Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Oh, what the hell.....who cares anyway?

How come we women still want to wear make-up, to have plunging necklines, short-skirts, tight clothes, high-heels. Why? For whom? For ourselves? For our own comfort and ease and mobility? Really? To make us count perhaps? To give us the confidence we otherwise lack? So we will be noticed? So we will be seen and heard? To keep making our appearence the primary importance, our primary value? To attract/to distract men, to one-up our own gender? All in an attempt to secure the future of our species? The one we’re already practiced at adept at making increasingly insecure?  

Yup, its all connected, complex for sure, but inter-connected. Can we be blamed, we women and men for repeating our eons of variations of primal patterns, which have now brought us to the point of threatening our own existence? Meantime, we fail to question why. Why? Something about the current undercurrent attack on mothering -- our rapacious violation of Mother Earth and/or the unintended consequences of an ill-considered night of unprotected sex?  Maybe, maybe not, against our will? So, like it or not women, you/we are the ones stuck with pregnancies and gestating and birthing and nursing then decades of mothering, too often alone.  Yeah, why not bring more unwanted children into the world, why do they matter -- let them suffer, right? Oh, yes lets. But breast feed, nah, that's messy? Why no — oh no, leave that baby formula to profit the corporate giants, wont you?

How does our playing the game as the perfectly coiffed anchors on TV, or on titillating magazine covers, or being part of the everyday porn that’s everywhere for everyone undermining our intelligence and the best of the big frontal brains we’re bestowed with. The big brains still sending men — mostly — to war, to kill or be killed and to kill others, innocents, often. The big brains blitzing and blasting both land and sea. The brains too haughty and self-important to identify with ‘we the little people’ while colonizing and taking from our common-wealth, devouring what should be communal natural resources.  And thence the toll we’re taking on kids and their future and the shameful legacy we are leaving them. Who cares? Who....cares?

Wow, have we screwed ourselves. We women and men. Learned about evolution once, did we? Don't think so.  Learned about the need to adapt for the sake of survival? Yeah, but, that’s not for us, eh? Thats just about the birds and bees and other lesser mammals. Nope, we can just go mindlessly on, same old, same old, ducking and denying as is our wont the existential issue of our own dying and death and the abject fear we are fleeing from unconsciously in every moment.

Fear?.... I own it for sure, daily dialogue with mortality and my own end-of-days and my own inadequacies and how they leave me paralyzed and scared. For all my talk of it, at 71, I still haven’t dealt with end of life decisions and all the paper work and DNR's and Advance Directives and Wills and Molsts and proxys and wherefor the ashes? This in spite of the piles of thick files accumulated for years on the topic of non-existence that keep haunting. Oh to be sure, projections and flailings have their uses don't they.

So, yes, angry and sad — angry with myself for feeling useless these days. Angry with the state of the world — the one that reflects how I -- and we -- are all complicit. The one that used to be the big-wide-world out there, the one those dominant patriarchs were supposed to get right rather than stick us with the rigid skewed, self-serving systems we are tangled in today. Anger may not be enlightened but why not be angry at what we -- men and women too -- have so readily bought into. What we have collectively brought upon ourselves through unconsciousness, thoughtlessness and heartlessness and for all our religiosity -- our ignoring the golden rules of those Gods we have sought to conjur and elevate and worship. What will the consequences be of what we have made our priorities: from profit at all cost; to those plungeing necklines; to our plundering the oceans. This last day of July, 2018, as the world burns, methinks it is ours to humbly grieve, and lamentably, to accept the price that is ours to pay.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Birthday America!

Some thoughts on this day, to all you dear, out-of-the-box, friends and relations who in one way or the other are working for, or rooting for, real systemic change. July 4th 1776 -- this day when King George -- what was it lV fourth? Nope, lll -- wrote in his diary "nothing of great import happened today.

We damn Brits, got a lot to answer for. Not least our part in taking over this country. Or the North American continent I should say. And doing so violently and arrogantly and cruelly, taking-- body, land and soul -- from First Nations peoples. Embarrasses me to this day, as it should. Yes --okay -- same way as our lands and lives were battled over and shaped by Picts and Scots and Celts and Romans and Gaels and Vikings and Angles and gypsies and a few survivors from the Armada I guess too! But when you think about the way the US was founded, from Europeans escaping their lack of freedom in home countries thence only to inflict horrendous violence and religion upon others, while stealing their lands. When we know better now, how come these cycles of unconscious and primitive patterns continue? When what humanity is causing is leading to the destruction of its/our life source --- the very thing we collectively and culturally deny, ie, our own death and demise -- WTF homo sapiens?! 

 In the process -- we, Boomers especially who have had it so relatively easy -- inevitably, and okay -- unintentionally, have been a big part of perpetuating the irreversable environmental consequences of that history. Daily made more extreme by the staggering escalation of Trump within this blatantly unethical system that enables him. He from German and Scottish immigrants. That said, I suppose it is no wonder there is something about American politics -- certainly what has morphed into today's version that is based on such blatant dis-honesty. As Zephyr Teachout accurately explains in her book about corruption, back through the generations. And, due to the worst of the patriarchy that's so desperately fighting for its life right now in this, and other countries. And yes, back to those, white, British, models adopted by Ben Franklin. 

That said, how do we deal with the enormously complex and painful issues of immigration we're in the thick of right now, in the ways that it has to change so much of what so many of us have been able to take for granted--national and personal identities, and thus so much to do with the roots of who we are. And yes, here we are now -- of course all benefiting greatly -- thus complicit in the destabilization. At least I'm accepting the extent to which I am, as I sit here with the luxury of so many things: -- four fans working!; fingers on this keyboard; knowing there's something somewhere in the fridge to cobble together for lunch; and later the Woodstock Farm Market for Aba's falafel and today for the short season of shelling peas and music from the Bunkhouse Boys! So, yes, a day --- as we should on any other -- to remember to be grateful for all we do have, especially compared to many millions of others, including here in this discombobulating moment of time, the world over. As Joanna Macy is wont to say -- breakdown is a necessary part of breaking through. Crisis as opportunity, and all that.
 But, -- thankfully -- out of many -- one very sweet for today, for the first time as you know, a Native American woman -- Deb Haaland (actually she is half Norwegian, but that's almost as good) in New Mexico who looks like she may be the first of her people to be voted into Congress!! Yeehaaaa, I say! Let the best of Matriarchal values have their day again -- and let it be soon! Thanks for bearing with these thoughts aloud, if you have! And with that, love to all of you lovely ones -- and yep, for better and worse -- but mostly fo' mo' betta .

...Happy Birthday America! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

(From a #MeToo, this very scant and incomplete perspective of far-reaching issues can only be sweepingly general!).

Paris Accord?  What Paris Accord? EPA?  What EPA?  What is it about the US that’s so knowingly and rapaciously assaulting the source of our existence?  We Boomers have had the best of it. Why is it we’re not probing for the core reasons why we do what we do? And in the process why don't we, for the sake of all life on this our forsaken Earth — more actively seek to change the underlying power dynamic before its too late? Applying bio-logical hard-data from neuroscience is one guideline we can heed to help us frame a way we could adapt and evolve!

Today,  Washington, Wall Street, Corporate and Tech is 80+% men.  And no, this is not an attack on all men. Far from it.  But it is tagging the entrenched capitalistic patriarchy that’s so effectively perpetuating injustice, increasing inequality, diminishing democracy and fueling climate-change. 

Men — biologically built to lead, to dominate, to be strong, to inseminate, to ensure our species’ survival (thanks to how Sam Keen describes it:  “when we men unzip our flies, our brains fall out”) are programmed to fulfill their naturally inherited roles as “protectors and providers”.  While women’s biology makes us bodily vulnerable — built to bleed, to attract, to conceive, to give birth, breast-feed, rear children, house-keep, nurture, nurse and care-take.

Thanks to eons of daring and discovery man’s bold and brilliant exploration, negotiation, calculation, invention, innovation, building & engineering has given us language, cities, the printing-press, electricity, radar, rockets, cars,  train, boats and planes and the Internet…… and with it —for better and worse — the flexibility, mobility, comfort, speed and relative ease of our today’s fossil-fueled “Petroculture”.

The primal and predominantly masculine drive for power and control has been about fighting for, or defending turf, thus to kill or be killed.  Let’s not forget during this time of peace we take so easily for granted it’s a result of centuries of conflict and war when men have had, to, and still do (rightly or wrongly?) risk life and limb.  As the tribal impulse to attack and differentiate necessitates dehumanizing and the denial of empathy and feeling — how else could men be conditioned to undertake their historically dangerous  tasks?

No surprise then — in innate response to fear — testosterone-fueled violence and risk-taking is found more in the brains of men than women and oxytocin-enhanced feelings of empathy and relatedness — and with it more ethics* —-  are more predominant in women than men (*see Dr. Paul Zak). Isn’t being aware of these basic biological facts reason to be more forgiving of ourselves and each other by better understanding the origins of the culturally conditioned power-dynamic we’ve inevitably inherited which currently is, as it needs to be -- re-set, sustaining, sustainable and re-generative. 

Acknowledging the roots of the limits of our collective consciousness that’s enabled our outdated political systems to be so unquestioned is pivotal to integrating new understandings and to encourage frank and open conversations between women and men -- young and old.  As women’s progress increasingly threatens the ‘men-at-the top’ status-quo, it is ours to recognize why male patterns of dominance are still rooted in primitive imprints of mammalian history and anatomy.  Thence,  for us all to accept and appreciate more about our similarities and — thankfully — our differences,  and move on together harmoniously from here?!  

It took Trump’s grotesque extremes to trigger this transitional moment.  The varying levels of predation and arrogance men have taken for granted that women have suffered for eons must be over.  #MeToo and #TimesUp etc are more crucial catalysts for vital systemic change.  To say nothing of the #NeverAgain, smart gutsy kids of Parkland who deserve our total support and who now even need Twitter protection from the NRA.  Time’s up for the tiny minority of male oligarchs who monopolize the world.

This is a call to all of us — to good men and women alike — to heed the signals and to respect and give voice to the unquantifiable human qualities of interconnectedness and caring that exist within all of us.  To do it for ourselves, for each other, for our children — and for Mother Earth — before we have to escape from this little Blue Planet and head for Mars or the Moon — Mr’s Bezos and Musk!

Would love to talk about all or any of this.  Anyone else?

Thursday, February 1, 2018


February 1st -- response to Vince and Karen's response to Geoff's excellent Conscious Elders Community Conversation today:  -- A SELF-REGULATING EARTH -- Gaia Theory and Deeptimewalk 💙

Vince you write about our normalizing violence, power and wealth -- thus compounding inequality and divisiveness which for me can be greatly explained by Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. But the question is, how to use our heads -- and hearts -- to apply understanding of his or any thesis to aid in self-regulating ourselves! Iain prudently won't touch gender issues though it is hard not to draw parallels with his brain asymmetry and the 80% men who run Washington, Wall Street, the world of Tech and pretty much everything else. And increasingly, our lives and the future dubiously shaped by the brilliant impersonal metrics of ( left-hemisphere) algorithms.

As a #MeToo and early Feminist, I'm horrified to admit being grateful to Trump! His titanically extreme example of the hyper-masculine, patriarchal system, dominating this country -- as you succinctly put it, Sunny -- is actually helping inocculate us from the toxic shadow of the embedded capitalist/consumer/bullying system he embodies!  As Joanna Macy would say -- things breaking apart for a break-through to emerge. Amen!

There is SO much women owe you men. You have been fodder for war. Is it any wonder so many are closed off from feelings. Seen Dunkirk? And you, Richard -- in Vietnam?

Of course with women alongside -- but for better and worse -- how much men have conjured we so easily for granted: iPhones/apps/Google/Apple/Facebook/Twitter/Uber/Zoom/cars/boats/planes/TV/electric light/the printing press/penicillin/plastic/exploration/engineering/architecture/religion/government/banking/politics/the wheel/ art/music and on and on and on! Changing the chemistry of this Planet in the process, and we Boomer's have had the best of it.

Hard to argue with Stephan saying we are doomed, but CEN and this group is a reassuring example of the consciousness that perhaps could help turn our species around? More than anything, via men with heart and soul and an integration of the best of the Feminine and Masculine. I'm doing my feeble best to encourage conversations locally to hopefully increase our understanding and acceptance of each other. A few hard-data understandings from biology and neuroscience we didn't know decades ago can help reduce polarization and judgement.

Methinks however, pivotal to it all this pearl of wisdom from a Men's Movement workshop 30 years ago -- where women were invited -- led by the venerable Robert Bly and Sam Keen who got the ball rolling by confessing "the trouble is, when we men open our flies, our brains fall out"!  Thereby hangs the most natural primal bodily need to preserve and reproduce. One that deserves to be more fully accepted and acknowledged and as basic birds and bees...and we females have surely played our part.  

But the need to meet and listen and talk about all this, and to suspend judgement and pull on the oars together is surely one course to chart? In the process, doing more about making conscious our unchecked urge for survival that's bringing about its opposite -- before we we founder for ever on some faraway shore.  We are all in the same boat after all!

Monday, October 16, 2017

thoughts before Being Fearless, at Omega...

.... an attempt at fearless...a plea from me, a seventy year old Feminist

and Environmentalist ...and one who loves men!
and who for decades has vehemently criticized their unquestioned dominance
and now
deeply alarmed at the extreme, hyper-masculinization of this country
and what, every other but Iceland?
this to say nothing of the centuries-old intractable violation of women around the world 
and the ongoing dismissal of Feminine Principles.
for which today, more than ever
life on Earth is paying a price.

Perpetuated by the masculinized influence of science and technology swiftly accelerating and disuniting global dynamics

men — yes mostly the work of men — for all their stratospheric brilliance increasing our galactic, connect-ability, AI, and ironically diluting individual identity thus igniting a new crisis, 
a new uncertainty

All spinning so much faster than our outmoded systems can manage

—like those governing the US for a few hundred years —
the imbalance is more intractable and complex every day
a protracted destabilization occurring around us
is there a Center that will hold?
for there is a crack in everything —
among nations; in politics; democracy, the law; our environment; economy; the media; education; gender; race; religion; work, immigration; health-care; corporate monopolies,
and more than anything our ethics, principles, integrity and honesty;
and most importantly
our children's future, all life on earth....and this planet, herself

BUT, HERE’S SOME GOOD NEWS, if we’d use it!

there is HARD DATA we have access to now to apply and—hopefully— wisely adopt so we adapt in time -- it makes women’s lived experience more quantifiable and legit — something we can optimize now —information we didn’t know a few years ago...

the infinitesimal, but staggeringly significant, neurological/biological/molecular/differences that exist between women and men . . .

It gives us a new way to accept and define and forgive ourselves and that opposite ‘other’ and to seek to bridge and heal the gaps

needed now more than ever

it is for all of us to acknowledge one more valid reason for women to fearlessly heed ourselves 
and to be heeded

— our hearts and brains are needed — as never before! —

The most violent way women have suffered for eons

—depicted clearly this week by the Weinstein example has at least broken a silence —
it is still too grotesquely commonplace in too many places around the world, and, alas, still muzzled And, no, not forgiving that ‘predatory’ behavior most of us know only too well.

But, if we tap into our fearlessness and the best of who we are, now we have more reason to rationalize (if we need to) and understand each other more than ever before

and to soften the blame and projections now that neuroscience offers a new way


to be deeply grateful for this science and what it tells us
about ourselves
of qualities more innate in women that make us more neurologically,‘prosocial’ than men.
Crucially — we are less inclined to need power than the biological dictates of the “extreme male brain” Women’s more natural empathy— out of which ethics emerge, shows us to be more innately moral than men,

helps explain why ethics are so lacking in Washington and Wall Street (80+% male)

Isn’t it our responsibility then, we women?

(and you, the many men, who, thankfully, get it!)
to be confident activating and speaking up for more feminine inclinations? More reason to speak out— however imperfectly — for the greater good And why not reach out to men in new ways, not to seduce, or negate or shame —or to feed the objectification in skin-tight clothes and six inch heels
but to acknowledge and empathize — using our strength
to tap into what we know in our bodies and bones
...that have born us all....

As this planet tilts and our world shifts

gender roles morph — masculine & feminine merge — not without resistance
young men’s fears and needs surface—vulnerability not just women’s turf any more 
as we become tougher
and it seems necessarily vociferous for vulva and vagina, thus we become more daunting —
what is a guy to do these days? 
Today some response manifests in a growing ‘broculture’— 
men looking more to each other for support 
Others band together in Silicon Valley to counter their protesting women subordinates
One heartwarming sign, the existence of an awesome organization like https://goodmenproject.com
standing for open-ness, honesty and ethics
“a conversation no one is having”
check them out — there’s a lot there to teach us all.

Yes, it is up to us — all

to use our deepest human understanding from which ethics emerge to stand alongside men
in ways that, up until now because they have been unquantifiable have not counted in this culture
the ways of — yes, love —- and caring — and connection
and the knowing that, like it or not
women or man, black or white, old or young
we’re all in this together
and this Mother Earth, is in the meantime what gives us and sustains life 
For now, she is the only home we have....
....this little blue planet 
whose destiny, is our destiny’.....

Monday, May 29, 2017

as well as the many MEN WHO — THANKFULLY — GET IT!

With the current instability of geopolitics, the environment, 
the economy and global inequality 
how different might this world be if our national & global systems 
updated to incorporate the feminine principles of interconnectedness 
in every decision made, everywhere, especially in politics! 

•     In his decades dedicated to researching the Divided Brain (thedividedbrain.com) Dr. Iain McGilchrist stresses while we use the whole of our brains, the world today is paying an increasing price for the ongoing dominance of the brilliant, but blinkered, systematizing, hierarchical proclivities of the brain's left-hemisphere--exemplified by the current status-quo. McGilchrist's lament is the resulting lack of integration of the contextual, flexible, big-picture perspective of our more empathic, lateral, right-hemisphere.

•    Dr. Michael Gazzaniga, author of The Ethical Brain, makes the point that the left-hemisphere “will stick to its belief system no matter what". McGilchrist reiterates in his summation of the rigid left side as “the side that doesn’t know what it doesn’t know!” (Yes, political lefts and rights are the reverse!)

•     Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen’s research described in The Essential Difference and Science of Evil: On Empathy & the Origins of Cruelty differentiates between men and women by tagging "the extreme male brain" to be less empathic and more tending toward autism. According to Gazzaniga, Baron-Cohen’s book “lays the scientific groundwork for a brighter science of understanding of the dark side of the human condition.” 

•    In his book, The Moral Molecule: How Trust Works, Dr. Paul Zak presents his lab's research on the prosocial, bonding, qualities of the neuropeptide oxytocin -- 'the love hormone.' Zak describes oxytocin as inducing empathy which in turn fosters feelings of trust, safety and forgiveness. He applauds the resulting qualities of reciprocity and understanding as what stimulates respect for differences -- gender, race, religion, skin color, tribe, politics, belief, value systems, etc. The Golden Rule at the universal heart of our world's major religions -- now substantiated by science -- bids us 'do unto others what you would have them do to you.'

•  By contrast, Kray & Haselhuhn in Scientific American show in competitive situations (think politics and the corporate culture) men’s more naturally testosterone-driven impulse to win and succeed results in their having lower moral and ethical standards, more inclined to reactionary violence thus making men more inclined than women to sabotage and undermine opponents.

 • Nobel winner Joseph Stiglitz defines economics as America’s #1 religion clearly discouraging competition as he encourages co-operation and collaboration. Recent studies show students of business and economy (more frequently men and characteristically left-hemisphere motivated) to be more inclined to self-interest, competitiveness and sociopathy than those who opt for the fields of Law, the sciences, humanities.

 • Nobel Laureate Professor James Heckman’s work on "the economics of human potential” contextualizes the inherent costs of the 'empathy-deficit' that exists in society's over-valuing of cognitive (left-hemisphere) skills, particularly in the crucial fields of early brain development and education. 

 • Sherry Turkle, in her book Alone Together, adds research on the impact of technology and social media as significantly reducing empathy activation thus diminishing the ability to relate one-on-one. She makes the point that grounded face-to-face reality enables us to better relate to, and understand, each other’s similar and different experience. 

 • The Atlantic magazine's Lisa Mundy in “Why Silicon Valley is so Awful to Women” quotes Joelle Emerson and others describing implicit and explicit gender bias and sexism in the (very left-hemisphere) world of technology -- initiated and led by a handful of men -- that now dominates the globe. Women working in tech today make up between 15% and 30%. 

 • Decades ago, Dr’s Carol Gilligan, Deborah Tannen, and Riane Eisler's and neurosurgeon, Leonard Shlain's best-selling books focused on the inherent gender imbalance evident in our culture and exemplified in language -- a left-hemisphere strength. Today in Washington, the political Right's narrower, more direct and assertive left-hemisphere message proves simpler to convey in sound-bites than the Democratic Party's more all-embracing right-hemisphere platform. Currently in the US House of Representatives, 19% are women -- 78 Democratic and 26 Republican.

(To keep the above, very brief, synthesis simple, my take on how this understanding can change the world is obviously sweepingly general! That said, understanding our common physiological differences as well as similarities opens the door to more easily seeing -- though not necessarily agreeing with -- those who think or act differently. Best scenario -- this understanding enables us to better "hold the tension of the opposites" so that an alliance between the left and right -- brain hemispheres and political parties -- might be possible. A middle way? At a time when more women are speaking out, the intention here is to expand and extend the concept of Feminism by adding this science-based criteria extolling the virtues of the right-hemisphere's manifestation of 'Feminine principles'. The 'soft' virtues that neuroscience tells us are not exclusive to women (although they may be more innately resonant with women) but also to the very many men who get it, customarily not corporate or political leaders! With partcular thanks to the work of the men whose neuroscience is referenced here -- as well as the prescient women -- all have  affirmed the blessing of the life-enhancing values of empathy. A level of mutual caring which should be a goal for us all to acknowledge and work toward -- if for no other ethical reason, for future generations. For the sake of all life on Earth, we urgently need to awaken from our easy Western complacency and apply this knowledge to how and where humanity goes from here -- personally and collectively, locally and globally. Lets just hope it will be soon enough.)

We are all in this together....and reminder from Father Thomas Berry:
                                    "The destiny of this planet, is our destiny"

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A moment with Lilac

A moment with lilac
and other things
John Betjeman, and Beatrix Potter books
a Crail mug
and tall scissors
from another time
the curtain moves
the blue dark, folded
yellow finch on bird feeder
now a red one
Forsythia branch
still swaying
loved paintings
gather dust
refrigerator working
all else is quiet
but fingers tapping
on an actual keyboard
and hands looking older
because they are 
been so many places
touched so many things
and people 
how many
over seven decades
in Dusseldorf
and Cologne
and Taos Pueblo
and Truro here
and Truro there
Pont Alexandre
and Westminster Bridge
the Skye ferry
and Covent Garden
so Drury Lane
and Adelaide 
via Dubai
and Malaga
when oranges were on trees
hands that bake bread
and held reins
that have never been to India
nor Languedoc
but cut Blue Spruce
split kindling
loved violets
and put this lilac
in water

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Talking of blessings.......

Dr Jim Doty's Magic Shop review--Neural Correlates of the Heart

The Neural Correlates of the Heart – Scientific and ...


Straddling...lefts and rights

Most of us have had it easy, here in America. Speaking for myself, we boomers have/had it too easy. Uncomfortably hoist now, on our own petards, we’re faced with ourselves and this trumpery we brought about — consequences of our comfort and indolence, freedoms and ease. 

Jung talked about the ‘tension of the opposites’ — of bearing the burden of being pulled betwixt and between, of this way and that, of spirt and matter, hubris and humility, anger and anxiety, love and fear of its lack, or loss-- just think about how many make life what it is.  And here we are in America -- impaled upon a cross, pulled between left and right, Republican and Democrat...and within each of those ...differences, that brought about mind boggling brilliane and creativity -- I mean --- how did those 7 new planets which are millions of light years away, come to be spotted from here! How are there millions of people flying around in the air above us right now? How are we still having to protect our turf like primates as if we didn't now know better -- as if we didn't know we're all in this together and that cooperate would be a better thing to guide us, than corporate....and thankfully, this is just me talking to myself!

But what about all THE OPPOSITES WITHIN WHICH WE EXIST….ours to resolve ...and to consider ..we can’t have one, without the other, there would not be one, without the other...

spirit/matter    father/mother    body/soul   life/death   day/night    inner/outer    male/female    implicit/explicit    introvert/extrovert    anima/animus    conscious/unconscious    either/or    up/down    on/off   in/out   I/thou   right/wrong   left/right — (hands/hemispheres/politics)   dark/light    true/false   truth/lies   future/past  open/closed   heart/soul   young/old   X/Y chromosomes   sleep/awake   black/white    attract/repel   expand/contract   this way/and that   loud/silent    stop/start   self/other
knowing/unknowing   love/hate   courage/fear   high/low   fast/slow   easy/hard   less/more   short/long   north/south    east/west good/bad   fixed/flexible    plus/minus    offense/defense   tight/loose    social/anti-social   rich/poor    push/pull
together/apart    heavy/light   thick/thin    short term/long term   add/subtract    objective/subjective   hope/despair  problem/solution
parent/child   big/small   shallow/deep    measurable/immeasurable   safe/dangerous    absent/present   sun/moon    blunt/pointed
overt/covert   obvious/obscure    happy/sad    win/loose    first/last    few/many   give/take   beautiful/ugly   bright/dull   empty/full
hungry/satiated    asleep/awake   him/her   deny/accept   offer/receive   local/global   circle/square   multiply/divide   add/subtract
sooner/later    back/front   straight/curve   affirm/deny   listen/speak    war/peace    long term/short term   summer/winter
spring/fall    selfish/unselfish   clean/dirty    loose/tight    cooked/raw    abstract/concrete    theory/practice    mountain//valley
sea/shore    wild/tame    similar/different    weak/strong    yours/mine    town/country   apples/oranges   dogs/cats
rural/urban   guns/no guns    drunk/sober    crisis/opportunity    truth/lies    competitive/cooperative   wet/dry   friend/enemy   sweet/sour

.....is there no beginning....is there no end?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Left, Right, or Center?

Left, Right, or Center?
The day after the election, flying back across the Atlantic — Edinburgh to Newark, Europe to the USA, headlines of British and Irish newspapers were full of it —“from this moment on, its going to be America First” , “Trump Offers A Fearful Vision”, “Trump’s New World Order Begins” A clenched fisted “America First”, “Trump is Hired YOU’RE FIRED”, “In God We Trust”, and in The (Glasgow) Herald —“The World Holds its Breath”
It was — is — good to be home here in the Hudson Valley after what was an intrepid January trip — over the sea to Skye — one of the most dramatic and darkly beautiful islands in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. We’d journeyed there to visit psychiatrist and literary scholar, Dr. Iain McGilchrist, and to chew over questions about our off-kilter world, about how human-nature is tinkering with the chemistry of the planet and thus with its — and our — future. 
Unpacking some of McGilchrist’s evolutionary answers from his decades of research into The Divided Brain is a prod for us to take a hard look at where we are, and why, and how, and to figure out what it would take to alter course — not least, because of the current destabilizing bluster and bungled state of American affairs. 
For those of us whipsawed, daily, by the increasingly divisive assault on democracy, perhaps it is a prudent time to remember what John Muir said a hundred years ago: —“that when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe”. McGilchrist’s expansive work on The Divided Brain — soon to be premiered in a mind-altering” Canadian documentary — reflects Muir’s prescient perspective, so lost in our global shuffle. Thanks to neuroscience, we now have the benefit of a ground-breaking thesis to tackle the unhitched thinking that dominates the workings of the Western World!
As the Washington/Wall Street cabal takes over the country we’d be wise to heed McGilchrist’s warnings, distilled as they are from his extraordinarily wide fields of research in philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, history, literature, myth, art and music. His critical point::- without recognition of longer-term, big-picture thinking we’re leaving ourselves, our children, and all life-on-earth increasingly vulnerable to irreversible environmental, economic, social and political instability.
With more neural connections in our heads than the 100,000 galaxies in the universe — not exactly hard to compute that brains are a tad more complex than the old ‘emotion on the right, reason on the left’. In his momentous and much acclaimed volume from 2009 The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World - McGilchrist defines the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between our brain’s separate lateral halves — left and right hemispheres. The left side now seen to be more fixed, analytic, mechanistic, systematizing, and detached, while the proclivities of the right, less verbal, more visual, flexible, synthesizing, and most crucially — contextual.
Paradoxically, the polarizing political Left and Right are the reverse of our brains! The short-sighted, authoritarian, silo’d metrics of the left-hemisphere pretty much tag the Republican Right, while the inclusive, less rigid, broader-based, unquantifiables of the right-hemisphere, closer to the Democratic Left. Worth noting that the less concise and more holistic Democratic platform is harder to sum-up and convey in succinct soundbites compared to the GOP’s sharp, hierarchical, proclamations.  
We are duly cautioned then, that by leaving the left-brain — which, by the way, “is the side that does not know what it does not know”! — to its customary power-hungry devices, it will keep compounding our increasingly fractious political and financial systems and their far-reaching consequences. That said, while McGilchrist credits the left-brain’s staggering scientific brilliance and stratospheric technological merits, he emphasizes our hemispheres naturally coexist and function together. Now, more than ever it is ours to differentiate and acknowledge each hemispheres’ fundamentally opposite sets of values and qualities to better judge where and how we go from here — while we still have time.
In the interest of stepping into fewer mine-fields and maintaining a focus on his invaluable and densely researched thesis on the right/left divide (one that’s controversial for some with left-brained leanings!) McGilchrist deliberately avoids touching on any parallel with gender opposites. He leaves it to us —  women, and thankfully also many men — who resonate with his unequivocal left-hemispheric affirmation and honoring of the right-hemisphere, to speak out for the ‘feminine’ principles of relatedness and intuition — ashamedly discounted for millennia.
When what unquestionably governs our world is a masculinized concept of priorities, McGilchrist’s neurologically (and physiologically) grounded position is a welcome ‘objective’ and credible argument adding muscle to the activism so many of us are engaged in. The very visible protests and marches — primarily and necessarily led by women — are a timely and wholly appropriate reaction to the deeply engrained and ancient levels of misogyny that remain all too painfully prevalent and disempowering today.
This new explanation of the personal and planetary price paid for society’s innate tendency to disregard the all-encompassing right-side of our brain calls on us to deepen our understanding of the complexities — and the consequences — of the human condition. 
The question then is, while the world holds its breath — whether we be woman or man — can we integrate enough of this knowledge to help ourselves and each other be at peace with the richness of our differences?  Can we act fairly enough — as individuals and collectively — to build a ‘center’ able to ‘hold the tension of the opposites’? Can we meet the challenge, together, to cultivate a more balanced and humane understanding — Left with Right? Can we do it before it’s too late…..for ourselves, and our forsaken Mother Earth?  

We’re all in the same boat, after all — and it is hitched to everything else in the Universe!