Friday, May 25, 2012

How To Create World Peace

This topic conjures up images of beauty pageant contestants with Vaseline on their teeth a la Miss Congeniality. But I think it's something worth talking about, especially on Memorial Day weekend. I think when most people imagine a solution to war, they think the answer is something big like massive demilitarization or huge programs donating massive amounts of money to fight hunger and poverty. But I think the answer is much simpler and smaller and more powerful than that. It's so small and simple that it probably sounds trite and cliched.

I think the only way to achieve world peace is for us to have peace in our hearts.

To me, having peace in our hearts means that we do things to create a better, safer existence for others. Sometimes that means not fighting. When we forgive someone who has wronged us and move on with our lives, we have peace in our hearts. When we choose to work things out with our spouse instead of fighting each other, we have peace in our hearts.

Sometimes it does mean taking up arms. There is a remarkable story in the Latter Day Saint Book of Mormon about a people who were very war like and thirsted for bloodshed. They eventually became Christians and realized how sacred life is and how evil it is to thirst for the blood of another. They made a covenant with God and promised that they would never go to war again, not even to defend their own lives because they were afraid that for them, this might lead them into sin again. But several years later, another tribe came to war against them and began slaughtering their people in the streets. They knew they needed to defend themselves, but feared that doing so would endanger their souls. However, they had many sons who were in their teens to twenties who had not entered the covenant since they were only children at the time. These young men went to war so that they could protect their people and give them a safe life. They had peace in their hearts, even in the midst of war. This reminds me of something I once heard in a documentary about the Marine Corps. A retired Marine officer said that probably more so than anybody, Marines hate war and that until you have been to war and seen and experienced it, you can't understand how terrible it is. But as terrible as going to war is, he said that he and his brothers at arms were willing to do it because there are people who threaten the safety of America and her people.

And that's the amazing thing. We don't have to wait for external conditions to change for peace to exist. I think some of the greatest peace the world has ever known has been during times of conflict. Just look at people like Corrie Ten Boom, Viktor Frankl, John Rabe, and Oskar Schindler. Someone like Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg had to have peace in his heart to endanger himself with a plot to assassinate Hitler and try to end a war that he saw as a waste of human life. Members of the Resistance in Europe had peace in their hearts as they took immense personal risks to fight oppression. Ironically enough, sometimes people who say they want peace more than anything have war in their hearts, like those who persecuted soldiers returning from the Vietnam War, or extremists who bomb abortion clinics. In fact, if we wait for the world to change before we feel peace, we will be waiting a very long time. Having peace in our hearts leads us to be the change we want to see.

The other amazing thing about having peace in our hearts is that it can spread if we let it. When we raise our children with love and acceptance and love and serve one another, we are contributing to world peace. I can't think of any cruel dictator or serial killer who says he had a happy and secure childhood. Saddam Hussein's mother tried to abort him and let him know every day that he was not wanted. Hitler hated his alcoholic father who terrorized his family. So the flip side of this is who knows how much suffering has been averted by people showing genuine love and kindness to another? That is the way to achieve world peace. Maybe the best way we can celebrate Memorial Day and honor our soldiers is to find ways to create more peace in the world.

Friday, May 18, 2012

How To Eat Coconut Well On A Budget

Coconut cream concentrate. I LOVE this stuff! We like to use a lot of coconut milk and coconut butter around here and this is a very healthy and cost effective way of doing it. Coconut cream concentrate is also called coconut butter and is basically coconut meat and oil that has been dried and put in a jar. The fabulous thing is that you can add 1-2 teaspoons of it to some water and make coconut milk, however you may want to add a little more for extra richness and flavor. A small 16 oz. jar of coconut cream concentrate will give you 96 servings of coconut milk (at 2 tsp. per 8 oz. of water) for about $12. Wow! It keeps really well too, we will be buying a large jar for food storage after our current one runs out. I use coconut cream concentrate in candies, Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothies, and also when I make Thai and Indian curries. We bought a jar about six weeks ago and even with heavy use it's low, but still not out yet. I'd estimate a 16 oz. jar will last about two months. I buy it at Good Earth, a local health foods store in my area. Make sure that before you use your coconut cream, you warm it by placing it in a bowl of hot water and letting it melt inside the jar, then stir the meat and oil together.

Another great coconut savings is buying bulk unrefined coconut oil from Mountain Rose Herbs.  We use it as lotion, deodorant and in cooking, so one little jar doesn't last us very long and adds up really quickly. So we go to Mountain Rose Herbs and order their 5 gallon bucket of coconut oil. (They are a business focused on supplying herbalists and natural personal care products, so I imagine they probably thought the only people who would be using 5 gallons of coconut oil are those who make and sell body butter, but it's the same stuff in the tiny jars at the grocery store, so it's completely edible and very high quality.) This requires some money up front (about $250 plus shipping, unless you are REALLY lucky like I was once and they had it on sale for $80), but is well worth it because even with heavy use, one bucket lasts us about 8 months. Unrefined coconut oil keeps very well for months on end, so again, it is a great food storage item.

Malamute and I really like buying things we normally eat and that keep well in large quantities because it insulates more from financial ups and downs. If we have large quantities of something on hand, then even if we meet with tight finances, we have some extra food to see us through. We are really excited to start building our food storage, so I will probably have a couple more posts coming on this topic!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Hunger Games

Last week Malamute and I took Duckling and went to a double feature at the local drive-in. We saw Mirror Mirror (pretty good) and The Hunger Games (WOW!). We were so impressed that we started reading the book. I'm generally quite skeptical of hugely popular books, but this one seemed to have a fascinating premise and to the potential to be tale about the triumph of the human spirit, so I had significantly more hope than I did when I picked up Twilight. (But that's another post for another day.)

The Hunger Games has been a little hard for me to read. There are a lot of things that hit very close to home for me. The part where eleven year old Katniss and her family are starving and she has nothing to give them until Peeta throws her some bread brought back a lot of feelings I have kept hidden away for years.

One of the interesting things Malamute and I have been noting is how much food there is outside the fence. There are berries and greens and animals to hunt. But most people stay inside the fence because they think they can't get any food out there or that it's too dangerous. Remember in the beginning how Gale says that they could just leave and go off in the woods and live off the land? Katniss says it's impossible. But it's really her own thinking that is keeping her inside District 12. All of the problems she brings up to Gale could be overcome.

Another interesting thing I wonder about is how things would change if all the people of Panem could provide their own food for themselves by homesteading. If they could have their own food, the Capitol would lose it's big weapon. But the people of Panem are convinced that they can't provide for themselves without the Capitol and the price to pay is the Hunger Games.

It makes you think, doesn't it? But then that's why everyone is reading this book in the first place.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Green smoothies and Self confidence

I'm trying to blog from an old iPad right now with no keyboard, so this will be short. Iam really starting to enjoy green smoothies after almost three years. I have found a bunch of recipes and got Robyn Openshaw's Big Book of Green Smoothies and I have been having so much fun trying new recipes! I can't wait to make new smoothies now! It's been a while since I started the self acceptance experiment and I still have ups and downs, but over all, I feel better. I don't think I'm such a loser any more. And I know better things are coming. (why am I blogging from an iPad, you ask? Duckling ruined the battery on my ancient laptop, so I am on a first generation iPad now. Be patient with these posts as I try to figure out how to blog without my beloved laptop Agnes.) =)