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Monday, October 31, 2011

NCReporter: Think Like A Planet!

Ever read something so ridiculously stupid, you feel as if your IQ's dropped about a dozen points? (I know - it probably happens every time you read AoftheA. Har har) I tell ya, if I keep reading articles like the one I just did, I'll end up being smart enough to write for the National Catholic Distorter, and come up with stuff like the following:

World Leaders Need To Think Like A Planet by Sharon Abercrombie
Envision for a moment the healing that could wash over our suffering planet if the entrenched ruling establishment were to come together for a very special one-day gathering at a retreat center deep within the California redwoods.

These retreatants would be comprised of an assortment of political leaders, lobbyists, bankers, CEOs of GMO research facilities, the military, and members of the oil, natural gas, nuclear weapons , timber and coal mining industries. Factory farm corporations would be there, too.

Imagine them shedding their initial sheepishness, contempt and self-consciousness at being invited "to do WHAT KIND OF STUFF?" Watch as they sink into a numinous space where the agenda includes drumming, chanting, meditating and mask making.

With your mind's eye, envision these power brokers abandoning their Blackberries for construction paper, crayons, paints, clay , feathers, leaves and cardboard. Earlier that day, they had walked in the forest and "let themselves be chosen by another life form," in the words of Buddhist writer Joanna Macy, describing such a retreat day: They had wandered off alone outside "to happen onto the identity they will assume. They take time to contemplate this life form, imagining its rhythms, and pleasures and needs. They ask the non-human creature's permission to speak for it."

Now, observe these men and women sitting in quiet corners of the room. They are busy creating masks. Likenesses of penguins, polar bears, tigers, mountains -- maybe even a gopher or an earthworm -- begin taking shape.

After an hour or so, half of the group dons masks. They sit in a circle, facing outward. A second circle forms around them, looking inwards. One by one, the masked figures begin telling of the pain they have suffered because of the thoughtlessness and greed of human beings. The outer circle then takes it turn to move to the inner circle with their own stories and identities.

Perhaps what will transpire will be a miracle of tears, regret, deep sadness and a vow to change. And if so, they will be the results of having walked in the footsteps of a nonhuman for a little while.

This is what the Council of All Beings is about. Macy and John Seed created what they call a communal ritual in early 1985, during a weekend workshop for social and environmental activists in Australia.

Macy, an author, teacher and antinuclear activist, learned she had a lot in common with her co-facilitator, John Seed, founder of the Rainforest Information Center.

"We discovered that we shared a passionate interest in deep ecology and the writings of Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess about the 'Ecological self,'" Macy explains on "As Buddhists we both resonated with these concepts, finding them close to the Buddha's core teachings on the interdependence of all life. John expressed the wish that my workshops include a 'deep ecological' group experience to directly challenge the anthropocentrism of industrial society."

Maybe instead of thinking like a planet, the author should try thinking like a person. Just sayin'.

There's nothing that screams "Dumb as a lampshade!" quite like an article where the author imagines someone making a worm mask. And then trying to think like one. I mean, how much thinking is an earthworm capable of anyway? They can't be very smart since after every rainstorm, scores of 'em are stretched out on my driveway, drowned and bloated.

Articles like this, unfortunately, are par for the course at the Distorter, where greater credence is given to Buddhist philosophy than Catholic thought. Christ said we are to become like little children, not like tigers, mountains or earthworms.

The article dives deeper into the ocean of un-smart-ness:
Together, Macy and Seed invented the Council of All Beings. It was introduced shortly afterward at a camp north of Sydney, on huge flat rocks by a waterfall. About 40 people took part.

Within a year, the Council of All Beings had spread by word of mouth across the globe, through Macy and Seed's workshops. She recalls: "People were gathering to shed their personae as humans and give voice to the plight of the Earth. They spoke as whale and wolf and wind, aspen and marsh, and any other nonhuman they felt called to represent."

Joanna Macy maintains that without emotions, truly realizing the interconnectedness of all life stays stuck at the intellectual level. Mental concepts alone do not affect our attitudes and behaviors.

"We need to feel (the interconnectedness) and our capacity to feel is stunted if we block out the pain within us over what is happening to our world. Furthermore, if we proceed to take part in the Council per se, speaking on behalf of other life-forms, without first acknowledging our sorrow for what others beings are suffering at human hands, we risk being superficial …"

According to Macy, humans' connections to other life forms are based on more than the emotional attachments to places and beings we have loved.

"They are also organic, woven by shared ancestries, embedded in our bodies. Each atom in each molecule of our being goes back to the beginning of life and has belonged to far more ancient and varied forms of life than our own. The human form we wear now is just the latest and briefest chapter of a long evolutionary journey."

Remember - this comes from a *supposed* Catholic publication.

But just to be fair, I gave this a go. I decided to try and shed my human persona and get in touch with my ancestral otherness, by communing with my Sunday dinner: steak, mashed potatoes and a salad.

Steak: I made a cow mask. All I could think of were those funny Chik-Fil-A commercials where those cows make "Eat Mor Chikin!" signs. But boy, that steak was really really good.

Potatoes: I made a potato mask. How many eyes are there supposed to be in a potato mask? And it's hard to think like a potato. Would a potato be happier in a Pringles' tube, or boiled? I bet mashing is pretty painful - but probably not as painful as being digested, what with the mastication, and saliva, and being dumped into a pit of corrosive gastric acid. GOD, FORGIVE ME FOR I AM SUCH A TERRIBLE PERSON TO DIGEST A POTATO!!!! (sorry - almost lost it there) Or does a potato die when it's taken out of the garden? Does it need dirt to breathe, like a fish in a lake, and thus "drowns" when it's harvested? Well, whatever - the mashed potatoes were good. I like to think I gave the potato a last hurrah by making a butter volcano - y'know, you hide butter inside the mound of potatoes, so it melts and then when you take a forkful, it kinda spills down the sides. I think the potato liked that.

Salad: This one was tough - do I make a mask for the greens, the radicchio, the yellow pepper, the radishes or the cherry tomatoes? I ended up not making one, but I think the salad was happy because it was a big get together of veggie friends, all mixed together with a light vinaigrette. Sorta like OWS -without the odor.

Oh well. I tried. I think I felt something as a potato, but I doubt it. Kinda like reading the article - you think you read something that passed for smart, but in the end, it was just your imagination.