United we stand, divided we fall

thinklikeabee

Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata)
Author Ken Wilbur, recently addressed the critical intersection of human spiritual development that we are facing. He basically said that we have created a society that has lapsed into individualism, narcissism (“my opinion” at the expense of everyone else’s) and nihilism. Over decades, truth has become a casualty of such individualism. I get to define my life’s truth over yours—creating divisions and resentment in our civil society.
In the article he notes that the internet, which was borne as a free flowing international web of information has, as Time Magazine said, become “a sociopath”,  fostering some of our worst behavior, with no real authority to inhibit bad behavior. Google and Facebook’s algorithms mostly determined by the “most popular” hits, has no direct and immediate feedback loop in real time. Fake news has become popular.
Bees, in their close physical proximity and body space share constant communication. They work quickly…

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United we stand, divided we fall

Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata)
Author Ken Wilbur, recently addressed the critical intersection of human spiritual development that we are facing. He basically said that we have created a society that has lapsed into individualism, narcissism (“my opinion” at the expense of everyone else’s) and nihilism. Over decades, truth has become a casualty of such individualism. I get to define my life’s truth over yours—creating divisions and resentment in our civil society.
In the article he notes that the internet, which was borne as a free flowing international web of information has, as Time Magazine said, become “a sociopath”,  fostering some of our worst behavior, with no real authority to inhibit bad behavior. Google and Facebook’s algorithms mostly determined by the “most popular” hits, has no direct and immediate feedback loop in real time. Fake news has become popular.
Bees, in their close physical proximity and body space share constant communication. They work quickly to bridge the gaps of division, bad behavior and indecision. They listen to their waggle dancers and then choose together the best “waggler”. Ten to eight thousand bees come together in a town hall meeting, to listen to the waggle dancers and choose. Is it the best waggler or the one with the most factoids? Who knows. Maybe a combination of both.
When I saw my first waggle dance, I laughed. Bees vibrate at a rapid speed, but this bee’s butt was going to town. I read up on it. I found out that beehives make decisions together by watching the Waggle Dancer.

If you click on the link, you’ll see a bee waggling, likely relaying information of an amazing nectar flow, or a better zipcode to live, and who knows what else. As Cornell bee geek and scientist, author of “HoneyBee Democracy“, Tom Seeley notes, among species, only humans and bees have the ability to communicate in such specific and detailed ways.  

Honey bee worker feeding queen
In other words, the bee wagglers are good news messengers. Sometimes more than one bee will be presenting a decision to the bee community. It is up to them to pick the best possible solution for the hive.
Clearly, it must be a viable option to support the hive’s ongoing health and survival.

 

Today, the biggest obstacle facing us as citizens of the same country, U.S.A., is to figure out which waggle dancer is calling us to re-weave and heal the fragile bonds of our civil society. Meaning, we must come together as a human community to find solutions that will be decent and life affirming for all. Whom will we follow? Verbal, emotional and spiritual or physical violence will only create further violence and factions.
Bee leadership shows us real leadership. It galvanizes a whole colony and pulls them forward in making good collective decisions.
Real leadership stares into the face of a no-truth, no-
direction, no-values world, and says, “It is simply not true that there is no
truth; there is most definitely truth, and it lies in this
direction”—and it is so radiantly genuine and attractive as it provides a believable path into an uncertain future, that it galvanizes vast numbers to follow it forward. (Ken Wilbur, 49)
In other words, we need some good waggle dancers to show us the way that is not self destructive, that moves us beyond egocentric, ethnocentric, and narcissistic enthusiasms of “my way is the best and only way”, to a “we way”.

The bees are calling us to come together and listen carefully.

United we stand. Divided we fall.

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Peaceful Pink Power

Millions of women marched across time zones on January 21.

Peacefully.

In a remarkable show of soulforce, women came out around the world.

Crowds gather on Jackson Boulevard for the Women's

(Chicago Women’s March, January 21, 2017)

Like the girls of the hive, they were multitudinous. Their voices heard ringing from cities and towns everywhere.

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Amidst of sea of pussy hats

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dear Interplay friend

Creativity was astonishing.

I saw signs of uterus’ held by local midwives(as a midwife friend explained to me, the uterus is the strongest muscle in the human body).

New life comes through women’s bodies.

What are these truths?  Well, here are a few of mine…. peaceful uprisings, unarmed justice, respect for all, reverence, kindness, compassion, death and resurrection.
What are yours?
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Think Like A Bee Hall of Fame

A big thank you to the New Mexico based Lineberry Foundation, who gifted Think Like A Bee with a New Year grant! Honoring the remarkable memory of it’s founders, this family is making New Mexico a better place by their charitable grants—from children to bees. We are grateful for this surprising and Providential grant. It came at the right time!

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We commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. this week, a man whose life lit up the sky for a time. He called us to the hard work of building a community of justice. His spirit still lives through and with us today. We remember him this week, in particular. He calls us from the pages of history to create the Beloved Community now.

“I am still convinced that it is love that makes the world go round, and somehow this kind of love can be a powerful force for social change.” (MLK, Jr. 1964 speech in London, days before accepting the Nobel Peace Prize)

martin luther king jr, civil rights, civil rights leader, black history, nobel peace prize, nobel peace prize winner, 1964

Our goals for the coming year 2017 include:

Jan/Feb. Supporting Wild Friends State Legislative Memorial to label bee friendly products in the state of New Mexico

May-Aug.South Valley summer youth internship program to teach basic beekeeping skills

June ABQ Open Space Pollinator Week extravaganza for families/children to celebrate Burque Bee City USA and Bee Awareness

July-August, evaluate Bee City USA resolution with City of Albuquerque

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Drones in an Age of Excess

I’m not talking about the drones that fly and spy in the sky on search and destroy missions… I’m talking about the drones in the queendom of apis mellifera. Larger in stature than their sisters, they have big heads, no stinger, and eat three times their sisters weight in the hive. The drones only role is to mate with the queen, impart their sperm for the next generations of workers and loll around the hive until the powerful mating instinct pulls them into the air to consummate their powerful urge for sex. Upon mating, they will have done their job.

William Longgood (The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men (NY: NY, W.W. Norton and CO, Inc., 1985) sees the drones as the epitomy of male chauvinism, with their huge bodies taking up space in the hive, no foraging capability or any other helpful qualities around the house, biding time until their lusty day in the sun with the virgin queen. Meanwhile they consume vast amounts of resources that the girls are working tirelessly to provide.

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One of the unfortunate realities (that is, for drones) of honeybee life is the girl’s response to those who become a burden to the hive. They do not tolerate such skull duggery and excess for long. In the end, their luck runs out after mating season is over. The sisters kick out their brothers.

Hamid Bouchickhi wrote an article entitled “Healthy businesses can’t thrive forever in sick societies”. As a Business School professor he has some astute things to say about the increasing illnesses pervading our society— unemployment, precariousness, poverty, dislocation of social and family ties, solitude, suicide, and the rise of xenophobia.

Like any crisis, the one we live in is producing its scapegoat. Instead of addressing the structural problems generated by an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, professional politicians are convincing the people that their difficulties are caused by immigrants, Muslims, Chinese and other incarnations of Sartre’s famous phrase ‘Hell is the other’…

Because they are at the forefront of wealth creation, economic agents (managers, shareholders, investors, entrepreneurs, workers, union leaders) must fully realize that they cannot prosper for long in a sick society.

We are living in the age of excess.

The highest office in this country will be held by a billionaire with a vast empire of wealth, suddenly given the” keys to the kingdom” and a window into ultimate power. Surrounded by a cabinet, with its own mass of billionaires, they are busily working with a congress to shield public eyes from the marriage of power and Mammon (look it up). Of course, Trump is only the manifestation of decades of eroding transparency around monied interests and power in the halls of Washington D.C. We are now having a mirror held up to see the sickness of greed paired with power which has been growing for a very long time. Back in 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. already identified materialism as one of the 3 evils. Pair that with the absolute power of militarism and racism, it creates a wicked brew that will destroy a society. Unless we stay vigilant as the people….we must all guard our own lives against excess.

The girls know what to do. When such a hunger overtakes the community’s resources, destroying the next generation’s future, they do not stand for it.

Blessed are you, Lord God, who in these your creatures, the bees, grant us a living example of industry and unity of purpose. Pour down your blessing upon them; curb their desire to swarm; grant them freedom from disease and abundance of nectar in the blossom, that by the sweet savor of their honey we may bless you in the joy of festal days. Glory to you, O Lord, glory to you.

—- The Community of the Servants of the Will of God, Crawley, England

 

Bee Dreams for the Next Gen

If there’s one thing I know about bee life, it’s that each generation of bees will sacrifice everything for the next gen. By the time she dies, the worker bee wings will become threadbare and tattered—30 days of hard work for the community, culminating in field work, the pinnacle of selfless service. The queen will lay generation upon generation of eggs until she is barren. Recently I read new findings, which suggest that she is not cast out after her life work, but is quietly retired to the back of the hive to live out her last days peacefully.


These days our youth are rising up and showing us the vision, the sacrifice, the way forward to action for the common good. From Standing Rock to Tiny Houses, the next generation is walking the walk and talking the talk for what we must do to close the gap and create a just society—healthy for our children and our children’s children. They are calling us all to become the beehive, in essence.
Yesterday I listened to a Democracy Now! interview with two great social transformers of the 20th century. Harry Belafonte and Noam Chomsky. Belafonte, whom many of us know as a successful African American entertainer, don’t know that he also fought in WWII. He came home as a decorated serviceman only to find that the country he served was now at war with his own race. The Civil Rights movement would heat up even as the black men in uniform returned, their service lost in Jim Crow. At 90 years old, he is an eloquent speaker. He spoke of the legacy we are handing our children as we face unprecedented, growing chasms between rich and poor— wealth and greed competing for the highest public offices in this country. Monied interests have infected our politics until we can no longer see what’s real.

We have been so contaminated with possessions and power that we have forgotten that we have destroyed our children, or set the tone for that…without people who understand that there’s no sacrifice we can make that is too great to retrieve that which we’ve lost, we will forever be distracted with possessions and trinkets and title.

In 1967, MLK, Jr. had already identified materialism as one of the three evils facing societies. Pair that with the absolute power of militarism and racism, it creates a wicked brew that will destroy a society. Unless we the people stay vigilant…

I remember an old scriptural imperative. Without a vision, the people perish. More than ever, I think it is time to stand with those who have dreams for their future. It is time to listen to those who hunger for truth, a new direction and what is authentic. The next gen is charting the course for that which is life affirming.  It will take all of our courage and fortitude in the face of adversity ahead.

Howard Thurman (1899-1981) Civil Rights leader, author, theologian, professor, philosopher wrote about dreams for the future. It is a simple vision. You don’t have to be astounding , just persistent. Determined. Showing up every day for the next generation. Like the bees.

Keep Alive the Dream in the Heart
The dream in the heart is the outlet…
The dream need not to be some great and overwhelming plan;
It need not be a dramatic picture of what might or must be someday;
It need not be a concrete outpouring of a world shaking possibility of sure fulfillment.
Such may be important for some; such may be crucial for a particular moment in human history

But it is not in these grand ways that the dream nourishes life.
The dream is a quiet persistence in the heart,
That enables us to ride out the storms of our churning experiences.
It is the exciting whisper moving through the aisles of our spirit
Answering the monotony of limitless days of dull routine.
It is the ever-recurring melody in the midst of the broken harmony
And harsh discourse of human conflict.
It is the touch of significance which highlights
The ordinary experience,
The common event.
The dream is no outward thing.

It does not take its rise from the environment
In which one moves or functions.
It lives in the inward parts,
It is deep within, where the issues of life and death are ultimately determined.
Keep alive the dream;
For as long as we have a dream in our heart,
We can not lose the significance of living.

A Dream for the New Year

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?
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Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

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Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

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Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.
(Last Night as I Was Sleeping, by Antonio Machado, Spanish poet, 1875-1939)

The Light Shines in the Darkness

As the country lurched towards the new year, we free fell into the darkness together. In this hemisphere, Winter Solstice arrived right on time. Wednesday 4:44am exactly, Central Time, December 21. Light and dark tarried together, side by side. The long night seemed to swallow the light..at least for 24 hours. Now the balance is shifting.

I’ve seen my own life change on a dime, swinging from one wildly dismal day to rejoicing the next. “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it”. And still, we need the darkness. The restful, desperate, incalculable night. Author, Professor and Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor knew this well. She wrote a whole book entitled, Learning to Walk in the Darkness. 


So, even as we wound down the old year in increasing political insanity, our spiritual power grew brighter as we the people began to rise up. I’ve heard it said that the darkest hour is right before dawn. Until now, many have mostly put their eggs in one basket. Power through the government politic. It must be for the people, isn’t it?  It was created for we, the people. Surely. But with the seismic shift of our political landscape this past election, we can no longer rest in denial. It has been spinning out of control for a very long time.

But now, something bigger than all of us is taking ahold. We’re all in the whirlwind together.

As Nicholas von Hoffman said to his boss, Saul Alinsky, community organizer, after a massive overflow crowd showed up in Chicago to hear the Civil Rights Freedom Riders talk about what they’d been experiencing in Mississippi…

“I think we should toss out everything we are doing organizationally and work on the premise that this is the moment of the whirlwind, that we are no longer organizing but guiding a social movement”

(Civicist, “In a Whirlwind Moment, Glimmers of Big Organizing”, by Micah L. Sifry, Dec. 5, 2016)

So, hold onto your hat and come out and stand with the people. The Spirit is moving. True wisdom ways will be revealed among those silenced and vulnerable too long—Indigenous voices,  young people, the brown skinned, women, the poor,  soil, air, water, and creaturely communities. Our generation must be schooled in nonviolent, peaceful power. Again. Gandhi taught satyagraha. Translated as “soul force”. This is the unitive force of love paired with power. He used this massive engine to bring down an empire.

David and Goliath stories come from a specific legend and lore. The seemingly puny stand in the face of the huge forces arrayed against them. And with a small, but strategically placed act, down comes the giant.

Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas all celebrate the humble, the small, the marginalized during this season. Their narratives teach us that a fierce love and loyalty can prevail against empires. Those who’ve been enslaved can reaffirm the dignity and beauty of their culture. Love wins through Holy Imagination as small as a child in a manager.

And so, even in the perpetual night of their winterhives, Bees glow with heat. I’ve heard that bee bodies, clinging together for warmth, really aren’t dormant at all. Infrared light shows that though the air around them might be frigid, yet, the vibrating and rotating bees will heat just the globe sized ball of their congregated bodies up to 97 F. They must. It’s the only way their babies will survive til Spring.

It will take a whole hive to keep each other warm in the winter of our discontent. And it takes all of us staying awake to keep our children safe until Spring.

Honor it

The coming of the dark, that is.

I am trying to stay with the Solstice dark. It seems so profound some days. Here in Central Minnesota, I awaken to the dark at 7am. I come home to the dark at 7pm. The temperatures hover in single digits, the snow falls, the trees look like scarecrows. We live in a monochromatic world. Yet, even in the dark a blue sparkle dazzles me as I walk across the snow at night. It is la luna, her bone white, eerie face spilling over the landscape.

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And the darkness in our culture these days? Maybe it’s necessary. A friend sends an article. It is a footnote to the darkness in which I feel encaved. Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death, destruction and resurrection is afoot.

                    Kali has brought down our house in a shocking blow; all the illusions of America, stripped in a single night. We are not who we thought we were. Now we must get ready to stand in her fires of transmutation. We need them…we are collectively getting so sick and tired of lies, of the superficial, of the shiny neon lights of pop culture, pop spirituality and politics as usual. We thirst for the Real… As our heart breaks, as our veneer cracks, we open to more integrity, more truth, more tenderness. We stop trying to be all things for all people. We become this one small thing, feigning nothing.

Before we rush in to reanimate the discourse of hope prematurely, we must yield to what is present. Receptivity is the great quality of darkness; darkness hosts everything without exception….Darkness heals us without a spoonful of sugar; the wound is the gift, and this election is a good dose.

This article, reminiscent of Christianity’s Dark Night of the Soul and the eternal Christ story of death and resurrection, nails what I wish public servants, spiritual leaders and politicians would say.We must grieve this hour that we live in. It is a time of confession, lament and sacrifice. We are sickening and killing our earth and each other. The powers and principalities among us are running rampant and unbridled with excess of money, greed, narcissism, vile hatred and superiority. It is an old narrative of domination, destruction and death.

I’m ready for a new narrative. Is it in the ashes?

Perhaps darkness is the medicine we need right now to wake us up. Some days I cannot bear so much darkness. Within the last week I have seen multiple postings of the same horror. Migrating snow geese, encountering a snow storm over Montanta take refuge in the acidic, metal-laden waters of an old open pit mine. Once animated and alive, now there is a 700 acre boneyard of white birds. As another friend said, “The perfect storm of our ignorance”.

I think of my bees. Dying. Everywhere bees dying. Industrial agriculture, chemicals, GMO’s. We are poisoning ourselves.

I lament the loss of so much life.

I read the book  All the Light We Cannot See (Anthony Doerr, Thorndike Press, 2014). I am learning that all the light we cannot see is often hidden in greys and shadow. It is covert and subtle. Light comes as a messenger in night dreams, small kindnesses, a childhood memory, a song, Providentially placed people, a wise word spoken at the right time, healing of an old wound, small victories that come from great love and sacrifice. Honor the dark, for the light is illuminated more.

And the darkness has cracks in it.

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Holding the Light and Dark

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As we toil towards Winter Solstice in this hemisphere, I will continue to ruminate on the darkness. Despite the Standing Rock triumph of an easement denied to Dakota Access Pipeline yesterday, the pipeline projects are not dead.  They are proliferating everywhere. It is the last gasp of the fossil fuel industry’s greed, intent on squeezing out every last drop of profit before we turn to a new age of clean energy. It is a many headed monster.

Today I gave a presentation at St. John’s University and Abbey in Central Minnesota about the Doctrine of Discovery. It was well attended by my colleagues, students, professors and monks.

These 15th c. Theologies of Entitlement and Doctrines of Discovery were blessed by the Christian Church, sending out explorers to go and conquer the “new world”. Today our whole Western notion of civilization is based upon these pillars of colonization. It honors profit at the expense of life, earth as utilitarian, industry over indigenous worldviews and land based peoples as disposable and dispossessable.The new colonizers are not just governments, settlers and the military, they are legal systems, multinational corporations, international banking and development structures and World Trade organizations.

Whether bees, soil, seeds or humans, as we lose (if not already lost) our community sovereignty, we lose the basic human rights for healthy land, air and water for future generations.

Tonight I feel lost in the dark, despite the flicker of light at Standing Rock. I write this after a very long day. I am tired.

I remember my bees huddled in a ball in the dark. Keeping each other warm. Keeping each other alive. Waiting out the dark…

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And so I sit with the darkness tonight as the weather temperatures plummet to single digits. I sit with the cold, ungainly fearful dark of these days—what is and what may yet come. The powers arrayed against common ordinary life and most of humanity who just want a peaceful, modest life with goodness, love, friendship. Who just ask for enough, not the sickness of too much.

There was a quote from the daily meditation website of Fr. Richard Rohr this day (12/5/16)….

It takes uncommon humility to carry both the dark and the light side of things…

And I pray that we all have the courage to carry both.

As the bees somehow do.