Nature Teacher: Distancing

Sign indicating Rattlesnakes may be found in this area - give them distance and respect"

Respect for distancing is nothing new. Mother Nature’s been teaching us all along. Only now are we mandated overall. Touching poison ivy or poison oak will make you sorry. A porcupine or skunk make sure you know if you’ve come too close. A bite from a brown recluse spider or Lyme tic can turn your life upside down. So can the coronavirus, but you may not live to tell it. We do not have to be afraid, just respectful and use common sense. Revere Mother Nature’s lessons. She’s always known what’s good for you.

Are Closed Borders Opening Minds?

Border collie contemplating the other side

Interesting that the greatest power to reducing the spread of the coronavirus and death count, is closing borders (and our doors). Heated protests over border crossings are quieter now. Political correctness pummeled common sense yet it is our greatest individual defense against the virus. I usually don’t express political opinions on the internet because they invite divisiveness and animosity but the border issue has crossed from political debate to protective measures — for all of humanity.

Ethnology is Not a Dirty Word

A one-worlder I am not. Call me a global admirer instead. I celebrate all differences from skin color to climate and believe there is a reason the world and its peoples are diverse, that we should not become blindly and blandly homogenized as some promote. Naturally occurring distinctions in our human race (and nature for that matter) are colorful and lively yet some sadly choose to view them with discrimination or hate.

The Yin and Yang of Humanity

Interacting with people of various cultures is educational, fun and fascinating. The ability to choose an authentic Japanese, Italian, Polish, Indian, or Jamaican meal nearby is a treat. Friends frequently gather at the Tai restaurant, and the Afro-American stand with background Motown beat offers the tastiest ribs in town. I revere the Chinese acupuncturist and Native American healer, and I’m pleased to refer customers to the sanguine Mexican cabinet and granite supplier. The savoir faire of these ethnic groups cultivated enriching relationships with the communities who welcomed them; they continue to flourish through common courtesy.

However, in the last so many years, I’ve increasingly observed non-English speaking immigrants rummaging through items on store shelves then tossing them on the floor, dumping trash on our once pristine streets rather than in nearby bins, and blasting music all night so that residents are exhausted going to work. Such disrespect — whether from citizen, immigrant or illegal — is not welcomed. Seeing others break laws that we abide by breeds discontent. Disrespect creates tension, not our inherent diversities.

And yet, isn’t the pandemic revealing the yin and yang of all of humanity as evidenced through stories of incredible kindness and some of the most unimaginably ugly behavior?

Respect – A Small Word with Huge Impact

Black and white sign set on stone indicating "Please respect our neighbours'"
Original photo by Kai Brame on Unsplash

Simply respecting each other could eliminate the need for thought police tactics and political correctness. On today’s terms this means self-quarantining to not recklessly endanger others, or not persecuting Asians because the virus originated in Wuhan.

Peeling Off Political Correctness

But, intentionally calling the virus something other than it is just to be politically correct, is senseless to me. To understand and learn about something is to identify it. I want to know, for instance, that Roquefort cheese is from France or that the corona virus originated in China. Being politically correct by omitting information or changing terms is unclear and keeps people in the dark. My reasoning is not to blame but to understand.

Father holding sign to think again while child holds onto his arm in a city street
Original photo by Jose Moreno on Unsplash

While the numbers escalate too rapidly to report here, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Oregon are in the top states with the most coronavirus infections. These states are also sanctuary states hosting sanctuary cities which are rampant with the virus.

I do not support sanctuary cities but I support respect and common sense. If illegal immigrants do not understand the language, how will they follow safety protocols? If they are afraid to seek testing or treatment, how much farther will the virus spread? I do not support illegal immigration (or calling it undocumented to misrepresent the truth) but I do welcome immigrants who will contribute to the land where they have immigrated and who honor that country’s culture, citizens, laws, environment and communities.

Street art depicting a black man with the commentary "...Why don't we boycott killing each other?"
Original photo by Pieter van de Sande on Unsplash

Ignorance is the Culprit, Not Differences

Immigration is a passionate topic worldwide. Will the coronavirus’ mandate to close borders lessen the tension? Will common sense be restored by survivors of this pandemic?

If the politically correct term for old school is common sense, so be it. My term for politically correct is ignorance. As expressed in previous posts, I believe smart aka dumb phones have paradoxically proliferated ignorance. The injustice is not from identifying the difference but when hate or fear are attached to dissimilarity. Differences do not mean inequality to me. I respect borders with an open mind.

Photo of black/white border collie and brown/white husky side by side
Original photo by Tereza Rubá on Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Nature Teacher: We may be One but We are Not the Same

Red ripened and green beefsteak tomatoes on the vine

Gardening teaches me so much about living life. Besides providing quiet time to regenerate, and avoid constant interruptions of marketing ploys or messages that can wait, gardening offers opportunities to look more deeply into life.

tomatoes 8-9-19 015Stepping into the tomato patch today, I notice some are ripened red, some still green, some are somewhere along the way. Brighter, faster, bigger, smaller, slower — each is on its own natural path. Some are still hanging on, some have fallen, others have reached their potential, or are late bloomers. Each embodies the same components — vine, skin, flesh, seeds, juice — but they are not exactly the same. I do not understand why current culture insists humans must have the same thoughts, feelings, sensitivities, and opinions, that to be one we cannot be unalike.

We are a universe of red, white, brown, tan, black, tall, short, thin, plump beings, with indigenous dialects and languages, who think diverse thoughts, eat different foods, live in disparate climates, etc., etc., etc. Yet the Thought Police want to neutralize our inherent differences, insisting we cannot think independently, that our beliefs, words and opinions must all conform.  Consider this:

Yellow and green cocktail tomatoes on the vine
Photo by satynek from Pixabay

An unripened tomato is not the same as a ripened one, not in color, size, taste or maturity. Similarly, a beefsteak tomato is not a cocktail tomato or a plum tomato or cherry tomato or tomato of any other name. I cannot force it to be what it is not. Some are blemished, some appear perfect on the surface, some may be rotten inside but I accept and work with each as is.

Instead of denigrating others for being who they are, or demanding an unrealistic homegeneity, a more equitable approach is through mutual respect — something greatly overshadowed anymore by stratospheric sensitivities. Now I am an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) but I honor individuality. Can culture shift its caliginous restraints on our genuine differences?

Various stages of ripened and unripened cherry tomatoes
Photo by jggrz from Pixabay

Over 15,000 varieties of tomatoes exist throughout our world in every shade of red, burgundy, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, almost black, even streaked and striped. Numerous flavors range from tasty sweet to tart or well-balanced. I think it’s safe to say some prefer one type over another. There is nothing wrong with that. Each has its own comfort zone for thriving, and some are more versatile than others. Distinct qualities are refreshing. As with the human race. I don’t want to have just cherry tomatoes. Do you?

Varieties of tomatoes - red beefsteak, heirloom, yellow cherry, purple, green, striped and blemished
Photo by jggrz from Pixabay

 

You Decide

There’s been a lot of hype about the impending total solar eclipse.  I’ve never been one to do something just because “everyone else is doing it.” The same with technology. I don’t have to have the latest and greatest, or any at all because “everyone else has one.” To me, that’s a lazy excuse for not making conscious choices and for robbing myself of my individuality. I’ve felt the same about the upcoming solar eclipse.

I haven’t had a desire to view the eclipse, even when friends are traveling for optimal viewing or scrambling for special glasses. I don’t know what your plans are but you may want to take into account the less discussed ill effects of the total solar eclipse, and some protective measures you can take at the time.

images

According to Indian rishis, the energy field is so strong when there is an absence of lunar or solar electromagnetic radiation that these ecliptic areas of space become unique fields of electromagnetic radiation and affect man’s duality of consciousness.  Exposing oneself to the vibratory effects of an eclipse is unfavorable.  Be vigilant to avoid being affected by the eclipse’s inauspicious influence and adjust your actions and awareness to accommodate larger universal energies:

  • Being outside amplifies the effects on one’s electrical body.  Instead, stay indoors and chant mantras such as the protective Maha Mritunjaya mantra.
  • Do not cook food, and fast if possible. If any food is sitting around, keep it covered.
  • Three days before and after an eclipse are considered unlucky for important new beginnings such as marriage, starting a business, and other important actions.

Someone who traveled to Ayers Rock in the Outback of central Australia to have a full vision of the sky and developing full solar eclipse said that almost immediately, and for the following year, he experienced enormous loss and difficulties.  He deeply regrets viewing the eclipse and said he would never do it again.

As a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), I have felt exhausted as the eclipse approaches and  have cancelled many activities in the name of self-care.  My conscience would not rest easy if I did not pass along this less-known information on the approaching eclipse.

However, as a tiny update to this post, since sharing this info with friends has created lively discussion on various interpretations on this eclipse,  I have now personalized my own observance of this significant day.  Moments before the eclipse began, I picked a colorful garden bouquet.  Now, I am staying inside listening to the Maha Mritunjaya mantra and writing my intentions for the coming year.  I will then shower away past emotional baggage during the height of the eclipse.

This is all in the spirit of Take what you like and leave the rest.” I would love to hear how the total solar eclipse affects you and what you decide to do during this time.

 

Friends of Different Feathers

These guys (or gals) don’t look alike but they respectfully share from the same feeder, while happily chirping away.  People could learn a lot from them.

Friends
Cardinal and Chickadee

I learned a lot from Jamaicans when visiting their homeland.  Most Americans warned me ahead of time to “not go off the resort premises,” but strolling down the beach while mesmerized by the turquoise sea drew my curiosity beyond the boundary line. Haphazard tin-roofed shacks from whatever washed ashore leaned every which way — a yin-yang contrast to the well-manicured all-inclusive that was my home for 7 days.

The Jamaican Patois (pronounced Patwa) beckoned me into the makeshift beach mall.  My ear took some getting used to their creole language but I appreciated the creative twist on english.   In and out, I scanned the line of booths sand to ceiling but most of the wares were tchotchkes made in China that I could purchase in my hometown dollar store.  Still, each proprietor smiled widely while proclaiming, “Tank yuh.  Tank you fi looking. Tank you fi di respect.”

100_1735 Smile Pay Close Up
Shop #12:  The more you smile, the less you pay

Most Jamaicans live in poverty.  Tourism, music or selling drugs sadly seem to be the major opportunities to increase their standard of living.  I’ve had panhandlers in other countries follow me into the water ruining an afternoon swim, or camp out just beyond the garden patio, calling for me to buy their goods.  (One couple from Manhattan quit their Grenada vacation early, stating, “The panhandling isn’t this bad at home.  We came here to relax…”) But, Jamaica was different.   The people spoke to my heart and I quickly understood a universal desire for respect.

“I love your food.  The Jamaican Jerk is delicious…nothing like back home,” I shared with the merchants.  “I’ve been listening to a lot of your music on MTV in my room.  I never knew there are so many types of Reggae.  Do you have Tanya Stephens or Beris Hammond? I’d love to take some CDs home,” I explained to the last few shopkeepers.  (Yes, I’m of the generation that still listens to an armoire full of CDs.  Just another segment of my staving off technology.)

Walking back to the resort, a young Jamaican boy ran down the hill toward me, waving his arms.  “Yuh di lady looking fi music?” he asked, showing me a handful of CDs.

“Well, yes I am.  What do you have there?”  The jewel cases sported homemade labels depicting the very artists I inquired about.  We exchanged smiles as I paid him then crossed the boundary line to the resort.

That night, I watched a Jamaican grandmother teach her granddaughter the art of basket weaving while a Rastafari man let me listen through his headphones to other Jamaican musicians I might like.  The next day, the little boy made me nearly a dozen more CDs which I carefully wrapped in the intricately hand-woven two-toned basket for my travels home.

For me, the best souvenir is a meaningful piece of culture.  The best vacation is connecting with natives of the homeland.  I travel to experience diversity.  Maybe that’s what the cardinals and chickadees do too.

It’s all a matter of respect.

Caribbean_general_map Some less respectful tidbits  about Jamaica…

Don’t refer to a Rastafari as a “rastafarian” as they connect “ians” and “isms” to oppression.  Likewise, referring to their philosophy as a “religion” or “ism” is against their beliefs.

Dudus (Christopher Michael) Coke led the violent Shower Posse drug gang that exported marijuana and cocaine to the United States.  In 1992 he took over his deceased father’s position as leader of the Tivoli Gardens community in West Kingston.  Providing programs to help the poor community garnered him so much local support that Jamaican police could not enter this neighborhood without community consent.