Topsy Turvy

U.S. Constitution

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” ~ George Orwell

“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~ Albert Einstein

“The universe as we know it is a joint product of the observer and the observed.” ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In the U.S. we have just celebrated Independence Day. This year I have been reflecting on the importance of the words in The Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution, which are known world wide for the concepts behind the words in them. Those words changed the world. They express concepts that were new at the time, like freedom for all, equality, the pursuit of happiness, self-governance and so many others. Our country became an experiment in working together so that all our citizens would prosper in peace.

We created this country so we could live in peace, but peace doesn’t come out of conflict. I use our history as evidence. Not long after we won our independence, we were at war again in 1812. Then many wars followed: The Civil War, the Indian wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, the Viet Nam War, and … you get the idea. We’re so used to what it feels like to be at war, that we have created the Temperance Movement to combat drunkenness. That left the door open for organized crime to move in which created more fighting. We now have the war on cancer, war on drugs, war on HIV/AIDS, war against poverty, and so on.

The use of the word war in all these instances, reflects our mindset. What if, instead of creating war monuments, we honored our war heroes by helping the family members left behind, and helped the living reintegrate into society? I have often heard war heroes say they hate it when we put them up on a pedestal. I’ve never been a warrior, but I imagine that those who must go and fight are the ones who want peace the most. They have seen horrendous things that haunt them for the rest of their lives. What if we helped them deal with their PTSD and find a measure of peace instead of asking them to be in parades with the weapons of war? I mean, do we really want to continue to glorify something so horrific?

Over the last three years I’ve learned some important lessons about words, the concepts behind them, and how we have misused them. Take for example the axiom, “Seeing is believing.” Most people would agree that that is true. But what would happen if we turn that phrase on its head and say, “I’ll see it when I believe it?”

I follow Pam Grout, author of E Squared, E Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. In a recent blog post she pointed out that we are “connected to everyone and everything that exists through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.” Scientists call this entanglement. If you want to know more, click here to read her blog post. In it she writes about recent discoveries about entanglement. I don’t want to get too technical, but these experiments by physicists prove that what we think, creates our reality. So, the phrase, “I’ll see it when I believe it,” is completely true.

Since scientists are turning what we thought we knew upside down, and recent events in this country and around the world are topsy turvy, it must be time to take a closer look at what we were sure we knew as fact.

This past weekend my husband and I watched the movie Arrival again. It perfectly illustrates what I’m trying to express here rather clumsily.

In the movie, Earth is visited by twelve large craft from outer space. Whenever that happens in movies, and I assume it would happen in real life too, the first reaction is one of fear. In the movie, the world leaders put the military on alert so they can defend our planet. But a main plot point is the difference between making decisions based on what has happened in the past on this planet, and learning new ways of thinking and being based on the language of the aliens. The protagonist is a woman linguist named Louise. She’s able to both teach the aliens our language and then learn theirs as well. In the process she begins to “dream” about future events in her own life. Learning the language of the aliens rewires her brain. She sees time and space the way the aliens do. In one crucial scene, Louise tries to get the government and military officials to understand the difference between the way we use the word weapon, and the way the aliens use it. But, as you can imagine, since that is a word with lots of baggage attached to it, she is not successful. So she takes desperate measures.

What this movie says to me is that we are often reacting to the words used by the people around us. We often make expedient choices based on fear rather than thinking of the long term consequences of our actions. The movie points out that words are inconsistent things. Their meanings really depend on who is using them, and how they are perceived. Therefore, sometimes we get angry at what someone says, thinking we understand what they mean, when in reality, they may mean something completely different. Some words are so charged with emotion that they trigger a violent response. In such cases, it’s hard to calm down enough to contemplate other possible meanings. A quote from a book Louise has written before her encounter with the aliens is this: “Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”

We find ourselves in conflict all over the world right now, and the question is, will we react to the words that fly around the news and social medias, or will we take time to look at the intent behind the words? Or maybe better still, find a balance between challenging the words, and believing that we can create a better world by using better words. We can practice seeing and feeling what it’s like to live in peace rather than in war. If we do that, eventually we will see the world we have wanted ever since The Declaration of Independence was written.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, paranormal novel in which two women must rebuild their lives. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and will soon be available in a print-on-demand version at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

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It’s An Opportunity

Earth from the Moon
Earth from the Moon

Like many people I thought that once the elections were over, we would have some peace from the political insanity. Nope. Not gonna to happen. But maybe that’s a good thing.

Like many of you, I’m exhausted. But I just keep thinking that I have to continue plugging along trying in my small way to make changes for the better. I’ve got to continue to spread love where I can and continue to work on myself so that my peace can contribute to the peace of the world. Okay all that sounds grandiose but I have decided that I can’t give in or give up. I’ve worked all my life on making small changes in my life. I will continue to do so.

I must admit that my head is still reeling from the outcome of the elections, not that I was all that surprised. I feel the hatred, anger and rising up of frustrated people all over this country. It’s as if we’re mobilizing for war but this is war of a different kind. It’s a revolution for the little people.

It’s difficult to think coherently about what the future might hold. I’m scared but determined too. It’s one thing to read about such monumental times in history with all the good changes brought about by events. It’s another to live in such times. All I can do is cling to the thoughts of some great people and try to follow their examples. Here are some that I’m contemplating so I can marshal myself to stand up to hate.

“Peace begins with a smile.” ~ Mother Teresa

“The requirements for our evolution have changed. Survival is no longer sufficient. Our evolution now requires us to develop spiritually – to become emotionally aware and make responsible choices. It requires us to align ourselves with the values of the soul – harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for life.” ~ Gary Zukav

“What we think determines what happens to us, so if we want to change our lives, we need to stretch our minds.” ~ Wayne Dyer

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“As someone who has faced as much disappointment as most people, I’ve come to trust not that events will always unfold exactly as I want, but that I will be fine either way.” ~ Marianne Williamson

“I think if you follow anyone home, whether they live in Houston or London, and you sit at their dinner table and talk to them about their mother who has cancer or their child who is struggling in school, and their fears about watching their lives go by, I think we’re all the same.” ~ Brené Brown

“We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“I think the biggest disease the world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved. I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give. I am very happy to do that, I want to do that.” ~ Princess Diana

“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

I don’t remember who said that we’re all just doing the best we can all the time, but I think that’s right. And though it goes against my learned feelings, I have to give the people who oppose my point of view the same love and understanding as those who agree with me. I don’t have all the answers, and I mess up plenty of times. Yet, helping one person, then another and another makes me feel better. Maybe it makes them feel better too.

Thanks for reading.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Fall Cocoon

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“How beautiful it is to do nothing at all and then rest afterwards.” –Spanish Proverb

“I make no secret of the fact that I would rather lie on a sofa than sweep beneath it.” –Shirley Conran

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” –Alan cohen

Every fall I feel myself going into hibernation, or cocoon mode. It feels like lots of transformation is going on under the surface, but whatever changes are happening to me aren’t ready to see the light of day as yet. I’m not quite sure what it’s all about, except that I have to stop trying to do so much and allow the process to happen. All I know is I’ve entered a season of quiet, and I must honor it.

In this country we think that to be worthwhile, we must be active, always doing, accomplishing something. I think it’s our Puritan work ethic which is slowly killing us. Work is good if it’s meaningful, but too much is detrimental to our health. Our bodies are designed to rejuvenate in sleep. The mind needs to be quiet. We need to refresh and renew every so often, instead of pushing ourselves to the limit. I believe that when we don’t allow ourselves to relax, we develop insomnia, nervous disorders, and other health problems. I’m not a doctor, or scientist. I didn’t take the time to research my statements. I’m just going by what happens to me when I try to push myself too hard.

This past spring, we had a short visit from a friend from Australia. He’s a Law Professor. His University gives him $25,000.00 travel stipend every year. They want him to go explore, make connections, get out of the office and learn something new. On top of that Australians get four weeks of paid vacation, and paid maternity leave. I’m envious. There are times when I wish I lived in a country that valued planned idleness and play, because that’s when inspiration and innovation come to us. I know my mind works much better when I’ve allowed myself to rest and focus on something other than the current project on which I’m working.

So, I’m going to follow my inclination to read lots of books, allow what I write to meander in fanciful ways. I’m going to take naps and generally enjoy myself this fall and winter. I hope you take some time off to play and relax when you need it too.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014

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Another Golden Opportunity

“Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.” – J.K. Rowling

“It’s so hard to forget pain, but it’s even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.” – Chuck Palahniuk

It’s happened again. Another school shooting. As I wrote two or three weeks ago, I refuse to be pessimistic about these violent acts. I choose to believe they’re part of our growing up as a species. We think we’re so advanced, and in a way we are, but in other ways we’re still children who don’t understand ourselves. We haven’t yet matured.

As I was thinking about this latest act of violence, I remembered an incident that happened when I was nineteen years old. I was working as a teacher’s aide at a Montessori school in Spokane, Washington. I worked in the three year old room. In the room were large windows and on one of the window sills was a pencil sharpener. It was low enough for the students to use. And it was a fascinating piece of equipment. One day, I was sent to find a couple of students who were supposed to be on the playground or at another activity. When I came into our room, the missing boys were playing with the pencil sharpener. One was sticking his finger into the hole where the pencil goes. The other was turning the handle. Before I could stop them, the first boy’s finger was lacerated by the blades inside the sharpener. I’ll never forget the look on the second boys face. He was shocked. He had no idea of the effect that turning the handle of the sharpener would have on the boy who’s finger was inside the device.

The thing is, we’re all a little bit like those little boys. We don’t always understand that our actions affect others. Though we should, because when bad things happen we’re shocked and disturbed. We don’t understand what’s happened or why. The thing is we’re being presented with an opportunity to wake up and see a bigger picture. We get a chance to learn more about ourselves and why we’re here bumping up against each other. There must be a reason why we’re all here experiencing the things that happen to us.

Unfortunately, what happens most of the time when bad things happen is we push the opportunity away. I don’t know why we do that. Maybe we think it will be too much work, or maybe we think we’re the only one who’s got a dark side and so we try to hide it. The thing is we all have a dark side. We all have violent feelings from time to time. The question is, how do we deal with them?

I used to think I could avoid more pain if I ignored it. I found that didn’t work. What happened was that another devastating incident would happen, only this time carrying much more angst. Eventually, after my life feel apart, I got it that if I deal with the challenges of life the first time around, my life is much easier. I’m still faced with challenges, but they aren’t as desperate, or seemingly insurmountable as they once appeared.

I guess my point is this, there will be more violence with guns and other weapons, until enough of us examine all the issues that are a part of why we continue to lash out at each other. As I’ve written many times in these posts, that’s an inside job. Each person must examine their own tendencies toward violence. We have to do as my sister says,  and “throw out our trash”. It’s a matter of getting down to the root causes of why we lash out, and heal them.

I have faith that the human race is growing up and waking up to how interconnected we are. What affects me, affects you too. That goes for the good experiences as well as the bad.

© Lucinda Sage-Midgorden

Forgiveness and Compassion

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” – Bernard Meltzer

“Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world. But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you, So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.…So, the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all. Life is a procession you walk together towards your god-self. You are the way and the wayfarers.” “On Crime and Punishment” The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran.

When I began the rough draft of this blog, I realized this is the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. What a perfect time to write about forgiveness and compassion. Then serendipitously, I had an opportunity to revisit an incident in which I’m working on those very things.

Last night one of my college acting students, who was also a high school student of mine, asked me why I was let go from teaching at her school eleven years ago. She knew there was a big hoopla about it, because she was still attending the high school and taking drama classes. Those who’d seen to my demise never failed to tell the students about my faults and even indiscretions regarding money, which of course were not true. Being loyal to me, however, she didn’t believe the stories and wanted to know my side. I told her what happened from my point of view. I also told her that I had recently been working on forgiving the people involved. It was a political situation, and I was made to look like the villain. Funny how wolves can hide in sheep’s clothing and make the sheep look like the wolf. I told her how I’d held onto the pain of that horrible event for ten years, but how freeing forgiveness could be.

I didn’t give her details, but what happened to change my desire for revenge to one of forgiveness was studying A Course In Miracles. As I studied, I was faced with the reality that by holding a grudge, I was in a very real way, attacking myself. I was hurting myself by wanting revenge, so I let go of that anger and hurt. I’m still letting go of it. I had to admit, that were it not for the attack on my character and competence to do my job well, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post. I wouldn’t be writing a novel. I wouldn’t have found the thing that makes me supremely happy. I’d still be teaching drama and find myself in constant battles. I’d be stressed out.

That brings me back to the 9/11 attacks and my use of the Kahlil Gibran quote.

Any attack, whether it’s personal, or on a group, or on a nation, is not a one sided affair. I wasn’t the innocent victim of an attack on my character and teaching ability. Something in me attracted the attack upon me. Now I understand that it was my soul trying to get my attention. I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose. The only way I’d see that fact was to lose the job I thought was meant for me.

Just like my personal story, the 9/11 attacks weren’t perpetrated on an innocent nation. Something about who we are, called those attacks to us. Maybe we don’t see it, because we live in the most powerful nation in the world. But we’ve influenced the art, fashion, politics, religion and cultures of almost every country in the world with our movies, literature, music, financial aid, and even things like the Peace Corps. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, except that we have the attitude that our way is the best, so, of course, everyone everywhere should be happy to be changed by us. We’re a little bit like Ancient Rome, except that we don’t conquer with armies, we do it with all the things I’ve listed above. The thing is, we don’t open-heartedly respect what other countries and cultures have to offer us. And that makes me weep, because it contributes to more conflict in the world than any of us want. The conflicts that we’re faced with today are our chance to make a new choice, to change our attitudes, and to forgive ourselves and those who’ve transgressed against us.

On this September 11th anniversary, I hope we’ll focus on forgiveness, not rehashing what was done to us. I don’t mean we should forget those who died. But I hope we’ll give up some our arrogance and open our hearts and minds to the richness of the other countries and cultures of the world. I hope we appreciate the view points of other people at home and far away and consider the wisdom found there. I hope, we’ll be humble enough to give up our arrogance and entitlement. If we do, we can change the future and contribute to peace in the world.