Tennesseetransitions


Pay It Forward

About 15 years ago I was standing on the front steps of the local post office, asking Michael if he had a quarter in his pocket so that I might buy a newspaper. A lady walking up the steps must’ve heard him answer “no” so she turned around, pressed a quarter into my hand and said “Pay It Forward”. I’d never heard the term, so she told me about the movie with that name and the premise behind it of helping someone without any expectation of repayment except by asking the recipient to repay the good deed. I was so touched by that simple transaction that I’ve watched the movie 3 times over the passing years and never tire of it’s theme. But lessons we learn, even profound ones like this, sometimes need to be relearned or remembered. Last Sunday my friend Gerald walked up to me at church and gave me his last container of citric acid from the bulk stash he’d bought years ago for his business. He knows I use it when canning tomatoes and other stuff. When I offered to pay him,  he replied  “Nope, just Pay It Forward“. I fell in love all over again with that idea and have thought about it repeatedly since: thanks so much for the sweet reminder Gerald!

This blog has always focused on ways that we can live healthier, more frugal and community-based lives while we strive to find ways that will allow us to become less dependent on the idea of always buying a solution to life’s everyday needs. Pay It Forward fits very nicely into a ‘living well on less’ lifestyle. I’m recommitting to the idea and am having big fun finding ways to do that. Not only does the practice help others accomplish things they might not be able to accomplish on their own, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place. A better place! Think about that! 

The Heifer Project and Kiva micro-loans are both based on this concept, and locally, One Acre Cafe operates within the same framework-if you can afford to pay an extra dollar or so for your meal (and you can since you don’t have to tip the volunteer staff)  your extra is ‘paid forward’ to feed someone that can’t afford a meal.

One doesn’t need to make loans of money however to make the world a better place. Some of us may not have even a bit of extra money to pay forward, but the concept can be expressed in myriad ways: donating your extra garden produce to someone in need or giving a stranger’s car battery a jump come immediately to mind. Paying it forward helps me to remember the power of giving and my connection  with all living things. It helps both the giver and the recipient by adding a touch of  kindness and compassion to their days. Simply put, the unspoken message is: “I care about you”. 

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May Day! May Day!
May 2, 2016, 8:47 PM
Filed under: A New Paradigm, Adapting to Change, World Peace

I TRIED to get this post out yesterday, on May 1st, but things just didn’t work out, so here it is, a day later. The date has changed, but the topic is timely…

“May Day” is an internationally recognized distress signal. I believe our living system called Earth is in great distress and using the term in regards to its’ condition is no longer considered crying ‘wolf’. I also see our response to the May Day call as being in a state of extreme transition, and this blog digs in to that process, albeit in a gentle way. By that I mean that I save my personal feelings and observations about the future of life on this planet for my own middle of the night terror and instead use gentle rhetoric to persuade and motivate my readers to consider ways we might not only save the earth but do so in a spirit of cooperation rather than one of deprivation. I’ve been writing about transitioning for 10 years now, without seeing much change in the way things are. Lately however I’ve been reading and witnessing a greater shift toward restoration, regeneration and evolution.

There’s a phenomenon called ‘the tipping point’ which is described as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point”. It is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior  crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. All that said, I believe we’ve reached a tipping point concerning understanding and acceptance of   “climate crisis” (which more properly describes the original benign term of “climate change”). 

OK, so we’ve reached a tipping point. Now what? I mean hell, we’ve already replaced our light bulbs and insulated our homes. Jeez, we’ve even bought our Priuses and are carrying our own water bottles and shopping bags. I can hear you bitching, “what more do you want us to do lady?” 

 The president of the United Nations puts it this way: “The anti-values of greed, individualism and exclusion should be replaced by solidarity, common good and inclusion. The objective of our economic and social activity should not be the limitless, endless, mindless accumulation of wealth in a profit-centered economy but rather a people-centered economy that guarantees human needs, human rights, and human security, as well as conserves life on earth. These should be universal values that underpin our ethical and moral responsibility.” Pope Francis considers it an all embracing moral imperative to protect the earth, which ”could unite the whole human family”. 

We need to create controversy and kick up some dust.  We need to create a common vision and then we need to actively focus our efforts on changing the powers that be. Write letters folks. Rally and march to make your voices heard. Call your elected officials, even if you know they’re ideas differ from yours. VOTE in the upcoming elections. Set examples and try to inspire others by ‘being the change we wish to see’. We know what we have to do. Now we just have to do it. 

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Dear Santa:

Hi Santa, it’s me, Sam. You know, the one that asked for a pony for at least 10 years in a row when I was a kid. Since I never got that pony, I was hoping you’d be willing to make it up to me this year. I haven’t asked for anything from you for about 50 years now, so I figure I’m about due. No, I no longer want the pony, but I was wondering, if, in your travels next Wednesday night, you could bring peace to all of us. I mean, it’s the perfect opportunity since you’ll be flying around the world and all. It’s what we ALL want actually. If you bring world peace, you could probably retire after that. Just sayin’…

peaceAnother thing I’d like: a 2 month ‘license’ to study in Cuba. I heard on the radio today that President Obama  is going to lift the embargoes on Cuba, which means that I could then go there to see first-hand the unrivaled and sustainable food system that the citizens there created when those embargoes began (coincidentally about the same time I stopped asking for the pony). You could pick me up here on the roof in TN and just drop me off there if you like-it’s only 90 miles. I’ll figure out how to get home later. Then, I could return the favor by using the things I learn there to create a sustainable food system right here at home.

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Third Thing: Unconstrained laughter. It’s healthy, contagious, and can probably bring about world peace on its’ own (in the event you don’t have that peace in your bag this year). If you do manage to bring the peace in your bag though, the laughter will be provided by all the happy boys and girls, and  you could just skip this one.

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Fourth: Santa, I’m really on a roll now. Can you narrow the gap somehow between the rich and the poor? That gap is getting wider and wider and I’m afraid most of the folks I know are going to fall through the crack soon. Economic justice would go PERFECTLY with that world peace. Actually, I’m pretty sure you can’t have one without the other anyway. Think of the advantages Santa: If we had economic justice, I’m pretty confident that social and racial justice would be resolved on their own. All I can say to that is “Joy to the World!”

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Fifth: The reason I don’t want the pony any more is because now I’d really rather have a Prius. I feel certain that these low gas prices we’re seeing won’t last forever. I hear Toyota is making them float now, like the old VW Beetles used to. That will be real handy as the oceans rise due to climate change.

Sixth: Speaking of climate change Santa…Can you stop the XL pipeline? Driving my new Prius can help prevent adding more CO2 into the air but if that pipeline is built, my meager efforts to help mitigate the effects of climate change will be for naught. (remember Santa: ‘naught’ is the root of the word ‘naughty’ and I already KNOW how you feel about being naughty.) Stop that pipeline, ok?

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And finally: Can you bring me some solar panels for my house? I’ll install them myself, as soon as I get back from Cuba.

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See you next Wednesday night Santa. I’m so excited! I’ll bring cookies and milk for us to snack on.

santa cookies

Your friend,

Sam




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