We started by building an 8′ X 2′ box in our three-season room, and (with help of good persons at Growing Power and some worms) grew, with mixed results, salad greens and seedlings for the first summer’s garden. As the seasons change, our focus shifts back and forth between the sun-room and its evolving Growing Power Home Garden Project Box, and our Growing Power backyard garden, where we use the rich soil, worm castings and worms from the indoor box outdoors. Same system yet different.
Digging in the earth can uncover all kinds of things, and so can digging deep in ourselves. In my online journal, I have been recording daily reflections on the progress of our efforts in adapting the Growing Power model to our home and garden, mixed with my observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends. Enjoy. Thank you! — Bob Graf
Ms. Lucille at nonviolent action
in fall of 2014
This morning was mostly about giving a ride to my friend and his wife to a hospital so he could begin his rehabilitation from heart surgery. Over the years I have become fairly good at using my time well while waiting in hospital waiting rooms. I enjoy the quiet time to read and reflect.
This afternoon I took a graduate student friend of mine to visit Ms. Lucille, my 86 year civil rights and peace organizer friend. He is taking a graduate class in storytelling and I could not think of any better story teller than Ms. Lucille. I had told him beforehand that he could ask just one question and she could go on and on telling stories. He is shy person and did not want to interrupt her but got a few questions in during the hour plus interview. She gave him plenty of stories since she has lived a full life, with children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great, great grandchildren and 103 foster children she took in.
A movie we watched tonight Boyhood was shot during a 12 year span of boy’s life, from age 6 – 18years. At the end of the film the boy, now a college student and a girl he just met are sitting on a mountain top overlooking a beautiful landscape. The girl asked the boy, now a young man, if he heard of the phrase “Seize the moment”. He says yes and she says she thinks it is the opposite, the moment seizes us. The young man nods yes.
Each day there are moments that seize us if we can see and feel them. I am grateful to the many moments that seized me today.
Today I joined my Catholic Worker friends Don and Roberta in a public protest of military training of war and killing at Marquette University. Afterwards Don and Roberta were going to drop of a letter to the President of Marquette University asking that Marquette University be Faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences. They were going to drop off the protest signs at their car and I told them I would meet them at the President’s office in the administration.
I saw a Marquette University Security officer that was checking us out was now in the corridor of the administration building. So I entered by another entrance and had made it to the elevator when I heard him call out my name. I ignored him and stepped into the elevator. The security officer put his foot in the door holding the elevator and asked me to get out of the elevator. He was calling me by my name yet kept asking me my name. I asked him why I was being stopped. He said I was banned from Marquette. Having once been ‘banned’ by Marquette University and arrested for breaking the banning order, I knew what being banned met. I was unbanned by Marquette and even had a letter to that effect from the legal counsel of Marquette University.
Facts do not matter to a security officer who are “just following orders”. Eventually two other security officers arrived and they physically lifted me up and pushed me out of the elevator and side door. I saw one of my friends observing what was going on and knew that if I occupied the three officers my friends could go up the elevator and to the president’s officer.
I stayed at the doors keeping all three security officer occupied. Eventually my friends came and said we could now go. While I was occupying the security officers they were able to enter the President’s office and were able to personally deliver the letter they prepared to him. He said he would read it.
So being a scapegoat has side benefits. By being a decoy and attracting the attention of the security officers my friends were able to deliver the letter personally to the President of Marquette University, something they would not be able to do if I was with them.
Tonight Pat and I went to a unique bookstore in Riverwest area of Milwaukee to hear a friend read poems from her new book Justice Freedom Herbs. The author, Peggy Roza, has lived a life full of action of civil rights and peace issues while retaining her balance as English professor and herb grower.
Peggy accomplishes in her poetry book with something I struggled with since the beginning of this web page, www.nonviolentcow.org,in 2006, using the garden as a metaphor for social justice.
Listening to her poems of social justice tangled with her herb garden inspired me to get out in the garden and start working as well to keep alive my involvement in struggle for social justice. Also I realize I need to make a better effort in this Diary of the Worm to mix observations from the garden with observation of everyday living in the struggle for peace and justice. Here is title poem that maybe says it better than I can:
Justice Freedom Herbs
Are the garden markers in the shed?
Behind all the mess in the garage?
How can I grow anything
herbaceous, gracious, courageous,
how can I grow anything poetic?
You can. You have.
This is our act of faith.
It is the first full day of spring and it is getting colder outside. I would like the weather to give us a break but cannot control it, like many other things in life. However, I can control taking a break from the computer for a few days, maybe just checking emails on my cell phone but not much else.
Taking Sunday through Wednesday off the computer seems like a little thing but sadly, for me, these days it is huge. Writing something with handwriting seems foreign to me but I will try.
A friend sent a quote today that made a lot of sense: “He or she who lives by the “news” stories doled out by multinational media corporations, dies—spiritually, mental and physically—by the “news” stories doled out by multinational media corporations.” (Emmanuel Charles McCarthy) The same might be true for those who live by the computer and internet. I am hoping that as long as we can keep “net neutrality” the internet will be open, for a little cost, to anyone. However the big media corporations are working overtime to control the internet.
But net neutrality or no net neutrality the internet is just a tool that can be used to free people by open communication or keep people silent by creating illusion of protest or making voice heard. There was a Saturday Night skit around Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, and it was repeated tonight, when Martin Luther King Jr. appears to a young white man writing a paper on him.
Martin asked the young man if he joined in the protest movement. The young man said yes and showed Martin how he tweets approval or disapproval of what is happening. I get lots of online petitions from saving the Rainforest to saving a pet. Although I do not believe in them I sometimes sign them since it seems like the right thing to do. But seldom does it seem to make a difference. The same goes for letter writing, letters to editor and other forms of so call ‘protest.’ Even walking on the Marquette University campus with a big banner saying: “Marquette Teaches Killing” is ignored.
What to do for real change I do not really know. Real creative nonviolence with openness to civil disobedience seems like it might work but not many are interested in taking risks these days. I do know what I must do and will, with God’s help do it, to the best of my ability, despite insults, rejections or being ignored.
Computer or no computer, Media or no media, doing the ‘right thing’ and keeping hope alive is all we can do.
Dontre Hamilton Family
Tonight I spent four and half hours at Fire and Police Commission hearing to see if the Officer who shot Dontre Hamilton fourteen times should be fired for not following police procedure in patting down Dontre. He has already been freed of any criminal charges. Tonight was a hearing to see if he should have been fired for patting down Dontre, who was resting in the park that resulted in a scuffle that led to Dontre being shot fourteen times. If I was a song writer this word essay would be a song. If you want to make it into a song be my guest.
There was a young black man, 31 years old, resting in Red Arrow County Park.
An employee of Starbucks did not like the way he looked, maybe it was clothes, how he rested or that he was black.
She called the police, who came to check him out, a welfare check as they call it.
After a friendly conversation with the young black man they decided he was doing nothing wrong.
Dontre Hamiliton is a young black man who was shot fourteen time by a police officer when resting in a public park. Yes, you heard me right, he was shot Not 1,2, 3, 4 or 5 times but fourteen times while resting on a park bench. He was not shot 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 times but fourteen times while resting in a public park. This black man was not shot 11, 12 or 13 times but fourteen times but fourteen times while resting in a public park.
The Starbucks worker was not happy with the results and called again to complain about the young black man resting in the public park.
The same two police returned and again finding nothing wrong again told the Starbuck’s employee he was doing nothing wrong and Not to call again.
Dontre Hamiliton is a young black man who was shot fourteen time by a police officer when resting in a public park. Yes, you heard me right, he was shot Not 1,2, 3, 4 or 5 times but fourteen times while resting on a park bench. He was not shot 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 times but fourteen times while resting in a public park. This black man was not shot 11, 12 or 13 times but fourteen times but fourteen times while resting in a public park.
The regular police officer on the beat had been busy when the call first came in about the young man resting in the public park. Over an hour and half after the first call to police dispatcher, he found the call was no longer there so he assigned himself to the call which had twice been answered. He went to Red Arrow Park, saw the young black man was sleeping, woke him up and going against all police procedures, started to pad him down. The young man was startled and when the officer patted him down a scuffle unfolded. The police man took out his club, and as the autopsy reports states, beat him severely. The young man grabbed the club from the officer. The office backed off and shot him dead fourteen times.
Dontre Hamiliton is a young black man who was shot fourteen time by a police officer when resting in a public park. Yes, you heard me right he was shot Not 1,2, 3, 4 or 5 times but fourteen times while resting on a park bench. He was not shot 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 times but fourteen times while resting in a public park. This black man was shot 11, 12 or 13 times but fourteen times but fourteen times while resting in a public park.
Children of Haiti
Being positive when I am bombarded by negative actions is difficult. Yet if we let anger and bitterness affect us, we will fail to see the positives in life. “Seeing God in all things” means looking for what is positive in life around us. Mahatma Gandhi suggest one way to start is by being free from attachments. He says “Freedom from all attachments is the realization of God as Truth.” (“Truth is God” p. 37)
Now to practice what I preach. I wrote to a couple of persons that understand how people with mental illnesses are treated about my concerns of what is happening in Milwaukee with closing of mental health complex and hospital beds for people in crisis. They both responded with understanding and some insights.
Today I met with former employees of St. Vincent de Paul Thrift store and Vincentian members to talk about how we can deal with the neglect of the Milwaukee Society of St. Vincent de Paul. We discussed strategy and came up with a two throng approach. If we can detach ourselves from the harm to the poor being done we maybe can make a difference.
My friend, Ms. Lucille, 86 year old civil rights leader, called me that the Department of Motor Vehicle had written her to tell her she was not an American Citizen. It was sad but she found some humor in it. When she applied for a passport in the 70’s her birth certificate could not be found in Florida where she was born. Her parents at the time had to write an official affidavit say she was born in USA. Actually her mother, 114 years old, is still alive living in Florida. For an ID she has used her VA ID, her husband was killed in the Korean War in the 50’s. She does not have a Wisconsin ID and thus the Department of Motor Vehicle claimed she is not a citizen. Humor is a good way to be detached.
If I look for it all kinds of good things are happening in my life. I am surrounded with blessings that trump evil if I have the eyes to see.
A friend introduced me some years ago to a creative work of Buckminster Fuller, American neo-futuristic architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. Probably he is best known for his promotion of the geodesic dome. He told the story how during a period of deep depression and suicidal thoughts he had an epiphany. He ultimately chose to embark on “an experiment, to find what a single individual [could] contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity.”
This quote on the left and below show is ‘common sense’ approach to life: “It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than have even known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is obsolete and is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry.”
Last night I mentioned how nations or states would be judged at the Judgment of Nations parable in the Gospel (Matthew 25) by how they fed the hungry. Today brings confirmation that Wisconsin is taking more steps Not to feed the hungry.
Last year the Federal Government cut back on Food Stamps in the Farm Bill. This meant that those on food stamps like the disabled and poor elderly would not get food stamps unless they had a heating bill. As many poor live in group homes or places where heat is included in rent it made for a significant drop in food stamps. For example, a friend of mine who is elderly and disabled lived in subsidized housing and did not pay a separate heating bill. He went from over a $100 to about $15 a month. Many, including the elderly, had to drop other things and eat less. Most States made up for this money by increasing the amount in another program that meant greater Federal aide. But three, including Wisconsin, did not. The poor became hungrier.
Now a new law that will tie food stamps in with a job and limit the time to about three months every three years that one can receive food stamps. Again there are ways to overcome this and feed the hungry but Wisconsin legislatures are not interested.
So the hungry in Milwaukee, already the second poorest city in the USA will get hungrier. Food pantries and Hunger groups are unable to make up the difference. We in Wisconsin will let our poor go hungry. Doing this may be legal but it is certainly immoral. I hope in the Last Judgment I am not in the Wisconsin State delegation going to hell for making hell by not feeding the hungry.
Murder of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.
Today, March 15th called the Ides of March was an important date on the Roman calendar that was marked by a number of religious celebration and became notorious as the date of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC. It was a turning point in Roman history as the death of Caesar was one of the events that marked the transition from the historical period known as the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire went on to reign for 500 years before declining and decaying. The Roman Empire, like Empires before it, Greek empire and ones after it, British empire, were great military powers that ruled a large part of the world but eventually declining.
The priest at our liturgy today suggested that we might be in a similar cycle where abuse of power, wealth and military might slowly leads to moral decay and death of empire. We will see, if we live long of enough, about this decline of American empire.
Morality or lack of morality is one of the first things to go when an empire, kingdom or nation, whatever you choose to call it, is on the decline. Exceptionalism allows to dominate and kill other non-Americans since being exceptional we do not need to conform to normal rules or general principles as other nations do. In America we say “all men (and women) are created equal”. However we do not treat them as equal. Being poor or black or having a criminal record our severe obstacles to equal opportunity.
The nation that Jesus presents in the Judgment of Nation as being honorable in the Gospel, Matthew 25, is just the opposite of what we are becoming. It is the nation that feeds the poor, clothes the naked, takes care of sick, no matter how rich or poor they be, and visits those in prison becomes that greatest of nations, not one with most military resources.
Talking to my oldest grandson today I think instinctively he understands some of this. Hopefully education, ambition and money will not take him away from these natural concerns for the good of all. Julius Caesar was killed by other Roman officials who eventually were revenged and killed and the resulting empire brought peace by strength for awhile but eventually declined.
Is it the Ides of March for the U.S.A.? If so, let’s get ready, get together and be prepared.
This morning we drove to my grandson’s solo high school competition. He performed a marimba ragtime piece and this afternoon he did a snare drum duet with a friend. Both times he was critiqued by a professional instructor receiving valuable hints of what went well and areas he could improved. He did well. I am glad that my grandchildren have such high exposure to music as part of their curriculum. Exposure to music is vital to the education process and in some countries, like Venezuela, it is available to all students, despite race or family income. Sadly this is not true in USA. Milwaukee Public Schools, due to budget cuts, had to make cuts in art and music. This is the sad reality of our county’s growing disparity.
This afternoon at my son’s home, I noticed my other grandson, who is a good athlete,between watching non-stop tournament basketball on TV, play a game of video game, “Call to Duty, a military game that shows your hands on a weapon of choice and the object is to shoot and kill every person in site. He shot reflexively, as the military trains our soldiers. When I asked him how he knew who was good or bad he said something about some time of sound. Since he was wearing earphones I could not hear what he heard but I could see he shot every person in sight as quick as he could. Sadly this kind of shooting experience is more available in the USA than music education.
Music soothes, firing a gun in rapid succession agitates. Music calms, firing a gun quickens. In USA music education has limited availability; firing a gun has universal availability. Yesterday I attended street prayer vigils for four of the many homicide victims in Milwaukee. Guns for killing are everywhere and now the State legislature is in process of eliminating the forty eight hour waiting period between purchase and receiving a gun. In Wisconsin we are making getting a gun and shooting someone out of reflex, like anger, easier, while making music education less available to youth.
went terribly wrong
If I could have all the time back spent on the phone or computer trying to sort out a tech or customer service problem for the computer and phone service, I would have many more weeks of life. Today I just tried login in on my computer to check my air miles. I found out that the method to login to airlines account has changed and I would need a new password. After trying and failing to get one on the computer several times I called the airlines. After being put on hold for long periods, talking to a few customer service people and after much time I failed to login. So I just asked the customer service person how many credit cards miles I had earned on the airline. She told me and I said thank you and that I would try my luck at signing in by computer some other time.
When I was a child I remember hearing how all this new technology would give us more leisure time. Just the opposite has happened. With more technology we have more things to do and more frustration at times doing them. It is nice to have communication with persons all over the world, to have so much entertainment choices and so much access to what is happening so fast. But it comes with a cost.
The cost is less leisure time, just sitting around listening to music or basking in the sun. Even finding time for my garden work, which I like, at times, becomes difficult. I think leisure time, like leisure suits, is something of the past. To have leisure assumes slowing down to a slow pace of life. Leisure is becoming a thing of the past like a typewriter or vhs. (If there are young readers who do not know what vhs or typewriter is just ask parents or grandparents.)
Uranium Processing Facility—at the
Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex
in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Now that the cold weather seems to have past and it is now in 40’s and 50’s and sunny more days it is time to change the photo on top of this page. I will search for one tomorrow and ask my friend to change it. I even felt so spring like I purchased some seeds today. Soon I can plant seeds in the sun room, transform them outside to the hoop box and eventually into the garden.
A friend in Chicago published my word essay Drone in my Gut to a list of peace people, especially Catholic Workers. I thought of sending it to her after last Friday’s action where hundreds gathering to protest drone warfare and to shut down Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, northwest of Las Vegas. You can watch a video of the action here.
A friend in Texas wrote me about how it is necessary at times to be “indifferent” to keep ones sanitary. I wrote back agreeing but that we had to be careful not to be numb to everything and to be asleep to the world around us. Here are some of my suggestions:
“One solution is the monastic life of people like Thomas Merton. But even that would be hard in our age of email, twitter, Facebook etc. But Merton by withdrawing did see deeper in the present. Another way, I am trying to practice but failing, is to watch less news. Addiction to news can be overcoming and make us numb. Prayer and silence are good ways to get awake. Limiting the number of talks you go to and number of issues you are involved in. The ‘powers to be” (rulers of the Empire) throw more and more at us and we get more divided. Diversity is seen at good but is really division. Just think what we could do about hunger if most of the groups dealing with the issue worked together to rid our country and world of hunger. Every night of the week there are talks about some issue. I try to limit by attendance so I can really listen and do something about the issue in a specific way here at home. Of course doing works of mercy keeps one grounded. When you sense the suffering and pain of ER at hospital you feel. Avoid malls and stores with a lot of noise. There is so much going on in these place you need to get numb or have a headache.”
I ended by asking him for his suggestions to keep the balance of feeling but not be overwhelmed. Do you have suggestions?
President Barack Obama’s on March 7, 2015 gave a speech on the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, praising the courageous leadership of nonviolent demonstrators fifty years ago. Yet modern day nonviolent activists languish in Leavenworth, McKean, and Brooklyn federal prisons, serving terms from three to five years, for the July 28, 2012, Transform Now Plowshares action at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Obama’s Justice Department had charged Megan Rice, then 82 years old, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed with sabotage, invoking a little used statute originally intended for wartime saboteurs. When the three learned of US plans to build a new multi-billion dollar nuclear weapons production facility—the Uranium Processing Facility—at the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, they selected it for the site for the Transform Now Plowshares action. Fully aware of the grave personal risk they were taking, they entered the high security, deadly-force-authorized security zone at Y-12 and painted biblical peace slogans on the walls of the nation’s radioactive nuclear bomb material storehouse—the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. They surrendered peacefully when accosted by security. Former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark testified at one of their hearings the United States is not keeping its Nonproliferation Treaty commitment made while he was serving as Attorney General and declared the weapons production activity at the Y12 complex “unlawful.” We praise the nonviolence actions of 50 years ago while ignoring the nonviolent action of today.
So we must ‘wake up’, ignore many things but take a stand on questions of conscience like US violating the Nonproliferation treaty of the United States. Be awake and practice ‘selective indifference.’
Our four rain barrels upside
down on Winter Break
Today I had no one to drive anywhere or nowhere to go. It was sunny and little bit warmer as it has been the last few days. Doing inside things on a nice day, made me antsy, so I took a walk to a nearby mailbox to mail a letter. On the way to and back from the mailbox I happened to notice that most rain gutters were still hooked up to underground sewage system that leads to main sewage system. Very few homes had rain barrels like I do or even gutter extenders that put water into ground not sewer.
With all the talk about narrowing the street I started to think a good way to make our street and homes more environmentally safe would be to encourage homeowners to divert rain water from the sewer to the ground. I wrote an email to one of my neighbors who run a small garden center but have not heard back so far.
Maybe I should solicit our private Sewage Company and others who encourage less water into the sewer to help. I got my first rain barrel when I noticed my neighbor, a few doors away, had a rain garden and rain barrel that was subsidized by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage Company. My rain garden took root with the help of Sewer Company. Everyone complains when they dump raw sewage into lake and rivers after big rainfall. Rain gardens are okay but the scale of what I am talking about would involve blocks since a gutter extender is less expensive way to go.
These days everything has to be profitable for a private business to consider it. Maybe we need to tighten up the city government law about how much raw sewage they can dump into the rivers and lake. Putting rain water into the ground rather than sewers makes environmental sense, especially since water is becoming more and more valuable these days.
As a kid I remember in the summer time were restricted on what days we could water our grass and gardens. Now sitting next to greatest fresh water reservoir in the world, the great lakes, we do not hear about conserving water. Also rain water does not have the chlorine and other things we put into tap water these days.
So let it rain Milwaukee! We will be prepared to keep the waters safe in the ground where it can profit the earth and us.
Today a letter came from our alderman saying that our street will be repaved but not permanent altered to 38ft wide from a 50 foot. When the city designed the street to be permanently changed from 50ft. to 38ft I had suggested that a survey being done of residents. Our alderman accepted that idea and twenty eight of those forty one responses were opposed to narrowing the entire street.
Everyone wants Wells street repaved and everyone wants a safer street since our street is main entrance and off road to the two freeways. The disagreement was only about how to do this. Research into a safer road revealed that a narrow street on and off the freeway would not without “traffic calming” measures like parking lanes, bike lanes extended curbs etc. The simpler, least expensive solution would be to paint parking and or bike lanes on our street as many other wide streets in the city have done. This and other methods are called “rightsizing” streets and not permanently narrow the entire street. This is important to us since we have parking on both sides of the street and are near Miller Park so there is parking and other issues during ball games. Will just adding painted lanes to narrow the street be enough to slow down traffic? Perhaps so or we may need other traffic calming measures. Other traffic calming measures could be added in present or in future. But I think we all can agree that narrower car lanes in a new paved street are welcomed.
I am grateful for my neighbors for speaking out and grateful for the alderman for listening. Often, as I pointed out, what people oppose or desire, is ignored by politicians as is the case with the new “right to work” law that was opposed by nearly all at the public hearing. Politicians do listen, at least some of the time.
Dontre Hamilton family
struggling for justice.
This morning when I walked into our Church hall I was greeted by a friend who told me how good my letter to editor, Selma, No Milwaukee of the South, was in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper. Then he handed me a small yellow flyer urging me to vote for or against some amendment in some obscure election coming up. He then added the vote on the amendment would not affect the outcome of the decision on this matter but I should vote anyway.
Other people graduated me on the letter to the editor while holding a copy of the yellow flyer about voting on advisory amendment. I felt like saying and perhaps did to a few “If I vote on this matter or others will it really make a difference and excuse me from taking any other action on the issues. Whenever I go to an event for Justice for Dontre Hamilton there is usually someone passing out some voting literature, to vote for this person I never heard of or another.
I have no problem with people who choose to vote. I do have a problem when voting becomes a substitute for direct action. If I know what candidate has the most money in an election I can tell you, with 95% accuracy, who will win. Voting, as well as talking about a problem, has become the new substitute from taking direct action.
Today I went to an event to celebrate International Woman’s day sponsored by Welfare Warriors of Milwaukee who honored caregivers for people and community. As mother after mother came to the microphone to tell their story about battling the Child Welfare big business system to keep their children or regain them I was horrified that such things could go on in our State. But if someone writes about the stories and people read them the response will be just about the same as to my letter to editor: “Good story and let’s move on.” Who will drive the mother to court and encourage her in her struggle to keep her child?
I understand that everyone cannot get involved in every issue. That is why the ‘powers to be’ create more and more problems and issues so we will be more divided on these issues. As my 86 year old friend Lucille, who was honored today, keeps on saying we need to “work together” on our concerns and not be so divided.
When someone asked me today what can be done to address these issues I said two things: Works of Mercy and Nonviolent Resistance to the system. I realize we cannot get involved in every issue but we can be involved in a few with works of mercy, like driving a mother to court, or works of nonviolent resistance, like the actions of the Coalition for Justice.
Attending a public hearing or voting are good things but if you really want to work for change, in my opinion and experience, works of mercy and works of resistance will make a difference.
This morning I saw a video that my priest friend Father Bill Brennan S.J. made before he died at age 94. He asked for it not to be release until after he died. It was released on TV news last night. He made a deathbed statement of how important he considered it that woman be ordained priest. (See Dying Catholic priest records videos declaring women should be ordained.) When he was alive Father Brennan was silenced by his religious order and Catholic Church for speaking out for ordaining women to priesthood.
This afternoon I got a call from an inner city thrift store. My 86 year friend, active in civil rights, needed a ride home. She had taken buses from her far out senior place she has been staying since her house had burned down. However, she was unaware that the bus she took did not operate after 11:30 am Saturday. She lives in a nice complex but it is very far from the North Central neighborhood that has been her home. She feels imprisoned.
Tonight I picked up another priest friend, a 78 year old Franciscan who just returned from a journey to California where he was arrested for crossing a private contractor involved in nuclear weapons production. He also went to Las Vegas Air Force base where he crossed the line on to a drone base and was arrested again. I took him home tonight to a Priory where he has been assigned by the Catholic Church for ‘prayer and penance’ for his support of women priest.
What these three events have in common is that they involved struggling for equality of women by elderly persons. People who stand up for their conscience are less afraid of being punished for acting on their beliefs as they grow older. Some elderly get strong in commitments as they age.
Today a good friend sent me some wise words about the pain of rejection and healing powers of communion with people. This was timely since today I finished up the appeal to the International Office of suspension from the St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVDP). SVDP is the largest lay Catholic organization in the world and is dedicated to serving God’s blessed, people in need. To be rejected by the Society would be, among many, the largest rejection I have received from an organization. I say I can handle it but with each rejection there is pain.
I have written to local and national members of the Society a final appeal called Cry of the Poor to St. Vincent de Paul Milwaukee but like my other petition and requested it was ignored. The very small group of local staff and leaders are too hard of heart to hear or respond to this message but out of love for the Society I cannot ignore it. Here is an Amendment:
Amendment of Final Appeal of Cry of the Poor to St. Vincent de Paul Milwaukee
Dear SVDP members and staff in Milwaukee, USA National Office and International office,
A priest friend recently reminded me of the legal phrase Quaestio facti precede quaestio iur. It means questions of fact must be answered before question of justice or right can be addressed. In my many efforts to work within the means provided by the Society I have always tried to make statements based on facts and asked you, if I was incorrect, to please correct the facts of the statements. However, as revealed in the 81 pages given to the appeal committee and International President my statements of Vincentian principles and facts of how the poor were being neglected were consciously ignored by SVDP central office staff and small and select group of members, led by local President.. Instead efforts were made to ignore, marginalize and suspend me while ignoring the messages. I have forgiven the people involved in this uncharitable act of injustice and hatred but still feel compelled to correct statements on fact that I made that are not correct.
I have said Milwaukee was one of the “poorest cities in the USA” but new data states that Milwaukee is the second poorest city in the USA, 2nd only to Detroit. Milwaukee remains the most racially segregated city in the USA and with the largest incarceration of African Americans in the State which is number one in USA and USA is number one in the world. (See M.A.P.S for data http://www.nonviolentworm.org/Main/MAPS )
I stated the “central office budgets” of Society in Milwaukee has gone up to around 3.5 million dollars with only about .03% of this budget is used for ‘direct services’ like food for meal program or money to needy conference”. My math was wrong. If you take the money for direct for services by members to people in need in the central office budgets the correct number is 4.5%, not .03%.
There is no factual basis to ‘fact’ in new fundraising brochure that 91.5% of every dollar went directly to support people in need.” SVDP Manuel clearly states:
“Councils may receive funding requests from charitable organizations outside the Society. Funds donated to the Society, however, must be used only for works that involve the personal service of Society members. The Society does not raise or contribute money for activities, no matter how praiseworthy, in which its members are not personally and substantially involved. We must honor the intentions of our donors, who have chosen to give to the Society, rather than other organizations, with the expectation that their gifts will be used for Vincentian work and no other purpose.” (Manuel of St. Vincent de Paul Society of USA p. 37)
Even if Milwaukee SVDP could count taxes paid to city of Greenfield, condo fees, interest and payments on loans
I am white, don’t shoot!
“You don’t need a weather man
To know which way the wind blows”
Bob Dylan in Subterranean Homesick Blues Lyrics
Tonight the Coalition for Justice for Dontre Hamilton went to a police and fire commission meeting to insist on a day for the hearing of the police officer fired on procedure issue when he beat and killed Dontre who was unarmed, sleeping on a park bench.
The District Attorney, after an eight month investigation said the police officer did not break the law when he shot Dontre 14 times, once in the back and many shots fired as Dontre lay dying on the ground. But getting his job back he needs the hearing.
Last time we stopped the meeting since, after seven months, they would not give us a date for the Police and Fire Commission hearing on firing of Dontre Hamilton. So in the beginning of this meeting, once they announced the date, we stood up saying “Dontre” and left. Nonviolent direct action works again.
There is an ongoing Federal Investigation into Milwaukee Police department and the shooting of Dontre. Earlier in the day it came to me the saga of the death of Dontre Hamilton would make for a good folk song. I do not think I can get Bob Dylan to write it but I have a friend who might.
The refrain could be something like this. The white cop shot Dontre 14 times for sleeping on a park bench in a county park. That is not 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 times, nor 6, 7, 8 or 9 times nor 10, 11, 12, or 13 time but 14 times he shot him dead for sleeping in the park.
This story has not made the national news like the shooting of black males in Ferguson, NYC or the 12 year child in Ohio. There is no video available like there was the other day in police shooting of unarmed black man in L.A. (He was shot and killed five times by five police officers.) There were three video cameras capturing activities in the park but the D.A. never produced the videos but just said they were not useful. The family lawyer is still seeking the videos.
So the lesson to be learned is that if you are a black man in an area where you should not be make sure you have someone following you with a camera. When it gets warmer I hope to do some sleeping, or pretend sleeping on park benches in public areas. I will cover myself up from head to toe so no one can know if I am white or black. If police wake me up they will see a sign saying “I am Dontre Hamilton”. I will be cooperative just like Dontre was when two times earlier in the afternoon police came to the park to check on him, due to calls from nearby Starbucks employees. However, just in case a police officer like the one that shot Dontre fourteen times comes by, I will have the video running and just raise my hands and say “I am white, Don’t Shoot”.
In the 60′s Milwaukee was
called Selma of North
In the Opinion page of our local newspaper our congresswoman wrote an article called: Wisconsin Still the Selma of the North. She was talking about the proposed Wisconsin Voter ID law that is still in court that would restrict voting.
However, the civil rights struggle was about a lot more than voting rights. If we compare Selma with Milwaukee these days on poverty, education, racial segregation and imprisoning African American males Milwaukee is over Selma.
Milwaukee is the second poorest city in the USA rankly slightly below Detroit. Selma is a smaller city but has less percentage of people below poverty level than Milwaukee.
In Public School ratings, compared to other schools in the area Milwaukee as a 36% rating while Selma has a 66% rating.
In the most racially segregated cities in the USA, Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wisconsin is number 1 in the last two censuses. Gadsen, Alabama is number 10 while the Selma/Dallas County area is not even in the top 25.
In terms of incarceration of African American males Wisconsin ranks number one in the USA and the majority of these men are from Milwaukee. I could not find Selma’s or Alabama’s ratings but they cannot be better than the number one percentage of Wisconsin and Milwaukee.
The comparison could go on. See M.A.P.S. for areas of poverty, racial segregation and unemployment in Milwaukee. But Selma is no way near being the Milwaukee of the South.
“My soul magnifies the Lord”
“Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression, because power, real power, comes from our conviction which produces action, uncompromising action.” Malcolm X
My heart cries out for the poor and people of color who are ignored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Milwaukee. See Cry of the poor to St. Vincent de Paul Milwaukee
My heart cries out to Jesuits and administrators of Marquette University who Teach War and Killing, Killing without conscience at this Catholic University.
My heart cries out for the people of Wells Street who are getting their street radically changed by an alderman and city without their understanding or consent.
My heart cries out for all the victims of violence be they terrorist, US government or local persons.
How do we deal with a crying heart? We talked about this somewhat this morning in our faith sharing and the answer I could hear is in the Magnificat of Mary, the Mother of God, in the Gospel.
My soul magnifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid;
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
Because He who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is His name;
And His mercy is from generation to generation
on those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm,
He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich He has sent away empty.
He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy
Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.’‘
Yes, Malcolm X “Power in defense of freedom is greater than power in behalf of tyranny and oppression”.