The choices we make – The Ukiah Daily Journal

The election is in a few days. Most people have already voted by mail, so we’re sitting here in anticipation, our fate yet to be determined. The partisan divide is huge. Republican extremists claim that Democrats are all Satan-worshipping pedophiles. Democratic extremists claim that Republicans are all bigoted, money-loving religious fascists. The growing climate crisis doesn’t care.

As a progressive Democrat, I view right-wing attacks as external projections of their own unresolved issues. My Trump-addicted nephew, with deep unresolved rage issues, quickly descends into personal attacks, claiming the libs are all “haters”. Sexually suppressed “religious” leaders focus on sexual problems in others, then appear in the news as sexual predators themselves. Where in the Bible does Christ support hatred, abuse, or murder? Most of those who demonize modern immigrants are descended from immigrants who enslaved millions and exterminated Native Americans.

I live with a baseball fan, and as we watched postseason games, Republican scare-pushing ads popped up regularly, paid for by Citizens for Sanity, a Trump-aligned group based in Florida. The Republican Supreme Court authorized unlimited black money to fund this type of campaign.

The choice has always been between love and fear, between cooperation and competition, between inclusion and exclusion. It feels like everything is going crescendo because we are only treating the symptoms, not the root cause. As I have said many times before, humanity is being challenged to awaken from the illusion of separation.

I recently started reading “Braiding Sweetgrass”, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a Native American botany professor. This marvelous book bridges the reductionism of orthodox science and the experience of unity fundamental to all Aboriginal cultures.

She points out that English, the dominant language of the planet, is made up of 70% of nouns, which are objects, against verbs, which are active. Werner Heisenberg said that “our experience of the world is structured by the questions we ask”. As an English speaker, my whole linguistic perspective is structured to objectify everything, rather than to experience it as active forms of life. Imagine your mother being treated like an object, turned into spare parts and sold in the market for private profit. It’s the western way of looking at the natural planet, just resources to be extracted. However, a unity perspective sees the Earth as a living being, nurturing all life with a myriad of gifts, not earned, but given.

For humans, the most immediate supply is the oxygen we need every few seconds. This is an ongoing gift of plants and algae to everyone, which we never paid for, just take it for granted. Because we never recognize or appreciate this as a gift, we mindlessly destroy springs, kill forests and poison oceans, as we race for increased tax profits.

Kimmerer describes the Thanksgiving address, which begins each school day at his local Indian school. All students participate in this expression of thanksgiving, listing the gifts offered by the natural world that benefit humanity. For each gift mentioned, the response is “we’re of one mind”, creating a collective awareness of gratitude. This contrasts with our dominant culture rooted in law.

In a recent “What Could Possible Go Right” interview with Joanna Macy by Vicki Robins, Macy describes how she is reacting to the increasing destruction of the planet. “My first word to anyone would be, don’t be afraid of your grief, grief, or rage. Cherish them. They come from your benevolence. When you’re not afraid of it, if you learn to cherish it as binding you to this beautiful planet, then it will nurture within you a fierce clarity for what can be done and be done by you alone.So you are going to find in your will to be here, great love. When you stand in this gratitude for being alive in this world, and then when you take the next step in articulating your pain for the world that was given and felt, then that grounds you.

Live in the present and start your day with gratitude. The sequel becomes not only manageable, but punctuated with moments of joy and wonder. The choices we make shape our experience.

Update from last week: The direct line to enroll in Ukiah’s 100% Renewable Energy Program is 707-463-6747, ask for Lori.

Crispin B. Hollinshead lives in Ukiah. This article and previous articles can be found at

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