This poem called “Questionnaire” by Wendell Berry should be required reading and then answered out loud in public by all politicians, candidates and voters. #5 is especially wrenching: QUESTIONNAIREby Wendell Berry How much poison are you willingto eat for the success of the freemarket and global trade? Pleasename your preferred poisons. For the sake of … Continue reading Questionnaire
One day a farmer’s donkey fell into a well. The farmer frantically thought what to do as the stricken animal cried out to be rescued. With no obvious solution, the farmer regretfully concluded that as the donkey was old, and as the well needed to be filled in anyway, he should give up the idea of rescuing the beast, and simply fill in the well. Hopefully the poor animal would not suffer too much, he tried to persuade himself.
The farmer asked his neighbours help, and before long they all began to shovel earth quickly into the well. When the donkey realised what was happening he wailed and struggled, but then, to everyone’s relief, the noise stopped.
After a while the farmer looked down into the well and was astonished by what he saw. The donkey was still alive, and progressing towards the top of the well. The donkey had discovered that by shaking off the dirt instead of letting it cover him, he could keep stepping on top of the earth as the level rose. Soon the donkey was able to step up over the edge of the well, and he happily trotted off.
Life tends to shovel dirt on top of each of us from time to time. The trick is to shake it off and take a step up.
The buddha and the abuse
A tale is told about the Buddha, Gautama (563-483BC), the Indian prince and spiritual leader whose teachings founded Buddhism. This short story illustrates that every one of us has the choice whether or not to take personal offence from another person’s behaviour.
It is said that on an occasion when the Buddha was teaching a group of people, he found himself on the receiving end of a fierce outburst of abuse from a bystander, who was for some reason very angry.
The Buddha listened patiently while the stranger vented his rage, and then the Buddha said to the group and to the stranger, “If someone gives a gift to another person, who then chooses to decline it, tell me, who would then own the gift? The giver or the person who refuses to accept the gift?”
“The giver,” said the group after a little thought. “Any fool can see that,” added the angry stranger.
“Then it follows, does it not,” said the Buddha, “Whenever a person tries to abuse us, or to unload their anger on us, we can each choose to decline or to accept the abuse; whether to make it ours or not. By our personal response to the abuse from another, we can choose who owns and keeps the bad feelings.”
The very old lady
A very old lady looked in the mirror one morning. She had three remaining hairs on her head, and being a positive soul, she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she braided her three hairs, and she had a great day.
Some days later, looking in the mirror one morning, preparing for her day, she saw that she had only two hairs remaining. “Hmm, two hairs… I fancy a centre parting today.” She duly parted her two hairs, and as ever, she had a great day.
A week or so later, she saw that she had just one hair left on her head. “One hair huh…,” she mused, “I know, a pony-tail will be perfect.” And again she had a great day.
The next morning she looked in the mirror. She was completely bald.
“Finally bald huh,” she said to herself, “How wonderful! I won’t have to waste time doing my hair any more..”
â€œJust breathing isn’t living!â€ – Pollyanna
Nonviolence in the Middle East sounds idealistic to be sure; and to some, dangerously naive. Yet it has a track of successes including India, the Civi Rights movement and South Africa. It also provides an alternative to the ongoing circle of hatred, suspicion, revenge and violence.Â Sami Awad, who is a Palestinian Christian and one … Continue reading Imagining Nonviolence in the Middle East
When I was a little girl my mother read me Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter. I still have thatÂ original 1913 edition. Her story, and the philosophy of life it purveyed, affected me so deeply as a child that it molded the kind of person I am. Granted, my mother had the most influence on how … Continue reading How to play the Glad Game
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, and the tiger ran after him. Coming to a precipice, the man caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed and paced above. Trembling, the man looked down, to where another tiger had come, waiting to eat … Continue reading Pollyanna was really a Zen Master
Any time the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear something on the news or get a forwarded email I go to www.factcheck.org. They provide documented debunking and set the story straight. This has been particulary valuable during elections and during political controversies. Don’t blindly pass on lies – do … Continue reading Don’t believe everything you read/hear
In 1931, the same year he died, Edison told his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone: I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. http://environment.about.com/od/renewableenergy/a/thomas_edison.htm