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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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Which Two of Three? - Saturday, March 31, 2012

Three children kill by US Drone
Which two of the three would
you choose?

In making our home visits for our St. Vincent De Paul conference we are supposed to limit our vouchers for people in need to two large items, like a used refrigerator, used stove and beds. Limits are due to our lack of funds to serve people. However, often persons are in need of three major items like the lady this morning that needed a refrigerator, stove and a full size bed for two of her children. We could have told her to call us back in six months or just give her all three major items, which we did. A month or so ago I had a similar experience where a woman just go out of homeless shelter, had a house but needed to have a refrigerator, stove and beds to get her three children back. Again I erred on the side of giving her more than we could afford.

Having to choose two of the three, refrigerator to store food, stove to cook food or bed to sleep on is not a choice that should have to be made by a mother with children who is struggling to survive.

This two of the three choices reminds me of common breakfast in restaurants called a 2 X 2 X 2. It usually consists of two eggs, two breakfast sausages and two pancakes. What would we think if we ordered a 2 X 2 X 2 breakfast and the waitress said we needed to pick two of the three? I made my wife breakfast this morning of 2 eggs and 2 sausages (she only ordered one). Tomorrow I said she could cook me a similar breakfast and only give me a choice of two of a 2 X 2 X 2 breakfast.

I know the comparisons of picking two of three are silly. But as 50% of the people in the USA are now poor or ‘near poor’ these kinds of choices are being made on a daily basis by many. Some of us to not need to worry about making a choice of two major items but many do or wish they had such a choice. What kind of world do we live in when our President makes a choice to send a five million dollar killer drone, unmanned plane, to a country that we are not even at war with to kill suspicious enemies who may turn out to be innocent children? What two of the three would you choose?


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Flowers are to Nature What the Brain is to the Divine - Friday, March 30, 2012

The first flowers of spring to appear in the gardens around my house are daffodils. They have been around for a few weeks and will gradually give way to the tulips and other flowers coming up. I have taken some daffodils from the gardens and put them in a vase on the kitchen table. My hope is to keep fresh flowers from the gardens in the vase from March through October.

Flowers are a wonderful reminder of the beauty of life. Many of the flowers in our gardens are perennials; they come up in spring, summer and fall and die in the winter only to rise again the next year. In growing flowers we know what soil nutrients and environmental conditions that will enhance growth and those that will hurt growth.

Flowers are a simple form of the beauty and wonder of creation compared to the beauty and wonder of the brain, the most complicated and intricate form of creation. The brain is more complicated and intricate than the whole universe. Thus we understand more about the universe than we do of the brain. As we understand the brain more we can treat and cure many disorders and enhance our human qualities.

When we look out at the flowers in the gardens, we see the wonders of nature. When we discover the wonders of the brain we catch a glimpse of God. Flowers are to nature what the brain is to the Divine.


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Do What They Do! - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cup for those who do not do
what they say

I went to a meeting tonight, something I try to avoid. As usual with these meetings it was good, two good presentations and good questions and discussions. My problem is that the people at the meeting were in all agreement on changes but almost all the people that need to change were not present. And no matter what was said the staff, who were present but did not speak and who are there to serve the members will make the decision. I pray that all the talk tonight was not in vain and there will be a change but am afraid, like other meetings it will be all talk and no action. The problem tonight is the concern tonight was how to more effectively serve the people in need in our city with home visits of St. Vincent De Paul. We need a new structure for home visits so we can do what we should be doing.

As the neighborhoods on the North central side of Milwaukee became more segregated and poorer Catholic churches were closed. In the 60’s we had 17 Catholic Churches in this area and now there are only three. My own Catholic church, which had been a merger of three Churches, was closed and the property is being sold. The Church was started in 1897 and once was the largest Catholic Church, with nine masses on Sunday, in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. All the meetings and discussion on how to save the church did not matter. The decision was made from the top and the church was closed.

In the St. Vincent De Paul Society and in the Catholic Church as well as in our government we talk and talk about the people being the Society, Church, or government. We say “we are the Church” or “the people of God, or “government for the people, by the people and with the people.

It all makes for good talk but when all people do is give money or vote it is meaningless. A true investment in a group, Church or government only comes when we give of ourselves and make a human investment in the work.

Young people are eager to serve the poor which is a good instinct to be nourished. So what do we do but send them on ‘mission’ trips to Latin America or to another city in the USA for a week or two or have them do some fundraising. But what about the poor and oppressed right here in our own city?
After the meeting I was talking with one of the two members of St. Vincent De Paul from a wealthy church. I had made a home visit very near his Church recently and asked him if would have made the home visit if the central staff had called on his conference. Although his conference only has four elderly persons he said yes. However, when I mentioned this to a central staff person who was at the meeting she said No, his conference was not accepting home visits.

The elderly man and I were talking about how young people wanted to serve and often went to foreign countries to do so. We both believe the energy of these young adults should be first directed to the needs of the poor in our own city. He told me the story of how is Grandma would also tell her grandchildren that “Charity begins at Home.” I said my mom said the same things and so did Mahatma Gandhi in India. Charity or showing love and respect is not about words but about deeds. Young people instinctively understand this and usually practice what adults do not what they say. Adults mostly forget this norm and expect young person’s to do what they say not what they do. I pray for the St. Vincent De Paul Society, the Catholic Church and the government that they do what they say so young people can do what they do.


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Do Not Forget About Mary - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Michael reminds us about Mary
at the Prayer Hour today

This afternoon at our weekly vigil at Marquette University praying for it to Stop Teaching War one of group decided to sit in the background holding up a picture of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the Mother of God. Mary has always played a large role in some Christian faiths but, in the Catholic Church in recent times, has taken a backseat for many. I always considered this unusual since the role of women in the Church has been a real concern and some are pushing for the equality of women by their ordination as Catholic priests.

Tonight I went to funeral service for the 94 year old mother of a Catholic Worker friend. One of the Gospel readings was the Magnificant prayer of Mary. (Luke 1: 48–55) In these words of Mary in response to a greeting from her cousin Elizabeth who senses she is pregnant with “our Lord’, she proclaims the glory of God for all God did for her and how God blesses the poor, the humble and the downtrodden. “God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.” This message was a foreshadowing of the message of her son Jesus, thirty years later—God’s love for the poor and oppressed.

In our nonviolent actions to stop the teaching of war and killing in the ROTC programs at Marquette we sometimes lose hope and believ we are trying to do something that is impossible. This may be true in the short run but in the long run, if we are persistent in our belief, I think that with the truth of our message and with the help of God for the weak, we will succeed. In fact many colleges and universities in the USA have dropped ROTC programs since the end of the war in Vietnam and the Selective Service system. Marquette is one of 23 Catholic Universities left that have ROTC programs on campuses.

If we are full of grace, like Mary and truly believe, the glory of God will prevail and the military presence at Marquette will be overcome. If we do not forget about Mary God can do wondrous things with the lowly and we will overcome.

Mary’s song or Magnificant is below.


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Repetition Teaches But Does Not Make Reality - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

“The use of realistic wireless weapons
reinforces reflexive fire, muzzle
control, reloading, and other critical
weapon muscle memory skills.”

The Virtual Interactive Combat
Environment (VICE)Training Equipment

There is an old saying that if you say something over and over again people will believe its true. Recently the media has been saying that the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is back at Harvard and many other universities since the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” law was reversed. This is simply not true. If you use the Army or Navy/Marines locator to find ROTC programs in Massachusetts you will not find one at Harvard. If you put in the name of the school Harvard you will come up with Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT). If you tap on the name Harvard below MIT you will be directed to MIT ROTC. If you Google Harvard ROTC Army you will be sent back to MIT ROTC program. In the 70’s – 90’s the Department of Defense radically changed its ROTC programs with only select voluntarily schools hosting ROTC.
In the five county areas, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha, around here there is Only One Universities with any ROTC programs on campus. This University has three ROTC programs on campus and is Marquette University. Harvard has no ROTC programs on Campus.

Both sides, pro and anti ROTC, seem to have difficulty accepting this reality of ROTC and the Department of Defense encourages the myth since it gives more prestige and creditability to military programs that are seriously flawed academically, ethically and morally. But the truth is that on the Army ROTC locator web site it says “Many universities and colleges in the country offer an Army ROTC curriculum. Search ROTC programs and contact that school’s Military Science department for more information on their particular program.” On the Navy/Marines locator site there is a list of Navy Reserved Officer Training Corps Programs in each state. In Massachusetts you will not find Harvard, despite all the hype in media about it returning to Harvard and in Wisconsin you will find only two schools in Wisconsin with NROTC programs, Marquette and University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Now I am being repetitive complaining how repeating something, false or true, fact or not, misinformed or informed does not make it so. Repetition is a teaching method but it has little to do with reality.


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We are the Church and Government - Monday, March 26, 2012

“The rich cannot accumulate
wealth without the co-operation of
the poor in society.”
M.K. Gandhi

Two quotes in today’s newspaper struck me as speaking much about our times. One was from President Obama in South Korea warning North Korea “to scrap its plans to launch a satellite next month”. He said: “They need to understand that bad behavior will not be rewarded”. The other quote was from factory owner in Mexico about Pope Benedict XVI who is visiting. He said: “We pray for him to help us, that there is no more violence in the country.”

What these two quotes had in common, in my mind, was that they were both talking out of perspective of a hierarchical structure. The president of the largest military and leader of the ‘Free World’ was telling North Korea that their behavior was bad because he did not want them to have a missile that could launch a satellite and also a bomb. It is like him telling Iran recently that he (we) would do anything, even starting a war, to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. He was saying that mainly for the sake of Israel that has nuclear weapons and missiles, a country we give eight million dollars a day in military aide. Simply said, he or we are the ‘deciders’ of good and bad behavior for other countries.

The owner of the factory was talking from the bottom end of the hierarchical structure. He was looking for the Pope, a top of the hierarchical structure in the Catholic Church, for help in stopping the violence in his own country of Mexico. Those on top of the hierarchy look down and those on the bottom look up.

These attitudes, one from the top and one from the bottom, expressed in these quotes violates many of the key principles and values of Democracy and the Catholic faith. Democracy teaches us that all persons are equal and we need to creatively communicate and dialog with others that have different views not threaten or bully them into submission. The Catholic faith teaches all persons, in the eyes of God, have dignity and need to be respected, be they in prison or leaders, poor or rich, woman or man. We are told in the Catholic Church that the Church is the “people of God”.

An example of a non-hierarchical way of looking at life came today in a report from El Salvador, which has suffered tremendous homicides due to gang violence. The FMLN, the revolutionary party, President had engaged the Catholic Church to help mediate a peace between the two largest gangs, one which has its origins in California. A truce had been reached and hopes are that homicides will go down. The President and Catholic Church were peacemakers, not dictators of right or wrong behavior and not doing it for the gangs. For me this is the role of government and Catholic Church, not to threaten people or do something for people, but as peacemakers, mediators and servants of the people.

One can only hope, pray and work for hierarchical structures, be they in government or in Church are crushed. That will only happen when we the people wake up to see we are the Church and government is for and of the people


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ROTC: Marquette Teaches Killing, Harvard Does Not - Sunday, March 25, 2012

Harvard allows Navy ROTC facility
on campus

Whenever I spend a considerable time writing an article I tend to use that article for the day’s posting on, the Diary of the Worm. Today is no exception. I spent my writing time on an article called ROTC: Marquette Teaches Killing, Harvard Does Not!. On the web the article is only in draft form but I did send it out in email form to large group of people. I wrote in response to an article appearing in the local newspaper last week. However, the article is one more chance to communicate the message that Marquette is doing more than having a ROTC program in its operating a military base on campus.

I know this is a message that many do not want to hear but unless it can be shown that our conscience is misinformed on this question, our conscience makes us speak out.


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When Will They Ever Learn? - Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tonight my wife and I watched a DVD about Edward R. Murrow, the CBS reporter who took on the anti communist scare of Senator McCarthy of Wisconsin. The movie Good Night, and Good Luck brought up questions from the 50’s about the role of TV that are important today. This quote from a speech Murrow gave to the Radio and Television News Directors Association in 1958 sadly rings true today:

“Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”

A line from a song rings in my ears “When will They Ever Learn”? For the most part mass media is still “used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us”.

The last few days I have been thinking of mistakes made in the treatment of my deceased son Peter from his brain disease or mental illnesses. Major mistakes were made by the agency that was treating Peter as well as some made by my son and by me. I talked to my wife at dinner tonight about these mistakes. She questioned why I was dwelling on them, especially the ones made by the agency. She said there was enough blame to go around. My response was that I was not blaming anyone but felt compelled to learn from mistakes and only recently have the courage to face these mistakes.

If we had learned the dangers encountered by the fear of communism in the 50’s perhaps we would not being making the same mistakes today with the fear of terrorism. In many of the works of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk spiritual writer, he talks of the fear of communism in those days and the harm it did. One can take the word ‘terrorism’ and substitute it for the word ‘communism’ and the same warnings would be true today.

When I was young a line from a poet was important to me: “Man is made to make mistakes”. As I get older I realize that this statement is incomplete. Yes we must make mistake but also we must learn from our mistakes or be doomed, as they say, to repeat them. It is true about dealing with the media, issues of war and peace and personal relationships. With Pete Seeger in the song “Where will all the flowers gone?” we need to say “When will they ever learn”?


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Everyday Can Be A Best Day - Friday, March 23, 2012

Last Supper, Women’s Work

It rained all day so plans to work outside were put on hold and new plans were made. For one thing I wrote an article about ROTC in all colleges and universities and how only select universities only hosting departments of military sciences where drills and classes are held. Pro or Anti ROTC people do not realize the difference between sending students for military training on another campus and actually teaching war on campus. Also I had a chance to clean my office room, not completely but at least I straighten up, as they say. This is a task that accumulates since I do not put away projects when done but move on to the next one.

So the rainy day was sought of ordinary but tonight I made up for it with an extraordinary dinner with friends. Pat, my wife, joined Janice, woman priest friend and her friend Marjorie and all of us friend, Joe, for an excellent fish fry at the Italian Community Center restaurant. Since Pat had to work to 6pm and Joe had to work his parish fish fry to 7pm we had dinner starting a little after 7pm. During the meal and afterwards we shared stories about our lives and thoughts about church, Gospel and politics. We were enjoying the conversation so much that when we looked up and saw the restaurant was empty we realized it was 10 pm, closing time for the place. Sharing conversation with friends and good food it is about the best it gets for a Friday evening.

As I mentioned before I am not a meeting kind of guy. But I can talk and tell some interesting life stories and I can listen when people talk from life experiences. Somehow the talking and listening puts away the ‘shadow of death’ that hangs around me during the day and disturbs my sleep.

A woman theology teacher once told me that Jesus stood out from other preachers and prophets of his time for two characteristics. One was eating with all kinds of classes of people, fisherman, Pharisees, priest, disciples, poor, rich, men and woman. In Jesus’ time meals were only shared with persons of one’s own class. The second one was his treatment of women. In a time when women were considered inferior to men, Jesus treated them with respect and with equality, even having some women in his close circle of disciples.

So Jesus took ordinary every day events like eating and being with people and made them extraordinary by treating all, poor and rich, friend and enemy, man or woman with respect and equality. In rain or sun shine everyday can be a best day.


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Soil and Screen Change Us - Thursday, March 22, 2012

Women Priest Rejoice at Ordination

A friend came over today to help with my gardens and to learn a little bit about composting and soil. When did some planting of Kale plants that I had started inside the sun room. I told him about the importance of getting the soil on your hands and how healing the effect that soil can have on your brain. He thought I was kidding so I told him about the featured article I had used a few months ago, Nature’s Bounty, Soil Salvation. The article explain how the “soil is a rich repository of microbes and other organisms with which we’ve coexisted from the beginning.” They found that certain strains of soil-borne mycobacteria sharply stimulated the human immune system and probably boosted serotonin levels in the brain. I know myself that after working in the garden for an hour or soil I feel good. My friend had the same experience.

Tonight I was one of the organizers for the showing of the film Pink Smoke Over the Vatican, a documentary film about the controversial movement of women seeking to be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. We had the film showing at a Unitarian Church, one of the first religious groups to have woman priest. Showing the film at a Catholic Church might have caused problems since the hierarchical Catholic Church says that only “baptized males” can become priest and we should not even talk about women priest. It was good to see such a large audience at the show, especially many Catholics who were open to breaking the silence the Church has imposed on women priest. After the one hour film I felt good just like I do when working in the garden.

Modern neuroscience has taught us that a person can change habits and way of doing things by experiences. Just like mycobacteria in soil can change the brain so can the awareness of the equality of woman in the Church shown with the ordination of Roman Catholic women priest change the brain and behavior. What we do in the soil and what we see on the screen changes us.

See quote below from Sojourner Truth about equality of women.


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Police Threaten Arrest, Draws Students - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Praying or Criminal Trespass?

Usually when we demonstrate at Marquette University for Marquette to Be Faithful to the Gospel and Stop Hosting Military Training on Campus we are ignored by students. Today when a large group of City of Milwaukee Police gathered to handcuff and arrest us for trespassing students started to gather around and watch. After those who did not want to be arrested left and the rest of us stayed for our hour of prayer the students were really watching to see if we would be arrested for praying at Marquette. The lead security person checked with the ‘bosses or ‘powers that be’ and it was decided to call off the police and just let us finish our hour of prayer. As the police slowly left the scene so did the students. Watching us Pray the Stations of the Cross and asking Marquette to Stop Teaching Killing was not as interesting as our potential arrest.

Over the years we have tried many things to get the attention of students, carrying a cross through campus, we did street theater on the campus and many held many protest. In fact, over the years, since the creation of the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking our student participation has gone down until now when we have no active students involved in our movement.

Maybe we need to push the envelope with Marquette where they cannot ignore the message and need to arrest us or end the military schools teaching killing on campus? Threats of police arrest draws Students.


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Carrying Heat - Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Soldier Carrying Heat in Heat

Today we had prayer vigils for two young men who were killed by someone “carrying heat”, a gun. We have another prayer vigil one tomorrow. We hear on the radio about someone in Toulouse France who is going around carrying heat and killing Semitic peoples, Arabs and Jews. On the military internet site, you can watch many videos depersonalizing killing of individuals in war by missile, bombs or drones.

Today being the hottest day recorded in March, 82 degrees meant I was carrying heat on my body while working in the gardens. When we cook we turn the heat on as we do in winter days. Say a person is ‘hot’ means the person is attractive.
The image of heat and fire is common place. Heat has many uses but I cannot think of any that are neutral. Heat can be good or bad but is never in between like warm would be. Sadly the images of heat we often see these days are not about the weather or something attractive. It is usually tragic like a house fire or someone in war being “smoked” by heat of a bomb.

In ancient Egypt the sun, a source of heat, was worshiped and the Pharaoh was thought to be son of the Sun. There were weapons and war but the killing was personal. There was no “buster bombs’, napalm, heat seeking missiles or cluster bombs designed to kill humans not things.

Now it is legal to “carry heat” and in many states, concealed or not. Weapons of war become more and more impersonal and destructive. The deaths by homicide and by wars keep going up the more we are carrying heat.


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To See or Hear, Blessing or Curse? - Monday, March 19, 2012

“I wish that life should not be cheap,
but sacred, I wish the days to be
as centuries, loaded, fragrant.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Be Careful What you Ask For” is a warning that I have heard many times. For many years I have prayed for “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” the Gospel, good news of Jesus, in my daily life. Now when I read a statement, like that in the newspaper yesterday, from Cardinal Dolan of New York, about religious liberty or hear an official stigmatizing perpetrator and victims of homicides as ‘criminals’ I see and hear what is being said and am outraged. I want to write back and call them ‘hypocrites’ or disclose their misrepresentations and half truths. But I have learned the hard way not to react, perhaps to respond, but, most importantly, stay the course and go on offense not on defense. I wish I could practice what I preach more often.

Nearly a month ago I heard on a radio interview the police chief of Milwaukee say: “85 percent of shooting suspects and victims in Milwaukee have “extensive criminal records” As someone who attends prayer vigils for homicide victims I felt there was some kind of truth to this statement but certainly 85% of victims did not have “extensive criminal records.” I did not have a way to research the statement but I had some communications with the local PolitiFact Wisconsin. So I asked them to check out the truth of this statement. They said they would but I had some doubts when week after week it did not appear. However, today the Politi Facts column presented this statement. Not so unexpected the statement got a rating of “half truth” on the Truth-O-Meter.

I exposed the statement not because I thought it was true or not but because I thought it represented the kind of statement that stigmatizes a person or group of persons. As I discovered awhile back there is always a partial truth to stigmas. In my posting Stigma Stains the Soul which I have used a few times in this posting I say:

“In every stigma there is some truth,
The ‘mentally ill” usually are persons with a mental illness,
Persons who “talk too much” are usually very vocal.
“Terrorists” often do promote terror.”

I go on to say how a stigma depersonalizes the person receiving it and hurts both the giver and recipient.

Of course you cannot respond to everything that you ‘see’ or ‘hear’ that runs contrary to your conscience, values and beliefs. So you need to pick and choose and make the response as positive as possible. Often, however, you must just live with the harm of the stigma or action, take it in, and try to use the harm or death of it to bring new life. “To see or hear” can be a blessing or a curse.


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Lessons from Cardboard and Wood Chips - Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Castings sifter on order

Pat, my wife, and I spent some time today flattening cardboard boxes we had collected with the hope that we could get them shredded and used for compost. Our deceased son Peter used to cut up some cardboard into small pieces but it was very tedious work and not worth the effort. After seeking out use of a cardboard shredder I realized it was simpler just to take all the flattened cardboard to the city dump in containers and after dumping the cardboard into the bin to put free wood chips from the dump in the container to be used for compost and in the garden area as mulch. Wood chips are more effective for compost and mulch than cardboard. Often in life the work involved in saving something is not worth it. In this case we will let the city dump recycle the cardboard and just take recycled wood chips home with us. More can be done by being smart in the use of time.

One way to do more with less time in life is to evaluate the best use of time. Focusing on the real work to be done rather than some tangent can be more effective. At least this is some of the reasoning I used to purchase last night online a manual rotating drum for sifting worm castings from compost. In other years I used a home-made sifter to do make castings. Not only was this very time consuming but it left a lot of castings not sifted. The investment of the new sifter should leave me with more worm castings using much less time. I hope to have enough castings to share some with my son up north who is growing hops on his land.

Despite the work my wife and grandchildren did on cleaning up the gardens and the work we did today on the cardboard there remains a lot of work to be done to get the gardens ready for planting and growing. With the warm spring weather in March many of the perennials are growing and we will have an early planting and growing season. All this is great and all will be well if I remember the lessons from the cardboard and wood chips - being smart in use of time.


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Music Makes for Silence in the Garden - Saturday, March 17, 2012

“To Know Music is to transfer it
to life” M.K. Gandhi

My grandsons this week were big users of I Pod’s for game playing and music listening. My seven year granddaughter was into the game playing with her brother’s or my wife’s I Pod. When driving in my wife’s car they were able to play their music on the I Pod through the radio speakers. The country songs were okay but the pop music to my ears was a lot of noise.

My oldest grandson had asked me what kind of music I liked best and I had responded classical. He thought that was humorous. Since I had no music on my I Phone I decided to put the ‘Pandora’ program on it. One of the Pandora channels I have created is for classical music.

Today after driving the grandchildren half-way back home so their mom can take them the rest of the way I went home determined to put some time in the garden. The weather was great, there was a lot of work to do but my mind was too noisy. A friend of mind just sent me a copy of a talk by an Orthodox priest about the need for silence to hear the word of God, Hearing the Voice of God in Quietness I decided to take a lesson from my grandchildren and play music while I was working in the garden but the music I choose was the Pandora classical channel on my I Phone.

Wearing my garden cap the earphones to my I Phone were not so obvious to sight but soft quiet classical in my ears kept my mind quiet of thoughts so I could focus on the garden work. Paradoxically the music increased the quietness of mind so the time in the garden went by quickly and was productive.

There are some Gandhi quotes on my picture quotes about music and life. One that came to mine was: “To know music is to transfer life.” I did not understand the quote and still do not completely. But I know that music makes for silence in the garden.


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Determined Gardening and Random Killing - Friday, March 16, 2012

Nine Afghan boys killed by Apache
helicopters while collecting firewood.

Today we, our three grandchildren, my wife and I made a determined effort in an hour got a good start in cleaning up the backyard gardens for spring planting. Afterwards I felt healthy and clear minded. This afternoon we took the grandchildren to the I Max Theater to see big screen movie of the mysteries of Egypt. Since we had free passes for the museum the children decided they would like to check out the museum. I would have preferred going to the lakefront to fly kites but was in the minority. Afterwards I felt a little uptight, like I do after visiting a shopping mall where too much information and stimuli had overcome my brain. However, when we got home the boys and I went across the street to play golf on the par three course. Although I was tired I was invigorated by the activity. In short, after outside activities I felt great and after inside activities I felt tense.

By looking at my ups and downs in spirits in one day I can understand a little more what a soldier goes through in combat. Watching videos on the military channel shot by soldiers I can see how life is routine the next moment and then explodes with excitement. In one video I saw today soldiers were routinely flying over desert in Afghanistan in a helicopter and suddenly the see something. It was hard to know what they saw but they started to fire their machine guns randomly on the ground and shoot missiles. You can feel the air of excitement when they do this and sometimes the explosion on the ground is met with cheers. This exuberance at exploding a target was shown clearly in a video a soldier took while watching a 8000 lb bound drop on a building. The up moments in these many videos on when there is a lot of shooting, bombs exploring, most of it without seeing the victims face to face.

Watching this videos of the indiscriminate and random firing of weapons it was sadly easier to understand in the war an Afghanistan how nine young boys were killed by Apache helicopters as they were collecting firewood last March. U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, who at that time heading the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, apologized for the mistake. Now he heads the CIA who under the direction of the White House runs a killer drone program. “Killer Drones” represent the anonymous shock and awe, random killing of modern warfare. On one end it is a routine operation and on the other a deadly event.

Yes gardening is a determined effort while killing is become more and more random


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Beware of Ides of March - Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15th on the Roman calendar is the Ides of March. In Roman days the Ides of March was a festive day dedicated to the god Mars and a military parade was usually held.

In modern times the Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C., a an event that was prophesied. William Shakespeare in the play “Julius Caesar” made famous the line “Beware of the Ides of March” and made it part of the popular culture.

My Ides of March, today, was uneventful but remarkable. My wife, three grandchildren and I got a good jump on cleaning up the front gardens in one hour of work. My grandsons and I played a little golf on the par three golf course across the street and we all went to see a ‘delightful movie’ tonight called: “We brought a zoo”.

This ordinary day was made remarkable for me by the presence of our grandchildren and my wife taking the day off of work. People can make ordinary events remarkable and meaningful.

Since my three grandchildren are all video user on I Pods we talked some today about the use of imagination. One of my grandsons could not fathom a time where there was no video games and no cell phones and digit players. They wanted to know what we did before this digital revolution. Before I Pods I said we had more vivid imaginations and reminded them how as young children they used their imagination. They understood this and remembered the days of playing with use of imagination in their own young life.

The Ides of March prophecy for this new generation is “Beware of the Digital Revolution”. It can bring a lot of communication, fun and interest but if it causes a loss of imagination it can be harmful. “Beware of the Idles of March and the Digital Revolution.”


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When Will They Ever Learn? - Wednesday, March 14, 2012

There is a haunting line repeated twice at the end of each verse in the song “Where have all the flowers gone” by Pete Seeger. The line is: When will they ever learn?

There was a moment in 2001 after the tragedy of 9/11 when some, including the Pope of the Catholic Church was asking why. Without justifying any of this horrible crime some were asking where this deep seated hatred of USA came from that men would die to kill so many innocent people. I remember attending a forum at the local technical college where the question why was being asked and we trying to learn from this horrible event. However, soon the why question was put aside and we went to war in Afghanistan, a war that continues today. Using 9/11 we also went to war with Iraq, who had nothing to do with 9/11. When will they ever learn?

Since World II the military has been teaching its soldiers to kill without thinking and without conscience. Now after 15,000 suicides by soldiers since 9/11 and many more suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a terrible brain disease caused by this way of fighting and killing, when a soldier kills 16 innocent Afghan people maybe we can ask: When will they ever learn?

The Catholic Church is rocked with sexual assault scandal but still refuses full disclosure, forbids members from even talking about women serving as priest and refuses to take a moral stand on a war and military training that conflicts with its one teaching and values. When will they ever learn?

Today we planned to have our weekly hour of prayer in Lent to stop teaching war and killing at Marquette University, a Jesuit Catholic University, inside the student union. When we did not see many students around we realized it was spring break at Marquette. So we went to Wisconsin Avenue the main street of city that crosses the campus and stood in front of the Jesuit residence. Jesuits came in and out of the door and many cars came by and our message “Marquette, Be Faithful to the Gospel, Stop Hosting Military Training” was ignored as it has been over the last 44 years. When will they ever learn?

The weather is becoming warmer every year, the arctic ice is melting and much coast land in the USA is predicted to be flooded, yet a few say that climate change is a hoax. When will they ever learn?

I cannot answer this question but must remain faithful to my own conscience and being. Today we took our three grandchildren to a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game. I noticed the new slogan on the score board and throughout the building. It was “Be Milwaukee”. I am not sure what it means but like it better than “We are Milwaukee”, “We are Wisconsin” or We are Marquette” a few of the many slogans build on the “We are” statement. “Be” is simpler. Maybe it is a sign that we are starting to answer the question: When will they ever learn?


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Go Where I Need To Be - Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reflecting on issues that I feel passionate about like Stopping the teaching of war and killing at Marquette University or erasing the stigma from persons who have mental illnesses I realize that I fell into these issues. I can trace a number of persons, like Phil Berrigan, Don Timmerman and Dorothy Day and events, like the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan that got me question the military presence at a Catholic University. My son getting ill led me into advocacy for persons with mental illnesses.

Now I find myself working on showing a film Pink Smoke Over the Vatican, about the controversy of women in the Catholic Church seeking ordination as priest. I can trace my interest in this issue once again to meeting people, particularly a woman priest at a Catholic Worker gathering and events like Father Roy Bourgeois of the SOAWatch refusing to recant his support of woman priest in front of the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C.

I do not seem to have much choice of what issues and concerns I am drawn to. Hopefully the spirit driving me and my conscience know form a Higher Power what they are going. Where I go I do not now but I go where I need to be.

Below is a draft for a poster of the film we are soon showing.


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Less Is More - Monday, March 12, 2012

“Just as the body cannot exist
without blood, so the soul needs
the matchless and pure strength
of faith.”

The weather will be warm all week, in 60’s or 70’s; the weather will be sunny most days with some rain showers. If it is sounds like spring it is. The Ground Hogs who predicted an early spring are right and the ones more winter are wrong. Now I need personally, for body and for growing, need to spend more time outside in the gardens. Since there is only so much time each day something I am doing must go. What is it? I cannot give up the works of mercy like driving my friend with mental illnesses to see his mother with dementia in a home in the suburbs. I cannot give up the works of resistance to stop the teaching of killing at Marquette University. I cannot give up shopping and cooking for the household or other household tasks. I do not know what it will be but know I must give up something to do something that is great for my health, spirits and for eating — the G.R.A.F gardens.

Also it cannot be my faith. As Gandhi says: “Just as the body cannot exist without blood, so the soul needs the matchless and pure strength of faith.” Resources for my faith comes in many forms, often in reflection and prayer and today in conversations with a Capuchin priest and kind words in emails about my letter to the editor published in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the need for hospitals for persons with severe mental illnesses. Also my wife, Pat, who listens to me and offers me support and encouragement is a messenger from God in strengthening my faith.

Also with so much to do and so little time I need to remember that is is not how much you do but how you do it. Less is more when it comes to doing and more, meaning deeper, is better than more, meaning more things.


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Killing for Play and Real - Sunday, March 11, 2012

Every once and awhile I check the videos posted by active military soldiers on the site. They are all about blowing up things, killing and attacking people. One I saw the other day, 8,000lb Air Strike on Building in Iraq was typical. You can hear soldiers using foul language and cheering while viewing s an 8,000 lb. completely destroys a building with people inside. Most of the killing shown in the video is by plane, bombs, drones, tanks etc. You seldom see the ‘enemy’ that is killed.

The film Soldiers of Conscience which we have unsuccessfully tried to have the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking show on campus vividly displays how soldiers in the Army are trained, even in ROTC courses on campus, to kill reflexively, without conscience just at the plans and drones do in the Military videos.

However, once and awhile soldiers take their training seriously and kill without conscience and without thought and without orders, killing innocent civilians, the very people they are suppose to protect. This happened today in Afghanistan when one or more soldiers when on a killing rampage in two villages killing 16 innocent civilians, 9 children. Of course, the soldier or soldiers will be arrested but the military officers who trained the men to kill without conscience or thought or the military and political leaders who command and authorize this kind of war will not be held responsible. We are trained to kill.

I was thinking of making the list of all the actions that on in the direction of war and killing that President Obama has initiated and authorized since he was inaugurated president and won the Nobel Peace prize. A few are, authorizing the first new plant to build parts for nuclear weapons in thirty six years; the intensification of drone warfare; legitimizing the use of computer warfare with the first major attack by the USA; signing a bill that would allow the detention of Americans with due process of law. The list could go on and on. In fact when Americans were asked what President Obama was noted for many said it was the ordering of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Killing of people for play, by direct methods or by technology have become sadly common in our country. We train men and women for childhood to use guns and violence. When someone does what they are trained to do, not under orders, we blame them for doing what they are trained to do. Killing is something we do for play and for real.


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Bowling For Fun - Saturday, March 10, 2012

Next to Normal Bowling Team

Last December I reported on the rock musical Next to Normal, story about a “mother who struggles with worsening bipolar disorder and the effect that her illness has on her family.”

It is a powerful commentary on a disease one of four people experience and it touches all of us. The music touches our very being and wakes us up to a true understanding of this incurable disease. People with this brain disease need treatment and support of love ones but must learn, along with family and friends, that being “next to normal” is okay.

So when we heard about a bowling event to raise funds for a local food pantry a few of us that consider ourselves “next to normal” decided to form a bowling team. There was only one name for our team, the ‘Next to Normal Bowling Team’. At least three of us consider ourselves ‘next to normal’ persons and the fourth person is questionable.

This picture shot with my phone camera is evidence that we are “next to normal”, as one of us, I, had his team bowling T shirt on backwards. We did not win the team trophy, two of us were okay bowlers and two of us were just terrible. However, one of our team members did take the third place trophy for highest individual score.

When I was young bowling was big activity. There were bowling alleys everywhere. There were competitive bowling teams for men, woman, couples, young adults and children. Although there are fewer bowling alleys these days the bowling alleys have become major bowling centers. The one today might have had close to 50 or more bowling alleys on each side of the building. Today, bowling for parties, social events and fundraisers are popular. In this kind of bowling we enjoyed today scores are not so important. The primary thing is having fun. Bowling for food is fun.


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Invisible People - Friday, March 09, 2012

“The Invisible Man” sculpture

In the 1952 novel The Invisible Man Ralph Ellison tells the story of an “unnamed African American man who considers himself socially invisible.” I contend that in 2012 the rank of the ‘invisible’ has grown. Many poor, minorities, disabled, prisoners are hidden from our sight. Even if something significant happens to them they are considered invisible.

For example last Tuesday we had a prayer vigil for a 48 year old woman who was killed on the south side of Milwaukee. Since she had not family or friends present at the prayer vigil all we knew about her was in the newspaper. The police gave her name, age; her arrest record in the 90’s and said the homicide may be drug related.

Today my son, a police officer in northern Wisconsin, went to a funeral of fireman who had died while fighting a fire in a small town near the middle of the State. The death was all over the news; there were large crowds, many who did not know him, at his funeral. He was praised and honored, as it should be.

The woman killed on the Southside may have been a hero to someone. We will never know anything about her and only close family and friends may be at the funeral. She was an invisible person.

We hear and believe how God loves all, poor and rich, sinners and saints with the same unconditional and infinite love. This may be true but in our world there are many invisible persons.

I am working on a plan that the invisible people in an concentrated neighborhood on the North Central side of Milwaukee can be better served by home visits by members of the St. Vincent De Paul Society in the surrounding area. In the 60’s this area was the center of civil rights marching for open housing. Now it is an invisible area, the most segregated neighborhood of the most segregated city in the USA and the poorest of the 4th poorest city.

Even at Marquette University when we speak out the message that Marquette teaches killing administrators, faculty, students mostly ignore us, walking by us as we were invisible.

The invisible are everywhere if we can see them.


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Heart of Haiti - Thursday, March 08, 2012

Camp in Haiti abandoned by a NGO
Haiti, Return to Slavery Or Freedom

Heart of Haiti

God give me a heart of Haiti, a heart that suffers great disasters and still can smile.

Give me a heart that suffers insults and rejections yet still seeks to be free.

Give me the Heart the Haiti, a nation of gentle warriors seeking freedom from slavery.

The Heart of Haiti is in all who are beaten, used and left to die, the rejected and marginalized.

The Spirit at the Heart of Haiti transfigures everyone who experiences it,

Joy can be found, hope springs eternal and there is a deep peace that shines.

The Heart of Haiti is a cross to carry, a burden to bear but one that is light.

The Heart of Haiti never gives up.

God, help me to have the Heart of Haiti and to see it in all creation.


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Prayer Over Criminal Trespass - Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Witness & Prayer in front of
Marquette University bookstore
in the Union today

Each Wednesdays in Lent at a Marquette University facility we gather to pray for an hour for Marquette, To Be Faithful to the Gospel and Stop Teaching War. Four years ago, at the first one Marquette security and the police were called to the library lobby where we stood and told us if we did not leave we would be ticketed and/or arrested for criminal trespass on private property. We told the police to let us know before we were arrested. The police and security consulted with higher powers and decided to just let us pray.

Over the years the security presence at our prayer events has declined to last week when there was no administrator, security or police in sight as we prayed. Today, we prayed for the first time in the new Law building. All was well until the associate dean came down to tell us leave. We politely say no and continued to prayer. When the security guards came the discipline of our prayer group broke down, many were new to this situation of a threat of being ticketed for criminal trespass for praying. So divided we decided as a group to go over to the Union to pray. On the way there we talked about how to act if security or police were called again.

We were praying for awhile when the same security guards came over to ask us to leave. This time just one of us spoke for the group and asked if they were going to call the police. A Milwaukee police officer appeared and we asked if he was going to arrest us for praying. He said he hoped not and asked us to go. We asked him to tell us before he would ticket or arrest us. The police officer and security went to talk it over and consult superiors. After awhile the Milwaukee police officer came back and said they would compromise and allow us to trespass outside the door of the Union still on Marquette property but not inside. We gave everyone a chance to go outside or stay inside. Half went outside the doors and half stayed in the Union. Those inside kept praying the rest of the hour and were not arrested as those outside did. Afterwards we all sang a song outside before departing.

I describe all this to reflect what a distraction to prayer this game was when we left the Law school and what a time of prayer we had when we went to the Union. We were able to pray inside and outside the Union doors and the police and security were the attraction that drew attention to our message. Once again Prayer overcame charges of criminal trespass


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Life is a Struggle - Tuesday, March 06, 2012

untitled by Peter Graf

For our faith sharing group this morning the question proposed for reflection was: What in your life is worth struggling and dying for? We were given two quotes, one from Frederick Douglass and one from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to stimulate out thoughts. However, everyone had a problem with what is worth dying for but not with what is worth struggling for.

The quote from King was: “If you haven’t found something worth dying for, you aren’t fit to be living.” I think that it was hard to say what is worth dying for because dying for a person or cause is theoretical, something hard to imagine and hard to predict. Whereas struggle is something we daily face, if we are going through life with our eyes wide open.

Life is a struggle. Some struggle for the truth and some struggle just to stay alive, for food and shelter. In most poverty stricken countries, like Haiti, the poor each day struggle for the basics of life. However, there are low expectations for better way of life so there is a deep gratitude and joy expressed for what little they have. In the USA where the expectations from media and our culture are for wealth, status and the ‘good life’ being poor means sadness and frustration.

When I was a graduate student in sociology at Marquette University, many years ago, I did my major research paper on the “Sociology of Revolution”. I remember being surprised that revolutions in countries most often happened when people were not living in desperation or extreme poverty but still were poor. They had enough to feel they could be better off with revolutionary change. In revolutionary countries there was a major gap between the few with wealth and the many who were struggling to survive.

With the declining middle class in the USA, where now 50% of the persons are poor and near poor for the first time in our history, one wonders if the struggle for human rights and justice for all might lead to a revolutionary change.

When we were protesting teaching of killing at Marquette University on Ash Wednesday a few students came up to us and said they supported our freedom of expression which the military was fighting for in Afghanistan and elsewhere. My response was simple. The military were not fighting for my freedom of speech and I felt I had more freedom and ability to make change in the 60’s than I do now.

Yes life, on a small or large scale, is a struggle. If we can accept that fact, which is hard to do, we can move on in life and found what is worth struggling for. Frederick Douglass says in his quote: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” Life is a struggle.


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No Discrimination in County Parks - Monday, March 05, 2012

When they say the weather will be warm, in the 50’s, the next few days I am thinking spring. When they say the sun will be out most of this week I am thinking spring. When I am thinking spring I am thinking growing season, working in the gardens, and children, young adults and adults playing golf, soccer, on playground equipment and hopefully basketball, full and half court at the park across the street, Doyne Park.

After over 30 years of playing full court basketball at Doyne Park a few neighbors, without consulting the youth playing basketball in the park had the County Park system take down a rim making it impossible to play full court basketball in the park. I called it discrimination, since it was a decision affecting young adults playing basketball on the courts without consulting them. I believe that neighbors around a country park should have some input into how the park operates but should not decide what park activities are allowed in the park. If there was a problem with behavior young adults playing basketball in the park the county park should have first post and make clear rules and conditions before taking down the rims without consulting with users. If golfers were abusing the golf course they would be warned and asked to leave but I doubt the golf course would be closed. The same goes for the parents who drive on the walk/bike trail to pick up their high school daughters playing soccer at the field. Would they be warned first before closing the soccer field? Of course. The golfers on the golf course and the high school girls playing soccer are mostly white and the young adult males playing full court basketball are mostly African-American.

Discrimination against young adults, African American males, persons with mental illness, elderly people, and disabled people is discrimination. Maybe with the rain, sun and the green grass of spring we will come to a fresh look at the county park system, one that includes No Discrimination in County Parks?


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Carbon, Center of Life - Sunday, March 04, 2012

Carbon by Peter Graf

I was sorting through pictures on my computer looking for one for my desktop background. I came across one of my son’s, Peter, numerous digit art pieces. It was called “carbon” and was one of the few pieces of art, if not the only one, where he had put the name on the piece of art. What was his fascination with carbon? I decided to look up “carbon” in Wikipedia.

Here is some of what I found about the element carbon. “Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.” Two forms,(allotropes),of carbon are diamonds, hardest naturally occurring substance and graphite, one of the softest known substances. “Carbon forms more compounds than any other element…. This abundance, together with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life.”

I could go on and on describing carbon but Peter, despite his lack of interest in studying math and science, had an innate understanding of the significance of this element. Compost which I have written a lot about on his web site is made from carbon materials, (brown), paper, cardboard, leaves, wood chips and from nitrogen, used coffee grounds, vegetable waste and other materials, (green). It is the material from which worms create . In the human body carbon “is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.”

Peter looked on life as a “paradox” and this element, the hardest and one of the softest, fits this mode. Peter looked at the connections between pieces of life and carbon is certainly one of them. His digital art is abstract impressions and carbon, which is at the center of all life on earth, deserves recognition in art.


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Complete the Present - Saturday, March 03, 2012

California picture 2006

Setting my screen saver to show pictures I have stored on the computer I have discovered anew many digit pictures I have taken over the years. When I make a journey be it to India or California I try first to experience the moment and next, if possible, take a picture. I haunted by the image of people taking a vacation who are so busy taking pictures they are not present to where they are.

But I believe one can do both. So in the revamping of the www.nonviolentcow web page I need to update the Bob’s Photo Gallery. In looking over my web site I noticed that I have a number of web pages, like 44 Year History of Nonviolent Resistance at Marquette and Retreat in Daily Life that I have started but not finished. For to be present on the web, as in life or on a journey, one must be present to the moment and complete the present before moving on.


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Regime Change Starts at Home - Friday, March 02, 2012

March 2003, Baghdad, Iraq, Shock
and Awe, Start of Regime Change

Tornadoes, nature killers, swept 14 states in the Midwest and South today killing nature, like trees, man-made objects, like houses and human beings, most tragically of all. The causes of this disaster are partially unknown but the destruction we do know. We can see and hear in the media the devastating personal stories of lost that emerge.

The damage to nature, man-made objects and human lives the US committed on the first day of the Iraq war for ‘regime change’ is much greater than the disaster today. The damage and death of this country during the nearly 10 year war is beyond comprehension. The lost of hundreds of thousands of human lives, the destruction of the infrastructure are worst than Iraq every faced under the dictatorship of the former regime.

Now in Syria where from the start the USA insisted on ‘regime change’ has the people killing each other, especially the present regime killing innocent civilians. The USA including some allies and some enemies, like Al Qaeda, the terrorist group, from the start have said they will only accept ‘regime change.’

In Egypt, the terrible regime we supported for so many years, was overthrown by the people without USA support.

For 12 years we have been fighting in Afghanistan for ‘regime change’ despite the fact that the people on all sides of the struggle have made it clear that they do not want the USA, any more than they wanted Russia or England before, dictating to them what they should do.

When the people of Chili, Haiti or Palestine democratically and freely elected governments that we did not approve we helped to overthrow the democratic government and create a ‘regime change’.

Tornadoes change a region but in time trees are restored, new houses are built and the dead are buried and life quickly moves on. In the USA wars for ‘regime change’ to a regime that is beneficial to USA self-interest, the damage is much more lasting and deadly. Wounds that will take many years to heal are created by our striving for ‘regime change.’ The wounds are not only inflicted on other countries but on us, as people live in fear, soldiers are killed or wounded or commit suicide in great numbers ,as money for wars takes from money from the people in our country.

“Preemptive wars” as President Bush called them or “wars of necessity” as President Obama calls them have become endless. As we are prepared for a new war against Iran the word goes out: “We need a regime change in Iran. Damn what the people of Iran, like people of Iraq and Afghanistan want, we want a ‘regime change.’”

The only regime that needs to change is the Military/Industrial/Educational complex we created in the USA. Our empire must fall before there can be any real change. We can watch it fall or help create a new society inside the present regime as it decays. Yes, we need ‘regime change’ but not in some foreign country but in our own hearts and in our own country. Regime change starts at home.


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Conscience Seeks the Truth - Thursday, March 01, 2012

“I preach to you today on the war
in Vietnam because my conscience
leaves me with no other choice.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Thinking about the issues my conscience moves me to speak and act on, I see a connection. I am talking about discrimination, like against the young men that seek to play basketball in the park across the street or the stigma attached to persons with mental illnesses; violence, like trying to stop the teaching of war and killing at Marquette University; or segregation, like putting the poor and minorities into certain neighbors of Milwaukee; human rights, like allowing women priest in the Catholic Church.

The underlying concern that moves my conscience on these and other issues is what I call the ‘right to life’ or dignity of each human being. I am not talking about the ‘right of life’ like the anti-abortion people who fight abortion but approve the death penalty and support unjust wars. I am not talking about the dignity of humans being meaning that there is no right or wrong or everything goes.

Discrimination, violence, segregation all feed on putting labels on persons and not treating them with the same respect and human dignity as we treat all persons. My conscience cries out for the voiceless, people who are rejected and marginalized because of their illnesses, the women and victims of the all male Catholic Church hierarchy, the young men forbidden from using the county park, the young men and women who are victims and perpetrators of violence in the segregated part of the city that people fear and let slowly die.

We are all connected, brothers and sisters and failure to recognize that pains me. Like a young child in pain I need to cry out. I spent part of this day writing a letter to the Director of the County Parks asking her not to allow the discrimination of young men playing basketball in the park across the street. Also I wrote an announcement for the movie premier of Pink Smoke Over the Vatican, a film about the controversy of women priest in the Catholic Church.

Even my gardening which I now need to focus more attention on puts me in touch with the earth that we all share and must respect.

My conscience seeks the truth. It might only be for now my ‘opinion of the truth’ but if I am open minded, compassionate and struggle for the right of life and human dignity of all I will find it. Taking my guidance from a child and daring to Be Not Afraid, my journey of conscience, if I am persistent and consistent, will only end in death but I will find the Truth, the Light and Salvation.


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