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
When I was writing the lyrics for my country song title ”I am an good for nothing old white guy” I came across a picture of Jesus with the words “The Only White Guy in Ancient Middle East.” Now if you take away the cigarette butt handing from his mouth this looks like a picture of Jesus, at least the one I remember from my childhood in a Catholic school. Now being a third generation Middle Eastern on my grandfather’s side I know that people of Jesus had darker skin but Jesus is presented as a white guy.
Now let’s say the pictures are right and Jesus was a ‘white guy’ that does not make him an old white guy. Wait, he left home at 30 years old and died when he was 33 years old. That seems young but when you consider the average age of men in these times was 40 Jesus was not that young. If he was an old white guy you can say he was not a “good for nothing” old white guy.
Wait again! While we look at Jesus as our great savior, people of his time had another view. People like the miracles and some of the preaching but often treated him like a ‘reject’. Look at the crowd in the village of Nazareth when return to where he had grown up. They took him up a hill to throw him off. When he was arrested in his last days everyone left him.
Yes, Maybe Jesus was a good for nothing only white guy.
This is a letter I sent to friends, media and members of SVDP in effort to get good information out.
It is time to break the silence and hear the Cry of the Poor
Dear Donors, Media, Vicentians, Peace and Justice People,
Some of you may have received the essay Story of Struggle for Milwaukee SVDP or may have watched the interview on Ch. 58 with Pastor Shelia Williams and myself called Controversial Essay Questions Outreach to Milwaukee Poor and is Now Making the Rounds in Catholic Circles.
Finally at this interview the small group controlling the finances of the Milwaukee Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Society responded to the people trying to revive the true mission of SVDP, to serve persons in need with personal home visits. The Executive Director gave Ch. 58 a statement that said in Main/StoryOfStruggleForMilwaukeeSVDPpart: “$1.8 million of goods and services (including new beds, food, clothing, appliances and furniture) to individuals and families in need in Milwaukee County through our network of over 800 volunteers”
The facts are that the Milwaukee SVDP Council, controlled by a small group, only allots about $100, 000, of the over three million dollars budget of the Milwaukee Council/Central Staff each year to the main mission of the Society, make home visits to people in need and helping them with essentials like beds, stoves or refrigerators. The rest of the 1.8 million goods and service mentioned comes directly from the individual budgets of the 55 SVDP conferences in Milwaukee County. Conferences independently raise money and have separate independent budgets. 99% of a conference budget may go to needs of poor while 99% of Council/Central Office budget goes for staff compensation, operating and occupancy cost of buildings. (These numbers come from very limited information provided to Conference Presidents on Council and to members of the Society. They do not include the over 950, 000 collected recently in a major fundraising campaign or the 3.2 million dollar debt and past year operating debt of nearly $500, 000 for the Greenfield store).
Also, due to geographic limits placed by Central Office only about 10–15conference make the overwhelming number of home visits. The vast number of urban poor are not served. Even at that, vouchers for clothing beds, household items provided by conferences members to people in need are redeemed at SVDP store and conferences are charged 100% of the retail value.
According to the Rule and Manuel of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul “all monies belong to the poor” and funds donated to the Society, must be used only for works that involve the personal service of Society members.” Until the small group controlling Milwaukee SVDP dialog with members, poor and others seeking to restore the true mission there will be needs for more pickets and nonviolent action by poor and voices for the poor.
To contact the small group trying to reform SVDP, called Power to the Poor, contract
Struggling for the Truth by Direct Nonviolent Action to set the people free,
Today the President of the United States proposed a 4.1 trillion dollar 2017 budget while all the news can talk about was the New Hampshire primary vote results.
Many Americans were too distracted by the political show in New Hampshire to notice,
That again in the 2017 budget there is more money for Department of Defense
Than in all others parts of discretionary spending budget.
Trump, Clinton, Sanders and the others get the media attention
While more people in the world get killed by American Made bombs, drones and weapons
On both side of the many wars in the world.
Big money, Arms dealers laugh as we play the political game.
While the politicians spin the results of the New Hampshire
Men, Women and Children flee war torn Syria
Suffer killer drone attacks in Libya, Somali and Iraq.
The numbers of votes are counted in New Hampshire
And the show moves to other states.
Although we deep down know who the ‘powers that be’ have selected,
We prefer to play the game than face the fact that whoever big money selects
Not much will change. American will still be the largest arms dealer in the world,
With the most deadly military force killing our way to power in endless wars.
Hail to the next president, our first woman president?
Hail to weapons and those that use them
For they keep us safe or in danger,
Whatever you like to believe, be it so.
As the money for war and killing keeps coming
With the paper votes that occupy our time,
The Military budget grows and the world becomes more dangerous
Needing more money for weapons and people killing.
The other day this great title for a country song came to me. I cannot sing but tonight the rest of the lyrics came to me.
I am a good for nothing old white guy.
Up one day and down another day
But really doing nothing,
Just being a good for nothing old white guy.
Being a white guy has its privileges,
Being old has some perks,
But being good for nothing is the best,
No one expect anything of you.
I am a good for nothing old white guy.
Up one day and down another day.
But really doing nothing,
Just being a good for nothing old white guy.
As a good for nothing white guy,
Life moves around me,
Since doing nothing means
I can be trusted by white guys.
I am a good for nothing old white guy.
Up one day and down another day,
But really doing nothing,
Just being a good for nothing old white guy.
When nobody expects a thing
I can be of surprise by doing something,
When other white guys might be intimating,
Being old and doing nothing I am no surprise to anyone.
I am a good for nothing old white guy.
Up one day and down another day
But really doing nothing,
Just being a good for nothing old white guy.
The Super Bowl Football game today probably drew record viewers around the world. Grown men banging each other to get a ball down the field is exciting to watch and very competitive. Although there are less boys playing football due the high chance of injury including concussions. Pro Football fought the danger of serious brain injury from surfacing but now that it has they have embraced it and use it to promote football. But brains were not meant to be shaken around, no matter the type of helmet and all the money and fame surrounding football cannot change that.
Using devastation or a victory to get support or money for an organization is a common practice. If something good happens a number of organizations will email me taking credit for it and ask for more funds for their work. If something bad happens the same organization will ask me for funds to prevent such a thing from happening.
Where the money is where many organizations and agencies are, not where there is the most need. Getting more money seems to be the goal of the very rich, middle class and poor. Just like it is hard to turn away from football it is hard to turn away from the pursuit of money. Money decides political elections, what one eats and wears and often the amount of education one has.
People with money and without money seem to be happy or sad based on other things. Yet the lure of money by winning the lottery, being successful in business or earning lots of money still drives some. However, the old adage you can be anything you want to be with hard work and determination is impossible for many in our society in the growing poor class.
So for many of us we can transfer our drive for money and fame by watching sports where there is lots of money and fame. Money matters, sadly for some over black lives and the needy. In the last judgement if Jesus uses gospel values to judge groups I think the American Society and its lust for money, fame and power will rate poorly.
Today I drove a friend to the Orthopedic Hospital of Wisconsin for a surgery procedure on her arm. I had heard about the Heart Hospital in Milwaukee but did not know we had a hospital devoted to bone repair.
Later this morning I was talking with the a director at the County Mental Health Complex, which is. However, they cannot admit patients who are not a “danger to self and others”, the standard in Wisconsin for involuntary commitment. This means persons with acute mental health crises really do not, without proper insurance and without consenting have no way to go and often end up in the County Jail or House of Corrections where about 400 of the around 960 inmates have serious mental illnesses. Our jail become our institutions for sick persons with brain illnesses.
The director mentioned how nice it would be to have a psychiatric hospital for people with mental illness that need a hospital stay. I agreed but said how nice it would be if a person in an acute mental health crisis could be treated like any other patient acutely sick and be brought to the ER of a Hospital. The fact is there is no big money in treatment of mental illnesses for people with poor or no insurances. A leader of another Mental Health advocacy group pointed out to me that if there was money in mental health treatment all the hospitals will do it.
I heard today that one of the most profitable industries in the USA is the health care industry. There is big money profits for insurance companies and inexpensive and ineffective health care for the rest of us.
When the largest institutions in the County for persons with mental illnesses is the County Jail and the County House of Correction what does that say for our society, bones matter over brains.
Sometimes little victories keep us going. My essay Story of the Struggle for Milwaukee SVDP got some attention today on the local Chapter 58 News. The interview with Pastor Shelia and myself was featured on the news at 4pm today. The segment was called Controversial Essay Questions Outreach to Milwaukee Poor and is Now Making the Rounds in Catholic Circles. You can find the interview and the essay at this site.
The central office who is ignored the essay and all other attempts to dialog by our small group trying to reform the Milwaukee Society of SVDP did send in a statement about the show. It did not answer any of the questions in the essay or question any facts. It was an attack on me but at least it was a response. Any response is better than hate of indifference and ignoring persons. Maybe we can start a dialog or least raise the issue of serving the needy in Milwaukee. One small step in the struggle to seek the truth.
Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow today, as did the Groundhog in the Racine Zoo, so this means we will have an early spring. This is good news for all of us scientific followers of the climate. For some of us winter is boring and we cannot wait till spring when nature is reborn and everything starts growing. There is no garden work in the winter.
In the winter we must resort to other things for recreational exercise. Today I thought of a good title for a county song: “I am just a good for nothing old guy.” Now I need to write the lyrics. Since I cannot sing I hope someone will put music to it.
However, just as I was on a roll today this quote of Gandhi was sent me from India. Ahimsa is the word for what we call nonviolence. “Ahimsa calls for the strength and courage to suffer without retaliation, to receive blows without returning any.” Now maybe this is what the harshness of winter is preparing us for, to have courage to endure hardship and not to return it.
So the season of winter may bring discontent but each year we know that if we endure spring will come. Then seasons repeat themselves here in Wisconsin just like Groundhog Day.
Today in my research of how persons with mental illnesses are being jailed I learned the number of men and women with major mental illnesses taken to the Milwaukee County Jail and House of Corrections is increasing. Private contractors who oversee the mental health care of persons in the county system say that about 400 of 960 men and women in the County Jail are seriously ill with brain illnesses. I also learned that in the Wisconsin correctional system, with the highest rate of African American young men incarcerated in the US, has about 35% of the 17,000 – 20,000 persons incarcerated at one time with a severe mental illnesses.
The greatest number of ill persons imprisoned come from the city of Milwaukee. The stigma of mental illnesses is rampart in the city of Milwaukee and contributes to aggravate the problem. Although no one is ‘mentally ill’ as a person with cancer is not ‘cancerous’ the media and public refuse to look on mental illness as just another illness but as something morally wrong with the person. Any type of ill or injured person can receive care in the Emergency Room of a hospital except ones with brain illnesses we call mental illnesses.
When I tell most people about how we treat persons with illnesses by placing them in jail or prison, the worst type of treatment for such a person, they seem to understand. However, despite all the understanding, talk and good will the jail and prison system continues to swallow up ill persons. Most groups that lack human and civil rights raise up to demand equal treatment. I doubt if that will ever happen with persons with mental illnesses. Often they do not realize they are ill and, if they do, cannot except the stigma that comes with this illness.
Knowing the outcome of such treatment having been with my deceased son during his struggle with this illness I feel very sad that it is still happening. Now Milwaukee County wants to close the limited facility that deals with ill persons in crisis. This will mean more ill persons in jail and prison.
The Drum Line closes
the band concerts
Today we went Chillirific a fundraising band concert in my grandchildren’s middle and high school. Besides chili there were performances by the three middle school bands and four of the high school bands. This fund raising was special in the fact the band is raising money to march in the 2017 Rose Bowl Parade.
With the five full time band leaders on staff, the 105 6th grade band, the Drum Line and the great participation in all the bands I am always impressed how much music is in the life of my grandchildren and all the lives of 400 plus students and parents in the middle and high school bands. At the same time I am sad for the major cuts in the middle and high school music education programs in Milwaukee Public Schools. How many full time band leaders are there in a MPS middle or high school, if any?
Yes Milwaukee Public School students come from low income families and are primarily students of color. But why should that matter? It does, however. Yes, I am happy my grandchildren are blessed for being in this school system of white families with middle class income. But I am sad that the many children and youth will not have the opportunity to play and love music and be in a band because they are poor and people of color.
An investment in music education would pay off in the Milwaukee Public Schools but who will make it?
“I came alone in this world, I have walked alone in the valley of the shadow of death, and I shall quit alone when the time comes.” (M.K. Gandhi, Mahatma Vol. 7, p. 147)
This quote resonates with me not because I am an anti-social human being but it describes the sense of aloneness I felt about a month after our son’s death, Peter. I felt I was walking in the valley of the shadow of death. I still do, although with time and busyness the feeling of death is forgotten at times.
The feeling came back to me strong, however, recently when I was working on the issue of imprisonment of persons ill with a mental illness. Mental Illness is the only illness or injury that can jail a person. Whoever heard of a person with a heart attack or a stroke being sent to jail rather than the E.R.? My son and his friend have described to me the horror of being placed in a padded solitary confinement cell when they suffered a mental health crisis.
I am having a hard time finding the numbers of persons with a mental health crisis police take to jail. No one wants to say how many we all know quietly that it is happening. Researching this issue I find myself walking alone in the valley of the shadow of death.
A sense of aloneness and death can be positive experience. It keeps one grounded in the passing nature of this life and looking to new life on the other side. For if death is the end than why do we live? Why walk in the valley of the shadow of death unless to get to the light and new life.
To Rant or Not to Rant,
That is the question.
I know ranting does no good,
But when I and my message are ignored and someone will listen,
It is tempting to go on and on,
Although more words will not make a difference
But further put me in a box.
Oh, if only I could learn how to make my point
And let silence take up the rest of the time.
For Too Much Information only turns minds away from the message
When I was a Youth Minister in a Church I remember going to a workshop for Youth Ministers were a well experienced one spoke to the group. He said how much he disliked calling the lay people helping out in the youth ministry and religious education programs ‘volunteers’. He explained that by our baptism we were called to be ministers to each other. Volunteer sounds like you are doing something unexpected. We are all, he said, ministers of God’s word. I had not liked the word ‘volunteer’ so was glad to call the adults in the youth ministry program at the Church ‘youth ministers.’ My job as paid ‘Youth Minister’ was to aid the other ministers in their work.
As I got older people often ask me while don’t you leave the justice and peace issues to young people. I am glad to work with other adults younger than I but when I see injustice or a moral wrong I feel like I do must speak and act on the issue also.
A few weeks ago a long time peace and justice activist, who is also a grandparent, got arrested in a protest around the State of Union address in Washington D.C. When she returned back to Madison to family and friends she questioned why she felt she had to go to D.C. for the nonviolent action when she had been reluctant to go and other things to do. She concluded that she had to go, that is just what she does.”
The sense of we do what we need to do is widespread among us elders. Tonight I went to a birthday party for Dontre Hamilton who was shot and killed by a Milwaukee Police Officer. I met an old friend there. He and his companion are musicians and word poets and he observed that often recently he is the oldest person at many events. I have this experience and we concluded that we both do what we need to do.
A lot of people believe you need to follow your conscience when it is convenient and inconvenient and do what you got to do.
For some time I have known that in elections the political candidate with the most money wins about 95% of the time. But now I see that ‘follow the money’ explains a lot of phenomena that sometime do not make sense. For examples: The money in mental health is in community care and not in acute care for people in crisis. Thus, there are numerous treatment centers for people who accept their illness and have some type of insurance. However, people suffering a mental health crisis often land in jail.
St. Vincent de Paul serves the poor, people in need, in impoverished neighborhoods. White suburban people who make up the leadership decided to invest millions of dollars in a suburban thrift store with the goal of making money to give to people making home visits.
For many years prisons were built all over the State of Wisconsin, many in small towns where the prison became the major industry. A reduction of crime in cities like Milwaukee threaten this prison industry. Police started patrolling the central city looking for people to ticket or arrest. Often they found people on probation and patrol who can be sent back to prison, even without a conviction of another crime. The many prisons are full and the money from prisons keeps flowing.
When Big Business wants to make more money they merge, lay off employees and improve the bottom line. When there is a need in community, like tutoring, non-profits compete to get the money to fill the need. There are more non-profits with more employees doing the same thing. Their money increases and the portion that goes direct to people in need decreases.
You do not need to be a prophet to ‘follow the money’. We can find other examples of how in the USA you can ‘follow the money’ and discover the end results. God Bless America and ‘Follow the Money’.
Maria Hamilton with picture
of son, Dontre
Tonight at a large hall in the library there was a Community Listening Session by the U.S. Department of Justice about the Milwaukee police department. The police chief agree to a collaborative process when the community wanted a separate investigation of the Milwaukee police as in other cities. When the mikes were open for community comments long lines quickly formed. Speaker after speaker spoke about how they or family members were mistreated by police. The Hamilton spoke about Dontre Hamilton who was shot 14 times by Milwaukee Police Office that was not charged by the District Attorney or Department of Justice. I could have added to the stories about police taking my ill son to jail instead to hospital or treatment facility but decided to make a comment about the killing of Dontre Hamilton by rhetorical questions. Here is my brief comments:
I would like to make my comment by way of some rhetorical questions:
If I, an old white guy at this public place and in front of this great crowd came up to the front of the room and went to sleep on the stage floor, what would you do?
Would you call the police to have me removed? Maybe, Probably Not!
Would the policeman try to wake me? Maybe, Probably Not!
If awoke from my sleep, would the police man frisk me? Maybe, Probably Not!
If I resisted the frisking and the policeman saw something bulky in my pockets would he take out his club to beat me. Maybe, Probably Not!
If to protect myself from the blows I grabbed his club and swung wildly at him would he take out his gun and shoot me fourteen times. Maybe, Probably Not!
However, if I was a young black man in a public place with no crowd around me would the police wake me, frisk me, beat me and shoot me 14 times. Maybe and Probably Yes.
I am Dontre Hamilton.
This is the post I wrote Monday, an holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. My site was down that night so I am offering it now.
The life of Martin Luther King Jr. has been a real inspiration in my life. I do not talk or write about it since I feel too many ‘use’ King for their own purpose but to not practice nonviolent direct action, his way of making change. However, yesterday I attended a King celebration at the Performing Arts Center that feature speeches, art, music, dance and tumbling from students of Milwaukee public and private schools. The theme was “We need to act now” and the students make a good argument to do this now. When one of the politicians, trying to cash in Martin Luthern King’s honors he used a speech of Martin Luther King that was not familiar to me. It was a sermon he delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on November 17, 1957 called Loving your enemies. This commandment of Jesus is the hardest to follow but as King makes clear is key to unleashing the power of nonviolence for change.
17 November 1957
“Loving Your Enemies,” Sermon Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church**
Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery
I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning. In fact, I had the doctor before coming to church. And he said that it would be best for me to stay in the bed this morning. And I insisted that I would have to come to preach. So he allowed me to come out with one stipulation, and that is that I would not come in the pulpit until time to preach, and that after, that I would immediately go back home and get in the bed. So I’m going to try to follow his instructions from that point on.
I want to use as a subject from which to preach this morning a very familiar subject, and it is familiar to you because I have preached from this subject twice before to my knowing in this pulpit. I try to make it a, something of a custom or tradition to preach from this passage of Scripture at least once a year, adding new insights that I develop along the way out of new experiences as I give these messages. Although the content is, the basic content is the same, new insights and new experiences naturally make for new illustrations.
So I want to turn your attention to this subject: “Loving Your Enemies.” It’s so basic to me because it is a part of my basic philosophical and theological orientation—the whole idea of love, the whole philosophy of love. In the fifth chapter of the gospel as recorded by Saint Matthew, we read these very arresting words flowing from the lips of our Lord and Master: “Ye have heard that it has been said, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”
Certainly these are great words, words lifted to cosmic proportions. And over the centuries, many persons have argued that this is an extremely difficult command. Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move out into the actual practice of this glorious command. They would go on to say that this is just additional proof that Jesus was an impractical idealist who never quite came down to earth. So the arguments abound. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus has become the practical realist. The words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. Far from being the pious injunction of a utopian dreamer, this command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for enemies.
Now let me hasten to say that Jesus was very serious when he gave this command; he wasn’t
Funeral Scene from Ragtime
After a hard day of penance or grace yesterday, Pat and I attended a concert music by the choir at Milwaukee Lutheran High School. My goddaughter is in the choir. It was a concert of ‘ragtime’ music with a story to go along with the songs. The choir was excellent and different characters played the lead actor and actress in the story. However, what really made the concert special was the racial diversity of the youth, white, black and Asian. How the youth naturally interchanged parts and worked together was a realization of the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. where every youth would be equal no matter what race and everyone would be treated with respect and dignity. My spirits were renewed by the youth.
Today I received an email response from one of the Archdiocese priest who I had sent my essay: day of penance or Grace | Story of Struggle for Milwaukee SVDP It was obvious that he did not read the essay but he personally attacked me and my character with the party line of the small group controlling the Milwaukee St. Vincent de Paul Society of what a terrible person I was and how I was hurting the poor.
In my response I told him this true story: “A Vincentian Friend called me today to tell me how one of her neighbors in a housing project on the North side, 26th and Villard, called the SVDP central office recently for help with a couch. She is living on disability and had not had furniture in her living room for three years. She was told by the intake person at the office, after checking her address, we do not have a Catholic Church with a SVDP conference in your area and thus we cannot serve you. My friend thought about calling Our Lady of Good Hope for help. I am informed her the central office and the Pastor of our Lady of Good Hope had just closed the conference (one of the top ten in making home visits) and the money, over $7,000 in the conference account was being sent to the Central Office. The housing project was originally covered by St. Nicholas Church conference and when that church was closed by Blessed Trinity and when that was closed by another church conference for a while but is no longer covered, as most of North Central Milwaukee” I thank him for his email since most priest just ignored my essay and me, the worst form of hatred.
The youth represent openness with a fresh view on life. This priest represents a closed view of life with stigmatizing persons. Hopefully the youth of this world will reunite, eliminate stigmas and work together as one.
A friend who has been suffering a chronic and disabling illness asked if I would take her to her pain doctor’s office today to pick up prescription pain medicine. I discovered that medicines of this nature must be given personally from the doctor to the patient. Once she had a hard copy of the prescription a pharmacist was to come over and pick it up and fulfill it and return it to the assisted living facility where she lives.
I left the house around 9am, picked her up with wheel chair and got to the doctor’s office around 10am. As soon as we pulled up to the Pain Doctor’s office a secretary was waiting for us outside the office and told us the Doctor had discharged her, would not see her and we had to leave. My friend sat up in the back seat where she had been lying down and asked if she could talk to the Doctor. The receptionist said No and if we did not leave immediately she was going to call the police. We pulled into a nearby parking lot and my friend via her cellphone tried to find out what was happening.
Her home visitation nurse was not available and her caseworker, who knew about the medication script pickup, did not know what happened. She called her general doctor who monitors her health. He said he had not heard from the pain doctor but we should go to Froedert Hospital Emergency Room. This was upsetting to both of us, my friend who knows that ER’s means a long waiting time and for me that was hoping to get home in the morning.
Once in ER she was seen quite quickly and before too long we were in an ER room being seen by a Physician Assistant, PA, and telling him the story. He looked up the pain doctor’s information and said he would call her and come back. While he was gone I found out the pain doctor was a Ph.D, not a medical doctor, but had the ability to write prescriptions for narcotic medicines. My friend also told me that she had just visited her a few days ago. She waited for over four hours but got a prescription for a new pain killer. My friend lives in an assistant living and the pharmacist came to her with the new prescription.
However, she had a reaction to the medicine and the pharmacist came to retrieve it. That is how the appointment this morning came about.
Eventually the PA returned and said the pain doctor admitted she had told my friend to come this morning to pick up the script for a pain killing medicine that bring her some relief while they explored other options. However, she said that someone from the assistant living place had called to say my friend had woke about 1:30am to take more medication and seem heavily sedated and needed help going back to bed. Therefore she would not give her more medicine out of fear she would be over medicated. My friend explained to the PA she wakes up regularly at about 1:30 to take more medicine, and on occasion, like last night, needs her assistant to come in and get her back in bed. The PA explained that only the pain doctor could prescribe narcotic medicines. He also saw in her record that over the years she had seen a number of pain doctors seeking relief. He thought the story of the pain doctor was unusual but there was nothing he could do about it. He went out to call her general doctor who had told her to go to ER.
While he was gone this time my friend was able to get to the assistant in the home who had helped her to bed at 1:30AM. The reception was bad but he did clearly say he did not call the pain doctor. When the PA came back he said her general doctor who had been her doctor for a long time said he had made an error sending her to this ER since he was not an attending doctor in this system. He had thought the pain doctor was in this system but she was not. Again it came down to the fact that only the pain doctor, who now said she was dismissing my friend as a patient, could only made the decision to give her the medication she was seeking. My friend explained that she had no pain medication in her now and the pain was growing worst. The PA said he understood our frustration but there was nothing he can do about it but give her a general shot, one she has many times before, and send her home. He recommend the pain clinic at this hospital, a place where my friend had been some time ago, after her stroke, but there had been no follow up. A nurse came in and gave her the shot and fifteen minutes later came back to say she was being released. My friend again explained she was suffering severe pain and needed something but the nurse said she was sympathetic but there was nothing she could do and she would come back with the release instructions. I helped my friend get her coats and hats on and into her wheel chair. The ER nurse came back with the release orders which mainly consist of the pain clinic at the hospital and resource for new general doctor who would be able to operate in this hospital’s system.
All the time my friend was working her cell phone with calls and text trying to get help. It is her persistence to find a cure for the severe pain that has kept her going all these years. However, we were defeated for now and I took her back to assistant living situation. She was still working the phone and texting try to get some relief for her pain. She was suffering while I had been inconvenience. After six hours I was driving home wondering if the experience of the day was penance for my sins and faults or was I just building up more grace? Maybe it was both!
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” - Mother Teresa
Often kind words is an easy way to build relationships. Recently I had a couple of elderly friends who had seen all kinds of good times and hard times in their life tell me how good a person I was. Some of the birthday greetings on Facebook spoke kind words about me.
My response to family and friends was to thank them for birthday greetings and the kind words. Yes, they do mean a lot to me so I should know how much they me to others. Sometimes I forget this lesson but keep working to remember it, especially with people who upset and annoy me.
Kind words are like petals on a flower. One can be overlooked but put together they are the beauty to the flower. Kind words may be softly spoken but the echoes keep reverberating. Kind words are a small step in building a grand design. Kind words get heard while nasty words are soon forgotten. Kind words come from a gentle person. Kind words are snacks leading up to the grand dessert. Kind words are delicious.
Yesterday on a statewide community conference call on Prison Prevention I made a suggestion that the group take a ‘nonviolent direct action’ to stop the privatization of the Crisis center for persons with mental health illnesses. Immediately someone questioned my call for ‘nonviolent direct action’ and said her community organization was not ready for ‘action’.
I checked on the meaning of nonviolent direct action. I found in Wikipedia that “”Direct action occurs when a group takes an action which is intended to reveal an existing problem, highlight an alternative, or demonstrate a possible solution to a social issue….Examples of non-violent direct action (also known as nonviolent resistance or civil resistance) can include sit-ins, strikes, workplace occupations, blockades,etc.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrate this week, in his letter from the Birmingham Jail says: “ Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” He goes on to say: “It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension.’ I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.”
The lack of creative ‘tension’ is at the heart of why I believe the civil rights, labor, community and peace movements are failing today. Many people seem afraid of creating tension like a sit in or strike does. As King states that without “constructive, nonviolent tension” there is no growth.
We can do all the research, attend all the talks, have all the discussions, write all the articles we want on an peace or justice issue but without creating creative nonviolent tension by direct action the chances for significant change are slim.
This is a lesson from the history of the United States. The labor, civil rights movement and peace movement all created change by through nonviolent direct action and now in most cases believe they can achieve change with talk, speeches, writing letters, legal action and voting.
This is the message the “powers that be” want us to believe: educate people, have talks and discussions, create petitions and letter writing campaigns and vote and there will be change. Without nonviolent direct action the mental health crisis system in Milwaukee County will be privatized and more ill people will go to jail and prison and face solidarity confinement rather than treatment.
I can only pray and work to Wake up People to the real power we have is not in looking to others. “We are the ones we are looking for” and we have the power through nonviolent direct action to make change.