I mentioned last time that I would be posting about this book I am teaching. Ishmael, By Daniel Quinn is a book that looks at our culture and civilization through the eyes of a telepathic gorilla. Once you get past that little bit (meaning you accept that gorillas can be highly intelligent teachers) (oh yea.. little bit... get it?) the conversation really takes off and plows through SOOO much about who we are and how we got to be this way. As a culture I mean... how did we come to view ourselves as separate from the rest of the planet, here to dominate and conquer, here to make our own rules and follow little other wisdom.
So I am beginning to teach the book by introducing a wonderful tale told by an ancient master. Plato, in The Republic, tells the tale of a group of people chained in a cave. Plato's Allegory is a very insightful tale, as you might imagine coming from such a thinker. The folks in the allegory can only look in one direction, in front of them is a wall on to which shadows are cast, behind them a great fire and a runway for puppeteers to cast shadows on the wall. This image has many versions but they all demonstrate the basic idea.
The high school lesson that I will be hoping to impart is that the captives here relate to the shadows on the wall and the echoes of their captives as the real thing, which they are not. They know nothing else so they are bound to make the only connections there to make... they do not know that they do not know. Truth is not possible for them, not until they are freed from their captivity and able to "turn into the light" and see the error of their understanding.
Plato's point to his young student is that philosophy allows man to turn into the light and see the truth of their existence. My point to my students is that this book, I hope, will make a very simple truth clear to them. Not only do they share much with the captives in Plato's tale, they also have the chance now to see the civilization they are part of for what it is, and act accordingly. I'll keep you posted. Get it?
I often hear the question from my friends and from mothers in my store: How should I deal with unacceptable behavior and create consequences for my child at a young age that he or she will really understand?
How do we deal with children who bite, hit, scratch, kick or hit? Because so much of my knowledge is built on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner I defer to his teachings again in answer to this in a book i love called Beyond the Rainbow Bridge in a chapter on creative discipline.
"If hands are hitting we can wrap the hands in silk cloth and let the child sit next to us until his hands get warm. "When your hands are nice and warm they don't hit," we say to the child. With kicking feet, it is the same. A child who bites can be given a large piece of apple or a carrot and must sit beside the teacher and eat it. "We bite the carrot, not our friends." For a child who scratches, bring out the healing basket and trim the child's nails. "Kittens Scratch but not children." A child who spits maybe taken to the bathroom to spit in the toilet."
and children who play in a violent way? Real work is the cure for violent play. Working in the garden, digging holes, moving stones, carrying wood. Through purposeful work the chaos will subside and the child will gradually become more harmonious.
I often see parents who don't think their child can engage in real work around the house at a young age, and how effective this is in helping your child feel purposeful and capable. Give them a mop and a spray bottle and let them spray small sections of the kitchen floor and mop for a while. Give them the vacuum, or the broom and let them "work" within your vision simply to make sure they do not hurt themselves, but be careful of stepping in too much- remember the point is not having them clean the house like we would, but to begin to nurture their own industry.
Who has not grown up eating Frito Lay? Or tasted one of their yummy, salty, greasy potato chips...yum!
Flipping through this months Fast Company and was stopped by a green ad campaign they are currently running.
So true. I was also happy to learn after careful review of their site that corporate has in fact been diligently trying to minimize their impact on the planet, and have even successfully experimented making their tasty snacks by harnessing the power of the sun to help make their Sun Chips- go figure.
2011 means big things for Frito Lay as well when they begin their new plan to run their facility in Casa Grande California almost entirely on renewable energy and recycled water while producing close to zero landfill waste.
Encouraging news for an ailing planet- and a nice marketing spin it's true, but lets face it- As companies with any sense of social responsibility face stronger restrictions and looming questions about our countries ecology, huge strides and major dollar investments sometimes need to be taken into changing manufacturing practices, and distribution methods. Some companies are leading the pack in making these adjustments and taking these steps for less of an impact on the planet. This also means huge savings and strength in numbers to their bottom line. Although many companies shy away from the investment it takes to research and then implement change, their companies will most likely benefit over time through savings usually in unneeded packaging, excess waste, and natural resources.
Much on Frito lay- and a big thanks from your avid snacking fans for doing your little bit.
"In loving you, I see in you a part of me that is also you.. I also see in you something that is really me. And there is you, a person of many qualities-- a person who is a mystery-- a person I am drawn to.
All life - by it's very nature - entails a possibility of defeat. Because of this, we find pleasure and reassurance in the expression of life. Sharing our life and participating in life is reassuring that life is possible. Romantic love is an intense sharing and reassurance that life is possible."
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY.
I have long been in a struggle with the Catholic religion, and at times organized religion in general.
I encourage the practice of faith. I encourage the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the teachings of any other enlightened and introspective being that can offer insight, understanding, compassion and comfort on our spiritual and physical journey as a human being.
My husband was raised in the Southern Baptist Faith.
I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
His father was a deacon.
My mother was a nun.
Unfortunately the message I got growing up inside my faith was one of fear, guilt, and suppression. Ask most of my fellow piers how they experienced their faith and the majority will tell you the same.
How is it that Jesus and the teachings of his benevolent message was so far from our experience of our faith? Organized religion has a long way to go I would say in inspiring a love of his teachings and in understanding how to put his enlightened teachings to practice.
This morning my husband Brad came in from a business trip clutching a New York Times, and thrusting it disgustedly in my direction.
On the Front Page of Tuesday's February 10th New York Times is a story about a new escape from hell that the Catholic Church is granting it's sinners as a way to increase popularity, and re- establish lost ties with it's members who have strayed from the flock.
It's called an "INDULGENCE" - I'll say.
The basic premise is that the catholic church can grant an amnesty from punishment in the afterlife.
RIGHT. Kind of like a "get out of jail free" card from purgatory or hell.
Dear people - where has our common sense gone? Do we really believe first of all that the loving God in its many forms that so many respectfully believe in would create a "waiting room" of penance for our sins to punish us for our transgressions on earth? If the answer is yes...I say we are missing the point of the entire journey here. Secondly- Do we believe that a church or institution has a direct line into God and can grant us PARDON from having to spend time in the Big House? GIMME A BREAK. Life is not a driving record where the your fines can be waived at the pearly gates.
The article goes on to categorize the various "flavors" of indulgences you can receive from the church as if sitting in a booth a friendlies ordering an ice cream sundae. There are "Partial Indulgences" in which you may "reduce" your time in purgatory by a certain number of days and years, and there are "plenary" indulgences which eliminate all of it until another sin is committed. Although the church outlawed the sale of indulgences in the 1567 - charitable contributions combined with other acts can help you earn one. WHAT?! Oh- and there is a limit. Only ONE plenary indulgence per sinner per day...and that sinner will be pardoned at the bishops discretion. PAH- LEASE - I feel like I am reading the directions for the MONOPOLY board game.
The return of Indulgences began with Pope John Paul II, who authorized Bishops to offer them in the year 2000 as part of the celebration of the churches third millennium. I'm sorry- is someone screaming "MARKETING!!!!" The offer appeared prominently on a website of the Diocese of Brooklyn announcing that any catholic could receive an indulgence at any of the six churches on any day by fulfilling some basic requirements: going to confession, receiving holy communion, saying a prayer for the Pope, and "achiveing complete detachment from from any inclination to sin." Basically what the church is selling is a "happy incentive" for confession and to attract sinners back to the church.
So why would I post this on the Earth Savers Blog anyway?
If we are to challenge and change and transform the way we relate to the planet, and believe in our own capacity to make a difference to impact the future- we have to also challenge the dogma's, institutions, and belief systems that keep us in the DARK, and that insult our intelligence. We need to excercise our own common sense as human beings. It angers and upsets me to read of the abuse of power of institutions of like the Catholic Church and the transparency of it's motivations. As human beings, we have the right to explore our intellect, our spiritual identity, and our physical experience of the world, and our journey here.
At the very core of my anger and indignation is NOT an opposition to the teachings of Jesus, and the many wonderful things organized religion can provide for people- but the manipulation of the human psyche and the suppression of our quest for meaning and purpose in this lifetime.
INDULGENCE - yes. That is in fact what the church is doing in this case. Indulging in it's power and in it's reach and influence, and I'M NOT buying it.
I encourage your comments- PLEASE.
With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many are bustling to gather the flowers, chocolates and cards for their loved ones. Yet, for more than 45,000 Columbians, Valentine’s Day isn’t about these gifts. It is a holiday that helps fund groundbreaking social and environmental programs that change their lives.
Accounting for nearly 20% of their yearly revenue, Valentine’s day helps enrich the lives of the workers on 163 Florverde-certified farms. With the sales made on this day, these farms are able to sustain continuing educational programs, subsidize housing and child care and promote local health programs for their workers. These programs aim to eradicate illiteracy, provide subsidies for home purchases to over 2,000 families a year, and provide child care for families of farm workers.
Valentine’s Day also helps certified farms promote sustainable, environmentally friendly agricultural practices. These “green” initiatives include the implementation of Integrated Pest Management to reduce the use of pesticides, the monitoring of soil nitrates and the prevention of water contamination, the improved recycling of waste products and more.
Teamed with The Global Partnership for Good Agricultural Practice, Florverde standards mean healthier workers, fewer pesticides, stronger families, better training and personal opportunities, and a more sustainable future and environment.
For more on this story, please visit http://inr.mediaseed.tv/Florverde_36260/
The Lorax is a children's book, written by Dr. Seuss and first published in 1971. It chronicles the plight of the environment and the Lorax (a mossy, bossy man-like creature), who speaks for the trees against the greedy Once-ler. As in most of Dr. Seuss works, most of the creatures mentioned are original to the book, and have a wonderful rhythm and rhyme. The story is wonderful, and its a great read with kids ages 3 and up. I learned a lot - and I loved it.
Have we all experienced a school teacher we've fallen in love with in the past?
I hope so. I know for me that one very special teacher I loved in grade school also inspired a love of learning and funny enough reached back through the hand of time the other day and taught me yet another valuable life lesson.
I remember that Miss Krista was pretty (I don't know if she really was or if I just found her beautiful because of how she occurred for me.) She was kind, with patient eyes, and a gentle smile, and when she breezed past my desk the most wonderful mix of fragrance did too, like lavender, cotton candy, and summer. Her patient quiet eyes, and her gentle smile were an endless source of encouragement as I fumbled through agonizing lessons of reading and writing.
The other day I was going through an attic room and found my "school box." Growing up, my mother always kept a folder of each grade, our class picture, and several papers that may have seemed important at that time. She finally turned all those folders in a box over to me about a year ago. For some reason my own childish scrawl on one of the folders caught my eye, and i knelt to look through a few of the pages and laughed quietly at my wobbly handwriting while becoming awash in memories of each classroom, friends, the endless hallways, location of each drinking fountain, lined loose leaf paper, erasers, and how sharpened pencils smelled as I stood cranking the arm of the wall mounted sharpener in the corner of each class room.
A manilla folder marked "Miss Krista" in pink crayon with my loopy cursive poked out from behind another. Inside each of the other folders I had looked inside of I ruefully re-discovered my inadequacies in red pen markings on each of my written pages which corrected my grammar, and spelling. Throughout all my school years it had been roughly the same, and the corrections consistant. I grew to know and expect that my pages, essays, and tests would come back littered with red pen remarks, slashes, and circles. The comments in the margins were pretty much the way I grew to experience my own view of myself, and unconciously I know those red pen words haunted me and designed a portion of my future...."More attention to detail!" "If monica only applied herself to her school work as much as to her social life.." "See me!"
But inside Miss Krista's class folder, i kind of sat for a dazed moment realizing that something was different, and when I figured out what it was, what I saw surprised and then moved me.
Each page in tender childish hand was a "short" story written in a few sentences, and each one of them was horribly and obviously misspelled. I was not shocked by the poor spelling and wretched grammer but instead by the bold blue cursive ballpoint remarks and exclamations of "Excellent!" "Such imagination!" "Good Job!" "Keep up the good work!" and the gold and silver stars that I vividly remember shining off the page at me as my fellow student passed it back.
As I stared at the pages it suddenly dawned on me that the lesson's she was more interested in teaching us were those of encouragement, enthusiasm, and a love of learning. Each of my pages were clear of any red pen, and ONLY made note of my successes. Had she figured that all of us would be corrected and informed of our mistakes for the rest of our school days? Had she purposefully decided to only focus on our/my strengths? I'd love to think that perhaps she was interested in honoring each of us more for our enthusiasm and to nourish a love for learning than she was about highlighting our mistakes, and even though it was her JOB to teach us...what was the more valuable lesson at that moment? and then other questions..."Is that why I remember her so fondly?" "Is that why she seemed so beautiful to me?"
Imagine if all of us were like Miss Krista? I think of my children, my employee's, my family, and my friends.
How do I occur for them? Am I patient? loving? kind and and encouraging? Am I light on the red pen and heavy on the blue? Can I take a moment and simply applaud them in their efforts? and for their own unique contribution and perspective? Can I write them notes in the margins of their lives that are only ones of encouragement and celebration? Can I let the rest of life correct and wound with it's red pen? Can I make a difference in their lives and focus only on the good and if correction is necessary, do so with as much empathy and grace as was shown to me by those angels in my life like Miss Krista?
It's amazing to me how a past event or memory can trigger an insight that might alter the way you see a thing, and for that, I say, Life is Baeutiful.
When I was 23ish I moved out to Colorado. It was the year after college, I knew what I wanted to do but also knew that I was not ready to do it yet. I had lots of budding (get it) ideas about the environment, activism, staying out of the crazy corporate world of debt and busy... but I was missing some basic understandings about myself and the world. I could not put my finger on just what bothered me or just what I wanted to separate myself from, I could not put a finger on it.
I spent a lot of time, like lots of 20 somethings with a little cash, a couple friends and long days to kill when there was no fresh snow, in a coffee shop. It was a book store as well and there was a book I kept seeing in that shop that was calling me. I mean that in a literal sense, no matter when I went to the shop, no matter what I was doing, no matter who was there with me... my eyes would always, always end up focused on that book. Initially the book was just on the shelf, binding out, nothing special; eventually it was one of the titles out and featured in the display, then it was back on the shelf and I found it again. It was not random but was not totally methodical either. The fact is that my eyes always, without looking for it, found this book on a shelf in a book store / coffee shop full of books. The funniest part is that I would only realize that it was the same book after I had landed on it and become conscious of the fact. I never looked for it, intentionally or otherwise. I found it, or, rather it found me, at those times when I would be daydreaming, looking around searching for the next sentence to put in the letter I was writing or the next line to add to the conversation I was having. Eventually I bought it.
The book was Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn. The book changed my life and my thinking on a number of levels. I am reading the book again because I just spent about 700 tax payer dollers to buy a set of 60 for my class. I am going to see to it that each one of my students find a way to access this book and its message. Go get yourself a copy. I am going to milk the message of this book to help me become a more regular contributer on this site that my sister so diligently created and continues to create each day. Just start at the beginning, more later.