June/July 2009 Volume 57Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our June/July issue:
Carla Woody, Founder
Metaphors for Life
A couple of years ago I heard a program on NPR's Morning Edition interviewing a former Israeli Army officer about his interactive computer game called PeaceMaking. The game's setting is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. One of the things that really caught my attention was when he said it was about "winning peace."
There are two roles to assume, the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President, and you can even take both sides and play 'against' yourself, entering into different world views and available resources. Crisis situations inspired by real events are presented for a decision. There are political advisors who try to persuade to their side hawk or dove. So it's about decision-making and strategies. But the most interesting thing is that it shows the effect of the decision - and how the impact of that one critical act may play out in the future! Not unlike a process I often take clients through when they're at some important juncture in their lives.
They did a short demo during the interview. The host chose to play the Israeli Prime Minister. A skirmish popped up. The advisors hovered. What to do? After a bit of indecision, the host decided he'd send in the army in the name of security the hawk's advice. It worked for a moment. Almost immediately red lights lit up in a number of places on the map. His decision had sparked other crises! Then he was presented with the dire conditions Palestinian civilians were suffering as a result of his decision.
What to do? He took the dove's advice this time and sent aid. But wait. The Palestinians rejected it. They didn't trust the move. Look what he did just a short time ago. And so it goes... You don't win in this game, or any other for that matter, unless the outcome is balanced for both sides. The inventor said losing and frustration are part of the lesson.
We have to learn to do it differently for all concerned until competition becomes moot. A one-sided gain never works in the long run. It's really about acquiring far vision, following a decision out to the horizon line as much as we can.
In April I was in Santa Fe at a conference put on by the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples Foundation and the premise came forward in my mind even more so. I heard many stories about outside impacts endangering native ways of lives. Some of these I'd never realized. A Zuni farmer from northern Arizona talked about the challenge he was having keeping genetically engineered corn from blowing into his fields and pollinating his native corn. The product would be stalks that grow higher but are broken by the wind and the loss of their pure native strain that had adapted well to the conditions of their land over the centuries. For his people it's not just about loss of crops and food but also loss of heritage, a spiritual connection.
Shortly after returning I saw a documentary called The Future of Food that was largely about genetically engineered food and its effect, not only on health but heritage, and the absurd greed of large corporations. You see, these corporations have been allowed to patent their seed, a strange practice. There was a story about a farmer in the Midwest who, much like the Zuni farmer, was having trouble keeping corn blown from passing Monsanto Corporation trucks out of his field. His family had developed their heritage corn over a couple of hundred years. He lost the battle. Not only did Monsanto's corn cross-pollinate and he lost his family heritage. In a bizarre move, Monsanto sued him for patent infringement and won. Now he'll probably lose his farm if he hasn't already. Would such an outcome have ever crossed the mind of the scientists in the Monsanto labs who were developing the product? I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, but who knows.
The examples given here, warring countries and loss of traditions, ways of life, are very big issues. But we can have an impact on the micro level, every day in our own lives, that play into the macro level. Typically we're untrained. Not many think of wider impact, through time. But if we take the opportunity to project our thoughts and potential actions on down the road and assess the likely outcome, we'd actually find we all have an innate sense of far vision. We just need to stop, take a breath and then use it.
© 2009 Carla Woody. All rights reserved.Carla Woody is the author of the book Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage and Calling Our Spirits Home: Gateways to Full Consciousness and founder of Kenosis, an organization supporting human potential and global consciousness. Carla has long been leading people toward mind/body/spirit wholeness using integrative healing methods blended with world spiritual traditions. She may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone (928) 778-1058.
More often than not, the publications or music you will find reviewed here will not be new or "bestsellers." Websites or organizations may not be well known. But all are spotlighted by virtue of their impact and value.
Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life
If you are one of those people who is unrelentingly committed to a path, particularly one that the world may little understand, and yet you have periodically fallen into doubt, there is actually a name for this affliction - much to my relief. Doubt is not really a good word for a state that can reach a level of deep despair and sense of futility. And yet it's not depression in the clinical sense.
Acedia was included in the "eight bad thoughts" of the desert monks but was later inexplicably dropped when translated into the Catholic Church's "seven deadly sins." If only over the years I would have had a word for it, not as a sin but as a thought that can assail a person who has monkish tendencies or artists, advocates and others who probe the edges of convention. Then there could have been a level of comfort and normalcy in the experiences. But instead, the term and understanding of it was dropped into time, to be hidden in little known annals or diaries of people who had the courage to express it.
Kathleen Norris has done many of us a favor by writing a book about acedia, giving many personal examples and historical references. Taken from the book, "... the monk struggling with acedia is dealing with more than bad moods, psychic fluctuations, or moral defeats. It is a question of resolve that arises in the wake of a decisive choice for which the monk has risked his life'a danger to anyone whose work requires great concentration and discipline yet is considered by many to be of little practical value... "
Along with the author's own writings, a real plus is in the last chapter, a collection forty-odd pages long of quotes, personal experiences from such luminaries as John of the Cross, Emily Dickinson, Petrarch, Dante, Evelyn Waugh and many others. Sometimes it helps to name something and I can sense a future essay of my own percolating.
You may recognize the author's name from her other books such as The Cloister Walk and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography. Read this latest book if your path has ever taken you into an unnamed state that may be acedia or if you anticipate it could.
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