Bring on the Radicals

There is a lot that gives me pause these days. We seem to be ignoring our basic right to common sense.

Common sense tells us that when a Native water protector is sentenced to 57 months while ranchers who triggered a militarized standoff with federal agents are pardoned, we are signaling that justice in the United States is a sham.

Common sense tells us that when the “shoot to kill” training of United States police officers is mixed with a tolerance of racism; people of color will be targeted.

Common sense tells us that oil and water don’t mix; yet the public service commissions of numerous states continue to increase potential contamination of our water by allowing oil pipelines through waterways.

Common sense tells us that refugees the world over are not on holiday when they travel, but are acting out of a will to survive. Our mutual humanity should override our fear. Common sense would guide us to help not hinder them.

Common sense tells us a divided nation will not stand. Yet it seems we insist on being aggravated by our differences rather than awed by our similarities.

There comes a time when common sense is radical. Today we need radicals. We need those willing to suspend current thinking for common sense. We need those willing to put humanity and the love of earth above identities and labels. We need those who will no longer compromise in order to fit in. Bring on those radicals; the ones who love too deeply to intentionally cause harm. The ones who give respect to friend and foe, but never compromise their humanity. The ones who hold the keys for us to flourish not merely survive.

Bring on the radicals and the return to common sense. It’s time.

 

This aired on WDRT‘s Consider This July 12.

You can listen to Bring on the Radicals on Soundcloud.

Photo was taken at an anti-racism rally in La Crosse, 2017.

 

Bienvenidos Seres Humanos

Bienvenidos Inmigrantes! Welcome Immigrants!

How hard is that to say? And if it is hard, why is it hard? What fear, what cowardice lurks within us and keeps us from our humanity?

We spend ridiculous dollars on prisons and bombs, but so frighteningly little on helping one another. How can we justify this? How can we ignore what is being done in our name?

Bienvenidos inmigrantes! Welcome Immigrants!

There is a lot of clamoring these days between the two-headed political monster that drives and divides us. They call for our attention and allegiance. They remind us how everything takes time…and they assure us it is all for good.

Me, I am tuning out the trickle down slogans and sound bites and instead I am searching for the words that feed my soul.

I long to hear the words “human being” or “citizen of the earth”. I long to hear solutions not justifications. I long to witness a return to simplicity and appreciation that wipes out anger, prejudice and hate.

And you know what I am realizing? I am not alone.

People respond to kindness. People respond to hope. People respond to adversity and are very capable of rising a sinking ship – and it is time for people to do just that.

There is no perfume that can cover the stench of ignorance. No platitudes can heal the wounds that human beings perpetrate on one another.

We do not have to entertain ignorance. We have to help one another, now, in any way that we can. We are encouraged to believe we live in a time of scarcity. I do not believe this for one moment but even in scarcity we have something to share.

Bienvenidos seres humanos! Welcome human beings! Welcome to this precious life we share, together on this precious planet. Anything less is less than what we have been born for. It is time to reclaim our birthright.  Find a way. Find your way.

 

This piece aired on WDRT July 5. You can listen here on Soundcloud.

The Flight of the Hummingbird

Once again the news of the week is a lesson in the worst of humanity. The Supreme Court continues to prove that man’s law is fallible with its decision to uphold the bigoted travel ban on Muslims. Our Keystone Cop government is proving incapable of returning nearly 2500 children to their parents after forcibly separating them at the border –incompetency or ignorance, you decide.

A thirty-three-oil train car derailment flooded part of the Mississippi watershed with crude tar sands from Canada. This is further vindication of the actions of water protectors – even as our government is increasing federal penalties on those who dissent. And another unarmed young black man succumbs to a bullet in the back by a police officer in East Pittsburgh.

Despair can come easily in these times for those of goodwill. But it would be unwise to surrender our humanity to despair. Anger can come easily at these times, but it would be unwise to surrender our humanity to anger. Now more than ever we need to revel in life. We need to allow the beauty of this amazing land to touch us. We need to bear witness to the flight of the hummingbird and know that is teaching us that the seemingly impossible is indeed possible. We need to feel the gratitude hidden in the fresh green salad or the gentle rain. And we need to allow the love of a friend to remind us of who we are…for the actions of governments and courts, of corporations and bureaucracies are not meant for the living.

And while we must not remain silent in the face of ignorance and unjust laws, our struggle is not only to end the inhumanity that drives our world. Our struggle is to hold onto the joy, the gratitude and the clarity that is our given right as the living. And it is my firm belief that as we do this, individually and collectively, our nightmares will end.   Man’s laws are fallible and mutable. The gift of life is not. While we breath there is hope. Live. Store up joy. Step into clarity. Capitalize on the gratitude you feel – and fight like hell. No matter what comes, this is our time.

 

This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This”

You can listen here on Soundcloud.

 

Truth Not Truth

Have you ever noticed how many so-called “truths” get passed around on a single topic? The so-called truths regarding the separation of children from parents at the border is dizzying. So many excuses used to justify inhumanity.

I suppose we could chock it all up to the blind men and the elephant story. Each touches a different part of the elephant and when recounting their experiences they argue about what an elephant is according to their own “truth”…For the one who touched the leg, it is like a trunk of a tree, to another, the tail felt like a rope, yet another thought the ear was like a banana leaf…and so on…

Or could it be that this spoon-feeding of lies as truth could signal something more sinister?

As I pondered all of the posturing, the anger, and hopefully the solutions, I remembered that today is the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year. And with it comes truths far less confusing and much more consistent then what we are fed in daily media.

The earth orbits around the sun on a tilted axis. In June, our hemisphere is at its greatest tilt toward the sun, bringing light and warmth. It’s the opposite south of the equator, where June 21 marks the shortest day of the year.

Here in Wisconsin, today we should be getting between 15 to 16 hours of light – through the rain, of course.

Tomorrow, the days will begin to shorten once more, and the nights will grow longer until the winter solstice. Yet the promise of the return of the light will hold us, and we will celebrate, each in our own way or not at all, and that is a truth with which I can live.

And here is the truth I cannot live with. 2300 + children have been separated from their families with no clear path for reunification. Our walk towards inhumanity continues. Until we stop it.

 

Photo compliments of Joreen Knafelc.

This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This” June 21.

Give It a Chance

Maybe I am not as cynical about the Trump- Kim agreements on nuclear disarmament because I listened to the early morning press conference that immediately followed their meeting. Pundits and politicians on both the left and the right are suspiciously eyeing the agreement, looking for loopholes and creating doubt. If the agreements were not about the de-escalation of nuclear weapons and a step towards peace, their alarming comments would almost be funny.

Let’s consider the stakes: the reunion of nearly 65,000 individuals to family members living on either side of the border; the return of the remains of our soldiers who died during that horrific war; and the possibility of “de-nuking” the Korean peninsula…it seems to me we owe this moment, if not applause, at least a silent hope that peace will prevail.

In one of the longest press conferences ever, I listened, as an elated Trump sounded rather surprised at the outcome of the meeting. It was in stark contrast to Kim’s few words, but not in content as a buoyant Kim told reporters, “ The world will see major changes.”

After months of wrangling and insulting one another, whatever brought on the handshake, the terms of respect and the intention to work together is not mine to question.

Sure, there were moments when I thought, “Get a room”, but if this is how they will find a way to peace then bring it on.

There are very few at the top who make these decisions, and a very few below them whispering or shouting in their ears, but the vast majority of us breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of peaceful resolution and troops coming home.

As with the famous words of John Lennon, let us please find a way to, “Give peace a chance”.

 

 

photo: Graffiti on the Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic.
Source: Wikipedia and Licensed through Creative Commons.

This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This”, June 14. You can hear it here.

You Need Us.

It seems the Supreme Court has decided to weigh in on bigotry. A baker has won the right to not bake for a gay wedding. And now intellectuals are busy trying to tell us why the decision is OK.

Well, I grew up during the time when people like me were forced to meet in the shadows. I witnessed the sadness, the retreat to bars and alcohol and drugs, and the shunning of family. I watched as police arrived at the nightclub and were handed a sack of money to keep them from shutting the place down or beating up the patrons. I lived through Ronald Reagan’s ignorance over AIDS that cost the lives of young gay men… and I am here to tell you none of it was OK.

This recent salt to the wound, in the name of religion, will not be ignored by those of us who know better. The insistence to divide humanity is only working for the self-righteous. Human beings are capable of much more than this.

No amount of intellectualism can hide the stench of bigotry. No amount of legal wrangling can change the course that those brave Queens and Lesbians carved for us at Stonewall on June 28, 1969.

And who is this “us”? We are your sons, daughters, your clergy and politicians. We are two spirited at our best and made sickened by your disgust at our worst. How you treat us is indicative of how you look upon yourself: your secret passion to fit in, your secret loathing of anything that challenges your sameness. We will not return to your shadow. You need us.

So I am not celebrating this unwise decision to uphold ignorance by the Supreme Court. But I will continue to honor the gift of my Creator to be the unique person that I am, and I will surely not surrender my ability to be kind, even in the face of such vile hatred masked as religion.

To those who are different, I say, “Come out come out wherever you are”. Let Love win. Light will always trump darkness. Don’t despair. We got this.

 

This piece aired on WDRT‘s “Consider This” on June 7.

You can listen on Soundcloud.

Photo compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Assumption and Abe

Decades ago while flipping through a magazine I came upon an anecdote about Abraham Lincoln. When Abe was a young defense lawyer it is said he countered a prosecuting attorney’s closing argument with this:

Abe addressed the jury, “I’d like to begin with a little story”, he said, “Little Jimmy came running to his Pa. “Pa come quick, he said, Johnny and Sally are fixin’ to pee in the barn.” His Father paused and then asked him why he thought such a thing, and Jimmy replied, “Because Sally’s dress is pulled up and Johnny’s pants are down.” His Father replied, “Son, I think you got your facts all right, but your conclusion’s all wrong.” Abe did not challenge the facts of the prosecutor only the conclusion.

As I listen to people beat one another up with facts in support of their conclusions, I often chuckle remembering this story. And I have to wonder what it would take for all of us to stop for a moment and reflect on what it is that we know, not simply believe or assume.

If we did, I am confident that we would all find that the sum of what we know far outweighs the emotional roller coaster of assumption.

At the end of the day, what is that we know?

In this moment I am alive. Life is a powerful resource. I cannot control the comings and goings around me, but I have the ability to find my way, if I so chose. Peace is a possibility that comes to the living. All kinds of people have discovered peace, regardless of circumstance.

This is what I know. And if this is my knowing, then let the game begin!

Belief and assumption are the parents of confusion. And confusion is the harbinger of pain. In thinking on this I remembered this quote by Isaac Asimov:

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

Maybe its time we scrub those windows and let a little light in!

 

This piece aired on WDRT’s Consider This, Thursday, May 31.