Care for the Living

A benevolent spring is upon us. Time has come to plant gardens or to connect with those who do. Food pantries, farmers markets and Facebook pages are gearing up to share life-supporting food and information. Videos and live-streamed classes teach us how to cook and process food. There’s no reason for anyone to go hungry.

Rain seems to be ignoring us this year. It’s making it possible to repair damages from previous floods and ready our homes for any rough days ahead. There are lots of good, local hardware stores and handy people to help get jobs done.  And while we are readying our homes let us think of our neighbors. There are unused houses and cabins, which could provide shelter for individuals and families who are and will be facing eviction.

Many may be facing hard times. Yet while this virus has wounded our ability to carry on as we have, it cannot keep us from cutting a path forward that may be better for all.

With the argument to reopen businesses now, we are weighing financial concerns over the value of life. There will be plenty of time to regroup our finances. Now is the time to care for the living – and that includes our health care workers. Now is the time to ensure that each of us has basic needs met. There are many fine organizations working against great odds to help those in need.  Find one to support.

This is not a time to cower. It is not a time to be confused or angry. Everyone’s efforts are needed. Too many are living on the edge. We have allowed this for too long. Time to snap out of it.

Throw out the old playbook. There is a new game afoot. Help one another and enjoy all the good we have been given.

Resetting Priorities

I don’t believe in the devil, but if I did I am sure he would have been the one who planted the seed “divide and conquer”. And we have fallen for it for far too long. You would think with the new reality before us, wisdom might prevail and people would resume living with kindness leading the way. You might think with this pause and forced contemplation we could come up with something far better than fear baiting. You would think with all the good news that the earth is healing in wonderful ways, we would unite and make promises to never let it go back again. You would think.

And in many cases you would be right.

This is our reality: We are getting the chance to reset our priorities. Perhaps this time we will get it right. People and the environment before profit; kindness before capital; humanity over ignorance, these should be our rallying cries.

We are learning the difference between want and need and while it is scaring the crap out of corporate capitalists, many find it liberating. Mutual aid groups are forming helping those in need, picking up the slack of a government in disarray.

The demand to release ICE detainees and elderly prisoners is on the rise along with our growing compassion. And while it may come a bit late for some, may we act to ensure that lives were not lost in vain.

We also have a bit more time to think about inhumane policies like sanctions on countries during this pandemic. Our reach of kindness cannot be limited to our country, we must rise to the reality that we are one people, one planet.

Our sickness came long before this pandemic. Fear and hatred have divided us. Let us reset our priorities. Let kindness win.

 

Our Better Angels

 

Our biggest fears are now up close and personal. The invisible enemy walks among us. We will pass through this pandemic in many different ways. Health care workers will carry on with compassion and conviction, in many cases without the help of proper gear or proper testing. Teachers will find a way to teach. Students will find a way to learn. We will all find ways to feed our children.

Vindication has come to those who have pleaded with capitalism to be more humane as many move closer to economic ruin. Medicare for all, a living wage, rehabilitation not incarceration, and ending the barbaric treatment of refugees are all ideals that are finding a way to our lips.

And while polls still show a country divided along political lines, how long can we as a people survive in the wake of so much uncertainty and unrest?

The emperor has no clothes. And the king’s men are unwilling to tell him. Both sides.

What is left? We must find ways to care for each other and ourselves as if our lives depend upon it; because in fact, they do.  We must reinvigorate our communities in whatever ways we can.

How we engage today will determine tomorrow’s course. Some will arrogantly dismiss the warning for social distancing and will bring harm to many. Some will succumb to paralyzing fear and require comforting.  Those who do fall ill will give us the opportunity to be brave, empathetic, and human. And the ones who will not make it through will remind us of the precious and fleeting moment that life holds.

This is going to take every one of us and all that we have to give. It is going to take our courage, our stamina and our love.

Our better angels are being summoned. Do not stand in their way.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

The International Women’s Day has come and gone. Symbolic commemorations were held. Some aligned with patriarchy and capitalism, while others took to social media with memes of respect and women’s victories worldwide.

It all seemed curious at this particular moment in time. With much of the media warning us of socialism, it is forgotten that the first International Women’s Day was born on the heels of a socialist workers uprising. It was an eleven-week strike led by 20,000 women during the brutal winter of 1909. Young strikers, many of whom were immigrants, faced opposition from manufacturers, police and the courts. Their struggle continued for five years, inspired movements around the world and gave birth to the day we honor, March 8, 1910.

Today, women cry “misogyny” over Elizabeth Warren’s presidential withdrawal yet remain unaware that Tulsi Gabbard is still in the race.  They act oblivious to the Democratic National Committee’s exclusion of Tulsi. It is even more telling that women of color, who are taking the lead to educate and rally people towards justice and inclusion, are ignored or chastised for their strength. And yes I am thinking of Nina Turner, AOC, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib to name a few.

And in the patriarchal and whitewashed commemorations of women’s day, how many remembered or taught about the murdered and missing indigenous women or highlighted the efforts of those trying to end human trafficking?

How many acknowledged or are aware of the efforts of Mexican women trying to end the rise of femicide in their country? Or recognized the 80,000 who marched in MexicoCity on that day?

Perhaps it is time we leave the ivory towers of patriarchy and the comforts of capitalism to be more inclusive, to be more human, and to be more effective.

Roll up your sleeves, there is work to do.

 

photo of some of the women who participated in the 1909 shirtwaist strike, compliments of wikipedia

 

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.