Living in this World

Thursday, December 29, 2011

#108 Winter Beauty

Dear all,
I send a mix of winter beauty, a challenge to think freshly about economics, and some hopeful things. Along with friends and loved ones, and a heart for right relationship, what else do we need?

Winter beauty

Leaves fallen, flowers gone
time to change my route, perhaps
leave the park to barren winter,
zip to work more speedily.

I look with care amid the grays and browns
find leaves of plants that bloomed
so brightly in the spring
now lovely muted reds and greens, soft golds,
Study branches bare against the sky
notice all the seed balls
nature’s quiet decoration,
Come across a bird
perched at the top of a tiny tree
singing cheerily.

Next day the muted colors greet my eye again
and tiny balls in towering sycamores
and all the sky
No bird, but a memory of where it sat and sang
as clear as day.

These spare lines and quiet colors
call for a sharper eye
alert for smaller, subtler signs,
The need to look more closely
calls out more from me
whets the appetite,
To persevere in face of grey/brown scarcity
makes every find a treasure.

These small beauties fill me up
the longer route remains my choice
and I am glad.

A new economy is possible!

Adam Smith, whose ideas about the Invisible Hand of markets serve as the founding principles of free-market economics, has this to say in his book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments: "How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it." "To feel much for others and little for ourselves,... to restrain our selfish, and to indulge our benevolent, affections constitutes the perfect of human nature, and can alone produce among mankind that harmony of sentiments and passions in which consists their whole grace and propriety."

Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

Residents of four New York City districts getting the opportunity, for the first time in history, to be directly involved in allocating more than $6 million of the city’s budget, in a grassroots democratic system that allows anyone to present proposals for improvements in their communities.

The unanimous passage by the City Council of Los Angeles of a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to end corporate personhood (joining voters this year in Boulder, Missoula, and Madison).

The opening of a window for public dissent in Russia, along with the quiet work of many small groups there: promoting conscientious objection to war and alternatives to violence; supporting immigrants, refugees, orphans and young people with special needs; and strengthening educational and social service initiatives.

The Seattle City Council vote to ban single-use plastic bags from groceries and other retail stores, joining a growing trend among cities that embrace green values.

Check out:, a home for all the parenting
writing I've done over the past 20 years.

Also: START: a way to study and work together with
others to create a better world.

For earlier columns, go to
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to help--and let me know what you figured out! When I go there on my Mac
via Safari, it's fine.)

If you're in Philadelphia and want to move your money out of a big bank, go