What Others Are Saying

Before World Peace, World Prosperity, World Harmony, Health, Happiness, etc. & all that other good stuff can be achieved, we will see it first modeled in miniature.

That is, in certain areas, people of  like-minded mentality will start flocking or congregating towards it.

Before the proverbial World Peace, we may first have it in certain areas ~ perhaps first in small islands, villages or towns, or larger cities or countries.  An example might be when a small country models this, and larger countries eventually follow suit.

It may happen spontaneously, or organizationally, or both.

What this does, is to give us a taste, or a contextual field of comparison to experience it in miniature, and this can help us decide what we may prefer to experience as a larger collective.

I’ve not heard of such a place or places yet, but maybe you have?  I do believe there are individuals who do this within their own lives.  This seems more so now, than at any other time in earth’s history/herstory.

Now, if the world truly desired World Peace at this time, we’d put way more education, effort, energy, research & resources toward creating that.  So, on some unconscious, or maybe even conscious level, we simply are not ready or willing for it, and couldn’t even handle it if it did suddenly happen.  Let me give you an example:

Years back, I heard a public radio program where nice,
middle-class couples would take in foster kids, to give them the loving homes they always wanted.  Yet what happened, was that the kids would eventually do things like start fires & create havoc.

I was personally astounded at this!  I thought that kids from a chaotic, dysfunctional environment would love to be in a more financially & emotionally prosperous, peaceful and loving environment.

Yet, what the program reported was that the kids where so used to the negative drama in their lives, that to be moved out of it was kind of a shock, and so they re-created this chaos because that’s what they were used to.  They just weren’t ready or acclimated enough for such a huge change.

I think this can apply to World Peace too.  If we had World Peace tomorrow, we might think it to be absolutely grand; however, we’d be so unfamiliar with it, that we’d go back to creating negative drama again, simply since that’s what we’re used to.

Another example:
Often (not always) people who are too quickly put in certain situations, even desirable ones, are simply not prepared for them. … People who gain fame, wealth, or both, too fast, can have great difficulty adjusting to the suddenness of it all.  People often fair better when it’s more gradual over time.

What do you think?

This is something I think about.  I think about it also in relation to people like many of us, advancing on the spiritual path, who feel our evolution, as a world, is just too slow.

I get that – I feel it too!  The antidote, is to have compassion & love on our unhealed parts or those aspects that are not fully healed.

That does not mean that we can’t be the influencers, instigators, leaders, movers & role models to move this forward.  We can, and this can bring it in more smoothly.

How many people feel deep inner peace?  Or, how many even feel inner peace as a majority of their experience?  If we don’t have our own individual inner peace, how can we expect the rest of the world to?

Many people think there is a point of critical mass, when a certain amount of individuals have inner peace, and it then will spread more quickly, both globally & collectively.

An example of quick, but also gradual movement, is how smart phones spread worldwide. The first iPhones came out June 29, 2007.  That’s only 6 years ago!  People adapted quickly, at least those who could afford them.  Even many homeless people now have cell phones.

I think that as more of us work & play to have inner peace & harmony, and emotional & financial prosperity, this will attract more of that to us.  This will also influence others to find out how we achieved it, and are able to sustain it.

Is this a viable way to look at World Peace?  Will we ever achieve it?  Do we need to?  Is it inevitable, given our evolution?  What do you think?

Marko(Marko Damkoehler is an artist/writer/musician and creator of markoworld.com, as well as an avid student of CwG. He is also one of the Spiritual Helper Moderators on the changingchange.net website.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.)

The magic of happiness

Once the state of being happy becomes our natural state, ‘the Magic of Happiness’ appears. As human beings we usually make our decisions and choices based upon either gaining pleasure or avoiding pain. We are all striving to get to that happy state the easiest possible way. What if I told you that you need to walk through the pain to get to happiness? Would you believe me? Are you ready to do just that?

Sometimes our life seems so complicated with all the things we need to do like meeting deadlines, doing the work that needs to get done, financial losses, illness, depression, death, and all the other stuff that make up our busy lives. Why do we do it all? Why do we get so stressed? What are we doing it all for? The bottom line remains that happiness is our final goal. After all, we just want to be happy.

The truth is that we can either live in a state of stress or be in a creative state. What do you choose? The two states cannot exist at the same time. In a creative state life just flows; there are ups and downs but we are able to roll with the flow easily. Once we are in a stress state we begin to fight what is and we struggle to get through the day. The stress takes away from our state of well being and happiness, and eventually leads to health problems, lack of productivity, and depression.

Get happy! When you allow yourself to live in a creative state, happiness flows. When you are in a happy state the spirit in you can steer you much more easily. The creative state leaves you the second you begin to rush or worry. This is why it is so important to begin your day in a positive state. One happy thought in the morning can change the outcome of your day. How much time and effort are you willing to spend to create a happy life for yourself?

To live in a continuous creative state takes awareness and requires a dedicated focus but can be done. First, the need to take responsibility for our current situation, no matter what it is, is required. There are no victims. Accept that you created whatever horror you are dealing and living with. When you take the responsibility for your life you gain the power to change your circumstances. The second key is to be grateful for what is. The state of gratitude attracts more things into your life that you will be grateful for and puts you in a creative state.

There is magic in everyday life when you live in a constant state of acceptance and gratitude. Happiness begins with the thoughts you think today. Are your thoughts taking you higher or lower on the happiness scale? Only you control your thoughts. You have the power to create the life you desire but are you willing to take the responsibility for where you are right now? Are you willing to take the time and energy needed to train your brain? Only you can open the door to ‘the Magic of Happiness.’

Terri(Terri Lynn is an expert at choosing happiness and using the Divine navigation system which she shares in her first book Journey to my Soul . Currently, Terri is Sales Manager at Otto’s BMW in West Chester, Pa. where motivates and coaches the sales team. Her intention is to share with others the importance of putting happiness first. She shares her thoughts on her Website ‘Terri Lynn’s Happy Talk’ Terri resides in Newtown Square, Pa.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

Remembering 9/11

I find myself engulfed in footage of the day that shook our country to its core; 9/11/01.  Every year at this time, I watch the videos, listen to the phone calls, and remember where I was on that grim day.  For many of us, we can close our eyes and bring ourselves right back to that horrific morning.

Usually, feelings of sadness and empathy would rise to the surface and display themselves in tears rolling down my cheeks.  The images always seemed dark, full of death and despair, and mainly… evil.  This year, as I watch that day play out again on my television, I see and feel something totally different.  What is it?

Truth is… I watch and I see God (Why hadn’t I seen Him in there before?)  I watch and I feel love.

Here’s the thing,  we were all affected on ‘that’ day, but how we reacted was simply amazing.  Society came together  in the name of love.  We became a city, a country, filled with strangers rushing to help strangers.  A massive web of support.  The word ‘Family’ took on a whole new meaning.  As we hugged our own spouses/children/parents as tight as possible, we also opened our arms to our neighbors.  Kisses, tears, appreciation and gratitude poured out of our hearts, sometimes uncontrollably.

We ran to find ways to help our neighbors.  We jumped in line to donate blood.  We adorned our homes, our cars, our offices with ribbons.  Everywhere you looked, you saw the American Flag waving high and strong.

Our lives stopped.

We became quiet.

Strangers became friends.

Cities became communities.

God appeared in our actions.

9/11, although tragic, ignited a fire of love in each and every one of our souls.  A love, unfortunately, too soon forgotten.  So, as I sit remembering, I choose not to cry but rather bow my head in prayer.  I ask you to join me.

I pray that one day our country, our world, will come together in the name of love.  I pray that we will once again be able to look at strangers as the precious lives they are.  I pray that, without hesitation, we will rush to aid our neighbors in their time of need and that they will rush to us in ours.

I pray it won’t take another crisis to make it happen.

I pray for love.

And most importantly…

I pray for you.

Jaimie Schultz(Jaimie Schultz , a/k/a Pajamas, is a fun-loving, passionate, adventure seeker who loves life and loves helping others see how much they should love theirs. She is passionate about all things mystical and out of her control. You can visit her website at www.pajamasnotebook.com)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)



Gold stars and God

I am a recovering self-helpie. I read thousands of books trying to be better and become more enlightened. It was full-time work to become a “guru” and I took it seriously. Feeling broken led me to always find God.  And in a way, wanting to become better and get fixed was a tradition I was taught in church at a very early age. It’s totally cool to want to be a better human being, to grow and evolve and learn from “mistakes” or experiences to change. But it felt heavy. I wanted some sort of a reward. A gold star for all the work I was putting in in becoming “spiritual,” yet no star seemed to be occurring. The more I tried to be helped, the more I felt like I was in need of being fixed. Round and round I went on my own little ferris wheel.  Then something happened. The ferris wheel stopped and I landed on rock bottom hard.

I hated God.  I hated that I wasn’t getting any rewards for bettering myself. I spent so many hours reading all the books to become a “better me.”  And for what? More misery? Screw this! What am I doing all this work for? (As I placed my hand on my forehead in dramatic fashion)

The bottom was hard, but  also oddly freeing.  I didn’t have to be happy, or get better, it already sucked.  When I would usually hear the normal question “How are you?” I would just snuff it off, or try and find a spiritual way of saying “I’m at rock bottom.” But now, on rock bottom, I would simply say “I am not that great.”

Life became easier. There was nothing to attain except getting out of bed and being honest, and it seemed to feel better.  Day by day, I found that there was nothing to become. I didn’t have to be better, I just had to show up to the play called life. Is it this simple? God became funny. God became my playmate. I didn’t need to do anything to get a reward. It’s just a fun game that I get to play and view any which way I choose.

Life is hard. Life is easy. Life is what it is. Play anyway. Doing things to be better and get rewards is not fun. It feels hard. It feels like I was never going anywhere, and always playing hide and seek with my own darn self.  Life is messy. I mess up. I fall down. The world doesn’t end, and laughter is always free. I had my laughter at rock bottom. I had the ability to find the humor even when life truly sucked. Then I saw….

God only wants us to play for the purest reason. Because it feels good. We don’t have to be the best sharer in the sandbox or build the best sandcastle. We simply just need to show up and be ourselves. We are the gold stars.

Play on, my friends. Be the gold star you are so desperately trying to “get”- I triple dog dare you.

Jenny Head SHot(Renowned speaker and author Jenny Ward has been seen across the country bringing play, work/life balance and parent workshops to Visa, You Tube, Merrill Lynch, Girl Scouts, YMCA, Stanford and numerous other corporations and non profits. Her individual clients have enjoyed working with Jenny on single parenting, play, stress eradication and play based parenting for over 8 years. Jenny’s work can be seen on DOVE, San Francisco Times, Today’s MAMA, Nick for Kids, and numerous other publications.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.)

According to the Telegraph, Real-Madrid want to offer a record £200 million plus for Gareth Bale, who plays for Spurs in the English Premier League. Just two weeks ago it was £80 million!

“It is understood that Tottenham Hotspur are holding out for £104 million for the 24-year-old forward who is pushing hard for a move this summer. In addition Real Madrid want to pay Bale a salary of £7.8 million a year – net of tax – over a proposed six-year contract, ” says correspondent Jason Burt.

This doesn’t include sponsorship fees by advertisers, which could easily bring his earnings over £15 million. Maybe £20 million, no one knows for sure.

I celebrate Bale’s personal success at reaching the pinnacle of his profession, and rewarded for that in terms of both prestige and money. When we look at the current paradigm, we can easily see that most of humanity is working to have more money, so we can enjoy a better life, are we not?

Yet what kind of society have we created, where we see a company pay this type of exorbitant fee for a footballer and then we say that we cannot find the money to pay for the healthcare for millions of people? In the UK, many hospitals are closing, nurses and doctors are quite often overworked and underpaid, and many welfare benefits are being cut for those “slackers” who should “get a job”… cuts that may even see whole families thrown out onto the street.

It seems that our values are a little topsy-turvy, are they not? We are creating bigger and bigger divides between the rich and the poor, the “haves” and the “have nots”.

Shall we use the usual justifications, such as “that’s just the way life is…” or “that’s the way the cookie crumbles…” or “to the winner goes the spoils…”? Or, perhaps we should look more closely at what, exactly, has created these monster earnings?

And we should definitely look at what we can do to create a world which is not so greedy and out of touch with its own needs. In the UK, so many people (mainly men but some women too) care more about how their team is doing, than how the economy is doing, or how their neighbour is doing. That’s a fact!

The Premier League competition formed when the FA Premier League broke away from The Football League in 1992 to take advantage of a lucrative TV rights’ deal which will be worth £3 BILLION (that’s 9 zeros after the first digit!) as of 2013–14, with BSkyB and BT Group securing the rights to broadcast!

The Premier League is currently the most-watched football league in the world, broadcast to 643 million homes, with a potential TV audience of 4.7 billion people.

With an audience of 4.7 billion, big mainstream advertisers (think Coca Cola, MacDonalds, Barclays Bank and so forth) will pay a lot to keep brainwashing their audience into buying their goods and services. It is a sorry fact that if someone sees an advert enough times, they will unconsciously reach for the product through a subconscious imprint.

For example, the brand LYNX always links itself to SEX and makes no apologies for it. Why? So that guys will associate themselves with the guy who gets the HOT LOOKING GIRL IN SKIMPY UNDERWEAR by putting on Lynx Deodorant. You may laugh – but they do it because it works.

In the Conversations with God series, God said to Neale Donald Walsch that beyond a certain income, the rest of a person earnings should go into a collective pool, to be used for the highest good of society. It gave a figure of around $20 million.

I think that’s fair, don’t you? In fact, it’s more than fair.

Hospitals, schools and so forth would benefit from the earnings taken above that threshold, and the contributor would be recognised for his/her vital contribution towards his/her fellow human beings.

It seems we are greatly reluctant to do this – it would go against “free enterprise” and inherent “freedoms”. Yet, it seems to sit with us just fine that over half the world’s population is earning below the breadline, and DYING.

If it isn’t okay, we seem incapable of doing anything about it. We seem incapable of standing up and saying the current paradigm is not fair nor sustainable.

Many people will ignorantly blurt out that these footballers – as well as other athletes, movie stars and so on – deserve what they earn. They are “paid what they’re worth”, is the reasoning. “They are talented”, will be the answer! Yet are they more talented than the hospital nurses and doctors we have? Are they any more talented than the school teachers who educate our children?

Is it any wonder that children growing up don’t want a “real job”?

And, do any footballers, or professional athletes, mainly young men in their 20s, need to pocket more than £10 million a year?

With all due respect to “free enterprise”, I really don’t think so…

jaime-tanna (2)(Jaime Tanna is the founder of Energy Therapy and an active Reiki Master and Spiritual Mentor, Healer and Teacher. Together with his wife Jennifer, their unifying vision is to empower others through spiritual education and energy-based healing treatments, to help them become aware of their true natures, and to live more joyfully and consciously. You can visit their website at www.energytherapy.biz)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

What is the message that we need to transmit to future generations of this planet — so that our children and all children to come are Self-loving beings with fully functional Self-Esteem, and capable of creating a joyful and healthy world for themselves?

Where are we going? 

The market economy is the modern GODDESS on Earth. This is the underlying message of this civilization to future generations of this planet. In the name of a “healthy economy,” we devastate the planet which is the home of future generations for millennia to come, and our most precious human qualities like compassion and solidarity, because our economy has to “grow” today.

Huge debts run the global economy and our homes today. The global credit stock doubled from $57 trillion to $109 trillion in just ten years (from 2000 to 2010). It will need to double again to an incredible $210 trillion by 2020 in order to provide the necessary credit-driven growth. It is debt that governs our world.

Our world—where one billion people, one-seventh of the total  population, now lives in total poverty—annually spends about $1.5 trillion on military expenditures.  As long as the strongest economies of the world enrich their national budgets with exorbitant earnings from its arms exports, there will be wars. And as long as the so-called “civilized world” silently watches the planet’s poorest countries import the latest “how-to-kill-your-neighbor” techniques, instead to spend money on the newest technology and know-how to make a living and become self-sufficient, there will not be peace and prosperity on Earth.

The golden age of survival. This is the world of our immature ego. After millions of years of evolution, we still stand on the law of the jungle in which there is no value greater and no ideal cherished more than “survival at any cost.” And the more powerful and richer we are as we survive, the better. But as long as we continue just surviving, instead of really living, we will continue to struggle in fear. And as long as we live in fear, the law of the jungle remains our highest ideal. Debt, poverty, and pain pave the way for future generations—instead of happiness, prosperity, and joy.

As within, so without. No human being with Self-Esteem will cheat, lie, steal, kill, abuse other forms of life, or otherwise harm another, or be indifferent to his/her environment. The shape of our current personal and global affairs directly reflects the actual state of our individual and collective lack of Self-Esteem. If this were not the case, we would all live in harmony and peace.

The answer to the problems of our civilization lies primarily in our own approach to ourselves. This is where each of us must begin.

When I look at our world today, I am still overwhelmed when there is another bomb exploding in a bus or town square, another escalation of war, another aerial bombardment “in the name of democracy”, another pollution disaster, another political or financial corruption scandal, another child murder, another school killing . . . and another . . . another act of destruction happening somewhere on Earth. It is as if the shockwaves of destruction are growing faster and faster, hitting us harder and harder.

And yet I cannot help noticing that in all the confusion and chaos lies a certain sense of purpose, and with all the economic, political, and civil turmoil taking place in various parts of our planet, I detect an increased awareness, a rise of consciousness, a cleansing process underway, which will lead us to a new world of peace and tranquility.

It is in these turbulent times that each of us bears full responsibility for the decisions we make everyday—as we choose between love and fear, Self-Esteem and Self-denial, between sheer survival at the expense of all other forms of life on the one side and meaningful and fulfilling life in the interest of all on the other.

Now is the time to ask the fundamental question: What do I really believe in? Now is the right moment to follow the Spark of Light within and use our spiritual powers to help co-create our New World.

“Your cure is in you,
but you do not see;
Your sickness is from you,
but you do not feel;
You allege that you are a small star,
while you contain the whole cosmos.”

~ Sidi Mohammad Al Jamal – Sufi Master

(Vladimir Bayer lives in Prague where he work as translator/consultant/writer. He is also the author of “From Darkness to Light: A Path to The New World.”)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

After dark on a summer evening, an 8-year-old boy named Allen and his mother sat on the blacktop driveway, which was still warm from the day’s sun, drawing with chalk. But they weren’t drawing daisies and rainbows and other normal-type pictures–they were doing geometry. Why? Because Allen wanted to know how the odometer on his bicycle worked. Why so late at night? Well, when better to learn than right after the question is asked?

Allen remembers the night as having an exciting quality to it—like being allowed to stay awake to ring in the New Year—and he felt like they were up until midnight measuring the bicycle tires, calculating r2 and discussing the Pythagorean Theorem. In reality it was probably much less than that, but time warps when you’re engaged with something, and even geometry can be exciting to an 8-year-old when it’s applied to real life.

Our childhood was filled with such time-warped moments; so much so that it was the norm instead of the exception. You see, my younger brother Allen and I didn’t go to school. Our classrooms were chalk on the driveway, the local riding stable, Girl Scouts, museums, beaches, Europe, Australia, caves, libraries, mountains, homemade movies, stage productions, cooking in the kitchen, managing family finances… We were (and are) unschoolers.

Unschooling is an exciting alternative to contemporary schooling that empowers students to create their own education. Much like homeschooling, families are free to explore opportunities outside of the public school system, and even outside of the curriculums that many homeschoolers use. Unschoolers pursue their interest of the moment, and in the process find their passions of a lifetime.

Conversations with God, Book II talks about a new education system which is based on the values of awareness, honesty, and responsibility; a system that teaches the student to think critically, come to their own conclusions, and gives them a sense of “unlimitedness.” Unschoolers have been doing this for decades in our modern era, and humanity has been doing this in a sense for our entire history. Babies “unschool” themselves in learning how to talk and walk: Unschooling families simply let their children unschool the rest of life, too.

While the students pursue their interests, the parents create the space for learning: they make sure resources and opportunities are available for their children to follow their interests as deeply as they want and to stumble upon new potential interests. In the process, a fully-rounded education emerges, which includes more than just mathematics, history, and literature. For us, and for the many unschoolers we know, we learned respect for ourselves and others because our parents respected us enough to take control of our own education. We learned to see the world with curiosity and with the awareness of the differences in people’s lives and cultures, and to appreciate those differences as beautiful. We learned personal responsibility in managing our time, making our educational intentions known, and following through with our goals. We didn’t always succeed, and we learned a lot from that, too.

Love is freedom. We know this from the New Spirituality paradigm, we know this from Christ, and some of us know this from our own experiences. In order to unschool, parents must have the unconditional, unfearing love that gives the child freedom to make their own choices; the freedom to know themselves as individuals and as integral parts of a family unit and larger society; the freedom to hone their strengths and learn how to contribute to help the world move toward the grandest vision that it has for itself.

In return for this freedom, the child is more likely to respect the parent’s suggestions for how to live a full, safe, expansive life. This is not theoretical: Allen  and I have a wide collective base of unschooled friends and rates of stereotypical teenage rebellion in unschooling families are next to none. For instance, even though I often felt annoyed at the inconvenience, I never fought my parents’ rule that I couldn’t drive a car with passengers without an adult present or express permission until I was 18, because I understood that I was an inexperienced driver and that friends could be distracting. I knew that the rule came from a place of love, wisdom, and experience, so it made sense to follow it.

Because unschoolers have the fortune to grow up in a family culture of unlimitedness and exploration, they often have an advantage in adult life. They know how to pursue things they’re interested in (which translates to careers), and they’ve often had experience in approaching people and marketing themselves as worthwhile apprentices or employees. They already understand the principle that if you pursue what you love, the rest will follow. Most will not let themselves get caught up in the cultural story of needing to go to college and get a job that they hate so that they can buy nice things that will ultimately “make them happy.” Instead, they write their own story and live it, unafraid of being different and being satisfied with the choices they’ve made.

Allen and I took vastly different paths as young adults, and we are both largely happy with our lives and our choices–perhaps mostly because we learned early on that our choices are simply that: ours. We have the freedom to choose our life paths, interests, emotions, reactions, thoughts…everything. And because we know that so deeply, it’s much easier to change our choices when we think we need to. My biggest “victimhood” struggle was when I went to college and felt completely imprisoned by the institutional system. I had to remember that college was my choice, and that because I wanted to see it through to the end, I’d have to make the choice to stop feeling imprisoned. After that, college flew by.

Of course, we’re still figuring things out, we still make mistakes, and we still need guidance, as everyone does, but both of us feel better prepared for life than most of our peers. People from all areas of our lives, with relationships to us from friends to classmates to bosses, have commented on qualities like our maturity, perseverance, ingenuity, and intelligence that we ascribe to our unschooled upbringing.

Not every parent is ready right now to be an unschooling parent, but the unschooling movement is growing. Since the modern emergence from the public school system in the 1970’s, our numbers have grown to an estimated 100,000 or more students of current school age. However, most of us consider ourselves unschoolers for life, since unschooling is living life, so I expect there are quite a few more of us than that. As our world goes through massive shifts and growing pains, Allen and I think that unschooling is only going to keep rising in popularity, not only because it works as an education system, but because it works as a parenting system and as part of a more coherent and functional cultural story. The unschooling society in the US currently is spread out, but still tight-knit and supportive. We’re not immune to drama and disagreements, but we tend to be creative in the way we solve those disagreements. We tend to quickly remember that freedom (and the love that is inseparable from freedom) is the basis of our unschooling culture, and that is the culture we want to plant, nurture, and grow in our world.

And yes, it really is as simple as being willing to use your evening at the drop of a hat to explain to your 8-year-old how his odometer works. The rest will follow.

Laura Allen(Laura Ellis is 26 years old and lives in Santa Fe, NM. She is enrolled in a Master’s degree program for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and has a background in writing, Reiki, horseback riding, and social sciences. Allen Ellis is 24 years old and lives in Orlando, FL. He is the Senior Motion Designer at Cybis Communications and has a background in videography, piano, web design, and programming. They can be reached at whyunschool@gmail.com. For more information on unschooling, visit whyunschool.info.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

“Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light
but making the darkness conscious.”

~ Carl Jung

I want to begin by saying that I am not a regular moviegoer, given that most deal with similar themes without a huge amount of substance or thought-provoking material. It is then ironic that the latest incarnation of one of the biggest movie franchises deals with an issue that lies at the heart of spiritual growth, that is the struggle to accept our dark as well as our light. So whatever our opinion of this movie, the imagery and symbolism cannot be ignored, nor can the theme of self-acceptance through an awareness of our origins.

In the movie, Superman must confront his past in order to understand his present. He must look at the heritage that molded him and the circumstances that influenced his choices so that he can be laid bare to himself and begin the process of self-acceptance. This includes the acceptance of both his light and his shadow, two parts of ourselves that co-exist and command equal respect. The place where all our dark thoughts are stored, according to Jung “everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”

Interestingly, in previous movies we saw Superman fearlessly confront the repressed shadow of others that manifested in the form of violence and crime.Regardless of his opponents’ cunning and determination, Superman was ensured victory, as the light of our hero overcame the shadow of his adversaries. In this new installment, however, our hero must confront and accept his own shadow, at which point he will realise his true power because his shadow will no longer have power over him.

On closer inspection, we see another reason behind Superman’s reluctance to accept his superpowers, and that is because of how different they make him feel to everyone else.The result is Clark Kent,a man whose timid demeanor could not be further removed from his true identity. The tension is virtually palpable between Superman and his alter ego, who could be seen as the manifestation of his fear of rejection. How dreadful for anyone to live like this, to feel they have to keep themselves hidden just to fit into society.  But how many of us are equally guilty of dimming our light so that the light of another can shine brighter? How many times have we allowed our power to be taken so that it could be used by those whose love or acknowledgment we desire more? It would not be an understatement to say that to live a power-filled life is a great achievement in a world that has only ever enabled powerlessness. One only has to look at the fate of those individuals who, throughout history, have encouraged us to stand confidently in our power, many of whom were relegated to the peripheries of society, if not removed from it altogether.

There is a final connection that can be made between Superman’s power and our own, and that is the fact that he only experiences his full potential when in service to others. I recall listening to a talk by Neale Donald Walsch on this topic, that if we want to experience a particular quality, we must give it to another. So if we want to experience compassion, then show compassion and the same with love and peace. In which case, our superhero only becomes truly authentic when he is in service. The rest of the time he is just a regular guy. Maybe there is a lesson here for all of us, that only in service can we experience the full magnitude of our own superpowers.

Gemma Phelan Head SHot(Gemma Phelan lives in Ireland where she works as an editor. She is also the author of “A Different Understanding,” a book which explores alternative ways of looking at the world.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

There is currently a genocide underway in Burma – as you read this, an “ethnic cleansing” is happening, with unspeakable horrors being committed against the peaceful Rohingya people.  The President of Burma, Thein Sein, has done nothing so far.

What is the crime of the Rohingya people?  Why are they hated so much?  Is it because they are murderers, or terrorists?  No.  Is it because they are polluting the land, destroying vital crops? No.  They are hated “simply because” their skin is darker and the majority fear they’re ‘taking jobs away’.

The real question before us is not why do we continue to witness so much suffering and violence, but rather why do we allow it?

I agree that this question may be difficult for us to hear – however, whilst this life-threatening situation is most certainly not our fault, it is most certainly our responsibility.

Are we going to stand by and idly watch hundreds of thousands of innocent people be massacred from the comfort and safety of our own homes?  Or are we going to cry out to all of our powerful world governments and insist that they do something!

Burmese President Thein Sein has the power and resources to protect the Rohingya.  All he has to do is give the word to make it happen.  Yet, rather than deal with this urgent situation, he is instead looking to come to Europe to sell his country’s new openness to trade. It beggars belief!

These terrible atrocities happening on our planet continue to be tolerated, regardless of the fractures they create in our collective unconscious, because we continue to put commerce before vital, humanitarian interests; because we have constructed our individual and collective lives around such false paradigms as ‘survival of the fittest’, we continue to experience life as a massive struggle.

Right now is the time to change all of this nonsense – and we must act, with urgency! All of us, together, as ONE voice. This situation demands it.

To change the results we are witnessing, we have to change ourselves; we cannot keep saying we are going to change things but then fail to act.

We cannot keep listening to greedy, naive or inept politicians, and those governments and institutions who would deliberately mislead us, and then seek to placate us with excuses of how they could do nothing, and how their hands were ‘tied’, when they could easily move into action.

We keep waiting for a better time, a better future… but it never arrives because we have not arrived. We have not had the courage to act as ONE. To be as ONE.

Natural disasters are terrible enough when they do happen, yet human acts of war and genocide are many times worse. They betray us all at the deepest level.

The invitation is to BE HERE NOW. To act from presence, not powerlessness.

What will you do today? What stance will you take?  Will you shrug your shoulders and walk away – or will you sound the clarion call of freedom, respect and dignity for all?

We cannot allow this to become another Rwanda, or Sarajevo….

Sign the Avaaz petition here, and get involved.

Thank you for being part of a movement of change.

Jaime Tanna

jaime-tanna (2)(Jaime Tanna is the founder of Energy Therapy and an active Reiki Master and Spiritual Mentor, Healer and Teacher. Together with his wife Jennifer, their unifying vision is to empower others through spiritual education and energy-based healing treatments, to help them become aware of their true natures, and to live more joyfully and consciously. You can visit their website at www.energytherapy.biz)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)

How does your Life Context Impact Sustainability?

Sustainability, simply defined, is meeting the needs of the present without hindering future generations from meeting their own needs. For the past forty years, much of the focus on sustainability has been directed toward environmental awareness and impact. Today, the economic and social dimensions of sustainability are equally as relevant. Sustainability is not simply the act of “being green.” The notion of “green” is but one aspect of a broader and more consequential concept for the generation alive here and now. Sustainability is about finding balance, amid the many trade-offs that exist, and by making a decision to take action on the most suitable options while considering the context of life one person (or an entire generation) if living within.

Sustainability is often misunderstood. And to “achieve sustainability” can feel overwhelming. Where does one begin? By buying a more fuel efficient car? By purchasing “greener” clothes detergents? By eating organic foods? Sure, these are all options for consumers to evaluate. Living a sustainable lifestyle is as much about what you consume as it is about what you don’t consume. It is equally about “green products” as it is about finding alternative products. Sustainability then is about YOU and the myriad of choices evaluated, and decisions made, on a daily basis. How you engage your mind, body, and spirit in those choices and decisions is up to you. But in those acts you determine your role and impact in creating a more balanced, civilized, and sustainable world. The values, beliefs, actions and inactions of individuals represent the common denominator by which a sustainable world will be realized or not.

Sustainability is tied to your “life context.” Your life context is comprised of the opportunities, demands, constraints or circumstances which drive your specific daily life and lifestyle. You have control over much of your “life context” including your beliefs, wants and desires, needs, and how you choose to spend your time and engage your energies. Yet, there are influences and impacts on your “life context” that you simply cannot control. But how you choose to accept your “life context” at any given phase of life has a direct impact on who you are today, and who you will be in the future. Sustainability then, is a process of self-enlightenment and fulfillment that begins with you. Achieving sustainability is about embracing life, finding your happiness, and empowering others to do the same.

Adapting to Subtle and Swift Changes in Our Life Context

My wife Aileen and I are the parents of two boys, 4 and 2. As many will appreciate, even when we are not at work, we are still “working” and continuously look to find a balance in our life. Within the past two years Aileen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As strange as it sounds, we are thankful that Aileen was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was. The cancer diagnosis came when she delivered our 2nd boy by cesarean. Had the doctors not performed the cesarean, and had they not removed a cancerous tumor, perhaps they would not have caught the disease as early as they did. Aileen does not talk about the moment very much. But I remember the anxiety on her face, and sense of fear she had when doctors told her they removed a tumor and was having it tested. It was as if she had known what the diagnosis outcome would be. She was overjoyed at being a mom to a 2nd boy, and for the moment had repressed her concerns of cancer toward the joy of our new baby.

Aileen is a 6th grade teacher. Approximately three months after the birth of our 2nd boy Aileen reentered the workforce. In September 2010 she was in full swing, working full time, teaching children at school, and raising our own in our home. She had worked so hard on her Masters education to be a teacher. I remember a two year period when she was completing her Masters while working full-time as a teacher. There was even a brief period after the birth of our first son that she completed the last couple of graduate courses, in the evening, while working and being a first time mom. Aileen struggled with the decision to go back to work in 2010. There was no financial or marital pressure for her to return. It was her choice. But she felt she had invested so much time, energy, and passion into her profession, she did not want to see it “wasted.” At the same time her heart was with our two young boys and she felt, like many women, frustrated by having to choose between career and family, professional identity and personal ideology.

We reluctantly hired a nanny for the 2010-11 school year closed our eyes, and hoped for the best. The year went by, as they all do, in a flash. As summer 2011 emerged, we reassessed our “life balance” and working and parenting situation. At that time we determined that Aileen staying at work was generally working for us. We had a great nanny; we were enjoying daily life as a family; and Aileen enjoyed being back at work and having a “professional” aspect to balance her day.

By the following school year life would prove not as balanced. In September of 2011 Aileen went back to teaching another year of 6th grade. Our nanny from the year prior was no longer working with us (she had also earned her Masters and was looking for a full-time job), and so we had hired a new nanny for the boys. September went by in a flurry, and Aileen was feeling the stress of work and the anxieties of the new nanny. Exacerbating the discomfort of her work-life balance and the introduction of a new nanny was the fickle health of our oldest son who has severe food allergies, asthma, and ulcerative colitis. As parents we want the best for our children, and the complexity of our oldest son’s health issues can feel at times, overwhelming. The fall of 2011 was also election season, and Aileen was putting in additional time to support her father’s reelection bid for City Council. As November emerged, the amount of time Aileen put into work and family intensified and her stress followed in-suit.

And then, over the course of a couple days in mid-November 2011, after the busyness of the fall seemed to quiet down, and right before the ramp-up of the holiday season, Aileen’s right eye sight deteriorated rapidly over the course of a couple days. Thinking it was nothing serious, she waited through a weekend to go to the doctors. The delay to see a doctor proved detrimental. By the following Monday, everything went black in Aileen’s right eye. We went to an Optometrist, and spent what felt like hours in exam room after exam room, test after test. Everything that could be wrong seemed to be ruled out. The Optometrist spoke with me several times during the day, and in each instance his tone seemed to be getting more serious and consolatory. Aileen expressed a myriad of emotion throughout the process. And I did my best to comfort her during a situation that seemed to have no answers.

The Optometrist finally ruled that the issue with Aileen’s sight had nothing to do with the eye, but the optical nerves that attach to the back of the eye. He recommended a neurologist she should see right away, and we shifted gears to another doctor. Fast forward a series of steroid treatments, several neurologist visitations, more eye exams, blood tests, and a MRI and it was determined based upon the body of information, data, images, and results that Aileen had multiple sclerosis (MS). We were shocked, scared, and confused. We both went through a period of withdrawal, fear, and stress that quite frankly we had ever gone through before in our lives together or independently, and were not prepared to manage. But as doctors appointments were made, and as we learned more about the disease and Aileen’s specific condition, we slowly began to take back a sense of control that had been lost. This took time. I did my best to support Aileen in every way that I knew how.

When loved ones go through these kinds of events, they often look to their partner to be their “rock,” for unconditional support. I believe I did fine, but know I could have done better. When a loved one goes through so much shock, pain, and crisis it is challenging to pull out of the chaotic convergence of emotion, data, and uncertainty to fully address their needs. And with two young boys also in need of daily attention, the challenge was great.

Time may heal all things. For those with MS, time feels like a double edged sword. Living with MS brings with it a high degree of ambiguity, uncertainty and risks associated with Aileen’s long-term health and quality of life. The idea of how she will be impacted across time is as frightening as much as it is a reality that we must face. MS is an autoimmune disease 2-3 times more common in woman than in men. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society , approximately 400,000 people in the U.S. have MS, and 200 more people are diagnosed every week. It is also estimated that MS affects more than 2.1 million people worldwide. Epidemiologists, the scientists who study patterns of MS, believe that certain factors appear to be characteristic of who gets MS including: gender, genetics, age, geography, and ethnic background.

MS has been a widely researched disease, however, after more than 140 years of research, there remains no known cause or cure to MS. Scientists have developed treatments that, for some patients may slow the progression of MS and may manage certain symptoms. However, no one singular treatment is effective for all patients. MS can literally manifest within each individual patient differently, thereby also contributing to symptoms and quality of life impacts that vary for each person who lives with the disease. The illness is also highly unpredictable leaving those who have MS to always have a certain amount of anxiety over a health issue that they cannot, with the current state of science, fully cure or truly control.

Reframing Success: Discovering a New Balance and
Life Context for Happiness, Strength, and Sustainability

Since being diagnosed with cancer and MS, Aileen has refocused her energies on herself, her family, and how she wants to spend her time in the world. It is not that she wasn’t focused on these aspects of life before, she was. But now much of the minutia and details that consumed and clouded her thoughts have faded. She continues to feel a tug-of-war between professional and personal identity, but not as much as she once did. She has discovered that living life with a sense of purpose and strength comes from within, and that true happiness is an outcome of who she is inside. She is focused on her personal health, wellness, and spirituality. And in this inward and reflective process she is rediscovering her identity and how she will choose to reinsert herself into the world as a stronger, healthier, and happier person. In short, Aileen has chosen to be accountable first and foremost to her! And in the process all else in her life will align with her spirit and greatness.

I do not have a disease, but in conversations with Aileen and others I have learned that for many, having a disease was a catalyst for reevaluate their life, their role in the world, and how they make the most of each day. It is so easy to get caught up in the details and complexities of daily life that we often forget what is important, including who our true “self” is. Working parents and working mothers in particular focus so intently on being responsible and accountable to everyone in their universe: husbands, children, teachers, colleagues, co-workers, friends, family, parents, etc. Yet what often gets overlooked is the need to be accountable to one self.

Everyone has the capacity to endure life’s challenges. And, everyone has potential to feel fulfilled and happy. Yet so few of us quiet our ego’s desire for recognition and enable our true self to live free of external judgment or personal regret. Humans are inherently resilient. When faced with adversity we typically meander our way to finding resolution and meaning in our life. Sustainability is a human endeavor. Much like the way Aileen is reevaluating her role in the world and in living with MS and cancer, sustainability offers a platform for introspection, critical thinking, and accountability. In its simplest form sustainability is all about asking ourselves if what we are doing, right here and now, aligns with our values, beliefs, and true self. Sustainability is about asking if our “life context” makes sense. Are we brokering our children’s futures in the actions and decisions we make today? Are we doing our best to protect the earth from unsustainable practices or human induced behaviors and impacts? How can we be the stewards of our own health and quality of life and in turn, the stewards of a more sustainable world?

Sustainability is about making the decisions and taking action on your life in the face of those things that we never saw coming, like being diagnosed and living with an incurable disease. As you self evaluate your role in creating a more sustainable world, consider: What are your needs, and are you paying enough attention to those? How are you managing your “life context”? Do you feel that you live your life with balance, sense of purpose, resolve, and impact? Are you being accountable to who you are and your needs? How do you define the measures of success, health, happiness in your life?

Change is inevitable. How we react and respond to change is critical to whether we sink or swim, as individuals, as parents, as spouses, and as a generation that has the capacity, will, and know-how to find balance today, and for a stronger and healthier tomorrow.

mark(Mark Coleman is the author of the book The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW!, see, www.thesustainabilitygeneration.com. Throughout his career Mark Coleman has developed a strong focus on the critical areas of energy, environment, and sustainability. His career has spanned strategic and leadership positions in government, applied research, technology development, and management consulting organizations. This rich and diverse experience has enabled Mr. Coleman to have access to, engage, and work with a broad range of regional, national, and international leaders on the subject of sustainability. Mr. Coleman resides in Auburn, NY with his wife Aileen and two sons Owen and Neal.)

(If you would like to contribute an article you have authored to the Guest Column, please submit it to our Managing Editor, Lisa McCormack, for possible publication in this space. Not all submissions can be published, due to the number of submissions and sometimes because of other content considerations, but all are encouraged. Send submissions to Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com. Please label the topic: “Guest Column.”)