Tag Archives: Sharing

Bridging A Gap

It’s an exciting time for many in this country, with the first visit of Pope Francis to the U.S.  Some 70 million U.S. Catholics notwithstanding, it’s remarkable to see and to feel the excitement generated by this pope.  Catholics and non-Catholics alike have been mesmerized by the rock star quality of this man and, more notably, of his message about taking care of each other and the planet.  It’s a moment to savor, this feel-good visit from someone who has the capacity to generate an upbeat and hopeful message; not many could do it.  But it also creates a disconnect for us, as we cheer the messenger while simultaneously spurning the message.

Like many, I have watched copious news coverage of the papal visit, out of interest and curiosity.  I’m both interested in hearing the topics that Francis has chosen to highlight and curious about our collective and positive reaction to him and “the higher Chief” to whom Francis reports.  But I wonder about the gap that exists there, one that Francis has referenced on several occasions in his talks here.  That distance between the emotional uplift of this man’s visit and  the reality of our daily actions is wide, and I am confounded by that space.

How is it possible that we can be so emotionally and spiritually attuned to the lessons Francis brings, while at the same time living our lives deaf to our own opportunities to respond?  Matters of climate and environment, poverty and hunger, stewardship and servanthood have seemingly captivated the pope’s audiences around the world- now including the U.S.- at a time when the debate rhetoric around such issues has never been more polarized and heated.  And we are all the same in this spiritual conundrum that afflicts us between our feeling and our doing.

Catholics from Latin America are especially in love with Francis, for he is “of them” and speaks to Latin Americans in their own language, a connection which is treasured.  From country to country Francis is welcomed by heads of state who cherish the moments of being in the presence of the pope and his hopeful message, only to return all-too-frequently to their autocratic regimes of favoritism, exclusion and oppression.  Even in the rural reaches, professors of the faith who hold a very proprietary view of Francis and his humble servanthood will too often seek to take advantage of opportunities for gain over good character.  We are seemingly infected with the virus of selfhood.

In Europe, the pontiff is received upon red carpets and with gifts of expressive love by leaders who, in some cases, have slammed shut the doors of receptive love on the very homeless about whom the pope continually reminds us.  Particularly on the European continent, we are afflicted with the disease of short memory about dispossession and relocation.

In the U.S., political leaders have clamored to be among those in audience with the pope; few were absent as Francis addressed Congress.  Yet some of these eager faces will reflect a far different countenance in the days to come as the country weighs national interests of short-term corporate health against interests of long-term personal, national and global well-being, of political postures versus strength of character, of support for military revolutions in contrast to Francis’ “revolution of tenderness and love.”  Here, we are seemingly diseased through our affluence and power.

The observations and questions posed here are not intended to be accusatory or pejorative to anyone other than perhaps myself.  To be sure, we are complex beings with internally competing motives that shape us day by day, even hour-by-hour.  We are human, imperfect by definition.  We cannot be perfectly consistent because we live in dynamic surroundings, some physical, some emotional, some spiritual.  We are subject to awesome and unexpected changes to our lives, alterations which can be both unanticipated and unexplainable.    Our world is transforming every day, in ways seen and unseen to most of us.

But almost despite those realities, Pope Francis has been able to reach out to the world with a message that has caught us off-guard but which is full of possibilities.  The receptivity to that message does not depend entirely in the voice of the deliverer, but in the hearts and minds of the rest of us.  Francis has asked us to be our best selves. Consistency between that ideal and our daily actions is entirely within our command.  Deep down, that’s why we’re so glad the pope is here, sharing his universal words of humility and hope, and why we long to embrace both him and his message….

Prove Your Humanity

The world for many of us has become increasingly complicated with user names, pin numbers and passwords to allow us access to our digitized world.  Bank accounts, credit card transactions, Internet sites and a host of other “conveniences” require that we provide identification and authorization to get to where we want to go.  There’s nothing dramatically new about this, although the proliferation of such requirements seems to be growing all the time. What may be more important than remembering all the secret codes is recalling where you have written down all such information, because it’s unlikely that we will ever recall all of the individual identifications that we have assigned to our various stores of secrecy.

I encountered one new proof requirement just this week that caught my attention in a different way.  In order for me to access the site which allows publication of these weekly essays, I have long been required to “log in” with proof of me.  But now the site asks for one more verification.  It asks me to add together two numbers and enter the sum into an answer box, to “prove your humanity,” the instruction reads.

I approach such proof-giving by setting aside my concern that I might enter an incorrect answer and be shut out of the publication site.  Hopefully, one’s inability with math is not a screen for humanity.  It may be a reliable test of numeric skills, but I doubt that it comes even close to measuring the depth of one’s feelings for humankind.

I also wonder about the underlying assumption that an accurate addition of two numbers somehow demonstrates a humanity. We have calculators and computers capable of formulaic computations far beyond the abilities of most people.  The addition of two digits hardly qualifies the respondent as a living, breathing creature for whom other human life has meaning.

Proving our humanity, or the quality of being humane, is a great deal more difficult than simply adding numbers.   There is a depth and breadth to the claim of being human that transcends an ability to crunch numbers.  It’s more than simply being born to human parents.

Humanity implies an emotional connection with the rest of the species, a caring, an empathy for “the other,” acts of mercy, a kindness and a kinship with other humans.  In light of such criteria, perhaps we should be very grateful that we are not required to prove our humanity for anything more vital than access to a website.  It might be the case that very few of us would have the identification needed.

Proof of one’s humanity is an interesting assignment.   It’s more than a Homo Sapiens classification; in fact, we know many names in the human register who demonstrated their inhumanity toward others.  It’s more than unconditional love; our dogs give us that.  It’s even more complex than choosing to be a voice for the oppressed; politicians do that to deflect more real and substantive actions all the time.  Rather, our humanity is  measured in the degree to which we are willing to give ourselves away, to assume the mantle of servant and steward on behalf of the other.  It’s welcoming when welcoming is awkward.  It’s giving when we’re down to our own last assets.  Proof of humanity is as demanding as it is compelling.  We long for it, and yet sometimes it is so elusive.

Maybe that’s why the simple addition of two numbers is all that’s required in a website.  Any more certain proof of our humanity might be hard to come by….





Somebody Ought to Do Something

Like many, I’ve been reading and watching the news about the plight of the refugees streaming into Europe.  It is heart-wrenching to watch the overloaded boats, the bodies of those who did not survive washed ashore, the streams of humanity marching into central European countries looking for any chance to survive.  I sense that even the news reporters are finding this subject difficult to cover, in part due to their own emotions at this enormous catastrophe which is unfolding before us each day.

The scope of this tragedy is such that I have found myself remembering other times, other stories of similar human disasters.  Of course, the Holocaust is the first to come to mind.  The enormity of it still defies comprehension, even after all the years and books and movies and even personal visits to historic and dreadful sites.  We recall with discomfort the genocides of Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sudan and others.  I have learned all too clearly the evils perpetrated on the people of Nicaragua by my own government during the decade of the 80’s.  Too soon the atrocities have faded from our memories;  outrage has cooled to the extent that globally we allow something like the Syrian debacle unfold today.

I suppose that it is the human condition that we will always have unfinished work before us.  At the close of World War II, the mantra of “never again” filled the world with hope that maybe this time we had sufficiently absorbed the lessons of hatred, demonization of an entire people, war.  But that hope was short-lived at best and the passage of time allowed a dulling of our sensitivities sufficient to permit subsequent abominations.

The sea of refugees seeking survival from war and indiscriminate death is an overwhelming reality threatening to drown Europe in waves of displaced humanity and despair.  Gradually, some countries have stepped forward with offers of asylum and assistance.  The Vatican itself has said that it would accept two families into their midst in a symbolic act of mercy and a call for all nations to serve.  But as some countries continue to build miles of fences and to reject opportunities for providing humanitarian help, the future for hundreds of thousands remains uncertain.

Their plight rekindles thoughts of those other occasions when humanity seemed to be on the brink of simply not caring enough.  In each of those eras, the post-crisis analysis almost always included unanswered questions about why the rest of the world waited to act, allowing so many to perish in the process.  Of course, in the aftermath of such cataclysms such questions are safe to ask since the drama has come to an end.  Retrospective analysis is more comfortable than current actions.  The questions are much more difficult to grapple with when the events are happening now, in real time.  Such is our discomfort with the refugees’ dilemma in Europe.

As is true for any world conflict which begs for intervention by someone, somewhere, governments speak for us in the absence of opportunities for us to speak for ourselves.  As limiting as that arrangement may be, each of us retains a voice, a stance, a position that begs to be heard.  Those voices are ours.  The actions belong to each of us.  Somebody ought to do something before the current humanitarian quandary becomes another history lesson of grief and embarrassment….

All I Really Need to Know About Immigration I Learned in Kindergarten

With apologies to author Robert Fulgham, I couldn’t help but recall his enormously successful book as I’ve listened to the heating debate about immigration among Republican presidential candidates.  Insofar as every one of those leaders is a product of immigration to this country, I thought it might be of some value to recall at least some of the admonitions for wisdom that Fulgham offered in his classic book.

Share Everything-  We’re taught at an early age that it’s important to ensure everyone has enough: toys, cookies, rewards, being loved and respected.  By and large, we haven’t done very well with this as adults, especially with basic life necessities.  We’ve heard many times how something like 80 individuals in the world own as many resources as half (or more) of the rest of the people on the planet. That’s not a very convincing example of sharing, particularly when so many of the have-not’s are living day-to-day in sub-human conditions.   History and reality both suggest that a primary motivation for many immigrants is the need to improve their economic status.  Most don’t wish to leave their homeland for another spot in the world; they simply must go to where the opportunity is.  Sometimes it’s good to give up our place in the lunch line for somebody else.

Play Fair-  A corollary to the above, playing fair suggests that in a competitive world where people should expect to be rewarded according to their efforts, a rigged game signals to the players that there are no rules anymore, that everyone is subject only to what he/she can gain for him/herself and that creative sidestepping of the rules is not only permissible but oftentimes heavily rewarded.   If CEOs and investment bankers and even nations are immune from penalty for violating rules, the signal is clear for someone considering a cross of the nation’s border.  What is there to lose?  If the teacher is a cheater, the lesson to be learned is that fairness is for fools.

Don’t Hit People-  Especially not with clubs or tasers or fists or bullets. Regardless of where any candidate might stand on the immigration issue, the matter resides at a level of importance somewhere far below the sanctity of human life.  As complex and persistent as the immigration problem has become, its solutions won’t be found in the  box of punitive punishment.  Not even death itself has proven to be a deterrent for the desperate.  Hitting just hurts, and not only the victims.

Clean Up Your Own Mess-  A push in kindergarten is almost always preceded by an instigating act by someone else, whether seen or not.  The push is merely the response that happens to be observed. Illegal immigration is most often motivated by untenable economic circumstances.  And those circumstances have been magnified by treaties, agreements and accords that favored our country and its own economic interests in exaggerated ways.  As a result, the option of remaining in Mexico or Nicaragua or Honduras evaporates in the wake of the social and economic consequences of messy agreements.  Our political candidates claim that illegal immigrants cross the U.S. borders knowing what the consequences are likely to be.  But those same candidates must also recognize the likely consequences of economic repression, one of which is desperation-fueled immigration.  It’s easier to serve as a model for international behavior if our own cubbyhole is clean.

Don’t Take Things That Aren’t Yours-  For every crayon pilfered in kindergarten, there are at least an equal number of excuses for the theft offered up by the filching felon: “it’s my turn, he doesn’t need it, she’s had it long enough,” or “I need it to finish my own work.” While any of them may be true, none excuse the behavior.  It’s no different in the competition for resources across the globe.  Whether oil, agriculture resources, water, geographic access or any other motive, taking what belongs to someone else is wrong, even when we’re the ones doing the taking.

Keep Your Hands (and arms) to Yourself-  If economic desperation is one of the prime motivations for immigration, then flight from the ravages of war is the other.  When physical danger from bombs and gunfire threatens life, then there is nothing to lose in trying to flee to a safer zone, even when such flight violates law.  Too often, the manufacturer’s label on those ammunitions contains the words “Made in U.S.A.”  Even when our nation is not engaged in confrontation with one of our national neighbors, our fingerprints are curiously omnipresent in the horrors of many homelands.

Say You’re Sorry When You Hurt Somebody-  Apology and forgiveness. They are the cornerstones of any relationship, because we live in an imperfect world with fellow humans who are as imperfect as we ourselves.  No individual, no nation, is without fault.  But the offering of forgiveness is a response to apology; it works best when the apology comes first.  The immigration conundrum might be less divisive, less of a political “cause celebre” and even less complex when our nation acknowledges a system that is misleading and unfair to all the kids on the playground.

Well, Fulgham’s treatise on living life well has been panned by many as being too simplistic for the sophisticated and complicated world of today.  It might be too simpleminded for immigration analysis, as well.   Perhaps.  But it also offers an alternative to the process in which we find ourselves today, where political rhetoric includes demonizing an entire ethnic class, building higher walls between nations, and minimizing the desperate realities of other human beings.  Maybe there’s one more Fulgham idea worth contemplating: hold hands and stick together….



Crossing the Line

Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.

People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”

Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average. In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.                                                                -Washington Post, June 14, 2015

So now the line has finally, openly, been crossed.  No longer do such feelings reside in unspoken thoughts or in dark corners of consciousness.  Someone has finally come out to state the perspective of many affluent “one per centers” around the world: when it comes to human essentials like water or food, we are not equal.  In other words, one man’s green lawn should take priority over the very lives of others, as long as he can pay for it.

This may not come as a surprise to everyone.  After all, in a world which produces sufficient food to satisfy the entire world’s hunger, we allow more than 795 million people to struggle with insufficient food access, even today.  We seem content to live with that fact, so maybe this class perspective with regard to water is simply more of the same. (Whether people elsewhere die from starvation or dehydration is of little importance, I suppose.  As long as I have mine, who cares?)

But somehow, the attitude reflected by Mr. Yuhas, above, has an additional callousness and arrogance attached to it.  His attitude might be more easily overlooked if it pertained only to poor people in far-off countries; after all, we find distance an immense comfort to conscience on such matters.  But in this case, his disdain is aimed at fellow Californians, fellow Americans, his neighbors.  It represents a purity of narcissistic selfism to claim that his non-essential desires for water use should take precedence over others’ essential water needs, just because he is capable of paying for them.  In a just society, citizens espouse prioritization on the basis of human values, not cash in hand.

In a country which loves to tout its sense of rugged individualism, we would do well to remember that the privilege of that individualism is not without boundaries.  Nor was that privilege attained by virtue of single actors creating that reality.  We became a vibrant society by virtue of collective effort and actions, deferring to the greater good when the larger goals dictated it, forging collaborations and reaping the rewards of that cooperative spirit over generations of self-sacrifice.  If the elitist point of view from California is any indication, those lessons would seem to be lost.  If an elected leader pleads for citizen participation and pain-sharing, the better response is apparently to behave even more wantonly.

We reside, together, on a finite planet.  None of us own any of it.  We are merely stewards of its resources and beauties for a limited time. That stewardship includes the degree to which we ensure that sustainable human life takes precedence over golf greens and that, indeed, we are all equal when it comes to the rights for water….


Free Air

I had the occasion to be driving in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolis this weekend.  The warmer weather tends to spawn a desire to get out under the sunshine in whatever ways possible, and a road trip to the Twin Cities beckoned with success.  In acknowledgement to the early arrival of Spring (I choose to believe that it is here now until the presence of its sister, Summer), I chose to drive our van, which is dormant for most of the winter months.  I uncovered it, checked the oil and tires, made sure that the fuel tank was full and we embarked on a gorgeous Friday afternoon.  But surprises are always in wait, and this one really caught me off guard.

We stayed the night at the home of one of our daughters.  In the morning, we got up early to walk our dog at the brink of yet another beautiful day.  But when we stepped outdoors, I noticed that one of the van’s tires looked a bit saggy, not enough to be flat, but deflated enough that it needed another infusion of air in its tube.  I made a mental note of it, and we went about our sunrise walk.

After our walk and breakfast, I asked my son-in-law if there was a nearby service station where I could fill the sluggish tire, and his response shocked me.  “Well, there are plenty of stations around,” he said, “but up here, most of them charge you for the air.  I’m not sure where there’s free air around here.”

I was transfixed for the moment, not at all certain that I had heard him correctly.  My wide open jaw must have conveyed my disbelief.  “Yes, it’s true,” he said with a shake of his head.  “They actually charge you for air.  I’ve never experienced it before, but it’s pretty common here.”

Now, paying for something that has previously been free is nothing new.  For example, when it comes to the airlines, it’s now the norm.  I pay for my bags to be loaded onto the plane.  I pay for any food I might wish to eat on board that plane. In fact, I’ve even had to pay a fee to assure myself of a seat on that plane, even though I’ve already purchased a ticket!  I used to watch television for free, while I now have to pay a monthly fee to the cable company to bring the signal into my home.  So the burden is nothing new.  But air is the truest commodity, one which is actually needed by all of us for life itself, and the prospect of having to pay for it, even for my automobile tires, well, just jars me to the very core.  Pay for it?  Really?

By the time I wrapped myself around the incredible truth of it, my son-in-law did remember one station where the air is still free, and I carefully noted his directions to the station, as though successful arrival at its pumps and portals was a feat of momentous achievement.  But as we drove to it, I reflected on this troubling trend of modern life.  If air has to be purchased from a hose, how long before someone tries to control it outright?  What might it mean to have to pay for air?

A song from the 60’s envisioned something like that in the tune, “Big Yellow Taxi,” by Joni Mitchell.  One line of the song talks about taking “all the trees, put them in a tree museum, and they charged the people a dollar and a half just to seem ’em.”  I remember thinking at the time that the likelihood of that seemed pretty far-fetched, but in these days, I’m not so sure.  If the big oil companies, who already command profits from their ventures that are beyond imagination, are still seeking ways to further increase their revenues by selling air, then apparently anything is possible, and maybe even likely.

As I thought about the outrageous idea of paying for air (the oil companies would be far better off simply not offering the service rather than charging for it), it triggered some thoughts about similar outlandish realities faced by others.  In Nicaragua, when a rural peasant farmer buys certain hybrid corn for planting, the corn plant bears ears of corn whose kernels are not plantable for the following season; they have been modified in such a way as to prevent their regeneration.  In this way, the giant seed companies hold the farmers hostage year after year, forcing them to purchase new seed annually.  In other cases, hybrid corn is sometimes planted in such a way that some migrates onto a neighboring farm by accident; the seed companies will sue the unsuspecting neighboring farmers for patent infringement, and even win the judgment.   Imagine having to pay for someone else’s error and greed, when you are barely able to feed your family to begin with.

We live at a time when eighty-five of the world’s wealthiest individuals hold as much wealth as half the world’s entire population. It is apparently the case that those who command such wealth are not content with such disparity, and seek to control virtually all of the world’s substantial bounty.  Including the air.  While humans have always lived amidst great differences in wealth and resources, never have we seen inequalities as these.

There is no moral to this story or analogy to be made.  It is simply a report of our further evolution as a species which appears to be intent upon playing the zero sum game of “last man standing.” For the few who play it, it must be exciting.  But in the end, it will be the loneliest of all victories….




Thanks Giving

As I prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday this week and the arrival of at least some of our children for a short visit, I found myself in an introspective frame of mind and full of gratitude for my life’s blessings.  I suspect it was a reflective moment for many people in the U.S., or at least it’s supposed to be.  It’s good to give thanks for copious amounts of food and leisure time, football games and “Black Fridays.”  Right?

With just a little different perspective, though, we might recall the basis of earlier Thanksgivings and what was celebrated in those times.  The very first one, I have read, was the effort of the earliest immigrants here to celebrate their very survival in those first years, with the Wampanoag Indigenous people, without whose assistance the great migration might have stumbled to a halt.  The first immigrants owed much to the first peoples; but in sharing, they all observed their common thanks to whatever Spirit occupied their hearts.

The first immigrants to this country stood upon the shoulders of Indigenous people who had been here for generations.  The Europeans were sustained by the Indigenous, learned from them, shared their food and means to survive the new environment.  The Native American culture must have seemed other-worldly to the newcomers, but then, the immigrants had deliberately chosen to seek out a new world. 

Those early celebrations contained two distinct components, the thanks and the giving.  They are pieces of our historical fabric that I’m trying hard to remember in these modern times, when the recognition of our needs for interdependence and stewardship often dims in the shadow of consumerism and self-gratification.  For some, shopping has become the new face of gratitude. Thanksgiving Day has become a day of thanks marked by over-consumption of food followed by conspicuous consumption of other “things.”  In response, I’ve tried to eat less and think more about my own giving.

Since the dawn of existence, we have lived on a finite planet.  That simply means that for every gift, every resource, every blessing that I have received, someone else did not receive it.  Wherever I may fall on the human continuum of prosperity, there will be those above me and those below.  I need to be thankful for where I am on that continuum, but I never wish to lose sight of those below.  I need to remember them because I can, in just the same fashion as I have needed and hoped for the support of those above of me.  It’s the way a real Thanksgiving is supposed to work, I think.  In giving, there is an implicit need for my thankfulness: thanks for being in a circumstance where I have the ability to give, for recognizing my capacity to do so, and for the self-reformation that comes in the giving.  It’s a perspective that is strangely comforting to me, and a view for which I am truly thankful.

There is comfort and confidence in the recognition that I am on this journey of life with many others, rather than facing its uncertainties by myself.  And I think that I am not alone in this….






Looking for An Answer

I read the October issue of Envio, “the monthly magazine of analysis in Central America.”  The lead story in it takes the Nicaraguan government to task for a litany of wrongs ranging from lack of transparency to outright fabrication of untruths, including the official release of a report which sought to convince the public that no less than a meteorite had been the cause of an enormous explosion in the capitol city of Managua.  (This, despite lack of any corroboration by any scientific entity in the world.)  In the view of the writers at Envio, what the government lacks in the way of transparency and public interest is more than made up by audacity and creativity.  In the end, their plea is for the government to simply be honest and open about its actions and motives.  Sound familiar?

Our own U.S. elections are now history (thankfully my phone will stop ringing quite so often) and in the latest edition the Republican party has attained a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The cheers among the party faithful are loud and long, as their expectations for a country headed in the “right direction” have been fueled once again.    Now, they say, if we can just elect a Republican to the White House in two years, true peace and prosperity will finally be permitted to take hold in our country and we can all get on with the business of the pursuit of happiness.

I presume that we are to forget the anger and outright hostility directed toward the most recent Republican president as he left office a mere six years ago.  Time apparently heals all wounds, even the ones that bring us to our economic knees.

Of course, the outgoing Democrats have proven little during their time in majority, even with a party member in the White House.  They were able to pass a universal health insurance law which has become despised or mistrusted by over half the entire population, but they did pass the legislation.

Together, the Republican and Democrat legislators have forged a dysfunctional government in the U.S. that frustrates and sickens most of the electorate.  What passes for governance today is little more than ideological warfare between the parties, and the good of the nation falls way down the list of priorities for both parties.  Their number one objective is solely to be in authority, just as the Ortega family has practiced its own form of “power lust.”

In reality, perhaps it was ever thus.  Maybe what the people of Nicaragua and the U.S. experience today is pretty close to what their respective governments have provided over the years (or in the case of Nica, at least since the demise of the Somoza regime).  Our reliance upon our governments to significantly address the important issues of our day is misdirected, with little evidence to support the notion that any political party can effectively represent an ever-widening range of divergent interests and demands.

Well, if such is the case, where do we turn for hope in making our countries and our world better places?  At the risk of over- simplification, I suggest that the answer may lie within us.   We have the capacity to give in ways that governments cannot or will not.  A starving person may respect the power and reach of The World Food Program, but he treasures even more the loaf of bread that he has just received.  We all possess the power to strongly influence the niches of our lives, and in ways that we might never even recognize.  Waiting for and relying upon the vagaries of institutional wisdom is often an exercise in disappointment and injustice.   It is far more likely that the endowments that lie within each of us- compassion, generosity, healing and equity- are better suited for the task of remaking our world.  Taking the government and its bureaucracies out of the equation leaves… just people.  And I’d take my chances with each of them one-to-one any day.

I’m reminded of a cartoon which was given to me years ago, to help me put into perspective both the power and obligation I have as a steward of this world.  In it, two creatures of the forest are having a conversation about the global state of affairs.  One poses the idea that plagues us all from time to time.  “Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering and injustice when He could do something about it.”

The companion responds with a challenge.  “Well, why don’t you ask Him?”

“Because,” sighs the first, “I’m afraid that He would ask me the same question.”

I think it’s a bit the same when it comes to asking the question of our elected bodies.

We are perpetually torn in our earthly journey, it seems, between recognizing the wisdom and goodness of the human heart versus the easier pathway of allowing others to speak and act for us in ways that defy our better natures.  My own search for answers has circled me back to myself, and a growing inclination to self-sufficiency in responding to the cries of the night….