It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama

Below is a YouTube link to  President Obama's speech today at Nelson Mandela's memorial in South Africa.

A beautiful, inspiring speech and a fitting tribute to one of the greatest, most transformative figures of our time. When Obama speaks like that, I’m always moved to the depths of my soul with hope.

In this Season of Light and as we transit to 2014, may President Obama's words about Nelson Mandela inspiring him to be a better man and president strike a similar chord of inspiration with all leaders in this country and around the world -- in both the public and private sectors and civil society at large, which means all of us -- and find expression in our decisions and actions every day at work, home, and play.

Friday, November 22, 2013

“He was our president, too”

Bordeaux, France, November 22, 1963. There were over 20 of us, juniors from various University of California campuses. On that evening, we dispersed easily along two banks of banquet tables in the University of Bordeaux student union dining hall and among the French and North African students who had arranged this dinner to welcome us. As the meal progressed, we made friends, jabbering away in awkward hand signals, broken French, and broken English. By 8:40 p.m., the meal was drawing to a close with patisseries, and we were excited about the dance to follow.

A student came in from the TV room to convey the news flash: the president had been shot.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recycled Music: Food for the Soul

Music is everywhere   – from landfills, to the hearts of children, to concert halls. It’s in the soul of humanity, the soul of nature. Everywhere in all things. See this video from Paraguay, and please share with children and others who appreciate the pervasiveness and power of music.

Thanks to my friend Mike M. for sending it.

And then there is the Academy Award-nominated documentary Waste Land.

I am reminded of William McDonough and Michael Braungart's book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, and their equation, Waste=Food. Based on the landfill films, I would say that this includes food for the soul.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Rays of the Dawn

I have written before about this time of great, evolutionary transformation that we are in as a species, as a planet. As I wrote last July:
“It is truly an epochal time in human history …. Some people despair that the world is just as violent and venal as in the ‘60s when the dawn of the new age was heralded, and, for sure, the dark will not yield (is not yielding) willingly to the light. But the sun is coming; it is inexorable. … [I]f we climb up to the top of the hill and look real carefully out across the plain, we can just barely see the first rays peeping out ….”

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meaning of Peace Corps

Meleia Egger (Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi, 2007-2009) wrote this poem two years ago on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. It brought tears to my eyes and made me almost want to sign up again – almost. Here’s what she says about it:
I wrote this poem in summer of 2011 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Peace Corps when I was still a Peace Corps Recruiter. Although I wrote it for recruitment, I have found that it tends to resonate strongly with Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and the whole Peace Corps family. I hope it speaks to YOU!
It definitely resonates with this RPCV (Nigeria, 1966-68). And it's true. Peace Corps is a two-year tour that blesses and lasts a lifetime.

Friday, May 3, 2013

NATO: Is It Obsolete?

Old ways, institutions, and relationships are crumbling to make way for the new. I have many personal acquaintances, colleagues, friends, and family who are experiencing, right now, major transitional events – marital crises, budding romances, health crises, new births, job losses, career launches, even death.

Similarly, businesses, nonprofits, and other organizations – even whole governmental and economic institutions – are in crisis, sensing the attendant dangers and seeking the attendant opportunities. Witness, for example, the Republican Party in the United States, which, in its existential angst since the last election, has been taking a serious look at itself and what (and whom) it stands for. And, if the Democratic Party, in smugness about what its arch rival is going through, fails to undertake its own self-reflection, it does so at its own peril.

And so we come to NATO.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baseball and the National Anthem

Last night I attended a baseball game at AT&T Park, where the San Francisco Giants hosted the Arizona Diamondbacks. A local band (I don’t remember who it was) had the honor of lining up behind second base before the start of the game and playing the national anthem.

Standing with the crowd, I felt moved. I even felt moved that I felt moved – to stand in reverence, to take off my hat, and, as the music progressed, even to sing along. First mouthing the words silently, then voicing them quietly, then closing my eyes and belting them out. (Not too badly, either, I must admit.) I noticed that, as the music played on, more and more people around me and around the stadium were joining in.