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University Anxiety and BIG Changes

Monday, August 23, 2010

Irby Hall, World Languages Building

I've been having a very hard time since I got back from my summer road trip odyssey. Those three months definitely left me in a different frame of mind than I started it with. Finding myself back here in Conway, AR, readying myself for the fall semester, has been tough. Clearly it's hard to compete with the wondrous experience I just got back from a week ago. I had registered for nine units last spring, three hefty upper division courses taught in Spanish with Spanish language texts:
Spanish Civilization
Spanish-American Literature
Afro-Caribbean Cultural Studies
I have felt VERY anxious about returning to classes...and wondering if I should even continue...this after my rousing beginning and enthusiasm last fall and spring semesters. So this morning I went in to see a friend/yoga buddy, who is director of the university language lab. I needed some counsel!

As we were talking, the prof of the Spanish Civilization stopped by. The three of us began conversing and I let her know about being registered for the class. Well, between that lively repartee and the private dialogue with my friend, I left her office a bit more grounded and positive about returning.

Me with Krishna Das at the retreat

I have had something else on my mind since the Krishna Das _Heart As Wide as the World_ chanting retreat I participated in at the beginning of the summer odyssey. Music has always held a special place in my reality. Actually I started university studies as a music major, having studied classical piano through elementary and high school, and sung in various ensembles and choirs.
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Soooooooooo...I was thinking about adding music back into the equation as a way of rebbing up the passion quotient, though I had no idea how to approach it. Since I was on campus, I decided to wander over to the music building. I began speaking to staff and, wouldn't you know, vocal auditions were being held this very morning! I ended up auditioning on the spot (I sang "Oh Rest in the Lord" from Mendelssohn's Elijah -- I had memorized it for a recital in 1960 and never forgot it), being accepted, and thus declaring a voice/music minor! I have thus added one more unit for the semester:

Individual Vocal Study

I'm still in a state of imbalance and emotional upheaval. I've decided that I need to significantly limit my SparkPeople participation during the school year. This will be VERY difficult, since SP fills many needs, not the least of which is contact with wonderful friends! I plan to post gratitudes online as much as possible, and that's about the extent of Spark time...other than answering notes to me. No blogging; no reading others' blogs; no following friends on SP. WAAAAAH! I believe this is what I need to do to make success this semester viable and though it's not my first choice(!) I intend to do my best to follow through on this resolve.
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AND I need to find ways to CONSISTENTLY weave exercise into each week. My ongoing good health depends upon it, as well as my overall performance in life! I want to begin using free weights on a regular basis again and return to the fitness center to use the ARC machine (similar to the elliptical) several times a week. I have a 6-week yoga series ahead, that will begin on September 4 and I plan to ride my bicycle to classes regularly.
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That's my pledge to myself. NOW let's see how I do! The semester begins Thursday, August 26.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BECOMINGONE 8/25/2010 7:44AM

    I missed this blog! Auditioning on the spot ... that is brave! And remembering the music/words from 1960. Impressive. I am so happy for you ... I didn't even know this music dimension to you. I too took piano lessons from childhood through two years of college. I would never be brave enough to try to play anything for anyone now. You never cease to amaze!

Peace be with you, my sister!

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KALIGIRL 8/24/2010 8:45AM

    I can't imagine the shift in focus and the incredible load you are taking (9 hours all in Spanish...)
I'm glad you're prioritizing, particularly since the semester will be over before you know it.
PS - love mixing music and mediation

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GBOOMER 8/24/2010 7:40AM

    More power to you, Maha. I think you'll have a fun and fulfilling school year. I wish US schools had classes like that for Chinese!

See you on the Gratitude thread!

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DARKTHOR 8/23/2010 11:14PM

    You are on your own journey. You have to find what fits in best and what makes your journey most complete. If you are going to pursue these classes, you should do so with all of your heart. I'll be glad knowing that you are doing so.

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LAGREBE 8/23/2010 10:55PM

    It is consoling to read that "I am not alone." What a change from the freedom of "summer" to the discipline of "normal." Good luck, with all the new and exciting plans. Once we get used we will do just fine.

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PENNYAN45 8/23/2010 10:40PM

    You have been making important decisions! You are redirecting yourself! I am so glad you are including another of your passions in your studies.
I will miss your blogs and your comments - but I certainly understand. This is the best thing for you!



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BOOBERRY 8/23/2010 10:02PM

    I just started reading your blogs in the middle of your road trip this summer, you are a busy lady Congratulation on your audition , I will miss reading your blogs but totally understand.
I started back to work today I am a kitchen helper in a middle school and I was totally beat after work to tired to get on Spark till now.

Have a good year with your studies and take care.

Brenda emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 8/23/2010 9:44PM

    Yay! I am so glad you added music in! I am sorry we did not have enough time to sing and play music while you were here.

I am in the same boat you are right now with not having enough time for SP. The school year approacheth and I am busy getting all of my organizing done at work and at home - that on top of all of my other pursuits.

Promise me you will stay in touch via email if either or both of us has extended lapses in SP time.

Stay well!


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    I'm excited that you reclaimed a lifelong passion as your minor. Woo hoo on auditioning! Congratulations on being accepted! One for the wise women! I think we each need to take that kind of break, and your aspirations sound well-considered and worthy (what a great friend). By the way, I remember returning from a 9-day trip to the 4 corners, into and out of the Grand Canyon and down the Colorado River. I was in high school. Upon returning home, I had an internal visceral reaction about not wanting anything to do with my previous life or room, even my beloved cat! I tamed down within a few days, but I believe those truths need to be listened to, when they speak. That's what I hear from you.

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    WTG! You are certainly walking the walk!

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DENI_ZEN 8/23/2010 7:53PM

    Maha, to be honest, when we see less of you here, we're going to hear some pretty stark echoes in the halls of Sparkdom. Your participation has made this house a real home for me! But, looking at your course selections - and as a Spanish major way back when, I know reading those three texts will eat up a good deal of your time! - as well as the Individual Vocal Study, will satisfy your hunger in both of these areas.

And to us SparkPeeps, Maha, satisfying hunger - be it physiological, spiritual, or intellectual - is a high-ranking priority! All the same...don't be a stranger! emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/23/2010 7:59:38 PM

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GOANNA2 8/23/2010 6:33PM

    I will miss you my fellow student and I know wht you mean about staying focused. emoticon

Wow a vocal audition. You rock. Good luck with your studies and you will
ace everything as you have such a zest for learning.

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HEALTHY4ME 8/23/2010 5:46PM

    YOu sure did see and absorb a lot this summer, but wow you fall is shaping up to be very busy as well. KUDOS for approaching the music dept and getting accepted WOW great!!!
You have so much self intent ( not sure if that is the right word) but I am totally amazed and in awe of what you do for you. I will learn to do more for me, starting with a small step.
First off dr apt tomorrow, then ei to see about assistance while I search for a diff job.
HUGS to you and I too will see you on the gratitude board and will be checking in on you ujust to say hi. KNow also that you dont have to reply. HUGS

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GIRANIMAL 8/23/2010 5:32PM

    This is so exciting! And it sounds like you have a really solid plan for making it all work in our silly construct of time. emoticon You're gonna rock it -- all of it! emoticon

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_VALEO_ 8/23/2010 5:22PM

    Congratulations on your audition! Seems like you'll be having a busy year, but I bet it is going to be a great year.
The value of learning & knowledge is priceless.

Good job on setting up your priorities!

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/23/2010 5:11PM

    Rock on Girlfriend! You're going for what gives you passion. You're forging ahead with the plans you started and you're setting your boundaries to help you be successful!
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SLASALLE 8/23/2010 5:00PM

    You've got to do what feels right to you, and if a music class tempers your anxiety about the rest, I say go for it (as you obviously are)!!!

As for SP, I totally understand. I'll see you on the gratitude board and send you an occasional SP goodie to let you know I'm thinking of you (with no response/thank you need - know this up front).

You go, girl!!!!

With love,

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WALKINGANNIE 8/23/2010 4:59PM

    I understand your Spark plan Maha. You need to prioritise and do what fits best with where you want to be.

Re-adjusting was always going to be a challenge but you are a strong, resourceful and spirited woman who will come up with solutions that feel right. You followed your feeling about music and you will find other ways through this.

And.. you always have choices.

If our paths don't cross again for a while, it has been great to follow some of your adventures and to learn from you. Be well.

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MISS_VIV 8/23/2010 4:59PM

    You are going to be one busy woman.
But it all sounds exciting and interesting to me. I know you can do it.
I guess I'll see you on the Thanksgiving threads and hope to see email back and forth from you as time allows. I know sometimes we have to give sacrifice to reach our goals, but all in due time the success will prove to be worth it. I know I need to scale back on the SP time as well, but just don't know where to start trimming the edges. Sort of like a new haircut.....

Bless you.

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CMRAND54 8/23/2010 4:47PM

    Best of luck to you for the school year. I'll miss your participation, but completely understand where you're coming from.

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Call Me By My True Names, Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, August 21, 2010

I add this poem with Thay's explanation as an addendum to the "Ending Violence" blog I just shared because, as he says, "'When i hear one of these names I have to say yes': proud members of the Military-Industrial complex, pacifists, youngsters trained to fight, wise teachers pointing the way, violent video games makers, mindful parents who guide their children into sound decision-making, youth attracted to and playing the games, permissive parents," etc., etc., ad infinitum:

From _Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life_, by Thich Nhat Hanh

_Peace Is Every Step_ was assembled by friends who used the author's lectures, published and unpublished writings, and informal conversations. It was originally published in the 80's. In it Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

"In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.

"There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

"When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.

"After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The title of the poem is "Please Call Me by My True Names," because I have so many names. When I hear one of these names, I have to say, 'Yes.'"


Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh
(This poem was written in 1978 during the time of helping the boat people.)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEDDYPEDDY 8/23/2010 12:24AM

    Shooting the pirate does not mean that you have to hate him.

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KALIGIRL 8/22/2010 10:30PM

    I'm having a little trouble wrapping my head around your blog - perhaps because it's late after a long weekend?

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    I read this book long ago, so thank you for the refresher. My experience is the same, compassion for each role, experiencing pain and joy as one. I am mindful of how early readings such as these have formed me. Bless you for sharing them with a wider audience. More recently, I've been reading Sue Johnson's new book (Hold Me Tight) about the "new," most effective couples counseling process: EFT. She talks about how adults merely mirror childhood responses to greater or lesser attachment at critical developmental stages: Everything can be distilled to humans reacting in fight or flight, in every relationship. Fight is the all-too-prevalent violence in our homes and world. Flight is withdrawal, an emotional paralysis. It made sense to me, explaining so much that our minds have a difficult time wrapping themselves around. Such as the 12-year-old girl and the pirate.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/22/2010 7:34PM

    You shine the light of this wisdom out into the world!

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FRANCESCANAZ 8/22/2010 1:49PM

    Gracias for sharin the love. Te amo, Francesca emoticon

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DARKTHOR 8/21/2010 9:20PM

    You can be a pirate and not rape, let alone rape a child. You can be exposed to difficult and even terrible circumstances as a child and still choose to not let it overcome you.

I want the pirate to have a better upbringing, one less likely to lead to such a hurtful path, but at some point it is also up to the pirates of the world to decide that this sort of life should no longer happen. They can change themselves, they can change how they act upon the world, they can change those they contact, they can change the world. We all can change the world, to some degree. I think where it must start is for parents to hold onto their children and be there, to teach them with every bit of themselves that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, that we must place ourselves in the skin of others and do unto them as we would want done unto ourselves.

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GOANNA2 8/21/2010 6:25PM


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WILDHONEYPIE1 8/21/2010 6:16PM

    Wise, wise, Maha. You found just the right Teacher to express my thoughts, ever so much more eloquently than I could have stated them. emoticon

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Ending Violence in Myself, My Family, My Community and the World!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

In reflecting about yesterday's blog on violence in video games, and all of the insightful, thoughtful, and thought-provoking responses, a comment of GENKI_WARRIOR's ("...makes me sad, the seeds of destruction we sow,") reminded me of Thich Nhat Hanh's book, _Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community and the World_.

Because he is such a gifted writer I want to share direct excerpts from this powerful text, an antidote for the sickness evidenced by yesterday's blog:
"True peace is always possible. Yet it requires strength and practice, particularly in times of great difficulty. To some, peace and nonviolence are synonymous with passivity and weakness. In truth, practicing peace and nonviolence is far from passive. To practice peace, to make peace alive in us, is to actively cultivate understanding, love, and compassion, even in the face of misperception and conflict. Practicing peace, especially in times of war, requires courage.

"All of us can practice nonviolence. We begin by recognizing that, in the depths of our consciousness, we have both the seeds of compassion and the seeds of violence. We become aware that our mind is like a garden that contains all kinds of seeds: seeds of understanding, seeds of forgiveness, seeds of mindfulness, and also seeds of ignorance, fear, and hatred. We realize that, at any given moment, we can behave with either violence or compassion, depending on the strength of these seeds within us.

"When the seeds of anger, violence, and fear are watered in us several times a day, they will grow stronger. Then we are unable to be happy, unable to accept ourselves; we suffer and we make those around us suffer. Yet when we know how to cultivate the seeds of love, compassion, and understanding in us every day, those seeds will become stronger, and the seeds of violence and hatred will become weaker and weaker. We know that if we water the seeds of anger, violence, and fear in us, we will lose our peace and our stability. We will suffer and we will make those around us suffer. But if we cultivate the seeds of compassion, we nourish peace within us and around us. With this understanding, we are already on the path of creating peace.

"Included in these pages are examples of agreements that you can make with yourself, your partner, and your family. These treaties commit us to practice reconciliation and communication with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and other people with whom we live and work. They are concrete commitments to transform our lives.

"To make a personal peace treaty we can write: 'Dear Self, I promise to practice and live my daily life in a way that will not touch or water the seed of violence within me.' We are determined in every moment to protect ourselves from negative thinking and to nourish loving-kindness within us. We can also share this commitment with our beloved ones. We can go to our partner, our son or daughter, and say, 'My dear, my beloved one, if you really love me, please do not water the seed of violence in me. Please water the seed of compassion in me. I promise to do the same for you.'

"You can honor this commitment in many ways. You can avoid situations that make you angry or create conflict with others. For instance, when you read a magazine (or turn on the TV) you may encounter ideas and images that water the seeds of hatred and fear in you. Or while you are conversing with someone, the discussion may make you upset and you may feel anger rise up in you. During these moments, your practice is to become aware that the inner seeds of anger, fear, and hatred are being watered and that these emotions can lead to violence in your thinking, in your speech, and in your actions. Please put away any reading material that does not nurture love and understanding. Please avoid taking part in conversations that water negative seeds in you. Let your beloved ones know how they can support you in preventing irritation and anger from growing in you.

"In a similar way, you can support your beloved ones in the practice of peace. When they share with you what makes them sad, angry, or depressed, take note, and with kindness act in their best interests. Try to avoid doing or saying things that you know will water the seeds of conflict within them. This is a concrete, intelligent way to practice peace.

"Many young people alive today have not endured the great pain of war. They do not remember the horrors brought about by mass violence. We must help our children awaken to the fact that they have within themselves the capacity for violence and war as well as the capacity for caring and loving-kindness. With mindfulness, we must also teach our children concrete practices that nourish the positive seeds within them and avoid strengthening the negative seeds of anger, craving, and fear. We should begin this learning process when our children are young so that as they grow they have the strength and skill to be calm and to act nonviolently and insightfully.

"Before he died, the Buddha instructed his disciples, 'Be a lamp unto yourself.' In this way, he urges each of us to light the lamp of mindfulness in our own hearts. My dear friends, let us practice energetically so that we may light the way of peace for our beloved ones, for our society, and for future generations."
Thich Nhat Hanh (tick not hawn/rhymes with fawn) is a world-renowned writer, scholar, spiritual leader, and Zen Buddhist monk. He lives in the monastic communities he founded in France, Vermont, and California, and his lineage is traceable directly to the Buddha himself. He has written many important books and he conducts public workshops throughout the world and peace-making retreats with Vietnam veterans, Palestinians, and Israelis. I have been in his presence three times, once for A Day of Mindfulness, including a walking meditation with him, and twice for talks. His interpretation of the Buddha's teachings, Engaged Buddhism, are deeply relevant and useful in today's world.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEDDYPEDDY 8/23/2010 12:20AM

    Yes but... I am not sure really.

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FRANCESCANAZ 8/22/2010 1:41PM

    Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Paz, Paz, Paz a ti. emoticon

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JIMDAB 8/22/2010 9:30AM

    Thanks for the post.

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ZMONEY 8/22/2010 12:46AM


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DDOORN 8/21/2010 9:46PM

    Truly important words...difficult sometimes, I'll admit, to hold onto such an approach while such systematic and powerful forces continue to push our country toward such violence toward others.


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DARKTHOR 8/21/2010 9:11PM

    A lot of food for thought. I try to find balance in my life and in my self, but perhaps there are times I do not put enough conscious thought into promoting the peaceful aspects of my person. Thank you for this blog.

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DENI_ZEN 8/21/2010 7:54PM

    That is so wonderful that you've been in Thich Nhat Hanh's presence not once, but twice, Maha! The Father of Mindfulness! If the world could somehow transition from "might makes right" to the Golden Rule, the result would be so positively transformative. Becoming too attached to, and defensive of, an ideal can make a person an ideologue rather than an's a delicate matter of degree. Thanks for this thoughtful blog entry! - Sandi emoticon

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GENKI_WARRIOR 8/21/2010 6:51PM

    I've been wondering about this guy (I've seen the spark team on several peoples' pages); thanks for an introduction.

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CMRAND54 8/21/2010 6:31PM

    Wonderful blog. This is something we can all strive to do.

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WALKINGANNIE 8/21/2010 6:18PM

    Diane (JUST_TRI-IT) wrote a wonderfully uplifting blog this morning where she copied and pasted the text of various friend feeds on SP. She described how in reading these short messages, 'we find ourselves swimming in messages of hope and possibility'.

Her blog and your words here, made me realise how a community like this can create positive ripples. Your blogs often bring beauty and serenity in a world that sorely needs it.

Violence is intolerable and you are right, we must do what we can to generate love, compassion and understanding where we can.


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LYDIASPURPLE 8/21/2010 5:32PM


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Should Violent War Game Videos Be Regulated Just Like Hard Core Pornography?

Friday, August 20, 2010

I have a bumper sticker on the back of my little Honda Civic that says, "KILL your TV!" That gives you a purdy clear picture of my position on the quality of television and the miniscule amount of it that I think is worth watching. This segues easily over into the video games arena in the sense that what we are putting into our minds impacts our behavior and who we are in terms of our values and priorities. I feel strongly that the level of violence in this country can be closely correlated to these phenomena.

What is your position about all of this?

"A new video game set in modern-day Afghanistan coming out in October simulates war. The game's multi-player format allows some gamers to be in the role of the Taliban, while others play the part of the coalition forces. Karen Meredith, whose son died in Afghanistan, told Fox News, "My son didn't get to start over when he was killed. His life is over, and I have to deal with this every's just not a game." Jim Sterling, a writer at gamer website Destructoid thinks the war game is fine, "No, war is not a game. But games about war...they are games. Nobody made Meredith's son become a soldier just like nobody will make Meredith buy Medal of Honor." Now you can blast to smithereens allied troops while news filters through on your radio or TV of another young soldier killed by a car bomb.

"This new Afghanistan war game raises two questions. The first, of course, is whether it's appropriate for a major corporation to be giving our children an opportunity to play the role of Taliban killing American soldiers. The second and larger issue, is whether these games of violence - which were first developed three decades ago by the US military to help train US soldiers learn to overcome the cultural prohibition against killing - should be considered as neurologically dangerous to young and developing minds as hard core pornography.

"Just as with pornography's influence on young people, there is conflicting science on both sides of the argument. But in the face of this uncertainty, shouldn't we regulate games that teach and show murder and violence the same way we regulate actual and even cartoon depictions of explicit sexual behavior?"

In the Dhammapada the Buddha taught:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.
We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIRANIMAL 8/23/2010 5:47PM

    My BF studied video game design in school and is looking for a professional job in the industry. He says many of these games do give you a special sort of feel for the atrocities of war, and the good ones are thoroughly researched and historically accurate. In that regard, they have (potential) merit. The interactivity can drive home the terribleness of war, not just glorify it. It's all in how the user interprets the medium and its content -- just like books and movies. Why automatically assume this game is meant to glorify? The U.S. Army created a war game as a recruitment tool. Is that any better or worse?

That said, I would never buy this game. I would never play it either. Of course, to be fair, I am not a video game fan. I have a hard time being interested enough in my Wii Fit! Still, I can't bring myself to support censorship of nearly any kind. I say let your dollar be your voice. Don't like it? Don't ban it -- just don't buy it. That's my humble take!

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VALERIEMAHA 8/21/2010 4:54PM

    Thanks to one of my friends for this powerful of the blog posters, who commented to me --

"Some strong folks out there, speaking out against the madness:"


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KALIGIRL 8/21/2010 4:13PM

    Difficult issue - when is too much regulation too much?
I fear we all have become desensitized and the game industry has played a large role in the process.

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GOANNA2 8/21/2010 7:12AM

    I agree about the games. It is still up to the parents and like in the UK, even though we have restrictions on the games, kids will get it somehow.

Tahnk you for the lovely quote from Buddha. emoticon emoticon

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PWINCESSEMILY 8/21/2010 6:17AM

    In the UK video games are given age ratings like movies are. Violent games or other ones with concerning features are rated for 18+. Some games have been banned for being over the top. This means that children can't buy them, and in theory only adults with fully formed minds access them.

Unfortunately, as with DVDs and TV, parents will buy these things for their children/teens.

IMO that's not an issue for more government control or censorship - the system here is a good one - its an argument for parents to stop being so stupid and be responsible for their kids!

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_VALEO_ 8/21/2010 4:33AM

    (rephrased as it was way too long)

I work in the video games industry. I don't think I would have localized this game as it is meant to recruit new soldiers, and is designed by the Army, nothing to do with gameplay.

I think I have a stronger position towards wars and army than you, Maha. I don't think video games are responsible for all that violence, wars have sadly always existed even before the era of video games.

I don't think the games influence the young generation, but society.

Video games are played throughout the world. Why don't we have so many recruits across the pond, or more Colombine if they had such a great influence or violent effect on people?

Soldiers in the US are praised like heroes serving their country, and they are "blessed" and "thanked". Who wouldn't want to be a "hero" in that case?
Many American families are proud of having a son in the Army.
They are brainswashed by society, and even religion, making them think they protect " their freedom" (never got this one, but I guess it is cultural.)
Army and war have nothing to see with freedom, on the contrary.

I don't think it's the video games which should be regulated, but a change in mentalities would be great.

Comment edited on: 8/23/2010 5:08:15 PM

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WALKINGANNIE 8/21/2010 4:26AM

    I’m from the UK, so I’m commenting from a similar and slightly different culture.

I’m right there with you about violence breeding violence. In our country we have seen chilling examples of children torturing and even killing other children because they were copying on-screen violence. I detest the idea of war games and of violent images and I have a perception that public behaviour in the UK is getting worse.

That said, I think that in our country there is a distinction between the medium and the message when it comes to TV. The fact that violence and poor quality exists in books doesn’t make me hate books in general. The issue in the UK is about the quality of programming. There are some shocking ‘real life’ programmes that ‘normalise’ anti-social behaviour. 24-hour rolling news has led to more celebrity tittle-tattle and ‘newsertainment’ such as the extended live commentary on the last hours of a murderer who ultimately shot and killed himself on live TV. That said, There are also some wonderful factual programmes on travel and the natural world.

The comparison between junk and healthy food and TV programming seems spot on to me.

Thanks for a very thought-provoking blog and apologies for the long response.

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CMRAND54 8/20/2010 10:35PM

    At some point it's up to the parents to regulate what their children own and play with, just as parents need to monitor what their children watch on TV, listen to on the radio and read. If enough parents refuse to buy these games, they won't be sold. But sometimes the best thing to do is to keep your kids busy with other, better pursuits, than to forbid something out right. Forbidden things can be very appealing to children.

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WILDHONEYPIE1 8/20/2010 10:12PM

    I'm with some previous posters. This whole "war game" industry goes way beyond just our mentality and moves into our programming. My father used to rant when game stations first came out that the controllers themselves were war training. As a kid I rolled my eyes, but wouldn't you know I was listening to a story on NPR about drone warfare and the guy they were interviewing admitted that the controllers for the drones are modeled after game controls. "Just because it was convenient" of course. Having said that, I'm not sure violent war games should be regulated. At some point, we the people have to step up and regulate ourselves. We can step up and demand that our tax dollars not be spent to make video games. We can refuse to purchase them and not allow our children to play them. We can kill our gaming systems along with the TV's.
: )

Comment edited on: 8/20/2010 10:13:03 PM

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DDOORN 8/20/2010 9:35PM

    Horrible, horrible stuff! The military no longer needs the's far too insidious for that...besides, the draft got everyone's dander up in the 60's and 70's.

Let's just promote this war stuff as so COOL and IRRESISTIBLE that we will collect all the cannon fodder we need and THEN some!

I remember reading an editorial by a father who was OUTRAGED upon hearing his ELEMENTARY school aged son telling him about this "guest speaker" they had in class. *IT* was a Military Recruiter! Speaking about how COOL it was to "Serve One's Country" yadda yadda...! Let's plant these seeds of war at an early age...

Many of the military video games are SUBSIDIZED by OUR TAX DOLLARS as the US MILITARY hires game developers to create games which will entice all the young men necessary to continue to fuel their wars! Apologies for the rant...but this is all too frightening, maddening and crazy-making for me...

Here is another story to illustrate my points:

I like your bumper sticker...but I'd add a line:

"KILL your TV!
Before It Kills YOU!"


Comment edited on: 8/20/2010 9:45:54 PM

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DENI_ZEN 8/20/2010 9:26PM

    Oh, Maha, this is a terrible and very depressing phenomenon. Depictions of violence are searing themselves forever into the minds and souls of too many young people today. But whether we're young or old, what we take in through our eyes and ears is just like the food we eat: It cannot fail to profoundly affect us. Violence is the most devastating junk food! I've seen that wonderful bumper sticker you have on your Civic, and each time I have, I've smiled...or said, "Right on!" DH watches TV, but whenever he's not here, it's never on. News-wise, I get everything I need from the radio. The 1% of my time I do watch, it's the Food Channel...never a good idea! emoticon Thanks for a wise and provocative blog entry!

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GENKI_WARRIOR 8/20/2010 7:45PM

    ...makes me sad, the seeds of destruction we sow; I can--at the very least--work on my own attitude and my cursing "stupid" people to evolve into a more compassionate and tactful communicator.

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PUDLECRAZY 8/20/2010 7:28PM

    It is a sad commentary on what direction our society has turned. I have an odd combination of children under my care... some who have no TV or video games, and others who have unrestricted time with both and have some of the most violent video games, even though they are preteens. Can you tell the difference between the children? You bet!

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Just Say NOOOOOO! to Monsanto's FRANKENsugar!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Court Blocks Future Crops of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered "RoundUp Ready" Sugar Beets...

...Unless the USDA Completes an Environmental Impact Statement and Decides Again to Deregulate

The Center for Food Safety has won an important legal victory in the fight to stop the spread of untested and hazardous genetically engineered crops. After ruling that the USDA (under president George W. Bush) shouldn't have approved genetically engineered sugar beets without assessing the Frankencrop's potential to contaminate conventional and organic varieties, a federal judge has blocked future crops of Monsanto's genetically engineered RoundUp Ready sugar beets. Monsanto's GE sugar beets now comprise 95% of the nation's sugar beet harvest.

The ball is in the USDA's court. The pro-biotech sugar industry is urging the USDA to rush through an Environmental Impact Statement so they can plant a new crop of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets next year.

The only thing that can stop Monsanto's sugar beets is a massive public outcry. The Center for Food Safety's legal work has given the USDA, under President Obama, the opportunity to do the right thing.

Now's our chance to press Obama's USDA to protect biodiversity and human health from contamination with FrankenGenes that never should have been released into nature or the food system!

To take action:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 8/22/2010 1:33PM

    emoticonMaha! Gettin the word out. te amo hermana mia. emoticon

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JUSTBIRDY 8/21/2010 4:52PM


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ROBINSNEWNEST 8/20/2010 7:26PM

    Thanks for sharing this information... Took action and will pass it on...

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SLASALLE 8/20/2010 6:30PM

    While beets are one of the few veggies I do not like, I still don't like genetically engineered food, and I'm sure it's happening with more than beets!!

You go, girl ... !!!


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KALIGIRL 8/20/2010 8:38AM

    emoticon for letting us know.

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GOANNA2 8/20/2010 6:10AM

    Wow, 95% is not good. I agree that no one company should
have so much control. It makes me wonder what else we are
eating that has biofranken genes that we know nothing about.

Thanks for the info. Glad the court ahs blocked it.
Have a great weekend.

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DENI_ZEN 8/19/2010 11:04PM

    P.S. - This blog entry of yours reminds me of the old Sonny and Cher song - "And the Beet Goes On." emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 8/19/2010 11:02PM

    I'm no fan of Frankencrops either, Maha; thank you for this heads-up! I just took action, and I echo RUSSELLORAMA's sentiments here. Was it on NPR that I first heard about Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" genetically engineered sugar beets? That news depressed it's good to have this avenue for voicing my concern! - Sandi emoticon

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CMRAND54 8/19/2010 9:18PM

    Thanks for posting this.

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RUSSELLORAMA 8/19/2010 7:20PM

    No one company should be allowed to control 95% of anything, including crops!

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SHERRY822 8/19/2010 6:44PM

    Thanks for the info. I took action ! emoticon

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WALKINGANNIE 8/19/2010 6:37PM

    "GE sugar beets now comprise 95% of the nation's sugar beet harvest"

That's truly shocking Maha and should definitely be drawn to people's attention.

Hope the campaign attracts a lot of support.

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