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GET OFF THE BOTTLE!

Friday, September 18, 2009

(and on the filter!) Here's why:

Last year Americans spent 15 billion dollars on bottled water and the sales estimate for 2007 is 16 billion dollars. One can argue that it’s money down the drain because the truth has been watered down by some of the largest bottlers. About 24% of bottled water is just filtered tap water; like Aquafina and Dasani.

You can achieve exactly the same quality of water by installing a filter on your faucet at home. If the cost ($100 or less) of purchasing a filter for your home causes you to hesitate, consider this; you can buy a half-liter of bottled water for $1.35. If you filled this same bottle with filtered tap water once a day, it would take roughly 10 years before you spent that $1.35. However, if you purchased one bottle of water every day, after 10 years you will have spent $4,927.50.

GET OFF THE BOTTLE

Besides the incredible savings that you get with filtered tap water, there are environmental and socially responsible reasons that just strengthen the case for the tap.

Environmental Reasons - Plastic is a petroleum based product. The pollutants associated with the manufacture and transportation of these plastic bottles is unnecessarily damaging to the environment. Of the 50 billion plastic water bottles used last year, about 38 billion went straight to landfills. The plastic in those landfilled bottles is worth around $1 billion. 12 billion bottles were recycled, but remember that plastic doesn’t recycle into the same quality plastic. It can only be recycled a finite number of times before it can no longer be recycled.

Socially Responsible Reasons - Like other water from pristine ecosystems, Fiji bottled water is collected from natural sources and shipped halfway across the earth to the US where we already have clean drinking water in every home. Unfortunately, Fiji doesn’t have a great public water system and last year Fijians fell ill with typhoid casued by contaminated drinking water. When over 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water, buying bottled water with all its associated financial, environmental and social costs seems irresponsible – especially when a home filter gives you the same or better quality water than bottled water.

www.care2.com/greenliving/get-off-th
e-bottle-and-on-the-filter.html

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOODHEALTH4EVER 9/19/2009 5:14PM

    JUST TRIED TO POST, SO HERE GOES AGAIN! THANKS FOR YOUR REMINDER!
ALTHOUGH WE HAVE HAD FILTERED WATER AT HOME FOR YEARS, I DO USE BOTTLED WATER FOR ROAD TRIPS AND CAMPING...I CAN DO BETTER!!!

HAPPY TO SEE YOU BACK ON THE THREADS! HOPE YOUR TIME AWAY RENEWED YOUR ENERGIES! emoticon emoticon L.

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WHATAGRL42 9/19/2009 1:58AM

    Like many I too love my SIGG stainless steel water bottle that I got at Whole Foods. It's cute too (has a little yogi in full lotus on the front). We have filtered tap water here at home. Like brushing my teeth, I'm in the habit every morning of filling up my SIGG and bringing it to work with me,where I sip away!

http://mysigg.com/


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PAULALALALA 9/18/2009 10:19PM

    I LOVE my stainless steel bottle! The water from our tap is excellent and I take it with me everywhere I go. I see so many of the plastic bottles being consumed and tossed in the trash every day. The Y has a container just for plastic bottle recycling. It's usually empty, and the regular trash cans full of the plastic. ????? Great blog and remnder that we just need to keep getting the information out. Also good point that the water in plastic bottles is not "health water", and might even have some issues with the plastics leaching in cases of heat, etc.

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ZORAHGAIL 9/18/2009 10:17PM

    Good stuff!

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MAZZYR 9/18/2009 6:31PM

    emoticon

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CARLI_MAE 9/18/2009 5:20PM

    Rightyoh! Also, almost all bottled water is in single use containers, meaning it is prone to leaching chemicals if re-used; and even if not re-used, can still do so if left in sunny, or hot environments or beyond the shelf life date indicated on the bottle cap!
And if you don't want to install a filter on your kitchen sink, you can buy filtration pitchers & a washable, re-usable stainless steel bottle.

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EOSTAR_45 9/18/2009 3:03PM

    I so hear you! The number of water bottles thrown away every day boggles the mind. Especially, given that many times this bottled water is more or less the same as our very own tap water. And also, given the cost of bottled water, a filter is way economical!

Personally, I refill my 5 gallon water bottle every week from one of those Culligan water dispenser at the grocery store. And often good old tap water will do.
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WILDFLOWER- 9/18/2009 11:04AM

    What a wonderful blog! I work for a land fill and I can tell you it's appalling how many plastic bottles end up in it. It's ridiculous. I bought a stainless steel water bottle from Kleen Kanteen - I fill it at home and take it with me everywhere. It was the best $20 I've ever spent.

Welcome back & enjoy your frolicking!

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LOLAGEEK 9/18/2009 10:36AM

    I am amazed that people still buy bottled. I love this cost analysis from treehugger when this topic comes up:

http://is.gd/3pMra
R>I have also worked for a large public utilities supplying water to a big metro area and that time further confirmed my support that at least public water is regulated vs. private, bottled that doesn't have such regimented standards.

Test your tap water to figure out the most appropriate filter for your circumstance and then drink up!

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JNEUBS 9/18/2009 9:42AM

    As always an excellent blog topic!

Thanks for sharing Maha!

May you enjoy happiness and the root of all happiness!

Peace!
ChiTown Jeff
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KUZINKEITH 9/18/2009 9:33AM

    SO VERY TRUE.
We used to have excellent water on a community well. It was all we wanted for $15/month. Then, because of corporate greed, the city shut down all community wells and forced us on to their heavily chlorinated water. We purchased a filter ASAP (that runs through our fridge) but it still doesn't compare to our wonderful well.
I have about 4 sports bottles that I fill up & use. When I do buy bottled, I buy "CRYSTAL GEYSER". I've been to their source and know it's pure.

THANKS FOR SHARING & WELCOME BACK FROM YOUR BREAK

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I am free. Don't report me!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

OMG! I've been struggling ferociously with my will, my senses since school started. Though I'm managing to handle the assignments well enough, I'm not handling anything else well...my eating is out of control, I'm not exercising, my living space is chaotic...what's going on??? A friend I spoke with the other day suggested that returning to university after 25 years of being in an academic environment amid a group of young adults 45 years younger than me requires some gentleness with myself. I'm adapting, she said, to a whole new set of behaviors and requirements and she thinks I'll return to greater balance with time...?

What's clear in any case is that I'm still not "master of my life." The lifetime process of learning to train the out-of-control senses continues. Perhaps Sri Easwaran's words will provide a platform for different behavior on this new day! I have yoga ahead and plan to stay for cardio on the elliptical. Baby steps. Here's to pursuing the "healing we took birth for!"

******

Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.
-- Bhagavad Gita
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What a marvelous simile! Just imagine a tortoise being approached by a group of school children with sticks in their hands. He sees the children coming, and the command is given to the limbs, "Retire!" Immediately, the head, the tail, and the four legs withdraw into the shell. The children come; they tap on the shell with their sticks, trying to get the tortoise to come out. He is safe inside.

After the children leave and all is quiet, the tortoise ventures to stick his neck out, then his tail and legs. He continues his journey, unconcerned. He goes where he likes.

If we want to live in freedom, we must train our senses. We learn when to welcome an experience, and when to withdraw for our own safety. We become masters of our lives. Then we will be like the giant tortoise I saw at the zoo -- wandering freely while all the other animals were in cages. A notice on his back read: "I am free. Don't report me to the management."
-- Eknath Easwaran

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HILFROMTEXAS 9/20/2009 11:09AM

    It will soon pass, the newness, the struggle, but slowly. Did this all last year and now there is a wonderful degree on my shelf. Look back and it was worth every intense, overwhelming moment amidst folks much younger than me. Best part is I did what I thought I could not do...all with positive thinking every morning with my focus on God...who is for me, therefore who can be against me? Go forward with your head held high!

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GOODHEALTH4EVER 9/19/2009 5:10PM

    YOU ARE SO RIGHT MAHA...WE HAVE USED FILTERED WATER FROM OUR FRIG. FOR YEARS. I CONFESS THAT I DO USE BOTTLED WATER ON ROAD TRIPS AND CAMPING...I CAN DO BETTER!!! AT LEAST HERE IN OREGON WE NOW HAVE A DEPOSIT ON WATER BOTTLES.

HAPPY TO SEE YOU BACK ON SPARK! HOPE THE TIME AWAY RENEWED YOUR ENERGIES. emoticon emoticon L.

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FRANCESCANAZ 9/9/2009 6:40PM

    As a mother of a child who struggles with drug addiction, I really appreciated this blog and the story of that wise tortuga! Gracias, Francesca...be blessed!

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GOODHEALTH4EVER 9/9/2009 6:13PM

    " I AM FREE, DON'T REPORT ME TO THE MANAGEMENT." I LOVE THAT, I THINK IT SHALL BE MY NEW MANTRA:) AS ALWAYS MAHA, YOU BROUGHT A SMILE TO MY FACE AND TOUCHED MY SOUL:)

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EOSTAR_45 9/9/2009 5:34PM

    Perhaps this new experience has momentarily thrown your balance off but I bet soon enough, you will find your equilibrium again!

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BABYFACE26 9/9/2009 3:46PM

    Oh Maha, you're just a turtle out of the water, or something like that! You're in a whole new Reality, you're overwhelmed by the newness of it, and it takes awhile to adjust...especially emotionally. And you are, I am certain, having emotional reactions to being the oldest one in your environment, yet having all the memories coming back to you - of being in school when YOU were younger. Am I close? Anyway, be gentle with yourself. Try Not to judge. And mental confusion? Thats just par for the course, with Mercury being retrograde. emoticon

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ZORAHGAIL 9/9/2009 3:22PM

    Oh gosh, I really liked this. Thanks for sharing.

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SOULCOLLAGESUE 9/9/2009 2:36PM

    Sri Easwaran's words are powerful for me, too. Sometimes I'll open a book and find just the words I need to snap back into the moment. It sounds like you have more in your day that you can one-pointedly manage. Maybe it's just a transitional phase. What a mentor you'll be to your young classmates, just in being who you are. Blessings! Sue

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CARLI_MAE 9/9/2009 2:24PM

    I too, am adapting ... funny ... not from adding an element to my life (yet) but removing some to make more room and in the meantime, I feel a bit like that giant tortoise. Here's a tune (can't believe I found it online) by a guy I knew way back long ago when I was into going to ACIM (Course in Miracles) retreats ... oh, dang ... no add a link button ...

http://www.youtube.com/w
atch?v=3pX_CDeSIjk

(oh, no ... I wouldn't dream of reporting you ... maybe give you some roller blades to help you glide along more easily)
;) Carli

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DRAGONFLY7149 9/9/2009 12:45PM

    You'll sort out new routines that allow you to accomplish the things you want to accomplish, Maha. I felt pretty much in the throes of upheaval when I started my masters program, but eventually fell into scheduling and routines that more or less allowed me to stay on top of things -- I seem to recall it was about two months into the process when I realised that I had juggled things to the point of some sense of normalcy and wasn't feeling like I was dropping too many balls (or they didn't thud as loud when they landed!). Take good care and give it time.

/gem

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SLAYINGDRAGONS 9/9/2009 12:44PM

    I came up with this last night all on my little lonesome, about MY Life - maybe it will help you gain some focus:

Quote ME, say Vicki says, "I dont hafta let go of anything. I just need to learn how to not let any of it interfere with reaching my goals."

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SLASALLE 9/9/2009 10:57AM

    Oh Maha -

I have similar experiences in school - while not quite as much age difference as you, I'm ALWAYS the oldest one in class, it seems. Fortunately for me, it's different doing online studies, so it's not as apparent or threatening.

I agree - the balance will come. You have to give yourself time to adjust to your new lifestyle of being a student.

Also, do you do the elliptical AFTER yoga? Interesting, because I'm always pretty calm and centered after yoga and prefer not to get all "rowdied up" again doing heavy cardio!!

Keep on keepin' on ... it will fall into place.

Stephanie

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WILDFLOWER- 9/9/2009 10:34AM

    I really liked your blog and the turtle story. Lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by things I read in the news. And as my sister pointed out - sometimes you just need to step away to protect yourself ... very much like the turtle.

Thank you for sharing and good luck at school - you'll do great!

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MISS_VIV 9/9/2009 9:46AM

    Adding a few new elements to your routine can throw you off kilter with the 'normal' ordinary things that you do. Your thoughts are currently tilted toward the new things that you are doing. Don't be too tough on yourself, it has only been (what?) a week at the most. It will all straighten out with time. The dishes and housework will wait, Your eating and exercise will balance out.
You can adjust.
Love your I'M FREE ATTITUDE and BLOG.
BEAUTIFUL

HUGS, it's the peak of the week.

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LYNNANN43 9/9/2009 9:44AM

    You admitted it to yourself, blogged about it, so now it's time to move on and CHANGE THINGS!

I KNOW your can do it!!!

P.S. I really have to work on putting my head out more like the turtle:-)

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Lynn

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KUZINKEITH 9/9/2009 9:09AM

    You'll get back on track -- in time. Now that you've acknowledged the problem you're ready for the solution.
I love that image of the turtle --- I just have to remember to "pull in the limbs" once in a while... but NOT for every little noise.

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I'M FREE!

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Redemption or the Cult of Victimhood?

Monday, September 07, 2009

I'm juxtaposing two pieces that show the great potential of the human spirit for GOOD or EVIL...and how far we still have to go. I begin with Eknath Easwaran, a favorite teacher, as any of you who read my offerings can testify. I then segue into an excerpt of a difficult-to-hear piece by American cultural critic Henry A. Gireaux, a portion focusing primarily on movies and television.

We really need to wake up before it's too late, beginning by doing the difficult and ongoing inner work of removing the hostility within ourselves and purifying our own hearts so that we can be forces for peace.

******

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
-- Martin Luther King

All of us can play an important part in the conquest of violence. We can do this by throwing our full weight behind peaceful, effective programs for eliminating the situations from which violence arises. But just as importantly, we need to do everything we can to remove every trace of hostility in ourselves.

The violence that is flaring up on our streets and in many corners of the world is the inevitable expression of the hostility in our hearts. Hostility is like an infectious disease. Whenever we indulge in a violent act or even in hostile words, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we quarrel at home, it is not just a domestic problem; we are contributing to turmoil everywhere.

A teacher of meditation in ancient India, Patanjali, wrote that in the presence of a man or woman in whom all hostility has died, others cannot be hostile. In the presence of a man or woman in whom all fear has died, no one can be afraid. This is the power released in true nonviolence, as we can see in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Because all hostility had died in his heart, he was a profound force for peace.
-- Eknath Easwaran

******

And now the excerpt from the Henry Gireaux piece,
Living In A Culture of Cruelty: Democracy As Spectacle
www.truthout.org/090209R?n

Americans have grown accustomed to luxuriating in a warm bath of cinematic blood, as young people and adults alike were seduced with commercial and military video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "America's Army," the television series "24" and its ongoing Bacchanalian fete of torture, the crude violence on display in World Wrestling Entertainment and Ultimate Fighting Championship, and an endless series of vigilante films such as "The Brave One" (2007) and "Death Sentence" (2007), in which the rule of law is suspended by the viscerally satisfying images of men and women seeking revenge as laudable killing machines - a nod to the permanent state of emergency and war in the United States. Symptomatically, there is the mindless glorification and aestheticization of brutal violence in the most celebrated Hollywood films, including many of Quentin Tarantino's films, especially the recent "Death Proof" (2007), "Kill Bill" 1 & 2 (2003, 2004), and "Inglorious Bastards" (2009). With the release of Tarantino's 2009 bloody war film, in fact, the press reported that Dianne Kruger, the co-star of "Inglorious Bastards," claimed that she "loved being tortured by Brad Pitt [though] she was frustrated she didn't get an opportunity to get frisky with her co-star, but admits being beaten by Pitt was a satisfying experience." This is more than the aestheticization of violence, it is the normalization and glorification of torture itself.

If Hollywood has made gratuitous violence the main staple of its endless parade of blockbuster films, television has tapped into the culture of cruelty in a way that was unimaginable before the attack on the US on September 11. Prime-time television before the attacks had "fewer than four acts of torture" per year, but "now there are more than a hundred." [10] Moreover, the people who torture are no longer the villains, but the heroes of prime-time television. The most celebrated is, of course, Jack Bauer, the tragic-ethical hero of the wildly popular Fox TV thriller "24." Not only is torture the main thread of the plot, often presented "with gusto and no moral compunction," but Bauer is portrayed as a patriot, rather than a depraved monster, who tortures in order to protect American lives and national security. Torture, in this scenario, takes society's ultimate betrayal of human dignity and legitimates the pain and fear it produces as normal, all the while making a "moral sadist" a television celebrity. The show has over 15 million viewers, and its glamorization of torture has proven so successful that it appears to have not only numbed the public's reaction to the horrors of torture, but it is so overwhelmingly influential among the US military that the Pentagon sent Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan to California to meet with the producers of the show. "He told them that promoting illegal behavior in the series ... was having a damaging effect on young troops." The pornographic glorification of gratuitous, sadistic violence is also on full display in the popular HBO television series "Dexter," which portrays a serial killer as a sympathetic, even lovable, character. Visual spectacles steeped in degradation and violence permeate the culture and can be found in various reality TV shows, professional wrestling and the infamous Jerry Springer Show. These programs all trade in fantasy, glamorized violence and escapism. And they share similar values.

As Chris Hedges points out in his analysis of professional wrestling, they all mirror the worst dimensions of an unchecked and unregulated market society in which "winning is all that matters. Morality is irrelevant.... It is all about personal pain, vendettas, hedonism and fantasies of revenge, while inflicting pain on others. It is the cult of victimhood."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Giroux

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEUSMACHINA 9/7/2009 7:17PM

    I love seeing the dissection of American culture from the inside, it's so interesting!

Our culture is similar, yet quite different. Although we get all your American shows, we don't have the culture of fear and violence. (Most Australians couldn't be bothered hating someone! And who said laziness was bad?) It indicates to me that television is more like the mirror, and less like the creator of the fear and violence. Although the crime rates in your country and ours are not extremely different (with some notable exceptions), we don't generally feel under threat. We don't feel in danger, or feel the need to 'defend ourselves'. We don't have guns, and don't feel that we need them. This lack of fear is exactly like in the first piece! Fear begets fear begets violence!

But when we joined in the "war on terror" we saw escalating fear- and hate-mongering against Muslim Australians. This was primarily from our then-government who were extremely conservative by Australian standards (although not by American ones). This culminated in our first race-riot. I was appalled. Talk about un-Australian! Thank goodness we're seeing sense return. Simply by not vilifying Muslim Australians and fanning the flames of hatred, we have seen a decrease in racial tension. Australia is slipping back into it's lackadaisical uninterestedness. YAY!

It seems to me to be a perfect case study of the issues you raise in this blog, and shows how relevant it is to our day-to-day life!

Thanks Maha!

BJ



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LUCKY-13 9/7/2009 5:05PM

    Thanks for writing this blog. Sometimes it seems like it's too late to do anything to make our country, or even the world, a better place. But by focusing on my words and deeds, I can control my contributions, and work to make them better. I will strive harder for the good that can be done.

Thank you Maha


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CARLI_MAE 9/7/2009 3:55PM

    Aha, Maha, (sorry, couldn't resist that one) you did it! After reading your last blog, as you know, I read the Gireaux article. Whenever I am reminded of all the great thinkers through history who have preached that the opposite of love is fear & fear of course leads to hate; a quotation from a book by Phillip Berrigan, S.J. (yep, draft card burning Dan's younger brother) comes to mind. He said ... "the opposite of Love is not hate, but indifference." Phillip's book was about the racial conflicts in this country, but when I think about the examples Gireaux cites, I cannot help but think that we are indeed on the very edge of approaching the same indifference that is required of mass murderers, people who engage in illegal dog fights, etc.
The concept Patanjali long ago spoke of indeed does hold true for most of us still, except (from my experiences anyway) when confronted by that kind of indifference. Consider, for a moment, those who become angry over injustices like racism and closed-minded attitudes ... as long as they are angry, it indicates that they still at least care. But when the anger and hostility boil over and spend themselves leaving only indifference, I think perhaps that is when we lose our humanity and civility completely and become capable of carrying out all the forms of attrocities the earth has seen from its earliest known times.
Om, shanti,
Carli

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SLASALLE 9/7/2009 3:06PM

    Maha, it's you again - touching on some of the most important issues in our times!!!

Interestingly, I note Kathleen's reference to 100th Monkey (which is the name of Mel's new site/business/label), yet at the same time, it is a silver sponsor of PETA. What a vast conflict ... truly indicative of the world we live in ... trying to find balance ... good v. evil ... all of us trying to find our best way to live, give and survive!

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WHATAGRL42 9/7/2009 12:32PM

    Well I'm relieved to say I have never seen any of the films or media events spoken of by Henry Gireaux! As for hostility, it is an ugly, radiating burn. When I start to feel it in the presence of someone dark to whom I am tempted to react, I reframe... immediately replace the impending feeling with one of pity. This has served me well, to quickly remind myself that:"this person is hurting. This person is suffering. This person is a product of hostile acts and words that have been issued to them. This person needs empathy, love, and a dose of humor".

And yet it still takes work, to replace the hostility with love. I wonder if it will ever become reflex.... or if It will always be a conscious effort. All we can do is keep trying... keep working toward.

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DOKEYOKEY 9/7/2009 11:11AM

    Maha -- Thank you. Because I don't have a television and pay scant attention to mainstream media, I was unaware of how bad it had gotten. Understanding the full extent of our violence infatuation is profoundly discouraging.

I think Easwaran, Gandhi, King, Thich Nhat Hahn, the Dalai Lama and others are right when they say that we must become peaceful in our own hearts. That is the way to peace.

And yet -- there is such a gap between these two things.

I work in conflict resolution and I see the attitudes and approaches that lead to conflict -- and for that reason I am drawn to communications and conflict resolution training. That way, people can learn how to fish themselves out of conflict water before it gets too far out of hand.

But I think you are pointing out something that many conflict resolution folks don't think about that much -- or, we notice it in a superficial way -- and that is the fact that many of us sometimes have fear, anger, and hostility in us. That's why we act the way we do -- we think it's the ONLY way to get what we need.

Communications and conflict resolution training can *help,* I think. It gives people some new approaches and new things to say that can be helpful in getting what they need -- but it doesn't necessarily provoke in them the desire to do those things once the fight/flight brain chemicals have kicked in.

And it looks like the media is doing everything it can to keep those fight/flight reactions in full expression 24/7.

I am hopeful that there are enough people who want this culture to change that the "100th Monkey" phenomenon kicks in. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundr
edth-monkey_effect)

Thanks again for bringing this to us!
XO
Kathleen


R>




Comment edited on: 9/7/2009 11:13:36 AM

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LOLAGEEK 9/7/2009 10:14AM

    The issues of inner conflict from our ideal self to our realized self are always baffling to me since it is after all just a self, a singular identity. Somewhere channels/pipes get clogged with untruths and I am glad you mentioned this.
Away from cinema and violence I saw this most recently with the recommendation of the Catholic church to pray before sex to set an intention of the sexual act for your partner, yourself, and your faith. I saw this prayer on a contemporary website and so many people were upset/offended by it. Most comments seemed to be expressions of peoples' inner conflict with their spirituality and their sexual acts, which I honestly don't see a reason to separate.
I don't see a reason to separate spiritual self from most acts, no matter what ones faith is.

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KUZINKEITH 9/7/2009 10:01AM

    I guess we really do change the world one person at a time ... and that person we change is our self.
I hadn't thought about how my angry verbal outbursts perpetuate violence in the world. I know it is bad for my spirit.
Thank you once again for getting my thinker going, Maha.

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JNEUBS 9/7/2009 9:41AM

    Wow! As always Maha, I so appreciate your postings!

Peace from within to you!

May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness!

ChiTown Jeff
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Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

UNCIVIL DISCOURSE
by Bill Moyers
Friday 04 September 2009
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The editors of THE ECONOMIST magazine say America's health care debate has become a touch delirious, with people accusing each other of being evil-mongers, dealers in death, and un-American.

Well, that's charitable.

I would say it's more deranged than delirious, and definitely not un-American.

Those crackpots on the right praying for Obama to die and be sent to hell -- they're the warp and woof of home-grown nuttiness. So is the creature from the Second Amendment who showed up at the President's rally armed to the teeth. He's certainly one of us. Red, white, and blue kooks are as American as apple pie and conspiracy theories.

Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it's the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers -- we're the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today's talk radio.

Speaking of which: we've posted on our website an essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux (see link at end). He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a "culture of cruelty" increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.

So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed -- if you listen to the rabble rousers -- by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin's baby. And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they've been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right.

Only in a fantasy capital like Washington could Sunday morning talk shows become the high church of conventional wisdom, with partisan shills treated as holy men whose gospel of prosperity always seems to boil down to lower taxes for the rich.

Poor Obama. He came to town preaching the religion of nice. But every time he bows politely, the harder the Republicans kick him.

No one's ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying "pretty please" to the guys trying to cut your throat.

Let's get on with it, Mr. President. We're up the proverbial creek with spaghetti as our paddle. This health care thing could have been the crossing of the Delaware, the turning point in the next American Revolution -- the moment we put the mercenaries to rout, as General Washington did the Hessians at Trenton. We could have stamped our victory "Made in the USA." We could have said to the world, "Look what we did!" And we could have turned to each other and said, "Thank you."

As it is, we're about to get health care reform that measures human beings only in corporate terms of a cost-benefit analysis. I mean this is topsy-turvy -- we should be treating health as a condition, not a commodity.

As we speak, Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, has been fined a record $2.3 billion dollars as a civil and criminal -- yes, that's criminal, as in fraud -- penalty for promoting prescription drugs with the subtlety of the Russian mafia. It's the fourth time in a decade Pfizer's been called on the carpet. And these are the people into whose tender mercies Congress and the White House would deliver us?

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance -- mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company's share price and profits.

Here's a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website www.talkingpointsmemo.com . He's a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn't split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He's offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan -- one that essentially asks people: would you like the option -- the voluntary option -- of buying into Medicare before you're 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it's life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter.

That's it for the Journal. I'm Bill Moyers. See you next time.
www.truthout.org/090609Z?n (Text and YouTube of Moyers)
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www.truthout.org/090209R?n (Text of "Living in a Culture of Cruelty: Democracy as Spectacle," Heny A. Giroux)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WHATAGRL42 9/8/2009 4:20PM

    LOVE LOVE LOVE it~!!

And I have parents calling me off the hook (I'm a Kindergarten teacher) frightened to death that I might allow the students to watch the President's address to the children, in class. It's really not a "Kindergarten thing", so I'm not showing it... but the fear this has generated is beyond belief! Good Grief!

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CARLI_MAE 9/7/2009 12:20AM

    emoticon You know where I'm "at" too ... culture of cruelty indeed we are ... actually, when you think about the atrocities perpetrated upon the Native American Indians, the era of the "Wild West," our horrible history with regard to civil rights, etc., perhaps (minus a few brief moments) nothing much has changed at all.
Thanks for the Giroux link, Maja.
Another dopeless hope fiend, as Steph would say,
Carli
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DEUSMACHINA 9/6/2009 11:37PM

    Wow! Some things have come across my notice recently that have brought the healthcare system (or lack of) in the USA to my attention.

I'm Australian, and like the rest of the OECD except the USA, we have state-funded healthcare. If I get sick or need surgery, all in-hospital and many outpatient services are covered. If I see a GP, about half the cost is covered. If I need medication most of the cost is covered. If I'm depressed and need to see a psychologist, the cost is covered. We don't have dental care covered, except for those on welfare, but we are looking into changing that. We have a private insurace system that works alongside our public system, as well. Our system isn't perfect. Public patients often have to wait for surgery if it is deemed "elective", and that can include things like knee- and hip-replacements that are for non-life-threatening (but very painful) conditions. However, in my own experience (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia - pre-cancer) if you have a condition that needs treatment, the wait is very short, or non-existent if urgent. I have had the best care in the world, and I am happy to pay what would seem to Americans to be high taxes to fund it.

I am appalled that the richest country in the world seems to be happy to let its people suffer bankruptcy just for getting sick! Or worse, just do without treatment. Sorry for grandstanding here, but it shocks me to the core to see such wanton disregard for human life!

Thanks so much for posting this. I'm glad that there are people over there who want change, and I hope that those who don't will realise that it isn't communism to look after people who are down on their luck!

BJ

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KUZINKEITH 9/6/2009 10:26PM

    Bill Moyers is right on ... as usual. I saw him one on one with Bill Maher a while back and he was brilliant.
I think you know where I stand by now ... it is time to get tough - no more "Mr. Nice Guy". Bill is right, they have been chewing Obama up and spitting him out.
THANKS for sharing this, Maha.

We'll see if Obama cops out on Wednesday. I didn't get a very good feeling listening to Axelrod on "Meet the Press" this morning.

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ANDRAXIA 9/6/2009 5:52PM

    whew...ok, I generally don't listen to television talk shows with that much hype in them. Reading it however, you do make a few good points. Uh...being on medicare before 65? Every disabled American should have had the opportunity to sign up for medicare when their disability was diagnosed.
Has Obama's plan been put into effect yet? I don't think so, in fact I seem to remember reading an interview in which he said he wasn't aware of all the hurdles or obstacles he would have to overcome, and that it would take a while. Every president alive in my lifetime has made promises then claimed that the solution was more complex than he had expected.
It was a presidential order that set up Social Security which is tied into medicare, etc. Regardless of the situation Social Security is in now it has done more good for the American people than bad. And so will a national healthcare system, whenever it comes about. He's not the first to try it just the first to let his election ride on the promise of it.

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If you have little even that will be taken....

Saturday, September 05, 2009

To me the gospels are the rarest of treasures and the part of the Bible that I deeply resonate with. Sri Easwaran has provided many commentaries on Jesus' words and Christian masters in various texts -- three of his books come to mind: Original Goodness: The Beatitudes; Seeing with the Eyes of Love: The Imitation of Christ; Love Never Faileth: St. Francis, St. Paul, St. Augustine & Mother Teresa.

I found his commentary on this verse especially helpful, as well as useful to me in my spiritual journey, and thought others might appreciate it as well:

Unto those that hath shall be given, and they shall have abundance: but from those that hath not shall be taken away even that which they have.
-- Matthew 25:29

This is a strange paradox, a little-known secret. Jesus isn’t speaking of worldly goods. He is speaking of a very rare kind of treasure: the more you draw on it, the more you will have. The more patient you are with people, for instance, the more patience you will have. The more generous you are today, the more generosity you will have tomorrow. The more love you give, the more loving you become.

The principle can be stated in the plainest of terms: if you are selfish with your love, the scant security you cling to will be battered by life. But if you give of yourself freely, your security will be unshakable. Your joy will be limitless. You will always have more to give.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEACEFULONE 9/9/2009 11:42AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DOKEYOKEY 9/6/2009 9:24AM

    Thank you, Maha! I admire your energy, commitment, and generosity in sharing.

Kathleen



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4DANCINGCATS 9/5/2009 2:57PM

    Yes how true. Inspires me and reminds me to continue to work on giving of myself and my love to all in my work, family and life.

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KUZINKEITH 9/5/2009 2:28PM

    Universal truths resonate so fully, don't they. Thanks for sharing that Maha. I had to work my way past my prejudice against christianity to see that there were some great words wrapped deep inside that religion.

I think John Lennon also summed up that truth in the line: "the love you take is equal to the love you make".

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GOODHEALTH4EVER 9/5/2009 1:47PM

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING THIS MAHA:) HOW DID YOU KNOW THIS IS JUST WHERE I AM? I AM TRYING TO LET GO OF THE OLD THOUGHTS AND HABITS THAT BIND.

I WILL COME BACK TO THIS MANY TIMES.....


NAMASTE,
<
BR>LORETTA

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SLASALLE 9/5/2009 1:13PM

    "The more you draw on it, the more you will have" LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it ... LIVE, LIVE, LIVE it ... Most importantly, believe in it, because it is accurate! I have experienced this firsthand in more ways than one and it's an amazing phenomena.

Thanks, Maha, for sharing all of this ... where the mind goes, energy flows, or whatever that saying is ... what it means to me though is that where I spend my time and energy is what my life is about!!!!

Comment edited on: 9/5/2009 2:14:45 PM

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MAZZYR 9/5/2009 10:11AM

    This is so true.

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MISS_VIV 9/5/2009 9:59AM

    So well explained. Again a remarkable blog by our beloved maha.

Hugs

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