"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Friday, November 26, 2010


From Mahablog, this reflection on Thanksgiving, a bit of Zen wisdom:

First, reflect on all the work that went into putting the meal on the table. This goes beyond just the cooking. There are grocers and truckers and farmers and suppliers of farmers. And all of those people are sustained by food provided by other cooks and grocers and truckers and farmers and suppliers. And don’t forget the non-human creatures represented on the table, from the turkey to the dairy cows and even the bees who make pollination possible. If you think about it, you realize the food in front of you represents a huge web of relationships that spreads across the globe.

Second, reflect on whether you are contributing to the greater good with your own life, and if the work you do is sustaining other people as much as their work sustains you.

Third, reflect on not being greedy.

Fourth, reflect on what food is really about — keeping us alive and healthy.

Fifth, reflect on “attaining the Way,” or realizing enlightenment. . . .

One of the things I like about the Reflections is that it reminds us we are not just passive recipients of God’s Blessings, but that we have received what we need to stay alive through the work of countless people. Further, we have a moral duty to contribute to others in return. In other words, it’s a reflection on how interconnected we all are and that we all depend on each other.

It's not too different from the basic Pagan mindset: we are all connected, we all derive benefit from each other, and thus, we all have a responsibility toward each other. I seem to remember something like that in Christianity, from my childhood Sunday School -- I think it starts off, in one version, "Do unto others. . . ."

There are some who don't feel that way:

The president could speak about Wall Street handing out record bonuses this year -- an estimated $144 billion to a relative handful of people, many of whom get richer by destroying wealth, including assets of state and local government pension funds whose losses we have to make up for with more taxes.

Those bonuses, by the way, are about 2.4 times expected Wall Street profits.

How about a presidential lecture on entitlements focused on Lloyd Blankfein, whose firm's bad bets taxpayers paid off at 100 cents on the dollar? The Goldman Sachs boss whines about making only $9 million last year because of his "sacrifice" and plans an extra-big payday this December to make up for last year.

The president could change the terms of our economic debate by talking about how much the vast majority props up many of those at the very top, starting with Blankfein. He could tell people about the trillion dollars a year of tax favors for corporations and the rich, as documented by the Shelf Project.

There's a basic concept here that apparently has eluded the Masters of the Universe: "enough." I mean, who needs $9 million a year? Who really needs that much money? And what does it say about anyone who expects that kind of "reward" after screwing over millions of people?

And in another vein, the same thing: just note anything that comes from Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Mat Staver, or any of the other voices for the self-anointed "Christian" right: it's not about recognizing our interdependence -- and certainly not about "Do unto others."

And just remember, it's you, your brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, your kids, your neighbors, your coworkers that they're talking about.

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