“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

from the organizers:

“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

1000 Speak for Compassion

“How cool would it be if we could get 1000 bloggers on the same day to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement etc.?
“We could call it 1000 Voices For Compassion.
“Who’s in?
“When: February 20, 2015

“How: Write a post TODAY on your blog or Facebook or Google + or LinkedIn or Instagram or any other social media you use about #compassion. What does it mean to you? How has it affected you? How can we bring more of it to those who need it?

“Really, there are no rules, just as long as it’s about compassion.”

From the Facebook group devoted to this event:

Let’s get 1000 bloggers to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgment, care for the environment etc, and ALL PUBLISH ON THE SAME DAY (Feb 20th) to flood the Blogosphere with GOOD! Use the hashtag #1000Speak to promote this event.

I am one of the more than 1000, today.

My post about compassion:
As many of you know, I am a Buddhist (in this and many lifetimes, apparently) in the Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma tradition. During the many times I’ve listened to teachers speak and I have read the writings of others on topic of compassion, the definition of compassion is what stays with me consistently. According to Buddhism, compassion arises spontaneously within us and moves us to do our best to alleviate the suffering of others.

For me, the companion to this definition is the Buddhist view of love. In the Buddhists’ view, when we feel authentic love, we are moved to speak, think and act in ways that would be most likely to bring about the circumstances that generate happiness for the object of our love and do our best to prevent their being unhappy, even when it means we put them first, above ourselves.

Furthermore, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has been quoted repeatedly, as other teachers before and around him have, also, as giving advice along these lines: “If you want to be happy, focus on helping others be happy.”

Add in the multiple lifetimes component, or karma, and we hear this advice repeatedly throughout Buddhist teachings: “If you want to discover what your past lifetimes were like, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words. If you want to plant the seeds of your future happiness, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words.”

NOW is what matters most.

Dalai Lama Compassion

Then, there are the instructions and advice for daily living that arise from teachings on The 6 Paramitas (usually translated as “6 Perfections”), such as Pema Chödrön, an American woman who became one of the first Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns, teachers and authors, spoke about in The Places that Scare You, page 98

THE SIX WAYS OF COMPASSIONATE LIVING
Generosity. Giving as a path of learning to let go.

Discipline. Training in not caushing harm in a way that is daring and flexible.

Patience. Training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed. If waking up takes forever, still we go moment by moment, giving up all hope of fruition and enjoying the process.

Joyful enthusiasm. Letting go of our perfectionism and connecting with the living quality of every moment.

Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.

Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). Cultivating an open, inquiring mind.

The Places that Scare You cover

Putting that all together has given me a great blueprint for my life. I base my minute-by-minute and larger decisions on determinations of how I can be most effective in helping others be happy, especially those I love, by practicing the 6 Paramitas. I combine that with seeking what I am able to accomplish that might help alleviate others’ suffering, even that of strangers or beings I do not know or come into contact with in my current circumstances.

With those aims in my heart, I make it my daily spiritual practice to try to live my life imbued with compassion and love for others.

I frequently fail.

I am impatient. I am selfish. I get angry. I am self-centered. I forget my aims. I lose sight of my heart-centered, larger goals by getting trapped in minutiae and short-term satisfaction. I want what I want and too often I see everything as a zero-sum game I am determined to win. I have been trained in these values, these behaviors and these perspectives: they are second-nature to me.

That’s the reason it’s called spiritual practice: we have to keep trying, keep re-dedicating ourselves to the attempt, moment by moment, day by day. These attitudes do not come naturally to me; I was not provided with a lot of role models on how great it is to be kind, to be generous, to be diligent, to be focused on others’ happiness, to put myself second. I have to strive more sometimes than others, but I usually have to try. Hard.

It is difficult. Scary. Frustrating. Discouraging.

But, I am resolute. Committed. Determined. I have taken vows to this effect, starting with the most basic vow that all Buddhists take, the vow not to harm.

My best moments are characterized by a look back, comparing it to now, and noticing that I haven’t had to put in any effort to feel and act in compassionate ways. When these urges arise spontaneously, I am even more joyful. I know I have had a successful moment when the love I feel for someone really does inspire me to be unselfish and put them first.

When embodying the 6 Paramitas as best I can is making others as well as ME happy, it’s a good moment, a good hour, a good day, a good life.

Excellent moments are surrounded by many in which I am ordinary, selfish and ungenerous.

I re-dedicate myself and continue to practice.

Just keep going

Some days, some moments, my compassion and love practices seem to have taken root.

I hope yours do, also.

Participate in #1000Speak by following this link and the links within the following post.
http://driftingthrough.com/2015/01/16/be-a-part-of-a-movement-1000speak/


Very cool #Author moment report: Last month, as I was writing this blog post and looking for an image via Google’s free images, I put in: “‘Keep Going’ Buddhist,” and what came up?
The book cover for my own book, Volume I, The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything!!! It was pretty far down, but it was there!

It is part of my practice to write Buddhist-themed books with practicing Buddhists as characters, but how did Google know that? Wow!
http://goo.gl/ujmgns

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

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Internalized #Oppression: We All Have It Going On

What is “Internalized Oppression” and why do I claim we all have it going on?

If you have spent a lot of time in political activism, psychological growth, advocating for social justice/progressive causes and feminism, anti-racism, anti-Semitism and other anti-oppression movements of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and continuing, as I have, you would know what I’m talking about and have lived long enough to have unlearned some of the IO we all have. Or, you could have come to learn about IO some other way. If not, or if you’re interested in my perspective and some personal stories, keep reading.

I was first trained in 1977 in Massachusetts via the Movement for a New Society’s (MNS) Nonviolence Activism [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_for_a_New_Society

The members of MNS consciously sought to develop tools and strategies that could be employed to bring about revolutionary change through nonviolent means. The three-part focus of MNS included training for activists, nonviolent direct action and community. The main location for MNS activity was in West Philadelphia. Other locations included Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Tucson, Western Massachusetts, and more….MNS was unusual in combining feminist group process, broad analysis of interrelated people’s struggles including class and culture, and personal empowerment techniques ranging from music and street theater as political organizing tools to Re-Evaluation Counseling.

I was also trained via Re-Evaluation Counseling (RC) in Massachusetts and New Hampshire starting in 1978 and continuing through 1986. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Re-evaluation_Counseling]

RC has ambitious social and environmental objectives, including, “The transformation of society to a rational, peaceful, non-exploitative, classless form world-wide. The preservation of all existing species of life and the re-creation of extinguished species. The preservation of wilderness areas and the creation of a completely benign environment over most of the earth, the oceans, and the atmosphere. The exploration of, and eventually becoming at home in, space.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was part of the “Clamshell Alliance,” a successful anti-nuclear energy group utilizing MNS and RC techniques and principles. We “Clams” prevented the second “tower” of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, power plant from being built. This and many other “affinity groups” like it across the continent worked throughout the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s to dismantle the stranglehold the nuclear energy capitalists were gaining on energy production in the USA and Canada. We have them/us to thank for how few nuclear disasters there have been in the USA due to there having been fewer power plants built than proposed.

Nuclear_power_is_not_healthy_poster

MNS and RC were the grandparents of most modern USA and global social justice movements movements; believe me). Their teaching techniques, training exercises, formats for consensus decision-making, use of nonviolence, understandings of social justice issues and oppression and methods for transforming individuals as well as groups have been incorporated into almost every type of social and political change movement around the globe, including Arab Spring and Occupy.

They taught me about Internalized #Oppression (IO): We All Have It Going On.

Intersectionality thrives via IO, because the overlapping strength of each oppression with insidious inroads into us and each other creates the systemic continuance of them all.

intersectionality
image from http://decolonizeallthethings.wordpress.com

For example, Height-ism. I am short and getting shorter. For a Jewish/Eastern European-roots female born in the middle of the last century, it’s not uncommon. I stopped growing at age 12, at 5′ 1.5″, at which point I was considered somewhat tall. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t going to keep growing, since everyone around me seemed to be, nor that I was short, until we were being arranged in poses for photos for the high school yearbook in the beginning of my senior year (I know; how could I not know? Well, I just wasn’t thinking about my height). People kept telling me to “get into the middle” or would call out: “Short people in front,” pushing me forward. I looked around in shock: “Oh! I really am short!”

I then spent the last four decades comparing my size to many other people’s and always being shocked at who else was actually my size or smaller, because they all appeared to be SO SHORT but I didn’t see myself as that short. In my inner voice, I was contemptuous, ridiculing, and otherwise snobbish about their smallness, as if I were magically exempt from such derision. Luckily (?), I kept these thoughts to myself.

Randy Newman (amazing singer-songwriter and social commentator) did not keep HIS thoughts to himself. We should all be grateful to him…. We need to laugh, sometimes, at how ridiculous prejudice and bias are, without forgetting how damaging and dangerous these ideas can become when enacted or spoken.

randy-newman-short people

That is classic Internalized Oppression (IO): Version 1) believing ourselves to be outside of/better than/not really representative of the groups we actually belong to, we deride our identity group by condemning other members of it; Version 2) we condemn ourselves for traits considered to be endemic of that group.

With both versions, we perpetuate the cultural and institutionalized oppressions that already run rampant, adding strength to stereotypes and assisting the oppression machine to keep churning out misery. We collude with and give power to the oppressors by “owning” their perspectives. IO is so difficult to uncover or recognize that we actually believe these viewpoints are our own opinions, developed on our own, independently of anyone or any influence: that’s how deluded we are.

So it goes.

How does IO play out? Via sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, ableism, ageism, homophobia/heterosexism, transphobia, classism, etc., oppressions reign supreme. When those within these oppressed groups further and enable the oppressors’ aims in putting us down by loathing ourselves and each other for being members of said groups, that is IO at work.

Example: SEXISM: When women/girls, as individuals of an oppressed MAJORITY, FEMALES, adopt society’s negativity towards females, what happens? We then display “our” views of females by scornfully talking about other females at almost every age (and not just because of differing political positions, intellectual differences or disagreements). Worst of all, IO leads women to be the main enforcers/ perpetrators of some of the worst harm inflicted on female children and other women (genital mutilation, forced child marriage, sex trafficking, bride-burning, foot-binding).

Women/girls who live with unmitigated IO will be motivated to compete unfairly, gossip, spread rumors, backbite, jockey for position, believe in scarcity (zero-sum games) and operate in other ways that undermine each other rather than collaborate and support one another. We “sell out” our own gender in a usually unsuccessful attempt to gain favor from men or stand out as superior to other women.

IO rots “sisterhood,” pitting heteronormative (“cisgender”) women against gender-queers and lesbians, motivating lesbians to exclude female bisexuals. IO inspires white women to believe whatever the oppressors tell us if it seems we may “some day” reach feminism’s goals, such as when white men told suffragettes that abolition was “more important” than women’s having the right to vote, that women should “wait our turn”: most white women accepted this.

When women find it acceptable (not speaking up AGAINST this means you find it acceptable) for females to be labeled “bitches,” “whores,” “sluts,” “tramps” and whatever other derogatory monikers current trends are utilizing to put strong, powerful, sexually active, empowered women down, then that is also IO operating within and among us.

Tina Fey anti-sexism
image from http://www.hercampus.com

IO is in place when a coach tells a mixed-gender or all-male group of athletes to “stop playing like girls,” and the girls on the team or at the location spew hate on the weaker members, continuing the damage caused by this coach.

When mothers, female teachers, any females who interact with young people, dichotomize the children based on supposed gender-based traits so that the girls are positioned by other females as less important, less competent, less valuable, and are forced to be less active or presumed to be less able than the boys, that is IO in action.

Example: RACISM: Racist IO occurs when those from oppressed ethnic/racial groups have “oppression derbies” to evaluate (usually not in public, but with social media, increasingly in public) the relative status of each individual of that group by applying arbitrary, oppressor-based criteria. Furthermore, we devise ways to determine who has the least number or degree of whatever traits of that group are currently despised (curly hair, darker skin, slanty eyes, large noses, thick or thin lips, argumentative/interrupting speech patterns, accents, higher intelligence or perceived skills in particular areas, glasses, other physical features such as stature, body type, breast size, etc.). Then, we assign higher value to those who “pass” or who are taken for NOT belonging to that group over those who display more/stronger group-identified traits. IO wins, there.

no racism
image from http://www.sodahead.com

IO manifests when Black people tell themselves or others (or have TV shows/movies/ music videos/ books which demonstrate) that “lighter skin” is “prettier” or straighter hair is “more professional.”

Best first-read to unlearn racism? A classic, by Professor Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”
http://www.artsci.washington.edu/natsci/Search-committee-materials/unpacking-invisible-knapsack.pdf

ETHNOCENTRISM/ANTI-SEMITISM: When Jewish families determine that their child’s teenage nose is “too large” and encourage or require their child (usually a female) to have plastic surgery to “fix” (break and reshape) their noses, that is IO imposed by the parents onto the children. Similarly, hair-straightening, skin-lightening, lip-thinning or plumping and other feature-changing attempts all stem from some type of racist/ethnocentrist IO most of the time.

Example: ABLEISM: Those with different physical/mental abilities or disabilities position ourselves “above” as many others classified in this way as possible, striving to be seen and appreciated for our strengths, but not giving that same respect and value to those we place “below” us. This classification of individuals within an oppressed group by members of that group is also classic IO in action: we do the oppressors’ work for them.

When a paraplegic calls a quadriplegic a “crip,” that is IO. When we who are older and becoming more hearing-impaired respond with impatience to someone else who can’t hear well, or are self-deprecating about our own inability to hear clearly, that is IO.

AGEISM: When adults presume younger- or -older looking people are teens or elderly and therefore treat them with less respect, that is oppressive. When WE, as members of a targeted age group, have similar negative attitudes because of someone’s actual or presumed age, IO is taking charge.

Telling ourselves (and anyone else) that we/they are less capable, worthy, competent or otherwise valuable because of our/their age (whatever it is) is also IO at work.

HETEROSEXISM: When gay men deride other gay men for being “too faggy” or a “flaming ‘queen,'” or lesbians call other lesbians “bulldykes” or “lipstick lesbians” based on their appearances, that is IO. Being down on ourselves as bisexuals, believing we are “unclear” or people who “can’t make up our minds” means IO has taken over.

Some people believe that oppressed groups can “reclaim” derogatory labels, like “nigger,” “dyke,” “fag,” “kike,” “bitch,” “‘ho'” and others by using them among “ourselves,” but I strongly disagree and so do those who work within the oppression-reduction movements. Using the slave-owners’ terms for the slaves among the slaves does NOT “empower” them: it makes them colluders.

WordsThatHurt
image from http://goodmenproject.com

You don’t “liberate” a derogatory term by using it repeatedly. Instead, we give the oppressors and bigots permission to use horrible names for us publicly and strengthen those terms’ cultural importance because we use those names, too. I don’t use them at all, anymore.

IO gets its main power from us. When we hear messages repeatedly that we aren’t “good enough,” regardless of who we are and how we look, from advertisers that want to sell us products to “make us look better,” these messages creep into our psyches. We then exacerbate and facilitate this brutality onto our own self-esteem when we buy into the ideas that we aren’t attractive because of IO operating on our subconscious.

Example: AGEISM and SEXISM plus LOOKS-ISM: Women and men do not “need” to remove body hair to be “attractive.” Believing that body-hair-free men or women are “sexier” is a social construct, one not followed by most of the world and only recently followed even by modern adults. Body-hair-free adults look more like pre-pubescent children. How is that look perceived as “sexy” by anyone who is mentally healthy?

What can we do to eliminate or reduce Internalized Oppression?

Perhaps you’ll be willing to go on a hunt, excavating your own internal messages and searching for those that are oppressive in order to eradicate or neutralize them. I hope you will.

no isms allowed
image from http://www.industrialantioppression.blogspot.com

Read! Listen to Podcasts or watch videos on this topic: there are thousands of ways to recognize and then unlearn the messages we have internalized that build onto institutionalized oppression.

self-worth
image from http://ink361.com
PEGGY McINTOSh’s article

If your self-improvement efforts are not immediately successful, don’t be discouraged: it can take decades to “unlearn” the oppressive viewpoints which have been inculcated into us all. Just keep trying to notice them and not believe them: that’s a great start. Also, if there are workshops, classes, or other opportunities online or in person (better) to unlearn racism, sexism, etc., or to learn about social justice and oppression, please avail yourselves of them.

It’s never too late to become less biased and to learn to advocate more positively for yourself as well.

Next, don’t allow statements that perpetuate IO to go unchallenged. Speak up. Speak out.

Silence = assent is not just a bumper sticker.

oppression wins via silence
image from http://www.decolonizingyoga.com