The 2018 Student Uprising and March 24 marches

Today at work, I got into a conversation with a customer about my activism blog.  “What’s your current hotbutton?” she asked.  I didn’t hesitate: “Guns.”  I didn’t totally understand why this came through so loud and clear, but there it was. Protect our kids

And yet, in the three weeks since the Parkland School shootings, I have until tonight only written one blog post about this – why?

I’ve thought about this a lot through the day.  Here are my top three reasons for focusing on this issue – and the top three reasons we might avoid it.

Why focus on school shootings and guns:

  1. The student uprising stirred by the Parkland shootings has created a very ripe moment in our society – it has captured our imagination.  The nationwide marches on March 24 will build this moment. And there is a very real possibility that this uprising is not going away.
    March for Our Lives 3/24 – national site
    March for Our Lives 3/24 – Asheville site
  2. The focus on guns exposes the macho life-threatening underbelly of Donald Trump and the Republican Party.  They are bought and sold by the NRA.  They really believe that arming teachers is the answer.  They are so out of touch with the hearts and minds of most Americans.   This issue will help turn them out of power.Moms demand action
  3. The prevalence of and love for guns epitomize what is out of whack in America.  The battle over guns is a battle for the soul of the country.

Why we would avoid the whole issue:

  1. It’s horrifying on the face of it.  It’s about mass shootings, the slaughter of the innocents – about what could happen to us.  Who wants to look at it?
  2. It is in many ways true that right now the pistol-packers have most of the power (and most of the money).  Focusing on this could be very demoralizing – and scary.
  3. We have been disappointed so many times in the past.  If Sandy Hook didn’t change things, what’s so different now?

How do we manage our hopelessness, our discouragement?  How do we make this time be different?  We do something – take action, take a stand.  Nothing will change your energy better than doing something.

Conversation series

Releasing the Force: Activism with Heart Conversation Series

multiple Jedi
What’s your light saber?

Four Wednesday evenings, 7-8:30, March 14-April 4, Jubilee downstairs.  Majo hosts.

What’s your personal story around activism? What’s next for you? Contact Majo to register and get pre-work – or just show up for any evening. $10 or donation per evening.  Each evening is self-contained – write Majo for detailed agenda., 828-582-9822


Do It Anyway

Today was about young lives lost – and somehow more.

At Jubilee today, our phenomenal visiting minister Alba Onofrio spoke strong and straight about the high school shootings in Parkland, FL.  She called out the lies of politicians who send their “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families – but take money from the gun lobby and do nothing to pass common sense gun legislation.  She said that the surviving students themselves are taking the lead in calling out the lie in politicians who are saying it’s “too soon” to talk about gun control, when really it’s too late.

Alba Onofrio
Alba Onofrio at Jubilee

The Jubilee choir sang a song by Martina McBride – Anyway – about the need to take action in the face of total uncertainty about how things will turn out.  It’s very beautiful.

Somebody made an announcement that in the afternoon there would be a rally downtown to remember the victims of the shooting.  I had actually been numb and distracted at the time of the shooting and it was all just catching up to me today at Jubilee – so I knew I wanted to go to the rally.

The rally was wonderful – well attended, with powerful and touching speeches, and great signs.

Burr and Tillis are our NC U.S. senators – and apparently among the highest in how much NRA money they take in.

common sense laws

Moms demand action

not soon enough

Protect our kids

the crowd today
The crowd today, 2/18/18, in downtown Asheville.

Highlights from the speeches:
– from a Stoneman Douglass High School (the school of the tragedy) alumnus:
– “I will not fall back into silence” and
– “I will not accept inaction”.
– from a mom who is a survivor of gun violence:
– “I see the tide shifting.  We must throw out officials who take money from the NRA.  We must vote out politicians who don’t vote for common sense gun laws.”

There was music, including one of my favorite classic protest songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind”:  “How many deaths will it take ’til we know that too many people have died?”
Peter, Paul and Mary

Want to take action?  Moms Demand Action
– to connect with organizers in your area, text “ready” to 64433

At the end of the Jubilee service, the band – which tends to rock out at the end of the service (people dancing, etc.) – offered us an almost incomprehensibly sweet, happy, hopeful song: Jimmy Cliff’s “I Can See Clearly Now”.  I danced and cried.  Playing it now, I am happy and hopeful and crying.  I recommend it.

My Sweet Lord

Given all the confusion, pain, death and destruction in the world, it is incumbent on any conscious person to try to come up with some coherent cosmology – what is the meaning of all this?  Confronted with all the lying, treachery, hate and destructiveness present in our national politics, we need – if our spirit is to survive – to go underneath all this to some sense of meaning.

How to enter the Spirit world.

All the offerings from Releasing the Force will have several spiritual underpinnings.  I won’t try to prove them – they just are my experience of what’s true in the world.  You can participate fully in any of our offerings without agreeing with any of these, but I think you will get more out of our programs if you wrestle with these ideas.

Human spirit

Everything is connected.  Our analytical mind likes to break things apart, sees separation everywhere.  When we drop out of the analytical mind and perceive with our hearts, we see connection everywhere.  I am not separate from you – we are part of the same whole.  Thich Nhat Hanh would say that we inter-are – I am you and you are me.

Thich Nhat Hanh
Light body

Life is intelligent.  It’s not chaos – it has meaning and purpose.  Even when it looks like chaos, underneath that chaos is order.spirit-photo--664x1024

Life is benevolent – it is working towards our good.  This is the toughest one for me to get my mental hands around.  My analytical mind just doesn’t get it – yet I know that it is true.  Life continually sends us the experiences we need for our healing. It’s Groundhog Day: if we don’t get the lesson the first time, Life keeps sending us opportunities to learn it.

It doesn’t matter how you conceptualize the Divine – Bartolomé_Esteban_Perez_Murillo_003whether you think of it as my sweet Lord or some more abstract Life Force.  It doesn’t matter what your religion, or if you have a religion at all.  It doesn’t matter how you fight the notion of some kind of cosmic Intelligence – that fight is your dance and you are exactly where you are meant to be.

It doesn’t matter if you meditate or do yoga or pray – social activism may be your spiritual practice.

Call 828-582-9822 and talk to me about this or just bring it up when we get together in a program offering or wait until it comes up, because it will.


New offerings from Releasing the Force!

We are very excited to offer three new experiential programs to fit your needs.  These are:

  1. The Something Squad 
    1. For people who want to do something about the current state of our country (state, city), but may not yet know what.  Or maybe you have some sense about the what, but don’t know how to go about it – or how to fit it into the circumstances of your life.
    2. Or people who are already doing something, but want to do something more.
    3. Look at the Something Squad page for more details.
  2. The Jedi Training Camp
    1. For people who want to pull out the stops, really go for it.  Appropriately demanding to meet the requirements of being a Jedi.
    2. Also, though, you make a commitment to keep intact the Big Four:
      1. work
      2. family
      3. exercise
      4. sleep
    3. More details at the Jedi Training Camp page.
  3. No Charge Recharge offerings
    1. Recharge social hour
      1. at an appropriate beverage house, open to
        1. participants in the first two offerings
        2. comrades – people out in the trenches doing the work, who would like the social support and recharge
        3. interested others who want a taste of what we are doing
    2. Comrades in arms
      1. Facilitated connecting and recharge time for people already doing the work
    3. Details on both of these at the No Charge Recharge page.

Kinship with All Life

If you believe that our connection with other species keeps us in balance, read on. If you experientially know that the dogs and cats in our lives offer us healing, see the movie The Shape of Water. shape of waterThe moviemakers also know these truths and display them in a powerful and beautiful way. (The movie is up for several Oscars and should be playing in most major markets until the Oscar show on March 4.)

If all this speaks to you, I would also encourage you to read Kinship with All Life, written by J. Allen Boone . 798828 (Originally published way back in 1976 – and first read by me in 1977 – it has been nicely reprinted and is available on Amazon and at many independent booksellers like Malaprop’s in Asheville.)  The writer was a free-lance journalist who frequently dog sat for Strongheart the famous movie”Wonder dog”.

Strongheart – born in Germany in 1917, died after a movie studio fire in Hollywood in 1929.

He became convinced that Strongheart sent and received psychic communication and went on a national journey to discover and describe animal-human communication.  He’s a very good writer.