We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth
And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms
When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil
When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze
When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse
When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets
Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world
When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines
When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear
When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it. “
Listen to Maya Angelou reads this poem in front of the UN in 1994: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjEfq7wLm7M>
For an even better version of this poem that also encourages us to be for others a rainbow in a cloud, go to <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdJnNMydIk>
Maya Angelou was inspired to write this poem after seeing the photo of Earth taken by Voyager 1 on February 14, 1990 – and reading Carl Sagan’s reflection on that view of our “pale blue dot.
In contemplating this view of Earth, Carl Sagan wrote:
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
Copyright © 1994 by Carl Sagan
Aloha – in light and love, Renée
Banner photo – This image of Earth is one of 60 frames taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990 from a distance of more than 6 billion kilometers (4 billion miles) and about 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane.
I love the nutritional benefits of chia seeds — and the way just having some fills me up. I don’t get hungry between meals when I include a teaspoon of chia seeds in my oatmeal or water bottle!
Because my Brazilian friend Rosita has asked for dessert recipes, I’ve kept my eyes open for something relatively healthy (since it is still January and most of us want to keep our New Year resolutions for healthy choices).
Here’s a recipe that you could use to start your day or serve as a tasty, healthy, colorful dessert.
From the November/December 2018 issue of “Eating Well” magazine, comes –
“Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!” — Fruity Chia Pudding
Active: 5 minutes Total: 8 hours, 5 minutes
To Make Ahead: Refrigerate pudding for up to 3 days. Mixed with a fruity base and refrigerated, chia seeds expand to form a thick, creamy texture similar to tapioca pudding . . .
- 1 1/4 cup blackberries, raspberries and/or diced mango (fresh or frozen) divided
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup granola
- Purée 1 1/4 cups fruit and milk in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape into a medium bowl; mix in chia, syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
- Divide the pudding between 2 bowls, layering each serving with 1/4 cup of the remaining fruit, 1/4 cup yogurt and 2 tablespoons granola.
Serves: 2 about 1 1/3 cups each.
- Cal 343/Fat 15G (Sat 3G)/Chol 8MG/Carbs 39G/Total Sugars 18G (Added 6G)/Protein 14G/Fiber 14G/Sodium 125MG/Potassium 573MG
**Chia seeds are packed with fiber, a nutrient Americans [and others] often fall short on. Just 2 tablespoons provides a whopping 9 grams of fiber (p. 44).
Be healthy and enjoy this yummy dish for breakfast — and/or dessert..
We were back at UHMC for the third time – for many of the same issues. Again, the spirit was mainly up-beat with the knowledge that there is much to be done – and we can unite – and we will not wait for others to speak and act for us.
Women and men, old and young gathered for a few hours of music, inspiring speakers, socializing, learning about new issues, and just generally being re-inspired to keep working for the values we support.
According to “The Maui News,” about 2,000 people participated in our Women’s March in Kahului. One participant expressed what many felt: “he came out to support women’s rights and to support the planet’s rights and to try to have solidarity with everyone who’s turning to the positive side instead of the negative side” (A 1).
One of our Maui event organizers, Robin Pilus, noted, “At the very beginning, we felt we could make a difference; it seemed like we could sprint, with all that energy. Now we realized it will be a long-distance run.” (A 3).
The guy with the bullhorn from last year was back. As we marched off campus, he screamed at us, “You are going to hell!!” One of his signs noted, “Feminism makes women hate men!” Most of us just ignored him since he showed no interest in actually talking with anyone. He might actually want to check his sources. 🙂 Science is good.
Many groups came: Moms Demand Action – for sane gun laws; http://www.KeepYour Power.org – because of carcinogen components involved, this group is against 5G cell antennas and “Smart Meters”; Pro-Choice – for a woman’s rights over her body; LGBT groups for human rights; immigrants – for just treatment; people concerned about the U.S. Navy plans to have training missions in our beautiful waters and near shores; environmental groups – for protection of our marine life and shores. . . .
Many people came to the march, and we know that many more were with us in spirit.
There is much for everyone to do. Let’s keep working. Blessings and hope to you wherever you are.
As we are beginning a new year, we often set goals and think about improving ourselves and our lives. The following credo from Al-Anon offers excellent guidelines
“JUST FOR TODAY I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle all my problems at once. I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.
Just for today I will be happy. This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Just for today I will adjust myself to what is, and not try to adjust everything to my own desires. I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.
Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind. I will study. I will learn something useful. I will not be a mental loafer. I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.
Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count. I will do at least two things I don’t want to do—just for exercise. I will not show anyone that my feelings are hurt; they may be hurt, but today I will not show it.
Just for today I will be agreeable. I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice, low, be courteous, criticize not one bit. I won’t find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.
Just for today I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.
Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myself, and relax. During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.
Just for today I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.”
Let’s work on ourselves first as a way to improve our lives and our world.
Happy 2019! Many blessings to you and your family – and your community.
The U.S. Navy in its practice for war has a history in Maui County. Among other actions, Navy used our eighth largest Hawaiian island, Kaho’olawe, a place sacred to Hawaiians, for target practice. Starting in 1941. Kaho’olawe was transformed into a bombing range with ship-to-shore bombardment and later with American submarines testing torpedoes by firing them at shoreline cliffs. They even simulated the blast effects of nuclear weapons on shipboard weapon systems. Although Kaho’olawe is about six miles from Maui, our island windows shook at the bombing impacts. During the Navy testing and practice, a few of the torpedoes missed – and landed on Maui!
Despite decades of protest, the Navy continued the bombings until 1990! The results: a dead island where although over 9 million tons of debris and un-exploded ordinances have been removed, no one can live, no one can even visit without getting special permission because it is still too dangerous to be there. I can see Kaho’olawe from the deck of my house. The Navy spent millions to clean it up, but there are still un-exploded Navy bombs there; I’m not likely ever to go there.
The U.S. Navy has a new plan. According to the January 4, 2019 edition of “The Maui News,” the Navy says, “[T]here will be no live-fire or amphibious assault craft and aircraft landings as part of their proposed exercises around Maui County . . .The Navy is proposing nearshore water training in the county, which will include naval special operation personnel diving and swimming and launching and recovering small vehicles designed to operate underwater” (A 1).
Also, the Navy had said they would accept public comment until today (January 7) – but before the deadline, they announced they had decided to go ahead with their proposals!
What the Navy says in its plan to go ahead with training exercises is much more limited than what it puts forth as possibilities in the four huge volumes of its Hawaii-Southern California plan.
A Navy training area site on Maui looks close to the Kihei Canoe Club, Maui Canoe Club, the Pinks, the Kihei Youth Center, many homes, townhouses, vacation condos, and the longest uninterrupted white sand beach in our state. Also nearby are Keālia Pond National Wildlife Refuge and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (the only U.S. sanctuary dedicated to the protection of humpback whales and their marine environment); the critically endangered hawksbill turtles nest along these beaches.
Images below are from the Navy’s proposal on display at our Kahului Public Library:
Report and images from <http://go.usa.gov/xUnDC>
Please join me and many others in Hawaii (and beyond); say NO to U.S. Navy practice for war — above, on, and below our beautiful ocean waters, off shore, near shore, and on land!
Instead, the U.S. Navy could practice peace. Because of the changing climate and the resulting weather related impacts, the Navy could be sending out forces for training and rescue and rebuilding. They could do more missions of real search and rescue: people need help in Indonesia, Saipan . . . California. Flint, Michigan could have all its corroded water pipes replaced. The infrastructure needs in the U.S. are endless. Our military personnel could be learning useful and welcomed skills.
If you live on Maui, have visited here, or want to come some day, let your voice be heard. If you care about humpback whales, Hawaiian monk seals, endangered marine life, coral, let your voice be heard. Our U.S. military could be instruments of peace.
If it is still January 7, 2019, where you are, please let the U.S. Navy know how you feel by sending an email to <NFPAC-RECEIVE@navy.mil>.
Then, any time, please email Hawaii Governor David Y. Ige at <https://governor.hawaii.gov/>. Whether you live here or not, he needs to know what you think.
We live in a very special place of Hawaiian aloha and beauty. We hope you find it that way when you come to visit.
In Peace & Aloha, Renée
My wise sister has noticed that although such food as lettuce and chicken have been recalled recently because of issues over food safety, there have been no issues with chocolate or bacon.
I’d argue that bacon isn’t good for your arteries and is really bad for the pig.
However, chocolate seems very safe and will do no harm (as long as it is a Fair Trade product).
So I’m wishing you lots of dark chocolate as part of your holiday celebrations.
Merry Christmas and many blessings to you and yours in 2019.
Banner photo: Jennifer Pallin https://unsplash.com/photos/dcPNZeSY3yk
“The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. supported his philosophy of nonviolence with six
fundamental principles in his book Stride for Freedom, but even he had this to say about the important influence of outrage:
You can use Charity Navigator to help focus your fury. As the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator, CN provides free charity ratings and other resources to help you find a trustworthy charity that is fighting for the cause you believe in.” – Danielle Cheeseman
Doing the Most Good®
A less well-known charity evaluator is Give Well – <https://www.givewell.org/>
Give Well rates organizations mainly on how effective their projects actually are. The organizations that Give Well recommends are evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded. Often the focus is on how many lives a project saves.
Instead of giving another dust collector to each of your relatives this holiday, give a gift to a charity to help others &/or to promote positive changes in the world.
Happy Holidays. Aloha, Renee
Banner photo: http://Photo by erin walker on Unsplash
In his book, Grist for the Mill, Ram Dass – American spiritual figure and bestselling author of Be Here Now and Be Love Now, quotes his Guru Mahara-ji, who said,
Ram Dass says, “These days I try to simply love everything that comes my way, whether animate or inanimate, pleasant or painful. I hope you too can learn to absorb life’s ecstasies and distresses into your spiritual practice so they are just more grist for the mill” (Introduction 2).
Enjoy it all!
Banner photo: Maui sunflower fields – Kelly King
- Reprinted from:
America’s Moral Malady
The nation’s problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails society.
- WILLIAM J. BARBER II
- KING ISSUE
- Editor’s Note: Read The Atlantic’s special coverage of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.
Image above: Americans, young and old, dwell in Resurrection City, made of tents and wooden shanties, during the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, in Washington, D.C.
In the summer of 1966, Martin Luther King Jr. visited homes in the hamlet of Marks, Mississippi. Later he remembered the hundreds of children who lacked shoes. A mother told King that her children had no clothes for school. The Nobel laureate wept openly. “They didn’t even have any blankets to cover their children up on a cold night,” he recalled. “And I said to myself, God does not like this.” Then he vowed, “We are going to say in no uncertain terms that we aren’t going to accept it any longer. We’ve got to go to Washington in big numbers.”
In March 1968, King brought together a group of more than 50 leaders representing Black Belt sharecroppers, Appalachian coal miners, Chicano farmworkers, and American Indians, among others, to join the Poor People’s Campaign. The poor, “both white and Negro, live in a cruelly unjust society,” he said. “If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life.”
America’s sickness was spiritual—and would be terminal, King insisted, unless we experienced a “radical revolution of values.” A shift to the left or the right could not save us; only a movement that changed the moral narrative could refocus our priorities on building a society that honored the dignity of every person. This country had to be born again—not only in budgets and policy decisions, but in spirit.
The preacher in King knew that such a moral revival could not simply be spoken into existence. Poor people, who are so often pitted against one another, needed to unite in a national campaign of direct action to save America’s soul, King told the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Today we face a national crisis that is in many ways an intensifying of the storm that rocked America in 1968. But too often, our attempts to diagnose what ails us cannot get past the tired debates of left-versus-right politics. King’s analysis was that interlocking systems of violence, literal and metaphorical—which he called racism, poverty, and militarism—blinded most Americans to the lives of people in places like Marks. Until a Poor People’s Campaign compelled Americans to see “them” as “us,” the ideal of America would remain beyond reach.In the richest society in human history, nearly half of the population lives in poverty or is struggling to make ends meet.
Four diseases, all connected, now threaten the nation’s social and moral health: racism, poverty, environmental devastation, and the war economy—sanctified by the heresy of Christian nationalism. Since the 2016 presidential election, when white rage propelled a candidate endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan into the White House, racism has been more prominent in public life. Nearly every politician in the United States condemned “hate” after the violence by anti-black, anti-Semitic, and anti-gay white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer. Racism and white supremacy, however, are not about hate. They are about power.
The question is not whether politicians condemn hate, but whether they promote the policy agenda of white supremacy. Since 2010, we have seen an assault on voting rights in numerous state legislatures, which the Supreme Court exacerbated in 2013 by gutting a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act. The states that attack voting rights by using partisan gerrymandering, discriminatory voter-identification requirements, or a rollback of early voting and same-day registration are also home to the lowest wages, the severest poverty, the greatest hostility toward immigrants and the LGBT community, and the deepest cuts in education funding. Politicians who try to suppress voting are using their power to hurt the poor and the working class—white, brown, and black.
In the richest society in human history, nearly half of the population lives in poverty or is struggling to make ends meet. More than half of African American workers and nearly 60 percent of Latino workers are paid less than $15 an hour. In the South, half of all jobs pay less than $15 an hour. During the past five years, state legislatures have stepped in to override many of the municipalities where the “Fight for $15” has succeeded.
Meanwhile, the nation’s economic growth, especially since the Great Recession, has overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest among us. Wall Street got bailouts while working Americans saw their jobs shipped overseas or outsourced to contractors. The top 400 taxpayers earn an average of $97,000 an hour, while people are arrested for protesting because they can’t survive on $7.25 an hour, the minimum that Washington requires.
Environmental dangers also disproportionately hurt the poor. In Flint, Michigan, poor people can buy unleaded gasoline but can’t get unleaded water from the tap. Oil companies are drilling for natural gas on Apache lands, penetrating the aquifers. Coal ash has spilled into rivers, and pipelines are being built through sacred territory. Federal deregulation is opening the door to new fossil-fuel exploration and mining in Alaska, contributing to climate change and scarring native lands.There’s only one way out: for people directly harmed by the economic and political system to fight as one against the few who benefit from it.
The unending war economy has made everything worse. Out of each discretionary federal dollar spent, 54 cents goes to the military. This is money that is not spent on health care, education, affordable housing, or infrastructure. We’ve paid more than $4 trillion since 2001 to fight the War on Terror while claiming that we lack the resources to furnish decent medical care for every American.
Our problem isn’t that we don’t have enough money. It’s that we don’t have the moral capacity to face what ails our society.
While a thorough analysis of America’s moral malady may tempt us to despair, it also brings us face-to-face with the ethical challenge that inspired the first Poor People’s Campaign. The children in Marks made King weep, just as pictures of children burned by napalm in Vietnam had brought him to tears, because he knew that their cruel reality wasn’t inevitable. As James Baldwin wrote: “We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.” To King, the Poor People’s Campaign was about America’s need for another Reconstruction—for an acknowledgment that a system of race-based slavery had created the inequality that had been passed down to the present day.
This confluence of troubles may seem overwhelming. It suggests, however, that the only way out is for people directly harmed by the economic and political system to fight as one against the few who benefit from it.
In 1968, the idea—a Poor People’s Campaign to unite activists from across the nation and bring them to Washington to shut down the government, to bring the issue of poverty compellingly to the fore—looked impossible. Except there was no other way. The tent city in Washington was snuffed out after six weeks by riot police and tear gas. Even so, the campaign had a lasting influence on national policies, as seen in the additional spending for Head Start, subsidized school lunches and food programs in poverty-stricken counties, and the creation of the Children’s Defense Fund, which has pushed legislation to help poor children and families for the past half century.
Still, we have never completed the Reconstruction that our federal government admitted was necessary after the Civil War. Just as the Poor People’s Campaign proposed, the Reconstruction we need now must arise from the efforts of people harmed directly by racism, poverty, environmental degradation, and the war economy. That is the inspiration for the new Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, which is coordinating direct actions across the country that will begin in May. Activists in at least 32 states and Washington, D.C., will join in 40 days of civil disobedience, including an encampment in the nation’s capital, in hopes of building the power of the poor and the working class to reset the national agenda.
Only by joining together and asserting our authority as children of God can we shift the moral narrative in this nation and create a movement that will challenge those in power to form the “more perfect union” to which we aspire. Now as in 1968, this notion looks impossible. Except, again, there is no other way.
This article appears in the special MLK issue print edition with the headline “A New Poor People’s Campaign.” Atlantic Monthly
Let’s support what needs – and must – be done. Aloha,
“People can debate how big a factor straight-up racism was in Trump’s victory. But his yearlong drumbeat of remarks and tweets and retweets, [up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election – and beyond] giving voice to white resentment toward people of color and religious minorities, offending millions and pulling scabs off old American wounds–all of that was not too much for the 62,984,825 people who colored in the bubble next to Trump’s name”
– John Biewen (from the audio program at the Center for Documentary Studies. Biewen teaches and produces/hosts the podcast Scene on Radio).
From: “Sunbeams,” The Sun, September 2018, issue 513, p. 48.
In stark contrast, Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries says in wonder of God’s ways that President Trump, although a flawed man, promotes Biblical values. She notes the Bible says that when the righteous rule, the evil moan.
Since Donald Trump and his friends have been in control, I’ve been moaning every day about the undermining of basic human decency and our democracy. And I certainly don’t consider myself evil.
How can we listen to each other and move forward together if each position feels the other is evil?
Gandhi said, “It is no nonviolence if we merely love those that love us. It is nonviolence only when we love those that hate us. I know how difficult it is to follow this grand law of love. But are not all great and good things difficult to do? Love of the hater is the most difficult of all. But by the grace of God even this most difficult thing becomes easy to accomplish if we want to do it” (Gandhi the Man, Eknath Easwaran, p. 108).
Although a struggle, we must find ways to listen and talk and work – together.
Let’s talk, even – perhaps especially – to people we don’t understand – yet.
Banner photo: http://Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash