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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Gifting

My friend Jenny makes gorgeous soft sculpture goddess dolls. Her studio is a custom yard barn that occupies a section of her back yard, and in it she creates wonders like this one, embellished with raku that she and her husband Joe create. Their entire house is a shrine to art, filled with items she and Joe have made and collected over the years. This beauty to the right is on its way to my sister, who is graduating college this weekend, just two weeks shy of her 42nd birthday.

The BBPiT is giving me the gift of a place to create this year: our detached garage is becoming a studio and workshop, with room to spread out and work on those large messy pieces that I can't bring myself to do in the dining room: mosaic tables and book binding and custom painted guitar bodies. Best of all: there's plenty of room for both of us to work out there without stepping on each other's toes, which is so not the case for the dining room.

Dragonstar and I bought most of our other gifts at a local art sale, and I'm making a bunch of items for my friend Beth to give to her family. Beth has donated piles of clothes to us over the past couple years, some of which go into our closets, but most get re-purposed in one way or another, cut up and transformed into fabric mobiles, pillows, and shoulder bags. The items I'm making for her are part of our reciprocal gifting.

There is a sense of balance in this process, a feeling that we are participating in a good economy. What we do doesn't show up as part of the GDP, and it won't help the corporate bottom line, but it is productive nonetheless. It creates the sort of interdependent micro-economy that can give rise to a sustainable community. Not that we think much about that when we're trading art or time or ideas. We do it because it's worthwhile, and it's fun, and it makes us happy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm No Libertarian, But...

On the question of spending priorities, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul could give the Democratic contenders for the White House a lesson on straight talk. In his most recent column for The Nation online, contributing editor Robert Sheer writes:

As Rep. Paul points out, for what the Iraq war costs, we could present each family of four a check for $46,000--which exceeds the $43,000 median household income in his Texas district. He asks: "What about the impact of those costs on education, the very thing that so often helps to increase earnings? Forty-six thousand dollars would cover 90 percent of the tuition costs to attend a four-year public university in Texas for both children in that family of four. But, instead of sending kids to college, too often we're sending them to Iraq, where the best news in a long time is they [the insurgents] aren't killing our men and women as fast as they were last month."

Sheer adds this thought on universal health care:

On this matter of covering the uninsured, it should be pointed out to those who say we (alone among industrialized nations) can't afford it that we could have covered all 47 million uninsured Americans over the past six years for what the Iraq war cost us. How come that choice--war in Iraq or full medical coverage for all Americans--was never presented to the American people by the Democrats and Republicans who voted for this war and continue to finance it?

The theater of politics is a dismal slog these days. And really, was it ever not so?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Mighty Kindness

Quick bit: Particularly for readers within the gravitational pull of Louisville, Kentucky, as well as others who want to be inspired by a creative, artistic, multifaceted, community resource, please take a moment to visit A Mighty Kindness. Newly launched and filled with energy and spirit. Go visit!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Five Ways to Increase the Peace

There was a song we sang at the end of every service at my Science of Mind church. Its first and last lines are, “Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.” Here are five ways to be a more peaceful person.

  • Be nicer to your kids. For some people, just saying “good morning” with a friendly face would be an improvement. No matter where on the scale of “nice” you are, take another step or two. Kids need it.
  • Be nicer to your parents/spouse/significant other. You know: the person or persons who represent the single most significant adult relationship(s) in your life. You profess to love them, right? Well then, love them. They need it, too.
  • Be nicer to your friends and acquaintances. If your friends aren’t worth the effort of a little added nice-ness, they aren’t really friends, and neither are you.
  • Be nicer to strangers. If you’re like me, most of your encounters with strangers come when you are driving your car, and they are driving theirs, and you’re just hulks of steel hurtling along the road. Easy to dehumanize. Easy to toss epithets (or at least think them.) Try sending blessings instead. Yeah, it’s corny. Do it anyway.
  • Be nicer to the nonhuman community. I assume that all living creatures have needs and desires, and that theirs are as valid as mine, and ought to be considered. So I do. And so can you, in whatever way makes sense to you.

If peace is something far away, something to be brokered between warring nations, then it’s a task far beyond my ken or control. If peace begins at home, with me, then it’s easy to find ways to further the cause.

Peace radiates. Pass it on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Sicko

Michael Moore’s Sicko came out on DVD yesterday, and last night the BBPiT and I sat down and watched it.

Today, I have one question for all those people who argue against socialized medicine: why is it okay to socialize the cost of war, to the tune of $12 billion a month and counting, and it’s not okay to socialize the cost of health care? Why is it okay to draw from the common pool of funds to bomb cities and kill people all over the globe, but it's not okay to draw from the common pool of funds to provide people with medicine that will keep them alive? What kind of people are you to think this way?

What kind of people are we to allow this kind of thinking to prevail?

Okay, so that was four questions.