Dignity for Puerto Rico

The 3.7 million people of the island of Puerto Rico have endured two recent, major earthquakes, and thousands of aftershocks since December twenty-eighth.

The largest earthquake slammed the southern region registering 6.4 on the Richter scale January seventh.  Another magnitude 5.9 rocked Puerto Rico on January twelfth.

Tens of thousands are sleeping outdoors or under tarps for fear of buildings collapsing. Many have lost their homes entirely. Schools cannot operate until there is certainty of the safety of the structures. Power is intermittent and refugee camps lack basic hygienic needs. Medicine is also in short supply.  This all comes on the heels of the deadliest hurricane, Maria, to hit the island in 2017 destroying infrastructure and killing over 3,000 people.

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Congress had allocated $18 billion to help with natural disaster readiness following the devastation of Maria. HUD should have dispersed these funds in 2018, but the Trump Administration refused the aid citing “fiscal mismanagement”. FEMA is on the ground and trying to help. No mismanagement has been documented or proven.

The withholding of aid to those urgently in need has been cited as “illegal” and “unconscionable” by members of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats.  They have repeatedly requested the administration release the already appropriated funds. Their demands have largely been ignored. While writing this I have learned that 8 million of the 18 billion are now being released.  It is a pittance towards the need.

The blatant disregard for life has become a hallmark of the Trump Administration. What will it take to call back the compassion that we have so willingly relinquished?

Unity for what is decent is required now. Dignity for those struggling in Puerto Rico is what is needed. A government of, for and by the people is not too much to ask.

Change Course

Our history is full of people who have championed peace and diplomacy over war. We have honored those people and those ideals. Yet time after time we have allowed lies and greed to lead us into endless and inhumane wars.

The assassination of a member of Iran’s government was a flagrant disregard of international law and has opened the door for retaliation and the escalation of death and destruction.

The fumbling assertions of the Trump administration regarding troops in Iraq demonstrate the dangerous incompetency that is at the helm.

This president continues the legacy of past presidents, which is to be led by those who make money on weapons and war. When he speaks of protecting United States interests, he is speaking of oil. If we allow this escalation of war and the stealing of resources we are complicit and culpable.

But make no mistake;it is Congress that declares war, not the president. And it is the people of the United States who can still determine their collective history.

Therefore it is imperative we stand for peace and diplomacy in whatever means is available to us. It’s also imperative that we end our financial ties to the industries of weaponry and oil. And we must talk to those who believe in the false words and actions of a leadership, which is totally corrupt. And to the evangelicalswho are following in hope of some fulfillment of prophecy, I say, “Snap out of it”.

We need your kind hearts, we need your love of humanity and of the God you claim to worship; we need you to remember.

We must demonstrate to a world very uncertain of our motives but very certain of our ability to create chaos and death, that we, the people, are willing to change course.

It is still up to us.

 

Poster compliments of the tireless efforts of the American Friends Service Committee. Click to sign and learn more about stopping the escalation towards war.

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Resolve This

We make resolutions because we want things to be better. That is our nature. It’s our nature to be hopeful and when our hopes are dashed we suffer. Suffering is not part of our nature. It may appear that we are good at it, but in truth we run from it in every way we can. And we should.

Our culture has made a mockery of our nature. Whole industries are based on the fact that we want things to be better: better bodies, better minds, homes, and all. We are expected each year to declare personal resolutions. Books are written, tips are given and counselors are waiting at the ready when we fail.

When we are unclear about our nature we can be exploited. It doesn’t take much to see that exploitation is on an all time high. Our air, our water, and our relationships to one another are being trounced.

But I would suggest to you that this is happening because we are allowing it. And it is happening because we have forgotten our true nature.

We have grown comfortable with things that should not be comfortable. We have accepted leaders who are more content with war than peace; with food that is no longer nourishing us, but in fact makes us sick. We are comfortable with arbitrary divisions that are used to create arbitrary borders and arbitrary laws that destroy our humanity.

In forgetting who we are we have given our power away.

So if you are still searching for a resolution, why not resolve to know your truest nature, not the one the culture has determined for you. Our greatest gifts are in our absolute uniqueness and in our undeniable similarities. Our greatest longing is for peace. Not simply on the outside, but within.

And surely what lies within can be echoed out.

 

Gut Check

Goldman Sachs has announced it will stop financing oil drilling in the Artic. They are reckoning with something that the United States government has yet to realize.  As the White House rushes to open bidding on 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Goldman Sachs is refusing to continue to support drilling in such delicate and important reserves.  They will also no longer support coal–fired power plants that do not have carbon emissions technology.

Now we know that Goldman Sachs is devoted to making money, so we can surmise that its stockholders are coming to the truth of this moment: There is no monetary gain in destroying the earth.

As a people we have been divided over the cause of climate change, but as we become witness to the devastation of fires, floods and unprecedented winds, we are acknowledging this: the costs to survive these calamities will continue to be much greater than the costs to mitigate them.

Capitalism is being moved by the bottom line of profit. But make no mistake; the efforts of young indigenous and non-indigenous youth to end the use of fossil fuels have hit their mark. They wisely recognize that profit can no longer lead the way. It must be common sense and respect for the earth and her people that will direct our course.

There is a debate that the personal choice to live free of fossil fuels is not as important as forging a change of laws. But I would argue this: it is those who have the conviction of personal conscience and love of the earth that are driving the changes in laws and perspectives.

The Rights of Nature and the Rights of Indigenous People must continue to take precedent. As human beings on this earth it is time.

 

Photo is of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, looking south toward the Brooks Range mountains. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Hone Love

As winter solstice draws near, the shadows grow longer, the light burns brighter, and the air is crisp. It’s a contemplative time, a time to reflect on the past and to gather strength to prepare for the spring. If we have done our work through the seasons, we’re able to enjoy this time and celebrate with deep appreciation.

If this season catches us unprepared, we run the risk of missing its quiet beauty. Winter for all its harshness is a time to go within. It is also a time to share.

Everyday is worthy of celebration and giving thanks. Yet living close to the land awakens an appreciation of the return of light. It is something we share with our predecessors and with people throughout the world. We receive the longer days with this recognition: That even though the harshest times may still be before us, we will have the increased vision and strength to see it through.

There are many who will not be able to feel the subtle changes of the season. There are some who do not care. For whatever reason, we have handed the reigns of power to people who have forgotten they are of the earth. They cannot feel the magic or the majesty of living. They are content to destroy it all for material gain.

Yet the lovers of the earth will continue to love.

I am learning to not curse the cold, nor surrender to the darkness. There is something that softens my heart and feeds my soul. It’s simple and it’s absolute.

I am alive. In these complex and challenging times we are alive.

And there is so very much hope in that. Celebrate the light and hone the gift of love.

It is the only thing ignorance cannot destroy. Hone love and fight like hell.

Restore Power to the Peaceful

Scholars debate the extent the Iroquois Confederacy influenced the founding fathers of this country. It is however indisputable that there was communication between the two peoples on the fundamentals of creating a union.

The Iroquois Confederacy was built upon a foundation of peace. Their beautiful oral tradition celebrates the Peacemaker who came and offered principles to guide the creation of a union of diverse tribes. Those principles were fundamental and held in common. It was understood that the Confederacy would be matrilineal and that they would include the earth in their undertakings. The women determined power, as they were the ones who selected the chiefs. Women were also charged with removing power from the chiefs if abuses or transgressions occurred.

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States were advanced thinking among European peoples given the time. But the models of union developed by the forefathers of this country were constructs of economics. The history of this country is filled with abuses of power for economic gain from its onset. Today the words “abuse of power” are far more prevalent than declarations of, or the pursuit of, peace. And I would argue that the foundation of peace is needed.

Violence towards women and children, destruction of the earth, gun violence and endless and fruitless wars are all symptoms of a people who have traded the desire for peace for economic gain.

However, it is never to late to change course. And the righting of this ship can be seen in many aspects of our lives together. The cry for reparations, indigenous demands for the Rights of Nature, and the voices for peace are growing.

We would do well to incorporate the vision of peace as we determine our collective course. Wisdom invites us to end the abuse of power by restoring it to the peaceful.

 

photo is the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy from wikipedia commons

Prayers That Never Falter

I recently learned of the passing of a great man.

In mid-2016, I was drawn to the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock. I visited to see if I could help keep the oil pipeline from crossing the headwaters and the tribal lands.

When I returned in September, it was with the conviction to remain. I had no tribe and no affiliation and looked for an opportunity to make a formal request to stay.

Each day began with prayers around the fire.  From my bed in the car, I could hear his voice over the loud speaker as the light barely cracked the darkness. “Kiktapo! Get up. We have work to do. We must stop the black snake.” And there he would be welcoming all to the fire. People came from all corners of the world and all faiths and he welcomed them to offer their prayers.

And when I would attend the day’s orientation, he would be there again leading with prayer, holding the vision, teaching us about courage and strength through example.

He was the one I asked to stay in the camp. I made my offer to help and he welcomed me. And when I asked where to place my tent, he told me, “Here, next to my family.”

The next several weeks were life changing as weather, rubber bullets, water cannons and infiltrators cut into us.  But the prayers never faltered.

Guy Dullknife   was a cherished father, husband, artist, veteran and member of the American Indian Movement, but those are not my stories to tell.

For me, he was a link to my deepest wishes for humankind. That one-day we will rise, all people, with acceptance and respect, and take back the earth, which is our right. As the living, it is our right and our duty.

Thank you Guy, for prayers that never falter. We carry on.

Guy and Angie