Exploring Ways To Make Peace Within
Ourselves & the World

Women In Black Denver, Colorado

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Why Do I Write This Blog???

The easiest (and probably the most honest) answer to that question is: I don't know. It all started in the summer of 2005, when I went to Crawford, Texas ( a.k.a. the home of the prez's ranch, a.k.a. the home of Camp Casey) to support Cindy Sheehan. I wanted the world to know that, contrary to what one could read in the mainstream media, the peace movement was alive and well and large numbers of Americans did not support the war in Iraq. I wanted people to know that thousands of Americans were willing to travel to Texas and tolerate the heat, humidity, and bugs in order to support a grieving mother whose new purpose was to shine a light on the lies that led to the war and to bring home our troops so that no other mother would have to know the pain that she felt.

Over time, this blog has become more of an exploration of who I am, my spirituality, and how life works. I love life's complexities, exploring the shades of gray. I want to, as Rainier Maria Rilke said,

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

Maybe my blog is just one big question about what is needed in order for people to take the time to love and cherish each other and our earth. Maybe someday, I will "live along some distant day into the answer."

In the meantime, thank you for joining me on my journey. I welcome you to share yours with me

 

Friday, June 30, 2006

Another Test To See What We're Made Of

One of my best friends is Jewish. The most important part of his life is his study of Judaism. He was conceived in Israel, but born in the states. I love him like a brother and have deep respect for how he dives deeply into his soul for the deep answers. We can't speak very well about the Israeli-Palestinian problems, though. But he knows where I stand.

Another good friend of mine is Muslim. The most important part of his life is his study of Islam. He was born in Iran, but has lived in the states since he was 15 or 16. I love him like a brother and have deep respect for his love and devotion to the Quran and the Prophets. There is much about the Israeli-Palestinian problems that we don't bring up, but I think he knows where I stand.

Coincidentally, both of these two friends were born on the same day, 23 years apart. They have met, and they like each other a lot. They can talk and share and respect each other. It is quite beautiful, actually.

I call this problem, that we sometimes find unspeakable, "The Israeli-Palestinian Volleyball Game". You hit the suicide bomber to me; I'll hit back the missile to you. No one wins the game when you're playing with more than a volleyball. I am not impressed.

The U.S. makes the game even messier. And my friends and I have not found a way to have conversation about that.

Now our leaders are facing one more test of our humanity. Are we compassionate enough to help the victims of this volleyball game?

In yesterday's Boston Globe article, Gaza Power Plant Hit by Israeli Airstrike is Insured by US Agency, I read that:

"The Palestinian power plant bombed by Israeli forces Tuesday is insured by a US government agency, and US officials say they expect American funds to be used to pay for the damage.

The destruction of the 140-megawatt reactor, the only one in the Gaza Strip, threatens to create a humanitarian disaster because the plant supplies electricity to two-thirds of Gaza's 1.3 million residents and operates pumps that provide water supplies.

But paying a claim on the plant, which was insured for $48 million, could prove problematic for the United States, which cut off funding for all infrastructure projects in the Palestinian territories after the militant group Hamas won legislative elections in January."

I know that both of my friends grieve for the suffering of all innocents. I am waiting for our congress to do the same, and then do the right thing.

posted by Carol at 8:59 AM 0 comments


The Meaning of Life

Yesterday, I went with my friend to her chemo. She had received bad news, delivered in a bad way, the day before. Her doctor was acting, shall we say, INSENSITIVE!!! Basically, he gave her the impression that he was giving up on her.

But he was messing with the wrong woman! She got angry and she used her anger to get her mojo back. It is amazing the amount of energy she had today, how alive and empowered she was. All because she got angry at the doctor, and she transformed that anger into taking control over her own life.

In our frustration with all that's going on, we don't have to watch tv, get drunk, or numb ourselves by whatever our method of choice. We are ALIVE when we see what's going on. The richness includes the pain and suffering AND the beauty of our world, including the courage of those around us. Part of us dies when we blind ourselves to any part of what is. And it takes a lot of energy to try to hide from reality.

When we get bad news, we can be angry victims and strike back (like a W I know), or we can use anger as a wake-up call and change our own way of thinking, letting it bring out what is ALIVE in us. Are you listening, W??? I forgot. He forgot how to listen.


And when I got home, in the mailbox, I found a present from my sweet sister-in-law, bro-in-law, niece and nephews. A book called The Meaning of Life. I have been looking for that my whole life! ;-) I am lucky to have such love and support from the people in Massachusetts. If you guys are reading this, THANK YOU!!! See you soon!

posted by Carol at 7:33 AM 0 comments


Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Stuff We are Born With

Sometimes, it all just gets to me, and I have to switch gears for awhile. Before I go weed the garden to find out what the hailstorm left us (besides the weeds that are thriving perfectly, thank you very much), I had to get down!

Watch this little boy drum!!!

posted by Carol at 4:13 PM 0 comments


Troops Home Fast

If you live in Colorado, please join us! If you don't live nearby, create an event of your own!

Troops Home Fast
4th of July, 2006

This 4th of July, we are pledging to sacrifice in solidarity with those who are suffering - both our troops who risk their lives daily and the Iraqi people who have endured years of war. We will fast together, and the food that we would normally eat that day will be donated to people in need in our community.

Denver, Civic Center Park (Broadway & 14th)
Dawn to Dusk (or for as long as you can)
Join the Fast or Show up to Support!

For Fasting Guidelines see www.troopshomefast.org

Fasters Bring: Water, chair or blanket, sunscreen, shade (structure cannot be attached or put into park property), guitars, drums, and food for the homeless (the prepared food you would normally eat)

Supporters Bring: Water for fasters, prepared food for the homeless

During the day, we will be ringing a bell every hour for a moment of silence to remember the sacrifices of our soldiers and of the Iraqi people. We will also be composing a flag made out of messages of independence to be taken to Senator Salazar.

For More Information:
www.TroopsHomeFast.org
www.myspace.com/codepinkdenverboulder

Organized by
Lakewood Women in Black, CODEPINK Denver/Boulder, and Denver Iraq Vets Against the War

posted by Carol at 3:04 PM 0 comments


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Military Families Speak Out


How Military Families Speak Out Began

Nancy Lessin's stepson finished college before joining the military in 1998. In 1999, our military trained him in Arabic (a very convenient thing to do, considering what was going to happen four years later). He was sent to Iraq in the spring of 2003.

Meanwhile, in November of 2002, Nancy, her husband, and another family started Military Families Speak Out with the mission of stopping the war that was looming. In February of 2003, after congress turned over authority to W to start the war, the co-founders of MFSO sued W and Rumsfeld! They tried to get a restraining order to stop R & W from starting this war. But on 3-18-03, the suit failed. On 3-19-03 the bombs were launched.

MFSO started with a group of a few people who wanted to try to stop the war. Now the war has gone on for over three years, and they have over 3000 families as members. There are 25 chapters across the U.S.

The Families

Monday night, every one of the seven women at the table, except me, had a son in our military. We came together at Ruby Tuesdays out by Denver International Airport, because Nancy Lessin of MFSO was in town and wanted to meet with people who had family members serving in this war. (I came along as a curious witness and as the faux aunt of my friend's son. Now I probably have to start buying my new "nephew" gifts for holidays!). Nancy's great laugh peppers the many motivating stories she shares about her work. Her enthusiasm and commitment are non-stop, and she is a very real person.

As the women at our table talked, their stories came out. One woman's son is in Iraq now, one's son is in boot camp, and some sons have had deployments to Iraq and/or Afghanistan. The toll that this war takes on mothers was very evident. When one woman whose son has not been deployed asked how people cope when their son is deployed, the answer was "You get involved." I have seen this to be true in my friend, Gaye, whose son just got back from Afghanistan.

I think that this is good medicine for all of us. When we get involved, we get some control over our lives. We get our power back. There is SOMETHING that we can do, instead of hopelessly sitting around watching. We will sit in depression if we sit as victims of what is going on in this world, but when we follow our hearts and passion in work to make a difference, we have a new joy and happiness.

But I digress...

More than one mother at the table said that they had taught their sons to be a peace activist. What is it that causes a son to love guns and military stuff???

A couple of mothers said that the turning point for them - when they KNEW that they could not support this W or his war - was when W said "Bring 'em on!" One woman said that she has never felt so hopeless and helpless in her life until that point. And that point is when the MFSO people created the "BRING THEM HOME NOW" campaign. Once again, not sitting down in despair, but standing up in power.

Every woman there said that, until they found MFSO, they didn't know another person in their community who had a son in the military. For some of them, they waited years to find another military family. What an isolated feeling that must be!

The Message

Anyone who has a family member or loved one in the military and is against this war can be a member of Military Families Speak Out. Nancy says "Anyone with a family member or loved one in the military feels this war differently than anyone else." Latest estimates are that there are seven or eight members of congress who have family members serving in the war at this time. If half or most of the members of congress had family members deployed, I wonder what the war would look like.

And that leads me to a suggestion for action that Nancy and other MFSO people are doing. BE A PAIN IN YOUR CONGRESSPERSON'S LIFE. Be consistent. Write them. Meet with them in their office. A LOT OF TIMES. Remind them that our soldiers and the people of Iraq are dying daily. Ask them to name the soldiers that they are willing to condemn to death today. We are averaging around two U.S. deaths a day over there. What names would your congressperson pick to be the next to die? By doing nothing and letting this war go on, they are choosing death for someone every day.

If you have a family member or loved one who is serving in this war and you think that we need to get out of Iraq, contact Military Families Speak Out at www.mfso.org. If you are in the Denver area and want to get in contact with the newly hatching Colorado chapter, contact me through this blog and I will get you in touch with these local women (it would be good to add some men to this group, too, don't you think?)

posted by Carol at 10:54 AM 0 comments


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Eli Came Back

Last night, I had a three-hour dinner with seven women including Nancy Lessin, co-founder of Military Families Speak Out. There, I got to watch the birth of a Colorado MFSO chapter! I was inspired and moved throughout the evening. I just got goose bumps thinking about it.

This morning, I started to write about MFSO and my experience with these strong women, but the phone rang. It was another mother who couldn't be there last night. Her son is a medic who has served in Iraq. She told me about a poem written about him, so I looked it up and it screamed to be told again. I found it on the blog, Fight to Survive. I hope the author and fts bloggers don't mind if I re-print it here. I have to answer when something screams like that. I will write about MFSO tomorrow.

Eli Came Back From Iraq

Eli came back from Iraq
and tattooed a teddy bear onto the inside of his wrist
above that a medic with an IV bag
above that an angel
but Eli says the teddy bear won't live

and I know I don't know but I say "I know"
because Eli's only 24 and I've never seen eyes
further away from childhood than his
eyes old with a wisdom
he knows I'd rather not have

Eli's mother traces a teddy bear onto my arm
and says not all casualties come home in body bags

and I swear
I'd spend the rest of my life writing nothing
but the word light at the end of this tunnel
if I could find the fucking tunnel
I'd write nothing but white flags
somebody pray for the soldiers
somebody pray for what's lost
somebody pray for the mailbox
that holds the official letters
to the mothers, fathers, sisters and little brothers
of Micheal 19...Steven 21...John 33
how ironic that their deaths sound like bible verses
the hearse is parked in the halls of the high school
recruiting black brown and poor
while anti-war activists outside walter reed army hospital
scream 100, 000 slain…
as an amputee on the third floor
breathes forget-me-nots onto the window pain

but can we forget what we never knew

our sky is so perfectly blue it's repulsive
somebody tell me where god lives
cause if god is truth
god doesn't live here
our lies have seared the sun too hot live by
there are ghosts of people who are still alive
touting M16s with trembling hands
while we dream ourselves stars on Survivor
another missile sets fire to the face in the locket
of a mother who's son
needed money for college
and she swears she can feel his photograph burn

how many wars will it take us to learn
that only the dead return
the rest remain forever caught between worlds of
shrapnel shatters body of three year old girl!
and…
welcome to McDonalds can I take your order?
the mortar of sanity crumbling
stumbling back home to a home that will never be home again
Eli doesn't know if he can ever write a poem again
1 third of the homeless men in this country are veterans
and we have the nerve to "Support Our Troops"
with pretty yellow ribbons
while giving nothing but dirty looks to their outstretched hands
tell me what land of the free
sets free its 18 year old kids into greedy war zones
hones them like missiles
then returns their bones in the middle of the night
so know one can see
their deaths swept beneath the carpet and hidden like dirt
their lives promises we never kept

Jeff Lucey came back from Iraq
and hung himself in his parents basement with a garden hose
the night before he died he spent forty five minutes on his fathers lap
rocking like a baby
rocking like daddy save me!
and don't think for a minute he too isn't collateral damage
in the mansions of Washington
they are watching them burn and hoarding the water
no senators sons are being sent out to slaughter
no president's daughters are licking ashes from their lips
or dreaming up ropes to wrap around their necks
in case they ever make it home alive
our eyes are closed america
there are souls in the boots of the soldiers america
fuck your yellow ribbon
you want to support our troops
bring them home
and hold them tight when they get here

Written by Andrea Gibson January 2006

Labels: ,

posted by Carol at 1:04 PM 3 comments


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Severe Thunderstorm Warning














Last night a thunderstorm blew through. Hail, both large and small, pelted everything. I stood at the window, watching as my garden was pummeled. I watched two big lettuce plants literally torn to shreds in front of my eyes. For some reason, the tomato plants weren't destroyed, but everything else was. Oh, and I'm sure the weeds that I hadn't gotten to yet are not only doing fine, but thriving.

If I didn't have a Wild Oats within five miles of here, if I didn't have a car and gas and money, if, if, if... if I wasn't a middle class American with resources (at least today), I would've thrown my body across that garden to save it from that hail. But my life doesn't depend on food from my garden.

Today I heard Dr. Dahlia Wasfi speak. Her father is Iraqi and her mother is Jewish. She lived in Basra during her early childhood, moving back to the states in 1977, when she was six. She has visited her extended family in Basra and Baghdad twice since the war began - in early 2004, and then again late 2005 - early 2006. She gives a very different view of what reconstruction in Iraq looks like (there is very little). Kids go to school, when they can, in bombed out buildings. She did see a set of new stoplights, but they don't work, due to the inconsistent availability of electricity. In May of 2006, a (very) few members of congress held a forum on Iraq. Dahlia gave powerful testimony, which you can read at the Brussels Tribunal.

At the end of her testimony, she quotes Hassan Juma’a Awad, president of the Basrah Oil Workers' Union. His article, Leave Our Country Now was published in The Guardian/UK.

His words:
"We lived through dark days under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. When the regime fell, people wanted a new life: a life without shackles and terror; a life where we could rebuild our country and enjoy its natural wealth. Instead, our communities have been attacked with chemicals and cluster bombs, and our people tortured, raped and killed in our homes.

Saddam's secret police used to creep over the roofs into our homes at night; occupation troops now break down our doors in broad daylight. The media do not show even a fraction of the devastation that has engulfed Iraq. Journalists who dare to report the truth of what is happening have been kidnapped by terrorists. This serves the agenda of the occupation, which aims to eliminate witnesses to its crimes. "

Life is feeling very dark to me right now. It seems that the politicians of our country are baseball sized hail, shredding the life out of the planet and all who live on it. We need to throw our bodies, minds and spirits down to protect the sanctity of life and to realize REAL freedom for all to live with their needs met in dignity and respect. Our lives, and many others, DO depend on it.

posted by Carol at 3:03 PM 0 comments


Friday, June 23, 2006

A War on Dandruff

One of my English professors in college was an admitted operaholic. Once, at his insistence, I tried to watch an opera, but couldn't make it through the whole thing. My teacher was so convincing, I gave him the benefit of the doubt until I tried it for myself. But, like he failed at forming me into a great writer, he also failed in teaching me to appreciate opera.

Name any year, and my teacher could give you the Academy Award winners - any year! He knew something about every television show and every type of music. He said that his memory was no better than anyone else's, but you just remember what you're interested in. Anyone who knows me knows that I am interested in many things, but my memory is a black hole.

Gore Vidal was the epitome of a writer, according to this professor whose name I can't remember right now (see? black hole). Once again, I failed to get what I was being taught, preferring Hermann Hesse and Kurt Vonnegut to Vidal. The article "An American icon: Gore Vidal on Italy, Iraq - and why he hates George Bush" from The Independent has motivated me to revisit Gore Vidal. Actually, I think he and Kurt would get along just fine.

Some excerpts:

How is it, then, to live full-time in the United States?

"If you care about America it's dreadful," he said. "If you are making money you don't care.

"Benjamin Franklin was shown the new American constitution, and he said, 'I don't like it, but I will vote for it because we need something right now. But this constitution in time will fail, as all such efforts do. And it will fail because of the corruption of the people, in a general sense.' And that is what it has come to now, exactly as Franklin predicted."

We have arrived in short order at Vidal's core message. As he points out, he has "lived for three-quarters of the 20th century and a third of the history of the United States", and listening to him talk one feels in the presence of history as with few Americans.

Why is it so dreadful to live in America, I asked.

"We have been deprived of our franchise," he says. "The election was stolen in both 2000 and 2004, because of electronic voting machinery which can be easily fixed. We've had two illegitimate elections in a row ...

"Little Bush says we are at war, but we are not at war because to be at war Congress has to vote for it. He says we are at war on terror, but that is a metaphor, though I doubt if he knows what that means. It's like having a war on dandruff, it's endless and pointless. We are in a dictatorship that has been totally militarised, everyone is spied on by the government itself. All three arms of the government are in the hands of this junta.

"Whatever you are," he goes on, "they say you are the reverse. The men behind the war in Iraq are cowards who did not fight in Vietnam - but they spent millions of dollars proving that John Kerry, who was a genuine war hero whatever you think of his politics, was a coward.

"This is what happens when you have control of the media, and I have never known the media more vicious, stupid and corrupt than they are now."

Regarding "It's like having a war on dandruff", my ex used to have dandruff, and he used a certain dandruff product religiously for years with no results. I used to say to him that if something isn't working, why do you keep doing it? Why don't you try something else? That is what I have to say to our policymakers. Let's try something new! It appears that violence begets violence. Let's stop the cycle. But then again, I guess it IS working for the people it's working for!

posted by Carol at 12:57 PM 0 comments


Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Score

Sign I saw at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado yesterday:

Got Enemies?
Try Loving Them

So I came home and Googled "loving enemies" and came up with 8,240,000 hits. That's a lot of loving our enemies!

Not as much, though, as the amount of dollars we are spending to kill our enemies - over $290,400,000,000 by now (that's 290 BILLION!).

Score:

Kill Them 290,400,000,000 Dollars
Love Them 8,240,000 Websites








posted by Carol at 12:00 PM 0 comments


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What's Wrong With the U.S.

Excerpts From today's The Onion:


Report: U.S. May Have Been Abused During Formative Years


WASHINGTON, DC—A team of leading historians and psychiatrists issued a report Wednesday claiming that the United States was likely the victim of abuse by its founding fathers and motherland when it was a young colony.

"In its adulthood, the U.S. displays all the classic tendencies of a nation that was repeatedly mistreated in its infancy—difficulty forming lasting foreign relationships, viewing everyone as a potential enemy, and employing a pattern of assault and intimidation to assert its power," said Dr. Howard Drexel, the report's lead author. "Because of trust issues stemming from the abuse, America has become withdrawn, has not made an ally in years, and often resents the few nations that are willing to lend support—most countries outgrow this kind of behavior after 230 years."

According to Drexel, nations that act out in selfish, self-destructive ways in statehood were usually granted too much independence at an early age, especially if the motherland had other newly annexed lands to care for.

..."Granted, part of America's problems may stem from the fact that it was burdened with a false sense of responsibility at a young age because of the unrealistic expectations of the country's forefathers, and there is certainly something to be said about America having been part of a broken homeland for a four-year period in the mid-19th century," Drexel said. "Even though the U.S. is over 200 years old, emotionally it's younger than Lithuania."

Added Drexel: "But we must remember that the country also idealized the forefathers in a classic victim–abuser relationship."

The report recommended that the United Nations Security Council once again renew its efforts to organize an international intervention to help the U.S. get the counseling it needs. Prior attempts have failed to move beyond the planning stage, however, with many countries saying they are afraid that the U.S. may lash out.

posted by Carol at 2:10 PM 0 comments


Our Spiritual Crisis

Excerpts from

The Spiritual Crisis in our lives generated by the war in Iraq
by Blue Star wife Stacy Bannerman

"In the Sixties and Seventies, we thought that new laws would be enough. We thought it would be enough just to end the war in Vietnam. What we are seeing is that new laws are not enough, because ultimately and fundamentally what is needed is soulforce.

We need people to engage in the public sphere with the deepest essence of who they are. With their flaws, and failures; with their magnificence, and their hopes and dreams. We do this not only for ourselves, not only for our children, but for the future of the world.

I’ve spoken at so many different events and rallies and vigils, and things, and I’m standing there, literally in the middle of a graveyard sometimes. Standing there, watching a parent plant a white cross for his dead son while cars are driving by.

This nation seems to be driving by this war. We are not as a nation and as a people bearing witness to the war. And as spiritual progressives, as Christians and Buddhists, and Muslims and Jews, and Hindus, and God knows, as human beings we are asked to bear witness.

We are failing to do that."

Earlier this week, I went to an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute that chronicles the history of America’s wars, including the war in Iraq. It was called “The Price of Freedom.”

No. Death is not the price of freedom. Betrayal is not the price of freedom. Silence is not the price of freedom. The price of freedom is something that frankly, we don’t want to pay. The price of freedom is integrity. The price of freedom is democracy. The price of freedom is justice. The price of freedom is peace. The price of freedom is compassion.

And that is where the spiritual community really has got to step up and get involved. In the whole run-up to the war in Iraq, the Pope was clearly and consistently saying, “If you invade Iraq, God is not with you.” Yet, too many of our leaders, and our preachers, tell us that the occupation of Iraq is God’s work. How dare we allow faith to be used to justify this war?

But more pernicious and devastating is the belief that somehow we’ve got to be flawless before we get involved. We think we’ve got to be perfect before we can; we’ve got to be masters before we do. I know, because I struggle with it, too. But let me tell you, for those of us who are sitting in this room, and those of us in the spiritual progressive community, we have done enough, and we do know enough. It is upon us now to share it with the world."

posted by Carol at 7:40 AM 2 comments


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Remembering















Like the meadowlark
Singing to no one in particular
Singing
Because that is what a meadowlark does

Like the sunflower
Who stretches to the light
Growing
Because that is all it knows

Like the river
Flowing over rocks in the stream
Running, freezing, melting
Giving life

We, too, can be the I am of who we are
Waking up
To the joy, love and wonder
That has permeated our cells
Since before we were first created

Hate, judgment, and criticism
Are cancers to our very organism
Growing out of control
And eating up our life force
Torturing the tortured to no avail

But with kindness, we may remember
What it means to be

Human
Alive and loving
Curious, caring, and joyful
Because that is our true nature



Photo by the only cousin - out of all of my gazillion cousins - that I still know. I am eternally grateful that he is in my life. See more of his work at HawklinePhotography.com

posted by Carol at 2:50 PM 2 comments


Forgetting

I laughed when I found out about the "I Should Have Pulled Out" t-shirt that I posted this morning. My mind had a little fun thinking about what could've been, if only... But it didn't take long to remember that not much would be different if W hadn't been born. He is only doing his job, and if he didn't do it, someone else would.

Later, as I drove into the mountains to check out some eagle nests - looking for babies which eluded me - I felt very grouchy. This nagging voice in my head kept telling me that the saying on the t-shirt is not who I am. The idea of the shirt is pretty creative, but it is not kind. It is not the answer that I am looking for, nor the answer that I want to give.

Sometimes I forget who I am.

posted by Carol at 2:39 PM 0 comments


If Only...

"I Should Have Pulled Out" t-shirt from WickedCoolStuff.com

posted by Carol at 7:03 AM 0 comments


Monday, June 19, 2006

Amma

"Our true nature is not one of selfishness, but one of love and compassion. We just need to realize this and awaken to that truth. The problem is that people are not really asleep, but only pretending to be asleep. If they were truly asleep, it would be easy to wake them up. But it is nearly impossible to wake up someone who is pretending to be asleep." - Amma

"The greatest enemy the world faces is poverty. Prostitution, terrorism and much of the other violence are, to a great extent, caused by poverty. There are two types of poverty: the lack of food, clothing and shelter, and the lack of love and compassion. If we can eliminate the later, the former will automatically be taken care of. For when people have love and compassion in their hearts, they will spontaneously and wholeheartedly reach out to help those without food, clothing and shelter."- Amma

See also Embraced by India's Hugging Saint on the BBC

Thanks to Jim!

posted by Carol at 10:39 PM 1 comments


Where Our Money Goes

Here in Colorado, our governor, Mr. Owens, is threatening to call the legislature back into session this summer to create a ballot measure to deny government services to "illegal immigrants". Below is Jim Spencer's article in the Denver Post, explaining just what services we are currently giving immigrants. I think that we have some very important issues facing us at this time - the war, our dependency on foreign oil, and the environment, for example. Immigration and gay marriage are distractions from the issues that are really threatening us.

6/19/2006
Benefit Fight Much Ado About Nada
By Jim Spencer
Denver Post Staff Columnist
DenverPost.com

"What on earth ever improved by adding millions of stupid, ugly Mexicans to it?"

As the governor and the General Assembly wrestle over who calls a special legislative session to talk about denying public benefits to illegal immigrants, I looked at my immigration fan mail.

Each time I write on the topic, certain immigration foes prove their xenophobia.

Theirs is rage in search of rationale. These days, the reasoning goes like this:

Colorado must amend its constitution to save hundreds of millions of dollars on public services to illegal immigrants.

Recently, I asked people what they won't have to pay for if voters pass an initiative banning benefits not required by federal law. The list included welfare, education and health care.

I called agencies that provide those services. I asked what they now give illegal immigrants that isn't required by federal code. The answer is nearly nothing.

After the Colorado Supreme Court knocked a benefits-ban initiative off the ballot, GOP Gov. Bill Owens threatened a special legislative session to preserve "one of the most important public-policy debates of our time." Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff warned not to assume that "no services will be affected."

Thing is, the only study done by state experts showed a whopping "service and benefit reduction" of $460,606 a year, mostly for human services. The number comes from an analysis of a failed 2005 House bill that attempted to do what the current initiative envisions.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided the K-12 education piece in 1982. The justices ruled that the Constitution entitles undocumented children to free public schools. What's left is denial of in-state university tuition to the undocumented, a right that doesn't currently exist in Colorado.

Liz McDonough of the Department of Human Services said no one gets food stamps or welfare without proving legal status through federal screening. A fake ID breaks a rule the initiative can't fix.

One of my correspondents claimed some Colorado counties give extra food stamps to children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents. Those kids are citizens. But if counties are slipping their moms and dads extra food stamps, that's fraud - with or without an initiative.

The same goes for Medicaid. "There is only one way illegal immigrants get services," said state Medicaid director Barbara Prehmus. "Those are emergency services." The initiative doesn't change that.

Much of the whining about health care by both sides in the initiative debate may come to nothing. The initiative's lawyer, University of Denver law professor Robert Hardaway, passed along a federal code section (8USC-1211) that allows illegal immigrants to receive "public health assistance for immunizations."

It appears kids probably won't go unvaccinated if the initiative passes, as critics charge. It also appears that my angry e-mailers will continue to pay to vaccinate illegal immigrants, despite their belief that the initiative will keep them from doing so.

For the stingy, the news isn't all bad. Colorado's Joint Budget Committee found that the average annual caseload of legal and illegal immigrants seeking emergency medical care peaked in 2001.

What's more, free "non-emergency" medical care that initiative backers claim is almost universally available to the undocumented is not.

Hardaway complained of undocumented people getting free prescriptions for non-emergency ills. The example he used was the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor.

Even if Hardaway is right, it's hard to see the economic wisdom of denying a guy a $40 bottle of Lipitor when you will be legally required to treat the $40,000 heart attack that might result.

Colorado's Bell Policy Center summed it up this way: "Overall, immigrants pay more in taxes than they ever use in publicly funded health care services."

All of this means one thing: The hot air that could soon fill the Capitol will have more to do with fanatical posturing than fiscal prudence.

Jim Spencer's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 303-820-1771 or jspencer@denverpost.com.

posted by Carol at 4:45 PM 0 comments


Stop Torture Month

“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
—The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 5 (1948)

I just read a very disturbing article about the three recent suicides at Guantanamo. See: The Guardian or Common Dreams.

From Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International:

"New York, June 13 (RHC)-- Human rights groups are demanding immediate and independent investigations into the suicide deaths of three Guantanamo Bay prisoners over the weekend. According to OneWorld.net, many leading rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights Watch, have long demanded the closure of Guantanamo prison -- located in eastern Cuba and illegally occupied by the United States.

Jumana Musa of Amnesty International's U.S. bureau said that "the (Bush) administration should stop trying to minimize the desperate actions of detainees with language that does not reflect the seriousness of the matter at hand." Musa said that U.S. military officials said the three detainees died in their cells as a result of suicide, which they described as "a good PR (public relations) move." Musa said that 'colorful euphemisms such as 'manipulative self-injurious behavior' and 'hanging gestures' -- both used by the administration to refer to suicide attempts in the past -- only belittle the gravity of the situation that the detainees are facing.'"

Further research led me to find that June is Stop Torture Month. If you are so moved, please call your representatives in Congress this coming Friday, the 23rd and protest U.S. sponsored torture.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee's STOP (Stop Torture Permanently) Campaign is a good resource for actions and information.

And I wonder... why are torture and killing
okay when we do it - or sanction someone else to do it,
ignored when done in countries that we don't care about,
and
an abomination when done in countries with oil?

posted by Carol at 8:05 AM 0 comments


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Freeway Blogger

Check out the Freeway Blogger. I admire him mostly for his brave work at getting his message out to the public, but also for his great blog. In less than a year, he's had over 100,000 visits to his site! I like this story about getting visited by the police while putting up signs.

I'm thinking about what my freeway sign would say...

posted by Carol at 8:16 AM 0 comments


Saturday, June 17, 2006

Whenever There is Distress Which One Cannot Remove...


"My religion teaches me that whenever there is distress which one cannot remove, one must fast and pray." - Mahatma Gandhi

On the 4th of July, instead of going to a barbeque or celebrating, some of us will be fasting at Civic Center Park in Denver. We'll be there from dawn to dusk, so if you live in the area, please join us. You can join us in the fast, or just stop by to say "hi". More details will be posted later.

We are doing this in alliance with Code Pink, who is sponsoring the Troops Home Fast in D.C. on the 4th. Cindy Sheehan, Diane Wilson, Daniel Ellsberg, Ann Wright, Dick Gregory, and Dolores Huerta are some of the people who will be fasting in front of the White House.

posted by Carol at 3:42 PM 0 comments


If All Goes Well

untitled

If all goes well
The police
out of total boredom
will go home

Borders will disappear
Even the toy factories
will stop making arms

If all goes well
there will be no Premier
President
Savior of Democracy
King
Emperor
Tyrant

If all goes well
they will stop
trying to convince us
with lies.

If all goes well
Ayatollahs
Great Lamas
Popes
will allow God
to once more be human
dolphin
extraterrestrial
cedar and seagull
herb and star
sea
mountain
insect
dog
and cat.

If all goes well
If all goes well
as long as the nova's hour
doesn't come
or the black hole
doesn't absorb our dreams
we will take our children's hands
so they may feel
protected and our gentleness.
We will share our games
We will surrender our kisses
I will laugh
I will sing
I will complain of work's hassles
I'll count my gray hairs
and until the very end
I will delight
in the adventure
of the sensation
of emotion
and thought.

If all goes well
If all goes well

If all goes well.

- Juan Antillon Montealegre, translated by Joseph Richey. From Prayers for a Thousand Years, edited by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon, my teachers. I love you guys! Thanks to Janet for lending me her YES magazine (great zine - check it out) where I found this poem again.


posted by Carol at 1:28 PM 0 comments


Friday, June 16, 2006

Recipe to Keep Me Quiet: Take My Food Away

Yesterday, I met a wonderful woman (Janet), her daughter, and her son-in-law. It was really fun to spend time with such thoughtful people who are each, in their own way, making a positive difference in the world.

I fasted for 36 hours, and just started eating a small amount today. I don't know how to write about it right now, and I don't know how to write about my experience yesterday with Janet and her family. It seems that food must give me the ability to speak and write, because without eating, I have run out of words. Janet and her family probably seriously doubt that I could ever run out of words, but they saw me early in the fast before I ran out of steam. ;-)

This Sunday is Father's Day. So many young children don't have fathers due to violence.

I am speechless...

posted by Carol at 10:38 AM 2 comments


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Empty

Today, the Iraq war U.S. casualty count is 2499.

A few days ago, I decided that I would fast for 24 hours when the count reached 2500. I know that at least 50 Iraqis have died for every U.S. soldier killed, so this fast will not be just for our soldiers. It is for all of the violence that we impose on each other.

I don't think that my fasting will do anything to stop the violence, but it is a way that I can personally connect with the suffering in the world. Watching what our politicians and corporations are doing to our country is more than painful, and I know that there are many U.S. citizens suffering for a host of reasons, but we don't know suffering like many countries know suffering. And we can always eat some chocolate and forget about it for awhile! ;-)

I will choose not to eat tomorrow, but I know that I will most likely eat on Friday. There is plenty of food in my kitchen - unlike the kitchens of more than 840 million people in the world. I have plenty of water that comes right into a faucet in my home. Over a billion people don't. The odds that men from another country will blow a hole through my door and take my husband away at gunpoint tomorrow are slim, but it happens regularly in Iraq and other countries.

And I wonder if pain of one reverberates through all of us, but we have learned not to feel.

posted by Carol at 2:22 PM 2 comments


Mourning in L.A.

Julia Butterfly Hill, Darryl Hannah, Joan Baez, and others have been trying to save an urban farm in L.A., but it looks like the rich guys won.

Today's Truthout story

South Central Farmer's site

posted by Carol at 9:34 AM 0 comments


Peace: Flavor of the Month

"What kind of peace are you talking about?" That's what the woman asked us Women in Black while she sat in her car at the stop light in front of us. I would guess that she was around 30 years old. I think that someone in our group indicated to the woman that we were just standing for PEACE. So the woman proceded to ask us if we had been to any other countries (I would guess that most of us have, including one who lived in Africa for some time), but we kept our silence. Our lack of engagement didn't stop Ms. X from continuing on with her lecture on how, in order to have freedom, we have to have war. "People have to die for our freedom," she concluded.

Thank God red lights don't last forever! For more than one reason.

Regarding "What kind of peace are we talking about?", I didn't know that peace came in different flavors. Maybe one for when we're on vacation at the beach, one for Sunday at church, and if you're talking about one between countries, well, you don't get freedom that way! Sorry, I must be feeling a little cynical (moi?). There is only one kind of peace!!! I don't think that you can have peace at church, then go kill someone and say you have peace! It doesn't fit in containers for use at your convenience.

Okay, I looked up "peace" on dictionary.com and they say there really are different kinds of peace:

1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.
3. Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations: roommates living in peace with each other.
4. Public security and order: was arrested for disturbing the peace.
5. Inner contentment; serenity: peace of mind.

But the dictionary is only a reflection of our culture and how we use language. I take very little from "authorities" as Truth anymore.

If we truly have #5 (plus a few skills that elder #5-ers can teach us), numbers 1-4 will result. I think that 1-4 are only results of peace, which starts within. How we do anything is how we do everything.

posted by Carol at 7:43 AM 0 comments


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Seeds

A couple of nights ago, we did a hike at our friend's property in the foothills. We saw a few groups of columbine in one area. Unlike most of the columbine that you see around here, these were not planted by humanoids, but they just grew naturally with their beautiful blue-ness standing out in the green woods. Because we don't see wild columbine everyday, and because of their beauty, I receive them as a very special gift.

The sadness that I experienced last week in response to my mom's lack of acknowledgement of my photo in the paper came in a wave and left the same way. Its life was short, and I have since looked at this from many angles. Some people think that I should talk about this with my mom. I am glad that I have been sitting with it, though, because I am finding beautiful complexities.

I have thought about how I would feel if I saw a newspaper photo of my daughter tattooed in swastikas or wearing the white robe of a Klansman. What would I say? I hope that I would acknowledge the photo AND my disagreement with her beliefs. I hope that I would address her with respect and love, while not supporting her actions. As Stephen Levine says, forgiving the actor, not the actions.

But do I do this with others who don't believe the way I do? Or do I just go away and associate with those of like mind?

It would be hard to stay connected with a daughter who hated others and acted upon that hate. Harder still to stay connected with others out there in the world that do that. My mom, myself, my daughter, the Klansmen who just rallied and voiced hatred in Maryland, someone of different nationality or religion.

Where does the war begin?

And where does it end?

posted by Carol at 10:57 AM 0 comments


What is a Soldier's Duty?

Lt. Ehren Watada's commanding officer has made moves to prosecute him for refusing to deploy to Iraq. Watada claims his "moral and legal obligation is to the Constitution and not those who would issue unlawful orders." You can watch Watada's statement here. He is making the same points that the "No Blood for Oil 12" made in their statements at their trial. Per Watada: "The war in Iraq violates our democratic system of checks and balances. It usurps international treaties and conventions that by virtue of the Constitution become American law." Like W, who keeps harping on 9-11 for everything, we need to keep reminding people of not only the immorality of this action, but also the illegality of it.

See Section 6 of the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Principles

posted by Carol at 9:47 AM 0 comments


Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Love Like No Other


This beautiful sculpture of Mother and Child was created by Carol Peace - great name - huh? I think I should change my name to Carol Peace.

When I look at this piece of art, I can feel, in my heart and my skin, the love a mother has for her child - the innocence and purity, the deep visceral connection, and the lioness-like drive to protect.

And I wonder... if all of the mothers believed that all children are sacred, would we rise up and put our lives on the line to stop the violence?





posted by Carol at 8:10 AM 1 comments


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Murder Mystery: Who Killed the Electric Car?

We have a television and it is useful for three things.

Okay, four.

#4 It takes up space and gives me one more thing to dust. When I feel like dusting. Which isn't very often.

#3 It is useful for watching videos a couple of times a month.

#2 It is good for watching the McLaughlin Group on Friday evenings, when I feel like hearing a lot of raised voices.

#1 And my favorite television use: Watching NOW on Fridays, right after the McLaughlin Group. I am sad that Bill Moyers is no longer host of the show, and it's a bummer that the show is now only 1/2 hour. But David Brancaccio is an excellent host, and I learn about issues that I don't find in other places.

Last night's show, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" was fascinating. You can watch it on the PBS site. The movie, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" will be coming out in theaters this summer. I can't wait to find out who did it! ;-)

I remember knowing that a few years ago, people were starting to have electric cars in California. After awhile, I didn't think about it anymore. Then lately, when the hybrids came out, it didn't make sense, but I guess that I accepted that hybrids were the best technology we had out there. But if we had electric cars in the 90's (probably before), why did we go backwards? And if we have the technology to make electric cars, which decreases pollution AND OUR DEPENDENCY ON OIL, thus our need to control certain parts of the world, why are we driving gas-fueled cars, some of which get less than 10 miles to the gallon?

powerandmoneypowerandmoneypowerandmoneypowerandmoneypowerandmoneypowerandmoney

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

posted by Carol at 11:18 AM 0 comments


Friday, June 09, 2006

A Hole in My Heart

Tears...

I was trained, a very long time ago, not to share my deepest beliefs with my parents. They and I have never seen life the same way. To give you an example of how their thinking is different than mine, they have an autographed photo of W and his wife IN MY OLD BEDROOM and an RNC calendar in another room. When my parents don't approve of what I do or how I believe, which is much of the time, I only hear silence from them. So I tell them very little. Still, I thought that I should tell them that I was going to Camp Casey both last summer and this past spring, since I would be out of town for awhile. Silence.

I have always wondered if my parents saw any of the photographs of me in the paper, but I've never asked. Recently, I figured that, now that they receive the Rocky Mountain News, they would've had to have seen the big photo of me and my friends standing at the courthouse. None of us mentioned it, and I felt no need for silence from them. But today, my daughter told me that she asked my mom if she had seen me in the paper. My mom said that she had, and when my daughter asked her if she was going to tell me that she had seen me, my mom said "no" and changed the subject. Don't most people, when they see someone they know in the paper, call up and say, "Way to go. I saw you in the paper."?????

My parents help me stay humble...

BUT, I love my daughter so much and I am very, very proud of her. Jamie teaches the elementary school level in California - 4th/5th grade combination this year. She has only been a teacher for three years, and she is AWESOME! Jamie was born to teach. Today was her last day for the year, and her young students wrote the most beautiful, heart-opening words to her in their little goodbye presents. She is loving, she is loved, and she is changing the world by giving children a belief in themselves and their worth. I AM SO PROUD!!! She is the teacher that every child should have.

Hearts open so that more love can pour out.

posted by Carol at 5:25 PM 3 comments


The Gifts

Last week, I wrote about "The Weight", why it is hard for me to be a human here on this planet at this time. Today, I am thinking about "The Gifts", the people who make it worthwhile for me to be a human here on this planet at this time.

Daniel Mazur was on his second climb of Mt Everest, two hours from summit, when he and his two paying clients came upon a man who had been left for dead. Lincoln Hall was still alive, though, and Mazur stopped and helped rescue him instead of completing the ascent. That is what it means to be human!

More grannies are going to go to their local recruiting stations to try to enlist. What if we gave a war and only the elderly showed up?

Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, Katherine Jashinski, Kevin Benderman, and all conscientious objectors who bravely stand for their conscience. Thank you!

Really, it would take forever to finish speaking of the beauty of this life. It is very rich. I am so grateful for the opportunities, family and friendships that give me strength, especially, but not limited to Michael, Jamie, Paul, and the WIBers.

"You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." - Gandhi

posted by Carol at 8:24 AM 0 comments


Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Highest Law

"Nonviolence is the highest law." Gandhi

Tomorrow or Monday, Congress will vote on an amendment to stop the funding of the School of Americas, aka the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, aka the School of Assassins. To learn more about the SOA/WHISC/SOA, go to soaw.org., then take action by contacting your representative.

One of the women who went to Crawford in our caravan last August was arrested this past November for "crossing the line" at the School of Americas. She has just been released from 60 days of prison for trespassing. The Boulder Daily Camera article below also mentions two of the No Blood for Oil 12.

And I wonder... After fifty years of gagging at the thought of peanut butter and jelly, could I learn to like it if it is my only choice of cuisine?


Joanne Cowan was arrested for trespassing on Army base

By Christine Reid, Camera Staff Writer
June 8, 2006

The food in federal prison is tough for a vegan to swallow, according to Boulder resident Joanne Cowan.

Peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and encouragement from supporters worldwide sustained the 56-year-old Boulder woman, who returned home Wednesday after two months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Phoenix. She was convicted of trespassing onto the School of Americas campus in Georgia.

Within hours of her release, Cowan was munching on avocados, sliced organic peaches and dark chocolate.

"You don't know how happy I am," she said.

And that was even before she was greeted at Denver International Airport by her dog, Ernie, and at home by a gathering of friends and supporters.

Cowan was arrested along with 36 other activists after crawling through a fence Nov. 20 at Fort Benning Army base, which also is the home of the controversial school now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Cheryl Sommers, 68, of Erie, also was arrested and convicted. She has about a month left to serve in a federal prison in Washington.

They are part of the School of Americas Watch group, which for the past 16 years has scrutinized the institute that it says trains Latin American soldiers to torture, kill and "disappear" people.

"It's all tied in to the illegal, immoral war," Cowan said. "The School of Americas is the embodiment of our country's lies."

Cowan also has displayed her dismay in Boulder over the Iraq war. She was ticketed along with Carolyn Bninski and Ellen Stark for unfurling an anti-war banner in Folsom Field during the Bolder Boulder race on Memorial Day 2005. Prosecutors later dropped the charges of illegal conduct on public property against the "banner ladies."

Stark and Bninski, Cowan's roommate, most likely will be soliciting some advice from Cowan. The two are facing up to six months in jail after being convicted this week of trespassing and criminal obstruction for blocking the entrance to a Lakewood military recruitment office in November.

"It's a small sacrifice to make if we can have an impact on people," Bninski said.

For Cowan, her cause already might be making a difference. There currently is a bill under consideration in the U.S. Congress to abolish funding to the former School of Americas.

Cowan said prison had its good people, and its bad people — just like any place else.

During her time behind bars, Cowan crocheted, wrote "a lot" and schooled other inmates trying to earn their GEDs.

And she had more than 400 letters to read from supporters across the globe.

"I'm so grateful for so much love and support and concern," Cowan said. "I didn't do this alone."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Christine Reid at (303) 473-1355 or reidc@dailycamera.com.

posted by Carol at 5:36 PM 0 comments


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

More Soldiers Standing Up

Army SPC Katherine Jashinski is serving prison time for refusing to kill. More about her at http://www.myspace.com/freekatherine. Read her statement at Not in Our Name.net.

Lt. Ehren Watada says that he will refuse to go to Iraq. A fellow soldier is quoted as saying, with regard to Lt. Watada, "We're here to serve our country and fight and that's his job," said Private Nathan Hanson. "It's his duty."

And I wonder... Isn't it a sign of maturity and integrity for a person to adjust their actions to align with their evolving understanding of life?

"Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly." Gandhi

posted by Carol at 9:06 PM 0 comments


Conviction

The trial finally concluded last yesterday. It was a long day, and it ended with all twelve protesters being found guilty on both accounts. You can read their announcement of the trial results below.

It will take some time for me to absorb all that I witnessed and to get my thoughts together. The last two days run together into one big blur. It is time for me to re-visit my good friend, Gandhi - to remember his methods and to be re-inspired by his wisdom, patience, bravery, and conviction.

"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away." Gandhi


Anti-War Activists Convicted

Twelve peace activists who blocked a recruitment station in Lakewood in November, 2005 were found guilty of charges of trespassing and obstructing a passageway today in Judge Hoppins chambers in the Jefferson County Court in Lakewood. They will be sentenced on Wednesday, July 26 at 8:15 a.m. in Judge Hoppins chambers.

The judge did not allow the defendants to use any of the five defenses they put forward. The defenses included: International Law, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution, the First Amendment, a Colorado Statute known as the Execution of a Public Duty, and a doctrine known as citizen's arrest. Only one of the five witnesses they had presented to the court was allowed to testify. The defendants were allowed to talk about what motivated them to participate in the nonviolent civil disobedience action and were allowed some latitude in talking about their opposition to the war in Iraq. The defendants represented themselves.

posted by Carol at 9:25 AM 0 comments


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Women in Black Amputees

Photo by George Kochaniec Jr. @ the Rocky Mountain News. Published in the Rocky Mountain News, June 6, 2006.




This is SO FUNNY! Here we are, standing in front of the courthouse yesterday before the trial. Why they published this photo, where one person is sitting and looks headless, and one looks like she had her leg amputated, I don't know. Maybe it is to show the devastating effects of war on human bodies.

posted by Carol at 6:55 AM 0 comments


Monday, June 05, 2006

Trial, Day One

Today was Day One of the trial for the "No Blood for Oil 12". We were only supposed to have a Day One, but it is taking much longer to get through all of this, so there will be a Day Two tomorrow.

Day One began at 7:00 with a silent rally outside the courthouse. It was a really nice experience with around fifty supporters holding signs and standing along both sides of the entrance. Five of us stood as Women in Black. Some of the people going in to the courthouse gave us a thumbs up or peace sign. One woman stopped to tell us that she sees us on Colfax when we stand, and she thanked us.

This trial has a six member jury. The defendants were denied all but one of their witnesses. The one witness that they will be allowed to have is a member of CopWatch. The witnesses that they were going to call to speak about International law and about the effects the war has had on Iraq are not going to be permitted to testify.

The prosecution has stated that this trial is not about what, but about where and how. This means that it is not about what is right or wrong about the war, or what people think about Bush or the war, but about where it happened (private property) and how (trespassing and obstructing).

I was going to write more about what went on in the courtroom, but I will wait until the trial is done so that I don't, somehow, cause any problems. I certainly don't have any clues about who reads my blog.

I will only say that it has been a fascinating experience so far. On one hand, it's like a Camp Casey in Colorado, because there are so many activist friends there for support. On the other hand, the theater of the court is just pretty absurd. I could get mad about a few things, if it would help.

posted by Carol at 9:15 PM 0 comments


Sunday, June 04, 2006

One Big Happy Family

I don't think of it as working for world peace, he said.
I think of it as just trying to get along in a really big strange family.



My friend gave me a gift yesterday - out of the blue. It is a Brian Andreas Story People print with the above story. Brian's unique style of artwork feels very carefree and breezy.

I can't think of a more truthful statement - we really DO live in a big strange family.

posted by Carol at 9:00 AM 0 comments


Saturday, June 03, 2006

I Will Be Published!!!

The article I wrote about the No Blood for Oil 12 will be published this coming Thursday in the Lakewood "Your hub" section of the Denver Post. Other than a letter to the editor, this is my first published newspaper piece. Feel free to request my autograph...

posted by Carol at 8:56 AM 2 comments


What Would You Say if You Were Tried for Your Beliefs?

I met Betty at an Arvada Peace & Justice Commission meeting a few years ago. She is a person who really works to live consciously, and I have deep respect for her. Betty's dad took her to her first peace rally when she was in junior high, and he is still going to protests!

The statement that she will give at the trial on Monday is especially striking to me, since it was written from a Christian perspective. Around eighty per cent of the people in our country claim to be Christians. OUR OWN W claims to be Christian. Betty's vow, upon baptism to “...strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being." surely has been taken by MANY other Christians. I hope that we hear their voices joining Betty's soon.

Here is Betty's statement:

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before I begin, I want to thank members of the jury for taking time out of your busy lives to participate in an essential part of democracy—our judicial system.

My name is Elizabeth ____. I am a mother of two and grandmother of three. Before I retired, I worked for Lucent Technologies. Now I do mostly volunteer work.

My reasons for participating in this act of resistance against the war in Iraq go back many years. In my early teens, I began to study the Holocaust intensely. This interest continued for many years. I wondered WHY I felt such a deep urge to learn about something so morbid and depressing. I came to realize that I was making myself deal with the issue of what would I have done. Would I have been the good German, who looked the other way and while my neighbors were disappearing into the night? Who did nothing to stop the evil? I learned about the Nuremberg Trials and that doing nothing in the face of evil is to share the guilt for what happens.

I decided that I would never allow myself to play the part of the “good German.” In every house I have lived in as an adult, I have found a place where I could hide people if the need ever arose. But history gives us different challenges. For me, the question is broader than “would I hide people.” It is simply, “What should I do when huge numbers of people, mostly civilians—mothers and children, are put to death because they are unlucky enough to be in the wrong country at the wrong time?” By my own government. My own personal ethics demand that I take non-violent action to resist the war.

I grew up in a non-religious household. I became a Christian when I was 30. There are three baptismal vows I took in the Church. One says, “I will strive for justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being.” I take this very seriously. Whenever a baptism takes place, the whole congregation reaffirms these vows, so I have said these words many times.
I now attend a Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II condemned this war as immoral and illegal. He sent several Cardinals to President Bush to deliver this message. The new pope, Pope Benedict, expressed the same view before becoming Pope. I believe that as a Christian, I must do whatever I can to stop the evil that is happening in Iraq.

The Catholic Church, among others, has a concept of “just war.” Here are some of the criteria: First, a war is just only if it is responding to real and certain danger. Second, it must be conducted without attacks on civilians. And finally the attack must be “proportional”—to be in some way related in scope to the evil being fought. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq. How could this possibly be considered proportional? It is clear that the current war is unjust and therefore immoral. In fact, Pope Benedict has said he doubts that ANY modern war could be regarded as just because modern wars are always conducted in a way that causes massive civilian deaths.

Religious opposition is far broader than the Catholic world. There are 34 American Protestant denominations that are American members of the World Council of Churches. In February of this year, they issued the following statement:

"We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights. We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name."

We define terrorism as the taking of innocent life to further political goals. I believe that is what the US is doing in Iraq: taking innocent life to further our own political goals. My ethics and my religion demand that I take non-violent action to oppose the war in Iraq. My actions at the recruiting station were done in obedience to higher laws that the US is violating.

We can’t know if our actions make a difference. My actions are like a grain of sand. I want to drop my grain on the side of justice and peace.

posted by Carol at 7:54 AM 0 comments


Friday, June 02, 2006

High Expectations


You may remember that I mentioned TJ when I wrote about our little visit to Rep. Beauprez' office a couple of weeks ago. At 27, TJ is the youngest member of the No Blood for Oil 12, the Student Coordinator for the Colorado Department of Peace and Nonviolence Campaign, a student at Regis University getting his Masters in Nonprofit Management, and a man that is very wise for his years. Actually, he is very wise for any amount of years. People like him give me hope (oops! I forgot that I am living beyond hope).

TJ is good at finding the commonality between us, the place where we find that we all want and need the same things, then he helps us explore what's behind the ways in which we go about getting those needs and wants met.

This is what he said at the No Blood for Oil 12 press conference this past Wednesday:

I Expect More

As an American, I feel proud to have common objectives with my government. The safety of my community and myself is important to me. From a worldly scope, democracy, the removal of authoritarian regimes, and stopping the spread of WMD’s are important. I may have common objectives, but I have higher expectations of my country. High expectations mean that our common objectives are accomplished using just means. Unfortunately, while striving for just ends, America is using unjust methods. The facts are that 90% of deaths in war are innocent civilians. We use depleted uranium to coat our bullets. We torture to gain information. We violate international laws, treaties and our own constitution.

Serving the U.S. military in Iraq is a violation of international and constitutional law. Our military is violating the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Charter. The good news is that we have a legal justification to use a “justifiable amount of physical force” to prevent our fellow citizens from breaking “laws governing the military service and conduct of war”. Blocking a recruitment center is a nonviolent method we have employed to symbolically prevent our fellow citizens from engaging in illegal activity. This is a direct method of supporting the troops. If you love someone, you don’t let him or her drive drunk. Similarly, if you love humanity, you don’t let someone violate international and humanitarian law.

The United States of America must accomplish our objectives with just means or we become just like the violent and unjust terrorists we resist. Terrorists threaten to employ any method in their arsenal, including the killing of innocent civilians and the use of WMD’s to accomplish their objectives. Does the United States not use the same methods to fight our battles? The United States, with the best intentions, has become a terror state to millions worldwide. Currently, through our actions, we actively indorse an international legal system where the gunners interpret and enforce the laws. This is unacceptable. We need to adhere to the letter AND spirit of our international treaties and the rules of warfare following the same expectations we require from other countries and organizations.

Some will say that such expectations are unrealistic. Some will even accept violations of human rights as long as it is not on American soil. We can do better. We have been to the moon and back, mapped the entire human genome, and we split atoms. We have utilized our democracy to nonviolently achieve a higher standard of worker, women’s, civil, and environmental rights within our own boarders. Surely we can teach the rest of the world our strengths without using violence or skirting around laws and human rights agreements. To those who claim that nonviolence is not a powerful force of change, I ask, “have you made an honest attempt?” Our country has not made an honest attempt to achieve our vision with more effective means than the military and I expect better.

The U.S. Government is clearly not making an honest and full-fledged attempt to accomplish our national security goals of freedom, democracy, human rights, and security for all people through just methods. It is obvious that true, sustainable safety does not come from guns and bombs. We are clearly not allocating an adequate or even noticeable amount of money and resources towards nonviolent catalysts of safety and democracy. This is a classic case of needing to put our money where our mouths are. I expect a greater effort from my fellow Americans to find real solutions to our safety. We would not feel good about failing to land on the moon had we spent $100.00 on the project. We would not feel good about women or blacks not having the right to vote in this country if few made an effort to find a way. Most Americans have no idea that such effective and nonviolent solutions exist to solve the problems of terrorism, authoritarian regimes, or nuclear proliferation. We cannot continue to use contradictory methods to solve social and political problems. Democracy cannot be violently enforced: violent coercion is tyranny and tyrannical means will never create a democratic end. It is self-evident that our safety is not ensured through making others unsafe. A better America is possible.

More Americans must make an effort to provide real solutions for our safety or we will bow our heads in 20 years from a failure to live up to the standards we expect from the rest of the world. We must expect more from our country. If we envision a world with safety, human rights, and freedom, our nation must behave as if such a world already exists. We must hold ourselves accountable to the very principles that we wish other nations to uphold. History has taught us that means and ends are one and the same. Indeed, the great social leaders of the past have reached a consensus that violence is clearly not the most effective tool for social change, establishing democracy, or ensuring human rights. America must wake up to this social and political reality soon or our violent nightmare will continue. Please join me holding our nation to higher expectations.

posted by Carol at 7:52 AM 1 comments


Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Weight, Part 2A

Okay, I was wrong. One Denver billboard looks like this. The other one says "Welcome to SANCTUARY CITY... Relax, you made it!"

Billboard Colorado put these up and plans to put up more soon. They are connected to CAIR which I referred to in my previous blog.

I am sad that there are so many people across the country that are supporting this simplistic and ugly attitude. And I am not proud to live in this state where Tancredo, Beauprez and KHOW don't speak for me.

posted by Carol at 8:20 PM 0 comments


The Weight, Part 2










I need to add another reason that it is hard to be a human in this world right now:

The simplistic, black and white, hateful way of "thinking" of some outspoken people. I just read about the billboards that have popped up at 21st and California and 6th and I-25 in Denver. You can see them in New Mexico, too. I found info them on the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform site, but I don't have the inclination to post a link on this blog.

It is simplistic to make a blanket statement that "they didn't die for open borders". I have not read that this was our reason to go to Viet Nam or Iraq or WWII or... And who can speak for someone else and their reason to join the military? I'd rather see an honest billboard that says something like, "I don't want any people with dark skin to come to my country - you know, the country that used to be inhabited by people with dark skin before we moved them and/or slaughtered them."

But this issue is way to complex to put in one slogan on a billboard. We need to look at who we are as a country, what we value, how our economic policies have affected the people of other countries. We need dialogue and compassion. Due to the list in my previous post, some of us just may be looking for a country to take us in someday. Oh yeah, we're Americans. Move over everyone else!

posted by Carol at 12:16 PM 0 comments


The Weight

Some of the things that make me worry about being a human in this century
(Sorry these won't make your day - but I gotta be honest):

Our dependency on gas and oil and what we will do as we start to get low on these resources (or, more accurately, what we are already doing now that we are realizing they aren't limitless). Tom Paine posted a fairly simple James Howard Kunstler article about it.

Climate change. Even the skeptics are starting to understand.

The Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower spoke of and which now has so much power.

The RFID microchip that can be inserted under our skin to track us. Wisconsin is the first (and I hope not the last) state to make a law banning involuntary use of the chip.

The possible demise of Net Neutrality which would stop us from freely traveling the net, thus reducing our access to a free flow of info (this blog would probably be history). A simple explanation on YouTube. A longer explanation with music that some find annoying can be found at OneGoodMove.org.

There are more, but that's enough for today.

posted by Carol at 7:17 AM 0 comments