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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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Peace Action Not Words - Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Protest by Peaceworks KC at the
new nuclear bomb parts plant being
build by present administration

Today there was a ‘Voters Guide’ in the newspaper sponsored by the local Peace Action group supporting Democratic candidates for President and Wisconsin Senator. When I received an email asking for funds for the ad I was shocked and called the ad in a brief email “biased and silly”. I was attacked by some ‘liberals’ for my comments but today was able to take the time to respond in a meaningful way. So far there has been no response. Being ignored these days might mean you said something ‘true’ but something people do not want to hear.

With all due respect to my old friend Art Heitzer and his apologies and explanations, to my “highly esteemed grass roots Catholic activist” friend Joe Radoszewski and to all those who criticized me for sending the email Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan Explain the Past Four Years, I feel compelled to explain my brief remarks last week that the Peace Action ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that appeared today as “biased and silly”.

I received the appeal for money for the ad from Peace Action last week when I blessed to be in Central America again. I received it on my phone and at first was going to ignore it but after seeing Rick Kissel’s response to the Voter’s Guide felt compelled to respond only if it was a few words my fingers could punch out on my cell phone.

When we protest against war often people approach us saying that we are not supporting our military and their good intentions for risking their lives. I felt similar as you might have felt when my brief criticism of the Voter’s Guide of PA I was accused of not respecting the good will and good intentions of the people working on the election and this ad. This is not true. I feel out of love and respect we must be honest and truthful with our friends as well as our enemies. Creative conflict civilly done is the way to progress of our cause.

Art and Joe response were respectful and appreciated. Like Joe, I am a Catholic. I had 21 years of Catholic educations. One of the key moral principles I was taught over and over again was that the “end does not justify the means” and we cannot justify immoral means for good ends. Choosing the lesser of two evils is not an option for me.

Also I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from great practitioners of Nonviolence, like Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. I learned that creative nonviolence means “striving nonviolently to the point of sacrifice rather than fighting to attain one’s vision of truth.” (Judith Brown in her book on Gandhi). If we are to be nonviolent we cannot choose the least objectionable candidate when both endorse and act on values contrary to our moral values and practice of nonviolence. It is not like watching the least objectionable TV show.

The so called PA “Voters Guide” in newspapers in swing states is selective and biased toward the Democratic candidate.

I believe that Democrats and Republicans officials, no matter how liberal or conservative, are just two faces of the same power source, the “powers that be”. When I was at SOAWatch in Fort Benning the year after President Obama was elected I heard a representative of the union workers of Columbia, who have been deeply suppressed, speak. He was asked if there was a difference in the oppression of the workers now that President Obama had been elected. He said ‘no’ and went on to explain there has been no significant difference in Columbia between a Republican and Democratic administration. He did add that the policy and oppression of Columbia people was more overt and direct under Republicans and more subtle and indirect under Democrats but the results were the same. Shortly after this event President Obama had the US military take over seven military bases in Columbia.


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Do Not Mess With Nature - Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Destruction of Hurricane Sandy

In these posting I frequently talk about the beauty of nature, like reflected in a garden. As we have been reminded the last two days with the major storm out east there is another, ugly and destructive, side of nature. Nature, like reflected in this major storm, can destroy cities, houses and kill persons.
The number of natural disasters, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis’ and other natural disasters are increasing in frequency and strength. Like hurricane Katrina in New Orleans we are starting to understand how man-made decisions are affecting nature and these disasters.

“In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane’s formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.” (Butterfly effect in wiki encyclopedia). With ‘climate change’ nature seems to more frequently show it’s ugly side, as to say “stop messing with me or I will turn on you more and more.”

With all the TV coverage on the East Coast storm and hurricane Sandy there seems to be little coverage of this fact of nature. I did hear the Governor of New York say something like it seems like we are having a 100 weather event ever other year.

The lesson to be learned here is “Do not mess with Nature or Nature will mess with you.” Can we hear the message?


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View from Costa Rica - Monday, October 29, 2012

View from window in Costa Rica

Patricia and I, Roberto, were blessed to spend a week in the paradise of Costa Rica. Despite an earthquake and lots of rain during the week we had a good time away from the daily busyness of life at home. We saw no political ads for a while and enjoyed the easy going lifestyle of life in Costa Rica.

Being away from the bombardment of events in daily life here at home helped me get some perspective on my life and work here at home. The ocean waves hitting the shore, the how water springs, mountains, the major pools, the flowers, flora and trees, black bean soup, animals, birds and iguanas brought us back to nature, our home in ourselves.

Yes there is poverty in Central America and there is great wealth of a few. Yet, unlike the USA, the contrast is striking and overt. In America we have great poverty and segregated areas like North Central Milwaukee but they are hidden and out of view. Looking for a nature walk we found a most luxury hotel on the water and right next to it a row of factories, which we would call ‘sweat shops’. Extreme poverty and extreme wealth reside side by side.

Now I am back and see more clearly how similarities are covered up in the USA or how differences are made larger than they are. For example, the Democratic Party and Republican Party are very similar in what they do but how they are made to be vastly different so to limit our choices. By being alike while seeming unlike the two parties and ‘powers that be’ can limit our choices by using our fears.

I will write more about this in the future but for now am enjoying the view from Costa Rica.


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A Time For Everything - Saturday, October 20, 2012

Diary of the Worm will take a time out till Oct. 29, 2012. Check the archives if you need a posting.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Recently I have been complaining too much about a loss of energy. With no good physical reasons for it I have come to the conclusion that it is a time for a time out, a retreat from everyday experiences of driving persons to medical appointments, from cooking, cleaning and writing emails and postings like this one.

I am not sure this will work but since I joke that I want to be like a three year, three year old,s sometimes need a time out.

This does not mean I will not be writing, reading or working in the garden. It just means more of a time alone with my thoughts, a renewal of mind and body. We all need a retreat from everyday life at times, especially persons like me that seek structure and order in everything.

Life can be disordered at times and when we step back we can sometimes grab a better perspective and bigger picture of what is happening. I will be back at posting Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 just in time for Halloween and some humor. There is a time for everything


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Option for the Poor - Friday, October 19, 2012

Home Visit of a St. Vincent
De Paul Conference

In the Archbishop’s response to our Cry of the Poor Petition he makes the argument that the mission of the three Church properties sold by Archdiocese to make the 1.1 million dollars we are seeking for the poor, is now the mission of St. Catherine’s where the money resides. Thus he says St. Catherine should use the money for its mission in this geographic area. This would make sense if it was correct. With one minor exception the mission of St. Catherine has not incorporated this area, which is large part of the area of North Central Milwaukee. The minor exception is that the St. Catherine Vincent De Paul serves with home visits the neighborhood around the former Blessed Trinity church.

However, even if the Archbishop’s statement was true it still misses the main point for use of this money for vouchers to help the poor in North Central Milwaukee. The main reason for the Catholic Church to spend this money for the poor is what we now call “the preferential option for the poor”, preference being given to the well-being of the poor and powerless of society, that is at the heart of Catholic Social teaching.

The “preferential option for the poor” demands both individual and collective action, including the acts of the state, church and groups. In the words of People John Paul II, the preferential option for the poor affects “our daily life as well as our decisions in the political and economic fields;” placing demands upon individuals as well as “leaders of nations.” I would add placing demands on leaders of Christian churches and all would call themselves followers of Jesus. Many major religions, including Muslim, Jewish and Hindu faiths have similar options for the poor.

I think there can be little doubt that in North Central Milwaukee, the poorest and most segregated part of the city of Milwaukee, the Catholic Church has pulled out is presence and mission. There is nothing much we can do about the past but in the present we can take the money, 1.1 million dollars, left from the sale of three Catholic Churches in the area and thru the remaining three St. Vincent De Paul conference make available this money for vouchers for beds, stoves, refrigerators, clothes and other basics of life for those in need.

The Cry of the Poor Petition is below. No matter what you faith or lack of religious faith, no matter where you live or do not live, if you are male or female, no matter your race, you can join the ‘cry of the poor’ and choose the (preferential) option for the poor. God thru Jesus says to all nations, churches, community groups and individuals “what you do for the least of these you do to me.”


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Ignore This! - Thursday, October 18, 2012

My computer time today was involved in responding to a letter the Archbishop wrote to two of us in response to our request for dialog on the Cry of the Poor Petition. The essays Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee were ignored by many in the Catholic Church but the Cry of the Poor Petition got some response, negative and positive from the Church. I was delighted that the Archbishop did not ignore this Cry for the Poor but after five weeks of our plea for a dialog on our request he responded.

He did not respond to our request for the dialog but did respond to the message of our cry. I was grateful for his response to our message and spend my computer time writing a response. But since the physical copy of the letter was not yet sent I do not want to comment publicly about is content. But I deeply respect the Archbishop for responding to the message and not ignoring it or attacking the messenger while ignoring the message. Ignoring a message that is uncomfortable to hear seems to be common today.

Tonight I am offering a number of quotes about ignoring a message, some of these are on a Various quote page on and some are new to this web site. Here they are:

People ignore the message and kill the messenger.” (Unknown)

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
— Elie Wiesel


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More about Death - Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Living most of my life not really facing death, I have made up for it the last few years with the shadow of death that has stayed with me. Feeling ill again today I was mourning the loss of my poetic side. But in the darkness of death there can be poetry, dark as it may be.

Death dies first
Before there is life
The seed is buried
Before it grows.

To trust that death brings life
Is a blind act of faith.
It makes no sense
And is not logical.

Yet this is what we say
To every moment of day
That we give ourselves to
Completely and fully.

In illness and health
Death lingers
Ready to consume us
So life can begin.

Where is thy sting death
When we know you
Will bring us new life
If we face you?

The face of God lies
Beyond the dark veil of death
A light appears at the end
Of the dark tunnel.

Facing death is not easy
But the reward is great
For in Death we find new life,
In Death we are born again.


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Vote and Beg - Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vote for Malya Villard-Appolon,
a rape survivor who co-founded
KOFAVIV, an organization that helps
victims of sexual violence in Haiti.

As a person who does not place much hope in voting in the electoral process at this time I am asking for your vote. Vote for Malya Villard-Appolon as CNN Hero. You can vote once or ten times a day.

Malya Villard-Appolon was rape survivor who steeped up after the earthquake and rape escalated in Haiti. She is not only a survivor but co-founded KOFAVIV, an organization that helps victims of sexual violence in Haiti. She is one of many Haitians who let down by the USA/Clinton/UN dominated government has taken her responsibility for change.

When I was part of the SOAWatch delegation to Haiti I had the privilege of meeting Malya and the women of KOFAVIV, Creole acronym that translates into the Commission of Women Victims for Victims.

My invitation to beg is for the Cry of the Poor Petition. We need to beg the Archbishop to use 1.1 million dollars he controls from the sale of three Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee for persons in need in the area.

So please Vote and Beg.


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Face of War - Monday, October 15, 2012

Face of War

When I am speaking about war I am always careful to respect soldiers and military veterans of war while condemning a war. Yet at the same time I found veterans some of the most outspoken opponents of war. Veterans have experienced war and all its ugliness and destruction and know the ‘hell’ of war.

Today in the news I heard how the children of Iraq were being born with birth defects in record numbers due to all the poisonous metals, like depleted uranium, the US has used in the massive bombing of that country. This is the evil of war.

Also today a friend in Holland sent me a copy of this talk, Face of War, Chris Hedges the longtime war correspondent gave at a protest sponsored by Veterans for Peace marking the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan War. This talk tells of the evil of war from a veteran’s viewpoint.

I met Chris Hedges at a Catholic Worker Resistance retreat a few years back. After he got in trouble as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the New York Times he devoted his life to writing and being an activist for peace. You can find the article on the Featured Articles section of this web page.

A warning. if you are sick over our countries Endless Wars this article will not be good for your health. But if you are sick of war this article will help you understand the face of war from the viewpoint of returning soldiers.


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Sun Rising - Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sun rise in Denver

My friend in Texas tells me that they do not have fall there. In what we call fall the temperature goes down 10 or 20 degrees to about80 or 90. No more 100 plus degree days!

I like our fall, at least when there is sun. Yesterday we had rain and no sun. Today we had no rain but also no sun. Being a person effective by sun I do not care as much if it is hot or cold or in between as long as we have sun.
My essays Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee are started to see the light of the day. I am now thinking about a way to get a booklet printed with some of the essays plus our request for the Catholic Church to dialog on using the monies from the sales of closing three churches in the area for people in need. We need to do something to get attention. When we do our Cry for Poor Petition gets stronger.

We made nine St. Vincent De Paul home visits this week to person in need of basics, stove, clothing, refrigerator and beds. Home visits put a real face on the saying: “The poor get poorer and the rich get richer.” Most of the head of the households we meet our women who work part time jobs or people with disabilities. They are struggling to survive, have shelter, food and basics like way to preserve and cook food and a bed to sleep on. Sometimes when people say we will never get the Archdiocese to give money to those in need I just think of the people I have met in home visits and the sun rises.


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Humor Heals - Saturday, October 13, 2012

It’s the shortest distance between
two persons

Thank God that fall is hanging around till I can get ready the gardens and insulating the house for winter. I hope this is true. I know what to do but now need the energy to do it. But I do not feel sorry for myself for low energy.

Yesterday I made a St. Vincent De Paul home visit to a man and his companion we had seen before. We had given him vouchers to a used appliance dealer, we do no longer use, that gave him a defective stove and a refrigerator that barely works. He has tried to get the stove that was dangerously leaking gas replaced or repaired by the vendor with no success. Fortunately we have another used appliance vendor that we used to give him new vouchers.

When the man opened the door for us I could see he was handicapped and had a hard time walking. He also he told me he had a cancer that was being treated. His companion was resting on the couch and was breathing with the aid of oxygen.
He told me how the ride to his last cancer treatment forgot about him. He called the ride service the other day for a ride to the hospital for his companion who was having a hard time breathing. He was trying to avoid calling an ambulance since that can be a costly service for a poor person. The person in the ride company said he could not drive his companion to the hospital. He said she was maybe dying and the person said that was not his business. He called an ambulance.

This poor and ill person had a bright side. As I was leaving the employee of
Goodwill was delivering ‘meals on wheels’. They got to joking around with each other and I joined right in. When one is down and out humor is your best friend.

Suddenly I felt better and with more energy. I walked the person from Goodwill back to his van. I had joked, and somewhat serious, that the clothes I was wearing were from Goodwill. He told me about some other thrift stores that had organized stores with good values on clothing.

Humor heals something I knew but now experienced.


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Hard to Believe - Friday, October 12, 2012

I was about to write an email tonight to an old friend who now lives in Texas. As I started to do this an email from a mutual friend of ours that sends our jokes came in my inbox. What was strange about this email is that our friend had died a few years ago and the email was dated 2005. I started to forward the email to my friend in Texas but went back to the original email to check something. It was gone but fortunately it was saved in my draft email folder. So I sent it and now it is my sent file. The jokes are below.

This is a strange occurrence but I have been hearing about strange things happening recently. Our pastor told me that our parish Catholic school, that serves low income children, non-catholic, was dependent on income from the State voucher program. However, he added the voucher income was being taxed by the Archdiocese as any other income. Since the school barely makes it on this voucher money the parish had to pay the Archdiocese tax.

I was talking to another pastor yesterday and he told me another ‘hard to believe’ story. It seems that in Detroit they keep record of the square foot of your house. When it rains you pay so much per square foot to the sewer department according to the amount of rain. I asked what would happen to my rain tax since I used rain barrels at every gutter outlet. I guess I would not need to pay any rain water tax.

If you look at the U.S.A. use of killer drones to kill persons, many civilians, all over the Middle East, and then look at our condemnation of terrorist killing civilians it is ‘hard to believe’ what one is justified and one not.

There are many contradictions in life. The other side of ‘hard to believe’ is humor. See the jokes below my deceased friend sent in 2005 and I received today.


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Baseball, Debates or Pumpkin Pie? - Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baseball, Debates or Pumpkin pie?

Tonight I was working on the computer with one of the baseball playoff games in the background. My focus was on my work with the game as background entertainment. I remembered that the vice-presidential debates were on so I switched channels to watch some of it. I found myself being more entertained by the debates so kept them on. The problem was that the debates took over my focus so I was able to write on the computer. I know the debates were just show but it was a fun show to watch.

Rep. Ryan accused President Obama and Vice President Biden of fear tactics but then he used fear tactics himself. In fact if you watch political ads on TV you will notice a majority of them are negative ads, fearing the other person. People may decry negative advertising but they grow in frequency. This is because they work. Fear drives people and according to Hitler’s public relations director is how you make people believe what you want them to believe.

Now the baseball games were not as much fun but more exciting. They were pitching duel one going into the 13th inning. The debates had more ‘talking head’ commenting on them than commentators on baseball. Clearly the debates were more hyped by the media than the baseball games.

Baseball playoffs and political debates that are interesting but empty of meaning are all American sports. But now it is October and this means the month of Halloween hype and pumpkin pie. If had to choose between baseball playoff game, vice presidential debates or homemade pumpkin pie it would be the pie I choose.


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Wait, See and Remember - Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Alex Karras

The sad note for today was ‘dementia’. Alex Karras, famous football player, TV and movie actor died today of dementia. He was 77 but has been suffering from this brain disorder for over a dozen years. He was the lead plaintiff in a law suit in U.S. District Court by 3,500 retired football players who accuse the National Football League of not protecting them better from head injuries. Hearing this news I thought of my seventh grade grandson who plays quarterback for his middle school team and has suffered many a sack.

Today I drove my friend who I talked about in yesterday’s posting to a hospital clinic where he had two medical appointments. I dropped him off at the front entrance and he had in his pocket the reminders about the clinic appointments. Later in the afternoon he called and I went to the same spot to pick him up. As we were talking in the car he said that he was late for his 11:45am first appointment. I asked him how that could be when I had dropped him off at the front door of the clinic at 11:30 am. He said after he got in the clinic and got a drink of water he forgot why he was there. He eventually found the reminder note in his pocket and showed it to a clinic worker who directed him to the correct office.

I watched my dad died slowly of dementia. It is hard to imagine how much we rely on our memory from everything to applying the brakes on the car quickly to even how to swallow. My dad had been a physical hard worker all his life. He could repair or make almost anything. Once he built a room in basement using a few measurements and the design in his mind. So for him not able to do simple things like cut the grass was very hard on him.

During my month long lingering illness I have worried about dementia. I do not think I have the early signs of it but nevertheless do worry about. I know I inherit some of my father’s genes, hopefully not the one leading to dementia. But what can I do about it, but wait,see and remember.


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We are the Church - Tuesday, October 09, 2012

I have a friend I met when we had our Faith In Recovery support group at Blessed Trinity, before it was another church closed in Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee. He has some mental health or brain disorders that leave him confused and forgetful at times. He had lived with his mother until she had severe dementia and went to an assisted living place. He wants to be normal so hard, drive a car, work a job, be independent but he is unable to. Recently he has been plagued with some other physical illnesses such as diabetes. Bureaucracy messes him up with his food stamps and his monthly SSI payments. He has no family in town and friends come and go in his life.

He is one of my friends who call on me for rides when needed but does not take advantage of our friendship. In fact he is the one that always wants to go bowling, fishing or play golf and I am the too busy one. He knows what true friendship is since often persons befriend him when he has a little money and know he is a soft touch. At times he has to go without food or money since people had taken advantage of him.

He is a good example of a person in need of a Church community. He had one at the Blessed Trinity but now living on the east side of town has a hard time finding another Church community.

The Archbishop recently released a long term plan for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. In 2020 he predicts there will only be around 100 Catholic, male, celibate priests so he plans to reduce the parishes in the Milwaukee archdiocese from around 235 now to just 100 in 2020. One priest, one parish might make sense if you believe a church is hierarchical and needs a celibate male ordained priest to be a church. If a Church is a community of people, like Vatican II said it was 50 years ago, then there are other models, married and female ordained priest, lay parish directors and church communities without a priest. We are the church.


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Deeds Over and Above Words - Monday, October 08, 2012

Actions speak louder than words

Today I received another essay from my friend for his blog, Father At War. This one Which is the Better Path reminded me of feelings I had about peace rallies and protest I had in 70’s through 90’s and now have again.

Actually, after I got out of maximum security state prison in 1970′s I had similar feelings about anti-war rallies but I did not understand it at the time. I just could not get myself to go to an anti-war protest. I strongly felt I had to do something concrete to help young person’s avoid a life of prison. So with a few other persons I co-founded the Independent Learning Center, the first accredited alternative high school in Milwaukee.

Many years later, in 1995, returning to Milwaukee to work with people in need at St. Vincent De Paul stores I gradually forgot my reluctance to peace protest and rallies. I started to attend protest and events like the one last Saturday. However, after awhile I noticed all the bad guys were Republicans and the good guys were Democrats even when the Democrats were voting for war and killer drones. Also at the rallies I noticed the same speakers and words but no follow up action. Some years ago I remembered Father Harak, the director of MU Center for Peacemaking giving an impassioned speech at a rally on the lakefront. One person nearby took his strong words as a rally for taking nonviolent action, perhaps even one involving civil disobedience. He was all worked up and yelled that he was ready to follow Father on the action. Slowly he realized it was all words and no action and was disappointed.

After attending so many Peace Action and MU Center talks and discussion I was ready for ‘action’. But there was no action, unless you call a march or rally an action. Last Saturday, during the annual rally against the war in Afghanistan, I went to a hospital pharmacy to pick up for a friend, without a car, monthly supply of medication. Then I drove the same friend to the Harvest festival sponsored by Walnut Way that also started at noon. The day before I twice drove friends who do not have transportation and are low income to doctor appointments. During the visits I read my book about Drone Warfare by Medea Benjamin. This book is more words about drones but I know Medea and others were doing something about drone warfare by going to Pakistan and taking actions with local peace activist again drones, risking injury and life.

For awhile I was ‘mad’ at groups like Peace Action and MU Center for Peacemaking for lots of words but no action or peacemaking. But now I have come to a similar position that to choose personal contact with persons or direct actions over going to talks and rallies is a choice we make. I still am going to SOA Watch at Fort Benning for I know many of the people there, Roy, Janice, Joyce are doing more than words and I know how they care for the blessed ones in our society, those dependent on others and God.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of Society of Jesus, Jesuits, had a saying: “Love ought to show itself in deed over and above words.” I guess that is where I am at.


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Blessed are the Dependent - Sunday, October 07, 2012

Today scriptural readings at liturgy and the priest’s homily on being dependent on God reminded me of a study I made some years ago in graduate school of who the poor were in the time of Jesus and what this means today. The poor in Jesus’ time were persons like the blind beggar that had no family to take care of him and had to beg for survival; the poor were windows with children with no man to provide for them and thus dependent on temple donations; the poor were children who at the times were considered to have no real rights. When Jesus says “Blessed are the Poor for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” he is talking about the blind beggar, the window and the children, all who were dependent on others, God and temple. He was not talking about the peasants, fisherman and majority of society who struggled daily to make ends meet.

The lessons I drew from the historical Jesus’ words and action have application in today’s world. Being dependent, poor, is considered a bad thing, even by poor themselves. We hear that everyone in American can make it if they try and work hard.

Making home visits the last few days as members of the St. Vincent De Paul we met families that were poor, dependent on subsidized house or on our group for beds to sleep on or basic appliances like a refrigerator. After we gave these persons vouchers for whatever we could, we had some personal conversations with some of the woman. They had serious concerns about their children, environment they lived in and struggles to survive. These are today the blessed or poor that Jesus was talking about.

Last week I drove a few friends in need. without transportation, to clinics or for doctor’s appointment. Whenever I provide this service I feel blessed. The poor, those who are dependent on others and God, are truly blessed.

The other night at the African baby shrewder I saw a friend form the past. I asked where her husband was. She said that his disability of mind, he had suffered in the Vietnam War, had got worse and he was unable to attend events with groups of people. She added that he got by because he was dependent on God. Blessed are the dependent.


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It’s a Girl - Saturday, October 06, 2012

Drawings of Child Soldiers from
the civil war in Sierra Leone

Tonight we attended a baby shower for our Sierra Leone nephew, Mathias’s, wife. I first met Mathias at the church I worked at over 10 years ago. He was a political refugee from the civil war in Sierra Leone. He had to flee to the United States to avoid execution and left his partner and new born baby behind. With the help of friends from the Church and people in the local Sierra Leone community he was able to go to Marquette University, some decent jobs and now he is back at Marquette University working in the Education Opportunity Program (EOP), a program some of us struggled for in the 60’s civil rights battle against ‘institutional racism’ at Marquette University. Last year he was finally able to bring his wife and son to the USA.

Actually Mathias did not know I was his uncle until one day we were talking outside of Church and I told him my African niece, Christiana, was in some of his classes at Marquette University. He said “You are uncle Bob and from that time on he calls me uncle Bob. This is the way, as Uncle Bob, he introduced me tonight to his friends in the Milwaukee Sierra Leone community, many I have already met in other Sierra Leone celebrations.

I am used to baby showers being for women only. However, Mathias, when he invited us, explained that in his culture men also attend baby showers. I have been go Sierra Leone graduation, baptism, birthday and wedding celebrations. They, as with a baby shower, have a number of things in common, a lot of laughter, plenty of good ethnic food, music, and dance and Guinness beer. Guinness is a bold dark Irish beer that one of the men there explained was even stronger and bolder when sold in Sierra Leone.

Mathias, since coming to the United States, has had a strong sense of giving back. One of the first things he did in the USA was to establish a foundation to collect items and money to send back to the war torn country especially for the youth that have survived the war. Now working at Marquette he feels he is giving back by helping other minority and low income students to attend Marquette University.

Sierra Leone suffered a disastrous war over ‘blood diamonds’ and he still healing. However, people who suffer greatly know how to celebrate greatly. This is a gift the people of the Sierra Leone community in Milwaukee has blessed us.

Mathias and his wife soon will be bringing a baby girl in the community in Milwaukee. She will know from nature, parents, family and friend both the great sufferings and joys of life.


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The Assassins - Friday, October 05, 2012

“Assassins”, the musical

Tonight my wife, Pat, and I went to see the musical play Assassins at the Repertory Theater. The play was good but if I had been feeling okay, which my lingering illness prevents, I would have felt depressed. The musical was about the various assassinations or attempted assassinations of presidents of the USA. The play was humorous with good music and lyrics but was depressing since it made the murder or attempted murder of Presidents from Lincoln through Regan seem so normal.

Violence and murder has become so normal in our society that the homicide rate in our country and the death and destruction we promote in other countries, like Killer Drones in Pakistan seem normal. A video sent to me today about using Killer Drones to conduct a targeted killings in Pakistan clearly demonstrates how we are turning the people of Pakistan against us and reinforces the USA as a nation built around violence.

The Milwaukee police chief is now under fire and there are calls for his resignation. The main issue is how the police force deals with young African-American males. When violence or racism is so built into a society, like I believe it is, it takes major and overt actions to make it visible.

The assassins of Presidents are just a small part of the issue of violence in our country. Our acceptance of the homicide rate, of wars, drones and ‘killer lists’ deepens the acceptance of violence and murder as a ‘normal’ way to live. The Assassins, sadly, reflects our society now


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No Just War - Thursday, October 04, 2012

“There is no flag large enough
to cover the shame of killing
innocent people.”

Years ago, just before the beginning of the war in Iraq. a community we belonged to at the time was debating about sending a letter to the President opposing the war in Iraq. One of the members brought up the “Just War Theory” of the Catholic church as a way to justify the war in Iraq. One of elder members, a long time philosophy professor at Marquette University stood up and said: “The just war theory blew up with the dropping of the Atom bomb on Hiroshima.”

In the Christian church two persons St. Augustine of the 5th century and St. Thomas Aquinas of the 13th century are credited for the development of the Just War Theory. Conservatives and Liberals, Republicans and Democrats use the Just War Theory to justify wars and violence. Even President Obama, according to a recent article in the New York Times article uses the just war theory of St. Augustine and St. Thomas to justify his secret “kill list.’’

There is one major defect in using the Just War Theory to justify modern day wars. The word and concept of ‘war’ had a completely different meaning in the 5th century of St. Augustine and the 13th century of St. Thomas Augustine than what war means in the 21st century. What they called ‘war’ was most hand to hand conflict. There were no automatic M-14 rifels, no bombs, no missles, to Apache helicopters, no Killer Drones and certain no atomic bombs. St. Thomas and St. Augustine built their moral principles of a just war on what they understood as “war”. There was no concept of killing with technology or war as preemptive or EndlessWars.

Some great persons of old, like Jesus, and some great persons of our times, like Dorothy Day or Martin Luther King Jr. or Thomas Merton understood that modern warfare could not be justified. We praise these persons but do not follow them. I believe that St. Thomas and St. Augustine would be outraged how their theory is being used to justified modern war.

Even those who use the Just War Theory to show how modern wars are not justified are missing the point. Simply said, there is no just war theory that fits war in our times.


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Endless Wars and Illness - Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Today I received an article from Commonweal magazine about Endless Wars. The article crystallized some thoughts running about in my head about “No Just War.” But I should have put together my thoughts in writing earlier today. Tonight we went to the final Brewers baseball game for the year, the tickets were given to us by our son and daughter-in-law who bid for them in a charitable auction but did not have the chance to use them. I have this lingering or endless illness for over a month that leaves me with little energy and a struggle to focus. Attending the baseball game left me with low energy so the essay “No Just Wars” will need to wait for another day. However, the catalyst for my thoughts on No Just War, the article Endless Wars is available at the Featured Articles web page.


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Praying Behind the Wheel - Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I once had a friend, a theologian, who wrote a paper on the “Theology of Driving”. I do not remember much from the paper except she was serious about the subject.

Today was a very busy day, prayer vigil for another homicide victim and faith sharing hour here this morning. Around 12:30pm I help my African niece moved two large chairs to her new apartment and then the driving began. My grandson Dustin plays quarterback and linebacker for his seventh grade middle school football team. He had a home game today in Pulaski that I was determined to make one game and this was it. I got back to house later than expected, grabbed my camera, or so I thought, and headed north.

Driving on a sunny fall day when the leaves are in full color is actually fairly relaxing. Listening to news and music on the radio, focusing on the road and scenery occupies all your senses which can free your mind from stray thoughts and worries. It is a long drive and I got there after the first quarter. The other team took an early lead and my grandson’s team fought back but lost by one touchdown at the end.

The football field was surrounded by beautiful fall trees. However, when I got there I noticed that I did not have my camera so was reduced to taking a few so, so pictures with my phone camera. (See below)

Nevertheless the game was interesting and afterwards my grandson, daughter-in-law and granddaughter when to pick up my oldest grandson whose junior varsity soccer game in Green Bay and have dinner. We were joined by my son, a police detective, for his dinner break.

After dinner I started the long drive back. At night the visual aspect of driving is not so exciting so more of the senses were focused on listening to radio and feel of the hands on steering wheel. After I got home I was tired but relaxed in mind and spirit. Driving can be a way to let the mind go and focus on the senses, a type of praying behind the wheel.


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“War is Always About Betrayal” - Monday, October 01, 2012

“War is always about betrayal”

A news article in today’s newspaper is headline as “U.S. records 2,000 death in Afghanistan. They are talking about U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in the 11 year war. If you count the civilians deaths, civilian and military wounded, veterans who have committed suicide, the thousands of refugees and the Afghanistan soldiers on our side and those we call the ‘enemy the toll of death and destruction is hard to comprehend. Now as we prepare for our soldiers to leave in 2014 reports are that we will be leaving Afghanistan in terrible shape and in an escalating civil war.

The article ends with a quote from the Pentagon news secretary who says the 2000 deaths is one of the “arbitrary milestones defined by others” that the U.S. administration does not mark… “We honor all courageous Americans who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.”

My personal view agrees with a what was send to me today and written by a soldier who recently came back from Afghanistan.

“War comes wrapped in patriotic slogans: calls for sacrifice, honor, and heroism; and promises of glory. It comes wrapped in the claims of divine providence. It is what a grateful nation asks of its children. It is what is right and just. It is waged to make the nation and the world a better place, to cleanse evil. War is touted as the ultimate test of manhood, where the young can find out what they are made off. From a distance it seems noble. It gives us comrades power and a chance to play a bit part in the great drama of history. It promises to give us identities as warriors, patriots, along as we go along with the myth, the one the war-makers need to wage wars and the defense contractors need to increase their profits. As a nation we prefer to listen to those who speak from the patriotic script. We prefer to hear ourselves exalted. If veterans speak of terrible wounds visible and invisible, of lies told to make them kill, of evil committed in our name, we fill our ears with wax. Not our boys and girls, we not them, bred in our homes, endowed with goodness and decency. For it is easy for them to murder, what about us? It is simpler and more comfortable not to hear, to wish only that they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help and go away. We brand our prophets as madmen. We cast them out into the desert. This is why so many veterans are estranged and enraged. This is why so many succumb to suicide or addictions… War is always about betrayal – betrayal of the young by the old, of idealists by cynics, and of soldiers and Marines by politicians. The biggest misconception about war is that the solders care about politics. I think that most of the soldiers are young people that are having a decent adventure.” When we promote the military life to our young we are leading them down a path of misery. We are leading them to make the lives of others miserable and spreading the myth that people are better off when we invade their country, destroy their schools, homes and hospitals and put fear in the hearts of the people. We, who know better, need to instruct our young on the hazards of such a life.”

Yes war is always about betrayal.


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