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Pioneers final

Elizabeth Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, & Lucretia Motts

Would you be willing to trade part of your anatomy for the priviledge of going to school?

For Kakenya Ntaiya, this was not a hypothetical question. It was her reality. She tells her astounding story in the Ted talk below.

 

Just the expressions written on the faces of those children, before and after, tell the story. I replayed that footage again and again. 

It made me deeply grateful for the myriad of choices available to me, for the brave women who laid the groundwork for such freedom, and for the presence of strong women in my life — my family, my friends, my professional mentors.

Yesterday was Labor Day. It was a day to reflect on the work we do in this world and the impact it has on others. It was an opportunity to consider how we are supported and sustained by the labor of others.

Today I am thankful to get back to the work.

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This post was my submissions for Kozo Hattori’s Monthly Peace Challenge for September: “Let’s inundate the internet with a peace collage of powerful words and images.”

b4peace

b4peace

I have been away from home for a (WHOLE!) week. When I came in my office this morning I open both doors to get some life back into the air that had staled.  The summer semester is over and I had a morning to luxuriate in free time, so I decided to catch up on my blog reading.

I was delighted to discover that Music and Peace is the topic of Kozo’s Monthly Peace Challenge for August.  What a great invitation to pause and ponder what peace sounds like.  There is a fabulous array of interpretations that have been posted on his site, from classics like Edwin Starr’s War (from Many Little Drops) and Cat Steven’s Peace Train (Dianna’s choice)  to modern versions of familiar favorites like Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Claudia‘s pick). I’ve also discovered new treasures like Deva Primal, Moola Mantra (on Leigh’s playlist).  Good stuff!

After listening to the wide range of songs that said “peace” to others I sat here thinking about what songs meant “peace” to me. While I was busy with that mind jazz, a joyful noise breezed in unnoticed through the open doors.  It was the soft, but persistent sound of the cicadas.  Their clicking rhythms swelled huge enough to overcome the noise of my own mental chatter. It continued growing, filling in the spaces between the trees. The rhythm abruptly synchopated before dissipating. In the short rest that followed I heard the faint susurrus of the ducklings. A hawk called out from somewhere in the sky and momma duck added her voice to the mix. Call and response. I am here! I am here! I am. I am.

And that is how those durn ducks managed to work their way into yet another one of my posts about peace.

Back to the human music…

I’m positively giddy to be back home, which might be why all the music I’m drawn to today is peaceful in an exhuberant sort of way, like this rendition of Imagine:

…and as a child of the 80s, We Are the World resonates with me as a peace activist sort of song, so I was delighted to find this recently updated version:

Then I found a hardcore version of a peaceful song El-D favors:

And this afternoon Skattur showed me this little singer passionately crooning peaceful Elvis songs…

Her song starts around :59 seconds in, but the whole video is well worth watching.

 

What songs speak peace to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kozo at everyday gurus has issued June’s Monthly Peace Challenge, the topic of which is Peace at Home.  This is my contribution.  I hope you enjoy!

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I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now.  How this book wound up in my life is its own story of synchronicity. After I was hired sight-unseen for a teaching gig I hadn’t been seeking,  I discovered this book was on my predecessor’s syllabus. I mentioned this a few weeks ago to a friend who had popped in for lunch.

“I think I need to read this book.” I said.

“Oooh! Goosebumps.” she said, ”  I have that book in my car right now. I knew it was meant for donation — I just didn’t know it was meant for you.”

She had planned to run a few errands following our lunch, which included dropping off a few items in donation.  The book was in her donation pile.

Let me tell you, I am learning that now is very powerful indeed.

So this week I was reading a chapter about using and relinquishing negativity. Early on in the chapter Tolle discusses the problem of negativity,

Negativity is totally unnatural.  It is a psychic pollutant, and there is a deep link between the poisoning and destruction of nature and the vast negativity that has accumulated in the collective human psyche. 

You might imagine my delighted surprise when I came to a passage about ducks.  When I read what Tolle had to say on the topic I had to laugh.  He starts with….

Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons.  Just watching them is a meditation.  How peacefully they float along, at ease with themselves, totally present in the Now, dignified and perfect as only a mindless creature can be. 

–Eckhart Tolle

This man has obviously not met my ducks, I thought and closed the book.

You see, earlier this week we had a duck fight.   One of the bad boys, Myrrh, started it.  He grabbed ahold of poor Hiram’s neck with his bill, forcing Hiram to retailiate by grabbing Myrrh’s neck and the two side-stepped back and forth like they were slow dancing.   It was really ridiculous.  Myrrh then joined his juvenile deliquent brother, Frankincense, in bullying their sister Mistletoes.

Frank & Myrrh

Frank & Myrrh

Finally, after one Mistletoes rape too many, I tossed both Frank and Myrrh out of the pen and chased them to the pond. Aside from the departed baby Penguin, none of the ducks had ever been out of the pen in the great beyond. I told El-D I didn’t care what happened to the hooligans, which was almost true…

…until the next morning when I went outside to see if they looked ready to atone for their ruffian behavior and sexual shenanigans.

The boys were nowhere to be found.  I called El-D to whine about it: I didn’t mean to sentence them to death!  I just thought a little overnight banishment into the great beyond might do something to improve their disposition.  El-D joined me in the search for the missing ducks.  We found them…in the pen. In my indignation the previous day, I had absently left the door ajar and the little jerks had snuck back in. All ducks were present and they were laying around murmuring to each other about whatever ducks murmur about.

ducks 005Ok, so I was happy to see them.  Besides, their little adventure did seem to have a positive effect – they were definitely more subdued. There was no aggression, just companionable communication. I guess a day of swimming and doing duck things in the great beyond wore them out.

So….we decided to experiment. El-D wrangled the guys again, which was quite a show. Each one struggled to get away as El-D carried them out of the pen and up the hill.  As soon as they caught another glimpse at the pond, they became still and quiet.  When El-D released them, they went flapping to the water. At the end of the day, they were easy to herd back to the pen.  The next day, when I opened the pen door the bad boys ambled out on their own…followed by Mistletoes.

When I next opened Tolle’s book, this is what I read:

Occasionally, however, two ducks will get into a fight — sometimes for no apparent reason, or because one duck has strayed into another’s private space.  The fight usually lasts only for a few seconds, and then the ducks separate, swim off in opposite directions, and vigorously flap their wings a few times.  They then continue to swim on peacefully as if the fight had never happened.  When I observed that for the first time, I suddenly realized that by flapping their wings they were releasing surplus energy, thus preventing it from becoming trapped in their body and turning into negativity. 

—Eckhart Tolle

What a lesson in forgiving and forgetting.

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Today all seven are playing outside in the great beyond. At sunset I will go out there and they will make their way to the pen for their cracked corn dinner.  They are as just fancy about this routine as you please and as well-behaved (at least for now) as the Peabody ducks. All they need is a little red carpet.

Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now.  Let it teach you Being.  Let it teach you integrity – which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real.  Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem. 

–Eckhart Tolle

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