Thursday, August 23, 2012

hope, lost and found

The mountains in the distance on the right hand side of this photo are part of the Thompson Divide.  If gas development is allowed to proceed, this view and the air and water quality in this area, will be dramatically altered.  A great many people are working to preserve this place and protect it from development.  More on that here:

Sometimes I forget that I am powerful.  Sometimes my self talk is abusive, telling me I'm powerless, I'm weak, I'm useless.  Sometimes I lose hope.  Sometimes I'm afraid.  Sometimes I become nearly immobilized by fear --  fear of the massive loss of species we are going through, fear of loss of the environment that sustains us all, fear of the destructive greed of multinational corporations-- arms manufacturers, big pharma, industrial food giants, oil and gas companies.  Sometimes I get so angry, I feel this impotent rage.  It's an anger based in that fear.  Because I've forgotten that I am powerful, that WE are powerful.  

I watched this video last night:
It's Bill Moyers interviewing journalist and activist Anthony Baxter who made the documentary film, "you've been trumped", about Scottish homeowners who take a stand against Donald Trump building a mega golf course development over one of Scotland's last stretches of wilderness.  I felt such a sense of sorrow over their loss, our loss.  And I felt that impotent rage rising up.

Today, I got a note from someone very, very dear to me.  She said she'd written a letter to Senator Bennet about Saving Thompson Divide from gas development.  She shared her heartfelt letter with me and went on to say, "
If I am standing at the proposed well site of S&G when they arrive and I cry do you think they might change their mind?"

This is a thought I've had too.  I asked my husband, a local Sheriff's Deputy, "Will you be mad at me if I go stand in front of a drilling rig to stop the destruction of so much that is dear to me?"  He joked, "Make sure I'm the beneficiary on your life insurance."  Then said, not so jokingly, "Don't get arrested.  It could be the end of your job."  

I'm not afraid of losing my job.  I'm a little afraid of losing my freedom.  But I'm most afraid of the permanent loss of the clean air, the clean water, and the wilderness that sustains us.  What is life without the exultant beauty of nature?  What are my small concerns next to the losses of entire species, entire ecosystems?  

I sent my friend a copy of Julia Butterfly Hill's book, The Legacy of Luna, and vowed to reread it myself.  Julia sat in a tree for more than 2 years, to protect it and the ancient trees around it from clear cutting.  It's a harrowing story and an inspiring one.  

It seems to me, more and more, that direct action is the only thing that is going to save us.  Will I "Occupy" Thompson Divide if it comes down to it?  I think, yes.  

I'm thinking about the courage it must have taken for Julia to sit in that tree in the face of harassment and intimidation, through heat and cold, hunger and loneliness.  I'm thinking of the folks in Scotland who also stood up to harassment and intimidation-- Anthony Baxter who continued to stand up even after being arrested for exposing their plight.  I'm thinking about Tim DeChristopher sitting in jail, after his courageous and inspired act of civil disobedience, still standing up for what he knows in his heart is good and right.  

Inspired creativity and courage is called for.  I have to ask myself in all of this, how can I come from a place of love instead of from a place of fear?  When I think of all that Mother Earth provides for us, without asking anything in return, my heart swells with Love.  Courage comes from Love.  Recently I read that a certain translator changed words from the ancient poems of Rumi, often substituting the word Love for God.  I'm a stickler for accuracy, but after quite a bit of thought on the matter, I've found that I'm okay with using Love as a synonym for God.  God=Love, Love=God.  That's the kind of God I could believe in.  Love is my Religion.  Yes.  This gives me Courage.  

All of this reminded me of a poem I wrote in gratitude to those who have been so courageous and so inspiring to me, reminding me that together, with love, we are powerful:  

you are a firefly in the night
it's dark
it's cold
the clouds are thick tonight
no stars
no moon
there is no light anywhere
you can't see or hear your friends
you feel so alone, so vulnerable
you are afraid to turn on your light
you don't know what is waiting out there in the dark

you are afraid

but, you are a firefly
you have a light inside of you
it is your natural inclination to shine brightly
keeping your light hidden for too long hurts
even though you are afraid, you switch on your light
it feels so good to shine so brightly that you begin to fly around in a beautiful, ecstatic dance
you forget to be afraid
you shine and shine and fly and dance
you laugh
you look around again
and you see so many other lights in the night
dancing, shining, laughing, playing
with you

you are joy
you are light

and so are they

your courage, your joy, your light, your dance, have given them courage to come out and shine too.

together you light up the night

the world would be a more sorrowful place without the courage, joy, playfulness, and delight, of you fireflies.

thank you my firefly friends, for having the courage to shine your light in dark places.
when I am afraid to shine I draw strength from your light, your joy, your dance.
thank you.
I love you.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Guns, drones, & dreams.

I had a dream in which a person that I believed to be a terrible villain was later revealed to be an angel of the highest order and this revelation brought me to my knees and broke my heart open.  I was astonished by how wrong I had been.  A little while after I awoke from this dream, I checked my facebook page where I'd posted this:

"Having worked in police dispatch for the past 17 years and being married to a police officer and being friends with countless other police officers, this article (New York Times OpEd piece, "I Carried a Gun, and It Was Heavy" by a retired Chicago police officer) brought tears to my eyes, just thinking about the weight and responsibility they carry with them every day, so I don't have to. I honor and thank them, because I don't want to have to carry a gun with me to the movie theater or the grocery store or while I go for a walk on my lunch break in order to feel safe. It would just be too heavy, in more ways than one."

and a comment with a link to this other New York Times OpEd piece, "A Way Out of the Gun Stalemate".

Of course, debate ensued.  One of the things that I like about written debates is that they seem to encourage me to really think about what I want to say before I say it. 

After carefully reading and rereading the comments that were posted by people I know and love, I thought, and thought, and thought.  And felt.  And meditated.  And sang.  And cried.  and then gave it some more thought.

What is this debate really about?  Personal freedom?  The esoteric, hypothetical need to defend ourselves from a future government that is overstepping it's bounds and treading on our personal freedoms? 

I don't want to take away the right to have a hunting rifle or handgun from anyone who uses them responsibly, but the argument about needing mega weapons and tons of ammo to defend ourselves from the government leaves me cold and brings to mind scenes like the standoff at Waco and the bombing of the federal building in Okahoma City

I can't wrap my head around how a gun or bomb or any number of guns or bombs could help me defend my personal freedoms from my government.  WE are supposed to BE the government, but even if that goes wrong and our government no longer actually represents the people, who are you going to go to war with?  The police?  I hope not.  My husband is one of those protect and serve guys and he sure doesn't deserve to get shot for enforcing the laws that we have tasked him with upholding.  The local elected officials?  Even if we aren't friends with them, they are our neighbors, members or our community.  How could we go to war with them?  Even at a state and national level, members of the government are people, human beings, someone's baby, someone's mom or dad or best friend, this includes every member of every military organization on the planet.  I can't see how shooting any of them could help keep the government in check and I can easily see how things could quickly devolve into anarchy where whoever has the biggest gun wins.

Because speaking of big guns....   That government, the one people say I might need big guns to defend myself against?  I have a feeling that no amount of rapid fire guns or rounds of ammunition is going to stop them if they really want to do me harm.  They have DRONES.  They are already raining death from the sky, illegally. "The ACLU estimates that as many as 4,000 people have been killed in US drone strikes since 2002 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Of those, a significant proportion were civilians."

Having guns of any size or number is not going to stop a government that can have a guy across the world kill you with a drone. 

So how DO we stop our government from treading on our freedoms or killing innocent people? 

I'll say it again, WE ARE our government. The way we STOP the insanity is to STOP allowing our hard earned dollars to be spent on weapons that could easily be used against us just as they are currently being used against innocent human beings on the other side of the world. 

The members of all levels of our government are someone's friends and family members.  The police are members of our communities.  The soldiers in the military are our sons and daughters, yes, even the ones using the drones.  Even the people in the mercenary private police force, Blackwater, are someone's kids.  Even the "evil" bank CEOs and heads of Oil and Gas companies are human beings.

We have to use our wits, not our proverbial swords, to sort out this problem.  We have reached the age when ever bigger weapons can only destroy us all, utterly.  We have evolved beyond the time when might makes right.

What we need is to BE a more educated, awake, and engaged citizenry and to switch our national priorities from defense (fear based) to education, sustainability, diplomacy, & social justice (love based).

I am willing to die for the rights of my friends, family, and neighbors and yes, even for the rights of strangers, but I am not willing to kill for them.  Because on this planet, today, every single human is my neighbor. There are no more strangers. 

So, after all that thought, I'll stand by my assertion that I wish guns and ammunition would be heavily regulated.  No, I don't want to take away anyone's hunting rifles or guns that they use for target practice, but I do think that they should have to go through very thorough training and register their guns and update those registrations yearly and I don't think anyone needs to have machine guns that can kill hundreds of people in minutes.  The argument that a car or kitchen knife can be used as a deadly weapon doesn't stand up to the request for an assault weapons ban because it's very, very difficult to kill many, many people in seconds with a car or knife before someone stops you.  And yes, people do kill people, but some things make it easier for them to do so.  It would be pretty hard for me to kill someone with my bare hands, but with a gun, not so physically challenging.  I'm all for personal freedom, right up to the point that it infringes on someone else's personal freedom.  If I understand the case correctly, the shooter in Aurora had no criminal history and bought all of the things he used on the legal market.  I also disagree with the argument that if we outlaw certain guns only criminals will have them.  Does this mean we should not have laws against killing people or raping people, because only immoral people would do those things anyway?  If there are laws against owning assault weapons and you see a crazy or suspicious person with one, the police can do something about it, but if there is no law against it, there is nothing they can do about it. 

Ultimately, I agree with this sentiment of my friend, Paul, "Call me whatever you will, but I dream of a day when a lunatic can walk into a theatre with only some gravel and a tree branch at most."  I wouldn't attempt to legislate it, but I can still dream it.

Which brings me full circle to the dream I started with, the one in which the person I had thought was a terrible villain was revealed to me to be an angel.  What if I'd shot him while believing I was defending myself or my loved ones against some evil?  I'm not religious and don't even know if I believe in angels, but I cannot imagine the anguish of wrongfully killing another human being, let alone a pure, perfect being of love, and I can't really understand what rightfully killing could possibly be.  Isn't it the Bible that says, "Thou shalt not kill."?  And doesn't that sentence end in a period?  Thou shalt not kill, period.  Or was I just dreaming in Sunday school?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


What if I don't pause?  What if I hurry too much and forget to notice when the sky is a perfect shade of dusty plum?  What if I cannot see into the depths of the shadows?  What if I don't notice that you are there, waiting for me?