Exceptional Leaders Who Changed My Life

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We but mirror the world. All the tendencies in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.
– Mohandas K. Gandhi

Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to meet and listen to the grandson of one of the people who has lived and made a huge difference in our world, M.K. Gandhi. Arun Gandhi was speaking in the town where I live. His message confirmed so much of what I believe: that we humans are one human family, personal peace and serenity come from how I choose to live and be responsible for my own life, the power of love for all people is essential for all people on this planet, how I can work with others, how greed and addiction to material stuff is diminishing the character and behavior of many of people, particularly our leaders on this planet. I was so thankful to Arun Gandhi that he visited our town, and I felt honored to be able to say to him face-to-face how much his grandpa was a hero of mine.

The words and writings of M. K. Gandhi, helped change the course of my life when I was in my thirties. I had been through a major life change and had bought and then read Gandhi’s autobiography. That book and and movie, Gandhi, showed me a very different way to see the world. I started working with a peace organization and felt at home. That organization, Beyond War, also spoke about how all humans are one. My daughter also participated in activities connected to Beyond War. This echoed Gandhi’s message of how ALL of us are one human family. This way of seeing the world went into my heart. This thinking probably also planted the seed in me to become an English-as-a-Second Language teacher. Again while I was teaching to people from around the world, I got that although we are different, we humans are all linked together in one human family. In my late forties, I bought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings and tapes of his speeches. King’s universal loving message again echoed what Gandhi had said during his lifetime. I discovered Dr. King long after he had died.

These two leaders were my role models and have helped me to become who I am today and have influenced what I think and feel about much of what I see in the world. I am deeply grateful to both M.K Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for showing me a more loving way to be in the world. Unlike the fake heroes of movies, these were real men with their own human foibles. Their great thinking and way of being in the world outweighed whatever imperfections they may have had. That I came to know of them will be one of my life’s saving graces.

Therefore, meeting M.K. Gandhi’s grandson was like fulfilling a life dream. Arun Gandhi lived with his grandfather for more than one year when he was 12-years old. He is carrying his grandfather’s message out into the world. The photo I used in this blog is from the cover of his book, Legacy of Love.

At this time, Gandhi’s message of love, tolerance, oneness of humanity is needed in many countries, including the USA and even in India. Fear, division, and greed between people has been adopted in so many governments and businesses across the world, and what is needed is open-hearted and kind behavior. I am going to stand on the side of love and kindness. It was a huge gift that I got to be reminded of this message by Arun Gandhi.

This is a youtube video of Arun Gandhi speaking in Cleveland, OH from 2015. The introduction lasts for about two minutes.

I do not ever expect to become Mohandas K Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I can strive to live the principles that they showed in action to the world, and be the best me I can be.

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Standing Together in a BIG WAY

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This is the sign I carried to the Women’s March where I live in Oregon. The rain soaked through it, and several times people asked to see what it said. I saw others present with the exact same sign as mine, and a young girl was carrying another famous quote of Dr. Martin Luther King on her sign:

“We must learn to live together as brothers (and sisters) or perish together as fools.”

Yes, January 21, 2017 was a big day! I had the great pleasure of being part of a local Women’s March in Oregon. No one anticipated the incredible turn out. We could not hear speakers. It was pouring down rain. None of it mattered. We checked out each other’s signs, and laughed at some. We all just smiled because we got to hang out together. All kinds of people were there: women, men, children, GBLT folks, people in wheelchairs, bikers, young, old, even babies, Asians, Latinos, Blacks, Native people, East Indians, people from the Middle East and of Arabic background, did I leave out anyone? Oh, they were present, too. Religion did not matter, nor did social status nor wealth. That is the point. Everyone was welcome. We were welcome to stand together knowing that ALL of us deserved Equal Rights and Respect.

I went by myself, and ran into friends who were at the gathering place. When we talked, we kept sharing how inspired we felt. The entire program had to be changed, because there was no venue we could walk close enough to the meeting place to where all of us would fit to listen to speakers. Nobody seemed angry about it. While I was standing for nearly an hour with several thousand people, I only saw one police officer.

While we waited before the speeches to start that we couldn’t hear, a mylar pink heart balloon blew up into the sky. It rose and rose. That balloon was apropos for the day. Our hearts were joined together. It was a day of ONENESS, and you readers know how much like talking about that.

After nearly an hour standing and there was no obvious march happening, I left the two friends I had met at the meeting place and decided to walk back to my car, more than a half mile away. I was under the impression that I would be walking with a few people back to my car. No, I ended up walking with a few thousand people because a spontaneous march broke out in the direction of where my car was parked. We chanted some, and at one time, some one was playing “St. Louis Blues” on a trumpet. A few of us started singing along. At one point, we all cheered together. Everyone talked to everyone else. We were brothers and sister in this life together, so we smiled. I can’t speak for others, but I felt HAPPY being a part of this spontaneous, love fest or party which required NO ALCOHOL. We stood together about 10,000 strong, which is good for a city with about 200,000 of us. All that was required for all of us to be there was to be human! For me this Women’s March was not marching AGAINST anyone except the haters and people who promote division between people; it was about marching FOR ALL of us.

This is what was said about some of the sister marches across the USA and in LA:

http://www.snopes.com/2017/01/22/hundreds-thousands-attend-womens-march-los-angeles/

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Only Light Can Drive Out Darkness

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

These days it is sometimes hard for me to listen to the news. I do NOT have TV, but I listen to the radio. What I am trying to do now is NOT deny what is happening, but to look for what I can do that is positive. I believe that I need to seek the light in my world. I also believe that everything has a vibration and that if I can work towards something positive, then my own vibration is raised. Sure I will have negative days and events that I will work to process, but I will work not to keep myself miserable nor send hateful thoughts toward others. I feel that does NOT help any of us in this country or the world.

The power of our thoughts is elegantly demonstrated in the experiments that Dr. Masura Emoto who prayed, emoted, and did things like playing music over water and then froze that water. When he prayed peace or love over the water, the crystals in the water once it froze after three hours were organized and beautiful. When people thought hate or felt anger towards the water, it did not form organized crystals, or those crystals were not beautifully structured.

Here is a video or some of Dr. Emoto’s photographs of the ice crystals:

These experiments showed me the power of our thoughts.

Today many things happening in politics have led me to shake my head and ask myself, “What is he/she thinking?” I have to stop myself and ask:
What good do those thoughts or utterances do to help any situation or even myself? I don’t have power over things like this in my life. I do have choices of how I respond to what I may be witnessing for the next four years. My conclusion is to work more locally with things I might be able to change or at least have a voice to speak about. I like to work with kids, so I found through a friend a way to volunteer my time. I may spend some time working with animals, particularly, cats because I may adopt one in the near future. I can work with others who have similar beliefs about supporting immigrants or the homeless in my area. In other words, I am going to search for the opportunities in my life where I can see what I am contributing and who is receiving what I am giving.

The other thing I can keep on doing, is improving myself. I shall continue with the inner journey as I get to learn who I AM and am trying to be the kindest person I can be to others and myself. This new year already delivered me an opportunity to notice, for instance, on last Monday how much I dismiss myself and lack good self-care. I noticed I could have made a different choice than I did for myself. It took me a day, but I was able to get to the root of WHY I had been dismissing myself. Learning what I did has helped me to respect my own body more. Love of self and others is opening even more for me. I feel so incredibly grateful.

Since a lot of the inward journey is helping me to be more in the “light” and think positive thoughts, I found another website that shows in a different way of how our emotions and our personal “vibration” are interlinked.

When you get to this website, you may have to scroll down a bit to get to the part about emotions and your personal vibration.
http://www.themagicofquantum.com/review.php

Whether I choose to try to live and think more in the “light” with a higher vibration is really my choice in every moment I am alive and am a citizen of this country and this planet. I welcome my fellow travelers in this life to strive alongside me with this commitment.

What I find amazing, too, is that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew about positive thinking intuitively when he spoke the words I quoted at the beginning of this blog. All of us, including me, need to be thinking like he did every day! We would have a different country and world if we did.

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I Am an Immigrant

barbaraewadeExcept for First Nations’ people or indigenous people, ALL of the rest of us Americans are immigrants, including me. I am from English and French descendants. My mother’s side (French and English) arrived in colonial North America on the Mayflower, but so what!

“We all came on different ships, but we are all in the same boat now.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

My point is that the USA is a nation of immigrants, so I refuse to vilify immigrants.

In my lifetime for nearly 8 years I was an immigrant living as a student in another country. It was a memorable experience in a beautiful country. However, even though I learned the language and spoke it fluently (it took about 2 years), I was always an outsider. At the time many of our friends were immigrants too, some of them from the former Czechoslovakia which became two countries in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Several of those friends were actually refugees because they were fleeing a 1968 upheaval in Czechoslovakia when Soviet troops invaded their country. Other friends were from Austria. Later on we had friends who were from the country where we lived. Some of those friends had family members who were both from that country where we lived and married to people who were also immigrants themselves. From this experience, I learned what it felt like to be an immigrant, the pressure of the challenges that I had to face to live in a different culture each day, and to not feel fully accepted by the people in that country.

When I taught English to immigrants as an English-as-a Second-Language teacher, my own experience helped me to feel compassion towards my students and their difficulties. As a language teacher, I knew how hard it was to learn a foreign language. As I learned while teaching, English is one of the most difficult languages to learn on the planet because of pronunciation problems and the number of words in English. For non-native speakers, it is even more difficult than it is for those of us who are born in the USA.

For those Americans who have lived several generations in the USA and are citizens, some of us have fallacies about what we know about new undocumented immigrants. Here is some debunking of those untruths:

1. Undocumented workers do in FACT pay TAXES, over $11.6 BILLION. Here’s a report.

http://www.itep.org/immigration/?gclid=CjwKEAjwgdS-BRDA7fT68f6s8zMSJADZwHmvEYhcFPZaf3d-hbh86cw_ek68eiQ41MbC7by-c1LxERoCN4fw_wcB

2. Illegal immigrants make up only 5% of the the workforce for the USA. Thus, we cannot claim that illegal immigrants are “taking” all our jobs! This report is from 2015.

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U.S.

3. From “Forbes” magazine. Here is another article from the end of 2015 about how illegal immigrants help this country and DON’T take our JOBS.
http://www.learnliberty.org/blog/art-carden-illegal-immigrants-dont-lower-our-wages-or-take-our-jobs/?

4. Through American history immigrants have started some of the most important businesses in this country. This website names many of them.

Immigrant Entrepreneur Hall of Fame

USA’S HISTORY WITH IMMIGRANTS

WE Americans forced about 400,000 people from AFRICA to come to the USA
We forced them into slavery.
Many died during the crossing of the “Middle Passage”.
Slavery lasted nearly 400 (from the 1500s to 1865) years.
Africans and African Americans have NEVER been made
To feel welcomed by many Americans.

We brought Chinese workers to the USA to build railroads and mine gold in 1848.
From 1882 to 1943 America BANNED new Chinese people from immigrating
With the Chinese Exclusion Act.
They were never made to feel completely welcomed.

The Irish people came in 1848 after the potato famine
About 1 million Irish people had died of starvation in Ireland.
In 1848 WE put up signs where they landed in the USA,
That said about jobs: “Irish need not apply”.
Initially they were not welcomed.

The Italian people arrived in the USA beginning in late 1800s.
The greatest immigration was from 1900- 1924.
They faced great prejudice and name calling.
After 50% of the immigrant Italians earned money in the USA,
They returned to Italy.
That is how welcomed many Italians felt.

In the 1880s Americans allowed Japanese people to immigrate.
Workers were needed because in Pacific Northwest
Railroads needed to be built,
And we had already banned the Chinese, so….
During World War II, the Japanese living
On the West coast of the USA
Were put into internment or concentration camps
From 1942 to 1946.
Many of the young Japanese American men and women in those camps
Served in all branches of the service
As soldiers during World War II.
Today some Japanese people may still feel unwelcomed in the USA.

Latino people have always been in the USA.
They were the second people to inhabit the USA after the indigenous people.
They lived in states such as in California, Florida, and New Mexico.
They were in Texas and Arizona.
We people of the USA came later with bigger guns!
What do you think the Alamo was about?
Today many have vilified Latino people for coming here.
We have made SURE they do not feel welcomed
In the past and today.

I could go on. I’ve left out many groups of people,
Who will we unwelcome next?

Or we, as a people, could choose to actually embrace our role,
As a nation of immigrants,
And break the pattern of our xenophobic past.
Maybe then we can ACTUALLY begin to live as a nation
With liberty and justice for ALL.

I am an immigrant in the USA. That is something I try to remember when I see or meet a new immigrant. I have had the good fortune to teach immigrants, so I have little or no fear welcoming them to this my country. They may look different from me, have different customs, and accents. I had and still have an accent when I speak German and Spanish. In our country we have different accents in different regions. I make an effort to be more open hearted towards all people, and I know this is the right thing to do because I am a fellow human being with everyone in this country and on this planet. It is the hate and fear that separates us, love binds us together. All I can do is strive towards love.

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Maya Angelou, My Shero

In 2010 in Charlotte, NC, I had the good fortune to hear and see Maya Angelou speak at “Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon”, which raised and still raises money for the United Negro College Fund. The photo on the lower left is a fuzzy image of Ms. Angelou. Unfortunately, the throw away camera I used that day did not capture this giant of an amazing woman. She is my shero because she speaks and spoke for all of us humans in such an eloquent and loving way. She is my kind of woman leader, and she lived values that I embrace. The peach color hat in the right corner was the one I wore that day I saw her. What a privilege that was to finally see and hear her distinctive, captivating voice, live!

At the Manchester School of Technology Adult Education Center, where I worked in Manchester, NH, I first became acquainted with Maya Angelou and heard her name when my boss, Sandra, who came from Virginia and whose daughter went to Wake Forest University, spoke about her. That was about 1993. The first time I tried to see Maya Angelou was when I wanted to get her book autographed in Boston. There were so many people at the bookstore, that I could not get “The Heart of a Woman” autographed for myself and my boss. I was did not fully understand that book until a few years later, when I finally woke up as a white woman to the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had not corrected all of the everyday, systemic injustices, and ignorance that were still a real part of the lives of people of African Americans, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and Asians in this country.

My love for Maya Angelou grew as a teacher when I taught excerpts from “I Know How the Caged Bird Sings” to American children. When I bought my own copy, and I finally read the entire book, she spoke for me, too. Through the years, I would watch her on “Oprah” when it was still on ABC and hang on her every word. Ms. Angelou encourages me from the grave to keep writing with:

“You may not think you can reach it. CLIMB ANYWAY. You may not think you’ll be heard. SPEAK ANYWAY. You may not think you can change things. TRY ANYWAY”

– Maya Angelou from “Words of HOPE and COURAGE.”

Her life was a testament of Courage and HOPE. She was a singer, writer, poet, thinker, dancer, professor, and social activist. She was a single mother, like I am. She befriended many of the greatest thinkers of the 20 th Century: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and had to overcome and forgive that her friends were gunned down as young men and fathers. Her poems, such as “And I Still Rise”, raise all of us humans and tell us a true story of our past and present. See her perform it.

Maya Angelou’s last project was completed the year she died. “Caged Bird Songs”. She performed the vocals and, naturally, wrote the lyrics. Her first song “Human Family” honors all of us humans. I love the refrain:
“We are more alike, my friend, than we are unlike.”
Take a listen to her:

Until the end of her life, Maya Angelou was trying to help heal our planet and the division between us humans. Thank you so much, Ms. Angelou, for leaving us your words of WISDOM, my SHERO. I know Maya Angelou’s words will keep inspiring me to try to bring all of us humans together. I hope they touch your hearts, too.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Being an Ally

For me, Dr.King is one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. He was an incredible writer and speaker, and he lived what he spoke in action. King was an exemplary example of a human being. Through him, I have learned a little of the story of many people of color. I was too young and unconscious at the time to understand how important he was while he was alive. For the last 20 or so years, I have been learning what a great human being he was, and also how I could be come an ally to all people of color, being a white lady.

What do I mean by an ally. I am speaking of supporting others who many not be the “group” you belong to. I have close friends who are a African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and know of and have taught people who are Arab background. I can and do NOT live the experiences they have had to deal with, sometimes every day, but I can walk alongside them and can support them in their causes. I can have compassion for them and respect them and their needs.

To understand history and what is so today, I have needed to understand the role that white folk have often played unconsciously, so I can learn what White Privilege is. Learning this helps me be a better ally. This is not about feeling guilty for what happened in the past. It is about waking up to what is so today, and what happened in the past. Here is start.
mic.com/…/7-actual-facts-that-prove-white-privilege-exists-in-america

Another thing you and I can do is pay attention to what is happening in the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is wake up call for all Americans of every color. It is hard being a police officer in the USA now, and it is time some of the rougher parts of the officers and police forces in large and small American cities be called out. We white citizens can play our part here. Our justice system is another huge stumbling block. You and I have plenty of work to do.

I can financially support and participate with groups who support all Americans from all backgrounds and sexual orientations. This is what an ally does. It is NOT a passive role. This is about service- not ego.

On Dr. King’s real birthday, January 15th, A friend shared a YouTube video of a Dr. King speech. What shocked me about it was that so few people had seen it. I want to share it on this blog.

Please watch this.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a humanitarian and was working for all of humanity when he was murdered. He and all the people who were allies in the ’50s and ’60s during the Civil Rights Movement showed us how we can white folk can be allies today, if we choose.

This way of the past in the USA of having two or three countries or even more within its shores, (We women understand this around how we get shorted in wages), instead of one country, where everyone ACTUALLY has the same rights is within our grasp. In the past and today in the USA, we have had a system which leaves out, and even abuses way too many Americans to keep the status quo and business as usual alive.

We can do this work together as allies in action. We can support each other in this work spiritually and financially. Thank you, Dr. King, and all of the allies who supported the Civil Rights Movement for showing us the way!

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Standing Together

I feel really happy when I am a part of something where people are working together and collaborating for the purpose of a common goal. I call that “Standing Together”.

trees connected

trees standing together

For us humans when I have worked together on worthwhile projects to see them come to fruition, it has warmed my heart. I first experienced this years ago working with an organization I volunteered with.  I felt elated when we succeeded in the goal. Even though separately each one of us was not always “perfect” in what we said and did. The goal had a higher purpose and that goal required me to stretch to my better self.

“It is when we start working together that the real healing takes place…it’s when we start spilling our sweat and not our blood.”  David Hume (18th Century English philosopher)

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leaning trees standing together

Most recently I was inspired by the  Pluto fly by project. I was blown away that pictures of Pluto were sent from three BILLION miles away back to earth. The fact that frozen Pluto has a “heart” on it says something beautiful to me. That project was accomplished by working together, standing together. If you wish to see more than just a few photos here is a very good brand new NOVA project called “Chasing Pluto”. 1. Go to http://www.pbs.org

2.  Choose NOVA or type in: video.pbs.org/video/2365527017/

The most inspiring  example of humanity working together and collaborating from all backgrounds in my lifetime was the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Since I lived on the west coast at that time, I only experienced blatant racism from TV pictures as a young teenager. However, I also found out that the small town where I lived in California in the 1960s blatantly and legally barred African Americans from living within the city limits.  As I have aged, I have learned how inspiring the Civil Rights Movement was for all of humanity and how brilliant and great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was and still is. I am still inspired by what he wrote, spoke, and how he lived.

“Now we have black and white elected officials working together. Today we have gone beyond just passing laws. Now we have to create a sense that we are one community, one family. Really we are the American family.”   John Lewis

John Lewis would understand this because he was a part of the Civil Rights Movement. The rest of us need to get this, as problems are exposed of institutionalized racism in American police forces everywhere, in our prison system everywhere, and by individuals who have murdered in Charleston, South Carolina. Now we CANNOT be  in denial any more.  All of us of all colors need to understand that you and I still have work to do. Standing together, I believe in us. You and I have to believe in ourselves, care, and be willing to do something positive and life affirming about the racism  that still persists in our beautiful country.

This is how universal the anthem sung during and after the Civil Rights Movement has become on our planet:

more trees standing together

more trees standing together

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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