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Imagine All of Ojai...

I live in Ojai. It is a tiny town. I moved here because it had heart, community and was a peaceful place to raise kids. But lately Ojai has succumbed to all the hate and dis-ease that seemingly used to plague other places. To be clear, Ojai was never a panacea. It wasn’t really Shangri-La...but it was close.

Now I am horrified to see all the hate, distrust and misunderstanding that is pingponged around on social media. And if only it were contained there...

But alas, it has not been. It has been scrawled out into hateful words across downtown landmarks with red spray paint. It just yesterday was smeared all over the local high school with awful accusations and hateful words.

Our community has been divided into maskers and anti-maskers. Vac’sers and anti-vac’sers. Trumpers vs. everyone else.

Now we are being asked to join forces to ban the development of downtown. Wild accusations are being thrown about. People’s respectability and intentions are being impugned.

To be crystal clear, we are all being pushed to our respective poles, the divide growing wider between us. And I do not think this is an accident. I think we are reaching a spiritual crisis that is endemic of all of our society. And the whipping into action is just a further ploy by the powers that be to cause us to further splinter. For me, the only thing to do is to not engage. I am not joining sides. I am not putting a bumper sticker on my car. I am not going to join anything. Because the only thing to do when there are no clear solutions is to disengage and pray that some semblance of community love and community support will prevail.

I do not want to be angry at my neighbor who feels differently than me about a wide variety of things. Instead, I would like to understand them. I would like to be able to wish them well regardless of their politics or religion or whatever they say, do or believe. I want to be the kind of person that loves everyone even if I don’t agree with them. I want to be interested and curious and hear.

I don’t see a lot of hearing going on. I see a lot of talking. I see a lot of grandstanding. I see a lot of misunderstanding. I see a lot of confusion. And I see a lot of edging people towards prepackaged solutions. What if we all just stopped? What if we all just took a beat? What if we all just settled down and really took some time to contemplate the following:

Who is dancing you? The bad wolf or the good? And if you have already given your answer, I beg you to reconsider. The bad wolf is alway the one to respond first. The good wolf is way too polite and thoughtful to react, instead waiting to consider the landscape and all its possibilities.

We all love this place. This town. It is home to all of us. Each of us being here because likely we chose this place over all others. Doesn’t it deserve the respect of thoughtful contemplation? Not a stand down to marshall will, allies, strength and battle plans. But an actual time to sit with yourself, your actions and your speech and see if what you are doing really matches who you think you are and who you want to be.

For me, John Lennon’s Imagine with a few alterations provided me a great deal of clarity about who I am and who I want to be and how I want to engage (or not) in our town:

Imagine there's no heaven

It's easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us, only sky

Imagine all of Ojai

Livin' for today


Imagine there's no countries

It isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion, too

Imagine all of Ojai

Livin' life in peace


You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all of Ojai

Sharing all the world


You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And Ojai will live as one

I may be a dreamer but I believe that if there is any place on earth where we can find common ground, it is here. It is why we moved here, settled here and remained here. Let’s not lose sight of that in all the polarization and clamoring for power and right. All of us belong here, regardless of politics, religion, masking, vaccing, or developing. If you only want to insist that your way is right, you are the problem. If you want to be heard, listen. If you want to be seen, see. If you want to be loved, love. If you want to be trusted, trust. St. Francis told us all this a million years ago, why don’t we listen?


Imagine an Ojai that is better than what we have become. Living life in peace...

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