Category Archives: The Environment

A Hero for our Time: Joanna Macy

Jane in Africa 2012

This morning, while dealing with a crazy, incessantly barking dog,  I listened to “On Being” with Krista Tippett.  Her guest was an “environmental philosopher,” Joanna Macy.  I was only half listening at first, since I had never even heard of this woman before, but the interview ended up blowing me away.  Macy is an 85-year-old woman who sounds like a twenty-year-old in her wonderful, enlightened thinking.  Here’s a quick bio of Macy from Wikipedia:

Joanna Rogers Macy (born May 2, 1929), is an environmental activist, author, scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. She is the author of eight books. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1950 and received her Ph.D in Religious Studies in 1978 from Syracuse University.  She is an international spokesperson for anti-nuclear causes, peace, justice, and environmentalism, most renowned for her book Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World….She has created a theoretical framework for personal and social change, and a workshop methodology for its application. Her work addresses psychological and spiritual issues, Buddhist thought, and contemporary science.

And here is her picture:

Joanna Macy
Joanna Macy

But I wasn’t blown away by this woman because of her impressive resume or her open appearance.  I was blown away by the things she said.  First, she talked about how Buddhists don’t put much stock in trying to have hope, since it takes too much effort.  The important thing is just to be as aware as we can of what is going on around you.  She said that our earth is “not a supply house and a sewer” for humans, and that we have to stop treating it as if it is.

Here’s another great picture of her:

joanna macy laughing

All I can give you is a quick intro to Macy, but I urge our readers to check her out.  Here are two more quotes that I wrote down from when she was talking about her work in  translating Rainer Marie Rilke’s Book of Hours:  Love Poems to God:  “There is a song that wants to be sung through us, but we need to be present to it in order to sing it,” and “This moment you are alive, so you can just dial up the magic of that any time.” Continue reading A Hero for our Time: Joanna Macy

Sadhvi Sez “Adieu”!


While it’s been wonderful to share what’s  been going on in my world all these years, I don’t feel like sharing anything of me anymore.

So after more than 5 years and 210 posts, it’s time for me to leave Oops50.

Call it a coincidence, but The New York Times had an article recently on blogging burnout, and there is even a new word to describe it called “slog”.  Maybe that’s all it is; I’m just tired of sharing my world, myself…

I want to let all of you faithful fans know that it has been a pleasure to share with you things that mattered to me during this time of my life.  And to wish the women of Oops50 much success!

I’ll leave you with one last clip from a man named Vereesh (see below), and wishes for Peace, Love, And the Pursuit of Happiness to you all.

On Climate Change and our Amazing Lack of Imagination

Jane I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately thinking about climate change.  My friend Gloria has talked to me about it for years, but, up to now , I’ve been able to push her message down into the deep recesses of my consciousness.  What has moved it up lately to the top of my list of “Worries about the World We are Passing on to Our Children” is 1) all the horrible natural disasters that have been happening and 2) President Obama’s commissioned study.  But here’s the interesting thing:  no matter how many bleak facts and predictions I hear, I am not out in the streets protesting or on the phone calling my representatives.  There is still a little part of my brain that says, “That information is too horrible even to imagine.”  And, since I can’t take it in, I don’t take action.  I just lie awake at night, worrying.

End Climate Silence

Here’s what worries me most:  I know I am not the only one out there choosing this course.

I’m starting to think that we humans have an amazing ability to “live for today,” despite all the advertising campaigns that seem to believe otherwise.  In fact, living in the present moment and not envisioning long-term future consequences of our actions may be what we do best.  I’m beginning to wonder if we are even capable, as a species, of living in anything but the present.  Maybe this trait got embedded in our DNA from the earliest homo sapiens who had no choice but to live in the present because they had such short tenures on earth,  what with all those predators lurking around every corner!  Maybe evolutionary biology equipped them with the ability to keep telling themselves that everything will be okay because if, for instance, they actually stopped to imagine their chances of surviving an encounter with a saber-toothed tiger, they would fall into despair and choose not to reproduce.  Maybe survival of the fittest actually means survival of the most oblivious.

I have to admit, I go back and forth on whether this is a good or bad human characteristic. There are times when obliviousness is the only sane choice.  But I know that chosen obliviousness  in relation to climate change will lead to disaster, and this time the stakes are not individual lives but the lives of everyone living on this planet.


Think about this:  in the earliest days of Nazi Germany, there were a lot of people, many of them even in positions of power, who could see the writing on the wall about Hitler but who still could not imagine that the boot on the stair would ever really come for their country, so, as a result, they couldn’t take action early enough to stop it.  Or, closer to home, there were even, apparently, a few people at places like the FBI or the CIA who saw 9/11 coming but couldn’t themselves imagine, on a gut level,  the real possibility of it happening fast enough to motivate others to take action.

(I wonder if the heart of our obliviousness is a lack of imagination or a belief in a higher power who can work miracles.  I sometimes think the former, but when I see all the mess we get into as a result of strong, individual religious beliefs, I lean toward the latter.)

All I know is this:  if we cannot imagine the real possibility of climate change quickly enough to realize that it is truly up to us, and not our grandchildren or great grandchildren, to take action, it doesn’t bode well for our planet.

Yes We Can

We still have a chance,  so we have a choice.  Are we going to keep sitting happily and mindlessly on “this pretty planet, ” (to quote one of my favorite children’s songs), using it up until there is nothing left of it and the ground falls away beneath us?   Are we going to keep living in our so-called safe houses,  hearing the boot on the stair, and thinking it is never coming for us?  Or are we going to open our collective eyes, see the reality that is right in front of our noses ,and have the courage and the will and the energy it will take to turn things around?

I worry that, in this case, since we are all only human,  it’s not hard to imagine what choice we will make.

Sadhvi Asks: What Would You Miss the Most?

SadhviTime Magazine is just about the only magazine I read.  And while it does look more and more like a comic book these days since there aren’t many long articles and there are a lot of short factoids and cartoons, I’m not complaining since that is about all I have time for.

This week though, I read the entire cover story: A WORLD WITHOUT BEES: THE PRICE WE’LL PAY IF WE DON’T FIGURE OUT WHAT’S KILLING THE HONEYBEE, written by a young man named Bryan Walsh.

It’s not only disturbing, it’s alarming really, because many of my favorite foods are going to be disappearing if there are no bees to pollinate those plants.

“There were just barely enough viable honeybees in the U.S. to service this spring’s vital almond pollination in California, putting a product worth nearly $4 billion at risk.  Almonds are a big deal – they’re the Golden State’s most valuable agricultural export, worth more than twice as much as its iconic wine grapes.  And almonds, totally dependent on honeybees, are a bellwether of the larger problem.  For fruits and vegetables as diverse as cantaloupes, cranberries and cucumbers, pollination can be a farmer’s only chance to increase maximum yield.  Eliminate the honeybee and agriculture would be permanently diminished.  “The take-home message is that we are very close to the edge,” says Jeff Pettis, the research leader at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory. “It’s a roll of the dice now.”

Everyone wants to know why they are dying, but no on has even mentioned cell phone towers.  There seems to be a connection since the bees have been dying off only in last ten years or so, about the time when cell phone towers began to spring up all over the world.  Hmmm…I have to wonder if those towers have disrupted the honey bee’s instinctual sense of direction that makes them not go back to their hives?  Maybe the connection will never be investigated because god forbid we have to give up our smartphones!  There are other things that making them die, like mites and parasites, and chemicals.  It’s probably all of the above.

Or could it be the aluminum that is being sprayed from planes?  I wonder what happens when those chem-trails eventually dissipate and land on things, like flowers and places that bees land on, and maybe ingest?  Wait a minute, what about us?  Oh oh!  I better stop right now, because if the bees are getting affected by something, then maybe, so are we!

It might be that it is something that won’t be taken very seriously until it’s too late.

Let me just ask you, which food or crop will you miss the most?

With almonds being 100% dependent on pollination, apples, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, blueberries and onions are 90% dependent.  Cherries, cucumbers, and celery are 80%.  Plums/prunes and watermelon are 65% dependent on bee pollination, with tangerine, lemon, and the cotton industry also being affected.

I can tell you that I will miss almonds the most: I love them!  I especially like the almond butter from Living Tree in Berkeley, California.  I also like to make a Tuscan Biscotti that really won’t be the same without almonds.

I noticed that in an interview with the author of the Time article, Bryan Walsh (see below), it seemed like the young news reporter’s didn’t quite take the whole issue too seriously.

Hey, maybe future generations won’t even know that there were things to eat called almonds!

Ok, now that I’m sounding old and sentimental, I will end this post this week by saying that I hope you are enjoying this beautiful life and not taking it all for granted.



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Jane: My Turn to Vent

I’m feeling pretty discouraged about my state and my country these days.

I’ll start with my state.  North Carolina has always been known as one of the more enlightened states in the South, with good schools, good social programs, good people.  But what is going on in our legislature is not just random changes in our laws; it is a shift in the kind of state we are deciding to be.  And it is disheartening and embarrassing.

I know that all the changes that folks in Raleigh are trying to bring about are happening under the guise of fiscal responsibility—a noble banner to carry in a Recession—but, when things are as tough as they are right now, maybe that’s when we should remember most that there are things to consider that are just as important as the bottom line.

Maybe now, when the chips are down and people are most fearful, it’s most critical for us to remember that children raised in poverty have trouble ever getting out of poverty and that the first two to three years of a child’s life are the most critical in that child’s brain development and that if we don’t want our streets and prisons of the future overcrowded with angry, poorly educated, frustrated people, maybe it’s time to take a stand.

Maybe it’s time to stand up, for instance,  for quality child care, for every child in North Carolina.  After all, when more families are living in poverty in our state, and families are desperately trying to work their way out of poverty, isn’t it time for all of us to join together to help those families with more subsidies, more high-quality programs?  Isn’t it time to fight for tax reform that puts the greatest burden on those people most able to bear it instead of, once again, on poor people who don’t have the money or the time to fight for themselves?  Why do we always consider raising the sales tax first?—because it’s the easiest to get away with.

I am disheartened by what I see happening in Raleigh, but I also draw encouragement from the wonderful protestors in Raleigh!

And I’m disheartened by what’s happening in Washington, the capital of my country, the country that, after all, elected Obama on a platform of change and hope—and possibility.

As we tighten and tighten our national social program belt, while leaving our military budget virtually intact, what choices are we making for our future?  As we fight and fight over power in our House and Senate, while poor children stand hungry at the door, what kind of a people are we deciding to be?

It seems to me that if we do not start investing real money into the things that can really make a difference for this country, like good education for everyone, affordable health care for everyone, and real measures to decrease global warming, we are making some pretty bleak choices for the future of our children and our children’s children.

I would like to ask each legislator in Raleigh and Washington to take a minute before voting on any new bill to ask themselves two questions:

1) On my deathbed, will I be proud of my vote on this bill?  And 2) If the people most affected by this bill were my children or my grandchildren, would I vote the same way right now?

Maybe I should put it this way:  if I really walked in my neighbor’s shoes for one day, would I vote the same way?

Some of you tea party folks are always talking about bringing Christianity back into politics.  Well, damn it, if nothing else will work to get people to come back to thinking of other people as their brothers and sisters, then let’s do it!  Let’s redefine our political agenda based on an even stronger Christian basis.  Maybe then, when it comes our turn to vote on education reform/immigration reform/environmental protection/using drones to bomb innocent people/and, yes, gay marriage, we might actually stop, take a breath, and ask ourselves:

“What would Jesus do, really?”  And, for once, we might have the guts to listen to the truth that we can hear better with our hearts than our brains– and act accordingly!