One of the books from graduate school that powerfully impacted me was “Blaming the Victim”. I was in a class where I focused my work on shame—collective and individual—and got deeply immersed in how we tend to blame the victim as a way to validate our beliefs and actions. The impact of that class, and particularly the above book, has never left me. It started me on a 40+ year journey of tracking my own internal process of judging and blaming, catching myself when I can and challenging my own rationalizations about what’s happening to people locally and around the world. Even with this practice, I know that there are countless times when I engage in blaming the victim, unaware of my own biases and limiting beliefs.
As I watch the current situation in the United States—and we are not alone in our mistreatment of people we consider to be “other”—I not only feel deep heartache and distress, but am also keenly aware of how vividly a “blaming-the-victim” mentality seems to have captured the minds of those in power. That this stance lacks empathy goes without saying. The deeper problem is that blaming victims allows us to remain unaware of our privilege, of our seemingly justifiable disconnection from the suffering of others. Read More “716th Week: Blaming the Victim”
During the process of putting together my breakfast smoothie for tomorrow morning this evening, I suddenly noticed that I had the face of a cat in my face, paws of more than one cat all over the kitchen counters. I’m pretty strict about cats not being involved directly in my food preparation, but the person who stays with them when I’m out of town clearly has different rules than I do.
What struck me this evening was the depth of humor I inevitably touch into when the cats (I live with three of them) show up when I don’t expect them. The minute I realized that I had a cat’s head and paws in my immediate awareness, I noticed that I was spontaneously laughing and snuggling fur.
This got me to thinking about the benefits of cultivating a sense of humor over life’s inevitable glitches and moments of non-traumatic surprise. So many moments in any given day don’t go how we expect or want them to go. That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t be moments of delight or fun.Read More “766th Week: Cultivating a Sense of Humor”
This week’s practice invites you to consider something that may be second nature to you, or it may be a new idea that seems way out there. One of the ways I move through the world is with the assumption that everything I encounter is conscious—not in the way I am conscious as a human but in the way that is unique and appropriate for whatever it is that I encounter along the way. I guess that’s another way of saying I believe we live in a conscious universe and that it’s impossible for anything that exists to be outside that consciousness.
I also believe that I am in ongoing and inherent reciprocal relationship with all the life around me, and I wonder if you would be willing to bring that hypothesis into this as-if experiment, as well. My belief is that I affect everything I encounter and that everything I encounter affects me, that it’s impossible not to be in relationship with the consciousness of my world.
At the very least, at the most basic level of biology, everything I encounter is comprised of the same kinds of molecules as those that comprise my body. We share an ecology that arises from the same carbon-based life and, even in that most basic way, we are part of each other.
I am also a believer in collective consciousness so, for me, we share not only our common biology but also our consciousness. (You will know from this that I do not believe that the brain generates consciousness…)Read More “873rd Week: An “As-If” Experiment in Conscious Living: Living in A World of Reciprocal Relationships”