And Our Children Shall Lead Us

For the title of this blog, I borrowed and altered the Bible quote “…and a little child shall lead them” from Isaiah 11:6.

These 21 children are fighting for their and our future. I had the good fortune to spend nearly three hours waiting in the airport with one of these children, Levi Draheim. He is the youngest plaintiff in a lawsuit, and he will be 9 years old in July. (He is in the vest in the front row.) As a former teacher, I enjoyed having several conversations with Levi while I waited for our plane.

Levi is part of Our Children’s Trust, a nonprofit, which is suing the U.S. Government and Fossil Fuel Industry for damaging the environment because of the high CO2 levels and global warming that has ensued. On March 12, 2016, the “Rolling Stone” said this about the lawsuit:

“…the complaint lays out how the government has known since the 1960s that carbon pollution from burning fossil fuels directly contributes to global warming and a destabilized atmosphere, and yet continues to aggressively promote and subsidize fossil fuels extraction. This endangers the health and wellbeing of youth and future generations, .. and violates the plaintiffs constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.”

The federal judge, Magistrate Thomas Coffman, in Oregon ruled against the U.S. Government and the oil companies and in favor of these 21 children and Dr. James Hansen in March this year.

“When these kids spoke up, Big Oil companies like ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Koch Industries got scared and through their trade associations joined the U.S. government in trying to stop the lawsuit.” This was part of the statement I got from the Our Children’s Trust website after I signed their petition. These are some of the companies these children are fighting against. Wow!

If you would like to stand with these children, you can sign a petition to support them on their website: http://ourchildrenstrust.org/.
I posted a copy of the petition on my Facebook page on Monday, April 25.

To read more stories about several of the children, who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, you can go to the following website:

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2015/08/14/

Levi’s mother, Leigh-Ann Draheim, provided the photo that was taken in March 2016, which I used for this blog, and the websites for which I am very grateful.

The 21 children who are part of the Our Children’s Trust are speaking out for all of us on this beautiful earth. I am deeply grateful for their courage and leadership. Their actions inspire me and give me great hope concerning the future. Besides writing this blog, the other thing I can do is back their actions in whatever way I am able.

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Covering Up

I have written two blogs about graffiti. Recently I took a walk back to one of the places where I had taken a photo that I had used in the blog “Graffiti 2”.
The graffiti had said, “Love to the Masses”. I was sad to see it had been covered up. It was even really well-done graffiti. I found the blotch of white paint offensive. Who is to say that the white, boring wall was better than the positive message that the graffiti had said? That graffiti had spoken for a lot of voiceless people, including me.

How much covering up do we humans do? If my life is any example, covering up and “looking good” is what I noticed is part of the American way of life. Years ago I also had the good fortune to take a course from a very observant teacher who was from Chile, and he talked a lot about “looking good”, so I started noticing the covering up and looking good I saw around me.

What is interesting, looking good goes along very well with denial, which I realized, after the fact, that I had used as a tool to survive certain experiences in my life. Once I became an adult, that denial made it possible for me to deceive myself which, in turn, kept me stuck and brought drama into my life.

“The only thing more shocking than the truth are the lies people tell to cover it up.”
http://www.mrnevergiveup.com

What I find ironic, is that we often only think that “covering up” happens with politicians, business leaders, entertainers, and others, but we then fail to notice in our own lives how we are covering up our own stuff. I know I had my own blind spots and self-deception going on.

The day came when denial didn’t work for me. Awareness is wonderful. What is great, now I get to be me without covering up, looking good, and denial. Now I am free. Sometimes that means I make new choices of the people I am close to in my life or choose a different action to take.

Covering up graffiti or anything doesn’t make sense, to me, including covering up concerns in my OWN life. That just blocks my OWN love, joy, and gratitude.

Today as I was driving home and uncovering another interesting piece about my life, the Grateful Dead came on the radio and comforted me. Take a listen.

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Being Open

I love dogwood trees. The first time I saw one, I thought the tree had butterflies on it. I grew up on the west coast, and where I lived, I had never seen a dogwood tree before. Now they are one of my favorite trees. The blossoms on a dogwood are open and, to me, represent being open.

For me, being open means, trying to accept what happens in my life. It means to try to be less judgmental about others. Being open also means I don’t get to control everything. Stuff will happen over which I have no control. Accepting what happens in my life does not mean I am resigned about what happens. It means I get to choose how I will respond to what happens in my life.

To be open, I try to be kind and loving towards everyone, including myself. When I am not loving towards myself, I have a hard time giving that love away. The kind of loving I mean here is I try to be compassionate. This is not always easy. If I anger someone else by telling him/her/them how I truly feel in the kindest way I can, I have to remind myself not to take their reaction personally. They will respond how they respond.

If I am fearful of others, I can’t be open. Fear is a closed door or wall that keeps others out. I do not like to live in fear. It is a good signal to myself that I might need to ask for help from an understanding friend or work on something in myself.

I must also remember everyone has an opinion and that often, that opinion will differ from my own. If I am willing to listen to others and be open, I don’t have to agree to respect that other person. Last week I saw a story about the famous singer, Joan Baez, who is very open to listening to others. Please read this story.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/08/13/765667/-Joan-Baez-diffuses-right-wing-protest-at-Idaho-concert

To read this story you may need to cut and paste the above URL. At least, that was the only way I could get it to work.

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”
– Bob Marley

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Dreams

As a child, I liked to pick dandelions and then make a wish and blow the seeds. Dandelions also represent dreams for me, too. As an adult, it took me longer to learn what my dreams were beside the one about being a parent.

Once I began teaching as an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher I noticed while teaching people from all over the world how similar all of us humans are.
I enjoyed learning about our differences. I celebrated our differences. Thus, that is where my byline for this blog is “Respecting Our Differences”.

My dream today is that all of us humans can learn to respect our differences and learn to live in peace together. That may seem as if that is an “impossible” dream. However, I know I am not alone.

This last weekend I had the good fortune to hear a speaker where I live. He has a dream similar to mine. He is an inspirational speaker and poet. His name is Jeffon Seely. He is also a rapper.

This is his hip-hop rap song. I find his words uplifting.

Another case where hip-hop is making a positive difference is in Central America. The Guatemalan woman rapper, Rebbeca Lane, is traveling through Central America and working with other women hip-hop rappers. Rebecca’s dream is to challenge the machista image toward women and to reduce the social violence in her culture and in hip-hop music. Her group is called Somos Guerreros, which means “We are Warriors”. Ms. Lane is working on a video to record her tour. She and the other women started this tour in Panama and will travel all through Central America. Her story was on PRI “The World” on 3/29/16. The story was on between minutes: 19:50 to 23:00.

This is the link: http://www.pri.org/programs/3704/episodes

We all have dreams. The point is not to give up. I like the dreams that are accepting of all people and inclusive. Dreams that are dark and filled with fear, control, and division between people are nothing more than nightmares.

I dream that our world will work for everyone, not just a few. As far as I am concerned, that old way of thinking has been dying out since the last century. Even if it seems to thrive somewhat today. My dream is that we are just witnessing a transition now.

The two people I wrote about in this blog are examples of what is possible. Dare to dream. Dare to work and act with others who dream big.

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