black and white

the moth alights in front me. i later learn it is the eight-spotted forester, but that’s just the name the English-speaking humans give to it. i don’t speak eight-spotted forester, so i do not know to what name the moth would actually answer. it speaks no language i understand. i don’t know its ways. it lives a life beyond my comprehension. but there it is, comfortably paused just there where i can’t help noticing its stark splendor. i reach out and touch the very tip of its wing. it does not move but spreads its wings out for me to see. this moth is part of my world, both ordinary and exotic, living its own life its own way while i live mine – and it is easy to see how beautiful and perfect that is.

let us resound

Last night marked a fearful and determining moment for this country. When the sitting president deploys police/military forces to rout peaceful protestors, we have turned a terrible corner. 

He demonstrated his capability by using those forces for the purpose of shoving his way to an astonishingly hypocritical photo op. That photo should live in infamy not only in its disgusting display of hubris but its grim disdain for the people, freedom, and, yes, religion.

It is terrifying to see police/military personnel participate in this destructive farce, turn against the people, and walk all over the oath they vowed to uphold as well as the Constitution. That they are capable should be deeply troubling in light of the president’s clear, expressed intent.

This cannot stand. We, the people, must be strong and united in the peaceful defense of freedom, peace, justice, and equality. Where voices have called out all week in the name of justice, let us resound with it.

This moment cannot be allowed to pass without redress. It is time for all of us to take a stand against this debased breach of trust and revilement of the premises upon which we agree and presume our government and country should abide. Our legislature continues to fail us, no matter which party, but we must demand they step up in defiance to this egregious development. We must demand they respond to our calls for a moral justice.

It is also time for a true leader, one that boldly stands up for the people, to come to the fore. I don’t think that person is the one hiding out in a Delaware basement, but I know they’re out there somewhere. There’s still time, and, in fact, that time is now.

Step up.
Stand up. 
Stand for freedom.
Stand for love.

action not platitudes

So, what I’m wondering is…. where’s the response?

People across the nation are protesting. There is clearly a problem, and many people are speaking out their anger and frustration. Although George Floyd’s inexcusable murder was a triggering event in the midst of a bizarre and stressful time, the emotions didn’t evolve overnight. 

One would think that leaders in our country would be proposing actual solutions.

Instead, while everyone is protesting the police, in response, all we get is more policing. Videos abound of police in their damn riot gear intimidating peaceful protestors, bullying them, yelling at residents and protestors, and using violence that ranges from pushing people down, whether they are walking with a cane or not, to ramming them with their vehicles.

And sure, I applaud people like Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson in Flint who set his baton down and marched with the people, but we have to look beyond moments of solidarity and ask, okay, how are we really going to fix this?

Where, I ask, where is the leadership? There is an absolute void, whether Republican or Democrat, of a leader anywhere who is stepping in to actually address the grievances being raised across this nation right now. Shooting for looting is not a problem solver. Nor is empty rhetoric like calls for “healing this country“ from Mr. You Ain’t Black.

Hellooooo!!! We are looking for a real leader who actually has some vision and the ability to articulate it, formulate it, and execute a meaningful response. We’re talking about substantive, structural, practical changes on behalf of the people. We want positive, compassionate action, not just words.

So far, crickets.

How about defunding police departments?  As in, let’s have less policing, not more. I know I’d feel safer. Invest those funds in the creation of positive, healthy communities that stand on peace, justice, and equality.

How about demilitarizing the police? Yeah, we really don’t like seeing those bully lines of black-garbed soldiers ranged against we the people. We don’t want to see tanks on our streets. We’re sick and tired of SWAT raids, tasers, and bullets.

How about developing a compassionate approach to policing, implementing new commonsense training right from the get-go, and recruiting a suitable type of person for such work?

How about a livable minimum wage? As in, why, yes, we actually do care about all of our workers and their families, essential and beyond.

How about depopulating and closing prisons? We all know there’s just no reason for us to be the worldwide leader for imprisonment, unless, of course, you want to make a profit.

How about healthcare and housing solutions? How about equity in the workplace? How about equity in schooling? How about meaningful work? I don’t know, I could go on.

And just as there is a dearth of healthy leadership in government, we also yearn for leadership for those oppressed. Both the literal and figurative knee on the neck serve well to suppress much needed organized dissent and vision on behalf of the suffering classes. Maybe now is the time those visionary voices can rise and lead again to make for a better nation for all.

peace officers, not police officers

George Floyd is dead after police responded to a suspected forgery. Floyd’s is yet another unpardonable story of a black man succumbing to death under brutal and disproportionate police response. 

Such handling should be unheard of, but somehow none of us are surprised. While acknowledging that police are exposed to risky situations, we’ve heard self defense too many times in suspect situations for it to be believable. Heard it too many times to suppose that the police themselves are not responsible for escalating otherwise innocuous situations. 

When one considers the vast injustices and crimes against the citizenry executed by people in corporations and government that routinely go unchecked in any respect, it absolutely boggles the mind that anyone could approach an individual suspected of forgery prepared to kill him or treat him with brutality. It defies sanity that anyone could similarly approach individuals for countless other ‘crimes’ that are in reality mere evidence of the lack of a healthy social and economic structure and a government with a cold shoulder for much of its populace.

No one, except perhaps for the Amy Coopers of the world, wants to call the police anymore. Since they have assumed their militarized persona, police are broadly feared, distrusted, and disliked. For people of color, the dread is unimaginable and unforgivable. And for those with mental health challenges, it’s beyond terrifying.

Our police officers aren’t just armed, they are prepared for battle, right down to the tanks. They are inculcated with the mentality to go with it. It appears that an unfortunate percentage of them are steeped in prejudices. And we pay for it with tax monies.

This just should not be, and we all know it.

I like to believe that a person is drawn to police work with an intent to make a positive difference in the world. We need to support that intention.

We need to start over on the whole concept of policing. We need to start from scratch on how our police are trained. We need to relieve them of their war weapons and de-escalate their heightened warlike mentality. We need to be done with SWAT teams. We need to take away incentives like civil asset forfeiture, military grade arms coming from the feds, and prison lockup quotas for those for-profit prisons. We need to weed out those for whom discriminatory injustice is not reprehensible. We need to decriminalize in areas.

We need police who are true public servants. These are the police that can be trusted. They are welcome and level-headed friends in a moment of need. They seek to build an inherently safer, healthier community.

We want compassionate local police who care about their community across the board. Ones who are absolutely only prepared to use a weapon or brute force as an extreme last resort. Look at a number of other countries that somehow manage with police who generally go about their business unarmed. Who woulda thunk?

While we grieve with George Floyd’s family for this terrible loss, we need to bang the drum. We want peace officers, not police officers. 

truth and transparency


Unbelievably, unthinkably, reprehensibly – Chelsea Manning is once again jailed. This news flits across the feed and is quickly buried. But we ignore this story at our peril.

Chelsea Manning is a truth-teller. In this latest go-round, she is again carefully and deliberately taking a stand for truth and transparency. It is a stand taken on my behalf, on your behalf. She is putting herself on the line for what is right and for the good of her fellow humans.

She is fully aware, after seven years in prison, of what she’s getting herself into. She is one of those few brave souls willing to stand up for truth, to hold the powers that be accountable, at a terrible personal cost.

Her story is, of course, obfuscated and tinted by those powers as they continue their long, cruel persecution. But the reality is that she is a hero, and deserves our support. 

Free Chelsea Manning. Truth and transparency.

of animals and ecosystems

veru3_9_19Wolves were airlifted into the US from Canada at the end of February to bolster the wolf population in Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. The purpose is to help control the moose population there.

This week, though, we heard that US wildlife officials are planning to lift protections on grey wolves in the lower 48 states, allowing them to be hunted.

Wolves have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1975, when there was something like 1,000 of the animals left in the entire lower 48.

The reintroduction of grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 tells an amazing story about the trophic cascade that occurred there – impacting the ecosystem in surprising and extensive ways. Sustainable Human offers a short, lovely video about it here.

Let’s leave the wolves alone and let them do the magic for which they were designed.

We are losing species at an alarming rate. Let us stop willfully refusing to connect the dots.

We have learned that there is a delicate, precious balance in our ecosystems. Humans are part of the ecosystems, not the CEO’s.  

think equal: International Women’s Day

veru3_8_19Today marks International Women’s Day.

It may have escaped notice, but as recently as yesterday, a push to make Arkansas the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was killed in committee. The initiative seeks to amend the Constitution to ensure that,  “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” This fundamental assertion has lingered with insufficient ratifications by the states since its approval by Congress in 1972. I guess that simple declaration is just a bridge too far, #MeToo and all that notwithstanding.

This week, imprisoned women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia learned that they will be prosecuted. They have suffered torture and sexual assault during their now one-year long imprisonment, according to one investigation. The UN has lately called for the women’s freedom. The United States was not among the countries supporting the joint statement that also called for other human rights improvements in Saudi Arabia.

The ongoing priority exhibited in state legislatures around the US continued to play out lately with several bills moving along to ban abortion for any reason after six weeks. Women aside, these bills are always advanced in the name of that great reverence for life. If that is indeed the priority, one cannot help but ask why these bills continue apace while government remains engaged in holding children forcibly separated from their parents, ramping up war agendas, and abetting suffering and death unabated in Yemen? Among. Many. Other. Things.

The World Economic Forum’s latest report tells us that there is a 32 percent average gender gap globally in the areas of health and survival, political empowerment, educational attainment, and economic participation and opportunity. The US ranks 51 out of the 149 countries included in the report, with a gender parity score of .72.

It is pretty dismal to see how these scores have degraded over time. For example, in 2006, the US ranked 23 (out of 114) for this report. It scored at the very top on the health and survival spectrum at that time. In this recent report, the US score for health and survival sunk to 71 (out of 149).  It ranks even further down, 98, on the political empowerment scale. The only score that’s improved is in the area of education, now at 46. 

We all know we can do better, and, when we do, it’s better for everybody. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day: ‘Think equal, build smart, innovate for change.”

That works.