Tag Archives: Humanity

Ursula K. Le Guin Passes the Torch

An author leaves us the legacy of our humanity.

The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

Leaving the library with the crispness of winter in the air this last week, I pondered the noisy freight express that pushes us, collectively, as a society, into the time-clock chores that eclipse our existence.

Being so “busy”, I wondered if we could afford to take the time to savor the lives of those who offer us the opportunity to participate in the fullness and spaciousness of being here.

Last night, I got an answer to my question when I heard that Ursula K. Le Guin had passed away. Here was an author, poet, translator, essayist, that I cherished, who has consistently inspired me to step off the conveyor belt.  Ursula was as candidly human, as she was a creator of worlds and encouraged us to honestly engage in life.

In 1968, Ursula originated a wizarding school, almost three decades before Harry Potter went to Hogwarts. But this daughter of anthropologists, steered the genre of fantasy and science fiction past the borders of literature into an open exploration of our humanity.

Throughout her novels, collections of poetry, children’s and Young Adult books, essays and translation of the Tao te Ching, there is a subtlety and finesse that upholds a balance. Her feminism, while strong and consistently well spoken, does not overshadow her humanitarianism. Her writing goes beyond ‘isms’, into a space where we may, “feel that progress is less important than presence.”

Just as the old Jewish adage states that “a good question is worth five good answers”, Ursula K. Le Guin’s writing asks us to ponder our lives. We are invited to consider our need to cling to such things as, hierarchy, gender roles, ambition, overstimulation, rage, youth, status, constant growth, constant noise, and control over everything.  Here is someone whose journey stands as a torch we can take up to venture into the unknown where our lives beckon.

I find it significant that she lived to be 88, the number of keys on a piano-forte. Ursula was like a beautiful instrument, with full dynamic range. The melodies she offered ring out to us as keys to unlock our cages of certainty.

This past year, Mrs. Le Guin had been blogging, active on Twitter and just published a new collection of essays called, No Time to Spare, Thinking About What Matters. (Did I mention she was 88?) I checked this book out from the library and plan on buying the other book she published last year, Words Are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books. Instead of buying it online, because it is more convenient and less, “time consuming,” I will honor her memory by walking into a bookstore, revel in the experience, and savor some human interaction.

The Strength of Gentle-men

The need for a men’s movement for our collective humanity.

Looking at pictures from around the world for International Women’s Day, I am reminded of the hope I felt on January 21st as over 3 million people around the world marched in solidarity to peacefully demonstrate the love of freedom, the love of this planet, and the drive to not be satisfied with less than equality for all women.

I was grateful to be marching in New York and to support what felt like the beginning of humanity waking up to its beautifully diverse potential.  As one sign said, “Women’s rights are Human rights!”

My friend Angie is a mental health and relationship counselor. We talked recently and she told me she has been talking to her male clients about the need for a men’s movement. The women’s movement has risen out of necessity. For women, bonding together to strengthen what has been suppressed goes beyond the right to education and equality. The patriarchy we have clung to as our collective ‘bottom-line’ has created an imbalance that has oppressed the human spirit. Men are conditioned to be bread winners, the top dog, the invading conqueror. Men have been compelled to play a role that equates strength with brute force.

“A mentor can guide a young man through various disciplines, helping to bring him out of boyhood into manhood; and that in turn is associated not with body building, but with building an emotional body capable of containing more than one sort of ecstasy.”

Robert Bly, Iron John

Angie pointed out our former president George W. Bush’s comment, “We need an independent media to hold people like me to account…Power can be very addictive, and it can be corrosive.” Angie was impressed that Mr. Bush was able to include himself in that equation.

I do feel we are on the cusp of collectively being able to relinquish our death grip on the privileged-based hierarchy that undermines our true nature.

Lao Tzu, a contemporary of Confucius, and the author of the Tao Te Ching, talked about four virtues that “are not an external standard or dogma, but attributes of one’s true nature.”

“The first is unconditional natural piety. Natural piety means love and respect for one’s being, both the internal aspects and the external manifestations.; a state of profound reverence toward natural life.

The second virtue is natural sincerity. To be genuine, earnest, honest and whole-hearted. It also means being free of all self-deception.

The third virtue is gentleness. When one is rough, one tends to be aggressive, inconsiderate and unkind to others. This behavior inevitably rebounds on oneself.

The fourth virtue is being naturally supportive. To serve without expecting anything big in return. Through serving others, one can find dignity and the true meaning of life.”

Lao Tzu

This fourth virtue is referred to by Jewish Mystics as “the will to bestow.”

Tony Robbins, a motivational and financial giant, who exceeds anyone’s definition of what it means to be a man’s man has this to say: “I became obsessed with ways to do more for others than anyone else was doing, in less time. I (decided) I would never stop growing, never stop giving, never stop trying to expand my influence or my capacity to give and do good. And as a result, over the years, I’ve become more valuable in the market place.”

Tony is what Joss Whedon, (awesome TV/Screen writer/director) would say was “among the rare men who understood that recognizing someone else’s power doesn’t diminish your own.”

I have a close friend named Eric Reisman who has started a men’s movement called:

The Gentle-man.  He is a mentor who quests to strengthen men’s ability to see that being gentle is not a sign of weakness but that our empathy leads us to our full potential.

Another hub of men’s groups is the mankind project.

My friend Angie’s desire for there to be a unifying Men’s movement is not to emphasize and increase the distinction between men and women. When men are not fueled by insecurity and the need to dominate, there is a freedom that is offered to everyone.

It may be that the men’s movement we need will arise from those men supporting the women’s movement. Being able to be comfortable with who we are, we can begin to identify ourselves beyond form. Then, we will appreciate the need for everyone’s right to be free of labels and social constraint.

“May all be happy in the knowing that we are one family of being with one common heart, a Heart of imageless perfection.”- Mooji