Monday Meeting — Love Has No Labels

There are few images more evocative of the human body than a skeleton. But it’s easy to disassociate this image with actual people.

In the “Love Has No Labels” PSA featured in the video above, the skeleton is used as a symbolic reminder that — simply put — we’re all human, despite our varying identities. The yearlong initiative aims to call out some of our latent biases and prejudices.

As “Love Has No Labels” says in its mission: “Before anything else, we are all human. It’s time to embrace diversity. Let’s put aside labels in the name of love.”

To help underscore their point, the Ad Council and R/GA, a New York-based ad agency, set up a large X-ray screen outside in Santa Monica, California, this past Valentine’s Day. The display shows skeletons kissing, dancing, holding hands and hugging behind the screen. These images were initially more puzzling than moving to viewers. But as diverse pairings of people step out from behind the screen, the display takes on a larger meaning.

Two kissing skeletons in the first image, reveal themselves to be two women. They step out to wave at the surprised, but receptive, audience, and kiss again. Next, a dancing skeleton duo that turns out to be an interracial couple takes the stage. In the end, people from a wide-range of identities, genders, ages, abilities and religions comes out from behind the screen. The audience celebrates each person with applause, smiles and tears.

“We decided to take this on because we felt it was very important to encourage people, all Americans, to examine their unconscious biases,” Lisa Sherman, Ad Council president and CEO, told Adweek. “As much progress as we’ve made as a country, we absolutely still have more work to do.”

The campaign is in partnership with eight nonprofits that celebrate diversity. The Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, specializes in civil rights litigation for a range of marginalized groups. Other partners include The Anti-Defamation League, which combats hate crimes and anti-Semitism, and The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group.

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Huff Post — Good News
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Thursday Re-View — To My Son on His Wedding Day

September 13, 2014

The day is finally here. You’re getting married. To a lovely young woman, too. Another milestone in your life. You learned how to walk and talk and use the potty and swim, gave up diapers and bottles and pacifiers, graduated from high school and college, went to prom and got your driver’s license, passed your boards, became a second degree black belt, learned krav maga and so much more… But this milestone is huge. This is being an adult, big-time.

I’ll spare you the “it seems like only yesterday” that I remember so and so or such and such. Well – maybe just one – it seems like yesterday that I held you in the hospital, the baby against the odds…my Alex. Here we are, 29 (lightning) years later.

Now you’re to be someone else’s Alex besides mine. I’d like to impart age-old wisdom about marriage, but if I had all the answers, your Dad and I wouldn’t have gotten divorced. But that had nothing to do with you, only to do with us. None of us gets married expecting to part, and neither should you.

But I have learned some things along the way – important things; vitally important things.

Like the need for trust, respect, honesty, equality and communication in a relationship.

To trust the other person with yourself. To respect the dignity of another human being at all costs. To seek the truth and be honest, always. To recognize your spouse as different, but equal. Above all, to keep the communication channels open, even when you don’t feel like it.

If you remember these things, almost any differences – and there will be plenty of those – can be resolved in a mutually beneficial way.

Marriage is not easy. Sometimes it’s a challenge to remember those vows, even on a day-to-day basis. But it’s worth it. Human beings were made for companionship, to work in partnership, to experience love.

And remember that you can love someone but not always like them. Go easy on yourself; you’re only human. And so is your wife. No one is perfect, and no one has all the answers. Everyone has good days and not-so-good days. But when the two of you work together, you’ll get through just about anything that life puts in front of you.

Remember, too, not to lose yourself in another person. There’s that wonderful part of the two of you that no one else can touch, but it’s so important to allow each other your own identities as well. You’ll be Marissa’s husband, Theresa’s son, Ed’s partner, Poppy and Mimi’s grandson, Aunt Pat’s nephew and godson…but you’ll also always be simply Alex, with your own interests apart from those as a couple. The Alex who never loses himself, yet becomes better because of his partner in life. That’s so important.

There are some rules in fair fighting, and one of the biggest is to let the past rest in the past. Once you have resolved something, don’t keep bringing it up to re-hash it. That’s not fair. Once it’s done, it’s done. End of story. While we’re on rules for fair fighting, here are some more suggestions: no name calling; don’t let the sun go down on your anger; no physical fighting or hitting – ever; no mind-reading; what you say at home stays at home.

Remember, too: don’t keep score; marriage is not a competition. It’s a partnership of equals. And don’t be afraid to ask for your own space…everyone needs to breathe, some times more than others. Also remember that your happiness is not your spouse’s responsibility – you are responsible for your own happiness. As for drama – well, keep that to a minimum. And don’t let friends or in-laws interfere – period.

I wish you happiness and joy, contentment and peace. But most of all, I wish you love. Always love…

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The Wedding Song

He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubador is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is love, there is love.

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is love, there is love.

Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer, then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?
Oh there’s love, there is love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain

For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is love, there is love.
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Monday Meeting — Mufasa’s Rescue

A video capturing the heartwarming rescue of an abandoned senior dog is reminding us this week of the power of second chances.

Before his rescue, Mufasa the dog had been living at a water treatment plant in Los Angeles — sick, alone and surrounded by hazards including tanks of what appeared to be dangerous chemicals.

Fortunately, Eldad Hagar, the founder of animal rescue organization Hope for Paws, learned of Mufasa’s plight from an employee at the facility and quickly rushed to the dog’s aid.

The rescue itself proved to be no picnic, however. When Hagar and his companions got there, the weary pooch, visibly scared and shaken, was reluctant to get close.

“He just sat there, not trusting us,” Hagar told The Huffington Post. “[A woman at the water treatment plant] told me that if he falls into one of the pools, the filters would just suck him in and there’s nothing they can do. It was kind of tricky.”

But despite the challenges, Mufasa’s rescuers persevered, and after plenty of coaxing and offering of treats, they managed to place a leash on the dog to lead him to safety.

“Though Mufasa was frightened to be rescued, he quickly embraced the second chance he was being given,” stated a press release about the video, which, in addition to Hope For Paws, credited senior dog rescue Lionel’s Legacy with giving Mufasa that chance.

And what a difference that’s made.

After being showered, treated by doctors for an ear infection and intestinal parasites, and smothered with love and kisses, Mufasa has found a new lease on life.

“He became the sweetest thing,” Hagar said of the dog’s transformation, adding, “You can see how happy he is, he’s like a puppy now. He’s so happy to be alive and well.”

Mufasa, whom a veterinarian estimated is between 8 and 10 years old, is now living with a foster family through Lionel’s Legacy and is looking for a forever home.

Just one glimpse at this beautiful face is proof enough of the power of second chances.

mufasa

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Huffington Post
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Thursday Re-View — And the Pilgrims Came…

This was written while on retreat in Assisi, Italy.
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And the Pilgrims Came…

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

Faces wreathed in wonder at your tomb, prayerful, reverential, respectful.
The young girl’s smile widened, the older woman’s face smoothed, the man’s countenance glowed.

To that Holy Place, that Sacred Ground, that Place of Silent Wonder.
A communion of souls, a self-made gentling of our armor, a slowing of our racing lives.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

The hiss of lighted candles, the crack of knees bent in homage, the murmurs of prayer.
A gathering, a fellowship, a commonality of simplicity.

The Prayer of St. Francis. Canticle of the Creatures.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon and the stars. Lady Poverty.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

One small man, bleeding the wounds of Christ, staunching our bruised souls with your love.
One small voice, deep in the wooded forest, ringing across the world to humanity.

A patched, threadbare tunic, a hair shirt, leg coverings for your stigmata,
worn sandals that flapped against the ground, mapping your mission for all to hear.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

The bells, calling us to prayer, to weep, to rejoice, to reflect.
Their echoes tolling for the souls of the lost, and for those who are found.

And the Pilgrims came…

Assisi

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