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.

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.

Synchronicity, Connectedness, and Love – A Grandmother’s Promise: Blogging 101

Carol A. Hand

Synchronicity – “the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.” (1950s, coined by C. G. Jung)

Events like the shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the declaration of yet more “military action” (a euphemism for ongoing war in the Middle East to control oil and protect U.S. world hegemony) cause me to worry about the future my grandchildren will inherit. I am particularly concerned for my grandson’s safety and future. I witnessed his birth – with the neonatal crisis team on alert to make sure he survived. I made a silent promise to the tiny, blue six-pound infant I held gently in my arms soon after his birth: “I will always be there if you need me, my little one. You are my heart.” By age 11, he was taller than me, and now at 15, even more so.


Photo Credit: Aadi, Ava, and Ahma (me) – At the Rest Stop in Hurley, Wisconsin – 2010 (photographer, Jnana Hand)

I worry about the future of a handsome young man with a darker complexion in a country that fears difference. Can a gentle young man survive in such a world? I treasure the memories of him as a toddler gazing with wonder at flowers,

aadi and crocus

Photo Credit: Aadi – 2001 (photographer, Carol Hand)

as a little boy laughing as we blew bubbles,

Aadi & bubbles

Photo Credit: Aadi and Ahma – 2003 (photographer, Gary Hand)

or gently and patiently holding his great-grandmother’s hand.

Aadi 7

Photo Credit: Aadi, 2006 (School photographer)

I realize now, though, I can’t always be there to protect him. I can only hold him in my thoughts and my heart every day. I can also do the small things within my modest life to let him know I care, to build a kinder world in my tiny sphere of influence.

How does this relate to blogging and synchronicity? To the topic for blogging 101 today, “to be inspired by the [blogging] community”? I’ll do my best to make the links, although I have often been told that I see connections among too many dimensions: my grandson’s football game, blog posts written by mothers that I happened to read this week, advice from a blogging friend in Vancouver, and the connections to an advocacy organization that resulted from following my blogging friend’s advice.

On Monday afternoon, I sat next to my grandson’s father as we watched the junior varsity team from the better side of town (where my grandson lives) play the team from my neighborhood (the working class side of town). In past years, my grandson was one of the stars on his team, and no wonder when he can block players who are much larger and score 80-yard touchdowns. But this year, his father told me the coach hasn’t given him many opportunities to participate on the field in a game that he loves and has trained so hard to play. To be honest, on one level I’m relieved. The growing attention to the long-term harm caused by football injuries worries me. Still, in the fourth quarter, my grandson intercepted a pass and ran more than 50 yards, artfully weaving around the defensive string opponents to score his one touchdown. But I worried as I observed him engage in what appeared to me to be overly aggressive blocking, something his father also noticed. Is this something he feels he needs to do because of his size? He’s tall, but he still looks so small next to many of the other players. Does he need to look macho these days to be safe from bullying? Are there pressures he needs to release in this way? This is the gentle young man who just a few weeks ago walked by my side through my gardens, asking about the plants and listening thoughtfully to my responses, seemingly reluctant to leave despite my daughter’s urging to hurry up.

I can’t be there to block those who pursue him on the football field to protect him from harm, or classmates or teachers who accuse him of things he has not done. I can’t force his coach to give him more playing time for the game that he loves. Like the mothers who wrote of their challenges, the tension between protecting and encouraging freedom, I find myself searching for a balance. My unwillingness to tell my grandchildren how to live their lives prevents me for doing more than sharing my observations of their strengths and my concerns about their choices. I am reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet.

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. (Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, p. 17)

As I reflected on my conversation with my grandson’s father and my own observations of the game, I was compelled to ask the question: “What can I do to help create a different future for my grandchildren?” The answer came from a phone call last night. It was a call that came in response to something I was inspired to do by a blogging friend from Vancouver, Silvia di Blasio. one of my virtual friends whom I have learned to view as a sister in spirit.

In a comment about one of her recent posts, I responded. “This is an inspiring discussion, Sylvia. I thought you would appreciate knowing that as I read your insights about how important it is to use our skills to improve things, I decided to return a phone call to an advocacy organization to offer my skills as a volunteer writer. I’ll let you know how it works out. Thank you 🙂 .” (September 4, 2014).

I have received two return calls from the organization expressing interest and possibilities for collaboration. During the call last evening, I was invited to attend an “important phone bank event” tonight. My role would be to meet people and observe the event and write about the volunteers and issues of concern. These might be letters to the editors for local papers in the region or stories about the volunteers, their reasons for engagement, and the importance of issues from their perspectives.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I am, by nature, and introvert. Attending the meeting is not something I would choose to do on my own. My readers may not know, however, that I question whether this is something I have the skill to do effectively. Really. Yet I owe it to my grandchildren to try. I owe it to the grandson who has trained hard to excel at a game he loves and who had the tenacity to sit on the bench for a season hoping for the call to the field. I owe it to the bloggers who continue to inspire me and rekindle the hope that together we can make a difference even though the task seems so daunting.

Aadi fb 2

Photo Credit: Aadi 2012 (before his got his bight green shoes)

Chi miigwetch (Ojibwe “thank you!”) to all bloggers who are keeping the light of hope burning in the darkness of our time.

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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