The Flight of the Hummingbird

Once again the news of the week is a lesson in the worst of humanity. The Supreme Court continues to prove that man’s law is fallible with its decision to uphold the bigoted travel ban on Muslims. Our Keystone Cop government is proving incapable of returning nearly 2500 children to their parents after forcibly separating them at the border –incompetency or ignorance, you decide.

A thirty-three-oil train car derailment flooded part of the Mississippi watershed with crude tar sands from Canada. This is further vindication of the actions of water protectors – even as our government is increasing federal penalties on those who dissent. And another unarmed young black man succumbs to a bullet in the back by a police officer in East Pittsburgh.

Despair can come easily in these times for those of goodwill. But it would be unwise to surrender our humanity to despair. Anger can come easily at these times, but it would be unwise to surrender our humanity to anger. Now more than ever we need to revel in life. We need to allow the beauty of this amazing land to touch us. We need to bear witness to the flight of the hummingbird and know that is teaching us that the seemingly impossible is indeed possible. We need to feel the gratitude hidden in the fresh green salad or the gentle rain. And we need to allow the love of a friend to remind us of who we are…for the actions of governments and courts, of corporations and bureaucracies are not meant for the living.

And while we must not remain silent in the face of ignorance and unjust laws, our struggle is not only to end the inhumanity that drives our world. Our struggle is to hold onto the joy, the gratitude and the clarity that is our given right as the living. And it is my firm belief that as we do this, individually and collectively, our nightmares will end.   Man’s laws are fallible and mutable. The gift of life is not. While we breath there is hope. Live. Store up joy. Step into clarity. Capitalize on the gratitude you feel – and fight like hell. No matter what comes, this is our time.


This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This”

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Hit the Reset on Poverty

It is time we hit the reset button on poverty.

It seems we have taken this notion that “there will be poor always” a bit too far. We have allowed a doubt to creep into our consciousness that declares poverty is normal – that people going to bed hungry, if they have a bed at all, is part of some master plan.

We accept it. It’s convenient. The quote “There will be poor always” is understood as “There is nothing I can do about it…”

The stigma of being poor has targeted all immigrants to this country. And it has been the legacy of far too many Blacks and Native Peoples. A belief that the accumulation of wealth was an outgrowth of divine right, justified the use and abuse of human beings deemed as “poor” or needy. Our entire economic system is based on the assumption that “there will be poor always”, and pits human against human in a race to the top.

It is time we hit the reset button on poverty.

We have allowed the loathing and self-loathing that springs from the label of “poverty” to take hold of us. And with this sickness we now publicly declare the poor to be lazy and undeserving. Churches give with one hand and ask for allegiance with the other. And the government seems to have forgotten its responsibility to its citizens.

So what if we recognize that our assumptions are based on fallacies? What if we understand poverty to be a concept designed to help a few and to divide the many? What if we unshackle ourselves from the systems that are little more than slavery and adopt new visions and new pathways of cooperation that can remove poverty from our lives?

Some of the greatest wisdom and the sweetest kindnesses have come to me from those labeled “poor”. Perhaps it is time to allow humanistic truth to re-emerge. If one of us is poor, we are all poor. And accumulation of wealth is not an indicator of success. We have been chasing the wrong story.

Our community is listed as one of the poorest in the state. We have a chance to prove statistics wrong. Let us find ways to share. Let us find ways to help one another.


This piece aired on WDRT Community Radio on the two minute commentary, “Consider This”, scheduled every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.