This Has To Stop

“Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain and then refuse, under any circumstance whatsoever, to inflict that pain on anybody else.” (Karen Armstrong)

Welcome, Messrs. DeSantis, Abbott, and Carlson,Why do we tolerate bullies and bullying? The moment we see one person abusing or belittling another we should be stepping in. Are we just so accustomed to the bullying behaviors of a former president and his cult following that we shrug our shoulders and say, “what are you gonna do?”?

What kind of example are we setting for young people?

This week, the world saw astonishingly cruel public bullying toward a group of migrants by Florida governor and presidential wannabe Ron DeSantis. The Venezuelan families were in Texas, in the process of going through proper channels to seek asylum in America. In a cheap and sadistic play for attention, DeSantis used Florida taxpayer money to pick up migrant families in San Antonio and fly them in two chartered jets to Martha’s Vineyard. There, he essentially dumped them for the local residents and municipality to deal with. He sent a videographer along to record the Northern outrage that he was sure would ensue. DeSantis claimed he was “protecting” Florida by flying the migrant families to Massachusetts. He did not elaborate on how kidnapping people in Texas protects Florida.

Is kidnapping too strong a word? How about human trafficking? Certainly coercion. Continue reading

New Anthology Benefits World Central Kitchen

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. (Margaret Mead)

I’m honored to have had an essay (“What We Do with Words”) accepted for publication in this lovely new anthology, published last week by She Writes Press.

Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis was conceived as a response by women writers and artists to the cataclysmic events of the last few years. Writing about the pandemic, Ukraine invasion, political and societal unrest, and more, authors address the vast range of human response to crisis in all its forms. They explore how we can find beauty, hope, and deeper interpretation—even when the world seems to have been turned upside-down, inside-out, and shaken.

The book is also intended to make a tangible difference. All royalties from book sales will go to support the tremendous work of chef José Andrés, his nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and their Ukrainian relief efforts.

If you’re interested in learning more about the book, or purchasing a copy, here’s a link to it on Bookshop.org, the wonderful discount retailer that supports independent bookstores. Of course, the book is also available through other online booksellers, and can be ordered through your local indie store. (As of this writing, the price is lower on Bookshop than on Amazon.)

Seattle Area Friends

If you happen to live in the Seattle area, please join me and seven other Puget Sound-area contributors on Thursday, August 11, at 7:00 p.m., at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. Continue reading

A World of Wonders

“One key to knowing joy is being easily pleased.” (Mark Nepo)

duct tape 1cThese days, I’m looking for amusement anywhere I can find it. Like many people, I’ve cut back considerably on my news consumption. Though still (excruciatingly) aware of what’s going on, I also recognize that too much immersion into current events is hazardous to my health.

While I understand that the folks who are responsible for the Jeopardy debacle did not also coordinate our withdrawal from Afghanistan, I am nonetheless struck by the comparisons and the colossal incompetence demonstrated by both events. Sadly, one has become a catastrophe of massive human suffering, while the other just reminds us what fools these mortals be.

Earlier this month, I read Ross Gay’s 2020 release, The Book of Delights. Though he is best known for his poetry, this is a book of what he terms “essayettes”—very short (½-page to 2-page) celebrations of things that delight him—from the large and lovely to the minuscule and absurd. Mr. Gay set a goal of finding at least one delight every day for a year and recording them. The book contains about 100 of these morsels that manage in exquisite prose to shine a light on the world around us while also revealing our shared humanity. I must admit, it was delightful. Continue reading

Just Show Up

“We cannot, of course, save the World because we do not have authority over its parts. We can serve the world though. That is everyone’s calling, to lead a life that helps.” (Barry Lopez)

Yesterday, I participated in a Saging International webinar on “Cultivating Compassion.” I signed up for it weeks ago, not noticing that it was scheduled for the day after the inauguration. As it turned out, it was a perfect follow-up to President Biden’s powerful and beautifully inclusive speech, and also to Amanda Gorman’s luminous poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

Both asked us to step up to this moment in history with a commitment to unity and to bringing our best selves to the task. Each, in their own way, acknowledged that it will not be easy and there may be some who do not share the vision. Nonetheless, the time is now. Continue reading

This Is How It’s Done – Redux

“If we cannot reconcile all opinions, let us endeavor to unite all hearts.” ~Nicholas Vansittart

Four years ago, in anticipation of a victory by Hillary Clinton and the expected resistance by Donald Trump to accepting defeat, I posted a message very similar to the one below.

Though my confidence in a Clinton victory was unwarranted, here we are four years later with a Trump unable to accept Joe Biden’s win. So, with a bit of editing, I once again share these example of men who exhibited grace and civility in the face of painful loss.

After an election season that showed us new lows in human behavior, a similar gesture by Mr. Trump would go far to restore civility and begin to rebuild unity after four years of strife and acrimony. It would also strengthen our precious but weakened democracy.

The likelihood of such a gracious act is about equivalent to me fitting into a size 8. It would require on Trump’s part a temperament able to look beyond his mirror to a nation in pain. It would require that he cared about someone, or something, other than himself.

Still, this reminder of how good men lose graciously may assure us all that goodness will ultimately prevail. Continue reading