F#@* Hope

I got a charm bracelet for Christmas that read “F hope.” It has been an inspiration to me, and  I want to share with you the story behind it and how it supports me each day to stand up and act out my convictions in the world.

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For the last six months, my mother has been into charm bracelets. I decided that if I were to get one, I wanted something that would be inspirational and a reminder on how I wanted to live life. I was thinking through different inspirational sayings, and I remembered a powerful statement from Pema Chrodron in her book, When Things Fall Apart :

As long as we’re addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot. In a nontheistic state of mind, abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning. You could even put “Abandon Hope” on your refrigerator door instead of more conventional aspirations like “Everyday in everyway, I’m getting better and better.” We hold onto hope and it robs us of the present moment. If hope and fear are two different sides of the same coin, so are hopelessness and confidence. If we’re willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation.

The statement resonated with me, and so I told my mom that I wanted a bracelet that said, “fuck hope.” I explained to her that hope is the other side of fear, a delusion that is often not based in reality, and as long as we live through that, we will not be in the present moment. That was in October – before the election – and then she actually got me the bracelet for Christmas.

My first reaction was a bit stunned. I had only really thought about the quote from a superficial level. Yes, I agree that you do not want to live in delusion, but do I really want to FUCK hope? Many teachings like this I feel like I agree with in principle, think that I should really ponder it a bit more- and don’t. Getting this bracelet made me step up to this opportunity, and start thinking through my thoughts, feelings, and convictions a bit deeper. Explore what it means to fuck hope.

First, I am a proud Quaker, and a core conviction in my life is that there is that there is that of God/Spirit/ability to transform in every person and situation. Recognizing that there is that of God/Spirit/ability to transform, I believe that healing is possible and everyone deserves respect by their nature of being alive. As soon as I got this bracelet, I started to question how abandoning hope clashed or agreed with this core conviction. I started to realized that I often put too much faith that things will magically get better. Even though a situation can transform, I have a responsibility to connect with the Spirt within me and to step up when I feel called. I cannot put too much faith in the universe when it comes to my life, society, and the future of the planet. That said, I can also have that faith that the movement will continue when I need to take time and heal.  I am still part of a movement and a community, and I can still rest in the faith that others will also stand up to the call within themselves.

Second, I tend to err on the side of politics of respectability and I strive for non-violence.   The “F” in the bracelet is for “Fuck” and this made me uncomfortable. I initially told myself that it could be “Forget” and not “Fuck.” However, as I continued to think about it and sit in my own discomfort, I realize that my desire to wash it was aligned to the politics of respectability that is currently being used to delegitimize movements. People are saying that certain speech and actions are should not be heard because they do not meet a set standard.  These standards are rooted in a history of racism, sexism, and colonialism.  I am sure that the reason that the word “Fuck” bothers me, is very likely rooted in the puritan and colonial history of America. This is same history that has done so many injustices in the world. I am called to be a bit uncomfortable and now this bracelet be a reminder that it is okay to feel uncomfortable.  It instigates a primal emotion within me – and that is kinda what I am going for… So the word “Fuck” is important.

Third, I have a fairly established mindfulnees meditation practice and connect with many Buddhist teachings. There is a vow taken by many Buddhists to attain enlightenment, the bodhisattva vow. It essentially states:

Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to save them all.

Desires are inexhaustible; I vow to put an end to them.

 The dharmas are boundless; I vow to master them.

 The Buddha’s Way is unsurpassable; I vow to attain it.

I see working within this non-dual state of being, an openness that embraces the paradox that a task is completely hopeless and having the commitment and determination to end it, is the state of being that we need to heal the world.

One thing I learned from a weeklong, silent, love and kindness, retreat in December, is that the mind has a problem with paradoxes, but the heart can embrace them. The mind looks at a hawk swooping down at a mouse and attempts to pick sides. If one wishes the hawk health, then the mouse must die. If one wishes the mouse safety, the hawk will be hungry. The heart does not have such boundaries; the heart is fully capable of wishing the hawk health simultaneously wishing the mouse safety. The power to love can be present in any situation and is only limited by the mind.

Going back to my bracelet, after these contemplations, I see the bracelet as a symbol:

  • To recognize and respect that of God in each person.
  • To not put all my faith that God will magically appear, but that I have a responsibility to engage life to support the transformation I yearn to see in the world
  • That I am a part of a community, and we can carry the torch forward as others rest
  • That it is okay to feel uncomfortable and challenge our preconceived notions, as our notions may be linked to our history that is full of pain and injustice
  • That even though the world is full of suffering and over coming is impossible, the heart can hold both the feelings of hopelessness and still have the love, determination, and commitment to ending injustices
  • To choose to live through the heart

I hope that this bit of reflection supports you and your journey. I would love to hear your thoughts, and especially your contemplations on some of these topics.  I recognize it is challenging a some notions people may have about hope and such… I would love to engage in thoughtful and wholehearted responces.

A part of the human experience

Yesterday, I wrote an email inquiring about postdoc on social justice in STEM. The position seemed awesome, but I did not hear about it till about a month after an application deadline. I asked if open, and briefly stated my research and past experience. The recipient wrote back that technically it was open; however, they were on the last in-person interview and based on the quality of the applicants it will be filled soon.

My heart sunk, and the thought of these highly qualified candidates out there made me feel inferior.  I hate this human tendency to compare, and this desire to better than or feel less than.

I want to rejoice with all the amazing people out there who are working towards these topics that I am so passionate about!  I want there to be so many people, and tons of positions, that promote social justice in STEM.  That is how the culture of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, is going to change to be a more inclusive space.

 

My Vow to Non-conformity

Iimage vow to align with that of God within me to the best of my ability. I will listen and remain open to the thoughts and views of others, especially loved ones, while deciding my decisions in life; however, the choices I make will be mine, which I intend to choose to be authentic to my Spirit, values, and way of viewing the world.

 

 

 

 

 

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Engineering: Cultural issues, My vision, and Myself as a Quaker Engineer

In an attempt to understand why I am in this field and what I see my role as being, I have decided to examine the following three questions:  (1) What is the fundamental issue in engineering education, (2) What is my vision of a new engineering education community, and (3) what role do I want to explore in my ideal paradigm.

(1) What is the fundamental issue in engineering education?

The fundamental issue within engineering is the dualistic mindset, grounded in the positivist paradigm which feeds on the notion that engineering is superior and other fields are inferior. This dualistic mindset is embedded throughout the engineering and engineering education culture, and is highlighted in the concept of “rigor.”   During the ASEE Distinguished Lecture, Donna Riley (2013) focuses on the concept of “rigor” within engineering education.  She highlights that “rigor” in engineering education research usually has a formal research question and theoretical framework.  Engineers often think of high levels of complex math as being more “rigorous,” so the field also leans towards quantitative research. Riley also examines the definition of the word “rigor,” meaning that there is a “stiffness,” “cruelty,”  “inflexibility, “ etc. This word “rigor,” that the community has embraced confines the type of research that is acceptable in the field.   Some engineering education scholars have attempted broaden the term “rigorous” by arguing that there is “rigorous” qualitative research that needs to be embraced within the field (Streveler & Smith 2006). I agree that some research can have more trustworthy results, and I appreciate that there is the movement to push engineering education out of the existing box. However, this attempt builds on the notion that there is some work that is fits within a certain box “rigor” and in order to do good research a person needs to follow the set guideline.

Some engineering change agents have attempted to flip the perspective of what qualities are needed in an engineer.  A recent manifesto has declared that engineers need to “find joy in life,” to be “open, trusted, and trusting,” and to be “authentically connected to others.” This manifesto moves the emphasis away from technical ability, ultimately a radical shift in the discourse of engineering (BigBeacon 2013).  Even though I love the thought of a world with all engineers having this approach to life, I appreciate the shift in perspective of what qualities are needed in an engineer and I identify as “this type of engineer,” I know, mostly through failed romantic relationships, that forcing all engineers to live like this will not work. Not all individuals want these qualities in their life and attempting to change another person to be something they are not is wasteful energy.  So identifying an engineer in this light also plays into the aforementioned polarity.  Where the superior engineer is the compassionate engineer.

(2) What is my vision of a new engineering education community?

In order to address this issue, the engineering community needs to move from a positivist to a constructivist paradigm.  In a constructivist paradigm, the basic notion is that each person creates his or her own understanding of the world through experience.  Learning comes from reflecting and challenging pre-existing ideas of the world.  In this space, every individual’s engineering story is respected and valid, and through critical reflection and open discourse, we as a community can engage on appropriate methodologies for given research. The overall community does not hold a superior-inferior dichotomy belief, but there is still room for individuals who are in the positivist mindset.   This view would allow the individual to appreciate and respect the liberal art major, while still having room in the community for the individual who does not have the same appreciation and respect for the non-engineer.  I believe that through reflection individuals will ultimately see that their own dichotomy mindset is invalid, however, allowing that mindset to exist is crucial.

Community standard of “rigor” can and would need to exist, but the limitations would be recognized.  Some problems need rigor to be solved; yet many do not. For example, when an engineer is designing a bridge the structure design needs to be done precise to insure it’s stability.  However, engineers can also work on the aesthetics or be involved with community outreach to determine the uses of the bridge. This work needs to be intentional, requires more creativity, and will ultimately determine the greatness of the structure. There are approaches that are more or less appropriate for this work depending on the community, culture, etc., and research needs to be grounded in past work.  However, this method needs to be more flexible and allow for the messy nature of problem. The engineering community needs engineers in all different forms, and to embrace different engineers rather than trying to make engineers all the same.

In my own engineering story, I entered into engineering based on many of the reasons I have issues with now.  I started off being a chemical engineering student, the most “difficult” of engineering major, at one of the top universities’ in the world, UC Berkeley. I loved the challenge, the mental stimulation, and the complements I received on my intelligence.  As a woman engineer, the standard line people said when I explained my major was, “Wow, you must be smart.” Through this experience, I connected my intelligence to being “better,” and thus sharpening my internal polarity. Since I was smart, it meant that people not studying engineering were less smart.

In my junior year, after reading a work by Dr. Crewe (1997), an anthropologist, regarding engineers designing useless cook stoves because they failed to look at how people interacted with the technology, I started to reflect on my own practice and my education .  In engineering, because of the high prestige of the technical, students do not learn the practical, ultimately harming society.  At that time, I vowed to be a bridge from the social to the technical.

I see education as the way to accomplish this.  Ultimately, I see allowing students and trusting them to follow their own passions is the best way to impact the world, while at the same time, following my own passion.

(3) What role do I want to explore in this ideal paradigm.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Since my time in undergrad, I have put out a lot of energy in attempting to change the existing engineering paradigm and have contemplated what it means to change.  My initial approach was head on, and I learned that approach is emotionally exhausting and I can get burnt out fast.  I have sat face to face with professors and explained how the pedagogy methods are not effective and in my view unethical, only to be dismissed and belittled for attempting to approach the topic. Although I am not giving up on having difficult conversations about engineering paradigm, that is no longer my primarily way to create change in the world. I wish to change by living a life that I believe in, one that embodies my principals and hopefully I might be a role model for others.

A large part of who I am is a Quaker, and so one of the next steps I am going to explore in life is looking at what it might mean to be a Quaker engineer. I see a Quaker design processes as one that seeks unity of all the community members, before a technology can come to fruition.  The technology would have the intention of peace, to enhance equality of all sentient beings, and cultivate a deep respect for the earth.   Upon graduation I am hoping to spend some months in Monteverde, a community in Costa Rica and work with students at a bilingual Quaker school and explore this topic.  I don’t know if this will be a permanent role for me, but I think it is a good first step as a way for me to live as a wholehearted engineer.

Conclusion

Overall, I think the current engineering community has a strict dualistic mindset that attempts to place a box on what an engineer is without.   This thought is grounded in the positivist mindset.  In order to be a inclusive community, we need to embody a more constructivist mindset and allow for and value different types of engineers.  I will be living by example, as I explore what it means for me to be an engineer.

 

References:

Big Beacon. (2013). Big Beacon Manifesto. Retrieved October, 2013, from http://bigbeacon.org/big-beacon-manifesto.pdf

Crewe, E. (1997). The Silent Traditions of Developing Cooks. In R. D. G. a. R. L. Stirrat (Ed.), Discourse of Development Anthropological Perspectives. Oxford, UK: Berg.

Riley, D. (2013). Rigor/Us: Merit Standards and Diversity in Engineering Education. ASEE 2013 Distinguished Lecture, Atlanta Georgia

Streveler, Ruth A., and Karl A. Smith. “Conducting rigorous research in engineering education.” Journal of Engineering Education 95.2 (2006): 103-105

We finally met

Taken when I ran into him a few months ago.

Taken when I ran into him a few months ago.

It’s been awhile, but I finally met with President Daniels. I did not think I would get the opportunity after the Howard Zinn fiasco, but got an email from his assistant earlier this week. I met with him this morning and it went well. It got very heated at points, but there was a tone of respect and desire to think outside the box.

We talked about the outcomes based pay and what it means to be subjective. That the fact that someone is determining what the outcomes are- is the subjective point. He got that.

We talked about the issues relating to his appointment. He feels that he was asked to be there and he wants to be help Purdue. I pointed out that he appointed people that had the same ideologies as him (which he agreed) and so it is understandable that they would think like him. He did not see it as cronyism – I think this is a sensitive topic for him.

Daniels thinks that the students, alumni, and faculty all support him, and all the decisions that he makes. That the news is picking up on the topics against him because that is what the news does – highlights the issues. I talked about the community of fear that is on this campus, especially within the staff.

We discussed the Howard Zinn situation. Daniels pointed out how Zinn was against the scientific method – I assume meaning that he did view the world through am objective paradigm. I said everything was subjective, and he said it wasn’t. I pointed to gravity and how gravity itself can be objective, but our understanding of it has changed dramatically over time and there still are many things we do not know.

I discussed my view that a governor should not be dictating what is in schools because there is a board for that. That such actions are censorship. I recognized it was the more radical stance. He is very passionate about keeping a stance of academic freedom, but I don’t think he really understands what it is. I am hoping by discussing my stance, which I think is consistent with many academics, he might be able to see that this is less of a cut and dry issue as he seems to see it. It’s not just about what is taught in classes at universities.

I told him that if he wanted to gain some academic freedom credibility, he should personally invite James Loewen to Purdue University, and ideally invite him for a meal. He said he will look into it and I will do a follow up email later.

Overall, I was able to hold my ground quiet well. The conversation got intense and went over about 15 minutes- he agreed to talk again. I am looking forward to it.

Stepping Stones: A Reflection on Professional Development

Each step we take has a history behind it, other steps that got us to that point.  As we walk, we create a path.  A narrative can never be complete by isolating one segment, but a reflection on a few steps can provide some insight into the trail. In this reflection, I will articulate three critical steps.  The first is my involvement in Quakerism and Occupy, the second is to organize a confidential space, the “town halls,”  to discuss major concerns within the Engineering Education (ENE) graduate student community and the final is my organization of a Quaker retreat. By taking what I have learned from each step, I bring new skills to each situation, build personal capacities and have a clearer vision of what I wish to do in the future.

My step into Quakerism and Occupy

I am relatively new to Quakerism.  I have been attending a local meeting since Fall 2010. Then in July 2011, I went to a larger meeting of Quakers in the Midwest, which is referred to as a “yearly meeting.”  One of the key attributes of Quakers is they worship in silence, cultivating the holy spirit, and follow leadings from God. At the meeting, there was time to share personal experiences in a worshipful way, spiritual-centered workshops and speakers throughout the weekend. I felt accepted in the community and thankful to be a part of it.  After the yearly meeting, I was inspired to be more active in the Quaker community.  The first step I took was attending an environmental conference, Quaker Earth-care Witness (QEW) in Chicago in October 2011. Each morning we had worship sharing and reflection on the environmental impacts of American food production.  There were talks from policy makers and overviews of different projects attendees were working on.  This meeting happened during the height of Occupy, and many of the attendees were actively involved in the movement.  One man even went out of his way to go and sleep each night at the Occupy camp in Chicago.

Quaker process and guiding principals have a lot of similarities with the Occupy movement. During any type of meeting, business or planning, Quakers seek Unity before making a decision.  This is similar to a consensus, but rather than objectively agreeing, there is an agreement through Spirit.  For example, many Quakers do not believe that Christ is the Son of God and thus would not consider themselves Christians.  However, when the Norway Quakers recently decided to join in with other Christian institutions, they reached Unity on the decision.  They acted from a place of Spirit, rather than a place of rational thinking.  There are six main testimonies of Quakers: simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. Both the process and many of the testimonies were found in the Occupy movement.  The Occupy movement worked primarily through consensus. Things were thoroughly discussed.  There was a strong presence of equality, as there were no designated leaders in any meeting and the intent was to give each person equal opportunity to speak. This is why many Quakers were active in the Occupy movement.

After I left the QEW conference, I become active in Occupy Lafayette and Occupy Purdue. I would regularly attend meetings and have discussions on issues our community was facing, like threats on Union labor.  Certain topics interested me more than others, issues in food and the environment were topics that greatly weighed on my heart.  However, upon reflection of the Occupy, what I really liked about it was that it gave people a chance to come together and identify the issues that were bothering them, such as labor, food, and banking policies.  Issues became clearer and then people stepped up and face them, by holding protests and speaking out.

Both Quakerism and Occupy create a space that allows people to recognize common concerns. This space is much more process oriented than having a tangible end.   I appreciate this element of both Quakers and Occupy, and have integrated this lesson into my following steps of life.

ENE Town Halls

My experience with the Quakers and Occupy laid the ground for some changes in the ENE grad student community.  When I first started at Purdue in 2009, I was the ENE Graduate Student Associate Committee (GSAC) representative.  There I met with the Associate Dean once a month to discuss concerns of my department. I spoke up about the issues I faced as a graduate student; however, I could only do so much, since I was new and did not know the concerns of other students. As I continued in the program and became embedded in the department, students started to discuses their issues with me. It seemed like the graduate students needed some type of Occupy movement, or at least a meeting, where they could confidentially discuss issues they faced.  I decided to set up a space to do just that, and we called them “town halls.”

I was co-chair of the communication committee in Spring 2011 and our department head, Dr. Radcliff, headed a leadership workshop emphasizing how each of us should take on one task that we could lead.  I started having smaller, semi-formal meetings, so the graduate students can articulate their issues and come up with solutions.  The first semester we had one every few months.  We ended up having two larger meetings during the weeks that our regular seminar didn’t have a speaker. In the discussions, I ensured confidentiality and replicated the facilitation method from the Occupy meetings.  Some students felt more comfortable approaching me personally about topics they saw were essential to include, but did not want to share with the group.

By the end of the semester, we were able to sort out main issues in the following five categories: community, advisor-advisee relations, new student transition, courses and health insurance issues.  This concise list provided a tangible record to accompany various representatives to the graduate school and the college. The graduate students associate now has had a few meetings with the department head and the graduate committee chair to discuss issues.  The department head has acknowledged the difficulty in addressing many issues of those that we have brought up; however, he recognizes them a problems that need attention.

For me, I see this achievement not as much as solving any of the problems, but rather creating a process so that students can be a part of the conversation.  This year the town halls have continued with new organizers.  I am grateful to have made a mark and started a tradition that allowed graduate students to vocalize their concerns in a formal way. This whole experience has been fulfilling to me.  I felt like I found a niche to create safe space so that people can step up and articulate the issues that were concerning them. As it is said in Quaker terminology, this was a leading.

Organizing the Midwinter in the Midwest retreat

Another leading I had, and followed through on, was to co-organize a Young Adult Quaker retreat.  This took place from January 4th to 6th 2013 in Pendleton, Indiana. For months prior to the event I was skyping every Sunday afternoon, figuring the schedule and organizing the event.  Everything aligned nicely, my largest contribution was the theme “A place for Quakers to dialogue and understand each other’s views of Christ and Scripture.” I did not know how this would actually unfold.  Though I had helped created space for people to talk about issues before, we did not know how to program such an event for 3 days. As we went forward a Friend[1] contacted me telling me she felt led to organize the programming, and another mentioned she would like to organize the food.  I then got shifted to collecting and managing the money.  A task I felt more qualified for. As the first night approached, I was nervous.  People came later than was planned and there was an awkward silence as we sat around the table.

Quakers come from many theological standpoints on Christ and Scripture. There are four main branches: conservative, liberal, evangelical and FUM.  The two branches I am most familiar with are conservative and liberal. Conservative Quakers are more true to the original practices.  The liberal friends branched off in the 1800s, the main theological difference is that they started to question scripture as being secondary to the personal connection with the Holy Spirit. I am a liberal Quaker, and have friends in other branches.  My view of the liberal Quakers is that we are much more “spiritual” than religious. Most of the Quakers I know do not consider Jesus as the Son of God, and use terms such as “Spirit” and “the light” rather than “God.”  They are more open to New-age practices, and are more likely to be interfaith. I consider myself a Buddhist Quaker.

When I have met Friends from other branches and asked them about their beliefs, I was often met with an uncomfortable feeling. I received the vibe- “I rather not talk about it.”  I wanted to understand this. This is what instigated my interest in creating such a space, not to change others, but to be able to talk about our own thoughts and beliefs.

The retreat did just that.  There were 18 people that came from different branches. There was discussion of our personal spiritual journeys, we shared one-on-one conversations on our thoughts of Jesus and Scripture, and each night ended with discussions in a small spiritual group.  The space was open and allowed for the diverse views to be discussed freely. A lot of the attendees had insights that deepened their own faith.  I felt a sense of deep satisfaction that I helped create the environment to allow for personal growth.

Conclusion

Through these three steps, I have gained a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.   I have gained insight that it is not accomplishments that matter, but creating processes that allow for voices to be heard and growth to happen.  Change is slow, and that is okay.  I see myself as being a catalyst of growth by working to create safe spaces for progress to happen.  I will continue deepening my experience and skills as I move forward on my path of life.


[1] Quakers are referred to as “Friends” with a capital F

Global Warming or Gods Vengeance? Let’s talk.

photoBelow is a synopsis of  a conversation I had, the actual conversation was about 1 hour and 20 minutes, with someone who thinks very differently than I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driver: Do you mind the radio (It was on a christian station)

Me: I don’t mind.

Driver: So what are you studying?

Me: Ph.D. in Engineering Education

Driver: So do you want to teach engineering (the typical response when I tell people what I am studying)

Me: No, I want to write a book once I graduate.

awkward silence

Me: It’s about the spiritual process I went through I went though in my early 20’s.

Silence

Me: What was your spiritual process?

She was “saved” when she was 19, and then got a degree in theology and is a teacher in the truths of the bible.

Me: I am Quaker, but I do not believe that Jesus is the son of God, but am very spiritual.

Driver: So, did you have a falling out with them.

Me: No, actually I am not alone in my Quaker branch.  (I attempt to explain the different branches of Quakerism and the variation in theologies to the best of my ability.)

Driver: I knew a Quaker, she was a student of mine, basically a daughter to me.  They made a documentary about her.

Me: What was the documentary about?

Driver:  She was actually Amish, and left her community when she was 15.

Me:  (Thinking: I did not know that Quaker meme was true )  That must of been hard to leave her family.

I described some aspects of Quakers.  We worship in silence, opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit to guide us.  I talked about my leading towards environmental activism.  We talked more about the power of the Holy Spirit (I would normally call it Light, but have nothing against describing it as Holy Spirit, and knew she would understand that easier), and how it has shed light in out lives.

Driver: What? How I could believe in Holy Sprit, and not everything else in the Bible – (specifically her interpretation of it).

Me: Do you know the Bible says not to eat shell fish.

Driver: No, but some things where written for that time. Were does it say that?

Me: Corinthians somewhere. (Here are the actual verses)

Driver: What do your Quakers think of homosexuality.

Me: Our meeting allows gay marriage.

Driver: The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination.

Me: Jesus never says it, and they mention homosexuality right next to where they say not to eat shell fish.

Driver: You just look.  These weather patterns are proof of God’s vengeance.  The only reason anything good happens in America is because of christians praying.  America is wicked. Look at what we did to the Native Americans and the Slaves.

Me: (Thinking: I am terrified that people that have these beliefs make up large portion of this country, and in their view they are completely right.  Science can not persuade them.  I sent her metta, buddhist form of love and kindness and surrounded her in light.  The only thing I could think of. ) Does that means if a country does well, are correct spiritually?

Driver: Yes.

Me: What about northern Europe.

Driver: I don’t know about their spiritual practices.

Me: Oh – well, they do allow gay marriage and in some places – marijuana.

Driver: (changed the topic) … something about Israel needing our protection, and that Obama sent money to the Muslim in Egypt.

Me: What about “thou shall not kill.”

Driver:  I see how you can misunderstand that, but this is different.  We are in a demonic war.  You know about lucifer and the other angles that got sent out of heaven.

She went on to explain the demonic war and how certain people are just evil. I look on the internet, it is provided for free on the shuttle, and looked up a verse we studied in our Quaker meeting a few months ago.

Me: What about  Luke 6:35, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”

Driver: Ohhh, I give love – I am spreading love all the time.

As we parted ways, we agreed to disagree.  I affirmed that I am still searching, and she said she hoped I would “find” the truth at some point, like she did.

I smiled. I hope that she will open her heart to Spirit and continue searching.

_____

For real change to happen, these conversations need to take place.  For days I wanted to dismis her, but she touches the same Light that I touch and has the same rights under our democratic system of government.  I fear for global warming and long for social justice, she fears for God’s vengeance for our country allowing gay marriage.  I do not believe the answer lies in the middle, I believe I am representing the Truth. However, I am completely open to be proven wrong.

I do not believe the solution is through dismissal and denigration of anyone.  It is through conversations where we listen and hold each other in the light. That is where growth and justice come from.

I have no intention of learning the bible for the purpose of creating an argument.  I do not believe I can change her , or anyone’s mind. I hope by having conversations with people that thinks completely differently, and doing it with the intention of love and light, that the universe will shift and let Truth prevail.

Aside

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