Transforming The Jangling Discords of Our Nation II

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. ~Martin Luther King

First, of all, I need to fess up and say that in this post I’ve co-opted relevant parts of one of my own 2011 posts. I’ve include it here if you wish to read it in full.  The portions that I’ve used are relevant to this discussion, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I reuse it here.  The above quote is an excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s  famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Originally, I used the quote as a prelim to a post commemorating Dr. King’s birthday.  I use it now to discuss  a serious problem that has overtaken our country.  The problem about which I am speaking is the vitriol, rancor and hatred that has permeated America society during the last eight years.   It is commonplace to refer to “red” states and “blue” states, Republicans and Democrats. All these labels serve nothing more than to further  divide a populous that is already dangerously separated.

It’s “us’ verses “them.” For a too large segment of this country, agreeing to disagree is akin to an accusation of murder. It is impossible. Differences of opinions are now regarded as personal attacks, and in some cases, may lead to such. Families are torn apart, friendships are irrevocably damaged, and employees are instructed by their employee who they should vote for. Ironically, those who are the first to scream and shout if it seems that their First Amendment rights are even slightly infringed upon, are the very same people who shamelessly denigrate the beliefs and points of view of others, all the while championing their own.

On a grand scale, there is no simple or quick fix to the angry, hateful climate that has been allowed to fester for more than a decade. We cannot look to the media, politicians, or anyone else for that matter, to address the problem, because in some cases, they participated in stirring the pot of discord that has boiled to overflowing. The answer lies within each of us. Of course, there are a multitude of actions that we each can take to make sure that we are not part of the problem, but a part of the solution. The first and most important step is to recognize that there is indeed a problem. Doing so, allows you to take responsibility for your own actions, and to set a mindful intention not to add to the divisiveness.

One suggestion is to begin each day with this affirmation:

“Today I will attempt to see anything I am involved with from more than one perspective. If I feel myself getting stuck in the way I see things, I will say to myself, “I wish to see this differently,” and know that my sincere desire will result in a shift of awareness. There is really no one right way to see anything . To allow my point of view to shift will not only produce insight and relief for a particular circumstance but it will give me practice in letting my mind and move freely and independently. I will allow myself the luxury of relaxing my rigid point of view and letting new light and fresh awareness come into my inner sight. I believe that it is possible to see things in a variety of ways.” ~Tian Dayton, Ph.D.

How you choose to deal with the problem is up to you, so long as your solution is positive, and does nothing to add to the rancor and divisiveness of the day. Listening and treating others and their point of view with the respect that it deserves, does not mean that we must change our point of view one iota, but who knows, we might learn something. The important thing for the health of this country is that we “transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood,” as Dr. King envisioned. Let it begin with you. Blessings.

My To-Do List Today.

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. Latviešu: Abrahams Linkolns, sešpadsmitais ASV prezidents. Српски / Srpski: Абрахам Линколн, шеснаести председник Сједињених Америчких Држава. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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No, I am not voting ten times–just once. Yet, for months now, I find my mind returning to one topic in particular–the Presidential election. Even though I am fortunate enough not to watch television, I am still inundated with mail from one candidate after another. (This is one of the few times that “other” mail outnumbers the bills and other junk mail.)  Anyway,  I, like most of us, have definite ideas about our candidate of choice and their respective fine points. I know that there is nothing that anyone could say or do that would change my mind or vote, and I am sure that the same can be said for most of you. Therefore, I have no wish to add to the histrionics of the day. No, I find another area concerning the elections more compelling — the voting level in this country.

As Abraham Lincoln noted in the Gettysburg address, the United States of America is “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” With that said, our government is a vehicle of the people and without us the government cannot survive. We elect individuals to serve as our representative in both the federal government, and for the most part, the state government. The problem is that many do not chose his or her representative because they chose to abdicate this vital right.

Based on Federal Census data,

In the 2008 presidential election, 64 percent of voting-age citizens voted, an estimate not statistically different form the percent that turned out in 2004, but higher that the presidential elections of 2000 and 1996.

Overall, 131 million people voted in 2008, a turnout increase of about 5 million people since 2004. During this same 4-year period, the voting-age citizen population in the United States increased by roughly 9 million people.

In 2008, 71 percent of voting-age citizens were registered to vote, a decrease compared to the 72 percent who were registered in 2004. The 2008 election had a higher registration rate than the presidential election of 2000, but was not statistically different from the 1996 rate. Overall, 146 million people were registered to vote in 2008, an increase of approximately 4 million people since 2004.

Thus, 29% of those who were qualified to register to vote choose not to do so and more importantly, 36% of those registered and eligible to vote abdicated their responsibility.  People have varying reasons for either failing to register to vote, or having elected to register, and simply not voting. One oft-stated reason for not voting is that they are but one person and, as a result, their one vote does not count. None of us know the outcome of any race when we cast our vote, but we do so in order to exercise our vital, hard-fought right to do so. Even now, there are those who are fighting for their right to vote. Those of us who are already eligible to vote are a part of the governmental process, and by voting we join like-minded individuals to proclaim our choice of candidates. If you don’t vote, you are not a part of  all those who’ve chosen his or her representative to act as their voice in office. You’ve allowed others to make that important decision for you. Much like the Who’s in Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears A Who,” one vote, one voice, can make all thendifference. Just do it! Please vote.

I’ve Said “Yes” To The Mindful Consumption Challenge

Today is a special day, not only is it my son-in-laws’ birthday and All Saint’s Day, but it is also the beginning of  my Mindful Consumption Challenge. I read about the challenge on Eden’s blog here.  Instead of regurgitating all the challenge details, I urge you to read about it there. At first, I brushed the mere idea of challenge aside. I thought, “I could never do that!” Why, because it is exactly what I need to do.

You see, every nook and cranny of my house is filled with the spoils of my  shopping escapades. I complain that our house is not large enough but the truth is that I have too much stuff filling it.  For instance, I have enough makeup to open a store, most of which, I cannot possibly use.  Oh, and hair product hits and misses for my wild, kinky curly hair.  I think that I’ve tried most hair products for my hair and I have half-used bottles to show it.  Then, there are the books. I have books galore. at last count over 600. No, really, I am serious, and that does not include all the books that I have on my Kindle. My bedroom closets are overstuffed with clothing that still holds the price tag. Each year I do a yearly “stuff review” and although Goodwill gains many items, more likely than not, I  always find justification for keeping stuff that I obviously don’t need. I have not even discussed my collection of purple pens, candles, essential oils or kitchen ware.

As I gave some thought to my spending habits, I realized that the seeds of my present actions, were planted long ago in my younger years. As a child, we never went without food to eat, clothes to wear, or a roof over our heads.  Yet, we were raised by an amazing single Mom, doing all that she could to care for three, and later, four children. She worked hard for so little, and there was no getting around it, we were poor. We had no money for other than the necessities of life.  At a young age, I vowed that when I grew up, things would be different. I would have money to satisfy my needs, as well as my wants.  All these years, shopping has served as a rebuke to those long ago years when my ‘wants’ went unfilled due to a lack of money. Thoughtless shopping became the norm.  After due consideration, I realize that it is time to change.

Today I begin a new journey–one toward mindfulness in my spending habits. Coincidentally, I discovered a relevant book that I’d bought long ago titled “To Buy or Not To Buy” by April Lane Benson, Ph.D. In it, the author states:

“Mindful shopping, the habit you want to develop, doesn’t mean the absence of feeling but rather the presence and engagement of your mind. You observe what you’re feeling and thinking, what your heart and head are saying. You pay attention to what your body and soul are saying as well. You notice how you’re responding to your environment. You remember what you are shopping for, and you stay on track. You remember how much you intended to spend, and you limit your purchases to what you can comfortably afford. You act on your agenda, unswayed by advertisers’ or saleperson’s agendas or tactics aimed at pulling you off course. Your purchasing decisions lock into the grander plan of who you are; they aren’t based on anyone else’s ideas or even your own fantasies of who you might become. Mindfulness helps you make decisions based on conscious choice rather than impulse.”

This is my choice and my goal. I’ll let you know how I am doing, and I’d appreciate your support.