In Defense of Humanity

The Anglo-Saxon period of English history brought us the sheriff or “shire reeve”. The reeve was the King’s law enforcement in a city, town or shire, and was responsible for collecting taxes. The inception and development of the rule of law is based on fortune maintaining fortune. It is and has often been a corrupt system when it comes to defending humanity.

A recent independent review of the Metropolitan Police of London, one of the oldest and most powerful police forces in the world, found the MET “is institutionally racist, misogynistic, homophobic and unable to police itself.”

And the United States Department of Justice said of the Louisville Police Department:  The LMPD “engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law.” The use of excessive force, discriminating against Black people, conducting searches with invalid warrants, and “violating the rights of those engaged in protected speech,” were all cited.

This, while the struggle to save the South River Forest outside of Atlanta and stop the building of the one of the largest police training facilities rages on. People of the community demand an end to the project that has cost the life of one innocent activist and imprisoned dozens as domestic terrorists.

We are engaged in a battle of choice. We’re waking to the reality that the punitive system given us long ago is antiquated, proven corrupt, and in favor of the “shire”, not the “commoner.”

There is a movement afoot to end the punitive system of law enforcement. The wisdom of Abolition is gaining traction. Our money is better spent helping one another and leveling the playing field rather than pouring countless dollars into weaponry and prisons. It’s time.

Photo description: Protesters marching in Minneapolis near Hennepin/Lake remembering Manuel Teran(Tort), who was shot and killed by officers at a prolonged protest in an Atlanta forest.

They stopped at Lake/Girard where protester Deona Marie was killed on 06/13/21 and outside the ramp Winston Smith was killed by law enforcement 10 days earlier.

Worth the Fight

So you might have heard Wisconsin has an election coming up on April 4th.

Besides the very significant Supreme Court election, which determines the direction of the court for the next decade, Wisconsin voters will be offered two resolutions and one advisory resolution. Two of the resolutions, if passed, will indicate our desire to maintain our high ratios of Black and low-income individuals in prison. The other is a call out to people stuck in the 70’s, when then President Reagan erroneously labeled a Black woman a “welfare queen”.

This label set in motion some of the most racist tropes still haunting us and is being used to drive a certain segment of our populace to the polls. 

So why are Wisconsinites being fractured by such blatant ignorance? Simply put: because we can be. Christian radio blasts Justice Janet Protasiewicz as not tough enough on crime and it’s chomping at the bit to ensure taxpayer benefits do not go to the “un-deserving”. Love thy neighbor no longer applies. We opt for high cost prisons and overworked prison guards instead of doing the Christian thing and helping underserved communities get a leg up. Which is well within our reach to do. 

It’s a sad state of affairs when ridiculous amounts of out of state monies come into a nonpartisan election and steer our thinking. The puppeteers are pulling strings and not only do we not notice, we don’t seem to really care. We wait for the buzzwords to hook us and then get reeled in. Fish fight harder for their independence than some of us are willing to do.

Three cheers for the fighters, for the thinkers, for the lovers. 

However hard, it’s worth it.

Top photo: Replica of Forward an 1893 bronze statue by American sculptor Jean Pond Miner Coburn depicting an embodiment of Wisconsin’s “Forward” motto.

We Are The Majority

For me International Women’s Day, Earth Day and Human Rights Day all merge together as one. And we might as well add World Water Day and International Workers’ Day to the mix, because it’s getting harder to see where one leaves off and another begins. 

And that is the meaning of intersectionality, isn’t it?  It is the interconnected, overlapping and interdependent nature of the disadvantaged. 

It’s great to have a day to champion our singular causes, and we could add many more honorary days to celebrate and move forward with bold agendas and transformative ideals. 

Or we can take this notion of being disadvantaged and turn it upside down. When we realize our combined efforts towards equity and peace are the norms, not the defaults, and that in fact we are the majority, we can all win.

International Women’s Day began over 112 years ago, forgotten by many countries and then twisted into a kind of Mother’s Day by others, and now we witness what has besieged the girls and women of Afghanistan in less than two years.

A nightmare has been allowed to run rampant in humanity for far too long. It is based in competition and the accumulation of wealth at all costs.  It’s the accumulation of wealth that promotes slavery and continues in its various forms today. It is the ridiculous competition among leaders that continues to send soldiers and civilians to their graves. And it is the degradation of women, children and the earth that has brought us to this moment of un-civilization.

Thinking, peace driven people must shun the failures of the past. These individuals, who can take the yokes from their own necks, and create new paths forward, can and will ignite the change we know is possible. 

Please sign the petition to champion Peace Education

You Are the Greatest

When they tell you you’re not one of them. Don’t be offended. It’s probably true. 

When they talk about you behind your back and set up roadblocks on your path. Don’t waste your time getting angry.  Don’t think about getting even.

These are the games of assumption and judgment. You don’t have to play in that playground.  These are the strategies of divide and conquer – and you can see where that has gotten us.

This is your moment to shine. This is the moment to call upon your inner strength, and use your highest vision. That’s what’s needed now. 

Never let anyone diminish you. 

You are a human being. You have been given the gift of life and you belong.

People may try to erase you. People may try to usurp you but when you know and understand who you are they cannot touch you. Cultivate your courage.  Cultivate your love and kindness. These are your weapons.

Don’t dance in the graveyard of ignorance. Find the living. And Enjoy.

Some talk about ancestors. Some talk about angels. Some talk about God. But talk is talk and knowing is a very different thing.

Place your hope on the possibility that humanity can and will come to its senses before it is too late. Trust that spark of divinity that each of us carries. Let it burst into flames, too bright to be ignored again, and hot enough to melt the hardest of hearts.

It is a difficult time. We have forgotten who we are, but we can remember. And in that remembrance everything is possible.

Take a step towards knowing who you are. You are the Greatest. You are needed and you belong. Widen your Circle.

It is our time.

The Power of Us

It might be time to discover the power of “us”.  We’ve been embroiled in divide and conquer for so long that we have forgotten another path is even possible. Fear of “other” has taken the place of Love thy neighbor.  Sound bites written by powerful agents have replaced common sense. I recently came upon an article about the increased and successful use of heat pumps in Maine. As you may know, heat pumps are the new electrified source of heating and cooling that are being purchased with immense rebates.  This new technology helps reduce our carbon footprint.

What’s our carbon footprint? The oil, coal and natural gas that we burn to produce heat and keep the lights on carries with it a toxicity that is destroying the planet, one pipeline rupture, one train derailment, one flare-up at a time. 

I may or may not be in line for a heat pump, but this article caught my attention. It seems industry moguls are having a hard time adjusting to the fact that people are leaving the fossil fuel industry. Whether due to cost or to save the environment, large numbers of people in Maine are acquiring heat pumps. They are ignoring false threats that heat pumps cannot withstand the frigid temps and other twisted facts bombarding them.

It made me think of our own fact showdown in the Midwest. If your information only comes from Dairyland Power you will believe that solar cannot possibly supply the energy we need. Or you may even succumb to the dangerous narrative that nuclear is not only safe but also necessary.  If this is your thinking, you might consider the sources of that information and who will gain from it.

But more importantly what do we have to lose?

For more information on nuclear power read this from Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Or this on concerns regarding the Point Beach nuclear reactors from the Wisconsin PSR chapter.

Keep the cooperation in coop. Participate in the Vernon Electric Co-ops Annual Meeting, Saturday, March 25.


The definition of cooperate is “to work jointly toward the same end”. You remember the saying and probably have experienced, “Many hands make light work.” In the early 1900’s it was a necessity to help one another, especially rurally. And it was that joint effort of neighbors that built electric transmission lines and created distribution cooperatives like Vernon Electric and twenty-four more coops in our state.

The fact that cooperatives have remained solvent through the years is a testament to core principles: they are member owned and democratically run. That means members elect Delegates and the Board who in turn hire the CEO to run the day-to-day business of the cooperative. That business should be of concern to every member since it is our monies that feed the system and allow it to run.

What causes a cooperative to fail? Apathy of the membership is a major contributor to the detriment of a coop; conflicting goals is another. Misinformation or lack of transparency can cause conflict and can upend the cooperative spirit. Competition from outside might also influence a cooperative negatively.

Remember Vernon Electric Cooperative is a distribution coop. Dairyland Power is the generator, supplying electric energy to coops through coal power plants and other means. And while that has been a working relationship there are environmental factors influencing our need for locally generated renewable energy.  Drive through the Driftless and you’ll see solar panels on homes. Most, like the ones I own, are grid tied. That means when extra energy is produced it goes back into the pool of electricity that Vernon Electric transmits. Over time local panels will reduce costs for all, if allowed to continue. 

Times are changing. This is not a time for apathy. Get in the know or stay in the dark. 

The next VEC annual meeting is Saturday March 25, Bylaws, rate increases and other important issues will be raised. Your vote matters.

Who’s Paying Attention

My early years were spent in an industrial area. Thirteen miles away, Shippingport, the world’s first atomic electric power plant began spewing in 1957. A steel mill, a varnish company, lumberyard and glass factories were all within walking distance from my childhood home. Railcars carrying all sorts of materials passed day and night.

I often say I should glow in the dark from the pollutants released into the woods where we played.

Through the years I watched the steel industry decline and the air and rivers cleared, only to witness the area succumb again to some of the most toxic pollutants known. They took down a mountain to put up Shell’s ethanol plant that makes plastic pellets. It recently went into full production and within weeks exceeded Pennsylvania’s limit on toxic air quality. (Read: Shell’s cracker plant pollution prompts civil law suite).

This is Beaver County, Pennsylvania, recently in the news because of the fiery fifty-railcar derailment in East Palestine, a quaint Ohio village on the border. Five of the 153 railcars carried vinyl chloride, a chemical used in battles during WWI. Residents of East Palestine were evacuated and people miles away were told to stay indoors. They were also told not to worry. 

Dead fish in the stream, but your wells are fine, they’re told. Vinyl chloride is heavier than air so it stays close to the ground, they admit. It’s going take time to know what the effects are, they know, but nothing to be alarmed about.

Norfolk-Southern Rail is going to be responsible for the accident and “we’re going to make sure that’s going to happen, “ say the politicians. Yep. We’ve seen this movie before.

An old time railroader blames cutbacks on railroad jobs and remembers when fewer than 100 railcars were the norm, not 153.

And all I want to know is who’s paying attention?

photo credit: Erics Train Yard

Every Thursday I write a two minute piece that airs on WDRT, Thursdays at 5:30 pm. Then it appears here on my blog. But this piece could be a book.

So here you go: Shell’s ethanol plant took more than ten years to get up and running, during those years the need for plastics has diminished and the recognition that plastic is one of the most toxic substances on the planet has increased. People around the world are outlawing single use plastics, plastic bags and much more. Discoveries around the use of hemp and other natural fibers are proving to be as effective – and healthier for people and planet.

Beaver County was chosen by Shell’s Dutch Royal Company because they knew they could capitalize on a workforce that would do their bidding. It was also chosen because their product was in demand in a 700 mile radius of the area. Within a 700 mile radius the toxicity will be transported.

Apparently the train was carrying a variety of products from Madison, Illinois, to Conway, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Has this become a new thoroughfare for hazardous materials?

While the air quality in the home of my birth continues to decline, the state and corporations continue to cash in on a product which should be banned and continues to put lives at risk.

This is far from over.

Residents of East Palestine are suing Norfolk Southern in a U.S. District Court, alleging negligence. And if you want to learn the gruesome truths about the lenience of laws surrounding the transport of hazardous materials and how the rail industries rejection of modern braking systems played a part in the fiery crash, read Rail Companies Blocked Safety Rules Before Ohio Derailment.

And if you want to participate in the effort to expose potential hazards BEFORE they become disasters in Beaver County, check out the Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community

May we all find the courage to change the scorched earth trajectory that we are on.

Black Resistance

We’re in Black History Month, February first through March first. The theme for 2023 is Black Resistance. During this time, I am hoping to learn more and adopt some of the very valiant ways I witness Black Resistance.

For one, I’ve never had to fear that my nephew, brother-in-law, father or male cousins were going to be beaten to death for no reason by police. I’ve never had to have the “talk” about how to “behave” if stopped or questioned. I know of encounters my Black friends have had with racism and I am quite certain I would not have been able to remain dignified under such inhumanity. Black Resistance is the ability to face the ignorance of hatred and not become the hater. 

Black Resistance is what I have witnessed in Black communities like Milwaukee and Detroit that resolutely carry on through unnecessary hardships and find creative ways to maintain in spite of it all. I continue to learn from their lead.

Black Resistance is the recognition of the need for self-care and more importantly community care. That is the hallmark of a People who will triumph. It’s my belief that white communities would benefit from the understanding of “Beloved Community” as witnessed in Black communities.

It is in present day Abolitionists that I have found great hope. We don’t need to remain in systems of oppression. We must accept the opportunity to live in new ways. It’s not only possible but also essential. And we must resist the doubts that say it cannot be done.There will be many opportunities over the next month to avail your self of Black Greatness. Resist the fear of learning Black History and embrace the truth that Black history is all of our history.

… and you can be sure I will be watching The 1619 Project on HULU

Read Rolling Stone Review…

Choose Peace Over Violence

It seems we blindly follow the trajectory of thoughts and beliefs that have gone before us. Old habits are so deeply ingrained that they are the last to go. 

The recent mass murders in California point again for our need to change. Yes, the numbers and types of guns available are out of control. And yes, there are many people distressed enough to harm themselves and others. We use the label “mental health” to bundle gun violence, suicides, and other anti-social behaviors as we seek solutions to an ever increasing problem.

We dissect behaviors and talk of laws, but seldom do we discuss the roots of violence. We refuse to acknowledge that the isolation many of us experience and the strait jacket / conformity we demand of one another are disrupting our humanity.

They are symptoms of a culture that glorifies masculine toxicity, symptoms of a culture satisfied with hierarchy and status quo. We are a culture who has successfully placed property values over human life

We have created systems where defenders of the earth are now intimidated by threat of death and unwarranted imprisonment. SAY HIS NAME: MANUEL TERAN – “Tortuguita”

We have created and accept a police state, where too often law enforcement has become judge, jury and executioner.  SAY HIS NAME: TYRE NICHOLS

And we have created a numbed populace who no longer knows how to identify right from wrong, let alone knows how to respond to the inhumanity enveloping us.

Yet, if we could look honestly at our illness, we would find the antidote is close at hand. We need clarity, courage and conviction to upend the ignorance we face. Those elements are within us and can and must be cultivated.

We can carry on unsuccessfully trying to eradicate symptoms, or we can dust off and remember the source of peace within.


Waking to the Strength of Love

I tend to believe it takes about a hundred years for innovative thought to become part of the fabric of a culture.

I remember reading Emerson and Thoreau in high school and how their thinking impacted me. Today their thoughts on Transcendentalism are integrated into our psyche. The effort they made to cut a new path becomes irrelevant as we take for granted our newfound wisdoms. The inherent goodness of people, the divinity of nature, and the need to have a personal knowledge of God or Creator, were all supported in transcendental thought. Few of us take the time to understand their journey or care to look where it may still lead. 

So it is with Dr. Martin Luther King. Everyone knows the cliff note version of the man, holidays and school lessons see to it, but I’m not sure that many have made the effort to understand the heart of his wisdom. And if we have an intellectual understanding, we must wonder if it has yet had the time to creep into our souls.

Martin Luther studied what he called “the only morally practical and sound method” of nonviolence taught by his near contemporary, Mahatma Gandhi.

With his mind and his heart Dr. King contemplated the importance of love. He dove deeply into it and understood Love to be the means and the end to human suffering. He rallied all to heed the importance and the strength of love – love for the divine and love for all humanity. In the face of hatred and ignorance, he remained resolute inviting us to walk with him. 

His words still echo in spite of very real efforts to make him obscure

Those who are observant and resilient will discover the strength of Love. 

And on it will go.