Posts Tagged With: United States

Our Journey To Solve Global Problems

Teach-Girls-End-World-PovertyWe are on a journey to see that problems in our world which technically need not exist be eliminated through understanding and implementing solutions.

It is within my reason that there is no technical reason why people on earth lack life’s vital needs such as clean water, healthy food, safe shelter, and access to tools enabling communication and education (e.g. relationships).

We as human beings have engineered incredible technological achievements that could easily provide a high quality of life for all people. Because we have the capability, but have not yet chosen to utilize technology for the betterment and liberation of those who are imprisoned by the devices of poverty, my conclusion can only be that the true solutions to our world’s problems dwell within the thinking and heart of each individual, community, country, and species of humanity.

A change in our thinking and what we view to be important is the first step in seeing generosity spread, first from the individual, then to the community, and then through the world. When a community knows generosity they know no poverty because the resources available are freely shared with each other, not for profit or power over each other, but from a realization that the welfare of another is also the welfare of our-self. If I am well fed while another is starving, while the resources are available for both of us to be well fed, this screams to the attention that something must be done, something must change.

When I first began to become aware of the problems of starvation, disease, lack of clean water, and the countless deaths of children happening around the world due to poverty, I found myself questioning how one could possibly make a difference in regards to the problems which have existed for as long as any of us can remember. What confounded my logic all the more was to learn that the problems didn’t need to actually exist. I first thought that surely these problems are just the way things are and there is no changing the way things are. I took a deep journey of introspection to discover the core of these problems in hopes of also discovering a way to solve the problem within us that perpetuates “the way things are.”

I first traveled across the United States to meet the homeless. I grew up in a lower-middle class home which by no means was wealthy by American standards, but I had also never experienced what it was truly like not to have a roof over my head at night, food in my belly, and the many other comforts which life for most in America avails. So, I wanted to go to cities through America to met the homeless, those often overlooked by the majority of society, to understand how they had arrived to the circumstantial place in life they had.

I went with the intent of providing meals for those who were hungry, and although food was appreciated, I discovered that the true thing the homeless desired was simply my time, recognition of their humanity, and someone who would listen. This was my first clue into what can make a difference – relationship to one another.

We live in a world with unsurpassed tools of communication and connecting with one another. But on the other hand, this enhancement of ability to connect with one another, I think, has lead to us growing more disconnected in ways that can be difficult to measure with algorithms and metrics. How can we measure the level of connection with one another? That, to me, is something quite intangible which cannot  be so easily defined with numbers and letters. A deep connection of relationship to one another is something that can be expressed simply in the look two people exchange with one another, the touch of a hug or pat on the back, and the time spent simply listening to another tell their story. Listening is a two-way activity and is starkly different than reading someone’s story through a news article, facebook feed, or blog post.

When the human connection is made we begin to feel that another’s well being is important to us, and the spirit of generosity begins to be given room to grow.

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The Child Who Will Die If We Do Not Act

We are all familiar with the images spread by non-profit organizations of starving children with flies covering their bodies as they rot in the streets of impoverished villages around the world. This post isn’t going to be one of those advertisements. This post is not meant to guilt trip anyone into doing anything, but to inspire us with the notion that we can make a difference in someone’s life now.

In 2006 I had a dream. In that dream I was walking the streets of one of those impoverished villages of which advertising has made us familiar. I came upon a small child, sitting in the street, and instantly knew that his life would end tomorrow because he didn’t have clean and safe water. I also had the revelation in the dream that I could give my life for him to have another day, and I did.

From that moment I was changed. I now had a mission in life: to do anything I could to see that the child in my dream, as unknown as he was to me personally, would have a chance at living. And each of us has that opportunity right now.

Clean water is the most fundamental element of life. It is technically illogical that nearly 1 billion people on earth lack access to that vital resource. We have the ability, engineering capacity, and finances to make it happen – clean water for the world. But it has to be a priority. Providing clean water must be seen as highly relevant not only to those who are in need of safe water, but relevant to those of us who simply walk into our kitchen or step into our shower to quench our thirst and clean ourselves.

A water well, costing as little as $5,000 can provide clean water to 250 – 500 people for 10 – 20 years. This means that merely $1 can potentially give clean water to that child who was dying in my dream for an entire year.  Clean water not only impacts lives with quenching thirst and sanitation, but impacts nearly all other aspects of the health of the individual and community. Water enables agriculture and the growing of food. But more importantly than simply the physical benefits of clean water, it provides hope, and when a community has hope, everything changes.

Will you join with me in committing to eliminate the lack of access to clean water around the world? Please connect with me to discuss projects you may know about working to provide clean water, let me know about organizations I should support through my long-distance walking, or make a donation to fund the projects I support. Your donation, even if just $1 will have a huge impact on the life of someone in need.

Thank you for your time,

Dylan

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Walking as Meditation

560919_324582447633583_2146583692_nI wish to write a few words on the topic of walking as meditation. Meditation, prayer, or whatever you want to call it, is a practice by which we become settled and at peace. It brings us to the present in that it is by its nature a manifestation of what occurs when we are quiet, still, and simply observe where and who we are.

Meditation is something which occurs naturally. It doesn’t need us to force the issue in order to happen. To intentionally meditate for the purpose of getting something in return, is not true meditation. To explain further we need to distinguish the difference between walking as mediation, and meditating as a means to an end.

As we walk to enjoy our surroundings, slowly observing the trees, people, and other living organisms, the experience brings with it a sense stillness. We didn’t need to look for it or try with all our might to be still, because of course if we’re trying really hard for something, exerting all of our energy for some purpose or pursuit, we aren’t being still. But when we let go of trying to achieve something we thought we didn’t have, we are finally able to see that we’ve always had it awaiting us to see it for ourselves.

As we meditate our thoughts seem to clear. It is not as though our mind becomes emptied, but the confusion of the conscious is put to bed. We come into contact with who we really are beneath the veiled thoughts and symbolic disguises that perpetuate our outward lives. In one sense, meditation brings us to a place where the mask we wear vanishes and we see who we are – who everything is – beneath the mask we call our persona.

Walking is a perfectly natural exercise, and the best way to be alert and aware of our world. There was a time in recent history where all of humanity walked all of the time. Perhaps you may have a grandparent who can still tell stories of walking 8 hours to school in the snow everyday. (Although I suspect some of those stories are at least slightly embellished.) We once walked all the time, anytime we wished to go somewhere. I propose that this is one reason for the increasing epidemic of obesity in societies which now rely so heavily on machine-modes of transportation. We now drive to a gym that is 5 miles from our home so that we can run 5 miles upon a treadmill. Does that make sense to us?

Walking should be done as the heart beats, as the lungs breath, and as the eye sees. You do not have to tell your heart to beat, it does it on its own. In this way, we should not walk for what rewards we might gain; rather, we walk because it is in our nature to need to venture beyond the four walls of our home. When two lovers get into a heated argument it is quite common for one of them to end the hostilities with a proclamation of “I’m going for a walk!” Perhaps if couples fought more often people would walk more as well. Ha ha ha. My point being that we intrinsically know that walking is an activity that naturally brings about a clearing of the mind and stillness to be at peace with who we are.

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Jessie M Honeyman Campgrounds: The Story of Sky

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I had spent the day at a coffee shop in Florence to use their Internet connection, and of course, to drink coffee. Upon learning of two campgrounds to my south I began my walk to discover where I might find a place to pitch my home (tent) for the night.

 

At first I came to the South Jetty RV and Camping Resort, but at $30 per night, I determined to continue south toward Honeyman which was suggested by the kind gatekeeper of South Jetty.

 

After another 50 minutes or so of walking, I had arrived at Honeyman. At $5 per night, it was well within my budget to rest there for awhile.

 

I walked through the trail leading to the campsites and as I viewed the grounds filled with other travelers pitching their tents, I was greeted by a jolly looking, long white haired gentlemen who introduced himself as “Sky”.

 

Sky was a man, in his late sixties of years, who had spent most of his life wandering the world. He said he had traveled completely around the world 4 times, with little to no money, but only with a song and a guitar. Wherever he might be, he would play music on the streets, earn a little food money for the day, and sleep wherever he might be when he became tired.

 

He told the story of once upon a time being on a boat headed for the Bahamas. He pitched a hammock on the deck and had himself a sleep. When he awoke he found his guitar was missing – stolen. He had been experiencing some hassling from a soccer team which was also on board, and presumed to believe that one of them had stolen his instrument.

 

He approached the captain of the soccer team and informed him that one of his mates had stolen his guitar, and that they would return it to him. The captain laughed at his assertion and the rest of the team made mockery of his situation. Well, this was pretty serious for Sky. He said to the captian of the soccer team, “listen, I’m a musician of heaven, you’ve stolen my harp, and you will return it to me or I will tear your team apart until I have found it.” Within moments, one of the players brought his guitar and returned the “harp of heaven” to its’ rightful owner.

 

That was one of the many stories Sky told about his travels around the world. He was certainly a spiritualist, and the topic of conversation was almost entirely on love, freedom, and peace. We discussed travel, spiritual realities, the Holy Spirit, and so much more. It was incredible to debate with someone who understood so well how to share differences without becoming frustrated or without the desire to prove a point, but simply to share insights.

 

With the topic of travel he was a staunch supporter of one building their own raft, with lofty ideas of sailing on a raft from the west coast of the United States to Japan or China. “All you need is raft, man”, he would continuously proclaim. “With a raft you can go anywhere you want.”

 

I spent three days and two nights at the campgrounds just south of Florence. Meeting Sky was indeed an honor and treat.

 

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Walking from LAX: Beginning the journey.

I booked a late flight on June 19 so as to give me a late enough arrival at the LAX airport to collect my thoughts and wait out the night before hitting the streets of LA at sunrise. I found an out of the way spot and attempted, unsuccessfully, to get a few hours of sleep underneath some chairs in the terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. If the three radio songs on continuous repeat weren’t enough, it was quite cold in the airport making sleep something quite improbable. Once about 4:30 am came I decided to go outside and begin my quest to Los Angeles. I took my first steps outside of the airport and waited on a direction. The wind was blowing from the south, so I followed the winds advice and started walking north.

My first desire was to see the Pacific Ocean, my old friend I hadn’t seen in about two years. It seemed I had hiked for hours before I could catch a glimpse of the ocean, which the airport was within a mile to the east. I walked on a very long sidewalk from the airport when I noticed a few joggers beginning their day with a run, cars driving by on the busy street, and a few places where some beautiful plant life was growing along the road I had not remembered seeing before. These sights began to bring with them a feeling that I had truly arrived.

viewfromloyalaI continued walking north, clueless as to where I was actually going and what lay ahead, until I happened to find a coffee shop called The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf where I stopped to utilize their free wifi and learn a little more about where I was going and what was ahead. I continued walking and happened upon Loyola Marymount University, where I stopped for a few moments to snap a picture of the houses below its hilltop location. I met a man and woman who were waiting for the bus and had some excellent conversation. They inquired about what I was doing and I informed them of my exploration and recent arrival in LA. They wished me the best of luck and welcomed me to their city!

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