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Opening Words From The Editor (Issue 24)

Alternatives Magazine is taking the American paradigm out to lunch. Alternatives works (and plays) with the ideals and activism of our emerging culture and provides a forum to express and/or locate the holistic ideas, goods and services that support a life well lived.

Alternatives for Cultural Creativity recognizes that our society is in transition and that an integral culture is emerging out of the context of dominant American society. We see this integral culture as concerned with values focused on spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, holistic health, political and economic justice, self-actualization and expression, and enlightened parenting/family relationships.

Culturally Creative people are putting the pieces of the global puzzle together in a dynamic and entirely new way, and coming to a holistic understanding of personal and planetary relations. Alternative people are open to the ecstatic possibilities. 

Opening Thoughts by Peter Moore

There is a nexus between spiritual awareness and social activism that too many of us have too long ignored. The reach of authentic spiritual activity desires—no, requires—that a higher path be taken in the conduct of our worldly affairs, i.e. what we do in the world, what we connect our energy to. Social activism generally approaches worldly affairs by a more “worldly” route. But, in the end, spiritual expression and social activism are linked at the root, and they arrive at the same high calling. Call it service.

It is important for spiritual practitioners to clearly observe our world—this world—and to commit time, resources and action in it. We may not be united by the giant institution of an ancient church (christian, jewish, muslim, etc.), nor by those institutions of vast power and wealth called corporations and government. Lacking these, what have we in common? The answer, of course, is that we have ourselves, however independent and seemingly scattered. We are participants in an emerging integral culture, worldwide in scope. We are the cultural creatives, concerned with values of spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, holistic health, political & economic justice, self-actualization, authentic expression, enlightened parenting and truth-based intimacy. We are open to the ecstatic possibilities. Cultural creatives constitute fully 25% of the population and the percentage is growing fast. As Ram Dass said in his recent interview with Alternatives, the next great human evolutionary leap is to oneness.

And we’re having an effect, individually and collectively, in our world—though the institutions of government and media don’t often recognize our existence yet.

It is great that cultural creatives engage in our individual entrepreneurial enterprises, and in our personal and collective spiritual path. It is wonderful that we can party and love so grandly as we create events, music, ceremonies and rituals based on true experience in the now. We are creating culture out of the very stuff of our lives and influencing the more tradition-bound culture into which we were born.

But why don’t we participate in the more broadly shared cultural events of our life & times? Consider national elections, for instance. These are big, splashy affairs with huge ripple effects out in the world. And they are free! We all have ticket to get in, it’s called our vote. Yet this past mid-term election, only 39% of eligible voters showed up at the polls, meaning 61% of the people stayed away, didn’t participate, didn’t vote.

Now consider what was at stake this past election: billions of dollars and the moral compass of a nation. Not insignificant stakes in our relatively real world. Of the 39% who voted, 20% voted Republican and 19% voted Democratic. The winner-takes-all Republicans now claim a “landslide” with a “mandate” to pursue whatever policy the current president and his handlers want. The wealth of our nation is thus squandered into the military, into tax breaks & subsidies for corporations and the wealthiest class of citizens. Meanwhile healthcare is unaffordable, inner city schools are blighted, cruel poverty and racist discrimination rule the lives of millions of Americans, the environment of this cosmic island earth is ravaged, and a shower of uranium-enriched killing devices is amassed to rain down on the heads of thousands of innocents abroad. All of this, based on a 1% difference between Republicans and Democrats, while a majority of people didn’t even show up at the event that decided all of this last November.

Imagine what our 25% would have meant had we all voted.

Cultural creatives ignore local and national politics to our great peril. We are no longer an isolated minority. We are a vast movement in consciousness now. Our numbers are enough to influence—even determine—election outcomes, when we vote our values & priciples.

Voting is a form of prayer—a prayer for our people, our nation, and all the peoples of the world. Next time an election is held, vote. When all of us—spiritual practitioners, cultural creatives and social activists—all have our ballots counted on the same day, our prayers are potentiated and made manifest.

Issue 24 of Alternatives Magazine considers the following:

The Gift of Presence, by Carolyn Mitchell

“What does it mean to be whole? And in particular, what does it mean to be whole in a culture that encourages splitting between values and behaviors, between ‘the sacred’ and the world in which we live? .....”

A Teachable Moment: Lessons from the Crushing Initiative Losses, by Spruce Houser

“Many good folks gave their all to the campaigns on behalf of Ballot Measures 23 and 27 (health care reform and labelling of genetically engineered food). It was difficult to see these excellent causes not only defeated but trounced by 4 to 1 margins. In the sad aftermath of such crushing blows, there is a powerful temptation among many activists to throw up their arms in despair .... Right now represents a very important "teachable moment" offering a rare opportunity to build a more unified and therefore more effective progressive movement in Oregon. Unless progressives in Oregon are able to unite forces to defeat this domination of the electoral process by the wealthy, this tragic pattern will continue to repeat itself over and over.”

Kundalini Awakening: Facing A Spiritual Emergency, by Geo Grant

“This was by far the most intense, frightening, and eventually blissful event I have ever been through. ...Prior to this experience...I was a rational skeptic, to the point of being somewhat cynical about peoples’ spiritual claims. But after my experience, I have no doubt that a powerful, super-intelligent energy infuses the universe and ties existence together in unimaginable ways.”

The Dynosaur War To Protect Corporate Profits, by Thom Hartmann

“I thought of it as dinosaur blood when it dripped on my hand this morning.....Because these corporations have claimed the constitutional human right of free speech—which includes the right to influence legislation, to influence politicians, and give money to political parties—we, the people, who would benefit from a shift in direction away from oil industry and toward local human values are left out of the decision making loop. It wasn’t always this way. Before 1886, most states had laws that prevented corporations from meddling in politics. They can’t vote, the logic went, so what are they doing talking to politicians? If we are to save our world from a profit frenzy driven Armageddon, if we are to restore democracy to our American republic, we must first get corporations out of government, so our politicians can once again become statesmen.”

Physicians’ Perspective: Can Noelle Bush Give Us Trickle Down Drug Policy & Prison Reform?, by Rick Bayer, MD

“Noelle Bush, daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush and niece of President George W. Bush, was caught with crack cocaine hidden in her shoe at a drug rehab facility (Orlando Sentinel, Sept. 11). Last July, she was sentenced to jail time for possessing forbidden prescription drugs at the same clinic. Jeb Bush has dodged media saying this “is a private matter”. ... I’m in total agreement with his insistence that his daughter’s substance abuse problem is a private issue. But when I think about the heartless stance the Governor has taken toward the drug problems of those less-fortunate and well-connected than his daughter, my empathy turns to outrage.”

Wisdom and Compassion: Buddhist Psychotherapy as Skillful Means, by Kerry Moran

“William James, the American writer and psychologist, predicted a century ago that Buddhism would deeply influence Western psychology. Far ahead of his time as usual, James’ prediction is beginning to materialize. Western psychotherapists are increasingly incorporating Buddhist principles and practices, applying them in ways suited to our own modern culture. ... This new field is called presence-centered psychotherapy, or sometimes contemplative psychotherapy, after its meditative roots. It’s a way of working that uses the wisdom of the present moment, enhanced by a patient inquiry into body-centered awareness, to unfold our innate potential for healing. It sounds simple, but it’s radical in practice.”

Leaving Home: Obedience to Authority / War in Iraq, by Ness Mountain

“In 1962, psychologist Stanley Milgram directed a series of experiments. His question: how far will the average person be willing to go, if given directions by an authority figure? Would they be willing to harm or even kill another person, if they believed that someone else had the ultimate responsibility?...Today, we are all subjects in a different obedience experiment. As in Milgram’s last variation, the victims are far away, and all that is required of us is that we go along with the punishment. ...I’m speaking, of course, of our attack on Iraq, planned for the spring.”

Dreams of Kindness, Love & Grace: Buzz & Spin, by Carolyn Bolton

“Words themselves are neither good nor wicked, but their use can certainly land anywhere along a fairly broad continuum...Our society’s negative judgment of “vagrancy” in the early 20th Century was transformed by the late 1980s into a legitimate special needs segment of society to whom broad social services had previously been lacking. We began to recognize “homelessness” and create programs to serve the “homeless.” Our ability to feel empathy with someone who has no home is easily tapped, while a vagrant is little more than a low life criminal. Wouldn’t it be great if our culture’s love for buzzwords & spin worked more like this?”

Fossil Fuel Vampires and Other Nightmares, by Richard Marianetti

“In spite of the pervasive, complex calamities facing the world, America’s unprecedented unilateral posture persists. Looking out into the 21st century, the administration’s foreign policy has the appearance of a roller coaster about to go over the top on tracks so corroded by rust they will not hold up for the ride down. Dwindling fresh water supplies, increasing pollution, more terrorism spawned by an outrageously unequal distribution of wealth—name your poison. Our obscenely bought-off leaders, guarded by Uzi-toting, flak-jacketed security operatives, read scripts off TelePrompTers like shills on a late-night infomercial. No one seems to have a clue what’s going on: The G-7 countries lumber on in a near-psychotic state of denial, their leaders uncertain which buttons to push or levers to pull in the right combination to prevent the world from careening catastrophically out of control. The Hopi Indians had a word for this state of affairs: koy.aa.nis.qat.si (Hopi) [n]: Crazy life.”

My Father’s Clouds: Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly & Savage Wear Asbestos Pants!, by John Borowski

“If Rush Limbaugh claims volcanoes create ozone loss, listeners are left with the lie, because he won’t invite the scientists who know that it’s manmade CFC’s, not volcanoes, that destroy ozone. Absent any attempt to offer objectivity on their shows, our “air wave prophets” fill the air with hate and misinformation.....The time is ripe for the 130 million Americans who didn’t vote last election to hold the collective feet of the “talk show circus” to the fire. They must be called on their outrageous claims.”

Echoes of Patriotism: Looking Back and Going Forward in America, by Shannon Floyd

“I carried home my green curry on the bus, covering the bag with my fedora in hopes of keeping the smell—that wonderful, strong smell—from driving all my neighbors crazy. In addition to the pleasure of eating it, I’m hoping for some of the magical curative properties the green curry is said to hold. My head is congested, dripping, about to explode. It’s been this way off and on for over a month—just as I think it’s gone away, it comes back. Change of the season most definitely, but also perhaps the change of current events. I’m feeling allergic to war.”

Radical Astrology, by Emily Trinkaus

“This winter we all have the opportunity to expand and tap into the power of our visions, dreams, and imaginations. Our humanity and our freedom are at stake. Neptune, ruler of the unconscious realms, is currently opposite Jupiter. Jupiter is the benevolent biggie of the planetary world, expanding whatever it touches. When Neptune and Jupiter interact, the result can be boundless faith, optimism and idealism.”

From Survival to Freedom, by Lisha Song

“I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. It’s a little strange to write those words down on paper—“I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.” It almost sounds like a job title: “Hello, my name is Lisha Song and I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. How can I help you today?” But behind the strangeness of the words, a crucial question remains: What does it mean to be a survivor of abuse?”

Saving Salmon, Saving Ourselves, by Pollyanna Lind

“I first learned to appreciate the connection between land and water quality as a child raised in the rural reaches of Oregon, in the watershed of the Umpqua River. As a child, I remember being fascinated by how the natural systems of the land caught and carried the high quantity of rain, guiding the water from the giant treetops to the forest floor, to small upland streams, to rivers, and then finally back to the ocean. It is a cycle as perpetual, natural, necessary, and intertwined as the wild native salmon that depend upon these same streams.”

You Are Here, fiction by Geronimo Tagatac “We opened our Styrofoam clamshells. Each held a four-inch cube of something. Sol’s was blue and mine was the color of a stagnant pond on an overcast day. “What’s this?” Asked Sol in his nasal voice. “Pastrami and cheese,” replied the man. Then he looked at me with the mean eyes of a biker bar bouncer and said, “Vegetarian burrito.” As we walked to our table, I noticed that the fog was a foot deep on the floor.”

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