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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

Facing Our Demons

Let’s call it what it is: illegal and inhuman. More than 2.4 million migrants have been turned away under Title 42 since 2020. According to US Customs and Border Patrol these individuals are seeking humanitarian protection.  The recent Supreme Court decision to allow the continuance of Title 42 is in blatant disregard of human rights and a violation of International Law.

In the guise of a public health measure we have once again turned our backs on migrants fleeing poverty and violence. And we have allowed a right leaning court to uphold a pandemic health excuse to keep human beings in dire situations and in freezing weather at our border. Judges Gorsuch and Jackson articulated their dissent and in clear terms explained that this should not be in the courts domain; rather it is up to legislators to create avenues that support migrants seeking asylum. 

That’s the rub, isn’t it? To get legislators to agree on a subject that will force them to unravel the racial biases that still dominate. There are legal and just ways to bring migrants seeking asylum into this country. Ukraine and Afghan refugees can attest to this.  But let us not forget the photos of immigration enforcement on horseback rounding up Haitians to be deported. There were 20,000 Haitians deported in five months, and all under Biden’s watch. 

Title 42 is an immigration enforcement tool. And we, as a country, should be ashamed.  Instead, we make a wish for peace and celebrate the glories of a new year while in our name horrible racist and inhuman acts continue. 

We pride ourselves on an exceptionalism that we have never earned.

May we become the humans that we are capable of being.

photo: creative commons licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0

The Gift of Acceptance

It’s the season of gift giving. A lot of us are out of ideas on what to give and many are wrung out of cash even if we have great ideas. Besides, think of all those presents you’ve received through the years. How many do you still have? How many were returned, broken or tossed?

One would think we would be over the seasonal hype by now, but advertising knows our sweet spot and the economy needs our money more than ever, even if we are in debt up to our ears.

You’ve got to love the grandmas sewing pillows for the grandkids and teaching them how to bake cookies. You’ve got to love the effort of people who are not of the Santa Claus culture and hold dearly to their understandings about what is sacred this time of year. And yes, those include the celebrations of the return of light and the sweet remembrance that the seasons will turn and spring’s renewal will come. The ones who champion their communities and understand that true giving is the reciprocity of existence. 

At a time when many of us struggle with the loss of loved ones and with what we now term as “mental illness” and more, isn’t it time we re-evaluate the gifts we give?

I’ll offer you a couple of tips, free of charge. How about giving some of your time to listen to the old ones who are still with us? And try not to look at your device as you listen. Or to the children, not necessarily your own, who are stuck in a world constantly clamoring at them about how and who to be. 

Wouldn’t it be a great time to give the gift of acceptance? We owe ourselves this gift. 

You can learn about PFLAG and become an advocate for human rights and kindness.

The Dreaded Season of Goodwill

Here we are again, the dreaded season of hope, goodwill and glad tidings. I was quite young when I realized how few were the genuine well wishes and how quickly they evaporated. Before you decide I’m jaded and cynical, please understand I’ve never disbelieved in Hope and Goodwill. I’ve built my life around them. Yet the conundrum persists. I want to celebrate the hype of the season, but the realities of our society come crashing in. How can we who hold the sweetness of love and kindness, and still allow the most hideous acts of inhumanity?

As I write I’m reminded that December 14th is the 10th year since the massacre of children at Sandy Hook. 

How do we go from the sacred to the profane so rapidly? And more importantly, why? 

I’m convinced the answers lie in the inauthentic ways we live. 

Prayers are often wish lists to a god we have not taken the time to know. Acts of kindness are accumulated points towards some heavenly reward. And the real tell is that our beliefs are taught to us and seldom do we make them our own.  If they belonged to us through effort and acceptance, we wouldn’t need assurances from anyone. 

Those who express doubt are hushed. Yet doubts about superficial beliefs may be a most genuine expression of our humanity. The need to know, not simply believe, may be an essential prerequisite. 

Perhaps societal ills are a reflection of this silenced need. And while reliance on belief may pacify some, it’s harmful to many.  Life calls us to celebrate our uniqueness. But that uniqueness is something we must know. Belief will never cut it.

My wish for all of us: May our doubts become our knowing. 

We Are All Blessed

If you are celebrating a day of gratitude with family or friends with eyes wide open to the violent history of the United States and that awareness is bringing you to some form of compassionate activism, this is not for you.

If you are aware the riches of our society come from the history of stolen lands, slavery, poor laborers and extreme extraction of natural resources, this is not for you.

If you have come to understand that we live in a society that continues to propagate and champion violence in the name of peace and are readying your self to transform it, this is not for you.

For you, may Peace, Love, Joy and Clarity stay alive in your heart.

Today is Thanksgiving. Apparently someone thought we needed to mandate a day for gratitude. Expressing gratitude has been a fundamental human trait throughout time. Many Indigenous people offer gratitude as a daily practice and in truth many of us do, too. But somehow our culture has found a need to celebrate Thanksgiving as a day of opulence and telling antiquated lies about pilgrims. And of course it’s followed by a day of hedonistic consumerism, which demonstrates the lessor god we choose to honor.

If you ever wonder why people consider atheism, look no further than our hypocritical version of piety. Recently, someone reflecting on his families’ good fortune told me they are blessed. After bristling at the implied notion that wealth is a blessing and the poor are blessed-less, I responded, “We are all blessed, some of us simply don’t know it.”

There is a lot we don’t know, but we are great pretenders. 

I know this may seem very uncharacteristic of my writing. But what is not uncharacteristic is my need to confront ignorance head on. 

So when this great Christian nation bows their collective heads I hope they ask for forgiveness for all the hate and violence they have allowed and continue to allow. I hope they pray for strength to become accountable for the beliefs that continue to make “others” targets of derision. Because we all know children are not born with hate or division. They are taught, either by word or by example.

The white crowds that gathered for lynching and murdering of Blacks often did so in a celebratory manner.  And when someone at your feast cracks a joke about gays or flat out lies, please remind them of the terror that was brought upon human beings in Colorado Springs. 

We are ALL blessed; some just don’t know it.