Considering Trust

Whom do you trust? What do you trust? Do you trust?

Trust is a word seldom spoken these days unless it is used in legal terms. If it is used it is with great caution and it is often considered to be a weakness, such as having blind faith. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary refers to trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”. The word’s root is in Old Norse, an ancient North Germanic language of Scandinavia and it’s meaning was “strong”.

So somewhere in the history of the word trust, the meaning must have communicated strength; and the giver of trust was one who had “assured reliance” on the outcome of trusting.

Trust, in its original ideal, was more dependent on the person trusting than on the person or object to be trusted. In other words, to give trust implied that one had confidence in his or her choice. That the person giving trust had vetted well enough to be “assured reliance”. This is not “blind faith”. This requires a strength born of knowing, not simply hoping, that the gift of trust will be rewarded.

Trust is a tool we can use, not abuse and not one to hide behind. It is a gift we give to those who have proven beyond a doubt that they are worthy of our trust. That is the strength of trust. It is wholly dependent on the reasoning and the wisdom of each of us; and it is born of our discernment.

As we go through this very complicated moment in time, where truth is hidden and lies are boldly told, it is imperative that we revive within us the wisdom of trust. Trust is a powerful gift that should not be given lightly.

So when you consider giving the power of your trust to a salesperson, politician, doctor, clergy, facebook or anyone else, it may be wise to remember that your trust is your strength, not your weakness…and perhaps the most important trust is in your Self.


This piece aired on Thursday May 17 on WDRT‘s “Consider This”.

Our Mistake with Iran

It appears the king of frenetic energy has done it again. Pulling out of the nuclear “deal” with Iran, President Trump has sent allies and others into frenzy. They are trying to salvage the one step that had promised some semblance of peace to the troubled region. Everyone had admitted there were flaws in the accord – I try to refrain from using the word deal which is better left for car sales and snake oil – but with the US walking out of the efforts to correct the accord, the promise of peace is greatly diminished. When asked if this pull out has brought us closer to war, even right wing pundits admit, “Yes, it has”.

From what I can tell there are two ideologies leading the pack. One is the very old “might is right”. Certain that increased sanctions will force regime change; this out dated wisdom ignores the reality that the people of Iran had already moved toward a more reasoned and modern government. And now with the threat of severe sanctions again impeding their lives, Iranians question the wisdom of creating a new “deal”, which a new president could once again discard. Keep in mind; the Iranians had not broken the accord that President Obama had signed onto.

The second ideology is equally outdated. Our interest in the Mid-east is due to oil. Oil has us selling weapons to the Saudi’s to bomb Yemen. Oil has the world spinning to control Syria. Oil created the “shock and awe” of Iraq and make no mistake, oil is the incentive in destroying Iran.

While Israel, Pakistan and India’s nuclear weaponry sits unquestioned. And only the Saudi’s and Israel are celebrating this hawkish move to disavow the accord, one has to question the sanity of ‘might is right’ and the need for oil.

I once heard that if pigs knew their dung would be used for explosives, they would still be constipated.*

We need to look at our choices. We are implicitly to blame if once again our military or our weaponry are used for regime change. And it will be innocent blood again on our hands. Divest from oil. Call for diplomacy. Humanity is watching and the yet-to-be-born children of the world are begging.



This “Consider This” aired on WDRT, Thursday, May 10. You can catch Consider This every Thursday at about 5:28 pm CST. You can also hear it on Soundcloud.

*Through the decades, Prem Rawat has kept me thinking and has urged me to my humanity. This quip I remember from the 70’s.

The Greatest Sacrifice

I was recently invited to speak to a sustainability class at the UW La-Crosse. It is the end of the semester and the professor wanted to motivate them to act and to not see sustainable choices as sacrifice. I agreed, but first I had to wrap my head around the idea that I was sacrificing something. I looked closely at my choices to live on a community-sustained farm and to move towards energy independence. While the choices are not the norm, I could see no sacrifice. As my Mother once observed and said to me, “You know where your food comes from, you know where your water comes from and you are surrounded by loving people, there is nothing bad in that.”

I began the class by asking each student to tell me their name and what was their take away. They are majors in environmental studies and I was impressed by their understanding and conviction towards fostering change. However, one theme that stood out was the sense of difficulty that lies ahead in moving our society to one that is sustainable.

Here is where my homework paid off. I reminded them that the word sacrifice comes from the word sacred and therein is the key. The greatest sacrifice is not following your heart. The heaviest burden is to live in compromise.

When we move towards a more sustainable life, we are moving towards something, not away from something. It is a massively creative act and definitely a challenging one. As we move towards that which we love, life simplifies and appreciation grows.

When you wash your hands, to wash off dirt, you don’t wash off skin. You need that skin. In the same way as you walk the path of sustainable living, you discard what you can as you can.

Seek knowledge. Observation of life is the greatest teacher. When we come to understand that our lifestyle choices are harming the water, the air, and the food we consume, we will choose a different way. When we realize the privileged life we lead has been on the backs of human beings and at the cost of our precious environment, we will find new ways to proceed.

Living sustainably is not a sacrifice; it is about falling in love again.

Hit the Reset on Poverty

It is time we hit the reset button on poverty.

It seems we have taken this notion that “there will be poor always” a bit too far. We have allowed a doubt to creep into our consciousness that declares poverty is normal – that people going to bed hungry, if they have a bed at all, is part of some master plan.

We accept it. It’s convenient. The quote “There will be poor always” is understood as “There is nothing I can do about it…”

The stigma of being poor has targeted all immigrants to this country. And it has been the legacy of far too many Blacks and Native Peoples. A belief that the accumulation of wealth was an outgrowth of divine right, justified the use and abuse of human beings deemed as “poor” or needy. Our entire economic system is based on the assumption that “there will be poor always”, and pits human against human in a race to the top.

It is time we hit the reset button on poverty.

We have allowed the loathing and self-loathing that springs from the label of “poverty” to take hold of us. And with this sickness we now publicly declare the poor to be lazy and undeserving. Churches give with one hand and ask for allegiance with the other. And the government seems to have forgotten its responsibility to its citizens.

So what if we recognize that our assumptions are based on fallacies? What if we understand poverty to be a concept designed to help a few and to divide the many? What if we unshackle ourselves from the systems that are little more than slavery and adopt new visions and new pathways of cooperation that can remove poverty from our lives?

Some of the greatest wisdom and the sweetest kindnesses have come to me from those labeled “poor”. Perhaps it is time to allow humanistic truth to re-emerge. If one of us is poor, we are all poor. And accumulation of wealth is not an indicator of success. We have been chasing the wrong story.

Our community is listed as one of the poorest in the state. We have a chance to prove statistics wrong. Let us find ways to share. Let us find ways to help one another.


This piece aired on WDRT Community Radio on the two minute commentary, “Consider This”, scheduled every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.


opt  äpt/  verb   make a choice from a range of possibilities

And so it goes, we have choice from a range of possibilities. Perhaps not on the outside, perhaps our choices are limited there. But we have a choice where it counts to us the most – on the inside.

There is only one who knows the range of emotion like waves of sound that courses through us. There is only one who can choose which note to listen to, which note to add to, which note to delete.

To welcome that understanding is the first option.

The second option is to enable the ability to choose. Choose.

Choose well.Choose as if your life depends on it…because it does.

Opt in to life. Opt in to hope. Opt in to clarity. Opt into beauty. Practice.

Because we can.

Farming Today

On March 15th,  the Coalition of Immocalee Farm Workers concluded their Freedom Fast. However, their demands to stop sexual violence against women in the fields will not end. This boycott is against Wendy’s – the last of the large food chains to resist joining the Fair Food Program. The Fair Food Program is a partnership among farmers, farmworkers, and retailers that ensures humane wages and working conditions.

Wendy’s has decided not to sign on and instead is going to Mexico for their tomatoes, where laws remain lax and conditions for the farm workers are often deplorable.

Such is the battle for economic and humane equity in farming.

Reading news from Family Farm Defenders, I was saddened by the statistic that the numbers of farmers committing suicide is on the rise. Couple that with the fact that in 2017, western Wisconsin had the highest numbers of farm bankruptcies in the nation and the stark realities of what farm life has become is apparent.

While massive amounts of money are poured into military budgets, political campaigns, and entertainment, our food security is being destroyed. Pipelines, fracking, transmission lines and oil spills are cutting through the heart of rural farms adding salt to wounds. Organic farmers now face increased rates for licensing, with little to no increase in revenue.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The small landholders are the most precious part of a state.” He recognized farming as national security. Apparently today’s government doesn’t agree, rather it seems hell bent on bringing back servitude.

Our farming communities are facing enormous challenges in every way. Even the famously promised broadband access still eludes 61% of our people. I know. I’m one.

While popular TV shows herald more of the same old rugged individualism, pitting man against nature…it seems to me today’s heroes are the farmers and the rural communities trying desperately to maintain a good life. The way out is not in conquering nature, but in working with it and with one another.

This is a moment for cooperation to re-emerge.

So while Alaska calls itself the last frontier and people knock themselves out to prove they are survivors…we need look no further than the small sustainable farms here in the Driftless to see devotion to land and community, resilience to climate change, and the finest of the human spirit.


This aired on WDRT‘s “Consider This” on March 15. You can hear it here.

And please watch this video of the struggle to save clean water in Kewaunee County WI.


Brown Earth Dog

It never hurts to find a good reason to celebrate and one of the best reasons I’ve found of late is the welcoming of the Chinese New Year – this year is that of the Brown Earth Dog. The celebration began on February 16th and it will last for around 15 days. It has been sixty years since the last Earth Dog Year.

The Year of the Brown Earth Dog is thought to be a good year; a year where good actions, persistence and honest hard work will be rewarded. It will be a year to make commitments to all that is important to us.

And because the Earth Dog is a pack animal, it will be a year of building community. It is projected to be full of hope, and filled with dialogue that can bring people together and help us shed our indifference. If resources are scarce, people will become innovative and more willing to work with others, allowing for successful endeavors throughout this year.

Dogs are the eleventh sign in the Chinese zodiac and are viewed as independent, sincere, loyal and decisive. They are not afraid of the difficulties in life. In a year that can be bustling with activity, lifestyle changes towards good healthy habits will be an important consideration for everyone.

Earth dog is symbolic of land so everything related to agriculture and the earth’s resources will be more significant than ever. And while mountains may block our view, the instinct of the earth dog will be to overcome, go around or find some new way to reach our destination.

The element of earth in Chinese astrology is also connected to stability and meditation, and this may awaken people to a new or renewed interest in spiritual understanding.

Dog represents intelligence and protection and we may be able to learn lessons from our past and incorporate what has worked and what has not.

And here is some of the best news about this Chinese New Year. It signifies the end of the strong willed and multi-tasking fire cock. And the greed and self-centeredness that have characterized the past year may have a difficult road ahead.

So here we go, year of the Earth Dog! Set clear intentions, bring on the effort required, and bring on the love of the land and community building! We are long, long overdue!



This piece aired on WDRT‘s “Consider This” on March 1. You can listen to it here.

The adorable dog is Chester.