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

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.


Step Out of Normal

When I bought this farm 20 years ago, I hadn’t heard of Landback or colonizer. I bought the farm with the idea that it should go on in perpetuity with no more buys and sells, no more profiteering from extraction. I learned from Dine’ friends that land was not mine to own and I respected that understanding.

I was counseled, “Buy the land and it will teach you”, and I have learned from it.

I have learned that the symbiotic relationship with the land is key to understanding my humanity; and that the dance with the seasons is in direct relationship to my understanding of myself as a finite being. The satisfaction and fulfillment I garner is testament to a Greater existence.  And the whole experience is one of beauty and peace, regardless of the difficulties that arise.

I believe the capitalist system has shortchanged our worldview and has cheated us of the most valuable of commodities, our humanity. I’m very grateful to have taken the plunge away from social norms and that very kind people took the time to help me heal. Because stepping out of normalcy is a healing.

It’s not easy to live in a world where bad deeds and actions are legitimized. It’s not easy to force innocents to close their eyes to the horrors of hunger, homelessness and violence. But that is what we do everyday. We teach our children to stuff the question, “Why?” And we carry on with the charade.

This country’s wealth is based on land theft and stripped resources. Trying to rectify poverty or heal generational traumas without acknowledging the assaults of our history will be fruitless.

We’re all damaged by cruelty. We must all take time to heal.

Step out of normal.

Clean It Up

Abolition is a fearful word for those who insist on living in fear. When Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial hopeful Tim Michels spews about maintaining “law and order” he’s actively seeking the fearful, people who have all but forgotten their humanity. The ones who desperately try to erase the historical context of this country. Content to live with division and superiority, they are willing to sacrifice the common good. But our history is not merely in the past; it’s hauntingly in the present. 

It’s present every time a Black man is brutally killed by police. It’s present in our schools and in the stories we omit to teach. It’s present as the Supreme Court attempts to whittle away the sovereignty of Tribes, and as we ignore the hideous truths of boarding schools. Our lack of accountability for past harm and our care-less approach to reparations of any kind are testaments to our inhumanity.  

The cry of many politicians, to escalate the police state, is in direct opposition to the voices of Abolition. And while the unyielding word “Abolition” is turned into “All That Should Be Feared”, the truth is this: the more human we become the less tolerant we are of inhumanity. And that is as it should be.

The violence of the dominant or those who would be dominant is escalating. They are and have always been the minority. We’ve been taught to believe otherwise and have cowered because of it.

Being human is not radical. We have the tools for transformation: clarity, kindness and love. Add conviction to the mix while maintaining the recognition of what is possible and we can begin to make it happen. Let’s have a new beginning.

Roll up your sleeves; it’s time to clean it up.

Rescind the Doctrine

Hubris comes to mind as I read about the Pope’s apology tour of Canada. But this isn’t about the Pope who is gagged by power and the ignorance of ages.  It’s about the dominant culture that continues to ignore the gross and inhumane facts on how indigenous people were and are treated. It’s about the Doctrine of Discovery, how so very few of us know what it is or don’t care about how it still influences our thinking and behavior.

When the Si Pih Ko stood before the Pope and sang the “Our Village” song, dominant media raced to explain that she was singing the Canadian National anthem in Cree. You can see her sing, tears rolling down her cheeks, defiance and dignity emanating from her. And the media whitewashed it as “the Canadian anthem in Cree”. 

I call hubris: excessive pride that leads to downfall. 

The Doctrine of Discovery originated as edicts by the Catholic Church in the 15th century. They empowered Portugal and Spain to colonize West Africa and the Americas by all means necessary. It’s estimated that twelve million indigenous human beings died since 1492. Unmarked graves of children at residential schools tell the story of brutalization and erasure of native people by all means necessary.

At the stand at Standing Rock when Christian clergy approached the sacred fire and asked to burn the Doctrine of Discovery, they were told “No. Because it’s not over.” In that moment I witnessed the depth of pain and the ignorance of dominance collide.

No, it’s not over. It’s alive in the trauma of remembrance and in current Supreme Court decisions. It’s not over, until we purge the hubris, or succumb to the downfall. We must rescind the Doctrine of Discovery from our beings.

What Part Do I Play?

Many are weary of hearing the phrase “systemic racism”. They don’t want to think about racial inequity. They’re sorry for the loss of life brought on by white supremacists but are not ready to call them domestic terrorists. Ok, you can keep playing your word game, but I’m more than ready to call out the disease for what it is: white christian nationalism.

What is christian nationalism? It’s the twisted ideology that arrived on these shores and allowed the attempted genocide of Native people and the enrichment of capital through slavery. It gave wealthy men like Carnegie and Mellon king-like status and continues to glorify extreme wealth even as many suffer. It was and is used to promote imperialistic wars with the claims of American exceptionalism.  

It is the thought process that disavows anyone who is different. It is the steadfast belief that white ethnocentrism is superior and “others” may harm their “way of life”. 

It has reduced a gospel of Love to a gospel of abundance and power. Perhaps the most deplorable of all, it has people believing there is nothing to be done, just sit back and wait for your heavenly reward.

But christian nationalism has nothing to do with Christianity. 

When an 18 year old walks into a grocery store and kills ten people because of the color of their skin, it’s time we ask ourselves: What part did I play in this? Is my silence worth the suffering of those victimized families? Does sheltering myself from hate fulfill my divine destiny? Or more importantly, how can I help my human family end this division we call race?

Christianity taught me about Love, not fear. It was hopeful and inclusive. Anything else, my friends, is illusion.

Wake up and call it out.

The photo is public domain from the Library of Congress.It is entitled Cross Burning, KKK from 1925.

How far have we come? Where are we going? And while the 18 year old killer proclaimed he is not a Christian one only needs to look at the beliefs that radicalized him to see the root of the disease. White christian nationalism. Hopefully White Christians will stand firm against this ignorance instead of turning away and ignoring it. Call out your pastors who preach hate. Stop supporting the fear mongering on your radio stations and virtual forums. Stop voting for racists. End this human betrayal.

A Singular Choice

The victors of war are those who manufacture war machines, those with financial gain from doing so and those who will rebuild cities after the dust settles. Arbitrary boundaries are established to benefit profiteers. And those boundaries will change with the will of the powerful who are never quite satisfied with what they have. The earth becomes a pawn in humankind’s reckless extraction and human beings are sacrificed at the altar of greed.

The cycle of violence is encouraged. Our need to belong is manipulated into what we have termed “nationalism”. Those without deep roots in their humanity succumb to the acts of brutality that nationalistic thinking allows. The genocides that we are witnessing in Ukraine, in Mali, in Yemen, in Somalia…and so many more, are not new. Our inability to stop them is also not new.

We need to come back. As individuals, we need to discover and replenish our love of life and of living. We need to feel our humanity, not simply talk of it. It’s not impossible. But it requires that we become abolitionists.

Abolition is defined as the action or act of abolishing a system, practice, or institution. To end our addiction to the violence of war is an act of abolition.

It is a defiant and determined act to think and live differently than we have been taught.

We have been taught to take sides. We have been taught there are winners and losers. We have been taught consumption and competition and we have been indoctrinated into systems where violence is the default.

Yet we will always have the singular choice to say, “Unhand me, I chose peace. I belong to the human family. The earth is my home, and its inhabitants are my relatives.” 

We have choice. We need will.

In light of all the lies that are told, for more on genocides past and present:

The photo is a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) Mokke is the photographer, licensed under Creative Commons share alike