A Clarion Call

Ripples of fear can be heard in the voices of those reporting on the coronavirus. It is known that casual contact may spread the disease and that the incubation period may be as long as fourteen days prior to symptoms.

The admission, that Wuhan city officials were slow to provide information as they waited for higher authority, created distrust. People can be heard calling reassurances to one another from their quarantined homes in that city.

This information comes as the virus continues unchecked, causing people to feel victimized and paranoid. But even as the numbers of infected rise and the death toll climbs, there is more than fear that we need to heed.

Traditional medicine tells us we can maintain good and upright health through simple means. Beneficial sleep, good eating, clean water, maintaining our bodies through gentle movement and focusing our minds on good thoughts and emotions all promote health. Feeling our breath and allowing our lungs to fully expand and contract is important in relieving stress and in revitalizing our bodies and our spirit. And while this may not keep a virus at bay, it may provide the strength needed to overcome disease.

This is what individuals can do, but more is needed to live collectively as citizens of a healthy world. We are being asked to look at every aspect of our lives and the choices we have made. The virus mutated from wild animals, which were being sold in a Wuhan market. It jumped from animal to human and now is spreading from human to human with little impediment.  Our consumptive and exploitive attitude towards the natural world is causing our animal relatives great harm.  That harm now endangers us, and will continue, until we remember and live in a symbiotic way with all of life.

A clarion call has come.*

 

 

*a strongly expressed demand or request for action is a clarion call.

 

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

Grateful to Love

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.

Love Conquers

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

Seeking Compassion

If you fell into the lull of summer, October will bring to you the shock of approaching winter. Lush grasses wither with a serious frost. The sheep roam the orchard with a bit more ferocity, stocking up on any late falling apples. Wild animals put on extra coats of fur and this is often an indicator of how swiftly winter will settle in with permanency.

October is also the month my mother would begin to query me on how wild animals make it through the winter. She had seen fawns and had fallen in love with their grace and beauty. She needed to know they would be OK when the icy winds of winter blew. I would share with her all that I had observed and while that placated her, she was determined to put her concerns to rest. So one day she said, “There must be a building they go to.” I smiled at her simplicity and reveled in her compassion.

I thought of her today as I contemplated human homelessness. I have never understood it. I’m certain it is a human construct. And I know the numbers of people we deem homeless have increased over the past few decades – directly proportional to our growing lack of empathy and compassion.

So when I heard Bernie Sanders declare that “a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home (is) a fundamental right,”I agreed. When I heard that he said this the day after President Trump disparaged the homeless, I applauded. Apparently Trump would like us to believe that the homeless crisis is harming cities’ “prestige”.

More research on homelessness reveals the fact that providing people with a permanent home is more cost effective than offering temporary housing or temporary services. That makes sense.

We have everything we need to end homelessness; we simply lack compassion.

 

Goodbye Columbus

We are inching closer to renaming Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The debate began in 1977 at a Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations. And it demands ongoing education.

Why education? Well, for starters, Columbus wasn’t the first European to discover the Western Hemisphere. The first were Norse, traveling west from Greenland, when Erik the Red founded a settlement near what is now Newfoundland in 985. Secondly, Columbus never set foot on North America and instead landed in what is now known as the Bahamas. After meeting the native people, Columbus incorrectly named them Indio and captured about twenty-five human beings to be gifted as slaves to the Spanish king and queen. About eight of his twenty-five captives survived the trip. This began the first transcontinental slave trade.

On his second voyage Columbus brought with him soldiers and farmers to colonize the land and the people. The Taino people, who were known to be peaceful and full of natural wisdom and complex, governing systems, were brutally eliminated. Thus began the systemic destruction of indigenous ways of life and the genocide that continues to this day.

So the question becomes, why do we celebrate a man who bridged the Atlantic Ocean with cruelty and ignorance? The answer lies in a world-view whose bottom line believes that the destiny of human kind lies with god*. I have read explanations that it was god’s hand that guided the misguided Columbus. This vengeful and cruel god is the excuse of those who continue to exercise colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people throughout the world.

In 1991, Russell Means, an Oglala Lakota human rights activist, gave the prophetic speech, “For the World to Live Columbus Must Die”. He challenged our reluctance to let go of the legend of Columbus. I agree. It is time for the ignorance to end.

 

* I choose to lower case “god” when I am referring to the man-made construct of a brutal and vengeful god. I capitalize “God” if I refer to an impartial and benevolent force. I am of the opinion the god of manifest destiny needs to go the way of Columbus.

Wisconsin is now recognizing Indigenous People’s Day

Photo / poster compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Dear to Me

People of older generations may remember the phrase “dear to me”. It meant precious. Something precious was not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Today the word dear is rarely used in this way. It more often means “too expensive”.

So words change their meanings, but the origin of meaning does not change. There are things, people and places that are precious to me. I hold them in my heart with gratitude. And yes, I consider them “dear”.

WDRT is the community radio station that broadcasts this two-minute commentary I call “Consider This”. It is an opportunity for me to be engaged with my community in a very personal way and I feel the privilege and the honor of that.

The people who volunteer here at the station, the welcoming of diversity, and the outreach of community are precious. In a world of sound bites and spin, this station functions in a unique and genuine way.  It provides a local, national and global connection that is one hundred percent driven by local people and is not corporate controlled.

That is increasingly rare.

WDRT is non-commercial. It means you are not being force-fed information for profit, but rather you are entertained, educated and welcomed into a community investment powered by your friends and neighbors.

During this week of WDRT’s fall pledge drive I heard someone say, “If you are hearing my voice you are part of this community.” That kind of welcoming and acceptance is juxtaposed to a world bent on polarization and on championing differences.

WDRT is precious. The opportunity to create and to participate in this active and vital community is available to everyone. For the past nine years dreams have become realities here. With your support WDRT will continue to thrive and to serve.

Thank you for listening and thank you for your support of this station.