Working Together II

During my life when I have worked with a group, together we were able to accomplish some amazing things. This was particularly true when most of the people involved had the same commitment. The first time I experienced this, was with a volunteer organization called Beyond War in the 1980s. It wasn’t as if all of us agreed all of the time. In fact this organization taught me during a workshop I took, that conflict was a normal human behavior, so this was a peace organization which fully acknowledged people’s differences and honored them. I had never experienced that before neither in my family nor my marriage, so this was a life lesson I embraced whole-heartedly. Beyond War also taught me that all of us humans are one. 23 years of work as an English-as-a Second Language teacher solidified that belief about us humans.

Before the my years of working with Beyond War, which became Foundation for a Global Community, I was used to all conflict being solved with domination of the older or stronger individual and fights about who was right and who was wrong. There was no “win-win” for all people involved, except for the dominant person. There was little or no listening to each other and little learning or mutual respect. The “weaker” person was usually left feeling resentful towards the “stronger” person. Competition not cooperation was how we rolled and how I learned to communicate. When I became a single mother when my daughter was 4 years old, I still had this pattern of communicating.

Beyond War is still active in the northwest in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. Their website is:

and also lives on online as:

Beyond War Legacy

The group Beyond War showed me another way. When my daughter was in high school, at one point I put on my mirror in my bathroom “Would you rather be RIGHT or be HAPPY” as a way to remind me that being “right” was a sell out. My daughter put the same saying on her mirror in her bathroom, but when friends came to visit, she removed it because they asked her about it. At least every day I was reminded that I had a choice of how I responded.

These days I search for stories that show people working together toward something positive. Just last week I hear two stories. One was about saving an animal, a toucan named Grecia from Costa Rica. So many people were part of the process of helping this toucan. Also laws may change in Costa Rica to protect all animals from killers who have been maiming animals because of this story about Grecia. You can see Grecia and his story on youtube.

In another story from July, after 100 years of not being able to fish for salmon in Burns, Oregon, many members of the Paiute tribe there, were finally able to fish for salmon on the Malheur River. The Paiute had had the cultural tradition of fishing for salmon on the Malheur River, prior to the dams. The Oregon fisheries manager, Erica Maltz, worked with tribal chairperson, Charlotte Rodriguez, to truck in and reintroduce 200 salmon beyond the dams that are on the Columbia and Snake Rivers, so that tribal members could fish for the salmon once again.
You can hear this story on Oregon Public Broadcasting radio:

For a final story which is very current, concerns and the historic flooding and horrific damage in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and all the clean up help the residents are receiving from people from New Orleans and around the world. Try to listen to the entire podcast. I hope it will warm your heart as it did mine!

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

All of these stories remind me that when we work with each other, we can make all of our lives better including our animal friends. Stories such as these fill me with hope about our common future.



Are we REALLY  one? 

My simile for us humans is we are like a pile of leaves that have fallen from trees. On the ground we all mix together and look like one mass.

piles of leaves fall 2014

piles of leaves at night

If we look closer, we will see the individual leaves, as we will also see individual people.

From the science of quantum physics and one of  its major thinkers:

Quantum physics, thus, reveals a basic ONENESS of the  universe.”  

Ervin Schrodinger

leaves  on ground fall 2014

leaf piles in day light

Since the universe is one, so are we. Even though we humans see ourselves as separate and not connected; this is a delusion that we learned when we learned to focus our eyes as babies.

The neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Taylor Bolte, has added to our understanding about ONENESS with her first TED talk, when she experienced a stroke herself.  Consider watching her TED talk:

Our human challenge now, is how do we begin to live what we are finding out to be our human truth. Even if we embrace the fact that we are one, our even bigger challenge is to learn how we can live together with our differences. How do we become kinder, and more respectful of others while we maintain our own honesty about who we are? 

A major way I have learned for myself to become kinder, is I have had to learn to love and accept and myself and what has happened in my own life before I have become able to be kinder to others.  For my part I have learned this ongoing journey within to know myself better has helped me to become more open and accept and care about others. It is freeing to not judge others or myself as harshly as I used to.

What are your ideas about how we can be both ONE and celebrate our individuality, too?