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Opening Thoughts – Issue 18

It is summer at the 45th parallel. Straddling this midpoint between pole and equator, we regard our world. It's a wild world, though camouflaged in normalcy. The only reason any of this-from candybars to cars to corporations-seems normal is that we are so young and short-lived. Had we the lifespan of an old growth fir tree and/or the perspective of anyone who lived a century or more ago (or from now), this would all be fantastic, beyond imagination. But here we are, in the center of all the wonders and the terrors of the present, and we take it all for granted.

NOT. Life's too precious and weird for that. We're digging it by digging into what interests us. This issue we actually got the interview with Paul Ray, sociologist and author of The Cultural Creatives. An amazingly astute mind with some very important knowledge about the emerging culture. There is hope! Following is Bali, a short & sweet work of fiction about being homeless, by Geronimo Tagatac. Meanwhile Sarahjoy Marsh is Taking Refuge in the subtleand profound exploration of daily dharma.

Alternatives always strives to strike some balance between social activism and spiritual realization-it's part of not taking anything for granted. This issue we publish three piercing articles from some of our favorite activists. In Scared Green: Anatomy of a Corporate Media Sting Operation, John Borowski exposes the ugly shadow cast over kids by Disney Corporation's ABC news program "20/20". Next, in Trail Fees: A Bad Idea for a Rogue Agency, George Sexton puts the spotlight on the US Forest Service and its bogus double taxation scheme. Finally, Dr. Rick Bayer puts the focus on the US Military Interference in the Colombian Civil War: Media Bias and America's Emerging Military Nightmare. It's sick and sad, but we need to educate ourselves about big-power adventurism conducted in our name with our tax dollars. Only an educated public can steer its own destiny.

We've all got our family of chance (by birth) and our family of choice (by affinity/love) in this life. Alternatives examines both kinds of family relationships this issue. In Dreams of Kindness, Love & Grace, Carolyn Berry digs deep into her own family life to find how a parent, even a woefully inadequate and out of control parent, gives something of value to a child. Bob Czimbal then describes a Commitment Ceremony in which he and his wife affirm their relationship with a "son" of choice, not chance. Finally, Ness Mountain writes, in Listening Between the Lines: the Double Bind, about this all too common, all too crazy-making family dynamic that people indulge in even if it's not entirely rational.

There's more. Becky Kemery rounds out her year-long series about alternative building techniques with a wonderful article entitled YURTS: Round & Unbounded. Yurts, an ancient Mongolian dwelling design, have been re-invented in modern America and are having an unprecedented bloom of popularity. The epicenter of this movement is right here in Oregon.

And more. In Love, Sex & Enlightenment, Margot Anand says it like it is: "There is a tremendous effort being made to heal the planet, save the rain forests and to bring peace to warring ethnic and religious factions'and yet how can any of this happen when the very source of human love is poisoned?" She talks about cultivating ecstasy, and we concur.

The ecstatic possibility is always here, always present. Really, the only thing that stands in the way is taking this that we have for granted. But we're not going for that. It's a wild world, nothing is normal, and it's good to be here.

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