A World Gone Mad

Carol A. Hand

Spring finally arrived on April 19, 2018
here in the northland of the United States
It was the first day since October 23, 2017
when mercury rose above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C)
warmly greeting awakening life
with sunshine and bird song

Elsewhere a world gone mad is focused on war
First responders traveled to Mercury, Nevada
to learn how to deal with a nuclear attack
Odd that we don’t require leaders to know
how to negotiate conflict peacefully
for the sake of our shared world and all we hold dear


World Kids – Public Domain Pictures


Given the sorry state of our ignorance about nature’s lessons
and the art of building inclusive peaceful communities
because our focus has been indoctrinating generations
to compete, even kill, based on belief in social Darwinism
the mythic notion that only the best and most “fit” survive –
it’s doubtful many of us would be here
to greet the aftermath of a needless nuclear winter


I apologize for the rather bleak message. It’s what came though me today. The text I am rereading to prepare for my class tomorrow makes me feel compelled to share crucial information about reality. Geoffrey Bellman (2001) points out that in order to work together toward a better future, we need to have a common understanding of the reality where we’re starting.

I also apologize for being so slow visiting blogs and responding to comments. I am still staring at a tiny laptop screen and have been saving my eyes in order to read student assignments.

Work Cited

Geoffrey M. Bellman (2001). Getting things done when you are not in charge. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


April Awakenings

Carol A. Hand

Despite prayers for peace
bullets fly and bombs fall faster
killing innocents and madmen alike
dreams of empire forever fading
with each child who dies


Despite eagerly awaiting spring
trees bend and gyrate
as fierce winds roar day and night
propelling heavy driven snow
quickly erasing human footprints


The nokomis listens to the winds
as trees foretell of even harder times ahead
making each urgent new now more pressing
life is still pregnant with possibilities
for weaving healing loving connections


Microsoft WORD Clip Art


“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.” (William A. Ward)



Brief Reflections about Standing Rock – Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Carol A. Hand

Today a young woman is in critical condition due to escalating police violence, all so corporations can pollute and profit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/standing-rock-arm-amputation_us_5834853ee4b09b6055ff01ec. Her only “crime” was standing in peaceful solidarity with Standing Rock Water Protectors to prevent corporations from creating yet more environmental devastation.

Photo: Huffington Post - Thanksgiving Message to Indigenous People from the Invading Forces
Photo: Huffington Post – Thanksgiving Message to Indigenous People from the Invading Forces

(Link to Huffington Post photo and article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/standing-rock-sioux-tear-gas-thanksgiving_us_583496a3e4b000af95ece35d?wjz1i201zkpf8t1emi)

The list of the militarized police forces arrayed against Standing Rock Water Protectors is daunting: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/11/02/how-contact-people-who-sent-militarized-police-standing-rock-166326.

I’m not entirely sure why, but this situation reminds me of Wounded Knee and the Ghost Dance: http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/program/episodes/eight/likegrass.htm.

Wounded Knee Massacre - December 29, 1890
Wounded Knee Massacre – December 29, 1890

(Photo Source: Wikipedia)

The circumstances feel eerily similar. Two vastly different cultures collide, one with fear and lethal weapons, and one with hope, ceremony, and prayers. One to exploit the earth for short-term individual profits, and one to protect the earth for all our relations, now and in the future.

Despite all of the tragic lessons of past history, I still hope that love and peaceful solidarity will finally triumph over brutality, oppression and fear. I humbly ask all who read this to please do what you can to let governments, police, and corporations know that the world is watching. Please do all you can to let the Water Protectors know you support them and stand with them in spirit.

Chi Miigwetch. (Ojibwe for “thank you very much.”)


Reflections – Sunday, July 31, 2016

Carol A. Hand

I try to avoid main stream media news (MSM), especially during campaign times. Lies and vituperative ad hominem attacks are just a total energy drain and waste of time. Yet this repeating mantra about “Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee computers” is ridiculous and inane. It’s also incredibly dangerous.

Why should we care that someone, anyone, assured that the public had hard evidence to support what they already knew, and of course, should know? “The whole system is corrupt.” When the MSM promote a dominant narrative about an external enemy meddling in our “democracy” to promote fear in order to make one candidate more appealing than another, it’s time to question. It’s time to speak out.

Recently, anti-Russia and anti-China narratives have been a frequent theme in the news, so it’s not surprising to see the not-so-cold-war with Russia once again looming. A perfect setting for the two lead presidential contenders. Neither of them is championing a path to peace.

Of course, this isn’t new. It’s now just so blatantly obvious. Sadly, after decades of public education that teaches students to memorize discrete (meaningless) facts so they can pass standardized tests, too many may not remember enough history to detect the propaganda.

I remember other times when the voices of poets and singers once rang so clear. Here’s one I listened to last night: “With God on Our Side,” by Bob Dylan.



I know this is not an upbeat post, but for the sake of all we hold dear, we need to pay attention and act in whatever ways we can to promote sanity, compassion and peace.



“Yoo – Hoo”

Carol A. Hand

Do you ever awake, reluctant to rise
Wrapped in soft piles of blankets
As winter sun glows through still lidded eyes
Grateful for comfort and relative peace
Yet mindful that others are suffering
In a world where both wars and wonders never cease

Finally afoot as I greet the still frigid morning
A single chickadee calls out – “Yoo-hoo
“Drink your coffee, breathe deeply and heed my warning
“You may not have much time – there are things you must do
“It may not make a difference but you too have a voice
“Send it out as I did as a blessing or not – it’s your choice

chickadee w

Image: Black-capped Chickadee (Wikipedia)

So I send out blessings and another silly poem
To share the chickadee’s message – heart-felt and deep
It’s our job to help chickadees care for our shared home
We all have work to do – and voices – and promises to keep


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.

Remembering a Time in World History

Carol A. Hand

Word by word, the story I’m writing about the past is emerging. I’m sharing an excerpt written on November 7, 2015 in honor of Veteran’s Day. As a nation, tragic events a little more than fourteen years ago forced the nation and world to make a decision that would profoundly affect future generations. A nation and world in shock and mourning faced momentous and difficult choices. Would thoughtful reasoning or quick revenge prevail? That question had not yet been answered at this point in my story…


Chapter 5 – Tuesday, September 11, 2001

When I awoke it was still dark. The stories I had heard yesterday and last week were still swirling in my mind. It was too soon to begin making sense of it all. That would take time. But I wished I could take time today to just think and organize my notes. I had typed up the story Raymond had shared even though it was late when I got home, but there were so many other pressures I needed to address.

I decided to take a little time to deal with the most pressing issues for my new job. It was, after all, what was both making my research possible and constraining me by imposing what seemed like an impossible timeline. It really is strange how life works out some time.
A year ago, I had returned to the university where I had begun my doctoral studies. Ten years ago I had been forced to withdraw in order to support my daughter in college and my partner who had lost his job.

Since then, I had mostly worked as an instructor at the university I attended and as a grant writer, program developer, and an evaluator for tribal programs and health education initiatives. I returned to the university as a Ph. D. student when I finally had a topic that I wanted to study passionately enough to sustain me through yet more classes and a year of research and writing – Indian child welfare. I had written two of the required preliminary exams and was working on a third when I got a surprise call from the chair of a social work department at another university.

“Hi Agnes. I’m Dr. Tim Smith, at Prairie University. I’m calling to offer you a job. I’ve heard about you from friends at your university. It’s my alma mater, too. I’m trying to build a diverse faculty here and think you’d be a perfect addition.”

“I really appreciate your kind offer, Dr. Smith,” I replied. “But I’m not looking for a job right now. I’m still completing my preliminary exams and my research proposal.”

“I have a proposition for you,” he responded, undaunted. “I’m willing to create a special position for you to support you while you finish your work. I want you to come for a visit so you can check us out. If you’re interested in the offer, we can talk about the details when you’re here.”

To make a long story short, I did visit and accept the position. It began at the end of August, 2001. My salary would support the costs of my research, a decision I made to protect identities. Dr. Smith had offered to reimburse me, but it would mean revealing the names of places and people. That would break my promise of anonymity for those who shared their lives and stories. In exchange for drawing a salary for the next two years to do research and writing during the fall of 2001 and 2002, I would need to teach a double course load in the spring. It also meant I had to meet deadlines for finishing my work if I wanted to join as a tenure track faculty member in 2003.

This morning, tired as I was with so many stories to think about, I felt I needed to check in with the university. I arose early and fired-up the gasoline-powered generator so I would have electricity to shower, pack, and get ready to hit the road. I decided to check my university email before I set out for the tribal community. The events I learned about in university messages would have a chilling affect not only on the Ojibwe community I was studying, but also on the world. I recorded my thoughts in my research journal…



Image: World Peace

I wish we had made different decisions in the aftermath of that fateful day. For the sake of those who will be on the front lines in the future, and the innocent families and children in harm’s way, I hope we take time to reconsider the wisdom of following the path of yet more war. It’s how we can best honor those who fought to keep their families safe. Working toward peace and reconciliation offers the wisest choice.

[Please note: The names of people have all been changed in the preceding account to protect identity. The names of organizations have been altered as well.]

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.

The Agony of an Untold Story – Writing 101

Carol A. Hand

WARNING. This is an honest account drawn from my unedited reactions to the 9/11 tragedy, written while at home in the “ceded territory” of the northwoods of the central USA. It’s likely to provoke strong emotions. Please don’t feel obligated to read it.

It was September 11, 2001. I was getting ready to leave my home in Lac du Flambeau Wisconsin to find a place to live near the Ojibwe community where I would be spending the next nine months. The night before, I had returned home from an extended visit to the community. It t was dark when I arrived home. Nonetheless, I dutifully recorded my hand-written reflections from my visit in my research journal.

Monday, 9/10/2001

“ … What do I feel – I love listening to stories – but the problems I’m learning about are serious & it seems I’ve been able to gain a group of elders who are willing to share their views w/o tape recorder & as a group. They do identify themselves as those out-of-power – but it seems that is both an issue of family and age/values. They rice & do crafts & care about the future of the community.”

My hand-written notes for the next day didn’t reflect my observations from the community I had left the day before. That community would be affected in profound ways by an event that riveted their attention to the larger world, as it did to mine, to a tragedy that was new and distant, but was also a symbolic reminder of our own history of losses as Ojibwe people.

I never shared the notes I recorded that day, September 11, 2001. My journal remained tucked in a locked file cabinet where my research materials are stored. It’s been there for more than a decade – move after move. I just discovered it this week when I was looking for information for another project. I had forgotten about it. When I pulled out the bound journal, I discovered an untold story. I’m not sure if the agony that was reawakened was because of an untold story. Remembering the tragic events of that day would be enough on their own, but they also touched older memories and stories still untold. The events of that day intensified the deep, deep sadness that was already part of my experiences and my DNA.

I arose early and fired-up the gasoline-powered generator so I would have electricity to shower, pack, and get ready to hit the road. I decided to check my email just before I left…

Tues., 9/11/01

“… I turned on the laptop, did dishes, & read my email & discovered a strange note from ILSTU [my university] abt. supporting students to deal w/ tragedy. I turned on the t.v. & became glued to the story unfolding of the 4 hi-jacked commercial jets: 2 crashed into towers of the world trade center in NYC, one into the Pentagon in DC, & one southeast of Pittsburgh – ordinary people traveling & working whose lives were suddenly ended or changed forever.
CNN, & the war-mongers of course blaming Arab Muslim terrorists & calling for revenge for “one of the worst tragedies in the history of the world.” I think of Native peoples & the death & loss & tragedies they have endured at the hands of the ancestors of those who now condemn this “dastardly deed.”

“The US is an oppressor, as were the European conquistador ancestors of those who now rattle their sabers. It is a tragic act – an inexcusable act of hatred & violence – & if it were my family on a plane, would I too want vengeance? I don’t know. I only know that I did not want to be “in the field” today. I need to reflect & balance so I can listen to others’ views without judgment or comment. I “feel” this even from different times – the links to European invasion, to Jewish imprisonment, to clear-cut forests, to children taken from the side of the road, to my grandson who must endure craziness, Can we, as a world, learn to see the wonder that could be?

“…. How can I use my research to work toward a positive goal – a vision of what could be not only for our families & communities but all families and communities?

“It is really only by chance (?) that I found the email before I left. I’m grateful for the chance to reflect. I am sorry for all of the families – the Boston link made me grateful that [my daughter] & [my grandson] traveled from there safely a week ago!

“It is a time for healing. Our greatest resources surround us – they are not to be found in illusions of “power” over others, or money, or things. A hug from a grandchild, a thank you from a child, a smile & laughter – let me offer tobacco – for my family, for those who died & were hurt & their families, & for those whose lives are so bleak that they can do this — & for the world.”

This isn’t something I would have chosen to write today, or really any other day. But the Twitter quotes listed for today’s Writing 101 assignment didn’t speak to me as someone who walks between cultures. Nor did the hundreds of other quotes I skimmed on Twitter. Maya Angelou’s came closest. The untold and unheard stories of our peoples continue to be an agony that must be borne until we find a way to give them voice, and until we know that others have really understood.

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.

Social Security and Nationalism

Carol A. Hand

As “Independence Day” approaches, I am reminded of a discussion I had with students in an undergraduate social welfare policy course I was teaching in a prairie-state university. The topic for the day was the Social Security Act. As I thought about the class, I couldn’t tune out the context. The year was 2002. The U.S. was poised to invade Iraq with the flimsiest of excuses.

“In October 2002, the U.S. Congress passed a “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq“.”

People’s lives and their futures hung in the balance.

historical policy shifts

Slide – C.A. Hand – American Social Welfare Policy PowerPoint – April 23, 2014

It’s clear that wars have always deflected the attention of the nation from the needs of people, providing an excuse to decimate the grudgingly created and almost always inadequate social safety net in the U.S. How could I follow my syllabus by discussing a topic students always found boring even in the best of times?

The costs of war would certainly affect all of the programs covered by the Social Security Act (e.g., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Aid for Families with Dependent Children – now called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Security Income).

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron…. Is there no other way the world may live?”
Dwight D. Eisenhower

The future of vulnerable populations would no doubt be bleaker because of the resources wasted on war, and so would the job prospects for this eager group of 25 undergraduate social work students. I wanted them to think about the context critically. So instead of a lecture, I asked them what they thought about the prospect of their nation invading Iraq. I also took time to have the class as a whole develop a list of ground rules for the discussion before I randomly assigned them into smaller groups to discuss and record their views.

This was something new for them. Although they were social work majors, many were first generation college students from small conservative rural communities. Most were Euro-American, but there were a few Black students as well. The group discussions were animated but respectful. (The ground rules they helped develop really did work!)

We reconvened as a whole class when they were ready. Teams began to share views across the political spectrum. One Black student who shared a particularly critical view of the US invasion of Iraq asked me what I thought. “That’s a legitimate question. I promise to share my views when all of you have had an opportunity to speak,” I replied.

All of the students participated and shared their differing views, and the dialogue that followed was inclusive and respectful. With less than ten minutes of class left, it was my turn to deliver on my promise. But what could I say that would honestly reflect my feelings and beliefs that would not be viewed as judgmental, and perhaps, as treasonous?

Now, as then, I suspect many would not agree with the views I shared that day.

“When I think of independence, I think of history. My Ojibwe ancestors were not liberated at the end of the revolt against England. Our oppression has continued and deepened over the centuries since 1776, as has that of other tribes and people around the globe. And even though I know many Native American people feel a great sense of pride as warriors and defenders of their homeland, I feel no allegiance to any national government. I feel no need to fight to defend territory demarcated by imaginary lines that separate neighboring peoples or to risk my life to defend the sardonic mythology of “freedom and liberty for all.” In fact it makes me very angry to know that generations of Native American children were forced to celebrate holidays that symbolized their defeat and oppression at the hands of the U.S. army. A disproportionate number of Native Americans have proudly served the U.S. and still do, even though the same government has done little to address the many legacies of genocide, land theft, and deliberate destruction of cultures that tribal communities still experience today.”

So then as now I would say that the U.S. has no right to invade another sovereign nation to impose its will on other cultures and peoples. In 2003, as in the 1700s and 1800s in the U.S., the invasion was really about gaining power as a nation and establishing control over resources.

I ended by saying that I respect and honor those whose views are different than mine, but I feel it is my ethical responsibility to speak the truth as I see it from my perspective today.

The class was thoughtfully silent. Many came up after class to thank me for sharing another perspective, including the young woman who asked me to share my views.

The midway outcome for the Iraq invasion? Journalist Christian Parenti (2004) reports his observations when he visited the children’s hospital in Iraq during late April, 2004.

“I had seen several children in Baghdad with enlarged heads and huge veins bulging from their skulls and been told that this condition and other bizarre cancers and childhood diseases are linked to roughly 1,700 tons of depleted uranium-tipped weaponry that the United States used on Iraq during both wars” (p. 57).


Photo: Microsoft WORD Clipart
“… the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there …”

I know that as you watch “Independence Day” parades and fireworks, you will think about what freedom really means not only to you but also for others here and around the globe. Real social security means addressing the suffering of others, not with bombs but with peace, equality and compassion.

Work Cited:

Christian Parenti (2004) The freedom: Shadows and hallucinations in occupied Iraq. New York, NY: The New Press.


Reflections about Beauty and Sorrow

Carol A. Hand

Seeing the beauty around me
brings both joy and sorrow.
I realize the fragility
that may not survive tomorrow.

I remember the forest that
inspired my childhood song
cut down to build houses,
a sanctuary long gone.

I remember the dreams of peace
from my youth now gone bye
chickadees still sing and crows still circle high
but new wars begin as drones fill the sky

Here birds greet the morning as tree tops turn gold,
While many children go hungry
And my heart hears their cries
Because leaders want power and their hearts have grown cold.

They poison the waters in the rush for oil,
as oceans are warming as sea levels rise
they poison the air and poison the soil
they close their hearts to the earth’s cries.

Let me greet every morning as long as I live
mindful of beauty and suffering
and mindful of the hope
only love can give.

lake superior sunrise

Photo Credit: Lake Superior Sunrise and Silhouettes – Photographer Jnana Hand

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Carol A. Hand

I am so weary of the negative fear-based pleas that bombard my email daily – hundreds of them in the past weeks. When the DFL* canvasser came to my door last evening, I assured him I would vote even though I was profoundly disappointed by the absence of a positive agenda in any of the messages candidates from either party are proposing. I added that I’m still profoundly disappointed in the outcome of Obama’s version of promised change that won him his first term as president in 2008. An end of war? Health care reform? Homeowner protections from foreclosures? Closing Guantanamo? It is no small accomplishment to sow a sense of hopelessness in a nation

Four critical issues came to mind as I read the newest negative emails this morning, along with the words from a song by Buffy Sainte-Marie, “and what have you done for these ones?” What have you done about human rights abuses and genocide? What have you done to address increasing police brutality and racism? What have you done about growing economic inequality, homelessness, hunger and poverty? What have you done about global climate change? You can tell me inaction is all due to the other party. Have you been willing to campaign on issues that are socially just but politically unpopular? What do you stand for with passion and resolve except for yourself and re-election to a cushy job that enables you to remain isolated from the growing suffering of the people you are theoretically obligated to represent?

chip in

Photo Credit: screen shot one of today’s email appeals (10/23/2014)

You say you want me to chip in $3 or $5 for the most immediate attack from the “evil” opponents. What have you done in the past four or six years to try to bridge differences and define a clear vision of a more hopeful future that is based on common ground? Surely you can come up with more than let’s just keep going the way we are with our foot on the fracked gas. If you can’t, I know hundreds and thousands and millions of people who do have pieces of the answers. But all you ask for is their money… Your actions do show what really matters to you – perpetuating your own privilege and the illusion that you really are a leader who stands for something other than your own self-interest.

Sorry if I sound bitter. After all, my taxes help pay for your salary, health insurance costs and retirement benefits.  All I can really afford to give you on top of that is my own two cents…


Photo Credit: Two Cents


*Democratic-Farm-Labor Party

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.

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