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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

Click below to read any post in full, and to post your comments on it.

Sowing Seeds - Monday, February 28, 2011

A new crop of lettuce is growing in the GP box in the sun room. The first crop was excellent but I forgot to plant new seeds while it was growing. When I finally did we were hit by a major cold spell and the seeds did not take. I hope not to repeat this mistake and now that the sun is out the temperature in the unheated sun room is staying between 52 and 62 degrees, plenty warm for lettuce.

I thought of this mistake today when thinking about how our churches, especially my Catholic Church, are losing young members despite recent attempts to reach out to young adults with programs like Theology on Tap. However, the effort by the Catholic Church has been weak. I was one of the last full time youth ministers in Catholic Churches in Milwaukee and the activities I created in the last Church have, for the most part, faded away as one Director of Religious education was hired to replace three of us, children, youth and adults who had worked long hours to build our programs. Money is the reason for cutback in youth ministry but the money base for the Catholic Church dries up as more and more Catholics, young and old, move away from the Church.

Instead of planting seeds the Church has put obstacles in the way for young people to be active in the church with its positions on gays, women in ministry, the sexual abuse scandal, the failure of the Church leaders to take stands on moral issues like war and human rights and all the rules and regulations put on worship. Instead of sowing seeds the Church has being plowing over seeds.


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House Divided or House United - Sunday, February 27, 2011

World Peace Gong, India

After one of the largest demonstrations ever in Madison yesterday for labor rights the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper headlines today are a “House Divided”. The article features pictures and quotes from each side of the issue. The person supporting the people at the Capitol says the issue is “pure and simple, trying to bust the union.” The person against the protest says the “teacher union has gotten way too powerful. They expect a better salary and benefits than the people who pay them, which is taxpayers.” It is hard to think they are talking about the same issue.

The diverse positions reflect the two TV ad positions featured on local TV. One ad, supporting collective bargaining, features a fireman saying how state workers have agreed to reduced salary and benefits and the real issue is the right to collective bargaining for unions. The other one, supporting the Governor features a number of pictures of state workers and other working class people claiming the state workers are responsible for lost of jobs in Wisconsin. It does not mention the fact that state union workers had conceded to all financial cuts the Governor wants them to take, but will not surrender their hard earned rights of collective bargaining.

But now I am getting into the facts and the real issue: an attempt to break up the state unions. It is not the facts that matter but the perception of people. What I really see is a struggle between, “the powers that be”, elected State Republican politicians and business moguls, and the working people of Wisconsin. If the struggle was presented this way the people would win. So the ‘powers that be’ are using the true and tried tactic of “divide and conquer.” Using the media, like this morning newspaper headlines and the TV ad they purchased they are truly trying to divide middle and working class people, their power base, against each other.

Many, as seen in the State Capitol day after day, are not buying this divisive attempt and are saying in signs, words and actions “We are One”.

I am rooting for the “House United” but one cannot underestimate those promoting a “House Divided”.


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What Is the Media’s Excuse? - Saturday, February 26, 2011

100,000 at rally today

After hearing Amy Goodman of Democracy Now talk last night I was ready to join the expected 100, 000 persons in Madison, Wisconsin, the State capitol, to protest the Governor’s attempt to weaken collective bargaining for selective state unions , ones that did not support him in the election. However, I remember that I had promised to drive a friend this afternoon to visit his mother who has a severe Alzheimer and lives in a care center in Oak Creek. Since works of mercy have priority over works of protest I drove him and glad I did.

When I got home I searched the TV set for news of the major rally in Madison. I could not find anything on the local TV stations and on the national stations just a little, mostly about rallies in cities around the country supporting Wisconsin workers. I thought for sure that on local and national TV at 5pm and 5:30pm that this major rally would be big news. It was mentioned but there was not much. One national news persons did mention something about 70,000–100,000 persons at the rally in Madison today. But this minor mention was drowned out by the great number of ads on TV that conservative groups are running blaming the workers for losing their jobs and never mentioning the key issue of collective bargaining.

Of course tonight I was able to find out in the Internet that, despite the cold and snow around, 100,000 persons showed up to support the state unions. I was able to find on the AFL-CIO blog video of the 100,000 persons that braved the cold and snow today to stand up for human rights. In fact to find this picture from the Wisconsin rally today I had to go to a newspaper in Kansas. It is believe to be the largest protest in Madison since the Vietnam protest of the 60’s.

Doing on work of mercy was my excuse for not being present today in Madison. The media was present but what is their excuse for not covering it as they do other major events?


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We Will Not Be Silent - Friday, February 25, 2011

“We Will Not Be Silent”
People Rally in Milwaukee

Tonight I went to hear Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, a national, daily, independent, news program, speak at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Union. She had been in Madison, the State Capitol, this morning for her TV show and was impressed by the stand Wisconsin residents are taking in the effort to stop the Governor for breaking up State Unions.

She told lots of stories, from Egypt, Harry Belafonte, and Martin Luther King Jr. At the end her talk she spoke about the youth in Nazi Germany during World War II who were not afraid to speak out against the atrocities of the government. You can find the story of this community, the White Rose collective, on the Featured Article web site at Alexander Schmorell and the White Rose. One of the pamphlets published by this collective was called “We Will Not Silent.”

It was a good ending to her talk and gave energy to the crowd at the talk to Break the Silence on this issue as well as other ones of peace and justice.

In Libya breaking the silence and taking to the streets is risking life. In Nazi Germany it meant for people of the White Rose collective or Franz Jägerstätter certain death. For Martin Luther King Jr., exactly one year to the date, April 4th, his Riverside speech breaking the silence about the war in Vietnam it mean assassination was he was helping to organize garbage workers.

The struggle here in Wisconsin is not threatening anyone’s life but it is saying “We will Not Be Silent”.


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Ground Zero - Thursday, February 24, 2011

Protester at Ground Zero

A week ago today I spoke in this posting about the Wisconsin 14, the 14 State Senators who left the state of Wisconsin to prevent the Governor from forcing a quick vote taking away ‘collective bargaining rights’ of state workers. So much has happened during this week and the Governor phone conversation with someone pretending to be a major money supporter really put the issue in perspective. The issue is clearly his attempt to weaken and break state unions.

When big businesses in the State, like Harley Davidson, Mercury Motors and Kohler wanted, in the last year, concessions from their unions they just threaten to move the jobs out of Wisconsin. When the choice was to take pay and benefit cuts or lose your job there was really no choice for union workers. In fact, when Harley Davidson want concessions from its unions they threaten to move the jobs out of Wisconsin and to the Kansas City plant. They won and now are threatening the unions in Kansas City with a move out of state unless they take more pay and benefit cuts.

Governor Walker’s problem is he cannot take state employee jobs out of Wisconsin if they do not agree to pay and benefits cuts and give up collective bargaining. Though the unions accepted the pay and benefit cuts he now says he will not compromise and they must give up collective bargaining.

The Mayor of Milwaukee, the Governor’s opponent for in the elections last year, in response to a question, told a TV interviewer how when the Governor was the Milwaukee County Executive he refused to negotiate with unions of county security workers and replaced all of them with a private security firm. The company that got the county contract had to go out of state to hire employees and than his decision was overthrown by the courts and the original security officers got their jobs back.

The media says Milwaukee is Ground Zero for the nonviolent struggle of workers vs. big business. Since the Governor cannot move state jobs out of Wisconsin, I guess it is.


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Lessons Learned - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Big Business and Politicans

My observations tonight, in the spirit nonviolent struggles, Satyagraha, are lessons learned from the Middle East and the Wisconsin workers struggle. These are lessons learned that we can apply to local efforts like those here in Milwaukee To Teach War No More, stop teaching war at our local university and for No More War Spending, to hold our local politicians accountable for war spending.

1) Civil Disobedience was involved in Egypt and Madison. In Madison blocking the streets around the capitol and staying in the capitol rotunda all night are clearly illegal acts.

2) Numbers Do Count! As my friend has been telling us for years we need the numbers to have a chance for change.

3) There was a spark lit in the nonviolent actions. Self immolation in Tunisia was a spark and the “Wisconsin 14″ Senators leaving the State was a spark here.

4) Love Our Friends Like Enemies Egyptians welcome the arrival of the military sent to the scene and those in Capital rotunda welcomed the state troopers sent there.

5) When the “powers that be” are forced to break their silence and speak about the nonviolent action, Egypt’s president or Governor Walker’s phone conversation with a fake business mogul it helps organize more people.

6) Media likes the dramatic be it escape of the 14 or the excitement of the crowd.

7) Moral and Intellectual arguments do not move people but money, courage and sensory things do.

To my friends in the Milwaukee area I added concrete actions we can do from these lessons learned from Middle East and Wisconsin. However, I must warn everyone, not to try these methods when you are going against an unreasonable ruler like in Libya. But for the rest of us there are lessons to be learned.


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What Moves People? - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saul Alinsky

During the nonviolent revolution in Egypt and the nonviolent protest in Madison Wisconsin I am searching for what moves people to action. Certainly moral appeals like stopping the teaching of war at Marquette University do not appeal to many.

The Madison protests are fueled by the Governor and Republican legislature trying to bully persons so union workers in Wisconsin lose the right of collective bargaining. Revolutions in Middle East countries are fueled by the suppression of human rights for so many years by government leaders of the country. It seems like people need to be threaten, like young men were in the Vietnam War by the selective service system, to move people to take action.

Back in my community organizing days, I would welcome politicians that were upset and lashed back at ordinary citizens who were requesting a basic concern, like a vacant house in the neighborhood. The more the politicians refused to listen and respect neighborhood people the easier was my role of community organizer.

At the beginning of the “Tea Party” movement I remember hearing one of the founders saying that had studied the methods of organizing from Saul Alinksy, the father of modern community organizer. His methods of organizing were confrontational and used for the ordinary people and workers. But the tactics are essentially neutral morally and can be used by anyone as they are now being used for the radical conservative right.

When politicians or officials, like those at Marquette University, ignore a concern, like Marquette’s support of the war in Afghanistan, we have two choices: to give up or to persist. The question becomes how to effectively organize and move people.

Last night in the posting, Justified Violence is the Worst, I talked about getting a response or reaction to our questions and concerns by Marquette University.

Is there anything else besides a threat to life and income that moves people to act?


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Justified Violence is the Worst - Monday, February 21, 2011

Lanza del Vasto

A friend of mine from Texas wrote a response to my posting What else we can do?. His comment was to what it would take to motivate 1000 Marquette students to march to stop the military training for war on campus. He looked at what motivates people now in Wisconsin to march against the Governor’s effort to take away collective bargaining or what moved the people of Egypt. He made me realize that appealing to morality, as we do, will not work. The question remains what else we can do.

A quote came my way today that can help us understand this dilemma. It is: “Justified” violence is the worst. Unjustified violence bursts out of a bad character or bad feelings, but it doesn’t go very far. But when people feel justified in the use of violence, it becomes systematic and leads to all the horrors of history.” ( Lanza del Vasto, 1975).

Although Marquette officials do not vocally and publicly justify training military for war on campus, their silence, even at the Center for Peacemaking, speaks volumes to students and gives the moral justification so they can ignore Marquette’s contribution to war and the teaching on campus how “to kill or be killed”.

In the 60’s Marquette had military training (ROTC) but it is different now, with training like reflexive killing, killing without conscience. However, what motivated persons to take action against ROTC presence on campus in the 60′s was the selective service system and the real threat of being drafted into the war. The military now offers incentives of educations and money to university students and has centralized its training on selective universities that freely choose to host the military on campus.

How do we break the silence of Marquette officials and make them take a stand for or against the war in Afghanistan. In 2006 we revived the 42 year resistance to military training on campus by asking the President of the university the question: “Do you think the Iraq War is Just?” We never got an answer. Now the question can be “Do you think the Afghanistan War is Just?”

We need to get an answer to these questions for “justified violence is the worst”.


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The Fire Next Time - Sunday, February 20, 2011

Egypt Supports Wisconsin

Tonight on 60 Minutes there was a story how a young fruit vendor in a small city in Tunisia had enough of the corrupt government and set himself on fire in front of the local government office in protest. They said he sparked a nonviolent revolution that is still being heard in the Middle East. Suicide, an act of desperation and hopelessness is a terrible and ugly act but even out of such a horrible act some good can come. The revolution in Tunisia spread to Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere.

Here in Wisconsin we have had our own nonviolent revolt happening over the Governor’s effort to take away the bargaining powers of state works and weaken unions. The stakes are lower in Wisconsin than in the Middle East but the base issue of human rights connects the two. This picture of an Egyptian protester that was on the Facebook page of Freedom Fighters for Equality says it all.

Repression, discrimination and denial of human rights always come back to haunt people. Easter 2007 I wrote an essay to our city and county leaders The Sweet Waters of Discrimination in Milwaukee, that speaks about the unspeakable, the deep currents of structural discrimination that flow through our city. It is not overt discrimination like that found in countries in the Middle East or in this country before the civil rights movement, yet it exists and is so prevalent that it is hard for us living in it to see and feel it.

The ugly head of discrimination showed itself today in the editorial section of the newspaper in an article entitled ”Let’s treat criminals like…criminals” by Sheriff David Clark of Milwaukee County. He shows no understanding of criminology, the study of the causes of crime, misrepresents facts about jails, prisons and treatment in this county but, worst of all, demonizes human beings who have been or are in jail, of whom are African American young male adults, in for mostly nonviolent crimes.

In the above essay on discrimination and in other essays and postings on this site, like my 2008 Essay on Violence and in many letters to local politicians I have pointed out that the country jail and the House of Corrections, both run by Sheriff David Clark treat persons with mental illnesses as ‘criminals’ and contribute to the illnesses of these people. The so called ‘isolation cell’ in the County Jail is a padded room an ill person is taken to and given nothing to do but live alone with a sickness. The denial of proper medication for people with mental illnesses in the House of Correction is cruel and unusual punishment for any human persons, especially one sick with a brain disease. Sheriff Clark presides over the largest facilities for persons with mental illnesses and brain diseases in Milwaukee County and his attitude toward treatment of inmates, as reflected in this article, makes the treatment of sick persons in his care hard to take.

Like the fruit vendor in Tunisia I have had enough. However, I am not hopeless and believe that we can overcome this discrimination and hostile treatment of human beings, whoever they be or wherever they reside. I do not know what we can do with this pervasive discrimination that Sheriff Clark represents but I know we can try to make a difference, even if we are a voice crying out in the wilderness. We must speak and act out to stop this discrimination or else it may be the fire next time.


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We Are the Drum - Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recently my friend who returned from the Pilgrimage of Peace 2011 sent me a web site from Mumbai all about Mahatma Gandhi that offers a thought from Gandhi each day sent via email. The thought for a recent day was: “The music of life is being in danger of being lost the music of the voice.”

Recently a white peace friend has been sending me stuff via Facebook about a Capita production of ”We are the Drum”, a “Celebration of the African American Journey Though Music.” Not being familiar with the group and the fact that the production was at North Division High School, in the heart of the central city, my wife was at first hesitant to go. But she said let’s go and we did.

Outside of the founder of Capita Productions, a long time music teacher at North Division and choir leader at various Catholic Churches, we were the only white persons present. The audience was small but the production was Big.

It was an outstanding show of African American Music from the time in African through slavery, country western, Gospel, Jazz, blues, Civil Rights,rock n roll to African American music of our own time. The singing and dancing of the youth and young adults was captivating and by the end, after an extensive production of recent African American recording artist, everyone was up and clapping in rhythm to the final production of “We are the Drum.”

At the end of few adult leaders urge persons in attendance to spread the word of this production so that in future productions the auditorium at North Division High School would be full. I already had thought of doing this. You can purchase tickets online or at the door of the two productions tomorrow Sunday, or at the five productions next weekend.

Peace activist in Milwaukee are almost all white. We often say we should reach out for more African American participation. A first, but important step, may be to attend this production of “We Are the Drum”. The drum is in all of us and the heart of work on peace and justice.

I said to a young boy as we leaving the auditorium as we were leaving “you are the drum”. He turned to me and said “you are the drum”. If we can quiet our voices for awhile and listen to the beat of the drum in our hearts and in this music we can all say: “We are the Drum”.


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Let It Be - Friday, February 18, 2011

Let It Be

I took a friend today to visit his 80 year old mother who lives in an assisted living center with an advanced Alzheimer, a brain disease that robs one of memory. We have been there many times before but today she looked more alert and aware. However, if you asked her any question she would always say ‘yes’.

Once, a few years back. when we had to take her to the emergency room after Church I noticed she answered all the doctors and nurses questions with a ‘yes’. When they and her son were out of the room I pointed this out to her; no matter what the question was she would say ‘yes’. She smiled and understood what I was saying. When others came back in the room and asked her questions she started to say ‘no’ to everything.

Today when she was saying ‘yes’ and I pointed this out to her she smiled but continued to say ‘yes’ to every question. When you do not understand it is easier to say yes than no.

Mother Mary said yes to the angel when she was asked to be the ‘Mother of God.’ She said ‘yes’, Let it Be. When her son was in pain and dying on the cross she probably fully realized what she had said yes to.

The struggle between labor, workers, and big business is now focused on Wisconsin. Although the governor and republicans say it is about budget, thinking people are starting to realize it is about the rights of workers to organize and bargain. Today over forty thousand persons voted with their feet and presence in Madison for rights of workers. Tomorrow the funders of the National Tea party organizations are bringing to Madison a group of people to protest the protesters. The will say yes to the Governor and big business but no to the people.

Remembering what is on my car bumper sticker “God is not a Republican…or a Democrat”, I put my money on those who say ‘yes’, let it be.


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‘Wisconsin 14′ - Thursday, February 17, 2011

People Rally in Madison

The first email I read this morning was an editorial from the Madison Capitol Times newspaper called Walker gins up ‘crisis’ to reward cronies. The point of the editorial was that there was no real budget crisis in Wisconsin that forced the Governor to attempt to quickly pass a bill taking away the bargaining rights of state unions and severely reducing their benefits and pay. The editorial points out that last month, the Governor’s first in office, he had given 150 billions of tax cuts and financial support to the very rich and the money he wants to take from state workers, 130 million, was to pay for this spending. That might be true, but I believe there was another reason behind this move: to weaken the power of state employee unions.

I was surprised how the quickly the national media picked up on this struggle. It was due to the 25, 000 people who gathered at the capital in Madison to protest this setback to rights of workers. One of the liberal networks, MSNBC, called this struggle between the workers and unions and the rich and radical Republicans ‘historical’.

The Governor announced the bill last Friday and would have had it passed today, five days later, without public discussion, in the Republican controlled legislation. However 14 Democratic senators left the state today so there is no way to force them to Capitol and thus make a quorum for the vote.

It was funny hearing them called the ‘Wisconsin 14’ and talking on TV from an undisclosed location out of State. I was a member of the Milwaukee 14 who in 1968 burned IA draft files in Milwaukee and stood around to be arrested, convicted and sent to prison. The escape from Wisconsin today of the “Wisconsin 14” State Senators was radically different from the criminal action of the Milwaukee 14 but they both have one thing in common: both groups were pushed into action by the need to avoid injustices, the selective service system drafting of young men “to kill or kill” or the citizens of Wisconsin having rights taken away without a say.

My own State Senator was one of the ‘14’. I had worked with him on a bill to have background checks for secondary sales of hand guns, a bill promoted by my friends at Mothers Against Gun Violence. The bill failed to pass the legislature but the effort certainly gave me a realistic sense of the power and money behind politics. Some say that is what the Wisconsin struggle is all about. One of the few major financial backers of the Democrats in this and other state are the unions, like the teacher’s union. If big money can crush the government unions they will have real control over politics where money speaks. So I say God Bless you the ‘Wisconsin 14’ wherever you are.


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What Else Can We Do? - Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hans and Sophie Scholl
with Cristoph Probst
of The White Rose

A friend and writer, Jim Forest recommended, a while back, a movie he had just seen, “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days.”. She was a member of group of German students called The White Rose who wrote and circulated anti-Nazi leaflets in 1942–3. She, her brother and other members of the group was captured by Nazi soldiers and quickly executed. Jim became interested in a member of The White Rose resistance group, Alexander Schmorell, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church. He wrote an article about Alexander Schmorell and the White Rose for In Communion site, the magazine of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship that he edits. You can find the article, Alexander Schmorell and the White Rose on the Featured Article web page.

Our local resistance community Breaking the Silence regularly passes out flyers condemning the teaching of war and killing at Marquette University, a Jesuit Catholic University. We have no fear for our lives, not even of being arrested, unless we pass out flyers on University property and refuse to leave when asked. For the most part we are ignored by the university and student body. A few MU students used to be part of our movement but now students pass by and when offered a flyer about the contrast of the Gospel values with Military values usually say “No Thank You” and walk on.

I make the above comparison not to compare Nazi Germany with Marquette University. There is no comparison between the two. But I wanted to show the two extremes of dealing with a message you do not want to hear. Both messages are to resist killing and militarism, At one extreme, in Nazi Germany, you met death for such a message on a flyer; on the other extreme we are just ignored for our message to Teach War No More.

As I was leaving an event last night someone asked me if I was still marching around Marquette, referring to our resistance to the military training on campus. The question caught me off guard but I found myself saying: “Sure, what else can I do.”

The students in the White Rose community risked their lives to get out their message to stop the killing; the least we can do is to march and pass out flyers at Marquette. The message of the White Rose resistance community as the message of Breaking the Silence, so far, had no success. But what else can we do?


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Any Good Stories? - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Today I was sending out links to my friend’s story of his pilgrimage to India, Gandhi, Little Man, Great Dreams. I noticed that getting to the page on my web site,, was very, very slow. One person even wrote me that she could not even get any of the three links I sent her. I wondered what was wrong. I checked some of my other pages on the web site and they were also slow. I checked some other web pages and they were not slow. Then I checked another web site that shares the same server as I do and it was very slow in coming up. I wrote to my wiki gnome and she confirmed that yes, indeed, it was the server.

Now all is well and the server is responding normally. However, when it was very slow I had two choices, to get upset or just accept it and let it be. Today I choose the later and felt much better than if I had been upset.

Tonight I went to another workshop on the ‘Paradox of Power’ and heard an intellectual presentation about “letting go and acceptance.” I thought what I had today was practical practice presented to me of ‘letting go.’ You can have all the intellectual discussion you can handle but when it comes to life it is the practice that counts and the stories that get heard.

I was so glad that Jesus talked in grounded language, stories, parables and paradoxes, in the Gospels not intellectual arguments.

As I was leaving the workshop someone, I have not seen in awhile, asked me if I was still marching around the Marquette University campus. I knew he was talking about our campaign to Teach War No More at Marquette so I answered him Yes, what else was I could do. I gave him part of the message of Salvadoran Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuria in talking about the military on Catholic Jesuit campus said, “Tell the Jesuits…..that they are committing mortal sin because they are supporting the forces of death which are killing our people.” Hopefully that was an honest direct answer without being critical of him who anyone else that remains silent in face of the teaching of killing without conscience at this Catholic Jesuit University.

I now understand that I need to talk more in parables, stories, antidotes and paradoxes, all grounded, to make my ‘opinions of truth’ clear rather than preaching and alienated persons or make it sound like I am forcing my opinion of truth on them.

This brings me back to this page, Diary of the Worm, where I intended to ground my reflections by looking deeply into small observations of daily life. To see more deeply, to hear more deeply, to feel more deeply into everyday life is my prayer and observation today. Any good stories?


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My Valentine - Monday, February 14, 2011

Gandhi of India

My valentine to all of you is the completion of Mike Frontier’s Pilgrimage of Peace 2011 which he calls “Gandhi, Little Man, and Giant Dreams”. After making a Pilgrimage of Peace in 2008–2009 I thought I had a little understand of the culture. But after reading Mike’s diary I realize how deep and diverse the ancient culture of India is.

Faced with this depth of diversity and experience of the Indian people the best way I can understand the culture of India is to continue to understand the ‘father’ and ‘mother’ of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi.

So my valentine to you is this glimpse in the India of Gandhi, as Mike walks in his footsteps.


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The Youth Will Lead - Sunday, February 13, 2011

Today a small group of us from Breaking the Silence stood outside of the Gesu Church, on the campus of Marquette University greeting those attending the 4pm ‘student’ liturgy with signs calling for Marquette University to Teach War No More. Someone from the local Catholic Worker House of Hospitality, Casa Maria, had brought along two youth. The enthusiasm and interest of these two youth was exciting to witness.

Many persons attending the liturgy, especially Marquette students, just walked by us and when offered a flyer of why we were there either ignored us or simply said ‘No Thank You’. One of the youth was verbally asking each person if they wanted a flyer. I suggested he not ask but simply hold out the flyer with a smile and let them ignore his gesture or say no.

We passed out about 100 ½ page flyers with one side giving Facts while Marquette is the only Catholic Jesuit University in the USA offering three military training schools, Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (See Inconvenient Facts and the other side with a contrast of Gospel Values vs. Military Values.

But I really did not need to give any advice to these young persons. Youth are not ‘hard of heart’ as some adults and have little fear of rejection. Yes, youth will lead us.


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Preview Night - Saturday, February 12, 2011

Two victims of Iraq War

I have been working on two new web pages for . The pages are not finished yet but tonight I would like to share a preview look with you and ask you for any edits or improvements.

The first one is a the daily diary of friend who recently made his own Pilgrimage of Peace. to India. His diary of his experience is called “Gandhi Little Man – Giant Dreams.

In response to the PoliticFact of Wisconsin articles that daily appear in our newspaper, I am developing a web page that is called Inconvenient Facts and Pictures. Warning: This page may contain facts you may not want to know.

My observation of today is that creating these two new pages is taking lots of time but seem to be worthwhile. Check the previews and let me know what you think.


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Surrendering Morality - Friday, February 11, 2011

Civil Rights March

Today the people of Egypt by standing together and by nonviolent action overthrew a government that with USA aide of two billion dollars a year had suppressed their rights for 30 years. Our government now applauds the victory of the people of Egypt that cost over 300 lives. This victory in Egypt is another victory of nonviolent power when people stick together.

The immorality of the USA wars in the Middle East in Iraq and Afghanistan has bothered many of us in this country for a long time. We protest but find our actions ignored and effectively. Here in Milwaukee we have been struggling to stop the war here at home, to close the military training schools at Marquette University, our local Jesuit Catholic University, and to demand our congressional representatives, like our local Milwaukee House representative, to not vote for more war spending.

Watching the Egyptian revolution on TV I thought if people in Egypt can overthrow the government why can’t we stop a small thing like teaching war at a local university and getting our house representative to vote no for war spending.

Remembering the civil rights nonviolent marches and the ones in India that led to independence, I thought why not a march of a 1000 persons up Wisconsin Avenue. We would start at the Federal Building in downtown Milwaukee and demand our congressional representatives say and do No More Money for War; then we would march up Wisconsin Avenue to the administration of Marquette University to demand that it Teach War No More. I spread my dream of the 1000 person march to few friends and a few thought it was possible. But I remained a doubter if it was impossible till tonight.

We watched an edition of the PBS Frontline TV show we had recorded. It was called The Wounded Platoon. It tells the story of soldiers from Fort Carson, Colorado who fought in Iraq. It started off saying that 36 members of a particular platoon had committed suicide, 18 charged with murder, attempted murder or manslaughter. However it was the next words, from a counselor for one of the veterans, that strengthen my resolve we must March, like Martin Luther King Jr. said, despite personal sacrifice. The doctor told one of the affected soldiers, “We give up part of our morality to go to war; it allows us to survive, it allows us to kill”.

Watch the video at The Wounded Platoon. Rather than surrendering our morality, join the 1000 person march.


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Around the World We Go - Thursday, February 10, 2011

Promote Swadeshi in
Everyday life

I sit here in front of the TV news watching what is happening in Egypt and praying that the people will stay nonviolent.

This morning Holland and Honduras came into my life. My friend Jim Forest living in Holland wrote that he is making a speaking tour this spring and will be in Milwaukee in early May. He has revised and expanded his biography of Dorothy Day that will be published by that time. Jim has been a friend since 1968 and the Milwaukee 14 Days. Email has kept us in close contact but it will be good to have him as a house guest for a few days.

Right after reading Jim’s email I read one from Father Roy Bourgeois of SOAWatch inviting me to be a part of a delegation going to Honduras to monitor human right abuses since the military coup last year that overthrew the democratic elected president. I felt honored by this invitation but unfortunately it is the same time as my friend Jim is visited Milwaukee.
A good part of my day was spent working on the Pilgrimage of Peace 2011 Diary of my friend who just returned from India. Working on his diary reminded me of my own Pilgrimage of Peace to the India of Gandhi a few years ago.

So Egypt, Holland, Honduras and India are on my mind. But in the spirit of Swadeshi, the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign, I need to remember that Charity starts at home and everyday look on this bigger issues of violence, there are four prayer vigils for homicide victims tomorrow morning, war, I spend some time today calling for an action Sunday to stop the Teaching of war at Marquette University. Also there were two local letters to newspapers I thought about today but did not write: one was about an article in major newspaper that continues the stigmatizing of persons with brain disease or mental illnesses and one in the local Catholic newspaper about a book by a great moral theology teacher who does not practice what he preaches.

So around the world we go but the Holy Ground we live with each day is what keeps us going.


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Military Vs. Nonviolence - Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Soldier & Camel
in Republic Parade

A friend of mine recently came back from the Pilgrimage of Peace,2011, to India. During the journey he kept a diary of his experiences. We are in the process of putting his diary on . He was in New Delhi the week the India celebrates its freedom and independence. The week ends with a celebration of the anniversary of the founding father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, assassination.

One of the major events during the week is the Republic Parade. There is great security around the parade with no cameras allowed. My friend was surprised by the great show of military force in the parade. Gandhi is known for his active resistance to violence. He struggled for the power of creative nonviolence seems in direct contradiction to the emphasis put on the military in India.

This is part of the paradox of power. It is never neutral. It can go in the negative direction of force and control, represented by military force, or in the direction of compassion and concern, represented by the love-force of creative nonviolence.

The parade present military force from the camel days to modern technology of violence. India honors Gandhi but with one-third of its budget spent for the military does not follow his way. Gandhi said about Jesus what sadly now can be said about him: Gandhi said: “Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and His teachings were nonviolent except Christians.” Now we can say: Everyone in the world knows that Gandhi and his teachings were nonviolent except the Indian government.


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Socialist Packers - Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I attended a workshop tonight on “Choosing Compassion, The Paradox of Power”. I can handle one talk or workshop a week and the one I picked this week was a good one. There was a quote from Albert Einstein at the beginning about freeing ourselves from the ‘prison’ that we are something separate from other people. He says: “Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking in human kind to survive.”

Throughout history, from John the Baptist to Gandhi to Dorothy Day have called for a change of heart, a new manner of thinking and acting to survive. The call is always for everyone to believe they are part of one human family and to treat each other as family.

In the USA the philosophy of individualism runs rampart and is at the core of our capitalistic economy. In the USA socialism, advocating public or common ownership and cooperative management of the means of production , is a bad word.

In the area of professional sports owners of teams are in regular combat with players’ organizations about how to divide up the money to individual players and owners.

In major league professional sports teams in the USA there is only one team that is a non-profit and community-owned. It is in the smallest market, about 100,000 persons of any team. That team, naturally, is the Green Bay Packers football team, now the Super Bowl winners and world champions.

In Wisconsin we are all proud to be part of the Socialist Packer family. Hear the call for a new way of thinking, America, socialism works.


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Limiting God - Monday, February 07, 2011

“I don’t fit in your box” -God

No matter what flavor of religion or no religion you may have I think you can appreciate this quote from Martin Buber:

“The people in the Bible are sinners, like ourselves, but there is one sin they do not commit, our arch-sin: they do not dare confine God to a circumscribed space or division of life, to “religion,” they do not presume to draw boundaries around God’s commandments and say to him, “Up to this point,you are sovereign, but beyond these bounds begins the sovereignty of science or society or the state.”

Yes, we human like to limit everything, put a label on it, put it in a box and if it is troublesome, marginalize and ignore it. Yes we do this to everyone, even God.

When we call for nonviolent action here at home to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, often people say what can we do, there is nothing we can do that will make a difference. Fortunately many great, known and unknown, women and men in history did have this attitude and set no limits what could be done to change the society. Many did not live to see results and some things have not changed. The power of no limits is not working for ‘results’ but as Thomas Merton says because it is the right thing to do: “Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no worth at all, if not perhaps, results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you will start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself…”

If we look at the “struggle for truth” as valuable, not the results, we would not limit Truth or God


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Being Exceptional - Sunday, February 06, 2011

Packers Beat Steelers
to be World Champions

In the world of Wisconsin sports today was big, Green Bay Packer are the World champions. They won Super Bowl XLV. Since American Football is only big in the USA, thus the winner of the Super Bowl is World Champions. Actually we call the winner of the USA World Series in Baseball World Champions and the winner of the USA NBA basketball series World Champions. The same is true for hockey, although Canada is included in that game. I guess in all major team sports except soccer, whoever wins in the USA are World Champions.

This World Champion attitude fits in well with what the president said in his State of the Union address and his interview today before the game with Fox news conservative Bill O Reilly. Recently he repeats again and again that the USA will be number one in education, science, education, manufacturing, military and anything that matters.

At one of Jim Douglas talk at Marquette one of the university students mentioned how she was somewhat taken back by this We are Number One attitude. So am I. It reminds me of a philosophy called exceptionalism, a “perception that a country, society, institution, movement, or time period is “exceptional” (i.e., unusual or extraordinary) in some way and thus does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles.” Many countries, like Germany, Imperial Japan, China, ancient Rome and Brittan have had this view of themselves.

I do not think the President or NFL football would call being “number one” or “World Champions” a form of ‘exceptionalism, but it sure seems that way to me.

Personally I believe it is a dangerous attitude that leads to tragic out comes. I remember President Bush saying the war against Iraq was “preemptive war” or President Obama calling the Afghanistan a “war of necessity.”

Sorry Vince Lombardi, the former great Green Packer coach for whom the Super Bowl trophy is named after, but I do not believe winning or being number one is everything. Winning, being number one or World Champions is good but it is not everything. Winner or loser, rich or poor, world champion or not does not make for being exceptional.


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Quotes Like Emails - Saturday, February 05, 2011

I have been blessed with lots of great quotes coming my way via email. I have devoted a number of pages to quotes from: Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Various other Quotes.

Quotes are like emails. They must be read in the present context, what they are saying to us now. Like emails we cannot recreate the voice they were spoken in. They are frozen words that, if we hear them in the present, they can make sense. Perhaps they are not heard as the author meant them to be. But good quotes are timeless glimpses deep in the present moment.

I am in process of updating my quotes. Here are some new ones and check the pages in a week or so for more.

Various Quotes.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” —Rosa Parks born Feb.4, 1913; she was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery AL.

“Today the first and perhaps the only duty of the philosopher ‘is to defend man against himself: to defend man against that’ extraordinary temptation toward inhumanity to which — almost without being aware of it — so many human beings today have yielded.”— Gabriel Marcel.

Thomas Merton


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Love Our Friends Like Enemies - Friday, February 04, 2011

“I have no trouble with my
enemies. I can take care
of my enemies in a fight.
But my friends, my goddamned
friends, they’re the ones
who keep me walking the floor
at nights!” President Harding

Have you ever felt betrayed by a friend, discriminated against by people you know, falsely accused or misrepresented, marginalized or stigmatized by friends? My experience has taught me often there is partial truth in a stigma (see Stigma Stains the Soul); often people marginalize the messenger to avoid the message; and friends sometimes take conflicts as personal attacks.

Denying or complaining about a false accusation or stigma does not work and usually reinforces it. At the same time you do not want to ignore the person, especially, a friend that is marginalizing or betraying you. Ignoring someone is a form of hate, worst than attacking someone since it fails to recognize the human dignity of a person.

Searching over the years for an answer to this dilemma, not to be defensive yet not to ignore I discovered part of the answer in the teaching of Love Your Enemies. We are taught to love our enemies even when they wrong us or insult us. So why not treat our friends the same way though we feel they are mistreating us. Actually loving your friends when they do something that hurts your feelings is, in my opinion, than loving your enemies when they do something similar.

When my two grandsons were younger and fighting and insulting each other in my presence I played a game with them. I would ask one of them to say something to hurt my feelings or insult me. They were hesitant but would do it. When they did I would put my arms around my accuser and say all kinds of loving and good things about him. They would laugh and find it silly. Then I would have them try it on each other. Being loving and affection to one who insults or speaks badly about you really diffuses the situation, much more effectively than hurling insults back.

Loving your friends as your enemy is something adults do not understand. When I first described disagreeing with a friend or respected person as loving your enemy I was misunderstood. If one disagrees or have a conflict with one who is a friend it is considered the end of the friendship until there is some reconciliation. That need not be true. If we are called to love our enemies it should be natural to love our friend like enemies.


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Charity Starts At Home - Thursday, February 03, 2011

Charity Starts At Home

My mother used to tell me “Charity starts at home”. I always understood it as an attempt not to share with others outside of the family.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about Gandhi’s principle of Swadeshi, the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign. In economic terms it is the insistence on the use of local goods made by local communities and in one’s own country, and preferably hand-made or home grown. But in charity terms it would mean care for the poor at home first over care for the poor around the world. In nonviolence terms I believe it means nonviolently striving to stop the violence at home, like Teaching War at a local university or No More War Spending by our local congressional representative.

So in light of Gandhi’s Swadeshi I need to rethink the maxim of “Charity starts at home.” Perhaps there is something to it when home is where we are at and we consider everyone a brother or sister.


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Believe in the Worms - Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Outside Worm Depository

I do not know how much I believe in the Ground Hog’s prediction today that spring will be early, but I do believe the worms outside in the worm depository are doing well. The first year I kept the worms outside in a big hill of compost I was worried that the worms would not survive. I was even worried about the worms in the Growing Power box in the sun room, but at least those worms I could check with my digging into the soil. The worms outdoors I had to wait till spring to find they lived in survived the cold and snow.

Now some years later I do not fret about the worms outside or inside. My experiences have given me faith that they are doing well.

Faith keeps us going in daily life. We believe some of what we read or hear or see or do not hear or see. Without faith there would not be much meaning in life.

Often I feel like Thomas the Apostle who missed the resurrected Jesus’ first return to the upper room where the rest were staying. He did not believe that Jesus had resurrected but when Jesus came back again he was there to see and feel the wounds of Jesus and believed. Many of us are like Doubting Thomas and need to see and feel the wounds of life to believe.

Suffering, tragedy or even a major snowfall has a way of pulling people together. When we were outside shoveling today a number of neighbors came by to assist us. I hope this same spirit of working together to overcome obstacles in the neighborhood carries over to spring when we once again may face the situation of young African American adults playing full court basketball at our local park. (See Resurrect the Rims.)

Sadly many people forget about working together when all is going well. Well I believe the worms in the yard and in the GP Box in the sun room are surviving and doing well. If we all pull together and do our job I believe all will be well.


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‘Two For’ Lessons Learned Today - Tuesday, February 01, 2011

March of a Million
People in Egypt Today

Today when I was asked to pick up medication for a friend at a hospital pharmacy and to drive another friend to the same hospital for an appointment, I thought I could get two things done for the price of one. When I was in the direct mail advertising business the strongest and most popular coupons were ones of two for one price. However, the fine print always stated that the free one was that of the lesser price.

The same two for one situation was true today at the hospital. The visit to the pharmacy took only a few minutes but waiting for my friend who had an appointment was over an hour and half. At least I got some reading in on a novel.

A greater lesson than the cost of ‘two for’ was learned today as I reflected on a lesson learned from the Egyptian uprising. I wrote a letter to friends in the peace movement expressing what I learned about nonviolent struggle and how it may apply to us here in Milwaukee. Here is edited version of the email:

When the Egyptian government pulled the police off the streets of Cairo earlier in the week some speculated that was a move to encourage looting in the streets and make people long for a return to law and order. They were not only right but it turns out that many of the looters and those encouraging violence were police.

Now the protesters on the streets check the ID of anyone entering Liberation square. With the decline of violence the power of nonviolence has gone up. Now there are talks of police going back to the streets and Israeli planes carrying crowd dispersal weapons arrived in Egypt: Rights group.

Let’s hope that is not true, but once the power of nonviolence is unleashed it cannot be stopped; only delayed, by violence, as long as people work together.

We can learn some lesson in our battle against war and for human rights here at home. If hundreds, if not thousands, would march down Wisconsin Avenue demanding that MU Teach War No More and that Rep. Gwen Moore be held accountable for her war spending votes and to say No More Money for War do you not believe that, like with the draft and civil rights issues in 1968, there would be changes?

I have this dream of nonviolent change right here in Milwaukee; all people of peace and justice working together making a difference. I think many share the dream but are discouraged that it will not work and make a difference. It may or may not but is worth trying. The MU administration and Rep. Moore are good and kind people which make it harder for us to stand up to them for what we believe and to be true to our conscience. But, like in 68 in the civil rights marches and Milwaukee 14/Anti ROTC actions which took a stand contrary to good people, do we have a choice?

Working Together, We are the Power of Nonviolence.

I learned two lessons today for the cost of one day.


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