Maya Angelou closed the Kwanzaa documentary with those words. I have no idea if they were written for her or if they were original, but I do know that watching TV documentaries is fascinating – especially the historicals when you’ve lived through those times.
I remember when Kwanzaa was invented (1966), or at least I remember when it became well enough known to attract the attention of white liberals. It seemed, at first, like one more example of a rising interest in African culture. I had no idea that it would become a nationally known week of celebration of the spiritual values that made an ethnic group great.
I didn’t imagine we would routinely celebrate Kwanzaa rituals in the church I founded. Of course, in those days, I couldn’t imagine founding a church. Some things look inevitable in hindsight, but they were impossible to imagine as you headed into an unknown future.
If you learn much about history from TV documentaries, you see that all constructive change movements represent the opening minds of many people. It’s not a movement if it’s only you and a couple of friends. There is an old joke about the important guy with megaphone trotting beside the parade shouting, “Slow down so I can lead you!”
History is like that. An event happens – Rosa Parks says she won’t move to the back of the bus and history happens. Cassius Clay says he won’t go to war and history happens. Betty Friedan writes a book and history happens. Or so they say.
The truth is that history only happens when a critical mass is ready to ignite. There was a whole lot of preparation for the Montgomery bus strike. Many young men and women were against the draft and Vietnam war. Many young people decided they wanted to change from “slave names” to African ones. Many women loved Friedan’s book and untied their apron strings and burned their bras.
It takes more than an isolated event. Constructive change needs to attract a crowd. There are many ways to prepare people for taking steps forward.
We reach consensus by talking in small and large groups, in classrooms and through media. Popular culture prepares people to change. That is why dictators hate open discussions and free press.
Totalitarian leaders seem to need to close schools, shut down the press, squash artists and burn books as quickly as possible. If you want to build and preserve a dictatorship you must stop conversation about change as efficiently as possible.
We live in a nation committed to freedom and we are currently experiencing a strong resistance to change. When we look at how Congress is paralyzed, we see the messy side of democracy. We despair of our ability to change in the direction of equality and justice for all but it will happen.
Education and the arts are important if constructive change is to thrive. When looking backward the power of the arts is clear. Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit did more to awaken the conscience of the nation than any one thing. Right now, millions are singing the Peace Song every Sunday morning. That song will accomplish as much as a treaty.
Just signing an agreement doesn’t make change happen. Slaves were emancipated over 150 years ago but some people are still working in appalling conditions. Women have had the vote since 1920 but we still get less pay. Someone could write a book called Aunt Tommi’s Cabin and show the poverty of single mothers for the heartbreaker it is.
In this modern age, I suspect that TV documentaries are best for promoting constructive change. God bless PBS. News stories also change minds.
Certainly, the civil rights movement owes a lot to news reporting. It was ordinary people who linked arms and sang as they overcame fear and violence and marched into the 1960’s. It was ordinary reporters who covered those marches.
When I look at the past, I am encouraged but things never move fast enough to suit me. It’s not enough to have a black president although it is a beginning. There is so much to be done it makes me want to jump on my soapbox.
We need major reforms in education, immigration, health, prisons, and money equality. We need to elect more women to public office. There is more but we need to tackle this now.
I am optimistic about change because so much has been achieved in my lifetime, especially for middle class blacks and young women. These changes tend to mask the number of older women and single mothers who are trapped in poverty. It also masks the appalling unemployment rate among black men.
I’m not doing much but watching documentaries at this point but it’s fascinating to compare TV history to my own personal movie. As I look back at my life, I’m grateful that I was as outspoken and on the side of the angels as I was.
I’m also moved to write an occasional social action piece on my blog. I continue to send money to causes and write letters to politicians. These are two possibilities for anyone who wants to help make constructive change.
My spiritual choices are the most important thing I do. My New Thought religion doesn’t tell me how to vote or what to say, but every time I say, “There is a Power for Good greater than I am and I can use it,” I am empowered. You are also.
I believe that spiritual beliefs based on Science of Mind can unlock many constructive changes in individual lives and also make a big difference in our common culture. Think about it. When we locate God in the present, living within each person, we’ve declared independence.
The mere idea that God is the Creative Power of the Universe and not an old white guy in the sky shifts the power base. We become spiritual revolutionaries.
Once we accept that everyone is a spiritual being with equal access to God, we are denying that anyone is more important than any other. That is radical thinking!
I believe we are living in a time of spiritual liberation or revolution. When you learn you can take charge of your life by changing your thinking, you stop looking to outside authority . We are making a great shift in our belief about where the power lives. What used to be “the best kept secret” is becoming a common idea.
I’ve seen it coming for a while. When people started quoting Oprah instead of ministers or priests, I knew we were enjoying a great sea change. The fact that she is a black woman is a harbinger of change.
Like all great movements, it’s complicated and will take time. There will be resistance but the ruling hierarchy is in big, big trouble.
I am not impatient because I have a dream. I dream I’m one of a gathering crowd of spiritual revolutionaries who know we have a God-given right to Love, Light, Prosperity, and Wisdom. We are claiming our Divine Inheritance as we practice the principles of Love and Light. We are spiritual leaders riding the waves toward life-changing acceptance of Spiritual Truth.
How have I changed?
How do I want to change?
Do I need to release fear or doubt about change?
Am I ready to change any behavior now?
My friend and I go back 25 years. We share age and politics, as well as religion and love for family. Our conversation jumps from subject to subject and era to era very easily. Over lunch, we agree it is depressing to see civil rights moving backwards.
That was just one moment of discouraging thought. We quickly moved on to happier topics – our kids, grandkids and great grandkids. We know nothing really moves backwards, no matter how it may appear in any particular moment. The Creative Energy of Life and Love is constantly expanding and we both know it.
So many things have gone right in our lifetime. People live longer and are happier. We have amazing inventions and leisure time. Many of us are more secure and happier.
There seems to be less fear for the future. We remembered the days when people built those tacky little bomb shelters that were supposed to keep people safe from the Atomic War. We have had wars but no atomic ones. That is a cause for hope and celebration, considering we grew up with the threat of atomic annihilation. It seems even our leaders prefer desire peace.
This is the fifty-year celebration of the March on Washington and I am trying to remember how much better things are than they were then. Memory helps.
I can do it. I’ve learned is trust. Right now, I am trusting that the nation will continue to move forward and not allow civil rights to go any farther backwards. After all, We are one nation under God. The Creative Expression of Life is always expanding and life continues improve although not always in a straight-ahead path.
In church, we learn that our personal lives can move outward into greater expansion of our Infinite Potential. That is true on a national and global basis as well. Over the long run, a look at history proves that Life is better.
It’s natural to have things improve. Humans are built to want more and better. It is a part of our creative nature. The Law of Cause and Effect works in our personal lives and it also works on a global scale. We no longer dwell in caves, do we? Most of us live longer, richer and healthier lives.
Progress happens consistently although it may not happen as smoothly or quickly as we want. It takes vision and desire to set new ideas in motion. And new visions are always happening. Right now, many people are visioning an end to global poverty. I trust that their vision will manifest in our lifetime.
John Lennon and I like to imagine a world of peace and plenty. I’m sure you agree with those great goals. What we know in Science of Mind is when enough people believe and accept a new vision it must come about because spiritual laws are inexorable.
It’s not always easy to expect the best, and sometimes I get upset when I see regression. These days, I see backward steps on several social rights issues. Women and people of color are losing ground. What happened to gun control? Many new laws are proposed at the state level that are dangerous. Because I lived through the bad old days, I am absolutely certain I do not want to be turned around. Maybe we need to start singing “We Shall Overcome” again.
Several states have created laws that closed women’s health centers. Their aim is to prevent women from having abortions and the result will be to endanger women’s health. Up until the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, women lived in fear of unwanted pregnancies. Recent actions in red states now endanger our freedom. Women should have the right to make choices and control their own bodies.
I trust the changes will be tested in court and thrown out, meanwhile, women (especially poor women) suffer. Simultaneously, these same states are tightening voter laws. Red states are closing polls in Democratic districts. They are also shortening hours and requiring more stringent voter ID’s. No one should have to stand in line eight hours to vote.
I am old enough to remember literacy tests and poll taxes. They were infamous ways to keep Afro-Americans from voting. After years of courageous and historic struggles, the “New South” emerged. Things appeared to change and we even elected a black president. Many younger people take fairness for granted but equality and liberty and justice should never be taken for granted.
The Trayvon Martin tragedy has put some of the problems of blacks back in the news. A divided nation reacts to that tragedy in predictable ways. When our president spoke of his personal experiences he was actually condemned by some. It felt just like the bad old days to me.
I do not really compare today’s struggles with fifty years ago but we all need to remember that what happens to one citizen in the country happens to us all.
John Donne, wrote a famous poem in the 1700’s, and, in part, it said,
No man is an island,
Entire of itself, Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main……..
…I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
That poem makes perfect sense to anyone who studies metaphysics and knows we are unique, individualized expressions of God. When we look at others, we don’t see strangers, we see brothers and sisters – all expressions of God.
What Donne wrote in England in the 1700’s is still true. When one woman dies from a coat hanger wound, we are all hurt. When one young man is shot because of his color, we are all hurt. When one person is kept from voting, we are all hurt. We live in God and how we treat each other is our highest expression God as Love.
No matter who you are or where you live, you are connected through the Oneness of God. We all have the power of prayer and we embrace the vision of equality for all, trust in God, and Love as the Creative Energy of the Universe. Despite appearances, holding that vision will produce results that look like miracles.
Will you join me this month in daily prayers claiming equal rights for all? Will you join me in holding the vision of social action progress? Will you know, with me, that restrictive laws and activities are turned around now?
Many of the early New Thought leaders believed the United States had a special, historic place in the history of humankind. I agree with their vision. Equality under law was a powerful idea in 1776 and it has expanded over time. As our wisdom and tolerance developed, our greatness grew. We don’t go backward, we lead the way forward. Thank God for the Sacred Trust we hold.
Do I trust the future?
Do I want to speak out?
Do I want to forward this post?
What more can I do?
Last week, I wrote about my wonderful, spiritual town where I live in. At that exact same time, one nearby neighbor shot and killed another neighbor, apparently over a bush trimming feud. When I saw the police cars and TV van, I almost pulled my blog. Instead, I decided to leave it longer than usual. My neighbor’s truth is not my truth.
Everything I wrote about my town is true. Even the TV and newspaper stories started with phrases like “quiet, peaceful and upscale neighborhood.” The facts remain the same except last week we had a murder on my street. No one expected it but it happened here.
Violence happens all the time somewhere in the nation. My neighbor’s quarrel should have been settled reasonably between two sane people. I believe it might have been settled rationally if no one had a gun.
Beyond the news stories, I cannot make a judgment about the case, but I am free to make the judgment that there are many too many guns around. I realize that stricter gun laws might not have had any effect on my neighbor’s dispute but I do believe that new gun laws are desperately needed.
We must speak out! I hope everyone who reads this will take a stand and urge his or her leaders to continue to push for gun control legislation. When the great majority of citizens are in favor of tighter restrictions, shouldn’t politicians respond? Does money talk louder than the lives of innocents?
Yes, I have heard all that Second Amendment hooey. The Second Amendment was put in the Constitution to protect the American Colonists against the English in the 1700’s. It seems as archaic as Bible laws against eating pigs or shellfish to me. The dietary laws met a health need thousands of years ago but we have food inspectors now.
I know that my comments may sound simplistic but it does seem simple to me. Of course violence would still continue to happen, but if there were fewer guns in this country that would surely slow down the killing.
I’m glad people are talking more seriously about making neighborhoods safer by enacting stricter gun laws. This morning it seems as if we might see a tighter background check law get voted on and passed in the Senate. It is a beginning but there is so much more to be done.
Big city mayors have organized and been speaking out for several months now. Unfortunately, the mayor’s group represents cities, and many suburban folks who felt safer couldn’t hear them. Things have changed.
After the killing of 20 children and their six teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School, everyone was shocked and it seemed they might be ready to listen. We dared to hope that some good would come out of the Newtown CO massacre.
The death of those innocent children dented in our hearts, They seemed like “our kids”. We already knew about random violence in less privileged neighborhoods but this time, there were so many children killed at once. And they were so young and from white, middle-class suburbs.
I’m certain we would say that a child of the ghetto or barrio deserved as much safety as a child of the suburbs. On the other hand, as I learned last week, it is easier to ignore issues when they happen farther away. Sandy Hook felt closer to home for most of us.
Many of us tried to imagine what it would feel like to lose a young child in the first or second grade to mass gun violence. My heart breaks when I think about it.
There are neighborhoods where death by gun violence is common. Sometimes it is gang activity and everyone involved a teenager. Sometimes random fire strikes a six year old. Can you imagine what it would be like to raise a child in one of those neighborhoods?
Whether in suburb or city, age six or sixteen, life is precious. There are far too many children in the USA who are endangered by guns. We know this and we also know that limiting access to guns would help. That’s why such a large majority (approximately 90%) of voters favor of stricter gun controls.
When politicians put powerful lobbies ahead of representing their constituents’ desires, it is time to elect new politicians. We can change the rules. Politicians who resist gun control legislation can lose in the next game. Why re-elect someone who represents the NRA?
Violence has many facets. There are other things we can do besides limit gun access. We certainly need to curtail the violent video games, and the violence in movies, and on TV. It is a strange world where young people are entertained for hours by playing killing games. Not a good idea – as any psychologist will tell you.
Some of the same people who agree with me on guns will be against censorship of volence. They will quote the First Amendment quicker than the opposition quotes the Second. Neither the First nor Second Amendment is sacred.
Truth is, we already censor free speech in many ways. Liberals should not be afraid to ruffle the feathers of the Hollywood money birds. We are hypocrites if we are not willing to attempt to curtail all violence by saying, “Enough!
As a part of my New Thought spiritual practice, I have avoided violent films for years and I think it is a very good idea to keep your mind clear of violent entertainment. Why fill your head with nonsense? You may believe believe that Django is great art but that is not my Truth.
We also need to find new ways to identify and help individuals with mental health issues. That said, the most immediate need and the most logical place to start curbing violence is with gun control measures.
It looks as if we will get a vote on a background check bill in the Senate very soon. Please do what you can to help it pass. It’s not enough, but it is something. Let’s take what we can get as quickly as we can.
When the bill passes the Senate, it goes to the House and your representatives need to know you want something done. Contact the men and women who represent you NOW. Let them know what you believe and why. Tell them you are watching their votes and that it is important to you.
Whenever someone tells me that a proposed law is not enough, that the problems will remain, I remember the starfish story…
There was once a young man who walking on the beach who came upon hundreds of starfish washed up on the sand. He started picking them up, and throwing them back in the water. His companion said, “Forget it. There are too many dying. It won’t make any difference.” The young man threw two more starfish into the water and said, “It made a difference to those two.”
Remember – Political Action Works!
Do I agree?
Is there anything I can do?
What shall I do?
When shall I do it?
My first gift was a woman from Columbia University who is writing her Master’s thesis on the Sunfire series of teenage historical novels. I wrote several in the series. She graduated from Yale and plans to get her doctorate in American Studies.
It is always a pleasure to hear from fans. When she interviewed me, she told me she loved my books because they were about independent women with interesting work and I felt as though I had a part in her success. It also reminded me that things can change. When I wrote those books, Yale didn’t even accept women.
The Sunfires were different from my other teen romances because they were based on actual history. I have always loved historical fiction and I loved researching and writing them. Mine were about a one-room schoolteacher, a Lowell mill girl, a telegraph operator caught the Johnstown flood, a 1930’s movie star, and a young woman during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. My favorite was Corey – an escaped slave who walked to Philadelphia freedom. The Sunfire series was a first and Corey was an even bigger first because it pictured a black heroine.
The History Fairy also brought two impersonal gifts. They were TV documentaries on the Freedom Riders and the Women’s Movement. Both events touched my life personally.
I have had a deep interest in racial equality since I was fourteen, and attended a teen conference sponsored by the American Friends Society. One of the presenters was a Philadephia Quaker named Bayard Rustin. He spent the war in prison as a conscientious objector and then began a struggle for equality in the South.
Rustin absolutely fascinated me. He wore denim work shirts and played the guitar even though he was a very educated man. He taught us enthralling protest songs that were as inspiring as his words. I had never met anyone like him and I fell in love because I was a silly young girl, but I also fell even more deeply in love with his message.
I never learned much about him. I know he was with A. Philip Randolph, and organized of the March on Washington. I believe he spent most of his life in the shadows of the movement because of his homosexuality. It is only recently that I’ve seen his name and work openly acknowledged.
As I watched that documentary on the violent confrontations in Alabama and the prison jamming in Mississippi, I realized how slowly ideas change. I was also reminded how important courage is. Those “agitators” of the early ‘60’s saved the soul of our nation. I believe those amazing non-violent young people are the true spiritual leaders of our time.
I’ve known for a long time that poverty is the partner of ignorance and education is the key to change.I have learned that good laws create new opportunity and they do eventually work. It was wonderful to see that Truth condensed into one TV show. I realized things have changed for the better. Not finished, but changed.
I was a small contributor to the march toward equality – a few dollars, a few parades. I volunteered for a few social programs, did a few press releases for Rep. Shirley Chisholm’s campaign, volunteered for classroom assignments where I could do some good.Over the last 66 years my ideals have not wavered and I know that foot soldiers are important to the march of history.
I was very glad so much was caught on tape. Thank God for brave journalists. I was also sad as I remembered how naive we were. In the beginning, we mostly believed racism was limited to the South. Not so. But I believed it then. Didn’t I have friends who were black? I know better now.
The second show reminded me I’ve changed a lot of ideas about women’s issues as well. I’m ashamed to remember that in the early seventies, I told my boyfriend I wasn’t a feminist. He was black and he said quietly, “Then you don’t know what’s been done to you.”
I think I resisted jumping on the feminist bandwagon because I wanted to be beautiful and sexy and successful. The propaganda about the women’s movement was ugly and fierce. I did join NOW almost immediately and I did go to those consciousness raising meetings.
My consciousness may not have been raised as much s startled when the leader suggested my problems might not all be psychological. She said they were sociological! I was busy having an identity,or mid-life crisis. At any rate, I chose to be an aging hippie instead of a insistent feminist. It never occurred to me just to be ordinary.
Part of my resistance was that I detested thinking of myself as a victim. However, when I got drunk, I whined a lot. I obviously thought my life was pretty unfair. Also, I desperately wanted to believe Prince Charming was out there somewhere and would be coming along to save me very soon.
In the end, Prince Charming let me down and I sobered up. With the help of Bill W and Ernest Holmes, I combined my spiritual emergence with attention to my feminine side. Two friends and I wrote a small workbook for women alcoholics. We started the first women’s meeting in town. Getting sober meant looking at my life in new ways.
As American life changed, I also changed. I learned to be grateful for my journey and to enjoy the remainder of the trip. I thought I was getting smarter as I aged but it may have been that new ideas were exploding all around me and I didn’t want to miss the fun. Who knows?
That was then and this is now. What I know for now, for certain, is that we all very connected. On a clear day, I can see a direct line from Eleanor Roosevelt, my girlhood idol, to Michele Obama who is reinventing First Lady.
We all have a part to play in our march toward discovering our spirital magnificence. When one person finds more Light, it opens us all up to more Light. The poet, John Donne wrote in the 1600’s. No man is an island… do not ask for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.
At age 14, I thought that poem about a bell was all about Gary Cooper blowing up a bridge for love of Ingrid Bergman. Now I know the poem was written for love of all of us. We Are One.
What are three ideas you changed over the years?
Why did they change?
Did your change impact others? How?
I am reading the chapter on Judaism in Huston Smith’s The World Religions. As I read about this tenacious, idealist, and compassionate people’s history and beliefs, I begin to cry. My heart is open and I remember my beginning days of sobriety, when I searched for personal meaning by attempting to convert to Judaism. I realize I still love the God of the Jews with all my heart.
Despite the fact that I studied with a Reform Rabbi for two years, I never converted to Judaism. I was looking for the mystical core of the teaching that I found in the ancient stories. My Rabbi couldn’t separate history from his lectures on religion. I realize now that he was right.
Eventually, I left Judaism and returned to Religious Science even though it meant rearranging my whole life to study with a New Thought teacher in NYC. I’ve never been sorry I studied Judaism and I’m certainly not sorry I studied New Thought.
There were several reasons why I never converted but none were based on religious objections. The Friday night services and the Rabbi’s lectures were not all that different from the ones I heard during my years as a Unitarian. I wanted a spiritual experience that I didn’t find there.
The Temple social life was based on family and I was a middle aged widow. Their social conventions were not mine. Although everyone was very nice, it was clear that I would never fit in.
More importantly, the Judaism I sought was not in that Temple. It was in my romantic imagination and in the books of writers such as Isaac Bashevis Singer, who once said he “wrote for ghosts” and social historians and philosophers such as Martin Buber.
During that period of my life, I read extensively – mostly about the religious fervor of the Middle European ecstatic tradition. I learned a lot about false messiahs, the Kabbalah, Zionism, the great Bal Shem Tov and other zaddicks.
I do not regret my studies of Judaism and I still believe in their early monotheism and moral teachings. The Jews are a great and amazing event in world history.
Whether I converted not, I feel more affinity for Judaism than any other spiritual teaching except New Thought. Most of my colleagues are more influenced by Christianity or Buddhism. If they think of Judaism, they are apt to think of it as an early beginning to our Judeo-Christian tradition. I have a heart connection to Judaism.
The Jews were the first of the existing religions to say that there was only One God. They were the first to extend ethical laws beyond their own tribe. They were the first to base their laws on a Universal God who created the world and found it good.
Huston Smith says the greatest accomplishment of the ancient Jews is their insistence on searching for meaning. That makes sense to me. It was the search for meaning that drew me to their religion five thousand years later.
Smith also says that their belief in the One God colored their whole religious philosophy. He says, “..the supreme achievement of Jewish thought – not in its monotheism as such, but in the character it ascribed the God it intuited as One. “ Then he goes on to describe that character. “God is a God of righteousness, whose loving kindness is from everlasting to everlasting and whose tender mercies are in all his works.”
Many people would say that the greatest accomplishment of the Jews is the fact that they were an obscure tribe of Middle Eastern nomads and they have survived for over 5000 years. While their beliefs have evolved and been extended, they have also been constant. They built their faith on monotheism – Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
I am now at the place where I find Truth embedded in all the major religions. I never say this one is better than that one. Every Sunday, we begin our services by lighting a candle in celebration of each of the world’s major religions. That said, the Jews share a lot of ideas that are also found in New Thought. Their description of God is pretty close to ours. They say God is a God of righteousness and mercy. We say God is a God of Law and Love.
Unlike many who come from a Christian tradition I never bought the simplistic idea that the Old Testament is “law” and the New Testament is “love”. I find plenty of love in laws that protect the widows and orphans of this world. Smith says there are 613 commandments regulating the social behavior of humans. Of course, they are based on the Ten Commandments and those are based on the belief that God is good and Life is good.
The goodness of all life is central to Judaism. Their beliefs are not based on denial of the physical body or detachment from life on this earthly plane. Nor do they deny the pleasures of the earth for delayed heaven. Their laws are intended to promote living together in harmony and goodness here and now.
Perhaps more than any other distinctly Western concept, the idea of progress is dearest to my heart. The Jews were the underdogs of history, Smith says. “Underdogs have only one direction to look, and it was the upward tilt of the Jewish imagination that eventually led the West to conclude that the conditions of life as a whole might improve.”
Yes – I am deeply moved by the ideas in this wisdom teaching. As I wiped away my tears, I realized that I attached myself to Judaism 37 years ago, immediately after my sobriety began, because I needed to believe in meaning and hope. I needed to believe that God is good, Life is good, conditions improve and there is always hope.
I needed that outlook of hope and progress in my personal life just the way the American slaves needed it in their bondage. The Afro-American spirituals tell the story. Whether it was, There’s a Great Day Coming! Or Go Down Moses – Let My People Go, they were deeply attached to Old Testament stories.
I am a Religious Science teacher now and I have incorporated the beliefs of many religious traditions into my life. I see the belief in One God, karma ( law of cause and effect), the possibility of redemption, God in nature and other tenets of the major faiths as New Thought ideas now. I believe life is good and my conviction that life has meaning is very strong.
I believe in progress and improving our loving connection to others. My life is committed to teaching that there is only One God and that God is Love. I teach that we are all connected to God and to each other. I teach it is possible to live together in peace, plenty and harmony.
Like Dr. Martin Luther King, I have a dream, and my dream is that we can all embrace those basic concepts of Allness, Goodness and Progress now.
Do I believe in the goodness of life?
Do I celebrate the wisdom of all religious traditions?
It is Saturday, May 21, in Tustin, CA at the Unity Church and I am speaking before a large group of women about my Wise Woman book. It seems different and also very much the same. I’ve spoken hundreds of earlier times on the subject. It has been a while, but it is very familiar.
Times have changed since 1994 when I wrote the book, Wise Women don’t worry, Wise Women don’t sing the blues. It is almost twenty years but I can tell by the questions the women from the audience that many issues remain the same.
The women who attended the Wise Woman event appeared prosperous. They are a self-selected group who know something of New Thought and they are willing to change their thinking to change their lives. I am proud to be a part of them and glad to discover old friends who are looking well and happy. It is a joyous day.
My dear friend, Rev. Rachel Lampert, put the conference together with her dear friend, Rita Prosperi; they did a beautiful job. There was an amazing number of willing workers who did their part with no drama. They were pleasant, competent, capable women volunteers and one man who helped with the filming. He had a wonderful laugh!
All of the speakers and workshop leaders were lovely, brilliant and talented. The musicians were fabulous and the conference was opened by a woman who belonged to a local Native American tribe. She leads a spiritual group called Song Of The Earth and by the time she finished chanting, I felt the earth truly was singing .
The day was fabulous. I felt loved and lifted. The laughter was a blessing –especially from Rev. Rachel who has the best laugh in the world. The audience was great, of course, because the Law of Attraction is always working. I am generally an optimistic person but lately, I’ve had a few doubts. This event gave me a great deal of hope for the future
Of course, I reviewed my own life as I prepared my talk and that made me very aware of changes that have happened. For example, in my youth, all ministers were men. I knew only of Aimee Semple McPherson who was disgraced as a fallen woman.
Even though women continue to face economic and political issues, I can see very real progress. We see women on TV every day who are established leaders in their fields. My two favorite news commentators Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris- Perry are perfect examples of wise women who would not have been seen on the air 20 years ago.
Feminists are no longer terrified of lesbian labels. Maddow has the courage to be openly gay. Harris-Perry is Afro-American and a professor. While we are not all working on TV or CEOs of corporations, we have come a long way. Most of us know at least one notable woman in her chosen field. We don’t deliberately limit our children’s and grandchildren’s ideas of what kind of work they can do as adults.
That being said, women still make an average of 77 cents for every dollar a man makes at the same job. The top layers of government and industry are hugely dominated by men. Physical appearance is still a big very factor in how the world responds to women.
Life is better in many ways but anyone who thinks that the need for women to step up and speak out is over should take a good long look at what is actually happening in this nation. We have a great deal of work to do.
At the same time, it is probably better to be born a woman in the United States than most places. We can drive cars, marry late or not at all and get ahead economically. We can be single parents without apology.
Opportunities will continue to grow. As more women are elected to political office, the plight of the poor, the education of children and other social issues will improve. I believe this because I know that women are culturally and historically tuned into these issues. They are aware of the implications of massive numbers of children living in poverty or the need for effective health care costs for seniors. The majority of health care providers are still women who volunteer to care for family members. This is not a bad thing, it simply is what is.
I do find the rise of a right wing political, religious and social attitude in the US very distressing. These action-oriented believers threaten to push back many of our gains. Cuts in the national budget are never military but hover over education, child protection, and women and children’s health care.
I am amazed to see a political party try to unapologetically try to turn back the clock. They are apparently determined to take away gains made on women’s choices. Roe vs. Wade , women and children’s health care and other issues of choice are in chronic danger.
That said – the women I talked with in Tustin were healthy, wealthy and wise. A group of intelligent, optimistic and spiritual women like that create an aura of loving power that is exactly what we need on a personal, local, state, and national level. Indeed, I am certain that women like them are the ones to save the planet.
That group of wise women created an atmosphere that was a distinct and beautiful feeling of peace, love, power and intelligence. It felt clear to me that, as Julian of Norwich said, “All is well and all will be well.”
My Mother’s Day celebration began in that room. I was truly blessed to be a part of the event. I was also very blessed to have my beautiful daughter there with me. She has been the biggest blessing of all in my life.
I wish everyone of my readers a Happy Mother’s Day – not just yesterday, but every day for the rest of your lives.
How has my life changed?
How would I like my life to change?
“ I wanted to write that, but he beat me to it,” a friend says. Soon after, another friend claims, “I had that idea before anyone else.” As I look at my own life, I see that many ideas I believed were original were actually part of a cultural shift.
The more I look at how ideas develop, the more I believe that it all comes from the same Creative Source that we call God. Ideas seem to come into being when the time is right and they often develop in multiple strains, out of multiple people’s minds, in multiple places.
At some level, we all acknowledge this. We say, “Great minds run in the same direction,” because it seems to be true. One of the best proofs that the ideas come into being when the time is right is the phenomenon of simultaneous inventions.
Thomas Edison was the inventor of motion pictures unless you are French and then you probably believe it was the Lumiere family. Some people believe that one must have stolen from the other but it is quite likely the invention occurred because it was time for it to appear.
It is now common for the Nobel Prize to be awarded to more than one scientist for simultaneous discoveries. Ideas of science, philosophy and religion can definitely have multiple origins and be very similar. The Reformation began in Germany but England’s reformation was more simultaneous development than it was Lutheran in origin.
Divine Science, which is part of New Thought, was started at the same time in Colorado and San Francisco. When Nona Brooks and Malinda Cramer met, they joined forces because they were doing the same thing at the same time. Those two women were smart enough to cooperate rather than let their egos rule them.
New Thought leaders, in general, are able to rise above their egos; they are not afraid to share ideas. They do their work and share their ideas without a lot of proprietary interest. Since we believe that it all comes from One Mind, we are grateful to be in the flow. Ego self may want to believe it is “mine” but in the light of the teaching, that can’t really be true.
Since New Thought beginnings, there were many people who wrote and taught ideas of self-reliance and mental healing and they called their movement many different names. Divine Science, Christian Science, Unity, Church of Truth and Religious Science were some that survived long enough to make the history books.
The founder of Religious Science, Ernest Holmes, wrote a very complete textbook that approached New Thought as a philosophy as well as religion. His book, Science of Mind, is filled with quotations from the Bible, RW Emerson and other Transcendentalist writers as well as many other sources . It is most impressive but he did not claim absolute originality; he was very clear that he was a synthesizer. He said his work was based on enlightened teaching of the ages.
Often, people who come to Religious Science churches for the first time, are amazed to find a religion that teaches the ideas about the nature of life that they already hold. You can believe that it is because the ideas are practical and logical or you can believe Holmes caught the wave of the next great development in the evolutionary experience of humankind.
Alcoholics Anonymous is another powerful self-help teaching that developed at about the same time as Religious Science. The ideas of AA and SOM are very similar in some ways. Both emphasize the individual’s ability to take charge of his life through small, consistent steps. They both are based on spiritual realities.
One of the reasons New Thought and Alcoholics Anonymous are similar is that they originated in the United States where we already had a strong tradition of self reliance. We do not look to the elite or powerful to tell us what to do or think, we look to our inner voice to guide us.
Many of us have found both AA and SOM to be two wonderful organizations that help us change our thinking and change our lives. The concept of living one day at a time keeps me sober and it keeps me spiritually grounded. The concept of small choices adding up to big answers keeps me consistently on track and it produces great changes in my life.
If I had been born in an earlier time, AA would not have been there. Nor would Science of Mind. They arrived on the scene in the late 1920’s and 30’s just in time to lead me into the light.
What about you? Do you know that your small choices are building your life a day at a time? Do you know that this is the day in which to happy? Next time you make your gratitude list, you might begin with the fact that you were born into these enlightened times.
I have seen a lot of changes in my lifetime. Most of them have been helpful and I am filled with gratitude that I have moved into a personal belief system that allowed me to take charge of my life more completely than I originally believed was possible.
I used to think my journey was an original one but now I know I am part of a great wave of positive thinking. The fact that just about everyone knows about my two organizations doesn’t mean they are old fashioned or outdated. It means they arrived at the right time to become accepted truths for many.
Ideas about equal opportunity are simultaneously inventing themselves in our lives right now. The possibility thinking that is personal is also cultural and it is spreading. As a woman, I am very aware of the difference in opportunity fifty years ago and today. I am grateful for the changes that have already happened and the ones that are coming.
Equality of opportunity is springing up in many places. This is an idea whose time has come. Look around at the various groups who are speaking up about their civil and personal rights. Gay rights. Minority rights. Immigrant rights. Native American rights. Disabled people’s rights. 99% rights. Prisoner’s rights.
It’s all right.
What small choices shall I make today?
Do I see myself as unlimited opportunity?