Thursday, July 2, 2015
Kiva web site and Uncommon Goods catalog are among my greatest sources of inspiration, because they often talk about people and group who started businesses and initiated fundamental changes in their communities with hardly anything at all. A sewing circle. A cooking club. A study group. It started small but, somehow, struck just the right chord with people in the community and grew into something the originators never even imagined. Another great example is the "surprise gift" initiative that sometimes circles Facebook. People commit to send surprise gifts to others who, in turn, commit to the same. So, what could you start today that would have a positive impact on your community - be it a real or a virtual one? It might not catch on. It might not "explode". But there has to be something you could launch today that could change someone's life for the better tomorrow. Big little stories - If you have a few shoe boxes lying around, save them - they make awesome shipping boxes for anything small. We like to use them for sending around home-made pickles, preserves and Christmas coffee cakes. - A different approach toward mental health. - We still have some awesome cops out there. - Pet shop owner goes beyond just selling pet stuff. - Learn to make paper airplanes, hats, boats, and frogs. It's the easiest and cheapest way to make friends with a child. - Strangers make certain a homeless man doesn't lose his money. - Maasai women lead a solar revolution.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Several days ago, I called Justice Scalia a moron following his vile and scatterbrained remarks regarding Supreme Court's gay marriage decision. Someone reproached me for doing so and told me "I had not right to judge". To refresh everyone's memory, per dictionary.com, moron noun 1.Informal. a person who is notably stupid or lacking in good judgment: I wonder why they elected that narrow-minded moron to Congress. 2.Psychology. (no longer in technical use; now considered offensive) a person of borderline intelligence in a former and discarded classification of mental retardation, having an intelligence quotient of 50 to 69. First of all, anyone who has read Justice Scalia's statement would agree - that is not something written by an intelligent person. It's particularly remarkable, since those who participated in Justice Scalia's appointment hearing made a point of how smart he was. One of the senators said humorously, "He's like a really smart... rock." Well, apparently, a smart rock does not a smart person make. What he wrote in his statement barely speaks of awareness - let alone intelligence. It is bursting at the seams with grossly inaccurate generalizations and questionable metaphors. So, my judgment stands - Scalia is a moron because with his statement he clearly demonstrated lack of intelligence and, most certainly, lack of good judgment. Second, telling someone they have no right to judge is a paradoxical statement because it is, in fact, a judgement in and of itself. We all judge. We need to learn to live with the fact. When we choose between two cars we judge one car manufacturer to be superior to another. When we choose between two cans of fruit at the grocery store we judge between two canned fruit companies. If you think that sort of everyday judgment doesn't affect anyone - think again. Your decision, added up with the decisions of other people adds up to welfare of huge organizations, millions of dollars, and countless jobs. The relationship is described very well in the "cerulean" scene of the movie The Devil Wears Prada. We judge and it impacts others. We are not unique in this. A monkey judges when choosing between two bananas. A dung beetle judges when choosing a mate. We do both of the above and a lot more. Even Jesus, who advised against judging? Couldn't help being a little judgmental when he kicked the merchants out of the temple, calling them thieves. The point is not to stop judging entirely - since we have just established it's impossible. The point is changing howwe judge. Judge all you want as long as you do so intelligently, objectively, based on well-researched evidence. As long is your methodology for judging meets these criteria, judge away and don't feel bad about it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
A few years ago, I reconnected with an old school friend. I knew he became a born-again Christian between the time we graduated and the time we reconnected. It didn't bother me - many of us went through our own spiritual journeys during that time. I became a witch. Someone else became a Buddhist. So, why not a born-again Christian? What I didn't realize was - he became one of the more obnoxious born-again Christian types. When the matter of faith came up in a conversation, it was insults galore on his part. I attempted to disregard the negative and disrespectful comments as mere jokes and educate the man, but eventually I broke off the friendship. It wasn't much of a friendship, when every conversation began with, "Done with your heresy yet?" or "How's the witchcraft going? Are they coming to burn you on a stake?" At more serious times it was, "I shall pray to God to help you find your way to Him." Some time later, the gentleman in question died - very suddenly and tragically, of a heart attack. Our other friends and classmates mourned his death, and so did I, but in a sort of detached way. I felt awful for his family, but, sadly, my last memory of him remained that of an insensitive jerk who treated my beliefs with great disrespect. Over time, I discovered this to be mostly a Christian affliction. I can't think of a single time I heard someone say "I shall pray to Allah/Buddha/the Great Mother to help you find your way because you are clearly lost." Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Presently, I want to make this perfectly clear - we, the non-Christian people, are not confused. We are not lost. We are not seeking. Sure, there are people who transition between faiths, but for many of us this is something very established and very thoroughly thought out. For the latter group, the faith of choice has been arrived at after years of contemplation and study. We don't practice our beliefs because they are somehow less demanding - we practice them because that is what we chose, following our hearts and minds. So please stop offering to pray for us to change our faith - that is rude and disrespectful. Like anyone else, we'll happily offer good vibes and positive thoughts at the time of trouble. We also welcome all forms of positive energy - prayers, chants, positive vibes, etc. - when we need support. The power of good, supportive thoughts in all their variations has been proven scientifically, and that is just cool. Offering to pray for us to abandon our beliefs because you think yours are somehow superior is neither positive nor supportive. The next time you are tempted to do that, I encourage you to pause and think. Consider what it took for you to arrive at your beliefs and what a long, profound journey it has been. Consider the journey of the person in front of you and assume his or hers was every bit as long and profound as yours. Respect the other person's choice and be supportive.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
people rock a bus for all the right reasons. Medicinal plants hard at work. Putting kitchen scraps to work. We were at the grocery store earlier and just happened to see one of the store's displays of flavored water fall. Not sure if someone bumped it or if something was out of balance and it just happened. What I really liked was seeing how many customers (including myself) picked in to pick the plastic bottles up and help the employees. Just because it's not your job, doesn't excuse you from helping. Big Little Change - Colbert style. Students helping students.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Changing one life in a big way, and starting an even bigger change. Appearances matter, and this hairstylist takes the notion to a whole new - and very positive - level. Someone took five minutes to help another person - and changed a life (or several lives) forever. A restaurant offers free meals to people down on their luck.