Do No Harm

do-no-harm-r_20l2Looking for the space

where being me won’t harm anyone else.

Does it exist?

Will I ever find it?

Where are the sign posts, the clues?

Am I allowed a compass or map?

In this high-tech, Reality TV world, can I get a lifeline?

Or will I be voted off the journey?

Is there rapid rail

Or must I travel on foot?

Are my feet bare?

Is the road rough,

With gravel, glass, & muck?

Am I alone, partnered, competing?

How much pain must I and others endure

Before I/we get there?

Is there room for all of us

Or just a select few?

Is it smooth sailing, magnificent seascapes,

Wise, witty, wicked wing women

Wearing sun- & breeze-kissed faces?

As Jill Scott would say:

84 degrees, melody?

Room for all who want to come

And are willing to do what it takes to get there?

Maybe it’s my/our choice, smooth or rugged,

Solo or en masse,

Really a bit of both, along a continuum,

The path to that special place.

Our experience of pain or pleasure

Determined by our choice

To don rose-colored or smokey gray glasses.

To see intermediate stops and a final destination

where I/We

Rest easy

Smell the roses

Have some tea

Feel the unconditional love of GOD,

The god within me/we,

GOD all around me/we,

GOD that is ME/WE!

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The 9 Days of Inaug

 

Swearing-in Site Panoramic View

Swearing-in Site Panoramic View

So The Historic Event is almost upon us! In just 6 days, Barrack Hussein Obama will take the oath of office for the Presidency of these United States of American, upon the same Bible his idol, Abraham Lincoln did many decades ago.  What a  momentous and audacious occasion, so much so that I thought it appropriate to add a little levity in these final days.

I trust that Rev. Joseph Lowery will do the same during the swearing-in ceremony’s benediction, no doubt, with grand poetic flourish. But for those not familiar with Rev. Joe’s oratory, I thought I’d try my hand at a example of  his wicked-smart humor-wielding style.

Since last month, I’ve been thinking a rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas would work for such an exercise in Sankofa creativity. This morning I scavenged the internet to discern the significance of this age-old carol (see reference below) and find political facts to convey similar meaning in an 2008 Presidential Inaugural Ditty. Reading or singing it Johnny Carson Carnac-style (in descending order) speeds the process but misses the whole repetitive riff memorization thing.  At any rate, here goes:

Road-to-the-White-House Symbolism of The 9 Days of Inaug

On the 1st day of Inaug, Our Village gave to We, Obama Unity

Our Village refers to the global community

1 Obama Unity refers to not Red or Blue States but UNITED States

2 Twins, Yang & Yin refers to Obama Cabinet of Rivals Balancing Act (symbiotic deep experience & youthful energy)

3 3-Word Mantra refers to YES WE CAN! Obama Campaign Slogan

4 Landmark Speeches refers to Obama’s 2004 DNC, Race, 2008 DNC, 2008 Presidential Victory oratory masterpieces

5 Primaries refers to 5 states holding Democraticprimaries in May: IN, NC, WV, KY, & OR (source: http://politics.nytimes.com/election-guide/2008/primaries/democraticprimaries/)

6 Bouts of Sparing refers to general election candidate match-ups – 4 debates and 2 forums (source: http://www.youdecide2008.com/2007/06/13/full-2008-debate-schedule-from-dnc-and-gop-vice-mccain-obama-palin-biden-video-democrat-republican/)

7 Lands of Leaping refers to Obama’s 7-country tour spawned by McCain’s challenges to his international experience: Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Afghanistan (source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article4296994.ece)

8 Teen’s-a-crackin’ refers to August ‘08 speeches in which Sarah Palin 1st acknowledged Hillary Clinton’s 18M cracks in American’s highest glass ceiling (http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/08/30/1313178.aspx)

9 State Conversions refers to 2004 vs. 2008 Red to Blue State General Election turnovers (source: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2008/ & http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/2004/)

In case you weren’t aware of all the religious references in the 12 Days of Christmas (I certainly wasn’t), they’re detailed below. (source: http://www.carols.org.uk/the_twelve_days_of_christmas.htm)

Religious symbolism of The Twelve Days of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas)

1 True Love refers to God
2 Turtle Doves refers to the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens refers to Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds refers to the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings refers to the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”, which gives the history of man’s fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying refers to the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming refers to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking refers to the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing refers to the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping refers to the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping refers to the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming refers to the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle’s Creed

I’d love to get your feedback, or better still, hear you sing it out to determine its auditory appeal. And if you’d like to add a few more days’ lyrics, I certainly won’t object!

Transforming The Great Dole

I am alternatively amazed, amused and troubled by our political leadership’s approach to solving the economic meltdown. I was NOT in favor of the bailout bill, put together in non-deliberate, fever-pitched panicky haste, pork-ladened and misguided as it was. I had the sense it was like a quickly concocted, poorly planned meal with way too many cooks in the kitchen and no idea about which meal of the day, who , how many or what nutritional needs the starving diners had. It’s been weeks and not only have the intended credit loosening outcomes been thwarted, we’ve had 2 major stories about failed judgment by AIG corporate executives in taking ‘training/conference’ junkets at ritzy resorts. And even now, I see reports of a record 280,000 foreclosure filings, and then there’s the automakers and others starting to line up for their piece of The Great Dole.
So when will we JUST SAY NO to financial terrorism? Figure out that painting the leaves on the tree might make it look better temporarily, but won’t cure its root disease? Decide to teach fishing instead of handing out fish?
I said it before (http://jewelscharmedlife.blogspot.com/2008/10/more-balanced-approach-to-our-economic.html), I’ll say it again, the most sensible way to dig our way out of this mess is to put people back to work, 1st & foremost, not after all the large corporate cash infusions. A 90-day moratorium on foreclosures won’t really help families whose breadwinners have been laid off with no prospects of gainful employment. We have major UNFUNDED infrastructure programs, e.g., those on hold at the GA Dept. of Transportation, that could provide for better roads AND produce income for GA families. Next most sensible investment: green projects. These alternatives may not seem easy in the chronic Chicken Little environment, but they are quite simple. I’m confident that there are hundreds if not tens of thousands of such local programs around the country that could put us solidly on the road to recovery.
Let’s take a page from the Obama Grassroots Playbook, fund state & local initiatives, both public & private, and be delighted by the incredible results from BOTTOMS UP economics. Whaddya say we transform The Great Dole into The Great Investment Fund (TGIF)? I’m hoping Sarah Silverman of http://www.thegreatschlep.com/ fame will create a video about it!

A More Balanced Approach to Our Economic Crisis?

OK, so how can it be that, as far as I can tell, very little attention has been paid to the inaccuracy of McCain’s claim, during the town hall debate, of a ‘new’ proposal for refinancing homeowners’ mortgages at reduced home values? I think I hear a giant echo in the room. This plan is actually already in the recently passed Bailout Bill (H.R. 1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008). Even the Obama campaign has apparently come out against McMastercharger’s (taking credit for other people’s work) estimated $300B proposal. Well guess what, guys? YOU ALREADY VOTED FOR THIS, DONE DEAL!! Goes to show how panicking yourself into something without sufficient deliberation will have you dazed & confused.
It’s there, plain as day, in section 110 of H.R.1424. Even this section refers to pre-existing legislation, the HOPE for Homeowners Program 21 under section 257 of the National Housing Act. I suppose if a section-by-section analysis had been done, and well-publicized, we’d all know which part of this law we’d want to push our government to start moving on.

So if the price tag is $300B for this provision, that’s almost half of the Bill’s estimated total $700B cost. Put more simply: Main Street gets $300B, Wall Street, $400B. Couldn’t publicizing this fact calm many among the American public who are railing against greedy Wall Street CEOs? Another indicator that what we really need is to do is PAUSE & TAKE A BREATH.

Personally, I’d prefer a plan that invests one-third each in Main Street, Wall Street and bottom-up job creation, the last being primarily in the form of infrastructure programs (highway, bridge & road repair & construction), Small Business Administration Loans & Green Industry investment incentives. Although EESA2008 doesn’t appear to allow for these last two put-people-to-work initiatives, I suspect it could be amended. I believe this strategy would produce good results both long & short-term, a reasonable mix of rescue and stimulus. What do you think?

Emergency Economy Recovery: Crack or Methadone?

I’ve heard politicians compare the bailout situation to a heart attack, house fire, and any number of other urgent, critical analogies. We can all agree on these characteristics of the problem, though I don’t think these comparisons fit well. We know the consequences of our current economic dilemma are serious, we all agree something has to be done quickly…I know Uncle Sam has a drug, I mean debt problem that we need to address ASAP; the question is are we gonna go get more crack, I mean debt for him or take him to drug treatment? If drug treatment, which program best meets his needs? A 12-step like Betty Ford or something a bit less traditional?
We’re talking stabilization, right? Uncle Sam’s ‘fiending’ for the crack, I mean debt, now! Where can we get some methadone? How can we satisfy this desperate need most immediately with the least amount of damage? Relief for elders living on their retirement investments, folks behind on their mortgage or already in foreclosure, banks who can’t meet their Fed Reserve requirements, companies who can’t meet their payroll? What is the economic methadone we seek, and how can we find/make it?
Let’s take some representative examples of these types of situations and work them through the recently passed Senate bill, each separately, and then consider the combined/cumulative effect. Is that such a ridiculous request? We have non-partisan organizations, e.g. Rand Corp., that do nothing but this type of work; we’ve gotten it for the nominees’ tax plan, what’s so difficult about it?

Forget Chicken Little & Father Knows Best, TRANSPARENCY, PLEASE!!

I’ve watched CNN & C-SPAN coverage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) debate. I appreciate the efforts involved parties have put into the EESA negotiations, but unfortunately, I am one of the majority of Americans who just says NO to the “Trust Me on This” way in which this administration has hood-winked and bamboozled the Legislatures, and these bodies have in turn, unwittingly, done the same to their constituencies, e.g., rushing into the IRAQ War.

I believe the legislators’ obligation is to the people who elected them, no matter the timing, election year of not, to represent, not 2nd guess voters’ will. If a legislator believes supporting this bill is ‘the right thing,’ a more appropriate action is to convince his/her constituency of this position, not vote for HR3997 despite what his/her electorate says. Instead each legislator should vote for or against whatever bill based on what we indicate we want. We don’t trust this administration, and are not interested in having another fathom WMD-type experience.

The FDIC and private sector seem to have done an adequate job with the Wachovia failure (no branch closings, no run on the bank, barely any media coverage) WITHOUT the HR3997 provisions, so I see no reason to rush a half-baked solution into law. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Democrat, Ohio, is the most reasonable voice I’ve heard so far.

During Congress’ 1-day recess for Rosh Hanana, my request has been that my legislator, John Lewis, 5th District GA, do whatever is in his power to have the House Financial Services Committee meetings be open to the public, perhaps with hearings being broadcast online and on CNN & C-SPAN. The American public is not too dumb or angry to understand, we just seriously lack confidence in our administration and legislature, so I for one, want to see for myself the proposals themselves, and analyses of proposals. Secrecy breeds bondage, transparency generates freedom. Key questions that need to be answered:

1) How was the $700B figure derived? How are any dollar estimates for other proposals being calculated?
2) What are the fundamental principles underlying the recommendations of the VARIOUS PROPOSALS (not just HR3997) on WHO gets bailed out: weak firms, strong firms, or consumers via investment, loan or insurance. What are the fundamental problems and how do these proposals seek to address them?

3) What test scenarios have been completed to better understand the potential impact of these various proposals which occur for me as collections of inadequately examined and perhaps contradictory ideas? How can this level of examination (much like the reports on the impact of the presidential nominees’ tax plans) be included in the legislative process?

Let’s stop with all the party squabbling, Chicken Little performances, and Father Knows Best attitudes (you can read more about my explanation and disdain for this last one here -http://jewelscharmedlife.blogspot.com/2008/02/father-knows-best.html). These ill-fated approaches would best be replaced with transparency, rational root cause analysis and creative, responsible problem-solving. As a constituent, please write to your Congress person and ask how you can support his/her ability to properly inform and represent you. I am open to any suggestions and feedback what I consider to be this more respectful and truly democratic representation-based approach.

‘Neocon’ Sarah Palin: You Go, Girl! Gone Wild

Ok, so I’ve been oh-so-fascinated by the Republicans’ latest & most brilliant diversion: Sarah Palin as Johnny Mac’s (I heard Whoopi bestow this nickname on him on The View) running mate. In 2004, it was gay marriage that threw the country off-track, contributed to Bush’s re-election and resulted in the worst economy Greenspan has ever seen (www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/14/greenspan-this-is-the-wor_n_126274.html). I was willing to give the GOP props for at least being a bit more positive and uplifting with this particular distraction: a young, attractive, articulate woman, though a ‘neocon,’ leaning even further right than the top of the ticket. At least we’re witnessing another woman making history, and that’s a lot better in my book than fear-mongering by preventing gay couples from making a legal matrimonial commitment to each other.

I’ve spoken to fellow political junkies about the media’s inability to vet ‘Phenom’ Sarah, mostly stifled by the tight-lipped/scripted McCain campaign. Since I see her positioning as a Republican diversionary tactic, the point is moot. From her Pro Life, to Pro Gun to military action before diplomacy stances, I respectfully & vehemently disagree with her on issues, not withstanding her feisty attitude and perky personality. She could be the proverbial 2nd coming of Christ and I wouldn’t consider voting for her.

To be fair, I was initially willing to give Sarah the benefit of the doubt, and assume that she could run an administration; even in this scenario, I’m sure I wouldn’t like the results because they’re Bush-esque, only worse. I’d suggested that to better understand her ability to administer, I’d need to know how she’d run the city of Wasilla & state of Alaska.
Well, I ran across some articles (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/sarah_palin/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=palin&st=cse) posted on the New York Times website that have caused me to NOT give Sarah Palin the benefit of the doubt anymore. Specifically, one (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/14/us/politics/14palin.html?_r=1&oref=slogin) characterizing her administrations as having arguably misplaced loyalty shrouded in secrecy. Hmmmm, this sounds more & more Bush-like by the minute, even more so than McCain himself. Why, Arianna Huffington comically refers to Palin as Dick Cheney with lipstick (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-palin-doctrine-why-th_b_126511.html)!

So, you can get an idea about my perspective on Loyalty over Logic from my previous blog (http://jewelscharmedlife.blogspot.com/2008/02/logic-vs-loyalty.html); but secrecy & deception on top of misplaced loyalty add insult to injury. I trust that undecided voters won’t be taken in by this Sarah Palin Red Herring. If we can focus on issues, the choice is clear: Trickle-down economics + pre-emptive invasions vs. Bottom-up, grassroots reform + diplomacy. We see what havoc the former has wreaked over the last 8 years. Might be time to try a little something new, wouldn’t you say?

Confessions of a Recovered Obama Volunteer

So in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been experiencing what I’d labeled ‘campaign fatigue.’ You know what I mean, that almost bloated feeling from gorging on Jeremiah Wright, Super Delegates or culture of fear nation conversations, a sense of politico overwhelm in my everyday (now not-so-charmed) life. Via media outlets old & new: MSNBC, CNN, online blogs, YouTube, seemingly inescapable. I’d gotten the feeling that this barrage of stuff, even with its promise of power to the people and transformational possibility, had taken me over and worn me out.
In this overloaded space I occupied, I stopped wearing my Obama paraphernalia, stopped blogging, stopped listening to the political shows, even considered not fulfilling on campaign-related commitments like running for a DNC delegate position, meeting with Super Delegates to shore up support for Obama and serving as a Democratic Party of GA Neighborhood Leader. How could this be happening to me?
Had my contrarian nature decided that this campaign’s success was no longer a long shot, but almost a foregone conclusion, and been repelled by the idea of becoming the status quo? Had my adult ADD-like tendencies kicked in after over a year of very visible, vocal Obama support, gotten bored with this ‘initiative,’ as had periodically been the case in my A.T. Kearney 60 to 90-day project consultant days?
As I lay awake before dawn, noticing the sometimes sharp pain that mysteriously appeared in my right shoulder yesterday, I wondered how my physical discomfort might be connected to my negative mental state. How could re-energize myself, fulfill on existing campaign commitments and reverse this trend before it REALLY got outta hand?
After journaling this AM, I am grateful that my self-awareness gifted me with a possible solution. You see, as I wrote my usual affirmations, then turned my attention to what had historically inspired & motivated me, I discovered a pattern I never really noticed before. I suppose I’d refer to it as IMPACTFUL LEARNING. It involves having to quickly become proficient in a particular context so as to make a significant, long-term difference. This type of learning requires curiosity, resourcefulness, collaboration and boldness. Add water, instant sage and guide.
For me, there’s nothing more exhilarating than a 0-to-60-in-milliseconds experience: microwave-like, from vague familiarity to expert in the mix, facilitating major positive sustainable change in seemingly no time. Like the amazing infrastructure of the Obama Movement reconstituting politically detached and/or cynical people into avid campaign volunteers. Hillary’s still trying to figure that one out.
This is what floats my boat. So now I see what I could do to flip my campaign fatigue script: look for the new yet impactful learning opportunities in the activist commitments that I’d made, with the goal of creating a lasting difference for myself and others . Because we all know, this leg of the journey ain’t over until the Senator from IL’s officially sworn in.

Calm & Storm

This incredible photo was taken by professional photographer Shane Durrance (http://www.shanedurrance.com/) Friday night. In the aftermath of this weekend’s tornado touch down(s) in the ATL, I’m keenly aware of the power of Mother Nature and the Universe, and humans’ mighty AND tiny roles in them.

Here on Earth, we talk about global warming, and how we’re killing our planet. I always find these conversations somewhat comical, because I’m clear that we’re behaving like destructive parasites to Mother Nature globally and She will surely survive; the question is, will we? She’s eliminated pesky, ill-suited inhabitants before, no reason to believe that inevitability will change. What needs changing is US.

Our own survival depends on our moving to more responsible action with our existence in this perfectly divinely constructed ecosystem. Al Gore’s Nobel prize is evidence that we might just ‘get’ the magnitude and certainty of this most undesirable road to global ruin we’re treading. The Green Movement is finally sexy, financially attractive and cool, now that our survival depends on it, at least as far as larger numbers of us are concerned.

This shot also brought to mind all the RACE hoopla that’s been going on in the US Presidential Campaign, including but certainly not limited to endless playback of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons, Geraldine Ferraro commentary and most notably Sen. Obama’s brilliant Race speech(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWe7wTVbLUU). You see, the subject of race & racism, always brewing just below the surface, periodically & violently raises its head, does major damage, then re-submerges, kind of like Mother Nature. It’s a cleansing of sorts, producing literal and figurative dark clouds from which we can always, if we’re open, glean silver linings.

Some of our Mother Nature challenges are of our own making, as are our strained race relations. When & how will we step up, individually and collectively, to resolving these life-altering issues at their root, to transforming our dire situation with thoughtful intention & powerful action for healing ourselves and our world?

These challenges are urgent. As Sen. Obama has quoted Dr. King, “Unity is the great need of the hour.” What small or large step can any of us take to return to a civilized culture and world? Reduce our carbon footprint? Tell our politicians that strategies that emphasize ‘unify and triumph’ are superior & preferred to those that seek to ‘divide & conquer’? How can we work WITH Nature, Mother and our own intrinsic, to BE the beauty and calm after the storm?

When Life Gives You Lemons…

Another interesting week in our lives, demonstrating to the world the beauty & tragedy of our free-spirited, enterprising, conflicted, zany US culture. The Spitzer-Dupre Scandal has caught the attention of the general public and media in a way that’s very familiar, reminiscent of Britney Spear’s child custody drama a few months ago. Another young woman attempting to navigate a complex world, making some questionable choices, then having to deal with the unforeseen consequences. Quite a few lemons we seem to have here, huh?
Well, we’re divinely human and so we all make mistakes…that is, sometimes take actions that have unintentional & undesirable results. The pivotal issue revolves less around our falling down, but rather around our recovery. Do we make lemonade? Every great breakdown provides the opportunity for a tremendous breakthrough, if choices more aligned with our true desires ensue.
Take for example Britney Spears’ Piece of Me video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuBrSmirI9c). I submit that it represents a keen genius of sorts in the lemon-lemonade realm, a clear demonstration of making hay out of what some would consider misfortune. Having paparazzi continuously tailing you has got to be one of the worse things imaginable, having no real private life what so ever, every action you take scrutinized to no end. No wonder Michael Jackson moved to the Middle East.

But check Britney, she made a successful racy video about her privacy-free and oh-so-lucrative existence. Hey, don’t hate the playa, hate the game! I first heard in January about Piece of Me on NPR, a most unlikely outlet to cover the pop culture icon’s travails, go figure! To be more NPR-credible & less tabloid-ish, the piece focused on a Brit ballet, Meltdown, that was inspired by Britney’s ongoing melodrama of a life (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18582314). The icon’s also, in another NPR story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18255087), been described as her own multi-million dollar ‘industrial complex,’ a recession-proof economic engine. Wow!

For me, these situations bring up an important set of questions: what celebrity can any of us achieve in this life and how do we CHOOSE to use it? Like Oprah, Bono, Angelina & Brad, even Barack Obama or like Rush Limbaugh, Brittany Spears, & Flav-o-Flav? These folks are getting way more than 15 minutes of fame. The question is, whether 15 minutes or a lifetime, what message would any of us want previous, current & future generations to take away from our moment(s) in the Sun? What do WE want for ourselves, like if the NOW us could converse with the 10 years older FUTURE us? Or the 10 years ago PAST us? Our all of these SELVES dishing together at once? How’s that for a 360-degree perspective?
Perhaps we can all work on developing a consciousness that makes this consideration unconsciously nearly flawless, automatically informing the words & deeds of our most simple, noble & elegant desires, kind of like the grace & ease with which our healthy hearts pump and our vibrant lungs breathe. How charmed does that sound to you?

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