What is Democracy?

I was asked that question today in an interesting conversation about vaccinations, gun laws, tobacco usage, and morality. That’s the backdrop. Thinking about that question, I decided I wanted to add an adjective, so the question becomes, “What is a functional democracy?”

My rough answer to is that a functional democracy is one in which all the people are participating in the democratic process (voting, free speech, non-violent demonstration, law passing, etc) out of a deep morality and sense of ethics which guides their interest and thinking about the issues.

The implication here is that everyone is engaged in a deepening of their morality / ethics in order to bring as much clear thinking as possible to the issues.  When we all are engaged in this deepening, we can also more clearly communicate with each other, and even if we disagree with each other (because we all have different life experiences), we should be able to respect every standpoint, every perspective, because we know it has come out of a deep moral thinking of the issue.

That, to me, is a functional democracy.


Create space without judgement, without pushing away, isn’t that part of what love is, love for another?  But there’s also love for oneself–being compassionate with oneself.  The delusion is that I can love you without clearly loving myself.  The basis, the roots of the foundation of compassionate communication lies in my ability to be compassionate with myself.  Without that, I cannot be approach you from a place of true compassion.  Because in a relationship, I will need to make a request at some point that is out of my needs and is an expression of my love for myself.

So what we do is create space and places in which we allow the other to move with complete freedom while at the same time keeping open our own space.  It’s the intersection of those spaces where our souls touch.  Healing can happen in all of those places.  Meaning, if we both have a sense of self-compassion, we create a space in ourselves in which our own healing can occur.  If I also create a compassionate space for you in which you can move freely (meaning, free will) then an opportunity for healing is created, but only if you are willing. Similarly, if you create a place for me, then I have a space in which I can heal myself.

As an archetype, most men don’t understand that the chains that bind and fetter are not broken by the sword.

As an archetype, most people, men and women alike, aren’t compassionate enough with themselves to truly love each other.

We search for love for that very reason, because we DO want that compassion.  Even worse, we search out people we can love, so that in their returning of our love, our need for compassion is met. But it isn’t really, because at some inevitable point of confusion, we are not met with compassion, and then where are we, if we don’t have a deep sense of self-compassion in us?  And worst of all, it’s very easy to delude ourselves that we are being compassionate with ourself.  Clarity is so very essential here, but absolute clarity isn’t a requirement to do this work, only an knowing that clarity is something to always keep in mind.

Self-compassion is the sword to free ourselves to truly love.  It means saying “no” with the strength and love for our self.  It means saying “yes” without the loss of individuality and freedom, meeting in intersections of the space we create.

When you say “no”, I am confronted with the understanding that you love yourself, and therefore, as long as I come from a space of healthy being (compassion), I discover my love for you.  When you say “yes”, I am confronted with the understanding that you love me, from which I deepen my love for myself.

The 8 Beatitudes

When I read the 8 Beatitudes, I’m struck by the consciousness of “feeling” and the implication of compassion for oneself and for the other.  So, in all humbleness, my thoughts…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” – this is a humble recognition of how we can no longer see with clarity the angelic world, and we struggle inwardly with ourselves, to be humble and compassionate with ourselves and our shortcomings, and in this first step of recognition, we gain “the kingdom of heaven.”

“Blessed are they who mourn”—we grieve, not only for the tragedies around us, but for ourselves as well.  We allow ourselves to feel grief, to mourn, and in living deeply into that grief, we find compassion—we become compassionate towards ourselves and towards others, and thus “they shall be comforted” in that compassion.

“Blessed are the meek”—while “blessed are the poor in spirit” is an inner humbleness, “blessed are the meek” is an outward humbleness, that we are weak and the trials of our physical existence are daunting, and that we often feel overwhelmed, “meek”, towards the tasks and trials of life.  When we this “outer humbleness”, when we truly acknowledge our limitations, our “meekness”, then we are in a position to “inherit the earth”, as an inheritance to be cared for compassionately and respectfully.

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness” – imagine how as children we have all experienced being wronged, and how this repeated experience jades us to taking up the banner of righteousness, instead we silently give up.  Imagine how we have to search deeply into ourselves, into our feeling life, to discover that hunger and thirst for righteousness, and then to engage the will and act upon this feeling.  And in that activity “they shall be satisfied”.  This is not a satisfaction that is given to us in revenge or justice, but it is an inner satisfaction of the wisdom gained in deeply feeling truth from lies, right from wrong, good from evil.

“Blessed are the merciful”—an act of compassion, to be merciful both to ourselves in our struggles and in others and their struggles, from which we “shall obtain mercy.”  Again implying, when we act with mercy toward others, we are acting with mercy on ourselves as well.  We are letting go of our own anger, fear, pain, and in being merciful, in forgiving, we let go of our own pain, and what act of mercy that is!  And with that letting go, that openness, with that act of forgiveness, we become unblocked and return to a place of humble being, a place where we can truly mourn, where we can recognize our own weaknesses, and where we can hunger and thirst, rather than silently give up, for righteousness.

“Blessed are the pure of heart”—in our humble recognition of our poor spirit, in the compassion we have for ourselves and for others as we mourn, as we recognize our limitations in the outer world, as we struggle to discern what is true and good, as we do all this we are transforming ourselves constantly into ever more “pure of heart”, and then we “shall see God”, in us, around us, in the other.

“Blessed are the peacemakers”—How can strife exist when we become pure at heart?  How can we not see each of us as “children of God” when we see God in ourselves and in each of us?

“Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness”—but the reality is, there will always be people who persecute those of pure heart and peacemaking, and it is the consciousness of this, that we will be persecuted “as the prophets before”, that those conscious people gain “the kingdom of heaven”, holding fast to their principles.

So in the end, the 8 Beatitudes are a journey, a journey that is incorporated in many (if not all) of the modern ideas, such as Marshall B. Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, etc.

Programming is an act of faith that inspiration will, indeed, must occur

So, I’m writing this lovely little web service, and I have a method called “LoadView”, which (ok, don’t give me a hard time) returns a DataTable of a view. Works fantastic. OK, I had to tweak the “maxReceivedMessageSize” because like, duh, I want more than 64K of data, but no biggy because the exception was oh so kind to tell me that I ought to do that.

Same with a call to GetSchema, which simply returns an XML string of the DB schema. Got a nice exception that told me I had to increase maxStringContentLength in the readerQuotas because, duh, I have XML elements that are greater than 8K of content. Doesn’t everybody?

So, these two calls are working great, and I’m off to the last method I want to implement, “ExecuteQuery”. Yeah, on the server side it verifies that the SQL statement begins with “select” or “with”, and there’s parameterization checks so I have some effort to prevent SQL injection attacks, but I’m not really concerned because this is for an Intranet solution, so I can pretty much rely on the fact that the people are who connecting to the web service are in fact, moral, ethical, upstanding denizens of the aerospace industry.

But I digress.

So, I get this lovely exception (recreated just for you, dear reader, after having fixed the problem):

An error occurred while receiving the HTTP response to http://%5Bsnip%5D. This could be due to the service endpoint binding not using the HTTP protocol. This could also be due to an HTTP request context being aborted by the server (possibly due to the service shutting down). See server logs for more details.”}

WTF? I’m returning a DataTable, just like I am in the LoadView call, which works perfectly. I have absolutely no freaking clue as to what is going on. I notice that my interfaces have the ExecuteQuery and GetSchema methods swapped in the client and the server. Nope, that’s not it. I try returning a simple empty data table. You know, like “return new DataTable();” and I still get the same error! How can that be???

So, suddenly an angel thwaks me on the side of the head. “Hey you depraved lowly human being with your limited life span, you want to spend the next 8 hours of your short little puny life figuring this out, or do you want some divine inspiration? Don’t answer that, that was a rhetorical question. OK, remember that time a few years ago when you tried serializing a DataTable and the serializer crapped out on you because you didn’t give the DataTable a name? HINT!!!”


And there was much rejoicing, and angels partied down.

Within and Without

Tell me who you really are,
And I will listen without judgement,
See me for who I really am,
And hold me within a safe place.

Why do I recognize you yet I do not know you?
Why do I love you without any past
To draw familiarity and comfort from,
Yet your soul touches within me the recognition…

Of having found that which I do not recall losing–
I had forgotten that without this love
The connections were missing an anchor
that grounds me from within in the trust now found…

I saw you, and in that seeing, you recognized me–connected souls,
without whom the waters of the lemniscate would not flow within.

To Touch

Flickering threads of red brightening and dimming in whisps of cool air,
Warm to the touch, astir with the possibility of flame and quickening flare,
To touch the kindling, patiently awaiting the spark to alight
the splintered grain, grasping at shards of heat and springing into yellowing light.

Leaping across the frosty air trembling below the sky cracking blue,
Pierced by the touch of your gaze, shivering for the warmth that can but renew,
To touch each other in the spaces forgotten by time’s sadness and loss,
The places darkened are now quietly lighting as warmth moves slowly across:

Caressing fingers upon cheek and brow reaching deeper into your heart’s deep care,
Soft in the touch are your hands moving between meridians in need of repair,
To touch the trembling surfaces and reach deeper into the etheric realm intangible,
The soul and the body entwine, enmeshed in weaving light becoming intimately inseperable,

To touch the embers of our spirits and kindle the hearth into warming light,
To warm the rooms of our souls and dance as cheering flames in awakening delight.


Tending the Garden of the Soul

A young woman tends her garden with the care of a soul healing itself in the streaming sunlight, watering the young plants and tending to the new life promising of a nurturing abundance.  Each morning as she awakens, she looks out the window of her bedroom, the blanket of the night’s repose still warm and protective around her, her first thoughts of what the day will bring and the tasks to be done.  With a patience that speaks of resignation tinged with a yearning for hopeful joy, she lingers in that place, feeling vulnerable, and slowly gathering herself into focus, casts aside the dreams of what might be, places her feet on the hard and cold floor, walks slowly to the window, and with a sad reluctance reaches out and parts the curtains.

Seeing first the distant hills flecked with budding trees, she reaches with her gaze beyond her kingdom, outward and upward beyond the horizon, sometimes filled with streaming morning light, sometimes barred by gray clouds heavy with a portent of rain.  Some days, her vision is stopped short by tears descending from the heavens, and it is on those days that the curtains surrounding her soul are the hardest to open, when the grayness penetrates her heart like a dull dagger, quietly bringing the tears of her own grief to her eyes that reflect the pools of sadness in the vales of her valley.

Her young life has already brought her an ancient loss, the most grievous loss of all, the loss of never having.  On these dimming days, her heart cries out for what she feels she will never find: to be loved, to be held, in only the ways a mother holds her infant, in only the ways a true and noble man holds his wife, in only the ways another human being who does not judge, but only loves and cherishes, can hold.  Even on those days of golden morning light, she knows that some morning will bring the darkness, just as she knows that in those dark wintering mornings that pierce her heart the deepest, there will as well be mornings of warming and healing luminescence.

Taking a deep breath, and another, and finally one more, she draws herself to the moment, and in that presence she lets go, for a time, of the lingering past and the restless future.  Her breath awakens her to her beating heart and the blood of life coursing through her, a tangible tingling in her fingertips as she feels the gauzy fabric of the curtains and the pattern of the weave.  She turns away from the window, turns away from her hopes and dreams, and dresses herself, cloaking herself in protective layers of wool, shielding herself from herself.  Reaching for the door, opening it, stepping softly across the threshold, closing it behind her, she begins her morning, tending her garden with the care of a soul healing itself in the working of the mother earth.

A young man of noble descent, sitting tall and straight upon his handsome steed, rides with contemplative intention through the last of winter’s waning snow-laden fields.  Each evening, as the crimson sun withdraws its tenuous fingers from the deepening skies, he lays his blanket on a sheltering knoll and his thoughts wander along the worn and well trodden paths of sadness and the quest upon which he is compelled.  With a firm but gentle hand he unclasps his sword and lays it down next to his blanket, his sword notched not from battles with his fellow man but rather in the breaking of the chains with which the evil binds and fetters the will, shackles the freedom to love and be loved in both the giving and the receiving.

Supine to the heavens, he reaches with outstretched hand to cup the first glimmering star in hopes of touching an angel that will aid him in his quest to unbind the good, but he touches only the distance that separates him from the angelic worlds, while next to him his sword gleams in the knowing starlight.  The sanguine moon rises behind him as a chill wind blows across his brow, bringing clouds of troubling portent scudding across the starry night, and his tenuous connection with the truth is frayed, a worn garment that each night must be mended before the morrow’s battle begins anew.

His wounds are many, but none more grievous than the wounds of his heart, each encounter with the chains that entangle his soul a poorly healing scar that the darkness of the deepening night opens afresh, the agony of which no herb, no salve, has he yet encountered that can cure.  From his bosom this grief extends its tendrils to his very bones, an ache that brings him to his knees as he gasps, inhales the sharp daggers of frigid air that meet his inner grief, numbs it with the intensity of the present from which there is no succor.

With the inevitable exhale, the resignation of a burden carried each day but that which honor does not allow the release, he collapses on the cold earth, shielded only by a thin blanket, trusting in its warmth.  His ragged breath slowly calms as he allows the darkness, flecked with diamonds, to envelop his weary muscles, eyelids closing, the forest scent wafting away into the distance, the lone hoodie’s caw softening to silence, he is sleeping, his horse standing watch in huffing contemplation of springtime’s coming.

And so it happens that one day, as spring waxes into the lushness of summer, the young woman looks up from her flowering gardens and beholds the young man, and they meet each other with a gaze from which they cannot break, meeting with an understanding beyond words, words spoken from the heart.  They stand together in that moment, each feeling all of eternity pausing in its endless motion, and in that motionless space and time, they see each other deeply and know what they see in each other’s eyes.  Speaking, he says “I will tend the garden of your soul for as long as I am able to wield my sword to bring goodness to the world.”  Speaking, she responds “I will heal you of your wounds for as long as my hands work the soil to bring life to the world.”

And so together they did, bringing goodness and life to the world, as eternity moved again.

The Butterfly

Many years ago, when the world was much different, there was a beautiful butterfly whose wings were the color of the noontime sky.  It was early spring, and the butterfly went flitting from flower to flower in the green fields, but none of the flowers would open to him.  He asked the flowers, “oh, why will you not open?” and shivering, the flowers replied “because it is still too cold.”

That night, while the butterfly was thinking about what the flowers had said and the moon rose in the night sky, the butterfly decided to fly up to the moon and ask the moon for her wisdom.  He fluttered and he flitted until at last he reached the moon, and asked “how may I warm the flowers in the fields?”  The moon replied, “I do not know, but perhaps my sisters the stars can tell you.”

So the butterfly fluttered and flittered even higher into the heavens and when he came to the stars, he asked them, “how may I warm the flowers in the fields?”  And the stars replied “we do not know, but look, the sun is rising in the east, go and ask her.”

The butterfly fluttered and flitted to the house in the east where the sun was, and asked “how may I warm the flowers in the fields?”  The sun replied, “I will give you two tiny drops of sunlight, one for each wing, which you may use to warm the flowers.”  And as the sun placed each drop of sunlight on the butterfly’s wings, first the left and then the right, the wings turned brilliant golden and yellow.

The butterfly flew back down to the fields, and with a loving touch, he warmed each flower so that it opened its heart to him.  He went flittering and fluttering from flower to flower, opening the hearts of all the flowers.  Flittering and fluttering, fluttering and flittering.  “Oh, there are so many flowers, I must rest my wings and catch my breath for a moment before continuing my work.”

When he was rested, the butterfly flew up into the air again and completed his task, until finally, all the flowers, blown by a gentle wind, were waving to the sun high in the heavens.