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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

Click below to read any post in full.

Just Following Orders - Friday, May 31, 2013

Today I was on the phone with my twice blessed friend Marna when the door bell rang. Pat answered the door and it was a police officer serving a subpoena on me. I said goodbye to my friend and asked the police officer what this was all about. It was a subpoena for my trial on July 15th. I was surprised about the subpoena and so was the police officer since I had already knew all about it. He did serve me with any papers. As he was leaving he said he was new on the job and just doing what he was told to do.

The Marquette security often used that phrase “I am just doing what I was told to do”, police used it on the day of my arrest on campus for trespassing and we hear that phrase of soldiers who did things that they did in war that they deeply regret. Conscience and Christian values tells us that, in serious matters, like in war, just following orders, is not an excuse for doing things against our moral judgment and conscience.

Yet in big matters, like orders to kill or in little matter arresting someone for praying in the lobby of the University library this is exactly the justification used: “I am only following orders.”

I called my friend on the phone, Marna, the M in DMZ community gardens, doubly blessed by God. That is because the Gospels, holy persons in life and personal experience have taught me that God has given all his blessings to the poor, ill, marginalized, and segregated in life and that we must “go to them to get some of God’s graces and blessings. Now since Marna is ‘poor’ (Blessed are the Poor) and ill (Blessed are the Sick) it makes her doubly blessed. She has suffered a lot, even losing a son to gun violence, yet has struggled to stay alive and share God’s blessing and grace with all she meets. She has remained true to herself and her conscience.

The young police officer will hopefully find God’s blessings and grace in dealing with blessed persons who are poor, marginalized, criminalized and ill. In some of the tough situations he will face as a police officer he can either find God’s blessings or grace or experience the curse of life, or both in the same experience. He can only just follow orders and number itself to what is happening around him. I pray he stayed true to his calling and conscience. Just following orders or being true to self and conscience. It is our choice.


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Do the Right Thing for Young African American Males - Thursday, May 30, 2013

A few years ago, in 2010, the County Park across the street the basketball courts and the soccer field were reopen after a construction program to create a good soccer field for a local parochial school to practice. The par three golf course had remained opened and the basketball courts were redone with the construction. The County Park System put up all four basketball rims and nets on the new backboard and they were locked in place. Immediately a small group of neighbors complained about the nuisance of the full court basketball players and linked it with what they perceive as a rising crime rate in the neighborhood. I checked out the crime rate with police department and it turned out that the crime rate on the block was higher when the courts were shut down than when they reopened.

However, there had been a change in the players on the basketball full court that probably was behind some of the vocal complainers. The basketball courts had been around for over 30 years and had started with young adults white males playing full court basketball. There had been an active Asian young adult group using basketball courts and old soccer field before construction.

However, as basketball rims were taken down in park after park in surrounding white neighborhoods after they were used by African American young adult males; many young men had drifted over to play basketball in Doyne Park.

I need to admit there was some behavior problems with some of the young men but after talking with them and hearing their experiences of discrimination the behavior got better. We launched a Resurrect the Rims campaign but nevertheless one of the full court rims was taken down to prevent full court basketball playing by anyone. The two half courts were never a problem and were kept up. For awhile the three remaining rims that were left were locked and taken down each night by the parks department.

After a number of neighborhood meetings and mention of the nasty word “segregation” all four rims were put up last year and left up. The behavior of the young adults improved and even one of the organizers of removing full court rims who lives right behind the basketball courts remarked to me things had changed and we a good summer and fall.

When the weather turned and golf course opened in March we asked the County Parks Department Chief of Administration External affairs when the rims would be restored and since two rims were stolen last year, we asked that the rim locks be restored.

This year the two full court rims were restored but the two half courts, at least to my observation, were not. I thought that strange since no one had ever complained about the half courts used many by children, teens and families. The head of Administration and external relations said she would look into it but never responded.

Today I noticed one of the full court rims were taken down. I called the Director of Administration and she said it was an “operation decision” decision to not put up the half court rims this year and she did not know why one of the full court rims was missing. I ask about the Operation decision to not put up the two half court rims. She said it was a ‘team’ decision although and she was part of the ‘team’, although when I asked her before she did not know why the rims were not up. She added that there had been some complaints, not to her whose job it is to relate to the community, and the compromise was not to put up the half court rims which were never a problem to anyone. With my civil rights complaint I had made some noise and now I guess some unidentified individual or individuals had made more noise than I. I told her I did not think park policy, especially when it relates to issues of segregation, should be made on who makes the most noise but on policy to make the parks safe and accessible to as many persons as possible.

I spend some time today, away from garden work and MAPS research project, on this issue. Whenever it seems we win a small battle for racial equality or anything there is another setback and we are put on the defensive.

I mentioned all the above to say once again the lesson I learned in the resistance to military at Marquette or the Cry of the Poor Petition struggle, do not allow the opposition by ignoring the message or marginalizing the messenger to throw one in a defensive move. One of the fundamental rules of warfare, even nonviolent warfare, is not to allow the opposition to keep you on the defensive mode all the time but to go on the offensive and make them play defense.

There was a new Director of County Parks appointed today and maybe he, like the former Parks Director who had been fired after many years of sustaining an award winning park system, restore our grand parks. No matter what he can do or not do we all must stay on the offensive and keep doing the right thing with our parks and certainly not foster neglect for the endangered species of young Adult African males.


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No More Killer Drones - Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Killer Drones in Yemen

There is much talk about Drones in the air these days. But all drones, unmanned aircraft systems, are not equal. There was an article in today’s newspaper called: Remote-controlled aerial photo industry encountering political turbulence. The concern was that the business use of drones for legitimate aerial photography would be hurt by a new state bill limited the use of drones. As one of the legislators pointed out that as long as these private drones were being used for legitimate purposes, like videoing a ski jump competition, there would be no problem.

The main use of drones, in the past, was for spying. The CIA found drones more useful than U-2 planes in spying on other countries. In the Iraq and Afghanistan war spy drones were extensively used for drones. There might be some questions on the use of spy drones invading privacy right but many would say drones have a role in spy work.

Drones came to our attention when Killer Drones became extensively used to assassinate alleged criminals or terrorist and often killing innocent people. Under the present administration and our commander and chief a new arms race has been initiated in drone warfare. Drones, what many call Killer Dones are used all over the world not only in war zones but in countries not at war. The USA uses Killer Drones to assassinate persons in countries we are not at war with. Each week, our President approves a “kill list’ for the CIA to assassinate persons with drones. Despite what is said about drone accuracy the truth, as reported by witnesses, is that many innocent persons, including children, are killed by USA drones.

Recently Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslims testified on Capitol Hill about the terror of the U.S. drone wars. After having the benefit of a US education he returned to his village to tell them about the glories of the USA. However, six days before the Congressional hearing his village was struck with a drone attack. The man targeted by the drone attack was well known in village and the government could easily have arrested him. Innocent people were injured and killed in his village. He told the congressional hearing how after the attack this same village that mostly by his stories admired America was changed. He said: “Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab.”

Earlier in the Featured Article on this web page I reprinted an article by Bill Quigley, a human rights lawyer called Five Reasons Drone Assassination are Illegal. I think many of us would say Killer Drones are not only illegal but immoral and unjust. Killer drones have escalated warfare and brought a new level of violence, hatred and killing to the world.

Private drones for legal aerial photography most would say are okay. Many would say that “spy drones” are okay. But there is no legal, moral or just justification for Killer Drones. The horror of Killer Drones, illegal, immoral and unjust will only stop when we all, Democrat and Republicans, liberal and conservatives, men and woman, black and white all need to say in word and action ‘Enough’ NO More Killer Drones”


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Privatization + Militarization of Education = Violence - Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Democratic position on Education in Chicago adds up!

One + Two = Three?

Privatization and Militarization of School Equals Violence and Death

1. Chicago to Shutter 50 Public Schools: Is Historic Mass Closure an Experiment in Privatization? 90% of them African American


2 The Chicago Model of Militarizing Schools Chicago has more military academies and more students in JROTC than any other city in the US.


3 Chicago grapples with gun violence; death toll soars Chicago counts far more homicide victims every month — many of them young people — than died in the carnage in Connecticut.

When will we ever learn?


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Veterans Deserve Better Than Hollow Salutes - Monday, May 27, 2013

Two Victims of War

Today, Memorial Day, we honor military veterans. This is good and right but sometimes I think we use veterans to strengthen our own prejudices and beliefs be they true or not. For example, working in the garden and listening to the Brewer baseball game today I heard the announcer read this poem:

“It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN,
who salutes the Flag.”

As he was reading this tribute to veterans all I could think about were the veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. These three wars, and perhaps others, I do belief gave us any of these freedoms. As the people of these three countries Veterans suffered, died and were wounded.

Protesting military training at Marquette often students would come by and tell us it was the military who gave us the right to protest. I never felt this.
Today I received two emails forward from two members of Voices for Creative Nonviolence written Saturday, May 25th, one form Baghdad, Iraq and one form Kabul Afghanistan. They detail how our military veterans form these two wars did not only give us our freedoms but contributed to the lost of freedom, life and limb in these two countries. With deep respect to veterans I offer these two letters. During the period of these two wars we have lost some of our freedoms in the USA and our country has been endangered but our lost is nothing to what the people of Iraq and Afghanistan lost. I do not blame the veterans but the USA leaders who sent and continue to send these young men and women and military weapons of war that result in lost of freedoms for the people of these two countries and our own.

Veterans deserve better than this hollow salutes that excused the mistakes and sins of all of us.

The two letters are below.


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Everything in Milwaukee is Connected - Sunday, May 26, 2013

Borchert Field, home of the
original Milwaukee Brewers
baseball team, now the
neighborhood of DMZ Gardens

Yesterday, Pat and I with the help of our friend Dawn planted a tree in the DMZ Orchard garden in honor of a friend who will be turning seventy soon. It was a gala apple tree. A tree was a birthday gift suggested by our friend’s husband who said she loved trees. The DMZ Orchard garden is one of the latest DMZ gardens planted by our friends Dawn and Marna.

Tonight on the local news I saw a group of neighborhoods gathered around the second DMZ garden to take against the street violence that takes place in the neighborhoods around the DMZ garden. One homicide this year was right at the corner of the garden. I was good to see the neighborhood gather at the garden to take a stand to stop the violence.

The neighborhood around the DMZ gardens is called Borchert Field. Borchert Field was the home of the first professional baseball park in Milwaukee. It was the home of the original Milwaukee Brewers minor league team until a new baseball park, Milwaukee County Stadium was built in 1953. The new stadium at first was built to accommodate the Milwaukee Brewers minor league team but quickly became the home of the Milwaukee Braves Major league baseball team when my wife’s uncle, Louis Perini, moved the Boston Braves to Milwaukee the same year. Borchert Field was torn down and is now occupied by the I-43 expressway that runs through the Borchert Field neighborhood.

They say everything in Milwaukee is connected. My wife, from the Boston area, plants a tree in the DMZ orchard garden in the Borchert Field neighborhood, so named for the Borchert Field stadium which housed the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team until 1953 where Pat’s uncle moved the Boston Braves to Milwaukee. When the Braves were sold by her uncle the new owners moved the team to Atlantic and they became the Atlanta braves. Milwaukee had no professional baseball team for awhile until a new franchise in Settle was moved to Milwaukee and renamed the Milwaukee Brewers. A new stadium was built for the Milwaukee Brewers next to County Stadium and now Pat and I live within walking distance of this stadium, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Everything in Milwaukee is connected!


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Break the Cycle of Stigma and Marginalization - Saturday, May 25, 2013

Map of Segregation in Milwaukee.
North Central Area in black,
is more than 80 % Black

Yesterday was the birthday of my nine year granddaughter. She is a delight to be with and make this old grandfather proud. She is the youngest in our immediate Graf family and retains her wonderful imagination. Today would have been the 41st birthday of my deceased son, Peter, a creative artist who suffered too much and died too young. Peter was the creative person in our immediate family and had a natural knack for music, art, drawing and creative writing. Peter suffered from an illness society cannot accept and deal with, a brain disease or mental illness.

Friends of ours have a very creative young son who presently is suffering from a severe mental illness. They have taken him from hospital to hospital and treatment centers, only to find him being rejected. One of the tragedies of this illness is that persons with it do not realize they need health treatment. Yet they need to agree to treatment to get it, and if they do not because they are not of their illness, they are allowed to get sicker and sicker. My friends have tried everything short of a forced commitment, which is difficult for a parent to do with an adult child and rarely works. What does a parent to do?

Between stigmatizing and ignoring persons our society has figure out how to marginalize persons and messages, even ones that represent their values and beliefs. Environments are created that foster the problem and when people act out as they are expected the stigma and marginalization are deepened.

A very good example of this happening in the city of Milwaukee is in North Central Milwaukee. Over the years this area has been neglected and made poorer and when persons act out to stigma and marginalization they are even further ignored and criminalized.

With the help of friend we are working on a M.A.P.S (Milwaukee Area Poverty and Segregation) project is meant to show how the area most neglected by institutions like the Catholic church, has become the poorest and most segregated area in Milwaukee and thus one where persons in prisons come from and are released, often to come back again to the prison system. North Central Milwaukee by being ignored and marginalized is now becoming a prison itself, a self fulfilled prophecy that needs to be broken. We must break the cycle of stigma and marginalization.


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It is Up to Us to Speak Out - Friday, May 24, 2013

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink
speaking out at President Obama’s
speech on Foreign Policy.

In last night’s posting See, Say & Do there was a little quiz of distinguishing the pictures of destruction of homes by Mother Nature with the killer tornado in Oklahoma and the destruction of homes by US Commander-In-Chief with Killer Drones in Yemen and Pakistan. The answer, my friend, is below. I was going to do another quiz with pictures of children killed by tornado and by drones but I noticed that the pictures of children killed by tornado where of them alive and well where the pictures of children killed by US drones were of them bloodied and dead.

Today listening to Public Radio while driving I heard some commentator criticize and insult the woman, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink who interrupted President Obama’s speech on Foreign Policy. Actually I thought the commentator’s critical remarks were out of place. What can a citizen who loves their country deeply do about the terrible tragedy of Guantanamo Bay and Killer Drone strikes on suspected terrorist and innocent people? Are we to sign another petition or write the President? Medea Benjamin has written a book about “Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control” and knows the only way to be heard is by doing what she did, speak out during the speech.

Today I read her side of the story on “Why I Spoke Out at Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech.” Yes some would call her actions ‘rude’ but she would say President Obama’s policies, not those speaking out against them, are rude. Here is the text of her article.

Having worked for years on the issues of drones and Guantanamo, I was delighted to get a pass (the source will remain anonymous) to attend President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University. I had read many press reports anticipating what the President might say. There was much talk about major policy shifts that would include transparency with the public, new guidelines for the use of drones, taking lethal drones out of the purview of the CIA, and in the case of Guantanamo, invoking the “waiver system” to begin the transfer of prisoners already cleared for release.

Sitting at the back of the auditorium, I hung on every word the President said. I kept waiting to hear an announcement about changes that would represent a significant shift in policy. Unfortunately, I heard nice words, not the resetting of failed policies.

Instead of announcing the transfer of drone strikes from the CIA to the exclusive domain of the military, Obama never even mentioned the CIA—much less acknowledge the killing spree that the CIA has been carrying out in Pakistan during his administration. While there were predictions that he would declare an end to signature strikes, strikes based merely on suspicious behavior that have been responsible for so many civilian casualties, no such announcement was made.

“Speaking out isn’t rude… Terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude.”

The bulk of the president’s speech was devoted to justifying drone strikes. I was shocked when the President claimed that his administration did everything it could to capture suspects instead of killing them. That is just not true. Obama’s reliance on drones is precisely because he did not want to be bothered with capturing suspects and bringing them to trial. Take the case of 16-year-old Pakistani Tariz Aziz, who could have been picked up while attending a conference at a major hotel in the capital, Islamabad, but was instead killed by a drone strike, with his 12-year-old cousin, two days later. Or the drone strike that 23-year-old Yemini Farea al-Muslimi talked about when he testified in Congress. He said the man targeted in his village of Wessab was a man who everyone knew, who met regularly with government officials and who could have easily been brought in for questioning.

When the President was coming to the end of this speech, he started talking about Guantanamo. As he has done in the past, he stated his desire to close the prison, but blamed Congress. That’s when I felt compelled to speak out. With the men in Guantanamo on hunger strike, being brutally forced fed and bereft of all hope, I couldn’t let the President continue to act as if he were some helpless official at the mercy of Congress.

“Excuse me, Mr. President,” I said, “but you’re the Commander-in-Chief. You could close Guantanamo tomorrow and release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release.” We went on to have quite an exchange.

While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners’ throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude.

At one point during his speech, President Obama said that the deaths of innocent people from the drone attacks will haunt him as long as he lives. But he is still unwilling to acknowledge those deaths, apologize to the families, or compensate them. In Afghanistan, the US military has a policy of compensating the families of victims who they killed or wounded by mistake. It is not always done, and many families refuse to take the money, but at least it represents some accounting for taking the lives of innocent people. Why can’t the President set up a similar policy when drone strikes are used in countries with which we are not at war?

There are many things the President could and should have said, but he didn’t. So it is up to us to speak out.

See where homes of destruction are below.


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See Say & Do - Thursday, May 23, 2013

While in my office today I looked through the windows into the backyard and saw one of the trees in our backyard that had been split into two look like two persons dancing. Taking the picture at the left it no longer looked like this but it still seemed like one tree interacting with itself. What we see does not always stay the same and what one person sees another person sees something else.

In the President’s talk today once again about closing down Guantanamo Bay and justifying Killer Drone strikes on Pakistan, and Yemen I keep thinking we have heard all this before and what has been done with both situations is not what he said he would do. He did not close Guantanamo Bay with an executive order as he said he could and would do five years ago. Sending Killer Drones to countries we were not at war with was not limited to killing certain persons who we call ‘terrorist’ but kill many innocent people often leading to more hate of the USA and its wars in the Middle East. What we say is not what we do.

Below are pictures of destruction from the latest killer tornado by Mother Nature in Oklahoma and pictures of destruction from killer drones by our Commander in Chief in Yemen and Pakistan. Both the killer tornado and killer drones killed innocent people and cause major damage to towns and villages. Can you see and say what destruction is from our US Commander-in-Chief and what is from Mother Nature?


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Digital Life Goes On and On - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sick Computer

The big fear of our digital age is that our computer devices will fail. My lap top computer failed tonight. Windows keeps shutting down and restarting even during an attempt to repair the problem. I have been writing an update to our efforts to get the million plus dollars to the needs of poor and marginalized. I used my wife’s laptop to complete the update, but someone other’s laptop just does not have the feel. So rather than take up more tasks while my computer is down I will send the update about the million dollars on this posting. Digital life goes on and on, if you can do it. Hope you enjoy it.

Dear Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki, Corporation Board, Parish Council and People of God,

It has been two years since the Archdiocese of Milwaukee closed Blessed Trinity the last of the 14 Catholic Churches closed in North Central Milwaukee since the 60′s. When the Church was closed the people of God intended that the monies from the sale of the Church property plus the remaining monies from sale of the two churches merged to form Blessed Trinity be used for outreach to needs of people in North Central Milwaukee, the “preferential option of the Church for poor and marginalized.” Here is an update of information that is available. However the question remains: When will the people of God have a public hearing to discuss and dialog with you how to use the one million dollars plus from the sale of three Catholic churches in North Central Milwaukee for the preferential mission of the Catholic Church for the poor and marginalized?

“When I was hungry and thirsty and you gave me food and drink and a stove and refrigerator to store and prepare healthy food and drink.”

“When I was sleeping on the floor you gave me and my children beds to sleep on.”

When North Central Milwaukee, starting in the 1960’s, became more and more segregated and considerably less wealthy, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee rather than “evangelize” the incoming population chose to close and sell the Catholic Churches of that neighborhood. Where there were 17 Catholic Churches with the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to the people in North Central Milwaukee, there now remain only 3 Catholic Churches with this mission. The last Catholic Church to close in the area was Blessed Trinity, itself the merger of three churches: St. Nicholas, St. Albert and Holy Redeemer. When the Archdiocese had an accepted offer of $750,000 it closed Blessed Trinity and transferred its assets to another parish corporation board, headed by the Archbishop, the pastor of the Church, the Auxiliary Bishop and two lay trustees of the new parish. Blessed Trinity had been in a cluster with two other parishes in North Central Milwaukee; but, the new Church was on the southwest fringe of the parish and in a cluster with another Catholic Church totally outside the aforementioned area.

At the time of closure and transfer of assets, Blessed Trinity had about $221,000 in funds from the sale of St. Nicholas in 1993. The property was sold for 1.5 million dollars but a good part of that money was used for legal fees over a dispute involving St. Nicholas schools and some for operating and capital expenses at Blessed Trinity. There was $250, 000 in a trust fund from sale of St. Albert’s Catholic Church. (This fund was dedicated to education and to service of the poor and had already been reduced from $300,000 to $250,000.) The intention of Blessed Trinity, prior to its sale, was to combine these two funds with all monies from its own sale to form one large fund dedicated to: “outreach in our current neighborhood.” As one parish council member of Blessed Trinity, now a parish council member of the Church holding the funds, stated: “the intention was that the money from the sale and consolidation of Church assets be directed to doing the most good in assisting the poor, with as little overhead as possible.”

In June of 2011 the sale of Blessed Trinity fell through and the Church property was again put on the market. The people renting the school, who had made a previous offer for the building, purchased the property for $733,000 in June, 2012. Combined with the other two accounts the total of funds from all sales of these 3 properties was $1,204,000. Since $100,000 to $200,000 of this money was used of these funds, we can only safely say there is a million dollars plus left from the sale of the 3 church properties.

The parish council of the church where the money resides acts as the advisory committee to the corporation board of that parish. The advisory committee established a subcommittee to consider uses of the money and reports to the advisory committee. The number and nature of the proposals has been kept secret from the Catholic Church community of this parish and to the Catholic community at large. The chairperson of the advisory committee who is also the chairperson of the subcommittee, has even censored certain background information on the issue from the popular newsletter published by Catholics for Peace & Justice such as the essay on The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee and the parable Thy Kingdom Come … on Earth as It is in Heaven. (Note: this widely distributed Catholic newsletter is also headquartered at said parish and censured by the same person chairing the aforementioned groups.)

A recent proposal, a Sustainable Works of Mercy Fund, one built from the parable of ‘what could be’, was submitted to the corporation board and the parish council and its subcommittee, the advisory committee. This proposal, since it incorporates some of the other known proposals and expresses the intention of the people who donated the money, was written as a draft to stimulate discussion and thought. It has been completely ignored by the corporation board and parish council advisory committee.

So, it is now two years since the Archdiocese closed the merged parish of Blessed Trinity in North Central Milwaukee. The need for a sustainable fund to do the corporal works of mercy: providing beds, stoves and refrigerators for a people in need in North Central Milwaukee has been ever-increasing and equally … being ever-ignored; when, so much sustainable good could be realized by dialog and listening to people and Gospel.

It is time to break the secrecy of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee about this money, where it came from and how it will be used.

&red& When will the people of God have a public hearing to discuss and dialog with you how to use the one million dollars plus from the sale of three Catholic churches in North Central Milwaukee for the preferential mission of the Catholic Church for the poor and marginalized?


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Same Struggle for Human Dignity and Human Rights - Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Home Residence of African
American Male State Prisoners
(Incarcerated and Released)

Today in the City of Milwaukee Municipal Court the trail of Bob Graf versus Marquette University set for July 15, 2013 at 1:30pm. The issue is my arrest on 11th Wisconsin for my failed attempt to do research in Marquette Library archives on Dorothy Day on May 1, 2013 despite have received a No Trespass Notice from Marquette University on March 1, 2013.

The assistant city attorney tried to get me to make a deal, lower fine for no contest plea. I just said No and it was time to wait and wait for my case number to be called. As I was waiting I looked around and saw nearly all minority persons, Hispanic and African American waiting to be called before the Judge. Everyone seemed to be poor. Many of the cases called before me were plea deals involving the lost of drivers licenses. One Hispanic young adult was told via a translator that he needed to be paid a certain amount of his fine to get his license back. He explained via the translator, that without his licenses he could not work and thus could not pay any of the fines. The Judge worked something out with the defendant via the translator.

This reminded me of some of two recommendations at the end of a recent report from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute. Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013. They are:

Restoration and repair of the driver’s license for current prisoners and released ex-offenders with fixable problems should be a priority. Those unable to secure or repair their license should be given assistance obtaining a state photo ID.

Driver’s license recovery programs also should be supported for the 27,874 non-offender African-American men in Milwaukee County with driver’s license violations (many for failure to pay fines and civil forfeitures) preventing them from legally driving to employment.

But back to the Trial that puts Bob Graf, me, the defendant against Marquette University, the complainant. The real issue is not trespassing but my participation with others in resisting Marquette University teaching war and killing on the Jesuit Catholic campus. I will need some legal help on how to do this since the case is dependent on the No Trespass Notice I received. The assistant city attorney said it does not matter why the ban was given to me and it did not matter that the Marquette Security officers told me if I left the library I would not be arrested. The power of major institutions to ignore religious and ethical values yet prosecute little people like me needs to be a trial. Hopefully we can use the trial to deliver the real message that Marquette Teaches Killing in violation of the Gospel and Catholic Church values.

The two issues I am involved with, using the million dollars of Catholic Church money from closing parish for a sustainable fund for corporal works of mercy and to resist Marquette, A Catholic Jesuit University from hosting Schools of Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force on campus in violation of Christian faith and values, are starting to come together.

The young Hispanic man trying to keep his license so he can keep his job and me, the elderly white adult trying to act on his conscience are one in the same in the struggle for human dignity and human rights.


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App to do the Right Thing - Monday, May 20, 2013

App to do the Right Thing
Free Download

A week ago I wrote a Letter to the Editor called What is a Parent to do?. I wrote about the experiences of two sets of parents, our friends, who have adult sons seriously ill but unable to get them medical attention. The letter to the editor was never published but neither set of parents was able to find health care for their severely ill sons. Both young men have brain illnesses which we call mental illness, where the young adult has to be of healthy mind to consent for medical attention, something nearly impossible when the young man has a mental illness. I heard from one of the couples today how they got their adult son three times to consent to hospitalization only to find the hospital releasing him in a day.

This last one, hospital releasing today, the son was prepared to stay for awhile but because he hesitated to take medication the hospital released him today. His roommates are finding his behavior terrible distressing and do not want him back. Taking him to their own house has been very hard on the whole family and not healthy for the son.

It is hard to believe that in this day and age where we are starting to learn so much more about the brain, persons with mental illnesses are treated this way. In the name of protecting a person rights they are taking the rights away. I know and written about this feeling of helplessness.

At a St. Vincent De Paul conference meeting tonight one of our members mentioned how a particular woman receiving a voucher for some basic human needs seemed to her to feel entitled to these things. I held my tongue while some agreed with her and one brave young woman said how we should not judge the person. Later in the meeting, on a completely different subject matter I had the opportunity to mention how the Constitution entitles all of us to rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. I went on to say how the Gospel says we all have rights to beds, stoves and refrigerators. People laughed as did I, but there is some small truth to the message.

Tomorrow I go to my pretrial on charges I was trespassing when I tried to used my Marquette Library card to do some research on Dorothy Day in the Marquette archives. No one has given me a reason why I was banned from this Catholic Jesuit Marquette University, after 57 years of Jesuit education and association. The only thing that comes to mind is my participation with others over the years to get Marquette to Be Faithful to the Gospel and not host military training schools on campus. I guess they were tired of ignoring us and decided to make an example of me.

The Catholic Church is doing the same thing, ignoring the poor, in our request to use the 1.1 million dollars resulting from sales of three Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee to provide a sustainable fund for works of mercy. It has been two years since the closing of the merged Catholic Church of Blessed Trinity and most of the money is still in bank accounts, between 1 million and 1.2 million dollars depending on how you count and how much has already been spent. Proposals how to spend the money have been discussed behind closed doors by a very small group of ‘advisers’ to the owners of the money, the five person Corporation Board headed by the Archbishop.

Not offering health care for adults with mental illnesses, teaching war and killing at a Jesuit Catholic University, the Catholic Church ignoring the plight of the poorest and most vulnerable, what is happening to our world today? We have technology and Apps for everything but cannot figure out how to do the “right thing.” We need an App for that?


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Keep Our Balance! - Sunday, May 19, 2013

My body is getting old and tired. My eyes, ears and mind do not work quite right and need help. Yet I cannot stop from speaking and acting out whenever I see injustice or violence. It is just in my nature to resist war and to struggle for justice, human dignity and respect. It is natural just like a tulip in my garden coming up each spring to grace our presence.

I listened to a TED talk by a brain scientist describing having a stroke in her left brain, the part that orders things, makes sense out of things, adds meaning and definition to life. Living with her right brain active only she had felt a deep sense of peace and everything seemed to be one. She eventually got well but the experience made her think about what side of the brain is more valuable in today’s world. Naturally it is the right side, the creative and peaceful side of the brain, being fully in the moment, she concluded the world needs more of.

Like our brain nature is created with balance. It is only when we human beings mess with nature, like genetic foods or with our brain, by an educational system that values the left brain, reading, writing and arithmetic, do we get out of balance. Environmentalist tell us how out we have made nature out of whack and experiences of war and violence tells us how much we have messed with balance of mind.

How do we change the world? I do not know? But I know if we struggle to live in balance with nature and our mind, leaning on right side brain, we can change the environment to make it easier to be good. As the old saying goes “We are the ones we are waiting for”.

As we get older we need to learn more and more how to keep our balance.


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Basketball, Gardens, Desire and Suffering - Saturday, May 18, 2013

This weekend my son, David, brought my grandson, Dustin, down for another weekend basketball tournament. This statewide tournament of the best of each grade is dominated by teams from Milwaukee. They are taller and more skilled but, most of all, they are tougher. Hustle and aggressiveness can pay off in basketball especially for 13 years old. This private league takes the best of players from all over the metro area and when picking the best players from a large area like Milwaukee metro and a small area like Green Bay metro there can be a true imbalance. Next weekend my grandson’s team, Green Bay Metro, is going to Chicago for a weekend tournament. This will be playing basketball on a new level. Playing tough teams can, in some ways, be good for him and his teammates. It forces them to get better quickly. Tough competition makes their team tougher.

With basketball dominated I did not have much time for gardening but I got some in. My neighbor across the street is really into growing plants of all times and each year has a weekend sale for what he calls Schuller gardens. He has become quite an expert on garden at has his own website for Schuller Gardens.

Last night Pat and I went to theater production called One Night with Janis Joplin at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Between songs the actor playing Janis Joplin talked a lot about the blues. She talked about blues being when you want something and not get it. The blues was the feeling when you cannot obtain what you desire. This thought reminded me of something at the root of Buddhist thought: Desire causes suffering. A person with no desire or wants would not suffer; but the person, without other attributes of Buddhism would not be a person with much feelings and certainly not a Blues artist.

My grandson’s team can learn a lot from this big city teams is they do not let their desire to be like these teams get in the way. Having ambition to play basketball better is good but too much desire to be like another team can cause suffering.

My neighbor of [[ |Schuler Gardens has gardening skills far beyond I possess. His front yard garden has won awards from the city. If I desire to be like him I will suffer but if I admire and learn from him I will benefit.

Desire, be it to be a better basketball player or gardener, can be good if we can separate the desire for the wanting. If our desire to be something we are not, it is sad and cause suffer. If our desire is to be all we can be than we can bring joy in our lives. Be it basketball or gardening


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Make the Same Mistake Again? - Friday, May 17, 2013

Mark with Houston at Houston’s
high school graduation in 2009

Last week I wrote a “Letter to the Editor” about caring for person with mental illnesses, What is a Parent to Do?. I did not bother to edit the letter to make it two hundred words or less since I knew it would not be published. The “powers to be” have decided to repeat the mistake of the 80′s by closing institutions and sending person with these brain illnesses to the community for care. It sounded good but when the money for community care they did not come people with illnesses ended up not in hospitals or community treatment centers but in prisons and homeless shelters. Now our neglect to treat mental illnesses as other illness like heart condition or cancer we are about, at least in Wisconsin, to repeat the same mistakes.

When I was listening to Hear and Now on Public Radio the other day a writer, Mac McClelland, from Mother Jones magazine talk about her article Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin. Below is a summary of the article from the Hear and Now web page and the article itself can be found at Mother Jones magazine at Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin. Tomorrow I will put the article on the Featured Article web page but for tonight read and learn from the past and pray, hope and work that we do not make the same mistake again. Read and the article Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin.

In the 1980s, mental health care transitioned away from institutionalization and toward integrating the mentally ill into communities, with the help of medication and community health centers.

The medications came, but community mental health centers did not. And budgets cuts have meant fewer beds for people with mental illness in regular hospitals.

The result is that often the only way to get help for a loved one who is severely mentally ill is by calling the police.

In a piece in Mother Jones magazine, journalist Mac McClelland writes about how the issue affected her own family.

Her cousin Houston had been displaying symptoms of schizophrenia. He was seeing a psychiatrist and was on medication, but he became increasingly violent.
Houston’s parents asked the psychiatrist what to do. He told them to call the police. For a number of reasons, the family was reluctant to do so.
One night in 2011, Houston stabbed his father 60 times.

McClelland writes, “It’s insanity to kill your father with a kitchen knife. It’s also insanity to close hospitals, fire therapists, and leave families to face mental illness on their own.” Read the article at article Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin.


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The Garden Can Wait - Thursday, May 16, 2013

Today was a good day to work outside in the Garden but I had a higher calling from a friend. My friend has been in terrific pain for many years, had many operations, seen many doctors, and tried a number of pain control treatments and remains in pain. Family and some friends have abandoned her and she now lives in some kind of apartment building with minimal care. She has a van she purchased before she got too sick to drive and now lays in the backseat of van when she needs to go somewhere. When she does get out it is many hours of many stops for her and her driver which nowadays is I.

When I became 70 last year I said I was going to do less driving of friends in need and it worked out for most friends but her. She tried many agencies and has some good caseworkers who find housing and care for her but cannot use any public and private services for transportation for lack of finances or because of the delay she would face. Today I spend 5 1/2 hours running errands with her or without her. If I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself and that is probably true. However, I do realize that with ever burden comes blessings that greatly outdo the effort.

But getting old and with some physical and psychological needs of myself I will try to find her some other person that can share the burden/blessings of being her friend.

Society is becoming less and less concerned about its most vulnerable citizens, poor, alone and ill. We have relegated help and aide to agencies and organizations, especially for those who are most vulnerable.

In the Judgment of Nations parable in Matthew 25 of the Gospel, Jesus tells how nations will be judged in the last judgment by how they treated the least of the people. By that standard the USA is not doing so well. Making home visit to people in need in our St. Vincent De Paul conference, seeing how hard it is for persons like my friend to struggle with life and knowing how persons with brain disorders are treated, mostly in prison and jails, makes me sad and wanting to despair. However, in a way these experiences help me appreciate my life, family and privileges more and drives me to persist money from sales of Catholic Churches in Milwaukee in the poorest, most segregated area be used for the Cry of the Poor and to stop the local Jesuit Catholic University to stop teaching war and killing.

So the garden can wait; today it was a time to reap some blessing.


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MAPS - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Integrated blocks
more than 80% Black
more than 80% white
other populations mix

With the help of a friend and researcher I am hoping to start a new project call MAPS, Milwaukee Area Poverty and Segregation. In the 2000 and 2010 census Milwaukee was the most segregated city in the USA. Also Milwaukee has be designated the fourth poorest city in the USA. What I tried to show in my essays The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee is the most segregated area of Milwaukee is also the poorest. Related maps, like the imprisonment and release rate of persons, or unemployment overlap the same area.

All this might seem obvious to someone looking at Milwaukee from the outside but many people, especially those in power, seem to ignore this information. When some talk about segregation they often think about the open housing marches of the 60’s that ultimate got an open housing law passed. However, Milwaukee is the more segregated than it was in the 60’s. The great war against poverty has been diminished and now when people need basic help like a bed to sleep on, a stove to cook food or a refrigerator to keep food there is only the St.Vincent De Paul society and due to closing of Churches in poor and segregated areas they are limited and cannot serve all those in need.

All this did not happen naturally, As mass transportation was limited, as individuals, business and churches moved out, as the quality of public education was lessen and politicians ignored the area, the area got poorer and more segregated. This naturally lead to more crime and was a self fulfilling prophecy. The more the area was neglected, the worst conditions become and the more it was ignored and feared.

Milwaukee prides itself in being an ethnic town. We have ethnic festivals for Irish, Italians, Polish, Native American, Germans, Greeks and other ethnic groups, including a big one for African Americans. This is great but festivals and parades do equal integration and equality.

I cannot change people. If they do not want to hear or see what is happening I cannot change this. However, I and others can show in our personal life and decisions and by projects like this one, MAPS, what is really happening.

I believe that deep down in all human beings and in nature there is drive for equality and dignity of all persons. “We are who we are looking for” if only we can see and hear. The MAPS project might be a small way to grow awareness of what is happening to our beloved city and help us to have the courage to change it


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Wonders Of Nature - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Black spots on butterflys
are called stigmas

The day is done and I have moved forward and backward. Forward movement was in faith sharing and working in the garden. Backward movement was in responding to two emails to activities taken my parish council to secretly deal with 1.1 million plus received from closing of three Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee. It was clear from one of the parish council members he had not read or ignored these three essays, the Parable and the draft proposal for a sustainable works of mercy fund that he had been given. I understand why now Jesus said often, usually after telling parables, “Let them hear who have ears to hear and see if they have eyes to see.” It is difficult or impossible to discuss, especially by email, with a person who sets his or her mind on an attitude and will not discuss or dialog on information. I responded, hopefully not reacted twice today to the secrecy and ignoring of parish council to the message to use money inherited form closing church in this area for a sustainable fund for persons and families in need.

We touched on this issue of people making up their mind and not wanting any criticism or dialog this morning in Faith Sharing. It is hard to argue with such a person who puts you and/or message in a box and then stigmatize it or you. Yet not to respond to misrepresentation is not right and plays into the hands of those who want to ignore the message. Striking a balance between taking in personal blows and sticking to the message is difficult. Reacting to a person is easy but just makes the stigma grow. Sticking to message, not reacting and keeping an open mind to listen to others, is difficult. It is that old “Love your friends as you love your enemies” thing all over again.

I had a chance to work in the gardens outside today. If you make a mistake in gardening nature, in time, will let you know. If you do something successful Nature lets you know. Nature just listens and communicates by responding not reacting to our gardening work.

The politicians, military and gun supporters admit it is not natural to shoot a person yet they keep promoting wars where young men and woman need to “kill or be killed”. If something like killing is not natural it means that no therapy or medication will solve the problem of teaching people to kill without conscience or by remote control with Killer Drones.

At Faith Sharing this morning someone reminded us of the lessons in the book “I learned all I need to know in kindergarten.” In kindergarten we learn how to share and the wonder of nature and life. Seeing and hearing the wonders of nature is all we need to know.


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Pat’s Grass - Monday, May 13, 2013

Pat’s Grass Today

My friend in Texas, a wonderful lateral thinker sent me some cotton seeds today. He is usually giving me a tough time about my praise of Mahatma Gandhi so he sent with the seeds a picture of Gandhi using a spinning wheel making Khadi from cotton. Khadi is handspun and hand-woven cloth. Gandhi making Khadi was a symbol and real way of independence for India since was it was a big market for the mills of England. Growing cotton and making your own clothes was an act of rebellion and sparked the nonviolent revolution resulting in India’s independence.

My gardens front and back are already dedicated to flowers, herbs and vegetables. The gardens in front, rain garden full of perennial flowers and raised garden, are the only areas that get good sun. So in the raised garden in front is for tomatoes, basil, eggplants, peppers, all the plants that need sun and water. In the back I have plants like lettuce, mint and kale that do not need as much sun. The back of the house faces south but large trees, garage and houses block sun for some of the day. The front gardens is on the North side of the house but the high sun of spring and summer allow the sun to shine over the house onto the gardens.

There is a strip of grass in front of the house, between raised vegetable garden and house. When my wife had objections about tearing up grass for front yard gardens I dedicated that grassy area to her. I call it Pat’s grass. When I gently showed her the gifted cotton seeds tonight she read over the packaging and suggested I plant the cotton in pots which I can bring in sun room in spring and fall so the cotton plants can have four months of frost free warm sunny area they need. I have some sun lights in the sun room over the Growing Power box which I am using now to start tomatoes plants. So that may work and we can keep Pat’s grass.

Gradually I have been working on Pat’s grass, pulling dandelions and planting new seeds so it looks pretty good right now. So neighbors may have more grass to cut but Pat’s grass is doing great and growing cotton will need some creative thinking.


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Slowing Down! - Sunday, May 12, 2013

Watching Basketball is a Slow
Down activity

My brother from Iowa was in town for a visit this weekend as were two of my grandchildren with my daughter-in-law. My brother was here for a visit and for the stuffed Grape leave dinner we planned. My grandson was here for a basketball tournament as he plays for a 7th grade private team out of Green Bay Metro. Next weekend he will be here for a basketball tournament again but this time just with his dad, my son. There are just too many things going on these days for all three grandchildren to visit at one time, as they did when they were young. My young granddaughter was busy teaching my brother and my wife how to use a new app called Voxer which turns you cell phone or, in her case, I Pod, into a walkie talkie. Between all their activities and their smart phones, pads and computers and of course school and some TV there is not much time for my grandchildren to be just hanging around.

I am not complaining, or maybe I am, since some of the activities seem like healthy and fun ones. My granddaughter wanted to go out for a run and I was the only adult to say okay. We ran up the street and on the bike/walking trail through the park across the street. Fortunately she has small legs so between my fast walking and slow running and her running in place I was able to keep up with her. She told me about a running club she has twice a week after school. She likes running a lot. Since my son’s family live in a rural area and take bus to and from school I asked her how she got home after running. She told me two of the boys on the dairy farm across the road also run and their mom takes her home.

As I get older and my my senses are not too sharp I feel more a need to slow down. My grandchildren and their parents are going in the opposite direction with more and more to do, at play, school and church.

My grandson was bemoaning the fact that he might need to miss “Bible Camp” this year, which he really enjoys, because of this basketball team, soccer team, refereeing soccer and other activities. Can too many activities be harmful as too little activity for a child? I do not know but know my desire to be childlike does not go too far after three years old.

I did sneak a little work in the garden today. No one wanted to go out with me. My granddaughter did for a little awhile but wanted to get back into the kitchen to help Grandma with the grape leave meals. It is was good visiting with my brother, watching basketball games of 7th graders and enjoy a good Middle Eastern meal with family. But if we could only slow down a little?


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What is a Parent to do? - Saturday, May 11, 2013

We have been struggling for years to have persons with mental health illnesses to get treatment as persons with other illnesses would receive. Recent events compelled me to write this Letter to the Editor of our newspaper.

May 10, 2013

In the last few days family friends have told us of severely ill adult sons who hospitals would not accept. These young men were not involved in car accidents or had stokes or heart attacks. In those cases 911 could have been called and they would be taken to hospitals. These two young men suffer from brain diseases and thus, unlike other acute illnesses, need to consent to hospitalization. Brain diseases, mental illnesses, are not treated the same as other diseases like cancer or heart disease.

Kathleen Eilers, the former and present administrator of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division of Milwaukee County, calls for in a MJS opt-ed piece a “community-based system of services for people with mental illnesses” where people with acute hospitalization needs would be getting services in community hospitals. A community based system of services sounds great just like it did in the 80’s where thousands of personal with mental illnesses were released from institutions. However, without sufficient community funding many of the ill ended up in jails, prisons or homeless shelters. The country jail and House of Correction house are the largest institutions for peopele sick with brain diseases. Does anyone really think that in this day and age of “no more taxes” we can build a good community recovery system?

Also what will happen to person very sick like the sons of my two friends? Part of mental illnesses often is that people do not realize they are sick; yet hospitals will not accept them unless they voluntary agree to treatment. What are loved ones to do? A ‘three party commitment’, which is difficult, usually results in a temporary fix and jails and prison only makes the illness worst.
What are parents to do? Wait for a tragedy like the Kuester family in Waukesha did as reported in today’s MJS. Wait for the adult to take his own life as my son did at the age of 39. All ill persons have rights to health care despite their delusions or types of mental illnesses. Let us start a new civil rights movement for persons with mental illnesses and their loved ones.


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Being Positive - Friday, May 10, 2013

“Positive” by Peter Graf

On a news report today about living longer it says that optimist leave longer than pessimist. For most of my life I have been called an optimist but probably now many would say I am not. Part of the reason was a change in myself and part a change in society.

In the society being critical used to be considered an asset. Questioning things, debating, critical conversations were a sign of respect and good will. Now days if you criticize too much or enter into a creative conflict of differences you are seen, often, as a troublemaker. You can criticize conservatives or liberals, Democrats or Republicans but to criticize both sides of one or the other is considered being negative. “If you cannot say anything nice just do not say anything.”

The other change has been in me. After the shadow of death descending upon me I have been more aware of the communion of people and more sensitive to death destruction wherever it occurs. Being aware of death can be peaceful but people do not see it this way. If you remind them of the terrible deaths “Killer Drones are causing in Pakistan you are being a pessimist and people do not like to listen to a pessimist.

So as society changes to avoid personal conflict among friends and loved ones and I change to be more aware of suffering and death in the world around me some would say I am no longer an optimist.

But I believe I am the same old optimist. On the other side of death and destruction is life and wonder. Part of the criticism and pointing out flaws comes out of love and respect for the other person or institution. If I did not care about a liberal friend who are silent when Democrats do things they would criticize if a Republican did the same thing or about the Catholic Jesuit institution of Marquette University training killing, I would simply be silent and indifferent when they do things I find going against the values or standards they stand for. As Elie Wiesel said: “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.”

The above is not to excuse myself from being negative. Being negative as a reaction to something is not good. It is better to take in the negative, as nonviolence teaches, and keep on moving ahead, if that means taking positive action, resisting or criticizing. A person with a positive and optimistic attitude will live longer, I believe, as long they are true to themselves.


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War and Mercy at Home - Thursday, May 09, 2013

While waiting for some wiki help to change the cover picture on this web page and make some other changes, I have thought of two project that, if I have the time and ability, might be worthwhile. One is the Works of Mercy Vs Works of War project which will highlight the research and writing done on two projects. The Works of Mercy will be on why the Archdiocese of Milwaukee should use the 1.1 million dollars it received from closing the merged parish of Blessed Trinity to establish a sustainable fund to provide beds, stoves and refrigerators for persons in need in North Central Milwaukee.

The second project is related. It will be the MAPS (Milwaukee Area Poverty and Segregation) which will visually demonstrate how the public and private neglect for North Central Milwaukee, the most segregated part of the most segregated city and the poorest part of the fourth poorest city in USA is in part responsible for high homicide, unemployment and imprisonment rate of this area. We cannot change persons but we can build an “environment which it is easier to be good”.

The Works of War will highlight the role Marquette University, Jesuit Catholic, is a major contributor to Works of War. I will try to highlight lots of research and action done on this issue over the years to get Marquette to Stop Teaching War and Killing.

One can say that both of these issues are Catholic Church related and ask why I, a Catholic, am picking on these two issues for Works of Mercy Vs Works of War project. There are many reasons why but the best one for me is something I learned from the lives of ‘saints’ I admire, like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day.

In the essay Conversations Between St Ignatius of Loyola and Mahatma Gandhi I have Gandhi describe what he means by ‘Swadeshi’ which is somewhat like our word sustainability. In his autobiography he says “Swadeshi is the use and service of our immediate surroundings over those more remote or foreign.” In other words, as our Moms taught us, “charity starts at home”. If we cannot love and make our immediate environment more just and peacefully doing the works of mercy and resisting the works of war how do we expect to do it in other places.

In an article sent to me this morning, Who is my neighbor? the prosecutor of the three persons protesting nuclear bomb manufacturing asked the three if they “ protested nuclear weapons by traveling to nuclear powers other than the United States.” They gave various good answers but I would say “I did it out of love for my country.” As St. Ignatius of Loyola says, “Love is best expressed in deed over words”. Thus before we can preach to other countries about not building new nuclear weapon factories we must stop doing it in this country. These three persons called The Transform Now Plowshares are pointed a basic truth of humanity, change starts with self and country. How do expect people to respect us when we send Killer Drones to destroy their homes and lives.

Often doing the works of mercy can be inconvenient and difficult and resisting the works of war can bring hardships. But what is new? Anything worth struggling for is that way and without working on it, doing the works of mercy and resisting the works of war, it does not happen. We can start with the war and mercy at home.


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Marigolds in Garden and Life - Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Today while shopping at Aldi’s grocery store, where many people using food stamps shop, I purchased something they cannot buy with food stamps, marigold flowers. Each year I plant marigolds around the raised vegetable garden on our front lawn. A long time ago someone told me that marigolds repel insects. This seems to be true for some plants, although my research says it attracts some insects. But it works for me as the tomato, pepper, basil and eggplants I plant in the front garden seem to flourish bug free. I planted the twelve marigold plants I purchased today but will need some more to place them on all four sides. Another good thing about marigolds is that they get larger as spring and summer goes on and stay in bloom till late fall.

We all need some pretty flowers like Marigolds in our lives and they are really appreciated if they repel the insects that bug us. I got to thinking of marigolds I can plant in my everyday life to protect me from stuff that bugs me. One thing I can do is be careful, very careful of what I write in emails. Emails are good for communicating information but, for me at least, are poor for expressing opinions and ideas. They, like a literal evangelical interpretation of the bible, can easily be misrepresented. Articles, blogs and essays seem like an easier way to communicate opinions and ideas. In person to person communication by face or phone one can always have an exchange back and forth to clarify thoughts but not so in email.

Another marigold in my life is limiting my time at talks and meetings. Over talking, something I know a little about is bothersome but so can be over listening. To really listen takes energy and focus. To hear things deeply and not doing or being able to do anything about what you hear can be frustrating. There is no need to hear the same thing over and over again.

Music can be a marigold. Relaxing music soothes my mind and keeps the insects of life away.

Reading a book, especially a novel, is a good marigold. It involves use of the five senses of the imagination something TV does not do.

Prayer, Meditation, Mindfulness and other means of quieting the mind are marigolds. There are enough marigolds in life to surround the garden of ourselves.


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No Differences? - Tuesday, May 07, 2013

The last few years I have noticed a lot of similarities between groups that are normally opposed, liberals vs. conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans. For example take Israel’s bombing raids in Syria. The democratic president says it is self defense and the Republicans agree.

There was an article in the newspaper today saying how diverse parties want a bill restricting what people in Wisconsin can purchase with Food Stamps. All parties agree there is no solid evidence of what people purchase with Food Stamps but antidote stories say it is not as healthy as it can be. Waiting in line at Aldi’s where I shop I have noticed many people pay for qualified food and drink with food stamps. To me and my anecdotal story they seem to purchase about the same balance of food than I do, a few chips or unhealthy snacks but mostly basic items. In fact, there are many articles that seem essential for healthy living that do not qualify for food stamp purchase, like dental creme, paper towels, soap, laundry deterrent etc.

I have also noticed that almost all parties ignore the poor and marginalized, although some talk more about them. I have been trying to point out how North Central Milwaukee has been neglected and marginalized by the four P’s, personal, politicians, private and public factors. Some groups might talk about the neglect of the poor but talk is cheap and does nothing to change the situation.

More military spending, more neglect of the poor, avoiding conflict knows no differences between people.


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In the Garden, Learn to Live in the Present - Monday, May 06, 2013

Garden crops and Growing 2012

Working in the garden again today brought back my focus. That seems strange to say but it is true. Our minds wander at times and it is hard to stay in the present and in focus. I find some church services, for example, very hard to stay focused on what is happening. But the garden, maybe because it captures the attention of all five senses, makes it easier to stay in focus.

In the garden you hand touches the rake or ground. Your eyes see what you are doing. Ears hear the cars driving by or the birds chirping. The smell of earth, flowers and grass are in the air. The taste of the drink of water or of a dry thought is there. Working in the Garden is an activity that uses all five senses and maybe that is why it is easier to in the present.

St. Ignatius of Loyola had a way of praying that uses all five senses of the imagination to pray. I wrote and used this method and the past and probably need to dust it off, publish it on this site and, above all, use it. When I was using it I noticed that I found the Gospel stories in everyday life, like reading the newspaper. By uses the five sense of imagination in prayer I was able to more easily read the Gospel in my everyday life.

On this site before I have listed the blessings of a garden. Here is another one to add: in the garden we learn how to live in the present.


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Good News Heals, Bad News Hurts - Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sometimes the sadness, suffering, violence, despair of life and my own frailty and faults are overwhelming. There seems to be nothing I can do about it yet do not want to sink more into hopelessness. At these times something seems to come along, if I am looking for it, to show me the way out, at least for now.

Tonight it was an email with an article from Frida Berrigan called A Place Where It Is Easier To Be Good. I was blessed to have met Frida once at a Catholic Worker event and to have known, in the past, her father, Phil Berrigan and her uncle, Dan Berrigan. She talks about her experience living at the Catholic Worker House, Maryhouse, in NYC and how that experience was a real education for her. She writes:

“Dozens of times, I have seen people ask my uncle Dan for a recipe to stave off despair and hopelessness in the face of almost inexorable pain, suffering, institutional callousness and inertia. I think they are looking for the next Catonsville Nine, the next Occupy, the next Pay it Forward, the catalytic thing that will change everything. He does not play this game. He does not prescribe actions for others. Rather, he speaks very simply. He says that he only reads the New York Times about once a week, and he pours over the Catholic Worker newspapers that come in from around the country and the world.
Reading about the modest efforts of earnest, real and imperfect people to care for their neighbor, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, care for the sick, bury the dead in their midst, to see Christ in each person — this is the news that lifts his heart and gives him the strength to keep going.”

This is the second time this week a wise person has told me how he watches very little news and seeks out all the good things that are happening around him.

Being a news addict I can see how ‘too much information’ on what is happening, like the second bombing of Syria by Israel today, violent accidents and acts, the destruction of our public school system is just too much if I am trying to be sensitive to life around me. I can even go back to walking through life asleep and cut back in the bad news and focus on the good news, like the new flowers in the rain garden. News addictions like any other addiction feeds on itself. I do not think I can go cold turkey but can clearly cut back. In the news watching time I can read, reflect or, like a Catholic Worker be with persons struggling to survive. Less bad news might mean more awareness and perspective on what is really happening in my life and world around me. It will take some discipline but it is worth a try. Good news heals while bad news hurts.


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Around to the Beginning - Saturday, May 04, 2013

Spring Around to Daffodils

Into the hollow hole of my heart
I drop deep down
Into the land of dreams and silence.
It is scary here but I stay as long as I can.
Finally I need to breathe, go up
And talk and talk till I cannot stop.

In 1969 as we were applying for marriage license I was asked for my job or profession. At the time I was unemployed and about to go on trial for the Milwaukee 14 nonviolent action. I thought awhile and wrote on the form, ‘poet and politician’. The poet was more accurate a description although I wrote very little poetry but the politician description was how I was describing acting on my conscience, not what we think a politician would do.

As I grew older I had many jobs and professions, advertising sales magazine publisher, teacher, youth minister, community organizer. Now, at 70, I feel I am turning back into a poet and politicians. My poetry is different, much darker and my politicians label remains the same, the need to act on conscience.

The more we go around the more we go back to the beginning.
Time rushes forward and around
Yet we must stop talking to hear
Where we are.


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One is All, All is One - Friday, May 03, 2013

One Seen Design by Peter Graf

Tonight by way of the web I heard that Israeli planes had attacked people and things in Syria and had flown over the airspace of Lebanon, the country of my ancestors, in clear violation of United Nations rulings.

Marquette University reported tonight on TV news that 11 cases of alleged sexual assault were reported over the last month.

I am a person who likes to connect things, even if it sometimes means oversimplification. I have met people with keen minds that can connect events, some suffering from mental illnesses.

Earlier today, before hearing of the Israeli attack and the sexual assaults, I thought what connects many of the peace and justice issues that concern many people of good faiths, politics and cultures? I think I can break it down to one general category.

Do Peace and Resist War and Violence and treat creation with love and respect.
Peace does not mean an absence of violence or is not something passive. It is an active love and respect for all of creations and in particular poor, outcast and marginalized. With respect for all human life and consciousness that we are all connected would there be this violence we see in the world today.

Militarization of our culture and our schools would fall under this characterization as well as harm to our environment and killing persons by the remote control of Killer Drones. Love, respect and dignity for all would demilitarize our world. The power of nonviolence, if we believe, is much more powerful than any bomb.

In an environment that rejects war and violence and when all are love and respected,no matter who they are, can sexual assault survive? In nations that respect life would violence be used to create peace?

I know I am oversimplifying, like saying that the “means does not justify the end” or “violence begets more violence” but maybe there is something to simplification, like a child who naturally loves and needs to be taught hate, violence and prejudice. Maybe God did create all creation to be good and if we have eyes to see and hearts and ears to hear we can find God in all creation, simply saying all is one and one is all.


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Need to Know in Lives of Saints - Thursday, May 02, 2013

Twice today rain prevented work in the garden. The first time was the rain in early afternoon after I got home and the second time was a hard rain later after I was working raking the rain garden. I guess rain is better for gardening than the snow other parts of the Midwest.

I finally got the tomato plants started in the unheated sun room but had to put the heater on at night when temperatures drop into the 40’s. Some say that the very early spring in March last year was not normal but I say the very late and cold spring in May is not normal. With man-made climate change the normal of nature will never return.

I still find myself addicted to news on TV when I know that most of it is just entertainment and does not really tell the story of what happened. Like the weather I have been manipulated to believe that news is normal and real, not fake and censored. There is also the web and a site you can trust and has good gatekeepers to get the news, but it is not as entertaining. Naturally the news we do not want to hear, like all the children in the world being killed by USA, is news we do not hear on the news.

A few years ago the local newspaper had some stories on the crisis intervention program police officers were taking how to handle persons with mental illnesses. After three recent reports of police shootings of persons with mental illnesses that were lightly reported in the news I callwd to the agency who was doing the training and wrote to the reporter who wrote the articles asking what was the story on these homicides. I have not heard back yet.

I have been criticized and marginalized by leaders in my own Catholic Church for requesting a dialog about using the 1.1 million the church received from closing churches to do the corporal works of mercy in the same area where the money came, North Central Milwaukee. A friend told me today not to bring it up any longer at our church since I have been associated with this issue and it gives those who marginalized me a chance to ignore the message more by dismissing the messenger.

Marquette University, by banning me for the message that Marquette be faithful to the Gospel and no longer teach war and killing on campus. By denying me rights to use the library they are taking away the one thing Marquette had a value to me, the right to do research in the Catholic Worker archives.

What to do? My research on the life and journey of Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker, gives me a hint of what to do—keep struggling to do the works of mercy and resist war and violence in a nonviolent way. This means no violence of words or actions and a willingness to suffer insult and perhaps injury and acting on one’s conscience. When Dorothy Day took a strong stand against World War II a number of Catholic Worker house of hospitality disbanded, including the original one here in Milwaukee because they could not agree with her. She did not react but keep on doing the works of mercy and works of resistance and now there are more Catholic Worker houses in the world than ever and she, dismissed by many in the Catholic Church is now being considered for sainthood. Dorothy Day did not look to the hierarchy of Catholic Church or institutions like Marquette University for guidance. Instead she looked to the lives of the Saints. I have my own group of saints that I look too: Dorothy Day, , Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., St. Ignatius of Loyola, Frederick Ozaman, founder of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Blessed Franz Jagerstatter and my friend Lorenzo Rosbaugh. You will notice that I have quotes or web pages for eight of the nine of them on this web page

I do not need to know more or attend more talks and events to know “What they do”. I have enough wisdom and grace from these ‘saints’ and from my own life to last me forever if I can only hear the message and see these persons in my own life. All I need to know is in the lives of these saints.


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Changing Meaning of Words - Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Martin Luther King, Seeking Justice
or Receiving Justice

May 1st means a lot of things to many people. It is a pagan holiday, a day to honor Mary, the Mother of God, a Workers rights day, a day to show off military might and here in Milwaukee a day to focus on Immigration reform.

The meaning of May 1st changes from where you are and who you are. So does the meaning of words. I used to use “family values” to describe basic human values of concern and love for all people. Than the conservatives took it over and made it stand for conservative values only.

I thought of myself as a person for peace and justices. However, now when one says they are “seeking justice” they usually mean punishment or revenge.
“Peace through strength”, war, violence and nuclear power sure messed up the word peace. Government existing for the “common good” is gone these days that now government exist for the individual.

Human rights and dignity are now often due to like persons, like Americans, but does not seem to apply to most woman, children and men in places like Pakistan or Palestine.

During the Vietnam War a famous general said that “to save the village we had to destroy it”. This makes no sense to me as the police officer who just shot eight times and killed a person with mental illness as the person was attempting suicide.

Another word change was thrown at me today by a friend. He used the word “patience” to mean keep silent about an issue with poor and Catholic Church which was supposed to be resolved over two years ago. Patience now seems to mean, in certain instances, keeping silent.

One reason I am attracted to poor, ill, children or many elderly person is that say often what they mean. I like that and have little patience for word games. A family without a bed, refrigerator or stove does not use the word “patience” to describe waiting and frustration for “justice”, the old kind of justice.

Sometimes I think people can misrepresent words or other people, even change the meaning and think it makes a difference. When will we ever learn words are just symbols to describe reality and by changing the meaning of words changes nothing in reality.


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