Our brother's keeper

Our brother's keeper

The recent Supreme Court decision on affordable health care, and the reaction to it, prompts some thoughts about freedom and responsibility, and how these things relate to our inner state.

The objections to the health care legislation have centered around the government's right to require citizens to buy insurance or pay a penalty. The freedom invoked in this point of view seems to me to be a cover for a refusal to be mindful of the obligations of living in a community, whether it's the immediate community or the larger American society. As technology advances and brings more meaning to being part of a global society, our inner state becomes more connected to the state of the world around us.

Being at peace with oneself is inextricable from being at peace with our surroundings and with our human family. At the core, satisfaction has to do with belonging, and belonging requires a devotion to something extra-personal. If we could all find a way to "be our brother's keeper," it would advance the promise of inner peace for everyone.

Avram Chetron lives in Ashland, sings in several local choirs, teaches at OLLI and works on whatever life presents him.

The mind's lake

&byline;By Sally McKirgan

&byline2;For the Tidings

"Let's go to the lake."

That's what I overheard someone next door say as I was connecting the nozzle to my garden hose for the dreaded window-washing project. Earlier I had noticed a sporty red truck connected to a sparkling blue and white Bayliner speedboat. It was one of the happiest of statements I have heard in a long time and it was said with so much excitement and sweet anticipation that I wanted to go, too! Wait for me!

As I washed my windows and scrubbed off the sweet little fingerprints from a busy bee 3-year-old grandson and 1-year-old granddaughter's window kisses, I decided to go to the lake. It is the big beautiful lake seen with the Mind's Eye.

In a meditation class I learned you can use your creative imagination to go anywhere you want. It can be an "escape" whenever things get crazy or a handy trick to use when trying to get to sleep at night. A trip to a big beautiful lake is better than counting fuzzy sheep.

As the noted new age author Ram Dass delightfully pointed out in his book, "Chop Wood, Carry Water," we can do mundane things and still be at peace. It is a matter of choice. Rather than mentally fighting whatever task is in front of us, we can resolve to be happy anyway. Be happy now!

So instead of fighting the windows or being upset over having to do it, I was given the perfect inspiration that led me to the lake in my mind.

What does your inner lake look like? Mine has smooth, still water with a little wave gently washing the shore. There is a warm sun and a small breeze to cool the face now and then. The trees at the water's edge accommodate a variety of birds and their occasional twitters and tweets fill the air. There is a comfy lounge chair and I close my eyes and rest in peace. Apologies to my neighbor, but my lake does not allow powerboats, preferring only nature's sounds.

So close your eyes and imagine a place you love. Wherever it is, it will always bring peace of mind and will be your summer escape no matter what you are doing.

The Ashland Daily Tidings invites residents of the Rogue Valley to submit articles on inner peace — where do we find it and what method or path has been helpful. Send your article of 600 to 700 words to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@live.com.