Thursday, May 31, 2007
Life and Death
According to the BBC, the letter asking for this change was written by a "mobster" who has served 17 years of his life term. He has changed a lot during those years, passing his high school exams and earning a degree in law. He said that he is tired of "dying every day" and would like to be executed. Over 300 of his fellow lifers signed on to the letter.
Here I sit. A person who does not believe in the death sentence. And there, in prison, are over 300 people who would rather have a death sentence than live in a place where life is not worth living.
Except not really. The way we have our punitive system set-up, I would probably choose death over spending my remaining years in prison.
According to a report released by the Sentencing Project, states are changing their policies so that more people are receiving life without parole.
AND there has been an increase in laws that allow for life without parole sentences for juveniles. Over at Otowi's, you can find the link to a Frontline show - When Kids Get Life. I would call it cruel and unusual punishment to put someone away to rot for decades.
If we can send spacecraft all over outer space, I am sure that we can think outside the box, become more humane, and figure out another way to make our society a safe place.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Out in the Country
Flowers and birds and bugs and trees help me to keep my sanity. While staying in Suburban City, CA with my daughter last week, I would feed my soul in a sweet little park with wildflowers and mulberry trees and herons. I could literally feel my belly relax once I entered this piece of sanctuary in the midst of the burbs. We can't forget that we need open, natural spaces and the species that live there. We depend on each other.
I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? - Robert Redford
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
And What is There That is Permanent?
By The Way...
If he were alive, he would be the same age as my daughter.
Casey shares his birthday with my dad.
My dad, who turns 87 today, fought in WWII.
Will war after war after war be the legacy of mankind on this planet?
Cindy Sheehan Resigns
I have many mixed feelings as I post this article about Cindy Sheehan. I started this blog when I went to Crawford, Texas to support Cindy the first time she camped in a ditch waiting to talk to W - as if he would ever talk with someone who didn't agree with him on something.
At some point along the way, over the last two years, I started to see the mechanics of this country in a different way. I also had a change of heart in regard to effective methods of change, so I have wandered away from Cindy's work this past year. I respect her and her efforts, but it was hers, not mine. Still, I cannot imagine what I would do if my son died in this horrible war. Would I have the voice and leadership that Cindy so willingly displayed?
Cindy has given so much to many, many heart-broken and angry people. Her resignation will be a great loss. She created an opportunity for people to come together, to share their stories and have a community at a time when their voices meant they were "unpatriotic". Grieving families came together at Camp Casey and could share openly about their experience when the only stories that were allowed in the media were the ones of families thanking their lost loved ones for giving them their freedom.
And I know that Cindy did her best to stop this war. I think that she is seeing what I have been seeing - that the two parties are really one, the peace movement can be one "that often puts personal egos above peace and human life", and that we live in a "country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives".
Thank you for all that you have done, Cindy. While we slept in comfort and went about our lives, you sacrificed and opened thousands and thousands of sleeping eyes.
Cindy Sheehan 'Resigns' As Protest Leader
Sheehan's Son Killed In Baghdad Ambush
POSTED: 8:45 am MDT May 29, 2007
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Cindy Sheehan, the soldier's mother who galvanized an anti-war movement with her monthlong protest outside President Bush's ranch, says she's done being the public face of the movement.
"I've been wondering why I'm killing myself and wondering why the Democrats caved in to George Bush," Sheehan told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday while driving from her property in Crawford to the airport, where she planned to return to her native California.
"I'm going home for awhile to try and be normal," she said.
In what she described as a "resignation letter," Sheehan wrote in her online diary on the "Daily Kos" blog: "Good-bye America ... you are not the country that I love and I finally realized no matter how much I sacrifice, I can't make you be that country unless you want it.
"It's up to you now."
Sheehan began a grass roots peace movement in August 2005 when she set up camp outside the Bush ranch for 26 days, asking to talk with the President about the death of her son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan. Casey Sheehan was 24 when he was killed in an ambush in Baghdad.
Cindy Sheehan started her protest small, but it quickly drew national attention. Over the following two years, she drew huge crowds as she spoke at protest events, but she also drew a great deal of criticism.
"I have endured a lot of smear and hatred since Casey was killed and especially since I became the so-called "Face" of the American anti-war movement," Sheehan wrote in the diary.
On Memorial Day, she came to some "heartbreaking conclusions," she wrote.
When she had first taken on Bush, Sheehan was a darling of the liberal left. "However, when I started to hold the Democratic Party to the same standards that I held the Republican Party, support for my cause started to erode and the 'left' started labeling me with the same slurs that the right used," she wrote.
"I guess no one paid attention to me when I said that the issue of peace and people dying for no reason is not a matter of 'right or left', but 'right and wrong,"' the diary says.
Sheehan criticized "blind party loyalty" as a danger, no matter which side it involved, and said the current two-party system is "corrupt" and "rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland."
Sheehan said she had sacrificed a 29-year marriage and endured threats to put all her energy into stopping the war. What she found, she wrote, was a movement "that often puts personal egos above peace and human life."
But she said the most devastating conclusion she had reached "was that Casey did indeed die for nothing ... killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think".
"Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives," she wrote. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."
"I am going to take whatever I have left and go home," Sheehan wrote.
"Camp Casey has served its purpose. It's for sale. Anyone want to buy five beautiful acres in Crawford, Texas?"
Saturday, May 26, 2007
I appreciate that Obama and Hilary voted against the bill, but I would like to hear clear ideas from them regarding the next step.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Resting in Jesus' Hands
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Up Close and Personal
I'm in Roseville, CA right now, visiting my daughter. Yesterday, I took a long walk which led me down a sidewalk along a busy street and into an open space park of birds and wildflowers. On the way to the park, I passed a dead squirrel on the sidewalk. I don't remember ever seeing a dead squirrel on a sidewalk before - especially one that looked perfect except for a pool of blood under its head. They are usually on the street and somewhat mangled. A few blocks past this cute rodent, I wondered why I take photos of beautiful scenery and flowers, but walk right past a dead squirrel without considering it to be worthy of a photo. Why is it less beautiful than the photos I posted yesterday? So I vowed that, if the little guy was still there when I came back, I would take photos of him. He was, and I did.
There are some people (like someone with the first initial of G) who believe that we should not see the truth of death. They send people to war, but ignore the fact that many honorable men and women come back in flag-draped boxes.
So, in order to rise above this example our leaders exhibit, I want to expose what is real without filtering out the uncomfortable.
My teacher's last words to me as I left her at the airport: "Don't be afraid to say the hard things."
Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseparable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life. - John Muir
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The View Outside My Kitchen Window
Sometimes I go to the desert to stop and sit with this "me" that calls itself Carol. This time I went to the lusciousness of Whidbey Island. This was the view outside our kitchen window.
the landscape of the desert,
whether it be the incessant heat on the sand
or the dearth of hope when in pain and suffering,
brings me to my edge
and then I find that I am edgeless
the intoxication of cool, moist forest,
whether it be when the morning fog opens
or the moments when everything goes my way,
calls me to expand
and then I find that all I am the expanse
the playgrounds change
it appears that I do, too
but Something carries through
It is Always Here
The disciples said to him, "When will the kingdom come?" Jesus said, "It will not come if you look for it. Nor can you say, 'It is here' or "It is there.' For the kingdom of the Father is already spread out over the earth, but the people don't see it".
- The Gospel of St. Thomas
Labels: Gospel of St. Thomas
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
I'm Outta Here
I'll be back.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Happy Mother's Day
Okay, my mom might think that I am talking about her as she suffered through my teen years. Happy Mother's Day to you, too, mom.
A Sense of Purpose Bigger Than Pain
The May issue of Glamour magazine includes an interview with Mariane Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. A movie based on her book "A Mighty Heart" will hit theaters in June. In the interview, she's called "a clear voice of tolerance and dialogue" for how well she handled herself after Daniel was murdered by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002. Mariane Pearl responds: "Well, that kind of self-control . . .hasn't been easy for me. I always go back to one moment: In Karachi, when Captain [the Pakistani officer who was leading the investigation into Danny's kidnapping] came to the house and told me what happened, my reaction was that I grabbed an AK-47 from one of the guards. In that single moment, I knew how easy it would be to kill someone. If they had brought a person who was guilty [of Danny's murder] to the house, I would have shot him. But then I would have destroyed everything Danny believed in, and everything we did as a couple - and I couldn't do that. Putting that gun down was my biggest act of courage."
Where, she is asked, does that strength come from?
Mariane replies: "Partly from Buddhism. I've been practicing since I was 17. And, you know, after Danny's death, all the years of chanting kicked in, and I knew instinctively that anger and revenge wouldn't take me anywhere. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, though. I miss Danny. The pain is real, but the sense of purpose is bigger than the pain."
Friday, May 11, 2007
And Speaking of Ambiguity...
From the interview:
Q: You specialize in ambiguity and empathy. You embrace complexity. You're a walk-a-mile-in-his-shoes writer on an epic scale.
A: There's a Turkish proverb: "Whoever says the truth will be chased out of nine villages" I think that's accurate. To truly consider the other point of view is an extremely dangerous, frightening thing to do. We all think, in the abstract, Oh, yeah, there's always another point of view. But what does that mean? Are we really willing to consider al-Qaida's point of view? Or a child molester's point of view? That doesn't mean we have to say those people are right, but it means we have to ask why they do what they do.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
When I started this blog in 2005, it was because a couple of wise guys thought that I should blog about my trip to Camp Casey.
Before the Iraq war, I was adamant that it was wrong. I led a peace group at my church, protested, wrote letters, etc., etc. But, obviously, nothing anyone did stopped the war. We attacked Iraq, and I went to Camp Casey in August of 2005 and again in April of 2006 so that W would hear the voices of those opposed to the war. He didn't care.
Over the last couple of years, I have learned much about the damage that our country has done and is doing all over the world - not just in Iraq or Afghanistan. We (the U.S.) can be very charitable - if someone is our friend and we agree with their policies (or if it benefits us). But we can do some really horrible things that hurt people in other countries as well as our own.
When I think of the problems that are facing us, when I think of the cruelty that is being done in the world, I can get bummed, I can feel hopeless, and I can feel overwhelmed and impotent.
The biggest gift that I got from four months of pain, no sleep, and helplessness followed by a month (so far) of pain and recovery is TIME. Time to step back and think and be.
Everyday I read and listen and am totally taken aback when I hear people telling others what is right or wrong or how things should be. (I know that I have been guilty of this in my life, also. - I hope that no one listened to me!) Now, when someone tells me a "fact", I just hear them stating their opinion. This is true of everyone, but especially the media, anyone talking about their religion, or anyone associated with W.
I may be wrong (and this is only my opinion) but things don't appear to be quite as black and white as people try to lead us to believe.
And I don't have any clue as to what is best for anyone - including myself sometimes.
It appears (my opinion still) that we can plug one hole - the Iraq hole - in the dike, and we can plug the Darfur hole, but we will still have all kinds of leaks in South America, other parts of Africa, our country, etc., etc. I'm not saying that we don't work to plug the holes - that is very important - but we also need to look at the source of the holes. What is it inside us that wants to have power over others? What is it in us that wants revenge? What is it in us that can take and take, knowing that our taking causes suffering to others? Most of us do these things on a small level, some of us do it on a bigger level, and people in power, well, they get to just go for it and do it up in an enormous way all over the world.
So when I read that the Dalai Lama, a man way wiser than I am, doesn't have the answers after all of his years of meditation, study, travel, and work toward an autonomous Tibet, I wonder if there are any answers.
I know W has (er, thinks he has) all the answers, but I give the DL and his "not knowing" more credibility!
When visiting Smith College, the 14th Dalai Lama, warned
"that his beloved Tibet is 'passing through the darkest period in our almost 2,000 years,' acknowledging yesterday that he is not certain how to motivate the people of the world to care about issues he sees as threatening to humanity."
"...the Dalai Lama largely stuck to his oft-repeated message, which he delivers in numerous speeches around the world, about the importance of compassion. He said that education and wealth are not sufficient means to happiness, but that 'warmheartedness is the key to a sustained, peaceful mind' and that 'anger, hatred, jealousy, these are destroyers of a peaceful mind.' He warned that technology and knowledge, unless combined with compassion, will lead to 'unbelievable things.'
I love that man...
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Whatever Happened to Afghanistan???
But somehow since then, we got all involved with Iraq, and that has become the news of the day - and don't make me list all of the reasons that have been created to justify that war. Meanwhile, our war in Afghanistan - the one that was originally created to retaliate against the "evildoers" that attacked America - still limps along. I can't find out how many U.S. troops are in Afghanistan at the moment, but as of 2004, there were 18,000. Compare that to the 145,000 in Iraq with another 35,000 being deployed soon.
Nearly 100 soldiers are killed each year in our war in Afghanistan, interestingly called Operation Enduring Freedom. And civilian deaths over there are understandably causing anger.
The peace community talks about getting out of Iraq now. We talk about the civilian deaths and the deaths of our soldiers, but what about "Out of Afghanistan Now"? Is this war more okay? Are we doing a "good job" over there? Do we have certain goals to achieve and when we achieve them, we'll leave those people alone? I certainly have no idea.
And it seems that no one is talking about it.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Postcard For World Peace
One-hundred and fourteen people have sent in postcards from 44 countries.
Now I want to find a postcard to send them.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
The Sacred Center of the Land
One of my best memories is of a time when I went camping with a friend, and after we had set up our tent and had dinner, we hiked to a pond created by beavers and watched a little guy out for his evening swim. Just us, the mountains, and the little beaver guy in the silence of the moment. It doesn't get any better than that.
The beavers had to chop the trees into manageable sizes and carry them from one side of the road to the other, then down a hill in order to get to the stream and their dam.
From All About Beavers:
"Beavers are more than intriguing animals with flat tails and lustrous fur. American Indians called the beaver the "sacred center" of the land because this species creates rich habitats for other mammals, fish, turtles, frogs, birds and ducks. Since beavers prefer to dam streams in shallow valleys, much of the flooded area becomes wetlands. Such wetlands are cradles of life with biodiversity that can rival tropical rain forests. Almost half of endangered and threatened species in North America rely upon wetlands.
"Besides being a keystone species, beavers reliably and economically maintain wetlands that can sponge up floodwaters (the several dams built by each colony also slows the flow of floodwaters), prevent erosion, raise the water table and act as the "earth's kidneys" to purify water. The latter occurs because several feet of silt collect upstream of older beaver dams, and toxics, such as pesticides, are broken down in the wetlands that beavers create. Thus, water downstream of dams is cleaner and requires less treatment."
Thursday, May 03, 2007
May Day in L.A.
No matter what one things about what we have made into an "immigration issue", I hope that we can still have dialog and rational and compassionate legistlation instead of bullets.
Thanks to NoGoPostal for the video link.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
It Doesn't Matter Who Was Here First
A couple of days ago, a woman in Conifer heard her dog barking on her deck, and when she went to see what was going on, she got too close to a bear. The bear swiped at her and made cuts on her stomach. The bear was there because it was attracted to the food that the woman had stored in the snow when the power went out. The sheriff came and shot the bear. For doing bear things. In bear territory. Territory that the woman and her family invaded. Territory in which any bear would feel invited for the easily available food.
What we will do when all of the critters that came with the land are gone? If living without all the wildlife doesn't kill our bodies, I know it will kill our souls.
Life As A Hypocrite
I try to eat healthy and organic - but I also eat at restaurants. Non-organic restaurants.
I eat WAY too much chocolate. And it isn't all organic and fair trade.
I drive a car that uses gasoline. The stuff that we are killing people in the Middle East for.
I use paper, thus I am responsible for the deaths of many trees.
I don't call or write my reps and senators every day. I don't protest this war and the violence of the world every day, even though I would like to see an end to it.
I don't give every cent above what I need to people who have less than me.
... And those are just the things that come easily right off of the top of my head. I'm sure I could spend the day thinking of others.
But I won't.
Isn't life amazingly complex?
"Hypocrite: Someone who complains that there is too much sex and violence on his VCR." - unknown
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Fourth Anniversary of Mission Accomplished...
Today, immigration rallies will be held around the country. I will be at physical therapy, so I won't be attending the one in Denver.
I really don't know the answer to immigration. It might begin with the U.S. stopping its practice of over-throwing governments in South and Central America. It might begin with us supporting and respecting those countries so that they can succeed financially instead of using them as places to plant businesses which exploit the people and the environment.
Maybe if we supported the countries south of our border in ways that build strong economies, just maybe their people wouldn't need to leave their homes and families in order to make enough money to survive.