“Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”

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A young climate activist in Rio de Janeiro. Credit: Silvia Izquierdo/Associated Press via NYTimes.com

Did you make it to one of the thousands of protest marches today for the Global Youth Climate Strike? Because it was definitely THE place to be on this historic day, 20 September 2019, planet Earth. According to The Guardian, protests took place in about 185 countries and all the continents in the world. Millions of people, from children to elders and everyone in-between, marched and demonstrated, gave speeches, made and carried signs, posters and banners, sang songs, danced, and generally supported one another in solidarity against what most perceive as the root problem—corporate greed, backed by the power elite in governments around the world.

As this article in today’s Guardian News clearly demonstrates, today’s Global Climate Strike was unprecedented in numbers of humans (at least several million) from all walks of life getting out of their schools, workplaces and homes, and taking it to the streets. Additionally, over 7000 websites showed their solidarity by displaying only a black screen or a screen saying they were on climate strike for the day. And there were lots of speeches in every major city from Australia to the United States, from the global north to south, and east to west. It was a spectacular day for humanity to show up in solidarity as one people who understand that we have just one precious planet that is in grave danger of being destroyed.

One charismatic young activist in London did a great job of energizing the crowd. He mentioned that there are “terrified billionaires” in the world now who we must all keep fighting, in order to stop them from utterly destroying what remains of our beautiful planet.

At the protest rally in my hometown of Denver, Colorado, I saw plenty of young people carrying signs that demanded the billionaires stop their evil ways so they can have a future. Some of these signs were heartbreaking, and yet the mood was festive. It is impossible to stay subdued in a crowd of thousands kids under the age of 25, with many under 18. As one of the speakers pointed out, youth activists may not yet be of legal voting age, but they soon will be. Activists gave speeches about social justice and how eco-justice goes hand in hand with racial inequity and poverty issues around the world.

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Photograph: Susie Cagle/The Guardian via The Guardian live feed 20 sept 2019

I will admit, part of me relishes the image of billionaires who are afraid, perhaps even terrified, of losing their fortunes and futures because millions of young people, inspired by the fearless Greta Thunberg, have seen straight through their cunning and lies and are demanding change away from fossil fuels to a world that runs on clean and even free energy. Imagine, for just a moment, what such a world would be like! How would it look, smell, feel, sound and taste? What would the world in which we live be like if Nature, including all living creatures and plants, was given rights to exist and not be destroyed, trammeled and polluted for humanity’s selfish and greedy ends? If you are having a bit of trouble imagining it, you’re not alone. Many millions, probably billions, of humans are also having difficulty imagining a clean planet that will support all life with no problem, without extremely harsh weather conditions in the future. Sadly, there was a good chunk of trolls and haters who posted on Greta’s Twitter feed during today’s events. Tragically, there are plenty of people who do not want a clean, equitable and healthy future for humanity and Gaia. Why, one has to wonder? Why would anyone alive on Earth today NOT want all life on this incredible planet to improve, for all to become healthy, for the air, water, land and nature to once again be purified and restored to its natural state of health?

Today was an extraordinary day for Mama Gaia and for those of us who can imagine a clean and healthy future world. No matter what the naysayers and billionaires might think or do in days, weeks and years to come, I know that millions of us will continue to hold the vision of the more beautiful world we know is possible. I hope you will join us.

Greta in America & Global Climate Strikes

Greta Thunberg has been in the United States for only a short time, but she has wasted no time at getting straight to work. On Friday the 13th of September, she joined other youth who gathered near the White House lawn for a Friday School Strike for Climate. Everywhere this young person goes, she is greeted with warmth, cheers and love. In just over a year of being a climate activist, Greta has gone from a lone teenager with a sign in front of the Swedish government in Stockholm, to a globally known celebrity and poster child for saving Earth.

In today’s Intercept news site, Naomi Klein interviews Greta with a few questions about her impressions of America so far, how she deals with internet trolls, her thoughts about being a high-profile Autism-spectrum person, and the expense of dealing with climate change. Klein’s article is here.

Next Friday, September 20th,  youth and adults around the world will hold Global Climate Strikes to protest the inaction of governments and multinational corporations to take drastic actions to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are rapidly warming our planet. The Union of Concerned Scientists put together this guide for anyone wanting to know more and how to get involved in their community.  So make a sign, grab some friends, and Strike for the Climate on September 20th!

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What is your profession?

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Blue skies in September are magnificent. Image via flickr.com

Ahh, September! The month that signals the end of summer, the start of the academic year, new projects, cooling breezes, blue skies and more grounded energies. I’ve always loved September.

This year is the first in the past few that I’ve not returned to classes since I graduated with my bachelor’s degree last December. Instead, I find myself with the intention of meeting my new, perfect, long-term professional work in the very near future. Sounds good, let’s get right on it!

Except that there’s a bit of a problem. I am one of those humans who has a very difficult time claiming to be an expert at any one particular thing. In fact, I’ve had several careers in my adult life that are seemingly unrelated. I’ve also done all sorts of paid work for money that could hardly be called a career. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’ve done what I needed to so I could keep my life and my family’s needs met and going as well as possible. There’s getting by, and then there’s that all-powerful, shiny, castle-on-the-hill word: Success.

Dear Readers, we all know that Success is a slippery slope by its very nature. It’s a word loaded with connotations in many directions, depending on who you are and your point of view. There’s worldly success, which is synonymous with money, fame, recognition, accomplishment at a career and all the trappings of such. We look to famous people we admire and believe they have achieved that shiny goal of worldly success. Then we might look at our own, much more humble lives, and wonder why we haven’t been able to achieve similar status. This is a familiar human pattern to many, and a painful one.

Throughout the years of my working life, I have come to know that my success at work is measured by a few key factors. They include: how happy am I when I’m at work? To what degree is the work itself interesting and worthy of keeping my focus and attention? Who are the people I’m working with, my colleagues, and how much do I enjoy being around them each day? Do I feel that the work I do there is making a positive difference to others and to the world? And, do I feel that my work and who I am as a person is valued and appreciated by the people I work with and for? These are important questions for all of us to ponder when considering a change in our worklife, or when doing the work of applying for new positions.

When I was preparing to finish my individualized degree program last year, I took a course to help promote my degree. The instructors emphasized the importance of memorizing our elevator pitch, the 30 second soundbyte version of what our degree is about. They even made us practice our elevator pitch in front of the class, which most of us managed well. In today’s internet-data driven world, even 30 seconds can feel like a long time. Technology seems to be relentlessly driving humans to do everything faster, including reading (mostly scanning), making decisions and yes, finding that ‘perfect, dream job’ that matches your skills, talents and deliverables with the needs and demands (often unreasonable) of the employer. As I search through job postings on sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, it’s nearly unfathomable to me to read the sheer amount of skills, talents and experience many employers expect the candidates to possess. One could even argue that some employers are looking for superhuman (AI?) candidates who can perform super feats of amazingness on a daily and hourly basis, all the while keeping a smile on their faces, a can-do attitude and retaining grace under pressure all day, every day.

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Online job searching can feel like you need complex positioning in order to apply. image via https://positek.net

There’s a whole new language for these job descriptions, compared to even a decade ago. Deliverables, flexible, nimble (like Jack of nursery tale fame), passionate, innovative, strategic –we are at a point now where humans are expected to create a brand for themselves, the same as a business or corporation does. My personal brand? This might not strike some of you reading as strange if you are a Millennial or Gen Z person. But to someone like me, who remembers a world where people were simply people, and our name and a simple resume of who we are and the experience we bring was enough basis for a decision to interview, the new personal branding strategies smack of artificiality and egoism. (Think Michael Jackson and David Bowie, who basically pioneered the personal brand phenomenon a few decades back.) Here’s an example of a portion of one job description I read this week:

Creates strategies around vetting, developing and implementing identified priorities,
Ensures successful implementation of all initiatives through the development of action items, performance measures, timelines and evaluation processes,
Provides financial oversight of initiatives to ensure they stay within budgetary constraints,
Oversees the implementation, necessary revisions, and data analysis of the Client Input Survey,
Supports the necessary implementation and advocacy required for the success of the program

What makes you unique? What do you have to offer that no one else has? These are the kind of questions career coaches love to ask. In a world of nearly 7.8 billion humans, it is clearly becoming a little difficult to stand out as unique. Yes, we are all snowflakes, but at the same time, it’s not easy to see the individual beauty of one when standing in a field of billions. And when AI robotics are culling through thousands of resumes, looking for matches with certain words to determine if that human will make it to the next phase of the recruiting process, well it just takes all the fun out of the whole shebang!

One site I looked on today asked me straight up: What is your profession? Now that is a loaded question for a person like me. For someone who has had a straight path in their career, and has one solid title for what they do (think attorney, professor, executive director, musician, etc.) this is a no-brainer. But for those of us who have explored many different paths during their work lives, answering that question can bring anxiety. Indeed, what is my profession at this point in life?

I’d like to answer that for both myself and all of you still reading this post. It may take longer than 5 seconds, so be prepared for more than a soundbyte answer. Here goes:

My profession is in supporting humanity to awaken to their potential as more evolved, self-aware and compassionate beings than they currently are. There is greatness inside each human, but most are asleep to their vast potential as creators of their own lives and caretakers of Earth who is their source of life. My work is to offer ideas, suggestions, inspiration and information, in order to assist any and all humans who wish to awaken to the truth of who they are, and change their ways of living to be in harmony with that truth. This work involves a high degree of idealism, faith in human potential, and extreme courage. It requires a kind of strength of character and tolerance for human folly that takes a lifetime to cultivate. It is arduous, tedious, and even excruciating at moments. But the rewards, when actualized, are greater than most can currently imagine. This profession is one that many humans have taken up during this lifetime, once they awakened to the great need that humanity is facing.

Dear Readers, this is my profession. It’s not one I can tick in a list of boxes, nor quickly explain in an online application to be read by a computer bot. This is why it is so difficult for me to “find a job” or “create my dream career” as the coaches like to suggest. They simply don’t know what to do with people like me.

Once again, I’m reminded of the lyrics to one of my favorite songs. “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us and the world will live as one.”