Posts Tagged ‘intolerance’

Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 46                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 47


Today’s Mileage:  11                                        Total Trip Mileage: 397

Holidays and Holy Days on November 25:

Beginning of HajjIslamic pilgrimage rites at Mecca. One of the five pillars of Islamic  faith states that all Muslims should try to make at least one Hajj pilgrimage during their lifetime.


Danger or the Divine?

As I ride the bike today I think back over my last few postings. They’ve been positive and upbeat. I’ve stood in admiration of the beauty along my path, the healing power of water, the treasures and memories we find as we walk along our daily beach.  I am clearly an optimistic person.  I turn terrible storms into nature mystical experiences, I see in the leaf clutter and bare trees of fall the renewing cycles of life knowing that what follows will be winter’s blankets and then spring time with bursts of color and new life.  I make a choice to be an optimist, to find hope in the process of death and decay, in the pain and suffering of family, friends and strangers.  I make a choice to see in these difficult and tragic situations, not roadblocks but challenges and hurdles that can be overcome, that can lead to growth.

I have at times plodded along only to look up and see an imposing peak in my way. Why does it have to be so difficult, I ask?  I’ve learned not to give up, not to swear at the peak in anger but to take a deep breath and start the climb. Attending to my footing, I glance up often enough to recognize the less treacherous way. I will make it to that peak, tired but stronger with a new perspective.  I choose to leave markers at points on the path (artwork, poems, and Blog postings) for other travelers.  These markers might provide encouragement for others on the path. At times I might even toss out a rope or reach down with an out stretched hand to help others take those last few steps. We might share a sip of water, a hug or a meal before we part again, each on a personal journey, holding the other in our prayers. These travelers may be a stranger in a chance encounter at a book store or church, a student who is part of your life for a semester, a client you helped through a difficult time, or a faceless visitor to your blog who leaves no comment but carries away seeds to plant on their journey.

A lonely journey at times!

But I digress; being an optimist is not an easy choice!  It’s not easy to find a silver lining in a story about a five year old murdered rape victim sold by her mother to the abuser or when you speak with PTSD veterans and hear of the horrors visited upon them and that they inflicted upon others.  It’s not easy when you watch as friends and family members drink themselves to a speedy death, trying to avoid their pain or when you sit with a pedophile, hear their story and still see him as a human being. There is no silver lining in these tragic lives.  The valuable lesson is in the consequences of our small, bad decisions that build into tragedies that destroy lives.

Step back and take a new perspective!

Yesterday I interacted with a friend, someone whose religious (Islamic), cultural (Southwest Asian) and urban background is strikingly different from my own.  Someone whose opinions I value.  His views carry as much truth as those who are suspicious of him for his skin color, his faith, his nation of origin and his foreign sounding name. The difference between us in this time and place is not about our roots but about his anger. We can dwell on the injustice and intolerance of others when we find ourselves in the minority.  We can make ourselves angry, or we can step back and see the larger process. Dichotomous thinking like “us versus them” only begets such thinking in others.  If you believe that everyone has taken sides “for or against” you, you leave these “others” no choice but to take sides.  If you prepare for battle, so will they!  The error is in the process that we follow and fail to recognize as a choice.  Whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, when we create an outlook of “us and them”, saved and unsaved, infidel and believer we have become part of the problem and not the solution.

Peaceful center or conflicting opposites?

As I stressed to my friend, this optimistic process approach is not an easy choice to embrace and live.  I have been told that I am naïve, that I am a dreamer, that I have no beliefs, that I have no principles.  I disagree!  Let me use the Chinese symbol of the Yin and Yang as an illustration.  Does the balance we all strive for reside in the center of the light or the center of the dark?  Should we fight over who is in the position of right and wrong, of light and dark?  For both positions stand in stark opposition and both positions spin and twirl. Does the point of balance not reside in the very center of the symbol, at that place where you stand still as the world revolves about you, a point of centeredness and clarity? I choose to look for that middle ground, that point at which I stop spinning, when I close my eyes and feel the solid center of the divine under my feet. I choose to do it with a smile as I walk through flower gardens, as I float in peaceful waters, as I plant seeds in my students and sons, as I reach out to offer comfort to those in pain.  What do you choose?


A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 32                               Consecutive Days Blogging: 33

Today’s Mileage: 5                                               Total Trip Mileage: 292


     As I rode the bike today I pondered several different theme ideas for today’s posting. Tomorrow we will commemorate Veteran’s Day and then the next day will visit a Christian Pilgrimage Site that represents the oldest European Building in the New World, predating even Columbus! So I figured I might just let today be an odds and ends day.

nice building by jose caro

Art Deco

     As we ride up the coastline of Miami Beach I am intrigued by the art deco style buildings and the ever present ribbon of cabana covered sand. It is such a different landscape from the small prairie towns where I grew up. It makes me wonder what it must have been like to grow up in an area like this. How different it is in appearance, yet similar in adventure; the ever present sea, like the streams and creeks inhabiting the edge of the small towns I lived in. We had wildlife to observe, the Miami Beach child had tourists and aging hotel inhabitants. As a teen we could always find work on a local farm, the teen in Miami most likely found work “tending to” the tourists!

view of ocean by hydro

View along the Beach

     Of course in other ways these places are worlds apart, the cultures (Jewish and Hispanic versus rancher and Native American), the crime rates, and the desperately different social classes. This points to an important aspect about differences that exist between people, cultures and life situations. We often view differences as roadblocks to our understanding of other people, such as race or growing up in a different religion. These features of someone’s life seem like insurmountable barriers to empathizing with another person’s joy, concerns and sorrows. However, we can also view differences as intriguing gifts or mysteries that provide us with fascinating insights into another person’s reality. I had a friend in the Navy who grew up in the LA area of Southern California. He learned to surf before he learned to ride a bike. He and his friends use to “commute” to Disneyland on a regular basis. What a wonderfully different world than my own where the closest water to town was Danker’s fish pond and the best show in town was watching tornadoes skipping across the prairie on hot summer days!

south beach by wakerider44     If you can turn off your judging function, the cognitive function which tries to establish which reality has more “truth” and just experience the place, you will begin to see the world through a different pair of eyes. You may also begin to understand other human beings and perhaps see their humanity!

art deco by Manuel R. M.

Art Deco Buildings

      This touches on another issue representing residue from yesterday’s visit to the Holocaust Memorial. I left the walk through the site with it’s beautiful but distressing images,with a profound sense of sadness. How can humans be so hateful towards other human beings who are just trying to get through life, raise a family and find meaning and happiness? How can we not see in their joy and pain our own life struggle? Sadly, the answer to these questions has a connection with the dehumanizing of the other individual.

      As one of my site visitors pointed out, this dehumanizing was not limited to the Nazis towards the Jews, the Serbs towards the Bosnians, Ugandans Hutu towards Ugandan Tutsi or to Europeans towards Native Africans and Native Americans, to name a short list. This dehumanizing also occurs on the community and individual level. Let’s ask ourselves: why did it take so long for women to “get to vote” or African Americans to move up from the back of the bus? When a jury looks at a 13 year old boy and sentences him to life in prison for a store robbery, they are not seeing a misguided youth, a teenager like their own children rather a deviant monster and a threat to society. The effect of dehumanizing may be seen as they relate to gender, race, religion and even age.

     Another of my site visitors left a comment noting that: “On the process of humanizing people. Every person loves something, is afraid of something, and has lost something.” This means that “Every person, including ourselves, is only three questions away from tears.”

     I visited the Holocaust Site yesterday and was left in tears at the sight of a statue of a dead mother and her two children. They loved each other, were afraid of the growing terror and lost the most precious of gifts… their lives. We must love each other, even those strangers who are different from ourselves, be afraid of the growing intolerance and hatred towards those who are different, and realize we risk losing our humanity if we do not change the course of our shared journey.

     A special thanks to the photographers associated with Panramio for the beautiful scenes from along the roadside. The information on holy days and sacred holidays comes from http://www.interfaithcalendar.org.

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