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, April 26, 2011

Growing Up

The cauldron of oil called the Middle East is aflame with the passions of the oppressed and dispossessed, of fear and intolerance, of hopelessness and hope. Every day we listen to and watch the latest dispatches, ticked off like reports of the weather along the path of an advancing firestorm: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Syria – and spreading eastward to add fuel to and join the ongoing fires in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. People, the grassroots, are waking up and letting it be known that they are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

And then there are the earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, prairie fires, volcanic eruptions, floods, oil spills, and mine cave-ins: Haiti, Chile, Japan, Indonesia, Australia, Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Gulf of Mexico, and more. Earth is waking up, too, and letting it be known that she is not amused.

The image that keeps coming to my mind is that of Earth as seen from space in that famous portrait taken almost 40 years ago by the Apollo 17 astronauts. The focus of this photo is Africa, the birthplace of Earth’s most precocious progeny to date, the human, who descended from their hominid forebears over two million years ago. Scientists estimate that Earth, on the order of 4.5 billion years old, is about midway through her own life.  Putting those 4.5 billion years on the scale of a 45-year-old, mid-life human, it’s been about 8 days since our genus homo first appeared. In that week and a day of life, we, the infant human species, have multiplied ourselves to nearly seven billion individuals, dominated Earth, drained her of energy and resources, and committed fratricide against our own and sibling species.

At the top edge of that same portrait, a corner of Earth appears that we humans have come to call the Middle East, cradle of Western Civilization and three of its great religions. It is a region where, over the centuries, we have been particularly adept at exploiting Earth’s resources, presumptuously staking private claim to the gifts that Earth has given us all to share. We have also in this region (as elsewhere) been particularly intent on oppressing and killing our brothers and sisters. 

The picture is most notable, though, for what are not there – lines in the sand!  But we humans insist on drawing lines to demarcate territory and property. Imaginary lines in the sand – is that what we are fighting and killing over? We imagined lines into existence; certainly we can imagine them away.

Perhaps this place where East meets West and the West was born can be the place where we humans boldly pass into adulthood, as we must if we are to survive as a species. It is time to leave our infancy. It is time to leave the make-believe behind – everything from private ownership of Earth to the nation state (which, in the eight-day time scale of homo on Earth, we invented less than 20 seconds ago). It is time to grow up and know that we are one humanity and an integral part of one Earth, and to take our responsible place in it.


  1. Hi Mike! I am trying to remain optimistic in these crazy times of upheaval and revolution. We are in for big changes for sure! I am so disappointed in our local and national political scene. So many people are looking backwards, not forwards. And, of course, the corporations are pulling so many of the strings here. (sigh)

    Your blog promises to be very interesting and informative!

    Jean Gold
    btw, in the blogosphere I'm known as Gina

  2. I like that image too Mike! We are waking on "being" at a time... Judy

  3. Mike

    It takes several generations for ''Change'' to take place.

    Have faith, it has only been 40 years since that new view has been posted, I think it fair to say half of the world have yet to see it, none the less change is taking place.

    Hypocrisy destroys

    Mike Marthaller

  4. Friend Viv in Australia sends in the following comment:

    I have just read the below from an article by Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg (full article at http://whenthesoulawakens.org/whats-going-on_403.html). The whole article is so much in line with your blog.

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful story of the Green Pen. I felt I was really there walking with you outside on the Path looking down on the village where the baby cried. That represented for me the beginning of the new era in which the time would come and be right for the Green Pen to begin to write.

    Nancy and Martin write:

    "As this divine Mystery unfolds, a higher vision comes to us, once again, from an astronaut. On January 13, 2011, a day of relentless accounts of devastation—from floods in Australia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines to violence in the streets of Tunisia and the Ivory Coast—a European astronaut on the International Space Shuttle was asked by a reporter if he had any 'moral sense' about the earth from his perspective in space. His response carried the note of the Soul that will give rise to a new era. 'We need to think of humanity as living together, not separated by barriers into little countries,' he said. Underscoring his view he added, 'We really are all together.'”
    -Nancy Seifer and Martin Vieweg