misc-joy

Explorations by Kenley Neufeld

Politics

Three-Month Media Blackout

By on July 8, 2018

I’m planning on doing a 3-month media blackout during my already-established sangha sabbatical (July-September). It will be an experiment on my need to know (probably why I became a librarian and also something that’s been present in me for as long as I can remember). The experiment may allow me to open up some internal space for emotional and spiritual care. I’m seeing that life may not need to be so dense with content and I’m curious what I may discover without the constant text-based consumption.

I’ve already put my Medium and NY Times subscriptions on hold. Need to do the same with LA Times. Been unsubscribing from a few email lists each day to whittle down the noise. No consuming Twitter or Facebook, but may decide to push content to these platforms in via Hootsuite. That’s pretty safe. I trimmed back the podcast subscriptions significantly to only music and education related (but keeping Sword & Laser!). The Overcast app makes this quite easy to keep the subscriptions but not have them download constantly. And I moved the Unread (RSS) app to a back screen – that one will be hard and I couldn’t bring myself to delete yet.

What to keep? Probably my print magazine subscriptions such as Stack Magazines, Buddhadharma, and Lions Roar. Not sure about Wired or MacWorld just yet. Probably keep them too, but I don’t have to read. Right? The one social platform I’ll keep is LinkedIn. It’s mostly focused on education and helps me stay connected to my profession. Gotta have one doorway.

In the end, I won’t be to harsh on myself when I slip or end up changing my mind. It is simply an intention and a direction, but dogmatism isn’t helpful either.

Now what am I going to do with all this free time?

Transcending White Nationalism and Developing White Racial Literacy

By on August 20, 2017

In over 15-years of teaching information literacy classes, I often used the Stormfront website as a teaching tool because they own an MLK domain. Most students didn’t even know about David Duke, prominently quoted on the MLK site, and now he’s front and center thanks to President Trump. On some level this is okay, because it brings white nationalism front and center, but it also means we can’t count on our leaders to speak out against what they represent.  

It’s up to us whites to transcend white nationalism and cultivate a more pluralistic and fair society for everyone. It’s up to all of us to counter the white nationalist movement, recognize and transform our white privilege, pursue atonement and repatriation. We begin by recognizing that we live in a systemically racist society, that we each carry these seeds of racism (some conscious and some unconscious), and that we can become more literate about racism through dialogue, openness, and study. 

This opinion piece, in the New York Times, is written by a former white nationalist. He writes, “The United States was founded as a white nationalist country, and that legacy remains today.”  This is a critical recognition and one of the first steps we can take in moving forward. 

Here’s the complete article by R. Derek Black: What White Nationalism Gets Right About American History

Support Local Businesses, No Chains in Ojai

By on May 26, 2013

no_chainsBack in mid-2006 I created a wiki to document a community effort to restrict formula businesses (aka-chains) in Ojai, California. We were ultimately successful on November 27, 2007 with the passage of Ordinance #798. A few years later I shut down the wiki because it was requiring too much effort on my part to maintain and I felt like we had enough years with the ordinance regulating formula businesses. Now with a potential revision to the ordinance before the City Council again, I’m finding myself wanting to review the background. The purpose of this post is to simply document the work we did along with a timeline. It will be cross-posted on the Ojai Post.

This type of ordinance has been passed in many cities and towns (must read!) and been upheld in court. See the June 2003 California Appeals Court decision upholding Coronado’s formula business ordinance. Ojai community members began working on an ordinance in December 2006. The final document was called Formula Retail and Restaurant Establishments and it was submitted to the City of Ojai on April 9, 2007 and signatures have been collected from approximately 700 Ojai voters; enough to be placed on the ballot.

Time Line (2006-present) : (more…)

Hope or Fear? I Choose Hope

By on October 27, 2012

Compare and contrast a political campaign. Here we have two grassroots efforts that are starkly different. One portrays hope and the other generates fear. Where do you really want to put your effort and resources?

I’m not being Pollyanna when I say that positive thinking brings about positive change. If we surround ourselves with hope, then we can be hopeful. It’s not an ideal world, by any means, but a president that is thoughtful, kind, mindful, and willing to recognize mistakes is the kind of president I’d like to see, even if I don’t agree with all if his policies.

Though I don’t agree with every policy decision, regardless of being on the left or the right, I do appreciate moving in a general direction. The philosophy and outlook of the candidate. The values the candidate represents.

Fear or Hope. What will you choose?

Fall Beginnings and Time to Breathe

By on September 16, 2012

Students, thousands of them, fill all spaces in the library. Lines form to use computers and textbooks. All library staff are on their feet every moment the library is open to direct and support any need. Students come and go with alacrity, which is a joy to experience, and I smile to our role as a central place on campus. It’s the fall semester and, as I write this letter, we have just completed our third week. Finally there is a calming energy after so much activity. It’s the space between beginning and middle. To add to the huge number of students, we also went live with the WorldShare Management Services platform this semester (eight other California community college campuses are actively migrating, with a few more still in the works). It’s been a very full three weeks for us and I am certain that each of our campus libraries can share a similar story for the fall semester beginnings.

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A Bitter Harvest: California, Marijuana, and the New Jim Crow

By on December 12, 2011

I highly recommend listening to this radio show exploring themes of racism, drugs and legal disenfranchisement. The discussion centers around California marijuana growing and the apparent inequities between white pot farmers and and widespread incarceration of African-American men throughout America. It’s a thoughtful discussion and one worthy of hearing and considering, particularly for white Americans. The show was ably created and produced by my step-brother Chris Moore-Backman.

Listen or Download

Moved by Exhibits: Being Political

By on April 1, 2011

For some reason being in Philadelphia is getting me in touch with my political nature. This evening, the ACRL 2011 conference reception was held at the National Constitution Center. Rather than spend time smoozing and drinking, I visited a few exhibits on my own and glad I did.

I love this country. I’m happy and proud to be a naturalized citizen. These are words that might be surprising to some of my readers, especially those who have known me a long time. My history of radical and far left-leaning politics don’t always match the views of the general population. I don’t (and wont) salute the flag. I will challenge and do protest my government when I believe they are acting incorrectly. I strongly oppose military action, the death penalty, economic and social racism.

This contradiction is true because a group of white men in their 30s and 40s got together in 1776 in order to “form a more perfect union.” The constitution is an amazing document.

One of the exhibits is Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs. This history of radical, and sometimes violent, movements on both the right and left are demonstrated through images, notes, and audio. The museum did a decent job of being unbiased in the presentation though I’m surprised they focused mostly on the 20th century. I felt at home, and had a sense of solidarity, with many of this who have struggled for social justice and the end of wars. I felt a sadness for those who have promoted hate and bigotry in the last century and continue to in this century.

Between my time with Raj Patel yesterday, the spies exhibit, and the multimedia presentation on the formation of the nation, I feel inspired to be political. I feel inspired to be radical. I feel inspired to be an American.

How do you work with your politics? How do you take part in our democracy?

400 Monastics Being Forcefully Evicted Today

By on September 27, 2009

Dear friends: the situation at Bat Nha Monastery in Vietnam (also known as Prajna Temple) has become very critical. There are about 400 young monastics currently being evicted from the monastery by the Vietnamese government and local police. You can learn a bit more from a recent New York Times article called Tensions Rise as Police Question Monk’s Followers – the “monk” in this case is Thich Nhat Hanh.

These young monastics (mostly under age 25) have been living here since 2005 at the invitation of the local Abbott. However, they were asked to leave earlier this year. It is not so simple for monastics to simply disperse and go live alone or at home and that is why finding a suitable new location for 400 people is challenging. All the monastics are Vietnamese citizens and are practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, the exiled Vietnamese Zen Master based in France.

If you want to learn more about the situation, please visit Help Bat Nha.

If you would like to help, please do any of the following:

  1. Pray for a nonviolent and peaceful resolution.
  2. Stay Informed. Follow Thich Nhat Hanh on Facebook or Twitter
  3. Send a postcard to the President of Vietnam in support of the 400 monks and nuns at Bat Nha. The postcard was first introduced at the Deer Park retreat in early September with Thich Nhat Hanh. The pdf files linked above can be double-side copied on card stock (text on one side, address on the other) and then cut in half (two post cards per sheet). A 98 cent stamp will ensure Air Mail delivery to Vietnam. Please consider copying them and taking postcards to your next Sangha meeting. You might offer to collect the cards and mail them yourself, asking perhaps for a donation for the stamp.
  4. Contacting U.S. Senators and Congresspersons, asking that they send a letter of concern about the situation of the monastics to the government of Vietnam. If you choose instead to write a letter, email will be the quickest option. Any letters addressed to Senators and Representatives’ Washington D.C. offices are inspected for security reasons and take an extra three weeks or so to reach their offices.
  5. Contacting Senators and Representatives on the Foreign Relations Committees. This file gives names and contact information for Senators and Representatives on Foreign Relations Committee subcommittees that would have interest in the situation at Bat Nha. If you live in their state or district, please call with your concern and request immediately.

Thank you for reading and for the support.

Update: You may wish to call members of the Vietnamese government. Mr. Le Thanh Phong- 091.386.5000, Mr. Troung Van Thu – 091.386.5294, and Mr. Ho Ba Thang 091.393.4718 are local members of the Vietnam government.


Posted via email from On the fly…

Today I Have 20 Years Sober, Thank You

By on June 8, 2009

It was twenty years ago today that I took my last drink of alcohol. I was 21-years old at the time and it was my third or fourth attempt at stopping. Today I am living on grace, and though I don’t speak publicly of this very often, I want everyone to know how proud I am of being sober for two decades and to thank those who have helped me along the way.  This is a day to remember the goodness in suffering.

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Love, Equal Rights, and Gay Marriage

By on November 11, 2008

Today I am struggling. In fact, I have been struggling since before the national election. I don’t understand the opposition to gay marriage and how Proposition 8 passed in California.

Growing up, as a Mennonite, I was taught that love was of the highest nature. I see Christ as a true revolutionary who reached out to the poor, the destitute, and the outcasts and he did so without judgment and with pure love in his heart. In the past, I have written that I am a potential Christian and a practicing Buddhist. Today, after the election season in California, much of my bitterness and unhappiness with my Christian roots have been watered and I am not so positive about this potentiality. This is my struggle today. In fact, it is so powerful that I am experiencing resistance to attending another marriage ceremony between two people who may have voted in favor of Proposition 8. This is difficult.

As a practicing Buddhist, I aim to seek understanding and to have compassion. Writing here I am trying to reach some understanding and compassion for my Christian brothers and sisters who have taken the stand to discriminate against a group of people for their sexuality. I know good Christians, people right here in my town, and they are good people. And yet, they have taken the stand of not embracing, not loving. It seems fundamentally wrong, and in opposition to the teachings of Christ, to not allow two people who love each other the right to join in marriage. When I married Leslie in 1995, we did so to share our love with our friends and family, to give the relationship a bit more sanctity, more seriousness, and make a lifetime commitment. Why wouldn’t we want this for gay couples? Aside from the high divorce rate in marriages, I see nothing but positive outcomes to allowing marriage between two people who love each other. It recognizes and honors the love between two people.

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