Dr. Mike Obsatz, Professor Emeritus at Macalester College
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Making Lemonade Out of Lemons
My son is moving three-and-half hours away today. I talked with him by phone. He was driving a big rental moving truck.
I haven't hugged him or his wife or their two kids much these past 18 months. I miss hugging my kids and all my grandkids, my friends, and people at church. There's a lot that I have missed during the last 18 months. But, I have kept busy, kept in touch with many people by phone or at a social distance wearing a mask outdoors at my home.
We are fortunate to have several outdoor spaces to meet with people. It is wonderful to see people, and still feel safe from COVID. It is not ideal, however, and this "masked" marvel experience gets old and tedious.
Every time I think we are getting a grip on this pandemic, there is another surge. Hospital beds and ICU's are in short supply again in many parts of the country. The variant has taken its toll. Death rates and infection rates are rising again. However, many people are tired of being masked, distanced, and quarantined. Some are convinced it is actually over.
It is understandable that some people are impatient to return to "normal." We are still having large, spreader events like rallies and state fairs, with no distancing or masks. Millions of unvaccinated young people are returning to school in the next few weeks. Some will be masked, others will not. Some schools mandate distancing and masks. Others do not.
This pandemic continues to invade and change our lives. I have begun to wonder if this will ever be gone, or will it linger on for many years because we have not taken adequate precautions. Keeping oneself safe is a nuisance.
We have been told by scientisits that there is a way to "beat this." Some people don't trust science and don't believe in vaccinations, distancing, or masking. It is a political issue. It is a social issue. It is a moral issue.
If we have to live with this forever, I will grieve not having the opportunities I wish I had. But I will continue to be grateful for what I do have, and reach out whenever and however I can. I need to stay healthy so I can live longer than my last 80 years. I need to stay healthy because despite the hassles and frustrations, life is good and worth living. I am trying to make lemonade out of lemons, something I was taught as a child.
I continue to live in wonder and gratitude. I want to protect others and live with compassion, empathy, patience, and discernment. I pray that others can grow in oneness consciousness, where they see love for all mattering more than freedom for one.
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Dr. Michael Obsatz Speaks for 30 Minutes on Male Pain and Isolation
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America became official in 1776. That is 245 years ago. But America, to me, is more like 15 years old. It is a complex nation, filled with people from all over the world. Some came over here to escape oppression. Some came to reap a harvest of freedom and opportunity they did not have where they were. Others were forced to come here in chains, as slaves.
This mixture involves people of a variety of cultures, colors, histories, and lifestyles. For a while, America was called a "melting pot." People supposedly acculturated into one common glop of chowder. Then, the country was described more like a stew. This was a mixture of various flavors and smells.
I believe America is an adolescent, in its very early and immature stages, unable to deal with the complex diversity of its people. Simple rules don't work anymore. The white males who founded the country were narrow in their beliefs and experiences. Freedom for all did not include children, women, Native Americans or slaves.
The first thing Americans did when they arrived is kill some of the natives who lived here, taking their land and resources.
America was settled by people who came from the British Empire, and they created their own Empire here. Empire Consciousness is the belief that one has the right to dominate, control, and destroy others who get in the way of their "Manifest Destiny." Empire is always about power and domination, shame and fear, and scarcity.
To me, America has stayed stuck in an adolescent phase of development. The revolutionary war is not yet over. Adolescents can be:
Very motivated by external rewards
Worried about what others think of them
Defiant and resistant to facts and reality
Hyper-critical of others
Tend to see things as black and white (polarization)
Moody and temperamental
Ignorant of the world's complexities
Hypocritical -- say one thing, do another
Living in denial
In America there is a focus on being young, looking young. There is also the mistreatment of elders.
In the computer age, young people may believe they don't need elders to teach them anything. They can find out all they need to know on the computer. (See Robert Bly's "The Sibling Society.")
Everything is public, and their privacy is easily invaded with hacking.
No wonder there has been so much turmoil in effectively dealing with COVID-19. Over 600,000 Americans have died. It is a major pandemic and requires maturity, compassion, and resourcefulness to handle its deadly consequences.
It is my hope that we can learn from our mistakes, and develop a more Oneness Consciousness with care and compassion for others. The vast amount of violence, destruction, and oppression of the poor, the minorities, and outsiders can only change when a culture is willing to mature and grow up, become adult and aware.
Healthy action can only follow if mature internal awareness is there.
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Dr. Michael Obsatz Speaks for 33 Minutes
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How Can Hugging Someone I Love Make Me Cry?
For the first time in fifteen months, I feel free to hug my three adult children, six grandchildren, and many of my good friends.
I have been hugging-deprived (except for my wife) because I wanted to stay safe during this COVID experience. Staying Alive" has been more than a John Travolta disco song for me. It has been my main job and focus since March, 2020.
I have tried to do all the right things. I realized that where I went, and how I behaved was up to me.
I wore a mask everywhere, wore plastic gloves, washed my hands fifty times a day. I avoided planes, trains, and automobiles, except our family cars. No ubers for me. Plexiglas shields were not enough protection.
Recently, I went to a gathering and hugged a few people. It was a surreal experience to hug and be hugged. It felt amazing and scary at the same time. It is also felt wonderful.
When I first hugged my son and grandson a few weeks ago, I cried. Even though I have been vaccinated since February, I knew many others were not. Now, my adult children are vaccinated, and my most of my friends are as well.
Businesses and spiritual centers are opening up.
There seems to be the belief that it is now safer to touch another person, give or receive a hug or handshake. A sigh of relief. Maybe we finally made it through this. Maybe I can feel safe again in the grocery store.
Crying can be a sign of sadness, but also it may be a sign of relief. Finally, we are free to live our lives. But for me, I think I am crying because I was unable to cry during the last fifteen months. It was too much to feel all the sadness and loss while being so strong. It was too much to let in and let out the feelings of grief. So, maybe I can grieve now as I begin to feel more connected again. Hugging in person is different than a face-time phone call.
I feel sadness because of the 600,000 people in the United States who died. I am sad that this pandemic was not taken seriously by some people. I feel sadness for all those who became ill and recovered. I am also grateful to every caregiver who kept people alive, and took care of our basic needs -- food, medical care, mail delivery, spiritual support, etc.
I am most grateful for the scientists who created the vaccines, and those who delivered the vaccinations. I believe that I can cry for joy about that.
Regarding Unity Minneapolis, I am super grateful for the ministers (Rev. Pat, and Rev Toni), staff, board, volunteers, and congregation for keeping the high watch, making our lives better, more connected, and love-focused during the last fifteen months. Where would I be without "Connecting with Reverend Pat," my prayer chaplains, my Unity men's group, and live-streaming the Unity Sunday services?
I am still going slow with re-entering the world. How safe is it really? How can I know? In the meantime, I will be hugging those who are vaccinated more freely now. And I will cry out of love, gratitude, sadness, and relief. Thank you, God.
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The Ultimate Shame-Buster: Overcoming Shame Through Spiritual Connection
Shame is pervasive in all cultures. Shame is a feeling of unworthiness, incompetence, and self-hatred. Empire Consciousness promotes shame by creating a hierarchy of the powerful at the top and the powerless at the bottom. One is always striving to climb to the top by putting others down. This results in racism, sexism, hetersexism, ableism, classism, etc.
Empire Consciousness is about control, domination, we/they mindsets, scarcity and oppression. It is understandable that those at the bottom would have shame because they are heavily abused and shamed in the process of experiencing oppression. However, those at the top feel shame and guilt deep down for being oppressors. They also hate themselves. They may not be aware of it on a conscious level, but shame is always part of Empire Consciousness.
Oneness Consciousness is about God-connection, and love for all of creation. It is the ultimate Shame-Buster. The more connected to love of God and the whole universe one feels, the more lovable, worthy, and meaningful life is.
We can "heal" shame by looking at past hurts, family of origin issues, and a culture of shaming. But the real healing comes when one detaches from needing any validation from the world. Everything comes from within, and an internal spiritual connection is the ultimate lover of all.
God is the ultimate life-force of love energy, blazing holes through the worldly shaming of Empire Consciousness. Jesus said, "Be in the world, but not of the world." In other words, live in the world but don't define oneself by worldly standards, rules, categories and labels.
We are validated by our wholeness and spiritual connection, and need nothing from any earthly beings. Just live and let live. Create inner peace and outer peace will follow. Everything is an INSIDE JOB.
Books about Shame:
Brene Brown -- The Gifts of Imperfection
John Bradshaw -- Healing the Shame that Binds You
John Bradshaw -- Homecoming
Charles Whitfield -- Healing the Child Within
Alice Miller -- The Drama of the Gifted Child
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How to Be a Golden Receiver
Deborah MacDonald, author and business coach, talks about the difference between being a Go-getter and Go-giver. Go-getters are actively involved in getting what they want -- jobs, money, possessions, relationships. Go-givers are busy offering their time, talents, and services to others, those in need.
Golden Receivers get and give, and receive from both the giving and receiving. They believe they deserve to have goals and dreams, and work hard to fulfill them. But they also dedicate their lives to helping others, being able to see the beauty of the process of giving and achieving.
It is all right to achieve in life. It is crucial not to identify and define oneself with one's successes or setbacks. So understand that you are a beautiful child of God, of the Universe whether or not you accomplish a great deal in the outer world. However, it is also important to offer oneself in service to others. The balance of these two ways of being offers a joyous combination of finding joy in the process of giving and taking. It means letting good flow in, flow out to others, and experiencing the self as one with the flow.
One way of being a Golden Receiver is to "pay it forward."
Gratitude for all that one has is followed by giving to others. Golden receivers live in gratitude, and turn that into action. Helping others provides an internal meaning and fulfillment that goes beyond material rewards.
So, rather than being a Go-Getter or a Go-giver, it might be wonderful to experience life as a Golden Receiver -- of prosperity, abundance, joys and sorrows as well as Golden Giver of love, energy, time, and attention.
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What has kept me sane and peaceful during these fourteen months of COVID-19
I know I am loved by God.
I have many people in my life who love and support me.
I am healthy and have mobility.
I am grateful to have my creative, physical and intellectual talents.
I can control where I go, but cannot control what anyone else does during this time.
I can still walk outside most of the year and marvel at the magnificence of our natural world.
I can still see people in person outside, masked, at a distance in warm weather -- above 50 degrees.
We have fortunate to have scientists who are giving us the best information they can.
Many people have harder challenges than I have.
I can live without some comforts and distractions.
I have been through much worse than this and survived and thrived.
I am not in this alone.
I can live my purpose no matter what. I can love and support others, share time, energy and talents with others.
I am focused on fostering emotional and spiritual growth in others.
My life has meaning, and I have had many experiences, joys, and adventures so far.
I am not responsible for anyone else's healing, or level of understanding or consciousness.
I have to trust the process -- we will get through this time.
There are many wonderful books to read and movies to see.
Ice cream comes in many delicious flavors.
I can nurture myself and those I love.
I try to not judge others who think differently than I do.
I put out the "good stuff" (love, compassion, kindness, empathy) and let go of the results.
I see people awakening to their wholeness, and the worthiness of all others.
I can still dance.
Prayer, meditation, quiet time, and other spiritual practices are comforting to me.
I have a loving, spiritual community.
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Empire Consciousness, Oneness Consciousness and "Human Sacrifice"
As a child in Hebrew School, I never appreciated the idea that Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his son. The idea of a God that required a sacrifice was foreign to me. My parents did not believe that, and yet they sent me to a school that taught that.
It was also interesting to me that many Christians I knew as a child believed that "Jesus died for your sins." Again, the idea that someone has to be sacrificed to appease a judging, vengeful God because we are so evil.
This is very different from the image of God that Jesus actually taught. According to Jesus, God is loving, forgiving, grace-filled, compassionate, generous and kind.
In my extended family, sacrificing for others seemed very important. People in my family or origin often talked about how much they gave up for others, how much they did for others, how much they denied themselves so others could have more. This martyrdom was stressed as a virtue.
Since I have moved to a different understanding of God, and a different concept of generosity. I now know that I don't have to give up everything to be a generous, loving person. I can enjoy myself, enjoy material possessions, enjoy nature. I still believe in helping, supporting and nurturing those in need. However, it does not mean that I have to "live poor."
I grew up being poor, being part of a farm family where my parents worried about paying the mortgage every month.
If we lost the farm, where would we live? We also had enough food, but we had very few "extras." I always wore hand-me-down clothing until I could buy something for myself at age 18.
I am sad that there is poverty and oppression, and I will contribute to those in need with my time, talent, and treasure. Usually more than the 10 percent tithing that is encouraged.
Another aspect of being sacrificed is related to the intense bullying I experienced from ages 5 - 12 for being Jewish. I was harassed, beaten, shamed, spat at, cursed, and ridiculed. When bullies pick on one person, they are, in effect, projecting and dumping all their sins, frustrations, inadequacies on that person. They believe that by tormenting someone else, they can temporarily relieve themselves from their own feelings of shame, pain, and abandonment. This is like human sacrifice.
The Crucifixion, witches burned at the stake, lynching of Black men, and the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were killed, and intense bullying of children and adults -- these all are examples of scapegoating, and finding someone or some group to blame for all of life's difficulties and a person's feelings of worthlessness. It also is a way to feel superior, in control, and purged of one's impurities.
Sometimes the victim is blamed, such as in some rape situations. Sometimes, the messenger is blamed, as Jesus was, for his bearing of "good news and glad tidings." If the message threatens the current belief system, it is ignored, or in some cases, destroyed along with the messenger.
Empire Consciousness is about domination, power, control, and justifying the degradation of those "at the bottom." This results in bullying, wars, and discrimination and hatred. Part of Empire Consciousness is the belief in scarcity, and the need to hoard and conquer others.
All empires have done this. Great Britan is a perfect example -- taking over countries, planting the British flag and turning the inhabitants into slaves. Americans did this with the Native Americans. The other empires -- Greece, Rome, Ottoman, etc. -- conquered and destroyed native people for their own gain. So creating the concept of a punishing, vengeful God goes along with the idea of oppression and oppressors. The image reflects the type of consciousness.
One thing that happens with Empire Consciousness is that those all the bottom are taught to distrust and fear each other and fight among themselves. Fear, revenge, and a we/they mentality always exist.
Oneness Consciousness is about seeing the connection between all people, and believing there is enough to go around. The God of Oneness Consciousness is one of generosity and compassion. No need to sacrifice oneself, or anyone else.
Any individual can live in Oneness Consciousness -- no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation, class, etc.
So -- the type of consciousness is the enemy, not particular groups or individuals.
Until we get passed labeling and demonizing groups, we will continually promote and live in Empire Consciousness. It is also a way of attempting to deny and medicate one's pain and feelings of worthlessness. It is the refusal to examine oneself, and one's limitations and imperfections -- and still know that one is lovable as he or she is.
The answer to moving past the need for human sacrifice is to grow in awareness of the worth and connection of all of humanity.
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All White Men Are Not the Same
Every time I see all white men lumped together, it makes me sad. I have known thousands of white men over my almost 80 years on this planet. They have been co-workers, fathers, teachers, students, mentees, relatives, sons, community members, doctors, lawyers, judges, carpenters, plumbers, politicians, farmers, artists, barbers, executives and more. They have ranged in age from 16 to 95. Some have wealth. Others are poor. Many are in between.
There are men in all age groups -- adolescents, young adults, mid-lifers, seniors, elderly. There are men who are living fully, and men who are dying. There are men with families and children. There are men who have lived alone all of their lives.
Beyond the label "white male," come a variety of distinctions. There are men who are of minority religions. Not all Jewish white men are the same. They may come from Orthodox, Conservative,or Reform backgrounds. They may have differing beliefs and values. There are also gay, bi-sexual and transgender white men. Some of these have been severely oppressed. There are men with illnesses and disabilities. There are men with status and power. There are men with low status and no power. There are men with deformities, men with cancer and other diseases. There are white men who live in castles and white men who are homeless and starving.
Some of the sub-categories consist of lifestyle issues. Some men have been mercilessly bullied as children and adolescents. There are many men who have abused, harassed, abandoned and beaten. There are men from different regions of the country. And there are men who have gone through many losses -- loss of spouses, children, jobs, health, power, income, relatives.
There are men who continuously grieve their losses. There are men who don't know how to openly grieve. There are athletic men and clumsy, uncoordinated men.
There are handsome men and not-so-handsome men.
There are thin men and overweight men. There are men of varying abilities and intellectual capabilities. There are men who are compassionate, and men who are not. There are lovers, and there are haters.
Many men have been programmed to be tough, macho, independent, and stoic. Some men belong to groups, and others are isolated. Some men have feelings of worthiness, and others do not.
Spiritually, we have a wide range of men who experience spiritual connectedness and many who have none. We can find selfish white men and generous white men. There are white men who are in touch with many of their feelings, and other white men who do not have a clue.
So -- this is the just the beginning of looking at the complexity of one group which is often described as all alike -- and all benefiting from White Male Privilege.
White men are as different as snowflakes (which are white). Be careful when you talk about White Male Privilege because it is not as obvious as it may seem.
Many white men have been oppressed by other white men. Many white men know the fear and terror of being hunted and tortured. Some white men have been killed by other men. Some oppressed men oppress others. Some men who appear to "have it all" really deep inside hate themsevles and hate their lives.
The complexity goes on and on. It is sexist to lump all white men together. It is naive, simplistic, and also racist.