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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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

If War is a Racket - Monday, September 30, 2013

If War is a Racket,

Then What is a Military Diocese?

A Mafia Chaplaincy?

(No hyperbole intended)

Tonight,on the verge of a Government shutdown, this recent article by Father Charles McCarthy seems just right. See Featured Article on If War is a Racket.


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Blessings and Grace to Poor Not Rich - Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rich man in torment and
Lazarus with Abraham

Today we made a St. Vincent De Paul home visit to a wonderful woman who had lost a 13 year old son in a house fire in 2009. She was so proud of him, her daughter and her three grandchildren who live with her. She showed us pictures of new granddaughter on her phone and some old pictures from the one picture book that had survived the tragic fire.

She needed beds,stove and refrigerator so we had to give her the terrible choice of two of the three, due to limits of our St. Vincent De Paul funds. Having to make that kind of choice really bothers me since the church we work the home visits from is taking the 1.1 million it received from closing our former church Church in North Central Milwaukee and putting it into an endowment fund with the interest just going to capital improvements of Church and some outreach.

She was kind and gracious to us and when we were leaving she reached out to us. I first thought it was for a hug but than realized she want to pray with us. Pray we did, than hugs and good by. I wish the Archbishop, the pastor of the church and few leaders who are making the decision to store the money away over using it for something like the Sustainable Fund for the Works of Mercy could have this experience.

Today’s scripture reading in Church was from the Gospel of Luke (16: 10–31) where Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about a rich man and poor beggar name Lazarus who both die. Lazarus is carried away by angels into the bossom of Aberaham while the rich man at whose door Lazarus begged for scraps, went to the netherworld where and was in torment. The rich man saw Lazarus far off at the side of Abraham. He cried out, “ Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue.” When Abraham said he could not do this the rich man begged him to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers so they would not come to this place of torment. Abraham said they had the prophets and Moses to listen to and sending Lazarus back would do no good.

In our struggle to have the money from the closing of Blessed Trinity Church go to the works of mercy we wrote a parable Thy Kingdom come on earth as it was in heaven. It was a positive parable of ‘what could be’ if the money was used to create a sustainable fund for the works of mercy.

Perhaps we should have written a modern day parable based on the story of the rich man and Lazarus or the rich landowner who enjoyed an abundant crop and instead of sharing it builda new barns to hold it, only to die. The Pharisees of today are Catholic Church members who say one thing and do another. As a friend once told me “God has given all his graces and blessings to the poor and there we must go to share in them.”


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‘reject’ Retruns - Saturday, September 28, 2013

Today Pat and I had the privilege of bringing a meal to a shelter for homeless women and families. We like working the third floor which is for families. Tonight there were lots of young children on the family floor. Little children were everywhere and standing off to the side were two teens listening to music devices. After the meal was served I want to talk with them. They reminded me of my days as a Youth Minister at a church when to get attention of youth I had to become a ‘rap artist.’ My rap name was ‘reject’. Raps came to my mind but the staff member was rushing all of us to leaving the room. The teens moved to the hall to talk. I ending reading some books to a young child till it was time go.
So here is one last rap for ‘reject’.

The Attitude of Gratitude gives us the right to say
Alleluia, all is well, thanks to all today.
We can go hungry or be full, no matter
It is what is inside that counts not the patter.
Being in the homeless shelter for two teens
Was something strange by any means?
They both had their I Phones or device
That drowned out any bad or good advice.


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Dorothy and Phil are with us - Friday, September 27, 2013

Phil Berrigan

Today Marquette University agreed to allow us to have peaceful, nonviolent protest against the presence of military training on campus. This is a major victory in our struggle of resistance to Marquette’s Teaching War and Violence on campus but does not end ROTC on Marquette campus. It will make it easier to educate students, faculty and staff of military training on campus which violates the values and traditions of this Catholic Jesuit institution.

This victory motivates me to update the history of this 44 year history of resistance to ROTC on campus.
In my note of gratitude to friends for this step forward in our struggle I expressed gratitude to Dorothy Day and Phil Berrigan. One friend wrote back questioning why I mentioned these two persons. Simply stated these are two persons I personally met and knew who were strong opponents of ROTC on a Catholic campus. Researching Dorothy Day’s writings in the Catholic Worker archives at Marquette I saw what a strong opponent of ROTC on Catholic campuses Dorothy was, refusing awards and honoree degrees from any Catholic University that hosted ROTC on campus. Phil Berrigan I knew from the sixties but the last time he was in the Milwaukee area I went up to him after his speech and reintroduced myself. He told me how he was denied a room on campus that day, due to his opposition to ROTC, to speak to a small group of peace and justice students. He was a strong resister of ROTC on campus and strongly encouraged me to do something about the military at Marquette. It was hard to say no to Phil and I finally gave him a weak yes, saying I would look into it.

He got sick and died not so long after this meeting and I felt a strong moral obligation to follow thru on my promise. When I took a good look at what the military was teaching and training for on campus I felt a strong commitment to follow in footsteps of Dorothy and Phil to end ROTC on campus.

There are many others, living and decease, I could thank and expressed gratitude for the formation of my conscience. I chose these two because I was blessed to know briefly these two strong resisters of military training on campus.

Today Brain and I made four St. Vincent De Paul home visits to people in need of basic items, like beds, stove and refrigerator. We had to limit what we wrote vouchers for because the officials on Catholic Church are deciding to put the 1.1 million dollars given one church due to closing of a Catholic church in North Central Milwaukee into an endowment fund, hide it away over using it to provide a sustainable fund for works of mercy in North Central Milwaukee. In the pastor’s letter today he writes of the ‘abundance’ we share in this fall harvest season as well as the upcoming vote to put money intended for those in need into an endowment trust fund.

The flip side of Dorothy Day’s and Phil Berrigan’s resistance to military on campus was their love and sharing of abundance with people in need and marginalized by society. They both were based in a Catholic Worker house of hospitality. They are both deceased but in spirit are with us begging us to resist evil and share our abundance.


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Leaflets and Poop - Thursday, September 26, 2013

Exhibit at Milwaukee Public

Today Brian and I were doing our Fast 20 minute leafleting in front of the Marquette University Library when a middle aged lady with grey air asked if she could pass out some flyers. I said yes and give her a small batch skeptical if she really meant it. Thinking it was just the two of us of I had made only 100 flyers with quotes from Dorothy Day co-founder of the Catholic Worker whose archives are at Marquette. The bottom headline read “Catholic Worker and ROTC are Not Compatible.”

The woman went up the street to leaflet and soon she was out. I went to give her more and this time I asked her name and if she was part of the University. She said her name was Carol and she was going by on the bus when she saw us leafleting and decided to stop and help us. With three of us leafleting we ran out of 100 leaflets in about 15 minutes. She came up to us and thanked us saying how readily the students took the leaflets from her. If she only knew how hard it was to give out leaflets over the years when we had posters and banners with us. Now we were passing out quotes from Pope Francis, Jesuits and Dorothy Day about how faith and violence are in compatible and how Marquette and ROTC are incompatible.

We met tonight to discuss our “next step” in the resistance against Marquette teaching war and violence in ROTC on campus. We learned a lot since the rally and trial this summer to end ROTC on campus and hopefully we draw from this experience and step up our campaign.

Jerry, a kind and warm friend, who has been living with us for a few weeks, is moving on tomorrow. He will visit family and then go to the Franciscan community in Burlington to live. He will be missed.

My veteran friend Dan came by today to help with garden and he got some more sifting of compost to make castings done. Castings, worm poop, are what make the garden grow so well. This weekend is the beginning of the new public museum special show called “The scoop on poop.” Poop of all kinds have played on large role in the evolution of the earth. Worms, creatures that go back to times of dinosaurs, have played a large role in renewing the face of earth by their poop or castings.

These postings are called “Diary of the Worm” in honor of worms and their contribution to our world. The web site was called Nonviolent Worm until I came back from India and saw how cows and their poop were essential to the Gandhian way of life and nonviolence.

Half page leaflets and poop go together as ways to grow.


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Profiteering From Illness! - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Countries in Green have some
form of Universal Health Care

The newspaper headline on Monday read “New health insurance co-op takes grass roots approach” and Tuesday’s headlines reads 92, 000 to lose BadgerCare coverage”. What is wrong with this picture? First the new health insurance co-op is Common Ground which claims to be an affiliate of a group founded by Saul Alinsky, “a fame leftist community organizing best known for his book “Rules for Radicals.” The Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative is a non-profit insurance company starting with federal loans “totaling $36.4 million from the Affordable Care Act. Common Ground admits that its health care plan will have higher cost than other health care programs, basically not for poor and those who cannot afford health insurance now.

I was drawn to Saul Alinsky and his community organizing training program by a community organization on the West Side of Milwaukee. I attended and was trained as a community organizer in Chicago by the Industrial Areas Foundation, IAF, which claims to be true inheritors of Saul Alinsky. After I became a community organizer I found out there was a number of umbrella organizations that trace to roots back to Saul Alinsky. However, what all this various branches had in common was a form of confrontational organizing against the ‘powers that be’ that Saul Alinsky used successfully to give the poor and marginalized a say in their own neighborhoods.

If Saul Alinsky was alive in this age I am sure he would be in the forefront of some form of universal health care “The U.S. stands almost entirely alone among developed nations that lack universal health care.” See map on the side and below taken from The Atlantic. The which is based on a simple principle that no one should profit from illness. The Affordable Health Care act continues profiteering from illness while all Universal Health care systems “provides health care and financial protection to all its citizens. It is organized around providing a specified package of benefits to all members of a society with the end goal of providing financial risk protection, improved access to health services, and improved health outcomes.”

The next day’s headlines show how far community organizations like “Common Ground” have got away from the vision of Saul Alinsky. Under the Affordable Care Act individual states, like Wisconsin, can choose to reject federal funds. This in Wisconsin 92, 000 persons have been notified they will no longer be eligible for BadgerCare that was targeted to low income persons who do not qualify for Federal Medical Assistance. The rest of the person in BadgerCare will pay a significant amount more for health care insurance.
The Republicans and Democrats have moved the debate about some form of universal health care to a debate about the Affordable Care Act, often called ObamaCare. So in the meanwhile the poor and marginalized will have access to affordable, good health care and those who are profiteering from illness will become richer.


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Milwaukee 14 Today - Tuesday, September 24, 2013

September 24, 1968

Today is the 44th anniversary of the Milwaukee 14 action, destroying 1A Selective Service files in Milwaukee. At the time we freed a few from being force to serve in the military, go to jail or another country. Today there are no 1A Selective Service files to burn but now military training “to kill or be killed” as been embedded in our educational system and culture. Our military budget has increased tremendously and now ranks higher than the next 10 military budgets of countries combined.. We sow more death and destruction to more people all over the world and our more effective in teaching soldiers how to kill reflexively, Killing without conscience and 22 military personnel or veterans commit suicide each day.

How do we today say Teach War No More. What is our Milwaukee 14 Action Today?


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Blind Faith - Sunday, September 22, 2013

As greed grabs more persons in its hold
Charity suffers and bleeds.
Gandhi said: Capitol exploits the labor of a few to multiply itself” (The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p.339)
I say: “American capitalism exploits the labor of many to enrich a few.”
The news says “the top 400 persons in USA earn more money than the value of the entire economy of Russia.”

Russia used to be the heart of communism, the evil state we used to hate and fear.
Now China, a communist state has embraced capitalism and it is our friend that loans us money.
The new bad guys are “terrorist” who do not have the sophisticated weapons, like Killer Drones that we possess and use to kill.
They just kill just as we do but not as effectively and organized.
As the rich get richer the rest of us need to pay more for war and military to Keep us safe or just kill more and more,
Which means that family and friends of those we kill will kill more and more of us.

My wife, friend and I are in midst of making 14 home visits to people in need in North Central Milwaukee.
We are limited in what we can offer in terms of vouchers but the need for such basics like beds, stove and refrigerator grows.
Our church received a gift of 1.1 million dollars from closing of a church in North Central Milwaukee that had existing since 1897.

A few have chosen for the many of the Church to hide the money away in a trust,
Rather than using it to provide basic for people in need and seed money for more money for poor.

The “Common Good” has been replaced by the Individual Good.
The American Dream is no longer to provide for family but to get more and more money for oneself and close family.

The President of Marquette University, a Jesuit Catholic university, is resigning, just two years after he received the job.
Why we do not know but I like to think he can no longer be a hypocrite by leading a Catholic university that violates its sacred trust
To teach peace not war and killing as they do; To teach the ‘Common Good’ not Individualism as the norm.

It is now fall and the garden will soon fade away and die but I know next spring the garden will grow.
My little Faith says that our local Catholic Church and Catholic University will realize the errors of its ways and change,
But my mind says this is not happening and will not mind.

I pray for the faith of Father Solanus Casey or the Centurion, Roman soldier in the Gospel who says: “Lord I am not worthy that you come under my roof, but only say the word and it will happen.”
Without such a blind faith there is no real hope and without hope there is no love and charity.
My prayer is God grant me greater faith so I have the courage to do Your will


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Simple & Delicious - Saturday, September 21, 2013

Father Solanus Casey

This morning I attended a workshop about Father Solanus Casey, a Capuchin Franciscan priest who is the first United States man to be declared “venerable” by the Roman Catholic Church, a path toward Sainthood. The Capuchin priest writer/lecturer who spoke told us how he was simple man doing simple tasks. Casey served primarily as “porter”, or receptionist and doorkeeper. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. He was a simple priest yet a healer and prophet. An estimated 20, 000 people passed by his coffin prior to his burial in the cemetery.

Before last week I did not know anything about Solanus Casey. A friend driving with me in the car mentioned he was reading a book about Solanus and found his character. Another person riding with us in the car mentioned that he too knew about the holiness of Solanus and how being a doorman he was a blessing to many persons. At the next couple stops in the car we all tried to hold the doors of the car and houses open for others, just like Solanus.

The quiet humility of this man touched me. I feel, unlike Solanus, I walk too loud through life. If I see or hear what I believe is wrong or unjust I feel compelled to speak up and do something about it. There is a time to speak out and a time to be quiet and it takes wisdom to know the difference.
For dinner tonight I made two homemade pizzas using some whole wheat dough I purchased at the store. The harvest of the garden, pasta sauce made from home grown tomatoes, green peppers and cherry tomatoes topped the pizza along with two types of cheeses and other good stuff. It was an easy dinner to make with our present house guest helping to cut up the pizza toppings. The pizza was simple and delicious just like the life of Solanus.


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From Waste To Growth - Friday, September 20, 2013

Nothing to write about tonight. Too much to write about tonight. My veteran friend returned to working in the garden today after being gone for six weeks. It turns out he was in the VA hospital and perhaps this time he get the help he needs.

We saw a movie tonight “Enemy of the State” that was made in 1998 but looks what we now know in 2013 in really happened with the National Security Agency (NSA) in terms of spying on all civilians. A friend watching the movie with us tonight said he saw it after it was first released and thought it had a ‘science fiction’ aspect to the capabilities of the NSA but knows now it was not a paranoid fear of ‘big brother’ spying on us but real.

My veteran friend screened a bucket full of worm Castings today. I spread some on the Ghost peppers that are still growing in the front year garden. There are many green ones that need to turn orange/red before the fall ends.

Maybe this crazy world of arms and spying is just a big bunch of compost made from waste and like worms we just need to digest it and poop it out the other end as enriched growing material, like castings or worm poop. I, for one, certainly had my fill of all the crap around me and just need to let it all go. Maybe I could use the enriched poop to grow something really worth while, like hops or ghost peppers. From waste to growth?


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Suspicion Slows Us Down - Thursday, September 19, 2013

On this last day of summer it was warm. Tomorrow when fall starts the weatherman says it will be cooler. My excuse today for not working in the garden more was it was too hot but I will need to come up with a new excuse tomorrow or just do it.

Last night’s posting was not put on the Diary of the Worm on since my computer connection to web was down. I thought it was just an odd occurrence until it happened tonight. I checked with my smart phone and my wife’s computer and the connection was fine. I shut my computer down and when it restarted I was reconnected. I still would have not thought of these events as suspicious except tonight when I went to send an email to a long list of Catholics about the special collection for the Special Collection in Catholic Churches to help the Archdiocese for Military Services a message went on the screen that the message was not sent because of “Suspicious Activity” on my computer. Even that would not have made me suspicious except the same thing happened last week. Eventually, after sending the message out three times to different groups of people and putting in a lot of codes to avoid spam I got the simple message out. When it happened last week I checked with Yahoo who runs the internet service for my ATT account and they said it was ATT. Should I be suspicious of Big Brother, ATT? I tried not to be suspicious but with all this strange stuff it is hard not to be.

Government spying seems to be a big thing today but why would anyone care about me. It is true I am of Lebanese descent on my mother’s side and there are some professional hackers who made it impossible, due to an Auto Spam Robot, for me to have a comment page on my Diary of the Worm postings. At one time some Marquette University Students even put up a Facebook page called “Hate Bob Graf.” But being suspicious is a distraction and waste of time.

All this talk reminds me of two persons who picked up the flyers I was passing out today with quotes about how “Faith and Violence are Incompatible” from Pope Francis. A student who has passed me up a few times before calling out insults today stopped to look at the flyer. He pointed out the bottom when we say “Marquette and ROTC are Incompatible.” I asked him to read what the Pope said about Faith and Violence. He said “I do not care a sh*t about what the Pope says. Also today I recognized an ultra conservative professor coming out of the Library. I offered him a flyer and at first he brushed it aside. When I said it was quotes from Pope Francis he took one. He looked to the bottom of the page when I have my web page listed and said “That is the web page” and moved on.

Being suspicious is normal but unless we restrict it can slow us down.


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Exception To Exceptionalism - Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This posting was delayed from last night due to lack of access to the ATT Server

How do you spell exceptionism?

Tonight I read an article by historian Bernard Weisberger called Taking Exception to Exceptionalism. He was focused on President Obama’s speech last Tuesday to the nation on the crisis in Syria. The president proclaimed near the end of his speech that we could act alone in bombing Syria because “That’s what makes America different,” said the president. “That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.”

The doctrine of “exceptionalism” is one that Republicans and Democrats embrace and has lead to war and violence around the world. At home here I see no evidence of American’s exceptionalism. In every major western country I know about each citizen has a ‘right to health care” and a “right to education”. In the USA we must pay dearly for our health and profit is made on our illnesses. Education is the USA is become more and more out of the financial reach of most Americans. As the per student expense spent in Milwaukee Public School system and a good education is more and more out of the reach and only Milwaukee Public Schools suffers from a ‘failure rate’ in school districts in Wisconsin.

Does ‘exceptionalism’ mean that as our culture of violence increases we refuse to look at the cause of crime? We arrest more and more persons and fail to heed what our Republican governor’s commission said in 90’s: “Prisoners and Prisons are bound to grow as long as the root cause of crime—poverty, lack of education and lack of family support—go unaddressed.”

We Americans are not ‘exceptional”. We did not invent democracy and I have a hard time saying our elections are truly democratic. Censorship, neglect of basic human rights, segregation, the high homicide rate, the top 400 persons earning more money than the value of the entire economy of Russia are not signs of exceptionalism but of greed and pride. I too take exception to exceptionalism.


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Segregation Revisited - Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Waters of Segregation

Some years ago, 2007, I wrote an essay called “The Sweet Waters of Discrimination in Milwaukee”, sent it to a local politicians and even got a response from a few. I have been thinking of doing an update of this essay since discrimination in Milwaukee has been significantly increased.
This can be seen in the recent upturn of violence in Milwaukee, the USA and around the world. Justice has become to mean punishment and revenge not dealing with the root causes of discrimination and violence. From the war in Syria, to the assassination by Killer Drones led by our President, stigmatization of persons with brain illnesses, to the rising homicide rates in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago politicians and many TV talking heads again are avoiding dealing with causes of culture of violence.

There was a moment after 9/11 when people, not justifying the tragedy, were talking about the cause of such hate of USA that people were willing to give their lives for revenge. But soon the talk turned to us getting revenge in wars with Afghanistan and Iraq, both countries are being destroyed by violence. Arrest, violence and new security precautions will do little to prevent the next mass or individual murder.

As I tried to show in the M.A.P.S. research, discrimination, criminalization and poverty go hand in hand. The Mayor and Governor, two political opponents, were on TV today talking about tearing down more abandoned houses in certain neighborhoods to make the neighborhood safe. The first DMZ community garden was started on a block with about eight vacant lots from destroyed houses. Tearing down more houses on the block will not make it safer.

When a Catholic University, like Marquette, can openly teach violence and reflexive killing on campus, when an Archdiocese can ignore the neighborhoods that are segregated and poor how can we talk about the real causes of violence, segregation and injustice? I do not know but will continue to follow my conscience.


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Benefits of Being a Fool and Ignored - Monday, September 16, 2013

“Being ignored” has some side benefits that I need to take more advantage of. One of them is doing more things that you like to do, like for me, gardening and reading. However, instead of taking advantage of ‘being ignored’ I keep thinking of new ways to promote the missions of ending ROTC at Marquette University and the Catholic Church sharing the abundance of money with poor and marginalized it received from closing Catholic Churches in Milwaukee. Also this new cool weather gives me no excuse for not doing more in the garden, besides harvesting and I have some interesting books to read.

I have concluded I am just a ‘fool’ very aware of ‘dying’. I feel compelled to do all I can do on these two issues. I do not work for ‘results’ or ‘outcomes’, as they are called, but simply to “do the right thing” according to my conscience and to struggle for the Truth.

St. Ignatius was a soldier of the court when he gave up his weapons and fine clothes to follow the Way of Jesus. He continued to use military language but now Lucifer or devil was the military leader urging us on to work for wealth, honor and glory. Jesus, carrying the cross, was the military leader asking us to be poor, accept insults and be humble. I think the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese and Marquette University act more like soldiers loyal to Lucifer than soldiers loyal to Jesus Christ.

Now I wish I was a “fool’ for Christ, as they say and not such a weak and flawed nonviolent soldier. But I am grateful to be in the military of Jesus being trained ‘how to die’ than in the military Lucifer being trained how to get more wealth, even when it means more poverty and killing. Conscience can be beautiful and a terrible thing to obey, but to be true to ourselves we must obey. “Over the pope … there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” (Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger now retired Pope Benedict XVI, in his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes.)

So being a ‘fool’,‘scapegoat’, weak or marginalized has some benefits


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Seriousness and Silliness - Sunday, September 15, 2013

Father and Son, Silliness
and Seriousness

Amidst the seriousness of world and local events there is our annual trip to Green Bay area so I can go with my daughter-in-law to a Green Bay Packer football game. My son and his wife have season tickets but since my son, a police officer in Green Bay, works the game my daughter-in-law takes a family member or friend with her each home game. I get the first pick and usually pick the first home game of the season when I know the weather will not be freezing as it was in a few games I have attended over the years.

Watching the game on TV at home is a much better way to watch the game. However, to experience the game there is nothing like being present at a game at Lambeau field in Green Bay with 78, 200 plus fans. Today’s game was especially enjoyable since Green Bay had the lead early and kept it and there was plenty to cheer about. Although the seats are high up in the end zone the excitement is felt everywhere in the stadium.

Maybe this is rationalization but I look at this annual journey to Green Bay as an experience of silliness, in the best sense of the word silliness. Some of us take violence, betrayal, killing seriously. Sometimes we need to lighten up and just do something that has little meaning in the serious world but lots of meaning to Green Bay Packer sports fan. I know football is a violent sport but it is a sport that can draw you in with lots of non-stop action.

One of my son’s sons is a quarterback on a very good 8th grade middle school football team. My wife and I hope to get up there to watch a game this fall. Watching his and team play lacks the excitement of the big crowd at Lambeau field but is up close and personal.

Tomorrow I go back to seriousness but silliness is good once in awhile.


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60′s to 60′s - Friday, September 13, 2013

When I was a young man in the 60’s and I started to feel deeply, I remember going to see a movie with some friends. Everything we say or did that evening seemed so superficial and the awareness of what was happening in the world weighed heavily in my heart. It was a strange feeling, having fund with friends yet feeling removed and remote from the experience.

As time went on and I got exposed to more and more, faster and faster to life the softness of my heart harden and I walked through life not feeling as much. I walked thru life with only moments of feeling deeply. In my 60’s, having moved backed to Milwaukee and with my son’s illness and eventually death, selling my business and moving back to Milwaukee, being friends with people in need and the ill, my sense of feeling deeply slowly came back. Often I block it, like at a prayer vigil for a homicide victim, so I do not feel the death too deeply, but like with my son’s death the shadow of death does not leave me.
In the 60′s, as a young man I felt I could change things, change the world. As I grew older, in my sixty’s I started to understand that I could not change the world by myself but just make a difference, even be it for a few persons.
From the 60’s to my 60’s I grew in age and, I like to believe, in wisdom. I do not vote because, right now, voting to me does not make a difference. Visiting people in their need, being present with them and offering them a voucher for a bed, stove or refrigerator does make a difference. I cannot stop wars or the military/industrial/educational complex but with others I may be able to have Marquette University think about being a school where violence and killing is not taught. I cannot save the world but maybe I can get my Catholic Church to store less money away and give more to those in need in our neighborhood.

My mother taught us that “Charity starts at home” and Gandhi and other persons of wisdom told me before you go out looking for a religion or some treasure start with yourself and where you are at.

So right now I am 70, tired and my mind says stop. What I am now looking for is sleep. What are you looking for? Good night!


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Doing and Trusting Without Fear - Thursday, September 12, 2013

“unwanted” by Peter Graf

It seems like the ‘hot’ weather that came late is finally fading away, or so says the weatherman. Now that is getting cooler it is time to turn up the heat on Marquette ending ROTC and the Archdiocese using money from closing Churches in North Central Milwaukee for the poor and marginalized in the area. The parish council vote to put the money in a trust fund for future use was postponed tonight for the second time and will be on the agenda again next month. After trying to have me arresting for going to Church at Gesu on the Marquette Campus the university has turned on the “ignore button” again hoping we will just go away and stop telling students the ‘truth’ about the military on campus teaching violence and killing.

The question now becomes how to turn up the heat in the Catholic Church and use of this money and on Marquette University to be faithful to the Gospel and stop hosting Departments of Military Science on campus? It would be nice if the Pope would just step in and so No to teaching violence and killing at Marquette and No to hiding the money from poor and marginalized. I may send him another letter but doubt, like the last one, if he will ever see it.

How to increase the heat while still being nonviolent? I pray for guidance to God through the intersection of Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. I seek the advice of my ‘elders’, old, young, poor or marginalized.
I was driving an African American male friend who has been in lots of trouble and finally has worked himself into a clean and deliberate lifestyle. I asked him about something important going on his life and he responded that “God will take care of it.” I believe in trusting God and letting what would be, be, but also know we must do our best to do the right thing and work with God. There is a fine balance between “trusting in God” and doing what you can.

The balance between hot, doing whatever we can, and cold, trusting in God is one we must walk fearlessly.


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Marquette Fears Truth - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A few years ago some friends and I during an international Peace conference hosted by Marquette University watched an academy award nominated documentary film called Soldiers of Conscience. Although it was made in 2008 during the Iraq war, with the cooperation of the U.S. military the film revealed something few Americans knew about, the military teaches reflexive killing, Killing without Conscience. One friend purchased a copy that night and since that time we have purchased a few more copies. We have shown the film at a number of private events but cannot get the film shown again at Marquette University.
The Center for Peacemaking at Marquette will not show it as well as the Theology Department at Marquette University. The film shows the Army and the conscience objectors view of killing. Individual students, teachers and administrators at Marquette who have seen it say it is a great movie or our quiet on their views yet none will sponsor a showing of the film on campus.

Why the censorship of this film on a Jesuit Catholic campus when it has been shown on public television, at schools all over the USA, at military sites and is now is available free on YouTube? If you watch the film I think the answer is simple. There is a scene in the film from a ROTC class at a university, like Marquette University, where the reflexive killing is explained to the students. The Catholic West Point ethics teacher who narrates a good part of the film might believe it is alright to kill human without conscience but the Catholic faith condemns it. The Catholic Catechism states: “The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2242).

When meeting with the President, after a sit-in, at his office I gave the President of Marquette my copy of the film and asked him if he would each it. He said he would and probably did. The film was returned without any comment. One teacher I know shows it to his class but no group will dare show it on campus.

In last night’s posting, Power of Fear or Love we quoted Gandhi as saying “Power is of two kinds, One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love.” M.K. Gandhi CWMG, Vol. XXV, p. 563 The failure to show the film is fear of punishment. The film, like the leaflets we give out today again to over 120 plus students in 20 minutes, simply states a bit of the truth of why Marquette hosts the ROTC training for all branches of humanity. Speaking truth to power is an act of love. Marquette officials cannot allow the showing of the film “Soldiers of Conscience” on campus because Marquette fears the truth of what it teaches.


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Power of Fear or Love - Tuesday, September 10, 2013

“Power is of two kinds,

One is obtained by

The fear of punishment and

The other by acts of love.”

M.K. Gandhi CWMG, Vol. XXV, p. 563

The power of fear of punishment was what the President of the United States talked about tonight when he said the threat of military force by the USA against Syria was why Syria was willing to talk about destroying its chemical weapons.

History and my personal experience tell me the power obtained by the fear of punishment only works temporally and has no lasting value. The fear of punishment is what drives our fight against crime and fills our jails and prisons. The police chief talks about more police and more arrest and the crime and homicides rises.

Former Governor Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin was known for getting tough on crime by building many more prisons. The more prisons he built the more prisoners there were in Wisconsin. Near the end of his term of Governor in the 90’s he asked a special commission to study why there was more and more prisons and prisoners in Wisconsin. The commission reported Prisoners and Prisons “are bound to grow as long as the root cause of crime—poverty, lack of education and lack of family support—go unaddressed.” Now years later the USA has the highest prison population per capita in the world and the 2010 U.S. Census shows Wisconsin having “the highest black male incarceration rate in the nation. In Milwaukee County over half of African American men in their 30s have served time in state prison.” Across the street from one of our prayer vigils today for a homicide victim there was a group of young African American males gathered on a porch. One or two came across the street to join us in the Prayer Vigil. Most likely some did not have jobs, lacked education, or lived in poverty. When will ever learn?

The power that comes from acts of love was expressed at the prayer vigil. A young woman from a nearby Lutheran Church spoke at the vigil. She prayed for an awareness of much God loves each of us and expressed how deep she felt the love of God for all of us. Like most of us at the prayer vigil this girl did not know the man who had died. Her presence and prayer were an act of love. To all of us present, including the mother of the man killed, her words were healing. Her act of love, being present and praying, did more than any fear of punishment to stop crime in the neighborhood.


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Summer in Fall, All is Well! - Monday, September 09, 2013

As the summer heat lost now comes in September,
I feel hot to stand firm in my resistance
For Church money to be stored away rather than used for works of mercy
And in my resistance to Teach War and Violence at Marquette University.

Work in the gardens these days mostly means harvesting and watering,
Things are not immediate as other garden duties in the summer.
Working to resist Marquette University and my Catholic parish
For not being Faithful to the Gospel is harder
As is working to stop the violence that plagues our city and world.

But who said it would be easier to be a follower of Jesus and the Way of the Cross?
I found that a good way to ease the “sense of death” that shadows me
Is to be silent, listen to my conscience and do what I believe is the truth, in my opinion.

Doing this gives me a sense of peace and life that overcomes death every time,
So summer in fall I can say with Julian of Norwich, All is Well, All is Well.


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The New American Dream - Sunday, September 08, 2013

A basic principle of Christianity, I believe, is lost these days is to share your abundance with people in need, starting at home. There are people in Milwaukee that have much more than they need and people without the basics of food and shelter. There are cries for ‘lower taxes’ that mean less money for people in need and more money for those with money.

I am not talking about the communism of the early Church where everything was held in common and people received according to their need. This perhaps is not even socialism. It is the Gospel message to love our neighbors as ourselves and to do good to everyone, even our enemies.

War for profits, making profits from health care, from Obama Care to the Tea Party, everything is based on the principle of a few making more while the majority suffer. Call it capitalism, secularism or greed, it surrounds us and is snuffing out our Way of being followers of Jesus. The ‘nonviolent cross’ makes no sense in this world. The last are the last and the first are the first in this world. The old American Dream about having a job, home, education and family has been replaced by the new American dream “get all you can get”.


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Cling Close to the Vine - Saturday, September 07, 2013

Palestinians cling to wall
separating land

Today I went up North to my son’s house again to help him and his family take down hop vines and pick hops from the vine. Taking down a row of the Cascade hops was easy and quick. Picking the hopes off the vine was another story.

Hops are the female flowers of the hop plant. They are used primarily as a flavoring and stability agent in beer, to which they impart a bitter, tangy flavor. Picking hops off the vine is long and tedious work. It took us over 5 hours to pick the hops of only two rows of vines. The work reminded me of the work of migrant workers do, often for low pay, long hours and hot weather. My daughter-in-law had brought a variety of ‘craft beers’ from Wisconsin microbreweries that use hops from a company to whom my son sells his hops. I doubt if any migrant workers can drink ‘craft beers’ while they work. This is my son’s first year with a decent crop for the market and I hope that he and his family can do well with all the time, energy and money they have invested.

Cascade Hops

One of my grandsons, during the picking process, made a comment about Syria. It was a light comment and I tried to respond it a light way to keep the conversion going. But no one else picked up on his comments and so the conversation died. While the grandchildren and friends were making light conversation and taking frequent breaks from picking hops I noticed my son had a serious and determined look on his face and took no breaks all afternoon. I tried to do the same but late in the afternoon, despite the refreshment of the beers, needed a break and went inside to check my email on my cell phone.

My mind also wandered over to the people of Palestine who have a long history of picking olives off of vines. Hop vines take a few years to produce fruitfully. Olive trees take more time but last for thousands of years. When the Israeli Army or settlers uproot trees or burn them down they are trying to destroy the very fabric of Palestine culture. As the documentary film Five Broken Cameras shows, it is only by consistent nonviolent resistance to Israel’s occupation of Palestine that keeps hope alive. Palestinians cling to their land. It is not guns or missiles, which Israeli with US money can match 100 fold that will reserve Palestine homeland but active and creative resistance that offers hope to these repressed peoples.

Be it olives or hops, grapes or grape leaves that are picked from the vine, the work is hard and tedious. But the vine is what holds everything together. Jesus says in John’s Gospel, I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

So with hops we need to remove them from the vine but with ourselves we need to cling closer to the vine.


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Where Your Treasure Is! - Friday, September 06, 2013

For quite some time now some of us have been encouraging a local Catholic parish that found itself with 1.1 million dollars from the closing of Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee to use the money to serve the needs of the poor in the area. (See Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee, Cry of the Poor Petition and Sustainable Fund proposal.) Now the parish council is set to vote Thursday, September 12 at 7pm on a recommendation made in secret by a task force it appointed. This os draft open letter being sent to the pastor of parish, parish council and community is an effort to stop this vote. Any suggestions about this draft of the open letter not yet sent?

We suggest that a vote on the Task Force Recommendation to the Parish Council on the Allocation of Funds from St. Albert’s fund, St. Nicholas fund and sale proceeds from Blessed Trinity, about 1.1 million dollars, be postpone until a community meeting for all concerned are able to be present.

The present recommendation that the money be put in a Trust fund with no more than 3.5% of money made on the trust fund (usury) be used for outreach and capital needs violates, in my opinion, the intention, expressed and unexpressed of the donors of the money; the Gospel teachings on abundance; the principle mission of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church; and all principles of sustainability.

The ‘intention of donors’ expressed by written documents like that of the Blessed Trinity parish council and unexpressed intentions is to further the mission of the three parish to people in the neighborhoods in North Central Milwaukee.

In the parable in Luke 12: 13–21 Jesus tells us how to not to deal with an inheritance or abundance given to the Church. The story is of the man who enjoyed a bountiful harvest and rather to share it decided to down his barns and build larger ones to store his grains and other goods. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” There are many more lessons in the Gospel about our obligation as followers of Jesus to share our abundance or Archdiocese given money, with others in need.

The principle mission of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church was best expressed by our Holy Father on his return trip from Brazil. The mission of the Church is the “evangelical and preferential option for the poor” which will be not be served by this recommendation. In fact ‘usury’, where the 3.5% or less would come from was, for a long time, considered a “sin” in the Catholic Church and condemned by many religions.

“Sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social equity and economic demands.” It is Not the storing away of funds. When Jesus urged us to practice the works of mercy he did not talk about sustainability. However, one of the community proposals that the task force did not consider seriously was for a Sustainable Fund that would provide beds, refrigerators and stoves, basic needs of poor in North Central Milwaukee for a long time. Maybe Jesus thought that doing the works of mercy would be sustainable if more people practice it, starting followers of the Way, our Catholic church.

None of the many good proposals arising from the community were taken seriously. There were no public meetings to discuss money and recommendations.

The secret task force met in secret and did not share thoughts or opinions until the secret announcement at the last meeting to the Parish council. If “we are the Church” has any meaning why don’t we practice it.

The recommendation for an endowment type trust fund for a Church that is united with another nearby church sounds like it was made before the task force was appointed. If the church is trying to protect these funds from legal suits a proposal like the Sustainable Fund would have been a more Christian way to accomplish that goal.

Hoarding money for a diminishing Catholic church unable to even change its Sunday Mass time to accommodate neighbors and dwindling enrollment of youth and young adults seems like no way to practice the evangelical and preferential option for the poor mission of the church.

Information about the amount of money, where it came from, the intent of donors and history of Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee has been censored or withheld from people of God. Open the doors and build community by allowing us to be Church together. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:31)


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Arrest for Going to Mass? - Thursday, September 05, 2013

Late summer gardens up
front and close.

Close up my front lawn gardens looks crowed and disorganized. Not so from a distance when space between plants is apparent. The look is caused by some plants growing back, like the basil, some plants, like tomatoes, dying and still producing and a mix of ‘has been flowers’ and flourishing ones in the rain garden.

Life is like late summer garden at times, from close-up it seems over grown and disorganized yet from a distance orderly and doing well. Our ‘fast, leaflet and prayer” events at Marquette University the last few days have been like this. From close up, on the street level, we look like just another group of protestors. But if you step back you can see there is no or little posters and banners and the flyer is just a bunch of quotes on war, violence and ROTC, yesterday by the Pope and today by three Jesuits, including St. Ignatius Loyola the founder of the Jesuits, Society of Jesus.

Something must be getting to MU officials whereas yesterday there were no security guards in sight, today they were lurking around. After our 20 minutes of fast and leafleting four of us attempted to go to Mass in the lower church at Gesu. We were stopped by two security guards and told that if I attempted to enter the Church for mass I would be arrested. I reminded the security that Gesu church was not owned by Marquette University and thus the “order of no trespass” issued by Marquette University did not apply. They said they would get authority from the Pastor of Gesu church to have me arrested. Personally knowing the pastor I said they should go ahead and ask the pastor if he wanted me arrested for going to mass.

To be on the safe side I and the others sat in the middle front of the Church so they would have to arrest me in front of the congregation. To our surprise and delight we saw the pastor was the priest saying the mass. Although no one interrupted him during Mass I was a little concerned that I would be been arrested after leaving the Church. I asked a friend, neighbor, long time Gesu member and former district attorney to escort me out of Church. He did and we all made it safely back to the car.

This story, from close up, seems silly and distracting from our purpose of ending ROTC at Marquette University. But from a distance it reflects Marquette’s fear of students learning the truth about the military on the Marquette campus, in violates the values upon which this Catholic University was founded on. Also it reflects how Marquette fears to respond or attack our message: Be Faith to the Gospel, end military training on campus. Instead, Marquette officials attack one of the messengers, as if that would make the message go away.

Marquette, since 1968, has arrested me twice, denied me my masters’ degree on a technicality, suspended me from school, order me under Holy Obedience not to talk with African American students and fired me for standing up for the civil rights of ill. Now that they have deactivated my library card I have nothing left to lose. But I am not alone and if I died, was thrown in jail or disappeared others would continue with the same Gospel message.

Tactics, like threatening me if I go to Mass are silly and just show how morally bankrupt MU is when facing the light of truth. Like the summer garden, close up, Marquette, by threatening a person with an arrest for going to Mass, seems confused and disorganized.


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Eye On The Prize - Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Today we had our first prayer, fasting and leafleting at Marquette University as students were existing and entering one of the halls. The theme of our leaflet today was the words of our Holy Father on Faith and Violence, namely they are incompatible as Marquette and ROTC are incompatible. Hundreds of students marched passed us, as usual, avoiding eye contact. But more than normal did stop to take a flyer with the words of the Pope. I had made only 82 but they were all gone in our 20 minutes of fasting and leafleting. The first student to take a leaflet from me surprised me when he returned shortly to ask us what he could do to help us. He caught me off guard and speechless. The three of us had no signs except a picture of Mary, mother of Jesus, which one Catholic Worker held up in silence. Afterwards two of us went to Mass at Gesu right next to spot we were leafleting. That was the prayer part. We plan to do this every Wednesday and Thursday in month of September as a way to help us discern what to do next in our struggle to end military training at Marquette, a Jesuit Catholic University. Tomorrow our leaflets will feature quotes from Jesuits, including St. Ignatius of Loyola, on ROTC and military.

Recently I have discovered a few elders, persons older than my age of 70, who I can share thoughts with freely by email or person about moral issues of violence, nonviolence, war and peace. Elders and children give me a sense of peace of mind. The young and old can simplify life into true values and meaning.

We have been harvesting our home gardens these days, tomatoes, kale, basil, eggplants, peppers of various kinds, green beans and more. Some food we eat, some we dehydrate and some we freeze for the winter months. Despite the uncertain weather this summer the garden has been good and remains an anchor in a too busy life.

There are so many distractions of politics, sports, TV, news these days I need to take more time to pray and be silent. Martin Luther King Jr. said something to the effect that the busier he was the more he had to take time to pray and reflect. I am understanding more and more the meaning of “keeping your eye on the prize.”


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Art of Dying - Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ashuka, Prince of India

Today I received many emails asking me to write, email, petition or call the President and Congressional representatives not to bomb Syria. I wish these efforts would matter in the decision, but deep down in my heart I know, as many others who wrote or received these appeals, it does not matter.

I wish it would matter.

I wish that voting would matter in government but it does not.
The person with the most money for campaigning seems to always win.
I wish we could stop the President’s indented bombing of Syria but we cannot.
Lobby groups, like AIPAC, the Jewish lobby are putting on a full court press for bombing Syria and they matter.
All the letters, emails, petitions, phone calls to White House or our representatives may make us feel good and like we are doing something,
but if it is in the “interest of the powers that be” it will happen.
How do we work for change in a world where all the votes, emails, phone calls or letters do not matter?
What matters seems to be money that is controlled by 2% of the people.

Looking to history on how people at the bottom made a difference we do not find it was voting, phone calls, emails or petitions that made a difference.
Changes in government, human rights or matters of war and peace were only made by violent and nonviolent actions.
Changes made by violent actions only led to more violence.

Changes made by nonviolent action have led to long lasting change.
I read tonight in Daniel Mcguire’s book “The Horrors We Bless, Rethinking the Just-War Legacy” how three hundred years before Jesus was born “a powerful prince in India, Ashuka, had dominated much of India by military force.” After his last big battle where a hundred thousand men had fallen he walked along the dead and instead of feeling triumph he felt revulsion. He converted to Buddhism and for the next thirty seven years he “pioneered a new mode of true (not fake) compassionate government.” Government officials were trained as peacemakers and his kingdom lasted for two thousand years until the military empire of Britain invaded India.

The way to peace is peace and the way to violence is violence.

With all the people dying from gun violence on our streets, with all the people dying in Syria,
one would think that he would question the causes of such violence.
But no, we are content with more police on the streets and with more missiles aimed at Syria.
Voting, petitioning, letters, phone calls, emails for change may make us feel good but do not make a difference.

Gandhi said “Just as one must learn the art of killing in the training for violence, so one must learn the art of dying in the training for non-violence. (Mind of Mahatma Gandhi p. 126)

Rather than vote, email, petition or call for change, are we ready for the art of dying that is non-violence?


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Sin of Racism and Militarism - Monday, September 02, 2013

“We as a nation must undergo
a radical revolution of values…
when machines and computers,
profit motives and property
rights, are considered more
important than people, the giant
triplets of racism, materialism
and militarism are incapable of
being conquered.”
MLK, April 4, 1967

I find myself invested in two local issues, getting the Catholic Archdiocese to use the 1.1 million dollar it realized from closing three to provide basic beds and appliances for people in the area and the closing of R.O.T.C military training at Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit university. In my mind, one has to deal with racism, the consistent acceptance of “separate but equal” police of the Catholic archdiocese and the other one with militarism, supporting the military teaching violence and killing over Catholic and Christian faith and values.

I feel these two struggles, one of racism and one of militarism, are connected but slowly am learning how to articulate this connection. One connection is the basic need to recognize the rights and dignity of a person no matter what the race, religion, sex or income of a person. For the archdiocese to take money that was given to the church in the neighborhood for the evangelical and preferential option for the poor in the area and give it for other uses is morally wrong and denies basic human respect and dignity for African Americans and poor in North Central Milwaukee. For a Jesuit Catholic university to teach violence and killing against all Gospel values and faith is morally wrong and denies human respect and dignity for all humankind.

Martin Luther King Jr. made the connection in his speech, A Time to Break the Silence, on April 4, 1967 “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values…when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

I am gradually seeing many other connections between racism and militarization but for now this basic denial of human dignity is a sin for both racism and militarization.


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Two Families, Two Videos - Sunday, September 01, 2013

Graf Family and friends taking
down hop vines

Yesterday we were at our son and his family’s house in Shawano County, Wisconsin. All three of our grandchildren were showing cows at the County fair as members of local 4-H club. They live across the road from a family dairy farm with three children about the same ages as they are so they access and interest in cows. My two grandsons both had cows that received blue ribbons in judging of the cows and one of my grandsons and my granddaughter got blue ribbons in the showmanship divisions. During the showing of the cows by their children my son and his wife were recording the events with on video camera.

After the County Fair cow showings my son’s family, Pat and I and a few of our grandsons’ friends went home to pick and prepare hops, a key ingredient of making beer. Some years ago my son and his wife decided to invest some of their land into growing and harvesting hops, a hobby farm, as my daughter-in-law calls it. It has been a lot of work for my son and his family and a financial investment since hops are slow to grow. But when hops need the vines taken down and the good hop flowers picked you need to do it immediately. The hop farm has had it’ up and downs with weather, weeds and fungus. But this weekend some of them were ready. We were able to cut down six rows of hops, pick off the good flowers and put them in a homemade dehydrator in about five hours of work. This leaves 12 more rows but between today and tomorrow after working at the fair they might be able to get a good part of the work done. Unlike growing vegetables in a garden it takes a team effort to harvest hops.

Tonight my wife, Pat, and I watched a recording of the documentary Five Broken Cameras, a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. The video was shot by a Palestinian farmer, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, and ending up recording the family’s and village’s nonviolent resistance in their village on the West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. This farmer’s family, unlike my son’s family, has no time for hobbies, for they are struggling to stay alive, keep their land and crops from being destroyed. Considering all the violence they faced from Israeli army and settlers it is nearly impossible to see how they stick to nonviolent resistance, as they do. Being shot by the farmer in the middle of the struggle the resistance takes on a new light. This contrast of families is outstanding. The child, Gibreel, see his family and friends being killed and their way of life being destroyed by Israel and can easily falls into a state of hate and fear. The crop they watch destroyed were olive trees some of the hundreds of years old being bulldozed out of the ground or set on fire at night by settlers.

Two families, one on the land for thousands of years now is threaten with extinction, the other on the land for nine years, now worries about their hop investment, incidental to their survival. One set of children are concerned about the looks and behavior of cows they are showing and the other about not being killed and having enough to eat and survive.

With my Middle Eastern and German heritage I am feeling a little prepared to deal with both. The Germans, great beer makers, knew a little something about growing hops and my Syrian/Lebanese heritage knows too much about war and violence in the recent past.

Our president talks about war and violence in retaliation to one side’s of a civil war in Syria using destructive chemical weapons. Government officials’ act like more violence will reduce violence. This has never been true in our modern day wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and has no chance of working now in Syria. My son and his family will continue to record on video their family events while the farmer on the West Bank in Palestine, by the end of the film, was on his sixth video recorder camera since the previous five had all be destroyed by the Israeli army. Two families, Two Videos.


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