Tag Archives: community

Myth, Ritual and the Holidays

An end of the year reflection

In this interim between the winter holidays and New Year’s, there is an opportunity to reflect. We may have a moment or two between social obligations to consider who we are, where we are, what we are grateful for, why we are here and how we are going to get where we want to go.

If we look at the rituals and myths we have set up as markers to navigate time, it will give us a greater understanding and insight to these questions.

The intensity of Christmas, for instance, is marked not only by the celebration, but an utter clinging to the myth of Santa Claus. This Christmas Eve, the weatherman on the evening news, had a radar screen that showed where St. Nick’s sled currently was. There is almost a militant adherence to the upholding of this myth. At the heart of it, is not an avarice or anticipation of material gain, but a cheerful magic that comes to remind us of our own benevolent nature and capacity for giving love.

The lighting of candles on Hanukkah at this time of year is a ritual that is based on a myth. The candles represent one can of oil, meant to last one day that burned for eight nights. The significance of this ritual and myth symbolize the courage of the human spirit as it stands up to the seeming dominance of tyranny. Every night of the holiday, more candles are added to increase the light. Each kindled flame represents the presence of a collective determination to uphold personal freedom. The honor of lighting these candles is a personal reminder to uphold the freedom of our collective humanity.

The ball that falls in Times Square at midnight at the end of the year, is an illuminated symbol of our collective adherence to linear time with all of its nostalgia and unknown possibility.  The ritual of celebrating with friends and even strangers, in a friendly, spill over the side of our comfort zone manner, goes beyond the tiny bubbles in our glass. It is an anticipated prolonged moment that makes us consciously aware of the present. In its own way, it offers us a portal to transcend time, our body, our routine and environment to recognize that we can change our hard-wired reality into something we equate with hope.

We can fly through the years on automatic pilot, and celebrate holidays and rituals perfunctorily, or we can use them to usher us into the present, savor our interactions and enter into a space where the person we long to be and the world we hope to belong to, raise a glass to us.

Happy New Years!

“We’ll take a cup of kindness yet”- Robert Burns

Bringing our Love-Fear Paradigm to the Table

A Thanksgiving Opportunity

My wife Julia and I were recently driving in Manhattan. While in gridlock traffic, we looked left and noticed a glowing electric sign that was hanging in a window that read, “Right NOW is all there is.” We slowly moved along and a block later, across the street, a painted window read, “Love what you do.”  As we inched forward, we started laughing as we finally noticed the truck in front of us had an insignia, “Trust”, painted on the back.  It was a beautiful synchronous moment, where we realized that our environment was reaching out to us.

We have driven on this street, several times but never saw the signs on either side because we are usually racing to get somewhere. Traffic in SOHO is never predictable and we are often generally concerned about running behind. Yet, the difference this time was, as we drove, we were listening to a book that was aligning us with love and engaging us to be more present.

Fear and love, being the two motivating forces at play in this reality, create a co-existing paradigm, similar to the particle-wave principle of light. Light is both a particle and a wave, depending on how we observe it. Similarly, being in a state of fear or love, shifts our focus and changes our environment.

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In the midst of chaos, we have access to a pervasive calm.  What streams through us, moment to moment, is a love that offers us insights. Love can transcend the fear-based projections which motivate violence and suffering tending to dominate the world.

Both fear and love support us completely. If we are fearful, then the universe provides us with endless reasons to maintain our apprehension. If we are grounded in love, then we are able to recognize or find strength and inspiration, even in the midst of gridlock traffic.

The custom of gathering together for Thanksgiving is an opportunity to demonstrate this Love-Fear paradigm. It is all too familiar to allow dread of awkward interactions to pave the way for passive aggression, political declarations, outbursts of judgement followed by toxic silences.  With a determined intention, we can also decide to be present and align ourselves with love and gratitude. Despite all of our fearful quirks, the love we embody is worth bringing to the table. With that love, we can look past one another’s faults, and the factions we find ourselves in, to strengthen our bonds. It will also help with our digestion.

Whether you are gathered around with family or friends, or find yourself in solitude this week, may love be present. Happy Thanksgiving and a love-filled feast!

Lifting poachers out of poverty

Here was an interesting story about conservationists coming into a region and seriously reducing the poaching of elephants, lions and other wildlife by teaching the poachers and women in the community farming, carpentry, metal working and how to raise bees.
It turns out that poachers get very little for the animals, a few blankets or some food.
COMACO (Community Markets for Conservation) has given the poachers and their families, a way out of poverty into a truer community. 
 
 
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Win-Win! Reducing Human Poverty Eliminates Poaching …

Over a decade ago when conservationists in Zambia figured out the connection between poverty and poaching, when they learned the reason poachers hunted game w…
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  This is yet another example of how education with an aim to eliminate poverty leads to peace on a wider scale.
These same principles can be applied to the continuous powder keg in the Middle East.  Age old differences may continue but helping people cover their basic needs reduces the need to constantly strike out.
 
May your week build you up and engender hope.