Norwegians Refuse to Step into Fear or Hate


Singalong protest in Oslo

People gather in central Oslo to sing a song hated by mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. Photograph: Kyrre Lien/AFP/Getty Images

Up to 40,000 Norwegians have staged an emotionally charged singalong in Oslo near the court building where Anders Behring Breivik is on trial for the murder of 77 people in a protest organisers said showed he had not broken their tolerant society.

“It’s we who win,” said guitar-strumming folk singer Lillebjørn Nilsen as he led the mass singalong and watched the crowd sway gently in the rain. Many held roses above their heads, and some wept.

The protest followed several days of defiant testimony from Breivik, who has admitted killing his victims but denied criminal guilt.

The crowd chose to sing Children of the Rainbow, a song that extols the type of multicultural society Breivik has said he despises and one he dismissed during the trial as Marxist propaganda.

People then marched to the district courthouse where Breivik was on trial, close to the site where he set off a bomb that killed eight people on 22 July last year.

Thousands more Norwegians held similar musical protests in towns across the country. The protest came as survivors lined up inside the courtroom to take the witness stand and describe the bombing. …..

The Grace of a Poem


Yesterday was filled with a painful challenge that was nourished by the calm of the sea and the play of the otters during New Moon Fire Ceremony. I came home and fell into the grace of this excerpt from the poem Temptress Visions.

All the stars in the sky

recall the purpose of your hallowed light.

Burn hole in through the layers.

Peel all the mockery away.

Enjoin the powers

to answer this call:

Bring the luminous vision

hidden behind the whirling particles

of the Mapmaker.

Let it enter me

like a shaft of light that enters a cave’s deepest measure.

Ancient fires still burn in these depths.

Who tends them?

What eyes are watching?


Waiting for time’s flower to bloom.

To submerge in the relentless subtlety

that moves beyond my reach

with a jaguar’s stealth.

To dream of elder ways

that leap over time

and leave behind the puzzle of our making.

                                                                              James, Wingmakers.

Photo credit smokeycat6, flikr creative commons

The Healing Sounds of The Bell Chant


I’ve been feeling waves of sadness lately, along with the grittiness of irritability. I also seem to have misplaced what little patience I had been nurturing over the past few years.

I wonder my experience is part of it is the collective sadness that comes with living in a world that doesn’t value the uniqueness of each being, that doesn’t value and honour the beautiful blue-green planet we call home, Pacha Mama.

The inner tension between hope and despair is increasing. At times I look out at our world and see all the wonderful acts of kindness, the indications of economic change, the growth in the local food economy and my heart delights. Other days I hear the rhetoric of our politicians saying how we need to fast track approval processes for resource extraction and I burst into tears, recognizing the model that sees the earth as a commodity to be sold, regardless of the larger impacts on communities, the ecosystem and our souls.

Perhaps it is simply part of the process of evolution – we need to experience the polarization of human consciousness between those who would imprison and those who would free the human spirit.

I’ve been using this beautiful Bell Chant from Buddhist teacher Thich Naht Hahn and Brother  Phap Niem to soothe my soul and heart. To help me water the seeds of compassion, within and without.

I’m curious, are you feeling this tension? If so, how are you meeting it?


Thoughts on Vulnerability and Courage

Brene Brown continues to inspire me with the tender, clear ways she expresses her experiences. In the post below she shares here experience of being personally attacked on comment boards. The tightwalk metaphor works well for me, as may days I am wobbling this way and that on the wholehearted living balance beam.

She writes,

“I’m writing this because I’m always asked how I became so strong and immune to the criticism. The answer is that I am strong, but I’m not immune. It hurts. Like hell. Even though I know that “it’s not about me” or “some people are projecting” – it still hurts. I’m human.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. When we stop caring what other people think we lose our capacity for connection. When we are defined by what people think we lose our willingness to be vulnerable.

2. When we close ourselves off to feedback we stop growing. When we open ourselves up to ongoing cruelty, we shut down to self-protect.”

for more: my blog – Ordinary Courage.

A More Humane Drug Policy

 “Drug abuse, alcoholism and tobacco should be treated as public health problems, not criminal justice issues. Our children and grandchildren demand from us a more effective drug policy, not a more ideological response.”                                                        

Otto Pérez Molina, President of Guatemala

This statement is profound. President Molina is talking about taking the leap from the current fear-based response to drugs (treating it as a crime, instigating a “war on drugs”) to love (treating drug use as a public health issue.) This is moving from fear to love in action. Read more in the following  article from The Guardian.

“Twenty years ago, I became head of intelligence services in the Guatemalan army. In this capacity, I had to co-ordinate operations with several United States and Latin American agencies dealing with the fight against drug trafficking.

In those years, this was already a challenging and complex task. However, Guatemala’s security forces had the capacity to deal with the problem, intercepting drug convoys and arresting drug lords. Probably the most important victory on this front was our sophisticated and discreet intelligence operation that led to the arrest of a prominent Mexican drug lord, who was subsequently sent to Mexico for trial.

None the less, the drug lord stayed in jail only eight years, managing to escape from a high-security prison, something that in itself shows the corrupting tentacles of drug trafficking. Today, this capo is listed among the 10 richest men in Mexico, and one of the richest and most influential men on Earth according to Forbes magazine. Some analysts even consider him the most prominent drug trafficker in the world. His name is Joaquín, but he is better known for his nickname: “Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel.

Three months ago, I became president of Guatemala. And contrary to the good fortunes enjoyed by Guzman, I found that the justice and security systems were not what they had been 20 years earlier. Which led me to ask myself these questions: isn’t it true that we have been fighting the war on drugs these past two decades? Then, how on earth is drug consumption higher and production greater and why is trafficking so widespread?

In spite of this quite confusing scenario, I am not frustrated by what we Guatemalans have done in our fight against global criminal networks. In fact, I am proud that during the last two years our justice and security forces have been able to arrest at least 10 very important drug traffickers in our territory. Just last week, we announced the capture of Walther Overdick, the main contact of the Zetas cartel in Guatemala.

Our institutions may be weak financially and sometimes even technically, but there are still many Guatemalans of honour who cannot be bought by drug money. Thanks to them, we are far from being a failed state. We are just a small territory that happens to find itself geographically between the largest drug consumption markets and the largest drug producers.

So, decades of big arrests and the seizure of tons of drugs and yet consumption and production of damaging substances are booming. The fall in the consumption of one drug is rapidly undermined by the rise in demand for another.

In the same vein, the destruction of drug production in one territory is quickly replaced by the increase of drug production in another. The causes for drug consumption seem to multiply over time, as do the incentives for drug production. This is not a frustrating fact. It is just a fact.

And facts are what we need to concentrate on when considering drug policy options. When we analyse drug markets through realistic lenses (not ideological ones as is pretty much customary in most government circles these days), we realise that drug consumption is a public health issue that, awkwardly, has been transformed into a criminal justice problem.

We all agree that drugs are bad for our health and that therefore we have to concentrate on impeding their consumption, just as we combat alcoholism and tobacco addiction. However, nobody in the world has ever suggested eradicating sugar-cane plantations, or potatoes and barley production, in spite of these being raw materials in the production of the likes of rum, beer and vodka. And we all know that alcoholism and tobacco addiction cause thousands of deaths every year all over the world.

So, knowing that drugs are bad for human beings is not a compelling reason for advocating their prohibition. Actually, the prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that the global drug markets can be eradicated. We would not believe such a statement if it were applied to alcoholism or tobacco addiction, but somehow we assume it’s right in the case of drugs. Why?

Moving beyond prohibition can lead us into tricky territory. To suggest liberalisation – allowing consumption, production and trafficking of drugs without any restriction whatsoever – would be, in my opinion, profoundly irresponsible. Even more, it is an absurd proposition. If we accept regulations for alcohol and tobacco, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?

Our proposal, as the Guatemalan government, is to abandon any ideological position (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach – drug regulation.

Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that consumption and production should be legalised but within certain limits and conditions. And legalisation therefore does not mean liberalisation without controls.

A dialogue on drug markets regulation should address some of the following questions: how can we diminish the violence generated by drug abuse?

How can we strengthen public health and social protection systems in order to prevent substance abuse and provide support to drug addicts and their relatives? How can we provide economic and social opportunities to families and communities that benefit economically from drug production and trafficking? Which regulations should be put in place to prevent substance abuse (prohibition of sales to minors, prohibition of advertising in mass media, high selective consumption taxes for drugs etc)?

Next weekend, leaders from the Americas will meet in Cartagena. This is an opportunity to start a realistic and responsible intergovernmental dialogue on drug policy. The presidents of Colombia and Costa Rica, Juan Manuel Santos and Laura Chinchilla, have both already expressed their interest in fostering a dialogue on drug policy.

It is not by coincidence that both presidents have served as ministers of security or defence. Those of us who have experience on security matters know what we are talking about.

Guatemala will not fail to honour any of its international commitments to fighting drug trafficking. But nor are we willing to continue as dumb witnesses to a global self-deceit. We cannot eradicate global drug markets, but we can certainly regulate them as we have done with alcohol and tobacco markets.

Drug abuse, alcoholism and tobacco should be treated as public health problems, not criminal justice issues. Our children and grandchildren demand from us a more effective drug policy, not a more ideological response.”

Otto Perez Molina is president of Guatemala. The Sixth Summit of the Americas is in Cartagena, Colombia, 14-15 April

Delight, Sheer Delight of a Day

What gave me great delight today?

• Tea brought to me in bed by my beloved.

• A morning and an afternoon snooze.

• Most of the day spent in the garden, hands in soil, sunshine gently warming body, soul and soil.

Delight nourishes every cell in my body. As a mentor of mine said, ” No pleasure, no treasure”. May your days be filled with pleasure and delight.

This idea made me smile…and I’m going to pull out a note book and see what I can create.


How do you inspire happiness? Some find it easy to do so by stringing together beautiful sentences with words that fall into place and fill gaps in our minds. Others create magic by strumming a few notes on their guitar that can instantly lift your spirit. Then there are those who mix the stunning worlds of writing and design to form the best of both worlds.

In this case – Citizens for Optimism; a col­lab­o­ra­tion of 17 design­ers who created posters inspiring optimism.  There are 17 posters in all, inspired by 17 words.

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The Gift of Acceptance


My friend, Ellen Besso, sent me this video of India.Arie and Idan Raichel sharing their experience in the creation of “Gift of Acceptance” which is apart of her  album “Open Door”. Acceptance and it’s cousin appreciation are truly skills I need right now, in this time of transition. The music and the words are gentle and beautiful. A lovely gift at the end of a sunny, spring day.