That is the first line on the first page of the notebook I took with me to a “Spirituality and Social Change” gathering in California in 2002.
In the aftermath of 9/11, I had the opportunity to sit, eat, yoga, and learn with Sat Santokh, Ram Dass, Van Jones, Julia Butterfly, John Vasconcellos, Aya De Leon, Michael Lerner, and more.
I arrived relatively unaware of who those people were and really just following the nudge of my partner Hollie and mother-in-law Jackie who had really encouraged and supported me to attend. Looking back I see those days as pivotal and powerful in my own learning journey.
Here’s some of the gems so far:
From Sat Santokh’s opening meditation
- Open yourself to the world – when you close is when you are numb.
- Feel tears, pain, and fear
- One hand on your heart, one on your belly and fire breath pulling and in and pushing out
- “What’s learnin’ ya?” – a favorite question from Appalachia.
- Hold space for White Europeans – the flattening of their experience into whiteness loses the flavor and spice of identity.
- It is painful to stay awake. We tend to take our wounds out on each other. We shed on belief system for another.
- Disappointment and hopelessness can be great teachers.
- Find the differences between passion and workaholism.
- Learn to listen with all your senses.
- There is always more to say yes to than you can say yes to.
Notes from then State Senator of California John Vasconcellos
- “I’m proud that I haven’t become a cynic but more idealistic, richer than where I started.”
- “The politics we do is who we are.”
- Gandhi said, “Each one of us is a politician.”
- Einstein, “You can’t solve problems from the same paradigm you created them.”
- Call to mastermind the resurrection of the body politic.
- We are all so separate – scared to trust and to share
- Daniel Yangolovich – research naming four options for our future
- Disintegrating into chaos
- Fundamentalism at the political extremes
- State sanctioned oppression
- Carl Rogers writing on Peace, Psychology, and Politics
- believed we are innately inclined to become responsible, trustworthy, and constructive
- 7 major shifts
- Gender – roles and power changes, attention to feeling and intuition
- Race – morality and self-interest converge as whites become a minority in CA schools in 2010
- End of Cold War
- Global Economies
- Internet creates a kind of creative chaos
- How we look at and know ourselves (notes say I should look up “New Copernicum Revolution”)
- Faithful or cynical? Faithful rooted in trust which means open and unarmed. Cynical rooted in being closed and armed. (my notes mark this as a teaching to ponder)
- Cultural creators – time to find common causes b/w environment, equity, gender. Become true allies – not like allies of WWII
- Lead lives of integrity developing a new human agenda. Hospice workers for old culture and midwives for new ones.
- Be knowledgeable and patient
- Nurture common languages to bring cultural groups together.
- Trustworthiness vs. Worthwhileness
- Three things to end violence in schools: 1) Safe physical environment, 2) Safe emotional environment, 3) Resiliency Skills
Next up was Van Jones, then Director of the Ella Baker Center and running the Books Not Bars Campaign
- 1st give honor to the land and the rightful people to this place, to what has been pulled, the labor of the people who built this place
- The prison system – working very hard to tell you – you are subhuman
- 12-step programs work in part because they provide an outlet to be seen as a person
- “trying to survive with anger”
- Conscious hip-hop (bourne out of oppression – injected with compassion)
- Politics is part of culture – people get what they demand
- Working on a bill in CA on how first assessments of people incarcerated are handled – a key entry point
- Paying attention to Vote Smart project in Montana