Happy Birthday First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt! (or, “For gosh sakes, here comes Mrs. Roosevelt!”)

66 year anniversary of the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt drafted the document. Worth revisiting in light of CIA torture and police militarization in the news: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

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October 1, 1994: First Lady brought White House position into 20th-century; Advocated for peace + justice

Robert J. Day, The New Yorker Magazine, June 3, 1933 Robert J. Day, The New Yorker Magazine, June 3, 1933

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first 20th-century first lady. Contrary to previous first lady’s, who stayed in the background and served as a representation of domesticity, Mrs. Roosevelt openly campaigned for causes during her time in office, including public disagreements with the President.

“For it isn’t enough to talk of peace. One must believe it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

She openly advocated for the rights of labor, African-Americans, Native Americans, Japanese-Americans (during a time when many were forced into internment camps) and human rights throughout the world. Both as the first lady and later as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, Roosevelt used her platform and influence as a force for good…

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The Thanksgiving Address (or, Words Before All Else)

To all our relations.

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thanksgiving address
While American schoolchildren are taught and re-tell tales of “pure” and friendly Europeans crossing the Atlantic to escape oppression, Presidents pardon a single bird while 45 million perish and nearly twice as many watch modern-day gladiators sacrifice themselves in the name of entertainment, the Thanksgiving Address, which comes from the Iroquois (also known as the Haudenosaunee or Six Nations), reminds us of our necessity and, therefore, gratitude to the natural world. The Tracking Project describes it as:

A spiritual address to the powers of the natural world, these words are used to open gatherings in order to bring the minds of the people together as one and align the gathered minds with Nature. The roots of these words reach back thousands of years to the very origins of the Haudenosaunee as a people.

Along with the Great Law of Peace (Kaianeraserakowa) and the Creation Story, the Thanksgiving Address…

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Life as a spiritual journey

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The path of the journey is difficult but the task simple. Overcome fear and let go of doubt. Connect the mind to the heart where the eternal rests.

The mind is connected to the heart through the breath. Consciously holding the mind on the breath will lead the mind to the heart. In the heart, the mind can rest.

The mind is like a child who is satisfied with only the comfort of her mother. No matter what else the child is given, it is never enough. Until the child reunites with her mother, there is no peace. When the mind reunites with the heart, then there is peace.

The environment best suited for concentrating the mind is silence. All of creation vibrates with the original sound. In silence, the vibrations of the heart connect with the cosmic vibrations of the Universe.

When the mind connects to the vibrations of the heart, the mind illuminates. Habits, thought patterns and ways of being fall away, let go, surrender. The energy centers within the body connect through the spine, bringing light to the dark places of the mind. This is the power of the heart.

As the heart enlightens the mind, the mind’s understanding of the world falls apart. The mind loses itself.

When the mind loses itself, one’s identification and attachment to the mind weakens. Transformation begins on the physical plane of existence: relationships end, careers change, illness arises. Mental and emotional shifts follow.

When the mind loses itself, the ego dies. The death of the ego feels like turmoil, pain, and suffering. These are stepping stones, the path itself, of the spiritual journey. The ego is reborn as a phoenix: love, peace, harmony.

‘Día de la Resistencia Indígena’ (or, Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People)

“But the U.S.A. was still hungry for further domination, so turned south, and by 1954 staged over 55 armed interventions in Latin America.”

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Today offers coverage of the increasingly debated Columbus Day, the federal holiday whose history is excellently captured by NPR’s Lakshmi Gandhi. The Oatmeal offers an easy on the eyes comic to chronicle Columbus’ legacy.columbus_indigenous day

In 1977 at the Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, the idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day first arose. In 1990, a Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance took place, during which a resolution was passed to transform Columbus Day “into an occasion to strengthen our process of continental unity and struggle towards our liberation.” The first occasion of International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples took place October 12, 1992 and has continued since. Read more about the City of Berkeley’s (California) Indigenous Peoples Day.

John Curl, American historian and poet, writes of his poem, “Columbus and the Bay of Pigs”:

The struggle…

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Happy Birthday Gandhi! (or, International Day of Non-Violence, or, Gandhi according to Nehru)

Happy Birthday Gandhiji

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Today marks the United Nations’ International Day of Non-Violence, which annually coincides with the birthdate of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Born on October 2, 1869 in the state of Gujarat, Gandhi studied law in London before spending 20 years as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa. It was here he founded the practice of satyagraha, employing love and truth as a force against injustice. The rest of his life – from 1915 to his death by assassins’ bullets in 1947 – was dedicated to Indian independence from British rule.

Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India, leading the Indian National Congress during the freedom struggle. He worked closely with Gandhi for over three decades – both following and dissenting from the Mahatma’s guidance.

Here are four quotes from Gandhi and four excerpts about Gandhi from Nehru’s The Discovery of India.

  1. “Fearlessness is the first requisite of…

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A standing ovation for five simple words

108 years before 9/11/01, Swami Vivekananda brought a message of truth, peace and unity.

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“Sister and brothers of America”


These words marked the culmination of five years of wandering and the beginning of Swami Vivekananda’s life’s work. These words were met by 7000 people who “went into inexplicable rapture with standing ovation and clapping that lasted for more than three minutes” gathered at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. These words brought a message of unity, tolerance and universal acceptance.
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After five years of wandering India, Swami Vivekananda found himself at the southernmost point of the subcontinent. He witnessed:

“the meeting of the three eternal seas, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal. A fantastic composition of sand, rock and sea at the foot of green hills met his eyes. He stood with awe and wonder […] He was overwhelmed at the sight. The vast, expanse of sky and sea meeting in the distant horizon looked timeless and eternal.”

Despite years of searching he…

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Happy 107th Birthday satyagraha!

108th anniversary of Gandhi’s work of non-violence and the application of truth in society.

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The scene is the Empire Theater in Johannesburg, South Africa, nearly 3000 people gathered to discuss a government ordinance that would affect the 12,000 British Indians residing in the Transvaal state at the time. The database of Gandhi’s writings is huge, including memories of the evening. They chronicle the birth of the use of truth-force in economic, political and social movements, called satyagraha.

The government ordinance required:

  • All Indians over the age of eight to create a certificate of registration with important marks of identification, including fingerprints
  • Presentation of the certificate at any police officer’s request, whenever and wherever, including private houses
  • Fines, imprisonment or deportation in the case of non-compliance

Discussions among the local Indians soon turned to “a fit of passion: ‘If anyone came forward to demand a certificate from my wife, I would shoot him on the spot and take the consequences.’”

At the Sept. 11…

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

“Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”