Patience first, change after: stop killing us

It is the absence of facts that frightens people: the gap you open, into which they pour their fears, fantasies, desires.

— Hilary Mantel

I like to think of myself as a Buddhist-y individual. Some will pick on my aspiration for zen, but there’s a lot more science to it than magical thinking and karmic cycles. Patience is one of the biggest take-aways from a zen teaching.

I seek to be patient, compassionate, and guided by focus. Patience is most important in all of this because one who is patient with their eyes can focus on an object far away. The object of my focus is to help.

Today, I received the news that another transgender woman was murdered by someone unable to properly cope with shock, fear, and anger. Who hasn’t been there? Were you never afraid of the dark?

We can’t make a survival plan without proper intelligence, information, and understanding of the problems ahead. Fear is common when staring down the dark tunnel. Trans panic is being in the dark tunnel, when the lights begin to wave and flash to life, blindingly bright to the adjusted eyes.

Her murderer chose to turn out the lights, rather than allow their own eyes to adjust. Anxiety, nervousness, maybe even excitement drew their focus on the lights alone, making the tunnel longer. Without patience, they went through the common phases of confusion, a panic:

  1. Confusion
  2. The search for answers
  3. The lack of answers
  4. The upset, the anger, the worry,
  5. The fear
  6. Fight or Flight

It’s not fair. There’s no answer. That makes us angry, and the unknown leaves us fearful.

They lashed out to an excessive degree. Slitting her throat. Stabbing her over one hundred times. The moment of pandemonium inside them never left, even while the intensity was likely lost over their face. They didn’t stop to recollect themselves, they weren’t patiently allowing themselves that patience.

In Buddhism, marvelously taught by the likes of the Dalai Lama,Pema Chodron, and practitioners of meditation across the planet , patience starts within as a small seed of compassion. That’s the Buddha in us, the gift left by Christ, or the basic cell of interconnectedness created by our ancestral DNA, regardless of what you believe in, the science of psychology and the Buddhist teachings within all religions hold true that the ability to do the right thing is inherent, but like a freckle upon one’s elbow, could be missed, due to not practicing patient self-observance.

Some cultures practice fasting. Self-discipline such as the practice exemplifies is another word for patience. This patience is in tandem with a focus, and that is how to start. Building our habits and speaking with patience of others can start us on a better path of treating each other.

For me, I would like to know what others are feeling. I patiently observe their faces. My favorite linguist diligently and tediously made a science of this, tracking emotions and facial expressions across cultures and species.

Dr. Paul Ekman,renowned for this, has been hard at work to breed patience in communication, even educating the Dalai Lama and working alongside the Tibetan Buddhist to create an Atlas of Emotions in order to educate people on what emotions we tend to have, where they come from, how they are expressed, and what hopes we can have of better being together with them.

I am a patient person, but I too need to practice. Please help me do this work by practicing with me. I ask that you begin with visiting the Atlas of Emotions and researching the Facial Action Coding System, and getting to know your family, friends, and neighbors.

Port Jervis: Turning Over a New Leaf

PORT JERVIS – It’s late September 2015, and unseasonably warm. I’m wearing jeans and a black v-neck as I cross Front Street and Jersey Avenue to approach the Gun Lady I was chasing down a story that I had just stumbled upon after a speed bump along my initial path had sent me home.

Maria Mann, the patron saint of the city of Port Jervis, according to a 2nd Ward resident at the time, was running for the Common Council from her ward. Aiming to be picked up by the Republican committee, the female gun shop owner with progressive views and conservative tastes, made the one liberal bone in my body twitch. After chasing scoops and policy change for years at a “progressive” Upstate New York college, I couldn’t slow my haste, and decided to drop in for an interview.

No forewarning, I requested a Q&A session that moment, and she graciously accepted. Conveniently, Maria’s Campaign Manager, Christopher, was there and helped smooth the harshly left-of-center questions back into focus within the city. Maria, didn’t bat an eye at my gay or transgender outward appearance, and neither did he; not only that, but they were genuinely helpful in keeping me informed and without slant in their favor with their info.

Fast forward, the Primaries, like the most recent Bernie Bust, were rigged. At least, that was the unofficial reason that Maria Mann didn’t get her name on the ballot under the red flag. She didn’t give up, and neither did any of her voters, she ran as a write in.

Coming close, Maria would try the tactic of the write-in candidacy one mote time upon the mournful passing of a long-time statesman, Mr. Bell. Another unsuccessful bid by a hair, had honestly left ‘the people’s candidate’ bruised and without her trusted Campaign Manager, or myself for the record as a GOTV and Volunteer coordinator. The job was beyond my availability and expertise, but Maria Mann didn’t need it, because she knew to stick to her guns.

Maria wouldn’t let them forget their choices, their words, and especially not their inaction. Taking action in the name of justice is what accelerated her to the greater public eye in the first place, when she helped in the arrest of the man who had murdered her neighboring shop owner, Mr. Kushner. Her luck, dedication to the city, and persistence paid off.

Monday evening, the Common Council of the city of Port Jervis, with the resignation upon a conflict of interest by Mr. van Horn , filled his seat. The body led by 2nd Ward Senior Councilman George Belcher moved to appoint Maria Mann 2nd Ward Councilwoman beside them. Many celebrated in the city that night.

Looking forward to asking you questions at Council meetings Maria.

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Stay Breezy,
Brienna

Change or be changed?

Today, Google is celebrating the life of Marshall McLuhan with a Doodle. There’s a lot that the Canadian philosopher is attributed to. Let’s begin a similar journey here with his 1969 Playboy magazine interview:

For many years, until I wrote my first book, The Mechanical Bride, I adopted an extremely moralistic approach to all environmental technology. I loathed machinery, I abominated cities, I equated the Industrial Revolution with original sin and mass media with the Fall. In short, I rejected almost every element of modern life in favor of a Rousseauvian utopianism. But gradually I perceived how sterile and useless this attitude was, and I began to realize that the greatest artists of the 20th Century—Yeats, Pound. Joyce, Eliot—had discovered a totally different approach, based on the identity of the processes of cognition and creation. I realized that artistic creation is the playback of ordnary experience—from
trash to treasures. I ceased being a moralist and became a student . . .

The world we are living in is not one I would have created on my own drawing board, but it’s the one in which I must live, and in which the students I teach must live. If nothing else, I owe it to them to avoid the luxury of moral indignation or the troglodytic security of the ivory tower and to get down into the junkyard of environmental change and steam-shovel my way through to a comprehension of its contents and its lines of force—in order to understand how and why it is metamorphosing man…

Cataclysmic environmental changes are, in and of themselves, morally neutral; it is how we perceive them and react to them that will determine their ultimate psychic and social consequences.

For his 106th birthday, Google’s gift is to further immortalize the man, Marshall McLuhan, the man who “saw the internet coming — and predicted just how much impact it would have.”  He delineated history and therefore his own philosophy into epochs: the acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the electronic age. Of this latter age, we still reside in, becoming further and deeper enmeshed in our newest technology than we can perhaps say is true of any other before it, combining the premier artifacts of our existence into it.

Will you change or be the change?

Is the medium the message?

July 2017, and another sheet of ice the size of a great metropolis  collapses into the ocean, and the greatest human artifact that we’ll leave to be found after inevitable cataclysmic environmental change is the computer image, media, and communication and media technologies. Neither George Orwell nor Planet of the Apes author Pierre Boulle, could have seen coming the one thing that could seal the fate of humanity truly, the one thing that Marshall McLuhan is credited to have foresaw. The Internet if surviving our end, will hold the history of how it changed the world forever and what that world once was before it took effect on the information technologies of seniority.

“If we assume that news and truth are two words for the same thing we shall, I believe, arrive nowhere.” – Walter Lippman, 1922

It’s new to me, so it’s news to me! Today however, is the news that we don’t share just as true, or maybe even, more truthful than that we share? We hear the gossip, the rumor, the conspiracy theory, every day, but what are we doing to improve our abilities to read through it and attain its own truth?

If you agree, like, share, and give a comment! How often do we see that at the end of a YouTube video or blog article. Do we try to fit in as much truth as possible? Or are we focusing on a truth, the truth, or a question in which we’re looking for truth?
Is the medium the message anymore?