What If We Could Change the World?

My Favorite Books
My Favorite Books

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” ~ Malala Yousafzai

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” ~ George Lois

“It takes a different value system if you wish to change the world.” ~ Jacque Fresco

“We will leave a legacy, whether by choice or unconsciously. So why not intentionally create the legacy?” ~ Dr. Maria Church

Wow! What a tumultuous few days we’ve just lived through. For me it has been doubly so because of my gall bladder attack and trip to the hospital. All of which has caused me to do a great deal of soul searching.

I do not believe our physical ailments are hereditary. I think what Caroline Myss says is true, “our biography becomes our biology,” which means that my gall bladder was kindly telling me that I still have things to work out. Thank heaven it was only a gall bladder attack and nothing really serious. In meditation I’ve been asking to be shown what unhealed issues I have been hiding from myself. And little by little I’ve been getting answers. The first of which is, I’ve let all the societal turmoil get to me so that I’ve become angry while at the same time feeling helpless to effect any kind of real change. That’s not helpful so I’m working on that. Instead of worrying, I’m going with the flow right now to see what God has in mind rather than to try to make things come out the way I want them to. It’s a little bit of a balancing act.

I think similar wake up calls happen in society. Events slap us in the face with increasing rapidity to wake us up, to get us out of our complacency. And they keep happening until the day we pay attention and do something about them. So when bad things happen, like the shootings last week, I always try to figure out what I can do to help facilitate the change? How can I bring peace instead of violence and hatred? What keeps coming to me is to keep writing.

At first I thought that being a writer was kind of wimpy talent to offer to the problems of the world until the day after I got home from the hospital. Barry and I watched the movie Network. I had never seen it so when TCM had it on their schedule, I thought I’d watch it because it was made in 1976, another tumultuous time in our history. WOW! What a prophetic movie! If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do. Screenwriter, Paddy Chayefsky, tells the story of how one network turns real news reporting into entertainment. “Sound familiar?” Host Ben Mankiewicz asked when introducing the film. Yeah!

Watching the movie got me to thinking that the 60s and 70s are kind of like one book end to the continuing progressive movement, with now as the other end. We had a lull there for a while, but you can’t cover up a festering wound and expect it to heal. We’re in the middle of ripping off the the overgrown skin and letting the putrid junk we tried to cover up seep out so the wound can truly heal.

So, my thinking was influenced by watching Network, but throughout the years I’ve read many thought provoking books and seen movies that make a statement about situations in our society that we can do something about. We just have to speak up and I’m excited to see that there are lots of people speaking up right now about all kinds of human rights issues. That gives me hope.

To do my part I’ll state right now that I support the rights of ordinary human beings to have a decent place to live, food on the table, a job they can be proud of with access to health care and proper education. In other words, I think we should take care of each other and not let corporations dictate what we can and can’t have. Ned Beaty gives a very chilling speech in Network that might just sound like a familiar mantra of some big business owners and conservative politicians. However, nothing stays the same and their days of control are numbered.

Because of who I am, I’m never going to be the writer who examines the dark side of life. Yes, dark things happen to people, but I want my characters to face the bad things that happen and allow themselves to heal and move on to a better life. That’s what my book, The Space Between Time is about. I want to be like Gene Roddenberry and write a version of society that some people call unrealistic because if I write a vision of the way we CAN live, and other authors do too, that’s one way to influence change. As Dumbledore says in Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows, “Words, in my not so humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” I think so too because that’s how ideas are disseminated. So, read, watch, talk, and think.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

The Gifts of Controversy

U.S. Constitution
U.S. Constitution

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” ~ Yehuda Berg

“We write for the same reason we walk, talk, climb mountains or swim the oceans – because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings. That’s why we paint, that’s why we dare to love someone – because we have the impulse to explain who we are.” ~ Maya Angelou

I know, I know, controversy is difficult on the nervous system, at least it is on mine, so how can it be a blessing? These are somethings I’ve been thinking about recently. At first they seem disjointed but they will come together, I promise.

A couple of weeks ago I met with my friend Debrah to discuss changes to my novel. She’s a writer too and extremely honest in her assessment, that’s why I asked her to give me feedback. What was supposed to be a lunch meeting ended up being a six hour discussion. One thing she said to me was that some of the characters are too good and everyone loves them. It’s her philosophy that writers need to beat up on their characters so that when they finally learn their lessons, the reader is satisfied. Hmmm, why do I shy away from putting my characters into difficult situations?

While I was ruminating on that problem, Donald Trump declared that he’d ban Muslims from entering the country, the latest in a long line of such declarations, which caused a huge outcry from individuals, newspapers, business owners, and religious organizations. Hmmm. Here we are again at another time of great upheaval. It seems like my entire lifetime has had very few peaceful times. I’d like to see what living in true peace would feel like.

Then I saw an interview with Deepak Chopra, one of my favorite spiritual teachers, on Conan O’Brian’s late night talk show. Conan said he’d heard that Deepak was meditating with members of congress and he asked if Deepak thought Donald Trump could benefit from meditation, Deepak shot back, “some people are past hope.” The audience howled with laughter. But something about that interview got me to thinking that Donald Trump might be a catalyst so that we are finally willing to take a good look at ourselves and our society. This is our time to evolve to the next level as a country, or to shrink back into fear, isolationism, and hatred.

It seemed to me that what Deepak Chopra was trying to point out was that some people choose not to wake up and some of them, like Hitler, and so many others throughout history give us the opportunity to make great changes in history. I think Donald Trump may be one of those people.

Years ago I read the book, Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav. In it he says that for some reason humans have chosen to learn through crisis. That’s what’s happening now. Throughout history people like Trump have brought us to the brink of a decision that we’ve put off for a very long time. We have to decide once and for all what kind of society we want to live in and we’ve got to take a good hard look at ourselves. How have we perpetuated discrimination, fear and all the other negatives about our society?

I look at myself and I don’t think I’ve done enough for those who are truly in need of love and compassion. I’m looking for ways to do more because I want to hurry up and get to the good stuff. I don’t know about you but I’m tired. I hope we can pull together to create a new friendlier society.

As I was thinking about this post, I remembered when I was in college and I became the center of controversy at two different times. One thing I learned from those situations is that controversy causes conversation and I think that’s a good thing. It’s one time when people get riled up and state what they really think and feel without reservations. They hope to change the minds of their opponents. That’s what we’re seeing that in our country right now. People are standing up and often shouting that we’ve got to protect ourselves, while others are saying that hatred is always wrong. I think Deepak’s point was that once a person’s mind is made up, it’s difficult to get them to change it and we should stop trying. The only person we can change is ourselves. It is sometimes possible to affect others when we do our personal work because of a ripple effect.

Which brings me back to my novel. It occurred to me that I wanted my characters to get to the good life quickly. I didn’t want them to have to suffer too much. I suspect it’s because I’m tired of suffering through all the unrest both inward and outward that I’ve witnessed throughout my lifetime. However, I’ve learned some great things about myself and about what it means to be a citizen of the world because of those struggles. Those insights didn’t come easily but I’m grateful for every one of those difficult people and situations. I wouldn’t change any of those situations now if I could. Which means I can’t deprive my characters and readers from going on the same kind of journey. I think I’m finally ready to go do those major revisions Debrah and I talked about.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

Cancer of Our Society

Hands of different races
Hands of different races

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Islam teaches tolerance, not hatred; universal brotherhood, not enmity; peace, and not violence.” – Pervez Musharraf

“Prejudice of any kind implies that you are identified with the thinking mind. It means you don’t see the other human being anymore, but only your own concept of that human being. To reduce the aliveness of another human being to a concept is already a form of violence.” – Eckhart Tolle

“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov

“Dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially from violence that can never be justified. It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity.” – Hillary Clinton

Something important I’ve learned in my sixty-two years is that we repeat a lesson over and over again until we learn it. That goes for individuals as well as groups, businesses, societies, and nations. As I write this, there has been another mass shooting this time in a church. I guess we haven’t learned that violence only begets more violence which means, we’ll keep repeating this insane scenario until we get it. Humans are stubborn and we often have to be pushed to the brink before we are willing to change.

Violence in all its forms in our country is a cancer that is eating away at our society from the inside out. It’s exactly what our enemies are hoping for, that our society will collapse in on itself. And we are teetering on the brink of doing just that because the people haters are declaring their right to freedom. But what of the rights and freedoms of those who become victims of violent acts? They get blamed for not carrying a gun.

This is what I think about the gun debate. This country was founded on the fight for freedom against tyranny. Each member of the army had to own a gun, and that was even written into our constitution that individuals have the right to own a fire arm. The reasoning behind that was obvious. This was a wild country at the time, not to mention many people needed to hunt to provide food for their families. Do we really need to own so many guns now? I guess we do if we see every other person as a threat. That’s sad. We’re so busy being proud of our heritage of standing up to the bullies that we continue to look for them everywhere and have become the thing we fight against.

In my opinion, our country was founded on the masculine ideal. We think of a man as being tough, stoic, invulnerable, and he rules his domain with an iron hand. And if a man isn’t like that we look down on him, or at least we used to.

Basing our culture on those principles may have helped us grow and develop at one time, but that time has passed. We’ve evolved as a nation as evidenced by the way we treat our returning soldiers now as opposed to the way we treated them after WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. During WWI men who suffered from PSD, or shell shock as it was called back then, were treated with distain, disrespect and if they were in the field and were unable to perform their duties, they were shot for cowardice. With each successive war the attitude about PSD changed ever so slowly. Now we understanding that being a part of all the violence that is a part of war, is highly corrosive to a person’s psyche. In other words, again in my opinion, our society is moving toward a more feminine perspective.

Those with feminine qualities are loving, vulnerable, understanding, supportive, inclusive, peacemakers, and healers. All the people most of us profess to admire and aspire to emulate throughout the ages have had more feminine qualities than masculine, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr. to name just a few.

So I ask, do we want to heal the cancer, or kill ourselves because we don’t want to acknowledge the diagnosis?

I hope you will consider this quote from the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. My copy was translated and annotated, and with an afterward by Victor H. Mair, thus the two different numbers.

41 (76)
Human beings are
soft and supple when alive,
stiff and straight when dead.

The myriad creatures, the grasses and trees are
soft and fragile when alive,
dry and withered when dead.

Therefore, it is said:
The rigid person is a disciple of death;
The soft, supple, and delicate are lovers of life.

An army that is inflexible will not conquer;
A tree that is inflexible will snap.

The unyielding and mighty shall be brought low;
The soft, supple, and delicate will be set above.

In other words, the meek shall inherit the earth. I believe that if our society is to survive, we need to become soft and supple with each other.

I’ll write one last thing. I saw Malala Yousafzai on Jon Stewart’s show last night and I’ll paraphrase something she said that I’m trying to get across with this post. She said that one person can do one thing to make the world a better place. And I say, if each of us does one thing, then it won’t be long before the world we live in becomes a very different place than the one we’re living in now.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2015

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