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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.’‘

War at Home - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tragedy of War Starts at Home

After 43 years of struggling against the ROTC or teaching of war at Marquette University we finally had a brief meeting with the President of Marquette. However, when he was presented with the facts of the teachings of the Army contradicting Christian morality and the Gospel he consistently would not answer the questions we presented him. He kept saying he did not have enough information to give us a yes or no. He came in the meeting saying we did not agree and left saying we did not agree. Since when does basic the morality of putting military values over Christian moral values and conscience or teaching to kill without conscience is something a Catholic priest, president of Marquette University, a Catholic University, does not have enough knowledge.

Now we know our message has been ignored by Marquette leaders because they cannot offer a response. Some of us would not care much one way or another on these moral issues if the failure to uphold them was killing or injuring so many people throughout the world. As Father Ellucaria the Jesuit martyr in El Salvador said in 1985 about a university with ROTC: “They are killing my people.”

I know it is disturbing to hear how our silence about teaching war on campus is responsible for death and suffering of so many people around the world but what is the alternative? As I said today we have no choice but to break the silence and stop the War at Home.


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Education Revolution - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“By education I mean an all-around
drawing out of the best in a child
and man; body, mind and spirit.”
Mahatma Gandhi

Education came to mind today when I received a picture quote of a Gandhi quote. It reads: “By education I mean an all-around drawing out of the best in a child and man; body, mind and spirit.” (See larger picture quote below)

This quote struck a chord in me since advice on education I give students, if asked, is: 1) Experience is the best educator; 2) Most of what you need to know is already in you; 3) Learn how to learn;

My advice is based on my own experience. Although I have an extensive formal education most of what I had learned is from life experiences. Taking risk, making mistakes is all part of learning.

The notion that we have much knowledge in us that we need to draw out of ourselves is not new with me or even Gandhi. It is an ancient truth that we need someone to remind of us once and awhile. However, during these days it has become very difficult to do this since ‘more’ no longer means a deeper understanding but more information and more doing. We live in an age of TMI, Too Much Information and not enough understanding of what we already know. In the East they say “Listen Inside”. In the West education often means looking outside, not listening inside.

Learning how to learn does not fit into formal education’s drive to test and evaluate of what a student knows. It cannot be measured. However learning how to learn requires a holistic approach of education of “body, mind and spirit.”

An educational revolution, in my mind, is needed to break down the old structures of education, let the imagination loose and to draw out of everyone the best in “body, mind and spirit.”


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We are Brothers and Sisters - Monday, November 28, 2011

On the news the other night I saw a group of Pakistanis protesting the killing of 24 Pakistanis soldiers by the USA and Afghan military. One of the signs, in English, started with a statement like: “We are human beings too America, stop killing us.” By bombs, drones, CIA attacks the USA has killed many Pakistanis, who are considered our allies against Taliban of Afghanistan. We need Pakistan but killing them is not making many friends. A disaster and another war is brewing in Pakistan.

Disasters in nature repeat themselves over and over again with storms, floods and hurricanes. However, animals and humans learn from nature and adapt.

Disasters of war repeat in history over and over again. However, humans do not seem to learn from them. Over and over again we make the mistake of believing that violence will bring peace. History tells us that violence and war breeds only more violence and war. So we continue killing Pakistanis and call them our friends and allies.

The great figures of history of nonviolent change, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela had come to learn that the way to peace is peace and violence and war only brings more war and violence. They also realize that all men and woman are brothers and sisters and need to be treated as such. Would we kill our brothers and sisters in Pakistan? All human beings are brothers and sisters. When will we ever learn?


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A Sign of Our Times - Sunday, November 27, 2011

When I was young I remember going to a Car Show and seeing good looking girls draped over the cars. Sex was also used to sell cars in TV ads at that time as men were being targeted for car sales. Today I saw an ad for a Jeep. It was a video of popular war game with lots of killing, explorations and military might. However a Jeep vehicle was featured in the game and what the clip was selling was this car. Yes, young woman in bathing suits have been replaced by military war and violence to sell cars to men.

Militarism is so pervasive in our society that often we do not even see it. “Be All You Can Be” is not a phrase to describe being a true human and/or Christian but to be a member of the Army. President Eisenhower in the 50’s before leaving office warned us about the “military/industrial complex which after elimination of the selective service system in the 70’s has become the military/industrial/educational complex. Select universities, like Marquette University, have become the officer training bases and military high school and middle school programs grow as the new source of recruits. Interesting enough it was the military that first funded computer game businesses to develop war games.

There is another life style offered as an alternative to militarism. It is the way of nonviolence. We honor those who are symbols of nonviolence like Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi but disgrace what they believed and practiced by Teaching War and spending a good part of budget, as USA and India do, on War Spending.

We all knew car dealers were associating cars with sexy woman to sell cars. However, do we all know that car dealers use war and violence to sell cars? It is a sign of our times.


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Jesus Saves - Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the world of shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday”, today was local business day and Monday will be “Cyber Monday”. Forgotten in these three days of shopping is tomorrow, Sunday. So I have decided to call it “Jesus Saves” Sunday.

Jesus Saves day is the complete opposite of the other three shopping days. Jesus Saves Sunday calls not for purchases but for sacrifices. Jesus saves is also a free day. It does not cost any money to participate.

Last Sunday at the SOAWatch some friends and I got into a friendly discussion on the street in front of Fort Benning, Ga. of why Jesus was killed. They were arguing he was a Jewish heretic. I argued he was killed by the Romans and his crime was treason, put on the top of the cross with the words: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews.” One of my friends then asked why Jesus was killed.

I did not have a ready answer but this question has always puzzled me. The normal phrase that Jesus died for our sins makes God seem like a sadistic father, sending his son to be killed. The only sensible answer to why Jesus was killed came when I was at Loyola studying for my Masters degree in Pastoral Studies. The teacher, a very wise woman, told us God was not a sadistic father sending his son to be killed. God sent his son not to be killed but to show us the Way back to God. Jesus being true to the will of God and a person of integrity did what he had to do, give the message he had to give and for this he was killed.

Jesus saves by being true to who he is, despite suffering, sacrifice and death. Jesus saves not by dying for us but by being true to himself and willing to suffer the pain and death necessary in this Way.

So tomorrow if we go to a Worship service we can escape the way of shopping for a time and enjoy the way Jesus saves.

Now there is another story of why Jesus Saves, see below.

Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who managed to get the most out of his computer. This had been going on for days and God was tired of hearing all of the bickering. God said, “Cool it. I am going to set up a test that will run two hours and I will judge who does the better job.”

So down they sat at the keyboards and typed away. They moused away.

They did spreadsheets,
They wrote reports.
They sent faxes.
They sent out e-mail.
They sent out e-mail with attachments.
They downloaded.
They did some genealogy reports.
They made cards.
They did every known job.

But just a few minutes before the two hours were up lightening flashed across the sky. The thunder rolled and the rains came down hard. And of course the electricity went off.

Satan was upset. He fumed and fussed and he ranted and raved, all to no avail. The electricity stayed off. But after a bit the rains stopped and the electricity came back on.

Satan screamed, “I lost it all when the power went off. What am I going to do? What happened to Jesus’ work?”

Jesus just sat and smiled. Again Satan asked about the work that Jesus had done. As Jesus turned his computer back on the screen glowed and when he pushed “print,” it was all there.

“How did he do it?” Satan asked.

God smiled and said, “Jesus Saves.”


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Rare Herb - Friday, November 25, 2011

“Love is a rare herb that makes
a friend even of a sworn enemy and
this herb grows out of non-violence.”

When I started this web site in nearly 6 years ago I wrote that my hope was that this web page “brings together two forces I have experienced in my life: the wonder and power of creation, and the wonder and power of the Spirit, or creative nonviolence.” Originally called ‘NonviolentWorm’, after my pilgrimage to India, I changed the name to ‘Nonviolentcow’, the cow being a more sacred symbol of growing and nature. I have tried over the years to bring together the left side of my web page, “growing power” and the right side “Nonviolence”, especially in this posting the Diary of the Worm.

Today I was sent a picture quote from India that truly brings together growing power and nonviolence. It is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that says “Love is a rare herb that makes a friend even of a sworn enemy and this herb grows out of non-violence.” You can find the picture quote on the side and below in a larger version.

Since I have been cooking herbs have placed a larger and larger role in my dishes. The quote calls “love a rare herb”. An herb adds spice and taste to any food dish. This ‘rare herb’ of love can make a friend even of a sworn enemy. The foundation or earth of this herb grows out of non-violence. Non-violence has many definitions; one of my favorites is from Judith Brown in her book on Gandhi. She says his Satyagraha or creative nonviolence struggle is “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.”

A rare herb adds a special taste to the food or brings out a special taste. Ordinary food with an herb can be extraordinary. Love that grows out of nonviolence that makes a friend even of a sworn enemy is extraordinary love. It is love that grows out of sacrifice and suffering. St. Ignatius of Loyola in the Spiritual Exercises in hisse prayer (#98) in the second week, asks us to pray to the “Eternal Lord and King” for the “desire to be with you in accepting all wrongs and all rejections and all poverty.” Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from the Birmingham jail, talks about how “disciplined nonviolence totally confused the rulers of the South. They did not know what to do. When they finally reached for clubs, dogs and guns, they found the world was watching, and then the power of nonviolent protest became manifest.”

Love is all around us. The rare herb of love grows out of the self sacrifice and suffering of love. In my gardens I grow many herbs, mint, parsley, basil and oregano. In my life I need to grow one herb, the rare herb of love that comes from the practice of nonviolence. This rare herb brings together the power of nonviolence and growing power.


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Thanks Giving - Thursday, November 24, 2011

In last night’s posting I talked about an “attitude of gratitude” and today I received from a friend in Holland, who is a writer, a collection of quotes from writers about gratitude. He received the quotes form the Writer’s Almanac by Garrison Keillor. On Thanksgiving I would like to share these words with you.

Writers reflect on gratitude

It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who suggested, “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

In the book On Gratitude, published in 2010, a number of writers take up Emerson’s charge, listing some of the specific things that helped them in their writing career — things for which they are grateful.

Kurt Vonnegut: “I’ve said it before: I write in the voice of a child. That makes me readable in high school. Simple sentences have always served me well. And I don’t use semicolons. It’s hard to read anyway, especially for high school kids. Also, I avoid irony. I don’t like people saying one thing and meaning the other. Simplicity and sincerity, two things I am grateful for.”

John Updike: “I’m not a movie star or a rock star. I maybe get two or three letters a week out of the blue, for some reason, and as I’m an old guy now, most of the letters are kindly. They do keep you going. This is an unsponsored job. I don’t get paid without readers. So I appreciate that enduring fan base. It does keep me going. And for someone to take the time to say they like me. That’s a blessing.”

Joyce Carol Oates: “I was only about eight years old when I first read Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, and when we’re very, very young almost anything that comes into our lives that’s special or unique or profound can have the effect of changing us … I virtually memorized most of Alice … That blend of the surreal and the nightmare of the quotidian have always stayed with me. My sense of reality has been conditioned by that book, certainly, and I am grateful for it.”

Jonathan Safran Foer: “I’m grateful for anything that reminds me of what’s possible in this life. Books can do that. Films can do that. Music can do that. School can do that. It’s so easy to allow one day to simply follow into the next, but every once in a while we encounter something that shows us that anything is possible, that dramatic change is possible, that something new can be made, that laughter can be shared.”


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Attitude of Gratitude - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Feeding program of
What If Foundation

Thanksgiving reminds me of a phrase I heard awhile back “Attitude of Gratitude.” On some bright sunny days when I am working in the gardens it is easy to feel ‘gratitude’. When I was in a situation of suffering and poverty, like Haiti, gratitude seems so remote. But often the people experiencing the poverty are full of gratitude for what little they have.

I remember the gratitude in the faces of the children at a local food program at the What If Foundation in Haiti. The What If Foundation was formed in 2000 by an American volunteer in Haiti and an Haitian priest who have a vision of a program to feed the children in his community. Now the foundation feeds about a thousand children each day with a large bowl of a healthy food.

The children are full of gratitude for the meal. While waiting for the food, a large bowl of rice and beans the day we were present, the children saw us ‘white folks’ with our digital cameras. They all wanted us to notice them and maybe take a picture and show it to them. It was a joy being with them and to feel the gratitude they expressed.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and most children and adults in this country will sit down for a large meal of turkey and all the fixings. We will say our thanks and eat as much as we can. However, our attitude of gratitude seems so much less than that of the children of Haiti.


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A Choice - Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It is a few days before Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season is in full gear. Some stores are opening Thursday night, Thanksgiving, for the big Black Friday sales. People are starting to camp out in front of stores waiting for the big sales. I can understand how soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan or coming from Haiti or Sierra Leone feel like aliens coming home to USA.

I feel I have a foot in the world struggling for survival and a leg in the waste and wealth of many Americans. Which way to go, embrace and be in solidarity with those who struggle or take the easy way out and just go with the flow of money and things?

I am too tired for such intellectual thoughts and a choice. I am going to bed.


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Ears to Hear - Monday, November 21, 2011

SOAWatch marches on Fort Benning.

Last night I came back from 76 degree weather in Columbus to 36 degree weather in Milwaukee. I came home from a nonviolent resistance to the School of Americas (SOA), training center for soldiers from Latin America who are trained to torture and kill fellow human beings, to a attending tonight a pop rock concert with my wife’s favorite musician.

As each name is sung of those who died at the hands of military trained at the School of Americas, sometimes call School of Assassins, everyone lifts a cross with the name of someone killed by graduates of SOA. The crosses are placed on the fences of Fort Benning.

At the pop concert tonight the crowd was largely white woman of all ages, grandmas to teens. They live in another world than the women of Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador or Columbia. Men and women, some victims of military trained at SOA, were around that weekend to tell us what is happening in the countries controlled by the USA. Hearing the words of those suffering can be hard, seeing the repression of humans in a movie is difficult.

I have a hard time hearing the lyrics of pop rock songs. The hard drum beats are too much for me. The modern pop rock is alien to me. I can easily hear the words of those living and suffering in Latin America. I can sense their pain and feel solidarity with them. The concert I can attend and walk away from. The pain and suffering I saw in Haiti stays with me 24/7.

Many America people are aware of pop rock music stars, few are aware of the terrorist training center, SOA, at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia.

We hear what is easy, like a pop rock concert, and are deaf to what is hard, suffering and killing of persons in Latin America. We see what they want to see, the bright lights of entertainment and are blind to fate of human beings who are poor and in need.

I now better understand why Jesus said in the Gospel after giving and acting his message: “Let those who have ears to hear, hear and eyes to see, see.


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This Is What Revolution Looks Like - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I will spend a few days joining thousands of persons from all over the Americas trying to close SOA, School of the Americas. The School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Over the year graduates of SOA have been responsible for the killing and torture of countless civilians in Latin America while carrying out USA foreign policy in the region. A few of the human rights activist I met in my journey in Haiti will be present. (Haiti, Return to Slavery or Freedom).

So tonight for my last posting till Monday I present you with a article related to the struggle to Close SOA by Chris Hedges called: This is What Revolution Looks Like. Chris, from long experience had a very dark view of the future, the decline of the empire. However, with the Occupy Movement he sees hope for the USA. In Solidarity, Bob


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Alien In One’s Own Country - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Homeless soldier

The recall of the Governor of Wisconsin has begun. Many are excited but will over a half million sign the recall petition in 60 days? And if there is a recall election who will run against him? How much will the recall election and new election cost?

In a recent Time Magazine there is an article called “The Other 1%”. It talks about how soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan feel like an alien. The soldiers say that it is impossible to tell that we are a nation at war and no one wants to hear what the war is really like. One says: “There are no bond drives. There are no food drives or rubber drives. It’s hard not to think of my war as a bizarre camping trip that no one else went on.”

I can relate to these returning soldiers feelings of alienation. They hear talk about no tax hikes but increased war spending; they see Republican candidates debate themselves on issues not related to what they fought for; they see the recall movement and hear the news about sex scandals; they find a type of ‘reflexive’ thanking and honoring the troops but little understanding of how they were asked to put their conscience aside and “kill or be killed.”

With drones, mercenaries and removing the hell of war from our sight and minds, we have made war so alien to our minds and hearts. Soldiers returning from war face this world where greed and competition thrive, people get excited by recall efforts, where more and more are imprisoned and are homeless and neglected. They watch TV talk show like I am doing now where young men who never served in the military talk and talk about the future of Iraq.

When I see so much excitement about recall election and lack of interest in the militarization of our country and the separation of reality of war from our daily lives, I too feel like an “alien” in my country.


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Health Care For Profit - Monday, November 14, 2011

I went into a clinic at a hospital today for what I thought was going to be a minor surgical procedure only to find it was an appointment with a surgeon. When I first found out there would be no surgery today, as I was led to believe by my doctor, I was upset. But after seeing the surgeon and finding out surgery was probably not necessary I was glad. It is probably best to prepare for the worst and find the best.

The organization that houses my psychiatrist and therapist announced they will no longer accept the insurance we have through my wife’s employer. The insurance company forced the company to accept lower and lower rates till they finally said no. I have known my therapist for over 12 years and she knows my wife and had known my deceased son.

From my viewpoint being friends with a number of poor persons health care has got worst since the health care reform. I heard today that the Supreme Count would be hearing a case in which the health care companies want to overthrow the health care reform. If the Health Care is kept or overthrown the health care insurance companies will profit. Like other things in politics it seems like it does not matter if Republicans or Democrats get their way we the people are the looser and corporations are the winners.

When the stock market goes up the rich get richer; when it goes down the rich get richer. With health care reform the insurance companies make more; without health care reform the insurance companies make more. We have the most expensive health care system in the world but one of the least effective systems. Health Care in the USA is for profit not for health.


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24 Hours of Life - Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mud Pit with 24 hours to go?

A friend who wants to be a writer proposed an idea for a novel when everyone has 24 hours to live. My friend lives in a very poor country where death is always present. But I have met youth and homicide vigils in the central city who feel their lives can end at anytime. When a person knows he or she has only 24 hours to live the perspective on life changes. This scenario does not usually happen to persons like us who are healthy and aware, but if he did, what would we do?

As I have reported many times in these postings I have been living with a sense of death for the last year or so. But knowing for certain that I had 24 hours to live would be different. Like a person on death row who is to be executed the next day I probably would spend the time with family and friends. When the future is stripped away relationships shine.

When we know we will die possessions do not mean much. “What does it matter if one gains the whole world and loose one’s soul?” Relationships with God, humans and nature speaks to the soul and thus matter with 24 hours of life on earth to go.


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No Excuses - Saturday, November 12, 2011

Excuse Me!

I have been putting off cleaning up the garden and putting things away like the vertical planters. The last three days of rainy and cold weather gave me an excuse to let it go. But there were no excuses today since the weather were mild and sunny.

Usually what I put off doing is something that is unpleasant like cleaning my office. There are always excuses for not doing something; there is always something else to do. But eventually excuses run out or seem meaningless.

However, when we put the excuses aside and do something we know we should do there is a feeling of satisfaction.

The same goes for making mistakes. In making mistakes I often fail to learn from them and make them over and over again until I slowly learn, usually the hard way.

In nature there are no excuses and no mistakes, except human made. As one of the picture quotes from Joseph Campbell says: “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the university, to match your nature with Nature.” (See Below) If we could do that there would be no need for excuses and no mistakes. However, till the end of world when human life and Nature become one we will make mistakes and excuses. No excuses and no mistakes is a good goal but in the meanwhile we can be like nature by living fully in the moment.


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Lucky Day - Friday, November 11, 2011

Today, 11/11/11, is supposed to be a lucky day. I felt lucky and happy that the sun finally showed up. Each day can be a lucky day if we make it so. Feeling lucky is a matter of perspective. I feel lucky and blessed all the time when I am present to the real world and not caught up in myself. Not being the center of the universe can be tough but it is freeing.

This feeling of death that I have been walking around with the last year can be called a curse. I prefer to look at it as a blessing. When one feels death is imminent, priorities change and the bigger picture comes to focus.

Now when I see a silent tribute to fallen soldiers in Afghanistan, as I did tonight at the end of PBS TV news, I feel the lost of each person flashed on the screen. I feel the blame and shame we all need to take for these killings.
I especially feel the failure of institutions, corporations and government that keep silent, like Marquette, Penn State and the Catholic Church did on sexual scandals. We need to speak the truth to the power of these institutions like Marquette that preach morality but continue to teach war and killing and immoral values.

Someone once asked me why I was always so angry. I was because when see hypocrisy preaching not being practice I get upset. However, over the years I, hopefully, have learned to change my anger into a feeling of darkness and death that I can live and see through to the other end of light and hope.

So what may be a negative feeling, like death, can be a lucky one if we can change it to be positive and see it showing us the light on the other end of the darkness. Every day can be 11/11/11, a lucky day.


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Light In Dark - Thursday, November 10, 2011

Siesta Beach Sunset 2011

Without the sun in the sky the last few days the fire in me has been low. Being in tuned with nature has its ups and downs. Dreary, cold and rainy weather is a downer for my spirits. An ideological conflict on a peace issue with a good friend does not help either.

Out of this dark came a note from a friend I made in Haiti. He runs a peace program for youth in Cite Soleil, an extremely impoverished and densely populated community located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. Although he has done well as translator he still returns to Cite Soleil to work with the youth. There is no ideological issue with this friend, who is grounded in the realities of teaching peace to youth, who live in one of the poorest communities in the world. His smile and words lifted by spirits. (More on Haiti experience at Haiti, Return to Slavery or Freedom.

With this rain and darkness the last three days I have been feeling extremely tired and struggling, perhaps like the still blooming rose bush in my rain garden in front of the house.

Today is my wife’s birthday. She is the joy of my life and keeps me going when I am down and grounded when I am up.

Today I drove a friend, with a brain disease, to see his mother in a home who suffers from another brain disease, Alzheimer’s. His mother cannot speak much and answers all questions with a yes. However, she has a smile for us and we can still make her smile. I do not know how much she remembers me or even her son, but I do know her smile lights up her face and our spirits.

I guess what I am saying is that even in dark and dreary times there is always something to light up our spirits and keep us going.


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Risk Brings Peace - Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Students in Georgia protest
new immigration law

Yesterday when we took a small risk by occupying the President of Marquette University’s office till he would meet with us, I felt peaceful. Protest and demonstrations for what we believe bring some peace but not as much as taking some risk. All the talk and information about what is right and wrong with our world leaves me tired and depressed. But taking a risk for change lifts me up.

There are a lot of sayings like “Actions speaks louder than Words” but there is so much to living the change you want to see in others. All my heroes in life Thomas Merton, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Gandhi were risk takers.

A friend’s high school son is thinking of joining the Army because of the adventure it offers him. I looked around for other programs, outside of the military, that would offer high school youth a sense of adventure and actually pay them for it and offer them educational opportunities. Except programs for the very wealthy I could not find anything. Young people are ‘risk takers’ but only the military appears to this sense of adventure.

I remember back in 1968 when I was young and taking the risk of the Milwaukee 14 action to destroy 1A selective service files. People would ask me if I was scared and nervous taking such action and I would have to say no. I felt a great calm during and after taking this risk and action.

I find my everyday life moving in the direction of ordinary chores, like cooking meals, driving a friend or grocery shopping; reflection, silence and writing; and taking some risk. Risk brings peace.


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Small Risk Small Result - Tuesday, November 08, 2011

One of the things that excite me about the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has become international is that the emphasis is not about the electoral process or even protesting but taking nonviolent action, like strikes or occupying streets and parks, that cannot be ignored. As many, like the historian Howard Zinn pointed out, true change in this country only happens with direct nonviolent action, often involving Civil Disobedience. The Civil Rights movement was a good example of this lesson.

We had a small example of this today in our movement for Marquette University To Stop Teaching War. Since 1968 we have protested, sent petitions, wrote letters and emails, marched, did street theater all in our attempt to have MU stop teaching killing on campus. During recent years we have been ignored. Even when we had an hour of prayer each week during Lent in the lobby of the library we were told to move and we were trespassing but the University did nothing about.

Today was the birthday of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. She is known for practicing the works of mercy but also for doing the works of resistance. She sincerely believed that no Catholic University should have military training on campus. She died in 1980. It is ironic that the only Jesuit Catholic University in the country that hosts three departments of military training also now host the Dorothy Day and Catholic Worker archives.

So what better way to celebrate Dorothy Day’s birthday but to hold a birthday party calling on Marquette University to honor Dorothy Day by ending military training on campus. However, a celebration outside of the administration building could be ignored. So a few persons went up to the president’s office and requested to talk with the President. His assistant said he was out of the country and it was impossible to schedule an appointment with him. So they stayed and eventually the security officers were called and when it seemed like the two persons would not leave willingly suddenly the assistance decided there could be a brief meeting with the President. The two were peacefully escorted out of the office by the security.

This was a small nonviolent action but one that could not be ignored. With an appointment the individuals were going to stay. The results were small; a brief appointment with the President but the risk was small. Without a small risk, however, there would have been no small result.


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T M I Too Much Information - Monday, November 07, 2011

A Meek Inheritance
by Peter Graf

On the way back from a doctor’s appointment I dropped by the local Sears store to purchase a new garage door clicker for our car. I found the correct one and, even though I thought it was overpriced, I decided to purchase it. It was on my wife’s list of “to do” for me this week. The tough part came when I came to pay for it. First I was asked if I wanted to save lots of money by getting a Sear’s credit card. I am a firm believer in using only one credit card so I said no. Then I was asked if I wanted to join the points club, which had no fee. I brushed it off by saying my wife already was a member. The clerk then asked me for my home phone number and I gave it to her. Yes, we already were in the computer. Finally we got to paying for it. But on the credit card machine was a choice to submit my email address to Sears or not. I chose no and finally was allowed to pay for this overpriced item.

As I started to leave the store I remembered that I needed a replacement battery for one of the phones. I was directed to another department when I did find the proper battery. I felt successful until I came to pay for it. Yes, you guess it I had to go through the whole process of denying deals, credit cards and information all over again. I think Sears will be joining my list of stores, like Wal-Mart, to avoid at all cost.

In this “age of information”, information becomes a valuable product which can be purchased and sold. It is a scary thought that someone out there in cyberspace there is detailed information on each one of us. Privacy is something of the past.

We are partly to blame since many of us seek out more and more information on more and more stuff. We seem to suffer from a terrible case of TMI, Too Much Information.


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Blessed Are Waiting - Sunday, November 06, 2011

In today’s Gospel at our Sunday liturgy Jesus tells a parable, word picture story, about a bunch of virgins waiting for the bridegroom. I do not know the cultural context of this parable but I do know that the virgins that came prepared with enough oil for lanterns got into the wedding feast and the virgins not prepared where left out when they went to get some oil for lanterns.

Preparing to wait takes some thought and patience. When I drive someone to a medical appointment I always try to have reading and writing materials with me. Sometimes, when need be, I just quiet my mind and wait.

Waiting can be frustrating or rewarding depending how you wait. Waiting for a change, like Marquette a Catholic University, not teaching War could be frustrating if you were expecting a quite change. But if results are not the purpose of your activity and waiting and doing the right thing is, waiting can be rewarding.

Often when we explore the silence of waiting we found what we are waiting for.
A long time ago one of my greatest teachers that I had to wait to talk with, asked me if I knew how to wait. I had just learned the power of the Jesus Prayer while waiting and he was impressed when I said yes.

Waiting is an active act not passive when you persistently wait with love and respect. If what you are waiting for is right and good for you, I believe, you eventually will find it.

In the nonviolent circles of Mothers Against God Violence I heard this saying: “We are the ones we are waiting for.”

“Blessed are those who wait for they shall find what they are waiting for.”


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Small and Big Picture - Saturday, November 05, 2011

Today at the Call To Action conference I heard Marcus Borg Keynote address on “Christians in a Time of Empire: Then and Now”. He compared the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament Christian scriptures to were we are in this world today. It was frightening how the empire of the USA today mirrored some of the empires of the scriptures and was completely the opposite of the ‘Kingdom of God’ that Jesus proclaimed. Looking at the bigger picture we are certain our empire on the decline. Looking at the bigger picture the future looks bleak.

Last night I watched the first episode of the Charlie Rose Brain Series II. The human brain is small but one of the most complicated wonders of nature. The first series was about how the brain operates and this second series will be on the brain and disorders. These series give a solid basis to state that all mental health and addiction issues can be traced to physical changes in the brain. The science of neuroscience, study of brain and nervous system, has opened up many mysteries of human life and has so much more to go. Looking at the very small picture the future is full of hope and promise.

Perhaps to obtain the bigger picture, kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, we need to look at the small picture, the mystery of the human brain. Many of my heroes like Gandhi and Dorothy Day state that to change the world we must first change ourselves. Perhaps starting with the smaller picture of the brain is a way to obtain the bigger picture of the Kingdom of God. Looking inward we can discover the universe.


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Darkness To Action - Friday, November 04, 2011

Our message today, yesterday
and tomorrow

We are back with more of the “same old, same old” but it is fresh. Today a group of us marched from the Frontier Center, where the Call To Action, conference is being held to 12th and Wisconsin, the Marquette Administration building and across the street from the landmark Gesu Church. Call to Action is a movement of Catholics working together for justice and equality in the Church and society and this year’s theme was “Living the Gospel of Love.”

The message of our march up Wisconsin Avenue, the main street of Milwaukee, was the same: “Marquette, Be Faithful to the Gospel, Stop Hosing Military Training” on campus. The reaction was the same: we were ignored by faculty, staff and most students. There is a joy in the walk and afterwards feeling a little disappointment in the lack of results. But as Thomas Merton said we should not take political actions for results but because it is the right thing to do.” What is the alternative: Join the masses who feel hopeless and frustrated with the lack of any real democracy?

If we are awake and alive we cannot feel sad that we are not achieving results. Today I heard about the US drone raids kill over 120 in 2 days. I felt sad and outraged at our congresspersons, President and all of us who allowed this terrible killing of human life to happen. But then I thought of our efforts last summer to make people aware of “Killer Drones” and our march today to stop military training on this one Catholic campus. Hopefully soon we will be able to take nonviolent action that cannot be ignored.

I also thought of last week when I was in Florida with my wife. The sun and water was great but when I did hear some news like Israel using ‘killer drones’ one Palestinians I was upset but had no action to turn to. It was deeper darkness that I wrote about in a few poems below.

So we can feel sad about world events but have hope we can change by our nonviolent actions, we can stay asleep in life or feel the pain with nowhere to turn. I will take the darkness that moves one to act. Read More for Poems


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