My son’s karate class

R__ started his Karate class today. I was watching, and I wanted so much to join the class. Sitting on the bench, I followed along part of the time. I even stood up for a bit.

After class, the instructor came and told me that for mother’s day, the dojo was offering moms the first month free. Of course, I told him I can’t possibly do that. I’m disabled, only six months out of my wheelchair.

He said that everyone there has limitations, and we only do what we can do. I’d be welcome in class, whatever my ability level.

It’s tempting! But I’m not sure I could even stand up for an hour, no matter how slow and careful I took it.

At least not more than once.

Public Service Announcement

I heard a PSA today that told me I should have a talk with my kids about how violence against women is wrong. Or maybe their father should have the talk. Either way, it makes no sense. Such a talk should be ridiculous.

My kids would never imagine that I’d condone any kind of violence against loved ones.

So, obviously, this PSA wasn’t aimed at me. Who was it aimed at, then? The families that beat their kids? If a parent hasn’t taught their kids that a home is a safe, loving place, how is a new lecture from those same parents going to teach them?

The explanation is pretty simple. The PSA is not intended to change anything. It’s just another of the subtle lies we live with. It’s a lullaby, with a hidden message: Don’t worry about how screwed up the world is. All you have to do is listen to PSAs. Everything’s under control.

I found a truth-speaker!

My heart is glowing because I’ve run across a truth-speaker. Heather Gold is comedian and a teacher of Open Source Management, a way for businesses to get real. Open Source Management uses ideas she’s learned from the software industry to promote authenticity and vulnerability in business. Why would business be interested? “Systems eventually fail when they serve themselves and not people.”

This interview at webmonkey really sums it up nicely. If you want to read more about her, her blog is at

I wonder if she knows about NVC?

Why we fight is on google video!

The movie I talked about earlier, Why We Fight, is now available from google video! I saw it in the theater, but I’m really excited that now people can see it easily.

If you’re interested in really getting what’s going on with this war, you should definitely watch it. It’s not some whacked-out conspiracy thing. It’s the real story, with interviews with real, somewhat ordinary government people talking about what our foreign policy is about.

(And as an added bonus, you can see a picture of Rumsfeld having a buddy-buddy chat with Mr. Hussein.)

A lie in the mail

I keep getting lies in the mail. I’m sad about that.

Today it was a letter addressed (by hand) to me, but with no return address. Inside was a newspaper clipping with a post-it that said “Angela, Check this out! – J”. There was a stamp on the envelope; it couldn’t have come from a business.

But the “clipping” inside was actually fake. It had words on it, and had been printed on newsprint, but didn’t come out of any newspaper. It had been perforated right in the middle of a column of words, to look like J had cut it out (just for me!). There was even an ad for a vacation destination on the back. And the “article” was all about how a local dealership was going to have to rid itself of all used cars in the next three days.

Oh, and cars can be had for $29 down, and $99/month, cash price $4295 or some such. The fine print tells you there are restrictions about creditworthiness and insurability, and that there are additional fees. They also tell you that there are exactly two cars for that price, and they may be gone already.

These letters aren’t as common, maybe, as the ones made to look like government notices, or to look like bills you have to pay when they’re actually trying to get you to sign up for some service. There are lots of different types.

And I’m told it’s not a big deal. Everybody does it. Just throw them away.

But it is a big deal. J had to make sure to write something that would mislead me, and plenty of others, without being literally false. Other people may have been involved. Clerical workers, other salespeople, her children?

Some human being is on the other side of each lie that I receive. And that human being, that spark of the divine fire, has to muffle her sprit, close her heart, and become something other than her authentic self to make something like that work. It’s tragic.

And how many people do that every day? How many people are paid to lie? “You’ll need to register for another year. Will that be Visa or Mastercard?” What does “you’ll need to” really mean? On a sign: “$99.95″-isn’t that just a lie that says “Nah! This won’t cost you a hundred dollars. See?”

Nurses lie to patients, teachers to students, salesmen to people wanting to buy something. Bankers, neighbors, parents, friends. Lies are everywhere.

Maybe they’re “white lies.” Maybe they’re not lies at all, just “misleading.” But how did “misleading” get to sound so innocent? Jewish tradition says that it’s wrong to put a stumbling block in front of a blind person. Leading someone astray — misleading — is surely also wrong. It’s surely something that a person can’t do all the time, habitually, and still find a sane and healthy path to walk. It’s not the road to enlightenment.

Call it karma, or spiritual failure, or whatever you like. It’s tragic, and it’s darkening our souls, breaking our world.

Let’s stop letting these things go unnoticed, uncommented. Let us tell the truth. Let us give up the idea of the white lie in favor of making authentic connections.

Let us speak to the divine nature in one another.

Ghandi, Carl Rogers, and Anger

Damn. Damn, damn damn.

I wasn’t empathetic. I wasn’t loving. I wasn’t non-violent.

Soulmate and I got into a heated discussion with his parents. There’s a lot of hurt there, but instead of dealing with that, I responded to anger with anger, and to accusations with accusations. It’s been two days, and I’m still feeling the effects.

I’m really challenged by people who aren’t aware, who don’t practice NVC or some other form of, you know, awareness. Introspection, assertive loving. And I’m sad, because that part is really important to me. I want to be able to offer listening, assertive loving, and authenticity to people who are walking a different path from mine. I want to hold my peace and stay centered.

And I wonder if Carl Rogers ever felt this overwhelming, sickening adrenaline when someone was angry and yelling at him, and if he yelled back, forgetting everything he knew about their agency, their needs, and their divine nature.

I think I need some empathetic listening.

Springsteen and Seeger

I hate it when I hear something on NPR, like spirituals or bluegrass or something, and I think it sounds cool, so I go buy a CD and “Ewwwwww! Why did I do that?”

But I was sitting in the bookstore yesterday, and was pulled away from my thoughts by something that sounds like “Old Dan Tucker.” And it was!

My feet were tapping, I was humming, and I was thinking “Why am I enjoying this so much?” Then, a banjo and a fiddle and something about “Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal,” and I’m still loving it! I was surprised over and over by folk songs that really rocked. I tried to get back to work, and next thing I know I’m humming “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.” So I got up and asked what it was.

The album, We Shall Overcome, is Bruce Springsteen’s tribute to Pete Seeger, and it’s another 21st Century protest album. (See also Neil Young’s new album, Living With War.) Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of them.

How did it get like this?

Up late, again. I’ve noticed when something’s worrying me, I will stay up late, keeping vigil. Tonight, my task is to make sure the world doesn’t blow up.
And now, a poem for your entertainment.

On August 6, 1945, President Truman ordered the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. The U.S. forces affectionately named the nuclear bomb “Fat Man.” August 9, a second bomb, “Little Boy,” was dropped, this time on the town of Nagasaki.

A year later, George W. Bush was born.

He has recently declared that he will not rule out the use of nuclear weapons against Iran. “All options,” he tells us, “are on the table.”

“All options are on the table.”

On the Man

Born in the shadow of power,
in the shadow of Fat Man, that
little boy must have wondered
what kind of bombs there
would be when he
took charge.

and covering
weren’t enough to
stop this boy
from wanting to reign

On the Bombing

I thought there might be
some poetry in this news.

But there is only quiet, only
humming of traffic out my window,
murmur of neighbors’ voices
next door, selection of
fruits and vegetables at
the corner market, and
fresh clean water, dripping
from my tap.

Only the fourth generation,
but our sins have grown

Living With War and Lies

Neil Young is streaming his new album, Living With War, at his website,

I’m relieved to see it, hoping that things really will begin to change. On the other hand, I don’t feel very hopeful at the moment.

It really seemed like things would change 40-50 years ago, before those philanderers and radicals, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, John Kennedy, and Malcolm X., were shot. And I guess they did change, in many positive ways (and some not-so-positive ones). But not enough.

I’m looking forward to my sunny optimism returning, but for now, I see the lies all around us and I don’t see the way out.

I got junk mail that was all about lying and misleading the other day, and I realized that there are people all over the place who make their living lying. I mean, your next-door neighbor, the lady at the post office, everywhere. Is it any wonder people won’t stand up against it?