October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.



Entries in human spirit (10)


Spreading Health the Avon Way

Last week the NY Times carried a fantastic story about a recent, burgeoning microfinance idea in Africa.  Several groups s are franchising African women to go "house-to-house" to sell goods that improve lives. 

The franchise business model is one that has been successful for over a hundred years.  So why shouldn't it work as well in Africa as anywhere else in the world?

The latest one covered in the Times is "Living Goods," which provides low-cost health items, such as sanitary pads, soap, de-worming pills, iodized salt, condoms, nutritionally fortified foods, kits for clean delivery of babies, malaria treatments, bed nets, high-efficiency cookstoves, solar lamps and cellphone chargers.

The delivery model works just as well for Living Goods franchisees and customers in Uganda as Avon does in the US and all over the world.  Everyone benefits.  Living Goods trains the women it franchises to educate customers and sell the health goods, thus providing them with good incomes. Customers gain access to low-priced health supplies that improve the lives of their families.

This is spirituality at its best: spreading a better life from person-to-person.


Spiritual Screw-Up: What's Going On?

Rep Todd Akin of Missouri messed up badly this week speaking of "legitimate rape" and saying, totally incorrectly, that women don't get pregnant from rape.  There are plenty of reasons this was a very bad thing for him to do. But I'm especially interested in the spiritual aspect of his error.

     It's an election year, not only for Akin, but for the entire Republican Party.  Not only are all seats in the House of Representatives up for election, and a third of those in the Senate, but this year we have a presidential election too.  If ever a candidate should want to connect spiritually with voters, this is the time. 

     Yet Akin chose this very time to make this particular mistake.  Now possibly he will lose his Senate election bid, even have to drop out of the race.  Possibly one more Democrat will arrive in the Senate.  Possibly more women will flee to the Democratic Party and vote for Barack Obama.

     What's going on?

     This brings to mind Jonah Lehrer's recent, sad untruths.  I was broken hearted when I learned that Lehrer had finally, after 3 weeks of skeptical questions directed to him, admitted to making up quotes from none other than Bob Dylan for Jonah's new book, Imagine.

     Jonah, what could you have been thinking?  Just when you were really becoming a well-respected science writer, just when you moved to the New Yorker.  Exactly when all eyes were upon you and upon your book.  Exactly when you needed to connect spiritually with the reading public.

     What's going on?


The Opposite of a Spiritual Awakening

I had already gotten it through my head that the Army wants not to believe in PTSD.  But now, according to a very disturbing article, "War Wounds," in last Sunday’s New York Times, they also want not to believe in concussions and the brain damage they do.

         It's as if the Armed Forces had gone to sleep decades ago, and were fighting the last few wars while unconcious.  Even the NFL knows about the new research on concussions.

         Judging by the painful and damaging slowness of the Veterans Administration in taking care of all veterans requests for medical help, the Army doesn’t believe in any injuries.  But the brain stuff really is qualitatively different. 

         Here’s an example from the Times story about Maj. Ben Richards.  He is often unable to think clearly or in a connected way.  His wife Farrah can’t even get the Veterans Administration health personnel to include her in a civil way in her husband’s care:

         Countless spouses, parents and children of returning troops are struggling with similar challenges. Spouses often complain that the military treats them particularly poorly, and rarely communicates adequately. “They’ll be like, ‘your husband was briefed on that.’ ” Farrah said. “And I say, ‘well, my husband can’t remember that briefing.’ ”

         It’s like a conspiracy to ignore the human brain in suffering soldiers.  My own experience is that when people are in such vigorous denial, it’s usually because they’re trying to hide from something frightening.  Denial is the human psyche’s way of acting out “What you don’t know, can’t hurt you.”

         Trouble is, in this case, the saying means, “What the Army doesn’t know can’t hurt the Army.”  But in this case, it sure can hurt our soldiers. 

         We have to do better.


Flashmobs, Joy, and the Global Village

How can anyone put down flashmobs after watching the video posted below?  It's worth staging lots of corny stuff, just to get something like this lovely film clip. It's a celebration of good, civilized things humans can do with social media. I not only have a moving, spiritual experience every time I watch it again, but the experience prompted me to research this use of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Schiller's "Ode to Joy" poem. So now I know they inspired a national anthem for the European Union.


Spunk and Gold Medals

I can't help believing the reason Gabby Douglas won gold at the London Olympics is that nothing gets her down much.  She seems to have an inner spring that bounces her spirits right back up after any misstep or performance disaster. 

     I wonder where that comes from. 

     Could it be that by acting as if she could leave her Virginia Beach home at 14, and move in with a white family in Des Moines, she was sending herself an "I can" message? 

     Could it be her supportive sisters who pressured her mother to let Gabby go to Des Moines?  Did having those sisters who believed in her give Gabby the cheery confidence she seems to possess?

     Could it be the Iowa white family who opened their home to her so she could learn gymnastics from Liang Chow, gold-medal coach?  Was it the enthusiastic interrracial welcome that never flagged, that developed Gabby's own enthusiasm?

Or is Gabby Douglas just plain blessed with a God-given inner spirit—a God-given spunk—we could all benefit from?