ECO-Tours only purchases trees and dirt to plant them in...

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Idle No More

Worldwide, indigenous peoples are rising up, those who realize that the future of our species is at stake in the current economic system if we do not change course quickly are tired of waiting for governments and their representatives to compromise themselves into a corner. the stakes are so high because we have always had two competing factions seeking power, those who feel that individual rights are sacred and those that think that the good of the many outweighs the good of the individual. It is time to begin thinking about governing in a completely different manner. At ECO-Tours, we have been teaching leadership development and governing by consensus for over twenty years. These important elements in cultural change are coming to the fore across the planet at a time of extreme stress, financial instability and rapid ecological change.

We are facing exponential changes in several areas that threaten the fabric of our daily lives, but with relatively small changes being taken by millions, possibly billions of individuals, wholesale change that will help maintain cultural continuity can occur relatively rapidly. Divesting from industries that exploit individuals or the Earth is a great place to start. Artificially propping up antiquated industries that no longer serve the interests of people or the planet is how we got into the mess that we are in now. Demanding an end to corporate welfare and prosecution of white collar criminals will most certainly need to take place as well. Allowing wealthy, powerful and controlling interests to continue down the rat hole of environmental destabilization and corruption of the ecosystems that sustains all life on our planet must not stand.

As we enter the new age, over the next hundred and fifty years or so, it is the water bearers who will have to be revered and followed if we are to survive. ECO-Tours has existed in several forms, flowing through an organic progression, like all life demonstrates for us if we take the time to slow down and pay attention. The water bearers are not, as the name would seem to express, like vessels in the traditional sense of the word. they do not always carry water in a traditional sense either. They epitomize flow, understand the relationship between all that is and transformation into other forms, other states of consciousness. The water that is borne is perhaps best understood as a sacred dance, a flow within universal relationship with all that is. Instead of a linear progression from youth to old age, the water bearers realize that deep and abiding wisdom that resides in the innocence of a new born is the same wisdom that the most intuitive elder holds in their heart. there is no now and then, past, present and future, all time is now. the movements we make through space are as much an illusion as the time signature we invent to keep track of our days.

Those who exhibit the greatest stillness are often the most productive, why? because they have mastered the relationship between their own soul purpose, their values and moral fiber, and by attending to the moment, bring their full potential into each moment. These old souls inspire others and understand the great mystery in ways that are hard to put to words. The flowing river thinks not of the rocks upon which it flows, but over the course of the seasons, it has the power to wear away stone. Instead of working in opposition to an impediment, it has the temporal power of just be-ing, tenaciously clinging to itself and whatever it touches. Though a coherent state of being, it outlasts the river bed and the cliffs. by changing phase, it has the power to break stone, imbue all things with life and enliven life processes of every organism on the planet. The water bearers accept this truth, live it and will outlast the current slate of provincial, colonizers and those who seek to extract as much as possible without giving anything back to the rest of the sacred beings on Mother Earth.

We continue to plant trees, tree seeds, pioneer species of all types and to educate people in ways to live sustainably amongst all the creatures of our sacred planet. We will not wage war on the enemies of the Earth, but we will take pity on them in many and varied ways. It is from a supreme destitution of spirit that they make the false assumptions that they have made. we live in a world of infinite abundance. reclaiming the give away as a normal part of our lives will yield blessings and miracles beyond our understanding. We are honored by having the opportunity to serve and blessed with the ability to do so. Thank-you for your support!

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Beginnings

As many prepare to make New Years resolutions, it is our wish to pass on a bit of wisdom that we have gleaned from our many years of living as change agents. When we seek to make positive change, it is important to clear out old ways, old habits and in very real ways,clear the ground so something new can take root. It has been reported that over the years, very few of our resolutions stick. Like the wife in Slaughterhouse Five, we often run cover for our own bad habits by saying repeatedly, I'm going to change. I'm going to change for you, Honey. This time I'm really serious...

What we really need to do, to make positive and lasting change in our lives is to rip and tear at the foundation of bad habits, we must remove some significant part of our "selves" to make room for the new beginning. In very real ways, the closing of a chapter is upon us. Our attachment to the way things were is the only thing that is holding us back from achieving great things.

When we embark on a restoration project, we often have to clear out plant life that would out compete the trees that we plant. Changing our lives is much the same. If we have entanglements that absorb all the fresh ideas and good habits that we are trying to establish, the new seedlings that we plant will come to naught. If we refuse to clear out the unproductive activities that we currently distract ourselves with, there will be no time for that exercise program, or the weight loss program that we commit to.

The rites and rituals of the season have developed over long periods of time to help us give away things that are holding us back as surely as they are meant to re-establish relationships with the important parts of the world that surrounds us. In the process of growing, first we must break through the outer shell that we have developed to protect us. This time of the year, the Earth falls into a type of suspended animation. The life which thrives upon the surface takes a rest, and we need to take heed of that, resting ourselves. Over the first half of my adult life, I often found myself busier at this time of year than nearly any other. Running and rushing, trying to meet more than my fair share of obligations. Inevitably, this would lead to illness early in the new year.

One resolution that helped to avoid both the hectic pre-holiday rush and the aftermath of recovery that my body inevitably had to go through, was to look upon the dark days of winter as a gift rather than an obligation. Without a hearth, it can be a bit difficult to find a place to share stories and gather during the long winter nights, but we have had to make due. Stories can still be shared and gifts can still be exchanged, but rather than trying to make everything perfect, just taking time to appreciate one another has become a much more important part of the season.

Understanding the need to clear out things before amassing new ones has both prepared the ground for new growth and opened up possibility that I could not have fathomed if I had remained locked in to the belief that this is the season that requires perfection. One of my favorite personal ECO-Tours, taken time and time again is to journey in, to the heart of my ideas. finding out where they have come from and why I might feel the pressure to do things that I know to be either not helpful or downright harmful has led me to come to terms with many of my mal-adaptive behaviors. Like weeding the ground and tilling soil for new plantings, this mental cultivation has led to both startling discoveries about myself and the creation of a rich medium in which to plant the seeds of better behavior that can lead to growth.

Finding the right places to cultivate, the best seeds to plant in the fresh ground and caring for our new selves in ways that foster growth rather than hinder it is a lifelong process. Just because we put so much pressure on ourselves at this time of year does not mean that this is the only time that we need to consider these important parts of our lives, but perhaps we can start by establishing a new relationship with the person we hope to become. with a bit of luck, perhaps, we can come to terms with the fact that much of what we have become comfortable with is taking us down a very limiting path. Holding on to our old pain, the myriad abuses and neglect that can help define who we are limits our development as surely as night follows the day. Releasing both ourselves and those who have caused our pain from these limitations sounds difficult, but for those who have experienced true forgiveness, the feeling is like opening your heart. Just as we root up weeds and shoots from earth that we seek to plant in, loosening the entanglements of our heart is an essential part of becoming new people.

For some reason, humans seem prone to forgetting the eternal truths. Perhaps that is why so many religious teachings say the same things. I'm sure that is the reason for most folk tales. Even those of us on a good path can use a bit of cultivation from time to time. Take time to look long and deeply into the world that surrounds you. Both the external world of nature, or concrete jungle, whichever you live within and the internal world of emotions and ideas. find the place from which the limitations spring and root them out. only then will your seeds of change be able to take root.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Socialism - Capitalism

The "news" has just covered one of the most curiously mundane subjects imaginable. Miriam Webster, the dictionary people, have kept track of the most looked-up words since their online dictionary started. This year, they tracked two words, in combination, as the most looked up definitions. It seems that the two were most frequently looked up together. Oddly enough, the Rethuglicans made great strides toward redefining both during this election cycle. In our defense, we tried to get tot he bottom of what they were talking about rather than taking their word for it. Strangely enough, fascism didn't make the cut.

I have lived in communes, so I have first-hand knowledge of what shared ownership of the means of production looks and feels like. In fact, the highest standard of living I have ever experienced was living communally. I may not have had a lot of capital, but my needs were always met and the extra value of feeling part of something greater has not been available in any other economic system. What powerful elites do not want us to know is that having them in charge will always cost society more than they are willing to give back to it. Just look at the current "fiscal cliff" and you will realize that the poor are paying more to keep the ship of state afloat than the wealthy. Fairness would require the rich to pay at least as much of their income as the poor and middle class do, but they are fighting tooth and nail to continue benefiting from both the corporate welfare that they have become used to and the tax shelters that they have concocted to line their pockets at our expense.

What really upsets me is the large number of people who belong to cooperatives or buying clubs who claim that socialism is bad. Farmers, across our great land, cooperatively buy feed and seed, store their agricultural products or throw in together to market their products. This is just one example of the good of others and the good of individuals being wedded to one another. Socialism.The prize-winning stupidity that flowed from a Republican mouth recently was that, "We do not want to become Greece." This shows two different ignorant opinions wrapped up in one. Greece, no matter what you think of the country itself, is not an example of what we would become if we accepted more socialist policies. The problems that Greece is facing have come about because of capitalistic approaches to investment and money lending. A significant portion of the Greek's means of production, is based on debt. Owned by foreign interests, not society. Much of this debt has piled up because of the fast money, "loaned" to them by the GDR. The threat posed by this debt is owned by capitalists, not socialists. Capitalism, foisted upon the Greek people from outside their boundaries has resulted in instability and unsustainable cuts to the fabric of life for Greek people. The turmoil that is taking place in Greece right now is because those who believe in the "free market", mostly capitalists, saw a chance to extract more money from Greece than they were able to pay. again, the costs are socialized, but the benefits flowed only one way, out of the country. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have operated the same way for decades, extracting wealth and leaving the burden of governing civil society on the backs of those who are struggling to pay off debt for things that they probably never wanted in the first place.

Private interests love to socialize the costs of their behaviors and allow us all to languish in the cesspool of pollution, exploitation and squalor that they think we deserve. This leaves them free to reap the benefits of our labors. In the case of Greece, their economic turmoil has come about by being hung out to dry by the international bankers that loaned them billions when times were good. Now that the tables have turned and times are tough, the money lenders are facing losses, but their feathered nests will always need more fluff and they have defined both the terms and re-payment plans to benefit themselves, not Greek people or society. In many ways, Germans are more socially inept than we are. They may call themselves a Democratic-socialist country, but capital is front and center, making choices for the entire EU that are bad for people, bad for society and I contend, bad for the planet.

The "resources" that capitalists base their decision-making upon are deemed to be there for the taking, regardless of the negative impacts on society that their exploitation will result in. when the "resources" are people and the exploitation of larger and larger groups of people are required to sate the capitalists thirst for profit, I believe that we have sold ourselves short. It is not bad enough that our land has been despoiled for the profits of the few, now we are extracting even more from those people who had made a social contract to help their fellow countrymen, allow their culture to flourish and by being classified as debtor nations, put themselves in the awkward position of trying to pay for the largess of their most wealthy and powerful elites by further stripping the population of whatever social security net they had. Ultimate power, it is said, corrupts absolutely and we are now seeing the mayhem that can be created when dollars (or euros) matter more than people.