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The Self Examiner

Sharing is very important to us at Cafe Gratitude. This blog is our means of connecting with you, our community through sharing what's happening with us and creating a conversation around the many facets of this community.
Tags >> separation

The Occupy San Francisco encampment was receiving so many food donations last week, they had to turn generous people away. Across the nation companies, organizations and individuals have shown their support for the Occupy movement by contributing supplies to the camps of people who now occupy public zones in reportedly more than 1,000 U.S. cities. These citizens are not merely erecting tents and staying the night, however: there is incredible organization going into the demonstrations. Many encampments have their own first aid tents, communications areas, and, of course, food tables. All the effort going into creating these temporary mini-cities reveals how popular the movement has become in the month it’s been active.

How did Occupy Wall Street begin?

The Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters first proposed the idea of occupying the New York financial district in late summer of this year, circulating a poster showing a dancer atop the Wall Street bull and posing the question, What is Our One Demand? Since the protests began September 17, many demands have emerged, including ending corporate personhood, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, shrinking the income gap between rich and poor, and reforming campaign finance laws. With its strident and raucous anti-capitalism stance, we could have expected Adbusters to launch a fringe movement that would fail to capture the hearts of a majority of citizens; however, widespread anger at the state of the economy and exploitation by corporate power have caused the movement to move towards the mainstream. Time magazine, for example, recently reported that 54% of Americans approve of Occupy.

Where does Cafe Gratitude fit into all of this excitement? Well, if you haven’t heard, our LA location just trucked a big batch of Grateful Bowls over to Occupy Los Angeles to feed the people camping outside City Hall (see the video below!). Ryland Engelhart, general manager at Gratitude LA, explained that he sees the Occupy movement as a call for unification from people across the country. Americans are feeling separated from each other and from our institutions, he says, and this may be a chance to bring us all together to improve our society. Luckily, the tent village in the City of Angels was still in need of food, so Ryland was not turned away and protesters got to enjoy delicious organic vegan meals!

We can connect food to the Occupy movement in more ways than simply feeding the demonstrators, however. A great article in Mother Jones has just been published, illustrating how the financial industry is not the only economic behemoth that has been consolidating power and causing angst for the majority of Americans. The food industry, the article claims, is even more consolidated and monopolistic than the financial sector. For example, just four companies produced 75 percent of cereal and snacks, 60 percent of cookies, and half of all ice cream in the U.S. in 2002. And since then, not much has changed, although the food movement is gaining steam, and will ramp up its power this October 24, the first-ever National Food Day.

Here’s hoping that the people on the streets keeping eating well, and that we can all start understanding that we’re going to need a movement as powerful as Occupy Wall Street to reform our current food system!


This week I encourage you to be courageously transparent.  Consider that we create walls surrounding our authentic selves in fear of not being loved.  As Matthew Engelhart says, all we are ever really saying is “love me” or “I love you”.  I’m beginning to notice that most of us are so caught up in ourselves, trying to conceal parts of ourselves in fear of not being loved that we don’t look up to see others.  

Sometimes I feel so alone that I never open my eyes to see that I am constantly in community and there are millions feeling the same way.  What will it take for us to be loved?  Be ourselves!  This week I invite you to open up to your truest self, whatever that means to you. If there is something that you are hiding in fear of judgment, then you are not giving others the opportunity to love all of you, to love you to the core.  I invite you to crack your castle walls and lower your defenses to be seen for who you truly are.  Maybe this means thinning a mask of makeup for a day.  Maybe this means expressing when you are hurt.  Maybe, just maybe, it means telling someone that you love them.  How funny we are in our aim to be loved and yet withhold loving.  It’s up to us to break the cycle.  My invitation to you is to lower your walls and connect more deeply with those around you.  Imagine a community of people truly knowing each other and having such a safe container to love each other in.  Know that the only thing at stake in speaking up is your ego.  Remember that we love you, that you are powerful, that you are perfect.  Thank you for who you are, and for who you aren’t.  

I write this flying through the air, on a Boeing 737 aircraft, drinking a glass of white wine with the good company of strangers. 

I recently watched an interview with one of my favorite comedians, Louie CK who spoke about the incredible times that we live in.  As he says, everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.  Watch the video here.  CK gives examples of situations like air travel and the wonders of technology where we can access a world wide web of information in a global sharing network at the tip of our fingers at all times; we can fly across the globe, seated comfortable in recline-able seats, served drinks and even access wifi internet connection.  We live in incredible times indeed.  What CK talks about in this interview though is our impatience with these marvels.  We’ve become callous to the wonders of science, our access to magical and incredible feats in human tool development.  I’ve seen myself and others go into complete rage over a delayed flight, or a phone working slowly. 

But here I am, shifting my attention from the cramped seating and squirming children next to me: I sit here on the plane with this mobile computer device (laptop) typing key by key to create my thoughts on a digital paper that I can send anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye.  I sit here looking down on the world from the sky, able to meet my friend in Baltimore just 5 hours from take-off and not 30 years of foot travel.  I am in complete amazement of the wonders that we live with today, and alarmed as to how we’ve fallen asleep to these miracles.  CK references our entitlement issues, our expectations and assumptions, which actually work against our better psychological health.  As an example, he references the upset of a fellow passenger on a plane who learned that there was wifi on the flight and then got angry learning that the wifi was slow.  I can see this mentality working across the United States and working against us.  Entitlement to me, is the opposite of gratitude.  Entitlement creates separation of the self from the world; it creates a story of exception and values of better-than/worse-than. Entitlement and questions of fairness lives in the world of scarcity- that there’s not enough.  Entitlement is a comparison story that always puts us against others, that crumples all generosity and puts us in the passenger seat- a victim of our circumstances.  This simultaneously puts us ahead of all others and sets us as inactive passive members of society.

Tagged in: separation , power , modernity , Miracle , Gratitude , entitlement

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