Letters To The Editor: March/April 2004

Incomprehensible Violence

To Whom It May Concern,
When violence of an incomprehensible nature strikes a family outside their own home, we experience a violation, a loss, helplessness, confusion and suffering. Our expectations of living in a safe community are shattered. Recently, this same violence happened to my family — to our young daughter in West Boylston, MA.

I am writing to you today to express how this experience has challenged my yogic belief in the practice of non-violence, practicing gentleness in action, words and thoughts.

When bad things happen to our children and to ourselves we are tested beyond belief. As a parent we want to strike back and protect our babies. We think, “How can one practice non-violence?” But then, how can one be violent? According to yogic philosophy, violent behavior is because of “inner unrest,” a deep-seeded frustration. According to yoga, the primary task of the individual is to overcome the trivial sense of “I-am-ness.” For example: I am good. I am bad. I am Christian. I am Muslim. I am rich. I am poor. I am American.

Because of these labels we become caught in feeding the ego that we have mistaken for ourselves. Therefore, in order to satisfy the ego momentarily, we judge others and take delight in interfering with their lives under the illusion that we are uniquely qualified to set others straight. Because we are unhappy with ourselves, we attempt to force others to surrender to us, hoping that their submission will convince us of our worth, thereby increasing our happiness. Unfortunately, every community and society consists of individuals who are absorbed in this kind of behavior. And, collectively these individuals create a grander, collective ego. It is because of this collective ego that people form alliances and gangs.

The Yoga Sutra, the most prominent yoga text, says that attachment and aversion evolve directly from this sense of “I-am-ness.” No matter how terrible our self-image, it is extremely difficult to shed that image and replace it with a healthier one. And because of this powerful attachment to the original sense of “I am,” we are reluctant to examine it. And, if we notice that another’s self-image consists of healthier and maybe more attractive elements, we become envious and thus anger, animosity and jealousy are born. I am not sure how this letter to the editor will heal us and others but the good thing that has come out of all this is the opportunity to share some yoga philosophy with the community on non-violence.

A beautiful Invocation that I love reads like this:

May the whole world be happy.
May our bodies and minds be free of sickness.
May the world attain only that which is favorable.
May no one partake of the pain of violence.
Peace. Peace. Peace.

Lucy Wagner
West Boylston, MA

Pride and Principle

Dear Carol,
Thank you for speaking out on behalf of the rights of gay people and for equality for ALL people in this country (“Musings: Rainbow Marriages,” Jan/Feb 04). The United States was founded on the principle of separation of church and state. Listening to these supposedly liberal, but wimpy Democratic candidates talk about supporting civil unions but wanting to preserve the “sanctity” of marriage (as defined by “the Church”) makes me wonder what decade we’re living in…pre-1960? Many churches in this country, including Christian churches, support gay marriage. When did America decide that any one Church and its rules would govern this nation? Why don’t these people pick on something that actually harms our citizens and children, such as the sale and use of violent video games? It will be a sorry day when our Constitution is amended to ban our freedoms rather than protect our rights and equality.

Pierre Plomb
On-line submission

Gentle as a Lamb

Dear Editor,
They have done a fine job of selling US another war. Operation Iraqi Freedom sounds like an honorable mission. They have US believing that America is God’s Army. They have US believing America is better than everyone else and how righteous we are to be Americans.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. We have been given free will. It was never the Lamb’s will to drop a single bomb. His Kingdom is not of this world. It has always been the Lamb’s will to beat our swords into plowshares. The world must not settle for less. Complete destruction of all weapons of mass destruction.

“What you do not make free will never grow. The idea that you can make others grow and help their growth, that you can direct and guide them, always retaining for yourself the freedom of the teacher, is nonsense, a dangerous lie which has retarded the growth of millions and millions of human beings in this world. Let man have the light of liberty. That is the one condition of growth…Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.” — Samuel Clemons

Michael C. Dewey
Worcester, MA

A Bright Idea

To the Editor,
I was very glad to read your editorial in the Jan/Feb ‘04 issue “Love Your Mother.” The GreenUp program offered by Massachusetts Electric, Nantucket Electric, and-beginning this spring, Narragansett Electric, is an excellent opportunity for customers to support renewable power generation.

Although it feels clean to flip a switch, in reality about 85% of our New England power is generated from unsustainable resources that produce harmful byproducts and emissions. Because we don’t see the smokestacks every day, we tend to forget what is on the other side of the transmission lines. While the best approach is energy conservation, it is also of utmost importance that we begin to transform our power grid by using cleaner, more locally produced sources of electricity generation.

GreenerWatts New England is a renewable energy product you can purchase for about the price of a movie and popcorn, an average cost of $6-12 per month. This is a small price to pay for the benefit of all beings. Fully 100% of this premium power product is created in New England, and it is third-party certified through a rigorous process similar to that used for organic food.

Clean, renewable electricity is no longer to be seen as an unfulfilled promise. These technologies have vastly improved over the past decade and are now stronger than you may realize. U.S. clean power facilities already in existence are capable of supplying the entire city of Chicago, or a total of 9% of all the nation’s electricity needs.

Help to keep the number of renewable power generation plants on the increase by voting with your electric bill payments. The more people who sign up, the higher the quantity of clean, renewable power that enters our power grid and helps to create regional energy independence. For more information please see http://www.greenerwattsnewengland.com, write to info@greenerwattsnewengland.com or call 800-689-7957.

Carol Harley
Worcester, MA

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