Understanding the true meaning of success was a journey through a maze of propaganda and a lifetime of searching for the truth. I searched in the first place because I understood viscerally that propaganda was leading me in the wrong direction. It did not make me happy to follow these trails. I did not find true wealth in money and material things. Truth for me was found in the humanity of a smile, the beauty of a sunset, the warmth of firelight … and so I found that success in my life was inextricably linked to beauty, and that knowledge of this truth was the only thing that could bring me the happiness so important for it realization. It required me to reach outside of myself into a larger landscape to fulfill the admonition:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Jesus of Nazareth
Truth and kindness, then, made its way into my formula for success. Suited to every individual bar none; and the difficulty lies within ourselves, our own ability to see beyond the mundane sphere of our lives to the greater world around us, in order to know true success.
What would this planet be like if we took it upon ourselves to make this our life’s mission; and if we understood that whatsoever we do to the most humble of us we do to ourselves?
It does not mean going out of our way to do good for others. Leave someone alone, if need be. Show respect as you would have it … a simple smile or a greeting. What would you want? What would you expect if you were in their place? This kind of success knows no boundaries and no static definition. It is defined by the people who live it.
For a better world.
The Supremacy Clause of our United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) established the Constitution as supreme law of the land, becoming the cornerstone of our political structure. It established that no matter what the federal government or states wish to do the laws made would have to comply with the Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the … right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
A16-1367 Tyler Vasseur, et al., petitioners, Respondents, vs. City of Minneapolis, et al., Appellants, Ginny Gelms, in her capacity as Elections Manager, Hennepin County:
Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Daniel P. Rogan, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent Ginny Gelms
“The district court erred in granting respondents’ petition pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 204B.44(a) (Supp. 2015), and directing the Minneapolis City Council to include a question regarding a proposed minimum-wage amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter on the ballot for the general election because the City Charter vests general legislative authority solely in the City Council.”
Acting Justices, Judge Randolph W. Peterson and Louise Dovre Bjorkman.
(Took no part, Justices David R. Stras, David L. Lillehaug, Margaret H. Chutich and Anne K. McKeig)
In conclusion, the Mn Supreme Court decided that:
“Minneapolis residents are not permitted to directly implement legislation by petition” that their elected representatives, “so far, have refused to” pursue), rev. denied (Minn. Aug. 25, 2005).5
Thoreau did not live to be very old and, even so, what profound sentiments filled his relatively short life. I took this picture of a white pine at its prime and photoshopped the image to get this effect, adding the quote from HDT below:
In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
Henry David Thoreau
In 1787 Benjamin Franklin spoke to the issue of justice in his oration, “Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy”:
“… there are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice – the love of power and the love of money.”
“… what kind are the men that will strive for this preeminence …? It will not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your government and be your rulers.”
“This catastrophe, I think, may be long delayed, if in our proposed system we do not sow the seeds of contention, faction, and tumult, by making our posts of honor places of profit.”
Life is fatal. It is not a question that we all die … but how we live.
To live is to love with a sense of community … since no one lives without the kindness and good will of others on some level. Happiness and survival, then, are linked by love; and health, gained by living in a mutual effort to make our lives as rich and meaningful as is possible in this very short time on Earth … leaving a better place for our children.
When we see others suffering, as a consequence, it is our family that we see suffering, since we are all part of this fabric of life, and our understanding, deep-rooted and wordless. Clean food, water and air are basic. To destroy these things for the profit of a few is not healthy and it is, in fact, a sign of dysfunction on a global scale and profoundly disturbing.
What will we do about the assault on the health of this planet? Are we working fast enough and diligently enough to install the systems necessary for peaceful coexistence? Building the resources for education of our children, all children, so that our species will evolve to a higher plain?
Time will tell. Will we have enough of it before our life as a species runs its course?
For the sake of our beautiful planet.
The DNR has decided that a copper mine will be suitable for northern Minnesota in its ROD (record of decision) for the NorthMet Project by approving the NorthMet Project’s FEIS. Two other agencies, the Forest Service and Army Corps of Engineers decisions will be upcoming.
For more information on this monumental decision, one that will eventually affect waters in the BWCA, the Rainy River watershed as well as the St Louis watershed, into the Great Lakes, as a consequence of hundreds and possibly thousands of years of runoff from copper sulfide mining:
For more information concerning this proposal, on this site:
A law firm has already been hired by the state to handle any lawsuits that may result from the ROD concerning the NorthMet Project; and this leaves much to ponder. Has the decision already been made to allow a copper mine in the headwaters of the Great Lakes?
The irony lies in the fact that most of us do not want to see this precious resource destroyed by copper mining (note the 10’s of thousands of objections from taxpaying citizens) … and yet, we, as taxpayers, might be footing the bill to defend the DNR in these kind of decisions, decisions that have granted the right to mine in water-dependent ecosystems of Northern Minnesota and along the Laurentian Divide.
Send your questions and comments to Governor Dayton and let him know your thoughts.
Any one who has traveled up the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River these days understands that the oil being transported along the river through small towns in bluff country (sometimes 100 trains each day) will eventually spill … whether it is from tracks that are overburdened, or in need of repair, or human failure. It is inevitable. And so it goes, a spill this week. One need only stand in a store as the trains thunder through town at 60 miles an hour, maybe two to four an hour during the day and you would not be surprised. This is a tragedy that can be circumvented, if we stop relying on fossil fuel and clean up our act. There are other things that once begun, can never be remedied.
On that note, the FEIS for the Polymet Mine proposal or, officially:
NorthMet Mining and Land Exchange Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS)
has come out this week and is available at:
I will be reviewing this paper over the never 30 days that we are allowed to review and comment considering these points:
- Why talk of who will clean up the environmental degradation from copper mining when, in fact, cleanup at this level would be impossible for anyone at any cost?
- Once the miners have left, what will remain of the wilderness and the waterways, the wildlife, the flora, among these, the wild rice?
- What will happen to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area and the potential for a viable tourist industry?
- What of the wild and scenic rivers of the north and Lake Superior? the Saganagaw? the Rainy River?….
- Every mine leaves tailings ponds … like those in Silver Bay, along the Laurentian Divide and Giants Ridge, at Hull Rust Mine and others. What clean up is possible once begun? Pollution from these enterprises has already reached into the BWCA, down the Mississippi and into Lake Superior. With a coal plant in Silver Bay, the effects of acid rain can be seen along the North Shore from only half a century of operation. The effects of copper mining in water dense areas, in particular, have the potential of even more damage, damage that will reach into the lives of generations to come. No amount of money will pay for the loss.
- A copper mine will be mining, not only metals but, water … our most precious and most valuable commodity.
- Will copper trump our water resources, our wilderness, and our sanity?
The emotions will run high as they should. We have nothing to lose by sitting idly by without comment, but the very thing that makes our lives sustainable, literally.
Take a look at Mississippi River Bluff country in Perrot State Park, downstream from our mines. The water at this park is not safe to drink now. What more will we lose in the surrounding countryside from the pollution of a copper sulfide mine?
Those who love know the courage it takes … that love is full of pain as well as joy, but they would not live without it.
Love has been so misunderstood, the word used without much real meaning or depth, maligned and misused.
In my search to understand the disparity, I found that Albert Einstein had listed three ideals that “lighted his way”. These were truth, beauty and kindness. In his magnificent way of simplifying this beautiful universe, he gave substance to the word love. Even as he, the mathematician, felt he had failed at finding a unifying principle in physics, it was at the heart of his life’s journey.
Quotes by Albert Einstein:
“When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.”
“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.”
From “Forbearance” written by Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
At rich men’s tables eaten bread and pulse?
Unarmed, faced danger with a heart of trust?
And loved so well a high behavior,
In man or maid, that thou from speech refrained,
Nobly more nobly to repay?
O be my friend, and teach me to be thine!“
The Nature of Intelligence and the Process of Peace
I have long appreciated an interpretation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh King by Archie J Bahm, who was a professor of philosophy at the University of New Mexico in the 1950’s. He interpreted “tao teh king” as “nature and intelligence”, and so appreciated Lao Tzu the scholar, librarian, and a man who did not intend his writings as “religion”, but a handbook on living intelligently through observation of the natural order. In this essay, I have taken from Professor Bahm’s text, published by Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, New York; and cited where necessary integrating with my own philosophy – a philosophy that has in part developed in the light of Lao Tzu’s great book and Archie Bahm’s insightful words.
At the basis of all, it appears, that for peace to reign one must “accept what is as it is” and in doing so “teach by example” [p 12 II]. “All distinctions naturally appear as opposites” and “opposites get their meaning from each other (finding) their completion only through each other” [p 12, II]. It follows, then, that “in conflicts between opposites, the more one attacks his seeming opponent … the more he defeats himself (and thereby demonstrates that only Nature, and not any opposite abstracted from existence) is self-sufficient [p14 V].
Acting with acceptance, essentially, we move closer to this ideal of self-sufficiency, a state that is necessary for freedom and a condition for any long lasting peace. Essential to this process is a healthy respect for, and acceptance of oneself, first and foremost, outside of the opinions of others. As a consequence our hearts turn outward and can accept the differences and the natures of others, in turn, allowing a process of peace to occur through respect, fostering freedom for others to act according to their own true needs.
Once achieved, “acceptance makes no distinctions of superiority and inferiority [p13, III]” and then true devotion to tasks rather than rivalries will prevail; envy being unaroused, people will be satisfied with things as they are [paraphrased from p 13, III]; understanding that “Nature contains nothing but natures; and these natures are nothing over and above Nature” [p 14, IV] … each and every thing being an essential part of the whole.
While Nature treats opposites impartially, the “best way to conduct oneself may be observed in the behavior of water’. “Water is useful to every living thing, yet it does not demand pay in return for its services; it does not even require that it be recognized, esteemed, or appreciated for its benefits” [p 16, VIII]. And yet, there is no life without it.
“This illustrates how intelligent behaviors closely approximate the behavior of Nature itself” [p 16, VIII].
“If experience teaches that houses should be built close to the ground,
That friendship should be based upon sympathy and good will,
That good government employs peaceful means of regulation,
That business is more successful if it employs efficient methods,
That wise behavior adapts itself appropriately to the particular circumstances,
All of this is because these are the easiest ways.
If one proceeds naturally, without ambition or envy, everything works out for the best” [p16, VIII].
Entities based on money are not drawn toward the easiest means, but the most profitable. As an example, multi-national corporations ship materials to other countries for processing by poorly paid workers for markets at the source, wasting resources, energies so that a few can profit from the desperation of many. There is no efficiency or real intelligence in these means and these inefficiencies foresee their ends.
Troubled societies, as we are experiencing now, based on money, elevating paid services and profit confuse the means with the ends; and our end, according to the Tao, is to “realize the potentialities of (our) indescribable original nature(s)” [p17, X].
Nature “procreates all things and then devotes itself to caring for them … willingly gives life, without first asking whether creatures will repay for its services” and, so, it “provides a pattern to follow, without requiring anyone to follow it. This is the nature of intelligent activity” [p18, X]. Concerned with genuine needs we avoid being confused by the superficial and can distinguish one from the other.
In this troubled world, temptations based on what money can buy, on capital gains lead to extremes. The very thing Lao Tzu advised against. Envy, greed and aggressive behavior trump intelligent activity and our original natures are sacrificed to the cruel intentions of those who would force their wills on others – all to obtain more of what will never bring anyone true happiness, and therefore, peace. In the end, Nature will do as it always does, impartially allowing the inherent initiation and completion of all things, without prejudice … our actions spelling our fates.
This is why, now more than ever, we must concern ourselves with our own inner peace. It is, as the Tao explained, of primary importance. “The inner self is our true self” and “in order to realize our true self, we must be willing to live without being dependent upon the opinions of others” [p20, XIII]. As a consequence of this “self-sufficiency” we will then act accordingly and feel no need to force others to our own will.
Assertions, envy, and actions out of sync with ourselves, in essence, upset the balance and provide endless opportunity for strife. We are all better served when individuals are given the opportunity to develop fully, truly. War is a sign that this is not happening.
Opposition, being inherent in Nature, as are the principles of initiation and completion, is eternal. As we start acting naturally, by being ourselves, this will be accepted and extreme measures avoided.
The nature of intelligence then, like water, finds the path of least resistance and avoids conflict. Inner peace augments the natural order. Accepting that there is a beginning and end to all things, that opposition is perpetual, a defining element and source of growth, we will take the middle ground in our disagreements.
Over two thousand years ago, Lao Tzu understood that the source of peace lies within. Wise individuals who had found this peace have spoken. Yet we continue to make distinctions, passing judgment and acting out of these misconceptions. When we understand as a society and act accordingly, allowing each thing to realize its true nature, more people are likely to find peace in their lives.
Anita Suzanne Tillemans
July 28, 2014
So grateful today, more than usual, for the bounty of nature and the beauty. The rains came early this morning and then clouds, a bit of sun breaking through and then more clouds as I took some photos and weeded my garden.
When I returned to work inside, I thought of nature … how uncontrived, how all-abiding and in tune with change. I thought of how so many of us seek some sort of perfection in our lives, struggling with the realities, our own mortality, the inevitable things in life; and then I thought of a poem that a friend had given me, one that had never truly struck me as it did today, called “Happiness” :
Happiness is like a crystal
Fair and exquisite and clear
Broken in a million pieces,
Shattered, scattered far and near.
Now and then along life’s pathway,
Lo! some shining fragments fall;
But there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
You may find a bit of beauty,
Or an honest share of wealth,
While another just beside you
Gathers honor, love or health.
Vain to choose or grasp unduly,
Broken is the perfect ball;
And there are so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
Yet the wise as on they journey
Treasure every fragment clear,
Fit them as they may together,
Imaging the shattered sphere,
Learning ever to be thankful,
Though their share of it is small;
For it has so many pieces
No one ever finds them all.
a poem written by Priscilla Leonard
Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.
What’s happening in this world today is disastrous … global warming from man’s over-production, over-population, greed and corruption, worship of money and power — loss of natural resources, deforestation, pollution, fear and malice ….
It’s happening because we developed tools more rapidly than we have evolved to deal with the consequences of our advances. We’ve developed to “survive” at all costs, while making a good life easier for some and impossible for most. We have been fruitful and multiplied without limitations beyond war and destruction. We believe what we want, selectively choosing those facts that suit our prejudices and discarding the facts that should give us pause. We’ve lost a sense of justice and moderation in our dealings and for all intents and purposes destroyed an essential balance.
What we’re facing now is annihilation by those very instruments that have been propagandized as making our lives better. Mankind has taken the brake off the train as it begins its descent.
What can we do about it? The challenge for me has never been indifference but a sense of futility. In these times, our direction seems decidedly toward mass destruction. With the threat of nuclear war looming, what toll would describe the loss if this played out? What have we wasted in human potential at this point?
What does it mean to hold a mirror up and affect change, to be open to creation as a child? This is essentially what a creative does. It is what it means to be an artist — perpetually investigating and challenging.
The image we hold up to the world is our experience — the more individual, more honest that image, the more meaningful. At the point where our lives, our work intersect with universal truths, the more apt we are to connect with others. This is what life is about … a symbiotic relationship and balance, that creates and destroys.
What each of us contribute to the fabric of life is as dear, as essential as any other. The challenge has always been to follow your own heart within the constraints of an environment that may often be harsh and contradictory. Moderation, the key, and truth, the answer as we pursue our individual paths.
From Ecclesiastes 3 in the King James version:
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven …*************************************************************************
Passions find outlet for all of us, whether destructive or creative, sublimated or expressed. With so much imagination collectively, these manifestations can often be a force for destruction … especially when our passions are perverted and misdirected. We find examples of this in all walks of life; and each one of us can find examples in our own life.
Art, music, children, nature have always offered an outlet for understanding because of the propensity to wonder in each. There is freedom in our ability to imagine, to explore and grow through our experiences and no one finds joy in a cage. There are always limits to the freedoms, though; but these are part of learning to function in a society with respect for the rights of others and their freedoms. Any activity that pollutes water and air, destroys our lands, our mountains and leaves devastation behind is not, by definition, sustainable … no matter what words are used to describe these activities.
We fight when an act of war is declared. What do we do, then, when the same effects can be seen all around us … by any other name? What is it called when corporations pollute our waters, our air, our land, our food, destroy mountain tops, disrupt the bedrock, clear cut forests, creating earthquakes and mudslides, avalanches and massive loss of life, animal and human?
This will be a time of important decisions … and action, because words are nothing without it. I believe it was George Washington that said “vindicate our rights with firmness and cultivate peace with sincerity”. We might look to our forefathers, then, and the constitution for some of the answers sought today in protecting hard fought individual freedoms with due vigilance.
Before doing the necessary studies to determine actual wolf populations, we have now had two wolf hunts in Minnesota. There is no way to know whether their numbers are threatened without this survey and so the Senate has voted to re-instate a temporary moratorium on the wolf hunt until studies can be done. There are other proposed changes as well:
After the 1930’s, the timber wolf was decimated in the lower 48 states leaving only Minnesota with original gray wolf populations, the only outside of Alaska in the United States. Studies have shown also that populations of healthy wolves are controlled in great part by the diversity of the gene pool, diminishing the birth of pups and reducing the possibility of recovery in places where there is a lack of diversity as in Yellowstone and Isle Royale. The gene pool of wolves here in Minnesota is more diversified, being wild, and therefore priceless in the reestablishment of the species here and elsewhere. At last count we have almost half of the wolves extant in the lower 48. Those numbers have been diminished greatly by two hunting seasons.
With the threat of copper mining looming if the Polymet is permitted (ROD due this fall and permit process already moving forward) the wolves will not be the only receptors of concern at risk. Protections of these apex predators would be a beginning.
Please contact your representatives and send a letter to Governor Dayton voicing your concern and support for reinstatement of a moratorium on hunting the timber wolf. Your representatives in the house need to hear from you concerning HF 2680.I am including Senator Scott Dibble’s response on April 13th, 2012 in part, to these concerns below:
“Prior to 1974 when wolves were unprotected in Minnesota, the wolf population fell to below 400. Since then, after they were added to the federal Endangered Species List and also classified as threatened by the State of Minnesota, their population has grown to somewhere between 2,200 and 3,500. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tells us that absent a hunting and trapping season, the population has been stable since 1998. Exact numbers are not known, hence the need for more data and better diligence.
… Owners of livestock, guard animals, and domestic animals are already allowed to shoot wolves that pose a threat to their animals. The state also compensates farmers for livestock lost to wolves. In 2001, the DNR’s Wolf Management Plan, created with the help of more than two dozen stakeholders, called for a five year moratorium on the taking of wolves following federal delisting from the Endangered Species List. I will work to see that the DNR’s original plan is implemented so that careful planning will not be pre-empted by this legislative rush to open up a wolf hunt.”
The Bill of Rights: Amendment IV:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
In the words of Leonardo da Vinci:
On Metals – “There will issue from dark, gloomy caves something which will bring great sorrow, danger, and death on the whole human race; to many of those who seek it, it will after much suffering bring delight; but those who do not share in it will die in want and in distress. It will engender unending treason; it will drive unhappy men to commit more murders, thefts, and acts of oppression; it will breed suspicion among those who seek it; it will destroy the freedom of free cities; it will take the lives of many; it will sow among men much fraud, deceit, and treason.
O monstrous creature, it would be better for men if you returned to hell! On account of you great forests are robbed of their trees and countless animals are robbed of their lives.”
On Man’s cruelty – “There will be seen on the earth animals which constantly fight among themselves, inflicting great harm and frequently death on each other. Their enmity will know no bounds; their savage members will fell a great part of the trees in the vast forests of the world; and after they gorge themselves, they will continue to feed on their desire to inflict death and suffering and sorrow and fear and flight on all living creatures. Through their measureless pride they will seek to raise themselves to heaven, but the excessive weight of their members will hold them fast to the earth. Nothing will remain on the earth or under the earth and water that is not pursued, chased down, or destroyed; and it will be chased from country to country. Their bodies will be the grave and passageway of all the living bodies which they have killed.
O world, why do you not open and hurl into the deep clefts of your abysses and caverns and no longer show to heaven such cruel and heartless monsters?”
Both quotes by Leonardo da Vinci are from Codex Atlanticus, codex in the Ambrosiana Library in Milan. Published in eight folio volumes by Ulrico Hoepli, Milan for the Reale Accademia dei Lincei 1894-1904 and translated by Wade Baskins in his book, The Wisdom of Leonardo, pages 77-79.
A white pine on what used to be sandy shore of an extension of the waters of Lake Calhoun in Linden Hills. This pine is just a baby, maybe 60-70 years old and could live another 100 or more, if allowed … what a magnificent sight that would be. If only, like Thoreau, we could live our lives more simply … as he describes in “Walden”, pp. 323- 324:
” I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”