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November 11, 2011

The Magic Day: 11.11.11

by Barbara O'Neal

Everyone is making a big fuss about the date today.  In my family, we definitely are, because I have a niece who is eleven today.  (Happy birthday, Jess!) 

But beyond our special celebration, this arrangement of elevens has been very exciting to some people, so I went out on the Internet to see what I could dig up the reasons why. I will poke a little fun, but honestly, it seems a magical sort of number, and why not indulge a little magic?  The world can always use some hope. 

Kundalini Yoga says it is a day to shed the shackles of the past.  According to one website, chanting the mantra “Ek Ong Kar Sat Gur Prasad, Sat Gur Prasad Ek Ong Kar” will create magic because it can shift the energies of the psyche so powerfully that new opportunities seem to materialize out of nowhere.”

Numerologists cite 11 as a magical number, charged and creative.  It is a number of beginnings, but 3440278634_7fb9e08ec9
not just any old beginning.  This would be a birthday worthy of Harry Potter. Huge, world changing beginnings. 

In general, even the most outrageous speculations of the most exuberant of the eccentrics on the Internet (and baby, that gets pretty eccentric) agree that this is a date to usher in not only changes in ourselves, but changes in the world.  It’s change on a global level, a powerful opportunity to forge a new reality for centuries to come. 

The optimistic spirit of the day offers us a chance to usher in a more enlightened age, a more enlightened world, a more enlightened self.

So I wondered, what would that look like?  If I were to dream the best, most enlightened world I could think of, what would I want to see? It's a big task, to create a better world.  I had to think.  I came up with a pretty weighty list, but I believe they are all  possible because when I was a child people smoked in grocery stores and tossed litter out their car windows (while they smoked) and drove drunk. Some rivers were so polluted that they caught fire. Those things changed.  These can, too.

My wish list would include these things:

 ---Self-determination for women across the earth.  To study and find professions if they choose, to bear children or not, to marry spouses of their own choosing (I realize this does not always work out well.  But at least if you choose someone who ends up being a jerk, it was YOU shackling yourself to him, not your parents or your great uncle.)

--End hunger.  It’s ridiculous, with all the technology and understanding we have to deliver food to the table, that anyone, anywhere in the world should starve to death. STARVE to DEATH!  How is that even still possible? 

--End war. All war. Enough already. Can’t we find some other way to solve conflicts besides flinging human bodies at each other and ravaging landscapes and cities until one side gives in?   Yeah, I know.  But this is my wish list and this matters.  It’s a highly inefficient way to do things.

--Make sure anyone who wants an education can have one. Everywhere.  Education opens minds, creates solutions, makes better parents and citizens.  More, more, more education—and not just traditional education either. Not everybody wants to go to college, so let’s stop pretending they do and let high school kids who like sewing or food service or cars enroll in high school courses that will allow them to enter the workforce in a meaningful way so they don’t have to spend the rest of their lives working the cash register at Wal-Mart.




--Rationally discuss, across party lines, country lines, religious lines, etc, the problems that face us all.  Let’s have thoughtful, give-and-take discussions on the problems facing the globe and the nation and see if we can solve them without egos and grandstanding. 

--Heal the planet by finding solutions to the global warming crisis, like better food production techniques in the rainforest, and fewer cattle sending methane gas into the air (yes, really).  

--Change the food industry to insist upon humane conditions for animals raised for harvest.  Don’t misread that.  I’m not saying, “Turn The World Vegetarian” (although it would be good for the planet).  I’m saying, if we’re going to eat critters, the least we can do is make sure they have good lives before we bring them to the table. 

Big list, right?  

One of the websites urged me to “Be the change you want to see in the world,” which I also have as a bumper sticker on my car. So I came up with this list, too. These are things I can do right now, today, to take a step toward those goals.  

Self determination for women:  I don’t know what to do to help more women be free.  I honestly don’t.  There is the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.  I can support that, to start with.  I’m open to other ideas.

War? Oh, jeez. I have no idea.  It seems like I’ve been protesting one war or another since I was in 2672777552_655156e3dc the sixth grade trying to get my classmates to sign a petition to mail to the President.  And here we are, in Afghanistan after ten years, and there is no clear agenda that I can see, but then I’m just a foolish mother and woman who hates to see more young men killed, and sometimes even worse, grievously, horrifically burned, crippled, etc.

But this is supposed to be about positive action.  I’m a writer, so that’s often my answer.  I will keep writing about soldiers and their families and their lives and what they give to humanize the “conflicts.” 

Hunger: I will support agencies and organizations that help feed people.  Care and Share.  The local soup kitchen. Agencies that get food into drought-ravaged places.  I will learn more about food and how it flows, although this has been a slippery slope for me as a foodie-sort of writer.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

UnknownSane thoughtful discussions:  I will LISTEN to my very conservative relatives when they talk about their fears and concerns and ideas for improving the world.  I will NOT loose my temper when they make fun of my ideas on Thanksgiving, but remember that if I want solutions and sanity, I have to LISTEN as well as talk. I have to respect them if I want them to respect me. 

Animal lives: I can chose to eat only food that comes to the table in humane ways, even if Anthony Bourdain makes that sound like a milksop’s approach to the world.  Maybe that helps feed more people. Maybe that, in turn, helps global warming. 

Maybe it won’t, but I can try. 

All I can ever do is try.  After all, I remember when everyone smoked everywhere.  And children died of leukemia. And the highways were covered with empty McDonald’s bags.  And Nelson Mandela was in prison.  

Change happens all the time, and we can make it so.  What better day to begin than the magical 11.11.11? 

What is something you’d like to change for the better? And what small act can you take to support that change?  What small thing can you do to be optimistic today, and offer something GOOD to the global consciousness on a day of such hope? 



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This is wonderful, Barbara! Thank you for distilling my vague hopes into a neat list and, yes, it all begins with improving the lives of women. History has shown that when women are educated and skilled enough to feed their family, birthbrates go down, children are better fed and educated, poverty rates decline, violence diminishes and everyone has better lives. Women are a worthy project!

Hi Barbara, you've mentioned most of the biggest. I would add UNIVERSAL ACCESS CONSTRUCTION so that every house, shop, office, and park are physically accessible. This is possible. Houses need to be accessible to all, not just the 8 foot tall men who now design them. It is easy and cost difference negligible if any at all.

When my friend and neighbor was murdered by a serial killer who had stalked us both, and I needed to talk to someone, I could not find a shrink with expertise in PTSD who had a wheelchair-accessible office. Same when Gerald Loughner killed our neighbors a couple of years later.

Our lovely neighborhood park is inaccessible to wheelchairs. If my grandchildren come to visit I can't take them to the playground - something I had envisioned when we bought our house.

People should be able to have an EKG on a exam table they can actually get on and not be turned away because there isn't enough room for their wheelchair in the room so they can transfer to the table, even though they spent an extra $10,000, not covered by insurance, for a chair that can make that possible by elevating and reclining (moi).

Thank you. xoxo

I love this post.

Some people scoff at me because I love a good rib eye but stopped eating veal years ago. My esthetician gets frustrated because I won't use or let her use emu oil on me.

I know I haven't changed everything in my life regarding animals but these are two steps that I took and i'm consistent with them.

I don't need others to agree with my choices, but please respect them.

What an inspiring list.

My suggestion for aiding other women: kiva.org. Kiva is an organization that allows folks like you and me to make loans to small businesses - many of them run by women - in res of need. Loans can be as small as $25, and there is a small (maybe $3?) administrative fee. You pick the person to whom you wish to make your loan, and you receive regular updates. I've been doing this for a couple of years. All loans I have made have been repaid, enabling me to turn the money around and lend it to someone else.

I can;t do a lot to help women at large - but if I can give half a dozen other women a chance to care for themselves and their children, then I know I've made a world of difference to them.

Lovely post from a lovely person. Thank you, Barbara. In the wake of the horrific ugliness that's come to light here in Pennsylvania this week, I'd like to add safety for all children. Raising awareness is a great first step. I'll go look into more concrete efforts and get back to you later today.

Indeed. Education, in particular education for girls and women. Some recent political candidates who want to "get rid of" the Department of Education are trying to cut off our collective nose to spite our collective face. Makes zero sense.

I'd also like to add to your excellent list, Barbara, that we Americans, who are generous to a fault to those outside our borders, try to look at our own suffering neighbors with more understanding, kindness and generosity. Charity begins at home, after all.

What a perfect post for 11.1l.11, Barbara. Thank you.
I want to second Kris' suggestion of Kiva for helping women get started or continue in small businesses. Plus, it's fun. You may also help men, there, too, if you wish.

Reine, that's a big important project.

That's an important thing we can all do, Mary: respect The choices of others, and be true to our own. I also think change, for ourselves or the world is gradual, a step and another.

I got criticized by a "boss" the other day, and I say this seriously--the person said to me, very disdainfully: "Admit it, Hank, you always try to see the glass as half full."

I am still puzzling about why this is a bad thing. But my tiny contribution will be to continue to do so.

I also think the listening element is so powerful. So many people don't listen. And as a result, they don't learns or think or understand. My very tough step-father used the have the philosophy that either you agree with him, or you're an idiot.

And compassion.

Oh, yes, kiva.org! I forgot about that very worthy organization. Perhaps that will be my business gifts this year. Thanks, Kris and Nancy.

The children, yes. Protecting them. Good one.

Hank, thank goodness for all of us cockeyed optimists. We balance out the gloomy Gus's of the world!

My quote of today is from pacifist Jeannette Rankin: "You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."

I went public with my own small, one-woman business a couple of years ago. The folks here at TLC were incredibly helpful. Thank you.

Your list is idealistic, Barbara, and perfectly so. Ideals make us better people. We all should go forth and act upon your words.

Change the world.

Sign me up on Reine's bandwagon. I spent a day in a wheelchair. I discovered how totally inadequate the ADA really is. Me and my wheelchair used 98% of the space in the elevator. I just barely cleared doorways. I had the advantage of being able to stand if needed to. For many of my friends that is an impossible dream. And as changes go, this one is totally doable. Or at least a lot easier than stopping war.

Every baby born healthy to parents who want it. I try not to talk about the "A word" but there are times when it is medically necessary. One day I will tell Princess One about the best friend she never had. The girl who would have been about a month older than her. The girl who would have been at every one of her birthday parties and would have seen at all of the holidays. The girl whose mother cried for years holding my precious gift. The girl whose father still has trouble looking at my beautiful child. The girl who would never have survived to term.

Two countries Israel and Palestine with Jerusalem as their respective capitals where people of all faiths can pray in the manner of their choosing. Two countries where playgrounds do not need bomb shelters and movie theaters do not need pat downs.

That should do it for the day. I still need to find someone's lost computer files.


Mostly what I think about on November 11 is Armistice Day. The celebration of the end of the war to end all wars (missed that one). The war that used weapons so terrible as a planet we agreed not use them anymore. (more or less). And I remember meeting a WWI draft resister. His prison sentence started on 11/11/18. He chose prison over fighting in a war we should never have been in. I was at his 94th birthday party. He was still fighting for peace, freedom and the rights granted all of us by the Constitution.

I also remember my family members; Marcus J II, Marcus R, Marcus J, Albert, and Sigmund. Five generations of my mother's family serving in the US Army from Indian fighter in what is now Colorado to JAG officer/paratrooper in Panama. And my friends and classmates who have served in two Persian Gulf Wars and been stationed around the world serving their country in war and in peace. Glad you all came home.

A retired couple I know are on a safari vacation in Africa. He uses a wheelchair and found a company that speciliazes in completely accessible trips. If that's possible, then everything Reine talked about can, and should, be accomplished!

Among the many things I love at Dolphin Research Center (my day job), is our organizations commitment to accessibility. We continue to improve the grounds to make it easier for people who use wheelchairs. If anyone with a special needs wants to do one of our interactive programs with dolphins, we make it possible, and the assistance is free.

Double-amputees, people paralyzed from the waist down, deaf or blind kids, young people with C.P. - they've all had a blast in our lagoons.

We aren't a huge place with unlimited funds, but if we can provide this access, I don't see why barriers can't be removed from every imaginable activity.

I love your list, Barbara.

I am trying to look with compassion, or at least the willingness to consider looking with compassion on the people who make me NUTS. The ones in my neighborhood who voted down Measure K, which would have stopped teacher lay-offs and restored some of the education funds in California -- because they didn't want to spend $95 a year, in an affluent neighborhood. The ones all over the country who disagree with everything I believe in politically. My best friend's ex-husband.

If I can't be the change I want to see in the world on 11/11/11, when can I?

Gosh, Hank, you wretched optimist you! I've had similar remarks--I think some people consider optimism to be a foolish expectancy, like tarot cards or singing in the dark.

It's true that creating accessibility is a task more likely to be accomplished than ending war. But we are all given the dreams we are given, and we each have work that is ours to do. My mother is passionate about the rights of children to good lives. I seem to be attracted to hunger/food issues and soldiers. (Grew up--and still live in--a military town with five bases.)

And good point. It IS Veteran's Day. So thank you to all the active duty and retired and lost soldiers and their families.

Good one, Ramona. And congrats on your one-woman business.

Clearly, writers are one-woman shows, too. Though in recent years, I've had to hire people to help me with the ever more complicated world of being an Author. The writing part I've got--it's the Everything Else that's overwhelming. Not such a bad thing--my business now has employees. I'm contributing to the economy!!

Perfectly idealistic -- I like that concept, and since everything we build started as an idea, idealism is the place to start. Paraquad here consults with builders to create accessible spaces, and many of the changes are so simple and obvious, once someone points them out (as I'm sure was said about the first wheel also).
Happy 11th birthday on 11/11/11!!
I accept the challenge to leave behind old angst and move forward with idealism -- happy, educated children, peaceful resolution of conflicts, tolerance and appreciation of differences . . . enough food, medicine, shelter for all

The time is exactly 11:11 am.

DAMMIT! That stupid comment filter foiled my plan to have the best comment time ever. Why do we have to do that crap again?

Okay - In the US, we need to remember why our country was founded in the first place.

I will keep talking and writing about the Constitution (the real one, not the bullshit made-up crap you see on hats and bumper stickers) so that at least one other person has some institutional memory of the thing after I am gone. I will call out politicians - even if I campaigned and voted for them - when they fail to keep their promises to abide by the Constitution. And I will start carrying around copies of the actual Constitution to give to people if I cannot maintain a calm demeanor in response to their idiotic "interpretation" of the Constitution.

What a great blog!

Adding another accessibility item -- I cannot attend Elaine's book signing tomorrow at Barnes & Noble because the store is filled with latex balloons. I had called a couple of weeks ago to ask, got a non-committal response, called back today to be sure, and was told this is an issue Eric will bring up with other managers. So, sorry, Elaine, I'll miss you -- and Alan and Molly (such fine upstanding citizens) and the Princesses. If you think of it, maybe you could tell the managers you'd rather have me than balloons (which is what my storytelling friends used to say). It makes me sad that something not essential to the purpose (books) is a barrier to attendance . . .

These posts have me teary eyed-all of us need to be respected and treated with courtesy. Reine-builders need to think, and hospitals have to work toward being more humane. I guess I believe in the quote from Gandhi; it's hard work sometimes, but worth it, I think. And seeing the glass half full is a gift, Hank, especially in these strange times.

Kathy, good try.

We had a potluck brunch in honor of veterans today. It was a good gathering of people, and a few brought in family memorabilia, photos, uniforms, flag . . . and a Bible. I've heard stories about the Bible in the pocket saving a life, but never gave it much critical thought as to how a book could stop a bullet. The front of heavy stainless steel, engraved with a message of love. Holding it felt sacred, knowing it had seen a young man through the horror of war. The other thing that struck me was how young those men looked in the photos . . . I know they didn't think they were so young, but they were practically still children . . .

What a great & inspiring list, I second every one of them. I'm drawn to hunger issues as well, and programs for empowering women. The Heifer Project is good for both - but I'm going to look at kiva.org.

What an affirming, thoughtful post. "Listening" really can be the hardest thing we're ever asked to do. I'll think of you next time I need to bite my tongue.

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