As the news that the coronavirus has reached Italy, and the numbers of infected people in South Korea rise, the world shrinks in fear and the stock market trembles.
The stock market trembles.
I stopped respecting the stock market years ago when a serious broker at Chicago’s Board of Trade told me he was happy when milk farmers struggled because he made money. I have further distanced myself from the market as I learned that the largest industry in the United States is the making and selling of weaponry. It is our largest industry.
Millions of innocent people in the Middle East are caught in the cross fires of United States weaponry. Homeless, hungry, hospitals bombed and borders closed there is a desperation that we seldom hear about. Their inhuman plight does not send a ripple through the market like our fear of a virus that may or may not be coming to get us.
And there in lies the curse of capitalism.
As long as making money is number one, we allow ourselves to not see. As long as our portfolios climb, there is little incentive to ask our handlers, “Where is the money coming from?”
President Trump recently visited India. Prior to his coming a huge wall was erected so that he would not have to see a slum on his drive to Ahmedabad. Trump has told us that the sight of homelessness is a stain on the beauty of a city – a stain on the city but no mention of the stain on our conscience as we allow people to live in squalor.
And that my friend is the curse of capitalism. Capitalism without conscience is a disease we can no longer afford.
Fear abounds these days. Socialism is coming to get you. But what the pundits warn as socialism is simply common sense.
photo courtesy of wikipedia commons: banknotes
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
A friend came by to help us ready for winter. He’s a young Amish gentleman and we have shared laughter and good wishes for a few years now. He mentioned he would be traveling to celebrate Thanksgiving and I asked, “What foods do you have for your meal?” “Turkey most often”, he replied. And I thought about it a bit and asked, “Do you tell stories of Pilgrims and Indians?” “No”, he said. “Me either”, I said, and then added, “I must be a bit Amish”…and we laughed.
We had many sweet conversations that day as we puttered about moving wood and fencing, and getting the barn ready for the sheep to winter. He was brave enough to have his first taste of curry as we sat to eat our lunch, and liked it enough for seconds. He spoke about his new bride and how happy he is in his new life. I could feel his joy. It was infectious. I read to him a note of thanks that I had received and he smiled.
We talked about how good it would be if all people could respect each other in their differences and delight in their similarities. And once again I marveled at the ease of speaking to another human being who cherishes life first and foremost.
As the day wore on I felt our kinship grow and was grateful for the brief times we share. While driving home he made note of, and thanked me for, slowing down as I came upon a horse and buggy. “Too many people don’t take the time to slow down”, he said. “I know”, I said. “We too often forget there is precious life there.”
The silences in our conversations are laden with communication.
And he is one of the many people I am very grateful to love.
Best wishes in this season of wonder and gratitude.
While the pundits debate, the facts are undeniable. Worldwide militarism and nationalism lead the way. From the new “Christian” leadership in Bolivia destroying a decade of indigenous progress to the Republic of China proving the Hong Kong dissidents are correct in their concerns, the world seems embroiled in hatred and fear. And while the press offers us the winners and losers, there are few who comment on what is really at stake.
There are no winners. It’s as if the entire human race has lost its collective mind. If the mindset of superiority and control wins, we all lose. Let’s be real: we’re all sick. We are sick of greed, sick with power, sick with envy, sick of hatred. Our moral compass has been derailed.
The late poet and activist John Trudell spoke of this as a virus of the human race. I think he had it right. And we have tolerated this virus for far too long.
Among Andean people there is a ceremony to bring oneself or one’s community back to balance. It’s a beautiful prayer calling back our higher visions and fragmented selves. The request is made that our words, thoughts and emotions be clear and free. There is a request to walk in beauty on the earth with integrity and love. The ceremony is done with the complete recognition that we are capable of being whole. It’s done with trust in what is possible.
Whatever a human being conceives of or dreams is within reach. And I suggest to you that we must each take a step towards the dream of peace in our lives. Leaders have left us bankrupt in the ways of the heart and it can only be the ways of the heart that will set us free.
Today can be a new day. The choice is ours.
Thanks to WDRT for continuing to air “Consider This” every Thursday at 5:30 pm CST.
More on the derailing of our moral compass.
Photo: flag of peace – wikipedia commons.
Our honoring of Veterans on November 11th stems from the Armistice or peace agreement set forth on the 11thhour of the 11thday of the 11thmonth of 1918, which brought an end to WWI. Known as “the war to end all wars” both sides agreed to end the bloody conflict, which had taken more than 8.5 million lives over four years.
When the generals agreed to end the fighting, the Allies chose the 11th hour. Six hours remained before that time. In the final moments, a young man, honored by the United States as the last soldier to die in that war, charged the German line. Both sides called for him to stop before machine guns ended his life.
Henry Gunther had been drafted. On the front lines he had written a letter urging a friend not to enlist. The letter was intercepted and for his clarity he was demoted. His fiancé ended their engagement and he was left to prove himself a worthy soldier.
The peace of the armistice did not find him.
When I was young I dreamed that one-day soldiers would refuse to fight. I was told it was naïve. I am older now and I have learned a bit about peace. And this is what I know: peace is a personal choice we each must make again and again. It is not an end of conflict. It is a feeling and an understanding and it is possible.
Peace is a choice. And I am still dreaming that all people will make that choice.
As for Henry Gunther he was posthumously reinstated to his role as sergeant. And even though honored as the last to die in the war, he was not.
But he reminds us of this: Discover your own armistice and don’t give your life away.
It’s time to change the narrative. You know, the stories of our lives; the beliefs that were handed to us and go unchallenged. The fabrications of falsehoods devised to divide.
There are some real perks to rural living. One is the solitude that comes from the physical distance of other people – the good, the bad and the ugly. The downside to rural living is our ability to avoid anyone or anything that challenges the comfort zone of beliefs we commonly share. This isolation into sameness often drives me to discover a different glimpse of humanity.
Our Winding River library system carries a wide variety of important films. I was grateful to borrow the 2018 film “The Hate U Give”. This American drama is based on a novel by Angie Thomas and directed by George Tillman, Jr.
In the movie we are given the opportunity to witness a black teen exist between two worlds: a white suburban high school she attends and her home in a predominantly black and poor neighborhood.
It would be very easy to reduce this clash of two worlds to sound bites, but the written artistry, superb directing and passionate acting present viewers with complex themes in a human touch.
Tupac Shakur and his message of “Thug Life” play a central theme in the movie. We’re invited to explore Tupac’s explanation of the meaning of “thug” in these, his edited words, “The Hate U Give Little Infants, “Effs” Everybody.”
This is a movie that explores hate but is triumphant in love. And that is profound in a world insistent on division.
My advice? Rent the movie. Take time with it and make sure to engage the extras on the menu. Look at life from another’s point of view. Take time to see how hate destroys, but love conquers, and then, let’s change the narrative.
photo from Wikipedia
As the weather turns towards winter our interaction with Nature offers another window of understanding. Shorter and often cloudy days are a transition away from the busy buzz of summer. The waning of the green and the falling leaves remind us of the finite nature of life. For those who live of and from the Earth the impending winter teaches us to prepare for what will surely be the stark contrast of summer’s plenty. So it is of little wonder that centuries of people have held the end of October and the beginning of November as a time of reflection.
Samhain, the Day of the Dead, All Souls Day and more were created by human beings who wanted to honor and celebrate this unique season. This passage of time brings with it the recognition of death and of those who have gone before us. Ancestors are honored and homage paid to them, in hopes that any darkness that had stalked them would let them rest in peace. There is also a hope to chase away any demons that may have been left behind.
The end of October and beginning of November is often referred to as the time of the thinning veil. The veil is the cloak that keeps us from the awareness of our true nature. When the veil thins, we have the opportunity to see differently. It is as if Nature has given us this time to make peace with our finite nature and to begin to comprehend our nature of infinite consciousness.
To distil this time to a holiday marked by fear and titillation is a commentary on our culture’s discomfort with death and our lack of connection to life’s more subtle invitations. When ceremony looses its roots, we are left with superstition.
Let the season remind us.
photo: wikipedia commons