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Nishtha : Imaginative Mellifluous Philosopher

What America IS and What America MEANS

Nishtha said Dec 22, 2006, 5:14 AM:

After reading Martha's and Nicole's responses to other posts I have contributed here, I decided to pick up dear Jacob's book and see what
page would open before me… I believe this is called libromancy…. ;-)

What America Is and What America Means
And yet America still means hope. Within the “world” that is America as it actually is, there waits another America, another world. Within, behind what America is there lies what America means. We are naive only when we confuse the two, when our feeling of hope is
directed toward the outer America that we perceive with the senses,
rather than the America we grasp with the mind and the heart. Because
this other America seems powerless or elusive does not mean it is not
real. Because America betrays its ideals is no reason to reject the
ideals themselves. We do not live in correspondence with the greater
life hidden within us; but that is no reason to deny that this hidden
life exists and calls to us.

My Inspiration - an “A-ha!” moment….
I grew up in upstate New York, a land that was first occupied by the Iroquois Confederacy before being settled by the early Dutch and German immigrants. Before
being handed over to the English, New York was known as New Amsterdam.
My affinity with the Dutch precedes my own life…. It's no wonder I've
found Zaadz to plant and cultivate!

My Motivation
In 7th grade, I learned of the Five Nations; the Seneca, the Cayuga, the
Onondaga, the Oneida, the Mohawk (and Wikipedia has just informed that
there was a sixth tribe, added later, called the Tuscarora). I learned
that extended families lived together in longhouses, that families were
matrilineal and matriarchal, that they believed in a Great Spirit and
in the sacredness of Nature. I'm remembering the reverence I held for
them then. I'm motivated to search for ways to incorporate their voice
in this conversation about “American Soul.”

Nicole : wakingdreamer

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Nicole said Dec 31, 2006, 6:24 PM:

i believe this is an important distinction, just as, being a Canadian, i must distinguish between the ideals of what my country stands for and
the reality that we often fall far short of that…




Kira : Creative Quester

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Kira said Jan 6, 2007, 2:44 AM:

hi Nishtha,

sorry it's taken me so long to add something to this thread – it's been a busy week

your post reminded me of an experience I had many years ago in Scotland – I've spent a lot of time in Scotland, and years ago I became good
friends with an English family that had moved to the Scottish Highlands
– I spent time with them on several trips there and got to know them
well – one evening the man said something that fascinated me – he said
that there was so much anti-American sentiment in Europe – such disdain
for the rampant materialism and cowboy foreign policy and all the rest
– but he said that he saw in me and in some other Americans he'd met a
quality that, to him, embodied the best of America – a claiming of our
permission to be ourselves and to not always be making excuses for
ourselves – he said that the way he was raised in England, he was
always apologizing for himself and hesitating to take up any space – we
had a pretty interesting discussion about the cultural differences

this also reminds me of something Caroline Myss said many years ago in a
workshop I attended – that humanity goes through evolutionary stages –
the first stage is tribal thinking (everything for the group) – the
second stage is individualism (as in the group version of the psyche
individuating, which is a very healthy step), and the third stage is
healthy interdependence, where we're able to retain our freedom and we
also relate to each other as part of the same organism, if you will –
it seems to me that America as we know it has paved the way for the
second stage, but (as Caroline said) many Americans forget, or don't
know, that there's anything beyond individualism

Nishtha : Imaginative Mellifluous Philosopher

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Nishtha said Jan 14, 2007, 7:04 AM:

Dear Kira, Nicole et al.,

I was moved today to check back in here and make another contribution from Jacob Needleman's book. At first, I thought that I would begin a
new discussion thread but, the more I looked at this topic, and
reflected upon the responses that the two of you have already posted, I
feel confident that this excerpt belongs here….

“The Guardian at the Door
Man's life is what it is because man is what he is. The American plan of government was based on that truth. Man is corrupt and needs a specific kind of government in order to restrain
his corruption - yes. But man also has within him Reason (or God) and
needs a specific form of government in order to allow the kind of
seeking that can open the individual and his or her community to the
experience and the action of that Reason, that God, that Good.

The inspired form of the Constitution and the institutions of the American
government may sometimes tempt us to imagine that the Founders
believed, or should have believed, that it is external laws and
principles of legal process that can improve human life and keep it
safe. Nothing could be further from the truth. They understood,
implicitly through the philosophy or religion they adhered to, and many
times surely explicitly, that it is through the perfection of the self
that human life on earth can become what it is meant to become.
Government was there to protect that process, to allow that
process; government was there to stand guard at the door to the room
where men and women actually seek, rather than just speak about, truth,
justice and the common good.”

These words resonant so strongly with me…..Jacob Needleman's take on ”What America MEANS” reminds me of why I feel such a strong sense of pride when I think of
myself as an American….It's the actions of my leaders in this day and
age that cause me to feel ambivalence about this aspect of my identity;
the decisions and actions made in my name, or using my tax dollars, are what create this heart-rending sadness and shame when I admit my citizenship.

And I don't want to feel this sadness and this shame. I want to take back
my country. I want America to be a leader in the world….A leader for
peace, a leader for hope, a leader for freedom, and a leader
for prosperity….of mind, of spirit, and of body…..This is what my
dreams are made of….

Nicole : wakingdreamer

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Nicole said Jan 16, 2007, 12:27 PM:

Amen, sister! Namaste,


Kira : Creative Quester

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Kira said Jan 16, 2007, 2:00 PM:

Nishtha, thanks so much for your recent post in this thread – it makes me think about how bizarre it is that the current administration considers it
disloyalty, and even treason, to challenge it or disagree with it –
that attitude is fascism, not democracy – it’s not the office of the
president that is “sacred” (I use that term loosely) in the United
States – it’s the Constitution and the principles of justice put into
practice, which create a foundation on which people can live in freedom
and develop to their fullest potential – so many people nowadays get it
backward, allowing the Constitution to be trashed while president is
revered, no matter how low his IQ, how corrupt his values, and how
clear the evidence that he’s suffering from premature dementia

Nishtha : Imaginative Mellifluous Philosopher

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Nishtha said Jan 24, 2007, 2:21 AM:

Kira, I have been sitting with the words you posted to this blog for quite a while now….so much of what you have shared has resonated very strongly
with me…and yet, I felt discontent at the downward spiral I felt I was
getting myself caught within…

I just posted this entry to my blog today:

Two of the life lessons I have realized are on my plate during this stint at “Earth school” are:
* Patience
* Persistence

I believe that both are of the utmost importance and necessary in dealing with the America that IS….I hope that all the actions taken, great and small (e.g., the march on Washington slated for this January
27th and my act of meditation this evening) will have their desired
effect….perhaps it will take longer than we would like, but patience
and persistence could still win in the end….

Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about an end to injustice regarding racial inequality…His dream was not realized in his lifetime and has not yet been realized to the extent that it could….but I still am
emboldened and inspired by the notion that “we shall overcome, we shall
overcome, we shall overcome….someday.”

That he lived and preached and marched and negotiated and inspired and motivated…. in this, the United States of America, a country full of bigotry and racism and steeped in a war (Vietnam), reminds me once
again of What America MEANS.

I have a dream….
…and I will do what I can to spread my message of Love and Hope….
…and I will not let the current President and Vice-President of the United States of America turn my Love into
anger/hate/fear/doubt/frustration….even as it may directed towards

…and I will stand (and sit and walk and speak and sing) as a proud citizen of my country.
…and I will hold up my light for any, and all, who want to stand with me.

Michael : catalyst-producer

Re: What America IS and What America MEANS

Michael said Feb 14, 2007, 1:41 PM:

Is it not the case that OUR leaders need a little more godliness ?

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