Forty years

Forty years is a long time – by some reckonings.

It represents a continuous span of 14,600 days.

On reflection, it seems I have had a lot of opportunities for expressing love, since we got married on the 11th of May 1975.

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I know I missed a few of those opportunities.

Today isn’t one of them.

Forty years is a long time to devote to one relationship.

I’m glad we have – and continue to do so.

Toni, thank you for that ‘magic day’ forty years ago and for the 14,600 days since.

I love you, Peter.

Time to rethink the war on drugs

The so called ‘war on drugs’ was kicked off by the Nixon administration in 1971, with the intention of discouraging the production, distribution and consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs.

The USA is not the only country actively engaged in the war. It’s become an obsession of the West.

Each year billions of dollars are spent on law enforcement and military activities in the name of defeating the drug lords.

It’s been going on for more than forty years. I don’t think it can be called a success by any definition – despite all the headlines on record breaking drug busts. All we have achieved to date, as far as I can see, is an increase in the prison population and an increase in the economic benefit of being a drug lord.  We have not decreased production, distribution or consumption.

One of the more ironic aspects of the ‘war on terror’, currently winding down in Afghanistan, is the nations of the West are paying the expenses of both sides.

Who do you think the Taliban sell most of their opium/heroin to? It’s not to the locals.

From my perspective, all the effort being put into addressing the scourge of drugs on society is misplaced. Our efforts have been (and remain to be) primarily on what the economists term the ‘supply side’ of the equation. We’re trying to stop the production and distribution.

If it hasn’t worked after forty years, why do we persist?

Maybe a more appropriate way of asking that question is: Who is benefitting from the continuation of the war?

If we take a helicopter view of the war, what we see is an enormous industry that has developed over the years to support the war on drugs. There are all the people that work in law enforcement (and elements of the military) and all the companies in their supply chain. Think about the companies making all the equipment they use from helicopters, fast boats, flak jackets and bullets to toilet paper. And think of the guns, made in the USA,  being used by both sides in the current campaign being conducted across the border between Mexico and the USA.

Make no mistake, the war on drugs, with the USA alone spending tens of billions annually, is big business for some. Just think of the all the lobbyists around the world working to keep it all going.

Time for a pause to evaluate our progress is way overdue.

I’d like to suggest we’re putting our efforts into the wrong side of the economic equation. I think we should be working with the ‘demand side’. Instead of working to suppress production and distribution, I think we should be working on addressing the reasons why so many young people end up either taking drugs or committing suicide.

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I wonder what sort of world we would find ourselves living in, if we devoted some of those billions of dollars we currently waste on fighting the war on drugs, to teaching our young people to meditate and value their lives. Or on alleviating the poverty and injustices in our cities that currently draw young people into lives of crime.

People don’t turn to drugs if their lives have meaning or they feel valued and respected.

It’s easy to blame. It’s easy to lock them up if they make a mistake.

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What would happen if we chose to love our young people, instead of continuing the war on drugs?

 

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

 

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a lot of fun. It allows you the opportunity to give your friend/lover/spouse a cheeky card and an extravagant or ridiculous gift – depending on your sense of humour. It’s a moment to pause and remind yourself why you have or want that special person in your life. It’s also an opportunity to say those magic words: ‘I love you.’

The danger with these special days is they tempt us to reserve our expressions of love to those days. Lots of us do special things on those days. Have you ever tried to book a table in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day? For some places you need to book a year in advance, and even then there is no guarantee. And, it’s not only the restaurants doing a roaring trade. Even Amazon has Valentine’s Day specials, along with every other online and Main Street retailer in the country.

Girls, you can even buy that special handyman in your life a ‘hot’ tool from the local hardware store to express the depth of your love and desire.

The upside of Valentine’s Day is we get to feel good, and the retail sector gets a boost in sales that keeps people employed.

The downside is some of us forget, despite all the advertising, and end up feeling guilty, and some of us miss out – no-one tells us that they love us, and we feel rejected, forgotten and alone.

Why am I bringing up this sad point? After all, we want to feel good about Valentine’s Day. I’m doing it to remind you that it’s always a mistake to derive your sense of self-worth from the opinions or actions of others. You are always loveable, just the way you are, even if no-one remembers to affirm you on Valentine’s Day.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself a Valentine’s Day card or gift to affirm yourself. If you can’t give love to yourself, what makes you think you could give it to anybody else?

I think that there might be a message in that line attributed to Jesus: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.” I’m pretty sure he wasn’t asking us to hate our neighbours. So, it’s okay to start with loving yourself. Probably the best place to start, actually.

Valentine’s Day has always been good for me – all that advertising helps me remember that it’s my wife’s birthday. Two special days in one!

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and thanks for dropping by.

Peter

Hell – hot or cold?

For those of us living in Southern Australia the traditional biblical picture of hell has been a living reality this last week. We have endured five days straight of 42 degrees C plus ( that’s around 108 F plus for those living in the non-metric world) daytime temperatures, fanned by hot northerly winds, and very warm nights. Large parts of South Australia and Victoria are ablaze thanks to thousands of lightening strikes, and a few angry arsonists who can’t stand to let Mother Nature have all the fun. Tonight, Friday as I write, a weather changing storm is blowing through and spreading ‘out of control’ fires. Here in the city, where the power grid worked overtime to keep our air conditioners running day and night, I am typing this on my iPad by candlelight, as the storm has knocked out the power lines in my suburb.

For those of you living in northern parts of the USA and Canada, the last few weeks have been a lot closer to the version of hell described by Dante in his Inferno – a frozen lake at the bottom of the underworld. That sort of puts paid to that expression “When hell freezes over!” According to Dante, it already has.

So, is hell a hot or cold place? A better question might be, is hell a place at all?

Hell is more a state of mind than a place from where I sit, and you don’t have to die to go there. Hell is that state of mind where you believe nobody loves you, that everyone is out to get you, there is no God and there are no good people in the world. It’s that place where life has no meaning or purpose, and you have no value. You may have been there. I’ve been in the vicinity. I can recall a time when I was describing my life as dull, colourless and boring.

How do you get out if you realise you have wandered into hell? The first step is to recognise it’s your own mind that has put you there, and then stop denying you’re there. You can’t get out of any place if you don’t acknowledge where you are. Getting out of hell is like getting out of anywhere else. You have to start from where you are. Looking honestly at the stories you are telling yourself, and recognising that they are stories and not facts or truths, is a good place to start. Listen to your stories and then ask yourself – is it a fact? Where’s the evidence?

Most of the stuff we tell ourselves, or let others tell us, is nothing more than opinion based on interpretation based on previous opinions. And that goes for what I’m telling you too. You need to check out what is true for you. Don’t just take my word for it.

Time for some self-honesty if you want out of hell.

I’ll leave with this thought. There is nothing keeping you there outside of your own mind.

Loving yourself is the way out.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter.

Endings – Good grief!

We’ve reached that moment for enjoying the dying days of 2013. This time last year we were pondering the significance of the Mayan calendar completing a full cycle as we ended 2012 on the Gregorian calendar. It was an ending of sorts but it was not the end.

Our life stories are made up of events with beginnings and endings. We’re good with beginnings. We congratulate and celebrate when things begin: new job, new relationship, new house, new car, new child, life in a new city. With our obsession with birthdays you have to wonder whether what we’re celebrating is remembering the beginning or the countdown to the inevitable ending. Maybe birthdays are about giving thanks for another year of life but, then again, there are a lot of people who don’t want to acknowledge the actual number of solar revolutions they’ve made in this life time.

This is the time of year when we reflect on the year that’s been and anticipate the year ahead. It’s a moment of transition from an ending to a beginning.

In my experience we are not good at endings. We either rush, ignore or prolong endings. Some cultures have rituals to help people cope with endings, especially that ending that most of us dread: the end of a life. Think of southern european women dressed in black for a specified period after the death of a loved one, and when you realise that some of them never get out of the black, you can see that even with rituals sometimes we still fail to deal with endings.

Grieving is the name we give to the process of dealing with endings. Most of us think of grieving in the context of the death of a loved one. If you have experienced the sense of loss that accompanies the death of a spouse, child or parent you know what I’m talking about. You’ll also probably know that there is good grief and disabling grief.

Good grief is when you work through the stages from initial denial and anger through to acceptance. Disabling grief is when you get stuck in the process and can’t move through to acceptance.

Do you grieve other endings? How many of us are still embittered over the end of a relationship, the loss of a job, moving from a neighbourhood or the loss of a favourite book? What do you do when things end in your life? And, let’s face it, things end all the time. The only thing that doesn’t change is the process of change itself.

So, while you’re reflecting on the end of 2013, take a moment to acknowledge all the little endings that you experienced during the year. Which losses are you still holding on to? Are there any that you’re still pretending haven’t happened? Are there any endings you have been putting off because you’d rather stay with your fantasies than deal with reality?

Remember, all endings lead to new beginnings.

2014

Love and blessings to all for 2014,

Peter

It’s not possible for you to be without Love

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This is one of nine ‘it’s not possible’ statements given by Jeshua in The Way of Transformation course. You can find out more about the course at www.wayofmastery.com .

It’s an interesting statement to sit with. When you read the statement to yourself, what comes up? Does it sound even remotely like it could be true?

The first time I looked at it I read it as: It’s not possible for you to be without Love.

My ego had a good time with that interpretation. It didn’t even notice the capital L. It simply read it as: It’s not possible for you to be without love. Then it reminded me of all the times I had been without a lover, all the times I’d been taken advantage of in relationships, in the workplace or in business. Where was love then? Where was love when I was feeling broken hearted? Or abandoned? Or ignored? Or taken for granted?

I think we can agree that we have all felt that, at times, we were without love; that there wasn’t any love in our lives.

We all think we know what love is. We spend a great deal of time and energy looking for it and trying to hold on to it when we have it. What do you think love is? What is it you’re longing for?

Do you remember the definition from Corinthians? If you’ve been to a church wedding you’ve probably heard it, or some version of it, even if you have never read a bible.

‘Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.’

Maybe there’s more to love than feeling good about being with someone who thinks you’re special or is willing to have sex with you. It might even be something other than that sense of belonging we get when we feel accepted and cared about by others.

When I revisited the statement, and read it out aloud, I realised there was another way that you could read it that changed the whole meaning. Try reading it this way:  It’s not possible for you to be without Love.

This reading forces you to reconsider your definition for love.

What if Love is the primary force or energy of life? What if Love is simply another word for God?

Puts another spin on our lifelong search for love, doesn’t it?

I’ll leave you to ponder that one.

Peter