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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Redbud and BEE

Suffering surrounds us – the starvation in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, the bombs in Syria, frightening threats from our government to the Earth’s survival.  Yet we breathe, have breakfast, hear the bees in the redbud tree in the back yard.  How can such deep suffering within and around us and such beauty and joy co-exist?

My meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says that mindfulness has two functions.  The first is to get in touch with the wonderful and beautiful things all around us.  The second is to get in touch with the difficult emotions, like anger, fear, pain and sorrow inside and around us.  Mindfulness can help us recognize and embrace these difficulties and transform them. (Together We are One: Honoring our Diversity, Celebrating our Connection, p. 84).

Three things help me do this work of transformation:  a daily habit of mindfulness meditation , connection with community and active resistance to war, poverty, discrimination and destruction of our Mother Earth.  Suffering exists.  How do we transform it today within ourselves, in our world?

Have you heard the protests against Trump’s bombing of Syria?  Who is speaking out against this dangerous action? Yet another undeclared war!

Yesterday I attended an excellent panel on Islamaphobia at Takoma Park Elementary.   I was very moved by all three speakers, two of them Muslim women, Dr. Maha Hilal of the DC Muslims for Justice Coalition and Ramah Kudaimi of the Washington Peace Center.  Dr. Hilal’s dissertation was entitled “Too damn Muslim to be Trusted: The War on Terror and the US Involvement.” She explained the term “Islamaphobia” as part of our government policy to enforce laws discriminating against Muslims for the purposes of promoting “war on terror.” It includes violence against Muslims in this country, dehumanization of Muslims, hate crimes, justification for torture, imprisonment without due process, dark prisons in other countries, Guantanamo Bay, criminalization of charity, bans based on religion, kill lists, drone bombing in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.

The culture of this country, supported by media, television programs, stereotypes, puts the onus on the Muslim community for “terrorism.” Whereas the true fuel for terrorist actions comes from our own government policies of war, bombing of innocent civilians, increasing severe poverty, stealing oil and other natural resources from countries in the Middle East which are predominantly Muslim, killing and persecuting Muslim people, well over a million in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria and northern Africa. These policies have been going on long before Trump and are supported by white supremacy and (I would say) imperialism of our government and our US people.

In other words, the cause of terrorism is in US, not in the Muslim community. So we need to focus the solution, not on changing the Muslim community, pointing out the “good” Muslims who are peaceful, making them responsible for uncovering the “bad” Muslims. The solution is to CHANGE US! Our discriminating laws, such as the “CVE” (Countering Violent Extremism) programs, (spearheaded by the U of MD and Montgomery County!) that equate activism with terrorism. This is a Homeland Security plan to recruit teachers, social workers and police to target youth who express objection to government policies (in violation of their 1st and 4th Constitutional rights of free speech, assembly and security from unreasonable search and seizure), gather information on these young people and stop protest against government policies and actions. Policies like this feel like the beginning of fascism in our country! We have to focus on stopping this, not on changing Muslim communities, practices or “saving” Muslim women! They are some of the most outspoken against these injustices!

Contact mococivilrights.wordpress.com or mococivilrights@gmail.com for more information on how to stop CVE in our schools and community.

A LESSON IN MINDFUL EATING

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived for a visit to my friend in a nursing home toward the end of his lunch time.  He was totally focused on eating, carefully moving the spoon into a dish of custard and fruit.  I sat silently, just breathing and observing the care with which he moved his hands, focused his intention, brought the spoon to his mouth and chewed his food.   He was clear with his aide when he was finished eating, and she waited patiently until that time to remove his tray, leaving a glass of water and straw for him to drink.  Then he was ready for a visit.

What a beautiful time with this amazing man who has helped so many people in his lifetime.  Now is the time for him to receive support with breathing, moving, and just the amount of help he needs to feed himself.  He inspires me to continue to slow down, and take my first three bites for him and my meditation teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has also suffered physical limitations that reduce his mobility.  Both these men give me lessons on mindful eating, mindful living.  My heart is full of gratitude for them.