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Barack is the UNUM

So here we are in the middle of the new season of presidential elections. I’m watching and I’m concerned.
In the very late 90’s I finally applied for US citizenship after 33 years of living in this country. Why I waited so long I don’t know, I think I felt the trade off between getting to vote but having to do jury duty made it worth while. I did not realize how deeply I had disenfranchised myself; how much I had allowed myself to hold a space of distance from my chosen country of residence. Finally becoming a citizen was just great. It was like taking a deep breath and sinking into the couch between good friends rather than sitting beside the party in a straight backed chair.

Then I voted. I was so excited, it was inevitable; my guy was (is) great, he was for sure going to win – that was Al Gore and you know how it ended. That happened again in 2004 so needless to say my new privilege to have my vote count has proved fruitless, so far. But I am undaunted. I will be back at the machines (I hope I can trust them) in November to vote for Barack. I would have loved to vote for Hillary but the issues are more important than the candidate and I will vote democratic.

It turns out though that Barack Obama is a superb example of the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” He is himself a man who is “Out of Many, One” and he exemplifies the exalted idea that we can not only tolerate diversity but that we can excel because of it. Barack gets it, he lives it.

It seems to me that very recently perhaps during this last heated primary race we have moved in consciousness from a climate of tolerance regarding diversity toward a climate of celebration. It is my hope that we will recognize diversity and celebrate, honor and respect its various expressions. That may be happening right now but it needs pointing out.

For example: we have no arguments with Chinese food, Italian pizza, sushi, and Matzoh balls. Perhaps the only food discriminated against is English fruitcake – I don’t get it I love fruitcake, but I think the discrimination is not because it’s English but because it’s dense and Americans like fluffy cake. We also seem to universally enjoy diverse music – African drums, Indian chanting, digeridoos and other ethnic sounds appear in all kinds of music. Protests and complaints are minimal; Sting, Carlos Santana and Robert Plant/Jimmy Page have all produced award winning “e pluribus” type music with diverse sounds creating excellent unified sounds.

Many gifts of diversity are forged together to make this country into the incredibly interesting and exciting place that we enjoy today. For example we are made from English legal precedents from as far back as the Magna Carta, Indian spiritual gems from the Ancient Vedas, Spanish music graduating from acoustic to electric guitar, French fashion style, Italian high design, African rythm and passion, Chinese work ethic, food, and fabrics and it goes on and on. All this enriches our lives. No part of our culture, society or personal lives can be seen to be untouched by the gifts of diversity that make up this US of A. But we have to remember that this all comes from people, from individuals who bring their passion, their work ethic and their resources together to make an offering to life here in America.

“E Pluribus, Unum” is a great motto, a motto that permits us as United States to re-envision and to remake ourselves as we incorporate more and more many into the one. “May you live in exciting times” is the old Chinese proverb – curse or blessing who knows but here we are, living in exciting times. If we can hold the mandate to celebrate diversity we will always live in exciting times for diversity creates change and change is exciting when celebrated rather than feared.

Walking the Earth

Walking the Earth is a light weaving practice for Peace and Harmony. There are two parts to the exercise one is awareness of your transcendent self, and that through the other which is awareness of the physical self. It is a practice and a prayer for peace and harmony, an invocation that invites the awareness and embodiment of peace to be here with us right now.

First while walking as you normally do visualize a bright flame of white light and send it down from the center of your heart and through your feet into the center of the earth. See this light connect your heart to the heart of Gaia, think of her as live, conscious, vibrant and feel her welcome.

Then shoot that flame up from your heart and out through the top of your head beyond the stratosphere of the earth and on up into the center of the universe and the heart of God; feel his welcome. Remember always to ground first, especially if you are walking the city streets.

Now you are walking a column of light and consciousness, walk with this awareness as long as you wish and wherever you wish. You are weaving light as you do; bringing consciousness and love wherever you go. I find this to be a sweet and calming practice that brings me into the moment of the walk and creates space to enjoy each step with focus and purpose.

The second part of the practice is to be very aware of your body. This I learned from my cat, Takata, who at one time extricated himself from a tight corner at the food bowl by very carefully backing out so as not to disturb his brother, Hawayo, who was still eating at the same bowl. When I saw this I thought about the times I have bumped people on the street and also those times that I have been bumped, sometimes quite hard.
Remember that walking with awareness creates a respect for yourself, your body, your space, and therefore also the space of others who may be not quite as aware as you are. With this awareness and grace we can move through our world and our lives in this garden of grace without even the slightest disturbance of the body and mind and thereby practice harmony.

If bumped do not consider it an affront or disrespect, I know this is hard, I have a hard time with it; but instead think of it as a blessing. Imagine a piece of your sacred light bouncing from you through the bump to the other and lighting them up with the gift of the light that you have cultivated. Like a match lighting another match. After all it takes two to bump and somewhere an unconscious agreement for this magical encounter and exchange arose between you.
Think of a school of fish or a flock of birds moving together in perfect synchrony. Remember that we are that harmony too – always.

Unum meaning?

Now that I am beginning to develop the products associated with this art series, I think it is important to clarify the true meaning of this E Pluribus initiative. I am not really in the business of selling flags, or making and selling cards, posters, jewelry or other hopefully exciting items that may come from the E Pluribus inspiration, I am only in the business of touching an idea and attempting to make that idea real, tasty and deeply felt. That idea is that we are all one – UNUM. However, I hope that you will buy these products so that together we may share this principle of unity and respect for each other.

E Pluribus might be thought of as a new idea technology. It is a technology for living together. Think of it, billions of dollars are spent almost daily on the technology of war, technology to keep us apart and fearful of each other; what if we spent even a fraction of that considering how we can live together in harmony?

This is not really a new idea; it has been done throughout history. There have always been intersections of culture where brilliant enhancements to civilization have blossomed. Pasta, flamenco, and jazz grew by cultural fusion. Silk, coffee and law as we know it would not enhance our lives if not for exchange of ideas and of knowledge.

We are one in so many ways as humans no matter what race we are our DNA proves to be only minimally variable. But what about the greater part of ourselves – that part that feels, loves, cares, strives, shares, expresses and lives? That part of us that seeks out love and cares for family; how different is that in each of us? I can only imagine how you may feel when you experience loss or love or triumph or humiliation by examining how I feel under those circumstances. When I do that and I conclude that my experience is probably similar if not the same as yours then I desire from the bottom of my heart that you will have the very best experience in this life.

One of the best books I’ve ever read, The Bhagavad Gita, speaks of the nature of war and refers to the dharmic war as opposed to the adharmic war. The dharmic war is the righteous war, not in the Christian sense of a righteousness that is explained or taught but in a sense that is a heartfelt understanding of what is good and right and respectful. In the adharmic war the opponent is seen as inhuman, some kind of devil and is treated as less than oneself and represented as evil. Sound familiar? This is how human beings can be convinced to kill someone else who is exactly like themselves- a person who strives to live a good life and provide the best for their family.

I know: some of my friends think I’m crazy. So OK maybe there are a few “bad apples” but the rest of us don’t need to follow those trouble makers. If we follow our hearts we can’t follow trouble.

Instead let’s look for and create technologies for living together. This E Pluribus initiative is about inspiration and celebration of diversity, it is about showing off how we can live together even though we may live differently. DIverse dress, food, music, customs, celebrations, worship, lifestyles and yes, even religions enhance our civilized world. I hope to build an E PLURIBUS shop where you can share your products that celebrate diversity along with mine. All ideas are welcome and will be carefully considered.

My first recommendation in the spirit of this blog is a new book by Ed Strosser and Michael Prince entitled, “STUPID WARS”. The premise of the book is if we haven’t learned how to stop fighting each other by reading about “successful” war efforts then let’s examine the really dumb campaigns. I haven’t finished the book so I am not writing a review, but right off the top it is funny and engaging.

buy STUPID WARS

www.stupidwars.com

Remember the Flushing Remonstrance

Last week I was amazed and not surprised to learn about the Flushing Remonstrance, today is the 350 year anniversary of that remarkable act of courage by 30 inhabitants of the Town of Flushing. All United States citizens should know it, I was amazed that I had never heard of this document before but not surprised that such a thing would originate in Queens. Queens is a remarkable example of harmonious coexistence of diverse cultures and respect for all religions today and so it is not surprising that even in its origins it was so.

The Flushing Remonstrance is a remarkable protest written in 1657 by the Town Clerk and the Schout (or sheriff) and also signed by 28 residents of the colony. It was delivered to Peter Stuyvesant in response to a decree that no colonist should welcome Quakers into the community. Peter Stuyvesant was then governor of the New Netherlands.
I particularly love this part of the remonstrance:

“The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage.”

It goes on to include Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists or Quakers as those they would be glad to,”see anything of God in them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us”
And finally to make the point perfectly clear the concluding chapter says this:

“Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences”

As a result of the letter Stuyvesant jailed and then banished the Town Clerk and the Shout and appointed a new Flushing Town government.

It takes individuals to make war and it takes individuals to make peace. If we are looking carefully at events today and back through history we may notice that it takes much more courage to make peace than it does to make war. It is ironic, sad, and immensely disappointing that on this historic day of remembering the signing of the Flushing Remonstrance that we hear about the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. So many Pakistanis have been welcomed into Queens. I ask a simple question – if Pakistanis can live in harmony in Queens with Jews, Christians and Hindus in close proximity; how can this kind of harmony and respect infect the consciousness of those in Pakistan.
Even though this is a document not well remembered and little celebrated, the Flushing Remonstrance is a document of such significance that its brilliant ideals were incorporated into the United States Constitution 134 years after its signing in the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

Please remember the Flushing Remonstrance; celebrate its high ideals. Like the inhabitants of the new Town of Flushing in 1657 we live in a very small world – people of diverse religions and cultures live right next door. We are all siblings and we are enriched by the presence of diverse ideas, expressions, and paths to the divine.

To read the Flushing Remonstrance please go to: http://www.nyym.org/flushing/remons.html

To read the Constitution go to: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am1

Welcome to E PLURIBUS first blog

Welcome to my very first E PLURIBUS blog. I am so excited to be able to share this art project; my passion, with everyone in this way. It is time to celebrate, time to be joyful, time to share and love each other.

E PLURIBUS, UNUM, our motto from the United States Great Seal, is a fantastic statement. Here we all are living together in harmony, in difference of personal and cultural expression but still in harmony.

Though the art project E PLURIBUS seems to be a very American project; almost an iconic nationalistic rally, I think of it really as a type of village earth celebration. This is not to say that I would like to see Old Glory representing countries other than the USA itself but it is to say that the ideologies and principles of the USA for living and working together are precious, and dear to so many around the entire world and it is imperative that we protect those principles.

It is imperative that in the darkest of times we protect the light of reason and hope that the United States Constitution shouts out shines forth throughout the ages and throughout the world. It is imperative that we approach each other even though we may seem different with respect, recognition and the absolute conviction that we are no different from each other.

To so many around the world the United States of America represents hope, freedom, happiness, prosperity, peace, opportunity, success, enlightenment and so many exalted ideas that assure us of a rich life well worth living no matter where we come from. That’s why so many of us come here year after year.

These ideas are deeply threatened today. Much of what has happened over the last six years has deeply eroded worldwide trust in our ability to uphold the exalted high standards of freedom and respect for all laid out for us in the brilliant Constitution written by our founding fathers. It is my hope that we can and will together correct this. A great start will be to share how we actually do live together here in this country in peace and in harmony. We can share with others the fact that mixed and diverse cultures can survive and even thrive together.

I would never recommend that anyone fight for peace but rather instead I recommend that we gently propose HARMONY. In harmony many notes and tempos coexist creating excitement, contrast and interest. It takes all the diverse instruments in the orchestra to thrill the audience with the symphony of sound. AND the miraculous thing is that here we are living within that harmony, living together, loving each other.

Let’s celebrate that harmony in diversity, share that, show it off, enjoy it and be in harmony with each other – live and let live. “Out of Many, One” one great nation made out of the entire world; harmony at home is a small step from harmony worldwide if we really welcome it, celebrate it, focus on it and let it fill our lives.

The interactive quality of this project E PLURIBUS is most important to me. As E PLURIBUS moves forward I look forward to many ways to involve you in the creative, celebration process. I hope you will check in regularly and keep in touch.

Blessings to all,
Muriel