What Matters Most

I’ve heard it said that the peace movement is all but dead. Old activists still stand on street corners talking to the wind and wonder why and how people can walk on by and not see the obvious. I have deep respect for their tenacity and effort. Statisticians remind us the young may register but often do not vote. We all wrestle with laying blame as pundits pontificate about human apathy. I think we are all barking up the wrong tree.

While we insist on getting our points across and spend fruitless hours on facts that will be countered by more facts, we have forgotten the secret ingredient. Saint-Exupery said it best in The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” 

We’ve lost our ability to listen to our heart. Driven by all things external, we hope to hit upon some semblance of truth and all the while ignoring the precious gems we carry within us. This ignorance is wide spread.

But here is the greatest secret of all: for there to be peace we must feel peace. Peaceful people do not make war. Peaceful people are engaged in the internal struggle to remain clear in a very confused world. Peaceful people would rather spend time enjoying the fruit of their effort, love and contentment. They don’t waste time creating calamity.

As lies and treachery are being exposed regarding the insurrection on January 6th, and as our current leader meets with a known Saudi assassin and continues to pump millions into weaponry, one has to wonder how did we get here?

The answer is simple: we stopped listening to what matters most. 


“They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
–Isaiah the Prophet

photo: silkscreen print, Library of Congress, Public Domain

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: https://www.genocidewatch.com

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

The Irony of Evil

Of all that I am and of all that I ever will be I am forever grateful to be a human being first and foremost. Living in a time strife with division, brutality and war, it may seem frivolous to call upon that which we all share in common – our humanity. But I have found no other way to navigate these times. 

There are people obsessed with evil. They see it lurking everywhere and in their paranoia, they go to great lengths to protect themselves from it. Gun culture, military might, and quest for power are not signs of strength, they are signs of weakness. 

The irony of evil is that we seldom see the seeds of it within our self. We’re always sure of its existence outside of us. All those people selling security systems love us for this.

And in this quest to be impervious to harm, we shield away our compassion. In this urgent need to be top dog we miss the tenderness of our humanity. We reject empathy and our hearts harden with uncertainty. In this bowing to fear, we give away the only power that can in fact help us – and that is love.

It is the love of country and countrymen that will let Ukraine survive and thrive again, not fear or hatred. It is the love of peace that will call upon the Wisdom of Solomon to find a way out of this insanity. 

For all that I have seen and all that I know, I will never give up on us. For as mighty is the seed of evil, the seed of love is as powerful, it simply needs our willingness to try and our conviction to overcome.

We have deferred to ignorance for too long.  Let’s give Peace a chance.

What Price, Peace?

“Hesitate and you’re lost”. Those were the words my father used when he taught me to drive. He was addressing the doubt that traps us if we’re not present in the moment.

And what a moment we’re in. We were warned to move out of fossil fuels since the 70’s, but we hesitated. Now we’re engaged in a contest of wills that has placed oil and gas as the battering rams of war.  As the number one producer in the world, the United States can stop accepting Russian oil, but European allies are stepping back and admitting they are in fact dependent on Russia for their energy. And while the Republicans grew the financial aid package to Ukraine from $10 billion as suggested by the White House to nearly $14 billion, they’re quick to condemn the president for raising gasoline prices – which in fact, he cannot do.

I’d like to see the breakdown of military versus humanitarian aid – and see who will be the victors in this capitalist venture. 

So much for the unity required to stop Putin’s death march. The truth is we’re compromised. We’re paralyzed by the fear of our precious lives being economically altered and crushed by the realization that just saying “peace” is not enough to make it so. 

Once again whether by our government or that of another conquering empire, innocent lives are crushed. The tear in human consciousness is again ripped open. And whether we admit it or not, we are altered by the suffering being inflicted on Ukrainian people. We haven’t learned we’re all one. We haven’t learned this is still within our grasp to change.

Peace is possible, but because we have hesitated for so long to nurture and support it, it will come with a price. A price we must all shoulder: pacifists, war mongers, lovers and haters…the price is wanting peace more than anything else. It is a price we can all pay.

We must.

A sign reading “glory for Ukraine” at a rally to support Ukraine at Washington Square Park, in New York City. February 27, 2022

When Madmen Lead

Putin, end this nightmare. For the past week, the so-called “military exercise” has shown it is nothing of the sort. It is a march of destruction and death. There is no propaganda that can excuse the inhumanity that has become the fate of the people of Ukraine.

With diplomacy stalled or forgotten, and international sanctions weighing down upon the people of Russia, one could hope that the insanity would end. But we have seen this before. History has shown us far too many leaders willing to self-destruct – and take countless innocents with them.

We have seen the madmen lead and we have seen human beings follow. We have normalized this behavior while we pray for peace. We pray for peace, but we do not insist on peace. We want war to end, but we continue to allow militarism to dominate us. 

Make no mistake, I believe Putin is wrong and I am not sure sanctions will stop him. I weep for the people who are becoming refugees and for those who are being killed. I fear for the Russian people as the economic squeeze tightens as well as the persecution they will face as they dissent. And I am convinced that the financial shock waves will surely hit Europe and the rest of the world, intensifying conflicts everywhere.

It seems humanity has reached its midnight hour. We can no longer hide behind despotic leadership and claim innocence. We must become thinking people who are not willing to sacrifice our humanity for the empire. 

When I heard Trump call Putin’s aggression “genius” and heard no cries of fowl from his party, I was not surprised. Trump is not a friend of peace. Trump is a friend of greed and power. And his followers are devotees of the same.

Peace in Ukraine

I’m not an apologist for the United States government, nor am I an apologist for Putin. I am a human being and I fear for the people of Ukraine as they await their fate. 

I wrote these words a few short hours before Putin unleashed a full-scale land, sea and air invasion on Ukraine. 

The conflict began in 2014 with thousands of civilians killed and nearly one and a half million forced to leave their homes. Peace building then took second stage as weaponry poured into the region from the United States and the EU. NATO failed to grasp the urgency of diplomacy and no one believed Putin would launch such an inhuman assault. 

Putin boldly lied referring to this new build up of nearly 200,000 troops on the Ukrainian border as a military exercise. And NATO, with the United States in the lead, miscalculated their ability to reel Putin in by sanctions, while arming the Ukrainians.

The people of the world are led by thinking that is steeped in power and financed by the military industrial complex. All sides weigh the financial risks and the political capital as they make their moves – using the same tactics and the same lies we have followed for decades. And it is women and children who pay the greatest price while profiteers gain.

It’s time we change course. We must become pro-peace. Our strategies must be life affirming. We must take the position that we are all human beings deserving the right to live in safety, with shelter, clean food and water and given the “elbow room” to be the unique individuals that we are. Our choices must be pro-human and pro-earth. 

Peace is our only way forward. Each individual must assess the value of peace. Each must make way for it.  May it prevail. May the Russian people demand it from their leader. May we all demand it.

map of Ukraine under attack – By Homoatrox – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115503967

The Spirit of the 60’s Lives

Well Toto, we aren’t in the 60’s anymore. Somewhere during the past decades we took a turn away from civil rights, voting rights, peace, love and ending war.

In the last few days the Wisconsin legislature passed a few bills that curled my toes. Without the help of Governor Evers’ veto pen, here is what we can look forward to: Eighteen year olds, who cannot legally purchase a gun, will be given permission to open carry – that includes to high school. 

Another punch to the gut is a bill that takes aim at protesting.  Stiff penalties for attending a protest that turns violent – whether you were peaceful or not – is sending a cold chill through the land of the free – and I’m not talking current temps. Having seen provocateurs at Standing Rock; I am inclined to keep praying for Governor Evers’ good health and penmanship. 

And with the ultimate insult to minorities, the Wisconsin Republican majority passed an anti-CRT bill. Parents would have the right to seek censure of teachers who mention systemic racism if their children are offended by truth. 

The federal government is poised to lead us back to war, selling weapons to Ukraine and rattling the saber of power. Yet most of us, who could change the course of things, are distracted and pleading for the return of “normal”. Whatever that is.

But the spirit of the 60’s is here for proponents of Black Lives Matter and for Indigenous led efforts to keep oil in the ground and protect the earth. It’s alive for those calling “No war with Russia” and demanding nuclear disarmament. And you can find it in the people leaving jobs or striking in numbers that are shaking the feudal lords.(Listen to a town hall with Bernie Sanders and workers.)

The question is: where are you in this tidal wave of change?

Photo Public Domain 1963 March on Washington

The Sovereign Ruler

The development of robotic killing machines is underway. One step beyond drone systems, these robots will take killing entirely out of human hands. Artificial intelligence, sensors and algorithms will determine the victims and the kill. This is not science fiction. About thirty countries are banning this new warfare before it becomes widely available and they’re asking others to do the same.

But we live in the United States, the country with the most to protect: our interference in other countries’ governments, our sale of arms to friends and foe, our willingness to keep the Pentagon and its secrets as top priority. There’s no surprise that the United States is rejecting the request to ban this warfare and is instead asking for rules of engagement and “codes of conduct”.  We are taking the lead in researching killer robots along with Russia, Israel, South Korea and India. Good luck managing death with “codes of conduct”.

The callousness of our ability to kill, to make excuses for the killing and to look away with ease has crept into every aspect of our society. Fear of other, vigilante self-defense and the need for power is crippling us. 

Not surprisingly, we’re being warned to take care of our mental health and while that is a good and worthy sentiment, it’s hard to live in such a desperate world and remain sane.

But we can and we must. There’s nothing normal in this lust for power and the willingness to kill. There is nothing human in spending billions on the Pentagon while people go hungry and homeless.

Someone recently asked me, “How can you know these things and not despair?” The answer is simple: the human heart remains my sovereign ruler and peace needs only to be given a chance. We can do this.


“The Heart is the emperor, the supreme controller. The Heart is the fire at the center of our being, from which the spirit radiates.” 
-Neijing Suwen (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine)

The Huangdi Neijing (given the title The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine in one of the latest translations) is an ancient treatise on health and disease said to have been written by the famous Chinese emperor Huangdi around 2600 BC.

We Were Warned

In his 1961 “Farewell Speech to the Nation” Eisenhower gave a dire warning of the consequences of a country driven by military industrial complex. And in 1967, Martin Luther King echoed the refrain in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech citing how the war machine was bankrupting the country on the backs of the poor. 

Barbara Lee eloquently called us to take pause and consider the consequences of an invasion in Afghanistan twenty years ago. She was the sole vote against opening the door to what became the longest unwinnable war of our history.

Following the attack of 9/11, she calmly and clearly called for those of righteous indignation to take the road of diplomacy and not the path of military destruction.

We cannot say we’ve not been warned.

Now we scramble to lay blame on this president or that. Blame the weakness of the Afghan Army or blame the Pentagon for not learning from history. And while media spins the stories that cause suspicion and anger, the final evolution of our collective conscience will likely be one of resignation.

Resignation is the stuff that allows the military industrial complex to keep rolling. The Taliban are now the inheritors of all United States and Allies weaponry. But have no illusion that that will sober up the industry that thrives on creating death and destruction. No, this will become the new excuse to arm all or any that may want to challenge this regime, or any regime. 

At the end of the day, Eisenhower was right about the military industrial complex. Where he got it wrong was his firm belief that the people of this country would not allow it to happen.

We were warned.  Now will we learn?

Photo is of a US C-17 carrying people out of Afghanistan. Taken by an airman or employee, it is in the public domain of the United States.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III safely transported approximately 640 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport Aug. 15, 2021. U.S. Air Force courtesy photo.

In Numbness We Stand

On February 25th, the United States carried out an act of military retaliation on a Syrian village making Biden the seventh consecutive president to bomb the Middle East. Senators Kaine and Murphy called for congressional hearings on the legality of the bombing. Representative Ro Khanna made it clear that without imminent threat the president must get Congressional approval…but so it goes.

We are a nation of people unwilling to end war. Words like “necessary deterrent” and “collateral damage” have made us numb to the blood on our hands. The Syrian village was bombed in retaliation to an earlier airstrike in Iraq that killed a Philippine contractor and wounded a United States soldier – let that sink in. Various reports indicate that we killed 3 to 22 people. Nobody knows for sure and those that care are intentionally not heard. Oh and the village was “believed to be” occupied by militias. That’s right, “believed to be”.

The smoke and mirrors of both parties in using our military, our soldiers, and our name to preserve and protect the precious oil in the Middle East is horrifying. And yet it continues. It continues because we have grown numb. We accept the headlines and stop reviewing the details. 

We have forsaken the sanctity of life. We cannot be bothered to demand tools of diplomacy be our first choice. Yet our weapons become more sophisticated, more deadly and more expensive. 

And today’s greatest lie is “we must preserve our way of life”, while we bomb villages, and destroy the earth for fossil fuels and to fill a few wealthy pockets.

We have relied on “might is right” for far too long. I look forward to the day when one human life is as valuable as another and this Christian nation lives up to its boasts.

Photo compliments of Creative Commons Attribution – Wikimedia Commons