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AUTHOR: JEFF FERRANNINI

Where do we go from Here?

We are in a tremendous time of upheaval. Old social structures are crumbling under the weight of evidence unearthed by the pandemic. A spot light is being focused to reveal the truth that the majority of deaths from Covid-19 are due to lack of resources: inability to work from home, food insecurity, eviction, prison overcrowding, inadequate elderly care, lack of child care… all are symptoms of a deeply rooted, systemic discrimination within our local, state, and federal governments. Those working remotely from home are also starting to realize the illusion of moving forward, always working, being busy, is like the caged hamster running on the wheel. Constantly running, digging deeper trenches, ruts which turn into graves.

The problem is so many people  walk around zombie-like, with no  joy in their heart, devoid of love, love that is warm, true and lasting. The kind of love that floods the spirit with joy and gratitude, sadly. those satisfying feelings are missing. What took their place was centered around greed and getting ahead, beating the other guy/gal at all costs. It was a zero sum game of whoever dies with the most toys… wins. So now that this Covid-19 hunkering down has given us all time to sit and think, let’s ask the big question. How has that been working? At it’s best, Covid-19 is bringing a long overdue wake up call. The truth revealed by the pandemic shows the systems currently in place are not working for the people, not the majority of the people and something seriously needs to change. .

Lately there are some signs of something unusual is starting to happen, which puts all these greed centered/goal oriented folks in a daze. A handful of people are starting to take time to listen to their hearts, or dare I say it, listening for the still small voice of spirit to guide them from within. How else can you explain the real life story I recently heard about, which I find mind blowing? The heir to the tremendous Oscar Mayer Hotdog fortune, just chose to give away most, if not all of his inheritance and now works tirelessly to support the marginalized in the areas of social and economic justice. When I first heard this I began to ask myself, what could have caused that kind of altruistic, open hearted, turn on a dime, shift in his thinking? Now I honestly don’t know, but I suppose I could hazard a guess.

What causes someone to take the momentous step of giving up a fortune? At first glance, my guess would be, it has to do with a simple word, one we take for granted, but this word encompasses so much more then what we can fully take into our hearts without being overwhelmed by feelings. The word which begins to answer why he chose to give away his fortune, is simply… love. Not the quick, knee jerk reply you might hear parroted to someone who  says it to you first and you quickly say it back to, kind of like returning a favor. No, what I’m talking about is, selfless love. The kind of love which challenges you and in doing so, changes you to your core. Think about the kind of  selfless love Jesus embodied when he allowed himself to be mocked, tortured, nailed to a cross and left to die, in order to save others. The love of Dr Martin Luther King Jr., who marched along with a young man, “the boy from Troy, now the late and honorable, Senator John Lewis, while facing death threats, and physical violence. Their charge was to speak up, to protest, to resist, what they knew in their heats was unequivocally wrong in every sense of the word, but upheld by years of hatred, oppression and backed by the current law of the land. They faced death in order to help others move ahead. Selfless love.

This kind of selfless love I’m talking about was also embodied by Dr Albert Schweitzer, a white man around the turn of the century in 1900. He left his medical practice to go to a poor village in Africa to bring medicine and care for those less fortunate, who’s lives were being ravaged by disease. He would occasionally return to the U.S. to raise funds by giving, well attended, church pipe organ concert fundraisers. Once he had collected enough monies, he would return to Africa with medical supplies. He died working in his beloved Africa, where his heart is still buried.He was a giant of a man, not in stature but in terms of his iron will and oversized, loving, heart. The entire world looked on in astonishment at his selfless service to the very poorest of humanity and felt the prick of conscience set by his shining example.

Then there is Rosa Parks, a young African-American woman in the early 1950’s, a secretary for the NAACP. She was well aware of the risks she faced by refusing to give up her seat on a bus’s “Whites Only” section, in the Deep Southern state of Alabama. Her courageous act of individual protest, took place years before Dr Martin Luther King or the Civil Rights Movement. Rosa Parks act of resistance to the Jim Crow laws, caused the Southern State of Alabama  to rethink their status quo, that certain people needed to be kept in line or under the thumb of State control. Her subsequent arrest and physical removal from the bus, directly led to the the Montgomery Bus Boycott. That boycott led to the U.S.Supreme Court changing the law regarding the discrimination of people of color, specifically, Black Americans and for all people to sit anywhere they wanted.

It was a landmark achievement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott also attracted the attention of an aspiring young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who become the spokesman for the boycott’s peaceful protests, and the marches which followed in it’s wake. Her small selfless act of courage was instrumental in ushering in the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, which brought about the abolishsment of the Jim Crow laws, laws that were enacted after the Civil War to punish Black Americans, designed to rob them of their rights, basic dignity and at times, their freedom. It is hard not to overstate how monumental an influence Rosa Parks’s small act of courage was in changing the landscape of America for the better. How many countless lives has she changed, from dead end to limitless possibility? Without Rosa Parks, there is no Little Richard, no Ray Charles, no Motown, no Michael Jackson, no Alvin Ailey, no Disco, no Hip Hop, no Denzel Washington, no Rap, no Beyonce or Jay Z.. Think about it?

It is this kind of selfless love I refer to when I speak about it’s opposite, the desolation of the spirit, that which seeks greater and greater material rewards only. Greed inflicts our social conscience with an empty promise.It is devoid of spirit, true joy, happiness and certainly not about to help raise up the majority of the people, anytime soon. What also appears to be lacking is a sense of vision. Remember when the people had vision and the courage to follow? Look at the old Testament, at the writings of prophets like Elijah, or lowly men like Moses? When Moses commanded mighty Pharaoh to… “Let my people go!”, he had no powerful army to back up his words. The only protection he carried was a  wooden walking staff. Yet, his words and spirit inspired actions, eventually freed his people from pharaoh’s slavery.  Where does courage like that come from? It comes from spirit. Taking time to acknowledge there is something greater then what the eye can see or the ear can hear, which lies within each and everyone of us. It is being in alignment with an inner knowing, urged to move forward to be something greater, then what you can yet fully understand.

If you take the time to listen, not to the wind in the trees or the sweet trilling of birds, but to the deeper rhythms of the earth, and yes, begin to feel the rhythms within yourself. When you take the time to listen deeply, you will eventually discover the emergence of a still small voice coming forth. Not a voice that is boastful or ordering you around, more like what President Abraham Lincoln spoke about in his first inaugural address and President Barack Obama was found of quoting, let us be guided by “the angels of our better nature”. It is a call to let that still small voice guide you towards the embodiment of your greater Self, the larger unknown part of you that is always present. Spirit may guide you to a lesser traveled path, one filled with obstacles, which cause you to shrink back. Yet, when you step foot on that path, every fiber of your being, knows this is the path you were born to walk. Perhaps the path you are being guided to does not yet exist, because you will create it, blaze the trail others will follow.You don’t walk that kind of path because you want to, you walk it, because you must.

So, to more fully answer the question I started this exploration with, by asking, What would compel someone to give away their family’s fortune? I would have to say, it is not by logic that one arrives at that kind of decision. I believe it goes to something much deeper then we currently explore in daily conversations or find splashed across headlines leading the nightly news. In the final analysis it has to do with love that is coupled with surrender. Knowing foremost what your peers will say, what your own logical mind is screaming and then finding the courage to wander off the path of least resistance. To go headlong into the underbrush of the ruff and tumble world of reality. Not at all ready to be a light bearer, but willing to show up in order to show others that beyond this material world there is so much more awaiting us. There is a vision you must follow, tugging at you  to see yourself as much more then what you have yet become. Something that pulls at your heart to set aside time each day to relax, to listen, to vision… not the world as it is, but the world, yet to be. That new world waiting for each and everyone of us to call forth, asking you to bring the very best of what you came here to offer.That gift, which is yours alone to give.

This paradise, our planet, our home… the newly emerging earth , that is just outside our grasp, wants us to surrender to the “angels of our better nature”. To make preparations now so we can all have a seat at the table. Do the work to prepare our planet to move in a new direction, along with millions of others also waking up. How will you take the first step to cultivate the deep listening skill needed to hear the still small voice within? First by acknowledging, “It is within my grasp to effect tremendous and necessary change, by small but deliberate acts, I create paradise on earth… now”. Each one of us must find the courage to take that small but important first step, followed by another and another and before you know it, the world we once knew and struggled so hard to survive in, will be barely recognizable.

What is the small step you have been wanting to take? What has been holding you back? Are you ready to listen, not to the dull booming voice of ego, but instead to the still small voice which lifts your heart with joy each time it comes whispering and calls you to step off the path you are currently on? What is spirit asking you to do that is strange, scary, and fills you with fear? Perhaps, despite those painful feelings, you absolutely know by stepping onto a new path, you are fulfilling the reason you came to this planet. So relax, and breathe, get in touch with learning to let the cares of the day, simply slip away… which takes time to do. Once you have learned to fully surrender to the peaceful silence inside you, then listen deeply for the still small voice. It is there you will find the courage to take that first small step, that can bring about a world of change. Along the way, you may be joined by others, who also found the courage to go in a new direction. Eventually, our world will thank-you by transforming into something far better due to your efforts, along with countless others, who found the courage to listen, to their spirit led hearts.

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