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Jan Phillips

Jan PhillipsWe have a funny concept of time in this culture. We revere it as we revere money, yet we rarely spend any of it on ourselves. We complain that we can't make what time we have go around, yet day after day we spend our allotment doing things we don't really want to be doing.


May 26 was the birthday of Dorothea Lange, the photographer who took the iconic Migrant Mother image during the Dust Bowl. She left a successful portrait business in San Francisco to document the displacement of the Dust Bowl farmers.

The incredible thing about Lange's work is the power it had to influence others. When an exhibition of her images was displayed in a NYC gallery, a man who saw them was deeply moved. He was so touched by their intimacy, so drawn into the plight of the migrant workers, that he felt akin to them. He wanted to help, but "What can I do?" he thought. "I'm just a writer." It was John Steinbeck and soon his book Grapes of Wrath was on the bookstands.

As another man read the words of Steinbeck, he, too, felt moved to action. "This is my country. These are my fellow citizens. I want to help, but what can I do? I'm only a film director." But it was John Ford, and soon Americans were flocking to the theaters to see his film Grapes of Wrath. And once the American public felt their commonness with these farmers and migrant workers, they lobbied Congress for social programs that would help them and that was the beginning of several federal programs that benefited the folks who were most in need.

Lange could never have known the reach of her work. All she knew was that she had a tool for getting the word out, and day by day, she, being a survivor of polio herself, limped through the camps of the most destitute and shared their world in the best way she could. And that changed everything.

That's how we co-create our culture. We put out our thoughts, our stories, our images, our paintings --anything that makes the inner, invisible world visible to others -- and trust in their power to add grace and light and consciousness to the world.

We do not ask, "How can I change the world?" We simply ask, "What do I love? What do I know? What do I care about?" and to the best of our ability, we offer that to the world in the most beautiful way we can. That is our job as evolutionary creators. The words we speak have power. Your sentences will be experienced like a shower of rose petals or a bucket of ashes. So be mindful of your words. Be careful with your power. Go minute by minute through your day casting kindness here and there. THAT is what will bring you the joy you are crying out for.

JAN PHILLIPS is an evolutionary artist, author, workshop director and social activist. She is the cofounder and executive director of the Livingkindness Foundation, a global network of grassroots philanthropists turning creativity into compassionate action. She is also cofounder of Syracuse Cultural Workers, publishers of artwork for social justice and global consciousness.


FREE VIDEO Hope for the Village Child in Nigeria From Jan Phillips' Livingkindness Foundation

GREAT MYSTERY ONLINE SALON series The Yin and Yang of a Writer's Life

BOOK No Ordinary Time: The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and Evolutionary Creativity
BOOK Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity
BOOK The Art of Original Thinking: The Making of a Thought Leader
BOOK God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art

MUSIC CD All the Way to Heaven

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