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)

Power

That’s what I’m feeling tonight. Electricity is surging through me. It’s not a power that could hurt anybody. It simply wants to flow out into the world … to give. It’s bursting out from my body like an explosion. It flies high into the sky and then falls as rain at a great distance.

I’m taller tonight. I can feel it. My spine isn’t a rigid rod. Instead it stretches me far above my expected height. I’m rising … through the ceiling and above the rooftops. A vista of wide open spaces reveals itself ever more widely as I climb, except I’m not doing anything. Some energy is lifting me.

I’m walking into a mist, with a lilt in my step. No hesitation, even though my eyes can’t see the path ahead. I’m reaching into the void, knowing that my fingers will close around something precious.

It feels like my insides are opening, creating space between the muscles, blood vessels and bones. There’s so much room to breathe! And my structures have made way for my heart to see, far beyond the boundary of the skin.

I’m making no sense at all and not caring in the least. It doesn’t matter if you understand. I merely soar. My arms are impossibly long and flow around the planet … embracing.

All is well.

Forza!

I was watching a tennis match from the French open today. Martina Trevisan from Italy was battling Kiki Bertens from the Netherlands. At one point, just after Martina won an important point, she clenched her fist, bugged out her eyes and yelled “Forza!”

My mouth dropped. I stared at her. The power of the moment was immense. It surged through me via the TV screen. I tried to remember what the word meant. Maybe I should have just focused on the exclamation point in her voice. Google soon enough let me know the emotional English translation: “Come on! You can do it.” Force, strength, power.

I’ve spent years meditating, where the words (when I’m not in silence) are soft. The fingers are open, rather than balled into a fist. I’ve said to myself “That’s the energy I want to project – serene, compassionate, loving.” There is great beauty in that energy but today I also saw beauty in Martina’s passion.

We are so big, we human beings. As Walt Whitman said, “I am inconsistent. I contain multitudes.” What if I’m willing to give the world all of me, covering the world at times in a torrent of water, at others in simply a trickle. Today showed me that they both have their place.

Forza!

Peace be with you

Show Yourself

Some people on the Disney Plus discussion page are saying they’ve seen Frozen 2 one hundred times.  Gosh, I’d sure be tired of anything by then.  It’s tempting to say no to something so outrageously popular … without really looking inside.  So I looked.

Elsa sings a stunning song called Show Yourself.  My mouth dropped open as hers soared, so I had to watch it again … and again.  Happily it was three times not a hundred.

Elsa is searching:

Show yourself
I’m dying to meet you
Show yourself
It’s your turn
Are you the one I’ve been looking for
All of my life?
Show yourself
I’m ready to learn

Ah yes, the search for that special someone – a human being who will join with me and make my life complete.  It could be a lover, or one’s child, or a famous person I’m enthralled with.  It could be a community of like-souled people, in whose company I feel at home.

Show yourself
I’m no longer trembling
Here I am
I’ve come so far
You are the answer I’ve waited for
All of my life
Oh, show yourself
Let me see who you are

You are the answer to my question, the solution to my problem, the happiness that has so often eluded me.  I’ve been searching so long for you.

Come to me now
Open your door
Don’t make me wait
One moment more

It has to be now.  No more delayed gratification, which might only bear fruit when I’m 75.  I need love now.  I need to be held.  I need to hold.

***

And then there is the “Ah hah!”  The realization that I’ve been looking in the wrong direction.  My savior has been abiding within … all this time.  Would someone please give me a mirror?

Show yourself
Step into your power
Grow yourself
Into something new
You are the one you’ve been waiting for
All of your life
Oh, show yourself

Shall I?
Shall you?
What shall we show the world?

Fiery Words

And how do I do that … set the world on fire? Somehow the essence of me needs to escape my body and fly out across the land. There’s a presence I can show my neighbours – quiet eyes embracing the eyes of others. A hand reaching out to comfort and be kin. An action here and there that shows I am with you.

Another vestige of communion are the words that travel from me to you. Some soft words, some surging words … all vibrant words. Here is a long list – each one with an edge, vibrating like a fine tuning fork, zooming between beings at supersonic speed. See if you recognize yourself in what follows. See if you can feel the fire.

heavenly triumph unbelievable legendary epic mesmerizing sublime stunning alluring overcome relentless master delightful deep gripping intense ultimate emerging untapped glamorous decadent shocking release strange blast light captivate riveting honest surefire obsessed ravenous magic revolutionary reveal unique delirious launch uncovered free now unleashed barrage forever huge create awesome heartwarming authentic miracle new transform bona fide swooning essential unlimited tenacious stop rowdy tantalizing exposed promise wild unseen priceless weird belonging crazy tricks irresistible naked fierce bold unforgettable alive ironclad ridiculous sacred dangerous fantasy profound inspiring definitive remarkable explosive spellbinding rare suddenly hidden unadulterated ignite exquisite uncontrollable catapult brilliant defying beautiful massive forbidden hilarious secret startling unconventional incredible genuine thrilling undeniable extraordinary sensational intriguing gigantic breathtaking astonishing fascinating gorgeous effortless amazing adorable dazzling unstoppable astounding

What I Learned

I just spent five days with eighty open-eyed people.  I was blessed to be in their presence. I knew that I wanted to describe how our time together touched me but I didn’t see the words appearing.  I still don’t.  So allow me to stumble forward into the unknown.

“How am I doing?”  It’s a question that’s haunted me for decades.  It’s so symbolic of my belly button gazing, of looking within, of analysis and evaluation.  At times during the seminar, all of that floated away.  There was service and love, a direction of energy that was out into life, rather than coming from the outside in.  The lowered head in anticipation of incoming danger went on vacation.  The head was high, looking levelly into the eyes of my fellow travellers.

Then all that goodness disappeared.  And then … I was able to locate it again.  I had had an interaction with Patricia, our teacher, in which she asked me a question I couldn’t answer.  I panicked, and blurted out something that sounded halfway reasonable.  Was I touching whatever was just emerging?  No.  I was smashing into a wall that seemed to hide “the right answer”.  No cheese down that tunnel.  I collapsed inside, grew smaller in the badness that I’ve so often chosen as a companion.

The release came as I saw Bruce as a very hard and very small squash ball, sitting on a pillow.  The pain wasn’t inside me anymore.  It was over there, ready to be observed.  In the watching, I came back.  I lost maybe two hours, which is a marked improvement over two days.

The next thing was that I wanted to talk about the process.  I’ve had a couple of coaching sessions with one of the members of the Evolutionary Collective, and she was at the seminar.  I sought her out and told of the journey.  The “going toward” rather than the “turning away” was a revelation.  The mouth opening and disclosing instead of staying jammed shut.

Then there’s the experience of rhythm.  I’ve had this naïve thought that someday I’ll graduate from my pain, and will be this totally together human, emitting a stream of love at every moment – no challenges, no interruptions.  Ha!  Good luck.  Partway through our togetherness, one of the teachers was experiencing a feeling of separation from Patricia.  I had seen this woman as a shining light, and I still do, just not one who’s swimming in perfection.  If she sometimes trips upon the path of life, surely I have the space to do the same.  I can accept my periods of smallness and find my way back to a largeness that touches the world.  Superman … no thank you.

The rhythm of being also showed up in our daily movement sessions.  In one exercise,  we were being “moved” by our partner.  She would flick my wrist, and I had three choices: to let my arm nudge back in response; to exaggerate that reaction – throwing my arm up and staggering backward; or to resist the touch.  Refusing to be moved was so painful.  Refusing to let another influence me.  What remained was a totally right and totally alone piece of armour.  No give.  No take.  No life.  How the body teaches!

The word isn’t just “influence”.  It’s mutual influence.  Despite my moments of rigidity, I’ve often felt the gifts of others coming towards me.  On the weekend,  I saw more clearly that I influence them as well.  Such a long life before I started to let that one in.  I go into the future, perhaps two steps forward and one back, fully capable of giving in a way that allows receiving.

I matter
I love
I act
I change the world

Day Nine: Homeward

It’s over … my west coast communion with Evolutionary Collective friends and my sojourn in the world of Berkeley, California. I’m in the big bird heading to Toronto and Belmont and home. I’m happy in the going, in the abiding, and in the returning.

There was a lovely long lineup at airport security this morning. All I did was mention to the woman behind me that the post-and-strap system to create weaving lines of people was a great invention. And then we began. Priya is Indian in origin and is heading to Singapore to surprise her mom and dad. It’s a big anniversary for them and the husband has orchestrated a surprise party for his dear wife. Neither know about the daughter showing up. She’s so excited. We talked of love, family and the joy of reunion. It didn’t matter an iota that she was young and I was old, that she’s from the business world and I’m from education, that she’s a woman and I’m a man. We felt the same need for connection even though our time together was measured in minutes. We hugged goodbye.

***

A huge mural at the San Francisco Airport filled a wall. You’ll see a photo of it if you’re seeing this on Facebook. It celebrated immigrants finding a new home in the Bay Area. The words on the plaque nearby drew a parallel between those people and the birds who arrive in the nearby wetlands. The painting was orange and green and blue. Flying off the canvas was a mother lost in the eyes of her son, a father tossing his infant daughter high in the air, a likely husband and wife whose auras were blending, a woman holding the head of a monk, folks dancing … It was such a celebration of life, of being thoroughly alive. The power of art to transform.

***

I was packing up this morning when I came upon the card I bought yesterday. A huge owl in mid-flap is looking right at me as he bursts through the sky at sunrise. There’s such power in his gaze and upstretched wings. I want that to be me: unstoppable, unwavering, unaffected by crosswinds. He’s going to have a place of honour in my home as a reminder of what’s possible in life. He’ll be on my Facebook page too.

***

An hour to Toronto. I’m looking forward to being with my loved ones – young, medium and old. I’ll have stories to tell, and I’ll delight in theirs. Home … by midnight.

Day Seven: Living Fully

During the Evolutionary Collective seminar on the weekend, I got to experience some attitudes which allow us to make a powerful difference in the world.

***

One participant shared that she often felt like she was squeezed between the luggage on a bus.  Our leader countered that we need to take a seat on the bus.  Hmm.  So … I’m just as important as anyone else.  I belong.  I have a part to play.  I deserve to be here.  Who cares if someone else has more life experience, more smarts, a more open heart?  Not important.  What is crucial is that we talk to each other and allow ourselves to influence each other.

I’m no better than other passengers and no worse.  In fact, the whole comparison business doesn’t serve anyone.  Together we can flow towards the future, sharing our connection while also allowing each person’s uniqueness to blossom.

***

At a social gathering full of adults and kids, a four-year-old girl came to the centre of the action and said “Everyone stand up.”  They did.  “Now hold hands.”  They did.  It wasn’t a bunch of grownups humoring a kid.  It was a natural response to the power of another human being, who just happened to be very young.  Our age, gender, personality and knowledge don’t matter.  We get to throw ourselves out into the world and impact others.  We each have the juice inside to to be forthright and assertive.  Now, can we bring that to the outside?

***

Let’s say you have a negative pattern that keeps repeating.  You’re awfully tired of it.  What’s possible is to quietly say “No.  I’m not doing that anymore.”  A determination without fanfare.  A declaration.  I realize that some deep traumas (such as the ones which reside in me) need a more extensive strategy but others are perfectly susceptible to a sudden stop.  “I don’t like what caffeine does to me.  I don’t like what aspartame does to me.  That’s it.  No more caffeinated coffee or tea.  No more Diet Coke.”  So there.

***

I don’t have to shut myself down.  I don’t have to settle down.  I can be a very big Bruce, even if some folks say that’s too big.  And I can find someone to share my life who won’t back away when I’m being powerful.  She won’t run away.  Instead, she’ll beckon me closer.  “Give me all you’ve got.  I want all of you.”  Sounds pretty rare, both in the giving and the receiving, but why not?  Why should I tone myself down in my passion and commitment because someone might get uncomfortable?  Well … I shouldn’t.  The planet needs all of us to be at the top of our game – to be willing to express, to give, to disrupt the status quo.  If not us, then who?

***

Stand up
Stand up straight
Look the world in the eye

Animation

I have two favourite words.  The first is love … well understood by all and sundry.  The second is animation.  The reaction I usually get to that one is some version of “Huh?” or “You like Disney flicks?”  No matter – my joy in the word goes on.

Someone, no doubt wise, said:

“The Latin word anima (meaning breath, soul) that gave us animal, has given us other words.  The English adjective animate (meaning alive) comes from the Latin verb animare, meaning to give life to, which in turn comes from anima.”

The dictionary sees animation as the state of being full of life or vigor, and offers these synonyms:

Liveliness, spirit, high spirits, spiritedness, energy, enthusiasm, eagerness, excitement, vigor, vivacity, vivaciousness, vitality, vibrancy, exuberance, ebullience, buoyancy, bounciness, bounce, perkiness, sprightliness, verve, zest, sparkle, dash, elan, brio.

Woh … so many words.  But the word itself is true.  For decades, I’ve understood that to animate is to breathe life into, to take an ordinary moment and make it vibrate.  I think that is a gift of mine – to see the light in an apparently normal second or minute.

The light was with me half an hour ago.  I’m in Aeolian Hall, a 135-year-old concert venue in London.  A young woman from Montreal has just sung five songs, as the opening act for Martha Wainwright.  After five minutes, Amélie Beyries looked at us and said “There are spirits here.”  So true.  Her voice climbed the heights of tone and soul.  Her fingers caressed the piano keys.  And just before her last song, she stood at the edge of the stage and cried.  “I’ve never experienced a hall like this.”  We smiled and loved her.

Amélie had taken us into her heart and shone a light upon us.  The time was alive, glowing, vibrating.  And we all have the power to do the same – to set others ablaze.  Maybe a little smile, a kind word, a hand on the shoulder.  We can animate the lives around us simply by being “over there” with them.  Then candles can light themselves.  Dimmer switches can push themselves up to maximum.  Off-white can transform to forest green.

Let’s do it

Power

I was walking to the library yesterday afternoon when I came upon a schoolyard, of the cement persuasion. Through the chain link fence, I saw about a hundred pigeons – most of them grey, some white and a few golden brown. There didn’t seem to be any food to eat. They were simply hanging out. I smiled. They were just like us. We come in all shapes and colours and we too like being close. Really doesn’t matter what we’re doing as long as we’re together.

I was feeling all warm and fuzzy. Then, on a hunch, I glanced upwards. The fence was twelve feet high, and along the top rail sat maybe eighty more brothers and sisters. Peace evaporated as my brain sent me straight to Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds, where flocks of crows terrorized a small town.

Ahh … the mind. An instant association and I’m transported from heaven to hell. It feels like I’m triggered many times a day. The past leaps up and grabs my throat. Doesn’t seem to be a very wise way to live.

I say the question is how long do I linger within the horror of Hitchcock . How quickly do I return to the beauty of pigeon heads nestling down in their feathers to ward off the cold? Let’s have it be speedy fast.

I ask myself where “source” is in my life. Is it me or is it all the events of my day? Where does my experience of living begin? What if I really get that the power is right here in this body and heart of mine? What surges of energy would be made available if I stopped feeding a good/bad analysis of my moments with people, places and things?

Woh. Bring it on.