There is Still Beauty

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This morning I watched two squirrels go back and forth, back and forth, leaping from branch to branch with mouthfuls of leaves, dressing up their nest. Yesterday I walked with a friend along the winter beach; the sun sparkled against the dark water, the sandpipers clustered, the marsh hawk silently soaring and the colors of rust, yellow, purple blending into a song of November.

There is still beauty. We humans are love and hate, kindness and cruelty. But the natural world—the natural world just is. And there is a great peace in that.

…Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled–
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing–
that the light is everything–that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.

Excerpted from The Ponds, by Mary Oliver

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The Line in the Sand

If you voted for Trump

You voted for the KKK
You voted for suppression of women’s rights
You voted for the suppression of LGBT’s rights
You voted for a man who doesn’t pay taxes
You voted for a man who has never served his country
You voted for a man who abuses and insults women
You voted for a man who doesn’t pay his debts
You voted for a man who condones torture

And you know all this.

And whatever fears and frustrations and anger you have inside of you that convinced you that all of the above was not enough to disqualify him from the office of President of the United States says, unequivocally, that you are morally bankrupt.

Know this about yourself.

I live by principles that delineate a line in the sand I will not cross:

I accept personal responsibility for my behavior and my decisions. I don’t blame others and I don’t blame circumstances.
I cultivate compassion for others because there but for the grace of God go I.
I cultivate my own education because I believe an educated mind is one of the duties of being a responsible member of society.
I cultivate the personal courage to face my fears so I can learn and grow from them.

No amount of personal anger, fear or frustration will let me abandon these principles. Because if they go, I go.

What is your line in the sand?

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What’s Missing? Self-responsibility

I was raised by self-made, middle-class parents who taught me to value education, to read widely, to understand history, to travel (so I would be exposed to other cultures) and to give back.

I now understand that I was fortunate enough to have parents who taught me to develop the courage to grow with changing times. I was brought up not to fear change, but to educate myself to move with it.

As much as I can make out, the conservative mindset rests on fear. I recently read a statement that said the conservative agenda today is no longer a political viewpoint, but a rejection of modern society. Rejecting modern society is futile, however, because change is inevitable. Life, by its very nature, is growth and growth, by its very nature, is change.

The truth is that there is only one sure solution to feeling somewhat comfortable in ever-changing change. It is not to dig your heels in and become sullen and accusatory. The anger so many conservatives exhibit is a curtain that hides the fear of feeling inadequate and left behind. But, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. And so the answer to fearing, and therefore rejecting, the future is to create your own future. And that demands becoming responsible for your own life, which is to say, your choices.

So what are the building blocks of self-responsibility?

Educate yourself so you can be competitive, read broadly so you can be articulate, understand history so you don’t make the same mistakes, travel so you develop tolerance, and give back so you develop empathy.

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