on consumerism and insecurity

[This is an excerpt from a look at the Ladakh people of northern Himalayan India whose recent “development” has led to the loss of much of their traditionally rich way of life.]

Perhaps the most tragic of all the vicious circles I have observed in Ladakh is the way in which individual insecurity contributes to a weakening of family and community ties, which in turn further shakes individual self-esteem. Consumerism plays a central role in this whole process, since emotional insecurity contributes to a hunger for material status symbols. The need for recognition and acceptance fuels the drive to acquire possessions – possessions that will make you somebody. Ultimately this is a far more important motivation that fascination for the things themselves. It is heart-breaking to see people buying things to be admired, respected, and ultimately loved, when in fact it almost inevitably has the opposite effect. The individual with the new shiny car is set apart, and this furthers the need to be accepted. A cycle is set in motion in which people become more and more divided from themselves and from one another.

– Helena Norberg-Hodge, in Ancient Futures: Lessons from the Ladakh for a Globalizing World (2009).

buckle up for grace

[this is a part of Anne Lamott’s Facebook post about “every single thing I know”]:

Grace: Spiritual WD-40. Water wings. The mystery of grace is that God loves Dick Cheney and me exactly as much as He or She loves your grandchild. Go figure. The movement of grace is what changes us, heals us and our world. To summon grace, say, “Help!” And then buckle up. Grace won’t look like Casper the Friendly Ghost, but the phone will ring, or the mail will come, and then against all odds, you will get your sense of humor about yourself back. Laughter really is carbonated holiness, even if you are sick of me saying it.

– Anne Lamott (a good readable link to the whole talk is here)

a different drummer

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden

on reading the bible “toward love”

As a training ground, the Bible shows the things that God loves and the things that repel Him. Caring for those who are weak and broken is high on the list in both testaments. Doing this with kindness and mercy instead of arrogance and judgment are also important. Working humbly with Him in order to develop our own lives allows Him to enrich our experience immeasurably. And reaching out to care, in whatever ways we are good at. fills life with meaning and with joy….

I have had countless experiences of reading the Bible and suddenly knowing that I have been treating others badly by insisting on my own way. I get lost in a story and the next thing I know, a conflict with someone at home or at work plays out before my mind and I realize that I acted or spoke selfishly. Then my heart softens and I often, not always, find a way to build a bridge to the other person.

– Peter Fitch (from his recently released, Learning to Interpret Toward Love
that “describes his own story of gradually realizing that this truth would lead to a new way of seeing and accepting people with different sexuality.”)