1) True smiling, like the delight we are born with. 2) Smiling-for-power, as with brand mascots, fashion models, online avatars, and employees working in customer service jobs. 3) The Smiling-of-Power. The dangerous smile of the ego’s self-satisfaction when its power is increased. Think Jamie Dimon. 4) The Smiling-of-Denial. Smiling endlessly for cheap cameras, hiding the fact that you bored in the middle of the Disneyland.
Those are the four types of smiles identified by my friend Dr. James Freund from Lancaster University. I wonder if my own smile has some elements of all four of your categories, Jim, or maybe I go from type to type as I go through my day. I don't want to feel bad that I smile. I like to smile. I smile when there's no reason sometimes - to feel better? To cheer up the people around me. Sometimes it's all I've got to give others. Or I might try to smile after sadness passes, and smiling-while-sad can be good, too. I would like to have that child's true smile always there, inside, nearby - even if I'm standing on a bull-dozer, or in a bank lobby with a radical amphibian, or in a jail cell. That smile is an original creation gift. Don't want to grow out of it. I know that feeling happiness can be a vanishing promised land when you try to live the moral life, especially an activist moral life. That's why activists should work in loving groups. An activist shouldn't isolate - with the state of the world so depressing. Amen?
Of course I have a true smile offered to me from Lena's 3 year old face. It's a powerful burst of sunlight. Although Lena can darken on a dime into a storm of true crying! Watch out! Earthalujah!
I am on the F Train. The intercom says that we have an important announcement from the New York police. “Keep careful watch over your belongings. Protect yourself.” I look down at my backpack between my feet. The intercom starts talking again. “Backpacks are subject to random search by the New York police.”
I’m coming from visiting my friend. She’s in the hospital, in the burn center, not conscious. She’s bravely surviving, surrounded by loved ones and hooked up to sophisticated machines. The man sitting next to me in the subway car interrupts. He’s struggling to stand up as the train slows down. He’s pulling on his leg. We stop at Jay Borough Hall and the doors open. The man can’t get up. He won’t make it to the door in time.
The man is limping toward the opening. What’s wrong with his leg? The door remains open for him. The intercom says “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher. Please be patient.” He made it. I watch him struggling across the concrete platform, toward the steps up to the daylight.
It seems like everything must be a cliff-hanger today. Just now, in the famous season of hope – all the pain and suffering is real. Real and nearby. Pain is making its choices. I can’t filter out how fragile we all are. And I wonder what my friend is feeling, in her motionless coma, dreaming beneath the surface of the painful fire.
She has taken my senses like swooning special effects in a film. I’m drifting with her under the casually violent city. Will this tunnel be ripped open and my loved ones smile brightly in at me? I’m down here sitting in this haunted subway as it disappears into the side of Brooklyn.
My backpack is on my lap. A Christmas gift is inside. So, as I shoot through this hole to Coney Island – what if I take out this little box and hold it in my hand. I know even before I open it that it is the perfect gift. The gift we all want. That’s right, it’s the cure to pain and suffering. It isn’t a drug. It is the complete cure to death and all the pain that precedes it. It is life. Life in a box. I don’t even have to open it. I know what it is. I can take it to my friend
Christmas itself gives us the reason for our activism. The nativity story is indigenous, pantheistic and it is radical. Animals with intelligent eyes surrounding a newborn whose mother made love to the power that we all have? This aint about shopping. It’s about starting our culture over. From the moment of that miraculous thing called birth, that glowing spark in the manger… this is not the time to bow down to the old-timey leaders in their bunkers and jets. This is the solstice, when the light and heat increase every day. It is the promise of change and the green wild life of Spring.
La Navidad misma nos da razones para nuestro activismo.La historia de la Navidad is indigenista, panteista y es tambien radical. Animales de mirada inteligente alrededor de un recien nacido cuya madre hizo el amor con el poder que todos tenemos Esto no es para salir de compras. Esta es la aportunidad de comenzar de nuevo a rehacer nuestra cultura. Desde ese mismo y milagroso momento llamado nacimiento, ese luminoso relumbrón en el establo…este no es el momento de arrodillarse ante los mismos obsoletos lideres y sus “bunkers” y sus jets. Este es el solsticio cuando la luz y el calor crecen con el dia. Es la promesa del cambio y la vida silvestre y verde de la primavera.
I’ll admit - the back room deals of Copenhagen cast a pall on efforts to change the world for the better. Obama and the Chinese have recast an old Cold War conflict, with the two world powers forcing agreements from their pre-eminent position. This is the exclusive top-down approach in which world-wide chaos – wars, hunger, disease, sweatshops – is an acceptable expense for the corporate boards. Consumerism and Militarism are supposed to continue as the reigning systems. But the force of heat and light begins to grow this week. The longest night will burn away! Amen?
Debo admitirlo, las trampas y manipulaciones que ocurrieron en Copenhagen son un revés para los esfuerzos por mejorar el mundo. Obama y los dirigentes chinos han vuelto a poner el mundo en una situación como las del tiempo de la Guerra fria, con los dos superpoderes forzando acuerdos desde su privilegiada posición. Esta es la inflexible politica verticalista en la cual el caos global, las guerras, el hambre la enfermedad y los “sweatshops” no es un gasto que el Directorio de las corporaciones acepte. El Consumismo y el Militarismo deben continuar siendo los sistemas imperantes.Pero la fuerza del calor y la luz comienzan a aumentar esta semana. La mas larga de las noches ardera para siempre en los colores del alba! Amen?
We didn’t have the money to fly to Copenhagen from New York. (And they haven’t invented a veggie-fueled jet yet, either.) But as people return we hear vivid accounts of new relationships, movements, alliances between the global south and north. All the culture that Obama and Clinton did not acknowledge does in fact exist – is born and growing. The secrecy and isolation of the Chinese/Obama meetings says it all. The rest of us are waiting outside, with the rising seas, the fires and droughts and freak storms. It is dawning on us that the Earth is the only government and the only god.
Nosotros no tuvimos dinero para volar de Nueva York a Copenhagen. ( y todavia no han inventado el avion alimentado a combustible vegetal) Pero a medida que los que fueron retornan, oímos vívidos relatos de nuevos movimientos vínculos y alianzas globales entre el sur y el norte. Toda esa cultura que Obama y Clinton prefirieron ignorar, es concreta y real , existe. Ha nacido y está creciendo. El secreto y el aislamiento de las reuniones entre Obama y los chinos , lo dice todo. Nosotros,el resto del mundo estamos afuera esperando, con las mareas en levante, y los incendios y las sequías y las tormentas del calentamiento. Está empezando a amanecer en nuestra conciencia colectiva, la claridad de una idea: la Tierra es nuestro único dios y gobierno.
Barack Obama inherits the limbo Hell of exhausted imperial macho-ness, and lets the end of the world define him, when he only talks to the powerful and leaves in the dark the poor nations, the imaginative and brave activists and the planetary witnesses that we might call LIFE ITSELF.
Consumerism and Militarism are the overwhelming fundamentalist churches that we face today. We pray when we buy. We sing perversely to some god when we shoot. As is always true with fundamentalism – they want to blend into our everyday life and become completely normal. Americans are supposed to support these violent systems as a matter of course. The corporations stood amazed last year as the recession pulled back the curtain and there the corporations were, fat old wizards yanking on Oz’ controls. Consumerism was outed!
Militarism continues to be mostly unquestioned in America, but there is a direct relationship between Buy! Buy! Buy! and Bomb! Bomb! Bomb! The cancer of corporate expansion drives both the malls and the wars. The idea of a sustainable economy is anathema to Wall Street as well as the joint chiefs. And as Christmas’ playstations look more and more like military training films, we see the murders placed in our childrens’ hands.
Freedom from the corporate Christmas is usually thought of as freedom from credit card debt. We’re not just escaping – we are creating. As we buy local – Local-lujah! – or as we substitute a holiday experience for a corporate product, we are making Peace, too. This is the secret revolution in giving that breaks the back of corporate fundamentalism. Peace is not fundamentalist. Peace does not have a belief system that threatens non-believers. Peace gives us the freedom to believe in many things, to ask an infinity of questions.
Big retail joined with the war-mongering fundamentalism that festers in each of the major religions. All the fundamentalists on all sides of the conflict supported the war in Iraq. Pulling back for the global picture, big retail silently goes along with the 1,000 American off-shore military bases that we maintain with our taxes. Since most of the stock in the big box stores is sweatshop products, companies like Wal-Mart want to maximize American control of the producer countries and the thousands of miles of shipping lanes.
Mahatma Gandhi said “Become the change you seek.” We make Peace by with-holding our money and buying local, or making our own gifts. With gifts that are made by sharing experience with our loved ones, we become the Christmas we seek. It’s right here, it’s our bodies, in our souls. I’m promising you to weatherize the house and that is my gift. I am handing over a short story that I wrote myself and central character is you and that is my gift.
If the gift is close enough to the love between us, just our souls here in our home – then the fundamentalism that makes violence in our name withers. On American televisions the bombing is made palatable by the way politicians decorate it with the rhetoric of giving. We are bombing for freedom. We are bombing as an act of generosity. We can stop talking that way now. Bombing is never a gift. This Holy Day, leave the corporations stranded in warehouses of unopened boxes and undropped bombs and unshot bullets. The gift of Peace!
At Christmas-time – we see the corporations go to work. All advertising wants us to demote the things we already have, so that our presents must be purchased, and as broke as we are – purchased on credit. But that kind of celebration the natural world disagrees with. And we’ve been noticing the vehemence of this disagreement. The earth’s evolutionary pace of change has critical-massed with opportunistic diseases and melting ice-caps and the unbearable silence of extinction. This is the form the earth’s free speech now takes. What is life on earth saying to us?
En la época de Navidad, veemos que las corporaciones empiezan a trabajar. Todos los anuncios quieren degradar las cosas que ya tenemos, para que nuestros regalos esten comprados, y, porque estamos sin ningun centavo, comprados por credito. Pero el mundo natural no acuerda con este tipo de celebración. Y hemos estado notando la vehemencia de este desacuerdo. El ritmo evolucionario del cambio de la tierra ha maximado con enfermedades oportunisticas, y las capas de hielo derretiendo, y el silencio insoportable de la extinción. Esta es la forma que ahora toma la libertad de expresión de la tierra. Que dice la vida terrestre a nosotros?
Stop and focus, let your senses dilate. Find the thing you already have that may be under-used, over-looked, hiding in plain sight. Cast a new eye on your old street. Create your gift HERE. Don’t drill it and pipe it thousands of miles. Don’t sweatshop it and keep a fleet of ships and trucks. Don’t wrap cheap stuff in plastic and idle yourself in that traffic jam from Christmas Hell.
Para y enfoca; deja que tus sentidos dilatan. Encuentra la cosa que todavia tienes, que es, posiblemente, bajo-utilizado, sobre-mirado, escondiendo en visto claro. Pone un ojo nuevo en tu vieja calle. Crea tu regalo AQUI. No lo encuentras en un busco de petroleo y mandarlo por oleoducto por millares de milas. No lo compras de un fabrico explotivo y mantener una flota de botes y camiones. No envuelvas las cosas baratas en plastico y quedar en trafico con el coche en punto muerto en un atasco de trafico infernal de la Navidad.
This Christmas if we give deeply we will shop local. A sustainable economy comes from noticing what you do with your hands, your eyes, your legs, your off-hand thoughts, your growing skills. Don’t drive to your gifts this year -- only buy things you can walk or bike to. Consume less, and sense what is near…
Este Navidad, si damos profundamente, compraramos localmente. Una economia sustenible viene del notar lo que haces con las manos, los ojos, las piernas, tus pensamientos casuales, tus creciendos talentos. No manejas a tus regalos este año – solamente compra las cosas alcanzable por pie o bicicleta. Consuma menos, y sientete lo que está cerca…
Will we listen to the 120 mile-an-hour whisper in the earth’s wind? This year all gifts should be simultaneously to a loved one and to the earth. The earth is the beautiful stuff of which your loved one is made, and you are made of the earth, too. So if we give good gifts, then we are the earth loving the earth. Now that is a very Holy Day. Amen?
Es un dia santo, cuando escuchamos el sospiro que vuela 120 milas por hora en el viento terrestre. Este año, todos los regalos deben estar simultáneamente para una persona querida, y para a la tierra. La tierra es la cosa hermosa de que está hecho tu querido, al fin, y tú estas hecho de la tierra también. Este año, si damos regalos buenos, estamos la tierra amando la tierra. Ahora, esto es un dia santo. Amen.