Tag Archives: inspirational

The Dalai Lama – can we get any more inspirational?

When I am feeling discouraged about the world – whether it’s just having a blah day, hearing a sad story from a refugee client, learning that a student can’t watch a movie with a rape scene because it would bring her own sexual assault too close to home, turning on the TV only to be assaulted with hateful campaigning during the election season, or just freaking out about my life as a young professional trying to make my way in this post-recession world, I look to the Dalai Lama for guidance.  I wanted to share two of my favorite quotes by him, and I hope this brings a smile to your lunch hour 🙂

“At the end of the talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”

The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”

Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he said, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back… but the heart, the heart would never understand.  Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”

Amazing. Here’s another one of my faves, one that I keep in my daily consciousness, one that encourages me when I have a student who asks me what’s the point of fighting for a better world when the world is already so screwed up, when we’re all so disconnected, when the 1% controls everything.  So many people expect change to happen overnight, and underestimate the value of their individual actions.

“Each of us has been born into this world, and each of us has been provided with a way to help others. A kind attitude of concern for those in our respective field of activity will affect them, even if it is just ten people, bringing them more comfort and less strife. If each of them, in turn, treats their associates in a similar way, then even though the effect will be gradual, it will in time be transformative. This is how we can change the world.”

Amen 🙂

Thousands of monks praying for peace.

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Insightful comments on Romney’s 47%: Can we talk about poverty?

So I was reading this breakdown on the 47% that Romney described as ‘paying no income taxes’ and ‘freeloaders’ and I came across two reader comments that I wanted to share with my peeps. I found them to be right on, and truly, inspirational. If mainstream news channels brought in more people like this to share their perspectives, maybe we could have some actual conversations instead of just the usual partisan bickering.

The problem with folks that don’t really do their homework, is they think that folks earning 20K or less do so on purpose. They think folks are lazy and take the easiest, thoughtless jobs so they can spend most of their time doing nothing. If they actually tried living that way they’d see that it isn’t true. There’s also a toxic amount of judgement that happens without a depth of knowledge. I say this as a social worker who works with low income folks. There are many who are tired, stressed out, and cranky … and yes, sometimes it’s hard for them to give up time with their children to flip burgers or wait tables for people that do the same amount of work but make tons more. In America, we say you have to work hard for success but the truth is, we inherit our lifestyles and defend them to the death. In more socialized countries, folks get what they need and you work hard to get that extra. Do you really think Mitt Romney works harder that a miner in Eastern Kentucky? I say this with a healthy acknowledgment that I have been blessed with privilege myself.

And this comment in reply:

I also work with low-income people and have realized that a lot of “poor” people make more money than I do, but face much higher economic barriers because they got a point of destitute poverty.

For example, someone who is homeless and has to rent a hotel room every night for shelter might end up paying $1200/mo. Because it’s owed weekly or daily, there is no point where they actually have that $1200 all at once to use for an apartment rental.

Falling all the way into unassisted poverty incurs great cost to individuals. Going from homeless to housed and employed costs much, much more than being employed and finding new housing.

When was the last time you heard voices this insightful on FOX or MSNBC?

There is, indeed, a crazy amount of judgement towards people who are struggling that come from people who a) have never really struggled and b) have never worked with people who struggled. Furthermore, there is this tendency in our country to make giant, lazy leaps to socialism every time there is a call for greater government involvement. Support labor unions? You’re a socialist. Support a fair minimum wage? You’re a socialist! Support health care? Obvi, you’re a socialist. And of course, any support for these policies means we’re one step away from becoming the old Soviet Union or China … watch out!!!!

OK seriously. Calling someone a socialist for wanting a health care system that protects people from dying is way harsh, Tai. Instead of engaging in one-sided debates that avoid the complexity of the issue, perhaps Americans should  look beyond the confines of their small towns to countries in Western Europe, where people work their asses off despite a more socialized system. Reading this article by an American who lived in the Netherlands for a few years, titled “How I learned to love the Dutch Welfare state,” will prove enlightening. Here are some snippets:

“Over the course of the 20th century, American politics became entrenched in two positions, which remain fixed in many minds: the old left-wing idea of vast and direct government control of social welfare, and the right-wing determination to dismantle any advances toward it, privatize the system and leave people to their own devices. In Europe, meanwhile, the postwar cradle-to-grave idea of a welfare state gave way in the past few decades to some quite sophisticated mixing of public and private. And whether in health care, housing or the pension system (there actually is still a thriving pension system in the Netherlands, which covers about 80 percent of workers), the Dutch have proved to be particularly skilled at finding mixes that work.”

“I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits of the Dutch system might fit. One pretty good reason is this: The Dutch seem to be happier than we are. A 2007 Unicef study of the well-being of children in 21 developed countries ranked Dutch children at the top and American children second from the bottom. And children’s happiness is surely dependent on adult contentment. I used to think the commodious, built-in, paid vacations that Europeans enjoy translated into societies where nobody wants to work and everyone is waiting for the next holiday. That is not the case here. I’ve found that Dutch people take both their work and their time off seriously. Indeed, the two go together.”

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