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Diary of a Worm’s Life in a Home “Growing Power” Box and Garden

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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Sacrifice over Perception of Reality - Monday, January 31, 2011

Saved by Peter Graf

When I was in the advertising business for seventeen years I discovered that advertising was based on the perception of reality not the reality of the product or business.

Politicians and media repeat something over and over again, even though it may be a misrepresentation of the truth, and people start to believe it. The accusation of a crime often last longer than the guilt or innocence of the person.

I have also learned that if I react to a misrepresentation or partial truth they often reinforced the misrepresentation or partial truth.

Although I have learned these lessons over and over again I still fall into the trap of reacting to misrepresentation or partial true accusation of myself.

Someone came over today who I deeply respected. We have some common acquaintances and when he started to tell me how they view the issue of teaching war at local Catholic campus as a conflict between an individual at Marquette I started to be defensive, again falling into the stereotype that I was contributing to this perception.

Now I have been made aware that are people who have tried to make me, the messenger, the issue and thus ignore the message Close the School of Army at this Catholic University. I am also aware of how, by being defensive, I have contributed to this stereotype. However, I was surprised to hear it from this person who did not know much about the 42 history of this issue of military resistance at this school, most of which I was not involved in.

After the person left I felt obliged to search my thousands of page on my web site and my many emails for the name of the person I am accused of personally attacking on the issue. The web site search only revealed 13 mentions of this person and they all were in public letters addressed to the person in their professional capacity at the school and they were respectful. There were no negative remarks or blaming comments.

The fact that I need to check out any remarks about the person that people say I have made the issue personal to reveals the fact that I am still defensive.
Perception of reality can be used to sell a product or marginalize a message. I do not have much control over that. But I do have control not to react to this perception and stay positive to all persons. One of my favorite definitions of the nonviolence of Gandhi was by Judith Brown in a book when she said: Gandhi defines his Satyagraha or creative nonviolence as “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.”

I would add: “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting for or against a perception of reality.”


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Discrimination Headline - Sunday, January 30, 2011

Second Chance Flower

I purchased this Amaryllis Red plant well before Christmas so it would bloom at Christmas. It did and was beautiful. After the flowers died I kept the plant alive with some care in hope that it will bloom again. Now that is happening with the first of three or four buds blooming. Giving the plant a second chance paid off.

Often people are not given a second chance and, if they are. thought less for it. The headlines of today’s Sunday newspaper reads: “Convicted attorneys are still practicing.” It makes it sound like lawyers convicted of any small or large crime should never be able to practice law again, even though they have served their sentence and be reinstated by the bar. I would have felt the same discrimination if the headline had read: “Convicted McDonald’s workers are still working in fast food business.” To give a person who has a criminal record a second chance is frowned on in our society.

As part of the Milwaukee 14 nonviolent action in 1968 I was convicted on three felony counts. Since I had taken a political action, destroying 1A draft records, my convictions were not taken as seriously as an ordinary crime. However, I did feel a touch of the discrimination and whenever feeling out a job application felt the need to say, that although my conviction was for burglary, arson and theft, it was for a political act of civil disobedience to which I did not try to escape.

Tonight on the news there was a story about the capture of a bank robber. The police chief pointed out who the man was a ‘poster person’ for the failure of early release program he had qualified for in a previous bank robbery. What the police chief did not mention but the news did, was that the man rob banks for his drug habit. This time he will get a longer sentence with no early release but will he get the treatment for his drug habits and skills for a job. I doubt it, and even if he does he will face certain discrimination by society when he returns.

Discrimination based on criminal record, race, religion, sexual orientation, illnesses, and gender is rapid in our society. One can only hope, pray and act so that today’s discrimination headline in the newspaper in the future will not be tolerated.


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Dying To Live - Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two days ago January 27 marked 60 years since the first atomic bomb test in Nevada. The real tragedy came the following August when the first atomic bombs were used to destroy thousands of human beings. I remember a friend saying that the use of the atomic bomb on Japan was the end of the ‘just war’ rationalization of war.

Tomorrow, January 30th marks the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi in India. Actually tomorrow in India was today and friend doing the Pilgrimage of Peace was present at this national holiday in India. The death of Gandhi is celebrated as the beginning of new life.

A friend from Alabama send me a copy of a letter she wrote about the experience of watching someone she got to know on death row being killed by state on January 13th, my birthday.

In today’s newspaper there was another name of an American soldier killed in Afghanistan and in the TV news a story about a soldier killed in a training accident.

If I seem to be obsessed with death, it is someone true. Death is always all around us. I just seem to be more aware of it. Living with death has it up side. Living life becomes more important and appreciated. Perhaps the Indian have it right. Dying is necessary to live.


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Don’t Tell, Don’t Act - Friday, January 28, 2011

A friend, that I talked with today, firmly believes, based on factual evidence of explosives in one of the demolished buildings, that the real truth behind the 9/11 disaster has not been exposed. For many years this was a message I did not want to hear, but now must give it consideration. The reason I did not want someone to tell me about evidence in this disaster is that I did not want to think and believe it, since I would feel compelled to act on what I believe.

Acting on one’s belief, be it that it is immoral for universities to host military training on campus or that Wal-Mart is unjust to its employees seems normal and natural to me but, in today’s society, seems to becoming something extreme.

When I was at Marquette High School, I was taught by the Jesuits to practice what I believed, especially in the areas of social justice and care for the poor. However, when I was adult and tried to put into action these beliefs some Jesuits, who were my teachers at high school, opposed and marginalized me for acting on my beliefs on the social justice issue of discrimination against persons with mental illnesses.

A few years ago when my article on the military training not belonging on a Catholic campus was published in the Marquette Tribune newspaper, there was a loud cry against me for my viewpoint. Last year when I had another viewpoint published in the paper, with a similar message, there was only a mild reaction, again personal not about facts of the message. Yesterday the Marquette Tribune published my latest viewpoint article that Marquette was the only Jesuit university in the country to host military department of Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. I have not noticed any comments yet and doubt if there will be any response in the newspapers to come.

Marquette students are becoming trained to ignore any information that contradicts what the University wants them to hear. I was passing on flyers the other day on Army and Gospel values taught at Marquette and most students just ignored our presence. A few said thank you and no, a very few took the flyer. One student told me she could not accept the flyers because she was a ROTC member. I said that this was more of reason to read about Army Values vs. Gospel Values. She must not have understood what I said because she kindly replied that she was under contract at Marquette not to read it.

Now that the U.S government has got rid of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell I think we all should work on ridding our society of Don’t Tell, Don’t Act.


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To Kill or be Killed - Thursday, January 27, 2011

To kill or be killed
First-Person Shooter
Video Game

One of the blessings or curse of my broken heart from my son’s death last summer is I have developed a ‘sense of death’ that helps me understand the suffering and death of others.

Today’s newspaper listed four new U.S. military casualties in the war in Afghanistan. As I read the names memories flash back to a wonderful young man I knew that was killed in the early days of the war in Iraq.

I was sad to hear that in 2010 More Troops Lost To Suicide Than Combat In Iraq, Afghanistan For Second Consecutive Year. The great number of men and women returning from these two wars seriously injured in mind, body and soul is overwhelming. To think of all the people of Iraq and Afghanistan that have killed or injured is almost unbearable.

Today on the Oprah TV show I heard stories of families of soldiers killed or wounded and how we should do more for soldiers and their families. While I totally agree with doing more for our soldiers I do not agree with the reason why given on the show: they fought for our freedom. Soldiers and veterans should be honored, respected and treated in the best way we can, but, in my opinion, not because they fought for our freedom. Whatever the reason they entered the military, for education, money or patriotism they are not ‘killing or being killed’ in Iraq and Afghanistan for my freedom.

This dilemma of being against these unjust and immoral wars in Iraq and Afghanistan yet supporting our soldiers has been difficult for me. The best resolution I can come up with is my experience during the Vietnam War when fourteen of us in Milwaukee broke into the selective service officers and destroyed all the 1A records, those about to be drafted into the military. We did this act in 1968 as a real and symbolic act against the war in Vietnam and the selective service at the time that forced me to “kill or be killed” or to go to prison or exile.

One of the effects of the Milwaukee 14 that I had not seriously thought about was how many young men at the time would escape the selective service system and serving in the war because , in the time before computers, their records were destroyed. For many years after wards we receiv3ed thanks for men and their families for helping them invade military service. On the bottom of the Milwaukee 14 Today home page there is a thank you letter sent to Jim Forest, one of the Milwaukee 14, in 2007 from a woman whose husband escaped the military due to our action. She talks how she struggles with the present wars while her son-in-law is preparing to go on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq, missing the birth of his children and four of the five years of his marriage to her daughter.

My viewpoint article against military training at Marquette university appeared in the student newspaper today, the Marquette Tribune. ROTC on campuses and in our education system is the new selective service system to me.

Looking for my viewpoint in the Marquette Tribune the last week or so I noticed that a young man who had been in ROTC, fought in the war in Afghanistan and recently returned to finish his degree at Marquette and now was in graduate school at Northwestern, had committed suicide over the Christmas holidays. His father said had suffered signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


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Conspiracy and Poetry - Wednesday, January 26, 2011

William Blake in an 1807
portrait by Thomas

He who binds to himself a joy,
doth the wingeth life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
lives in eternity’s sunrise.

William Blake

Tonight I just offered you the poetic wisdom statement above that was given to me by a friend. I was going to say something about the quote and observations of the day but when I went to my posting last night Murder By The Numbers it was gone.

I know it was there this afternoon since I went on the posting to use a quote for an email. Tonight when I saw the posting on the web page had disappeared I went to the email and clicked on the link I had given. There was no such page anywhere. I spent time tonight redoing the posting from last night, and even that gave me internet troubles. But it take a lot of time so tonight I just give you these lines from a poem from William Blake.

Last night’s posting is back again. As I sent the posting in entire to my friends that I sent the quote from it, I said I do not believe there was any conspiracy but if I stop writing you know I have disappeared and there is a conspiracy.


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Murder by the Numbers - Tuesday, January 25, 2011

U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

Today at our faith sharing gathering one of the persons read the following quote to us:

“The world is going mad in mutual extermination, and murder, considered as a crime when committed individually, becomes a virtue when it is committed by large numbers. It is the multiplication of the frenzy that assures impunity to the assassins”

He then asked us to guess who said it. People guessed Martin Luther King Jr. and other 20 century persons. He told us it was Cyprian of Carthage, a third-century North African bishop.

Last night I wrote how the spirit of Carlos, the murder and terrorist, lives on today. He was an individual assassin but when countries, large numbers, kill be it by guns, bombing or drone missiles the killing receives impunity.

Tonight when the president, in his State of the Union speech, mentioned that “Don’t ask Don’t Tell” has been repealed, he asked that all universities open their doors to military recruiting and ROTC, military training on campus. Perhaps he does not realize that all colleges and universities by law, Solomon Act of 1996 need to allow military recruiting on campus and give students opportunities for ROTC training, in order to qualify for all Federal Funds. Some question if the government ordering a certain program to be offered on campus is constitutional.

However, colleges or universities are not required to host military training on campus. As I pointed out there are only 21 Catholic universities (see List of Catholic Universities with Army Base Schools ) that offer ROTC on campus, mostly due to moral objections. There are only two Catholic Universities, Notre Dame and Marquette University that offer training in all three departments of the military, Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. And Marquette is the only Jesuit university to host all three military departments on campus.

Also the president did not read or agree with the Washington Post viewpoint by Colman MaCarthy titled: ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn’t be on campus.. I did feature the article in a posting but tomorrow should put it on the Featured Article web page. (Like that will matter)

The quote above brings our attention to there is no impunity for killing because large numbers do or institutions and nations teach and condone it. Nations and institutions cannot hide behind honoring the individual who is just following orders. Soldiers need our respect and perhaps some type of impunity but universities that teach war on campus and countries that sends soldiers to ‘unjust and immoral wars’ must be condemned. There is no immunity for murder by the numbers.


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Carlos Is Alive - Monday, January 24, 2011

Watching the miniseries on Carlos the first well know terrorist from the early 70’s reminded me of how much we did not learn from the past about terrorism and its causes. We look at the results of terrorism, like today’s bombing in the Moscow airport, seek the criminals out for punishment but ignore the deeper roots of terrorism.

After 9/11 some, including the Pope John Paul II, without justifying the terrible acts of violence asked us to look at the causes of terrorism. like poverty, lack of education, health care and human rights. There was some of that, I remember going to a forum at MATC to discuss it, but it was soon forgotten in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which still go on while terrorism rises.

In the CLG News list server today there were three articles about US drone, unmanned aircraft, attacks in Pakistan. One was called Thousands demonstrate against U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, one was called Unauthorized US strikes kill 13 Pakistanis and the other Unauthorized attack kills 3 in Pakistan. Another article in the same newsletter was about US troops desecrate Qur’an.

Like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan this way of fighting terrorism, using drones, in creates more terrorists. In the 90’s, during the boycott of Iraq, I remember hearing the story about a youth watching his young brother. bombed bu USA, die due to lack of common medicine that was part of the boycott. The youth swore that when he grew up he would get his revenge by killing Americans, the major power behind the boycott of the medicine.

In the miniseries “Carlos”, the issues Like the Palestine-Israel conflict are the same issues now that are met with violence and terrorism. When will we ever learn that violence, be it bombs or drone attacks, leads to more violence, like terrorist attacks. “The answer my friend, the answer, is blowin in the wind.”

I found out that Carlos is alive in a French prison. Sadly his spirit of terrorism is still alive.


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Go Green & Gold - Sunday, January 23, 2011

I must admit I am a Green Bay Packer football fan and rejoiced in the fact they won the championship game today and will be going to the Super Bowl. I have friends that could care less about football and friends that care more than I about the Green Bay Packers.

When I was a child the Green Bay Packers team was not very good and I was hardly aware of them. When I was a teen, under Coach Lombardi, they became great and I was aware of them. As an adult they had up and down years. When up I am a fan and when down, not so much. You may call me a “fair weather” fan. I get on the band wagon when they are winning and off when they are not. The same could be true to my past attention to Milwaukee Brewers baseball team and the Milwaukee Buck’s basketball team.

However, I have noticed that as I grow old I enjoy watching sports more and more on TV or at a game. I do not know why but feel it is perhaps because it is an easy and fun distraction from the struggle of living. Being a sports fan is passive and, if one does not get carried away, harmless.

Go Green and Gold!


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Easy Essay & Beauty of Art - Saturday, January 22, 2011

birth, a time of risk,
hope, oneness

Reaching deep down into my soul tonight for words to write I discover an emptiness that I knew was there but seldom recognized. Silence is the language of the night. So I turn to words of one who knew this darkness but kept the light of hope alive and to the beauty of art by a Catholic Worker. The Easy Essay is by Peter Maurin, deceased, co-founder of the Catholic Worker and the beauty of art by Willa Bickham, living, of the Viva Catholic Worker House in Baltimore Md.

Easy Essay by Peter Maurin


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Easy To Be Good - Friday, January 21, 2011

Peter Maurin & Dorothy Day
making it easy to be good

A friend wrote today about a “general uneasiness in the country”. I am not sure of the source of uneasiness he describes bit there is one thing that has always made me uneasy. It is the saying that in the USA you can be anything you want to be with hard work and that we are the land of opportunity. Since I was young and vulnerable and heard it from my parents and teachers till last week, now that I am old and hardened, and heard it from a leading politician, this sentiment has made me feel uneasy.

We still tell stories about persons going from rags to riches, from poor immigrants to wealthy tycoons and recently from a man living on the streets to living in expensive rehab center. However, truth be told, opportunity to be who you want to be, opportunity for education, health care, a job and even citizenship is dying, just like the Dream Act did in congress before Christmas.

A child born to unemployed poor woman in the city today has a little chance of getting a good education, health care or a job. If the child is a young African American male there is more opportunity to be thrown in jail or prison than to have a successful career.

In face of this declining opportunity, rises a general denial of the truth. Poor, middle class and rich still want to believe that this is the great land of opportunity; all you need is set you mind to the task and work hard.

How do we return to a ‘land of opportunity?’ The words of Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, come to mind: “We have to make the kind of society where it is easy for people to be good.” War, greed, discrimination and violence do not make this kind of society where it is easy to be good and brings us back to a land of opportunity. How do we do it?


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Too Good To Be True - Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sign of Contradiction

Some of us have learned in life not to expect much and thus enjoying more what you get. For children expecting stuff, like at Christmas, and not getting it does not seem to matter much. But for adults expecting stuff, like getting a raise, and not getting it can really matter.

An example of this is a letter to the editor, called a viewpoint, that I sent to the editor of the Marquette University newspaper over a month ago. It was about military training on campus. The editor first said he would print it before Christmas break and then said he would print it after Christmas break. When that did not happen this first week back in school, I wrote a note asking if it would be in the newspaper next week. All the while, in the back of mind, I expected that someone at Marquette would get to him and try to stop publishing this letter on a controversial subject, teaching war at a Catholic University.

Well today he wrote back pointing out what he called two “inaccuracies” and one concern. They were minor inaccuracies and not really inaccuracies. However, since they were not at the heart of the message: Marquette is the only one Jesuit Catholic university with all three branches of the military on campus, I eliminated them and the one minor concern.

I thought it was too good to be true that the Marquette student newspaper would print a viewpoint that touches at the heart of its mission and identity but is contrary to the practice of the university. Since I did not expect much I was not too disappointed and now can really be glad if it is printed.


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Violence, Wars and Mental Ilnesses - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Two Victims of
US War on Iraq

Yesterday I was looking at the Marquette Tribune to see if my letter to the editor: Marquette is The Only One, Jesuit University with three military bases on campus, was published yet. In the process I discovered the sad news of a Marquette graduate who had served in Iraq had committed suicide. I checked stories about him; he had been an ROTC student at another college, joined the military and transferred to MU, called up, served in Iraq, finished school at MU and now was a graduate student at Northwestern. His father said there was “some evidence” that his son may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), a mental illness commonly suffered from those in war or who experience violence.

Today my letter to the editor to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a response to the Acting County Executive’s plan for the county mental health system was published. I had two cautions in it. The second one asked the question why we do not treat mental illnesses the same as other illnesses? If a student in a community college disrupts classes by bleeding would the school kick him out? More likely the school would seek health services for the student.

The facts are that persons with mental illnesses are less likely to commit violence on others than the rest of the population. The facts are the people with mental illnesses are more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the rest of the population.

We do not know the exact cause of cancer is, but we know that certain foods and smoking can cause cancer. We do not know the exact cause of mental illnesses, (or some would call a brain disease, but we do know that violence, teaching how to ‘kill or be killed’, and war can cause mental illnesses.

In an article in last week’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the new and advanced drones being supplied to the military for war, one of the manufactures has this quote at the end of the article about one of the new drones: “The X-478 represents game-changing technology that will allow American forces to project combat power from longer distances without putting humans in harm’s way.”

Who is crazy and more dangerous: I, a person with a mental illness or the executive who made this statement?

Violence on the streets, teaching ‘reflexive killing’ at Marquette, the endless wars in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are enough to drive us to despair and death or to hope and life.

Choose life and stop violence,wars and the discrimination to persons with mental illnesses.


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Hope Keeps Us Going - Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a particular hope by
Peter Graf

One finds hope in suffering and death. Hope is a seed that is buried. yet when rooted, grows up in the light of day. Without hope life is absurd and meaningless. Hope can be found in being and the act of doing but not in results. These are few of the thoughts that flow through my tired mind these days.

I finally got enough hope to be motivated to start the web page of quotes from Martin Luther King Jr.. Also a friend send me some new quotes from Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker. I like quotes from great persons, like these two, because they speak to me today and offer me hope. The quotes are still present.

In a strange way good Editorial Cartoons give me hope. They bring the light of humor to a serious situation. Check out the two new Editorial Cartoons I added today.

One of the Dorothy Day quotes I added today is about writing which this Diary of the Worm is about. It goes like this: “Writing is an act of community. It is a letter, it is comforting, consoling, helping, advising on our part as well as asking it on yours. It is part of our human association with each other. It is an expression of our love and concern for each other.”

Hope you enjoy these writings. Hope keeps us going.


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Gems in the Media - Monday, January 17, 2011

President Eisenhower
Warns Us of Military
Industrial Complex

Today a friend of mine at the local Catholic Worker House of Hospitality organized a protest outside of a gun store nearby that is one of the biggest sellers of guns used in violent countries in the USA. I wanted to go but could not make it but was glad to see the story on the news tonight.
See Marking MLK with protest outside of gun store.

Listening to public radio as I was driving today I heard some interesting stories from persons who knew Martin Luther King Jr, whose birth we celebrate today. One of his companions told us how much he suffered after his 1967: Beyond After Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. He said and did what he, in conscience, had to say and do, but was rejected and marginalized for it. His friend said how he could not get out of bed some days, something I can relate to, and his premonition that he would die.

Also from the media I heard today was the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower farewell speech and his warning of the growing power of the Military Industrial Complex. Sadly we did not listen to him and have a Military Industrial Educational and some would say Media complex.

I am writing this listening to classical music on Pandora Radio.

There are gems in the media we face each day if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.


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Words of King - Sunday, January 16, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr.
Alabama Police Mugshot,
February 22, 1956

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and tomorrow is the holiday to celebrate his life. I grew into adulthood with the words of Dr. King ringing in my ears. When he was assassinated in 1968 I joined with others, all over the county in the poor people campaign to Washington D.C. and at ‘Resurrection City’. Dr. King was at the height of his popularity, friend of the president, the year before he died when he gave his speech Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. It was a speech that some said caused great harm to the civil rights movement but one he had to give to be true to his conscience.

Today speaking against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in general is okay but when we make our resistance specific, like trying to stop teaching war at a Catholic University, or holding our liberal congressperson accountable for her war spending ways, people do not want to hear it. Like King, people who point to the real causes of these wars and violence, are rejected.

Some who honor King these days are some of the same persons who disrespect his dreams and desires for human rights and dignity for all and an end to violence.

I have been talking about it and tomorrow, God willing, will do it: I will make a web page of quotes, like that for Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi and Thomas Merton for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is a tiny act but perhaps someone reading these words will be inspired to act on them. Here is a sample of some of the quotes that will appear on this page. These words of King rang true in years past, do today and will in the future.


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Look To Friends - Saturday, January 15, 2011

In these postings I have often mentioned how an article or quote sent to me by a friend has been timely, a message I need to hear at the time. It seems to happen frequently recently.

The other day I was driving to the Post Office, feeling kind of low, when a friend from Chicago called me with about the book “The Kingdom of God is within You” by Leo Tolstoy. She told me how the book can be found on line at and how true it is to our time and struggles. A quote from the book: “There is one thing, and only one thing, in which it is granted to you to be free in life, all else being beyond your power: that is to recognize and profess the truth.” She was right and I spread the good news of this book onto friends.

Today a friend from the east wrote me. He is someone I knew from our common struggle to end ROTC, training for the military and teaching war, on Catholic campuses. He referred me to an article from the Washington Post by Colman MaCarthy titled: ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn’t be on campus.. The article was a response to a question I have been asking of what Ivy League and other major universities will do when the excuse of discrimination is eliminated for not allowing ROTC on campus. The article also gave me a view of Father Hesburg, the past president of Notre Dame, who is a main player in my research article: What is the Story behind Dorothy Day Accepting the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame.

All this reminds me of the sayings, “You find what you looking for.” I would add to this saying look to friends to find what you are looking for.


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Letter To Catholic Workers - Friday, January 14, 2011

Dorothy Day Resisting

Remember that email that disappeared last night! Well I rewrote it again today and send it to the person with the Catholic Worker mailing list. However he sent it back saying it had to be in ‘plain text’ not ‘rich text’. That change was easy to do and hopefully he can now send it out.

As a Catholic Worker at the local house of hospitality once told me: “Some Catholic Workers are not Catholics and some do not work.” (a job for money) So in that spirit, I am sending this Open Letter to Catholic Workers out to all, whoever that may be, of you who may not be Catholic Workers but might find the letter interesting. It is rich text so you can just click on web sites mentioned.

Dear Catholic Workers,

Thank all of you that responded to What is the story behind Dorothy Day accepting the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame? . Thanks to you and the Notre Dame archivist I was able to complete the story. You will find the last four paragraphs added or modified.

As most of you know Dorothy Day strongly resisted military training (ROTC) on Catholic campuses. (See Catholic Workers and Military Training on Catholic Campuses


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Joy, Frustration and Age - Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jumping with Joy

As I grow another year older I find my joys and frustration in life are much the same except more intense. Joy came today when after I took a friend to visit his mother who has severe dementia and just stared at us with an empty look. Earlier in the visit I had tried my tickle, tickle routine which in the past has brought a smile on her face but not this time. At the end of the visit, after my friend had said good bye to his mom, I tried the tickle routine one more time. She gave us a brief smile which brought joy to my friend and me.

The frustrating part of the day came with technology tonight. I had carefully crafted an email to Catholic Workers. I was ready to click the send icon. Usually I save a draft before I send it. This time I did not and the email disappeared. I looked all over for it and even restored my computer but to no avail. The email disappeared in the dark place on the internet. This is frustrating and has happened before.

I better understand now why Jesus beat the devil in a typing contest on a computer. Near the end of the contest the computers went blank. When God said Jesus had won the devil questioned why. God said “Jesus saves.”

I am more sensitive to life as I age and become more experienced, but I am also calmer and responsive rather than reactionary. Joy and frustration remain but now I need to be more like Jesus and save.


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Who Will Comfort the Rest? - Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The new X-47B drone

After the tragedy in Tucson Americans have come together to comfort the families of the victims. All the attention on this act of violence reminds me of all the act of violence that go unnoted and families of the victims are not comforted. A few of the nearly 100 homicides victims of senseless violence get much attention in the media. The thousands and thousands of men, women and children killed in the USA wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are just numbers, and as we know now, the numbers were underestimated.

The use of unmanned drone airplanes in the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a good example of how insensitive we are to killing. I have featured articles about drones that depersonalized killing. On this site there was a featured article about the human side of a drone attack in Pakistan that killed 14 women and children and two elders, Visitors and Host in Pakistan, and many mentions of this depersonalized way of killing where the people killed are just targets.

Today a friend pointed out to me an article in the paper about the next generation of drones and how they are “faster, higher and deadlier.” The article make me sick but the last line was unbelievable and reinforced how depersonalized most victims of killing are considered. They certainly are not real humans like the victims in Tucson. The General Manager of a company building one of these new drones said: “The X-47 B represents game-changing technology that will allow American forces to project combat power from longer distances without putting humans in harm’s way.” What is he saying? All the woman, children and elders in the Pakistan village, the many killed in war and by gun violence on the street are human beings. Drones and guns kill human beings.

Many comfort the victims and families in Tucson. Who will comfort the rest?


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Serious Guns - Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For years I have been concerned about the availability of serious guns, not for hunting, in our society. I have worked with Mothers Against Violence and support a group called WAVE to end a loop hole in Wisconsin law that allows persons who should not own a gun by Federal law to purchase one without a background check. Any change, except to make guns more available, looses, and those who want to limit availability of serious guns are constantly put on the defense.

With the gun violence on our streets, the wars we support and wage all over the world, the guns we export to Mexico and other countries and the gun violence in our entertainment industry it seems clear that we in the USA live in a culture of violence. However, the violence is so ingrained and embedded in our culture often we cannot see it. Even a Catholic University, like Marquette University, can be a military base and teach reflexive killing, Killing without conscience and not much is made of it.

However, there are prophets, who in times of the tragedy of violence like in Tucson, try to wake us up and look at the question of the availability of guns in our society. On the Featured Article web page I put an article by a writer/lawyer who tries to wake us up. The article is called Serious Guns and White Terrorism: Two Unasked Questions in Tucson Mass Murder.

Serious guns require serious discussion.


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Working Together - Monday, January 10, 2011

Working Together

When I started this posted, Diary of the Worm, I was inspired by my experience with Growing Power, a national non-profit here in Milwaukee helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people. Besides the use of worm power the motto of Growing Power really impressed me. It is ‘Together We are Growing Power’.

I often thought that motto should be adapted by peace and justice groups. These days there are so many issues and so many groups working are them, often separately, sometimes competitively and rarely together.

When I was a community organizer in the 70’s we were taught that the real power of people was when they came together and worked together on a specific issue. There were many neighborhood concerns and issues but only when we worked together and took action on one specific issue or concern we were effective.

One of the ideas behind our base community of Breaking the Silence, our base community, was not to form a group or organization but a movement of persons that around some fundamental issues of Teach War No More and No More War Spending would work together and take nonviolent action on specific issues.

The temptation has been to look at our movement as another group with our own agenda. I certainly feel guilty of doing that. But now I am see our movement, small as it may be, as that of people coming together to work together on specific issues under the general banner of resisting militarism. We can get specific, like closing the base school of the Army at Marquette or requesting Congresswoman Moore not to vote for more war spending, but we do it together.

My deceased son, Peter used the military as a model of coordinated action. Actually, St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, Jesuits, and former soldier did the same thing. He considers his companions and himself as ‘soldiers for Christ’ rather than soldiers for some civil authority. Some of the language we used in Breaking the Silence is military language like our “Hit and Stay” actions.

Working together we are Growing Power and the Power of Nonviolence and Love.


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Meat Tires the Mind? - Sunday, January 09, 2011

When a plant grows slower than expected one suspects it is not getting the proper nourishment. When a human mind grows tired more than expected one suspects the person is not getting proper nourishment. What nourishes the mind? The mind is nourished but much more than food. It needs sleep, quiet time and reflection and, probably above all, stimulation. Stimulation of the mind can be passive, like most TV viewing or active, like reading a book or engaging in a stimulating conversation.

Having a more than normal tired mind recently I find that passive activities, like watching TV, are much more appealing than active activities like reading a book. It takes more effort but is worthwhile to keep the mind active.

I am discovering another way to keep the mind active and growing is by eating healthy. Yesterday my wife and I went with a friend for to a Middle East Restaurant and enjoyed a vegetarian buffet. Tonight my wife made a most delicious vegetarian chili while we enjoyed while watching the Green Bay Packers on TV win a playoff game. In fact I believe I had little, if any meat, the last two days and I am feeling less tired.

This observation is not enough to make me a vegetarian but not eating meat the last two days has nourished my mind. Maybe meat tires the mind?


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Inconvenient Facts and Pictures - Saturday, January 08, 2011

One of the victims killed
by the US soldiers.
Revolutionary Association
of the Women of
Afghanistan (RAWA)

The tragedy today in Tucson, the senseless violence to the Congresswoman and others, is sad and terrifying. The alleged shooter is reported to be affected by the violent rhetoric of politics and the prevalence of violence that pervades our society.

Civil discourse, creative conflicts with words not guns, consideration of facts over misrepresentations is dying in our society in a sea of violence.

In the face of violence some react with more violence, seeking to blame. Violence only seems to beget more violence. Some refuse to break the silence about the violence,ignore or justify it. Some talk a lot about doing something but do nothing. Some marginalize the messenger rather than deal with the message of violence in our society. Even those who struggle against violence often restore to it if not in action but in word. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes but the actions of today, the present militarization of our society and our occupation and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan means, to me, that we must do our best to overcome violence with creative nonviolence in word and action. This often means facing inconvenient facts and truths.

Those who try to present the values of conscience, imperfect or misinformed as they may be, often feel they need to apologize for facts and opinions of truths.

There are certain facts and pictures that are ‘inconvenient’ for persons to face. Today looking for a picture of a victim of the Afghanistan war I came across the web page of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). This group established in 1977 as an independent political/social organization of Afghan women fighting for human rights and for social justice in Afghanistan. They struggle against the Taliban and the US occupation. Before showing pictures of the horror of reality of people living in Afghanistan they apologize. The pictures are gory and repulsive but these are the ‘inconvenient pictures’ that show the reality of everyday life with violence and we, responsible for some of the violence, must see them.

Inconvenient facts and pictures? is a new web page I am developing on . Perhaps some of you have pictures or facts to add. Please include the source or attribution of facts and pictures. Send them to . Inconvenient facts and pictures are a reality we can only ignore at our peril.


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Humor Is Good - Friday, January 07, 2011

Wow, What great corn
on the cob!

Humor is good. I missed the group of friends who regularly sent me jokes, full of funny stories and pictures by email. One died, one is ill and the other one is just too busy. I do not like jokes that demean persons or stigmatized them, no matter how good the intentions are. A friend sent me an email today poking fun at me, without a story or picture, but by characterizing me. The friend meant it as humorous but I had mixed feelings about it. I responded seriously and with a bit of my own humor. Seriousness and humor, however, do not mix in emails and my email could have been taken the wrong way.

That is the problem with emails; the typed words are frozen in time in an email. Without a voice, seeing, hearing, feeling or touching, the five senses, words can easily be misunderstood, misjudged or misused. Some great writers like Dorothy Day or Mahatma Gandhi had a tough time publicly speaking. Other great speakers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were not so good at writing.

Presently on my quotes page I have quotes from great writers, Dorothy Day, Mahatma Gandhi and the greatest of them all Thomas Merton. I have been thinking for some time about adding a quote web page for Martin Luther King. Now with King’s s birthday approaching and looking for a great speaker I admire, I will do it.

Most of King’s quotes are from speeches he gave. In fact, his autobiography that was compiled after he died uses many of his speeches to tell his story as well as some of his writings.

There are a lot of email writers but I do not think any of them will be great just by their emails. For writing and speaking have something in common that just emails do not have. Great writing, book, web, articles etc., and great speeches have in common the use of the five senses of the imagination, touch, taste, and hearing, seeing and smelling. Good writing and good speaking unite the reader or listener to what is being talked about by the senses of the imagination. Without a picture or story it is hard in an email to tell a good joke.

Emails, and even more so tweets, are just brief expressions to communicate. Emotion and senses do not play much of a role in emails. Humor is good but needs imagination which can be created best by writing and speaking.


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Winter and War - Thursday, January 06, 2011

Afghan Children
in Winter and War

Winter brings death to plant life.
War brings death to human life.

Winter we cannot avoid.
War we can avoid.

Following winter is spring.
Following war is more war.

Winter has more darkness.
War has more death.

The snows of winter bring water to the earth.
The bombs of war bring destruction to the earth.

We all can survive a major winter.
We all cannot survive a major war.

Winter brings sadness to some.
War brings sorrow to many.

Winter is sustainable
War is non-sustainable.

Winter can be beautiful.
War is Hell.


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In a Time of Discouragement - Wednesday, January 05, 2011

“We believe that success, as the world determines it, is not the criterion by which a movement should be judged. We must be prepared and ready to face seeming failure. The most important thing is that we adhere to these values which transcend time and for which we will be asked a personal accounting, not as to whether they succeeded (though we should hope that they do) but as to whether we remained true to them even though the whole world go otherwise.”

I received this quote today, about discouragement, from a friend who, at first, attributed it to Dorothy Day in “Catholic Worker Positions” by Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, May 1972. full text

However, he after wards wrote that he found this quote attributed to Dorothy Day, in an article published in the current issue of Tikkun: that quoted a “Catholic Worker Positions” article. Then he found out that it was not Dorothy who wrote Dorothy “Catholic Worker Positions,” though of course she agreed with them and approved their publication. The author might have been Bob Ludlow.

No matter who is the author it is truly the position that Dorothy took in life and a message I needed to hear today.

In the correction article my friend Jim Forest then when on to give similar advice he was given by Thomas Merton in a time of discouragement. I pass this advice on to you, if you face discouragement, like I do.


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Do Facts Matter? - Tuesday, January 04, 2011

In an interview I read yesterday retiring Rep. Obey of Wisconsin said “the mood of the country is…’don’t bother me with the facts.’” I agree with him. Recently I have felt refreshed by doing research on issues of justice and peace. However, when I research information, or facts, that people do not want to hear I find myself ignored or rejected. Today I did some research in military ‘earmarks’ of our local congressperson that is considered a “liberal democrat”. Her record the last few years speaks otherwise. (See No More War Spending.)

I send out to local peace groups results of my research, documented, on her proposed military earmarks in the 2011 budget. So far the only response was from someone that I do not personally know asking why I was attacking this congressperson and questioning my creditability. There was no response so far to the researched facts I presented.

If people do not want to be bothered with the facts, should one bother to present them? A similar dilemma arises with our ‘opinions of truth’ as Gandhi called them. It also comes up with acting on conscience, even when it might be ‘misinformed’ as Dorothy Day suggest. We can answer the question of presenting facts as we see them; our ‘opinions of the truth’ as we believe them; act on our conscience even thought it may be misinformed two ways. We can fear making a mistake and just go with the flow or we can stand up for what believe.

For me personally there is no choice. I need to act of the facts, opinion of truth and my conscience. Not to do so would be make life meaningless for me. So I answer my own question saying “Fact do matter.”


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The More You Give The More You Get! - Monday, January 03, 2011

Somewhere in the scriptures Jesus says something like “to those who have much, more will be given.” He is definitely not talking about wealth or riches of any kind. (“Woe to you rich”; “It is harder for a rich person to enter heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle” and on and on.) Jesus is talking about those who give of themselves, the more they give the more they will get. What do they get?

I am reminded of this point of wisdom by a family of friends. Although they live in poverty and suffer illnesses they are always looking for way to serve others. They can use a vehicle for their own needs but are seeking one, not so much for themselves, but in the Catholic Worker of hospitality so they can help low income persons stay in their homes by providing transportation of necessary items like beds and appliances. They want to be a Catholic Worker house on wheels.

As a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society, the largest lay organization in the Catholic Church, serving the needs of the poor, I know firsthand the need of transportation for the poor for necessary household items. Although our local Church is very small and poor, we have the largest number of request for help in the region. Someone told me in church yesterday that we had over 80 requests for aide in process at the present moment.

We make home visits to those in need. Recently our requests are mainly for basic household items like, beds, stove or refrigerators. We give as we can vouchers to our St. Vincent store for beds and furniture and/or to a local appliance store for stoves and refrigerators. However, we do not provide transportation and almost all of the persons in need do not have transportation. Although my wife and I are the visitors we leave the house feeling blessed.

People like my friends who give so much might rightfully doubt that the more they give the more they get. In material terms that might be true but in many ways this family is rich. They enrich so many lives and are living examples of the wisdom that “the more you give, the more you get.”


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Free and Three - Sunday, January 02, 2011

Matthew, Free and Three

In my new year’s resolutions the last few postings, I have talked about being true to who I am in this coming year. For me a child is the best model of how to be true to self. Whenever I have been in the world, Venezuela, India, Guatemala, I find myself relating best to the children present. Children say what they think and have great imagination.

The most recent example was our Christmas trip out east to visit my wife’s family. One of my wife’s nephews had two children that over the years I had a lot a fun with. Now they are grown and are teenagers. Still great kids but different. Her other nephew married late and now has a three year old, Matthew. This was one of the first times that we had time to spend together and quickly became friends. Although our relationship was based on silliness it still was uplifting for me.

In fact, I think three-year-olds are the best age for an adult like me to relate to a child. I used to ask three-year-olds how they are. When they would say ‘three’ I would say I am ‘free.’ Not distinguishing between three and free they would come back saying: “No you are not.” I did not try this with Matthew since it is becoming a little old and worn out for me, but as soon as he came in the room we knew we were friends.

I am not saying they way of relating to children is unique for me. I see many an elder who can relate to a young child. I think it is more about being non-judgmental and not worrying what the other persons think about us. Being judgmental and worrying what others think are taught habits that many children do not have yet.

When Jesus said “Be like a child” I believe the qualities of innocence, honesty, non-judgmental and not worrying what others think is what he was talking about.

The older I get the easier I find it is to be child like whenever I have the courage to do so. In my last job as a youth minister I was with some teenagers on a service trip to Appalachia. One time when the teens were talking about what they want to be when they grew up I found myself saying that I wanted to be “three”. The New Year is another chance to be free and three.


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Keeping It Simple and Green - Saturday, January 01, 2011

Lettuce picked today

Picking lettuce from the Growing Power, GP, Box in my sun room today I thought about my New Year’s Resolution in last night’s posting?. This year I planted one type of lettuce, one that has good cold tolerant. Every few weeks I plant a few new seeds. My hope is to harvest two or three bowls of lettuce a week, like the bowl of lettuce in this picture.

In past years I tried growing a variety of items in the box. The green lettuce is simple and focused like I hope to make life in this New Year. Sprinkling salad dressing on the lettuce is like sprinkling small acts of kindness in our daily life; it adds taste to the lettuce or life. A good salad needs other ingredients, tomatoes, cucumbers and more, just as we need family and friends. When I make salad I always add spices, like mint, garlic seasoning, salt, pepper and basil. We all need spice in our life.

The lettuce in the GP box when picked grows back again and again but eventually dies and needs to be replenished with new seeds planted in the ground. There will be many small deaths in daily life this year but there is hope that the seeds we plant will bring new life.

Yesterday I resolved to be more of myself this year and to do more with less. The lettuce is nothing but itself and there is much we can do with this lesser item. Keeping it simple and green is good for the lettuce and me.


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