New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Walk Softly

February 22, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Toward a Profound Reverence for Planetary Balance…

by Robert C. Koehler

“When you go to dig your fields, or make a pot from clay, you are disturbing the balance of things. When you walk, you are moving the air, breathing it in and out. Therefore you must make

Oh, unraveling planet, exploited, polluted, overrun with berserk human technology. How does one face it with anything other than rage and despair, which quickly harden into cynicism? And cynicism is just another word for helplessness.

So I listen to the Arhuaco people of northern Colombia, quoted above at the Survival International website, and imagine — or try to imagine — a reverence for planetary balance so profound I am aware that when I walk I disturb it, so I must walk with gratitude and a sense of indebtedness. Walk softly, walk softly . . .

Instead, I live in this world: (more…)

Our Planetary Home

March 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

Becoming Part of Gaia’s Cure, Instead of What Ails Her

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I will never forget one hot summer day when I was about eight years old, and a Monarch butterfly took it into its head to land on my arm and delicately lick up my sweat with its long, probing tongue.

Gaia callingI froze, wanting the Monarch to stay with me as long as possible, and watched with total fascination and delight as it balanced on my warm brown skin and enjoyed the salty treat I had to offer.

Eventually, with a graceful swish of its elegant wings, it rose up in the air and twirled off to land on a nearby stand of sweet-smelling pink milkweed flowers.

I felt blessed by the encounter, and ever after, when I see a Monarch I approach cautiously and respectfully proffer my arm, hoping to feel again the light touch of those fragile black legs and tiny tongue.

My childhood connection with Monarchs came to mind this week as I read the deeply disturbing news that “the number of monarch butterflies that completed an annual migration to their winter home in a Mexican forest sank this year to its lowest level in at least two decades, due mostly to extreme weather and changed farming practices in North America.” (more…)

Approaching Spiritual Life

September 25, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Tackling Mounting Social Problems with Individual Judgment

by Michael N. Nagler

In 1925, Gandhi unveiled what he called the “Seven Social Sins” in his newspaper, Young India: (1) Politics without principles; (2) Wealth without work; (3) Pleasure without conscience; (4) Knowledge without character; (5) Commerce without morality; (6) Science without humanity; (7) Worship without sacrifice.

Today I think we need to add an eighth: “Entertainment without common sense.”  The idea that we can “entertain” ourselves by appealing to the worst we’re capable of is one of the most destructive notions in our rudderless world.  Reams of scientific research have shown that exposure to violent images that paint a demoralizing picture of human nature make us sick and unhappy, and eventually a menace to those around us. (more…)

Collective Rites of Passage

May 31, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Guest Author, Politics

Revolution of Values, or Values for the Revolution?

by Robert Riversong

It has been said that God (good old divinity) is always whispering in our ears. If we do not hear the voice, it becomes a shout. And if we ignore the shout, we get hit over the head. There is so much din in our ever-accelerating culture that the quiet voice has been all but drowned out. For Job, it required the “voice of the whirlwind” (not the commonly mistranslated “voice in the whirlwind”) to wake him. For many of us, it has required the thundering collapse of the World Trade towers, the angry shout of Katrina, the jack-boot stomp of expanding empire and diminishing liberties or the perfect storm of peak oil, climate change, species extinction and ecological devastation to awaken us from our hypnotic trance, our sleep-walking to the edge of the cliff.

But what we seem to agree upon — those of us seeking a way out of the madness — is that the “old story” no longer supports our deepest needs nor any hope for a sustainable world, that we are in a state of Koyaanisquatsi, the Hopi word for “life out of balance.” “Yes, we did produce a near perfect Republic,” said Thomas Jefferson. “But will they keep it, or will they, in the enjoyment of plenty, lose the memory of freedom? Material abundance without character is the surest way to destruction.” (more…)

Speaking of Love…

February 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jennifer Browdy

An Unlikely Environmental Evangelist

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

I was not raised in any religion, nor do I follow any religious practices now.  I don’t believe in God as a benevolent white man in the sky, nor do I believe that one needs to sit in a particular building, listening to a particular preacher, to reach out to the divine.

But I have always felt a deep spiritual connection to the natural world.  When I was 8 or 9, I used to go out into the woods and sit alone in my “spot,” which was a circle of mossy stones at the top of a big stone ridge, ringed by maples and centered around a grassy glade.  It was a small circle, no bigger than 10 feet in diameter.  I would just sit there and look and listen to the birds in the trees above me, the small insects on patrol in the grass, feeling the wind ruffling against my face and a kind of inner exultation and delight that I can only describe as religious ecstasy.

No one taught me to do this, and it wasn’t until much later, reading personal narratives by indigenous elders, that I was able to put this early spiritual connection with nature into a broader polytheistic cultural framework. (more…)

A Brighter Alternative

January 16, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Michael N. Nagler

Do We Live in a Meaningless Universe?

by Michael N. Nagler

“Ours is not an empty, disorderly world, but an exquisitely structured web whose design embraces and affects all living things.” — Sally Goerner

Western civilization could be considered a grand experiment, culminating in the three-plus centuries of the industrial revolution, to see if the universe could be accounted for without resorting to the concept of a Supreme Being or an overall purpose.  The experiment was a huge success.  It proved without a doubt that the universe can not be accounted for without introducing the concept of purpose; life could not have come about by chance — as Ervin Lazlo puts it, “pure chance … does not appear to be a significant factor in the evolution of life;” the human being cannot be described as a separate, finite, physical fragment doomed to compete for diminishing resources, but a (potentially) conscious actor in the fulfillment of the design that biologist Sally Goerner alludes to above. (more…)

Occupy Love

December 19, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Guest Author, Politics

Lessons in Brutality and Compassion from the Protest at the Port

by Rev. John Helmiere

{Author’s note: As my story continues to be read, may we not forget the exploitation of the port truckers and that the kind of violence I experienced is primarily enacted upon people of color.  I appreciate the energy this piece has generated but acknowledge that my social status allows my voice to be amplified.}

Last Monday evening, I was brutally beaten by my brothers on the Seattle Police force as I stood before an entrance to Pier 18 of the Seattle Port, wearing my clergy garb and bellowing, “Keep the peace! Keep the peace!”

An officer pulled me down from behind and threw me to the asphalt. Between my cries of pain and shouts of “I’m a man of peace!” he pressed a knee to my spine and immobilized my arms behind my back, crushing me against the ground. With the right side of my face pressed to the street, he repeatedly punched the left side. I was cuffed and pulled off the ground by a different officer who seemed genuinely appalled when he saw my bleeding face and my clerical collar. He asked who I was and why I was here, to which I replied, “I’m a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe another world is possible.” He led me shaking to a police van where began a 12-hour journey of incarcerated misery. (more…)