July, 2013

 At one point of our lives, we all dream of changing the world, making it a better place, and being a hero for our planet. Whether it was becoming president, finding the cure for cancer, or feeding starving children around the world, we all had it in us at one point or another to really make a difference. But at one point, we discard these dreams. Either we’ve become focused on other things or run out of time to chase after those dreams, we seem to fail to hold onto our belief that we can make a difference. And so the majority of us have given up.  

However, as I look around me, I see more and more often just how many people are deciding not to give up on these dreams. One person’s dream, and the one story that goes with it, stands out in particular. Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man, had a dream of full blown Environmentalism: to have zero impact on the environment while still living in a New York City Apartment. As with the full title of the book implies, No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process, the journey was just as much about the self-understanding as it was about being selfless.   

What Beavan found is that the ‘the normal routine’ that fills our daily life was incredibly dissatisfying. He noticed that “while getting a new cell phone or a new car or a new house [does] give us a burst of pleasure, the pleasure did not last. If we wanted to feel the same spike of happiness, we would have to get another fix – yet another phone, yet another car. They call this mode of pleasure-seeking the ‘hedonic treadmill’.”

It’s so comfortable to come home after a long day and just flop on the couch to watch some less than thought-provoking television and gobble through the greasy bag of potato chips. But until we stretch our conscious boundaries, we will forever be living in this permafrost layer of desperation, also known as the content of the masses. Besides this activity wasting our precious planet resources, it is also wasting our precious personal wellbeing. By thawing out our consciousness, we begin to see just how unhappy we are with the current model of the world, or with our own hedonic treadmill.

And once we become aware of it, we CAN break this cycle. To end the vicious cycle, Beavan tried a new lifestyle, that was focused on “life lived with less emphasis on acquisition, with the effect of leaving more time for richer, less resource-intensive life rewards, making both the planet and the people happier.” By reducing his need for disposable products, mindless media, and needless transportation, Beavan created a localized lifestyle that gave him time to enjoy his family and life itself.

Right here, is a truly wonderful manifestation of the Be-Do-Have Paradigm. By doing fewer activities focused around having more stuff, one has more free time to be healthy, happy, and loving. Without constantly thinking and doing things to get the newest car or have the latest smartphone, there happens to be a lot of mental, social, and physical time and space left over for wellness and oneness driven activities. By simply having new time and new energy dedicated to the presence of being rather than the acquisition of stuff, we waste less resources and we waste less life. Doing less running around for that stuff certainly leads to more being in tune to the natural vibes of the world soul.  

Beavan did recognize his ability to be more, not only for himself, but also for his dream of being a positive impact on the collective. As described in the final moments of No Impact Man, “It is the workers at the organizations I volunteer for who confirm for me that environmentalism is not about trying to use less but about trying to be more. It is not about sucking our tummies in but pushing our hearts out. Environmentalism is not about the environment. It’s about people. It is about a vision for a better life – for people.”

If we are to truly live out our dreams of being this better collective life, then we need to start having a better vision. To go in the direction of such wonderful growth, is to go beyond sustainability. For in it’s simplest definition, sustainability is merely continuing to keep a way of life going. Do we really just want to sustain this path of doing that we keep stomping down? As sustaining is focused only on maintaining, I know that we all can be far MORE than that. Here are a few ideas on being better:

  • We can DESIGN better societies, not just sustain the ones that still aren’t working for us.
  • We can CONSTRUCT better cities, not just maintain the remnants crumbling down.                    
  • We can GENERATE better ideas, not just preserve the worn fragments of dysfunction.              
  • We can CREATE better understandings of Who We Are, not just follow our Old Cultural Story blindly.

Of course, we don’t need to be any of these manifestations. But, by being them, we can make an incredible difference in ourselves and in our paradise planet. All in all, BE a kid again. BE those dreams you once had, even if they weren’t about environmentalism or reducing our consumption to zero. Discover yourself in your dreams.  Be more of that bigger, better, brighter vision. The only way you will ever figure out what works or not is if you try.

(Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)

Dear Therese,

My 85-year-old grandmother lives on her own and is in good health for her age, but with the heat of the summer upon us, I am worried for her.  She just barely makes it by on her SS check, and can’t afford air-conditioning.  I’m not in a position financially to take on her electric bill if she turned on the AC.  I am married and have two children.  I really like what Neale says about helping others, but what am I supposed to do?

Geena in TX

Dear Geena,

Let me begin with the practical things to do, that you may have already thought of….

I see you are in Texas, and I just moved from Houston, so I know that the power company has a program that encourages people to pay at least $1 extra to help seniors who cannot afford air-conditioning.  Perhaps such a program exists in your area and you can help your mother apply for it?  I also read that there is a federal program for such assistance.

( Paraphrased from an article called “The Savvy Senior,” by Jim Miller)

Next, make sure you are aware of the things, other than the actual heat, that contribute to the risk of heat-related illnesses, such as medications (diuretics, high blood pressure meds that can cause dehydration), being overweight, underlying illnesses like diabetes, certain heart issues, and trouble walking around.

Make yourself aware of how to prevent heat exhaustion.  Don’t wear tight clothing.  Hydrate, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.  Take frequent cool showers, apply cool water and ice packs to your skin.  Avoid sun exposure, and drink water even when you do not feel thirsty!

Spend time in public places, and check to see if your area has a local health department  air-conditioned shelter.

Okay, that is the practical.  How about the spiritual in all of this?

As you alluded to, CWG says that our purpose in life is to serve others.  We must be sure of who we are, and fill ourselves, of course, but we do this so that we may serve others well.

With that in mind, have you and your husband considered asking your mother to live with you?  Assuming this is possible.  Even if you have limited space, many cultures share bedrooms.  Grandchild and grandparent, for example.  If not full-time move in, how about on particularly hot days or months?  You have 2 children,  and many believe (as does CWG) that by taking advantage of the wisdom of the elders, it lessens the burden on the parents, gives the children a much larger view of life, and gives the elders a purpose.  In short, it models “we are all One” in a very real, close to home, way.  In fact, it is the perfect way to change the current paradigm of separateness that permeates our western cultures these days.  We can’t usually share what we believe with the whole world, but we can show our own children that there is a different way!

You would be serving your mother by doing any of the things mentioned above, but perhaps you might want to take the last step, too?  Your mother’s pride might get in the way of her accepting the offer initially, but, if it is something you are willing to do, be sure to keep the offer open.   Maybe even have a trial period.   If she does move in, be open to change and new ways of doing things.  This kind of situation does present challenges, but it also gives abundant opportunity for deciding who you really are…and acting on that decision.

Geena, you may find that your mother’s apparent helplessness is her greatest gift to you, to your children, and to the world.


(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of the global website at www.ChangingChange.net . She may be contacted at:                                                       Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com, where our team is waiting to hear from you.)

An additional resource:  ChangingChange.net offers spiritual assistance from a team of non-professional/volunteer Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less. Nothing on the CCN site should be construed or is intended to take the place of or be in any way similar to professional therapeutic or counseling services.  The site functions with the gracious willing assistance of lay persons without credentials or experience in the helping professions.  What these volunteers possess is an awareness of the theology of Conversations with God.  It is from this context that they offer insight, suggestions, and spiritual support during moments of unbidden, unexpected, or unwelcome change on the journey of life.

It sounds too good to be true, I know — but could it be true anyway? Is it possible that July 23 really was the actual and “official” beginning of 1,000 Years of Peace?

That’s what some astrologers and prognosticators (including long-ago predictors, such as Nostradamus) have said. The world, they’ve declared, is now in for a Great Upheaval — but not a destructive one. Rather, a reconstructive one.

We’re talking here about a complete re-make (what I called the Overhaul of Humanity in my book The Storm Before the Calm) designed to create the most joyous, efficient, effective advancement in the Human Story ever conceived.

It’s going to involve — according to the predictions — a complete restructuring of our political, our economic, our cultural, and our spiritual ways of being. According to astrologers, it’s all about the Full Moon shining through the 7th House on the morning of July 23nd, and Jupiter aligning with Mars…or something like that. (I may not have all the details right.)

In any event, I believe it is true that all of life is nothing more than energy vibrating. I have always been told that energy impacts energy. That is, one energy source has an impact on another energy source, interacting in such a way that a third energy vibration is produced between the two of them.

This process of energy intermingling and interacting is going on all over the Universe between all of its interconnected manifestations of Life. We live in a cosmic cosmology that feeds itself, sustains itself, and recreates itself anew in a single simultaneous process occurring ubiquitously unilaterally. Do stars and other heavenly bodies, therefore, have an impact upon life on Earth? If the cycles of the moon can affect the tidal waves of our oceans (to say nothing of the tidal waves of our emotions), what do you imagine the entire night sky can do?

We have just now concluded a thousand years with Saturn in our sphere of energy influence on the Earth, because of its position relative to us generation after generation. Now, a new thousand-year cycle has begun, with the Sun as our highest energy influence as of July 23. This calculation is based on the Cycles of 7, which is said to apply in the cosmos.

Observations across history have revealed this cycle, with a seven-millennium cycle having begun with the so-called Moon Millennium starting in 4000 BCE. Those days are now behind us. With the Sun Millennium having been inaugurated, we will be experiencing what is, quite literally, a New Dawn. It is the dawning of a new civilization — or, perhaps more accurately, the beginning of the “civilization of Civilization.”

If this is indeed the true beginning of a new cycle in human history, how fast this new cycle takes hold is going to depend a great deal on us, of course. The spiritual activism movement that has been created — called the Evolution Revolution  (see info box elsewhere on this website’s home page) — is part of the Twelve Spheres of Life Initiative of Humanity’s Team. This and other outreach endeavors will go far toward determining if the long predicted 1,000 years of peace and prosperity is upon us.

Question: What role, if any, do you wish and plan to play in getting this 1,000-year cycle going? Have you looked at the Evolution Revolution information page on this website? Are you “in”?

It was clear when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States that as the first black person to hold that office, new ground had been broken, and the country would find itself in a position to experience new opportunities to increase its understanding of, and relationship with, the black community.

At no time was that more evident than at 1:30 or so on Friday, June 19, when the President made a surprise visit to the White House press briefing room and offered remarks, without notes or a teleprompter, about the nation’s response to the verdict in the Trayvon Martin killing.

I believe that it serves the public interest to publish the President’s remarks word for word, without further comment from me now, then allow all of us to post whatever reactions we may have to what the President said in the Comments Section below this entry.

Here, then, is a transcript of President Obama’s remarks at the White House on Friday, July 19, 2013 as released by the Office of the Press Secretary:

THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session.  The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.  I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday.  But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.  The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.  The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.  The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.  And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works.  But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let’s figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I’m not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I’ve got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.  There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are — they’re better than we were — on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.

1:52 P.M. EDT July 19, 2013

A Rude Awakening

Note: Before reading, know that this article is not a question of ethnicity, age, or any other demographics. It’s a question of respect. I am NOT here to point fingers, to make my case, to voice my verdict of innocent and guilty. What I am here for is to have a conversation on OUR reaction.    

With the close of the Zimmerman Trial, many people are jumping to their own conclusions about justice, sentences, and motivations. To make it simple, here is what I have discovered from the case itself:

All we have here are two angry, lost, and confused people. Trayvon Martin, age 17, and George Zimmerman, age 29. No one is truly sure what happened in Florida the night of February 26th, 2012. But what we are sure of is that someone has tried to exploit it and make a profit. And we see that in the creation of the Angry Trayvon App.

The developers of Trade Digital, Inc., created the above named game, in which a teen in a hoodie takes his baseball bat across the country and violently attacks people out on the street. Under the description of the game, it stated:

“Trayvon is angry and nobody can stop him from completing his world tour of revenge on the bad guys who terrorize cities everyday. Use a variety of weapons to demolish Trayvon’s attackers in various cities around the world. If you want to dominate the leaderboards across the world, then make sure you collect the money the bad guys will drop once you kill them.”

Why does it always seem that people are able and willing to profit out of misery, suffering, and despair? Instead of putting the pieces back together, companies and developers are further ripping them apart by exploiting these tensions. Even within our smartphones, the festering wounds of pain continue to be wretched open by those operating seemingly outside of our morality.

Fortunately, there are enough people out there to see through the lies and the exploitation of Trayvon Martin. On Change.org, a petition was created for the removal of the Angry Trayvon App with the following statement:

“This application unnecessarily promotes violence and exploits the unfortunate death of Trayvon Martin. The death of this young man is NOT A GAME.  This developer is using the Google Marketplace to exploit the death of an unarmed teen for profit while simultaneously promoting violence.  Given the unfair depiction of a deceased minor who perished as a result of gun violence, we are asking that this application be moved from the Google Play marketplace immediately.”  

And yes, a small victory was earned when Angry Trayvon was removed from the Google Play Marketplace, showing that we, the people, can create change in the world. But this profiteering does not limit itself to the affairs of the Zimmerman Trial.

In this week’s edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, the front cover is not of Jay Z or Robert Downey Jr., it’s of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the younger brother behind the Boston Marathon Bombing. With an attempt to gain the ‘full story’ of Dzhokhar, Rolling Stone has created a piece that cries sensationalism. As for their so-called justification, here it is straight from the article:

The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young, and in the same age group as many of our readers, makes it all the more important for us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.”

The fact that the online edition of the article is simply called “Jahar’s World” is seemingly an insulting oversimplification, both to the American public and to Dzhokhar himself. When getting beyond the front page and reading the rest of the article, Dzhokhar is portrayed to first be a sweet compassionate boy to then being an outright Islamic extremist his entire life, depending on how the editors wanted to frame his story at the time in the article. The only thing complete I found about this article was just how absurd journalism (or what they are passing it off as) truly is. No Pulitzer for you, Rolling Stone.  

In this modern age, we can create super heroes and super villains at the click of a mouse, the flash of a camera, or the dial of a phone. The fact that people are so willing and able to contort the images of Trayvon and Dzhokhar makes us truly aware of just how vulnerable teens are in the media just for a few more dollars. Good guy, bad guy, it’s not our choice what colors we are painted in the history books. It’s theirs.

Will you stand for this any longer? It may be a rude awakening, but understanding what is going on is crucial to understand how and why it’s happening. So awaken yourself, and awaken your society. It’s now or never.

 (Lauren is a Feature Editor of The Global Conversation. She lives in Wood Dale, IL, and can be reached at Lauren@TheGlobalConversation.com)

In the United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth II has given her approval to gay marriage, granting royal assent to a bill legalizing same sex marriage passed by Parliament, and making it law. Is it time now for all countries around the world to simply allow people who love each other to marry, regardless of their gender?

When you read the entire statement of Edward J. Snowden as he explains what he did and why he did it, suddenly larger questions arise — questions for which most national governments on Earth do not seem to have an adequate answer.

The biggest question of all: Is there any legitimate personal calling higher than loyalty to one’s country?

Mr. Snowden, as you may now know, released a lengthy statement to the world’s press at the Moscow Airport on July 12. The entire text of that pronouncement was released on the Internet by WikiLeaks. Reading every word of what the man who has been called a “traitor” by many in the United States had to say is, at the very least, fascinating, as it opens a window onto the mind of a person who released classified information about certain U.S. Government intelligence operations, offering us his rationale, and giving people around the world a chance to think deeply about some issues that the human family is more and more going to have to face as we move deeper and deeper into the 21st Century.

Chief among them: Can the people of our world tolerate living a completely transparent lifestyle? And, perhaps more pertinent: Will the institutions within our world — governments and corporations and political movements and other powerful organizations — ever allow us to?

To consider all of this within a context, let us publish here the full and complete statement of the man who is currently the world’s most famous whistle blower. Here it is, as posted by WikiLeaks.

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law.

The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: “Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.”

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee.

These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.

I am particularly intrigued by the Nuremberg statement quoted here. As well, the reminder by Mr. Snowden of what he terms “the most basic notion of justice — that it must be seen to be done.” And I know what Conversations with God has to say about this kind of thing. It says that total, complete, and utter transparency in all things is the only way that an advanced society would choose to live — and that a society cannot advance until it does so.

Your thoughts, please. What about you? Are you ready to live a life of absolute visibility, where everything about you can be known, where you will and can have no secrets, and where privacy around personal information is no longer part of common experience? If not, why not? If so, how so?

Let’s have a conversation here.

13-year-old Talia Joy Castellano’s six-year battle with cancer ended Tuesday as her body finally succumbed to a disease too relentless for it to overcome.  “Tiny” and “frail” may be words to describe the condition of Talia’s physicality from outward appearances, but they definitely are not words anyone would use to describe the ferocious spirit of this young Lover of Life.

“Castellano, who was diagnosed with stage-four neuroblastoma when she was just 7 years old, started using makeup ‘as a wig’ shortly after she found out she was sick. In July 2011, she began filming makeup tutorials in her bedroom — short, how-to videos for the glam, colorful looks she invented. Within months, she had hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views on her more than 150 YouTube clips,” US Magazine.

Talia became an honorary “Cover Girl” with the help of her friend Ellen DeGeneres.  But one of the biggest gifts Talia has given to humanity is her Bucket List.  Five days before she died, Talia jotted down 76 items she wanted to cross off her Bucket List and posted them on her Facebook page.  And while she actually got to experience a few of her young heart’s desires, Talia’s request to the world was that we, you and I, go out to all the wonderful places that she had so far only dreamt of and live out those special moments in each of our lives, just in case she did not have a chance to in hers.

You see, Talia, even in her most vulnerable and weakened physical condition, understood on a very deep level that her life was not about her.  It was about those whose lives she touched.  And even after her passing, she is gifting to us all an opportunity to experience Who We Really Are through the expression of Who She Really Is.  Her life is a bright light of hope.  Her message is one of love and peace.  Her Soul is a spiritual activist, continuing to do the healing work it came here to do in a world which weeps to know and experience itself as one without pain, even though, ironically, she endured extraordinary physical pain and suffering for the largest portion of her physical life here on earth.

Perhaps today, or maybe sometime in this upcoming week, we can each find a moment or two to cross off one or two things on this colorful  and playful list.  After all, how could we turn away such an extraordinary gift?  And as we do, maybe we can find a quiet space in the center of each of our hearts to send a prayer of gratitude and appreciation to Talia, a beautiful young girl who most of us have never physically met, for giving us the opportunity to remember once again who we truly are and to experience why we are truly here.

Here is a photo of Talia Joy Castellano’s Bucket List:

bucket list

If you want to share photos of you completing any of Talia’s Bucket List items, you can post them on her Facebook page Angels For Talia.

(Lisa McCormack is the Managing Editor & Administrator of The Global Conversation. She is also a member of the Spiritual Helper team at www.ChangingChange.net, a website offering emotional and spiritual support. To connect with Lisa, please e-mail her at Lisa@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

My husband’s employer is promoting him, which will require him to be transferred to another city across the country. Although both my husband and I are really excited about how this can kickstart his career, I’m torn. We are finally living back in our home state after fifteen years and I thought we would be here for the rest of our lives. I really love it here, but truthfully don’t have a lot going on with my work. How do I reconcile my love for my husband with my love for my home? Do I just blindly follow him? What about me and my soul’s purpose?… Angel

Dear Angel… Your timing in this question is perfect, because two out of the three advice columnists here are going through the same thing, myself being one of them. We aren’t moving because our husbands have been transferred, but the situations are otherwise very similar. In my case I have had to do some serious soul searching to see how I feel about my husband’s strong desire to move.

Neale says the two most important questions we can ask in our lives are these:

1. Where am I going? …and…

2. Who’s going with me?

He advises us to never reverse the order of the questions. In all three of our cases, our husbands were the ones who wanted to go first, leaving us with the question of whether or not to go with them. The reason to never reverse the order of the questions, of course, is this: We must each follow our own soul’s path. As indicated by your final question, you wisely already understand this.

In my case, having been blissfully happily married for 23 years, my first inclination was to follow the Biblical quote from the Book of Ruth, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge…” because my relationship with my husband comes first and foremost in my life. I know at a very deep level that we are soul partners on this physical journey and we are huge help-mates to each other. So the question becomes, how to reconcile his path with my own?

Whenever I have confusion about anything in my life, Angel, I always go to the Source of all wisdom for answers. I have learned how to quickly access my soul’s higher knowing through my own personal conversations with God, knowing that even before I ask, the answers are already given. This is promised in many spiritual texts, and I have always found it to be true.

If you don’t know how to do this, I can tell you two very powerful ways that work for me. Both processes require you to get very clear what your question is, then write it down and have plenty of paper ready for whatever answers might come through. If you are used to meditating or praying and can effectively quiet your mind, this is a great way to receive answers. Simply write down your question, go deeply into your quiet space and be open to whatever comes through you. Write it down without censoring it, and if more questions come up, write them down also, then write whatever answers come. Allow the questions and answers to become a dialogue if that happens. Don’t fret, though, if this isn’t how it works for you. This is a skill I have honed, so the conversations come easily to me now, but when I first started, only a few sentences came through. Even if you don’t perceive anything when you first try this, please rest assured, if you live inside the question and continue doing the process, the answers will come. Practice makes perfect.

If you are not comfortable quieting your mind in meditation, or even if you are, another wonderful way to access your highest information is to write the question down before retiring at night. Thank God in advance for any answers that may come through, then in the morning reach for your notepad and write down anything that comes to mind, again without censoring it. You can always look later at what you wrote, to see if it feels right and true for you, and you get to decide what, if anything, to do about it.

Remember, as Conversations With God says, “There is nothing you have to do.” You are always at choice in every matter, even those that seem like they are backing you into a corner. Everything we do is by choice. I don’t buy it when someone says, “I had no choice,” because God has given us total free will. If you are an adult human being, you have the liberty to choose how to live your life.

All of us are three-part beings, made up of body, mind and soul. It may help you to know the purpose of each:

1. The function of the soul is to indicate its desires (not impose them).

2. The function of the mind is to choose from its alternatives.

3. The function of the body is to act out that choice.

This is what Conversations With God calls the “Three Functions of Life”. Your job now is to find out what your soul’s desire is, decide if that’s what you want to do, then act out that choice.

Because, like you, I was torn about whether to move, I had my own conversation with God about it. The messages that came through made it very clear that this move is not only highest and best for my husband’s soul purpose, it is highest and best for mine as well. At one point, I simply wrote, “I surrender,” and this is the response I received. I hope it helps you too:

“That is good. Yes, surrender, but only and always with the knowing that I will never ask you to do something that doesn’t feel good to your soul. It may not always feel good to your mind, and that is because your mind doesn’t always understand all there is to know about something. When this happens, LIVE INSIDE THE QUESTION. Don’t be such a perfectionist that you have to know everything there is to know about a situation right now. Live inside the question. Allow yourself the luxury of being happy regardless, TRUSTING that I will not mis-lead you. I will not make mistakes on your behalf. I will only pave the most perfect way, if you will let me and not try to do it yourself.”

It went on to say, “Enlarge your vision… Get ready for a brand new lifestyle. Stay centered now more than ever as you make this transition… It’s time. It’s time. This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it!”

I, for one, Angel, always follow the guidance I receive. I listen to the wisdom of the Voice within me, knowing it is Divine Intelligence at work in my life. And most importantly, I trust it. I surrender to it because my soul knows much better than my mind what is highest and best for me. Those are two very powerful words:

“I surrender.”

I hope this helps, dear Angel. Your soul already knows what is highest and best for you. Our souls are the part of us that are always perfectly aligned with God, even when our minds aren’t, so please allow God’s information—Gods in formation—to come through you. If you choose to follow it, I promise you, it will never steer you wrong. I wish you the very best as you move into the next segment of your physical life journey, and trust that you already know what to do.

(Annie Sims is the Global Director of CWG Advanced Programs, is a Conversations With God Life Coach and author/instructor of the CWG Online School.To connect with Annie, please email her at Annie@TheGlobalConversation.com

(If you would like a question considered for publication, please submit your request to:  Advice@TheGlobalConversation.com where our team is waiting to hear from you.)

An additional resource:  ChangingChange.net offers spiritual assistance from a team of non-professional/volunteer Spiritual Helpers responding to every post from readers within 24 hours or less. Nothing on the CCN site should be construed or is intended to take the place of or be in any way similar to professional therapeutic or counseling services.  The site functions with the gracious willing assistance of lay persons without credentials or experience in the helping professions.  What these volunteers possess is an awareness of the theology of Conversations with God.  It is from this context that they offer insight, suggestions, and spiritual support during moments of unbidden, unexpected, or unwelcome change on the journey of life.







No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world.

Conversations with God brought us this startling message now nearly 20 years ago. In the aftermath of the trial of George Zimmerman and the Not Guilty verdict that was brought back by the jury — and in the whirlwind of feelings that many people are experiencing in response to that verdict — we might do well to examine that message from CWG.

The point that it made: everyone ultimately does what he or she thinks is “right,” based on their beliefs about Life and how it is and what that means to them; their understandings regarding their relationship to other people; and their truth about God — assuming they believe in God at all (which, of course, is also a “truth” about God).

In this tragic case both George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, the teenager he stood accused of killing needlessly until the jury found him innocent of that charge, had a less than favorable “model of the world” that may have led them to regard each other with suspicion — and that seems to have been at least part of what led to this tragic situation.

Mr. Martin apparently labeled Mr. Zimmerman a “creepy-ass cracker” when describing, in a cell phone conversation with his girlfriend, the man who was following him. For his part, Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was recorded on his phone report to the police dispatcher as apparently lumping Mr. Martin in with “punks” who previously have robbed the neighborhood, adding that “these **** always get away.”

The spiritual opportunity here is for all of us to change a model of the world that declares some people “guilty” and others “innocent” for doing exactly the same thing: what their understanding of circumstances and their experience of life led them to do, feeling strongly that, from their point of view, they were “right” in the doing of it.

In a highly advanced civilization, there would never be a “trial” (an interesting word in this context) to determine a person’s guilt or innocence. Rather, a public hearing would be held before the entire community (in this case, the whole country) in which a person would be invited to plead regretful or not regretful (and the reasons for it) regarding an action that was taken that hurt or damaged another — and to demonstrate and prove their regret, if that was their plea, by offering service and recompense to the injured party and/or the family of that party, if a death was involved. If they pleaded “not regretful,” the community would respond in a non-violent way that it felt appropriate in the circumstance.

If a person pleaded “regretful,” a lifetime of service to the deceased’s family, or to the person injured if a death was not involved, together with honest reparations to the degree appropriate and possible, would do more for everyone involved — and more for society as a whole — than placing someone behind bars (much less killing them) for an action that came from their deepest inner sense of what was needed, given their model of the world.

If that model of the world is so twisted and distorted that its assessments as to what  is appropriate make no sense to anyone else at all, even our legal system allows a jury to find a person innocent by reason of diminished capacity.

If that model is not so twisted or distorted, how can we rationalize placing someone in a cage for the rest of his or her life for doing what they, in a non-distorted way, thought was right? Shouldn’t our argument be with their model of the world — and the model of the world of our entire community as well?

I realize that this is a very radical way of thinking, and so I just propose it as one new way of exploring and examining the emotions that tragedies such as the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident bring up for all of us.

Trayvon Martin might have simply continued walking — perhaps even running — to his father’s house, just a few hundred yards away, rather than turning back, heading for the person following him, and allegedly confronting that person.  If I’m afraid, and not looking for a confrontation, I move away from, not toward, the other person in a situation like that. George Zimmerman might have simply stopping following, or never gotten out of his truck to follow to begin with. If I’m not wanting to potentially confront another (much less possibly hurt another), I move away from, not toward, another person is that kind of situation.

Bad judgment — by my personal measurement — may have been used by both persons in this situation. Yet, using the model of the world of each of them, as best we can guess it judging from the words they spoke just prior to their confrontation, we might be able to see that both did what they thought was right and necessary for them to do.

“No one does anything inappropriate, given their model of the world,” CWG says, and that is what I hold in my heart in the aftermath of the verdict in this trial. And, certainly, deep compassion for the family of Trayvon Martin, whose loss is incalculable, and whose pain can never truly end.  I will work until my final day to assist our planet’s people in changing their model of the world, one by one, so that hatred and non-forgiveness does not emerge from tragedies such as this…and so that such tragedies themselves might one day never again occur.

We can start changing our world model by releasing at last our notion that we are somehow separate from each other, and embracing the cosmic truth that We Are All One. That in itself would halt more violent confrontations that any other single shift in thinking within our society.

I send you love on this day.