A Wink and A Nod

Confederate flags, a noose and the cross referencing of Jesus and Trump signs were the images from the failed insurrection when five people died and some of us realized how vulnerable we are to white supremacy. 

It’s amazing how easily human beings can be led when given the dual excuses of racism and patriotism. Off duty police were part of the mob and called their fellow officers, who were there to protect and to serve, the enemy. Blue lives didn’t matter that day as one on-duty officer died of the beating he sustained. Allegiance to party disintegrated as calls for Pence to be hanged could be heard. No one is safe when the thirst for power is unhinged.

There it was displayed for the world to see the drama of white nationalism run amuck. But it’s the continued allegiance to the ignorance that has stymied me.  Republican Senators and Congressmen wouldn’t wear masks as they crammed into the safe zone at the Capitol, giving way to a rise in covid among them. And the calls to impeach are met with delusional grandeur by Congressmen still trying to sell election lies and defend the indefensible.

The wink and the nod is the way we keep our secrets.  The wink and the nod hides the insidious truths behind the façades of religious piety and a government that has never risen above the duplicity of violence and racism that was its foundation. 

It’s in the systemic corruption that allows peaceful protestors to be hosed, gassed and met with rubber bullets, while white terrorists are escorted in and out of the people’s house as they disrupt government proceedings. 

We won’t change it, if we don’t name it. This is not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue and we need to call it out.

The Arc Bends Towards Justice

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. Martin Luther King revived this Theodore Parker quote and the state of Georgia has reminded us again of its fundamental truth.

Reverend Raphael Warnock became the first Black senator of Georgia and the eleventh to hold that office.

In a week when the police murder of a Black child went unpunished; and a Wisconsin prosecutor declined to file charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake – a Black man held by the shirt and shot seven times in the back, in view of his children and ultimately paralyzing him … We needed Warnock’s win. Not just Black people. All people, even the ones who remain defiant in their ignorance and claim white supremacy. We all needed this.

And then I forced myself to listen to Trump’s speech prior to the storming of the capitol by white nationalists. There is not a doubt in my mind that his words fed the anger and the actions of these terrorists. There is not a doubt in my mind that the on-duty force stood down as the insurrection took place. I have witnessed militarized police take action against peaceful protesters. There was none of that. The terrorists were determined to stop the proceedings and they succeeded. There was nothing peaceful about it.

Remember this: the arc of the universe bends towards justice – but it does not bend on its own. We need to stand firm against injustice. It’s within our reach to end the disease of hatred, but it will take each of us. It will take our honesty. It will take our courage and it will take our love. 

This country has tolerated the ignorance of racism since its inception. 

It’s time we end it.

2020’s Last Word

Many people are looking forward to midnight, as if the year’s woes will mysteriously disappear. Fairy tales and cocktails dull reality until it comes knocking at your door.

Covid upended us because we weren’t prepared. It isn’t covid. It’s our reluctance to accept that reality, as we know it is on rough waters. And instead of holding the helm deliberately through the storm, we relinquish it to division and fairy tales. 

And from what I can tell, in 2021 we’re poised to do the same. 

In case you haven’t heard. There is a new viral strain. It’s the same as the old, but even more contagious. So your fairy tales of invincibility, or “we are all going to die anyway” will again be put to the test.

Happy New Year.

But it could be a happy new year. It could be a year we remember the Golden Rule: to treat others, as you would like to be treated. 

It could be the year we welcome the understanding that we’re one race and put an end to systemic injustice. Say his name: #TamirRice.

And wouldn’t it be grand if we stood in solidarity to protect the planet for those to come? #StopLine3

We could let it be the year of restorative justice. And while we’re at it, we could provide good clean food for everyone, while we provide health care and education as well. Keep at it Bernie!

The military will have to stop sucking up the money, religions will have to preach, “love thy neighbor”, and corporations will need to be held accountable. 

That’s not impossible; it’s within our reach. 

But it’s up to us to demand.

You may be isolated, but you are not alone. Flip desperation to hope and action. 

Let’s make it a good year!

This Tearing of Our Souls

For those wishing for a return to the way things were, it might be time to surrender. The old is giving way to the new. No need to look back longingly. There is no time.

This demolition of life as we knew it, this tearing of our souls, is right on time. 

It’s a moment of rebirth and reset and Life demands our attention, our love and our courage to meet it. Our collective histories have been plagued by violence, isolation and inequity.  We have been wounded, but we’re not lost. 

In this season, as we celebrate the victory of light over darkness, in whatever ways we do, remember to celebrate our own light. We can acknowledge our significance to the whole. And we can play this instrument that we are and the gifts that we have been given with the skill of a virtuoso. 

This is not a time to curse the darkness, but to be grateful for what it gives. We’re being driven to stillness. And our actions are required to be conscious and deliberate. These are great skills to hone. 

We’ve spent years and some of us decades waiting for a hero or placing others above ourselves. Our ability to adore is tremendous. But to what end? And now we wait for the hero vaccine. 

In the meantime the clock ticks. And the most precious gifts are yet to be opened. 

I will never doubt the power of the human spirit to do good or to cause harm. 

It has and always will be our choice.

And what we choose absolutely contributes to the outcome of this moment. Clinging to the past is folly; blind faith is fruitless. If you’ve not yet discovered how powerful you are, it is time. 

A Fart in Church

Someone called and invited me to contribute to a political party. I explained that I couldn’t support either party, as they are “wings of the same bird” and that unless and until one or the other stopped putting profit before people and the earth, I wouldn’t be offering my support. The caller became a bit exasperated. And I thought of my mother who would have said my comments were a “fart in church”. 

People don’t enjoy being challenged to think. It’s easier to cling to belief than to take the leap of faith into knowing. It’s easier to pick winners and losers and to gamble whom the winner will be, then to take into account our mutual interconnectedness and the consequences of our action or inaction. 

We have yet to accept we are one people, one planet.  And what befalls one of us is destined to harm us all. 

Take the covid nightmare that morphed into the mask versus freedom nightmare and now is the vaccine versus the enemies of the people nightmare. It would have been much easier to stand united from the start in the best interest of all, but that would have been a fart in someone’s church. Instead our march of death continues and history will remember us as fools.

Two billion people are suffering shortages of water, with two thirds of the world’s population expected to face water crisis over the next four years. Our solution? We have begun trading water as a commodity on Wall Street. There is not a hint of compassion in this capitalist response. 

It’s the religion of greed and the gospel of prosperity, which we need to put to rest. Solutions will come more readily when kindness regains the helm. Until then don’t be afraid to cause a stink.  

Our Ability to Love

They say that even with a vaccine we must be willing to stay distanced and wear masks well into spring. To some this is a great sacrifice. They scream of freedom lost and stand firm in their disbelief. To those freedom fighters, everything is suspect including the surging numbers of sick and dying.

The hardest part is that it didn’t have to be. The pseudo warriors have already sacrificed something greater than freedom. They have forsaken our inherent gifts of clarity and compassion. 

But I can’t waste time talking about ignorance. I want to talk to talk to the warriors who have not forsaken love and compassion.  I want to say, “Do not give up.” 

It’s not lost on me that scriptures share the phrase, “Leave the dead to bury the dead.” And I do not think for a moment this refers to our loved ones who have succumbed to this horrid disease. But there are those who have chosen to walk with the death of spirit in their hearts, forsaking the living. And they are very willing to lead us into their living hell.

But I am telling you, “Do not go there”. Do not live in the despair that makes one abandon heart and clarity.  Do everything you can to stay alive.

And what does it mean to be alive? It is to wake every day to the realization that life is a gift, and that we are, in fact, a gift to life. We hold within us the strength and the courage to persevere.  We hold the clarity and the wisdom to right the most grievous wrongs.  We can ask for help and we can receive it.

We have the ability to love. And it is time we use it.

Stop Line 3

This week the last of the permits required for Enbridge’s Line 3 were granted. Construction can officially begin, although it’s been going on illegally for some time.

The granting of the permits was of no surprise. The governing agencies grew out of the diminishing era of fossil fuels and are reluctant to rock the boat. Even though we know fossil fuels are being replaced by clean energy, even knowing the threat to water from ruptured pipes.

Enbridge was granted the right to totally abandon the original corroded line and build a larger, higher volume corridor.  It will transport the dirtiest of tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin even with our knowledge of diminished need.

Disregarding tribal sovereignty and indigenous ways of life, Line 3 will traverse Minnesota passing through tribal lands, wetlands, lakes and wild rice beds. 

Minnesota’s Department of Health now show that covid infection rates are higher along this new corridor than any other parts of the state and Native Americans are among the highest at risk for covid hospitalizations. Increasing the number of construction workers at this time, when we are asked to stay in place, is unreasonable and dangerous. 

Since 2013, many have opposed this pipeline, but more of us are needed to stand up for indigenous sovereignty and to protect the land and water. Now more than ever, as covid is ravaging our people and overwhelming our health care workers, we need this irresponsible act to stop.

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwa, Honor the Earth, Youth Climate Interveners, the Sierra Club and Minnesota’s own Department of Commerce have filed a court appeal for a stay on the construction.

For more on efforts to stop line 3, visit the website: stopline3.org.

Or call or write.

Office of Governor Tim Walz & Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan 
130 State Capitol 
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
St. Paul, MN 55155

Staffed office hours are: Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM

Telephone Numbers 
Telephone:  651-201-3400 
Toll Free:  800-657-3717 
Minnesota Relay:  800-627-3529 

As We Bow Our Heads

The beauty of Thanksgiving is that we celebrate the fruit of the harvest. It is a perfect time to do so, before the dark and cold winter days become too much of a burden, before the best of the surplus is gone.

Many cultures celebrate giving thanks in one form or another around this time of year.

The narrative of Pilgrims and Indians was an added construct and a peculiar twist given to a celebration of bounty. It’s twisted in the fabrication of myths it extols.

The celebration of harvest has always been, but the Pilgrim and Indian narrative was introduced after the Civil War to a country in need of healing. The truth is that the Pilgrims, who were not known as pilgrims but as separatists, took control of Wampanoag land after the village was wiped out by small pox the previous year.

It is worth a study of the origins of the twisted narrative but more importantly of the truths regarding the first settlers and the tribe.

Squanto, the famed Indian helper, was captured by the English in 1614 and sold as a slave. He returned from Europe in 1619 to find his entire community dead.

In 1637, it is estimated five hundred Wampanoag women, children and men were slaughtered in retaliation for the life of one separatist.

There are truths and there are falsehoods. Lies make us sick. They keep us from our becoming. 

Perhaps as we bow our heads and give thanks we can pray for the strength to end the lies. We can hold the sanctity of life as priceless and we can recognize all people as one. 

Healing demands truth. And if there is anything this moment in time will teach us, it is this: the lies of yesterday and today are killing us.

Never Ever Give Up

One would think with all that we face, the politics of division would run its course, but splintering continues and divide and conquer maneuvers are at an all time high. 

It’s as if we thoroughly enjoy seeing the human race fail. We don’t have to hate one another. We don’t have to fear one another. As far as I can tell our needs  – not our wants – are the same and we would get a lot further with just a bit more respect and a touch of compassion.

People are dying. People are missing their loved ones and people are wondering if they will have a roof over their heads as winter looms. Some are not sure if they can continue to feed their children. And as the covid numbers surge, some will not be able to receive the care they need regardless of the disease that stalks them. 

We are succumbing to addiction and domestic violence and for too many suicide is the final solution. We have opened the door to madness and it seems we are unwilling to try and close it again.

But through all of the ugliness and all of the loss I choose to believe we can turn this around. The tears that come so easily these days are reminders of a heart still capable of loving. The efforts to create and to discover new paths are a testament to the resilience that we all share.

Our foundation is being cracked and that is as it should be. It was a house of cards. The winds have come to tear it down and for those who are ready to see there will be new growth, new life and new ways.

Love one another through this horrible nightmare, and never, ever give up.

Snap Out of It

I learned of a relative who is waiting on the results of a covid test. Her son sat next to a child in school who tested positive. A single mom, she will have to quarantine and miss work for nearly two weeks or longer if she falls ill. Many workers are not receiving any compensation for unworked hours and must spend vacation days – if they have them – to recoup. Our front line caregivers are facing harsh realities as the virus escalates and no safety nets are in place to help them.

Also, Wisconsin hospitals are warning they will soon be unable to help those in need due to the escalation. This, while the Republican legislature goes to court once again to revoke the virus precautions ordered by Governor Tony Evers.

Hitting back at the ignorance of the current administration, the CDC issued another finding that masks do help keep the wearer from either spreading or contracting the disease. 

No health care for too many, no safety net for the working class and a government so enmeshed in division that it cannot or will not help its people. This is what we are facing, as well as a host of people unwilling to wear a mask while in public.

While it’s easy to hunker down in division, we are not helping ourselves as a nation, if we pretend this virus is going away any time soon.

Snap out of it.

Your president was able to get socialized medicine at Walter Reed Hospital, but you won’t have that luxury. And if you are one of the millions without health insurance or live in a state like Wisconsin, you may not get any help at all.

This is no time for fairy tales. Sober up. Wear a mask.