Can Film Change the World? Submit Yours for Pangea Day & Find Out

There's no question that a number of films have inspired and challenged people all over the world, and now that pretty much anyone with a camera can create something and share it with others -- thanks to sites like YouTube -- there's ever more opportunity for us to learn more about each other and come together to help transform the world into a compassionate, sustainable, peaceful place.

The people behind Pangea Day hope to harness the power of film to do just that. They have 3 goals for their event:
  • to bring together people from all over the world on one day -- May 10, 2008 -- to share the experience of inspiring films, music and speakers
  • to use "the power of film" to help us all understand one another better
  • to form a "global community" that can work together to create a better future.
Right now, Pangea Day organizers are seeking people to share their stories through film. The deadline for submitting films is February 15, 2008.

The Pangea Day website includes sample films that the organizers have found inspiring, as well as all the submission and event details.

What a great opportunity for humane educators to share their stories and promote the power of humane education!

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Humane Education Issues in the News...

Bosphorus University in Turkey opens new Peace Education CenterBianet (12/24/07)
Bosphorus University in Istanbul, Turkey, has opened a Peace Education Practice and Research Center. The purpose of the center is to offer educational materials, organize peace education opportunities, give seminars on “peace journalism” and conduct/publish research on peace issues.

Middle school students honored for activismThe Courier-Journal (12/23/07)
Students from the St. Francis of Assisi school’s Committee on Conscience were recently honored by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum for their work in promoting and supporting social issues.

EU Government to promote media literacy for citizens - China View News (12/21/07)
Based on results from a recent survey of EU citizens regarding their media literacy, the European Commission has decided to emphasize improving the media literacy of EU citizens.

Halifax universities increasing environmental ed opportunitiesThe Daily News (12/21/07)
The number of courses, programs and degrees focusing on environmental studies and sustainability are significantly increasing at universities in Halifax, in order to keep up with interest and demand.

Portland State University commits to hiring more “green” facultyThe Oregonian (12/19/07)
In order to increase PSU’s (and the city of Portland’s) reputations as sustainable leaders, PSU plans to hire up to 10 faculty with expertise in sustainable issues.

New York State launches kids conservation magazine to connect students with natureNYS Department of Environmental Conservation (12/18/07)
Fourth grade students in New York public schools will receive a special gift three times a year. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation has launched Conservationist for Kids, a magazine designed to “encourage children to reconnect with the outdoors and the natural world.” The magazine’s website will also offer resources for teachers.

Group turns gardening into lessons about food, interconnection – Paly Voices (12/14/07)
Collective Roots, a nonprofit group, has spent the last seven years using organic gardening to teach K-12 students about nutrition, the source of their food, and the impact of their choices on the environment.

Elementary students learn media literacy skills in the classroom - Herald Online (12/6/07)
Fourth graders at Orchard Park Elementary school learned about dissecting ads, comparing ads with the actual products, looking for deceptive techniques, and other media literacy skills.
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Winter Solstice

It was Solstice just the other day, the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere, but also the time when longer days resume, a strange conflation of darkness and coming light.

I have just returned from an emergency visit to my father-in-law. A couple days ago, doctors told my husband that his 92-year-old father was in kidney failure and had just days to live. Today, he is clamoring to get out of bed (and doing so), reading the newspaper, and heartily eating. Life is unpredictable. As is death.

We live in dark times. Or do we? There’s no doubt that we face dangers unprecedented in human history. The ice caps are melting. Species are disappearing faster than we can identify them. Human slavery is on the rise. Resources are dwindling. Institutionalized animal cruelty causes tens of billions of sentient animals to suffer horribly. All true. All dark.

But just as my father-in-law defied the dire predictions this week, so too may the challenges we face be met not with catastrophe, but with positive change and creativity. I believe that our personal challenge is to meet the dark with our own light – our wisdom, our compassion, our courage, and our commitment, and thereby transform the perils we face into opportunities.

As the year turns and as the light returns, may you bring forth your light to this world that needs you so.

~ Zoe, IHE President
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Filmmakers Use Comedy to Explore the Multiracial Experience

Many people probably still remember the controversy over comedian Michael Richards' use of the "N" word on stage. Radio host Don Imus, fired over his use of racial slurs, has recently been rehired with another station. What are the limits of who gets to say what?

Crossing the Line: Multiracial Comedians is a documentary that explores the multiracial experience through comedy, pain, healing and power. It analyzes "how mixed race comedians mediate multiracial identities and humor." The film also includes interviews with people like Dr. Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School professor and author of the book Nigger.

Crossing the Line's website offers a 12 minute excerpt from the film (click on the "demo"), which could serve as a useful jumping off point for humane educators wanting to explore issues of bigotry, language, context, boundaries, freedom of speech, etc., with high school and college students.

The film recently premiered in Brookline, Massachusetts, and the DVD will be available to purchase ($299) as of January 15, 2008. The Educational Edition includes a teacher's guide, an interactive activity, extended interviews, and more.

This documentary is the first in a four-part series, with other topics including politicians, shock jocks and rock/rap musicians.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Don't Sweat(shop) the Small Stuff

While our children are all nestled in their beds with visions of sugarplums dancing about, and looking forward to acquiring a whole slew of new stuff that they'll be talking about incessantly with their friends for weeks after winter break is over, it's an excellent time to encourage them to think critically about the people behind all that new stuff -- most of which quite possibly came from sweatshops.

Several sites address issues of sweatshops, child labor and fair trade. A couple that might be especially useful for helping students explore these issues include:

Co-op America’s Ending Sweatshops Program
Information about sweatshops, tips for avoiding sweatshop products, and a sweat-free products guide.

Global Exchange Sweatfree Communities
Information about sweatshop issues, resources and ideas. Their site also has a Sweatfree Toolkit for launching a sweatfree campaign in your community.

National Labor Committee
“Putting a human face on the global economy.” Get personal accounts, photos, news & information about worker conditions around the world.

The NLC also has a new report : “A Wal-mart Christmas: Brought to You From a Sweatshop in China” which details the conditions under which Christmas tree ornaments are made in China. Some of the laborers include youth. The report includes video footage from the factory.

And, for those interested in taking up legislative action against sweatshops, the NLC has been tracking anti-sweatshop legislation in the U.S. Congress. If the Decent Working Conditions and Fair Competition Act passes, it would “prohibit the import, export or sale of sweatshop goods in the U.S.” The bill was first introduced at the beginning of 2007. So far, about 17 senators and 139 representatives have signed as co-sponsors to the legislation. Students and others are invited to write their representatives to ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor (or to thank them for being one), as well as to encourage other organizations to endorse this legislation.

And, of course, IHE has a variety of humane education activities, such as Where in the World, which helps students (grades 9 & up) make connections between what they wear and the conditions under which it's made.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager

Image courtesy of cambodia4kidsorg.
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Humane Education Issues In the News....

Treehugger interview with David Orr - TreeHugger.com (12/17/07)
Educator & environmentalist David Orr (Chair of the Environmental Studies Program at Oberlin College) -- and author of Earth in Mind, which is required reading for IHE students -- is interviewed on TreeHugger.com. This is part 1 of a 3 part interview.

Green charter schools growing; Wisconsin leading the packWausau Daily Herald (12/16/2007)
The newly formed Green Charter Schools Network is focused on nurturing green schools and a demand for more environmental education. CHSN reports that Wisconsin leads the country in green charter schools, with 12. Three green charter schools have partnered with the network to increase environmentally-focused programs in schools.

New journal focuses on sustainable economics – Inderscience Publishers
Starting in 2009, the International Journal of Sustainable Economy (IJSE) will begin publishing quarterly. The goal of this new academic journal is “to publish research papers which analyse all aspects of sustainable economic growth and development and to offer researchers and professionals the opportunity to discuss the most demanding issues regarding the sustainable economy.” The subscription price is high (minimum 470 Euros), so point your students to their university libraries.

Social Justice Academy helps at-risk kids change the world
Inside Bay Area.com (12/16/2007)

"We're trying to address real issues students face on a daily basis….We've created a program where we can incorporate those issues into the curriculum."

At-risk students at San Leandro High School are learning academic skills through “real-life” experiences, as part of the Social Justice Academy. Teacher Ari Dolid started the Academy to help students who don’t connect with traditional teaching topics and styles. Academy students learn about social justice issues through guest speakers and hands-on experiences, and complete a variety of service-learning projects.

Taiwan government passes stronger animal protection lawsTaipei Times (12/15/07)
Recently the Taiwanese legislator revamped the Animal Protection Act, which increases protections for animals and imposes tougher consequences for those who abuse animals.

Senate Farm Bill version passes with some animal protection components – HSUS (12/14/07)
The U.S. Senate has passed its version of the Farm Bill, and it includes a few provisions designed to help protect animals. Those provisions passed include reducing the number of puppies imported for commercial sal, strengthening the federal law against dogfighting, phasing out the use in research of random source dogs and cats obtained through Class B dealers, and delaying approval of food products from cloned animals.
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Witnessing the Power of Humane Education

Last week I offered a mini humane education course for a class of 6th and 7th graders. I taught the students for 90 minutes each morning, weaving together the themes of critical thinking and compassionate choice-making in an effort to help free these students from the influences of advertising, peer imperatives, and desires that eclipse their deepest values, as well as to invite their conscious commitment to examining their lives and creating a better world.

Although I spent many years teaching young people (reaching about 10,000 students annually), I no longer visit classrooms much because I spend my days writing and training adults to be humane educators at IHE. Teaching this 6/7th grade last week was not only a treat, it was a reminder of the incredible power of humane education to raise awareness and ignite dedication to a thoughtful life.

The students' last homework assignment was to each complete a personal MOGO plan that outlined their intentions for how to incorporate what they'd learned into daily choices, future effort at learning, and involvement in actions that lead to substantive changes in the world . On our last day, they shared their commitments. One after another they talked about what they planned to do - simple things like wearing a sweater in the house in winter and keeping the heat down, not throwing their relatively clean clothes in the laundry, eating less meat. They also talked about more involved actions, too, like joining groups dedicated to solving entrenched problems. Every single child shared something he or she was going to do to make the world better, and every child listened attentively to the others. It was beautiful.

Perhaps the most exciting moment came when I asked the students a question about my book, Claude and Medea, which they had read in school. I had urged them, from the first class to the last, to question both me and any information or statistics they would hear or read. I also urged them to express their opinions openly, because all would be respected, whether they were part of the majority or a single voice that disagreed. Many students comfortably let me know that they didn’t think that Claude and Medea’s dangerous and illegal rescue of stolen and abused dogs was the right thing to do. You might think I was disappointed that so many thought that my protagonists had behaved wrongly, rather than just heroically, but I was absolutely delighted. They had absorbed one of my most important points: think for yourself.

When I left after the last class, I was a bit teary. Several students had rushed up to hand me the kinds of thank you cards that make teachers realize that their work matters. But more than that, I was filled with a rare sense of deep optimism. Imagine if all students were offered humane education, given the tools to think for themselves, the inspiration to make a difference, and the knowledge to make good choices. Imagine the problems they would solve and the world they would create. The sooner humane education becomes ubiquitous, the sooner such a healed world will unfold.

~ Zoe, IHE President

Image courtesy of Sleestak66.
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Escape From the Prison of Your Preferences

A couple weeks ago I was listening to a podcast on Vegan.com, featuring an interview with Professor T. Colin Campbell, nutrition expert and author of The China Study. During the conversation, Dr. Campbell stated that people are “prisoners of our taste preferences.” He said that most people can’t imagine changing, but that, given time, we often come to prefer our new choices and can’t believe that we liked things the “old” way.

Dr. Campbell was referring to our food preferences – which often develop from how we were raised and don’t necessarily have a logical or healthy basis for existing. The same is true with ALL our choices: based on habit, convenience, or cultural pressure, we make the same choices again and again. And because those choices have become familiar, comforting, convenient habits, we balk at making different choices – even if those choices are healthier and more humane for people, animals, the planet, and ourselves. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can escape from the prison of our preferences by making changes in our daily choices. Then those new choices become new habits, then our new preferences, and the old habits fall away….and we can’t imagine why we were ever tied to them to begin with.

I grew up a meat, potatoes and canned fruits & vegetables girl. I couldn’t imagine eating any other way. Once I became vegan, I began to explore a variety of foods – both those new to me and those that had previously been on my “yuk” list – and I developed a preference for this new way of eating. Now I can’t imagine going back to the “old” way, especially when my new preferences promote health, sustainability, and compassion for all. I can name dozens of other ways I’ve escaped the prison of my preferences – from the stuff I buy (or don’t), to the people I befriend, to how I communicate with others, to how I spend my time. I have broken free of old, destructive preferences and have joyfully embraced new, more positive ones.

Having preferences is a good thing, as long as they support and nurture peace, justice, sustainability and compassion. Grab those chains and begin breaking free of those preferences that don’t support your deepest values!

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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WebSpotlight: The Story of Stuff

"Our enormously productive economy...demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption...we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate." ~ Victor Lebow, retailing analyst

All the interconnected issues surrounding our stuff -- where it comes from, how it gets to us, why, where and how we buy it, what happens to it after we're done with it -- can be quite complicated and confusing. Sustainability expert Annie Leonard has created The Story of Stuff, a 20 minute flash movie that condenses the story of our stuff -- from extraction to production to distribution to consumption to disposal -- into a powerful and understandable package. With little "pencil" animations created by Free Range Studios, Leonard explores the artificially-created love affair we have with shopping and our stuff, the degree to which it is destroying our planet, our communities and our future, and what we can do to transform this destructive cycle into something positive and sustainable.

The website includes an annotated/footnoted script, so that people can verify the accuracy and sources of the facts and statistics she shares, and the movie can be viewed all at once, or by segments. The site also features a large resource section, with book suggestions and links to common ground groups, as well as a blog, and a list of 10 Little and Big Things You Can Do to make a positive difference.

The Story of Stuff is a great tool for anyone wanting to learn (or teach) about the impact of our consumer culture.

~ Marsha, Web Content & Community Manager
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Humane Education Issues in the News

Tiny Maine college is the greenest in the land - Plenty Magazine (12/11/07)
The College of the Atlantic, a small college (300 students, 35 full-time faculty) in Bar Harbor, Maine, has been receiving a lot of press lately for its new celebrity as a "national model for environmentally-committed institutions of higher education."

New York City council member pushing for NYC schools to “teach animal rights.”New York Sun (12/10/07)
NYC council member Tony Avella has submitted a resolution that, if passed, would require NYC schools to comply with a 1947 law that requires state schools to educate children "the humane treatment and protection of animals and of the importance of the part they play in the economy of nature."

Florida teacher brings respect for nature, exploration of the natural world into her classroomUSA Today (12/9/07)
Florida teacher Jill Putney is profiled for her creative “hands-on” approach to teaching her fourth grade students, and for integrating respect for the natural world and critical scientific exploration into her lessons. (Note: It’s interesting that some of the comments bash the teacher for promoting a “narrow political view” in the classroom.)

Vermont student group works for global social justiceThe Times Argus (12/8/07)
Community members in Montpelier, Vermont recently learned a great deal about child soldiers, thanks to a student-led class which focuses on positive activism. The group shared information and “take action” ideas for stopping support of countries that use child soldiers.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Human Rights for All?

Today is International Human Rights Day, which marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As much progress as humanity has made in establishing and maintaining rights for others, we have only brushed the surface of ensuring equal human rights for all.

Surprisingly, too many people still think of slavery as something abolished with the U.S. Civil War; too many still make daily choices that support sweatshops, child labor, racism, oppression and other acts of injustice.

One of the ways you can help promote human rights is to teach others about human rights issues. IHE has a number of activities and lesson plans regarding human rights issues. Samples include:

Do You Want Slavery With That?
Modern slavery is still ubiquitous. Students hear about it from the slaves themselves (through their stories) and consider what they can do to help.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.
Time: 60-90 minutes

Human Rights for All?
This activity familiarizes students with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and inspires them to think about the freedoms they enjoy that others cannot.
Recommended for grades 9 and up.
Time: 30-45 minutes


Find more IHE activities/lesson plans on human rights issues.
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WebSpotlight: Video as a Tool for Human Rights

One of the most powerful media tools in working toward a more compassionate, sustainable world -- and in educating others -- is video. The human rights organization Witness is taking advantage of the power of citizens to film and share video related to human rights by establishing The HUB, "the world's first participatory media site for human rights." Through the site, individuals and groups can upload, share and view videos related to human rights issues and abuses, in order to increase public attention and action.

The site is in its Beta version, and thus still has a few bugs. The easiest way to find relevant videos seems to be to select a human rights issue from the drop-down menu and browse the choices. Some of the video clips can be quite graphic, so previewing for age-appropriateness is essential. And, since anyone can upload a video, veracity isn't guaranteed. Still, humane educators may be able to find useful content here.

For those interested in video advocacy, Witness has a training section on video advocacy, including a free downloadable "how-to" book.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Call Me Citizen

I’ve been called a lot of names throughout my life, but one that continues to make me cranky is “consumer.” According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to consume is to “do away with completely”; to “destroy”; to “spend wastefully” or “squander” or “use up”; to “waste or burn away.” Yes, I know it also means to “utilize as a customer,” but that’s the fifth and last definition given. The whole of my life is not about buying and using stuff, so why should I be identified by only one small piece?

I wonder about calling all of us consumers. Yes, we consume; but, if we identify with BEING a consumer – if everyone from the government to the media to retailers refers to us as consumers -- then are we going to be more likely to fall into the self-fulfilling prophecy of consuming more than we normally might? Will we choose the “save the planet by buying green stuff” route, which doesn’t begin to solve our global problems? Will we care a little bit less about those around us and the impact of our choices? Studies have shown that people rise (or fall), according to the expectations given to them. If we embrace a culture of consumerism, is that who we become? Is that all we become?

I prefer citizen. Citizens are members of “a state” or inhabitants "of cities and towns." Citizens do much more than consume (at least, that’s the implication). Citizens participate in their communities; citizens demonstrate leadership and take active part in building a healthy, sustainable, compassionate world. Consumers lay waste to their surroundings. A person can be a citizen who purchases products and services. But a citizen is so much more.

So, call me citizen. (Or at least, stop calling me consumer.)

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Be the Change! Video Contest

Thanks to the growing prevalence of online social networking and user-generated content, more people have the power to share the good they're doing with others. QuantumShift.tv and its many "action partners" want to take advantage of the actions young people are taking to make a positive difference in the world by sponsoring a Be the Change! Share the Story! School Video Contest. Teams of students from the U.S. and Canada in grades 1-12 are invited to participate by developing an environmental or social justice project and submitting 2 videos about it. (Deadline for the first video is January 31, 2008.)

Grand prize winners in each category receive $50,000 in cash & prizes for their schools.

Find out more.

This is a great opportunity for humane educators working in schools to promote positive action.

~ Marsha, Web Content/Community Manager
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Statistics

In the book, The Myth of Progress, author Tom Wessels shares the following from Bjorn Lomborg's The Skeptical Environmentalist:

"Discussing forests, Worldwatch Institute categorically states that the world's forest estate has declined significantly in both area and quality in recent decades. As we shall see in the section on forests, the longest data series from the UN's FAO show that global forest cover has increased from 30.04 percent in 1994, an increase of 0.85 percentage points over the last 33 years."

Well, that’s certainly a surprise, isn’t it?

But Wessels goes to the source of Lomborg’s statistic (the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization) which defines a forest as: “any site that is greater than 0.5 hectares in size, with trees that reach a minimum of five meters in height and a crown coverage that exceeds 10 percent of the area.” Wessels explains that under this definition many suburban lawns, golf courses, and city parks would be considered forests! Exploring further, Wessel also learns that under the FAO guidelines tree plantations, tree nurseries and even recent clearcuts also fall under the definition of forest “if in time they will grow sixteen-foot tall trees.”

To me, this is another reminder to be very wary of statistics. Whenever we read or hear them, whether they support our personal ideologies or not, we need to question them.

~ Zoe, IHE President
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Connecting With the "Other"

Our students and graduates often have great insights to share on our Online Classroom (our electronic discussion board), and occasionally we like to share their thoughts and views with a larger audience. Recently Petra P., one of our HECP students, shared some especially interesting insights....

"Last month I attended a workshop put on by the Common Bond Institute called 'Engaging the Other.' I understood the conference to be about how to garner greater inclusion between diverse groups. The discussions and experience affected me profoundly. One of the “aha’s” was a panel discussion about spirituality and violence in our world.

"The panel members were well educated, respected and experienced representatives of their religions. Rather than using the word spirituality, the moderator chose the word religion. He defined religion by the origins of the word as Ligare which means to bind, connect. This definition of religion was new to me but made a lot of sense when you consider what religion ultimately does for a person…connects individuals to each other as well as to something bigger…God(s), the Universe, Nature, Oneness. The panel consisted of a Lakota Woman, a Jewish Rabbi, a Buddhist Monk, a Baptist Minister and an Islamic Imam.

"It quickly became very clear that each spoke about their own group in very different terms than when they spoke about the “other” group. Although different speakers did so to a different degree and with different speaking styles, all five speakers distinguished their group from the “other” in the same basic ways. Each spoke very eloquently about the connectivity and “goodness” of their group and the violence thrust upon them by the “other.” When speaking of their own group the tone of voice was soft, melodic, warm and with great understanding; when speaking of the “other,” the tone of voice harshened -- became more staccato, cold and righteous. When speaking of their own traditions and history, each focused upon positive, compassionate and inclusive aspects and examples; when speaking of the history and traditions of the “other,” each focused upon negative, suspicious and exclusive aspects and examples. Although each did so to varying degrees, some with more subtle sophistication than others, each speaker -- without exception -- positioned their own group as the innocent victim and the “other” group as the guilty perpetrator of violence.

"Since then I’ve listened to people talking in the media, in my sisters’ shop, to associates, friends, family and myself, for that matter…and we all use the tone of our voice and the examples we choose to set the stage to create the illusion that our/my group, choice, idea, action, reaction is “good,” “peaceful,” “compassionate,” “rational,” “right,” “necessary,” and “enlightened,” and that the “other” is the opposite: “bad,” “violent,” “hateful,” “irrational,” “wrong,” “unnecessary,” “unenlightened,” etc.

"I’ve been meditating on this for the last month, looking for some understanding. I’ve considered it through the lenses of my limited knowledge about psychology, philosophy, social psychology, anthropology, and neurobiology, finding myriad paths to explain aspects of the phenomena. My initial thought was that I need more education to “figure” it out. But I find that what I am searching for is understanding and synthesis at the most basic level…the human level, which any human being can observe without formal education or language.

"Several things occurred to me about what I witnessed at the panel discussion. First, the information that we choose to focus on determines who or what we connect with. For instance, I have a friend whose husband recently had an affair. When she focuses on her husband’s affair she hates her husband, wanting a divorce; but, when she focuses on the ten great years of their 12-year marriage, their children, and his apology and recommitment to her, she loves him. I’ve been paying attention to my own thoughts and what I’m focused upon when positive or negative feelings or interpretations arise. I am stunned by how quickly a change of focus can change my feelings. I thought I might just be weird, but a friend of mine that attended the conference agreed to try the same exercise, and she had the same results.

"Second, one can’t be connected to everything, nor can we be connected all the time; however, we can always be open to the possibility of connection. There are more people and things to be involved with than there are energy and time. And different people have different styles, needs and tolerances for connection. The question becomes “How does the connection and disconnection occur, and what meaning do we give it?” In monitoring my own connections and disconnections, I found myself to be much more erratic and circumstantial than I would have previously thought. When I’m happy, I’m open to the possibility of connection. When I’m tired, crabby or in a hurry, I connect or disconnect abruptly. I avoid connecting with people about whom I’ve developed negative stories, even if I don’t really know them. I started to notice what voice I used when connecting. And noticing how people responded to me in my various states of connection.

"Third, I can easily observe another person’s behavior, tone of voice, expression, etc. However, there is no way to really know the depth or breadth of another person’s intentions, interpretations, emotions, intellect, experiences or heart. Initially I thought the converse was also true -- that it would be difficult to observe myself and easy to know my own intentions, interpretations, emotions, intellect, experiences and heart. But oddly the reverse was true. A little attention and discipline easily brought about self-observation, but untangling my intentions, interpretations and emotions was difficult. I found myself confused -- wanting to deny, minimize, rationalize and deflect my negativity or blame myself. It occurred to me that the “other” could also be me. So not only do we reject others but we also reject ourselves!

"At first I took these personal experiments quite seriously, but after a while, when I saw all this nonsense going on within and around me, I started to find it quite humorous. I’ve decided to make it part of my daily practice to pay attention to the quality of my focus, connections and observations. I try to remind myself that when I get all fidgety, agitated and anxiety-ridden, that we are all human, and therefore, at the most basic level, we are connected, regardless of our “otherness.” Knowing this gives me serenity, even within the storm."
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