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Weekly Mindfulness Support - Hooray for Our Side

Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, May 1, 2020! This is a rare and precious day that will never come again. Happy May Day my dear friends.

“There’s something happening here, and what it is ain’t exactly clear.” I love this tune! I always thought the Buffalo Springfield song, “For What It’s Worth” was a Vietnam protest song. I’m glad I looked it up before I started quoting and writing about it. I would have been wrong. Maybe I’m still wrong?

I read that Stephan Stills wrote the now classic in response to the 1966 Sunset Strip curfew riots. The 10 PM curfew came about because residents and business owners were aggravated with late night noise and traffic. The lively younger crowd felt that closing the bars and clubs so early was an infringement of their rights - “There’s battle lines being drawn, and nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.” I get the impression that Stills was suggesting to the youth, and everyone else for that matter, that they press the pause button and get a bigger perspective.

Something else happened within a year of this song that gave a few folks an entirely different perspective of life on Earth. In December of 1968, Apollo 8 made the first ever manned trip around the moon. Until this time, NASA, and the astronauts, had focused only on the moon. No one considered that, when they were two-hundred thousand (plus) miles away from home, they’d be looking back at us. When they did, they saw Earth in a way that no other person ever had. They saw our tiny blue marble suspended alone in the blackness of space.

In the poignant documentary, Overview, astronauts share their revelations. Astronaut Edgar Mitchell called it the “Big Picture Effect.” From space, it is very clear to these adventurers that Earth is our only home. Our little blue planet and all its inhabitants are one interdependent system protected by a paper-thin atmosphere shielding us from the vacuum of space. The one word that was repeated over and over by the astronauts: Fragile.

It was also noted that in the vastness of space, there are no boundaries.

Despite the nonexistence of cosmic boundaries, here on Earth we pencil in subjective walls of refuge. I’m reminded of when I used to play tag as a child. We all knew that the lilac bush was safe, but we could never agree on just how close you had to be in order to be really safe. Whether you had to be touching a branch or just next to it was always in question. Usually it was the oldest, or meanest kid who won the argument. Either that or we’d fight about it so much that someone’s parent put an end to the game. On our fragile satellite, we have created detailed borders and boundaries and rules defining who gets to play and who doesn’t. We have also created other boundaries. But these boundaries aren’t lines drawn in the sand. These battle lines are even more subjective.

Within the confines of our country, we are becoming increasingly more divided on how one should live. We pit ourselves against one another and do our darnedest to seduce the indifferent to join our side. Either you side with the kids who say that you must touch the lilac to be safe, or you side with the kids who support standing next to it.

Once we pick a side, and because all our reasoning makes sense, we tend to march in the street, “singing songs and a’carrying signs, mostly say HOORAY for OUR side!” It’s as if we’re saying, “forget those OTHER people, we’re right, they’re wrong. What they say doesn’t matter.” But it does matter what others say. It matters because we are all in this together. We can’t separate ourselves because we are inseparable – we’re interdependent. We need each other.

In the past, societies have tried to eliminate the enemy only to inevitably find a new enemy. Someone or something will always get in the way. And these obstacles are not to be eradicated or gone around: the obstacles are the way. On our tiny blue ball in space we are responsible for not only ourselves, but also each other. This planet evolved with species learning how to coexist. Those species that fail to learn how to get along, play fair, or those that take too much, go extinct. Our goal is not to win, rather, our goal is to get along. There are no sides.

So, as Buffalo Springfield suggests, “I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.”

In other words, let’s step away from the lilac bush, grab a popsicle, sit down and listen, I mean really listen to each other. Deep down, we all have the same concerns: safety, food, shelter, and the preservation of our rights. We just have different ideas about what that looks like. And that’s OK. Anyone’s reality is just as valid to them as yours is to you.

It’s true that not all kids play fair meow. And that’s too bad for all of us. I know that when someone couldn’t play fair when I was growing up, they weren’t allowed to play, even if they were on my side. But next game, we always let them back in. Maybe we were better at forgiving when we were young?

These divisions that we have created are not boundaries at all. They are fluid opinions that were formed based on how we were raised and the environment we grew up in. If we listen, we may not agree, but at least we will have tried to understand. Who knows?...we may even learn something.

We are all in this together.

I love you and there isn’t anything you can do about it.

Hooray for Us!

Dan

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