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.

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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.

Opportunity to Stand with Palestinians to Put an End to Genocide

Carol A. Hand

This morning, I received an email from a friend requesting assistance. Although I am not at liberty to share her name, the text and links for information and action are below.

Sorry for the mass email, but I’d like to ask you to PLEASE add your name (by clicking on the link below) and call or email the White House. As we well know, this GENOCIDE MUST END. WE, each one of us, can further empower this movement by doing something that’ll take only a few minutes of your time. Please forward to all your contacts so that we can pressure our “democracy” into doing the right thing – not aiding and supporting this ongoing genocide by terrorists. As you well know, as Muslims, we must change injustice through our hands, then through our tongues, and finally through our heart. This is the moment, now is the time.

American Muslims for Palestine – Action Alert:
http://www.ampalestine.org/index.php/newsroom/statements/589-amp-calls-on-people-of-conscience-to-reclaim-american-values-at-national-march-on-washington

American Muslims for Palestine – Let’s Jam the Lines:
http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51044/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14619

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 …

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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.

A Symbolic Step in the Correct Direction

Second Letter – July 21, 2014:

Dear Congressman Nolan,

I wish to thank you for your response to the concerns I sent on July 17, 2014, regarding the situation in Palestine. As the violence continues and deaths of civilians escalate, I feel it is important to express my concerns again. This time, I am including a link to a balanced nonpartisan historical overview that compares the experiences of the Jewish people of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s with their treatment of Palestinians today: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/israel_is_captive_to_its_destructive_process_20140714

As a nation, we often proclaim our commitment to human rights concerns, yet our tax dollars are supporting this violent invasion of a people walled into a ghetto with nowhere to hide from bombs and bullets! Once again I ask that you consider the gravity of this crisis and the loss of innocent lives. Please consider suggesting action to end U.S. financial support for Israel and recommend the imposition of strong sanctions against Israel. We have done this to Russia because of the violence in Ukraine.

Respectfully,

Dr. Carol A. Hand

Second Response – July 25, 2014 – A Symbolic Step in the Correct Direction

Dear Congressman and Senators…

Although I feel totally powerless to end the Palestinian invasion, what I could do today was share my views with my legislators. I hope they will listen…

Senator Amy Klobuchar
302 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
phone: 202-224-3244
fax: 202-228-2186

Senator Al Franken
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5641 309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5641

Congressman Rick Nolan
2447 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
D.C. Office: (202) 225-6211
Fax: (202) 225-0699

Dear Senator Franken, Senator Klobuchar, and Congressman Nolan,

I am writing with a heavy heart because of the brutal oppression and slaughter of innocent Palestinian people by the Israeli government. I urge you to use your position as an elected official to do everything in your power to end this situation now. It is deeply distressing to realize that my tax dollars support the Israeli military to perpetrate these crimes against humanity. I ask that you introduce legislation to end all financial support for Israel immediately and impose the most stringent sanctions possible under international law. Although the U.S. is not blameless in the oppression, covert destabilization, and preemptive invasion of other sovereign nations, taking a strong stand on the Israeli invasion would certainly do more to improve our global image than sanctioning Russia for the situation in Ukraine.

As I write, I know that Palestinian homes, communities, hospitals, and businesses are being destroyed and innocent men, women, and children are being killed in an ethnic cleansing campaign. As an Ojibwe, this situation is a painful reminder of what my ancestors and other Indigenous peoples of the land you now govern experienced. Please keep this tragic history in mind and do what you can to end the needless suffering and death of Palestinian people.

Respectfully,

Dr. Carol A. Hand

Morning Mourning Thoughts

“When people do no follow Tao,
Their horses are harnessed for war,
Their energies are used for destruction,
And many go hungry.
Great troubles come
From not knowing what is enough.
Great conflict arises from wanting too much.
When we know when enough is enough,
There will always be enough.”
(From Diane Dreher, 1990, The Tao of inner peace: A guide to inner and outer peace, p. 126)

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Photo Credit, Ava Hand Johnson – 2013, Photographer – Jnana Hand

“Oftentimes have I heard you speak of the one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower that the lowest which in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.
Like a procession you walk together towards your god-self,
You are the way and the wayfarers.
And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind, a caution against the stumbling stone.
Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot, yet removed not the stumbling stone.”
(Kahlil Gibran, 1923/1951, The prophet, pp. 40-41)

May we learn to live in peace with each other and in harmony with the world we share.

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.

TreeOfPeace

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.

 

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