Book Release: The Making of a Peace Corps Volunteer

In a world where we speak about Peace more than ever in our history, we must roger-parent-book-coverremember that in the past there have been countless efforts, attempts, movements, events, individuals, and even simple kind Moments of Life that have brought us to this point in time where the global conscience can hold such an Aspiration and Vision. 

Among these movements in history has been the work of the Peace Corps, started in the early 1960’s by President Kennedy.  My father was one of those first pioneering individuals who was sent forth into the world to be a Peace Corps Volunteer during its first year, and he has recently self-published an autobiographical book about his early life, entitled The Making of a Peace Corps Volunteer:  From Maine to Thailand.

Roger Parent with students in Udorn, Thailand, 1962

Roger Parent with students in Udorn, Thailand, 1962

This is his personal true story about living and growing up in rural Maine, where he explores his childhood and shares stories of his experiences as a youth as he grew into the young man who chose to take a leap and join the the new-born Peace Corps organization to serve others in Thailand, where he connected with the people of a new country and foreign culture.  It is a story which exemplifies the Spirit that is necessary to build the Peace in this world that we so eagerly seek:  the Spirit of Connection with our world’s diversity, the Spirit of acceptance and tolerance, the Spirit of learning and growing beyond one’s small personal world to widen one’s experience and perception of the world around oneself through volunteering and service to others. 

Please support this book and the story it has to share by visiting my father’s Dadyoungwebsite and consider purchasing this book, whether it be for yourself, a friend of family member, or donate a copy to your local school or library to allow others to share in its message.

Visit www.rogerparent.org to read reviews and samples of the book, see more pictures and order your paperbook or e-book copy today!  Thank you and Peace to All!

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A Kiss of Innocence

In a time of my life when I found my Soul, it was the kiss of a small child that gave the experience a human Touch……but let me share with you some context first.

Many years ago I was involved in a year-long volunteer program in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where I worked with a refugee resettlement agency while living in community with a small group of good-hearted and idealistic young volunteers.  My work with the refugee agency involved many things, but mostly helping the newly arrived refugees move into their new homes – finding furniture, clothes, donations of all kinds to fill a house for people who had nothing upon arriving to a strange new land.  These refugees had fled their war-torn countries, as they were in danger of being persecuted or killed.  These were families, couples, and individuals, some formerly rich, some poor since birth, and others just normal people with their loves and talents, and their issues.  They came from many places – Vietnam, Cuba, Bosnia, Somalia, and other countries – and all had their own needs and expectations of their new life.  Some expected more than we could provide, some were grateful for every little thing….most were grateful.  I felt it an honor to be these refugees’ first friend in their new home, and happy to do my best to help them understand our way of life here. It was an experience that built an awareness of our true unity as humans – for we are not so different as it may seem.

At this time, in the midst of all of this, I was exploring my own deeper spirituality and awakening, and found myself Sunriseall of a sudden with The Awakening – that Supreme Moment when the Soul bursts open wide – saturating, permeating, vibrating, caressing, enveloping my mind, heart, body, cells, spirit, and entire Being in the sense of Oneness With All, with Absolute Bliss, Love, an overwhelming Peace and Silence that overtook everything else and left me with nothing but tears of Joy, tears of Gratitude, tears of Transformation.  Yes, even the cells of my body were vibrating to their core with this Experience (and they still are – even more so).  Like a molten flood of fluid Bliss-Light flowing through all one’s limbs and radiating out of one’s pores, I felt this permeating Glow-Force within and everywhere else around me at the same time.  All was One Body, One Being, One Infinite Life.  After this, everything changed in how I experienced every detailed sense and moment of the world around me – for all was a part of me, all was the Divine, all Connected with All.  There is a wonderful saying by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, who said “The Divine is in All, and All is in the Divine.”  I began (yes, only began) living these words on this day.  One can no longer live the same way after a Moment like this….and that Moment continued, and grew, and grew……and still grows now……but I digress!

In the wake of this experience, one day I was coming out of the refugee resettlement office, feeling quite alive and joyful already, and then noticed one Somali woman and her three-year-old son walking my way.  I had helped them recently to move into their new home – a family of 7 or 8 children (if I recall!) who needed a whole lot of help.  As we came together, I smiled and said hello to the mother and then looked down at the small little boy who immediately stuck out his hand to me.  His mother and I smiled at this, me thinking he wanted to shake my hand, and so I put out my hand to the little boy and he quickly grabbed my hand with both of his, pulled my hand towards him and gave the top of my hand a sweet little kiss!  Then he let go quickly threw his hands up into the air and gave me the biggest smile ever!  My friends, I melted….. We barely knew each other and yet this little boy showed his pure and absolute Love in that one little moment.  My Heart burst wide even more than before, tears in my eyes, Bliss and Love vibrating within me, my Soul intimately connected with this young boy as One.  This kiss of innocence was part of this expanding Soul awakening in my life…..it brought an intimate human side to the experience, which can often become, for many, too ‘etheric’ and ‘high’, too ‘ungrounded’ and above the Earth.  No, this experience for me was meant to bridge the great Depths and Heights with the Earth and Humanity, with the smallest of the small in life, humans and nature, our cells and bodies, and especially the child-Souls that are everywhere around us – whether they are actually children or adults.  This experience needed to be grounded in the ‘real’ and in the ‘personal,’ for it means nothing if we sit upon our spiritual heights and look down upon the world, which changes nothing for the Earth and humanity.  To be touched on all levels, transformed on all levels, wherever one may be, in whatever work on is doing, is the Spiritual Truth of today’s age.  Even a simple, tender kiss of innocence from a little Somalian boy can vibrate the Love and Beauty that will eventually change our world. 

May I wish you all a Kiss of Innocence…….

The New World’s Economic Hope: The Volunteer

Look closely into the eyes of the world and you will find one simple little secret:  the world is built by Idealism.  One must certainly understand and be capable of being realistic, but it is ultimately humanity’s Ideals, its Dreams, its Highest Inspirations, that build the world.  They push everything forward, if only by little steps, seeking to create the bridges between the past that wants to keep living and the infinite futures that we constantly envision and cry out for with every breath and every heartbeat.  The baby that tries to walk and talk is an Idealist, the revolutionaries fighting for civil rights around the world were Idealists, the founders of many governments around the world have been Idealists, the inventors of everything that now exists in our world were Idealists, the sages and spiritual masters that have walked the Earth were all Idealists.  Everything around you and within you, even you yourself, is an Ideal that once did not exist.  We and our world is a Dream that continues to Dream.  I too am an Idealist.  Yes, I am a Dreamer.  Yet I see a world that has lost its ability to realize greater Dreams.  I see a world whose Higher Dreams are getting drowned in the constant struggle to survive, to own, to have power, to compete, to win.  Our Dreams are becoming submerged by small needs and desires.  The reasons for this are many, and yet as we look at today’s present conditions we can see one human creation, perhaps more than any other, that currently has a powerful influence upon the life and death of our Dreams.  It is the existence of Money and our systems of Economy.

The world today is seeing its economic foundations shaken to the core.  Little by little, year after year, humanity is waking up to the extreme nature of the world economy’s corruption, but also its inherent flaws, its inability to build a world that is fair and just, and even less, a world that can reflect our highest values in life.  People of all countries are growing more and more tired, more and more frustrated, more and more angry…..They are crying out in the depths of their Hearts, and from the heart of our cities and towns, for a new way of living, and a new economy of living, with each other and our Earth. 

In this Cry for Change there is Hope, and yet there is also a lot of fear.  Many people are afraid of change.  They assume that there is no alternative to the present economic arrangement, that the result of extreme change and collapse can only be mass chaos, conflict over all the earth’s resources, the destruction of all the various services which we see as the foundation of our civilization, and perhaps even the loss of some of our hard-won freedoms, or maybe even the destruction of civilization and Freedom itself.  There is fear that the Change that is necessary is too difficult and would require decisions that could endanger the little stability that we do have in the world.  There is fear that a world without our present economy would create conditions that humanity just isn’t prepared to handle, and would lead to a world of even more darkness and suffering.  We humans always fear of taking too large a step, too big a leap in life, especially when it looks like me might be risking everything…… Yet, I ask you all, is it inevitable that humanity would react with fear and panic if, or when, an economic collapse occurred?  Are we so weak-minded, and weak-hearted, that we would stop being good humans, plunged into insanity and desperation, if we were faced with such an economic cataclysm?  Do we not have the strength of Spirit and the Wisdom to calm our brothers and sisters so that we might find a way through any endeavor?  I believe we do, behind all the appearances of fear and weakness that we may see before us.  Yet I also believe, my friends, that in order to fight this fear that lies deep within us and our fellow humans, we must begin to ask ourselves the ever more important questions, “What is the true power that is behind what we call “economy,” what is the real creative force behind what we call “money?”  “Is there no other way possible to organize ourselves and the resources of the Earth?”

We do not recognize the immense power that we humans have to create the world, the power we have to choose and to act in the midst of difficult times.  Perhaps we do not recognize that all of us together are collectively choosing in this very moment to create this present economic way of being, and its current crises.  We have given our own power of consent to this economic system (both intentionally and unintentionally), and by default we continue to do so, without truly challenging or questioning it.  But now, across the world, this is all slowly changing.

The true economic power in the world is not money or any financial system, but the human spirit, the human power to direct its creative energies, its labor and work, its attention, its power, towards whatever it so chooses.  The true economic power in the world is our Collective Power to Choose.  Yes, when we can step beyond our fears, this Power of Choice reveals itself to be the true power of humanity at this time in our history.  Our Choice is power, and it gives our power to what we choose.  Our Choice allows us to give our Energy and our Time, our Spirit, to one thing or another.  It gives us the ability to go in one direction or another, or to widen the pathways upon which we walk.  It gives us the power to give our Labor, our Work, our Blood and Spirit, towards one thing or another, towards one job or another, towards one way of life or another.  Our Choice is truly the deciding factor and power in any economy that exists in this world, and it is this Choice that can choose to build something else.  This is the true power, this is the true economy, of life.  If humans choose to withhold their energies from the work they do on a wide scale, the world’s systems begin to collapse and fail.  Yet when crises or tragedies occur around the world, it is always the Spirit of Volunteerism – humans willing to offer of themselves and their force of life in a spirit of helpfulness and collaboration – which ultimately allows life to continue, allows humanity to organize itself, to find its priorities, and to do what needs to be done so that people, communities, nations, the world, continue to exist and work together in goodwill for the future.  This already happens in numerous ways around the world, especially in instances of natural or other disasters.  Why do we think that we cannot organize ourselves on a worldwide level according to such a principle – a principle of volunteerism?

Volunteerism is the highest organization and relationship between human energies and work that we have yet evolved.  We volunteer because we see something of value in what we choose to do, and we ask nothing in return other than the feeling of fulfillment it brings to us.  We put our energies, our time, our efforts into projects that we believe are helping the world or our communities in some way to become better, or which simply are necessary for us to continue living together.  This is where service to humanity truly awakens, where the human spirit thrives and finds abundance.  When people feel as if they are doing something meaningful and fulfilling with their work, without feeling like they are imprisoned by their jobs to survive, then we find something different in the quality of our lives and the spirit in which we work.  When we feel we have a choice, then fear disappears and we are more willing to offer more of ourselves and our labor for the sustenance of all.  When humans are given valuable work which also allows them to have time for self-growth and exploring all of life’s other possibilities, then humanity finds the joy behind all the different forms of work, along with the freedom to find their own creative potential and offer that to the world.  Yet the first step for this to happen is to change ourselves, to change our own perception of ourselves and our own power.  We must see that it is WE who have collectively made an agreement together, though mostly unconsciously, to go along with the present economic organization.  May I simply suggest that it is time for a New Agreement to be built.  It is time for us to see that no matter what happens upon earth, no matter what happens in our communities or between nations, no matter what happens on the levels of “finance” and “economy,” no matter what tragedies may happen on Earth, we collectively have the power to work together so that all communities and all people have the dignity of a secure and healthy life, with the basic necessities taken care of for each human being – without the obstacles of politics and greed getting in the way.

We humans have lived for so long with this mythical idea that there is not enough of everything in the world for everyone, and that we must compete for the little that exists, that only the strongest survive.  Yet this is not true at all, for there is absolutely enough for all the billions of people upon the Earth to survive and live decently….for there is not really any such thing as a strong individual that survives alone, but rather strong communities of strong individuals working together for the well-being and survival of all.  We have lived with the idea that “if we are not paid money, then we cannot work, thus we cannot obtain the things we need to live.”  Yet it was not money that existed in the beginning of humanity’s relationship to the resources of the earth, it was not money that gave humanity its true capacity to create and build and be inventive.  It was not money that created anything, but rather the power of the human spirit, the ingenuity of the human consciousness, the willingness of human beings to work for its survival and growth in individual and collective ways.  The earth belongs to nobody, but to humanity as a whole.  Its resources must and should be shared amongst all in a manner that allows each to have the minimum of what they need to survive, while allowing the opportunity for creating a more abundant life through the exchange of work and goodwill towards the whole human collective body.  This means a development of greater Human Relationship, a more enlightened and free development in organizing the resources of each local community and building “shared agreements” on how to exchange them at the local, national and international levels according to the collaborative priorities that are found at all levels.

It may sound as if creating this volunteer economy would take such a great revolution, such a big change, that it is virtually impossible.  While I do not suggest it would be easy or that it might not take some time and perhaps many painful stages along the way, if we look very closely, the change that needs to be made is not as big as we may imagine.  It is essentially about nothing more than REPRIORITIZING our relationship with work and the resources we have, and making necessary shifts in the current economic organization – in phases – to transfer over to the vision of a more Volunteer Economy.  It is about making A COLLECTIVE AGREEMENT to use our resources according to the welfare of all humanity and not the greed of a small few.  It is about seeing our own Power in the current state of things and agreeing to work together in an organized and efficient way which will allow everyone the basic dignity of a life of both individual and collective security and well-being. 

So, then, how to begin?  How to start to call out for this change?  There will and must be many answers for this transformation, which will most likely take much time.  Yet truly the first answer is that the world’s working masses must become aware of, must truly feel and see, the power they/we have over the economic world on a global scale, and the power to change the course of life as we know it.  It is absolutely necessary for all of us to come together in community to begin discussing the future possibility of economic change and to explore the ideas and possibilities behind an economy of Volunteerism.  The people of the world, in their own communities, in their own unique ways, need to begin to reflect and share and brainstorm and explore and be inspired together into a new way of living as One United Worker, One Humanity on One Earth, where all are a part of a Collective Body that must now seek to support each and every human in Harmony and Unity.  It will take small groups of inspired people to begin a new Movement which will embody a more enlightened Spirit of Working for All, and for each other, where a new level of Freedom will be awakened that will allow the Human Spirit to take one more step towards its Unknown Greatness.  It is time, my fellow brothers and sisters of Earth, to take one more Leap that history will forever remember and be grateful for.  It is time to awaken to Our Power.

The Machine and the Impossible Dream

A machine is something that is meant to assist our life, our work and activities, to provide an aid, a support, for us to live more efficiently so that one might be able to have time for other life interests and pursuits.  It is not meant to be the dictator of life, to be the master over one’s actions.  This would be akin to finding out that the robot one built to do some basic chores around the house begins to assert its own command over you, rather than to serve the conscious creator of it.  If a machine began to do this, we would fight back!!  We would absolutely know and feel that we are not meant to be the slave of our creation/invention, which takes away our true liberty in life.  No, we would stop it at all costs.  And when a machine begins to get old and no longer works properly to serve its function, when our lives or our values change and need to have a different arrangement, we either upgrade the machine, make changes to it, or we scrap it altogether and find something which will allow what we truly value to be served, to be supported. 

This machine which we call Economy is now a robot in full force that has enslaved humanity to its own fruitless ends, to its inhumane and unconscious movements that do not lead to anywhere but divisiveness and destruction, fear and greed, poverty and disease.  The economic system as we have in our world is out of control and needs to be replaced.  It cannot support the awakening values of community, inclusiveness, oneness, unity in diversity, health and well-being, enlightened living, harmony, beauty, love, truth, spirit, growth and self-awareness, and so many other qualities of life that are emerging and evolving so powerfully at this point in humanity’s long march of Life…..And this Life is now pushing, engaging, yearning for Something Else.  It is causing all the conditions of the world to become unbearable to the point where humanity will be ready to act for the Change that is needed desperately. 

There is one thing that is indispensable for us to transform this out-of-control Machine that we call Economy, and to bear all its attacks and all its destructiveness, and that is Love.  This might sound very cliché and romantic to most people.  It might appear to be impractical and unreasonable, and yet it is ultimately Love which builds all experience of Community, which holds together nations and peoples all around the world, and it is Love that keeps them all strong and constantly fighting for the Future.  If you truly Love your country, your community, if you truly Love humanity and the Earth, then you will do everything in your power and everything in your Vision to help it to survive, to grow, to be all that it can be and more.  If you truly Love life, you will fight for an economy that reflects this Love, which values every single life and every single aspiring Soul.  If you truly Love, then you will sacrifice what you have, and what you are, for the Greatness of the whole of humanity, for the well-being of All and not just the few.  If you truly Love, you will fight for the solutions to each new moment’s challenges and obstacles in a way that brings Peace and Truth and Beauty into the next moment that follows, as best as one can.  If you truly Love, then you will work for the benefit of all humanity, not just for yourself or your family or even your country.  You will work for Love itself.  For if you do not work with Love, then it is a work that is truly empty, which follows a lonely road to nowhere, instead of the Road to Human Unity.

One day we will see that we no longer need any machines at all, for we will find our true Power within ourselves which will give us a Freedom of Life and Creation that we have yet to experience. . . . . and that will be the Great Transition of what was once an impossible Dream awakening into a very real Dream which will emerge as a New Life for All.