Choosing Our Fate

Another human caravan is leaving Honduras walking to a new life. This community of people is attempting to beat the odds. They have learned that the journey north is best made with other like-minded people, not alone and not with the aid of outlaws.

Asked if they are aware of current United States policies and of what may await them at the Mexican – US border, they answer, “Yes”. But they will tell you that whatever awaits them cannot be as horrible as the tragedies they leave behind.

And this is what we have not yet comprehended. We are not recognizing the power of the very human need to live a good and simple life in peace. And we are not acknowledging, in any real way, the role our government and our ways of life have corroded the lives of our brothers and sisters to the south.

Nor do they understand the sickness that has taken hold of our people. They cannot comprehend that through politics and religion we are willing to ignore the very principles that allow each of us to be here: With the exception of first nations people we are all born of immigrants who searched for a better life.

Currently  white evangelical views are driving our government. And it is the white evangelical population that is using the sound bite of “law and order” to overshadow our mutual humanity.

Make no mistake. The leader of the free world has the power to convene with leaders of the southern hemisphere. We could use our capital and our good will to alter caravans at their inception. What is lacking is our will. Unless and until a majority of evangelical Christians return to their roots, no wall or law will save us from the disease of indifference we have cultivated.

Our fates now rest in our hearts, not in our laws.

 

The map above is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For more visit the Missing Migrants website.

Thanks to WDRT for airing “Consider This” every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.

The Power of Inclusion

It seems these days you have to grab hold of hope wherever you find it. While cleaning my house I accidentally tuned into the inaugural ceremony of Tony Evers to become the 46thgovernor of Wisconsin. Ever the political cynic, I half-heartedly gave my ear to the broadcast. As the opening songs commenced my first reaction was “nice touch” as I listened to the young and diverse people performing. And I began to feel the inclusion and welcoming of this new day.

The next moment that caught my attention was the introduction of the MC and his telling of being a Big Brother. He made me smile as he told us how much he gained in giving his time to another, and I moved closer to the radio and gave myself permission to listen with a bit more intent.

It was time for the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. And when the MC informed us that the pledge would be led by the youth of GSafe, I knew I would be listening to the inauguration in its entirety.

GSafe for those of you, who may not know, is an organization in support of gay youth. Having grown up without that kind of support or that kind of inclusion, I was really touched and began to cry. I realized again the power of inclusion and the wisdom of it.

And then the words of Bella Wabindato of the Bad River Tribe really hit home. She spoke of the importance of water and the love she has of her people. And she told us, “ racial equity would mean that other people see my people as I do, as people.”

The greatest leaders are those who allow others to lead. We are so ready for this.

Best wishes Governor, continue to surround yourself with loving and kind people.

We will all benefit.

 

 

 

You can listen to this piece on Soundcloud.

Bear Witness to Good

Children remain in detention camps still separated from their families.

A seven-year old Black child is shot and killed by a white male terrorist in a red truck. Say her name: Jazmine Barnes.

A president, with a grudge, halts funds and plays politics with peoples lives…and on and on it goes.

I know many of us can no longer bear witness to the travesties. We have had enough of hatred and violence. Some of us now doubt that better times are possible. Some of us even question if better times are deserved.

But of this I am 100% certain: Today is a new day. And we owe it to ourselves, to one another and to those not yet born to stand up. There are people throughout the world – and yes, right next door – who are doing the impossible every day. They are waking up and carrying on with love and hope. They are finding the determination and the fortitude to make a better way. Some have moved towards politics, some are working to bridge religious or racial divides, some prepare the soil to bring good food to our tables, some are sitting in treetops stopping pipelines and environmental destruction, some are offering shelter to asylum seekers.

We are the heroes we have been waiting for, if we have the eyes to see.

Look to this new day. Grab the inspiration that comes – however it comes – and hold on.

Inhumanity can bring us to our knees. But it is in rising that we see we are not broken. There is power in that. Human beings have shown us the worst that we can be, let this new day and each new day bring the best that we can be. Bear witness to that. Bear witness to the good in your heart and let it shine.

 

Choice Not Chance

As the stock market drifts downward and holiday cheer dances on, we are forced to reckon with the death of another child in the custody of United States Border Protection. He was an 8-year-old Guatemalan boy, Felipe Gómez Alonzo and he is the second child to die within a month. It seems our history is filled with the abuse of children. This is glaringly obvious to most people of color. And it is a fact that continues to haunt us as we pretend not to see.

And while the president tweets endlessly about his wall, the reality remains that there are human beings lawfully seeking asylum at our border. These are people being threatened by horrific conditions and death in their countries of origin. And they have the legal right  – by both international and national law  – to seek asylum.

United States Immigration and Customs released hundreds of migrants at an El Paso, Texas, bus station a few days before and during Christmas. Many had no food or money. Most do not speak English. They were given an ankle bracelet and court date before being released.

Local nonprofits and churches act as liaisons for these people, but due to the government shut down communication was halted and many were released without aid.

We are dealing with leadership who no longer hold moral authority. If not for the caring of individuals, churches and non-government agencies, the fate of these people would be far worse. But hearing of their plight, many continue to arrive to help those in need. With hearts of love, their efforts are proof that the human spirit is alive and flourishing. They remind us that when one is lifted, we all rise.

It is said, “Choice not chance makes destiny.” Let us then, in this moment of chaos and heightened fear, choose love.

 

You can send donations to help the migrants in el Paso to Annunciation House.

The Return of Light

Solstice is upon us. The return of light is known and celebrated throughout the world and over the ages. For most of the human clan, who live on the land and know the hardships of winter, this time of year holds tremendous hope. And while often the harshest of winter lies ahead and stored foods and supplies run low, the return of the sun is celebrated with abundance and friendship and wonder.

This remembrance is validation of the human spirit and our relationship to the earth. We drum and dance. We sing and pray. We plan the coming spring and of the wonderful bounty the earth will provide. And to those who say, “How foolish to celebrate the end of darkness because darkness has no end,” I say this, “Darkness will forever give way to light. It cannot exist in the presence of the sun”.

In these times when darkness has penetrated the soul of mankind; when the prophesies of doom have taken hold of too many, those who can still celebrate, must.

We do not celebrate theories and explanations. It’s not a feeding of the mind. It’s a feeding of the heart. There is no debate. The days will grow longer and the sun will warm the earth and the earth will give of herself so that we can be sustained. It is our effort that is welcomed, not our cynicism.

There is an idea that stops us and it is called scarcity. We fear it. And we claim it as an enemy. It is said, ‘what you sow, so shall you reap’. If anything can help us turn around this ignorant time it is simply this: Put your hands in the soil. Plant seeds. Plant trees. Feed one another. And feed yourself from the cup of love and hope you have within you. Celebrate that light.

 

Thanks to WDRT  for  the opportunity to speak these words on “Consider This”. You can listen to it here on Soundcloud.

It Has Come To This

On December 10th, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights celebrated its 70thanniversary. This visionary document addresses how human beings should treat one another.

And while the United Nations celebrated and a few academics discussed human rights, other exchanges occurred.

As people took nonviolent stands to uphold human rights they were met with paid enforcers keeping peaceful demonstrators in check.

On the San Diego – Tijuana border over 400 interfaith leaders and advocates gathered in support of asylum seekers. Domestic and international law grants people the right to seek asylum. Our government has engaged unlawfully to deter them. And yet it was thirty-two faith leaders who were arrested during the peaceful demonstration.

And when 1,000 of the youth–led Sunrise Movement descended on Washington, DC to promote the Green New Deal, over 140 were arrested as they peacefully addressed climate change and offered real solutions.

It has come to this. When leaders refuse to listen and government abandons its sovereign duty to obey the law and care for its citizens, it is our moral right to nonviolently resist. It is also our sacred duty to support those arrested and to help in anyway we can.

 

photo:  Faith leaders gather in support of the migrant caravan in front of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, at the border fence between the United States and Mexico on Dec. 10, 2018.               Credit: Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

 

Listen to it on Soundcloud.

May Your Skies Be Clear

As a young pup I spent a lot of time reading philosophy, scriptures and anything else that might give me a clue into the “bigger picture”. On nearly every level I felt as though I did not belong – and there were always people willing to tell me as much. But there was a relentless cry from my heart that kept me going. I remember reading Hermann Hesse and his words, “I belong to those windy voices that love only love”, and it was like medicine to me. There it was, my story yet untold.

Shortly after, I came to another understanding: there was a piece of my education not yet provided. It occurred to me then and still now, a living teacher had always provided the kind of learning I craved. So I made it my business to find someone to teach me.

It was 1975. A college student, I had no money, no Internet, no cell phone. Determination and a keen sense of possibility were my guides.  I chose to speak to a fellow college acquaintance about this need to know. She was a kind of spiritual butterfly and seemed to gather up information that could be useful. She reached into her bag and handed me an address. It was an ashram (shelter) of a youth from India. A check-in with my heart told me to go and I did.

Upon entering the ashram a young man invited me to listen to a recording of the young teacher. In listening, I heard many things that touched me, but what kept me were these words, “The peace you are looking for is within you and I can show you.”

What can I say? I took him up on the offer and I have never regretted it.

Decades have come and gone and I am still the same person in many ways. I do not appreciate nor do I feel a belonging to the systems, religions, organizations and governments we have a knack for creating. I am not a follower and as much as humanly possible I do not have a creed.

Yet I am forever grateful to the one who showed me how to dig the well of peace and love inside of me.

Happy Birthday Prem. May human beings continue to search for peace and may they find comfort and wisdom in your words.