Inspiration

Go West, Tea Man!

 

Ruby Sue and Edna Lu

Traveling the land, this free tea house cultivates community,
health, peace, sustainability, and genuine human interactions.

Follow Edna Lu the Free Tea Bus and her operator,
Guisepi, as they adventure through America.

We introduced our young friend Guisepi Spadafora, the Tea Man, to this community back in January with a follow-up query about possible summer projects for Guisepi and Edna.  As noted in his newsletter below (full text included), he is looking for a place to settle for a bit, perhaps for the winter, to write–somewhere in the southwest. Since some of you live in that area, you might have some ideas.  If so, and especially if you are not familiar with the Tea Man’s lifestyle and more than a decade of Good work, take a look at his newsletter and the links within it.  Guisepi expresses an exemplary lifestyle characterized by small group community coupled with personal responsibility worthy of the idea “We, the People!”  We should support him in any way we can. (more…)

Make Peace Every Step

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Social justice innovator Victor Narro, arms crossed, participates in a Creative Self-Care workshop at Teada Productions in Los Angeles. (Texas Isaiah)

We are working on a post involving the topic of nonviolence and its place within tense situations such as occurred in Charlottesville.  While researching the piece, we came across an article called “Power to the Peaceful” in an August 2017 post presented by truthdig!  Take a look.  You might find the article and the embedded video inspiring.

Have you thought about adopting a non-violent stance within the context of protests or, even better (and harder), in EveryDayLife?  While many of us talk about nonviolence from a theoretical point of view how often do we exercise it?  Many might suppose the issue does not arise in the flow of day to day occurrences?  No?  That troublesome neighbor, co-worker, spouse or friend can often present a perfect opportunity to see ourselves as true, often times sacrificial, peacemakers.  Consider these six ideas from Dr. Martin Luther King.

Six pillars of nonviolent resistance

  1. Do not mistake nonviolence for passivity or cowardice.
  2. Do not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding.
  3. Remember that those who perpetrate violence are often victims themselves.
  4. Accept suffering, if necessary, without retaliation, because unearned suffering is redemptive and can educate and transform.
  5. Meet hate with love—not the sentimental kind, but an active love, of understanding and kindness, what the Greeks called agape—that restores community.
  6. Know that the universe is on the side of justice.

A Little Gratitude

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While a follow-up piece around Tim Snyder’s book On Tyranny was planned for this week, given the tragedy unfolding in the Houston area (and the general tragedy occurring in the U.S. in general), perhaps we should pause and give thanks for some instances of Good and the people who initiated them.

Jennifer-Hofmann (small)This week, on her weekly Action List, under the “Acts of Gratitude” section, Jen Hofmann posted the following entries (appearing here verbatim, but be sure to check out Jen’s list).

Acts of Gratitude
Get out your stamps, postcards, and sparkle markers for some gratitude mail.
(more…)

On Tyranny

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In a country fond of seeing itself as “the land of the free”, in the last couple decades, fear seems to have considerably tarnished this idealistic notion. We say we want freedom, but for whom? Too often, such notions suggest that we want freedom within the boundaries of what we idiosyncratically define as “US”—a term that has increasingly become more grounded in exclusivity than inclusion. This “US” comes to inform our socio-politically charged definition of freedom. In an attempt to stave off fear, our expectations are tinged by a new found xenophobia; we redefine a continually shrinking concept we used to refer to as “a free American”. In so doing, we open the door for those who would exploit our assumed sense of vulnerability. But when freedom does not apply to all, ultimately, it will fail to encompass any of us.

On Tyrrany“European democracies collapsed into right-wing authoritarianism and fascism in the 1920s and ‘30s… The European history of the twentieth century shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, ethics can collapse, and ordinary men can find themselves standing over death pits with guns in their hands. It would serve us well today to understand why.”

So writes historian Timothy Snyder in his recently published book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. On Tyranny is a tiny book, 126 pages measuring only about 4×6 inches. Each of the twenty suggestions forms a chapter consisting of only two to five pages.

Mr. Snyder does express certain biases (such as casting a jaundiced eye toward the Internet). However, for the most part, the book is largely written from a non-partisan perspective, focusing on various means of preserving freedom and staving off tyrannical control. As the book is quite easy to read, you can probably finish it in an hour (although you will likely ruminate over its contents for much longer).

Some of Snyder’s suggestions are expected (such as #3 – Beware the One-party State). Others are either surprising or defined in a thought provoking manner. For example:

  • #  2 – Defend Institutions
  • #10 – Believe in Truth
  • #11 – Investigate

All address–directly or indirectly–some of the more hidden aspects of what is currently happening in the United States.

In a Washington Post review, Mr. Snyder’s book is described as “a slim book that fits alongside your pocket Constitution and feels only slightly less vital.”  Some folks have been so taken with this little gem that they have bought multiple copies to distribute for free (a little over $6 on Amazon).

Requiem - Chomsky book coverOnce you have read through the Snyder book a couple times you might, on reflection, find yourself thinking a bit differently about the state of affairs in the United States. While the twenty suggestions Snyder offers are pointed and helpful, the brevity of the book prevents comprehensive treatment of any idea. As such, you might want to follow-up Snyder’s book and expand your understanding the mechanism of tyranny by tackling the more in depth descriptions of “reality” in the U.S. by reading Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky’s new book. Professor Chomsky addresses tyranny from the perspective of identifying various tactics of oppression such as reducing democracy, attacking solidarity and marginalizing the population—all of which have been happening and continue to occur as you read this. Like On Tyranny, Requiem is easy to read, although not quite so brief.

Finally if you are really committed to understanding tyranny and how it might have been the underlying mode of governance in the United States for decades, consider Sheldon Wolin’s more challenging and comprehensive book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.

Summer Plans for the Tea Man

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We introduced Guisepe Spadafora, the Tea Man, several months ago.  Guisepe and his traveling Tea Bus continue to spread hope, to lend a hand and to spur community organization in several western U.S. states.  If you are not familiar with his work, take a look at his website or the videos and news coverage of his endeavor (which has been on-going for more than a decade!).

Guisepe is putting together his plans for summer 2017 and would like our input as noted below.

  • I want to know where we should visit, whom we should see, and where we should serve tea.
  • Second, I am looking for a place to call home base for the summer in Colorado. Where can Edna, myself, and Ally plug into that wants good company, a handy man, and a community organizer?
  • Thirdly, I am looking for a good project or two to plug into for a month or two. I would love to help fix or build anything, especially if it has to do with small-scale, mobile, off-grid, low-cost, DIY, eco-friendly, and reclaimed projects.

Guisepe is the kind of person who infuses the phrase “we, the people” with real, tangible meaning.  Thank you, Guisepe!

If you really want to help us become Us, explore Guisepe’s story.  Take it as a model of personal initiative in the name of us all.  If nothing else, you might simply find the inspiration that sparks an idea of change for yourself.

 

The Tea Bus

Can you image buying a bus and traveling the country giving away tea to anyone who wants it, for free.  Now can you image that such is the nature of your life–for a decade? If that seems unusual, strange or even impossible, meet Guisepe Spadafora, the Tea Man.

The beauty of a phenomenon like this is that it shows us a different way of being.

Visit the Free Tea Party site. Wander around.  If nothing else, your heart will feel a little warmer.

You might want to donate some stuff through the “Ways to Share” link.  Visit the blog to see what’s happening lately.

And here is a New York Times article you might find interesting.