For Each Child Who’s Born…

Carol A. Hand

Summer 2008


Imagine what the world would be

if you honored each child born as you honor me

A gift from the force of life, the creator, to the world

a greater treasure by far than thrones impearled

The essence of hallowed life to grace the earth

released with each miraculous birth

The humblest child a wondrous sight

May your heart embrace all children as sacred this blessed night


We Are, performed by Ravi


We Are (by Dr. Ysaye M. Barnwell)

For each child that’s born a morning star rises
and sings to the universe who we are

We are our grandmother’s prayer
We are our grandfather’s dreamings
We are the breath of the ancestors
We are the spirit of God.

We are
Mothers of courage
Fathers of time
Daughters of dust
Sons of great vision

We are …
Sisters of Mercy
Brothers of Love
Lovers of Life and
The Builders of Nations

We are Seekers of Truth
Keepers of Faith
Makers of Peace and
The Wisdom of Ages

We are our grandmother’s prayer
We are our grandfather’s dreamings
We are the breath of the ancestors
We are the spirit of God
We are ONE.


Lighting a Candle for the Four Directions

Carol A. Hand

This morning when I awoke I was reflecting on my lack of hope and passion these days. It feels as though everything I love, everything that brings me joy and peace and hope is at risk. When did my hope and passion disappear? Was it because of the institutions where I worked that publicly espoused social justice missions but contradicted those values through the actions of the majority? Was it because of the neighbors or ex-spouses who only appeared to be concerned with their own comfort and their own pursuit of happiness? Was it because of the zeitgeist of the times summarized by the observation of my newest neighbor when speaking of a child with serious mental health issues, “I’m in this alone”? This feeling of being alone, when internalized, is a destroyer of hope and collective action and it seems to be a major obstacle for joining together to address the serious threats of these times.

As I look back, I realize this feeling has been an undercurrent in the past. Every intervention I have worked on hit this stumbling block sooner or later despite my best efforts. Like my neighbor, ultimately I felt alone in my past efforts because I was never able to inspire or cultivate enough hope for a critical mass of others who were willing to put aside immediate personal comfort to carry the responsibility for working toward a greater good. It was not for lack of trying. Yesterday, as I was contemplating clearing away some of the gifts, papers, and books I’ve accumulated over the years that fill files, shelves, walls and cupboards, I noticed the white candle that sits atop my most important bookshelf – the one that holds irreplaceable books I used to write my dissertation. Of course, like all my mementos, the candle has a story.


Photo Credit: Duluth December 13, 2014

I was working as the deputy director of health and human services for an inter-tribal agency. It was not an easy job for many reasons, primarily because of the enduring legacy of colonialism that continued to impose dominant cultural paradigms on tribal communities and use divide and conquer tactics to foment conflicts between “traditional” and “progressive” tribal factions. Resolving conflict was a central part of my job, and it often put me in the middle of powerful competing interests. At a particularly challenging time, I needed to travel with one of my staff to a conference on worldwide healing for Indigenous people held in Edmonton, Alberta. The conference helped me realize I was not alone. Rediscovering the candle on my bookcase reminded me of the conference’s closing ceremony.

More than one thousand of us, representing many cultures and nations, stood in a circle within a large auditorium holding hands. Then, one elder walked to the center. She explained that the closing ceremony was intended to remind us that we were not alone. Because we were in a government building, we couldn’t use candles (fire ordinances prevented it), so flashlights would have to do. And then, the lights in the room went out as her flashlight went on in the center of the circle. She signaled to the four directions, highlighting one person from each of the four directions to walk to the center – first the east, then the south, the west, and the north. The representatives were all given a flashlight. As they touched their darkened lights to the elders “candle,” their flashlights were turned on. They were instructed to carry their light to the four directions and light other candles in their part of the circle. The elder explained that it would not be easy to keep the candle fires burning, but if the light went out, people could always return to the center to light them once again.

This morning, I realize I need to take the time to finally light the candle on my book case. It’s not the same white candle I used for a similar ceremony years later for the 40 staff who worked for the Honoring Our Children Project that included nine tribal communities. Building and maintaining multicultural, interdisciplinary teams within and across different tribal cultures was not an easy task. Providing a center they could return to in challenging times was important. But it is the same candle I used in a farewell ceremony with the graduate students I mentored during our final class together. They would all be graduating and scattering to the four directions.


Photo Credit: Sending Light to the Four Directions from Duluth, MN – December 13, 2014

As I lit the candle this morning, I thought of the inter-tribal staff who did astounding work, and the creative and inquisitive students I worked with over the years. I thought about my blogging friends around the world who help me realize that each of is sharing our light. And I thought about the many other people who carry light yet feel alone. May we learn to share our light and stand together for the sake of all we love.


Two Quotes for Today

Carol A. Hand

Great success, like disgrace,
Can bring great trouble.
Success which advances ego
Can make you lose your way.
(Diane Dreher, p. 112)


The Tao person, detached and wise,
Embraces all as Tao.
(Diane Dreher, p. 113)

aadi and crocus

Photo Credit: Aadi Hand, 2001

Work Cited:

Diane Dreher, 1990). The Tao of inner peace. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Some Thoughts about Peace –

May We Walk the Path of Peace on the Earth We All Share

Carol A. Hand

I share these words of wisdom from around the world and across time as a morning prayer. For the sake of all we love, may we end the death and suffering that comes from war and choose the path of peace …


Photo Credit: The Shore of Lake Superior 2009, photographer – Jnana Hand

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”
Black Elk (1863-1950)

“We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but on the positive affirmation of peace. We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody, that is far superior to the discords of war. Somehow, we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race, which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness humanity’s creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a peace race. If we have a will – and determination – to mount such a peace offensive, we will unlock hitherto tightly sealed doors of hope and transform our imminent cosmic elegy into a psalm of creative fulfillment.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”
Hafsat Abiola 

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.”
Kofi Annan 

“Time itself becomes subordinate to war. If only we could celebrate peace as our various ancestors celebrated war; if only we could glorify peace as those before us, thirsting for adventure, glorified war; if only our sages and scholars together could resolve to infuse peace with the same energy and inspiration that others have put into war.

“Why is war such an easy option? Why does peace remain such an elusive goal? We know statesmen skilled at waging war, but where are those dedicated enough to humanity to find a way to avoid war?

“Every nation has its prestigious military academies – or so few of them – that reach not only the virtues of peace but also the art of attaining it? I mean attaining and protecting it by means other than weapons, the tools of war…”

Elie Wiesel


Source for quotes: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Finding Common Ground

Carol A. Hand

I want to thank two of my blogging family, Nicci Attfield and Skywalker Payne, for raising important issues about the current Israeli/Palestinian situation. Their comments about a recent post made me ask myself how the world might be different if oppressed peoples realized what they share in common. As a thinker who needs to operationalize complex dynamics in terms of my own real-life experiences, I was reminded of the divide and conquer strategies I encountered during the years I worked with tribes in Wisconsin.

wisconsin tribes uwec dot edu

Photo Credit: Map of Wisconsin Tribes 

When I walked into the office of an inter-tribal agency on the first morning of my new job as deputy director of health and human services, it was clear how easy it was for people to be divided. Staff for the five programs at the time only felt ownership for their programs. They resented any expectations of collective responsibility for the welfare of the agency or tribes. They fought over which program paid for stationary and who could use the one computer. They didn’t question the appropriateness of imposing state and federal requirements on tribal communities. And in situations where staff struggled to meet program requirements, there was only censure and no help. The eleven-member Board of Directors comprised of the Chairpersons of member tribes was also easily divided, concerned only about meeting the interests of their respective tribal community. Why would it be otherwise if they expected to be reelected? There was little recognition of the needs of urban Native American populations in the state, and strong resistance to any cross-ethic collaboration.

The first step was to clarify our mission as a department. Instead of seeing ourselves as each fulfilling only the requirements of our funding sources, our job was redefined to focus on serving tribal communities and educating our funders about tribal sovereignty and cultures. We could only do that effectively if we worked together. In the course of the first four months, we added four new projects and were able to leverage a computer for every project. Most staff eagerly embraced the clarified mission and began volunteering to help each other succeed.

The second step, clarifying our mission as an agency, was more challenging. That took more time. Bringing in more grants helped raise the importance of health and human service issues for tribal chairpersons. One of the new initiatives, studying the feasibility of having the inter-tribal agency take over some of the administrative functions for tribal health programs from the federal government, raised awareness about the importance of possibilities to collectively build greater tribal self-determination.

The third step was to increase the credibility of the agency in the eyes of state, federal, and non-profit funders. Although I got to know key staff and administrators at all levels as people with common interests and shared humanity, I was not afraid to challenge them when they used “divide and conquer” tactics with tribal leaders. The memory that surfaced this morning as I was reflecting on the insights Skywalker and Nicci shared was of a specific meeting between tribal chairpersons and state administrators. Eleven tribal representatives were seated around the table as state staff presented several budget options for health and social service allocations. The state staff explained what each tribe would lose and gain at the expense of other tribes. Tribal representatives began arguing amongst themselves, each trying to maximize resources for their community. As I witnessed the growing conflict, I was forced to stand and speak loudly. “Don’t you realize what the state is doing here? It’s the oldest trick in the book, divide and conquer. They have you arguing with each other about chump change for your programs instead of standing together to demand adequate resources to meet the compelling needs of your communities.” The room grew silent, and state staff apologized. They agreed to come up with a more respectful negotiation approach and explore additional funding. Of course, it would be foolish to assume the state would change how it dealt with tribes, but at least in this instance, they were forced to be more inclusive in their decision-making process.

Looking back, I realize that at each step, I tried to find common ground among my department staff, my agency colleagues, other oppressed communities, and with funders and administrators as well. It is so easy for people who are oppressed to see others who are oppressed as the enemy. Who loses and who benefits from divisions among oppressed people? Clearly, those in power benefit from deflecting attention away from the role they play as our puppet masters. We keep each other oppressed and all too often, kill each other off while those in power profit financially and enjoy the illusion that they are smarter, more developed morally and culturally, and better fit to impose their hegemony.


Photo Credit: Serenity in the Garden

Who benefits from the continuing conflict between Israel and Palestine? Only those who sell their souls and the hopes and dreams and lives of other people for the illusion of personal safety and status, those who wish to exploit oil and other resources with greater ease, and those who get rich by selling their weapons. Those who lose are ordinary people on both sides. Homes and lives are lost on both sides and children on both sides grow up in a war zone that teaches them to fear and hate their neighbors for generations yet to come. We all lose from a world at war, from a world where people are brutally murdered by governments for no other reason than securing the power and privilege of the ruling class. And we all lose when generations are denied the right to develop and contribute their gifts to the rest of the human community. As Jeff Nguyen writes, “We are all Palestinians.” We are also all Israelis. Let us dream of peaceful possibilities  … the consequences affect us all.


Spring Is Finally Here – And Music Is Everywhere!

Carol A. Hand

This morning I awoke to hear my parakeets singing, and my little dog, Pinto, adding his lovely voice (yes, he really does sing — he’s singing as I type).


pinto 2

Photo Credit: Animal Allies Adoption Photo

When I stepped outside, my yard was filled with the sound of the birds that returned after a long and silent winter.


Photo Credit:


Photo Credit: kitchen

This is a short post to wish you all a wonderful Sunday filled with music.


Join us and live in Peace?

Cheryl A. Bates

In light of escalating tension between the U.S. and Russia, I wanted to share a thought I had after stumbling upon the 1951 movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. First, let me say that as a child of the sixties living in a very rural area of the Pacific Northwest, the availability of information concerning the world was limited to weekly newspapers and access to only two major television networks (in black and white); consequently, I didn’t develop a passion for science fiction until recently. Yes, I literally became a Trekie in my fifties. With assistance from media streaming and unprecedented access to movies, documentaries, and other genres of entertainment, I have discovered a world of thinking in science fiction that transcends my rural country roots. How did I ever make it to the age of 51 without having discovered the film The Day the Earth Stood Still, a prophetic story about a humanoid alien visitor (Klaatu) and his omnipotent robot companion (Gort/Gnut) who land on earth to deliver a message that Earth must learn to live peacefully or be destroyed?

We come in peace and goodwill

Photo Credit: Klaatu, The Day the Earth Stood Still

“It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder” (Klaatu)

As a representative from a federation of other planets, Klaatu is sent to Earth to warn humankind that their experiments with atomic weapons are threatening the safety of other peaceful civilizations ( The message is simple, Klaatu requests to meet with all the leaders of Earth in which to deliver the message that unless humankind gives up violence, other planets will destroy Earth in their own defense.  He was told that a meeting of such magnitude was impossible. Thus, as a peaceful demonstration of his power, Klaatu arranges for a 30 minute black out of power except where such a loss would be life-threatening. Even in the face of omnipotent power, humans are disbelieving in that something more powerful than they can live in peace.

surrounding ukraine infantry

Photo Credit: Surrounded: Unidentified armed men prepare their camp in font of Ukraine’s infantry base in Privolnoye.

Are we there now with sides aligning and taking on allies to brace against the fight over which one ultimately dominates the other? Each side is equipped with bombs aimed at the other that can destroy the world as we know it. Why do we insist on such lopsided accumulations of wealth and power? How can either “side” justify wealth and power that is used to secure more wealth and power, limit access to resources, and continued enforcement of hegemonic dictates instead of soothing the hunger of swollen bellies, healing the perils of disease, and perhaps building a world that is united, compassionate, cooperative, and beautiful? Where is that omnipotent presence now that will convince humankind that life is a beautiful gift and one meant to be shared?


Photo Credit: Peace



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