Soup Night – People Doing It Right

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I found this lovely little story via YES Magazine’s Facebook feed. I don’t know about you, but I’ve mostly lived in Greater Suburbia where even knowing the neighbours is a bit of a lost art. Between fear, inertia, and excessive busyness, communities not connecting, not BEING community has become an epidemic.

I love to see people reaching out, in very simple ways, and changing that. I admit I’d probably have run for the hills within moments of Mr. Don’s arrival, but Ms. McEuen and her neighbours built a tiny miracle in which every piece was a perfect fit. Bravo!

My kind of revolution.

http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/soup-night-a-neighborhood-revolution-20160107

Breaking Bread, and Barriers

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I was really impressed by this article this week:

People Who Strongly Disagree Should Just Break Bread Together

I thought it especially appropriate for Some Grace With That, because it deals with one of the hardest topics in all of modern day American Christianity – listening respectfully to views with which you don’t agree.

If anyone should be masters of this it ought to be Christ’s followers. Sounds a little like loving our enemy, no? And I know some of us are.

I, however, am not, and I sense that I’m in the majority. At least, Christians like me are by far the best known version of us.

I really urge you to read the full article, it’s not that long and it’s well worth it – the end of the story alone is paradigm cracking. If you have an extra 11 minutes, there is even an embedded TED talk by the researcher.

But in case you have graciously shared with this little blog all the reading time you have right now (thank you!) I’ll briefly summarise:

  1. Locate someone with views very different from your own, and take them to lunch (or coffee, dinner, you get the gist).
  2. Ask them, in the course of this meal, these three things:
  • Share some of your life experiences with me.
  • What issues deeply concern you?
  • What have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?

3.  And share your responses to the same.

This will require, of course, really listening, not attacking, but it can be done.

The article suggests that these three questions allow us to see the bigger picture of ‘The Other Side‘ and realise that we may have a number of values, interests and experiences in common – far more than we’d have imagined.

From my own experience, I can see that. I’ll be writing a handful of posts on the game changers that transformed my approach to Christianity, and as I think back on these experiences in light of this article, the common thread I see is that they allowed (forced?) me to see the bigger picture of the people starring in them, and to see how much more we were alike than different.

My dream for Some Grace With That is to become a sort of virtual lunch date like that proposed in this article.

So, pull up a chair, grab a cappuccino, (OMG try this lemon bar, it’s AMAZING! sorry, back on track) and if you will be so kind…

Share some of your life experiences with me.

What issues deeply concern you?

What have you always wanted to ask someone from the other side?

 

Feel free to reply in the comments, if you wish.

Quote for today (and, indeed, for this time):

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“Confront power with gentleness, humility, and kindness. But do not bend and do not turn aside from your direction.”

From one of my heroes, Dr. Richard Swenson, in his book In Search of Balance

Resources: TWLOHA – help and hope

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My first ‘People and Organisations’ resource is

 To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).

From their website:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

I am not as familiar with TWLOHA as I am with some of the resources I’ll list in these pages, having only encountered them a couple years ago, and only really started paying attention about a year ago, but I respect what they do enormously, and I’ve also come to respect how they do it.

They are able to extend far beyond where I am at on the Your-Life-Matters-More-Than-My-Comfort-Zone scale, and they are making a difference in – and saving – lives because of it.

I am adding TWLOHA because I believe in what they are doing, but also because people from every walk of life, and in every stage of life, may stumble across this blog, and if you happen to be someone who needs some hope, needs some help, today, I want to make sure that you have access to a resource that may be able to provide it.

Main Website to learn about TWLOHA: https://twloha.com

Resource page, to find local help, by state: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

Resource Page to find help based on the problem for which you need help: https://twloha.com/find-help/help-by-topic/

Please note that they also have a section specific to Veterans on the topic page.

You can also find the numbers for local and national, 24 hour, free helplines on all the local pages.

Why I’m voting for Bernie Sanders

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Ah, election time… The circus-like atmosphere! The lies! The intrigue!

Had I mentioned that my native cynicism and pessimism reach their peak when it comes to politics?

Choosing a candidate to support is inevitably stressful, and usually depressing. I mainly try to identify the one whose record indicates he or she is least likely to sabotage those things I most highly prioritise.

Not exactly an exercise in enthusiastic citizenship.

This year though, I find myself in an interesting position: There is a person running for President who actually has a record of standing by his convictions. Unheard of! And what’s more, many of his convictions echo my own! So:

Why I’m voting for Bernie Sanders in 10,000 words or less.

(Assuming he doesn’t do anything really stupid or reprehensible before then.)

In brief –

I want some important transformation, and I think that Bernie Sanders is the presidential candidate most likely to help achieve that transformation.

More specifically, I believe that Senator Sanders is the only choice who is going to fight meaningfully for what I feel is most important right now:

I want more people to be able to own small businesses. 

There are a number of practical reasons for this, my favourites being:

  1. Small businesses create most of the jobs in this country.
  2. Small local businesses tend to contribute to their communities in different ways than large non-local employers – more cash in the system, more taxes staying nearby, stronger commitment to the community, more loyalty to employees … the list goes on.
  3. Also, if you have 1000 small businesses employing most of the people in your town and one of them fails, that is a problem, and it hurts people, but it hurts a few people. If you have one giant corporation employing most of the people in your town, and it fails, or just decides it can get a better deal in China, that is a problem that hurts just about everyone.

Communities as a whole benefit from having more people realistically believe that they can succeed with a business. Right now the deck is stacked against them, but it doesn’t have to be.

And I’d like Americans to be well educated. 

And let me say that this doesn’t happen to be an altruistic desire! This is about wanting, dare I say needing, the people who come after me in the workforce having the capacity to keep America prosperous.

I want the workforce of the future to be intelligent and creative, have the ability to think critically, and have a reasonable base of knowledge and skill. Especially when I’m on Social Security! And it’s about my interest in the United States being able to compete in in the global economy.

This is not going to happen if we consistently underfund primary, elementary, and secondary education, and make college education unreachably expensive.

I REALLY want us to have less expensive, more effective, more preventative, health care. 

I have degrees in biology and public health, so you can imagine I have some interest in health. I also work in an international organisation, so I’ve had a little opportunity to look at health, and health care, in a number of different places and systems.

Our system compares poorly to those of most of the rest of the developed countries, and frighteningly, even some undeveloped countries! Now, if it was just that we don’t care about health, and don’t invest in it, maybe that would be less disturbing, but our healthcare system is the most expensive by far! That’s just bad math, friends.

More importantly, I see fixing our health care system as critical to other very important goals like entrepreneurs creating more small businesses, and parents staying home with their kids.

Creating an American single-payer system would give Americans a freedom we can’t have if our ability to pay medical bills is tied to a specific job. I want that freedom for us.

And I do believe more parents should have the option to stay home with their kids. 

Note that I did not say mothers. If mom has a great job that supports the family well, and dad is home with the kids – more power to you.

But more American families need to have the option to live decently on one person’s income so that they can devote more time to raising and shaping their children.

And that is going to be available to a far larger pool of people if

  1. jobs are available here in the United States,
  2. they pay a living wage,and
  3. decent health care is affordable regardless of where you work.

A more useful prison system is loooong overdue.

Currently, I pay taxes to support more and more prisoners each year, and most prisons do nothing effective to return prisoners to being productive – dare I say, tax paying – members of society.

Does this make sense to someone else? Because it’s not computing for me. So, I want prisons, which are DARN expensive, to be providing a bit more benefit for that money. Benefit calculated as reduced recidivism works very well for me.

And the right kind of support for military is critical. 

Another thing that is not computing here is that while our government spends appalling amounts of money on the hardware of military, we do not support our soldiers, or our veterans, at anything like the levels they deserve after putting their lives on the line to defend us.

That we have both veterans and active duty service men and women needing food stamps and other services to survive, or feed their families, is shameful. That veterans do not have adequate healthcare, and many are sleeping on the streets, is appalling.

I also appreciate that Senator Sanders sees military intervention as a last, not a first, resort in international affairs. Military action involves American men and woman dying. Being permanently disabled. The loss of parents, husbands, and wives. That isn’t something to be taken lightly from a distant position of authority.

And military intervention is expensive – not for the President or the multinational corporation, or the lobbyist, but for methe tax payer. When war is necessary, I am happy to pay my share, but I want a commander in chief who makes responsible decisions about how and when it’s needed.

Finally, I want to be part of a thoughtful, functioning democracy within this democratic republic. 

I would not vote for Senator Sanders if I did not agree with a great many of his goals, but the thing I am most hopeful about is his position on HOW he will accomplish his goals.

I saw an interviewer ask him how he planned to get 90 senators to vote for his proposals. Senator Sanders’ response was that HE wasn’t going to do that.

He would take the issues to the people who elected all of them, and work with us to hold our elected representatives responsible for doing what the people who elected them want done.

That was the first time that Senator Sanders’ campaign seemed revolutionary to me.

 

Now, the above are the biggies. My soap box issues. There are a scattering of other things:

  1. He is a crabby old man. (I have a dreadful weakness for crabby old men.)
  2. Despite that, he has been courteous in all the interactions I’ve seen him have. He has pointedly sidestepped some beautiful opportunities to take low blows against his opponents, electing to focus on the issues instead. This may not be the best choice politically, but it makes him someone I can respect. And I don’t get to say that about many politicians.
  3. He sticks to his guns. Despite being courteous, Senator Sanders doesn’t give in to special interests or change his stand every time the wind shifts.
  4. And speaking of guns, he has the most sensible position on guns and gun control I’ve ever heard issue from the mouth of a high-level politician.
  5. He is a Jew, who lost family in the Holocaust, who even did his youthful pilgrimage to work on a Kibutz in Israel, who is completely rational and sensible about Islam and Israel-Palestine.
  6. He agrees that GMOs should be labelled and Corporations are not people. (These actually are two of my big soap box issues, but the post is already long enough.)
  7. It’s a small thing, but I also like that although Senator Sanders appears to be life-long pro-choice, when he and his own girlfriend found themselves with a presumably unexpected pregnancy, they not only did not choose abortion, but Senator Sanders appears to have raised the child as a single parent. And done a done a darn good job of it at that.

Q&A 

Will a President Sanders accomplish all that, in 4, or 8 years? 

No. The President is one cog in the governing wheel of our country and change takes time. But he will take us closer to it, rather than farther away, which is the only direction that helps.

AND the process he claims he intends to use will go a long way toward bringing us back to life as an electorate, so that after his time in office maybe WE will make more of the changes that we want in our country.

Would a President Sanders perfectly represent my every interest and goal? 

Goodness, no. He, like any other government official, should represent the people of the United States, of which I am only one. But he is more likely to represent me than he is to represent the corporations and insanely wealthy families and individuals that pay for the campaigns of most politicians at his level, and that’s a good start.

Do I think Senator Sanders is right on everything?

Are you kidding? I still struggle to think GOD is right on everything! A mere human being? NEVER.

Will a President Sanders save us all from sin and error and present us faultless before God?

No again. Like any other Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders is applying for the job of President, not Messiah. There is a distinction between the two. It is an important distinction.

Wouldn’t Hillary Clinton do just as well?

I don’t believe so. Secretary Clinton, like most politicians right or left, is too tied to the established norms and big money to effect real change. She supports more of the things I support than, say, Donald Trump, but in the end I feel she is going to be business as usual. Some tougher than President Obama, perhaps, but no real change.

So then if Bernie Sanders isn’t an option will I take my football and go home?

A final no. I’m voting for the issues that matter most to me. And to refuse to vote for the next best candidate on those issues is, effectively, to vote for the candidate I consider worst.

So, I will do everything within my power to see the candidate I prefer win, then if that option isn’t available, I’ll do the best I can to vet the remaining options and pick the next best choice.

 

Some Related Reading:

Bernie Sanders’ plan to pay for his proposals

Sanders’ on how to work with congress for change

Capitalism or Socialism? There’s an Even Better Option  – Dave Korten says everything better than I ever will, and I think his article here does a good job of describing the concerns I hope to see addressed by this election.

A nice example of political discourse can look like

Why do we pay so much for healthcare and get such poor results? I’ll do a whole post on healthcare some day, but in the meantime, this is a good discussion on why it’s such a key concern for me.

 

Economic Parasites

cat-1074657_640      STOP!

If you read nothing else today, please read Nick Hanauer’s extremely helpful article Confronting the Parasite Economy!!

Ignore my blog, ignore Pokemon GO, whatever that is, but read Nick Hanauer!

This article does SUCH a great job of explaining exactly how our economy went from GREAT to dismal – and how to Make America Great Again.

There are so many important points it’s hard to choose a selection to summarise it, but these stand out for me:

“all of us who live and work in the real economy should be royally pissed at the way the parasite economy is sucking us dry.”

“It is the real economy that drives both production and demand, and that fills our tax coffers with the money needed to educate our children, maintain our infrastructure, invest in research and development, fund our social safety net, and provide for the national defense.”

“The real economy delivers on the promise of capitalism. The parasite economy relentlessly undermines it.”

“So why should we subsidize a low-wage parasite economy when the high-wage real economy offers so much more? “

But honestly, those don’t begin to cover this awesome (and pretty funny!) article. So just read it! 😉

I have long respected Nick Hanauer because he understands business reality but he doesn’t look at it through snively ‘But this is how we’ve ALWAYS done it’ glasses; he looks at it with the eyes of someone who wants his businesses to KEEP growing.

I’d kinda like that for the American economy too.

And I’d kinda like that to be relevant for ALL OF US in the American economy, you know?

 

 

Be well. 

 

In case the link doesn’t work above, you can cut and paste it from here:

http://prospect.org/article/confronting-parasite-economy#.V0IGuQt2t4M.twitter 

Just NICE news for a Monday

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Happy Monday!!!

I hope everyone is well!

I had to take my elderly Mac into the shop last week. A simple thing: needed a new battery, drop off at lunch, pick up after work.

Then The Call came.

When the technician turned it on after replacing my battery, the display no longer worked. The 500-some-odd-dollar display.

YIKES. This was not news I wanted 10 days before the end of my job.

But his next words were : “We will take care of the cost of replacing the display, because while we can’t figure out what happened, it could have been something I did while doing the repair, but I’m calling to get your permission to replace it.”

After recalling my jaw from its plunge to the floor, I assented with thanks.

I vaguely remember customer service like that when I was a kid, but it’s been a long time since it was something I looked on as the norm.

And it reminded me that there really is a lot more good in the world than I generally hear about.

I want to take a moment  here at the start of a busy week to just savour the simple reality that people are so much more kind, generous, and amazing than our sound bite culture usually implies.

These stories bring me hope and joy this week:

Rebuilding a neighbourhood, one homeowner at a time

Rebuilding a town, one business at a time

Bridging generation gaps

Education for life

 Rebuilding the the climate, by creating a different path

Leaving this life in STYLE

Be well. 

 

(I should point out that this same Apple Store, the week before, had spent several hours finding out that I did NOT need a $200 repair in addition to the battery, but only needed some FREE service to my software. Apple is by no means a perfect business, but they have MY loyalty.)

Then Standing Rock happened.

I gotta tell ya, I’ve been struggling to figure out what the path to abundance looks like in this post election reality.

Having a billionaire nutcase, who wants to destroy darn near everything I see as critical to abundance, become my elected representative to the world, and fill a Cabinet with people like him…. well it’s not been the strongest few weeks on my optimism front!

Not to say I was giving up hope; by the grace of God I just don’t have that capacity most of the time. (Been there once; hoping never to be there again!) And, I’ve definitely seen many pinpoints of good shining through the turmoil.

But let’s just say the hope muscle’s been working overtime with less than stellar results.

Then Standing Rock happened.

Now, no, I am not naïve enough to think that the recent events at Standing Rock change everything. We’re still in a time of great risk.

But they give me a much needed shot of hope.

To have the protestors at Standing Rock go from being dangerously abused in the middle of winter for a peaceful demonstration, to being victorious is a remarkable answer to prayer in itself.

But for me, the pipeline victory, which I realise that Donald Trump’s administration can, and almost certainly will, wipe away as soon as he takes office, is not what renews my hope for my nation.

My hope has grown from the changes these past couple weeks of Standing Rock are working in the people participating in and watching it.

That, effectively, an honour guard of American veterans would kneel before Native American leaders at the Standing Rock protest, repent, to ask for forgiveness for our government’s historical treatment of native people is astounding.

The kind of reconciliation and repentance that symbolizes can’t help but to change the individual hearts of these veterans and the people with whom they served in the Standing Rock effort.

Those involved in the Standing Rock victory can’t possibly go into the rest of their lives seeing each other only as other, as the enemy.

And many of us watching from a distance are changed too.

And our transformed hearts will create people whose lives transform many others with whom we interact.

I’ve also noticed that this action has forced people not only to view the Water Protectors as victors, or those veterans who went to support them as heroes, but to view prayer, and reconciliation, as valuable.

Now obviously a lot of us already saw these as enormous values!

But since the Standing Rock Victory, that has grown. I’ve seen calls for further prayer in one of the most liberal magazines I ever read, and in posts I never would have expected to ponder prayer at all.

Prayer, repentance, reconciliation, these concepts are bigger, more alive, more REAL for people in the United States than they were three weeks ago.

And if you happen to believe in their power, as I do, that is HUGE.

We’re going to go through a lot of damage if, as seems probable, this Trump presidency goes through.

But the interaction of prayer, victory, repentance, and forgiveness played out between two very different sets of warriors transformed into one group of warriors at Standing Rock …

Now THAT gives me hope for us all! 

 

 

Be well. 

Monday: Awake, free.

Happy Monday!!

I hope everyone is well!

I admit that my contact with pop music is pretty limited. And when I do find a pop song I can stand, it frequently turns out to be a fight song of some sort.

Battles come in all shapes and sizes, of course, and sometimes you have to fight things that aren’t visible on the outside. Those may be the toughest battles.

So THIS MONDAY’S music is a sampling from my special hoard of fluffy pop music, with a little bite to it.

CAUTION: both of these are ALL about the video!

If you don’t know them, you’ve got to wait until you can pay attention with your eyes!

If I hadn’t seen the Katy Perry song as a video first, I doubt I ever would have listened to it. And though I LOVE the Lindsey Stirling song on every level, it’s the video that makes it a fight song.

 

 

 

 

Be well. 

Monday Neighbourhood

Happy Monday!!

How are you?!?  I hope that everyone is well!

I am shocked that I never thought of this before, but what better way to face Monday than with a shot of Mr. Rogers?!?!

EVERYTHING is a little more okay with Mr. Rogers!

One of my favourite magazines just posted an article, 10 Mr. Rogers Quotes You Need to Read. Not surprisingly, it is inspiring and soothing in equal measure.

Just one of my favourite quotes from the article:

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”

If you don’t have time to read the whole article, (it’s not long though) PLEASE take the 3 minutes to be transformed by Mr. Rogers’ acceptance speech from the Grammy Awards.

It might be the most charming 3 minutes you’ll have all week.

Sigh….. 

 

By any definition Fred Rogers is my hero.

Especially his own definition.

 

Be well. 

 

 

If you are not an American, or just not familiar with Mr. Rogers, here is a little detail about him. I don’t know how many of us fully appreciated him as children, but he contributed enormously to our lives. (Even if it doesn’t show just now! We’ll get back there; Mr. Rogers would be sure of it!) 😀

Earth Day 2017

 

HAPPY           

 

         EARTH 

 

DAY!!!               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to all who

marched,

taught,

cooperated,

and connected today,

in support of this beautiful creation that supports us ALL.

Thank you to those who work every day – in big ways, and small – to preserve and increase the ability of our Earth to support our lives, health, and futures.

 

 

Be well. 

Blessings in the Storm: Community

 

 

Okay, so I don’t think anyone is left in the United States who hasn’t thought, sometime in the last year or two, “What has become of us?”

Its been a tough time.

But then you get little glimmers of ‘us at our best’, especially when things are at their worst. And you think “Yeah, we’ve got this!”

In a week filled with so much hardship, danger, and heartache in Texas and around the country, in a season filled with LOTS of the worst-we-can-be, my heart was lightened this week by all the GOOD out there.

And there’s so much of it!

Did you hear  about the four bakers  who found themselves stranded at work, because of flood water?

They decided “Hey, if we’re gonna be trapped in a bakery, we might as well get baking – other storm victims are going to need something to eat when we all get out.” So, they baked some 4000+ pounds of bread which their bakery then donated and passed out to those in need.

Or  the furniture store owner who converted his store into a pop-up shelter so people could get out of the storm and rest?

Or the many local Houston residents banding together to offer practical help to those still in need of help locating loved ones or getting to shelter?

And by practical help, I mean taking their trucks and boats out to rescue trapped citizens. This is some serious banding together going on!

I have loved seeing the very best of community come alive in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and his destructive impacts.

No, it shouldn’t be only in times of tragedy that we remember we’re all in this together, but at least we ARE remembering it now. That’s a start!

I thought this haunting video did a great job of showing who we are our best:

(You can get the full, really splendid, story behind the video here.)

As beautiful as the pulling together in Houston has been, it’s not just immediate neighbours who are out there BEING COMMUNITY.

One of the members of a Facebook professional group I’m in posted a note  offering two rooms in her home if anyone in the group – and their pets – needed it.

Several other members chimed in that they had space too.

When I opened my online bank site this week, the top of the homepage bore this message:

We hope you and your family are safe and we’re committed to doing what we can for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. If you need help, please give us a call at 1-877-247-2559. We’re here 24/7.

As so often happens in crises, I was humbled to see nations poorer than my own (and in this current climate, nations with every good reason to ignore us or even wish us ill) step up with offers of assistance.

To my indescribable shock even government beauracracy eased up a bit to make it easier for people find out if their loved ones were hurt or in need!

We make a pretty good team!   🙂

 

Be well.