Creating Future Peace

I guess the title of this post is what this blog is all about, but I'm referring specifically to race. I grew up in a very small, very white town. My upbringing was a little unusual for my area, because I actually knew Black people as a child. My mother was a Job Corp volunteer, teaching reading to the youth who lived in the barracks of what had formerly been a WWII Navy Base. I was about three at the time and most of these youth were Black. They were away from families, and homesick. Many of them had younger siblings, so when I tagged along with her, I was coddled and adored by these boys. I was their little mascot. I am very grateful to my mother, who believed in civil rights and taught me to as well. She was ahead of her time, and a bit of an anomaly in our backwards little town.

As I grew older, I didn't realize or pay much attention to the fact that there were almost no Black people in our town. I guess I just thought that mostly white populations were the norm. I noticed that many of our local rivers and other features had Native American names. I was vaguely curious about Chief Kilchis, a local chief, who had figured prominently in local history. I lived in what was called, “the Kilchis District,” and there was a small cemetery down the road from my house, where I liked to walk and think. I read the names on the gravestones, and tried to imagine people's stories. I was fascinated to find a gravestone that said, “granddaughter of Chief Kilchis.” I began to wonder why there were no Kilchis Indians. How could it be that there was a whole tribe of them? What happened? As an adult, I became more acutely aware of the racial disparity in my town, and I had heard rumors that we had once been a Ku Kux Klan stronghold. I wondered what other secrets Tillamook held.

I went to the local library and checked out books on local history. There were interesting stories about the Kilchis tribe, but nothing to indicate whatever happened to them. I talked to a local historian and friend, Gerry Hysmith, and she told me an interesting story. Warren Vaughn, a local pioneer, had been the only white man the natives had trusted or liked, apparently (and with good reason). The little cemetery down the road from me had been their sacred burial ground until the early 1900's, when it was taken over by white people. Early on, the Kilchis tribe had brought their complaints to Warren Vaughn about their burial area being desecrated and pillaged by white men. Warren Vaughn vowed to put a stop to it.

At that time, Bay City was a thriving port town, and the county seat. Ships would come in with a load of ballast to weigh down and stabilize them, mostly dirt, rocks, and the sort. Vaughn found a small twig that had been discarded in a load of ballast, and presented it to the natives as a peace offering, and declared it to be his promise to stop the pillaging of native graves. The twig was planted at the top of the cemetery hill, where it grew into a very imposing tree that overlooks the entire cemetery. The tree is pretty much dead, but it stands as a reminder.

About four years ago, I met a woman named Helen Hill, a local playwright, artist, historian, and general renaissance woman. As we chatted, I learned she had written a book called, “A Brief History of Fear and Intolerance in Tillamook County.” She offered me a copy of the book, and I went home and read it in one sitting.

In it, I learned about the Klan activity in Tillamook County. I learned that under that giant sacred tree in “my” little cemetery (where my parents are now buried), lie the children of Chief Kilchis in unmarked graves. I learned that Chief Kilchis died on a reservation in a different county. And I learned why there were no more Kilchis Indians in Tillamook County. Eugenics. The males in that tribe were systematically sterilized. Sterilization is such a handy little word... sounds like neat and clean, but it belies the deep ugliness of what was happening; a young native man would break an arm and be taken to Bay City hospital, where he would be treated, and sterilized. THAT'S what happened. The book answered my questions, but it broke my heart. I knew that the very land I “own” was native land, that my family was only the second white family to ever live on it. I grieved for what my unearned privilege had cost others. I vowed that eventually I would find a way to mark those graves, and I would do my part to ensure that everyone heard this truth. I called Helen and asked her if she had more copies of the book, because I needed to buy them... for my kids, for my friends, for anyone who cares at all about our community. Long story short, she gave me the printing rights to the book, and I have gifted it to many people.

Race has remained at the forefront of my consciousness, as I see the way that racism plays out in my community, from hearing people of Middle East descent, who bought a local convenience store chain, called, “ragheads,” to hearing racist and hateful remarks against Hispanic immigrants, to the fact that there remains very, very few Black people in Tillamook.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a woman from the Rural Organizing Project ( named Sam Hamlin. We met over lunch, and discussed concerns about the sharp rise in racially-based hate crimes in Oregon, along with an alarming increase in White Supremacist activities and presence in the state. The ROP had planned what they referred to as an “emergency response” to this disturbing situation.

A professor from Portland State University, Dr. Walidah Imarisha, had offered to tour rural Oregon, where these groups like to do their dirty work, and present on Black History...not only a history of oppression and struggle, but of resilient, thriving communities of color that had survived against overwhelming odds and contributed a great deal to Oregon. Thanks to ROP, Oregon Humanities, the Tillamook Co. Pioneer Museum, the Women's Resource Center, and Bay City Arts Center, we were able to bring her to Tillamook County. The presentation was called, “Why Aren't There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History.”

I had only received 39 RSVPs for the event we set up on September 9th, so I was a little nervous, but over 60 people turned up that evening to participate in the presentation. It was electrifying to see that many people who are investing in addressing this issue; maybe I hadn't given Tillamook enough credit!

Dr. Imarisha used a timeline of Black History in Oregon to shed light on things that most people didn't know. Horrifying and sad things. She asked how many people in the room had grown up and attended Oregon schools, and many hands went up. She then asked how many people had learned of this history, and I don't believe I saw a single hand. She did a fine job of illustrating that this is everyone's history, not just Black history, and it's important for us all to know it.

Many people take pride in knowing that Oregon was founded as an anti-slavery state, without realizing that it was not anti-slavery out of concern for civil rights. It was because slavery would bring Black people to Oregon and they weren't wanted here. Oregon was intended to be a “white homeland.” I learned about the 1844 Lash Law, and many other egregious and hateful practices in what I was always taught was a progressive, open-minded state. I was sad and ashamed.

Helen Hill was there, along with another local hero, retired Justice of the Peace Neal Lemery. When a member of the crowd asked the presenter to show “proof” that Tillamook was a Sundown Town (in which local laws prevent persons of color from being there after sundown), Neal turned around and said that, until 1982, it was still written into local ordinance. What he didn't mention is that he was instrumental in having it removed from the books, against resistance and personal backlash. He had finished law school and come back to his hometown to practice, only to be disheartened, but ready to do something about it. Helen didn't mention her book, but others did, along with a play she had done about the KKK.

We broke into small groups and discussed what we would like to do to move forward to make our community a more welcoming and safe place to live, for everyone. This was never intended to be a one-time conversation, so we collected contact information from those interested in follow-up. I have recently obtained the notes from that meeting, and I am working with the ROP to set up our next event, where we will have the opportunity to plan ways to make this happen.

Here is a link to the PowerPoint created by Dr. Imarisha for this event. It is available on YouTube, with or without commentary. I'm attaching the version with commentary, in case you were not fortunate enough to hear her in person.

Anyone who is interested in joining this very important conversation is welcome. If interested, please contact me at 503-842-8294, x. 209, or email me at You can live anywhere in the world and start these conversations. Ending racism is a pretty tall order, but we have to start somewhere right?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead


I knew very little about the Palestine/Israel conflict until I read a book a few years ago entitled, “Our Way to Fight” by Michael Riordan.  I’m not claiming to be any kind of expert now, but that book gave a viewpoint of activists, in their own words, who are working for peace in the region, both Israelis and Palestinians.

There is no doubt that this ongoing conflict is complex.  However, it is obvious that there is one side with a huge advantage.  While Hamas terrorists fire rockets into Israel, they are quite literally outgunned by a very powerful Israeli military.  Unfortunately, it is not the Hamas rocket shooters who are paying the ultimate price for the rocket attacks; it is hundreds of Palestinian civilians, many of them children.  Israel somehow thinks it is justified to retaliate by committing indiscriminate genocide against the people of Palestine. 

Before this recent flare-up of events, there has been a slow simmering boil up of tension in the region.  Why would Palestine attack a much larger and better armed foe, when it is obvious the outcome will not be good?  It’s not because they have a death wish; in fact, I believe they are fighting for their lives.  They may be taking a knife to a gun fight, but it’s all they have. 

Palestine has been living under crippling sanctions for decades under the iron fist of Israel, and shamefully, this oppression has been funded and supported by the United States.  Thanks to our habitual propping up of despots and dictators, Israel has become a powerhouse of military might.  Are we so na├»ve to think they are not abusing that power?

Many people are unaware of the conditions under which Palestinians are forced to live.  They are content to assume that since the Jews are “God’s chosen people,” then whatever they do is okay.  This kind of simplistic and lazy thinking is costing many innocent lives. 

Palestine is screaming for help, and instead of listening, or even taking the time to research the situation, it is being turned into partisan bickering.  This is shameful.

What if we had responded this way to Hitler’s siege of Europe?  Would it matter if this were happening closer to home?  How would you feel if a neighboring country decided that the farm your family had owned for generations belonged to them?  They kicked you out into the street, destroyed your buildings and farm equipment, and moved in people from their own country?  What if, in order to travel to the next county, or even town, you had to sit for hours at a checkpoint set up by that other country, even if it meant not being able to get to a needed surgery, or other critical surface?  And if you protested, it may mean being shot and killed, or your family being killed?  What if your child needed medicine, but the ship carrying those needed supplies was turned away by the neighboring country, just because they could?  This isn’t a sudden, unwarranted attack by Hamas; it’s a response to a crippling and deadly occupation.

Palestinians, and even their Israeli allies, are assassinated, or disappear.  This isn’t about the Jews having a homeland; it’s about Israel committing atrocities against their neighbors and us turning a blind eye, or worst yet, twisting Bible scripture to justify the murder of innocents.

Most Palestinians don’t back Hamas, the militant group responsible for the rockets being fired, which have done very little collateral damage in comparison to the bloody siege instituted by Israel against the Palestinian people.  That may change as the people of Palestine’s outrage grows at the atrocities being committed.   From

" 'We faced two Israeli wars before but this one is the most bloodiest and most cruel,' said Abu Awni, 38, of Gaza City. 'Civilians are attacked in their homes. I'm against Hamas, but when Israel is killing my family, then I will join Hamas.'

" 'The world must wake up and stop consuming Israeli propaganda,' he added. 'More than half of the population in Gaza is not affiliated with Hamas. But we have been collectively punished.' "

Frankly, I’m NOT consuming Israeli propaganda.  I think what they are doing is disgusting and we must all speak out against it, and hold our elected officials accountable for aiding and abetting this murderous rampage with our tax dollars.  We have blood on our hands.

Just yesterday, Israel bombed a hospital in the Gaza Strip, killing four people.  As of yesterday, the death toll of Palestinians had risen to over 570, and at least 3,350 wounded.  The death toll in Israel as of that same date was 27, only two of them civilians.  Now they are conducting a ground campaign, raiding West Bank towns and villages and arresting hundreds of citizens, including children.

I believe that Hamas would have never gained power in a population that was not being horrifically oppressed in the first place.  The recent cease-fire that was rejected by Hamas was not rejected because more Palestinians want to die; it was rejected because Israel refuses to lift the seven-year blockade over Gaza, which has crippled society in Gaza, and resulted in immense human suffering.  

David does not usually pick a fight with Goliath.  This is a fight for survival against a death crush.  I watched a video last night of a spider quickly wrapping up a bee, which was helpless.  In a desperate attempt to save its own life, against insurmountable odds while covered in a sheath of webbing, the bee used its last bit of energy to try to sting the spider.  Did that make the bee the aggressor?  At some point, the bee knew it was hopeless, but it continued to use the last of its life force to try to survive.  Palestine doesn’t have fighter planes, or state-of-the-art war equipment, which we have generously helped fund for Israel.  Yet they are in the throes of hell and trying to survive.  All the while, Israel commences air strikes against hospitals, homes, and other places that are decidedly not terrorist targets.  Theirs is a campaign of terror against an entire people, with the intent to wipe them off the face of the earth.

In reading Michael Riordan’s aforementioned book, I heard the voices of Israelis who have seen the truth, who have witnessed the ongoing injustices committed by their own government.  They are appalled and horrified at these crimes against humanity.  I join them in their outrage, and I hope that others will take the time to research this situation, while keeping in mind that someone’s innocent children are being murdered here.

While I realize this conflict is long-term and complex, I cannot remain silent to the Israeli government’s horrific actions against the Palestinian people, or my own government’s complicity in this.  I hope others will join me in speaking out.  This is about more than sticking up for the underdog; it’s about the same spirit that led the world to combat Hitler’s outrageous treatment of the Jews and many others in the earlier part of the 20th century.  Nobody with a conscience should stand for this.

Groups such as Combatants for Peace, Rabbis for Human Rights, and ICAHD (the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions) are comprised of both Israelis and Palestinians working toward justice and equality in the region.   Here are some other groups doing good work, and some ways to help:
Here’s a link to sign a petition to our government to help put a stop to this madness:

A cursory search of the internet will find many other resources to learn about the situation and assist the victims of the Gaza massacre.  I hope you will join me.

Let Freedom Ring!!

Wedding bells are ringing!  Since Oregon overturned the same sex marriage ban last month, two couples I know have set wedding plans.  Last Saturday, in a lovely intimate setting in a beautiful wooded garden area, my friends stood before friends and family and pledged their ongoing love and commitment.

These two women have been together for 27 years, so I had to stifle a giggle when the minister mentioned the enormous commitment it takes to enter into a marriage.  I’m pretty sure they’ve had some time to think it through.  The wedding was beautiful, with a sing-along, accompanied by guitar and recorder, and even a kazoo (you had to be there!).  Even some tinkling wind chimes in a nearby tree contributed as if on cue.  It was magical.


As I sat listening to their vows, watching their glowing faces, I thought of the struggles that people have had throughout American history with such issues, back to the time when only white, male, landowners were allowed to vote. 

The same people who would deny these two women the right to marry appear to have the same mindset (and arguments) as the group that opposed interracial marriage in this country back before the 1967 Supreme Court decision lifting that ban.  The same people who would be horrified at the idea of arranged marriages often seem to have no qualms about thinking that two consenting adults in this country can’t make their own decision about marrying one another. How stupid this same-sex marriage ban will look to future generations!  The “fabric of society” will not be compromised one tiny bit by same-sex marriage any more than it was by abolition of slavery, blacks and women voting, or interracial marriage.  I even feel silly pointing that out.  For some people, progress provokes great and unreasonable fear.

So these were my thoughts as I sat there, and I got a little irritated with myself for focusing out on this and not just enjoying this beautiful, historical moment.  Here I was, a part of something sacred, a moment to savor and celebrate!  Here was a reminder of all that is right in this world, and that’s why I feel that in some ways, the world is getting better, not worse as some would believe. 

It’s taken huge sacrifice, and many people have put jobs, reputations, even lives on the line for the right to marry who they want, and here I was watching this huge victory, in a way a culmination of all that struggle.  I’m honored to be a witness to this, and grateful for all the people who spoke out, knowing laws don’t change unless people MAKE them change.  The tipping point seems to take place when people run out of justifications for their bigotry.  It also makes a difference when it affects your neighbors, your friends, your family members, someone you care about.  The scales of justice have finally tipped in the right direction, and it’s a sweet, long-deserved victory.

What hurts one of us ultimately hurts us all, and I’m committed to helping to create a world where people aren’t being hurt.  It’s a tall order, but one step at a time, things are getting better.  By taking a stand, win or lose, we can embolden people to safely be themselves, knowing there are people who have their back.

My friends who married last Saturday have spent decades in the trenches, as activists for marriage equality.  Their victory is about even more than marriage equality; it’s about promotion of the idea of equal rights for all. 

So what’s next?  Well, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time ever.  President Obama recently announced he’s moving ahead on an executive order that will ban anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.  Now we need passage of ENDA in the House of Representatives to get it signed into law.

June is LGBT Pride Month.  For so many Oregonians, this particular June will be the sweetest one of all.  Let’s relish this moment in history and keep fighting the good fight!

Happy Pride Month!

Mother's Day, after a week of hard thinking

Mother’s Day has been over for almost a week, but it’s still on my mind.  I’ve been thinking so much lately about the privilege of peace, and of all those mothers who live in terror and horror that I never have to even think about.

At the heart of my starting this blog was a desire to write about the privilege of peace.  I wanted to write a book about it, but that proved to be far more time consuming than the bite-sized chunks that a blog entails.

My premise is based in oppression theory.  We all have privilege that we are unaware of.  Some people get very defensive when you point out that they have privilege, and those same people get upset when folks who don’t have as much privilege as they do aren’t getting as far in life, because they don’t experience the invisible glass ceiling that others live with.

My introduction to this topic was the work of Peggy McIntosh, who wrote about white privilege.  I never considered myself a racist by any means, and it was very unsettling to entertain the concept that I was walking around with privilege just by being white.  One of her seminal works is the list of white privilege, which is a real eye-opener.  Go ahead, take a minute and read it the 50-item list of the daily effects of white privilege:

It never occurred to me that these things weren’t true for others until it was pointed out, because I was in the majority and my experience was the “norm.”  Thus began some research into privilege, and I found lists for male privilege, able-bodied privilege, thin privilege, class privilege, hetero privilege, you name it.  The majority of us move in and out of privilege throughout our lives in one way or another, and that comes with some responsibility.  As a white, hetero person, I feel a strong sense of obligation to be an ally and supporter of people who are LGBT or persons of color.  Because I have built-in credibility that I did nothing to earn, the least I can do is use it to do the right thing, right?

I have taught classes on oppression theory, and I could write pages and pages about this issue alone.  People who deny their unearned privilege aren’t doing the world any favors.  It just is what it is, and rather than be defensive and deny it, isn’t it better to work together to create a society where nobody feels marginalized?

Looking at this from a global view, it’s important to realize there is additional privilege that nobody is really talking about, and that is what I call the privilege of peace.  While our lives aren’t perfect, we also are living in bombed out buildings, or in non-stop terror of imminent attacks and death.  We do not have to worry that we will put our child on a school bus in the morning, and that bus will be bombed, or the school will be bombed and our child will not come home because of wide-spread terror and war.  We don’t have to worry that soldiers will bust into our home, drag off our loved ones to torture and death.  We don’t have to worry that our sons and daughters will be forced to be child soldiers, or that we will have to watch them slowly die of hunger or disease because some corrupt government or regime is withholding food or medicine for political gain.  We don’t have to wonder if our unborn child will be born with deadly deformities because of the U.S. military using chemical weapons such as white phosphorus in our neighborhoods.  We have the amazing luxury of thinking and dreaming ahead, planning concerts and events and outings without worrying about whether we will survive the day.

Yet nobody is talking about it.  We think the world is a lot bigger than it is, and let’s face it, all that misery and drama is a lot less upsetting if we pretend it isn’t happening, and maybe those other people on the “other” side of the world don’t matter quite as much as we do.  We can turn on the TV or the computer and tune it out, and be glad it isn’t us.  Well, some people can do that, but I just can’t.

I spent Mother’s Day thinking about this, because I was thinking about how being a mother, and a grandmother, changed my life completely.  I learned so much from those little people about what love really means.  This isn’t exclusive to Americans; this is a universal experience.  The mothers of those little girls kidnapped in Nigeria are enduring the kind of hell I can’t imagine.  The temptation, because it’s so horrific, is to say, “Thank God that’s not my little girl,” shudder, then try not to think about it.  But we must.  We must realize that by being able to push it out of our mind, we have privilege.  Those mothers don’t have that privilege. 

If we are really going to honor mothers on Mother’s Day, we need to remember all of the mothers.  We need to acknowledge the universal things we humans have in common, and know that people in war-torn regions love their children just as much as we do.  Then we need to commit ourselves to not being part of the cause of their pain.

Considering the fact that the U.S. far outspends the rest of the world on “defense,” (see this link:, and there aren’t any bombs dropping on us, it’s reasonable to assume that we are a big part of the problem.  We have the privilege of all this wealth and we are using it to make the lives of others hell, all over the world.  The figures don’t include the money we make by selling arms to despots and tyrants to use against their own people, so we are complicit in that as well.  And as long as we’re talking complicity, we are complicit if we are aware of these things and aren’t speaking out against them.

On Mother’s Day, my heart went out to mother’s everywhere who were suffering.  I reaffirmed my commitment to devote my life to ending war, whatever it takes.  I’m ashamed to be one of the oppressors, and I’m ashamed that my government has caused so much pain and suffering and death for others.  And on behalf of my country, I apologize to mothers everywhere.  I’m aware of my privilege, and I will be an ally, even if it means alienating other Americans who refuse to see their own privilege.  I will continue to speak out about the atrocities being funded by my tax dollars, and I know of many others who feel the same way I do.

The only way we are going to change things, the only way to end war, is for there to be no profit and no glory in fighting.  Pointing out this concept to people may result in you being called Un-American or unpatriotic, or other silly things, but let the name-callers say what they will because you will be speaking truth; some just can't handle it, and that's their problem.  At the heart of this is remembering that some people will have a tragic Mother's Day indeed, and live that tragedy every day, and those of us who don't have a moral obligation to try to stop that.

And to the Republic

Yes, I'm going to talk about politics and religion.  I'm very disturbed (and have a very hard time keeping my mouth shut) when I see people who describe themselves as Christians ranting about how everyone should be required to recite the pledge of allegiance.

First of all, reciting a pledge is not going to decrease terrorism, or make someone with terrorist leanings change his/her mind.  Not reciting it is not going to turn anyone against America, or make them any less of a citizen.  And forcing someone to recite something in the hopes they will espouse that belief is simply indoctrination.  The idea to me of a crowd of children being taught, through recitation, blind obedience to their government does not comfort me in any way.  It chills me to the bone.  Most people don't give much thought to the fact that they are pledging allegiance to a particular government.  They just think (because they've been told) that it's the "patriotic thing to do."  Few people question it, but everyone should.

Either it's just words that don't mean anything, or a nostalgic tradition, in which case it's pointless, OR it's a serious commitment of lifelong allegiance.  One's disingenuous and one's dangerous. 

It amuses me when the "uneducated" call me "un-American" because I don't recite the pledge.  Since "un" means "not," that literally translates to "not American," as in, "Anyone who disagrees with me is not American."  Well, last time I checked, I am a legal citizen, born and raised here, and I won't make a fool of myself by acting like a sheep in the name of religion.  I do, however, enjoy this seemingly un-American activity I like to call "thinking for myself."

I'm assuming, since Christ was from the Middle East, that He was "un-American" too, in the same way that I am "un-Chinese" or "un-Israeli," to the best of my knowledge.  People who use the phrase "un-American" are probably trying to say "anti-American," which is a whole different matter.  Their assumption is that anyone who does not engage in the truly obnoxious nationalism they espouse can't possibly care about America.  These are generally very fearful people, who were taught things a certain way, and are scared to death to question it.  Especially if they were taught it by their church.  I'm hoping to dispel a few fears, maybe raise a few eyebrows, and state my case.

Merriam-Webster defines "Christianity" as "the religion that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ."  I can't possibly imagine Christ pledging allegiance to any government or any flag.  Since Christianity is based on the teachings of Christ, it might be a nifty idea if people actually paid attention to what He had to say.  Take it or leave it, call me un-American, I don't care. 

Over and over, Christ blasts the rulemakers and writers of law, and flouts society's expectations.  Not only do I believe that He would have completely disapproved of the pledge of allegiance, but as protective as He was of children, I imagine He would have been outraged that people would, in His name, subject children to reciting something that was generated as a government pledge.  He exhorted his followers to not divide their loyalties, choosing God even over their own family members.  I'm pretty sure He would have expected them to choose God over their own government.

I've read a little more of the Bible than many people assume.  And the words of Christ show me a man who would be deeply disappointed, even outraged, at the dogma being thrown about as His will, in the name of mind control.  Show me a Bible verse where Jesus exhorts us to pledge allegiance to any government or any flag.  You won't find one.

Far too many people are not aware that the stipulation, "Under God," was not part of the original pledge. It was added in 1952, as a result of widespread fear-mongering.  It was during this same time that "In God We Trust" was added to currency.  It was during the Communist witch hunts.  People inflicted great cruelty on one another and ruined lives and careers, over rumors and gossip.  It was a shameful time.  It hasn't seemed to make a big difference in human behavior to add this to our currency or pledge, has it.  It hasn't resulted in a drop in crime, or an increase in human kindness.  So what was the point?  I don't think Jesus would approve of this mingling of church and state.  He Himself says, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."  (Matthew 22:21)  How did our society become so deluded?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
I feel so strongly about this because some people will do pretty much anything if they can be convinced that God is somehow behind it.  And let's face it, some people don't take much convincing.  I see the bigger picture, and it's not pretty.  The whole "God and country" thing leaves me cold.  That is not mutually inclusive, and it insinuates that our country has carte blanche to do anything it wants because it's already endorsed by God.  Now THAT'S scary.

Many people have been misled that America is some sort of holy, benevolent giant.  They seem to believe that pledging allegiance to our government makes them more Godly.  I call it "obedient."  As Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."  I refuse to turn a blind eye to the atrocities that have been committed by our country, and so many others, all in the name of God.  And I certainly will not pledge allegiance to any government or nation.  I'm not ruled by, or addicted to fear, and won't be bullied by any Pharisees.  I humbly submit that our highest common good cannot be accomplished through recited words, but through compassion, truth, and integrity.


I've noticed over the past few months that I have a larger group of readers in Ukraine than in the United States.  I found this fascinating, especially considering the size of Ukraine compared to the U.S., and the fact that I'm pretty certain I don't know anyone there.  I have a friend who wrote a blog, and had a large following in a particular country.  When he asked some of his readers in that country why they read his blog, they stated that they were learning English that way.

I like to think that, regardless of my logic or ideas, my English skills, grammar, and punctuation are pretty good, so that would not bother me one bit.  It's a weird feeling to think about how somewhere, complete strangers from the other side of the planet are reading my blog.  I never get any feedback from them, but I'd really like feedback right now.

If you are in the Ukraine and reading this post, I would love to hear more about what is really happening in your country.  To say the least, American media is deceptive.  My understanding is that the President of Ukraine, who is now in hiding, basically broke promises to the Ukrainian people, and cast his alliances in opposition to the will of the people.  Then when peaceful protesters marched, they were gunned down.  This of course, is a very over-simplified explanation of the situation.

To be honest, I could probably learn more from news sources, but I don't necessarily trust them.  I view this as an opportunity to hear directly from the people impacted the most: the people of Ukraine.  I would love to hear your comments about how you perceive the situation (whether you choose to comment on this post, or email me directly at  With your permission, I'd like to share your comments without identifying you.  I also share my blog on my Facebook page.  

I am frustrated that so much of what is going on in the world is being spun by my country's corporate media, to the point that the truth is unrecognizable, and I'd like to hear from you.  For that matter, wherever you are, I'd like to hear from you.  I'd like to hear about your viewpoints from whatever corner of the world you inhabit.

You all know a little about me and my viewpoints if you read my blog.  I'd like to hear about you.  I am inspired by populations that stand up and take back power from the despots and the tyrants.  Your name may or may not end up in the history books, but only you can know the struggles you have endured, and you are the REAL game changers.  The real changes in power throughout history have not taken place because of political leaders.  The changes have happened when everyday people got fed up, stood up, spoke out, and made a difference.  This takes an unbelievable amount of courage for the masses to put their lives on the line, join hands, and gather together in the name of justice.

God bless the people of Ukraine.  May you be granted justice and peace, which go hand in hand.  May the will of the people be heard, may bloodshed end, and may you come out stronger as a people through your sacrifice and struggle. 

If there is something you would like to say to the rest of us out there, I would love to hear from you.  Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing...

I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be defending not only Superbowl commercials, but Coca-Cola as well, but here I am.  Coca-Cola's human rights abuses as a company are legend, and I don't drink soda anyway, but here I feel the need to defend them from the knuckle-draggers who are throwing a fit over this lovely commercial:

2014 Superbowl Coke Ad

I watched very little of the Superbowl yesterday, but did manage to catch this particular ad, and found it touching.  Apparently, some people didn't feel the same way, because (gasp!) the entire song wasn't sung in English.  It never occurred to me that people would stoop to this level of bigotry, until I looked at Facebook today, and saw this meme (and others like it):


Particularly ironic about their complaints is the fact that three of the languages being sung were being spoken in this land called America for centuries before the arrival of English-speakers.  Of course this irony would be lost on people who seem only to be intent on something to complain about. 

They missed the entire point of the ad (besides selling soda) while they were busy spouting their vitriol: that the American ideal is people coming from all over to fulfill their dreams, being welcomed with open arms, and working together to create a great society.  Or at least that's the drivel I was taught in school.  Of course, growing older, I learned the truth: there is no equal playing field.  Native Alaskans, Hawaiians, Native Americans, and Mexicans were driven off their land, or forced into slavery to benefit white masters.  Africans were shipped here for similar purposes, and worse.  Immigrants have historically been given the hardest, dirtiest, least respected jobs, while being blamed for crime rates, treated with suspicion, and persecuted.  It happened with the Chinese, the Irish, and now the Mexicans.  And God forbid someone move here from the Middle East, because that entire group is automatically assigned the title of "terrorists," by the same group invading, occupying, droning, and bombing the rest of the world.   But I digress.

This ad could serve as a reminder of our common humanity... make us all want to try a little harder... to sing the same song, to be a team?  I would like to believe more than soda unites us, things like freedom and equality.  Apparently this group of Einsteins does not agree.  

So now we have a patriotic American song being sung by people in different languages, and the xenophobes just can't deal with it.  Since they don't appear to be the sharpest tools in the shed, I am going to craft my message to them in simple English words that they can understand and here it is:

"Get over it.  The world does not 'belong' to English-speaking white people.  Nobody is hurting you by singing a song you like in another language.  I know it may be hard for you to believe, but there are wonderful, intelligent, thoughtful, kind people everywhere who don't speak a word of English.  You are not superior.  They are not inferior.  It's not 'un-American' to show real Americans from another culture singing in a tongue you don't understand, just because they don't look and sound like you.  You are not 'more' American than they are.  People like you are the reason that people all over the world think Americans are stupid.  You don't speak for me or any other intelligent, thinking American.  Lastly, grow up."

Father's Day

I spent this last Father’s Day in silent, burning rage at my dad, and it’s taken me three months to sort it out enough to write.