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Copyright protected Piper Selden
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Greetings and aloha friends,
I am writing to encourage and remind everyone to get out and vote for issues that are important to you.  Say what you mean, mean what you say and let yourself be known.  No one else can do it for you.

In the meantime, I pray for peace, reconciliation and understanding in our country and the world.  Deeper than our politics, race or religion--we are all members of the human race.  In our global community, we are connected. 

Peace has to start somewhere.  So, why not with each of us?  I urge you to do something positive today:  Turn off the TV, look up when you are walking, greet people, plant something, help a lost dog, take your kids to the park, call a friend, listen to the birds, bake extra and share, say hello to the mailman, share your skills, turn down the music, read something inspirational, pray, seek to understand, listen before you react to anger, know that no one is silent though many are not heard, live with aloha and.... get out and vote, let yourself be known.  Let's hope for a peaceful future with love and aloha!     

Inspirational readings:

There are many who have inspired me.  Here are a few.  If you like, add your own.

Martin Luther King Jr's immortal speech is as true today as it was in 1963.  Reread it with a global view:

"I have a dream" speech
"Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963. Source: Martin Luther King, Jr: The Peaceful Warrior, Pocket Books, NY 1968"
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity. But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free.
One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land.
So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition. In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.
This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.
So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. we must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring." And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Mister Rogers.  Who doesn't love Mister Rogers?  Here's something he says from his book, "The World According to Mister Rogers: Important things to Remember.
Chapter: We Are All Neighbors

"I've had lots of heroes--lots of people I've wanted to be like.  To this day, I can still feel the excitement in 1944 as I opened the first installment of my Charles Atlas exercise course.  I had saved my money ($19.00) and had sent away for those lessons that I thought would help me look like Atlas himself holding up the world.  In 1944, I was a chubby and weak sixteen-year-old, and Charles Atlas was trim and strong.  I did the exercises every morning--some of them even had me hanging on a bar at a doorjamb.  Many months and many lessons later, I still didn't look like Charles Atlas.  Now, happily, I don't need to.

Maybe it's natural, especially when we're little and feel weak, to choose "outside" kinds of heroes and superheroes who can keep us safe in a scary world.
My next hero was a "big man on campus" in our high school: Jim Stumbaugh.  He could do anything.  A letterman in basketball, football, and track, he made all A's.  Both of his parents were teachers, but his dad died during our freshman year.  Who knows?  Maybe that made Jim sensitive to the needs of a shy kid like me.  At any rate, we beat the odds and became lifelong friends.  Many years after high school when Jim's teenage son was killed in an automobile accident, I was there for him.  The way he lived through that terrible time and the way he lived through his own years of cancer confirmed my pick of a hero.  Jim started out looking like Charles Atlas, ended up looking like Mahatma Gandhi.  What's amazing to me is that he always acted like that peace-filled Gandhi.

Yes, Gandhi's one of my heroes... Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer and Jane Addams (that tireless advocate of internationalism and world peace), and Bo Lozoff (who helps inmates us their time well in prison).  Other heroes are Yo-Yo Ma and everyone else who cares about beauty and refuses to bow to fast and loud sensationalism and greed.  Recently I've added an "unknown hero" to my list: the person who drives the car I saw the other day, the parked car with the flashing lights and the sign that reads, "Vintage Volunteer--Home Delivered Meals."

So those are some of my heroes now: the Charles Atlases of my elder years!  They're the kind of people who help all of us come to realize that "biggest" doesn't necessarily mean "best," that the most important things of life are --inside-- things like wonder and love, and that the ultimate happiness is being able sometimes, somehow to help our neighbor become a hero too."

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's leader-in-exile.  The Dalai Lama works tirelessly for human rights worldwide and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

"If we looked down at the world from space, we would not see any demarcations of national boundaries.  We would simply see one small planet, just one.  Once we draw a line in the sand, we develop the feeling of "us" and "them." 
In a sense the concept of "us" and "them" is almost no longer relevant, as our neighbor's interests are ours as well.  Caring for our neighbors' interest is essentially caring for our own future.  Today the reality is simple.  In harming our enemy, we are harmed.

When we face problems or disagreements today, we have to arrive at solutions through dialogue.  Dialogue is the only appropriate method.  One-sided victory is no longer relevant.  We must work to resolve conflicts in a spirit of reconciliation and always keep in mind the interests of others.  We cannot destroy our neighbors!  We cannot ignore their interests!  Doing so would ultimately cause us to suffer.  I think that the concept of violence is now unsuitable.  Nonviolence is the appropriate method.

Nonviolence is not merely the absence of violence.  It involves a sense of compassion and caring.  It is almost a manifestation of compassion.  I strongly believe that we must promote such a concept of nonviolence at the level of the family as well as the national and international levels.  Each individual has the ability to contribute to such compassionate nonviolence."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese poet and author.  He was nominated by Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy."

And regardless of your religious persuasion, this prayer or meditation stirs and inspires me:

"A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis"
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.  Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.  Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.  Amen.

So who are your heroes?  Who inspires you to greatness?  How can we live our lives today with love, compassion and aloha? 

Essays, Rants and Raves: