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

Rain Garden
August 2010

Tomatoes & Basil
from Front Lawn
Garden 2010

Back Yard
Garden 08/02/09

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The Truth Will Set Us Free - Monday, November 30, 2015

Numbers on the increasing disparity between rich and poor in this country are overwhelming. However, even more astonishing is the apathy to this disturbing fact. Day after day studies and essays come out saying on a very small group of people is gaining more and more wealth and power in this county and world. Yet since the “Occupy Movement” there has been not much stir about it. A January 2015 Fortune magazine article talked about how The 1% will own more than the 99% by 2016. Now 2016 is upon us. The same report from January, 2015 tells how four-fifths of the 7 billion people on the planet share 5.5% of global wealth. Day after day we hear these reports how wealth and power is more and more in the hands of the few but feel hopeless about doing something about it.

A Catholic Church official of the Archdiocese wrote a friend today about how concern about spending four million dollars of money “belonging to the poor” on a suburban store for the well-off was just a disagreement among followers of Jesus in the Church. Since when do moral issues like this one just become dissent, “my opinion vs. your opinion?” When Jesus said the “The Truth will set your Free” he did not mean “half-truths or misrepresentation of the facts. Gandhi called his autobiography “experiments with truth.” Yes, in our struggle for ‘truth’ we can just state our ‘opinion of truth’ but we struggle for the truth and seek it with creative dialog. Everything is not ‘relative’ especially in area of morals and values.

Perhaps it is this disregard for seeking the ‘truth’ is why we are so apathetic when we hear reports of how, literally, the small percentage of rich are getting richer and the rest of people are getting poorer. “Equality’ and basic human ‘rights’ become empty words when our values and “opinions of truth” are relative.

Christians all know what Jesus said and preached about nations caring for the least of persons,(Matthew 25)and about how to love everyone as self, even our enemies (Matthew 5). If all is relative and all is just “your opinion and my opinion” why even be a Christian. The truth can only set us free if we believe there is truth.


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Baby Joy To The World - Sunday, November 29, 2015


With all the wars, violence and greed swirling all around it is hard to be hopeful, even in this Christmas season. Babies of friends and family members have helped bring joy and hope in my life. To the side and below are pictures of five new citizens of the USA. They are children of good parents with mix of ancestry, Cuban, Irish, Mexican, Lebanese, German, Italian, Japanese, African-American and more. These babies, innocent as can be, bring real joy and hope to our world.






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Picking Garbage at Lambeau or Guatemala City - Saturday, November 28, 2015

Picking Garbage at Lambeau

Yesterday Pat and I were with our son and his family picking up garbage littering Lambeu field in Green Bay after the NFL football game Thanksgiving eve. Our grandsons are in the Pulaski High School band and are raising money for their band trip to the Rose Bowl game in 2017. The stadium was full of garbage, cards from a display, peanuts, water bottles, candy wrappers, food and, most of all, beer cans. There were thousands of bear cans and at $8.50 or 9.50 a can we were surprised a few were not even opened. Our job was made more difficult since the game was in rain and the water froze much of the trash to cement and ground.

Picking Garbage in Guatemala City

As we were sweeping and picking up the garbage I was reminded of another scene I witness of people picking through the garbage. It was at a large garbage dump in Guatemala City and people were picking through the garbage looking for food or items to sell. There people were picking through garbage for survival while we were picking up garbage so the stadium can be cleaned for the next home game so the scene can be repeated.

We expected to be there for about two hours but ended at the stadium for six hours. Yet we earned about $30 each for grandsons’ band trip. Next time we will just donate the money and skip the garbage picking. The garbage pickers in dump in Guatemala City wish they could earn $30 a week. Garbage picking is no fun but somewhat has to do it, for survival or to make some money for a band trip.


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History Teaches Civil Rights - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I learned a number of lessons from the historical walk in the National Civil Rights Museum at the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, TN. Here are a few of the things learned from history that apply to our lives today.

The Human or Civil Rights movement for African Americans began on the first slave ships pulling into shores of America and in the USA faded out after the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

Early on there were Africans of all religions, including black Muslims.

All civil rights, legal, policy and practice, were achieved by struggle and nonviolent actions.

From slavery to Emancipation was the first phase of the struggle for civil rights; next came the struggle of equal rights till the death of Martin Luther King. Than we have the age of new Jim Crow with tactics like mass incarceration of African American males were used to dismantle the gains of civil rights movement. Now there are signs of a hope in movements like “Black Lives Matter” where the struggle for equal rights continues.

Separate but Equal never worked and is now being use to segregate people, like in Milwaukee, the most segregated city in the USA.

Immigrants, like Irish, Germans and Italians were integrated into society in the USA but African Americans who can trace their roots to slavery but are not immigrants, were never fully accepted in the USA.

Music plays a major role in the civil rights struggle and the decline of music in Milwaukee public schools is divesting. Gospel and Soul Music keep people hopeful in the struggle.

The last year of Martin Luther King’s life from the April 4, 1967 speech connecting the civil rights movement to Vietnam War to April 4, 1968, the day he was killed was the hardest of his life.

The movement was entering a new phase were King was killed.

Who killed Martin Luther King Jr. matters us today.

There are many other lessons learned and thesethat I hope to expand on in my life. History teaches civil rights.


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Finding God In All Creation - Monday, November 23, 2015

“God resides in every human
form, indeed in every particle
of His creations, in everything
that is on earth.”
Mahatma Gandhi

In every major religion, in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, God is in all creation. St. Ignatius of Loyola called it Finding God in all creations; Gandhi stated that we are all brothers and sisters in God; Muslims believe that all things belong to God and everyone is required, according to wealth, to give alms to persons in need.

With this basic principle of major religions, God is in all, why is there so much greed, violence, war, intense poverty and mistreatment of God’s creation on earth? If we all are God’s creature why do we fight, steal and kill? For Christians why do we believe we are superior; for Muslims, why not respect all people and religions. For Israel, why not treat Palestinians with respect and dignity? What is it that causes so many that believe God is in all creation not to practice their faith in everyday life?

A friend today was talking about how he finds peace and solace at home and how I should not feel a need to do something about injustices all the time. I agree with him that we must try to strike a balance between activism and struggling for justice and pray and reflection. Being and doing must be balanced. We should not feel down or guilty for not doing something he said. I agree but pointed out that keeping silence in the face of evil is not acceptable, at least to me. We must Break the Silence.

Perhaps the first step to practice our faith of seeing God in all things is the seeing. If we see and hear God in all creation we would naturally be compassion and kind to all. The balance between being and doing would be natural if we saw and heard God in all creations. There would be no more war, greed or poverty on earth. God, open my eyes and ears to finding You in all creation.


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Keep Hope Alive - Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sanitation Workers Picket Line

Last week Pat and I were blessed to visit the National Civil Rights Museum at the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, TN. It was the history of the civil rights movement from the time of first slave ship to assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and beyond. It was a fascinated place with history speaking a loud and clear message: there was no progress without direct action by the people.

It also confirmed what I have been told and experienced: the civil rights movement slowly faded away after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. The establishment of power structure did not allow another black leader, like King, to arise.

This squashing of black leaders still goes on today in Milwaukee. Black leaders who are not part of the establishment, like former acting Mayor Pratt to Nate Hamilton are demeaned and marginalized by white establishment.

The Sanitation workers of Memphis whose strike Dr. King came to support, developed a slogan “I am a Man.” They were seeking equal rights and equal pay for sanitation workers. The Poor People’s Campaign that King and others were planning was going to demand jobs or payment for basic needs to all people in need. A year before he was killed Dr. King said “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

After King was killed in 1968 the spiritual death of the civil rights movement and nation began. Nowadays young adult African American males are marginalized by society and the US military budget is the greatest ever. Instead of economic equality we got can an African American President and ‘endless wars’.
In the Stax Museum of American Soul Music one of the key players in the museum describe how Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was the beginning of the end for Stax recording studio. I wondered what he meant by that remark but soon came to see. Soul Music, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement, also began to fade.

In future postings I hope to explore this thought of the pivotal place of King’s assignation to the civil rights movement but for now I just want to say we must “keep the faith” and “keep hope alive”.


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Culture of Fear - Monday, November 16, 2015

“Naturally the common people don’t want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, IT IS THE LEADERS of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is TELL THEM THEY ARE BEING ATTACKED, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. IT WORKS THE SAME IN ANY COUNTRY.” Herman Göhring at the Nuremberg Trials

Like many of us I live my life in fear, fear of being robbed, fear of suffering and fear of death. After the tragedy in Paris we have become more a Nation of Fear. We fear a terrorist attack on our cities. France and the USA retaliate for the bombing in Paris by bombing Syria. Politicians and Governors, out of fear, say they will not accept any refuges from Syria, particularly if they are Muslim. Herman Gohring, Propagandist for Third Reich, at Nuremberg trials understood this and it is reflected in the quote above.

We get messages from our alderman and a few neighbors about strangers in the neighborhood, about any home robbery or suspicious behavior. After a tragic event like the Paris bombings we get news story after news story talking about the threat to us. Fear is used to drive soldiers to shoot to kill on instinct and without conscience. Our enemies used fear also. ISIS published a video today spawning fear in the hearts of USA.

Living a life in fear may explain why I am attracting to the refrain of Jesus in the Gospel: “Be Not Afraid”. How can we follow the Gospel value of “Love your enemies” when we live in such fear. A friend of mine, Jim Forest, in Holland wrote a book recently called Loving Our Enemies: Reflections on the Hardest Commandment. Now I feel like I need to read it.

Justice these days seems to mean retaliation, revenge, killing the enemy. This culture of fear makes “loving our enemies” nearly impossible. Our enemy, ISIS, knows this and plans such horrendous events, like killings in Paris, to incite fear. We retaliate with bombings of Syria and discrimination against Syrians, although they are often the victims of such violence.

Fear rules on all levels. Supporters of guns in the USA say that we would all be safer carrying around a gun. The bombings in Paris are met with bombings in Syria. Killing is met with killing and some say peace can only be achieved by war. We live in a culture of Fear.


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Why All The Killing? - Sunday, November 15, 2015

After the tragedy of 9/11 some people asked ‘why’? Why would 15 men, mainly from Saudi Arabia, give their life to kill so many men, woman and children? No one was justifying the killings but just trying to understand why? After the shock and questioning, our government turned to revenge, a war on terror. We went to war with two countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, one for the fact the government would not turn over suspects and one with a deliberate or mistaken identity as involved in the tragedy and of possessing a nuclear weapons.

Fourteen years later, after hundreds of thousands of death, civilians and military on both sides, the wars continue and both countries are in ruins with refuges all over the Middle East and beyond.

The war on terror quickly spread to other countries, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan Syria. Now during the first seven years of the present president the US has bombed these seven countries and now there are many more terrorist who hate the US and our allies.

Since 9/11 there have been so many terrorist attacks that we seem almost immune them. We no longer ask the question why, but like in the example of the horrific attacks in Paris, immediately seek revenge and increase our bombings and killings in these countries. The more we lash out with drones, bombs and guns terrorism grows. The new terror groups now have more sophisticated weapons, many of them our weapons of war, have more territory and are more vicious killers full of hate and revenge.

Why the terrible attacks in Paris? Why do we insist overthrowing governments, often to replace by more horrendous ones? Why do we demonize our enemy and seek to kill them and people around them rather than follow the Gospel command of “love our enemy”. Would loving our enemy create as much animosity and hate as revenge and more killing does?

Our failure to ask “Why” only adds to the violence and killing on all sides. Our enemies know the US and allies by its actions, bombing and attacking people in these seven countries. We only know these enemies by their actions, bombing and killing of people. The vicious circle of hate and killing will only continue till people ask why.


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Being Present can Make a Difference - Saturday, November 14, 2015

Friday night I was at my oldest grandson’s, the one in the middle on picture, confirmation. I was his sponsor. Earlier in the week, at practice, I found out he had taken the name of Peter for his confirmation name. Peter is the name of his deceased uncle, his father’s young brother and my son. Part of the ceremony was for me to present my grandson to the Bishop and tell him his chosen confirmation name.

While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin my eyes went to the cross above the altar and my thoughts to Peter. I started to silently talk with him. It went something like this:

Peter, please watch over your nephew who is being confirmed tonight. He was a young teenager when you died and does not remember you as well as his dad, mom and me.

Before you got ill you were always wore a smile. I remember when you were a senior and high school and the smile on your face; the same smile you had on your face when I found you dead. If nothing else that great smile got you into heaven. But heaven, as you now know, is not a place you earn but a gift of God. We on earth know this too but like to think we are ‘earning’ heaven.

I am now an old man and since a month after your death being feeling like I was going to die. But I hope not, at least for a while. I still have much I want to do making heaven on earth, still believing I can earn heaven. I pray for your intersection to God to grace your nephew’s life, your older brother’s life, the life of Mom and I and all your family and friends. I do not know what you can ‘do’ but know you now to be with God.

At confirmation we prayed that the youth were blessed in the Holy Spirit. We pray that we all walk out of Church afire with the spirit to follow the Way of Jesus, be with the poor and marginalized. Maybe we cannot change the world but being in the presence of God can make a difference.


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Honor Veterans By Saying No To War - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today was Veteran’s Day. I have no problem honoring veterans but have problems with the way we do it. Thanking Veterans has become big business, NFL Football and NBA basketball feature all kinds of sportswear honoring veterans and for sale. Many restaurants offer a free meal to veterans, Federal Workers have a day off in honor of veterans and newspapers are full of ads mentioning veterans. What all the ‘Thank yous’ do not cover is the suffering, hardships and even suicides veterans experience as result of their service. The editorial cartoon on the side expresses some of the losses veterans suffer that saying “Thank You” is not just enough.

I always thought the best way to honor veterans was to eliminate wars. Unfortunately people, especially those in government and defense industry do not agree. As expressed by a Republican Candidate last night in the debates and by our new Speaker of the House, the more military spending the safer we are. We need to be number one in military force to be safe. I think just the opposite is true. Look at all the deaths and sufferings the war on Iraq and Afghanistan brought on so many people and now we have more what we call terrorist in these countries and live our lives in greater fear. The same could be said for our wars on Yemen, Libya, Somali and Syria. Violence breeds violence and killing breeds killing.

Now I believe that politicians know this and now are trying to conduct wars with proxies, by drones, missile and bombings not to cut back on causalities but to cut back on American causalities. The USA now has the greatest military spending in the world, more than the other top ten nations, combined, and we are increasing spending on war and violence. If the people in the USA really want to support veterans they would work to end wars. The multibillion dollar Military, Arms dealers might not like ending wars but the soldier who is signing up to defend his country not to kill and be killed, would appreciate it.

A friend in Holland reminded me today that it was the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became the first recorded conscientious objector. We know little about early saints, Martin lived in the four century, but Martin of Tours had a contemporary, friend and follower, Sulpician Severus who was his own hagiographer, a recorder of lives of a saint. His Vita (life) of Martin of Tours tells the fascinating journey of a young soldier turned into a monk and elected, against his will, Bishop by the people of Tours, France. (You can read more of the story of Martin below.) Martin, as his story goes, made mistakes but continue to seek God in everyday life.

So today we honor Veterans of US wars and celebrate the feast day of a soldier, who like many others, could no longer kill other persons, when they became a ‘soldier of Jesus, the Christ’.

If more of us, including young men and woman, said No to learning how to kill others and became followers of the nonviolent Way of Jesus we would have peace not war and we could truly celebrate Veterans Day. We can honor veterans by saying No to War.


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WWJD, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell! - Tuesday, November 10, 2015

We in the Roman Catholic Church say we the people are the Church but in reality what we practice is that the hierarchical male priest system is really the Church. Supporting a woman Roman Catholic priest can get you excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and the hierarchical male priest from the top down, from Pope to Bishops to priest, decide what we can do or not do as members of the Roman Catholic Church.

Today in cleaning our basement I found a bracelet with the letters W.W.J.D. on it. W.W.J.D., What Would Jesus Do, is a phrase that was really popular a few years ago. It was based on a fictional story of a minister than chose to work on his homily rather than helping a person in distress.

Asking the question in reference to today’s Roman Catholic Hierarchy I think Jesus would put ministering to people, especially persons in need, over legalistic concerns like who can be a priest and where the Church money should be spent.

Today there was an article in the newspaper that a Judge had, after four years, accepted the Catholic Archdiocese plan for bankruptcy resulting from the sexual abuse scandal in Milwaukee. The Archdiocese spent over 20 million dollars in legal fees and a good part of the 21 million for survivors will go to their lawyers. A spokesperson for the sexual abuse survivors pointed out the victims written claims for 100 offenders will remain under seal for the courts. The victims at the beginning only wanted the abusers and those who covered up to be held accountable and named. Now after all this money of Catholics in the Archdiocese spent, this will still not happen.

What would Jesus do in the church’s sexual abuse scandal? I believe he would have condemned the actions of the priest and let everyone know what happened.

The question What would Jesus do (WWJD) can be asked of many issues in the Catholic Church including how hard the Milwaukee Archdiocese has made it to be a Black Catholic The answer to What Would Jesus Do is this circumstances seems clear. But the question, WWJD, is no longer asked because we no longer want to hear the answer. Don’t ask WWJD and no one will tell.


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Loss of Black Catholics in Milwaukee - Monday, November 09, 2015

We attended Mass last Sunday at St. Martin de Porres’s, one of the two parishes in the Catholic Archdiocese designated to serve Black Catholics. The pastor of this Church, a Capuchin priest. I realized at the end of Church that it was Black Catholic history month. At the end of the Mass the pastor also announced that the Capuchin’s would no longer be ministering at St. Martin de Porres. The Archdiocese would be taking over ministry at the Church and what that means has yet to be revealed.

[[Main/TheCatholicChurchInNorthCentralMilwaukee | The Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee has a history of separating black Catholics from White Catholics. Early in the 20th century when there was a growing number of Black Catholics in the downtown area that were not welcomed by new Jesuit Catholic Church downtown, the Capuchins were called in by the Archbishop to create an African American Catholic Church and school, nearby called St. Benedict the Moore Mission Church. The mission church was declared a “church without borders” so all African Americans in the city could attend it. Later when the Black Catholic population expanded and was moving more into North Central Milwaukee the Bishop at the time once again called in the Capuchins to create an African American church called “Blessed Martin de Porres.” As the whites fled North Central Milwaukee and the blacks moved in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee closed down or merged Catholic Churches until there were only two.

During these times the percentage of African Americans in North Central Milwaukee kept growing but the percentage of Black Catholics seriously declined. It is not difficult these days to find African Americans that were Catholic and now with the present generation there are even less. These racial bias against African Americans on the north side reflects the discrimination and racism that is rampant in Milwaukee but does not reflect the values and principles of equality in the Catholic Church.

The pastor Sunday hinted that the Archdiocese already had plans to diminish the ministry at St. Martin de Porres but would not reveal the plan at this time. Some of us know from the closing of our Catholic Church in North Central Milwaukee, Blessed Trinity that was a merged Church, the Archdiocese likes people to think they have an impact of decision when in reality they do not.

Earlier this year the popular pastor of the other designated Black Catholic church in Milwaukee was removed and the Archdiocese made it clear that this would be the one Catholic Church for Black Catholics. These moves will make it harder to be Black and Catholic in Milwaukee but does the hierarchical Church in Milwaukee really care? The Archdiocese celebrates Catholic History Month with the loss of more Black Catholics.


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Overcoming Depression - Sunday, November 08, 2015

Today I was sitting behind my grandson in a pew in his church. I was there because I am his sponsor for his upcoming confirmation. We were there for practice. We were about to practice going up on the altar and the sponsor presenting the confirmation candidate to the Bishop. We were to give the Bishop our candidate’s confirmation name. He whispered the name to me, Peter. He had chosen the name of his deceased Uncle, his dad’s younger brother and my son, Peter. Thoughts raced in my mind of my son, my friend, but I could still not cry.

When he died, a few years ago, I could not cry and still have not. About a month after his death, driving the car, the feeling of death overwhelmed me. At first I thought I was about to die but soon realized it was the shadow of death that hung over me. The sense of dying still abides within me but now I can avoid the feeling of death by keeping busy.

A friend of mine that suffers severe depression told me that avoids depression by keeping busy. I can understand this way of avoiding depression but know it does not diminish depression. Depression needs, in my opinion, to be faced straight out. Crying can help but since I cannot cry I need to tackle depression with meditation, silence and being present.

In fact one of the gifts of the sacrament of confirmation is ‘courage’. Courage is needed to face depression, recognizing it for what it is and thus overcoming it.


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Numbers Change, Being Present Remains Forever - Friday, November 06, 2015

For a long time after switching to a new computer I did not look up the Statistics, like hits, views, countries, unique visitors and such for my web pages on www.nonviolentcow. When I finally looked I noticed the statistics were very much the same as they have been for the last nine years. The Diary of the Worm is usually the most view web page and some others like the photo diary Buried in Guatemala remain in the top ten in the Viewed list. Sometimes a posting in Diary of the Worm or a new essay will see a bump in the Statistics.

I used to take more pleasure in having a high number of unique visitors or views but now I realize that I write for myself and if someone reads it that is a bonus. I realize that if you look deeper at the ‘same old, same old’ you can find another layer of meaning and fascination. Writing a public diary encourages me to see deeper into everyday life. Life is too much a mystery and gift to sleep walk through it. However, when I get busy and do not take time out to pray, mediate and just be, the joy and excitement of life can fade away.

Writing and reading also light up the imagination. The enemy of staying awake and really living is the screen of a TV, phone, tablet or computer, any device you sit passively and watch. Staying awake mean is not doing. Anthony de Mello, the spiritual writer, in his book “Awareness” tells this story as a symbol of modern life. “It is like people who are busy planning their vacation; they spend months planning it, and they get to the spot, and they are anxious about their reservations for flying back. But they are taking pictures all right and later they will show your pictures in an album of places they never saw but only photographed.” So numbers and views may change but being presence remains forever.


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Making the Connections Flow - Thursday, November 05, 2015

A friend of mine suggested I put some of the peace and justice issues I am concerned about together. I looked at the main ones: teaching war and killing at Marquette; racism in the city of Milwaukee; throwing certain ill people with brain illnesses in jail; reforming the local St. Vincent de Paul Society so “money belonging to poor” goes to persons in need.

One of the great abilities of people suffering from Schizophrenia is the ability to connect all kinds of persons and events. It is a fascinating traits and in some primitive cultures it was considered a god given gift to be honored.
I am now trying to create a short story trying to connect some of these diverse issues together. I am recording on my cell phone one line a day of the story but am now only finished with line three. One of the advantages of this method is that I can put a lot of thought into each line. The working title of this effort is “Altar Boy to Death Row”. In my mind I have connected two or three of the issues above but I have a ways to go. I might even throw in a few other justice and peace issues, like sexual abuse scandal in Church and the modern endless wars we are experiencing. But I do not know where the story will go. I will type up the recordings and when the story is finished will publish it on

A fictional story, be it a parable or a short story, is sometimes the best way to go to send a message. When you write a good parable, like “Thy Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven” some friends say “nice job” and ignore the message; some get upset and take it personally; others just ignore it; a few like it and understand it. When people are uncomfortable with a story or parable, unless they have “ears to hear”, you know you have struck something deep within.

I find myself writing this short store with the perspective of white, working and middle class American. I cannot look at life events as a black man or Hispanic although points of the story will resonate with these groups if they read it. How does one go from being an altar boy to being on death row? Hopefully I can make the connections flow.


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Hearing Is Essential To Democracy! - Wednesday, November 04, 2015

“Evolution of democracy is not possible if we are not prepared to hear the other side.”(The Mind of Mahatma Gandhi, p. 342)

The above quote rings true to me, although some people who have labeled me not a good listener. I must admit I am an impatient listener when people are saying a lot of nothing. Also when people allow you to speak your view but do not respond so dialog is impossible, I get easily frustrated.

What I see some call listening is just letting the person state their position and taking the attitude “that is you opinion and I have mine.” True listening to the other side is being willing to enter into ‘civil’, creative conflict.

My son Peter and I would get into some dialog about subjects like religion. We had our conflicts and I remember at times my wife saying we should not argue with each other. We both enjoyed these conversations of various sides and did not consider our conflict of ideas, a problem. By listening to my son I learned a lot, even though we both took opposite sides on some issues. Both of us did not believe in “my opinion, your opinion” but thought deep down there was some truth we were struggling to achieve.

Democracy, without creative listening, becomes just another game we play. The Presidential debates are just pure entertainment. Candidates say what they think people want them to say, realizing the debates are just entertainment. Who ‘wins’ or ‘loses’ debate has little or no effect on the elections which are determined by a small number of wealthy individuals who have the potent free speech of money to determine the outcome.

People like to think they are making a difference with their vote. However, deep down they know it does not make a difference and the candidate with the most money to spend will win the election 95% plus of the time.

Yes democracy will not evolve without persons able to hear the other side. The question is “do we have ears to hear?”


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Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes - Tuesday, November 03, 2015

If you want to know here is a link to a pie chart that will show you. If you do not want to know skip this link. Hint: it is not for the ‘common good’. Where your income tax money really goes?


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Betrayal of Friend and Poor - Monday, November 02, 2015

Betrayal of a Friend by a Kiss

Monday, Nov. 2, 2015

“Only a Friend can betray a friend” (From song “Why” by Michael Card)

Dear Friend,

Yesterday, a group of us were picketing the St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) meeting; you came by for a brief conversation. The purpose of our picket was to ask the Milwaukee SVDP Society to stop investing money, four million and counting, into a thrift store serving the suburbs; and, instead to invest it, as the mission of the Society commands, in direct service to people in need. You told me the same I had heard from other leaders of Milwaukee SVDP: that our picketing and leafleting was ‘hurting the poor’. The SVDP party line coming from you was a betrayal of our friendship and your claim to be a friend of the poor.

The small group of people, except me, were all people of low income as were the majority of people in our other picketing and leafleting activity before the Grand Opening of the thrift store in Greenfield, some months back. To ‘blame the poor for hurting the poor” is sadly common these days for white folks. Did you ever consider that it is you and the other mostly white and suburban leaders of SVDP, despite any good intentions, who are hurting the poor by spending “money belonging to the poor” (according to the rules and manual of the Society) on the Greenfield store serving the suburbs.

In fact, I understand that the Greenfield store created to produce money for the poor ran a deficit of $488,000 dollars in its first eight months of operation, not counting the millions of loans to purchase and renovate the property. As anyone with market sense knows, the opening of a retail store is the best time for sales. If the Greenfield store lost $488,000 (according to the Board) in its first eight months, how much more ‘money belonging to the poor’ will be the lost in the next twelve months of the new budget year.

Also, you stated that this suburban store, where it is not needed rather than in an area where it is needed (North Central Milwaukee), was discussed for years at many meetings of members before an offer for the store was made and accepted. This simply is not true. Members, as was I, first heard about the offer to purchase the store when an article in the business section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was reported in the SVDP National E-newsletter. I immediately wrote a letter of concern to all 54 presidents of SVDP Council; but, not knowing the addresses of members, I delivered these letters to the central office and they were never distributed. At a subsequent meeting of presidents, which most of us did not know about, a bare majority 28 of 54 presidents approved loans of 3.2 million dollars for the purchase and renovation of the Greenfield store.

At Mass, before the SVDP council meeting, you were sitting next to one of our members, an 87 year old woman who has fought for civil and human rights for many years. Her major concern is for the children who will go without basic home necessities: stoves, refrigerators and beds because of this losing investment in the suburbs and not in the neighborhoods of the needy.

You also blamed the Archdiocese of Milwaukee closing down Churches in North Central Milwaukee as the reason why many poor people in this impoverished area are not being served by SVDP home visits. Yes, the Archdiocese did close churches in North Central Milwaukee, the most segregated and poorest section of the city. However, there is no rule in the Society that conferences need to be at parishes or that members can only serve people in outdated parish boundaries. The reason that people are not being served is a local decision of the local Society — to not serve areas that do not have a Catholic Church with a conference. Since the very first conference of young adults at the University of Paris, members of the Society have always gone ‘out of the neighborhoods’ to serve people in need. Parish boundaries of the 50’s and 60’s no longer apply. A computer in the office, programmed by staff, decides who get served or who gets told, “We do not serve your area.” This practice is wrong and, in my opinion, an immoral example of segregation.

In short, I believe you have “betrayed this friend … but, especially the poor.”

For More Information see Mission of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
“We must do what is most agreeable to God. Therefore, we must do what our Lord Jesus Christ did when preaching the Gospel. Let us go to the poor.” Blessed Frederic Ozanam, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (1813–1853 )


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