I hit the lottery when I came into this world.
Not only was I alive, healthy, and born in America, but I found myself with a magnificent capacity for compassion. I also lucked out with Caucasian parents who were well educated, made a decent living, and possessed good values.
White males like me, for some stupid reason, have been given a privileged status in our society—a delusion propagated by ... white males. “Privilege” should be reserved for the human being, who, in its essence, is kind and caring. Humans have a magnified capacity to evaluate our feelings and the freedom to decide how we will behave—making human consciousness a precious gift.
What we do with it—that’s another story.
I may not be a woman, but I like it when things are fair. I believe every woman deserves respect, equal pay, the power of choice, and freedom from any form of sexual harassment. I cheer in support every time a woman triumphs or has the courage to speak up for diversity. It’s about time more women share our leadership, despite the ravings of the insecure.
That’s just fair—and fair is right.
I’m not an African American but I believe black lives matter. I believe all lives matter. I don’t care if you’re black, brown, yellow, red, or purple, if your blood runs red and is pumped by a heart like mine, we are the same at our core. Who of us had a say as to the family we were born into?
Equality is everybody’s birthright!
I’m not an immigrant, but I have compassion for those fleeing danger, trying to protect their families, begging for help from their more fortunate neighbors. Yes, we need a sensible immigration system, but how hard is it to care? Unless you’re a pure-blooded Native American, you come from an immigrant family. Think about it—if this country didn’t take a chance on your ancestors, you wouldn’t be a US citizen.
Why shouldn’t today’s immigrants deserve this opportunity?
I’m not gay, but I support the LGBTQ community. Who gave “conventional” folks the right to decide how others should live or who they have the right to marry?
We all should be able to celebrate our love.
I’m not a Muslim. In fact I was raised in a Jewish household, but I don’t see Muslims as the enemy. Sure, there is a radical element in this world, but the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peace-loving, goodhearted, hardworking citizens. It’s not like there aren’t radicals in every religion. How many white Christian males have committed mass shootings?
Does that mean all Christians are dangerous?
I’m not poor. I’m not rich either, but I’ve lived a comfortable life. That doesn’t mean I can’t feel compassion for the single parent struggling with three jobs to put food on the table or the homeless man seeking a safe place to bed down for the night. That could be any of us—disadvantaged in the blink of an eye—whether we choose to believe it or not.
So the question is this: How hard can it possibly be to care?
It’s not about who we are or who they are or what our religion or political affiliation is—it’s simply about caring!
It’s about being a human being!
These values aren't new to me. The heartfelt adventures in my '60s book Groovin' will attest to this. Available on Amazon and Audible.
This blog was inspired by a twitter tweet.
It’s possible to create something today that will produce benefits for years to come.
A letter I recently sent tells my story:
To the workforce of Rainbow Grocery,
I imagine none of you know who I am, but I wanted to commend you all on your work and the service you offer the community. I’m proud of the part I played in the beginnings of Rainbow Grocery, 45 years ago this summer.
I know the history of Rainbow is posted on your website, but perhaps I can add a few details to the store’s origins.
In 1973, after doing construction work in Colorado for a few months, I returned home to Quincy, California, to attend to a book I co-authored that was ready for release (Homesteader’s Handbook).
When I arrived, I found that many of my friends had moved to San Francisco to participate in a communal living experiment, made up of others like me who practiced a meditation method taught by Prem Rawat, also known at the time as Maharaji, a title he picked up in his native India.
Over 100 people were in the group, sharing resources and living together in a dozen houses across the city. Some worked full time to provide income, and others had particular assignments to help the community function. Always eager for adventure, I relocated to the city, where, along with my canine companion, Charlie, I joined the community.
Because I had experience as a volunteer at our mountain food coop, the group coordinator asked me to start a similar operation in the house where I was living on 5th Avenue in the Inner Sunset District.
Entrusted with a budget of $2,000, I started out gathering food sources. The workers at the nearby Noe Valley Community Store offered their help. I bought 15 round cardboard bins for bulk products and a glass-faced cooler unit for perishables, and then set up the equipment in the attached garage of the house.
The community supplied me with enough cash to keep things stocked, and twice a week, a representative from each household came by to pick up what was required to feed their inhabitants. This arrangement continued for nearly a year until, assisted by John David Williams, we moved the operation into a warehouse.
In 1975, I lived on Albion Street in the Mission District with Bill and Janet Crolius and a few others. Together, we decided to open the store to the public and name it Rainbow Grocery.
We moved the co-op into a vacant storefront on 16th Street, just around the corner from our rented flat. This soon expanded into two storefronts, one for food and the other (the General Store) for non-food items.
My start at Rainbow propelled me into a 12-year natural foods career, culminating as purchasing manager of a large Denver-based natural foods distributor.
It’s amazing how small efforts made today can offer enormous rewards over time—touching the lives of many. I see by your website, that you now employ a workforce of over 250. I never imagined Rainbow Grocery would become so large, much less still be around 45 years after I first gathered those simple cardboard bins.
There’s no way of knowing how many customers and workers Rainbow has served and benefited. So never underestimate your contributions.
I can see by reading your mission statement that the values we embraced at Rainbow’s creation are still in force today. Many thanks to the current workers—and to all the others who came before—for making Rainbow Grocery a long-standing community icon.
Note: Rainbow Grocery let me know that they were thrilled to receive my letter and enjoyed reading about the history of the cooperative from one of the founders. They have tentative plans to add the photo and story to their website.
Has something like this happened to you?
Please share your story in the comments below.
Like many of you, I was absorbed by the Winter Olympics.
I experienced ridiculous highs as athletes achieved their dreams, the result of years of focused hard work and determination. I also cringed in agony as hopes were dashed with every fall, wipeout, and miscalculation.
I’m the last person you’d call a winter sports enthusiast. Still, I found myself glued to the tube, squirming and rejoicing for hours.
Born and raised in the Sacramento Valley, I experienced snow for the first time as a teenager on an Explorer Scout skiing trip in the high Sierras. It didn’t end well. Someone cut me off, forcing my skis into a snowbank. The result—a twisted knee and ankle.
I tried the sport again in the early ’70s, managing a few mediocre runs on a small hill near my home in the Sierras.
Over a decade later, I met Doris, a Swiss woman and my future wife, who had been an avid skier since childhood. Our friends Misty and Steve, invited us to their place near Vail. (Yes, the same Misty from my book Groovin’: Horses, Hopes, and Slippery Slopes.)
That’s when Doris talked me into accompanying her on the slopes.
I gripped a color-coded map showing the paths of multiple ski runs printed in green (easy), red (difficult), and black (wet-your-pants terrifying). I started out on the green-rated bunny hill, where my wife attempted to give me some much-needed pointers.
Even though I couldn’t get the hang of stopping, I found if I curved back and forth horizontally across the slope, I could keep my speed in check. Using this method, I was able to maneuver along without much trouble, kissing the snow on only a couple of occasions.
Knowing Doris was anxious to test her limits on the black diamond runs, I urged her to be on her way. After we agreed to meet in the bar of the lodge at the foot of the mountain, she disappeared down the slope. On my own now, I studied the map and found a wimpy green line that descended all the way to the lodge.
With visions of a steamy Irish coffee in my mind, I started following that green trail downhill. Despite a steepening incline, things were going well as I weaved back and forth across the slope, keeping my speed at levels that would make an old lady proud.
But then something unexpected happened—the trail narrowed. All of a sudden, there was no room for weaving, and I started to accelerate. I could see that the slope was going to be constricted for quite a distance, so I attempted the stopping technique as instructed.
When that failed, I did what I had to do—I dropped to the ground, nearly burying myself in the soft snow.
I stayed there for a few minutes formulating a plan. With resignation, I slipped off my skies and began the long walk down the mountain with my gear slung over my shoulder. With snow up to my hips, it turned out to be a forty-five-minute arduous trudge to the bottom.
Did I say “No sweat”? When I arrived at the parking lot, I was drenched in perspiration. I stripped down to my undershorts and sat in the car until I cooled down. Heart rate and body temp finally near normal, I put on my clothes and went in search of that well-deserved Irish coffee.
Since that day, my version of winter sports has been limited to channel surfing, a skill that came in handy during the televised Olympics. Fortunately, my distaste for skiing wasn’t a deal breaker as far as Doris was concerned!
Though I often wonder what drives some contenders to risk life and limb with death-defying aerial acrobatics, my hat remains off to all the impressive athletes for their inspiring performances.
Here are some of my favorite 2018 gold medal moments. What are yours?
Shaun White’s final half-pipe run
Women’s hockey: USA vs Canada
Russian women’s figure skating rivalry: Alina Zagitova vs Evgenia Medvedeva
Men’s curling: USA vs Sweden
Who would have thought curling could be so exciting?
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