Friday, December 16, 2016

How our revolutionary history can shed light on this moment of crisis

We ignore history at our peril.

I spent several days last week in Manhattan visiting a sister who has lived there nearly 40 years or so. In the 25 years that I lived and worked in the DC area, Manhattan became part of our deep bond. We share a love of American history – the real history, not the glorified one we got from our childhood schooling. We traveled together many times – to revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, to historical sites dating back from Jamestown to Yorktown to the Appomattox Courthouse. We learned about the history of slavery and genocide in the east, and the moral and political failures of Founding Fathers, as well as their genius.

If we don’t know about these things, we are missing the context for how we have arrived at this remarkably dangerous moment in our nation.

Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury
Because of the success of the Broadway show, Hamilton, New York City has gone a bit nuts with revolutionary history and millions of people are coming to take it in. Long-neglected historical sites are being visited (like Hamilton’s house which neared disastrous deterioration before it was moved for a second time, this time to a site run by the National Park Service). Various cultural institutions are telling parts of the story through brilliantly curated exhibits, like that of the Battle of Brooklyn at the New York City Historical Society (where I learned a lot I didn’t know before about the beginning of the Revolutionary War) and at the central library where they had some original documents on display that took my breath away – like George Washington’s farewell speech to his officers written in his own hand, and next to it a draft with markings and edits by Alexander Hamilton.

Makes them real. Also makes real the cultural, economic, and political tensions and divides that have been part of this country since its founding days.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reading the "Signs of the Times"

A Message from Margaret Swedish

The Center for New Creation has come to the end of its 2016 fiscal year in a time of cultural turmoil. The year ending has been a transitional one for the work I do under this umbrella – a decision to ground my work more deeply in the urban reality of my city of Milwaukee, to connect the ecology and spirituality focus with the deep-seated reality of racism and segregation (not unique to Milwaukee). I also continue as I have for years now to offer programs that help us root our human existence within the truth of Gaia, a deeply interconnected Web of Life within which we dwell and outside of which we do not exist at all – and that web is in big trouble as we know. The election didn’t help that any.

Copyright : Romolo Tavani
Like a lot of people, I’m worried. I am deeply, deeply worried about where we are in the tumult of the moment, the enormous shifts underway, about how unprepared we are for what’s coming, how hard a time we are having seeing the truth of our predicament. It seems to me a deeper sharing is required, a deeper look into reality than we are getting from the mainstream that sees only in terms of surface dynamics, important as those may be. 

I believe that what we are seeing in this election cycle is not the thing in itself, or a beginning of something new, but rather a reaction to or an expression of the changes already underway – for our planet, the global economy, the demographics of our increasingly crowded world – in other words, the shifting of the ground beneath our feet, or the collapse of foundations that have been crumbling for a long time.

The mistake would be to try to repair the foundations. They are collapsing for a reason. The world they have been holding up doesn’t exist anymore.