Literally!!

Hello Friends,

I often wonder about the power and meaning of the words we use when we speak. Do we tend to say what we think people want to hear? Do we tend to overuse metaphor, rhetoric, or other literary devices that often distract from our original point? Do we attempt to understand the world around us by way of fables and parables because we find the literal lessons to be too off-putting? Do we find it difficult to simply say what we mean, and mean what we say?

Some of the frustration I experience when I think about the coming revolution comes from the fact that we could be accomplishing so much more if we just decided to ACT as passionately as we SPEAK. That is to say, if we started behaving literally. Can you imagine if we all started talking about our dreams and plans and goals and fears and desires and everything else in literal terms? Or even if we just started talking about a fraction of our thoughts in literal terms? I believe it would be a truly incredible shift to see manifested. But we have to remember that if we actually behaved this way, our accountability and our responsibility toward to the Community around us would increase exponentially. We would be forced to consider the well-being of those around us to such an extent that we might actually put their needs above our own. We would do this because we would understand that the realization of individual dreams has such little value unless those dreams can be shared. And you can’t share something with someone unless you understand their desires and needs, and understand how to meet those needs. And you can’t undestand someone’s needs without communicating and connecting with them on the most profound, basic, literal level. And you can’t connect and communicate with the community around you if you can’t speak in truth, if you can’t speak literally.

Sometimes it is fear that keeps us from saying what we mean. We can’t predict how someone will respond to what you are going to say, and we worry that we might hurt, sadden, or anger that person. We are worried we might be ridiculed or shunned for speaking our true position, and we believe that shunning would be worse than the injustice we serve ourselves by not speaking truthfully(LITERALLY).

Sometimes it is pride that keeps us from saying what we truly want. We don’t want to admit how important something is to us. We can’t admit our vulnerability, because we don’t want to admit that we can’t function effectively without someone or something.  We don’t want to appear insufficient and we don’t want to appear weak.

Whatever the reason, it is time for our strange, unsuccessful patterns of communication to stop. It is time for our words to carry all the weight of our beliefs and desires. It is time for our actions to match our words, for our words to match our thoughts, and for our thoughts to be inspired by action. It is time for our lives to become literal manifestions of our hopes and dreams and failures and successes and fears and everything else. It is time to speak what we want to see happen in the world and in our lives and in our relationships, and then ACT to make those words a tangible reality.

Let’s do this together. I want to see a Living Revolution take place on this planet in my lifetime. I want to see equality and natural justice. I want to see Liberty in it’s purest form. I want to be a good father to my children. I want to love and respect my partner. I want to live so there will be no questioning what I believe to be true and right. What do you say? Drop a comment, or write me an email and tell me how we are going to change the world. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Love

Love

Hello Friends,

In my haste to explain and define what I wanted to do with this blog, and how I want to change the world, I neglected the most important aspect of the Living Revolution. I don’t want this to sound cheesy or cliché, but I don’t think we can go much further if we don’t talk about Love. Notice, I did not say anything about defining Love. There are to many abstract variables in human nature to pin down one or even a simple few definitions of Love. For our purposes though, I would like to think of Love as having utmost respect for the wellbeing of those around you, recognizing the goodness and usefulness in everything and everyone. I know that still sounds a little vague, and a bit hippy-dippy, but we can start with that for now and see what we come up with later.

I have written previously about Motivation and the importance of pro-social behavior, but I never really arrived at the heart of what is the driving force of the change that is coming. I think many people hear the word “revolution” and immediately create this image of firebombs, street kids with bandanas over their faces and chaos in the streets. (hopefully these will all be there too, but that isn’t what we are talking about right now :) ).

Generally, when we talk about “revolution” people create a stereotype in their mind of some anarchist punk destroying public property and disrupting the general peace and quiet of Amerikan life. Generally, we don’t consider the root problems that inspire people to behave in such a fashion. We don’t consider what might be so important that a person would willingly put themselves in harm’s way to protect a set of beliefs or a specific, tangible object. Few people think through the process enough to make any valid assumptions about the beliefs and values that might motivate a person to riot in the streets, and fight against the constraints of the dominant paradigm.

I am here to say that our motivation is Love. There is nothing more important to a successful, effective Living Revolution than Love. Our desire to create a world where the well-being of each member of our Community is valued and respected is the foundation for any action we undertake or belief we hold. Our desire to put the needs of the greater whole above the needs of the individual, and at the same time value the contributions of each individual,  are both paramount to any ideology or direct action we may engage in. If our actions are not directed by our desire to make Love a verb, and put our beliefs into action, then we will fail. That is unacceptable.

For too long, those who desire change have dutifully held their picket signs and sent their letters of protest, but the message is not being received by those in control. Now is the time for our actions to make the message so overt, so obvious, so unmistakable, that no one can ignore us. The change we desire will benefit even those whose beliefs contradict our own, and in this way, the Love I am talking about is extended even to those who do not believe it exists.

We get to spread this Love with every direct action we engage in; with every sweatshop that closes because of our protests against exploitative capitalism; with every river that is freed by the destruction of a dam; with every women who can walk the night fearlessly because we have dismantled Western rape culture; with every car that is recycled and rebuilt into bicycles; with every backyard garden, with every potluck, withevery block party, with every intentional community, with every personal conversation in which two people share their dreams and desires and begin planning to see those dreams become reality.

I hope each of you is aware of how blessed and fortunate you are, and I hope you are thankful for all you have. I hope you are also aware of the vast multitude of the world’s inhabitants, both human and not, who don’t have the extravagances you have, and live lives much harder than you will ever know. Tell someone thank you today, and mean it. Spread the Love! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Preventing Play Poses Peril to Pre-pubescents

Hello Friends,

What a nice alliteration, don’t you think? Too bad it conveys such an unfortunate message. I recently read an article in the Oregonian which disturbed me, and I wanted to take some time and give you my two cents on the subject, and hopefully start a conversation.

The Portland Public School system has actually suggested cutting Physical Education classes for a majority of Portland Public schools in the coming school year. Can you believe that? Apparently, there is something like $19 million dollars that will be cut from next years budget, and since many school have already removed their creative arts and music programs, PE classes are next on the docket. Why is it always about the money? Seriously, whose pockets are being filled at the expense of our kid’s education?

This budget cut could potentially eliminate as many as 65 teaching positions, adding to Oregon’s already high unemployment rate, as well as increase the workload for classroom teachers, who would be expected to “offer students the opportunity for movement and activity during the school day”. It can also be assumed that the number of fat kids in Portland would also jump dramatically, and no one really wants that, do they?

All joking aside, how can anyone think this is a good idea? I am not well-versed in Oregon’s tax system, or the trickiness of macroeconomics, but I think it should go without saying that actively preventing children from engaging in physical activity and play, for whatever reason,  is a bad idea.  Because this is an economic and political issue, it also makes me wonder about the effectiveness of a system that would consider taking such drastic negative measures against future generations. It makes me wonder about the intentions of people who were elected as political representatives, and who have power to make decisions in situations like this that can affect the lives of millions of people. It makes me wonder about the profiteers who will, no doubt, benefit monetarily from deals like this. It makes me wonder about our priorities as a community, and question whether we know what is good for us as a species. It makes me wonder, as an advocate for social justice, why it is always the poor schools who must give up their art programs, and their music programs, and their PE programs? It seems wrong on so many levels, doesn’t it?

My son in currently enrolled in his second year of public school. My daughter is attending kindergarten at a publicly funded school. Knowing that they may not be “allowed” any time to express themselves in a physical way worries me. They are both extremely active, and learn best when they can move around and interact with their environment. Physical play also helps balance their energy levels, so they can sit relatively still and pay attention when they need to. I don’t like the idea of my kids being cooped up all day in a classroom, and I don’t think they will enjoy it either.

So, what are some ways we can fix this? How can the people of Portland, on a community level, take direct action to prevent this from happening to our schools? How do we bypass the bureaucracy of city government and contribute to a positive solution that can serve the best interest of everyone involved? I have a few ideas, if you will please indulge me…

1. As parents, or rather, anyone who cares about the physical and mental well-being of a child, we should take some responsibility and make a concerted effort to play with out kids more. Spend time as a family, being active and engaging life on some physical level.

2.  Re-evaluate our methods of mass education and socialization, and see if there aren’t some changes we could make that might be more positive for children who  populate those systems. Perhaps we are not teaching our children in the most effective manner, and perhaps the content of what we are teaching them is not as interesting or intellectually stimulating as it could be. Perhaps, by conforming to some kind of standardization, we are killing their creative spirit, and showing them a skewed way of interacting with the world around them. We need to change all that right now.

3. Change the method of government and economics we practice in consumer capitalism. How is possible that our teachers are paid so little, given the significance of their job? How is it possible, that we cannot tax ourselves appropriately to ensure the community has access to such simple amenities as health care, decent education, and livable wages? How is it possible that the people elected to represent the rest of the community can offer legislature that would surely lead to negative, unpleasant effects for their constituents? We need to change all that right now.

What are your thoughts? Is this happening in other places as well? Do we see this as part of a growing trend of behavior? Are there simple solutions we are not implementing that could prevent scenarios like this? Drop a comment and let me know what you think. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.