Refuse to Surrender

Hope, like faith, cannot be blind. It needs to be active and engaged. It requires love and consciousness. And it exists in each of us.

These days hope is easily dashed. When we are hopeless we are easily misled and easily crushed. Fear becomes the dominant force.

And fear is hope’s enemy; especially the paralyzing kind that grips us when we believe there is nothing we can do.

I understand why many of my friends cannot follow the news. The facts and the fabrications are daunting. Just the numbers of worldwide refugees are enough to overwhelm us. The displacement of people due to war, natural disaster, persecution and violence have resulted in over 60 million human beings forced from their homes over the past two decades.

Sixty million children, women and men, young and old, have been driven from their homes. With daily news of over crowded camps, disease and starvation, they are crying to be recognized and desperate to be helped.

Recent events in Syria have underscored the fact that governments are not helping and are more likely the cause of forced displacement.

Hoping that our government or any government will save the day is simply blind. Religious leaders too, are often mired in politics, greed or scandal and guide with fear, not hope.

I am of the mindset that everything we need is at hand. It is not a whimsical fairy tale. It’s an idea born of experience.

Hope is the launching point of action. It is the direct result of courageous conviction and supreme trust. And it is born in the heart of an individual who refuses to surrender to ignorance.

I will leave you with these words of Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”

 

Time’s Up*

As our numbed grief gives way to anger and debates wage over gun control, I must pause and question, “What is at the root of terrorism”? Leaders are finally acknowledging white domestic terrorism and are willing to accept mental illness as blame. And while I do not doubt the illness of individuals who carry out horrendous crimes against humanity, it seems a futile gesture to simply blame guns and video games when our entire society is riddled with sickness.

Genocide and “might is right” have plagued this country from its inception. The ideals of the melting pot and “Give me your tired, your poor…” are unfinished tasks left to weary generations. But these observations do not answer the question, “What is the root of terrorism?”

What belief, what social construct allows a human being to hold himself or herself above another? What confused thinking has replaced human decency? What is the root of this disease?

In traditional healing of indigenous cultures, disease is not thought to be isolated to an individual. It is communally shared. Perhaps this should be a starting point as we reel from white domestic terrorism and seek solutions.

We have inherited a mindset, it is patriarchal in nature, it is controlling in its manifestation, and it is kept in place by fear. None of us are exempt from this mental disease. Some people function better than others in its wake, but none of us are immune.

What arises when the promises of this mindset are not granted or attained? Resentment of others and unfounded fear take root.

Fear driving people to have automated guns and violence taught in video games are sinister. But they are symptoms, not the cause.

If we want to see an end to white domestic terrorism, we need to eradicate the patriarchy that breeds it.

 

 

Driving home from WDRT where I recorded this piece on white domestic terrorism, I heard this song, “Times’s Up” by Song Suffragettes and decided it was an appropriate title and an important message.

Photo by Maryam Hassan. Thank you!

The Return of Light

Solstice is upon us. The return of light is known and celebrated throughout the world and over the ages. For most of the human clan, who live on the land and know the hardships of winter, this time of year holds tremendous hope. And while often the harshest of winter lies ahead and stored foods and supplies run low, the return of the sun is celebrated with abundance and friendship and wonder.

This remembrance is validation of the human spirit and our relationship to the earth. We drum and dance. We sing and pray. We plan the coming spring and of the wonderful bounty the earth will provide. And to those who say, “How foolish to celebrate the end of darkness because darkness has no end,” I say this, “Darkness will forever give way to light. It cannot exist in the presence of the sun”.

In these times when darkness has penetrated the soul of mankind; when the prophesies of doom have taken hold of too many, those who can still celebrate, must.

We do not celebrate theories and explanations. It’s not a feeding of the mind. It’s a feeding of the heart. There is no debate. The days will grow longer and the sun will warm the earth and the earth will give of herself so that we can be sustained. It is our effort that is welcomed, not our cynicism.

There is an idea that stops us and it is called scarcity. We fear it. And we claim it as an enemy. It is said, ‘what you sow, so shall you reap’. If anything can help us turn around this ignorant time it is simply this: Put your hands in the soil. Plant seeds. Plant trees. Feed one another. And feed yourself from the cup of love and hope you have within you. Celebrate that light.

 

Thanks to WDRT  for  the opportunity to speak these words on “Consider This”. You can listen to it here on Soundcloud.

Walking

As I write, it is reported that there may be as many as 7, 000 Honduran migrants walking through the scorching Mexican sun to reach their destination – political asylum in the United States. Contrary to the wild reports made by our president of terrorists and gang members among them, the people are largely mothers with children desperate to seek new beginnings from our country, which is preparing to close our borders to them. And yet another wave of 2000 Honduran people are preparing to begin the journey north.

It is not because Honduran people like the treacherous journey that they walk. They walk out of desperation.

These caravans of human beings have been occurring for some time with people trying to escape the violence and poverty of their country. A country greatly diminished by the United States supported coup d’état in 2009. What we are witnessing is the end result of a series of missteps by United States foreign policy in the region. What they are fleeing is a repressive Honduran government aided by the financial and technical support of the United States.

And before we put blame on the Trump administration we must understand the role of the Obama administration and the actions of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in creating this human nightmare. We must recon with the reality that our military is and has been used to benefit corporate interests – both here and abroad.

To understand that our politics, regardless of affiliation has been imperialistic; that our military has been used to support corporate greed could wake us to the reality that it is our responsibility to rein in the unleashed power of the United States. It is up to each of us to fight for the preservation of our humanity.

It is time to lend a hand, not build another bomb.

 

You can listen to this on Soundcloud. It aired on WDRT Thursday Nov 1.

*photo on Facebook, no credit found, but it does tell the story…

Beyond Prison Reform

On August 21st, inmates in 17 states began one of the largest prison strikes in our history. The two-week peaceful protest will end September 9th. Inmates are abandoning their work duties and some are refusing food to call attention to the exploitive conditions in United States prisons.

We have the largest prison population and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the entire world. Nearly one in every 100 adults is in prison or jail.

Ok, so much of that is known, but how many of us know that corporations and businesses use the prison work force for manufacturing and service jobs? And there is little to no compensation given for injuries resulting from their work. Recent news exposed the story that inmates were given $1 an hour to fight the California fires.

Less widely known is the fact that investment companies enable prison industries to thrive. Your retirement accounts are most likely contributing to these practices amounting to modern day slavery.

This is what we need to know. We need to know these are peaceful protests by inmates asking for their humanity to be recognized and restored. We need to know they are asking for proper wages and for more rehabilitation services. And they are demanding an end to the over-sentencing and parole denials of non-white inmates.

There is much more to this story, like the way lobbying groups fight for more industrialized and privately owned prisons. Much is done behind the closed doors of politics and the media is slow to rise against its master. We cannot fight what we do not see. It is time to open our eyes and unravel this horrible mess we have created.

Support the protest, boycott the companies and divest. It is time.

 

This aired on WDRT’s Consider This, Thursday, August 23. You can listen to it here.

photo is creative commons on Pixabay.

One Thread

Sometimes I can’t help feeling we have gone incredibly off kilter. Far too many are sinking in modern day madness. While scores of statistics remind us of our fragility as human beings and as a culture, we seem incapable of pausing long enough to right the ship. We have not yet learned the truth: What happens to one happens to all.

Discussions on mental health and mental illness are on the rise, yet the inadequacies of our systems are glaringly obvious. Money for the war machine is boundless, yet too many veterans are homeless. Good clean food is important to healthy bodies and healthy minds, but we reward our small farmers by allowing them to fail. “In God We Trust”, or so we have been led to believe, yet we tighten our borders and condemn the needy.

The inconsistencies of our society could drive anyone mad. And it is. But I do not think it is an umbrella of thought that will unite us or drive the demons away. It must come back to this: We are tied together in one thread of consciousness.

What happens to one happens to all. Our fear of “other” is a symptom of sickness, not a course of action we are meant to follow. We are not meant to follow.

As I take time to ponder our willingness to be led by politics, religion and the economic grind, I am heartened by the courage and vision of the many refusing to succumb.

This is the thread of humanity that has held the world together through reigns of tremendous ignorance. It is found in tree sitters halting the pipelines, in police refusing to serve at borders, and in backyards and acres of those growing food for themselves and others. There is a pulse, a thread of consciousness that unites us. And it is on the rise.

 

This aired on WDRT’s Consider This, August 16, 2018.

This is My Heaven

Generally I give people due respect when they offer suggestions, advice or direction even if I don’t agree. Sometimes I will give a counter consideration, if it is needed or if I feel misunderstood.

Recently I had the opportunity to share my thoughts with someone I had never met. She walked up to me, handed me a slip of paper and said, “Please read this, it will help you get to heaven”. She continued on for a few moments with phrases I had heard before. But this time something was different. I listened to her. Maybe I felt her sincerity. As I listened to her certainty, I realized I had a certainty, too.

Swept in the spirit of the moment, I said, “I’ve listened to you, now can I have a turn?” And she said, “Yes”. And I said, “The way I see it I am in heaven. This is my heaven”, I said pointing to my heart and then extending my arms to encompass everything. “When I die if there is a heaven as good or better than this, then bring it on, but now, as I live, I am in heaven. And you know, a wise man once said, “The kingdom of heaven is within.”

“Oh”, she said, “well I don’t know what man would have said that”. And I said, “According to Luke*, it was Jesus”. She replied, “Well I don’t know about that…”

And I realized that I did.

I couldn’t have said those words to her had I not felt them. And truth told I don’t always feel them. But in that moment I did. And those moments are growing. Finding heaven within is a worthy pursuit.

 

This aired on WDRT August 9. “Consider This” airs at 5:30pm CST each Thursday.

You can listen to it being read on Soundcloud

For the quote you can read Luke 17:21