Hypocrisy

While politicians and the press keep us entertained and distracted, Mother Nature seems right on course to help us remember who is boss and what’s important.

The flood of the Coulee Region left a lot of people scrambling. Hurricane Florence is about to do the same.

I also learned of a pipeline explosion in my native home, Beaver County Pennsylvania. This from a pipeline that went active only one week prior and from the same company many of us faced at Standing Rock – Energy Transfer Partners. The cause? Too much rain too quickly shifted the earth.

I know a lot of family and friends believe the security of our nation is dependent on those pipelines. They rally for big business and are happy to see the current administration upend legislation that has protected the environment. They want to see less government, but neglect to see the cause and effects of climate change hastened by this laissez-faire attitude.

Me? I scratch my head and wonder why we are so quick to sell out the gift of Nature. Why we bull headedly hold onto ideas that not only undermine us but future generations as well.

There is a disease I am beginning to recognize. It is called hypocrisy.

There is a cure for this disease. And it is a simple one. Accept and recognize that we are all in this together. All of us. Governments come, governments go. Businesses come and go. Some have held our best interests some have not.

We will never conquer Nature. And it is best we do not try. Instead let us learn from her and work with her for the mutual benefit of all. It is possible. Disasters continually show us this. Now let us learn without Nature’s prompting.

 

This piece aired Sept 12. You can listen to it here.

The photo is of Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

hy·poc·ri·sy
həˈpäkrəsē/
noun
  1. the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform

Turn Around

I once heard someone say, “If you find yourself at the end of your road with no where else to go – turn around.”*

Due to the recent deluge and flooding the stories are mounting of those forced from their homes, of businesses lost, of communities shattered. Many of us are reckoning with choices we never dreamed would come. “Lost everything” is becoming a common phrase as we survey gutted buildings and possessions washed away.

“If you find yourself at the end of your road – turn around”. And that is what we are doing. Turn around and find a friend, turn around and find an outstretched hand with a plate of food or clothes for the children. Turn around and see the results of neighbor helping neighbor. Yes there are tears for what is lost but there is also recognition that this can be a new beginning. Out of the muck, out of the mud we rise.

There are things we could have done differently. There are things we should have done differently. But we are able to begin again and that is a rare gift. In Japan there is an art of fixing broken pottery. It is done with love and with great care and the repaired broken vessels are cherished.

Let us proceed with great care with one another and with this precious land we call home. The cracks in our spirits and in our homes are real. Some can be mended, some must be left, but the very, very good news is this: we are here.

“If you find yourself at the end of your road – turn around.” Turn around to remember who we are. Turn around to remember who you are. We can do this.

 

This piece aired on WDRT’s Consider This September 6. You can listen to it here.

Coulee region flooding clean-up 2018 is a good resource to know how and where to plug in to help.

*Quote by Prem Rawat

Photo compliments of Kelly Yates.

Our Changing Nature

There are many who travel from air-conditioned car to air conditioned office and home again. Fabulous grocery stores provide all that is needed and while news of environmental disasters may come, most still escape being rocked by Nature’s upheaval. The glass of water (at least) looks crystal clear and the air, well, it’s good enough, right?

From where I sit this is the breeding ground for climate change denial. Politicians and scientists tell us that Nature is simply doing what Nature does and our lifestyles have no implication in the rising tide of environmental disasters looming before us. By and large, if we are not affected it’s not happening.

But for those who live close to the land, the ones filling your fabulous grocery stores, the realities of climate change do not require scientific validation or corporate slight of hand. It is a daily reality.

The rains come. Fires come. Droughts come. They have and always will. We must not fear Nature. We must live with Nature and we must help one another. It is time that we acknowledge our part in climate change. It is time that we alter our course for our children and those yet to come. We have been distracted by the lure of creature comforts and the unwillingness to change, but change is part of Nature as are we, and she is rocking our collective boat.

I do not know how the people of our precious region will resolve living with unprecedented flooding. But you know what people are made of when you witness how they face hardship. The human spirit, when given the chance is resilient. And at its best it is humble. We are being humbled, now let us be resilient, and let us be wise.

 

This piece aired on WDRT‘s Consider This, Thursday, August 30th following the furious rains and severe flooding of the Kickapoo Valley and other parts of Wisconsin. You can listen to it here.

View drone footage of the flooding of Ontario. Taken by Aldis Strazdins of Wilton.

Neighbors helping neighbors and seen through the eyes of the award winning The County Line.

Beyond Prison Reform

On August 21st, inmates in 17 states began one of the largest prison strikes in our history. The two-week peaceful protest will end September 9th. Inmates are abandoning their work duties and some are refusing food to call attention to the exploitive conditions in United States prisons.

We have the largest prison population and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the entire world. Nearly one in every 100 adults is in prison or jail.

Ok, so much of that is known, but how many of us know that corporations and businesses use the prison work force for manufacturing and service jobs? And there is little to no compensation given for injuries resulting from their work. Recent news exposed the story that inmates were given $1 an hour to fight the California fires.

Less widely known is the fact that investment companies enable prison industries to thrive. Your retirement accounts are most likely contributing to these practices amounting to modern day slavery.

This is what we need to know. We need to know these are peaceful protests by inmates asking for their humanity to be recognized and restored. We need to know they are asking for proper wages and for more rehabilitation services. And they are demanding an end to the over-sentencing and parole denials of non-white inmates.

There is much more to this story, like the way lobbying groups fight for more industrialized and privately owned prisons. Much is done behind the closed doors of politics and the media is slow to rise against its master. We cannot fight what we do not see. It is time to open our eyes and unravel this horrible mess we have created.

Support the protest, boycott the companies and divest. It is time.

 

This aired on WDRT’s Consider This, Thursday, August 23. You can listen to it here.

photo is creative commons on Pixabay.

One Thread

Sometimes I can’t help feeling we have gone incredibly off kilter. Far too many are sinking in modern day madness. While scores of statistics remind us of our fragility as human beings and as a culture, we seem incapable of pausing long enough to right the ship. We have not yet learned the truth: What happens to one happens to all.

Discussions on mental health and mental illness are on the rise, yet the inadequacies of our systems are glaringly obvious. Money for the war machine is boundless, yet too many veterans are homeless. Good clean food is important to healthy bodies and healthy minds, but we reward our small farmers by allowing them to fail. “In God We Trust”, or so we have been led to believe, yet we tighten our borders and condemn the needy.

The inconsistencies of our society could drive anyone mad. And it is. But I do not think it is an umbrella of thought that will unite us or drive the demons away. It must come back to this: We are tied together in one thread of consciousness.

What happens to one happens to all. Our fear of “other” is a symptom of sickness, not a course of action we are meant to follow. We are not meant to follow.

As I take time to ponder our willingness to be led by politics, religion and the economic grind, I am heartened by the courage and vision of the many refusing to succumb.

This is the thread of humanity that has held the world together through reigns of tremendous ignorance. It is found in tree sitters halting the pipelines, in police refusing to serve at borders, and in backyards and acres of those growing food for themselves and others. There is a pulse, a thread of consciousness that unites us. And it is on the rise.

 

This aired on WDRT’s Consider This, August 16, 2018.

This is My Heaven

Generally I give people due respect when they offer suggestions, advice or direction even if I don’t agree. Sometimes I will give a counter consideration, if it is needed or if I feel misunderstood.

Recently I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with someone I had never met. She walked up to me, handed me a slip of paper and said, “Please read this, it will help you get to heaven”. She continued on for a few moments with phrases I had heard before. But this time something was different. I listened to her. Maybe I felt her sincerity. As I listened to her certainty, I realized I had a certainty, too.

Swept in the spirit of the moment, I said, “I’ve listened to you, now can I have a turn?” And she said, “Yes”. And I said, “The way I see it I am in heaven. This is my heaven”, I said pointing to my heart and then extending my arms to encompass everything. “When I die if there is a heaven as good or better than this, then bring it on, but now, as I live, I am in heaven. And you know, a wise man once said, “The kingdom of heaven is within.”

“Oh”, she said, “well I don’t know what man would have said that”. And I said, “According to Luke*, it was Jesus”. She replied, “Well I don’t know about that…”

And I realized that I did.

I couldn’t have said those words to her had I not felt them. And truth told I don’t always feel them. But in that moment I did. And those moments are growing. Finding heaven within is a worthy pursuit.

 

This aired on WDRT August 9. “Consider This” airs at 5:30pm CST each Thursday.

You can listen to it being read on Soundcloud

For the quote you can read Luke 17:21

Solidarity With Humanity

It’s creeping up on us again can you feel it? It’s the slugfest that we call politics in the United States. Powerful interests spend fortunes to win the favor of just enough of us to keep the game in play.

And what is the game? To divide and distract while a mindset of destruction disrupts our environment and the lives of countless people world over.

While mainstream media is sorting itself out and deciding on which team to play, it is wise to listen carefully. It is wiser still to look for a way that does not include “sides”.

We have all witnessed or been party to the breakdown in communication among friends, family and neighbors. People who would normally embrace one another with civility now begin to cast doubt or anger towards one another. And to what end? A fleeting moment of trumped up values and ideas, fed to us with the best that advertising could sell. If we could begin this sport called politics with a bit more of a pause; if we could stop giving our loyalty to transient and far too often fruitless campaigns; we could spend the time and the money building community and enriching our lives.

We do have a third choice in all of this. We have a choice to put our humanity above all else and encourage others to do the same.

This past week Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi was released after eight months in an Israeli prison. When asked what she would say to her captors she replied, “I really wish they would go back to their humanity.”

It is a simple wish. It is a wise choice. It is the way out of the fray. Humanity first.

 

This aired on WDRT, Thursday August 2. You can listen to it here on Soundcloud.