writing compassionately to my Representatives in Government about climate change

In December last year, I wrote to my Prime Minister, Premier, Leaders of the Opposition and my Federal and State Members of Parliament about my hope that they may work with each other to make a positive difference to climate change. I had put this off for a while because the topic overwhelms me, and I find it hard to focus on one thing and not just ramble disjointedly about all the individual and combined issues that come to mind. Also, I have seen little evidence that politicians on either ‘side’ are willing to take action.

But this is an important issue, so I finally put my doubts aside and attempted to communicate succinctly and with clarity and compassion.  I wanted my concerns to be heard and to make a difference. I also wanted to hear what they had to say about the matter. To achieve this, I used a communication pattern presented in ‘the Ongo book: Everyday nonviolence.’

The pattern looks something like:

When I think about …

I feel … because

I need … therefore

my request is …

I was wondering why I only received one response – but re-reading the email I think I see why! If you can pick the problem let me know what you think it might be in the comments. I am hoping you will offer a few suggestions so that I might learn some more. ❤

My email regarding climate change

Heading: Request for swift and decisive action on climate change

Dear (title and name of politician),

I am Rowena McGregor, resident of Ipswich, Queensland within the State electorate of Ipswich, and Federal electorate of Blair.

I am writing to you because when I hear that scientists say we have a very limited time to act or face catastrophic climate chaos and in the next moment I hear that yet another mine has been approved by my governments and yet another catastrophic climate event is forming, I feel a sense of deep sadness, and sometimes, despair.

I would like to trust that the people representing me in government will act together in the best long-term interests of people everywhere by creating and enacting policy and legislation to ensure a healthy environment for all. I would also like to acknowledge that communities reliant upon the industries causing climate change need to be supported to create new opportunities for employment so that everyone can enjoy the dignity and benefits of rewarding work.

To this end, I would love to see all MPs working together to take swift and decisive action on climate change and helping our communities transition to a post-fossil fuel future.

That’s what I will be voting for.

Kind Regards,

Rowena McGregor.

— Leave me a comment if you have any feedback!

Rowena.

Reference and photo attribution

Brett Coulstock. Cracked earth [photo]. CC BY 2.0

Catherine Cadden & Jesse Wiens (2017) The ONGO book: Everyday nonviolence.

Review: Caring Science Mindful Practice — free online course

For those interested in transpersonal human caring, or in relating to self and others with compassion, the Caring Science, Mindful Practice course will begin on January 9, 2019. This is a free, online course and those who fully participate in the course activities will be emailed a Certificate of Completion. You can register for the course here.

This review is based on my memory of the January 2018 iteration of the course. I wrote the review in appreciation of the course and of caring science.

About the course

The course was developed to help people integrate Jean Watson’s Caritas into daily life. Jean Watson is a nurse educator and founder of the Watson’s Caring Science Institute. The Caritas are principles for relating to self and others with compassion.

The course provides one or two short video tutorials each week. These tutorials address the Caritas and other elements of human caring. There is a weekly opportunity to reflect on the tutorials in writing or by creating an image that illustrates your response. Narrative reflections often took the form of a little story told – something that happened – with a comment on how a particular Caritas was in play, or how that Caritas would have made a difference to the outcome. If you wish to receive the certificate, you are also invited to provide affirmative responses to the reflections of other students. I found this took me about two to three pleasant hours per week.

Although the course was originally developed for nurses, I was welcomed as an academic librarian. I believe anyone who cares for others in any capacity and is willing to share their experiences will be welcomed into the course.

Positive aspects of the course

There are many positives to talk about, here are a few that have stuck in my mind.

  • The course is moderated by experienced volunteer tutors. Tutors play an active part in discussions and answer any questions.
  • The course practised what it taught: The tutors and participants created an inclusive, caring environment. The occasional raw story (nurses deal with a lot) was met with compassion and consideration.
  • The course provided a welcome opportunity to slow down and consider the Caritas and other teachings in the context of my life as an teacher, librarian, mum, sister, and partner.
  • The course seemed to accommodate people who speak English as an additional language. No one was precious about the technicalities of the English language, students were all free to express themselves in the various Forums. The videos were clear and could be re-watched if needed. (I am being circumspect here: I don’t want to speak for these students.)
  • It is a free course that provided genuine interaction and opportunities to communicate with other students and a Certificate of Completion. You do not need to pay for the Certificate (many online course charge extra for this).
  • The course is run annually: if you missed this year’s registration you can pop a note in your diary for next year.

Negative aspects of the course

There is only one negative I can think of. There was little opportunity for students to meet outside the course and continue their practice, online or face-to-face. I believe nurse participants are able to join another program for a reduced fee, and this may provide that continuity of practice.

Should you do the course?

If you are interested in compassion or nonviolence and would like an opportunity to explore these concepts with others – yes I would recommend it.

If you are a nurse, counsellor, teacher, or anyone who works with people and would like to try some additional tools to keep compassion alive in your work — you should definitely register 🙂

About the photo

This photo: Lighthouse represents the light of compassion, shining calm and steady over the people all night long.

Lighthouse was kindly shared by photographer John Curley on Flickr with the Creative Commons License: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Thank you John!

my xmas revelation

Yesterday I had a beautiful Christmas revelation.

I was beating myself up because even after all the Landmark, the nonviolent communication and the transpersonal philosophy, I was still experiencing some hurt over a little comment made by my mother.

For Christ’s sake – how pathetic – and when will I finally be enlightened!

I then imagined myself surrounded by the Xmas chaos, in the midst of screaming kids, barking dogs, people complaining about kids, dogs, and people complaining about kids and dogs. And people complaining about people complaining about kids and dogs. And there is me in the midst of it all – serene, calm, totally at peace with the world – present, but not engaging in all this icky messiness.

And I just started to laugh. I mean, as if.

I just had to stop writing and laugh again: Ho ho ho!

And then I thought We are spiritual being having the human experience. And I actually got it. I am just having the human experience. And just like a Contiki tour, this experience will include joy and pain, satisfaction – and so many regrets. Ho ho!

I am going to feel feelings – all the bloody time! I am going to try and grasp onto some of the fun feelings and give myself a bloody great rope burn even though I know better!

That’s what humans do!

I am going to run away from pain, even though I know that pain cannot be run from and that I am running in circles and will eventually trip over the pain and stub my toe and really have something to cry about.

Sometimes, being human hurts.

And sometimes I will cry. Sometimes I will curse. Sometimes I will blame others for my predicaments. And then I will get exasperated with myself for not being more enlightened.  And then I will remember all over again, and I will laugh. Ho ho!

What a ride!

Ho ho ho – Merry Bloody Xmas!!

Snail
Eli Duke. Snail. CC BY-SA 2.0

our sun

1.

at the

heart of our

solar system, a

yellow dwarf star, a

hot ball of

glowing gases

2.

its

gravity

holds the

solar system

together –

keeping

everything from the

biggest planets to the

smallest particles of debris in

its

orbit

3.

the sun

orbits the

center of the

milky way galaxy,

bringing the

planets,

asteroids,

comets and

other objects

along

4.

connections and

interactions

between

the sun and

earth

drive our

seasons,

ocean currents,

weather,

climate,

radiation belts and

aurorae

5.

the sun

made

life on earth possible,

providing the

warmth and

energy that

forms the

basis of many

food chains

6.

the sun and the

rest of the

solar system

formed from a

giant, rotating cloud of

gas and

dust, a

solar nebula about

4.5

billion

years

ago

7.

our sun accounts for

99.8% of the

mass of the

entire solar system

8.

the sun will

someday

run out of

energy

9.

when

the sun

starts to die, it

will swell so

big that it

will engulf

mercury and venus and

maybe even

earth

found poem from beautiful original material retrieved from the NASA website in 2017. NASA. Sun: In depth. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/sun/indepth

We the forest

We are walking in the forest. It is cold and softly raining, but we are well dressed for the weather and the dense canopy above reduces that gentle rain to a fine mist. I am feeling happy and carefree, I want to skip and jump. You seem contemplative, quiet. After a few minutes we settle together into a calm and companionable silence.

The path ahead diverts around the buttress roots of one ancient tree. We stop at this giant, and I step over the buttress and lean in, pressing my palms against the damp bark. The bark is rough to touch. Close up I can see the rain seeping down the channels in the rough bark, to be delivered gently to the soil and the roots below. Standing here, I imagine those roots reaching down and down into the earth. The roots hold the tree to the earth, and in the process hold the soil to the hillside. The roots of this tree and the forest around it support the tree, support the earth, support you and me.

Deep underground, the roots of this tree also take nutrients from the soil. These nutrients are pulled upwards. They are pulled to the very top of the tree by the evaporation of water from the leaves. The tree is selecting elements from the soil and using them to build more tree. But the roots of this tree are also communicating with other trees nearby, sharing nutrients and chemical messages in a two-way collaborative network. This tree and the trees nearby are not just building themselves. They are building the forest. My palms are on the tree, touching the rough bark. But my mind is down with the roots and wonders whether ‘tree’ is just a human construct and there is only forest.

I turn my face to you. You are leaning backwards on the part of the forest we call ‘this tree.’ Your eyes are closed and you are smiling a gentle smile. Your warm breath makes a little mist as the moisture condenses in the cold air.

You and I, we are both breathing. We breathe in. We smell the damp and the earth and the forest. To me, the air smells green. To you, the air smells clean. We breathe in the air and take the oxygen that the forest has released in the process of photosynthesis. We breathe out.  The forest breathes our breath and in the process of photosynthesis it takes the carbon and creates more of itself. Some of this carbon is shared from tree to tree via the roots. The carbon that started in our bodies will nurture the entire forest.

We breathe the forest. The forest breathes we.

My palms are on the tree, I am breathing in my body but my mind is far above and below with the exchange of carbon and oxygen and I wonder whether ‘you’ and ‘I’ are just human constructs and there is only forest.

There is only forest.

We, the forest.

happiness and transpersonal human caring

Part one

For most of my life I have held back on being happy when people around me are in pain. And I so want to be happy! When I am in this way of thinking and someone tells me about a problem they are having, I jump in to fix it or demand that they either fix it or suck it up and get over it already!

Part two

Then I learned that my happiness should not be dependent on others, that this makes them responsible for my happiness. So I dutifully added a new behaviour to my repertoire – keep the unhappy person at arms’ length, nod, smile, but don’t really engage: Don’t let them spoil that precious vibe. I even labelled some people as ‘downers’

Part three

I became familiar with nonviolent communication and now with caring science and learned about the joy of empathy. It is possible to just sit and listen to someone who is suffering and be with them and both of you appreciate and enjoy the connection. Sometimes an opportunity to help arises in the moment and sometimes something clears for the other person and whatever it is just becomes a little more bearable.

Part four

The thing is that the quality of my happiness has become so much deeper and more nuanced in these moments. I now know a calm happiness, a deeply deeply sad happiness, a happiness as soft and gentle as a baby’s breath, even a happiness infused with anger and purpose. It has been a long journey of learning and unlearning, and what is behind me lies ahead of me, but I will keep returning my wayward feet to this path. ❤

 

 

Gratitude day 3

one for a night sky crystalled with stars swirling beautiful aaahhh
two for the ever changing ever new and glorious moon a sliver a slice a bowl a beacon a mystery
three for the puffy whites a-sailing to catch the light and be haloed or pierced through for awe and wonder
four for the streaks that stretch t-h-i-s far across the sky ooohh that must be miles and miles that I can see
five for the blazing colours a gasp a silent moment of contemplation, peace, smile, breathe and remember that I am that prince with the whole universe inside him Yes

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