Peace Making

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Today, not in the garden

Posted by on 22 May 2013 | Tagged as: citizenship, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, housefire, loss, Making a Difference, parenting, Peace Making, social justice, Uncategorized

It has been a while again since I posted, but last night I wanted to share something with friends on a social media site and browsed through the pictures I posted here last summer.

How things have changed.

Hope, sadness; light, shadows; growth, decline; laughter, sighs.

I have been waking earlier than my normal the last couple of weeks, though I finally now sleep through most nights. And then I spend the time until I wake up reading the news and email that has been filtered and partially digested overnight. Thus de-motivated, I finally emerge into the day wondering what I am supposed to accomplish, how I am supposed to maneuver myself to get things done.

Today, once I got up I started soaking some doll clothes that were only slightly impacted (these are things that were inside plastic bags and are for dolls that survived!), got a load of laundry in, spent an hour cleaning jewelry with cotton swabs and makeup pads. I just sat down to eat a little something, and read more news…

There was a tornado in Oklahoma a couple days ago. Two that were particularly devastating. One that was in the most dangerous category. I look at the devastation on the television and it’s past my comprehension.

Until, that is, I think about what we are dealing with.

Compassion is the natural result of empathy, I think — understanding what other people are going through, if not the exact situation then being able to extrapolate from what is personally experienced to imagine a similar situation.

And what is similar is people leaving their homes in the morning, thinking they could play with (fill in the blank) when they got home. Then no home. Or, the remains of a home, but not much on first, second or third glance to salvage.

I know what that is like. I know how strange the landscape seems when landmarks are gone. I know what it is like to think there is nothing left and then return the next day and on subsequent days to find little hints of what was, and some of it good enough to keep.

I know what it is like to wake up and not know where you are for a few minutes, the light is wrong, the dog isn’t leaning against the bed, there aren’t any birds…

I know what it is like several weeks later to realize there were things that were supposed to be taken care of already and we haven’t started yet. So you start when you start, and the rest will fall into place as it can.

I know that in the weeks and months to come these families, like our family, will still be wondering what happened to (fill in the blank) and not sure if it was lost in the original upheaval or misplaced later on. And wishing…

I know they, like we are doing, will be wishing that things could just be normal. They don’t want new houses and new furniture and their “dream kitchen” — they want their HOME, and their treasured paintings drawn by loving toddler hands, and that wonderful teapot from the grandmother who is long gone.

And I know that in the midst of all of this, there will be good moments, too. Times that they smile, and times that they laugh. And they will feel strange, that in the middle of grieving and feeling lost, they also are “okay.”

I hope they will understand that it is normal to have alternating times of laughter and tears. It is normal to not always be looking around trying to figure out what to do next because soon — though never soon enough, it seems — things will start making sense again and they can get back to living.

It won’t ever be the same, and the losses will keep piling up for a while. But eventually, and sooner than they expect, it will be okay again. Not the same, but okay.

Parents, hug your children close, or call them to say you love them. Friends stay connected, even if just a phone call or facebook note. In difficult times, what saves us are the relationships.

To help the people in Oklahoma and other places devastated by tragedies and disasters, consider contributing to the Red Cross or Red Crescent.

Occupy the New Year: A Challenge

Posted by on 30 Dec 2011 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Making a Difference, Peace Making, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

This is a good time to dedicate ourselves to making the world a better place. Rather than focusing on self-centered goals at this time for resolutions (lose weight, clean out the garage, exercise more), why not choose one specific project that will help many people?

For example, this is an election year. If you are eligible to vote but aren’t registered, register! If you find yourself feeling powerless, assert your power: write to your elected officials, volunteer in a campaign (whether for a politician or a cause, you can help spread the word about something you are passionate about, even from behind the scenes and even if you are not eligible to vote), attend rallies and opportunities to meet the candidates. Do you attend your school district’s board meetings? Some things they do are mundane, others affect how the school interacts with the community. Do you know who your school board members are? Or your public (utility-port-library…) district’s board members? Do you know what budget or project issues they are discussing?

Obviously, no one person can keep track of everything or participate in everything. But every person can keep track of something, and participate in some way, whether eligible to vote or not. Not everyone can attend rallies, not everyone can write letters, not everyone can run for office. But everyone can be creative and realistic about volunteering time and talents!

In the United States, while corporations are adept at purchasing face time and favors with politicians, the people still have a great deal of influence, if they choose to wield it.

A democracy functions best when all the people make their wishes, dreams and needs known.

I have friends who volunteer at the food bank, who volunteer in schools, as firefighters, for political causes… each one of these people makes a difference in the lives of many others in the community. And in the process, their work expresses their values.

How will you choose to occupy your time in the new year?

How will you express your values in the world?

How will your life this year make things better for other people?

I am thinking over my possibilities. I will definitely continue volunteering at my local school as I have time and energy… is there one more thing I can add? I lack monetary security that would let me donate money to organizations and causes I believe in. Perhaps I can use my writing ability more productively to support them. I always vote, but I think this year I will write to one of my elected officials on a cause I am passionate about (education!). I also hope to have a productive garden this summer, and to donate some of the foods we grow to the local food bank. I want to be more consistent in keeping in touch with some of my friends who aren’t in the same spheres as my daily life. Keeping my resolutions to a reasonable list is the hardest part. But I think I will stop there so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Blog Action Day — Climate Change

Posted by on 15 Oct 2009 | Tagged as: blog action, climate, economy, environment, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, Peace Making, politics, rain, Uncategorized, weather

Climate change has been a focus of many debates, some panic, and a lot of misinformation in my lifetime. Things have been coming to a head lately, as climate seems to be at least partly behind many extinctions and local ecosystem failures. And the world seems to be no closer to any agreement on things related to climate change, including and importantly, the sharing of resources as diverse as raw materials, training/education and energy sources.

I read a lot of the BBC articles that are posted on their website. Here is one from last weekend: ‘Scary’ Climate Message from Past

And here is one from Monday, What Happened to Global Warming?

In the interests of full disclosure, I do believe BOTH that climate change in the last 200 years is accelerated by human industrial and agricultural activity AND that our world experiences wide-ranging cycles in temperature, rainfall and sunlight. I don’t see the cyclical nature as being incompatible with the concern over “global warming” — certainly the “average” temperature fluctuates, as does the temperature daily.

The main issue, as I see it, is whether the range of temperatures in any given area remain close to historic normal ranges. If the average temperature in August where I live is 65, then it is important to me if that average is reached with highs of 70 and lows of 60 or if it is reached with highs of 80 and lows of 50. Or more extreme. And the same with the average annual temperature…

It is also important to consider when the rain falls – and the water retention that is available. Where I live, year-round water has been abundant for thousands of years, with many aquifers fed by slow snowmelt (some from glaciers) after rain in the winter was stored in the mountain snow pack. With warmer, drier winters and longer spring rains, that snow pack melts more and earlier than normal. Which means our rivers (formerly abundantly filled with salmon) run low earlier in the year, and for longer. It also affects the farmers on the other side of the mountains, who rely on the rivers for irrigation during their long dry season.

Finally, as a person who struggles with mood and energy during the traditional long gray “rainy” season, I admit that a few days of sunshine in the middle of December and January and February always lift my spirits. I get more done, and have more energy for fun things after. However, the sunlight means less rain and has the effect of confusing plants that are adapted to a long, dark season. We have lost a few plants to this, and over time more will fail.

Climate change will have different effects in different parts of the world. I am not a climatologist, I am a gardener, a mother, a person who wants to see humanity as a whole prosper in a beautiful, abundant world.

Right now, I continue to be worried. And I continue to be hopeful that our species’ adaptability and intelligence will allow us to find ways to help the world prosper along with us.

Punxatawney Phooey

Posted by on 03 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: climate, economy, environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Making a Difference, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized, weather

I don’t know what the groundhog saw yesterday — my life is so busy, I forgot to check! Still, it does feel that Spring may be in the air in the Pacific Northwest. At least it was for today. Sunny, warm enough to be outside without a hat…

The hyacinths under the medlar are already sending up shoots, as are the bright pink tulips by the front door. The irises have nice tall lanceolate growth, and the fruit trees are beginning to bud out. I went outside today in fact, and pruned a little bit on my plum tree. Will take pics of the branches I brought in to force when it happens. A few days from now…

There are trailing blackberries beginning to take over a couple areas of the yard, and himalayan blackberries in places they have never been before. I will be itching to get out in the yard with the children on warm and dry days now… they can pull in an hour what would take me all day.

On a slightly different thread:

Our planet continues to debate the reality of global warming and what governments should do about it. Well…

Two weeks ago I noticed that we have passed 60,000 kWh on our electric meter — remember this house was put on the land for us in 1999, so all that power we have used is really just ours. Makes you think… how much power even our family uses. Of course, for some of those years we were homeschooling, and during the winter if I don’t have bright lights in the house I can’t function; both of those added to the use of power at home. But those points aside, I am trying to think of ways to conserve just a little more. In fact, today I decided to NOT have the TV on in the background while I worked. We’ll see if it makes even a dent.

The pluses for our family’s power consumption are that we don’t have airconditioning, and despite very warm temperatures sometimes, our house usually stays comfortable. The forced air heat for cool seasons is not as completely warming as radiant heat, but for now we stay comfortable enough, especially if we put on a sweater in the winter. with global warming becoming an increasing concern, I am conflicted about using propane for heat, cooking and hot water… but since part of our power also comes from a small coal plant to the south, propane does seem a cleaner heat source (I used to think all our power came from the dams, which have their own set of problems of course).

We live too far from town to reasonably car pool, and there is no bus service (on which I have commented/ranted more than once). I cannot ride a bike at the moment, but Tom and the children often do, to the little store or to my parents and to friends’ houses. It works out. We do “bundle” our trips into town as much as possible, and try to keep the cars in tune so they get the best possible mileage. And since trips into town usually entail some shopping, we try to bring reusable bags/containers and buy things with minimal packaging. But convenience does win out, more now that I am in school, and often enough to get my conscience a little bothered.

A plus to saving energy and materials is that we spend just a little less, and eat a little more healthily. Though we are not scraping bottom, our margin right now is much less than I like. And we are trying to model good world citizenship for the children. Every little bit helps!

Back to the original thread: Spring will be here soon. My garden needs work to be ready. I need work to be ready. Spring is a time of new beginnings. We can make fresh starts, try again to be what we dream of. We won’t be perfect, but how nice that we can be better!

inauguration, reality

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

Barak Obama, President of the United States!

inauguration — expectation

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

After a full night’s sleep, out of alphabetical order, I know, here are my expectations for the new administration:

  • Restore the rule of law and constitutionality to the administration. Rather than going their own way and thumbing their nose at the legality of their actions, I expect this administration to be scrupulous in both interpretation and following of all laws.
  • Re-engage with nations that have been alienated by the outgoing administration, both friend and foe, even as they make clear that despotism is not acceptable even when done by our allies.
  • Emphasize education, training and job formation — while removing the barriers that the “No Child Left Behind Act” created
  • Lead the way. For young people, for immigrants, for parents, for politicians, for the world. I believe this new administration has the energy, the experience and the will to bring unity and hope to the world.

inauguration — tradition

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, citizenship, education, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, hope, musings, Peace Making, Politics and War, Uncategorized

Some families have long-standing get-togethers: summer reunions at the shore, grandmother’s birthday bash, even game night every Thursday with pizza and friends.

Some cultures are filled with holy days: Eid al Fitr, Yom Kippur, Easter, Dia de los Muertos.

Some countries are full of pomp and circumstance. The Changing of the Guard outside Buckingham Palace, or the Opening of Parliament. The Birthday of the Monarch or the Jubilee Celebrations. The remembrance of the war dead, or the founding of the nation.

The United States has its traditions, too: Fourth of July (the day we declared independence though it was 5 years and then some before the war was over, and two more to make it official), Thanksgiving, Memorial Day.

Every person resonates with traditions in their own way. Every person has their own stories of the most bizarre iteration, the best time ever, the time it just didn’t happen. Different communities celebrate or observe these events in their own ways, with great variation… but by and large, even those who are not “observant” take note and they become ties that cement society.

In the United States, in over 230 years, we have a tradition of a peaceful, orderly transition between administrations. We pride ourselves on the “ease” with which one government morphs into another. No bloodshed, no shaky weeks after one government is dissolved and another one is forming, no military coup and martial law. Like our annual national holidays, the quadrennial inauguration is as certain as the rise of the sun tomorrow.

But unlike the other holidays, which commemorate things in our past, this one heralds our future. Rather than looking backward shoring up our cultural myth through remembered heroics, inauguration day signals beginnings, possibilities, hopes and dreams. It points the way forward, encouraging and beckoning us to renewed and greater effort on the part of our country, our people.

Today is the day for the inauguration of the forty-fourth president. Today we look toward the future, with confidence, with hope. Today, regardless of personal philosophies or ideologies, we can take comfort in the traditions that tie us all together. Our government, our nation, continues with no interruption, no alteration in the basic structure of our lives.

That is a pretty nifty tradition.

inauguration day – inspiration

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, citizenship, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Peace Making, poetry, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

It’s not just adults who are interested and engaged in these times.

Children are writing Letters to Obama Poetry

and Slate Magazine invited its reading to craft aninvitational inauguration speech.

and here is how Obama inspired someone overseas, writing in The Daily Telegraph.

inauguration day — anticipation

Posted by on 19 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, citizenship, editorial, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Making a Difference, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

In fifteen hours, give or take, Barak Obama will be sworn in as President of the United States. The whole world waits with anticipation, some eager, some fearful. Many have expressed their ideas through speeches, editorials, marches. Though it is possible to directly send ideas to his “team,” I haven’t sent much. I just don’t know which of my hopes and dreams to articulate, what is the highest priority?

  • Do I hope for support for families that are able to afford to have a parent stay at home — something along the lines of having those year(s) “count” toward social security retirement and disability status?
  • Do I hope that education will become a higher priority than incarceration?
  • Do I hope that children and adolescents will be given developmentally appropriate education and support?
  • Do I hope that remaining areas of wilderness that contain fossil fuels will be protected, so that the earth can begin the long process of restoring ecosystems?
  • Do I hope that people will regain their sanity as it relates to employment — doing a good job for reasonable pay, benefits and some security?
  • Do I hope that the insane profit-taking of the last twenty years will end and business owners and shareholders will return to a healthy appreciation for the worker?
  • Do I hope that the United States will, rather than run roughshod over other sovereign states, re-engage in a polite and respectful dialog with them?

Yes, and more.

I am still in the middle of gathering my thoughts. Anticipation…

anticipation
3 a: visualization of a future event or state
4: the early sounding of one or more tones of a succeeding chord to form a temporary dissonance

(from Merrian Webster’s online dictionary).

I chose just two of the definitions, the first being the one I considered as I began to write this post. I, like millions (billions?) of people around the world, have certain ideas about what the change in administration will mean. I have ideas about how history will now shift; hopefully away from the aggressive, antagonistic policies of the outgoing administration that alienated many forms allies, and toward a more inclusive, cooperative set of policies that re-invite the world to participate in solution-finding.

And then, as I read the definition, the last concept hit me – between the ears, as it were: We are moving away from the bombastic final chord of a martial movement in the symphony of our history. A new note is sounding — a clarion call, fresh and new as the next movement gathers itself before bursting into full harmony. How will the lingering chord resolve? How will the first hestitant notes of the next theme find their way? What surprises are in store?

Idiocy, Prejudice and Terrorism

Posted by on 02 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: citizenship, editorial, Making a Difference, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, social justice, The Fallacies of 911, Uncategorized

Yep, it’s one of my famous political rants. Hold on to your seats!

It is quite clear, and has been for some time, that the terrorists who planned the 11 Sept 2001 attacks have won. Most are long dead, but the United States is at war on two fronts with insufficient resources to fight either one well. The world is in chaos financially, I believe in part because the emphasis on combatting terrorism by the United States government (and others) pushed everything else (such as financial decision-making and good trade treaties) out of the way. Individuals within the United States have been encouraged to indulge themselves in fear-mongering based on prejudice, leading to completely stupid over-reactions in many cases.

Here is the news story that triggered this rant: Family Grounded (CNN)

Now, I grew up as a child with a parent who flew airplanes. We always talked about safety issues on planes! I knew how to open an emergency exit by the time I was seven. I talk about plane, bus, train and boat safety with my own children.

And on the trip back home (the one in bad weather in the middle of the night), I reviewed safety procedures and the merits of sitting where we did (forward, next to the “door”/hatch that was only a few feet from the lifeboat pod), as well as the safest places to sit on an airplane…

Good thing I wasn’t wearing a veil, speaking with an accent, or carrying a non-Christian religious text.

The long and the short of it is, the United States is no longer a free nation, we are a fear-filled nation. People willingly gave up individual liberties and rights for the elusive promise of greater “security” and we are a few short steps from again putting citizens and permanent residents in concentration camps based on their ancestral or religious affiliations.

Wake up! Today we are no more safer than we were on 10 Sept 2001 – we are simply more frightened, more easily controlled and less likely to live “the American dream.”

Don’t like the situation I have described? Then be aware of your words and actions. Consider what you teach your children — are they watching you be generous of spirit and brave, or stingy and fearful? Do you cross the street when you are shopping and you encounter a person who is not as well dressed as you? Do you know your neighbors? Really? Which ones? All of them, or only the ones who look like you or act like you or worship as you do?

What makes the United States great — what made so many “western” nations great in the last century — was the ability of people new to an area to make their mark. We rejected the notion that only old blood was respectable and focused instead on the merits of individuals. Imperfectly, perhaps, we stood by the “proposition that all men are created equal.” And so, many immigrants and children of immigrants have managed to make it to the top of their professions, gain personal wealth, and become leaders in their communities.

I can point proudly to my own mixed ancestry — some came to North America in the early 1600s, others in the 1800s. Over and over, people left their homes to seek a better life on this continent. Over and over, they became productive citizens. The most recent was a grandmother who arrived in Chicago in 1931, with a suitcase and dreams, who managed to finish her own education when she was in her fifties and realize at least one of those dreams. She became a teacher… and owned her own home.

She lived the American dream.

But I wonder: will my children? Will yours?

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