Dear Graduate

Dear Graduate,

You are alive. You live in a most exciting time. You live at a crossroads in humanity and choices are very clear. You can continue to plug away at the dying systems you see floundering around you or you can reimagine and recreate something new and better for yourself and those who come after you.

To do this you must take stock of your strengths and your passions. You are alive. You hold within you great seeds of possibility that are yours and yours alone. There has never been another you. Cherish that. Honor the seed of your becoming and let it grow. Nourish it with kindness and respect. Allow wonder and remain a student of Life, regardless of what comes.

Give of yourself. Volunteer. Plant a tree. Tend a garden.  There is so much awaiting your loving touch.

And allow your cup to be filled. Accept kindness. It comes from strength not weakness.  Hone your gifts of humility, hope and courage. They will remain your steadfast friends throughout your life.

Do not curse your time, nor accept curses of others. You have potentials that have yet to be tapped waiting for you. Carry on.

And to those who fear for them: your fears are your own to unwind and discard. Do not pass the baton of fear. Systems crumble but from their ashes the phoenix rise. Do not doubt that something better can emerge from this unsettling time. It is never too late to reconcile errors of the past and make way for a better tomorrow. Forgive yourself for doing what you were told instead of discovering what was meant for you. In the time that remains you, find peace.

Change Course

Our history is full of people who have championed peace and diplomacy over war. We have honored those people and those ideals. Yet time after time we have allowed lies and greed to lead us into endless and inhumane wars.

The assassination of a member of Iran’s government was a flagrant disregard of international law and has opened the door for retaliation and the escalation of death and destruction.

The fumbling assertions of the Trump administration regarding troops in Iraq demonstrate the dangerous incompetency that is at the helm.

This president continues the legacy of past presidents, which is to be led by those who make money on weapons and war. When he speaks of protecting United States interests, he is speaking of oil. If we allow this escalation of war and the stealing of resources we are complicit and culpable.

But make no mistake;it is Congress that declares war, not the president. And it is the people of the United States who can still determine their collective history.

Therefore it is imperative we stand for peace and diplomacy in whatever means is available to us. It’s also imperative that we end our financial ties to the industries of weaponry and oil. And we must talk to those who believe in the false words and actions of a leadership, which is totally corrupt. And to the evangelicalswho are following in hope of some fulfillment of prophecy, I say, “Snap out of it”.

We need your kind hearts, we need your love of humanity and of the God you claim to worship; we need you to remember.

We must demonstrate to a world very uncertain of our motives but very certain of our ability to create chaos and death, that we, the people, are willing to change course.

It is still up to us.


Poster compliments of the tireless efforts of the American Friends Service Committee. Click to sign and learn more about stopping the escalation towards war.


Resolve This

We make resolutions because we want things to be better. That is our nature. It’s our nature to be hopeful and when our hopes are dashed we suffer. Suffering is not part of our nature. It may appear that we are good at it, but in truth we run from it in every way we can. And we should.

Our culture has made a mockery of our nature. Whole industries are based on the fact that we want things to be better: better bodies, better minds, homes, and all. We are expected each year to declare personal resolutions. Books are written, tips are given and counselors are waiting at the ready when we fail.

When we are unclear about our nature we can be exploited. It doesn’t take much to see that exploitation is on an all time high. Our air, our water, and our relationships to one another are being trounced.

But I would suggest to you that this is happening because we are allowing it. And it is happening because we have forgotten our true nature.

We have grown comfortable with things that should not be comfortable. We have accepted leaders who are more content with war than peace; with food that is no longer nourishing us, but in fact makes us sick. We are comfortable with arbitrary divisions that are used to create arbitrary borders and arbitrary laws that destroy our humanity.

In forgetting who we are we have given our power away.

So if you are still searching for a resolution, why not resolve to know your truest nature, not the one the culture has determined for you. Our greatest gifts are in our absolute uniqueness and in our undeniable similarities. Our greatest longing is for peace. Not simply on the outside, but within.

And surely what lies within can be echoed out.


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

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.

The Heart Breaks Free

“What will they say when they realize there is no hell?” These were the words a reverend told me, when I asked him to help someone who was dying and who feared the wrath of hell. I had told him, “Your church put the fear there and now your church needs to take it away”. His response told me that he was the person to help her, but it also carried the irksome reminder of the folly of faith.

Faith born of knowing does not require a middleman – or woman. Knowing is sufficient unto itself. So this threat of hell or the promise of heaven has not held much sway with me, once I set my sites on the need to know and not simply believe.

I have been having chats with people who consider themselves to be “religious”. It has been revealing. In the quiet one-to- one of conversation they express doubts and concerns about their chosen faiths. They will even express doubts that only “true believers” will make it to the pearly gates. And that is common sense.  Knowing someone and witnessing their kindness and enjoying their friendship, makes it hard to condemn them to an afterlife that may or may not exist.

The kindness we offer and the gratitude we feel are the wind in the sails of our hearts.

And hearts are designed to be free.

This past week Wisconsin lost a warrior of peace. He was not famous except to those who passed him on the street with his anti-war signs and his “veterans for peace” vest. Those of us, who put peace before war, loved him; for Lars lived what he knew, and he walked his talk.

Death is a great teacher and reminds us of this: We have this moment called now. Make the most of it.



The peace photo came from Lars facebook page as did the quote below. To know and not simply believe is the challenge.

“Sometimes war may become the only resort available, but never try to justify it, by saying that it’s the right thing to do, because war is never the right thing to do, no matter how right you feel. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die – you don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn – how many hearts will be broken – how many lives shattered – how much blood will spill until everybody does what they are always gonna have to do from the very beginning – sit down, talk and try to understand each other beyond the petty little differences born from instinctual tribalism.” 
― Abhijit Naskar, Fabric of Humanity

Cloak of Belief

I avoid confrontation when it comes to belief. I don’t mind an interesting debate of facts and I relish a good conversation of shared knowledge. But belief, well you know the saying…everybody has one.

Belief is that insidious master who lays claim to you without showing papers of ownership. It comes along in our young years while our brains are being washed and sticks around like a nasty virus until we take the time to shake it off.

The ugly reality is that we have politicized our beliefs. It’s not enough to feel superior; we work hard to reduce the rights of those we deem different or lessor. It’s not enough to have enough; we ensure we remain on top through the exploitation of people and land.  And how do we justify these abnormalities: We believe. We latch onto the beliefs that satisfy us and ignore the ones that might actually make us think and allow us to feel our humanity.

My pet peeve these days are the Zionist Christians so eager for Eternal Life that they are willing to let their trumped up Christian president and his henchman march us into a war with Iran. Or that these same people are OK with the genocide and apartheid of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel – paid for and sanctioned by the United States government. Or how they ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia is behind the annihilation of Yemen, allowing innocent people to starve to death – also paid for and supported by the United States government.

These same people are quick to jump on the ‘hate queers’ bandwagon, proudly proclaim their racial bigotry, and praise God all in one mouthful.

Forget the kingdom of heaven on earth. We are too busy creating hell.

I ask you: Where have these Christians gone?  They are buried under a cloak of belief.


Tell the Senate “No War with Iran” by signing here.

Ode to Human Beings

There are many who take the bold steps to be human.

In honor of Black History Month I am sharing the words of Shirley Chisholm, “We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves.”

There is great wisdom in these words. There is freedom in these words. Far too often, we are content with the labels that have been placed upon us, or the ones that we have chosen. In doing so, we often forget that our greatest gift, our greatest strength is found in our humanity.

I am currently engaged in discussions about protecting the environment of the township where I live. When we first met everyone was a stranger to me. Knowing the political climate here, it would have been easy to categorize everyone and prepare for battle. But I chose not to.

Instead I gave my ear to their concerns and when I offered my thoughts, it was without expectation. Confrontation was sidestepped with respect. And as we continue to meet, I am grateful to be in the company of people content in being human rather than in strict adherence to a label. And it has reminded me how very possible it is for all of us to live in this way.

Our country is poised to invade Venezuela. The economic squeeze that we have placed upon that country is undeniable. Our government has orchestrated a potential coup that may come to violence. What can stop it? Only our humanity can stop it.

We must encourage one another to be human. We must free ourselves from the stereotypes that have entrapped and paralyzed us. It is time we emerge as human beings, caring for the earth and caring for one another. It is our way out.


Special Thanks to WDRT Driftless Community Radio 91.9 FM for airing “Consider This” every Thursday 5:30 pm CST. Or you can listen here on Soundcloud.


May Your Skies Be Clear

As a young pup I spent a lot of time reading philosophy, scriptures and anything else that might give me a clue into the “bigger picture”. On nearly every level I felt as though I did not belong – and there were always people willing to tell me as much. But there was a relentless cry from my heart that kept me going. I remember reading Hermann Hesse and his words, “I belong to those windy voices that love only love”, and it was like medicine to me. There it was, my story yet untold.

Shortly after, I came to another understanding: there was a piece of my education not yet provided. It occurred to me then and still now, a living teacher had always provided the kind of learning I craved. So I made it my business to find someone to teach me.

It was 1975. A college student, I had no money, no Internet, no cell phone. Determination and a keen sense of possibility were my guides.  I chose to speak to a fellow college acquaintance about this need to know. She was a kind of spiritual butterfly and seemed to gather up information that could be useful. She reached into her bag and handed me an address. It was an ashram (shelter) of a youth from India. A check-in with my heart told me to go and I did.

Upon entering the ashram a young man invited me to listen to a recording of the young teacher. In listening, I heard many things that touched me, but what kept me were these words, “The peace you are looking for is within you and I can show you.”

What can I say? I took him up on the offer and I have never regretted it.

Decades have come and gone and I am still the same person in many ways. I do not appreciate nor do I feel a belonging to the systems, religions, organizations and governments we have a knack for creating. I am not a follower and as much as humanly possible I do not have a creed.

Yet I am forever grateful to the one who showed me how to dig the well of peace and love inside of me.

Happy Birthday Prem. May human beings continue to search for peace and may they find comfort and wisdom in your words.


Bring Love to Desperate Times

In these times that seem so desperate, I reflect upon the life of my Grandmother, Josephine Paparella, who came to this country at the age of sixteen searching for a better life. She married a hometown sweetheart, Anthony Mignanelli and began a family in Pennsylvania. Within months after bearing their eighth child her husband was killed, leaving her alone to raise the children through the Depression. She grew the family’s food and baked bread in an outdoor oven selling it to make ends meet. She did this with the support of family and community, but she also did it against mounting pressures of a society fearing immigrants and a government who thought it best to take her children away.

She fought to keep her children and she won. Much of this I learned after she had passed.

What I knew of her was that she loved me. What I know is that she did not express remorse for her lot in life. She cared if I was warm and fed. She cared about her children, the garden and her neighbors. What I know is that she taught me about  determination and will through her actions.  What I know is that she did her best. I have heard that she used an Italian expression very often. It loosely translated to this: “If everyone were to leave their troubles in the middle of a room, you would pick your own troubles and carry on.”

She carried on. She endured. And I carry her legacy proudly.

These are desperate times, but the solutions remain in front of us. Love. Carry your burdens with dignity and hope. Work to make it better, not just for yourself, but also for everyone. We have fallen prey to the worst the human spirit offers. Now it is our turn to rise to the best. I remembered my Grandmother today as I awoke to a new reality before me. The floods and constant rain have made it a desperate time here. It is much the same or worse in many places throughout the world. I refuse to be desperate. As long as I have a heart full of love, as long as I give myself to appreciation for this life and for the Good that continues to find me, I am at peace.

Armed with peace, we will be able to make a way out of no way. Arm yourself with peace, my friends, and roll up your sleeves. There is work ahead. Remember those who came before you and work for those yet unborn. Let love win.