Usually I prefer not to work on Sunday evenings. It’s my one chance for a day to myself, to work on my weaving or sewing projects or even get more involved in a book that I’ve been salivating to read all week long. (Currently on my table is Kamala Subramaniam’s version of The Ramayana.) There are some occasions that warrant a slight change in routine, however. Last Sunday was one of them.
Michael Nagler and I were invited to represent the Metta Center for Nonviolence at a small gathering—about 25 people mostly representing rather effective large-scale organizations (think Pachamama Alliance, the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Attitudinal Healing International, etc)—on a houseboat in Sausalito, California (it was much more house than boat). It was for strategy meeting for the PBS/Link TV Series, Global Spirit, to help them brainstorm for their third season. We were broken into three groups to have small circle discussions about what topic might be particularly relevant for the times we are in, while holding fast to their vision that timeless wisdom and a higher image of who we are must underlie the subject matter. Up our ally, alright!
Michael and I joined the breakout group hosted by Jean Bolen on how we understand the “Other,” questions of fear of the “other,” and overcoming “otherness”—where we made the case for the show engaging a dialogue around restorative justice. It’s practical; it’s happening around the world; and it’s based in indigenous culture/tradition. There was general interest. Michael also contributed by sharing the Wheeler and Fisk study from Princeton about smooth or crunchy peanut butter, which explains that we can interrupt our amygdala’s fight or flight response by taking people out of a class or category and imagining them as full individuals. People thought that the next season could simply be called “smooth or crunchy,” which gave us all a good laugh.
I was very moved by the efforts of the Global Spirit program. The host Phil Cousineau is not only a humble, thoughtful writer from North Beach whose mentors include Joseph Campbell and Houston Smith, he takes people on pilgrimages around the world. His film partner Stephen Ollsen is a Bay Area documentarian as well as a bit of a media activist convinced, as he is, of the power of the media to impact the way that people see each other and the world.
Check out Global Spirit when you get some time. I recommend this episode on Earth Wisdom and Standing Rock. Look forward to Season Three—even more nonviolence will be in the lineup.