Tag: trump

Inauguration

On Inauguration Day, not everyone is talking about the inauguration of the next U.S. president; some (like me) are talking about the animals hidden within the word itself. Listen to my radio commentary for NPR below (or on KQED’s website). Here is the transcript for your pleasure. 

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On January 20th, not everyone will be talking about the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States; some of us — well, probably only me — will be talking about the word INAUGURATION itself and the animals hidden within.

An INAUGURATION is the act of starting something new — like a business or a presidency — and its origins go all the way back to the religion of ancient Rome when priests called augurs interpreted the will of the gods by studying the omens aka the auguries to predict whether the undertaking in question was auspicious or inauspicious — a practice referred to as “taking the auspices”

They did this by reading the flight patterns, songs, and eating habits of birds, a practice called “inauguare.”

So, through the root avis meaning “bird,” our feathered friends reside in the words auspices, auspicious, inauspicious, inaugurate, inaugural, and inauguration.

And inauguration became the word we use to elect politicians into office with the hope that their inauguration foreshadows an auspicious tenure.

Today, we know we don’t have to interpret the will of the gods to predict the future; and we don’t need to read the behavior of birds to tell us whether or not an elected official will carry out their duties favorably and with success. (We never really did.)

All we need to do is look at the behavior of the candidate — their experience, reputation, and ability to lead; their honesty, empathy, and vision; their ability to communicate, their commitment to the public good, their allegiance to democracy.

That should tell us everything we need to know.

With a perspective. This is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

They Killed Him, and It Broke Us, and It Should Have

Our country has been a tinderbox for decades — and the last three-and-a-half years have been a slow, steady, daily burn of anxiety, dread, anger, and pain.

Adding severe strain to an already volatile situation and vulnerable population, a deadly pandemic came along and pressed us even more. Job loss. Fear. Insecurity. Isolation. Debt. Disparity. Disease. Death.⁠

Severing our already-tenuous connections — as fellow Americans, as fellow human beings — we chose divisiveness, disdain, denial, mockery, and blame. Mirroring a small, selfish Twitter troll, we became no better in our rhetoric, perspective, and actions. ⁠

And then…George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.⁠

[Tweet “George Floyd. They killed him, and it broke us. And it should have.⁠”]

But it is precisely our shared shock, sadness, and outrage that have the potential to put us together again. We are not indifferent. We are not complacent. We are not apathetic. We witnessed. We saw. We snapped — understandably so. ⁠
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It is exactly because our vision, our expectation, our hope for a just and compassionate world has been thwarted that our anger is fueled. If we didn’t believe such a world was possible — and self-evident — we would be indifferent. ⁠

But we are not. And for that I am grateful. In that I am hopeful. ⁠

The question now is not “What have we done?” But “What will we do?” “What do we want?” and “Who do we want to be?”

The answers to these questions reflect our character and determine our destiny — both individually and collectively — and I’m both terrified and hopeful for the future. ⁠

It’s in our hands. And no one else’s. It always has been. And it always will be.  

Can you be a perfect vegan?

Let’s be clear: there is no such thing as a licensed, certified vegan, and if perfection and purity are what you’re trying to attain in a world that is by its nature imperfect, then I’m afraid you’ll be gravely disappointed.

Compassion is the goal. Veganism is the way to get there. If we forget this, not only do we miss the entire point of what it means to be vegan, we will also lead a frustrating existence filled with anger and judgement.

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Laws for Animals: Effective Political Activism

I believe that shifting the way we talk about, think about, and behave towards other animals will impact them positively in the long term. But I also believe that as people who care about animals, we need to be politically engaged, because it’s not enough to change hearts and minds; we also have to change laws in order to protect animals from violence and exploitation. If you’re looking to become empowered and emboldened to be a voice for animals, this is the episode for you.

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Take Back Your Power. The Animals Need You!

When someone says that they’re disenchanted with or depressed by politics, I can only assume they’re on the sidelines rather in the trenches. Politics is not separate from who we are as citizens; we are affected—all of us, animals included—by politics, so to be cynical about politics means you’re not owning your power. 

The word “politics” comes from the Greek word politikos, meaning “of citizens, pertaining to public life.”

We are public citizens, and if we’re not actively engaged in making sure the outcome is in our favor, we have no right to complain about how politics affects us—or animals. And reading news headlines, arguing with people on Facebook, or getting depressed while you scroll through your Twitter feed does not an engaged citizen make. 

So today I’m urging you to own your power as a public citizen. I have a Political Guide for Animal Issues that can help. It’s simple, really. Know who your local, state, and federal representatives are. Engage with them. Talk to them. Thank them for passing animal-friendly legislation. Urge them to reject legislation that harms animals. Tell them they lost your vote if they continue to support legislation that harms animals. Be involved in electing animal-friendly candidates. That doesn’t mean waiting for the vegan candidate! Most animal-friendly legislation is passed by non-vegans. And finally, don’t underestimate the power of local political action! Work with city officials to pass animal-friendly legislation in your own city. These local officials may one day be state senators, federal representatives, or even president of the United States. 

Watch Your Language — For the Animals

You cannot believe how many animal-related words and expressions we use every day until you start paying attention. That’s what Animalogy is all about, and it’s changing the way we talk — and think — about animals. Check out this short video and start paying attention to the words and expressions you use. Here are all the ways to listen to episodes. Thank you for sharing.

The Fate of a Tragic Figure

Traditionally, a tragedy was characterized by a protagonist whose flaw in character leads to a series of events that cause his downfall, a trope that began with the Greek dramatists, reached an apotheosis in the plays of Shakespeare, and prevails in both our contemporary literary realm as well as in the real world of power and politics. The fate of the tragic figure is predestined because fate is the manifestation of one’s character. Listen to today’s commentary for KQED Radio

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Interested in a longer episode about the word tragedy and the goats in its history? Listen to Tragedy: A Goat’s Lament.

I Wonder What the Gods Are Thinking Now

INAUGURATION: ON A WING AND A PRAYER, the first episode of the Animalogy Podcast, is all about the word inauguration and the ancient augurs (priests) whose role it was to interpret the will of the gods by reading the habits of birds. This is the root of the English word inauguration to refer to electing politicians into office with the hope that their time in office would prove to be auspicious—or inauspicious. 

I can only guess what the birds signs would look like today. 

For your listening pleasure, I’ve pulled out the excerpts of inauguration speeches from the INAUGURATION episode of Animalogy. Listen below. (Of course you can listen to the full episode here.)

[Tweet “Listen to clips of inauguration speeches from presidents who spoke of unity.”]

READ EXCERPTS OF THESE SPEECHES:

“This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” ~President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” ~President John F. Kennedy

“On this occasion the oath I have taken before you and before God is not mine alone, but ours together. We are one nation and one people. Our fate as a nation and our future as a people rest not upon one citizen but upon all citizens…They came here—the exile and the stranger, brave but frightened—to find a place where a man could be his own man. They made a covenant with this land. Conceived in justice, written in liberty, bound in union, it was meant one day to inspire the hopes of all mankind. And it binds us still. If we keep its terms we shall flourish.” ~President Lyndon Johnson

“My friends, we are not the sum of our possessions. They are not the measure of our lives. In our hearts we know what matters. We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car, a bigger bank account. We must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend; a loving parent; a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and town better than he found it.” ~George H. Bush

“The divide of race has been America’s constant curse. And each new wave of immigrants gives new targets to old prejudices. Prejudice and contempt cloaked in the pretense of religious or political conviction are no different.” ~President Bill Clinton 

“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth. And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace. To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” ~President Barack Obama

The Past Gives Me Hope for the Future

When people ask who inspires me, I often say that my main inspirations are the animals — who can show grace and forgiveness after enduring trauma and abuse. And that’s true. Or I say that my inspiration is you — and everyone else who comes to my work with an open mind and heart. And that’s true, too. But I think people who ask are looking for something more specific. So, I’ll tell you.

The past. Nothing gives me more hope for the future than the past.

When facing the darkest times individually or collectively, one thing we can be certain of is that we’ve been here before and we’ve been through worse. In our collective consciousness or in our individual experience (or both), we’ve been through sadness, disappointment, war, upheaval, conflict, fear, grief, loss, uncertainty, dictatorship, bigotry, and divisiveness.

[Tweet “When facing dark times, we can be certain we’ve been here before and we’ve been through worse.”]

With each age that passes, we gain both wisdom and amnesia. We seem to learn a little and make some progress until myopia prevails, and then we forget that we’ve been here before. But just a glance at the past reveals the human condition in all its radiant splendor and darkest malevolence.

The resilience we possess to endure, weather, and learn from adversity is incredible (and it’s not unique to humans); it’s also something we can experience vicariously. Just knowing someone else has faced the same challenges, the same odds, the same mistakes can give us comfort. “You are not alone” can be the most healing words.

We are not alone. The ghosts of the past — yours, mine, theirs, recent, immediate, ancient — dwell among us and have wisdom to impart. So, yes, strangely, I embrace the fact that avaricious, megalomaniacal, narcissistic people have come before us, because if we disavow who we’ve been, we forget who we are. We. Humans.

[Tweet “If we disavow who we’ve been, we forget who we are.”]

Historians certainly give us the gift of hindsight; sages give us the gift of insight; together they work in harmony. Everyone needs a sage, and for several years now, mine has been Lao Tzu via his ancient text, the Tao Te Ching: A New English Version (Perennial Classics), written around 2,400 years ago. Thousands of years later, his book demonstrates, and our human experience is the same. Our needs, fears, flaws, and foibles remain the same. That doesn’t make me despair; it gives me comfort, it makes me humble (and it also makes me laugh).

For me, no other text or philosophy of living resonates more than the Tao Te Ching, summarized perfectly by poet Stephen Mitchell, the interpreter of my favorite translation:

“A classic manual on the art of living, written in a style of gemlike lucidity, radiant with humor and grace and large-heartedness and deep wisdom: one of the wonders of the world.”

[Tweet “Historians give us the gift of hindsight; sages give us the gift of insight.”]

May you find your sage, engage with the past, absorb, learn, and repeat. It’s true, as poet and philosopher George Santayana observed, that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” but the first part of that maxim is equally true and rarely quoted: “Progress…depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, infancy is perpetual.” 

Here’s to adulthood.

 

Keeping Perspective in Difficult Times

As I contemplate the possibilities for the future of our country, I vacillate between fear and hope, despondency and motivation, uncertainty and faith. And what keeps coming up for me is perspective. Everything changes depending on the angle from which or the lens through which I see the world. And though fear, despondency, and uncertainty come faster to my mind (especially when I consume any news at all), it is not long before hope, motivation, and faith prevail.

Because I choose them.

Each day as the reality of the election sinks in, I see clearly what I must do and not do in order to be the most effective and the most compassionate citizen I can be (while also being happy). It’s not very different than how I normally function, but the last few days have given me clarity. 

[Tweet “We are small in the universe but large to one another. For that, may we show humility & magnanimity.”]

*Deactivating the push notifications on my phone from news outlets has lessened the anxiety I’ve (we’ve all) been experiencing these last few months. 

*Focusing completely without distraction on my current writing projects has been incredibly healing. Of course, I feel the need is more urgent than ever to speak on behalf of the animals, and I think that urgency (and lack of distraction) is allowing the thoughts and words to come more easily. 

*Dipping my toe into news in order to stay informed but filling up the space instead with the things that feed me, such as poetry, literature, music, podcasts, TED talks. Instead of turning on the radio when I make lunch in the kitchen, I put on a podcast instead or music. 

*Returning to morning meditation. Mindfulness has always played a role in my life, but admittedly, I’ve gotten out of my morning habit (opting to run early instead), but it’s back. And it feels really good. 

*Creating a action plan. We’ve got a lot of work ahead to make sure the vulnerable and disenfranchised are not left out, to make sure the irreversible isn’t inevitable. But then again, we’ve always had this work ahead of us. I’m ready.

*Keeping it all in perspective. That’s part of the mindfulness, I suppose, but when I think of how small we are in the scope of the universe but how large we are to one another, I feel humility and and overwhelming sense of magnanimity.

Perspective and connection. They’re feeding me right now, and it’s working. 

“We’re small in the scope of the entire universe but large to one another in our human experience. May we act with humility because of the first and magnanimity and compassion because of the second.” 

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