Archive for the Not your normal letter to the editor Category

Road Kill………….Squirrels Teaching

Posted in Big Questions, Feelings, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , , , , on September 30, 2011 by matthewstruth

 

I am deeply saddened when encountering road kill. I think thoughts that are not pleasant. I get angry. I have conversations in my head. I scream out. This does not generally help. And then I forget and go numb. What other word can I use?

And then, there is another one, right there where the children walk to school.

 

Just yesterday a news program broadcast a story about skunks. The interviewee was stating that skunks have no natural predators, and that road kills are the predominant way that skunk populations are held in somewhat of a check. No mention of the barbarity of these acts. We, with our motor vehicles do this. Very sad indeed.

 

I’m mentioning this because it is early autumn and road kills are increasing. As a walker and bicyclist I am generally closer to the carnage, and I can’t look away. Or choose not too. There are multitudes of reasons why our standard consensus reality modes of moving our bodies to other locales is cause for alarm. But right now road kill is on my mind.

And this has reminded me of a letter from a few years back. I feel that it is still very relevant. Peace.

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S q u i r r e l s    T e a c h i n g

What a glorious autumnal season is upon us! Refreshing crisp air in the early mornings and our trees leaves changing right before our eyes, as the suns lowering angle in the sky allows us to take in this utter breathtaking luminosity, a light which is magical. Don’t we live in a wondrous paradise? Where do we humans fit into this picture?

As this transformative season emerges, with it comes the exuberance of creatures that have so much to teach us, if we’d pay attention. Squirrels.

 

These animals are amazing and right now is their time in the spotlight. Please consider that these fellow sentient beings deserve our respect. They are being themselves fully, scurrying around with wild abandon, zipping from here to there with frenetic wonder, sometimes all the while carrying round green nuts, larger than their heads, in their mouths. Gathering and burying.

And sometimes running onto our neighborhood thoroughfares.

Here on Bradley, and in other neighborhoods the carnage has been astounding. In the past two weeks, along this small stretch of pavement, over a dozen fellow creatures have been destroyed by us with our metal vehicles. On one day alone, three of them, within two hundred yards. I know, sometimes we don’t even see them and might not even know that we did it. Can this really be our excuse? While being unintended, it doesn’t condone our ruthless carelessness.

This isn’t just about “those environmentalists”. It’s about our underlying wellbeing. When our neighborhoods are littered with carcasses, life-force for all, diminishes.

What would it mean for us if we paid attention and by this I mean being in tune with our surroundings? We’d know that when we turn the corner onto Bradley, that it’s a haven for squirrels. Thank God we’re not the only mammals left! We’re coexisting here and if we wanted to care, we’d know to expect the unexpected and then slow down. Can “our” scurrying really be that important?

But not only this. We’d be deeply touched by something outside of ourselves. Isn’t this what it’s all about? Finding the divine in any moment? At this time of year, these funny little creatures, who’re sometimes a nuisance for our home maintenance chores, can be our teachers. They can draw us into wonder and delight.

Why aren’t WE singing and dancing and delighting in each other? And in all that is?

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A Community Vision

Posted in Not your normal letter to the editor, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 21, 2011 by matthewstruth
 
Another letter to this small community, but please manifest this in your own too!
 
 
To the Editor, the Town Council, and everyone else still here,
 
VISION, isn’t this crucial? When we have vision, our lives have additional meaning and purpose. Without vision we are capable of floundering or worse. I’ve moved in and out of each of these states often. So it was that a couple of weeks ago while on an early morning stroll, it just happened. The light was about  to appear, there was no one in sight, and the vision just became manifest within my mind. The strength of it was palpable and I knew that soon I’d share these words. The next morning there was Mr. Reamen inviting us to do this very thing.
 
So where is our culture right now? What vision is paramount and currently offered and espoused within our town? And why is this on the agenda now, when town has essentially been abandoned? On an important cultural property is a sign stating, “See you in Moab”. Really? The fact that many people have bolted is unsettling to me. While the reasons are vast and noteworthy, the ramifications are troubling. What does this say about our town that once the tourists leave, the residents do as well. And how does this relate to vision? This is spring. In most cultures, spring is a time of rebirth, new beginnings and there is boatloads of work to be done. In ours, what are we doing? Well today, here, shoveling more snow, still.
 
The vision that appeared became one of living in a responsible culture, a culture that provided for its own sustenance, a culture that provided every citizen with a job that dearly mattered. We are small and dense enough that so much is possible. Could we become a model society here? Could we develop systems of living that fostered deeper community connections and healthier citizens? Could we take more of what is needed for daily living into our own hands? 
 
 
Instantly, my mind formulated the possibility that we could do this with food, literally. Instead of waiting for corporate trucks to arrive offering us less than stellar options, we could build many large greenhouses, greenhouses that were whole integrated systems, in the way and model of Will Allen of Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For much of the year we’d raise our own produce and fish. We’d compost everything, right here. We’d all work in these spaces, jobs would be prevalent, but not in the old paradigm way of solely amassing money. Vast solar arrays would also be another necessary component. With this much sun, we could power the entire town.
 
 
The following questions are asked by one who’s been an architect/builder/artist/potter/musician/curler, so please take these queries in stride. While we desire a roof over an ice arena for games, can we develop the vision and will to adapt the look of town to accommodate more basic human needs? And instead of longing to build the next 8000sf home, or venue’s for listening to the plucking of strings, can we long, as a community to create structures that matter for everyone, and truly impact our most basic survival needs? This would be quite a shift in personal and cultural responsibility. And we are capable of pulling it off.
 
A culture that knows what it needs to live, and provides this is a healthy culture. It’s citizens would be happier internally than a culture that provides for none of its real needs, while expecting others, elsewhere, to do all of the work.
 
I don’t have any idea how to physically or financially accomplish this. I do know though that it has to happen. Sometimes the “what” is needed first, then the “how”comes to fruition with mass input. Remaining tied to outdated visions for why we exist is probably not the way forward. Can we add new elements to the puzzle? Much work is already being put forth regarding food in the valley, and has been for almost the past two decades. Is it possible that now, with the town councilors asking for visionary input, that this is a new moment to coalesce a truly visionary approach to why we exist?
 
My belly is hungry, I sure hope so.
 

Are We Miners?

Posted in Big Questions, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , , on February 23, 2011 by matthewstruth

This small resort town in paradise has been working to keep a molybdenum mine from desecrating our closest beloved mountain and water for nearly 40 years. Right now market forces, and personal and corporate greed are colluding, thereby threatening everything here. There are certain specifics, but these ideas and feelings are relevant everywhere. This is a letter to my newspaper and community.

 

Is it conceivable that within the travesty of this current mine debacle, that there lies a hidden opportunity—a possibility for massive transformation? What might it take for us to feel into and recognize this?

Many here are rightly appalled, aghast, terrified and angry about the prospect of this never-ending mine quagmire becoming a reality. Many have written eloquently about what this could mean and the potential impacts from such a disastrous possibility.

While no doubt a majority will vehemently oppose this prospect, I see the opportunity within this opposition for an even deeper engagement with ourselves, one another and the way that we live our lives. If this opposition is based primarily upon an “us vs. them” mentality, no matter the righteousness of our opposition, it will have limited effect. However, can we delve into the ways in which we might be complicit and unconsciously aligned with a mining mentality? What are the ways in which we live, the behaviors that we might unquestioningly engage in that are virtually the same as the ones that we are opposed too? Do our lifestyles show that we are in fact mini-miners? If so, will we change?

Before going into what I see as being some of the ways that we are complicit, I’d like to first emphatically state that if we do the Herculean and radical work to go against the tide of our societal dictates, that we can clean up our own behaviors and entitled lifestyles and get ourselves well positioned to be a voice of absolute power. We will be ardently,  more morally equipped to keep this tragedy from occurring. This is a monumental opportunity to unveil our unity. So while what I’m about to speak about could be inconvenient to read, I feel that it is imperative to get past our resistance.

Greed, rape, squander, waste, polluting, pillage, desecrate—these are some of the terms that come to mind when mining happens. Despicable behaviors without a doubt. But is it only large, heartless, far away corporations that engage in these? What about us? How do we engage in polluting, wasting and all of the others?

Absolutely every single time we spark up the automobile, for whatever use, we are doing just that. Every single time we start ‘er up and leave it there unnecessarily warming up, idling somewhere, or cruising around, we are wasting fuel, polluting our towns air, spewing carbon and mindlessly creating noise pollution.  We are wasting a precious resource that we’ve had no part in creating, a resource that will be needed for far greater uses than hauling our physiques about at our whim. Its been said that the amount of available energy encapsulated within a barrel of oil, which today can be bought for 94 bucks is the equivalent of one persons physical hand labor of nine years. Astounding! And we just waste it. A question—if we know this and don’t modify our actions, what does this state about our morality? If we’re unaware of the implications and think that this fuel just magically appears for our misguided use, what does that say? And if we knowingly and boldly don’t give a hoot, isn’t this the most insidious form of dastardly behavior? Like that of a mining corporation?

What about water? What are the multitudes of ways that we waste this resource? Unconsciously flushing, showering every single day, water running non-stop while washing dishes, on and on this listing could go. Home heating, gigantic dwellings, lights on in businesses all night, driving the little ones to school when there are buses. How about desecrating the land with more and more resource wasting buildings? Insulation and light bulbs will not combat the larger questions of why these buildings even need to exist in the first place. The commonly stated mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” neglected a couple—“Reconsider, Refuse”. And dust? Who speeds down unpaved roads, kicking up enormous dust clouds? How is this dust different than what a mine’s vehicle will kick up?

Every single time that we opt for convenience, or an “I want it now” attitude, regardless of the consequences, we are engaging in behaviors that pillage.

How about our personal energies—in what ways does our manic driven euphoria inhibit deep personal connection? In what ways does the “go, go, go” mentality dominate and crush personal inner alone time, time necessary for recognizing “what is“? What about the substances that we ingest, or how we treat our bodies—what does this say about our level of self-care? How can we powerfully care about our landbase when so many don’t care about their own bodies?

And what about the prevalence of gossiping and bad mouthing another? Telling other peoples stories, and the lack of clear personal boundaries? How does this desecrate someone else’s esteem or privacy? If we can’t keep personal boundaries clear, why do expect corporations to do so?

Sure the scale is far different, but aren‘t all of these behaviors reminiscent of what mines do, aren’t the underlying energies similar? While these examples barely scratch the surface, we can take solace knowing that we are ALL complicit in wasting, polluting, squandering, some of us consciously, others unconsciously. And sure, again, we are indignant about the proposal of the mine, can we become equally indignant about the ways in which we live our lives, and do the great work of changing. Can we bring a massive amount of conscious awareness to our predicament? This is a huge opportunity to transform, re-work, and re-write our destiny. We can create a much more functional relationship to everything. This mine proposal is equivalent to what humans everywhere are being asked to consider. Namely, that how we live our lives matters and has drastic consequences for what comes next in our earthly journey.

As we work diligently to see that our lands are not raped, spoiled, sacrificed, polluted, desecrated—lets also see that the same does not continue for ourselves. Then our power will be undeniable and unstoppable.

 

 

 

 

Confounded “Carbon Conundrum” Continue’s

Posted in Big Questions, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , , on February 4, 2011 by matthewstruth

 

(This is a letter to my local newspaper regarding a five-week series on the damages of fossil fuel burning. Our resort town of 2800 people in the north part of this valley is located 30 miles from the closest traffic light and 4 hours from a larger population center, also known as a “middle of nowhere paradise”.)

Yes, this “carbon conundrum” is here to stay. Thank you to the author and publishers of our paper for devoting so much time and space to this issue. We are blessed to have the many knowledgeable resource people quoted in this region doing great work on our behalf. Thank you all.

Now could be the time to address deeper, more difficult and potentially even more interesting questions—Why are we here? Why after billions of years in the creation of this universe are you and I here?

After answering these we could inquire—Why are we willing to accept the current status quo consensus reality of living the American Dream when it is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of most people? Why are we so easily brainwashed into thinking that one more new electronic device will bring happiness?

Really, this conundrum of climate change, peak oil, economic collapse, spiritual bankruptcy, these can all lead us to go further within and ask—What is the point of our lives? This fantastic confluence of events, billions of years in the making, all leading to this moment, you and I standing right here—What will we do with this time, this moment, now? Does this society, this culture, this way that we live our lives, and all that we take for granted, does any of it lead to extreme happiness, joy, generosity and compassion for all? Witnessing the levels of depression, addiction, apathy, and mania present, I would guess not, though it doesn’t have to be this way, we are capable of so much more.

Will building another house, another subdivision, another bar or restaurant lead to deep fulfillment in the long run? Will another tourist or visitor really fuel the blossoming of love in our community? Will continuing to believe in the stock markets rise and our retirement time, these relatively recent fictions of our imaginations, will they really lead to bliss?

When will we notice and pay attention that our world is changing rapidly? Adding to what one of last weeks writers said, it’s not the 20th century anymore, heck, it’s not last week anymore. There is a very high probability that the “way things have always been“, will not be a part of our future— including what we think of as the economy, our fantasies regarding capitalism, and what we think that we are entitled to. Seven plus billion humans will not live the way that we have been privileged too. The cost of this privilege has been disastrous for most of the worlds people. This “dream” needs to drastically shift. Our old structures and paradigms are crumbling, right before our eyes, as new ones are emerging— paradigms of connection, simplicity, fairness, oneness, the opening of collective hearts.

With the emergence of these, we can take responsibility for our carbon mess. Every single one of us can change every one of our behaviors. Mr. Horn says its doesn’t have to mean that we go back to the Dark Ages. There is nothing backward about not wasting resources. There is nothing backward about questioning why we think we need these insane wasteful levels of alleged comfort. There is nothing backward about providing one’s livelihood in ways that matter and that don’t destroy our land-base. We can gather together in larger numbers to inhabit these oversized homes. We can become comfortable with drastically lower indoor temperatures in drastically smaller dwellings. We can live much closer together, even Mr. Norton mentioned the 25 foot lot. We can end our “affair” with private polluting automobiles. We can alter our diets, thereby becoming healthier by producing and eating locally grown foods in season. We can relearn how to successfully store foods to eat in winter. We can create more community gatherings and celebrations of being alive. We as Americans have gone so far overboard in attempting to escape from each other, that we are now reaping the devastating effects that this has had upon our planet, and upon ourselves for not growing into our true capacities as human beings.

We are here right now, in one of the most exciting, challenging and potentially transformative times ever. Clinging to the past of the “Dream” will not be the road forward. Clinging to our hope that more and more will come, in an era of dwindling resources and the devastating effects from the use of them, verges on the delusional. What do we really need? And what can we do right now, with who is here to create our new world?

Lets gather and develop a wholly new vision for our planet with a wholly new vision of why we exist as human beings. If this group vision is to manifest as a sanctuary of inspired, soulful, responsible citizens creating a “sustainable destination”, we will have to drastically alter our behavior regarding everything, absolutely everything. The same altering of behavior and attitudes will need to occur regardless of community vision. We can do better, we are capable. Humans are evolving everywhere, shifts in consciousness are possible. Continuing this human experiment will demand it and we will have a greater possibility to co-create a world truly worth living in for everyone.

 

“Carbon Conundrum” Indeed

Posted in Big Questions, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , on February 4, 2011 by matthewstruth

 

(Originally posted on a separate page earlier in the week, now moved to its new category)

I read with alarm the opening three paragraphs of last weeks otherwise excellent article “The Carbon Conundrum”. The author is portraying our entitled citizenry as caring about our environmental challenges in word only, while he writes that no one seems to be willing to personally do a darn thing differently and heck, why should we, this is after all a resort playground. This is indeed the crux of a severely disturbing problem. Can the behaviors listed in this article’s paragraphs really be sacrosanct? While I don’t believe that we can lump everyone in the same boat, taking a good hard look around town it is easy to see why the author began his piece as he did–there is wastefulness just about everywhere. Our current US way of life can be labeled as arrogant and is in no way sustainable. And if this is so, what does it say about us that many just don’t care? Where are our scruples?

The agitation in me kept saying “it doesn’t have to be this way, we can transform these attitudes”. Thankfully around here there have been, and are, many people striving to make a difference. Bucking the trend of this cultures misguided misuse of resources, both finite carbon varieties and personal inner ones certainly is difficult, but it is also becoming mandatory. Do things really have to remain the way they have been for these past decades?

Focusing on what governments and large entities could potentially accomplish as part one of this article states is important, but each of us as individuals have the first responsibility to clean up our own act. This begins with awareness, education, and a sense of fairness–essentially expanding our consciousness to question every element of our existence, how we think about it and what we take for granted. And then changing. Colin Beavon’s No Impact Man Project is a great primer for just what one person can accomplish. Regarding our impact, Bill McKibben’s 2010 book Eaarth– that’s the correct spelling because his thesis states that we are in fact living on a new earth, the old one is gone, and that we are going to have to very quickly adapt. Rain in CB South in December is a harbinger for what this new planet might look like.

Pondering any of this might lead to questions such as–Is it really my God given right to squander everything in sight? Do resources, including animals and plants really exist solely for my benefit? Is huddling together, in tiny nuclear family units, within single family boxes really conducive to societal health? Is outright disregard for the consequences of our actions bringing about a saner, more peaceful, open hearted society? Does pumping ourselves up with substances of any kind that are inherently addictive create a connected loving world? Isn’t this the moment in our species’ evolution when we can grow into our hearts and leave behind our adolescent cultural inebriations?

We here have so very much to cherish, we can look out any window or be walking anywhere and gaze around us and witness and experience the splendor absolutely everywhere. The sky’s majesty and ethereal lighting upon our neighborly peaks is enough to bring us to our knees. What would happen if every one of us knelt down?

This valley offers such a richness for potentially re-visioning what we can be. Several others recently in this paper have lamented about either the wishywashyness of, or lack of clear vision. This is certainly understandable if the former visioning was seen through the eyes of money, exploitation and our unquestioned entitlements.

What would happen though if we saw ourselves as inherently connected and deeply blessed? Where might these feelings lead us and what kinds of visions might manifest? We could become an incubator as a community, willing to learn or relearn how to live within the finite limits of reality. We’d recognize the problems with becoming, as the PA governor said, wussies. We’d live with vastly lower indoor temperature’s, more of us would bicycle, as many in this town already do. We’d produce, in an ethical manner items that are truly necessities, right here. We’d gather together to really learn about our dormant capacities as human beings, namely our underdeveloped spiritual selves, and how this leads to an awareness of love, that until this moment was only thought to reside with “the enlightened ones”. We could be a place where “friendliness” was never again questioned. People would arrive here and recognize something much, much deeper about us, think Findhorn in Scotland, or Damanhur in Italy. We could become a “Transition Town”, modeling something other than greed, and not with green washing, but with actual behavioral transformation.

This will take so much deliberation, dedication and action, both external and internal. People have been gathering, having been drawn to this place, and are in fact beginning the move towards healthier aspects of being that are truly the antithesis of the article’s first paragraphs. We can care, we can learn, we can change, we can evolve. We are.

“Notions” of Friendliness

Posted in Feelings, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , , on February 4, 2011 by matthewstruth

 

(Originally posted on a separate page earlier in the week, now moved to it’s own category.)

”Do you think Crested Butte is a friendly place?” This was a question that a friend asked me point blank and out of the blue, with no preamble a few weeks after my return to this wonderful place. And now, in the most recent “notion” of Mr. Norton, he also seems to be asking if friendliness is a trait that is perceived by those who live and visit here? These questions of openness are crucial, not just because of the economic benefits, but also because they provide the backbone for one of the spiritual imperatives of our times, as we move away from a culture of “my, me, mine” toward one of “we, all of us, and ours“.

While attempting to answer my buddy I stuttered, stammered and dawdled as my mind raced through a myriad of experiences, many that were very wonderful and extremely generous, and equally many that were less than stellar. I sheepishly admitted that “no, I don’t think it is.” Ouch.

But doesn’t this statement of mine to my friend really reveal at least as much or more about me, than it does this place, or the “other“. Even as those words were coming out of my mouth, a larger question appeared before my eyes–“Am I a friendly person?” Isn’t this the more important question? And if I were being brutally honest in answering I’d have to admit that for much of my life, No I haven’t been. And if I haven‘t experienced myself as friendly, wouldn’t this then color all of my other perceptions?

While sympathizing with Mr. Norton’s butterflies for the business community, I am led to ask, “Are there motives for being, or attempting to be, friendly?” Is the desire for money or the attempt to sell something the driving force behind that smile? Or does it derive from our intrinsic connection to the entire human race and sharing the wonders of our inner life?

These considerations were never near the forefront of consciousness for most of my life. Struggling to survive horrific conditions as a youngster led to a withdrawn struggle to survive in adulthood, insular, shut down, closed hearted; certainly not the prerequisites for friendliness. It only takes a small willingness to let go of and heal the past to then begin to see the vastness of the splendor all around us. Small steps become larger.

What would happen if our society and culture began to let go of the hoarding, greed and unsustainable entitlements of all flavors? What if gossip or bad-mouthing another never occurred again? Would we then outgrow our cultural adolescence? Wouldn’t a new human emerge, one that was capable of being in the moment, recognizing everyone before us, whether we knew them or not, as a sacred being, deserving of our attention, care and love? Wouldn’t that be friendly?

We are living amidst a great spiritual and cultural transformation, while also living within this glorious place. These lands exude great power. While immersing ourselves in this place, each of us can also search within our own being to cultivate an awareness of connection, thereby recognizing our opening and blossoming hearts. No one will remember “rudeness”. Friendliness, compassion, joy and ease will flow naturally.

May it be so.

Why Are We Here?

Posted in Big Questions, Not your normal letter to the editor with tags , , on January 30, 2011 by matthewstruth

The ramifications of climate change and concern about the “economy” can lead us toward questioning whether our livelihoods are in any way healthy, conscientious, necessary or ethical. On top of this, most of us of working age have lived our entire lives under the cloud of potential nuclear annihilation. That we in this country perpetrated and began this calamity often goes unrecognized or else is rationalized, while we engage in fears of all stripes regarding those “others”.

Do you ever question why we are here, alive right now, and wonder what our collective purpose is? Can it really be just to keep ourselves consuming and breathing, and going about the daily business of entitled survival in our hermetically sealed dwellings? Our consensus reality way of life is indeed negotiable. It is long past time to question every single element of it.

We can choose to perceive this particular time in history as being fraught with existential challenges stemming from our complete disconnect from our landbase and each other, and simultaneously perceive it as the most fruitful time in history. As old orders crumble or die off, tremendous evolutionary impulses are emerging all around us to birth a truly compassionate humanity. We can choose to radically transform the old unconscious social order toward one that experiences the vast interconnectedness of everything. This is our opportunity to get at the heart of our true purpose–to love and take care of everyone, everything and experience the divine everywhere. Will we take it?

(This was originally published as a letter to the editor with a 250 word limit.)