Product added to wishlist
View Wishlist

Dissension – Friend or Foe?


So many words, so many points of view, so much conflict and disagreement—Liberal or Conservative, Christian or Muslim, the young or the old, guns or no guns, on and on. Every generation Friend or Foe Image 1throughout history seems to have experienced some sort of dissension, rebellion, even anger against the status quo. And every generation experiences resentment, sadness, even anger at what the “younger generation” is doing. Cat Stevens’ song, “Father and Son” portrays this beautifully:

The Son:

All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
If they were right, I’d agree, but it’s them you know not me
Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go away
I know I have to go

The Father:

I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy,
To be calm when you’ve found something going on
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not

Each is sharing his own wisdom, his own (opposing) point of view in an effort to convince the other of the rightness of that point of view. Cat Stevens uses his musical genius to convey, through the melody, that both these points of view work together and are part of the whole, perfect design.

Maybe every moment in history NEEDS these seemingly opposing forces. Maybe we need the young to forge a path forward and break out of old ruts. Maybe we need the balance and understanding that can be Friend or Foegained from a lifelong pursuit of consciousness. Maybe we need opposing forces in politics, religion, business, education, finance, and at home in order to finally see that we are all part of one gorgeous, infuriating, ridiculous, amazing thing, and we all have parts to play at different stages and from different points of view. After all, dissension provides diversity, and a diversity of amateur inputs has been shown to solve problems more quickly and with better results than expert agreement. Maybe dissension is the grease on the wheels and the fire in the belly that facilitates and even empowers the All, moving from conflict toward cohesion, from confusion toward creation.

Could one of the missing elements in all this be the realization, or maybe the acceptance, of the reality that we are all part of one design, one system, one consciousness? We need each part, we need each other to create balance, even friction to move forward and evolve, while also ensuring survival. Could staying conscious and fully present in each moment help us recognize seemingly opposing forces as a crucial and beautiful part of us? This perfect design of all creation, holographically contained within each cell of creation is conveniently included in human consciousness to be discovered by each one of us—the ultimate treasure hunt!

Our consciousness is OUR consciousness to be explored and discovered individually, and, potentially, to be exercised and applied collectively. We are uniquely, separately born with widely disparate gifts and Friend of Foe Image 3challenges, and then set loose in the “fields of the lord” to find our treasure and to recognize that treasure in each other. Then it’s our birthright, our privilege, our responsibility to dissent, to accept, to object, to concur our way to the ultimate evolution of that whole perfect design.



Heather Ryan has 30 years of experience as a technical writer and editor, most recently in the health care industry. She currently lives and works at Sunrise Ranch, and loves the opportunity to practice communion and unconditional love in all aspects of her living. Heather is passionate about learning, exploring/traveling, and spending time outdoors, and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to do all of that at Sunrise Ranch in her almost-home state of Colorado.


Wasn’t it the great writer, Max Beerbohm, who said, “radio is like a friend in one’s room?” If you’ve ever been in your room alone or despondent and then your favorite song was aired or a familiar radio host said something upbeat, you may recall the “instant friendship” which lit up your otherwise dreary day.

When used effectively, radio can be an important “light” in the lives of millions. Many a bed-ridden patient, when asked “what got you through your long recovery?” answered, “music.” Similarly, many a solitary lighthouse keeper answered “my headset” and many a prisoner replied, “KRON” or “WCBS” or “WCRB” when asked, “what got you through?” When asked what best prepared them for competitions, several Olympic medalists have replied, “my music mix.” The airwaves have often been the under-rated catalyst for a great moment, day, week, competition, or life. Where would we be without audio sunshine?

If you’ve not seen Good Morning Vietnam recently, have a look at Robin Williams as the military D.J. who portrayed the only on-air source of humor and healing heard by many of the troops during the Vietnam War. Indeed, it was often the radio which delivered the happy tidings that a war or battle was actually over, that a disaster had been averted, or, as in Roosevelt’s fireside chats, that the audience could bond together as one nation to brave adversity. Historically, radio often helped to build community and to celebrate victories.

Despite the dramatic dominance of “screen culture,” it is often radio which has made an invisible difference. Numerous ham radio operators saved the lives of pilots or sailors otherwise lost in transit. And several radio hosts have been credited with being the hidden spark plug who lifted the spirit of a disabled “shut-in” or a remote park ranger living in isolation. Then there are the millions within congregated audiences who listen to TED talks, therapeutic music, inspirational interviews and sports events each day. Moreover, literally billions of human beings who have never seen a television program, nor even made a phone call, have heard radio, often as their primary source of education or entertainment.

If you listen long enough to FM, you will find undeservedly obscure hosts like Michael Gaeta and Larry Pearlman who feature spiritual leaders and artists in their interviews. Or, if you seek out the broadcast work of David Freudberg, you’ll hear special features about people who have lit up their communities and brought creative change within their vocations.

After thirty-five years teaching at Emerson College, I also want to give a shout-out to the award-winning WERS-FM (88.9) which has matured far beyond the usual college radio station. In the early years, friends like Fran Berger, Chris Outwin, and others helped it to achieve Best of Boston status and in more recent years, friends like Jack Casey, Dee Simpson, Beau Raines, Suzie Hicks, and Travis Beaney have taken it up several notches as (in my modest view) the most creative station in New England. I recall one student saying to me “I would never have made it through Emerson without WERS.” Another, who loved a cappella music echoed, “I don’t know what I would have done without All A Cappella, a special Sunday program unlike any other in New England.

In short, although radio may have seemed like background noise or like the “soundtrack to our lives” and thus, not as important as wide-screen visuals, nevertheless, for many people, radio has been the primary source of nourishment, education, and fulfillment in their lives. I can still remember a deejay who made me want to turn on the radio every morning when I was a teenager.

Later, when I was in my twenties, I was driving around downtown Baltimore looking throughout the city for a parking space while listening to classical music on the radio. Suddenly, Barber’s Resurrection was played and I could not stop listening. Although one parking space after another appeared, I had to keep driving around the block again and again until I could hear the announcer name the selection and the composer. I just had to buy that record ASAP! Similar stories could be told by legions worldwide.

If you have a favorite inspirational speaker, whether Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Robert Schuller or David Karchere, keep in mind that they have all used radio. Many listeners caught the vision of a higher perspective just by changing the channel and hearing a visionary who changed their lives.

There is something very pro-social about the institutional roots of public radio. In Great Britain, when Lord Reith began to develop the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), he was not just concerned with the ability of new employees to perform or read scripts, but also with their ethical character and qualities of spirit. To his view, radio was not to be commercial nor superficial–it was to be populated by people of integrity concerned with bringing the public something serious and substantial throughout the year.

That said, I don’t want to give the impression that it is only the seriousness, musicality, and inspirational interviews of radio that lift us up from the mundane ho-humdrum of our lives. Perhaps my favorite source of FM “light” is an NPR program called “Wait! Wait! Don’t tell me!” which airs multiple times in the United States every weekend. The program seldom mentions spirituality yet it never fails to lift one’s spirits. It seldom alludes to health and yet the non-stop humor seems to proffer great healing. I dare you to listen for fifteen minutes without laughing out loud, repeatedly.

It has been said that laughter is “the mind sneezing” and no doubt we need to sneeze out tired structures and frozen perspectives in our heads. Great radio provides such “sneezing” through humor, elevation, and the creative soundtrack to our lives. The word radio also comes from the same etymological root as radiant. Both derive from the Latin “radiare,” meaning to “beam” or “to shine.” Here’s to the radiant difference that great radio has made to millions of lives. At best, it is an electronic BFF, a beaming best friend forever in one’s room.


DR. TOM COOPER is currently guest scholar at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii, Stanford and Berkeley and professor at Emerson College (Boston). Musician, black belt, and playwright, he has written eight books and two hundred published articles, been advisor to the Elders Project (with Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and others), co-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and is co-publisher of MEDIA ETHICS magazine.

Royal Leamington Spa – Some Thoughts on the Future

My wife, Ruth, and I arrived in the town of Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, England a few days before Christmas last year, to begin our protracted ten week house-sit and to use that time to search for the right house in the right place for us to establish a new home.

It’s a quiet, pleasant town straddling the winding River Leam, spaciously laid out and full of Regency architecture, a large well-kept public park and a pervasive atmosphere of wellbeing. A perfect place to ponder with gratitude the sixty five years I had lived in Africa and to relish the unknowns of my future here in the land of my birth.

Nine months before, we had said a fond final farewell to our home and friends in Cape Town and began an intervening stay at Sunrise Ranch in Colorado, USA, with a side trip to Edenvale near Vancouver, British Columbia and then to embark on a new life that would be based in the UK.

We were left in no doubt about the fact that this really was a new cycle with a clean slate when, early in our stay at Sunrise, we received the news that all the possessions we had chosen to take with us to start a new home had been consumed by a warehouse fire!

While there is something freeing about knowing that all you now possess in the world fits into two suitcases, there’s an intensity involved in coming to terms with the loss of those special items accumulated over a lifetime. We had already trimmed and culled what we had to ensure that only those items that had a special heart connection or an important function made it into our new life.

Recently, we have been speaking about Crossing the Threshold and Standing at the Precipice – all in reference to the necessity to be able to leave the old familiar life and move into whatever our future holds for us. The way we deal with the actual, real-time opportunities that come to us to do that, has a lot to do with how that future works out. We have a choice. Thresholds are to be crossed and precipices to be leapt, with due discernment, of course, but without letting fear and uncertainty paralyse us into faint-hearted inactivity. The willingness to risk what we have for a brighter, more creative future is an essential characteristic for anyone who genuinely desires to make a difference in the world. If making that difference was easy or guaranteed, it would have happened already. There’s an element of risk involved in moving boldly through Life’s challenges.

I recently came across this piece by David Whyte:


We are here essentially to risk ourselves in the world. We are a form of

invitation to others and to otherness, we are meant to hazard ourselves for

the right thing, for the right woman or the right man, for a son or a daughter,

for the right work or for a gift given against all the odds. And in all this

continual risking the most profound courage may be found in the simple

willingness to allow ourselves to be happy along the way…

© 2015 David Whyte from ‘LONGING’ In CONSOLATIONS: The Solace,

Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

How true! There’s very little that’s really worthy of accomplishment in life that doesn’t carry some risk. There’s never an iron-clad guarantee that things will work out as we expect or want them to. There’s possibility of failure, of disappointment, of the unexpected, of making the wrong choice in the first place. But “the willingness to be happy along the way” makes all the difference and allows it all to be worthwhile and ultimately, creative and fulfilling.

In a few weeks, Ruth and I move into our new house and start the process of creating a new home and a new life – I might say, from scratch, but that would not be true. There are many seen and unseen gifts that we carry into this new cycle, so much to be happy about and thankful for. Establishing a safe, loving home is not the ultimate goal but having that as a foundation for the larger purpose of changing the world will play an important part in our effectiveness and success in doing that.

Thank you, Royal Leamington Spa, for offering us your fine gracious atmosphere and the space to engage with the option of a vibrant, creative future. May our presence here have been a blessing to you as we walked your streets with appreciation and care and may we return someday to share with you some fruits of this new phase of creation that is ours to steward and manifest.

PHIL RICHARDSON is an international speaker and teacher who invites people to reconnect with

their deeper innate spiritual awareness and to bring that awareness into their everyday lives.




Media at Fault? Or Default?

In recent years one has heard the media blamed for everything from excessive violence, foul language and sex available to children and to the ruining of elections, reputations, and the truth itself. But is the media at fault? Or is it rather the default state of human beings to dig for dirt, amplify gossip andContinue Reading

The Magic of the Mind

In considering the differences between the mind and the heart, the thinking and the feeling capacities, the importance of surrendering the mind to the heart is often mentioned. Sometimes it can come across as if the heart is more important than the mind. Usually, when referring to the mind, we are talking about the outerContinue Reading