365 Live

Project 365 is now live at

http://365.mrcowles.com/

New Year’s Resolution 2013

I’ve been reading a lot lately . . . too much I think.

Much of it is reaction to the Newtown tragedy. The proposed solutions range from strict gun control to arming everyone. As long as we keep the focus on guns we’re missing the root of the problem.

True . . . guns don’t kill . . . our distorted cultural view of masculinity does. We teach our boys that being a “man” means having control at any cost . . . including violence.

 Arming more people is not the answer. Redefining masculinity and raising sensitive boys who understand that it’s okay to have and express all their emotions instead of denying and stuffing them so as not to appear “unmanly” would be a better course. Let’s face it our media and most world governments are controlled by large corporations that are making billions of dollars off our culture of violence . . . and spending billions to perpetuate it. It will take all of our cultural institutions, including churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, schools, colleges, and especially families working together. It begins with awareness. We have to pay attention to the “little things” we do every day that support a culture of violence. . . the thoughts we have . . . the words we speak . . . the shows we watch . . . the games we play . . . the products we buy . . . the examples we set. We need to shift our focus from changing everyone else to changing ourselves.

I hereby resolve to pay attention and catch myself doing the “little things” I do every day that support and perpetuate a culture of violence. With self-awareness I can change it.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

bushmaster-ad

Ad from Maxim magazine.

I didn’t know my man card had been revoked.

Gotta head to Walmart and pick up a Bushmaster so I can get it back.

Winter Solstice

6:12 am December 21, 2012, marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day in the northern hemisphere. Hours of daylight increase following the solstice as the sun begins its return journey toward summer. To celebrate, many ancient cultures engaged in rituals and festivals of light. In the northern hemisphere, the December solstice occurs during the coldest season of the year. Although winter was regarded as the season of darkness and cold, the coming of lighter days after the winter solstice brought on a more festive mood. To many people, this return of the light was a reason to celebrate. Nature’s cycle was continuing. There are more ceremonies and rituals associated with the winter solstice than any other time of year.

Thousands of years ago, the Roman culture celebrated Saturnalia, its major festival, on the Winter Solstice. When Julius Caesar instituted a new calendar in 46BC, the festival fell on December 25th. The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336AD during the Roman Emperor Constantine’s reign. Shortly afterwards Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on December 25th ,seeking to replace pagan traditions with Christian ones. In fact, many Christmas traditions, including  yule logs ,decorating with candles and lights, evergreen trees, and mistletoe predate Christianity by thousands of years.

In addition to the solstice and Christmas, other festivals and celebrations are held in December. The Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah. Some African and African Americans celebrate the festival of Kwanzaa. Many Native Americans observe winter solstice rites to honor their ancestors and offer prayers of gratitude. The Chinese celebrate Dongzhi and Buddhists have Bodhi Day. The Celts have Boxing Day and Mummers’ Day, and there’s the Slavic festival of Koleda. No matter what our spiritual beliefs, or what part of the world we live in, we all share the turning of the sun on the solstices.

The winter holidays are for everyone. “Keep Christ in Christmas” and ”Jesus is the reason for the season” are the familiar refrains of many Christians. But throughout the world, non-Christians often celebrate Christmas as well. I don’t say this to diminish Christianity, but only to point out that these Winter celebrations are a deep part of us all. Whether we identify as Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Pagan, agnostic, or atheist, we are drawn towards the light and fellowship that has become an integral part of this season. So all those non-Christians celebrating “Christmas” are simply doing what comes naturally. The insistence by some Christians that December and its celebrations somehow belongs only to Christians misses the point of why we go to such great efforts to gather together. We aren’t waging a “war on Christmas”, or disrespecting Christian tradition. We are honoring deeper, older, instincts.

I hope we can all come to understand that the winter holiday season is bigger than any one faith’s traditions. Much of Humanity is celebrating right now for a variety of reasons. So let me wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season, be it Winter Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, or Christmas. Tomorrow brings the gift of more light as Grandfather Sun begins his return journey toward summer. No matter how we celebrate it, we can all delight in this season as a time to gather together, renew, take joy in our natural environment, reflect on the events of the old year, and look forward in anticipation to the new. More than anything we can take this time to offer gifts of gratitude from our hearts. These offerings can spark the gift of Peace throughout the world. What better way to honor ALL the Festivals of Light.

Nindiniwemaganidok: We Are All Related.

The Thanksgiving Myth

Let me begin by stating that thousands of years before the ‘official’  Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop of the Massachussetts Bay Colony in 1637, North American Indigenous people across the continent had celebrated seasons of Thanksgiving. ‘Thanksgiving’ is a very ancient concept to American Indian nations. The big problem with the American Thanksgiving holiday is its false association with American Indian people. . .The infamous ‘Indians and pilgrims’ myth.  It is good to celebrate Thanksgiving, to be thankful for your blessings.  It is not good to distort history, to falsely portray the origin of this holiday and lie about the truth of its actual inception. Here are some accurate historical facts about the true origin of this American holiday that may interest you . . .

Thanksgiving’ did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people.  In fact, in October of 1621 when the ‘pilgrim’ survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial Thanksgiving’ meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited!  There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.  A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of ‘pilgrims’ led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian leader, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!

Officially, the holiday we know as ‘Thanksgiving’ actually came into existence in the year 1637. Governor Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed this first official day of Thanksgiving and feasting to celebrate the return of the colony’s men who had arrived safely from what is now Mystic, Connecticut.  They had gone there to participate in the massacre of over 700 Pequot men, women and children, and Gov. Winthrop decided to dedicate an official day of thanksgiving complete with a feast to ‘give thanks’ for their great ‘victory’….

As hard as it may be to conceive, this is the actual origin of our current Thanksgiving Day holiday.  Many American Indian people these days do not observe this holiday, for obvious reasons.  I see nothing wrong with gathering with family to give thanks to our Creator for our blessings and sharing a meal.  I do, however, hope that Americans as a whole will one day acknowledge the true origin of this holiday, and remember the pain, loss, and agony of the Indigenous people who suffered at the hands of the so-called ‘pilgrims’.  It is my hope that children’s plays about ‘the first Thanksgiving’, complete with Indians and pilgrims chumming at the dinner table, will someday be a thing of the past.  Why perpetuate a lie?  Let us face the truths of the past, and give thanks that we are learning to love one another for the rich human diversity we share.

(Written by John Two-Hawks)

http://www.nativecircle.com

Columbus Day 2012

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Woke up early this morning and decided to take my camera for a drive around town. I was hoping for dramatic lighting to capture the beautiful October foliage. What I got was fog . . . followed by a brief window of sun before Grandfather climbed into the low hanging clouds. Although it wasn’t the […]

So Far . . . So Good . . .

We’re a month into the academic year . . . my first real month of retirement. So how’s it going?

The end of August was the most difficult time so far. I felt apprehensive and disconnected. Facing the unknown can be very unsettling. In August I met some former colleagues for lunch before they were consumed by the new school year. It was reassuring to know that friendships would continue even though we no longer work together. After the vague vanilla “let’s stay in touch” exchanges of June it was wonderful to actually sit down and enjoy spending time together. I really can keep these people, for whom I have so much respect and admiration, in my Life.

Next, I went to the college where I would be teaching part-time. I needed to recharge my sense of purpose by reconnoitering the classrooms I’d been assigned to. I decided to “test drive” the technology I would be using and found a couple of problems. I headed off to the AV dept with my sense of purpose feeling pretty good. Better to straighten this out now than in front of a roomful of students forming their first impressions of their new professor. Feelings of disconnection also began to diminish. I still had someplace to go to . . . somewhere I belonged. My years of experience still hold value that can be handed on to future generations.

I have to admit that for the first month I’ve thrown myself into my retirement career. I spend way more time on campus and in preparation than I really need to. This works for me. I need structure in my Life as I learn how to transition from an all-consuming career to retirement. As time goes by I’ll move toward more leisure activities. I can’t do that all at once. So far . . . so good. I feel like I’m where I need to be. It’s October in New England, and I get to spend a couple hours a day on a college campus. . . Sweet!

Labor Day 2012

Tomorrow will be my first real day of retirement. While I will not miss the convocation, association meeting and staff meeting all that much, I will miss reconnecting with friends and colleagues I haven’t seen all summer. There are more than 60 people on staff at Roberta G. Doering School. You’ve been a huge part of my Life for the past several years. . . a Family enjoined in a great common endeavor. I suppose it would be more noble to say I will miss working with the kids (I surely will) . . . but what I’m really feeling right now is not seeing all of you tomorrow. Believe me . . . there is no shortage of things I will NOT miss. This is the least stressful Labor Day I’ve experienced in a long time . . . maybe ever. . . but I will miss you. Wishing all of you all the best.