Motivation

THIRTY SOMETHING by Ishi Dinim

I’M HAVING trouble these days; sure, life is great here in paradise, yet I’m struggling with what to do next. Things are so marvelous just the way they are, but I know they are changing. I need to carefully figure out my next moves.

As spring approaches, my activity level needs to intensify to use this new time for growth effectively. I need an inspirational way to make money, something that utilizes my talents and gives back to the world. Not that I think I’m above doing any kind of work, but I’m stubborn in wanting a vocation with variation and creative elements where I feel valued.

In one breath, I feel very confident and skilled and then in the next, I grasp at how anyone would want what I have to offer. I’m out of practice and often shy to describe my good qualities to others.

Being able to consider my upcoming steps is a privilege in a world where many people are simply “treading water” or responding to a new crisis. I’m not sure where I’d fit into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but I feel mostly satisfied with my life. The bits that I’m not satisfied with frequently take over my thoughts. It’s funny how often just one small anxiety can make the whole enchilada taste off.

We tell ourselves limiting stories about inadequacy, failure, past history and lack of potential and these can become our narrative about who we are. They prevent us from seeing ourselves as we really are: capable, talented and whole.

I look around at people and their relationship to work and wonder what motivates them. There’s an ethical range to generating an income everywhere, from “Hey yeah, I’ll put melamine into baby food” to “I’m going to replace gasoline with an amazing, sustainable alternative.” Am I naïve in hoping to find fulfilling and lucrative employment that not only doesn’t make the world worse off, but also actually makes it better?

What makes people choose their course? What inspires them? What inspires me? I’m getting into it, with trepidation and excitement. A new future unfolds.

Filmspiration:
Religulous
W.

Quotespiration:
Every time a man expects, as he says, his money to work for him, he is expecting other people to work for him.

– Dorothy L. Sayers

Money is like fire, an element as little troubled by moralizing as earth, air and water. Men can employ it as a tool, or they can dance around it as if it were the incarnation of a god. Money votes socialist or monarchist, finds a profit in pornography or translations from the Bible, commissions Rembrandt and underwrites the technology of Auschwitz. It acquires its meaning from the uses to which it is put.

– Lewis H. Lapham

Money does not corrupt people. What corrupts people is lack of affection… Money is simply the bandage, which wounded people put over their wounds.

– Margaret Halsey

Ishi graduated from Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in 2001, with a BFA. He makes films, collects cacti, and ponders many things. Currently he is doing what he can for himself, his family and the planet. contact:ishi@yahoo.ca

Big media bad for journalism

INDEPENDENT MEDIA by Steve Anderson

IN THE QUARTER ending November 30, 2008, media giant Canwest reported a $33M loss with an overwhelming $3.7 billion debt. (See links at end of article.) In the past 12 months, Canwest has also cut more than 1,000 jobs and is scaling back local operations. It is also considering shutting down some stations entirely.

Collectively, Canwest, Torstar, Quebecor and CTVglobemedia have cut about 1,300 more jobs in the past three months, on top of deep cuts made last year. With ad revenues expected to slump further, there is no end in sight.

The effects of these dramatic cuts in journalism will negatively affect public debate and discourse in Canada because, as former Toronto Star publisher John Honderich notes, “The quality of public debate, if not the very quality of life in any community, is a direct function of the quality of media that serve it.”

Journalism’s diagnosis

In his piece entitled All the News That’s Fit to Fund, John Honderich does a good job of explaining why journalism is important in a democratic society. And while Honderich also offers some good ideas on how to revive journalism, he fails to discuss why journalism is in its current state of crisis.

So what is the cause of the current state of journalism in Canada? In a statement made by Leonard Asper, Canada’s largest media baron, on the likely demolition of TV stations located in Montreal, Hamilton, Red Deer, Kelowna and Victoria, he declared, “As they are currently configured, these stations are not core to our television operations going forward… we believe that our efforts are best focused on the areas of greatest return.” Asper’s comments reveal that news outlets, and the journalists that work for them, are increasingly treated as a part of a business rather than a unique social institution that is essential to a functioning democracy.

“Big Media” executives, however, try to claim that journalism’s woes are caused by the slumping economy or the displacement of audiences to new online media. While certainly these are factors, the primary cause is highly concentrated media ownership combined with the deepening bottom-line mentality of big media corporations. Media ownership is more highly concentrated in Canada than almost anywhere else in the industrialized world. Something to think about is how just hours before CTVglobemedia announced its intention to take over CHUM they laid off 281 people and cancelled news broadcasts across the country.

Big Media’s race to the bottom

In 2007, the Canadian Energy, Communications and Paperworkers (CEP) union published a study entitled Voices From the Newsroom (see links), in which they found that only 9.5 percent of journalists indicated that they believe the corporate owners of their news outlet valued good journalism over profit. The CEP report clearly illustrates the sentiment felt by most journalists: that the bottom line mentality of big media owners is having an increasingly negative impact on their ability to do their jobs.

A newspaper is not likely to provide engaging journalism if it is geared towards efficiently delivering eyeballs to advertisers while investing the least amount of money possible in journalism. Combine this bottom-line mentality with an uncompetitive, concentrated traditional media market, along with the erosion of ad revenue, and you’ll find a race to the bottom for journalism in Canada.

Experiments needed

Despite the layoffs, weak morale and big media debt, journalism in Canada is far from its grave. On the contrary, with the decline of big-business-financed journalism, this is the perfect time for us to re-imagine what journalism in the 21st century should look like.

In my next column, I will lay out various schemes for a rejuvenated 21st century public services journalism in Canada. There’s no shortage of experiments underway and you may, in fact, be reading this column via one of those experiments right now.

Links

• $33M loss:

www.canwest.com/media/viewNews.asp?NewsroomID=916

• $3.7 billion debt:

www.newslab.ca/?p=138

Steve Anderson is the national coordinator for the Campaign for Democratic Media. He contributed to Censored 2008 and Battleground: The Media, and has written for The TyeeToronto Star, Epoch Times and Adbusters. Reach him at:

steve@democraticmedia.ca

www.FacebookSteve.com

www.SteveOnTwitter.com

Veggies for vitality

NUTRISPEAK by Vesanto Melina

AT LAST we can celebrate spring and spend more time in BC’s beautiful outdoors. Here are some simple and/or collaborative meals to make when you return home. These and similar ideas are from Raising Vegetarian Children (J. Stepaniak and V. Melina, McGraw-Hill 2003). 

1. Create a spread of make-your-own tacos. Set out taco shells or tortillas, chopped lettuce, onion, tomatoes, sliced or mashed avocado, taco sauce and warmed, canned refried beans or pinto or kidney beans or crumbled veggie burgers. In some families, it works best to include a meat taco filling as well. As noted in Wikipedia, “The fact that a taco can be filled with practically anything that fits on a tortilla allows for its great versatility and variety.”
2. Have everyone make their own vegetable pizza (or their section of a bigger one). Start with a purchased whole-grain pizza crust or smaller pita breads. As toppings, set out bowls of pizza sauce, grated carrots, sliced mushrooms, olives and onions (red, yellow or white) and bell peppers (red, yellow or green). If you include veggie pepperoni slices, cover the slices with a little tomato sauce so they don’t dry out. You might top the pizza with raw baby spinach after baking and let it wilt slightly before serving.
3. Open a can of vegetarian chili or split pea soup. Add a fresh whole-grain bun and a carrot cut into strips.
4. Serve veggie burgers on whole-grain buns with all the fixings. If you like, serve these with oven-baked sweet potato wedges (instead of French fries).
5. Set out a salad bar. Provide bowls of salad greens, shredded or chopped vegetables, nuts and/or seeds, sprouts, cooked beans or cubes of marinated tofu, leftover cooked vegetables, avocado chunks and a couple of different dressings. Let everyone compose their salad just the way they like it.
6. Make a can of vegetable soup more hearty by adding some canned beans (such as black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans). Serve with whole-grain toast.
7. If kids (or adults) don’t eat vegetables at meals, set out a platter of vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, bell peppers) before a meal or as a snack, without saying a word. As an optional dip, many excellent flavours of hummus are now available from supermarket coolers.

Vesanto Melina is a dietitian and co-author of nutrition classics includingBecoming Vegetarian, Becoming Vegan, the Food Allergy Survival Guide andthe new Raw Food Revolution Diet. www.nutrispeak.com


Colourful kabobs

(Makes eight to nine 10-inch kabobs)
Kabobs are colourful, tasty and fun to make. They are welcome at a barbecue and you can make them any time by browning them under the broiler. Serve them on a bed of rice or in a pita pocket. Choose extra-firm tofu; it has been pressed to remove much of the water and holds its shape well on the 10-inch metal or bamboo skewer. Measurements are approximate.

• 1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
• 16 to 18 small mushrooms (1-1/2 ounces or 1 cup of pieces) 
• 1/2 red, green or yellow bell pepper, cut in 3/4- to 1-inch pieces
• 1 small zucchini, cut in slices 1/4-inch thick or 3/4-inch cubes
• 1/2 medium red or white onion, cut in 3/4 inch pieces
• 8 to 9 cherry tomatoes

Sweet and tangy marinade
(Makes about 1/2 cup)
• ¼ cup ketchup
• 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
• 2 Tbsp. water
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed garlic (optional)

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, prepare marinade by stirring together ingredients. Add tofu, put on lid and toss so that pieces are covered. Marinate four to six hours or overnight in the refrigerator, tossing occasionally to coat all pieces. Starting and ending with the mushrooms, alternate pieces of tofu and one or other of the vegetables on the skewer, with a tomato midway along.

Under broiler:
Place kabobs on cookie sheet or roasting pan, baste with marinade and place six inches under broiler for 10 minutes, turning and basting with more marinade once. 

On barbecue or grill:
Baste with marinade, turning and basting with more marinade once. Remove when heated through and browned a little.

Fate of the world’s seeds

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

IN THESE uncertain times, with global food security under threat from climate change, do you ever wonder who is in control of the world’s food seeds? While it isn’t reassuring news, it’s not surprising that the world’s largest agrochemical manufacturers are the seed industry giants. With people all over the world now growing more food, ownership of food seeds becomes an issue worthy of major consideration.

Monsanto, the world’s fifth largest agrochemical company, is the world’s biggest seed company. DuPont, the world’s sixth largest agrochemical company, is the world’s second biggest seed company. Syngenta, with 19 percent of the market share of agrochemicals, is the world’s third largest seed company. Bayer, holding the largest market share, is the world’s seventh biggest seed company. (Source:www.etcgroup.org/)

World’s top seed & pesticide firms:
company Sales US$ % market share
1. Bayer (Germany) $7,458m 19%
2. Syngenta (Switz.) $7,285m 19%
3. BASF (Germany) $4,297m 11%
4. Dow AgroSc (USA) $3,779m 10%
5. Monsanto (USA) $3,599m 9%
6. DuPont (USA) $2,369m 6%
(Source: www.agrow.com)

These companies are all gene giants so you’ll never be able to save any of their seeds and because most are being created for herbicide resistance, the worldwide market for agrochemicals is growing by 10 percent per year. This situation not only compromises our ability to feed ourselves, but the practice of applying ever increasing quantities of poisons to the soil borders on an insane war on nature.

A simple solution to this chemical fix lies in the ability to access open-pollinated seeds, produced by naturally occurring pollination, without human manipulation of the seed’s genetic makeup. Growing food with open-pollinated seeds means you can save seeds from the resulting plants, knowing they will provide the same food value and performance for future harvests. It’s what our forebears have been doing for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, only around two percent of food seeds today are open-pollinated and most are in the hands of a few small seed companies and grassroots seed saving organizations around the world.

The “glyphosate gap” is growing fast because at least 14 weed species on five continents have developed resistance due to massive applications of glyphosate. While BASF, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and DuPont compete to fill the gap, farmers are employing more toxic chemicals to kill the resistant weeds. Agrochemical giants prefer to describe the resistance problem as a business opportunity. In the words of Syngenta’s Crop Science CEO, John Atki, “Resistance is healthy because we have to innovate.” I think resistance is imperative because we have to eat.

Carolyn Herriot is author of A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide. She grows her certified organic “Seeds of Victoria” at The Garden Path Centre where she blogs The New Victory Garden online.


Seed havens

BC Seeds, a FarmFolk/CityFolk project supporting BC’s organic seed growers. (www.bcseeds.org)

The Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary, learning centre and network, encourages local food and seed production, is committed to evaluating and maintaining records for all edible, medicinal and useful crops that can be grown in Canada. (www.saltspringseeds.com/catalog/seedsanctuary.htm)

The Sunshine Coast Seed Collective is developing education and resources, as well as a local seed registry and seed bank.

Seeds of Diversity is Canada’s grassroots seed saving network, where growers can find heritage varieties of “tried and true” seeds from their resource list of open-pollinated seed sources. I recommend that anyone starting to save food seeds should read the organization’s booklet How to Save Your own Vegetable Seeds. (Purchase through www.seeds.ca for $12).

There are now 40 Seedy Saturdays across Canada. Last month, the 7th Annual Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday set a attendance record of 1,850 people, a 12% increase from last year. (www.seeds.ca/ev/events.php)

Sample seed data form

Location: neighbourhood, mini geoclimatic zone, &/or street address
Species: refers to common species name 
Variety: refers to common variety name
Isolation Distance: distance to other plants of same species, or description of method of isolation to prevent unwanted crossing
# Plants: number of parent plants grown, necessary to insure genetic diversity
History: seed source and unique characteristics

From suffering to peace

THE POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle

I READ about a stoic philosopher in ancient Greece who, when told that his son had died in an accident, replied, “I knew he was not immortal.” Is that surrender? If it is, I don’t want it. There are some situations in which surrender seems unnatural and inhuman.

Being cut off from your feelings is not surrender. But we don’t know what his inner state was when he said those words. In certain extreme situations, it may still be impossible for you to accept the Now. But you always get a second chance at surrender.

Your first chance is to surrender each moment to the reality of that moment. Knowing that what is cannot be undone – because it already is – you say yes to what is or accept what isn’t. Then you do what you have to do, whatever the situation requires. If you abide in this state of acceptance, you create no more negativity, no more suffering, no more unhappiness. You then live in a state of non-resistance, a state of grace and lightness, free of struggle.

Whenever you are unable to do that, whenever you miss that chance – either because you are not generating enough conscious presence to prevent some habitual and unconscious resistance pattern or because the condition is so extreme as to be absolutely unacceptable to you – then you are creating some form of pain, some form of suffering. It may look as if the situation is creating the suffering, but ultimately this is not so; your resistance is.

Now here is your second chance at surrender: if you cannot accept what is outside, accept what is inside. If you cannot accept the external condition, accept the internal condition. This means: do not resist the pain. Allow it to be there. Surrender to the grief, despair, fear, loneliness or whatever form the suffering takes. Witness it without labelling it mentally. Embrace it. Then see how the miracle of surrender transmutes deep suffering into deep peace. This is your crucifixion. Let it become your resurrection and ascension.

When your pain is deep, all talk of surrender will probably seem futile and meaningless. When your pain is deep, you will likely have a strong urge to escape from it rather than surrender to it. You don’t want to feel what you feel. What could be more normal? But there is no escape, no way out. There are many pseudo escapes – work, drink, drugs, anger, projection, suppression, and so on – but they don’t free you from the pain. Suffering does not diminish in intensity when you make it unconscious.

When you deny emotional pain, everything you do or think, as well as your relationships, becomes contaminated with it. You broadcast it, so to speak, as the energy you emanate and others will pick it up subliminally. You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state.

When there is no way out, there is still always a way through. So don’t turn away from the pain. Face it. Feel it fully – don’t think about it! Give all your attention to the feeling, not to the person, event or situation that seems to have caused it. Don’t let the mind use the pain to create a victim identity for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering. Since it is impossible to get away from the feeling, the only possibility of change is to move into it; otherwise, nothing will shift. So give your complete attention to what you feel. As you go into the feeling, be intensely alert. At first it may seem like a dark and terrifying place and when the urge to turn away from it comes, observe it but don’t act on it.

Keep putting your attention on the pain; keep feeling the grief, the fear, the dread, the loneliness, whatever it is. Stay alert, stay present – present with your whole Being. As you do so, you are bringing a light into this darkness. This is the flame of your consciousness.

Adapted from The Power of Now, copyright 1999 by Eckhart Tolle. Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA, 800-972-6657 (ext. 52). Visit www.eckharttolle.com.

Cultural exchange

FILMS WORTH WATCHING by Robert Alstead

Natar Ungalaaq stars in The Necessities of Life (Ce Qu’il Faut Pour Vivre) as an Inuit hunter forced by illness to a Quebec City sanatorium.

The Necessities of Life (Ce Qu’il Faut Pour Vivre) is a fish-out-of-water drama about an Inuit hunter forced by illness to move into a Quebec City sanatorium during the tuberculosis epidemic of the 1950s. Separated from his family and culture for the first time, in an alien place where he cannot speak or understand the language, Tivii loses the will to live. His sympathetic nurse, Carole, arranges for a young Inuit boy named Kaki, to be transferred to his sanatorium.

Kaki, who also speaks French, offers his elder companionship and a means to communicate while Tivii takes a paternalistic interest in renewing Kaki’s connection with traditional Inuit culture. Tivii rediscovers his pride and energy and the bond between the two hospital patients grows stronger.

The film, opening March 13 at Fifth Avenue Cinemas, received eight genie award nominations and was Canada’s submission for the 2009 foreign language Oscar. Critics have praised its sensitive handling of emotional life and the absorbing central performance by Natar Ungalaaq (star ofAtanarjuat: The Fast Runner), while Benoît Pilon, a director crossing over from documentary to make this debut feature film, provides a steady hand at the helm.

Cultural exchange is the name of the game at the Australia.com Ozflix: Australian Film Weekend, a four-day showcase of films from Down Under at the Pacific Cinémathèque (www.cinematheque.bc.ca).

Among them is mid-teen, coming-of-age drama Black Balloon. It follows Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) who is desperate to fit in and meet girls at his new school in Sydney, but who suffers embarrassment about his autistic brother Charlie. A budding romance with attractive and spirited Jackie (Gemma Ward), who is in his swimming class, helps Thomas learn about acceptance and worth. As a slice of life in a crazy, loving family, it’s a slight film, but enjoyable thanks especially to excellent performances by Toni Collette as the devoted, workaholic pregnant mum and Erik Thomson as the military dad who takes advice from a teddy bear. The pretty stars look older than their parts, but this has the authentic feel of someone’s personal story.

Among Ozflix’s crop of shorts, animation and features, there’s a double-bill screening of two parts of the documentary series Great Australian Albums. I watched Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Murder Ballads, the 1996 album that started life as a joke (an entire album of ballads about murder), but went on to become the band’s biggest, commercial success.

As someone who has acquired a taste for Nick Cave’s brooding, gothic lyricism over the years, I found this hugely enjoyable. The creative process is well documented – amazingly, the band still records live performances in the studio on tape – and the mix with archive footage going back to Cave’s punk roots decades ago is done well. In interview, Cave comes across as suave, wry and characteristically dark.

Persuading pop princess Kylie Minogue to duet with him on surprise hitWhere the Wild Roses Grow was not as difficult as one might think even though Cave admits the lyrics were “seriously creepy… with a capital ‘K’”. Interesting to learn that his simmering music video with songstress PJ Harvey on Henry Lee was done in one take. After its 52 minutes, I wanted to get the album. It screens with sunny, indie pop success of the eighties,The Go-Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane (15th, 5pm).

Finally, Michael McGowan’s One Week is a road trip movie about a young man (Joshua Jackson) who, when diagnosed with cancer, decides to ride a vintage motorcycle from Toronto to Tofino, BC. It’s described as “an ode to the Canadian landscape” with a soundtrack that includes Sam Roberts, Stars and Patrick Watson. 

 

Robert Alstead maintains a blog at www.2020Vancouver.com

A time of wonders

EARTHFUTURE by Guy Dauncey

THIS IS a time of wonders. That statement may seem totally counter-intuitive and blind to the enormous troubles ahead, but I can’t ignore the perpetual voice that sings within me of the incredible possibilities at our fingertips.

If I look one way, I can see that we are racing towards the greatest ecological meltdown since the last great extinction event – the cretacean – that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Time moves slowly and a human lifetime is long and yet we are so close to winning the collective Darwin Award, given every year to those individuals who do such stupid things that they do us the favour of removing their genes from the gene pool. I write these words on the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who I am sure would never have contemplated the possibility of the entire human race winning such an award one day.

Yet, if I look the other way, I see the road to the solar age, shining with promise and hope. I see the successful elimination of fossil fuels, children learning ecological literacy in every school, Earth’s cities becoming urban paradises. I see farms the world over adopting organic, butterfly-loving methods of cultivation and Earth’s working forests being treated like the temples they are, with reverence and love.

I have held this vision for more than 40 years and yet I have never felt it so close, so totally within our reach. My hopefulness does not stem from any recent intimacy with BC bud, but from my knowledge of communities around the world that are making it happen. It stems from Copenhagen where 36 percent of commuter trips are by bicycle; from San Francisco, well on the way to achieving 100 percent zero waste by 2020; from the small town of Güssing, in eastern Austria, whose people have eliminated 93 percent of their carbon footprint by building a variety of solar, biomass and other energy systems. I have just finished writing my new book on global climate solutions and I can feel the vibrancy of so much innovation and effort all around the world.

So what do we need to turn away from the dark path of cynicism, negativity and defeat and embrace instead the brilliance of hope? We need three things and they are all within our grasp.

The first is the willingness to act. By acting, we switch on our motivation, which releases a cascade of possibilities. One phone call asking, “How can I help?” is enough – perhaps to a local non-profit society; perhaps to the BC-STV campaign office (campaigning for the Single Transferable Vote in the May 12 referendum); perhaps to the office of the greenest, local candidate in the forthcoming provincial election.

The second is the willingness to persist. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Nothing of any worth was achieved without persistence. Persistence means learning, training, practising. You may have a vision that takes five or 10 years to fulfill, such as turning the street where you live into a community of sharing people, growing food, installing solar panels and planting trees. Alternatively, it might be kick-started with one rousing street party, organized with neighbours with a few weeks’ notice.

The third is the determination to stay positive and not be defeated by the apparent hopelessness of larger problems, such as the need to transform global capitalism, the domination of the US military industrial complex or the ecological collapse of the world’s oceans. Millions share your hopes, confident that success is possible.

What we need is faith at a deeper level, which does not require evidence at every step. Faith that humans have the ability to succeed in this challenge, just as we succeeded in ending slavery, winning the right of working people to form a labour union, defeating fascism and so much more.

The love that so many people feel for our troubled planet comes from that same deep place and it’s not going away. Our task is to hold onto it and act on it – now.

Guy Dauncey is the author of nine books, including After the Crash: The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy. He is president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association.

www.earthfuture.com
www.guydauncey.com

Google maps the oceans

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola

WE HUMANS are air-breathing landlubbers and that shapes the way we see and treat the world. We don’t think much about what’s underwater or underground. So we’ve been dumping garbage into the oceans and taking what we want from them for years without considering the consequences. We’ve never had to look at any of it – until now.

We’re starting to see what lies below the surface and it’s not always a pretty picture. We see massive islands of plastic and other debris swirling in gyres around the world. We see 9,000-year-old, glass sponge reefs off the coast of BC that, until recently, were torn apart by trawl nets dragged across the ocean floor. We see the effects of climate change on Arctic sea ice and on the animals that live under the sea.

We’ll be able to see even more, thanks to a recent initiative by Google, along with National Geographic, the BBC and scientists and other partners from around the world. Google is adding the world’s oceans to its extensive Earth mapping. In a phone conversation with David Suzuki Foundation staff, John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps, admitted, “We had really overlooked two thirds of the planet.” Partly because of prodding from oceanographer Sylvia Earle, the company has embarked on a massive project as part of Google Earth 5.0 to map the oceans using sonar imaging, high-resolution and 3-D photography, video and a variety of other techniques and content.

Although the emerging picture is sometimes bleak, there’s a positive side. “If we can just see enough soon enough to pull back and give these areas a chance to recover, that’s my greatest hope,” Dr. Earle told us.

Mr. Hanke and Dr. Earle, who is explorer in residence at National Geographic and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation, said the project will allow us to learn more about human impacts on the Earth’s oceans. Dr. Earle noted that we have explored only about five percent of the ocean’s depths and protected less than one percent, yet the oceans cover more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface.

“Some of these treasures are being destroyed before we even know what’s there,” Dr. Earle said, adding that often as soon as people find out about an ocean resource, they exploit it. Part of the idea behind Ocean in Google Earth is to show people what we have and what we stand to lose if we don’t smarten up. “People will be aware of not only what’s there but what’s been lost,” Dr. Earle said. “People don’t seem to widely appreciate how important it is to protect the systems that give us life.”

And the oceans do give us life. Half of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean. In the process of photosynthesis, phytoplankton release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to global warming. And when phytoplankton die, they sink to the bottom of the ocean… The phytoplankton are also an important food source for ocean animals ranging from small fish to giant whales, which, in turn, feed other animals up the food chain, including humans.

That’s just one example of how important our oceans are and of how everything in nature is interconnected.

We can only hope this new endeavour will lead to more concern for the state of the oceans and of the need to protect them. The glass sponge reefs, for example, are being considered for formal protection, and public support could make the difference. As Dr. Earle noted, “You can’t care if you don’t know and this a new way of knowing.”

Part of what makes it exciting is that it’s not just a tool for scientists and academics. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for adults and kids to learn about the oceans,” Mr. Hanke said, noting that the free program, which includes multiple layers of content and information, will continue to expand as more data from scientists, explorers and others is added.

We can no longer afford to be blind to the state of our oceans. Let’s hope this will open our eyes before there’s nothing left to see but destruction.

Take the Nature Challenge and learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

How the mind works

by Paramahamsa Nithyananda

IN LIFE, we constantly create either shafts of pain or joy. Once you create a shaft of pain, you try to break it. In the same way, if you create a shaft of joy, you try to elongate it. But you don’t understand that you can neither elongate the joy shaft nor break the pain shaft – simply because the shaft itself doesn’t exist.

I would like to share with you an interesting learning from my days of spiritual wandering. In the forests of Northern India, the hunters use a trap to catch birds. They tie a rope between two trees. In the middle of the rope, they secure a wooden stick. This is actually a hunter’s trap for birds.

You may think, “How can a bird be trapped with a small stick? How is it possible?” Actually, all they do is just hang the stick between two trees using a rope; that’s all. When a bird comes and sits on the stick, the bird’s own weight turns the whole stick upside down; it turns topsy-turvy. The moment it turns upside down and loses its sense of balance, it feels totally shaken and tightens its grip on the stick. It simply holds on to the stick as if its life depends on it. Because it is hanging upside down, it thinks, “If I unclutchfrom this stick, what will happen? I will fall and die.”

There is no record that any bird has ever fallen and broken its head. But the bird does not have the intelligence to realize this. It keeps hanging on. By not letting go, not only does it lose its freedom, it loses its life too because ultimately the hunter traps it.

Just like the bird, you don’t realize that if you just drop your mind, that very moment you can be liberated. You can simply start flying.

The same fear that the bird clinging to the stick had, you have now. Your fear and the bird’s fear are one and the same. The bird believes that it can’t let go; if it does, it will die. Similarly, you hold on to your mind and feel, “I can’t let go. If I start trusting that I am unconnected, unclutched, independent… I might be lost.”

After four or five hours, the hunter comes leisurely, takes the bird, puts it in the cage and leaves. Now the bird neither has the freedom to fly nor the stick to balance. The foolish bird doesn’t know that if it had just let go of the stick, it could have simply flown away.

In the same way, you hold on to whatever you think is your identity and security – your education, your mind, your life, your relationships or your bank balance. Death ultimately comes to remove the stick – your identity. Then you are neither a liberated soul, nor are you able to hold on to your identity. You will neither have the freedom, nor will you have the stick of your identity that you are clutching because the stick itself is an illusion.

If the bird lets go and relaxes, it may take one or two moments to balance itself, but it will never fall and die. When it leaves the stick, maybe for a few seconds it will fall, but then it will adjust itself and start flying. Just let go and you will never fall and die. You will only become liberated to your full potential. All you need to do is trust that you are unclutched even if you don’t trust that it is still the truth.

When we unclutch, the first thing that will happen to us will be an inner healing effect – a deep silence and peace in us. Second, that inner healing will start radiating as physical well-being, which is our health. Third, naturally it will start radiating in our relationships also. Fourth, because these three are going beautifully, we will be creative and productive.

An instant meditation

You can try this technique of unclutching at any time, whenever you remember. The moment you see a thought coming, do not give meaning to it. You give it meaning only if you connect it with your past. Without giving meaning to it, just remember to unclutch and see what happens.

The moment you remember, “Let me unclutch from this thought; let me not give meaning to it,” for a few seconds there will be a small, silent gap. The moment you are aware that there is a silence, it will become one more thought. Then unclutch from that thought also. Then again there will be a gap of a few seconds. Then one more thought will come: “I am in silence” or “I am unclutching.” Unclutch from that thought also. Just the gap or the silence should become longer and longer. That is the whole idea.

Paramahamsa Nithyananda visits Vancouver March 10-16. For a schedule of his free talks and to register for his workshops, visit www.LIfeBlissCanada.org or call 604-628-4479. Nithyananda is recognized in India as one of the great spiritual teachers. His meditations, yoga and life solutions techniques are popular with more than two million people. (See www.YouTube.com)

Forgive for good

A proven presciption for health and happiness

by Frederic Luskin, Ph.D.

I AM A SENIOR consultant for the Vaden Health Center at Stanford University where I teach people ways to manage their stress and to live lives of greater satisfaction. I do this to reduce their risk of disease and to help their bodies and minds remain strong and resilient. A funny thing happened to me in the midst of doing this work. I started to research the effect that forgiveness had on physical and emotional well being. Towards that end, I developed a simple process of teaching people to let go of the grudges and grievances they carried around. As I started to teach forgiveness, I discovered that an unexpectedly large number of people responded to this work with fascination, confusion, enthusiasm and mistrust. Almost no one knew for certain exactly what forgiveness was and why it might be useful to study.

My work as director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects has shown that learning to forgive helps people hurt less, experience less anger, feel less stress and suffer less depression. My research also shows that, as people learn to forgive, they become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate. As people learn to forgive, they become more forgiving in general, not just towards one particular person who did them wrong. Our research has also shown that forgiveness has physical health benefits.

People who learn to forgive report significantly fewer symptoms of stress, such as backache, muscle tension, dizziness, headaches and upset stomachs. In addition, people report improvements in appetite, sleep patterns, energy and general well being. Finally, one research project showed that angry people with high blood pressure showed a decrease in both anger and blood pressure when they learned to forgive.

If forgiveness is so good for us, why do so few of us choose to forgive when people hurt us? First, no one has taught us how to forgive. The religious traditions usually tell us to forgive, but do not offer the practical steps as to how. We live in a culture that prizes the expression of anger and resentment more than the peace of forgiveness. And most people are confused about what forgiveness is and what it is not. Because of this, too many do not take the opportunity to heal themselves, sometimes from great emotional pain and the physical consequences that result.

First, forgiving an offence such as an adulterous affair does not mean you condone the affair. I am reminded often that we can only forgive that which we know to be wrong. Your partner’s affair was wrong, but you do not have to suffer indefinitely because you were betrayed. Secondly, forgiveness in no way means you have to reconcile with someone who treated you badly. If you were the recipient of childhood abuse or are in a harsh relationship, you can forgive the offender and, as part of that choice, make the decision to end or limit contact. Forgiveness is primarily for creating your peace of mind. It is to create healing in your life and return you to a state where you can live capable again of love and trust.

Another misconception about forgiveness is that it depends on whether or not the abuser or lying person apologizes, wants you back or changes his/her ways. If another person’s poor behaviour was the determinant for your healing then the unkind and selfish people in your life would retain power over you indefinitely. Finally, you can forgive you ex-spouse for their insulting speech and even for abandoning you and your children… but forgiveness in no way means you do not take the ex to court to make sure your children get the support payments to which they are entitled. Forgiveness and justice are not the same. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same. Forgiveness and condoning are not the same.

What I have seen time and time again is that people have the capacity to make peace with their past. They regain their ability to trust and love and stop blaming other people for their emotional distress. They take more time to count their blessings and less to complain about what went wrong. They understand they need to look more at who they are becoming and less at what has happened. They grasp that each day they wake up with a fresh start no matter what happened to them yesterday. They learn to forgive and heal in both body and mind.

Nine steps to forgiveness
Forgive for Good

1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a couple of trusted people about your experience.

2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else. No one else even has to know about your decision.

3. Understand your goal. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that upset you or condoning their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally and changing your grievance story.”

4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or 10 years – ago.

5. At the moment you feel upset, practise the Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique, a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response.

6. Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship and prosperity and work hard to get them. However, you will suffer if you demand these things occur when you do not have the power to make them happen.

7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met [other] than through the experience that has hurt you. I call this step finding your positive intention. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt, seek out new ways to get what you want.

8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you.

9. Amend your grievance story to remind you of the power you have to create a better story, one where you can let go of the need to be a victim.

Dr. Fred Luskin is the director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects, a renowned researcher, author and expert in forgiveness. He presents “Forgive for Good: 9 Steps to Forgiveness” at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (Theatre), New Westminster, BC, March 26, 9AM-3:30PM. Call 604-528-5590 or 1-877-528-5591to register