a lot about some teachings I received long ago.  Late 80’s into mid-90’s I had several different teachers who talked about vowel sounds in ancient times and how they relate to chakras, meanings and to modern language.  There was a gem about the sound and meaning of “ah” that has always stuck with me.

The two teachers I can recall most specifically are David Patten, who is a Druid descendant and teaches about ancient Celtic practices at Nine Gates, including the alphabet– the “oghams”– and Paul Ray, who taught Sufi at Nine Gates (long ago, when I went through…).  I lived in an apartment connected to the home of my friend Gay and David, so I also got to hear about oghams at the dinner table while he worked on a book.  This many years later I don’t remember which other teachers and much of what I learned is a bit of a jumble.

For all these years, though, a teaching on “ah” as the sound of God has always stuck.  Many of these ancient concepts provided layers of meaning to each letter — things like, a type of tree, a mineral, a bird, a divination interpretation, etc. — and those ideas were often incorporated in later alphabets and languages though the underlying layers are no longer known in general.*  So it turns out that the “ah” sound, if you look carefully, is in every name for God.  Krishna.  Allah.  Yeshua (Jesus). etc.  And of course the way we pronounce “God” there’s an ah in it…

As I studied with teachers from different traditions and increasingly realized every major religion has the same principles at the core, I would come back to the sound of “ah” and realize the name is not only there in each place, but the sound that conveys all those principles and shows up in each one is a unifying piece.

The name may look different in each language, but the spirit of love in the “ah” is always present.  The same principles of the Eightfold Path — right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration — are within all of them, they just use different words to express them.

So I look at all the division and discord about this religion versus that or this denomination versus another and I wish everyone could take a breath and feel the “ah”.  For many, if the words are different for some reason they can’t see the heart is the same.  I just feel the love at the core and keep wishing we could all find our way back to the heart and the love and compassion.

This is my first post for this year’s Nano Poblano — a version of National Blog Post Writing Month.  The group decided to change it up, so this year participants are committing to 30 days of blog activities–  10 days of posts, 10 days of reading/commenting, and 10 days of sharing posts through any other platform. You can see posts for the event here.

*David has been able to translate some obscure modern languages without having ever studied or spoken them just by applying his knowledge of the meaning of letters.

Bye Bye NaBloPoMo

 

nanopoblano2016

I actually wrote most of the first piece in my latest budding little series today.  But when it was time to start typing and finishing, I realized it’s the last post for NaBloPoMo and decided I’d rather say a little farewell (with a touch of good riddance thrown in 🙂 )

I’ve so enjoyed reading posts by new-t0-me bloggers and getting some new followers.  And it was easier for me this time to post every day than it’s been on my previous two outings.  I did post every day though I’ll admit one day it was just a reblog with a little note added from me…

However, it’s been feeling a little tougher here at the end to churn one out every day…  And the added reading time to get through the NanoPoblano list as well as the folks I already follow (thank goodness for the folks who are on both lists!) has gotten harder to find.

I’m thinking it would be fun if us NanoPoblanos could check in quarterly — some kind of challenge or a day to post and use the tag again….  But for right now, I’m kind of happy to know I can skip posting tomorrow without letting down my commitment.

Thanks everybody!  We did it!

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Uh oh, filling space again…

I’ve got a little 2 or 3 post series forming in my head and planned to start today but the muscles around my eyes are jerking all over the place and it’s hard to focus either my eyes or my brain….

Can’t complain though, the yanking is opening lots of knots, moving along toward that end I’ve been expecting…  for years…   Shh…  Don’t tell anybody, but it could be near…

The chanting, BTW, has been lovely and having such an impact.

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Seeing the other view

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London, UK,...

English: Anti-apartheid protest in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all the finger pointing and rancor going on post-election, I keep remembering two big lessons about world views I got years ago.  I think they keep coming up for me because I see some assumptions being made in the jibes about those who voted for Trump and my lessons told me those assumptions are probably wrong.  In times like these it’s so important to be able to step back and at least try to understand another world view.

The first lesson occurred when I was a sociology graduate student, working on a big study for Northwestern’s Center for Urban Affairs.  I’d been assigned a couple of neighborhoods to interview as many people as I could.  One of the areas was a working class neighborhoodk with some big open housing issues going on.

Having done some networking, I went down one day and interviewed a group gathered in someone’s home.  Afterward, a few of the people took me aside and told me quite nicely that if I wanted people there to feel comfortable talking to me I needed to quit talking so “high brow”.

It came as a shock because I’d been very careful not to go into “PhD speak”, which I’ve always despised.  Eventually I realized that even though I grew up in a blue collar area, my family is loaded with college-educated people and all my friends growing up were the children of educated people — if not formally educated, the kind of people who read a lot and are always learning (often better than school, I’ve noted).  In many ways we don’t speak the same language as people who aren’t readers and learners.  The people I was interviewing were put off by my style of speaking and I could see I didn’t have a clue how to change my language to what they needed.  We literally talked past one another.

The second lesson came as a fairly new lawyer, back in the late eighties, when I joined a pro bono legal team who were defending a group of protesters arrested at the South African Consulate.  Our case intended to set precedent (and did) for using the necessity defense, in this instance arguing that the conditions under apartheid in South Africa were so atrocious it was necessary to violate the law by protesting (kind of a simplified explanation).  A lot of our case involved testimony from people who’d either been there or had some expertise about conditions under apartheid.

During the voir dire (choosing the jury panel) it was very important to both sides to know how much awareness the potential jurors had of the situation in South Africa and whether they already had opinions about it.  We questioned something like 60 potential jurors of many ages, races, jobs, etc, asking every one whether they regularly read the newspaper or watched the news and what they knew about South Africa and apartheid.

With two exceptions,  the startling answer was no.  No one read the newspaper.  No one watched the news.  They barely knew where South Africa was and they knew nothing about the apartheid situation or the call for an embargo, nothing about Nelson Mandela (he was still in prison and far less famous outside the circles who were informed about the situation).  Since my entire family and all the people I knew had newspaper subscriptions and watched the news, listened to NPR and stayed informed, this came as a great shock to me.

But it also stuck with me that I need to always remember the world view my circle shares, which assumes you need to stay informed by paying attention to the news, is not the only world view (and not one I share any more).  I keep seeing people accusing those who voted for Trump of being bigots, misogynists, etc. (and I did it in a post too) based on an assumption they heard and saw all the things he said.

While I am sure there were plenty who did know these things and voted for him anyway, the probability is that a significant percentage of those who voted for him do not read newspapers or watch the news and didn’t know most of the outrageous things he’d been saying.

The sweet spot for me at the end of the trial story:  when I went to the picket line at the Consulate after the trial was over, several members of the jury were there marching. As soon as they knew and understood what was happening they felt they had to take part in the fight to end apartheid.  The fact they’d previously chosen not to stay informed didn’t mean they were stupid or unfeeling, it meant they lived a different lifestyle than mine.  And when they knew they showed up to help.

We’re all divine sparks of All That Is.  Sometimes you have to be open to seeing that spark and trying to understand a different way of thinking.

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Thankful… Thanksgiving…

fresh cranberry compote from another year

fresh cranberry compote

Here in the U.S., Thanksgiving just started.  Since I made things ahead and bought most of the side dishes, a lovely dinner will be had and I can have a pretty leisurely day leading up to it.  (you can see my main recipe over on the other blog, here)

I’m so grateful to be able to buy the food for such a meal, to have the wherewithal to make such a meal and for having a nice home in which to eat it.

Although I’m glad NaBloPoMo is almost over, I’ve also enjoyed it and am so thankful for the news friends I’ve made.  And even more thankful for the blogging friendships here that now stretch years.  Love you all!

And I ask for prayers for the protesters at Standing Rock.  Some of my local friends are about to head off to join them, so if you can add thoughts for a safe journey for them as well, I’d so appreciate it.

Whether you’re having a holiday today or it’s just an ordinary day, I wish you peace, happiness and love.

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What lies beneath?

3x-great-grandfather-gallaher

Whenever I find myself being deeply emotionally affected by some external circumstance like the election, I know the situation has to be touching on something in me.  Along with chanting for peace and lovingkindness I’ve been watching the ebb and flow of emotions while chanting and also observing the impact of the spewing going on on FB, wondering what my reactions are telling me.

Starting before the election, another major phase of unwinding in my face has been going on.  [The glued-together stuff at the root is finally separating enough I can pick out some specific muscles!]  Whenever muscles are opening there’s a fair chance some old issue, whether personal or ancestral or past life (or all of the above), is going to be released.

The way the Universe operates, I figure there’s a pretty good chance the issues from the election and whatever I’m moving through in the healing process are related.  As I’ve contemplated I’ve looked at a few things and come up with one surprise issue I’ll be exploring.

Several times the Gayatri Mantra has produced a big emotional reaction so I looked up a translation.  I know it’s used often for peace and that it opens the heart, but the specific meaning of the words doesn’t seem to stick with me.  I found a lovely translation and discussion on this site:

OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance;
May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect

While I don’t find anything there that raises a specific personal issue, I can see that the tone and purpose of the chant is a big contradiction to what’s going on in the U.S. right now.  I figure it’s hitting right in the place where fear is pulling me away from an open heart…

The big place where I’ve been very emotional involves the horrible things Trump has said about people of other races and religions, especially his commentary on Blacks.  Ridiculing the Black Lives Matter movement and talking about “go back to Africa” hurts my heart.  One evening as I explored inward about what might be evoking such a strong response, I suddenly saw my family tree in my mind’s eye.

You see my 3X great grandfather and his son, my 2X great grandfather (plus his many siblings) owned slaves.  When I first encountered a copy of a will from 1837 in my grandfather’s effects, I was so young I really didn’t know what the bequests that seemed to hand off people meant.  Nor did any of us know what relation the testator had to us.

As an adult I recalled seeing the will and realized somebody in my family had been a slaveholder.  I’ve grappled with guilt over it off and on ever since but ultimately I’ve had to realize I wasn’t there, I didn’t convince anyone to do it and I’m not responsible for what they did.  I’ve always aimed to treat every human I encounter with dignity regardless of race, creed or religion and I don’t quite know what to do about what my ancestors did 170-200+ years ago,

Eventually I did enough research to know the maker of the will was my 3X great grandfather.  I’ve stood on the property he owned in Tennessee and I’ve seen the graves of both him and his son.  What mixed feelings I have about them.

It was moving to see the piece of land my 3X great grandfather purchased around 1800.  It’s hard to describe how it felt to stand not only at his grave but also my 3X great grandmother and another set of 3X great grandparents whose daughter, my 2X great grandmother, married my 2X great grandfather.

They’re my family.  They moved from Scotland to Ireland when England offered property and then a few generations later my 4X great grandfather moved to Pennsylvania.  Eastern Tennessee came next, then a little west to Knoxville.  Eventually branches of this family were involved in every major surge to the west in American history.  Part of me is proud that these poor farmers had the courage to keep picking up and moving forward to seek a better life.

Part of me wants to travel back in time so I can hop up and down in fury and demand what on earth they were thinking???  How could they be so cruel?  I wind up in this ambivalent space between loving them because they’re my family (and much of the courage and conviction I carry I know I owe to them) and despising them because they lacked humanity.

A piece, then, involves my ambivalence.  But I also have a deep sense I’m feeling something that has to do with those ancestors and how they felt or now feel about slavery and their part in it.  I’ll be doing some exploring in meditation and ceremony about the ancestral piece and possibly it’s time for a check-in with Hanna for some of her excellent healing.

How about you — if you’re feeling strong emotions around the election of Trump, have you found any of those feelings arise from personal issues? Are you aware of the source of these deep reactions to xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, misogyny, etc.?

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