God, grant me the courage to change the things I can
And the naivety to believe I can make a difference.
The time for serenity is over.
Fay Furness, a resident of Basel-land, feeds her five-person family with food that she finds in the trash – about 50% of what they eat is found in containers. She says, “It takes courage to lift the lid of a container in broad daylight and fish around for food. Once a grocery store employee wanted to send me away. I explained to her that I'm not breaking the law as long as I don't break open any lock. A lot of people are embarrassed or shocked. But we eat extremely health consciously. I've learned how to judge the freshness of food. I'll decide whether I'm going to make a tiramisu or an omelette based upon the form or taste of an egg yolk. What's really changed is the way I cook. I need to be flexible and cook ripe tomatoes or fruit promptly. On the internet I exchange experiences with other dumpster divers. I go dumpster diving three times a week and save over a thousand francs every month. But I don't just do it for the money. I want to work against the trend of food waste. Yesterday evening I found the following foods in two dumpsters: 200 g Nescafé Gold, 500 g green beans, a can of cat food, 6 onions, 7 red bell peppers, 4 lemons, 36 taco shells, 18 chocolate rolls, 250 g potatoes, 5 eggs, 300 g grapes, and 57 plums.
I would like to propose a toast to my parents, Jack and Dory Furness, who will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next Thursday.
When I left your bedside in Mexico nearly 18 months ago, I didn't think I'd be getting a chance to see you again, Mom. And I'm so happy to be seeing you again (even if only by Skype). I didn't expect to see you, yet here you are. What a gift! I sort of expected to see someone else at this reunion, but she couldn't make it. Robin died five years ago. And she is sorely missed. How strange our expectations can be.
Some of us have walked miles or donated money, many of us have pushed buttons, lit candles, and prayed for a cure for cancer. Sometimes I think we need to start seeing cancer as the cure, though. Cancer is a cure for our expectations. Cancer is a cure for our tendency to take so much, even life itself, for granted. Cancer is a cure for us thinking we've got everything in our own control. Cancer is a cure for us thinking it's a problem if we're stuck in traffic or late for a meeting. Cancer is a teacher, teaching us patience, strength, and love. Without cancer we have one more reason to think we're invincible, one more reason to think we're right, to argue, to wage war. Without cancer we might lose our compassion, our faith, our gratitude.
Marriage is kind of like cancer... Sometimes it hurts almost as much as chemotherapy. But it's also as beautiful as the smell of a newborn baby. When I lie my head on my husband's chest and hear his heart beat and feel grateful that his heart is still beating, knowing it won't beat forever – that is the cancer of marriage. Putting out fires together, cleaning up floods together, racing to the emergency room together – that is the cancer of marriage. Even if you operate it away, you always feel that missing organ. Marriage, so like cancer, teaches us patience, humility, gratefulness, love... and more patience.
Mom and Dad, you have survived your marriage for 60 years! I remember you telling me, Mom, that you wouldn't divorce Dad, but that you might kill him. Thanks to the patience your marriage has taught you both, you still haven't killed each other yet. We're grateful for that! We're grateful for your dedication. We're grateful also for the many examples you have set us. You taught us to work hard. You taught us how to make the best stuffing in the world on Thanksgiving. You taught us to look words up in dictionaries. You trusted us to climb trees and catch fish and stand at railings atop high cliffs. You trusted us to be out of sight at a playground, knowing we would come running at your whistle. You made us ice cream and cake and hotdogs that could snap in two. You taught us to clean and to sew. You taught us how to paint houses (well, half-way) and fix electrical plugs. You cleaned our fish and our shoes. You set an alarm in the middle of the night to give us penicillin, so many times. We didn't have pepper mills, garlic presses or bottled milk and the only bubbly water we drank came from the ground near Devil's Post Pile. But we had Perry Mason jello and we always had a full belly. You taught us to be good – “the goblins'll get you if you don't watch out!” You taught us to reuse plastic bags until there were more holes than plastic in them. You fed us leftovers and taught us “waste not want not” long after frugality had gone out of fashion. You taught us independence and became a great example of independence for us in your bold move to Mexico. And I know we'll be learning a lot more from you in the years to come.
I'd like to close with a poem from a great teacher and friend. It's called “You Bring Out...” by Robin Furness. It was written five years ago at the Furness reunion in Asilomar, on July 24, 2006.
“You Bring Out...” by Robin Furness
You bring out the Harpo Marx in me
Silent goofy in me
Blow that bicycle horn
Smile wide innocent in me.
The monk meditator
Trusting believer in me.
The life loving
Live wild ‘til I’m ninety
Don’t give a rip what
Anybody else thinks
Eccentric in me.
The Gandhi peacemaker
Inside and out in me.
Ten Thousand Dollars $10,000 - Enough for a great vacation or to buy a used car. Approximately one year of work for the average human on earth.
One Million Dollars $1,000,000 - Not as big of a pile as you thought, huh? Still this is 92 years of work for the average human on earth.
One Hundred Million Dollars $100,000,000 - Plenty to go around for everyone. Fits nicely on an ISO / Military standard sized pallet.
One Billion Dollars $1,000,000,000 - You will need some help when robbing the bank. Now we are getting serious!
One Trillion Dollars $1,000,000,000,000 - When the U.S government speaks about a $1.7 trillion deficit - this is the volumes of cash the U.S. Government borrowed in 2010 to run itself. Keep in mind it is double stacked pallets of $100 million dollars each, full of $100 dollar bills. You are going to need a lot of trucks to freight this around. If you spent $1 million a day since Jesus was born, you would have not spent $1 trillion by now...but ~$700 billion - same amount the banks got during bailout.
15 Trillion Dollars $15,000,000,000,000 - Unless the U.S. government fixes the budget, U.S. national debt will top $15 trillion by Christmas 2011. The Statue of Liberty seems rather worried as United States national debt passes 20% of the entire world's combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product). In 2011 the National Debt will exceed 100% of GDP, and venture into the 100%+ debt-to-GDP ratio that the European PIIGS have (bankrupting nations).
114.5 Trillion Dollars $114,500,000,000,000 - U.S. unfunded liabilities. To the right you can see the pillar of cold hard $100 bills that dwarfs the WTC & Empire State Building - both at one point world's tallest buildings. If you look carefully you can see the Statue of Liberty. The 114.5 trillion dollar super-skyscraper is the amount of money the U.S. Government knows it does not have to fully fund the Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Programme, Social Security, Military and civil servant pensions. It is the money the USA knows it will not have to pay all its bills. If you live in USA this is also your personal credit card bill; you are responsible along with everyone else to pay this back. The citizens of the USA created the U.S. Government to serve them, this is what the U.S. Government has done while serving The People. The unfunded liability is calculated on current tax and funding inputs, and future demographic shifts in U.S. population.
Struggles on the net reiterate struggles in real life, but insofar as they reiterate these struggles, they displace them. ...participation in online communities often provides a sense of satisfaction that actually dampens a willingness to interact with the real world.
When you’re communing with like-minded souls, you feel like you’re accomplishing something by arguing out the smallest details of your perfect future world, while the imperfect and actual world takes no notice...
Communicative capitalism designates that form of late capitalism in which values heralded as central to democracy take material form in networked communications technologies. Ideals of access, inclusion, discussion, and participation come to be realized in and through expansions, intensifications, and interconnections of global telecommunications...
The proliferation, distribution, acceleration, and intensification of communicative access and opportunity, far from enhancing democratic governance or resistance, results in precisely the opposite...
...the more opinions or comments that are out there, the less of an impact that any given one might make (and the more shock, spectacle or newness that is necessary for a contribution to register or have an impact). In sum, communication functions symptomatically to produce its own negation...
...the intense circulation of content in communicative capitalism forecloses the antagonism necessary for politics...
Instead of engaged debates, instead of contestations employing common terms, points of reference, or demarcated frontiers, we confront a multiplication of resistances and assertions so extensive that it hinders the formation of strong counter-hegemonies.
A contribution need not be understood; it need only be repeated, reproduced, forwarded. Clay Shirkey summarily puts it, “Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality” (Shirkey 2003).
...in an age celebrated for its communications there is no response...