Belonging

The need to belong is a deeply human aspiration. We wear the labels of belonging as badges of acceptance. To be accepted is also high on our scale of needs. The yearning to be welcomed and celebrated as a member of something is a strong human motivator. These were my thoughts as I watched the parade of flags at the recent Pride celebration in La Crosse. The flags are symbols of identity. They are in direct response to cultural disapproval and censorship.

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Never quite comfortable in society’s boxes, I understand the urge to fly a new flag – and especially one that has not yet been pigeon holed into meaninglessness. So I marveled at the youth donning their flags determined to be unique, and challenging the status quo. It is good they are given a safe space to discover. And when the organization called “Free Mom Hugs” showed up in force to celebrate Pride, they added a touch of humanity and healing desperately needed. Too many gay youth are unwelcomed at home and these mothers giving hugs play an important role in reminding them that they are indeed loved for who they are.

Another coalescing of people that has heightened my observation skills are the numerous versions of Christianity. And of course there are the political affiliations that many cling to, which satisfy the need to belong while simultaneously separating us from others. The value and strength of community is undeniable. That can be witnessed at any sports event. I have yet to understand the value of separation.

I have found it far simpler to declare myself a human being and allow for the affiliation of “citizen of the Earth”. It seems to be a direct route to the source of the need to belong. It is certainly a satisfying one.

We remain one People, one Earth. We belong.

 

Tremendous thanks to WDRT for their continued supporting and for airing “Consider This”. You can hear my 2 minute commentaries every Thursday at 5:30 pm CST or listen via the web.

Inserted photo is of a memorial for murdered transgender women.

Gay flag compliments of wikipedia commons.

Love of Place

Every apple seed can produce an entirely unique tree. Every tree has a story to tell and there is so much to learn. I have the pleasure of living in an heirloom apple orchard. It delights the senses throughout the seasons, it informs and it nourishes; its beauty has captured my heart…All of this has caused me to ponder the significance of love of place.

We cannot all stay in the place of our birth. My maternal grandmother left a beautiful seaside town on the west coast of Italy to come to the United States. And while I am sure she missed the sea, the foods and flora of her home, she taught me through her actions the importance of love of place. Well into her 70’s she tirelessly cared for her garden, her chickens and her bread with a gratitude to the land that allowed it all to be.

The people of the Bahamas are now beginning the struggle to rebuild after the destruction of Dorian. The people of the Amazon who have been displaced by intentionally set fires are forced to uproot. Throughout the world migrants traveling by sea and by foot are being forced to leave their homes. It is through my own love of place that I can possibly understand their grief and their uncertainty.

Love of place. For those of us who live by the fruit of the earth we are inexplicably bound to her. Love of place is essential to our well being and it is hard to comprehend living without it.

Many of us have lost this relationship to land and I suggest to you that it may well be the cause of much of the disharmony and disrespect that we witness today.

Science now tells us that we need more time in Nature. This is something that our hearts have always known.

 

 

Just One Battle

There are no longer many battles to wage. There is just one.

The Amazon is burning. People in China want to eat more meat and Cattle Ag is destroying the “lungs of the Earth” to provide it to them. Leaders at the G7 climate summit made perfunctory nods and inadequate gifts of money to stop the fires, while the president of Brazil held his ground and refused their help. The indigenous president of Bolivia also turned a blind eye to the raging fires, as the Amazon burns.

The “Leader of the Free World” skipped climate meetings but let us know that he knows more than most about the environment. All this, while his band of followers continues to chant “drain the swamp” and we all sink in the quagmire.

But where was I? Oh yes, there are no longer many battles. There is just one. It’s not Chinese meat eaters, Big Ag, and not even the man who would be king. It is not the Republicans or the Democrats nor is it all the people who are so very willing to play ping pong in the duopoly that has eroded whatever hope Democracy had in this troubled land.

No, none of these are worthy opponents for battle.  There is only one. We knock that out and the rest will tumble like dominoes.

It is the war on ignorance*.

To battle ignorance we need clarity**. We need to remember who we are. We need to stop seeing our differences and take stock of our similarities. We need to remember this Earth is our home. And reckon with the reality that it is up to each one of us to protect her.

The ally of ignorance is doubt. The ally of clarity is peace. The choice is always before us. Find clarity and fight like hell.

 

 

Photo is from Wikipedia Commons on the 2019 Amazon rainforest wildfires

*Ignorance definition is – the state or fact of being ignorant : lack of knowledge, education, or awareness.  – Merriam-Webster

**Clarity definition is – the quality of being coherent and intelligible and the quality of transparency or purity. – Oxford

You Are Not A Bystander

I recently met a young woman and our conversation turned towards social injustice and environmental destruction. She told me she was at a loss for what to do and that she felt like a bystander. I had never heard it put that way: a bystander, someone who looks on but does nothing as events take place.

There seems to be a lot of bystanding these days. Some of us are completely paralyzed by the inhumanity and cannot conceive of what to do. Some are quietly ok with all that is happening to the environment and to the people who are trying desperately to protect it. Still others are jumping on the bandwagon of destruction convinced that the resources of the earth are here for the taking.

For a moment I was unsure what to tell this young woman. She was clearly of means and able to articulate the travesties, so she was paying attention. Inertia can be a tough nut to crack, but it can be cracked.

So to all of you bystanders out there, here is a tip: Do yourself a favor. On September 20th, there will be a Global Climate Strike. Participate. Take time to learn, tell others, send donations, and stand with the youth who are organizing the strike.

This year the earth has seen the hottest temperatures in recorded history. And indigenous environmental activists are being assassinated for defending our planet.

If you are breathing you are not a bystander, you are a participant in life on earth. Doing nothing allows you to be complicit in its destruction. While we are here the earth is our home and it is incumbent upon us to do more than watch as human ignorance destroys it.

No one is a bystander. There are those who are conscious and those who are asleep. Wake up.  The green path waits.

Return Local Control

When people visit our farm here in the Driftless, I am usually surprised by their lack of awareness concerning sustainable farming practices versus industrial agriculture.  When large-scale animal compounds are compared to small sustainable and multi-dimensional farms, it’s apparent the regulations that govern them should differ. Run off and ruptured manure lagoons of large-scale operations have killed fish and disturbed eco tourism. The nuisances of smells, sounds and sights have diminished property values and have caused significant strife among neighbors. The jump to become a large-scale producer is pricey and has left a lot of small farms in the wake. Yet somehow they have been labeled “progress” and have, for the most part, been given a pass by Wisconsin regulators.

Now for the first time in over ten years the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is seeking input from citizens regarding the rules that govern large livestock facilities. The rules are known as ATCP 51. These public hearings begin today, August 15th and run through September 5thin six locations throughout the state. Wednesday, September 4thin Onalaska is our region’s nearest hearing.

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If you live rurally, and would like an opportunity to have your voice heard on the issues raised by unchecked confined animal feed operations, or if you live in the city and enjoy visiting the beauty of rural Wisconsin, this is your moment to help preserve it.

In recent years, our state’s laissez-faire towards regulating corporate business has put numerous strains on local communities and neighbors trying to protect the environment and their homes from unwanted nuisance. The deck has been stacked in favor of corporations, as a systematic crippling of local control has gone largely unnoticed.  It’s time to notice.

For more detailed information on the proposed changes to ATCP51 visit: Wisconsin Farmers Union.

 

Time’s Up*

As our numbed grief gives way to anger and debates wage over gun control, I must pause and question, “What is at the root of terrorism”? Leaders are finally acknowledging white domestic terrorism and are willing to accept mental illness as blame. And while I do not doubt the illness of individuals who carry out horrendous crimes against humanity, it seems a futile gesture to simply blame guns and video games when our entire society is riddled with sickness.

Genocide and “might is right” have plagued this country from its inception. The ideals of the melting pot and “Give me your tired, your poor…” are unfinished tasks left to weary generations. But these observations do not answer the question, “What is the root of terrorism?”

What belief, what social construct allows a human being to hold himself or herself above another? What confused thinking has replaced human decency? What is the root of this disease?

In traditional healing of indigenous cultures, disease is not thought to be isolated to an individual. It is communally shared. Perhaps this should be a starting point as we reel from white domestic terrorism and seek solutions.

We have inherited a mindset, it is patriarchal in nature, it is controlling in its manifestation, and it is kept in place by fear. None of us are exempt from this mental disease. Some people function better than others in its wake, but none of us are immune.

What arises when the promises of this mindset are not granted or attained? Resentment of others and unfounded fear take root.

Fear driving people to have automated guns and violence taught in video games are sinister. But they are symptoms, not the cause.

If we want to see an end to white domestic terrorism, we need to eradicate the patriarchy that breeds it.

 

 

Driving home from WDRT where I recorded this piece on white domestic terrorism, I heard this song, “Times’s Up” by Song Suffragettes and decided it was an appropriate title and an important message.

Photo by Maryam Hassan. Thank you!

The Heart Breaks Free

“What will they say when they realize there is no hell?” These were the words a reverend told me, when I asked him to help someone who was dying and who feared the wrath of hell. I had told him, “Your church put the fear there and now your church needs to take it away”. His response told me that he was the person to help her, but it also carried the irksome reminder of the folly of faith.

Faith born of knowing does not require a middleman – or woman. Knowing is sufficient unto itself. So this threat of hell or the promise of heaven has not held much sway with me, once I set my sites on the need to know and not simply believe.

I have been having chats with people who consider themselves to be “religious”. It has been revealing. In the quiet one-to- one of conversation they express doubts and concerns about their chosen faiths. They will even express doubts that only “true believers” will make it to the pearly gates. And that is common sense.  Knowing someone and witnessing their kindness and enjoying their friendship, makes it hard to condemn them to an afterlife that may or may not exist.

The kindness we offer and the gratitude we feel are the wind in the sails of our hearts.

And hearts are designed to be free.

This past week Wisconsin lost a warrior of peace. He was not famous except to those who passed him on the street with his anti-war signs and his “veterans for peace” vest. Those of us, who put peace before war, loved him; for Lars lived what he knew, and he walked his talk.

Death is a great teacher and reminds us of this: We have this moment called now. Make the most of it.

 

 

The peace photo came from Lars facebook page as did the quote below. To know and not simply believe is the challenge.

“Sometimes war may become the only resort available, but never try to justify it, by saying that it’s the right thing to do, because war is never the right thing to do, no matter how right you feel. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die – you don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn – how many hearts will be broken – how many lives shattered – how much blood will spill until everybody does what they are always gonna have to do from the very beginning – sit down, talk and try to understand each other beyond the petty little differences born from instinctual tribalism.” 
― Abhijit Naskar, Fabric of Humanity