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Archive for the ‘collective action’ Category

In his thought provoking post, “10 Ways Mental Health Professionals Increase Misery in Suffering People Bruce Levin quoted Martin Luther King who asserted in a 1962 speech that:

“Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any other word in modern psychology. It is the word “maladjusted”. . . There are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted. . . I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence… I’m about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”

Approximately half a century later, maybe it’s time we finally created that association.

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I  just finished reading Rocky Braat’s blog, a young man who is devoting  his life to serving poor orphaned and abandoned children stricken with aids in India    I read  his blog surrounded by creature comforts in a land of plenty while our collective national preoccupation appears to be our faltering economy.  I read two days following a holiday still deemed by many to be sacred in spite of the sad fact that its primary message appears to have become “buy this.”   I read in my warm and cozy room, shaken once again by the profound suffering and deprivation  that exists in other parts of the world, and by the spiritual poverty that threatens  my own country.

Braat observes, “very few people in the West recognize how often the white knights of citizenship, medicine, and raw, brutal wealth sweep us up in their powerful arms and bear us from the battleground of suffering. Our bank accounts, our families, our insurance policies and hospitals, our consulates and ambassadors have so often rescued us from folly and misfortune that our psyches cannot squarely contemplate the torment that is the lot of the truly poor. ”

In the midst of our pain and our shame and our debt, there are alternative stories to the “Buy Me”  story so prevalent in the United States.  Following is one of those alternative stories, told by  activist and philanthropist, Lynn Twist.

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allison 2

Photographer: Allison Fowles

Following is a poem by Tom Atlee that I believe speaks to each and every one of us, particulary as our beautiful blue planet heats up, civil unrest reverberates in all four corners of the world, and a fourth of July approaches where it’s not the fireworks alone that causes the earth to tremble.

Extra Ordinary Days

On seven otherwise ordinary days

an Oregon graduate student discovered — without even meaning to —
that a newly engineered bacteria
might accidentally destroy all terrestrial plants

a controversial election ended
with the U.S. Supreme Court
making the loser President of the United States

a flock of geese came within seconds of triggering
global thermonuclear war
a dime-sized robot was created,
capable of prowling around buildings
in coordinated swarms

a dozen physicists debated whether to proceed with an experiment
that might turn the earth into a black hole

global trade in high-tech torture devices was found to be booming,
with a 7500% increase since the 1970s
in the number of companies making
electroshock stun weapons

and, oh yes,
a hundred species disappeared from earth forever,
along with 18,000 hungry children
(but we knew that already: that happens every day)…

Is it possible that
life is not ordinary any more,
despite all its appearances
and comforts?

Yesterday, I saw the death of life itself
stalking just around the corner
of that very ordinary day.

And today, just a few minutes ago,
I saw it watching us
as we dashed along the edge of the End Times,
looking straight ahead, moving fast,
desperate to accomplish so many urgent things.

It is time to look down —
at the earth, at the void, at our hearts.
Perhaps only a blast of vertigo will snap the trance,
call off The Fall,
save our souls and the world in one clear Seeing.
For we are too busy in a not-see death camp on the edge
of the beginning
of the world’s ending.

The prospect of Death, seen once, unmistakeably,
can do wonders for Life.
We need to see death now,
clearly,
for the sake of the children
of this and every generation to come,
of this and every type of life.

When the fire starts in the kitchen downstairs
at 2 am,
we’ll only get one chance to wake up.
Please don’t think the alarm
is part of your dream.
For I have seen this, and it is a fact:
Business as usual is over —
despite everything that remains to be done.

It has been said that war is obsolete.
I say, in the same way,
that business as usual is over —
even though the sun also rises
and the bells toll.

It has been said that what is happening is inevitable.
Well, I say unto you:
Business as usual is over —
even though its presence continues insisting
like the ghost of an amputated arm.

And now I’ll whisper this last:

(For the sake of the children:
Let’s wake up
together
in the very next extraordinary day
that so much needs and wants us awake.)

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In a funny, thought provoking, (sometimes scary) and inspiring TED talk of less than 20 minutes, Roger Doiron (one of Maine’s own) shares how growing our own gardens can improve our health and well-being, increase our wealth, power and freedom, and help save the world. Here are just three of the many facts that Doiron shares during his talk:

Around the world both Hunger AND obesity is on the rise

To keep up with our expanding population, more food will need to be grown over the next fifty years than has been produced thus far during the past 10,000 years COMBINED and we will need to produce this food with LESS – less oil, water, soil, climate stability and time.

Our yards need not simply be yards, they can truly be full service green grocers!

You might want to visit Doiron’s wonderful site, Kitchen Gardners International: A Global Community Cultivating Change where you’ll find information, community, recipes, resources and more.

Here’s just a very small taste of what this website can offer you:

How to plant a garden in the snow
How to give Eco-friendly and budget-friendly gifts
How to connect with and learn from other gardners in your community and around the world
How new low tech technology can assist in growing food in arid environments

Disclaimer: I do not personally know or have ever had contact with Roger Doiron. I simply believe in his work and want to promote it. I firmly believe in the healing power of both nature and community, healthy eating, and living sustainably, consciously, and responsibly.

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I just learned that Theodore Roszack died this past July in his California home at the age of 77 from liver cancer.

I’ll miss him. I’ll miss his wisdom, his perspective, his call to therapists everywhere to respond to the “madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment…” He urged us to join those ecologists and environmentalists who warn that we’re on a path of self-destruction. He implored us not to remain so focused on our clients’ individual issues that we failed to confront the wounds inflicted by a “deeply toxic” culture. In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove on Thinking Allowed, he encouraged us to find out why ordinary people are engaging in behaviors that are so destructive. To ask, “how did we lose our intimate connection to the natural world?” And “what drives us so fiercely towards material gain at the expense of community, spirituality, health, morality, and so very much more?” And he adviced us to listen very carefully to the answers as closely and as genuinely as we listen to the stories of our clients.

He pointed out that while our mental health system was focused on trauma, pathology and illness for so long, there have always been those who’ve maintained that, “the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative.” He asked us, as mental health professionals, to lead the way in helping people move away from the burdens of shame and guilt and original sin and towards what psychoanalyst Eric Fromme called, biophilia — the love of humanity and life. If we were to fall in love with the beauty that’s contained both within the natural world and within ourselves, we’d be far more proactive in caring for ourselves, our planet, and one another.

In an interview on PBS which focused on ideas from his first book, an examination of the revolutionary youth movement of the sixties entitled, “The Making of a Counter Culture,” Roszac suggested that if the ethos of the sixties had prevailed today, “it would be a world, where people lived gently on the planet without the sense that they have to exploit nature or make war upon nature in order to find basic security. It would be a simpler way of life, less urban, less consumption-oriented, and much more concerned about spiritual values, about companionship, friendship, community. Community was one of the great words of this period, getting together with other people, solving problems, enjoying one another’s company, sharing ideas, values, insights. And if that’s not what life is all about, if that’s not what the wealth is for, then we are definitely on the wrong path.”

He called on therapists such as myself in his book, “The Voice of the Earth: An Exploration of Ecopsychology,” and he called on boomers such as myself in his last book, “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation,” to relaim the spirit that was very much alive in the sixties, the one that “questioned rather deeply the cultural standards of the time. He asked us now that we are becoming elders to revive the energy and commitment we had back when we were young to work to birth a better and more just world.

I will miss you Theodore. I took you for granted. I was too self absobed to fully hear your message. And now, as is all too often the case with we humans, you got my full attention only when I found out that you had left me. I’m listening now with both a sad and grateful heart….

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People feel more isolated than they used to, they also feel more threatened. The need for small communities that offer both significance and support to its members is increasing on a daily basis.

One hopeful response to this need has been the creation of common security clubs. In short, common security clubs offer members opportunities to explore how they can increase their personal/economic security through shared action and mutual aid, and at the same time develop friendships, have fun, and be inspired.

Chuck Collins, Director of the program Inequality and the Common Good wrote, “This epoch we are living in should be called ‘The Borrowed Times.’ We have been borrowing from the future to consume today. We have been borrowing from the prosperity and ecological stability of our children. We are eating their seed corn. Together, we must face these realities. Our economy will be very different. We can go two ways: We can retreat into fear, isolation, and scapegoating. Or, we can move toward shared abundance, strengthening what we hold together, collective action.”

I vote we move towards shared abundance and collective action, and forming a common security club here in Lewiston/Auburn seems like a very firm step in this direction.

To Learn More about Common Security Clubs you can read:

Common Security Clubs: Working Together to Face Hard times

We’re in This Together

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