Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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Distill, My Heart
From Empire Consciousness to Oneness Consciousness
"Distill" is defined as "extracting the essential elements" from something.
So, we can read a book, and distill its main ideas and conclusions. We can share that information with others, so they can "get the gist" of book without reading the whole book.
Distilleries are places where beer is made and sold. Distilled water has essential elements in it, without harmful contamination.
I believe we are all living distilleries. We share the main aspects of our life's journey and wisdom and the learnings of many wise and creative individuals. We have lived minutes, days, weeks, years. We have gleaned much wisdom and understanding from our experiences and learnings.
Learning from our journey helps us make more mature decisions, avoid pitfalls, and live more intentional and meaningful lives.
The goal of eldering, being the older part of the population is to share that wisdom, and distill the major insights from life experiences and experts in the arts, psychology, sociology, education, the sciences, and all other fields.
As we guide younger people, the future adults and elders, we who have lived a longer time, read a lot of books, and met amazing people can help youth focus on meaning and purpose, rather than merely acquiring wealth and fame.
Robert Bly wrote a book called "The Sibling Society." He stated when the young believe they can learn only from others who are young and inexperienced in life, many distractions and much destruction can result.
Elders who have gleaned real wisdom from others, and who have examined their own experiences with some thought and depth can provide a more mature understanding of living a valuable and purposeful life.
If we believe that love and connection are what matter most, we can teach that the younger generations. If we believe that there is an abundance of resources, we can teach that. Most of all, we need to teach that there is a responsibility and an accountability that comes with growing up. We are to take care of the earth and all of its creatures. We are to take care of those in pain, the sick, the lonely.
Empire is about power, domination, scarcity, fear, subjugation, and violence. Oneness is about abundance, love, sharing, compassion, and accountability. Distilling from the past, seeing the destructiveness of Empire Consciousness, we can teach that there is a better way to live. Oneness Consciousness provides lasting peace, joy, and compassion. Empires implode from within. Nobody is really safe until everyone is safe.
Share your wisdom, share your understanding, and let love and compassion rule the world.
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We Have Overcome This Day
We have all been wounded emotionally. Some of us have been abused physically or sexually. Others have been shamed. Some of us have endured beatings. Others have been harassed and verbally abused. Many of us have experienced losses of loved ones
It is wounded world. If one isn't hurt or abandoned in one's family of origin, he or she has to endure a culture of Empire Consciousness, which focuses on domination, hierarchy, labeling, and being taught to believe that "You are not enough as you are."
We work on our traumas and our wounds. We cry out, try to reach inner peace, and sometimes confront those who abused us. Some people move toward forgiveness. Others attempt reconciliation. Still others spend their lives believing that they are "damaged goods."
Spiritually, we are all perfect children of Spirit -- loved, lovable and loving. Nothing anyone did to us changes our magnificence. We are all shining lights.
Here is another way to look at this world of trauma and pain. I believe we are all "walking miracles." We have endured countless experiences of being hurt, shamed, and humiliated. We have kept some of our pain inside, and some of our pain oozes out into the world. Some people believe that "hurt people hurt people." We can blame others, and stay in the mode of victim, or we can claim our wholeness, despite our suffering. As a matter of fact, our suffering has enhanced our wholeness while giving us empathy and compassion for others.
If we can focus on our "overcoming" the suffering and not just the suffering itself, we can discover how strong, resilient and amazing we really are.
We are OVERCOMERS, and "walking miracles." With this comes a feeling of inner power, strength and fortitude we may not have known we have. We have been pushed beyond our limits, and are still alive to talk about it. Some of us take our personal woundedness and use it help others who have been hurt.
The song "We Shall Overcome Some Day" is an incredible anthem of Black Americans. It is remarkable that Black people have made it through so much oppression, suffering and abuse and are still living, creating, and functioning. The same is true for Native Americans, Jews, GLBT people and other marginalized groups. I'd like to add another song to that one: "We Have Overcome This Day."
If we can begin to focus on our overcoming, healing the wound, but not forgetting it, I believe we can move into gratitude and Oneness Consciousness. Jesus said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." We can forgive others, and show the world that they no longer have any power over us.
As OVERCOMERS, we radiate Divine Love, and support others as they come to know their own resilience, power and amazingness.
Empires will always die and implode. Those who hate also hate themselves. Oneness Consciousness is the healing solution. And OVERCOMERS, we can testify to the being "walking miracles."
Go -- tell it on the mountain.
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Valuing Elder Wisdom
Some people make fun of older people. Others dismiss them as incompetent and worthless. There are countless images in media of doddering older people.
As we age, we may lose some muscle mass, and some bone density. But for many of us past eighty years old, we are still pretty sharp in the brain department. Many elders over eighty have amassed an incredible amount of information.
I am a Caucasian male, with Jewish roots. Because I have lived this long, I have awealth of experiences and information. I have read well over 3,000 books in my lifetime. Some were assigned by teachers and professors, and others I have read on my own.
I have taken classes from famous and not-so-famous educators. Some of the famous ones included Abraham Maslow, Robert Bly, Carol Bly, Natalie Goldberg, Charles Nolte, Bruno Bettleheim, Philip Jackson, Phillip Slater, Jacob Getzels. You may not know about these professors, but they wrote books, taught many classes, and shared their wisdom with the world.
I have experienced being a professor in a small liberal arts college for 40 years, teaching education and sociology classes. I have written hundreds of letters of recommendation for other people.
I have been a Board member for a variety of organizations including the YMCA, Family Tree Health Center, Adler Graduate School, Clare's Well Spirituality Center.
I have lived on a farm. I have lived in cities. I have lived in the suburbs. I have been very poor economically, and have lived as a middle class person. I have had dozens of friends from a variety of classes, races, sexual orientations and ages.
I have presented more than three hundred workshops all over the US and Canada, written books, written hundreds of articles about personal growth and emotional well-being. I am part of three different websites, and have made several films, and You-Tube videos. I have won awards for my books and films.
I have had a counseling practice whereI have led men's support groups, women's groups, and couples' groups. I have been part of men's groups for almost 50 years.
I have been a son, brother, father, nephew, uncle, grandfather. I have been a full-time custodial single father.
I have experienced the loss of my parents, my grandparents, my sister, friends, family members, and pets. I taught a class called Death, Dying and Bereavement for twenty- three years. I have led grief groups.
I have explored a variety of religious belief systems including Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism.
I have had a variety of health challenges including irregulr heartbeat, other heart issues, two hip replacements, and some other surgeries. I lived in an incubator the first six weeks of my life.
Some of my causes are: civil rights, gay rights, women's rights, men's rights, elder rights, children's rights, care of the environment. I believe in empowering all people of all ages and backgrounds to have choices, live in dignity, and know their own lovablity and wisdom. I currently mentor more than forty people and help them making life choices and decisions.
I am against labeling and dividing people, stereotyping of all kinds, especially racial. As a child of the Universe, I celebrate my own complexity and resilience. I have overcome prejudice and bullying. I have lived through years of harassment and oppression.
So, don't try to categorize me. Don't assume I can't empathize or show compassion for those who suffer. Most of all, don't assume my work is done. And don't laugh at me because I may walk a little slower.