Hope Lives On

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Reviving of this blog

In coming weeks, I will be re-branding and reviving this blog. Over the past four years, my attention has focused largely on work, studies and my social media pages. Now the time has come to utilize my blogs. My other blog, which I also will re-brand and revitalize is rscottharrison.

My very active social media pages are on both Facebook and Twitter, and I invite you to check them out and to friend or follow me on any of them. My personal pages are Robert Scott Harrison (R Scott Harrison) and rscottharrison on Facebook and Twitter, respectively. My Facebook advocacy and activism pages are Standing Together for the Rights of All People (STRAP) and Standing Together for the Rights of All People in the Americas (STRAP-Am) and the accompanying Twitter pages, respectively, are standing4all and Standing4AllAm

Friday, January 11, 2008

Re-branding of "Hope Lives On"

After taking a hiatus from blogging that lasted just over three years, in recent weeks I have come to the conclusion once again that the most effective way to share my thoughts, feelings and passions with others in this season of my life needs to be through blogging. This time around, I decided to have different blogs to serve varied purposes.

I debated on closing this blog and starting fresh, but decided against that for several reasons. As expressed at the top of the blog, "Hope Lives On" will now focus on significant issues of concern to LGBT people and to people affected or infected by HIV/AIDS and/or Hepatitis A, B and C. I include Hepatitis A, B and C in the list of possible topics because, unfortunately, I have known a disproportionate number of people who self-identify as LGBT and are living with or are affected by these diseases. Over time, I am sure that the realm of topics will become more focused.

Already we are eleven days into 2008. I reflect on how long it has been since I last posted on this blog and am amazed both at how much time has past and at what all has transpired in my own life in a relatively short amount of time. As one reflection of some of the many changes in my life since December 2004, I am now able to readily find my name in a Google search with regard to various things I have done since 2006. That will be a topic for a separate posting, however. This type of popularity has created its own set of issues through which I am working.

Since 2005 I have also grown considerably in the spiritual, psychological, social and professional arenas of life. I am grateful for many things as I move forward into 2008. I choose to have confidence and hope that, regardless what happens this year, I can find ways to grow from my experiences. This past year I knew eight people who died of cancer or heart problems and was vaguely acquainted with another who was killed in a tragic accident. That is sobering on the one hand, but, on the other hand, I am grateful that I have started to learn how to embrace death as a part of life. Somehow, though I grieve over these losses, they do not faze me as much as similar losses have in the past.

There are many other significant lessons I have been learning these past few years as well. One of these lessons has to do with my attitude. In the past, I let my attitude toward life be shaped in large part by my needing to find a way to survive when things happened to me. Increasingly, I am learning that I have the power and responsibility to choose my attitude--one which not only allows me to survive, but also enables me to thrive despite my having gone through some significant suffering. I am also learning that my attitude in a very real sense affects what I see happening in the world and that affects what my experience is. As we all know so well, suffering is a part of life for every human. For many years, I was continually striving to make sense of much of what had happened in my own life and in the world. For years I was angry and bitter and I let it consume me. Now I am starting to come into a place where I am letting go, so to speak. All of that is to say that more that anything else, perhaps, in the past three years I have started to really learn that it is my attitude toward suffering that can transform me for the better, keep me stuck or cause me to go in a negative direction.

As I move toward my 45th birthday in a little more than a month, I reflect with gratitude and joy on how much I have grown since my 40th birthday. So many people have played a key role in helping me to grow throughout my life, and I am thankful to each person I have known, but especially to those who have been most supportive of me, including family members, friends and colleagues. This attitude of thankfulness is something I have cultivated in the past three years. It has changed my life for the better.

Over the past three years, in part because of some very traumatic situations, I have also learned to do things that go against the grain for all of us. I started to practice concertedly forgiving, blessing (well-wishing and releasing) and also being thankful for those people in life who are not so easy for me to get along with, who may not be helpful or who may even do me harm. It has taken me awhile to get to where I am in this practice, and I am far from making much true progress in this arena. One of the key lessons here has been to realize that here too I always have a choice in what my attitude is toward people and circumstances, even when I am in great pain. coupled with this, I also am learning that I always have a choice to be open to learning from whatever comes my way. All of this for me is both scary and challenging, but it has also been exciting and deeply rewarding.

Finally, another major lesson for me has been to acknowledge my limitations as a human as well as my higher potential as one empowered by God for change in my own life and in the world. I have learned that I need to be true to who I am and acknowledge what I sense is the reality of God, or of a Higher Power, a Source, Higher Consciousness, Spirit, the Universe, or whatever you want to call a unifying life force that we can all choose to access. While I choose to call this Power "God" and identify primarily in Judeo-Christian terminology, that does not mean that I am not open to other perspectives and language in describing this Reality, but I do see myself as clearly Christian--just open to dialogue and this Reality being revelead in many ways. Indeed, you may notice some "Buddhist" overtones in the way I express some of what I have written here, but that is perhaps more because there seems to be a fair amount of cross-over between Western psychology and Buddhist thought.

Key to this "revelation" that I need to acknowledge and access my Higher Power (the Holy Spirit, in Christian language) in the process of consciously resisting my ego (lower self or "sin nature" in historic biblical language) and engaging with my higher self ("new creation", again in Christian biblical language), I have started to realize and acknowledge that while there is much that I want to change for the better, there is so much that I can do nothing about. And I am gradually learning to find peace with myself and with God despite that. The flip side of the coin, however is that I am learning that if I choose to engage with my higher potential for good and this Power for Good in the Universe (God), I can do far more than I ever would have imagined possible even a few years ago. If I were to put this in strictly Christian language, I might say that if I listen to the leadings of God's Spirit and follow them then with God there is nothing that is impossible.

With all of that said, let me wrap things up here by saying that as much as I would like for this blog to serve as a tool for creating positive change in our world around LGBT issues and those of people affected/infected by HIV/AIDS or a strain of hepatitis, I cannot expect it to do so. I need to acknowledge that perhaps this blog, more than anything, is simply a way for me to express my passions about certain issues so that I can get those thoughts and feelings out into the open rather than internalize them. Perhaps the biggest lesson I am learning in middle age is that I need to let go of things constantly and try to live in the present moment. One way of practicing this letting out process is for me to express or "let out" my thoughts and feelings about whatever is burdening me and to do so in as constructive a manner as possible. For me it is in this letting out of the concerns that I am able to find a way of letting go of whatever burdens me so that I do not let it consume me. While I cannot presume it, it still remains my hope that in my process of expressing myself here some of what I share will educate, encourage and motivate others in their own life journeys.

Whatever happens in 2008, I hope and pray that we all can find a way to make peace with what is going on and find an attitude that allows us to transcend the challenges we all face. Happy New Year, everybody! Here's to the best possible year for all of us! It will be whatever we each choose to make it. May hope live on for each of us!

Friday, December 10, 2004

And Now for Some Good News!

There have been several recent stories that should give those of us struggling for the rights of gay and lesbian people some hope. Though most of the "good news" is not in the United States, it is important to keep in mind that as things change in other civilized countries, eventually that might swing the tide with reasonable people more toward inclusion in the United States as well.

One of these stories is sure to make big news in coming months. It has to do with how Canada's Supreme Court yesterday gave the go ahead for the national Parliament to legalize "gay marriage". You can read about this at the following links:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=17&u=/ap/20041210/ap_on_re_ca/canada_same_sex_marriage

http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2004/12/09/1


Links for other important stories that affect both our country and others are as follow:

New zealand grants civil unions: http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2004/12/09/2

Gay rights group gets official European Union (EU) status: http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2004/12/09/4

Lambda Defense promotes gay students' rights in wake of US election and rise in hate crimes since the election:
http://www.gay.com/news/article.html?2004/12/09/3

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Supporting "In The Life"

I was excited to learn about some new developments with the gay and lesbian TV program "In the Life" which is featured on PBS. See the link below for more information and to learn how you and others might help:

http://itl.tv/promotions/yec/

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Smile, Here We Go Again!

10:40 p.m. PST

I read with interest a few minutes ago that the Bush Administration is getting behind the attempts to display the Ten Commandments on government property. Link: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041209/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_ten_commandments

Normally I LET myself get quite upset with a story like that. I'll say things to myself like "How dare they do that?" then stew in my own juices. Yet I was happy with myself tonight because for once I was able to resist those immediate surges of anger, the "How dare they do that!" types of personal energy expenditures (really, wastes of my limited energy). Tonight, for once, I caught myself, just lightly chuckled and said in my mind: "Yes, well what else would I expect? What else is new under the sun?"

After all, this battle between those who would hold to a strict interpretation of the separation of Church and State is over 200 years old now and is most likely not going to be resolved anytime in my lifetime. I had to remind myself that me CHOOSING to raise my blood pressure and allow myself to release endorphins and addrenaline, create excess stomach acid and get all bent out of shape over yet another battle is not going to do me any good. And how is me taking offense at what I consider to be yet another assault on the civil liberties of all Americans going to change that reality tonight?

Certainly, I am not negating the importance of this news story or of the reality that civil liberties seem to be under ever-increasing attack by those whose ultimate goal has to do with blurring the historic lines of separation between church and state in this country. Nor am I saying that at times I should not take concrete action to try to create change in the world around me. What I am saying is that, as the old adage goes, I need to learn to pick my battles carefully. Certainly I welcome comments and postings on this site regarding issues having to do with the many types of assaults on freedom and justice for all Americans and all of humanity. Nevertheless, I was glad to be able to remind myself tonight about what matters most in life, about what it is that enables me to carry on day to day with any measure of hope for creating change in a tough world.

Though I dare not congratulate myself tonight, I can say that I am happy that in this moment I am not "wasting" (i.e.: expending) a lot of energy on something I can not change. Tonight, as I ran across this news story, I "happened" to be listening to the local Public Broadcasting System (PBS) tv station. I find it rather humorous that Public Television often saves some of their most interesting programming for the marathon fund drives they do to raise their funding, though I certainly understand the reasoning there and believe in supporting PBS in every way possible. Link: www.pbs.org

Tonight the local PBS station was broadcasting Dr. Wayne Dyer's lectures on "The Power of Intention". Link: http://www.drwaynedyer.com/home/index.cfm

Much of what he says makes a heck of a lot of sense for someone like me who is so easily angered, upset and offended by the many injustices in this world. The whole point of his message on intention has to do with the power of connecting with "God" or our Source of Being, in the words of the Christian theologian Paul Tillich. For all good things emanate from the Source. That is truly something that I have to remember more often and I am grateful for that reminder tonight. In days ahead, as times continue to be challenging, I am going to choose to live more and more out of that Center of Being. As I get older, I am realizing that this is not a religious thing so much as a psycho-spiritual law of the universe: I simply am not capable of doing good for others unless I stay centered and connected to my Source of Being which gives me the love and hope I need for myself so that I can share it with others.

I will close for tonight with a famous prayer whose origins are shrouded in mystery--something not uncommon for many well-known prayers and quotations. Nevertheless, there is a general consensus, at least in recent years, that this prayer owes its most famous rendering over the past 100 years to a "hero" of mine--the great Twentieth Century American Christian theologian, pastor, social ethicist, professor and . . . social activist Rheinhold Niebuhr. Links: http://open-mind.org/Serenity.htm and http://recovery.hiwaay.net/jtr/serenity.html

You may recognize the prayer below as the "Serenity Prayer" made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Step movement. Regardless of its source, its wisdom applies to all of us--especially to a person like me who so easily tries to take on the battles of the entire universe. This prayer has often been quoted and used by those who realized that they were powerless to change many things in their own lives. They seemed to learn that creating change in the world around us begins with creating change within ourselves--that as we choose to rely daily upon the power of the Source in our lives we are able to effect lasting change in our own lives and in the lives of others. That is certainly something I want.

Without a doubt, Dr. Niebuhr was one who knew the importance of staying centered and connected to the Divine in the midst of his life-long struggles for peace and justice for all people. Perhaps that is one of the most important reasons that he was able to do so much to leave a lasting legacy of change not only in this country, but around the world. After all, few scholars in recent history have written as much as he did or gotten out in the field like he did to actively work for a better world.

Tonight as I pray the Serenity Prayer I will remind myself what really matters in life as I take one small step toward creating change in myself and in this world.

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change . . .
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hope Comes Alive

There are many important causes and concerns that we can be occupied with, especially at this time of year when our eyes are more easily drawn outwards from ourselves than they might be at other seasons.

Recently I heard the gay Scotish actor Alan Cummings share something about the causes which he concerns himself with. I thought that perhaps sharing the link for his website and for a few important organizations which work for compassion and fairness for all people would be timely.

For information on causes Alan Cummings supports, go to www.alancummings.com/frame.htm and click on the tab "The Bon Viveur" then on the subcategory of "Alan Supports".

I was impressed that recently Alan Cummings traveled across part of China to raise money for amfAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. The link for amfAR is www.amfAR.org.

On the Alan Cummings website, go to the section entitled "Up and Cumming" to learn more about his TrekAsia for AmfAR and www.trekasia.kintera.org.

Two other links for organizations which I am familiar with and which stand out to me from Alan's website are as follows:

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS at www.bcefa.org

and

United for Peace and Justice at www.unitedforpeace.org

There are many organizations working for compassion and fairness for all people. What is important is not so much what causes we support as that we do something to leave this big world a better place.

In this special season of hope and light, may you know true love and peace and share it freely!

Lupine

Monday, December 06, 2004

In honor of Matthew Shepard

Recently ABC's "20/20" ran a program with the intent or raising questions about why Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered in 1998. Much has already been written about Matthew Shepard. Regardless whether Matthew Shepard was on drugs or even sold drugs and regardless whether he was gay or had HIV, he was a human being and did not deserve to die as he did.

To honor the memory of Matthew Shepard and the many others who since his death have suffered similar fates in part or in whole because they were hated due to their race, religion, sexual orientation or other aspects of their humanity, I will simply include below a link for a website that give better tributes to the life of Matthew Shepard and touches on the issues involved than I can do justice to here. I hope you will take the time to visit this site. If you do, it can also link you with other places to go to learn more about honoring the lives of those who suffer because of prejudice and hatred in our society:

Grief, Healing, and Learning--A Tribute Site Dedicated to the Memory of Matthew Wayne Shepard: http://www.tchastings.com/matt.html