Large

I’ve been sending out e-mails about the Evolutionary Collective to many people I know. The EC has made a huge contribution to my life. I invite folks to check out our Facebook page to see if the words there resonate. I’m not pressing anybody to do anything.

I feel naked. “Here I am, world!” You’re welcome to take me or leave me but lurking in the shadows isn’t much fun. In the light of day, I show myself. Some of you won’t like that. Some may turn away. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I’m okay with that. There’s something to stand for … even if no one else comes closer.

I feel my old tendency to shrink, to fade away into the wallpaper, to lower my head. I honour that version of Bruce. I did what my self-esteem asked of me. Now something else is being asked. I’m being nudged towards the large. Say what’s true. Smile a lot. Actually, laugh a lot. See if there are other people in my realm who want to deepen their connection with others. I know there are. I’m on a journey to find them.

As I lift my head to your gaze, a quote from Marianne Williamson comes calling. Marianne knows how to stand tall:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us. It’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

(Smile)

Listen

Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Someone does something which I call “strange”, such as dancing by himself in the broad expanse of a train station.  What song of freedom is blessing his sweeping arms?  What’s transparent to him that’s opaque to me?  Perhaps at this moment in my life, I don’t have the ears to hear the sweet melody.  And that’s okay.  I can still smile in the presence of a free human being.

Maybe, though, I won’t smile.  Maybe I’ll conclude that there’s a drunk in front of me, swirling and twirling just before stumbling to the floor.  A philosopher named Ken Wilber talked about the “pre/trans fallacy”, in which another’s behaviour appears to be deficient, even pathological.  But it may in fact be something above normal, something that reaches for the stars rather than puddling in the gutter.

Could it be that some of us see connections that are invisible to others?  See through a self-imposed roof to the glory of sunshine?  Say “What if?” and “Why not?” rather than languishing in “the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

I don’t want to “regress to the mean”, as in having my life get ever closer to the mediocrity – the vanilla – of “average”.  I want to fly across the dance floor, drinking in both the applause and frowns of onlookers.  I want to feel the praise and blame falling off me to the floor.  They’re both imposters after all.  I yearn for the real thing.

Speaking Truth To Power

Brad
Stewart
Germany
Leonardo
Audre
Aung
Czeslaw
Mahatma
Nelson
Caliph
Tom
John
John
Leymah
You
Me

***

Trump: We have won this election in Georgia based on all of this.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, Brad.  You know, I mean, having the correct – the people of Georgia are angry.  And these numbers are going to be repeated on Monday night.  Along with others that we’re going to have by that time, which are much more substantial even.  And the people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry.  And there’s nothing wrong with saying that, you know, that you’ve recalculated.  Because the 2,236 in absentee ballots.  I mean, they’re all exact numbers that were done by accounting firms, law firms, etc.  And even if you cut ’em in half, cut ’em in half and cut ’em in half again, it’s more votes than we need.

Raffensperger: Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.

ººº

Trump: Big Tech is on your side, you know.  I don’t even know why you have a side because you should want to have an accurate election.  And you’re a Republican.

Raffensperger: We believe that we do have an accurate election.

Trump: No, no you don’t.  No, no you don’t.  You don’t have.  Not even close.  You’re off by hundreds of thousands of votes.

***

Honesty is the rarest commodity in the 21st century.  No one looks to the political class or journalists for truth these days.  The average Joe seems to spend most of their time peddling a ludicrous, flawless Facebook version of their lives.  The peer pressure of political correctness forgoes truth for the sake of groupthink.  It seems that comedians and writers represent the last bastion of candour out there today.  (Stewart Stafford)

To say nothing is saying something.  You must denounce things you are against or one might believe that you support things you really do not.  (Germany Kent)

Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.  (Leonardo da Vinci)

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.  (Audre Lorde)

You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.  (Aung San Suu Kyi)

In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.  (Czesław Miłosz)

Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.  (Mahatma Gandhi)

Fools multiply when wise men are silent.  (Nelson Mandela)

And speak the truth.  Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth.  Say what you feel.  Let your conscience be your guide.  Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions.  In your deeds your intentions count.  (Caliph Umar)

These days, a sling of truth can still make Goliath fall.  (Tom Althouse)

When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  You have to say something.  You have to do something.  (John Lewis)

When the President decides that he knows better than you know what’s good for you or your family, we’ve got trouble in this country.  (John Barrasso)

The one thing I’ve never been afraid of is standing before important people and speaking my mind.  I represent women who may never have the opportunity to go to the UN or meet with a president.  (Leymah Gbowee)

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (You)
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  (Me)

A Fork in the Road

The man, who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive.  Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it.  Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation can that which is indestructible arise within him.  In this lies the dignity of daring

Karlfried Graf Durckheim

Refuge: a place that provides protection from danger
Annihilation: the state of being completely destroyed
Indestructible: impossible to destroy or break
Daring: venturesome boldness

He’s another word to define, one that I’m in the middle of:

Retirement: the time of life when one chooses to permanently leave the workforce behind
Retirement: removal of something from service or use

So, being 71, should I contemplate the perennial nature of the couch?  Should I quietly remove myself from service?  After all, there are gourmet foods to eat; Caribbean vacations to embrace; friends to have coffee with, mulling over politics and sports.  “Refuge” is a good word.  I’ve earned the rest, the slowness of will, regressing to the mean.

Boring!

How about instead a grand adventure, calling out for other humans to join a revolution in consciousness?  I can throw myself into a project that seems at first glance “a bridge too far”.  I can go towards the barriers, the booby traps.  I can come nose-to-nose with the destroyer of dreams … and not waver or break.

Shall I be bold, venturing into the lands described by Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation:

These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise
Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds
to seek out new life and new civilizations
to boldly go where no man has gone before

Man and woman – we are going …
New vistas await.  Miracles are ours for the reaching

Shall we?

 

Angry

A few years ago, I sat myself down and moved into self-congratulatory mode:

Well, Bruce, all this meditation and Buddhism seems to have made an impact.  You’re not antagonistic anymore, not angry.  You’re a peaceful, loving fellow who welcomes the world.

Much of that is true, just not the angry part.  I’m angry at the meanness of Donald Trump, the lies, the abandoning of other human beings.  I’m angry at the countless Republicans who say nothing in the face of his witchhunting and his rants about voter fraud.  Whatever happened to morals, and the truth, and speaking out when speaking out is needed?

I get discouraged.  And I ask myself why no one on TV gets angry about this crap when they’re speaking or being interviewed.  Where’s the high decibel outrage?

Which brings us to yesterday, and Gabriel Sterling, the Voting Systems Implementation Manager for Georgia’s Secretary of State office.  Gabriel had had enough.  He stood at a podium in Atlanta.  Two recent events infuriated him.

***

Sterling said his anger boiled over when he learned that a contractor with Dominion Voting Systems helping with the recount effort in suburban Gwinnett County received death threats after someone shot video of him transferring a report to a county computer and falsely said the young man was manipulating election data.

***

A lawyer for President Trump’s re-election campaign said former U.S. cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs should be “shot” for rejecting the President’s claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

During an interview on “The Howie Carr Show”, Joe diGenova outlined a number of baseless accusations around the elections, including that “mail-in balloting is inherently corrupt”.  He then criticized Krebs.

“Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity,” diGenova said.  “That guy is a Class A moron.  He should be drawn and quartered.  Taken out at dawn and shot.”

***

Gabriel speaks:

“There’s a noose out there with [the contractor’s] name on it.  That’s not right.  This kid took a job.  He just took a job.”

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language.  Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions.  This has to stop.  We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia.  We’re investigating, there’s always a possibility, I get it.  You have the right to go to the courts.  What you don’t have the ability to do – and you need to step up and say this – is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.  Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get shot, someone is going to get killed, and it’s not right.  It’s not right.  This has to stop.  This is elections.  This is the backbone of democracy, and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this.  It’s too much.  Yes, fight for every legal vote.  Go through your due process.  We encourage you.  Use your First Amendment, that’s fine.  Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s not right.”

“Be the bigger man here.  Step in.  Tell your supporters don’t be violent.  Don’t intimidate.  All that is wrong.  It’s un-American.”

Thank you, Gabriel

Charlie Chaplin

Political life in this era of Covid presents us with some unbalanced personalities, some cruelty, and some ignorance of others’ pain.  I’ve decided to go back in time to see if history can help.  I looked for someone who could cross the decades and speak to us today.

Charlie Chaplin was a British comic and actor.  He featured in many silent movies in the 20’s and 30’s.  He was loved by some, ridiculed by others.

In 1940, Charlie starred in the movie The Great Dictator, a satire about Adolf Hitler, and a biting critique of fascism.  The last five minutes of this film showed Charlie speaking to the audience, holding nothing back about the perils of the time.  His words were embraced by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill.

Here they are:

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor.  That’s not my business.  I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.  I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile, black man, white.  We all want to help one another.  Human beings are like that.  We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery.  We don’t want to hate and despise one another.  In this world there is room for everyone.  And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.  The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.  We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in.  Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.  Our knowledge has made us cynical.  Our cleverness, hard and unkind.  We think too much and feel too little.  More than machinery we need humanity.  More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.  Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost …

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together.  The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all.  Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair.  The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.  The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.  And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers!  Don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel!  Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder.  Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!  You are not machines!  You are not cattle!  You are men!  You have the love of humanity in your hearts!  You don’t hate!  Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural!  Soldiers!  Don’t fight for slavery!  Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men!  In you!  You, the people, have the power – the power to create machines.  The power to create happiness!  You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite.  Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security.  By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power.  But they lie!  They do not fulfill that promise.  They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!  Now let us fight to fulfill that promise!  Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.  Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.  Soldiers!  In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Such a Long Journey

The journey began in June, 2018.  After three days of riding my bicycle in the Tour du Canada with seventeen other folks, I quit.  I was a mess emotionally – terrified and depressed.

In the weeks following, my right hand wouldn’t stop shaking.  I’d look in the mirror and wonder “Who’s that?”  I finally concluded that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  The shaking eventually stopped.  The fear of getting on a bicycle didn’t.

Oh, I argued with myself – that I should be a better person.  Man up.  Stop being a wimp.  None of that self-abuse helped.  Beyond my general enjoyment of myself was a vague sense of inferiority.  One long sigh of muted despair.

This July or August (I can’t remember), with the PTSD still lingering, and not having been on a bike for over two years, I knew I had to act.  Sygnan and Laura run Cyzzle Cycles and have provided me with impeccable service for many years.  I walked into their store and told them the truth.  Just as on the Tour du Canada, being so nakedly deficient in the company of dedicated cyclists was agonizing.  But I did it.  Sygnan and Laura listened with compassion, and Laura offered to coach me about “getting back on the horse”.

I wrote in my blog about shakily visiting the bike shop – the first day to simply get astride Betty while she was attached to a bike stand.  I’m guessing that few of you can understand the terror I felt to simply put my left foot on the pedal and then to swing my right leg over … but maybe I’m wrong.

A few days later, Laura took me to a nearby parking lot.  First she rode Betty in big circles, giving me instructions that I had known for years but which were so hard to hear in the moment.

And then … I rode!  It was a triumph of my own spirit.

But alas, it wasn’t a happy ending.  Back home, looking at Betty in the garage, the shaking returned.  I had just done what needed to be done, and now it looked once more like an impossible dream.  I was shocked at my lack of resolve to beat this thing.  I retreated into … the weather.  It was stifling hot mid-summer.  No wise human being would choose to cycle right now.  So “later” became the watchword.  The heat lingered and so did my defeat.

A few days ago, it was probably two months since I stayed up on Betty in the parking lot.  Back then, I told Laura that I’d call her as soon as I took Betty out on a ride.  No phone call.

I couldn’t even look myself in the mirror, nor look at Betty in the garage.  But a thought emerged: “Bruce, starting in January, for a year, you will be in the teacher training program of the Evolutionary Collective.  You will be challenged perhaps as never before.  Shouldn’t you move past any roadblocks that are compressing your aliveness?”  I gulped.  the answer was clearly “yes”.  But how?

Last night, I was watching the love between Rose and Jack unfold in the movie Titanic.  At some point before the ship hit the iceberg, I heard words bubbling up from inside: “Tomorrow at 10:00 am.”  Without thinking, I knew immediately what they meant.  I would ride Betty tomorrow morning.  

A calm surrounded me.  A little smile appeared.  I knew that the time had come.  I felt the ease blow through me.  Plus the astonishment. 

I cried as Jack died.  I went softly to bed and slept for eight hours.  I woke up wondering If I remembered all the details about cycling clothing and bike computer settings, and knew it didn’t matter if I didn’t.

At 9:55, the right pedal was aloft with my foot firmly placed.  I pressed down, found the left pedal under my other foot, and …

Rode

 

 

Charlie Chaplin

Political life in this era of Covid presents us with some unbalanced personalities, some cruelty, and some ignorance of others’ pain.  I’ve decided to go back in time to see if history can help.  I looked for someone who could cross the decades and speak to us today.

Charlie Chaplin was a British comic and actor.  He featured in many silent movies in the 20’s and 30’s.  He was loved by some, ridiculed by others.

In 1940, Charlie starred in the movie The Great Dictator, a satire about Adolf Hitler, and a biting critique of fascism.  The last five minutes of this film showed Charlie speaking to the audience, holding nothing back about the perils of the time.  His words were embraced by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill.

Here they are:

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor.  That’s not my business.  I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone.  I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile, black man, white.  We all want to help one another.  Human beings are like that.  We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery.  We don’t want to hate and despise one another.  In this world there is room for everyone.  And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.  The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.  We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in.  Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.  Our knowledge has made us cynical.  Our cleverness, hard and unkind.  We think too much and feel too little.  More than machinery we need humanity.  More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness.  Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost …

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together.  The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all.  Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair.  The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.  The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people.  And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers!  Don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel!  Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder.  Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts!  You are not machines!  You are not cattle!  You are men!  You have the love of humanity in your hearts!  You don’t hate!  Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural!  Soldiers!  Don’t fight for slavery!  Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St. Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men!  In you!  You, the people, have the power – the power to create machines.  The power to create happiness!  You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite.  Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security.  By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power.  But they lie!  They do not fulfill that promise.  They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!  Now let us fight to fulfill that promise!  Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.  Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.  Soldiers!  In the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Strong People … Please Come Here

I listened to Kamala Harris’ speech this afternoon as she put herself in the public eye as the Democratic nominee for US Vice-President. Passionate, pointed, tender … the whole thing.

Yesterday, Donald Trump wondered why Joe Biden had picked Harris, given her attack on him about busing in a Democratic debate last year.

According to Wikipedia: “Busing is the practice of assigning and transporting students to schools within or outside their local school districts in an effort to reduce the racial segregation in schools.”

Verbatim:

Kamala Harris: Do you agree today that you were wrong to oppose busing in America then?

Joe Biden: I did not oppose busing in America. What I opposed is busing ordered by the Department of Education.

Harris: There was a failure of states to integrate public schools in America. I was part of the second class to integrate Berkeley, California public schools almost two decades after [?] Board of Education.

Biden: Because your city council made that decision.

Harris: That’s where the federal government must step in. That’s why we have the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. That’s why we need to pass the Equality Act. That’s why we need to pass the ERA. Because there are moments in history where states fail to preserve the civil rights of all people.

Biden did not wither but I believe he was shaken. Many months later, Joe chooses Kamala as his running mate.

Surround yourself with partners
who are better than you are
Leave them to go get on with it

David Ogilvy

The Long Ride

I don’t know if you were reading my WordPress posts two years ago. If you were with me in June, 2018, you saw a man collapsing. I had just started riding my bicycle across Canada with seventeen other Tour du Canada cyclists. Aerobically I was in pretty good shape but my bike skills were woeful. I had ignored the advice from the Tour’s organizer: take a cycling skills course.

Within the first three days of the ride, I crashed three times and was continually terrified of the semitrailers passing within three metres of me. I couldn’t make the slow motion moves that were needed in downtown Vancouver traffic. Near Abbotsford, B.C., I misjudged the speed of a hillside left-turning car and just about had it all end.

I quit.

I spent two nights in a hotel with my bicycle propped against the wall. My hands shook, and they kept shaking for two weeks. “I’ll never ride again.”

Now it’s two years later. I still have remnants of the PTSD but they’re mild. A friend recommended I look at a video of a Bob Newhart TV sketch. A woman comes in for counselling since she’s terrified of being buried alive in a box. Bob says he’ll give her two words and then the therapy session will be over. She pulls out a notepad. Bob leans forward over his desk … and yells “Stop it!”

Woh. What? No months of therapy to deal with my now deepseated agony about being on the bicycle? No reliving my fear of impending death? No “processing” my life?

Okay. I went to my bike shop a couple of weeks ago. I had bought a more stable bicycle than the one I rode in 2018. Wide knobby tires instead of narrow smooth ones. Inside me was a fluttering but also a strange calm. Step number one: show up at the shop and tell my friends (manager and employee) the true story of June, 2018. They listened. They didn’t turn their backs.

Step number two was four days ago: I put on my cycling jersey and shorts. (Scary) I had my friends put the new bike on a stand, and I got on. I gulped … but there I was on the saddle. I pedaled. I changed gears. My heart was fast. I agonized about how to get the bike going and how to stop it. (Which foot goes where?) I couldn’t remember. I blasted myself for not being able to remember. And then I calmed down. I made an appointment to come back yesterday and ride in the big parking lot behind the shop, with coaching from my friend. I went home.

“Just stop it, Bruce!”

Yesterday came. I hadn’t slept much. The two of us moseyed out back with my bicycle, “Betty” by name. I tried squeezing out love for her but nothing came. My friend showed me how she gets on and off a bicycle. I got the “on” part but was still jangled by the “off”.

And then it was time for me. “I’m actually doing this” inside. Left foot on the ground, Right leg swung over the bike. Right foot on pedal, up high so I could push down mightily. “A ten-year-old kid knows how to do this!” > “Stop it!”

Push. I was up. I was going. “I didn’t catch my shorts on the saddle!” (Something I’ve done so many times in the past) Feeling Betty. Feeling the sensitivity of the brakes. A swooping left turn. The mouth opening in wonder.

And then the dark: “Which foot do I put down?” I just couldn’t remember. I decided the right one. Wrong choice. Brakes touched. Bike slowing … then lurching to the right as my right foot sought the pavement. I hopped. I stayed up. And I had my answer: left foot down.

Another few loops of the lot. “I can do this.” Brakes squeezed. Left foot down before I was going slow enough to do that. Another hop, but a good one this time. Going again, my friend watching with a little smile. Braking … slower … body lean to the left … foot falling through space … a gentle press on the pavement. Sweet.

There is much more skill needed. And I have time to do that. Betty and I have become friends. We will go places together.

My mind is being freed. My eyes face outward, seeing the unknown bends in the road rather than gazing at my belly button.

“Well done, Bruce.”