Friday, September 24, 2010

Importance of Looking Deeply

One of the things I have valued most about my graduate education is that my mentors insisted that I look at things deeply. Don't be satisfied with how things appear at first glance or even after just a little investigation. Dig deep and look at all the sources. Confront my own bias and interpretation. This morning I'm thinking a lot about the encouragement my mentors gave me.

At various times over the last several months I've come across a controversy between the Humane Society of the United States and HumaneWatch. I got sucked right into the kerfuffle on Twitter when the HSUS retweeted one of my postings and suddenly my screen became filled with Humane Watch proxies warning me about the "evils" of the Humane Society of the United States. They were generally two different types of messages. The first generally communicated that the Humane Society wasn't very humane because they allegedly euthanize animals and the other is that the Humane society is allegedly an ominous force because they advocate a vegan diet.

Oh no. Not a vegan diet! That's just plain evil.

This morning I got a few invitations to join a  Facebook page for the Humane Watch. My curiosity was finally piqued about this group and their propaganda. My first question was who is behind the organization.   Was it a group of concerned animal activists? Disgruntled former employees from HSUS? I figured if I knew the structure under the organization I could understand more of where they were coming from. I figured it would be difficult to find out. In the end, this was the easiest research I've ever done.

Scroll to the bottom of the Humane Watch webpage. There is a copyright noticed saying all content is copyrighted by the Center for Consumer Freedom. This center is an organization run by restaurant, tobacco, alcohol, and other similar organizations. They run a variety of media campaigns supporting the interests of the various industries they represent. Want to do some of your own deep research about the Center for Consumer Freedom? Check out Sourcewatch. That's one place to start.

What things are the Center for Consumer Freedom supporting? They provide financial surveillance on organizations and individuals that support "anti-consumer" organizations. They campaign against animal rights groups. They go after watchdogs such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Suggest that we ought not to worry about the levels of mercury in seafood (they must be really concerned, because they have another website too). Then of course there is the kerfuffle that started all of this with the Humane Watch that is, among other things, warning that the HSUS wants us all to be vegan.

Yes, there is more. To round up the sites that the Center for Consumer Freedom sponsors we have one about Obesity Myths in which we learn it is lifestyle, not diet, that makes us fat. PETA kills animals, according to another website they sponsor.  Another goes after the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine because it has the gall to suggest that high fat fast food is bad for us and eating more vegan foods might be better. The Center for Consumer Freedom calls this one Physician Scam. Lastly, we apparently don't have to worry about too much sugar in our foods because it is all just a Sweet Scam.

What makes me sad here is that science--real meaningful science--gets obscured by propaganda that is trying to sell more fast food, support more factory farms, and manage our environment in thoughtless and destructive ways. Good people end up getting manipulated by the science that is intended to educate and improve the lives of society.

Carefully read what you encounter out their in the world. Look deeply before you click "like" on facebook. Give some thought to who is trying to get you to believe what--and why they want you to believe it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Day After

As was the case at Wellesley college, the academic year had just begun and my schedule was already full. I had been on campus for about a week as a doctoral level practicum student at the Stone Center Counseling Service. I had an 8:30, 9:30, and 10:30 client scheduled.

I had gotten my first appointment of the day, sat down with her, and went about the business of doing therapy. I walked her to the office, scheduled her next appointment, and heard from the secretary that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I remember thinking that was sad, got my next client, and went back to the business of doing therapy. The thought of the plane crash was pushed far out of my mind. I repeated the previous process and walked my second patient to the office. I scheduled her appointment and said goodbye. Only then did I notice the ashen faces of those gathered in the office. "They are gone," she said. I asked "what is gone?". She said the buildings, the buildings are gone. I walked and got my 10:30 client and again put everything out of my mind.

It wasn't until 11:30, when I finally had a break, that my attention went back to the conversations held in the office and what meaning was held in those words.

That was nine years and one day ago. In some respects, and enormous amount of time has passed. Yet in other ways, the world has stayed exactly the same.

I was struck yesterday by a quote in the Boston Globe. A person protesting the Islamic Center that is to be built in a former Burlington Coat Factory Store carried a sign that said "It stops here" and "Never forgive, never forget, no WTC mosque."

Never forgive. Simple words really--simple words that are brimming over with unexpressed anger. Simple words that will forever prevent one protester, a country, and a world from moving forward. Without forgiveness, hate continues to reside in the heart. The day after never comes and one is forever trapped in a moment of pain and anguish.
The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget--Thomas Szaz

Why is this? The forgiving isn't for the other--it's for us. Once we find a way to release ourselves through forgiveness, we can continue move forward with our life rather than being trapped in the past. The past becomes a memory--in it's proper place. Without forgiveness, the past remains trapped in our present and it is never the day after.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mindfulness in Action

Well all I have to say is oops. As regular readers know, I made it my goal to have 365 moments of mindfulness this year in the same spot. I've been following through with this and made a short video of the first 39 days. This weekend I encountered my first snafu. The technological demons attacked me and my phone. I put up a valiant fight: I couldn't get the images to upload directly to the drop box where I'm storing the files so I thought I might first transfer them from the phone to my computer. That didn't go as anticipated and I lost about four days worth of images.

However, in the end that is what this is all about for me. Sure I'm disappointed and might annoyed. There isn't much I can do about it other than complain for a bit (despite what other people say, I think a good ten minutes of complaining can make anything better). I'll just give myself ten minutes however. Then it's time to move on and continue.