Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Turn Back...

Greetings.  Again I have to ask, is anyone there?  Anyone???

Today, in thinking over some recent news reports, my late Mother's favorite hymn came to my mind.  It was the Episcopal hymn whose first line is (or at least was in the 1940  Hymnal version): "Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways."  Some of the 1940 version language may be a bit dated, but the yearning for a better, more peaceful world the hymn expresses is certainly right on time.

Right on time, because we have a certain nutjob Presidential candidate who just made a veiled threat against his rival (if anyone hasn't seen or heard of this, or doesn't believe it, let me know and I can post a link).  No matter that even if not meant seriously, some real psycho might just get the wrong  idea.  THEN, we have a former acting CIA chief who wants more killing in Syria.  And word has come there have been very recent air strikes that killed children in Yemen.

Turn back folks, indeed.  If we don't stop hurting and killing each other, who will be left?  We have domestic violence, street violence, random violence, terrorism, bombings and drone strikes, and wars (declared or undeclared, I can't seem to keep up, sadly).  Our entertainment is also sometimes way too violent. Take video games and movies, for example.  Sometimes just the commercials on tv for them give a large enough dose of violence to least for a week!  And don't be fooled into thinking that such images have no effect on us. In a previous post, I included a link to some research and thoughts about the effects of violent media on us.

We need to find a better path.  Desperately so. Think with me:

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

"Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."

----- both from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want to end the war then Instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending tanks, send pens. Instead of sending soldiers, send teachers.”    - Malala Yousafzai

“To replace the old paradigm of war with a new paradigm of waging peace, we must be pioneers who can push the boundaries of human understanding.  We must be doctors who can cure the virus of violence.  We must be soldiers of peace who can do more than preach to the choir.  And we must be artists who will make the world our masterpiece.”  - Paul Chappell

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” -   His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

Think, then act!  DO SOMETHING!!!  At the very least, each of us can pray for peace or send peace vibes in accordance with our spirituality.  We can support or develop peacemaking and conflict resolution initiatives. We can support those who are in the trenches working for peace initiatives.  We can let policy makers and media shakers know we DEMAND more peaceful initiatives.  We need to keep our efforts going.  The future of our families, our neighborhoods, our countries - and our planet - is at stake. 

To come full circle, the ending line of Mom's favorite hymn (1940 version) is: " Earth shall be fair and all her folk be one."  I have a feeling Mom would agree that is something we should all be working toward.  Isn't it time we stopped hurting and killing each other and set our feet toward that goal?

Related Posts: click on 'peace' in the tag cloud on the right to view posts labeled 'peace.'

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Persistence/Long Time Gone

Greetings!  Anyone There???

Well, I know I watch too much tv.  One show I often enjoy is "Mysteries at the Museum".  I particularly favor the stories of folks who are working to help people or working for a cause and DO NOT GIVE UP in the face of obstacles.  They had the story of a doctor who persisted in getting health care workers to wash hands and the one-time Mayor of Detroit, Mr. Pingree, who persisted in wanting to establish community gardens, even to the point of selling his beloved horse to raise funds for the cause.  The latest installment was very good, especially the story of Elizabeth Jennings Graham, who, 100 years before Rosa Parks, fought segregation in New York City.  You can read her Wikipedia entry .  Of special interest (to me, anyway) was the emphasis her Mother placed on education, especially for women!  

Also there was the National Geographic/ PBS mini-series, "The Greeks".  It was on before and I really paid no mind to it.  However, I managed to catch parts of the first installment when it was rerun recently and decided to definitely watch the second two. I've been stressed out lately due to the very ugly political climate.  One feature of this well-done series that drew me in was the eerie similarities drawn between some of these Ancient events and today's headlines.  I certainly hope we can escape another "Dark Age" or a Draconian period.  Still, seeing how the Greeks made it through the Dark Age into their Golden Age was certainly a pinprick of hope.  It was also intriguing that even though their Golden Age didn't last, the ideas and ideals spread, first by Philip of Macedon and son, Alexander the Great; then by the Romans.  Hard to believe that Christianity almost snuffed out their achievements but it was good to know that they were rediscovered during the Renaissance and The Enlightenment.  I suppose most of us learn this in college, no? But a refresher and seeing the parallels with today was really something.

A new report also told us that a 'coalition' of many organizations most dedicated to causes related to African-Americans' concerns has released a platform of demands for reform - real, systemic reform.  This is the kind of thing we need -to push together to make progress.  You can read the platform and info here !  When I scanned through them, I was struck that many, many of the demands would or could work to better conditions for EVERYONE.  A couple of examples of that would be supporting the right of workers to unionize and ending the control of money over politics.  So I would advocate EVERYONE to read and think about them.  Yes, many are targeted toward African-Americans and people of color, but just remember, whatever affects "A" today may just affect YOU tomorrow; so uniting might just be a good thing.

So, somehow, I, we, have got to "keep on keeping on."  Music always helps, doesn't it?  For some reason, a song from Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Long Time Gone" popped into my head recently.  Lyrics are here;  and the story of David Crosby writing it is here.    Especially love the lyrics which echo an old proverb:  "The darkest hour is always / Always just before the dawn"  It seems to me the song is saying --- even though it may be a long time coming, DON'T STOP looking for the dawn.  Guess the Greeks didn't; the Abolitionists, Suffragists, and Civil Rights Activists didn't.  Hope we don't stop looking, either.

And, oh yes, the song!                       Long Time Gone

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016



A poetic musing...


She calls her brothers each night
Just hearing their voices reassures,
But the ease to her anxiety is only temporary
Requiring the next day's call for another dose of talk therapy
A daily ritual,
Not a response to news of a natural disaster
Or buzz about some mechanical mishap
A daily ritual,
A reminder that she cannot take for granted
The casual ease some others feel
And that her eyes have seen
The grieving of some victims of violence
Can be haunted by a focus on lack of perfection
A daily ritual
For nerves must be quieted for sound sleep
Imagine yourself with such an ongoing routine
As a continuing cycle of wellness calls
(That is, if you have not such a ritual already)
Now, imagine a more desirable one in its place

Read the article which inspired this here.

Related Posts: 

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Images - and Stories - of Shame Updated

I'm continually floored.  How can we, supposedly a free society, condone the militarstic over repponse to peaceful protests?  WE MUST ALL CONDEMN IT!

I first saw the report on the police over respose to recent protests at Common Dreams.  I was shocked, but if you've been following things (including some blog posts here) about the increasingly militaristic tone of policing, I guess it shouldn't be surprising.

THEN, another story, this one at The Intercept,  details some more abuses.  If you haven't seen the now famous picture of Ms. Ieshia Evans, obviously no threat, being arrested by cops in full riot gear (this was in Baton Rouge, LA), you need to.  Read about riot police storming a lady's yard to arrest protesters - where she had given them premission to be (also in Baton Rouge)!  Read about the protester arrested while giving an interview (in Rochester, NY).  We should all be outraged about this truly thuggish behavior on the part of those who should be serving and protecting US (guess we need to wonder who they are now serving and protecting).

I e-mailed the police chief in Rochester to express my dismay, and will work on some phone calls to Baton Rouge tomorrow.  I will update if I receive any responses (not likely, though).

Folks, are you not yet alarmed about the way policing is being militarized?  Are you not yet alarmed at the attack on protest and dissent?  Are you not alarmed and awake to the dangers to our democracy (or what SHOULD be a democracy)?  Well, if not, the alarms are sounding.  WAKE UP!!!


I e-mailed Rochester PD and called Baton Rouge PD.  Seemed to just be getting runarounds.  So I called the mayoral offices of both cities and expressed my concerns and told them the actions toward the protesters were making their cities look bad.  I don't know if telling that to some receptionist helps in any way (that's all we seem to encounter if we want to give feedback - that or some automated phone message box or an e-mail form that may or not be read...), but at least I'm trying.  If anyone is interested, the phone numbers are:

Baton Rouge, LA  Mayor's office:  225-389-3100
Rochester, NY  Mayor's office: 585-428-7045
Related Posts:

Friday, July 8, 2016

Human Lives Matter

I think everyone is saddened by the tragedy in Dallas.  It's a horrible taking of lives.  And one unfortunate thing about the situation is that it may take focus away from the epidemic of killings, abuse and over-militarization by police.

Speaking of over-militaristic policing, it has come out that a "killer robot" was used to kill the suspected shooter. I hope that others find this VERY alarming.  In the article, several experts raise various concerns.  To me, this thought from Marjorie Cohn,  Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, sums things up nicely :

"Police cannot use deadly force unless there's an imminent threat of death or great bodily injury to them or other people. If the suspect was holed up in a parking garage and there was nobody in immediate danger from him, the police could have waited him out. They should have arrested him and brought him to trial," Cohn said. "Due process is not just enshrined in our constitution, it's also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. has ratified, making it part of U.S. law."

We had better start being pro-active.  We have drones - so far only striking overseas but could it happen here?  We have robots which can activate water canons --- and for the first time it seems in the U. S., apply deadly force.  That better concern us and we had better stop being in denial.  This trend of LE being judge, jury AND exctutioner runs counter to what we say the U.S. should be about. We had better start demanding that HUMAN LIVES MATTER, and that technology be used to serve us, be accountable to THE PEOPLE, and used in accourdance with our civil and human rights and the rule of law.

Too Much Deja Vu

Too Much Deja Vu

Too much deja vu
Two more fatalities
Playbook we've seen before,
Way too often
Where is the lesson learned?
For after marches, studies, settlements,
After tears and red-faced bitterness,
After too little accountability and progress,
We are confronted with two more senseless tragedies
Which indict us as they ask:
When will this end?
... Rest in Peace, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile

Monday, June 27, 2016

Just What IS Unity, Anyway?

Greetings.  I'm constantly shaking my head at the bigotry and divisiveness so prevalent in politics and public rhetoric today - the U.S. elections, Brexit, and the immigration crisis in Europe most alarmingly.  We so desperately need to come together to really start solving the very real problems we face.

But just what is unity, anyway (and closest to my thinking here would be choice #3) ? In these thoughts, rather than use a static definition, I'd like to offer some snapshots to suggest the essence of unity.

Unity is nexus.

I learned the vocabulary word 'nexus' because one of my all time favorite bands, Argent, recorded an album with that title. I know in one interview I read, Rod Argent said it meant people working together (interestingly, look at the word origin - it's from the Latin for 'a binding together'). I'm sure we know of many examples of folks cooperating to achieve a purpose.  I think of my graduate school class in curriculum working as one team to give our final presentation.  I think of the Abolitionists, who, Prof. Eric Foner pointed out, sometimes had different reasons for opposing slavery but came together to fight that evil. That spirit of cooperation is exactly what is needed now to address the challenges we face. We should, at the very least, pick one or two critical issues most folks can agree on and work together on solutions.  For example, shouldn't we all agree that children need a good start?  So wouldn't it make sense for all to work for things such as universal pre-K (which does seem to be gaining ground across the country)?

Unity is peaceful.

How can we come together if we don't agree to end using violence to solve disputes?  We must find better ways of dealing with conflicts or potential conflicts.  Let's start by remembering The Golden Rule, whose essence is taught by many faiths and traditions.

Unity is not always uniform.

We are unique individuals, after all.  We are similar to some other folks in some ways,  But we all share that we are fellow humans on Planet Earth. (nod here to former colleague Dr. Fred, whose wonderful presentation I heard years ago, I still can here echoing).  I also remember the occasion when the ESL students at my college gave a play to present their English skills.  By the end, as they all stood together, holding flags of their home countries, I had tears in my eyes.  They were different, but they were united!

Unity is beautiful.

If you readers were to see a photo of a large enough group of my cousins, you might think it was a photo of a U. N. meeting.  So many races/ethnicities involved through ancestry and marriages.  Each of us is beautiful and all of us together is a beautiful sight.  We need to see the beauty in each other, even those "others" who are different from us.

Unity is freeing.

Bigotry and hate block the person holding those noxious beliefs from progressing as a full person.  They block critical thinking concerning the real problems facing us.  They build walls and encourage others to build defensive walls in return.  We need to stop that cycle.  We need to build bridges and connections instead.

Unity is solidarity.

As I've mentioned so many times on this blog, to gain progress for the 99% we need to stand together.  To get real reforms and to make things more responsive to "We, the People", we need to stand together.  We must STOP being divided and conquered!

Unity is the past being prologue.

We all know the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) knew the then-colonies had to unite to gain Independence and worked to accomplish that goal.  As detailed in another post (Music of the Spheres/Music From the Spheres), Dr. Kirsten Wood told us the founders knew the nation needed to find "harmony in its diversity."   She further noted they didn't pay attention to all the diversity of the nation. and that for us today, the task is "far more complicated but as urgent as ever."  We are called today to make further strides toward the destination called unity - one that Dr. King also pointed us toward.

Unity is Love.

After hearing Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda, do you need any further proof?

Related Posts:

In addition to the post linked to above, all posts labeled 'unity' can be found by clicking on unity in the tag cloud on the right.

And please, if you like this post (or any other post here) please share and/or comment.