Giving Thanks: An Invitation to Awareness

A Vegan Gratitude Day Dinner, Leek and Bean Cassoulet
A Vegan Gratitude Day Dinner, Leek and Bean Cassoulet, keeping it kind
For Gratitude Day in 2010, Awyn (Jottings) wrote the piece posted below. It has remained with me since then and I asked Awyn for permission to publish it here. Awyn and I met thanks to Sam Hamill’s Poets Against War initiative to which we both contributed. She included two of my anti-war poems in “Salamander Cove,”  her poetry magazine, where I was honored to keep company with such lights as Sherman Alexie and Robert Peake. Wow! The magazine was paused in 2012 but is expected back this December. Awyn (Annie Wyndham) is a former human rights worker and an accomplished poet and writer of conscience. Her poems have appeared in Burlington Poetry Review and Spoonful (Cambridge’s Stone Soup poetry venue). You can sample her poetry on her blog. J.D.

Here’s Awyn:

Happy Thanksgiving! — to all those who celebrate this special holiday.

Last year on Thanksgiving, I itemized all the things for which I was thankful. Here it is that time again, one year later and that still all holds true but no special dinner has been planned. Canada celebrated its Thanksgiving Day in October and it’s nowhere near as big a holiday here as it is in the U.S.

In the U.S., for many Thanksgiving means not only a big family dinner but watching the annual parade or football game on TV, big sales on Black Friday the day after, and the horrendous traffic back for those who came in from out of town. All part of the tradition.

We have plenty of big, sit-down dinners here with my mate’s family, but my fondly remembered American Thanksgivings are now a thing of the past. I don’t know any Americans here, my mate’s not that crazy about pumpkin pie, and I’m a vegetarian, so there’d be no turkey. Turkey is traditional but I’ve had many an untraditional version, with calamari or tofu or soup.  It was still a thanks-giving.  My kids are hundreds of miles away and none of us can afford to visit at this time. Hence no big family Thanksgiving get-together celebration this year. We will share our good wishes over the telephone. As for spectator parade-watching or sports broadcasts or Black Friday shopping, none of that interests me. In that, I guess you could say I’m untraditional. Pumpkin pie, however, is non-negotiable. You absolutely cannot have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. It just doesn’t compute.

The most interesting Thanksgiving I ever heard about was from the wife of a former colleague who volunteered at a local soup kitchen. She told me that one Thanksgiving, to raise awareness of all the people who were starving in the world, some organization whose name I can no longer remember invited people to attend a big sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, for $15 per person, proceeds to go towards world hunger.

When you arrived, you were asked to pick your entry ticket out of a box. There were three kinds of tickets.

If you got a green ticket, you would be served the full dinner, with all the trimmings–and be allowed seconds on desert.

If you got a yellow ticket, you would be served what starving people in third-world countries sometimes get to eat–a child-sized helping of rice or thin, watery soup–and nothing else.

And if you got a white ticket–you’d get nothing at all.

So imagine you’re at this banquet and you get the full meal, with all the trimmings, and you’re sitting next to someone who got nothing. Would you turn and give half of what you have to that person? What if you’re one of the unlucky ones who got the thin, watery soup? Or worse, the empty plate. Would you quietly sip your water and listen to your stomach growl, hoping the people next to you might offer to give you some of theirs?

I’m sure a lot of sharing went around, probably immediately, after the initial surprise (and perhaps discomfort) wore off. Giving money to a charity, for which you get a sit-down dinner, is one thing; being invited to dinner and served an empty plate and having it suddenly sink in what real deprivation is like, is quite another. (Well, the invitation did say the theme was Awareness.)  But how uncomfortable to have to sit in front of an empty plate all evening long while others are eating. That glass of water can only go so far.

I went without  lunch yesterday–not by choice.  I simply forgot.  I was working on something and the hours flew and I suddenly realized it was getting dark outside and all I’d had to eat the whole day long was a cup of coffee at 6 a.m.  My stomach began reminding me it hadn’t been fed.  Loudly.  No problem.  I could open my refrigerator or reach for something in the cupboard and solve the problem, instantly.

But what if I couldn’t?  What if, for whatever reason,there was none to be had and no more food would be forthcoming for another day. Another two days. Maybe even a whole week. How would I deal with that?  Certainly, after a day or two, lack of food would make me woozy, lightheaded … lethargic, even.   I’d probably lose weight.  Temporarily fasting is one thing. Starvation, however, is quite another.

73577339_078c9d9d1b

I think that’s what the organizers of that unusual Thanksgiving dinner wanted to convey–that life is not fair.  Some of us get to sit down every evening to a good meal, Every Single Night.  Some can only afford to buy food meant for animals.  Some get somebody else‘s leftovers, fished out of a trash can.  And some get nothing at all.

So many things to be thankful for this holiday.   Awareness–however received–is one of them.

© 2010, essay, Annie Wyndham, All rights reserved; cassoulet photograph courtesy of SarahJane Veganheathen via Flickr under CC A – SA 2.0 generic license; little girl courtesy of Filipe Moreira via Flickr under CC A-SA 2.0 generic license; the sketch that says it all is Awyn’s

Earthlings, Making the Compassionate Connection

Horrific. Devastating. Unflinching.  Earthlings goes where our willful ignorance fears to tread. Using undercover cameras it takes us inside of farms, dairies, slaughterhouses, labs that do animal testing, fur ranches and circuses. It shows us the pain our younger brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom suffer for our sake.

This documentary also shows us just how far we humans can go to debase ourselves: at least that was my reaction to seeing people skinning animals alive and leaving them to die slowly, hanging live cattle by the leg and slitting their throats, tossing live male chicks into a grinder to make feed, getting a laugh out of swinging chickens on a hook or tossing a live dog into the back of a garbage truck, and digging hooks into elephants to train them …

It was painful to see calves that are separated from their mothers to prepare them to be veal and of dairy cows, pigs and chickens going insane packed into small indoor spaces and never walking the good earth or seeing the blue sky.

A key point this movie makes is about the link between our ability to be cruel dominators of our fellow creatures in the animal kingdom with our ability to be cruel to other human beings. It shows the damage done to the environment as we pursue dominance over nature and not stewardship of it. Both thumbs up on this one. It’s the movie to watch – however difficult – for the sake of our humanity. I watched it to strengthen my vegan resolve. 

Earthlings is an antidote to willful ignorance.

The video below is the trailer for the movie. You can view the entire movie for free HERE.

Narrated by Academy Award Nominee Joaquin Phoenix and featuring music by the critically acclaimed platinum artist Moby, EARTHLINGS is a documentary film about humankind’s complete economic dependence on animals raised for pets, food, clothing, entertainment and scientific research. Using hidden cameras and never-before-seen footage, EARTHLINGS chronicles the day-to-day practices of the largest industries in the world, all of which rely entirely on animals for profit.

© 2011, review, Jamie Dedes All rights reserved

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3unnamed-18JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of married son who is very dear. I started blogging shortly after I retired as a way to maintain my sanity and to stay connected to the arts and the artful despite being mostly homebound. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded The Bardo Group because I feel that blogging offers a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.” I am the poetry liaison and a member of the Core Team. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) is in the lead position and the Beguine Again collaborative and The Bardo Group are coordinating a consolidation of the two groups.

“Good work, like good talk or any other form of worthwhile human relationship, depends upon being able to assume an extended shared world.” Stefan Collini (b. 1947), English Literary Critic and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge

BARDO NEWS: Terri Stewart breaking-down barriers to youth opportunity; Liliana Negoi’s birthday and book; a forward look at Spring and Poetry Month

terriIn what is probably our most exciting news this month: TERRI STEWART (http://beguineagain.com)TESTIFIED BEFORE THE WASHINGTON STATE CONGRESS in February for HB 1651 – the YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES ACT. This act would make non-violent youth records confidential. It is very important for our youth to have as much opportunity as possible and with 1 in 3 African-American young and 1 in 4 Euro-American young men affected by incarceration, we are crippling our young men before they even get a chance in life, saddling them with records that deny them housing, education, and jobs. A resounding success: HB 1651 has passed the house unanimously (on Valentine’s Day!) and is traveling through the senate. For more of Terri’s work with incarcerated youth, see the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition http://youthchaplaincycoalition.wordpress.com/.

Additionally, send all your positive karma, prayers, and energy to Terri from February 27 – March 1 as she travels – once again – with the Board of Ordained Ministry as they continue to get to know her and her work. Let them see the gifts she brings!

AND LATE BREAKING NEWS: Tomorrow Terri is speaking before the Washington State Senate Subcommittee on Human Resources and Corrections.

product_thumbnail-5.phpOn February 10 LILIANA NEGOI (http://summaryofmysoul.wordpress.com/ and http://curcubeeinalbsinegru.wordpress.com/) DECIDED TO CELEBRATE HER BIRTHDAY IN A MORE PARTICULAR MANNER, by releasing for free reading a novel that she finished writing last year. Solo Chess is the story of an online affair between Karina and Asheq, weaved from love and passion and obsessions, proving eventually that there can be a reality beyond reality and that our lives can always be the image of a Matryoshka doll. Solo Chess can be read HERE,  or you can read and download it from Scribd   HERE, and just in case anyone would like it in printed version, there is always the option of getting it from Lulu HERE, but there one has to pay for the printing and binding services provided by the publisher. These being said, Liliana would be glad to hear your opinions about the book. 🙂

Warmest wishes to Lily on her birthday and best wishes for literary success with her newest effort. Here is “Happy Birthday” in the various styles of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Dvorak, and Stravinsky offered in celebration.

.

Guest writer T.J. Therein (http://tjtherien.wordpress.com/) has also published his book, Liars, Hypocrites & the Development of Human Emotion, which is available through Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/397819.

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books) SPEAKS FOR BABCOCK INTERNATIONAL TO SURREY SCHOOL TEACHERS ON SCIENCE THROUGH LITERACY.

These days, the aim of education is to speak across curricula, and this is something that fills me with passion. We all learn differently. And although I am not a scientist ~ rather an educational psychotherapist specialising in learning through the imagination, my knowing is science-filled, as in any serious research, Epistemology and Methodology (two glorious words) share the love.” MORE

Dr. Clune is CEO of Plum Tree Books, a partner of The Bardo Group.

800px-Container_garden_on_front_porchLOOKING TOWARD SPRING ~ OUR MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT goes to contributing writer and artist, Paula Kutenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing):

I see it like this: If you want to change the world, start with yourself and gradually this change enters the world, becomes more manifest, and spreads. It is the same thing with gardening. If you care about your environment, pesticide-free food or biodiversity, start gardening and create, small as it is, a new world for you, your birds, butterflies and bugs. Every act of kindness helps; every square meter of extra green helps.” Paula Kutenbrouwer

Visit Paula’s post on starting a small City Pot Garden (container garden) and view her lovely drawings and photographs link http://mindfuldrawing.com/2014/02/12/starting-small-city-pot-gardening/.

In line with Paula’s KIND IDEALS, we introduce a new blogger and a young friend of The Bardo Group, Jamaican (now living in Taiwan), Owen Alanzo Hogarth II (The Land of the Blubeegan http://blubeegan.com/). Owen posts essays and videos about living simply, crafting practical products in an EARTH GENTLE WAY and on kindly vegan-style consumption http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism. He also advocates for raw foods and eats a vegan diet that is 50% raw. In this way food quality is not compromised, allergens are bypassed, less particulate matter is spewed into the air, fewer fuels are used … and NO ANIMALS ARE HARMED. His ideals are real. His footprint is modest.

We also invite you to visit our Canadian friend ChrisBkm (Dancing on Bever Ponds http://chrisbim.wordpress.com/). Chris shares EXQUISITE NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY, ART AND POETRY on his blog. He says, “I believe we are shaped by our environments, that life is fascinating and that spending time here is quite a gift.”

NPM_Poster2014_SmallPageViewCOME SPRING AND APRIL WE LOOK FORWARD TO POETRY MONTH, a national event in the U.S. and one that The Bardo Group will celebrate as an international event in line with its focus and philosophy.

This annual celebration of poetry was introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. In 1999 Canada joined in the celebration. U.S. President Bill Clinton called it, ” “a welcome opportunity to celebrate not only the unsurpassed body of literature produced by our poets in the past, but also the vitality and diversity of voices reflected in the works of today’s American poets. . . . Their creativity and wealth of language enrich our culture and inspire a new generation of Americans to learn the power of reading and writing at its best.”

Poets.org (the website of the American Academy of Poets) has its button up for you to share on your blogs should you care to do so. They quote this year from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

“Missing me one place search another
I stop somewhere waiting for you.”

You can request a free copy of the 2014 poster for your home or office HERE.

Victoria C. Slotto (Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) hosts WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY this Wednesday at 7 p.m. Mister Linky will be open for you to link in your poetry, fiction or non-fiction related to the prompt. It will stay open for thirty-seven hours. Victoria will visit you and comment.

Join us on at our Facebook page, THE BARDO GROUP.

Our apologies that not all the links in this report are embedded. WordPress seems to have a hitch in its get-along this evening and there were problems with embedding. One way or another though, the proper links are here for your convenience.

– The Bardo Group

photo credit ~ container garden via Wikipedia by Shakespeare under CC-BY-SA-3.0

Veg Pledges and Vegan Days!

As a follow-up to Paula Kuitenbrouwer’s (Mindful Drawing) post yesterday, we are sharing announcements of  U.S. VegWeek and the wonderfully fun Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. J.D.

549994_10151254157840895_1303682551_n
Details on US Vegetarian Week HERE.

animal-cupcakes

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is which is April 20 – April 28 in 2013. Anyone can participate and participants decide where and how proceeds will be used. Participation is fun AND meaningful …

The stated missions are:

1 – Show people that vegan baked goods are delicious and that you can easily create vegan versions of your favorite cookies, cakes, pies, and even cheesecakes – and much more.

2 – Introduce people to veganism in a friendly and fun way.

3 – Raise money for worthy causes all over the world.

Sign-up for Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale HERE.

Photo credits ~ U.S. VegWeek poster by Compassion Over Killing, Cupcake Photo by Jenny Porter, Public Domain Pictures.net