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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.

Blessed are Poor! - Monday, March 31, 2014

In the Society of St. Vincent De Paul we make person to person home visits to persons in need. By needy we mean persons who are in need of basics, like food, clothing, stove, beds or refrigerator. Physical needs are important especially in this ‘land of plenty’ we call the USA where the divide between rich and poor continues to grow.

Some of the persons in need we meet on home visits are blessed, for despite in need of physical things, they have a sense of hope and joy in life. This is especially true for young children who have not been educated by society to know they are needy. The simplest thing like a book, a toy or a smile can bring them happiness.

Some of us are needy, not in physical ways, but for emotional, spiritual reasons or for want of meaning in our life. Some of us are so attached to things or people that the lack of them can make us needy and sad.

Jesus in the Gospel says: “Blessed are the poor”. The poor in Jesus’ time were not the peasants or people without things. They were people, like the blind beggar, who had no family or friends to rely on and was completely dependent of begging for survival. Or they were people with diseases with no cure in sight and without family or friends to care for them. Jesus makes a point of curing the blind beggars, the sick and handicapped.

The poor are blessed when they are dependent. If we are in financial need or not we can share in the blessings of the poor when we are detached and dependent on God and doing God’s will.

So when I am lonely, feeling down or the weight of the ‘dark shadow’ I try to remember the more dependent I am the more blessed I am.

An priest friend from India once told me that when he was working with the lowest cast of people, the poorest of the poor in India, he felt they had some special graces and blessings from God. He asked God for such graces and blessings like the poor possessed. He said that one day God gave him his answer: “I have given all my blessings and grace to the poor, go there to find them.


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God’s Will Be Done on Earth - Sunday, March 30, 2014

Girl we me at Home Visit of the
Saint Vincent de Paul Society

I actually got outside today and had a chance to rake leaves and other compost from parts of the garden. The worm hill still has a frozen top which is good since we have more cold days ahead according to the weatherman. After church today I was happy to hear an announcement by an elderly Vicentian from another Church about a petition he is passing around to keep the new St. Vincent Store out of Greenfield and in Milwaukee where we need it. I was getting to feel alone in this struggle but seeing the eagerness of people to sign the petition I felt new hope that we can keep true to the mission of the Society to serve those in need by personal contact. I took the person’s name, phone and email but lost the paper I put it on. Oh well, tomorrow I will start a set of new Web pages continuing the story about the Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee with the reasons why a new ST. Vincent De Paul Store should be in North Central Milwaukee not the suburbs of Greenfield. If certain leaders of SVDP and central office staff will not listen to us maybe the city of Greenfield will deny the permit needed for a store in the suburbs, if it is God’s will.

The frustration of losing the slip of paper with his name and number on it makes me realize how, when one gets old, one looses and misplaces many things. For awhile I thought that, like my father, I had Alzheimer. I even took a memory test at a local hospital, and although the test was very hard, harder than the ones my father took, the Doctor called to say that I had no signs of early onset of Alzheimer. Thank God!

Working with the earth reminded me of another way of dealing with persons who are secretly planning a new store in the suburbs rather than one in North Central Milwaukee. Actually I can use a quote from Fredric Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of how to treat such persons. He said: “Let us learn, first of all, to defend our belief without hating our adversaries, to appreciate those who do not think as we do, to recognize that there are Christians in every camp, and that God can be served now as always! Let us complain less of our times and more of ourselves. Let us not be discouraged, let us be better.” Spring is not coming as fast as I would like it to come, but the earth eventually will spring up new life and despite those who disagree with our way being true to the mission of the Society “God can be served now as always.”

If you noticed that all three paragraphs above end with statement about God, so be it. God’s will be done on earth.


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Anticipation Springs Eternal - Saturday, March 29, 2014

Anticipating the daffidols
perennial early flowers of spring

In anticipation of 50 degree weather tomorrow and spring finally coming, I hired a veteran friend to help me clean out some of the garden stuff in the basement, organize the garden storage in the garage and get things ready in the sun room. The weatherman says that after a few days of 50 degree weather we will be back into the 30’s again. But what does the weatherman know. In a few days it will be April 1st and everyone knows that April rains bring spring flowers. Tomorrow I will check below the leaves and compost to see if there are any flowers trying to poke their way up.

Sometimes wanting something and thinking about something,like Spring, can make it happen. It also helps to act like it is happening, so tomorrow I will plant some seeds in planters in the sun room so they can get ready to be planted outside soon. This year, thanks to the long winter and the worm box for inside given to me, I have a good supply of castings to get the seeds started. Also such a long winter of cold and snow will make the sun and warmth of spring feel so much better.

Anticipation can be disappointing if something does not come or happen when we expect it. But anticipation can be exciting when we strive for something that we know will happen but do not expect anything. Then when it happens it is full of joy and blessings. We celebrate the time before Christmas as one of anticipation of birth of Jesus. But the bigger day in the Church is Easter Sunday, this year April 20th, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. In the time before Easter, Lent, we do penance and remember the suffering of Jesus. We do not anticipate Easter. Maybe if we did more anticipating Easter it would be a much bigger feast than Christmas.

Maybe this is what the Guatemalan poet meant when she said of the people of Guatemala were Threatened with Resurrection. If we anticipate spring or the Resurrection that will come eventually we can take what the cold and dark winter or Lent may throw us. Anticipation, like Hope, springs eternal.


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Radically Wrong with Picture of Catholic Church - Friday, March 28, 2014

President and Pope sharing
a laugh

A friend of mine and of many, a holy man, made headlines in the National Catholic Report (NCR), a national Catholic paper. The headlines read Longtime peace activist removed from ministry after celebrating Mass with woman priest. The Vatican sentenced him to a life of prayer and penance at a nearby Franciscan Priory for celebrating a mass with a women priest a few years ago at the annual SOA Watch gathering at Fort Benning, GA.

In the same NCR online was a picture of our U.S. President sharing a laugh with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Our President who sits down each week and approves a “kill list’ of human targets for drone strikes each week and who has presided over a country for over 6 years that is now more divided between rich and poor(Top 1% with more wealth than 95%). Yet a holy man who has been comfortable in prison for peace activities, living with the most marginalized sector of US, and who has served the poorest of the poor in this country is reprimanded by Vatican, and thus indirectly by the Pope.

There is something radically wrong with this picture of Catholic Church!


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Truth Can Piss Us Off - Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Today someone sent me this quote from Gloria Steiman that appeared on the web news page Daily Kos. “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.” It was part of a birthday wish on her 80th birthday.

How true that is for many people. When I heard hints about the evils the Coca Cola Company was doing I did not want to hear more since I was a regular drinker of Diet Coke. But someone told me about “killer Coke” anyway. I was mad at first but then felt freed from my addiction from Diet Coke. (Now please do not tell me something bad about diet Dr. Pepper, which I substituted for Diet Coke when I need a caffeine cola fix.)

The wise person, when he or she hears the truth might be pissed off. but eventually takes it in and absorbs the truth. This was and is, at times now, very true for me when someone tells me the truth of my weaknesses and faults. I do not want to hear it and react but later say there is some truth in that fact. This is even some truth for stigmas which I wrote about in the poem Stigma stains the Soul.

A couple of my “opinions of truth” that I have been pushing these days have really pissed off some people. One is Marquette University Teaches Killing and the other one is the Milwaukee Archdiocese has a history of ‘racism’ in North Central Milwaukee. A new one I am researching and trying to communicate these days is that the Society of St. Vincent De Paul in Milwaukee County is top heavy and does not effectively and efficiently accomplish the main mission of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, to serve those in need with person to person service.

Actually when people getting ‘pissed off’ about these truths I have discovered I am somewhat glad. At least by being upset they are giving recognition to the message of these truths. Nowadays the more common response to expression of these truths of my conscience is not met with being ‘pissed’ off or even with creative dialog. Most of the time the truths are met with ‘indifference’, which according to many authors, is the opposite of love, not hatred. Ignoring some opinions of truth is the worst form of hatred since it does not even recognized the existence of the person making the statement. At least when a person is being ‘pissed off’, there is a recognition of the person and his or her ‘opinion of the truth.’


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Let It Be! - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The song Let It Be is one of my favorite Beatles songs. I know it is not written about Mary, the Mother of God, but the opening lyrics remind me about when the Angel announced to Mary that she was going to be the Mother of God:

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.”

Actually, in the Gospel story Mary, the young teenager, did not say “Let it be” right away. She first asked how this could be since she had no relations with a man. After some explaining by the angel Mary said: “let it be done to me according to your word.”

In times of trouble and darkness in my life I remember these words “Let it Be” and try to practice it, as the 12 Step program phrase says: “Let go and Let God.” This is not easy for me to do. I was talking with someone today, made my point, but could not let it go. So I kept on making my point over and over again. Letting go is hard to do.

Over the weekend my grandchildren brought over to our house the hit Disney movie “Frozen”. The academy award winning song from this movie is called “Let It Go”. The song is about letting go of the past and living in the present:

“Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say”

Mary let it be although she was about to become an unwed mother. In Frozen the two sisters “let it go” to find joy and love in the present moment

Today is the feast of the Annunciation in the Church, the day we celebrate “Mother Mary” saying to the angel “let it be.”

“Let it be” are truly words of Wisdom.


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Struggle and Suffering, Way to Spring - Monday, March 24, 2014

“Unless the seed dies”

Today I finally got around to putting bird food in the bird feeder. Although the snow is melting the bird feeder was an instant hit for the sparrows. It is looking like this weekend we might see some 50 degree weather but the prediction for next week is for more cold. We do have some sun, however,and with a heater I may be able to get some plants going in the sun room. If I seem eager for spring, I am. With the little fasting I am doing in Lent and the sun more often shinning, I am starting to feel more blessed. The “cloud of death” still hangs around but it is easier to face with sun and fasting.

My research efforts and my love of good quotes and history keep me always discovering something new in life and able to look deeper into the moment. But research, eternal quotes and history do not seem too popular these days. I have a number of persons rather than challenge my research, quotes and historical information just discard them, attack me sometimes and simply ignore the message.

Last semester a Marquette University graduate student did a five part multimedia presentation call Keeping the Faith: Bob Graf. The various segments by words, sound, music, pictures and video portray my efforts to follow my conscience from the days of the Milwaukee 14 till our efforts today to have Marquette Be Faith to the Gospel and End the Teaching of War and Killing on Campus. When I send it out to people I add this warning: do not make much of the messenger but listen to the message. I hesitate to share it since I do think people find that hard these days. The media and the messenger become the message and the message becomes ignored.

How do we communicate effectively in an age big on media and personality but low on message? I know some persons in key leadership position, even in the Catholic Church, are big on personality and using the media but very shadow in message. I am not naming names.

My guess is that a powerful message is like a seed; it must be buried first in the dirt and die before it can rise. How many want to be messengers with a message that is down and dirty and can mean death and suffering before new life is born. Avoiding conflicts seems to be the ‘norm’ we seek yet without creative conflicts there are conflicts of violence and separation.

President Obama and some of his allies announced today they are kicking Russia out of the Big Eight talks, when the most powerful countries come together to discuss economics and polices. They are doing this to punish Russia from accepting the vote of Crimea to rejoin Russia. The talks were to be held in Russia this year and now will in Brussels –without participation of Russia.

Now how in the world can this action by Western countries improve communications and cooperation with Russia? This reaction to something, some say would have eventually happened, will only lead to divide counties more and more. The way to communication and cooperation is communication and cooperation not isolation and division.

My son, David, endured an over seven hour surgery in hospital in Madison. His wife and my oldest grandson, Carson, were with him all day from 9am to 10pm. I,a worried Father, could only wait, pray and check my texts from my daughter-in-law. All is well and he is finally in a hospital room was the last text at 10pm.

To get well my son must suffer; for the seed to grow it must be buried and die; to struggle for the truth we must pay attention to the message over the messenger; to communicate and cooperate we must endure conflicts. As winter drags on the message is clear: struggle and suffering is the way to spring.


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Evangelization is a Powerful Tool - Sunday, March 23, 2014

Evangelizing at Marquette

I am fond of quoting Jesus’ answer to the apostles when they asked him why they could not drive out the demons of a young boy when Jesus could. His response was that some demons could only be driven out by ‘prayer and fasting.’ This Lenten season we are trying, once more, to drive out the demons of militarism from Marquette University, a Jesuit Catholic University. We have discovered that we need to add to fasting and prayer a third power, evangelization.

Whenever we encounter something that fills us with hope and joy it is only natural to want to share it with others. Pope Francis, in his first major letter to the Christian community exhorts us to evangelize the message of the Gospel with joy. True evangelization starts with bringing the good news to the poor, suppressed and marginalized. Youth, young men and women, often have a diminished voice in our society today. At Marquette they know the values that Marquette says they stand for but seldom know that Marquette practices, teaching war and killing without conscience on campus. On the back of the flyers we distribute on campus is information on a movie called “Soldiers of Conscience” which compares the values of the military with people of conscience. While the military can show the film, Marquette, so far, has not allowed a public showing of the film, although the military authorized the filmmaking, it was nominated for an academy award and is now on YouTube.

Last Wednesday at our weekly Lenten vigils on campus, while a few remained in the lobby of Marquette Library to witness and pray two of us went out on the campus to distribute our flyers about Militarism at Marquette. In less than forty five minutes we distribute all of the nearly 200 flyers we had.

Hopefully some of the students read the quotes from the Pope on the scandal of war that is taught at Marquette and watch the film, which link was on the flyer.

Personally I am convinced that you cannot watch the film, Soldiers of Conscience with an open mind and not know that what Marquette teaching about war and killing on campus is against our conscience. Good evangelization reaches the conscience of a person with the Good News of the Gospel. Evangelization is a powerful tool.


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Why No Women Priest? - Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Woman Priest at the Vatican

Years ago I did not think much about the issue of ordaining women in the Catholic Church. That was before I met an ordained woman who told me the issue of women’s priest was really one for the respect and dignity of all Catholics. There was no theological reason for now allowing women to be ordained so the Catholic Church said it was an issue not be supported and discussed.

Since that time male priest friends of mine, Roy, Jerry and Bill have supported, in conscience, woman’s ordination. Roy has been excommunicated for his presence at a ordination of a woman, Jerry just got a letter from the Vatican sanctioning him for his concelebrating of a liturgy with a woman priest and Bill look his faculties to say Mass and to wear his Roman column and present himself as a priest. Why all this punishment for men and women of conscience who question why ordained women cannot be officially?

There have a number of issues that the Roman Catholic Church has been slowed in recognizing the dignity of all human being, most notably the moral issue of slavery. But on these other issues the Church has had some reason, even though it might have been wronged and changed. On Woman’s ordination the Church has no rational but to say Jesus and early twelve of his apostles were men.

My friend, the women priest sent me today this letter from a Catholic priest, who was been punished for asking the question “why women are not being ordained to the priest in the Catholic Church”? I printed it below leaving out the name of the Cardinal the letter was addressed to and the priest asking the question.


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Seeking with Detachment Brings Spring - Friday, March 21, 2014

Where are the daffodils?

Today I ordered some vegetables and herbs seeds from the seed catalog. Hopefully when they come, in about a week, the weather will be warm and sunny enough so I can plant some of them in small pods in the sun room for outdoor planting in May. But it does not look good.

A saying from a motivation speaker I heard was “You become what you think”. It works but not so well with nature. I am thinking a lot about spring coming and spring does not come. To think, two years ago, I had enough flowers growing in my garden to have live flowers in my vase from March thru October. See posting March 12th.

Life is like wanting spring to come; we cannot always get what we want, at least, when we want it. I have a friend who has been suffering from serious pain for about five years. She has seen many doctors, had a number of operations, tried many medicines and medical procedures yet the pain not only continues but worsens. She is now trying biofeedback and we pray that, at least, it lessens her pain. She is a woman of prayer and deep faith but ‘thinking’ about a cure or relief has not worked.

I have another friend who has been looking for a wife for many years. The harder he thinks about it, the more disappointment he faces. Thinking about it certainly has not worked.

I do believe thinking and seeking what we want is good but works only when we are detached from what we are looking for. For example in last night’s posting Ode to Three Orchids I talked about how these three orchids brought me some joy in this cold and dark winter. If I was looking for spring but detached from it coming, I could enjoy even more the spring of life in these three orchids. Yes, seeking with detachment works to find spring.


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Ode to Three Orchids - Thursday, March 20, 2014

During this too long winter and cold days the three orchid plants in my house have continuously bloomed and kept my hope alive for spring. Now that the winter may be finally ending, I expect the orchid plants will too, hopefully to come back another day. Two of the plants I purchased at the beginning of this winter and one was a renewed plant that came back.

In these dark and cold long winter days I have been away from my gardens outside. There is something about the earth, flowers and plants that I feel gives me hope and fresh life. These three orchid plants have been in bloom for a long time and I expect they will soon die, hopefully to come back another day. But for now I must say in my Ode to my three Orchids:

Thank the three of you, yellow, purple and white
For keeping my hope of spring alive
During these cold winter days.
You beauty spoke to me and brought joy
During these dark days of winter.
Thank you my three orchids.


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Gentle and Kind to Birds - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sparrows feeding in our backyard

Today I purchased wild bird food and a bird bath at Aldi’s. I like to say my purchases were motivated out of care for wild birds. But that is only partially true. I was moved by a dead sparrow I found by my side door as I was coming home one day last week.

All winter I have been meaning to restock the bird feeder in my backyard. But with all the cold and snow I kept putting it off. When I saw the dead bird I went to my garage to find bird feed only to find I was out. The main birds feeding in the backyard during winter are sparrows that with all the snow on the ground and the cold had a hard time founding food this winter. In fact, the sparrow that was dead by my door had no physical sides of injury, so maybe he starved to death. I have two bird baths already but purchased a third one, one for each of my three gardens. On a hot day in summer the bird baths get a lot of action.

In a small way I neglected nature, the sparrows, and look what happened, a dead bird at my door. In my bigger ways we ignore nature and look what happens, more intense winters and summers, climate change.

Some of my heroes, like St. Francis of Assisi, were gentle and kind with nature and animals. I often pray that I be more kind and gentle with all persons. A good place to start may be with the birds.


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Being Positive, on the Offensive - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

“Bring on Spring!”

I just check with Siri on my 4GS I Phone and she confirmed that the first day of spring in 2014 is this Thursday, March 20th. I was just checking since this is the longest winter I can remember in my lifetime. As we approach spring a day over 40 degrees is rare. When it does get 40 or 50 the next day it drops back to 20’s again. The high temperatures predicted for the next 10 days are between 26 and 46 degrees. This is not exactly ‘spring weather.’

I am anxious to order to get my seeds and start some plants in the sun room but it is much too cold in the sun room for that to happen. The climate change people tell us to expect more intense weather, colder winters and hotter summers.

I stayed home this cold day and did things from cleaning areas of the house to research the ten reasons why the Society of St. Vincent De Paul (SVDP) should not build a new store in the suburbs but on the North Side of Milwaukee. My research seems to be ignored by whoever it is that has the say, certainly not members of the Society. Looking at the negatives of a suburban SVDP store, I got a call for help to someone who is doing something positive about providing people on the North side with clothes, materials and things they need. I was hesitant at first to offer my help, since I am always complaining about too much to do, but then I thought: “Wait a minute. Instead of being negative I can do something positive.” “The answer, my friend is blowin in the wind.”

Instead of being negative and defensive I can go on the attack and be positive.
Being positive and going on the offensive on an issue can make a difference. I wish that was also true for the weather.


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Logic or Shamrock? - Monday, March 17, 2014

Logo for www.nonviolentcow
created by Peter Graf

St. Patrick was very successful in the 5th century in converting the people of Ireland to Christianity. However, he did it, with the use of shamrocks or not, there is no doubt he was very persuasive and successful. My efforts to persuade the local Catholic Church to be more concerned about the poor have not been so persuasive and successful. Instead of shamrocks, I try to use logic, common sense and Christian values to persuade persons.

Below is Part 1 of 10 reasons I am giving to the Presidents of the Council of the St. Vincent De Paul Society to build a thrift store in the North side of Milwaukee rather than in the suburbs. If logic, common sense and Catholic Church social teaching do not work maybe I should invest in some shamrocks.

Dear Presidents of the 54 Society of St. Vincent Paul Conferences,

Logic, Good Common Business Sense and the Values of the Society of St. Vincent De Paul might not stop building a store in Greenfield rather than one on the North Side but it is worth a try. Here is Reason 1 why it is better to build a store a SVDP Thrift Store on the North side of Milwaukee rather than in the suburbs of Greenfield.

1. To fulfill the mission of the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Stores

“St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores throughout the United States are mutually formed in an association of lay employees and volunteers dedicated to serving our needy sisters and brothers. All who come to our Stores are welcomed with dignity and respect. Our hope is they leave as friends and return to shop with us again. Those who cannot afford the clothing, furniture and other household items are provided them through a Vincentian referral system.” (For more see Store Operations Manual - Society of St. Vincent de Paul Mission Statement p. 5)


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Victory for Works of Mercy - Sunday, March 16, 2014

Home Visit by St. Vincent
De Paul member

Just in time for St. Patrick’s celebration tomorrow it was made official today: the Works of Mercy had a victory. Many of us have urged the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee the last few years to use the money they received from the closing and sale of Blessed Trinity parish in North Central Milwaukee for the works of mercy in these neighbors, the poorest and most segregated in Milwaukee. The Archdiocese decided to put the bulk of the money, about one million dollars, in an ‘endowment fund for the future church’. However, one hundred thousand dollars was given to St. Vincent De Paul Society to be used as a ‘store credit’ for the most needy conferences that serve the people in North Milwaukee. The bankers got the bulk of the money for usury but the works of mercy will get its cut. The poor, however, are used to getting the ‘crumbs’ from the table of the wealthy. As someone reminded me today, a $100, 000 is better than nothing. God is great. God gives his blesses and graces to the poor. Thank God for this victory for works of mercy.


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Ignoring History and Research - Saturday, March 15, 2014

My observation will be brief tonight since an email response to the Open Letter to Society of St. Vincent Paul Council (below) was responded to by a Vice President of the Council in a vague and general way not addressing significantly any of the issues I raised about an investment for a new store in the suburbs or any of the many questions about operations and budgets that I addressed to him and others before. Rather than reacting to his letter, I started to do research on other Society of St. Vincent Paul Councils in other areas, including major cities like Chicago.

St. Vincent De Paul elsewhere is not run as a social agency but stays true to its mission of person to person contact with poor and needy, serving them whatever way possible. The more I research the more convinced of what an abnormally the local Society is. I would not care so much if I thought it did not matter and hurt the mission of the society to the poor and marginalized.

But like the research I did on military departments at Marquette University, Jesuit Catholic University, this research is ignored by powers that be. They do not want to hear that 99.3 % of the two million plus of the five budgets of Central Office in Milwaukee go to compensation and operating expenses. This is like Marquette not wanting to look at what the military is teaching on campus at Marquette, killing without conscience.

Many Americans and organizations, like Archdiocese of Milwaukee and Society of St. Vincent De Paul Milwaukee do not want to learn from history and ignore research they do not want to hear. If history and research do not matter what does? Ignoring Research and History is not the way to seeking the truth. The Open Letter I sent to all 54 Council presidents, most will probably not ever see it, is below:


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Only In Milwaukee - Friday, March 14, 2014

Some could say that I frequently point out the faults of Milwaukee, like it being the most segregated city in the USA. I am negative about our city, but it is only my love and respect for the city of Milwaukee that drives me to point out any blemishes.

This afternoon as I was taking an elevator up to my dentist’s office, a woman, a complete stranger, started a conversation with me about the weather outside, warm one day and cold the next. I have had many conversations, light and serious, with complete strangers in the grocery store, waiting in Doctor’s office or at a public event. It is just normal for everyone to talk to everyone and everyone to feel connected to everyone in Milwaukee.But I realize this is an only in Milwaukee experience, a big ‘small town’.

Only in Milwaukee can you find so many frozen custards stands, offering little or no seating inside but selling hamburgers, sandwiches and, naturally, custard, usually with a special ‘flavor of the day.

Only in Milwaukee can you find over 300 Fish Fries on a Friday night, not just during Lent but anytime of the year. Fish Fries are found at fast food stands, Chinese restaurants, fancy restaurants, churches, corner bars and wherever food is served. Tonight we enjoyed what I considered the best Church fish fry at a local church.

Only in Milwaukee can you order almost any type of cocktail and have it served with brandy rather than whiskey.

Only in Milwaukee can you find so many former major breweries, Pasbt, Schlitz, Gettlemen, Blatz, but now only one active major brewer, Miller, with tons of small craft breweries.

Only in Milwaukee can you find so many neighborhood bars, where if you are a regular “everyone knows your name.”

Only in Milwaukee one can find so many ‘bubblers’ that would be calling drinking fountains elsewhere.

Only in Milwaukee can you find so many major summer festivals, Irish Fest, Summerfest, German Fest, Italian Fest, Gay Pride fest, Greek Festival, Native American festival, African American fest, Polish fest and on and on. I heard it said that ‘Summerfest’ is the largest outside festival, music gig in the world.

Only in Milwaukee had ‘socialist’ mayors until the late forties who build a wonderful parks and recreational system with other things for the ‘common good.’

Some say that we are all ‘related’ in Milwaukee since so many people in Milwaukee were born and raised here and are still here or come back home.

We have our problems but for now I am focusing on all the good you can find ‘only in Milwaukee’.


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Power of Word over Gun and the Senator Who Lost to Money - Thursday, March 13, 2014

Russ Feingold in the Congo

Predicting winners of elections has become easy in the USA since about 95% of the time in major elections the persons with the most money wins. When Russ Feingold was seeking reelection as a Senator for Wisconsin a few years ago, running against an unknown millionaire I thought this might be an exception to the rule. Russ Feingold was well known and respected in Wisconsin and nationally. He had an excellent grass roots team of workers. I remember getting a number of visits and phone calls from Feingold supporters before the election. Even a friend, who like me, said he would not vote again, made an exception and voted for Feingold. But the man with the most money won.

Last year, after teaching in Law schools for a few years, his old friend from the Senate, now Secretary of State Kerry appointed him as special envoy to the Congo. This seemed strange since his expertise was on the Judiciary committee of the USA Senate. Today I read an article that appeared in Politico magazine called “Did Russ Feingold Just End a War, The unlikely story of how the former Wisconsin senator made peace in Congo.”

It is an amazing story, especially for me since it includes the role of Rwanda in the long term conflict in the Congo. Ever since hearing Immaculée Ilibagiza speak at Marquette University about forgiveness after the genocide in Rwanda I have wondered about what lead up to the genocide and what happened afterwards.

A got a hint of what is happening the other night when I showed a chart with Rwanda second to the USA in incarcerating its own citizens.

This article shows that after the Tutsi party regained power in Rwanda how they promoted killing and rape in the Congo to punish their enemies and create a buffer zone. Immaculee might have forgiven persons for the genocide but it seems the government certainly has not.

The story about how Russ Feingold might have just ended a war is long but it is fascinating and shows how the power of the word and nonviolence can conquer the power of the gun and revenge.


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Search for the Truth - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

“You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows” (Bob Dylan in ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues)

Last Night on local news the weatherman said it was snowing outside. I looked outside window and could not see any snow. He then said we would have another snowstorm of 1–3 inches last night. I woke up this morning, looked outside and could still see no snow. I guess you do not need to be a weatherman to know which way the snow blows.

Today there was news about possible satellite images of the Malaysian plane that is missing and an explosion in East Harlem that crushed two five story buildings. However, on nightly local news there was no mention of either story. We did get an update on the condition of the falcon that was shot a few days ago. The reward for the falcon’s shooter is now up to $10, 000.

There was news today on the Internet that the loosing right wing party in El Salvador will not accept the election results and the US Congressional Foreign Relations committee is calling for sanctions on the Venezuelan government due to the protest and violence of the right wing parties that have lost in the elections over and over again.

For those who believe the news in the newspaper and TV is really the news I am sorry to say that our news is heavily censored. Friends in Venezuela tell me they think there is too much freedom of press, where anyone can say what they want. Here we have heavily censored news and we are proud of our ‘free press.’

As the world shrinks because of communications the ability of news report to censor the news in the USA demolishes. Some internet companies like Google try to censor or edit the news but it is not difficult for persons to get around them.

Gandhi says that “Satyagraha, (the struggle for non-violence) is a relentless search for truth and a determination for truth.” Everything we see in the news or the internet is not the truth but with so much communications with so many persons it is easier to search for the truth.


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Poke The Beehive - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Fr. Roy and three the political
prisoners at Barrillas, Guatemala

Today I received mail from a friend Fr. Roy Bourgeois, a friend who is a leader of SOA-Watch. Since Roy does not do email, text messages, tweets or anything digital so I anxiously open the personally address letter. What I found inside was “An Open Letter to Catholics” printed article and on the side of the page it said “The Boston Globe, Sunday, March 2, 2014.” I thought it was an editorial letter Roy wrote for Boston Globe. I wanted it in electronic form to send to mutual friends so I went to Boston Globe for March 2nd looking for it. I could not find it anywhere in the Globe and was ready to give up when I decided to search the title and author without using Boston Globe. I find a site called Campaign Outsider that had an article called: Dr. Ads: Why Fr. Roy Bourgeois Ran That Boston Globe Ad. I guess it was an a quarter page ad in the Sunday Boston Globe on March 2, 2014. When asked why he ran the ad, Roy’s response was “I just wanted to poke the beehive,and I have some friends there who wanted to contribute to a good cause.”

When we were in Guatemala with an SOA-Watch delegation recently we spoke to a group that had some political prisoners in a nearby prison. Roy asked if we could visit the prisoners. The response of the group was it was not visitor’s day but they would check. We went to the prison to find a large press group waiting for us. We entered the courtyard and Roy and other members in group who spoke Spanish spoke to the media. One of the prison guards asked Roy if we would like to visit the three political prisoners. Roy said yes and to all our surprise the three political prisoners were allowed to join us in the courtyard. One of them spoke eloquently why he was imprisoned and how he had been tortured. I was the designated photographer for our group and roamed around taking pictures of this hard-to-believe event.

Returning home a friend that I met at SOA-Watch gathering at Fort Benning wrote to me that she had saw me and Father Roy in the prison courtyard in a video on You Tube.

After our prison visit Roy told me that we should have brought “chains and locks”. I asked why and he said we could have chained ourselves to the prisoners and demanded their release. A staff member at SOA-Watch told me that Roy did similar actions on other delegations to Latin America. I had been on only one other SOA-Watch delegation before with Roy, one to Haiti. I thought about the trip and remembered we did join in a protest for human rights and jobs with some young adults in front of the Ministry of Labor.

Yes, Roy does “poke the beehive” over and over again.


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Waiting, Prayer, Silence and Racism - Monday, March 10, 2014

Waiting for the Bus

Waiting is an art and a necessary one if you are poor and marginalized. Waiting can be discouraging or inspiring. Waiting for someone at a Doctor’s visit or waiting in line for something can be rewarding if we know how to wait. As a young man in the seminary I read a book, Path of Waiting by Henri Nouwen, the spiritual writer who talked about the Spirituality of Waiting. After reading the book I waited one day in a long line to see my spiritual director. When I finally got to see him he asked me about my waiting and if I knew how to wait. I said yes and told him of the method of waiting I had used, repeating the Jesus Prayer over and over again.

Sometimes waiting can be excuse for not acting or avoiding the truth. At these times we need to pray and discern what we need to do, act or be silent. Action may require persistence and silence may require suffering. Sometimes we need to act and be silent. An example came up in my life today, where I needed to wait and discern, take action but in a silent way.

Now my eyes have been open to modern day ‘racism’ I am really need to practice when to wait, act, pray or be silent. Having the eyes to see and the ears to hear, in the case of racism, can be a curse or a blessing. It is a curse because of all the insults, accusations and negativity you need to endure to be true to your conscience. It is a blessing because you are empowered to speak for the voiceless and experience the peacefulness the blessing God gives to the poor and marginalized. I pray for the gift of waiting, prayer and silence but need to act when I need to act.

I can be and have been particular in naming racism as I see it in these postings and with my voice. For those who can hear and see I am blessed and for those who cannot I am cursed. Often I do not want to be in this position. In my mind I am no prophet or martyr. But being true to who I am I do not often have the choice. I need to be patient and wait for the right time and place but often cannot and must call things as I see them, like a child.

Racism is rampant in Milwaukee and to be true to my beloved city and its people I must speak the truth as I see and hear it.


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Seeking Truth is Seeking Freedom - Sunday, March 09, 2014

Mohandas Gandhi called his autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth. Truth is something we seek and although we probably will not know the whole “truth” until we see the face of God: “I am the Truth.” Gandhi usually said “my opinion of truth” since he knew all might not agree and was willing to listen to other “opinions of truth.”

Often when we are protesting military teaching of killing at Marquette University we hear that is your opinion. We all are entitled to our own opinions in this country. There is some truth to this statement but it is often is said in a way that makes it sound like all opinions are valid and there is no real ‘truth’ we all seek. Everything is relative. I do believe there are some truths and values, like killing without self defense or lying without a valid defense is wrong. I believe there are some human values and truths, like the dignity of each human being, that are inherent in nature and each of us. Right and Money do not make right but our conscience and faith do know right and wrong.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus fast for forty days in the desert and is tempted by the devil three times, once to make bread out of the stones (or would we say money without work); another time to show power by having angels rescue him after dropping off the top of the temple, (or we would say by military mite); a third time by glory and greed by worshiping the devil (or we would say giving up our principles, means, to seek an end.) Jesus sticks to the truth and dismisses the devil and continues his fast.

I asked some officials in the local St. Vincent De Paul Society for some information about budgets, something you would think would be transparent in a charitable organization. He wrote back he had given me the answers to the questions before. This is clearly not true and he knows it. Do we call this a lie, stonewalling or an opinion? It does not matter since only the “truth will set us free.” “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’” (‘’John 8: 31–32)

Yes, our truths might only be our ‘opinions of truth’ but they are important and if we disagree with someone, like Marquette believes teaching war on campus is morally right or St. Vincent De Society Central Office and Council believes that a two million dollar budget for compensation and operating expense is okay for a volunteer organization, they should say so. We truth seekers can handle the truth. “One cannot reach Truth by untruthfulness. Truthful conduct alone can reach truth.” (M.K. Gandhi, MAHATMA Vol. 8, p. 38) Seeking the Truth is Seeking Freedom.


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Media Makes It Hard to Learn from History - Saturday, March 08, 2014

Every time I leave the country and come back and the more I find legitimate sources of news and information on the internet, I realize more and more how ignorant of history our media keeps us. In Wisconsin we are repeating the same mistake as we did in the eighties with moves to close down mental health institutions and turn care for those with mental illnesses over to community treatment without providing the funds for comprehensive medical, mental health care. It was called “reform” at the time but led to widespread homelessness and imprisonment of those with mental illnesses. Today’s headline in the local section of the newspaper reads: “Bill to reform mental health system advances”, a bill that would return control of Milwaukee Mental Health system over to the same persons who are responsible for its demise. They talk about tearing down the present mental health complex and selling the property but do not talk about where the money will come from for true medical mental health care.

Today I read an article in online news reporting page Common Dreams. It was called What the US Media Won’t Tell You About Ukraine. The article tells the story of the Ukraine and the how right after the US-European supported coup of the electoral government of Ukraine the rump government took advantage of President’s Yanukovich’s downfall to overturn the language law that gave the Russian language official status in regions where Russians comprise more than 10% of the population. Our media hardly mentioned it but Russians, learning from history, knew what it meant, “a brutal violation of ethnic minority rights,” Suffering the lost of the Russian language in history, like in Turkmenistan, a Central Asian dictatorship and former Soviet republic in Central Asia. It means the beginning of discrimination, lost of property, finances and exile for the Russian minority.

We learned that “Jim Crow” laws did not work in the USA yet we continue to find new “Jim Crow” ways like mass incarceration to discriminate and segregate people of color. We talk about how special and free the USA is yet we have the highest rate of incarceration per capita of any nation on earth. (See chart on right and larger version below.) History tells us that the more we imprison people the crime rate grows since imprisonment does not deal with the real cause of crime, lack of unemployment, education, opportunity and health care, great income diversity and discrimination, all things we can change in the environment, lest costly, to make it easier for people to be good and not commit crimes.

George Santayana said “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Our media makes it hard to learn from history.


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Suffer Peacefully - Friday, March 07, 2014

“The greatest mistake of the
movement has been trying to
organize a sleeping people
around specific goals. You will
have to wake up the people first
and then you will get action.”

Malcom X

Being spring and yet being the first day above freezing in a long time, I thought I would take a picture of my worm depository in the back yard. To keep the worms warm and fed in the winter I put lots of cooked compost]], worm food, in the pile and add wood chips and leaves on top. The hope is the wood chips and leaves on top would help with the snow to make a frozen insulted pile where the worms can keep feed and warm. Since this is the first day over freezing in a long time I thought I would take a picture of the worm depository before the warms melted the snow. The statue of Mary, I called Mary of the Snows for now, got into the picture of the worm depository. Each year I hope the worms in the pile have enough food and heat to make it. Usually they do and survive. But this year I wonder, since the winter was so long and cold and still is, now into spring.

In life at times we go through long winters, dark and lonely periods, where it is hard to keep ourselves motivated. Since the death of my son, Peter, I have learned how to live in the ‘shadow of death’ and this has helped me though these dark winter days of the soul. The hope of spring and being ‘thretened with Resurrection’, keeps one going through these times.

This is a lesson I learned over the years, especially in my two journeys to Guatemala,one in 2005, Buried in Guatemala, and this last month. People can keep their spirits up and be willing to sacrifice if they have something worth suffering and dying for. To have some meaning in life and being able to speak out keeps many of us going and struggling.

‘Life is not fair’ as some say may be true but one needs to believe that there is a purpose and meaning to suffering and death in order to endure it and not be bitter, hopeless or living in a deadened world. A deadened world is where one just sees and hears what they want to see and hear and anything in conflict with this is ignored. If we have the “ears to hear and the eyes to see” we must suffer peacefully while threatened with Resurrection.


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Do Not Want To Know - Thursday, March 06, 2014

Two years ago from today I was starting to get flowers in my gardens. Today with the snow pact and cold I cannot even see the gardens. Being cold is starting to become very tiring.

Another thing I am becoming tired of is the hypocrisy of our leaders. Today I saw a brochure featuring a pilgrimage our now Archbishop of Milwaukee build when he was the bishop of La Crosse archdiocese. The brochure talked about the church he built to honor Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, being a source of faith and hope for poor and marginalized. This is the same person who recently closed yet again another Church in North Central Milwaukee, the poorest and most segregated part of our city and took the million plus dollars gained and put it in an endowment fund for ‘future church’ over using it for needy and marginalized of the area.

Today I heard our President speak about how Russia must obey International Law and withdraw troops protecting Russians in part of the Ukraine. Our President disrespects international law every time he sends a to Yemen, Pakistan or Somali. In the same talk he mentioned how Russia must respect the democratic government of Ukraine. The democratically elected government of Ukraine is the one we help overthrow with a coup. This article in points out how we have been Ousting A Democratically Elected Leader In Ukraine And Elsewhere..
Why are people so quiet in light of such hypocrisy? If people seek the truth on issue it is not hard to find. I believe many people just “do not want to know” what is going on and are glad to accept whatever our censored media says is happening, be it on the right or left.

The struggle of the Mayan people in Guatemala against the mines, the people suffering in Afghanistan and elsewhere in wars, the people of North Central Milwaukee barely surviving in this ‘land of plenty’ is something they do not personally feel matters to them. Many people would just like to hear about it, getting various ‘opinions’ as they call it and even maybe give a some money or volunteer time but certainly not get ‘involved’ or be in solidarity with poor, marginalized and war victims.

I believe our leaders, Archbishop or President, are smart people and know what they are doing. I think many others are also smart but do not know or do not what to know what is happening.


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Lost, A Little Sacrifice - Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cemetery in remote village
of Guatemala that suffered
a massacre

Today on the way to our protest against militarism at Marquette I lost my Guatemalan bag with the banners we accumulated in the last eight years of our resistance to Marquette Teaching War and Killing. The details of how I did this are not important and do not take away the sorrow and guilt I felt when I went to the Marquette library without the banners or the flyers I had made. I felt especially bad when the person who made all the banners the last six years was present.

As I stood in the library in the library with a number of others with just two signs, no banners or flyers, I thought that this was an unfortunate but not a major tragedy. The people I visited in Guatemala had suffered major tragedies, sometimes a massacre in their village. Disappeared and dead persons in Guatemala were a major tragedy, not my lost of banners. I can always make new flyers for next week and we were always more successful handing out flyers when we did not have poster and banners. Students were less afraid to take our flyers.

We need to rethink our strategy of resisting military training (ROTC) at Marquette. Just protesting in the same old ways is clearly not the answer and can be ignored by the administrators of Marquette. We do not need banners or posters but people, people willing to sacrifice, just a little, to get our message across that Marquette teaches Killing.
How can we effectively do this? Maybe the lost of the banners will make us think harder of what is the real nonviolent sacrifice we can make, not much compared to the Mayan People of Guatemala.


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Racism, Alive and Well in Milwaukee - Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Today my friend who is a University researcher sent me, at my request, a map of unemployment for my M.A.P.S. collection, Maps of Segregation, Poverty, Criminalization of African Americans and the Catholic Churches in North Central Milwaukee. Not to anyone’s surprise the areas in Milwaukee, North Central Milwaukee that is the most segregated, poorest and most criminalized also has the highest unemployment rate. This is the predominately African-American neighborhoods where 17 Catholic Churches have now been reduced to three. Institutional Racism runs rampant in North Central Milwaukee.

The Mayor and police chief focus on this area for policing. They do this not in the name of ‘racism’ or segregation but what they call “data driven policing.” This phrase is a code word for the “New Jim Crow, Mass incarceration in the age of color blindness.’’ Rather than attack the root cause of crime, poor education, unemployment, racism, poor schools, they attack the symptoms, the crime rates and the more crime in the neighborhood the more policing they do which means more arrests, more imprisonment and putting more people back in the same neighborhood now stigmatized and finding it more difficult to avoid crime and thus more policing and more arrest. The vicious circle goes on and on.

We can tract other indicators of cause of crime, like poor schools and we would find similar results. Nowadays, instead of plantations for slaves we have neighbors for blacks. Racism in Milwaukee is sadly alive and well, except now we seldom call it that or recognize it for what it is.


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Turning Applause Into Action - Monday, March 03, 2014

Manchester soccer players
replace a minuet of silence with
a minuet of applause before
a game.

We have a tradition at our church of people making announcements at the end of Sunday liturgy. I got up to announce our prayer and protest vigil against militarism at Marquette University this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday,at 4–5pm in the Raynor library lobby at 4–5pm. I decided to tie the announcement in with my recent trip to Guatemala with the SOA Watch delegation. I told the assembly how militarism was so overt in Guatemala, with security armed with assault weapons everywhere. I also spoke how one of the priests, Lorenzo Rosebaugh, that worshiped at times with us in the USA was honored in Guatemala as a martyr in the province where he was killed. I said how militarism was more subtle in USA but Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit University, a few blocks away was the training center for the Department of Defense schools of Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force. Then I announced our prayer and protest this Wednesday. To my surprise my announcement was met with applause.

I thought afterwards that if only we could turn the applause into action how effective our nonviolent actions at Marquette would be. We have had a dwindling attendance at our resistance events in recent times, making it easier for the administration of Marquette University to ignore us.

How to turn applause into nonviolent action? Consulting with my wife about why people seemed disinterested she mentioned that many people often do not connect our opposition to military training on campus, ROTC, to militarism and training how to kill human beings. War, violence and killing and the teaching of it seems remote to many Americans she says, no matter how passionate some of us believe in it. We need to convince people in words, actions and images that it is really people dying as a result of this teaching of war and that the child they may save by resistance could be their own. Only than we can turn applause into action.


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The Child You Save May Be Your Own - Sunday, March 02, 2014

Right before going on the delegation to Guatemala I received from a member of a peace group in Madison an email about how she looked on the efforts to stop killer drones as an effort to save children, like her granddaughter. In Guatemala I heard about the many massacres of the Mayan people that including the killing of children. I thought about my first trip to Guatemala in 2005, Buried in Guatemala, and how I saw suffering and death being celebrated. I also thought of my own son Peter who died from his mental illness in 2010 and my friend Lorenzo Rosebaugh who was killed in 2009 in Guatemala, both between my two journeys to this country.

There was some connection between these various events and experiences. One day in Guatemala it came to me, the connection was represented in the phrase: “The child you save may be your own.” The death of children by “killer drones” has really moved me and made the tragedy of war real. On all my trips to Central and South America as well as India it has been the children of the country I most relate to. With children, especially young children, I feel at ease to be myself. My friend Lorenzo was one of the most humble and child like persons I ever knew. Although my relationship with my son, Peter, had been strained and tested by our experiences with mental illness, at the age of 39, a few months before he died, he asked me if I knew who was his best friend in the world. I said I did not know and he said it was me.

My trips to countries in solidarity with poor and marginalized started with my trip to Guatemala and perhaps ended with this recent journey. In between the two journeys’ my friend Lorenzo and my son Peter have died and the use of “killer drones” has dramatically increased. I need to explore these connections summarized in the statement: “The child you save may be your own.”


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More Not More - Saturday, March 01, 2014

March starts with more snow and more cold. We are a society of ‘more’ but more snow and cold get a little tiring. More money seems to be one thing most in the USA do not tire of. In fact, the more money most people have the more money they want. It seems to be the same way with more military spending. The more we spend on the military, more than the next ten largest countries in world together, the more we need to spend. Now when the Department of Defense is talking about reducing expenses they seek and want more military spending.

Now more has more than one meaning of greater number of something. It can also mean the repeat of something. When my now sixteen grandsons was one and half year old Pat and I with his parents took a long road trip. I spend some time him in the backseat with him telling him funny stores or playing silly games with him. At the time he had a small vocabulary of about five words. One of his words was ‘more.’ After a story or silly game he would say ‘more’. At first I thought he meant another store or silly game but I soon learned he wanted to repeat the thing over again. More meant more of the same.

The Society of Jesus, Jesuits, a religious order, have a saying “For the greater glory of God.” The Latin word for greater glory is ‘magis’ and the thought is often shortened to the word ‘magis’ or we would say ‘more.’ I used to think when I was young that it means doing more and more for the greater glory of God. But as I grew older I learned that St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, did not necessary mean more in terms of greater number of things but more in the sense of repeating the same thing and getting deeper and deeper into the same experience.

This explanation explains how ‘poor’ in some countries like Guatemala, can be more satisfied and at peace than ‘poor’ in the USA. The poor in these countries do not expect more in terms of great number of things but are pleased with a repeat of a good experience, like having adequate food to eat. While in the USA the poor are constantly bombarded with a culture that says to them the more, the greater number of things, you have the better person you are. Thus poor not expecting much more things can be more satisfied than the poor who are constantly told they need more things. When the Mayan people of Guatemala talked of their desires it is for freedom, to keep the major mining companies from ruining their land, not the acquisition of more things.

This principle of more vs. more not only applies to the poor but to all of us up. In the East they say that the “root of all suffering is desire.” I had a friend tell me the other day how hard he was striving to find a woman who would be a lifetime companion. He is trying so hard to find the right woman that he often makes himself miserable. I tried to tell him about another friend who was trying very hard to find the right woman but eventually gave up and felt freer and more satisfied with his life. However, it was at that moment of life he did find the right person.

To be in solidarity with poor, the blessed ones of God, is to be like the blind beggar or a person that is satisfied with being poor. There is a detachment that brings happiness when more does not make more things but a deeper appreciation of what we have. Give me more not more.


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