De Profundis – Part III

That question, “What would happen then if we all became mystics?”, set me spinning, layered as it was on top of all that had been set in motion by the combined experiences of our conversations in the sessions and the ways I was responding body, spirit, and soul to the simple fact of being on retreat. I have spent most of my adult life living and working in the realm of ideas, operating on the presumption that the most important things are those that go on in my head. It intrigues me however now to see that each stage, Soul also was working, although in ways I could not fully grasp or duly respect.

As a graduate student in Comparative Literature, I hoped to find the Answers in the volumes of literature, philosophy, theology, and social theory I consumed. Towards the end of that time, I became convinced that scholarship was not the appropriate point of departure to find what I was seeking. My dissertation on the poet Friedrich Hölderlin’s novel Hyperion pointedly compared the visionary (and I would now say soulful) poetics expressed in it with the monumental philosophical prose of his university classmate Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit,  to the disadvantage of the latter. My willingness to go there then was helped along by a fortuitous bump received when I stumbled across Dame Frances Yates’ The Art of Memory and Edgar Wind’s Pagan Mysteries of the Renaissance, and learned for the first time about the Hermetic tradition and alchemy, and about Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, John Dee, and an array of other remarkable explorers of channels for the most part since then emphatically ignored.

I went on to spend 18 years framing pictures, which on the one hand is soulful work, but which also gave my head ample opportunity to noodle away on every matter my voracious curiosity laid before it. The Spirit creature in me justified me in response to the nagging question: “How the heck could I, multilingual Ivy League graduate with a Ph.D., allow myself to fool around day after day squeezing dollops of glue into frame corners and making tidy mats to go around not-all-that-significant, albeit often pretty, objects of luxury?”, with the argument that I was running a micro-community economic development project in a town where the smart money had all left already. I was on a mission from God. Unsatisfied, finally, because my poor city of Hartford did not seem to be getting any better from my devoted efforts to run a nice little frame shop / art gallery in it; as any self-respecting Hero would do I turned my attention to trying to fix it more directly, by providing help of the teaching-them-how-to-fish sort to its hurting residents and neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, when the next opportunity came along, I had few results to point to with pride – though I will say I discovered much about the powerful soulfulness of the tenacious people who continue to make lives there all the adversity notwithstanding, and of those who struggle mightily on their behalf to be the change they want to see.

The next opportunity I stumbled into was by what I’d like to dismiss as a fluke, though I’ve lately become enough of a believer in synchonicities that I no longer hold with the idea of flukes. It was the role of Executive Secretary of the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Board. It was fun while it lasted, supporting the advancement of clean energy. If like me you dread what climate change is likely to do to our children and other living things, you’ll think this was a good thing to be involved in. It was while I was there, firmly and respectably ensconced in the Spirit realm, regularly addressed as Dr. Cole, that the big wake up call happened. I discovered, incontrovertibly to my way of thinking now, that there truly is more to life than meets the eye. When, without advance warning an acute myocardial infarction took me to the borders of the Great Beyond and allowed me to look into the Promised Land, I discovered what Love is, and what a miracle Life itself is. These are things only Soul can make sense of. There is nothing rational about it. Passionately dedicated, kind, well trained, and highly experienced medical professionals worked their own special brands of magic on me, and to their surprise I miraculously returned with a heart far less damaged or compromised than they had any reason to expect. The science on which they depend has no reasonable explanation for it. Go figure. (See below.)

It took me a year and half to live into the consequences and extract myself from a realm which, for all its dedication to making the world a better place, leaves little space for what I now know and for what I now know I need.  This summer it finally happened. I stand now on the threshold of the next chapter, about which only two things are clear to me: I will be living consciously in love and writing will be happening. It will be love that is soulful in all respects, that touches all I encounter and that I will receive as passionately as I offer it. And it will be writing that opens and allows ample space for all that is mysterious. It will be writing driven by the inborn curiosity that came with me when I arrived here some 64 years ago and counting. I will begin to pull back together all the bits and pieces that are lying around in the rag and bone shop of my heart. I will look for and gather up the hidden soul scraps that were left by the wayside, unacknowledged,  as I trudged along my way, looking always ahead for the Answer I thought for sure was out there somewhere, maybe just over the next horizon.

Little of what I have told here and in the preceding sections of this extended post is news to me, nor was it news to me on Friday last week when I drove up to Copper Beech to meet and spend time with the Thomas Moore I had long admired. New, though, is the awareness I now hold of what fine things I may do with all the pieces I carry with me, and of how I must be cared for, if those aspirations are to be fulfilled. On Friday afternoon Soul was an appealing idea in a bunch of books that had captured my attention for reasons I never quite could grasp. By Sunday afternoon I had learned to live it. For which I am eternally grateful. That’s it. No fooling.

De Profundis – Part II

… And so I landed at Copper Beech on Friday afternoon, carrying my own long history with Thomas Moore, my new life which is still striving to get born, and my wrestlings with my own spiritual heritage – along with a barely recognized need simply to retreat, pull back, stop, breathe, be nourished, take in, receive… none of which, I am discovering, I am particularly adept at. How wonderful then, that this indeed is what happened…

Reflecting on how I was changed  by the weekend, what happened was first and foremost a string of experiences  – learnings to be sure, but not lessons in the bookish sense this heady guy mastered the art of taking in, long before I ever made it as far as college. There were in fact lessons. Thomas Moore did deliver a series of talks – complete with slides to ensure we knew we were still in the 21st century – about the energies embodied in the ancient Greek divinities Aphrodite, Ares, and Hermes (Venus, Mars, and Mercury in the Roman pantheon), and about the remarkable Renaissance men Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and John Dee. There were numerous references, no surprise, to the work of C. G. Jung and James Hillman; along with a short introduction to the work of Rafael Lopez Pedraza, another of his mentors in the field of analytical psychology. Hearing a master discuss such things was impressive, and hearing a human being share deeply about subject matter and experiences that powerfully affected him personally was a compelling experience in its own right. Yet most of what he talked about  is accessible in his writings. What made the time with him unforgettable and transformative was the soulfulness  of the experience itself.

For this to happen, there was first a happy synergy of special pieces coming together at one place and time. Besides our Master of the ceremonies, these pieces included the venue, Copper Beech Institute with its remarkable staff and volunteers; the company of people who came together for this retreat, and another company of practitioners of Kundalini yoga gathered for a workshop with Hari Kirin. Roughly 20 of us took part in the Soulful Living retreat. We came from nearby, from easy commuting distance, from further afield, and from abroad. Mostly in our middle years, we came with different life experiences and circumstances, different faith and work backgrounds, and different stories to tell. Wonderfully and somewhat unusually, while together we were all able to be fully present, to listen as well as to share.

My own visit began with a special gift, when I attended a yoga class to get centered before the sessions began Friday evening and discovered unexpectedly the instructor was a favorite friend from West Hartford Yoga, where I first began to learn the practice five years ago. Supper was a chance to connect with friends, make new ones, and meet the principals. (Copper Beech, let it be noted, serves largely vegetarian meals, with gluten-free options for those who want or need them.) And so already soul-work was happening before the talk about it had properly begun.

As the weekend continued, it continued to happen – around meals, during the early morning meditation and yoga classes, at the Saturday evening sound meditation session presented by the Conduit Center, and at the opening of the Form and Void  art exhibition organized by the Golden Thread Gallery, which shares the Holy Family facilities with Copper Beech, The Spiritual Life Center, and the monastery. Notable, though, is the fact that I would not, could not, have characterized what was happening this way – as deeply soulful – going into it, or even really coming out of it. It has taken time and reflection to begin to give the quality of what was happening a name, that name.

Time then to get into it: Already Friday evening, Thomas Moore (henceforth TM) laid out a crucial distinction – that between Spirit  and Soul. This became a red thread that ran through the rest of our conversations. Where Spirit looks up, out, and beyond; Soul looks down and in, seeking ground. Spirit is made manifest in ideas; Soul appears in images. Spirit is logical and rational. Soul is intuitive. Spirit makes arguments and believes in causal connections. Soul tells stories and makes jokes and believes in magic. Spirit looks for the light. Soul revels in the dark. Spirit seeks the Truth. Soul wants Meaning. Spirit instructs. Soul plays.

In these times we are far more attuned to Spirit, even those who don’t consider themselves “spiritual”, while Soul lives in the shadows and reveals itself most often through its absence. It has been this way in the West at least since the 17th century when the Enlightenment commenced with the advent of modern science and philosophical rationalism; and arguably since the Christian Councils of Nicea (787 CE) and Constantinople (869 CE), when, as James Hillman pointed out in his famous article “Peaks and Vales” (to which TM directed our attention), Soul and its images were banished, leaving us with Body and Spirit as the only realities worthy of attention. From the shadows, Soul then lets itself be known through all sorts of craziness – poetry, humor, the arts, and self-sacrificing service at its best; organized religion in the middle ground; and psychopathology and violence among individuals, communities, and nations, at its worst.  If TM as a public figure has an agenda with his work, it is to reclaim for Soul its rightful place in our shared consciousness, not only because it would be a healthier and happier way for us to live as individuals and families, but because it is what is most needed if the frightening disorders apparent in the daily news are to be healed.

Following Hillman, he suggested that going into our symptoms, rather than suppressing or trying to fix them, is the proper path to healing. Violence is pervasive in our culture and our times, from the inner lives of individuals to wars among nations and alliances of nations, because we do not know how to embrace in non-destructive ways Ares the Warrior’s wish to assert ourselves and claim our own due. Disrespecting Aphrodite, we live in a hyper-sexualized culture, because we are not able to honor the desires of our human body for sensual gratification and pleasure. Look at Botticelli’s “Primavera” and your eye immediately goes to the Three Graces, foreground left, representing Beauty, Pleasure, and Restraint, dancing together. A Holy Worldliness is what we need to recover.

Hermes, the god of surprises, and secrets, and trickery, and magic must have his due. His way is not linear. He does not always obey the rules or the laws. He does not draw inside the lines. He is not a problem solver looking for a fix, as a spiritual Hero would do. He’d rather talk about it, preferably among friends. Suitably surprising, for those of us brought up in a mainstream Christian tradition, TM’s take on the Jesus of the Gospel (in Writing in the Sand, for instance) is that he is much more a Hermetic Soul figure, with his predilection for paradox and parable, his appreciation of the sensual, his embrace of conviviality right down to the Last Supper; than the uni- directional Spirit figure he is traditionally made out to be.

It makes sense, following this insight, that TM supposes that churches too stand to be healed of the moribund state in which many find themselves, by seeking ways to become vessels for Soul in a culture where more and more people despair of finding it there. All the major religions have their mystics who have found ways to break out of the conventional and logical order of things, and to break through to the realm where a sense of connectedness to and oneness with the Source may be found. Pointedly, as we neared the end of our time together, with a mercurial glint in his eye TM threw out the question “What would happen then if we all became mystics?”

De profundis – Part I

Easing back into everyday life – whatever that means – after a weekend retreat with Thomas Moore (of Care of the Soul  fame) at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford with a delightful group of kindred spirits. A little stage-setting here: Thomas Moore has been part of my journey since I first read James Hillman’s essay collection A Blue Fire back in the late 1980’s, at a major turning point in my journey – the point when I finally began to recognize and own my shit, and began moving out of victim mode. Thomas Moore, for whom Hillman was a mentor, inspiration, and close friend, compiled the collection and so came up on my radar screen. At that point in time, discovering Hillman did two things for me: it alerted me to the fact the word “soul” has a genuinely meaningful and powerful referent, despite the contempt in which it was generally held among enlightened and educated late 20th century intellectuals like me; and, in a manner of speaking, it gave me permission to be depressed. Which is to say, my recurring depression began to stop being a disorder needing a fix and began to become a condition of the soul needing care and attention. (Sidebar on Hillman: Years ago when I was learning the scholarly trade, I was startled to discover that in many instances “greats” are not recognized in their lifetimes and that many who are considered great in their lifetimes are often deservedly forgotten by posterity. In this spirit, I have a notion that a century from now Hillman will be viewed as one of the most brilliant minds of our epoch, though he’s now largely known only among the cognoscenti of post-Jungian psychology. If you’re around then, you can quote me on this.)

After reading Hillman, I turned to Care of the Soul, and over the intervening years have read a number of Thomas Moore’s other books, always with the sense that he was an important partner in my ongoing inner dialogues, a companion on my journey. This summer, while visiting northern California, I stumbled across Writing in the Sand: Jesus and the Soul of the Gospels in a remainder bin at a little independent bookstore. It was one of those synchronistic moments, when I feel like the universe is giving me a little nudge to get my attention. Here in this new phase of my journey, where I am feeling impelled to embrace many disparate parts of my whole life experience and bring them together in the new light of the discoveries I made when I visited the Borderlands two years ago, one part I am particularly preoccupied by is the question where the Christian faith I was raised and continue to have a sense of rootedness in fits into my overall sense of the whole. And here was Thomas Moore, with his own Christian roots, offering up a reflection on the Jesus of the Gospels… as if it had my name on it.

This is not the place to lay it all out there, but suffice it to say I have a strong sense of Jesus as an incarnation (albeit likely not the only one) of the Divine Spirit; and I often think “What Would Jesus Do?” is a very timely and good question to ask when some situation, large or small, is feeling critical. I have been deeply nourished by writings of all sorts from the Christian tradition, from the Bible on down, including by the work of Thomas Moore. The concept of “call” has always been powerful for me, including during the decades when I had no sense of spiritual affiliation and would have characterized myself if asked as an agnostic. I am currently actively involved in a faith community, Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, because I feel called to be there. Yet I struggle a lot with churches as institutions and with doctrine and with liturgy and with creeds. I often suspect Jesus would have about the same amount of patience with our churches, as he did with the temple cult of his time in Jerusalem, and that he would be about as well received.* The fact that my experiences of the sacred that I encounter in a Buddhist-inspired meditation practice and in yoga seem to me a whole lot more direct and less complicated, has only aggravated my bewilderment about what church and I have to do with one another.

So finding Writings in the Sand  happened at a moment when I could not have been more open to receive it, and precisely because it had Thomas Moore’s name on the cover I had a powerful hunch it would speak to me. Which it did. I’m not going to do a review here, but the book cracked open a few doors and windows that allowed me to begin pondering my Christian problem in some new lights with some fresh breezes. Not long after I learned that Thomas Moore would be leading a retreat on Living a Soulful Life in a Secular World at the newly formed Copper Beech Institute, which has been set up on the grounds and in the buildings of the Holy Family Monastery – a place that for years has been open to the notion that the spirit moves in many ways besides those of Rome. And so I landed at Copper Beech on Friday afternoon, carrying my own long history with Thomas Moore, my new life which is still striving to get born, and my wrestlings with my own spiritual heritage – along with a barely recognized need simply to retreat, pull back, stop, breathe, be nourished, take in, receive… none of which, I am discovering, I am particularly adept at. How wonderful then, that this indeed is what happened…

*(To their credit, many of our churches are now looking hard at where they’ve gotten off the track. Read Sojourners, say, and you’ll find much to be inspired by. I’m not a historian of the Catholic church, but I’d be hard pressed to name a pope who has come anywhere near as close to personifying the Jesus spirit as Pope Francis does, and it does seem miraculous to me that the College of Cardinals found its way to electing him.)

On the up side…

Monday I visited my cardiologist (actually, because one good thing is never enough in my book, one of my two fabulous cardiologists) for a semi-annual checkup. I came away with a seriously pumped up charge of gratitude. How could I not, after he told me he’s never seen someone as sick as I was two years ago when my poor little heart went into cardiogenic shock – so sick he and the team he was working with expected only a transplant would give me any real chance of a quality life on down the road – come back as far as I have, still running on the same heart, back to nearly “normal”?  Keep taking my meds, eat well, drink plenty of water, get exercise, don’t shovel snow (aw, shucks), pay attention to how I’m feeling; and basically I can do anything I would have done before. Like most sensible physicians, he admitted to being hesitant about using the word “miracle”, but…  I’m a poster child for how he’d like all of his patients to turn out. How could I not feel grateful?

Considering that the next day there was an election, the results of which I mostly don’t like at all, no surprise to people who know me (more on that another time); it was a very timely transfusion of gratitude I received. It’s now already two years since I made that unexpected, dramatic, and life-changing excursion to the Great Beyond, from which I returned with a profound conviction that life is a miracle – not merely is my life a miracle because I survived an acute myocardial infarction so severe that many who suffer one do not – no, the point is that life itself is a miracle. That life happens at all, seen from a cosmic or even transcendental perspective, is nothing short of miraculous.

From the level of sub-sub-atomic particles, on up through atoms, molecules, cells, organs, organisms (like us), communities of organisms (ecosystems and human societies, for example); all the way up to solar systems, galaxies and the whole friggin’ cosmos itself, we’re talking hugely spectacular and wonderful improbabilities. Or go read up on how the cardiovascular system works (or for that matter any of the systems that keep us alive and healthy), and you’ll get another crash course in the miraculous. Huge quantities of electrical and chemical information flying back and forth, from the interiors of the tiniest cells at the tip of your little toe up to the cerebral masses that allow us to think whoever and whatever we think we are; surging through each little capillary on up to the big veins and arteries going in and out of the heart and lungs, moving in microseconds; and the heart and the lungs and the central nervous system track and respond to it all practically instantaneously. And when they don’t, oh, well, then “We have a problem, Houston…”

At which point, if you’re me, other miracles start up – like that a motley bunch of human beings in scrubs, who just happen to be there because it’s what they do for a living (for whatever miraculous reasons they choose to do it) have the ability to turn on a dime, shoot some specially concocted mixtures of chemicals they happen to have lying around into an intravenous line they conveniently had the forethought to have inserted already, and pull a little gizmo called an intra-aortic balloon pump off the shelf and feed it up through a catheter inserted down in my groin exactly to the spot where the aorta meets the left ventricle (which is a very hurting puppy at this stage), and get it pumping exactly in sync with my very sick little heart so the exit way out to the aorta is already cracked open when the ventricle gives its feeble little push to shoot some blood out where it’s got to go to keep me alive.

And so it goes. There’s much more, from a medical perspective, to the story of how I made it on through; and there are many more motley people in scrubs to tell about, deploying their know-how and their own passionate dedications to the miracle of life – my life in this case – to get me going again and show me how to traverse the road I am now journeying on down day by day. There’s also much more to tell from a spiritual – or again transcendental – perspective, and more to tell about the powerful experiences of love coming in from every direction I had before, during, and after my heart lost track of what it was doing and needed to be helped back into the groove; stories that heighten my sense of the miraculous up to somewhere round about the nth degree. We’ll save these stories for another day.

Today though, I really just want to bear witness to why I’m not a cynic. Folks who know me well, know I’ve had my trials – including some pretty desperate ones – along the way, and though I was dealt some very good cards when I came into this life, not all of them were trumps by a long shot. Still, for reasons I don’t entirely fathom, though I have some hunches, I’ve never lost what I took to calling even before the big excursion to the Other Side my “terminal optimism.” In times like these, with so much painful and scary news abroad in the land, and so many trends to be anxious about from the most personal level on up to the state of things globally, it is understandable that many people become cynical and behave  cynically. But I find it also profoundly sad, and for the people who go and live there ultimately tragic if they don’t find their ways back out of it. Feeling scared and grabby and always knowing-better-than and defensive and self-centered is not what the miracle of life is about. I’m here to tell you, love makes the world go around. There is a tilt in the universe toward being, toward goodness, toward beauty, toward joy. The game is rigged. I know this. For a fact. Been there, found that. You can quote me on this. Please do.

Altogether Now

Here’s a post I put up on Facebook a few days ago, before I got this blog set up. Because it concerns a theme much on my mind and that I’m sure I will be pursuing going forward, I decided to bring it over here, along with a string of the comments that landed there. I truly hope this may be the beginning of a conversation that crosses ideological divides and that will help us begin to get together on finding workable, practical and durable solutions to some of the really disturbing nuts and bolts problems we are facing as a nation and that won’t get fixed by any amount of posturing and finger pointing.

It’s about the growing pain and sadness I feel first about how we Americans as a people communicate with each other about matters of common concern, and second about how many of us – present company I confess often included – too frequently treat with contempt others with whom we disagree or whom we believe are responsible for whichever aspect of our troubled national life we find most dire. I’m starting to feel that this bitter polarization is itself a luxury we can no longer afford. I’m now of an age where I am beginning to think hard about what sort of world my granddaughters will inherit and frankly I don’t like the prospects.

So here’s the deal: I’d like to see a New American patriotic movement emerge which will not be defined by Right / Left, Liberal / Conservative, Tea Party / Occupy, etc., but by an agreement that the future of the country is of SHARED concern. It will organize around the question: “What part of the solution are you?” I self-identify as a progressive-used-to-be-radical who pretty much aligns with what my conservative friends see as a “liberal” agenda. I don’t intend to give this up. I also don’t expect my conservative friends to give up their analyses or perspectives on what is most hurtful to the country. But I would like to see us come together around the idea that if we can all get out of the finger-pointing blame game we might actually discover that with our different perspectives, experiences, skill-sets, analyses, and so on, we could come up with and get behind policies and plans to address a finite list of key issues that must be solved if the nation is not to crash and burn as super-powers historically have done. Neither our own children and grandchildren, nor the children in the rest of the world will be well-served if we don’t figure this out – together.

Let me say that taking on the label “patriot” is not something that has come easily to me. It’s a word that conservatives have largely claimed and liberals have largely avoided ever since the late ’60’s – early ’70’s. It has often been used together with other slogans like “America Love It or Leave It” and “United We Stand” by people who typically vote differently than I do and blame different people for our problems. It has taken a while for me to wake up to the fact that I belong to this country, like I belong to my family, my community, my part of the country, my religious heritage, and other affiliations that define me. I care about this country the way I care about my family, community, etc. – not because it is better and more worthy than other countries, but simply because it is my country. I have a sense of obligation and responsibility toward the United States of America because it is my country, the place I was born, grew up, live and have a stake in what goes down. As one of my favorite writers Wendell Berry puts it, here I have “A Sense of Place.” I expect citizens for instance of Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Turkey, China, Brazil, Pakistan, India, Israel, Palestine, Germany, and my beloved Denmark to feel the same way about their countries, and behave accordingly, and God bless them when they do.

Here’s my list of issues I believe we should be able to agree need solving, even if we start with different views about how to do it:
1) Education – We are falling behind the rest of the developed countries in educating our young people for the challenges and opportunities that await them. This is well-documented and not disputable.
2) Employment – There are many parts of the country where decent, fairly compensated, meaningful jobs are not available. All of our citizens who are able and willing should have opportunities to earn a living doing good, meaningful, healthy work.
3) Infrastructure – It is no secret that our roads, bridges, sewer, water, and energy delivery systems, are going the way of our railroads. All of these systems need to be upgraded, modernized, and made more resilient.
4) Public Health – Again, compared with other countries, we are not doing well. Our obesity rates are off the charts. We are dying of heart disease, cancers, car accidents, gun violence, and suicides at unacceptable rates. Infant mortality rates in some parts of the country are inexcusably high.
5) Incarceration – We have approximately five times as many people incarcerated as is the case in comparable countries, the most in the world. We should be able to agree that, whatever the reasons for this, the land of the free and home of the brave should not need to lock up six times as many people as Canada and nine times as many people as Germany.

Here’s are few additional issues that I believe will be trickier and my conservative friends may see them as having too much of a “liberal” stamp.
1) Income Inequality – The dwindling of the “middle class” and the growing gap between those at the top of the income scale and those at the bottom does not bode well for a healthy body politic down the road. I once wrote a dissertation on a topic involving the French Revolution. I lived for a while in West Berlin when it was surrounded by a Soviet dependency. The demise of the Roman empire and the French and Russian revolutions give me reason to worry about what may happen if fewer and fewer citizens really feel like they have skin in the game.
2) Climate Change – I understand that many conservatives are not yet persuaded despite the massive amounts of data and the extensive analyses now available from some of the most sophisticated research institutions in the world that climate change is real and the consequences may be horrific. If those analyses are right (and climate change skeptics are wrong), the stakes could really not be higher. You don’t have to be a fan of New York city or have much patience with liberal East Coast elites to have reason to worry about what it might mean if Manhattan were under water and the global food supply chains break down.
3) Violence – We lead the world in gun-related violence; we are seeing too many violent confrontations between protestors and law-enforcement; and our domestic violence numbers are disturbingly high. The US accounts for more than one third of the world’s entire military expenditures, more than the next 11 countries combined, which suggests we have a tendency to look to violent solutions by default. We need to find other ways to deal with conflict and distress, on every level from the most intimate relationships to international affairs.

Like any good liberal, I have a list of other hot button issues that I indeed care deeply about and will continue to advocate around – racism, gender equality, reproductive rights, social justice, death with dignity, religious tolerance, environmentally sustainable agriculture, urban planning, and land use, among others. I will come to the table with the expectation that government can and should be part of the solution when we wrestle with the issues listed above. But my pledge is to treat my conservative brothers and sisters with respect and then to roll up my sleeves and see how we can work together to make this a healthy and vibrant country we can be proud to hand on to all of our children and grandchildren and those who will come after.

What part of the solution are you?

 
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    James Koether I applaud your courage and spirit, Tim. I have always thought that you were a standup guy in every regard.

    A civil conversation must be predicated upon agreement as to the sources of legitimate information. I believe that many news outlets, instead oSee More

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    Roger S Smith I would add civil liberties and the encroaching security state as a place where patriots wouldstand out from apologists for state power.
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    Kim Connolly Thanks, Tim! Some of what you are dreaming of is already happening. Some of the organizations include the Transpartisan Alliance, No Labels, the Kettering Foundation, the Public Conversations Project, Everyday Democracy, and many more. I’m charged up and ready go — targeting December for upping the ante. We should talk. We’re long overdue for coffee or something.
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    Kim Connolly PS Weird and useless info, but I’ve been home mildy sick and very tired with a bug that came to me via beloved Denmark.
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    Kim Connolly RE: Climate change – Even the Pentagon and insurance companies have put climate change on their top 10 lists of concerns. The issue boils down to renewable energy. Cutting energy costs is good for business. There’s a lot to keep moving forward on hereSee More
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    Shoshanna N. Silverberg I think my part involves modeling what it means to come from one’s heart on a decision-making level. Whether on a personal or professional plane. I am not a “religious” person. But, concepts like grace govern in large part the way I approach problemSee More
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    Kim Connolly Shoshanna N. Silverberg, I think that’s super important. Sometimes I’ve see that sort of thing get inbred because people do it in an inner circle and separate from places where it is more challenging. May you bring strength to pushing on the edges of that.
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    Tim Cole @ James Koether – I agree media are a problem. Whether they tilt conservative or liberal it seems to me they most often have us getting jazzed up around our most emotionalized fears rather than helping us focus on the urgent hard issues (see my list) tSee More
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    Michael Driscoll-Kelly Dear Tim, Thank you for this post! We really miss your beautiful energy at Sangha. I hope you are right and that the different tribes will band together to face the grave threats facing all of us. I also like Joanna Macy’s ideas about this. Let’s stick with your approach and see where it takes us! All the best, Tim!
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    James Koether Tim Cole, I agree that we may as well work together whether we like it or not, because we are in the same inescapable boat. My pressing concern outside the biased media is to ensure the the Affordable Care Act corrects the inequity handed to persons wSee More