“Blowing in the Wind”

The photos last week of the little 5 year-old Syrian boy who had survived the bombing, touched my heart. Often I have to turn off stories about the Syrian war. By now it is possible that between 200,000 and 400,000 thousand people have died. Often all I feel I can do is pray. I am a peace supporter. I protested the second Iraq War of George W. Bush for months and months. I became a peace advocate in my 30s, so I was not a hippy in the 60s and 70s and part of the protest of the Vietnam War. However, today Bob Dylan’s song touches my heart, particularly the line:
“Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’till he knows
That too many people have died?”
When will all these wars end? “Blowing in the Wind” answers that question for me.

That is how I feel about the endless wars that have been the backdrop of my entire life. I did not experience them directly, but I had a taste of them through teaching some of the immigrants I taught English to as an English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) teacher. First, I learned a little from my Vietnamese students in New Hampshire and even in North Carolina and also from the other teachers who taught with me. This was long after the War in Vietnam had ended (in 1990).

The first year I taught as an ESL teacher, I read “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” by Le Ly Hayslip. Ms. Hayslip is Vietnamese, so the book was written from her perspective. When I saw the movie that Stone made from her book, it became much more the point of view of her American soldier husband, so Hayslip’s story was diminished. In any case, her book helped me to slightly understand who I was teaching at the time. I learned that first year teaching that the wars we Americans fight, when our troops leave these countries, they are left destroyed. After destroying their countries, then there is new wave of displaced people and immigrants who have suffered the ravages of war at the hand of American foreign policy.

Later in my career I taught Korean students, Palestinians, a few Syrian students, long before the present war in Syria. One of those students had a family that was living in Egypt when it used to be more stable. I had the good fortune to teach students from most of the countries of the world and because we needed to practice speaking and listening besides teaching English, I was able to learn something about their lives.

I love the USA, but I have deeply revulsion to our foreign policies in world. I believe that since the end of World War II, which ended before I was born, most of our foreign policies have been bankrupt, greedy, and very destructive.

A man who understood war well, President (and General) Dwight Eisenhower, warned us Americans before he left office at the beginning of 1961 NOT to create a “Military-Industrial Complex”.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
-President Dwight David Eisenhower

This is President Eisenhower’s entire farewell speech:

http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

Our politicians did not heed Eisenhower’s wisdom. Greed superseded wisdom.

I have no idea how to stop all of the wars. What I do know is that I personally must be at peace within myself and like myself. When I am feeling down, I notice I am NOT as kind to others. I have to start by being kind to myself. Stressing myself about “getting things done” and pressuring myself is NOT a good way to treat myself. Also when I disconnect myself from my heart and my source, I find I think and act more negatively towards others. I believe this is the beginning of callousness towards others and the “roots of all war”. All I can do is correct myself. If each of us, focuses on our own lives and also is willing to work with others, I believe it is possible to end war. Also getting the profit and greed out of war and selling implements of war: guns, rockets, etc. to others is also necessary. No telling when that might happen. No matter what, I can still be as peaceful as I can and live a happier life because I choose to be kinder towards myself and others.

I love this song. It says my point of view in a song, “Down to YOU”. Thank you, Bonnie Raitt.

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I Love Trees

I have always loved to be where there were trees. I feel good surrounded by trees. When I want to feel peaceful, besides meditating, trees and being around green helps me feel peaceful. I remember in biology when I learned how trees give us humans oxygen, and we humans give them carbon dioxide, my love for trees grew more.

Now I live in a state where cutting down trees changed the entire state’s economy when leveling the forests was no longer an option. It was a difficult transition for the loggers here. I think the spotted owl became the culprit to stop the logging, but because we stopped logging in many areas in the Northwest, we might have also helped to curb some global warming on the planet.

Here are some facts about trees. There are some good reasons to at least be thankful for trees, even if you don’t go around hugging them.

https://www.ncsu.edu/project/treesofstrength/treefact.htm

In Western Canada, cutting down trees became a huge fight between loggers on one side and native people and environmentalists on the other. The fight began in 1993 over the Great Bear Rain Forest. The Great Bear Rain Forest Agreement was finally signed on February 4, 2016 in British Columbia. The agreement protects 85% of the old growth forest from logging. This fight became known as the “War in the Woods”.
This is a fight we Americans from the USA can learn from. Take a listen. It took more than 20 years to resolve this fight.

http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-08-03/great-bear-rainforest-model-how-save-trees

In the state of Oregon, for example, this fight is still going on to protect the forests here. From the website: Oregon Wild, here is a view of what is still happening now.
http://www.oregonwild.org/forests/forest-protection-and-restoration/common-sense-vision-oregon-forests

Of course, I cannot leave out the fact that trees help mitigate global warming because they soak up carbon monoxide. From more up-to-date studies of global warming, we learn that reforestation and tree planting really work well help our planet with global warming. This article from The Guardian helps to explain more about reforestation.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/nov/29/planting-trees-climate-change

I remember years ago a person who I was taking a course with me was showing a group of us how to hug a tree, and the trees we were hugging were sequoias in Muir Woods outside of San Francisco. (Now it is probably banned, because it became too prevalent.) At the time, I felt very awkward and foolish. I just did NOT get it! I was not an old (or even youngish) hippie, back then (I am now). I do not go around hugging trees now, but I do not consider it foolish at all. You do not have to go to an old growth forest to get the “good” vibrations that a tree or trees give(s) off.

Science Proves Hugging Trees Is Good for Health

Where I was born, we usually had to plant trees because it was so dry. I love my family, but I am not able to live close by because of several reasons. One of them is that there are NOT enough trees around where my family lives and because of drought, many of them are dying. One place I lived, many years ago was Arizona, and I was not particularly happy there at all. Today I’m a happier person because I live in a place that has plenty of evergreens and all kinds of trees. Green trees are part of what I need to make me smile a lot. In that kind of green, I feel immersed in nature and closer to my source.

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Scream: A Possibile Future Reality

So far this year, I have remained sort of apolitical, but my whole life I have been political. Since we have the slight possibility of having a former Reality Star as our President, I can NO LONGER be silent. I need to paint a picture of what the USA might look like should that slight possibility of Mr. Trump becoming our President come to pass. We don’t need to envision this, it is already a way of life in a particular state I know of. This state is being sued by the US Federal Government to protect the civil rights of the people in that state.

In the state of North Carolina, the following laws have been passed. The following services have been cut. Once laws such as these have been passed, we as a nation of governed by laws, are not quickly or easily able to turn those laws around and nullify them.

1. Gun laws: HB 937 dramatically expanded protections for gun rights. The new law allows North Carolinians with valid concealed-carry permits to protect themselves in several areas that were previously gun-free zones, including restaurants that sell ALCOHOL, greenways (parks), and establishments that charge admission. The law also allows permit holders to keep guns in locked compartments inside vehicles while on the property of a public university, community college, SCHOOL, or state government parking lot.

2. Lawmakers passed a bill that prohibited the state from accepting
Federal Medicaid funding that would have made health care benefits available to more citizens. They also chose not to set up a state health exchange program to implement the Affordable Care Act.

3. In public schools, the lawmakers cut funding to almost all districts in 2013, 2014, and 2015 including cutting assistants and many other positions around the state. Here is an article about education in North Carolina from the Washington Post:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/07/north-carolinas-step-by-step-war-on-public-education/

4. It establishes a NEW VOTER identification system that requires voters to present certain acceptable forms of ID: driver’s license, non-operator ID card, tribal ID card, military ID card, or passport. Any North Carolina citizen who does not have a valid government-issued ID will be able to obtain one at no cost through the Division of Motor Vehicles. The law does not take full effect until 2016, with gradual implementation beginning in 2014. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUED THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA FOR THIS NEW LAW, AND SAID IT IS AGAINST THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF NORTH CAROLINIANS, recently.

5. Since Roe V Wade is still the law of the land this is this state’s solution:
a. Prohibits individuals and families from obtaining abortion coverage through the health-exchange, even if they buy their insurance plan entirely with their own money.
b. Strips comprehensive reproductive healthcare coverage from thousands of city and county employees, coverage that the majority of private insurance plans offer.

6. This is the state where the “bathroom law”, HB2, against transgender people became a furor. What was is more, this law from 2015 bars anyone from suing the state of North Carolina for any CIVIL RIGHTS’ VIOLATIONS. Examples: age, racial, gender discrimination. Here is a further explanation:
http://www.xojane.com/issues/hb2-north-carolina-nondiscrimination

7. This state has an anti immigrant stance. Law H.B. 318 The bill invalidates consular documents as acceptable forms of identification. This was not the case before it was passed. This law would prohibit North Carolina cities from passing community trust policies, known as sanctuary city ordinances, that seek to build trust by limiting local law enforcement’s cooperation with the federal government over civil immigration matters.

8. Governor McCrory of this state signed a bill into law in mid July 2016 that:
makes that footage from police dashboard cameras inaccessible to the general public, including everyday citizens who were recorded in the footage and might need it to prove police misbehavior. Loud out cry did NOT matter.

I could go on. This is not a USA I want to live in. There will be NO Federal Government to protect our Civil liberties and rights, if this kind of thinking is our US FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. It could be more like a country with which Mr. Trump is very chummy, Russia, and its leader.

President Putin, whose former job during the Soviet Union’s communism was running the KGB (secret police), is one scary leader. Russia is not a reality show. Russia today is probably more free than when I visited it in 1965. I am generally a pretty cheerful person. I was depressed everyday I was in Russia (for about a week as a tourist). “Everyone” had a job and apartment (although you might be sharing one with another family) and was equally poor; I never saw a child with his/her parents. While there, I was watched, as were all of us who traveled with me. I grew up in a household where I had NO say. How about a whole country where you felt like you were in a prison? Mr. Trump is NO laughing matter. That is why I have to SCREAM THIS FROM THE ROOFTOPS.
This is a newer report by an American organization that has been around since 1941, Freedom House. This is their report on the level of freedom in Russia today:
https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2015/russia

The fact that Mr. Trump is so openly friendly with Russia and is dismissing NATO and the countries in it: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Greece and Turkey (joined in 1952), West Germany, (joined in 1955) and Spain (joined in 1982), which have been our allies, is frightening to me.

Let what has happened in the state of North Carolina be a warning.

This blog is not being written against the people of North Carolina. I still know wonderful people and have friends there. What has happened in this state since it became a red state in the legislature and with the governor in 2012 is one of the saddest, most shocking set of changes that I have ever seen in my life, and I have lived in California, Arizona, Texas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oregon.

WE all have a choice this election.

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Maya Angelou, My Shero

In 2010 in Charlotte, NC, I had the good fortune to hear and see Maya Angelou speak at “Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon”, which raised and still raises money for the United Negro College Fund. The photo on the lower left is a fuzzy image of Ms. Angelou. Unfortunately, the throw away camera I used that day did not capture this giant of an amazing woman. She is my shero because she speaks and spoke for all of us humans in such an eloquent and loving way. She is my kind of woman leader, and she lived values that I embrace. The peach color hat in the right corner was the one I wore that day I saw her. What a privilege that was to finally see and hear her distinctive, captivating voice, live!

At the Manchester School of Technology Adult Education Center, where I worked in Manchester, NH, I first became acquainted with Maya Angelou and heard her name when my boss, Sandra, who came from Virginia and whose daughter went to Wake Forest University, spoke about her. That was about 1993. The first time I tried to see Maya Angelou was when I wanted to get her book autographed in Boston. There were so many people at the bookstore, that I could not get “The Heart of a Woman” autographed for myself and my boss. I was did not fully understand that book until a few years later, when I finally woke up as a white woman to the fact that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had not corrected all of the everyday, systemic injustices, and ignorance that were still a real part of the lives of people of African Americans, Latinos, Middle Easterners, and Asians in this country.

My love for Maya Angelou grew as a teacher when I taught excerpts from “I Know How the Caged Bird Sings” to American children. When I bought my own copy, and I finally read the entire book, she spoke for me, too. Through the years, I would watch her on “Oprah” when it was still on ABC and hang on her every word. Ms. Angelou encourages me from the grave to keep writing with:

“You may not think you can reach it. CLIMB ANYWAY. You may not think you’ll be heard. SPEAK ANYWAY. You may not think you can change things. TRY ANYWAY”

– Maya Angelou from “Words of HOPE and COURAGE.”

Her life was a testament of Courage and HOPE. She was a singer, writer, poet, thinker, dancer, professor, and social activist. She was a single mother, like I am. She befriended many of the greatest thinkers of the 20 th Century: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, and had to overcome and forgive that her friends were gunned down as young men and fathers. Her poems, such as “And I Still Rise”, raise all of us humans and tell us a true story of our past and present. See her perform it.

Maya Angelou’s last project was completed the year she died. “Caged Bird Songs”. She performed the vocals and, naturally, wrote the lyrics. Her first song “Human Family” honors all of us humans. I love the refrain:
“We are more alike, my friend, than we are unlike.”
Take a listen to her:

Until the end of her life, Maya Angelou was trying to help heal our planet and the division between us humans. Thank you so much, Ms. Angelou, for leaving us your words of WISDOM, my SHERO. I know Maya Angelou’s words will keep inspiring me to try to bring all of us humans together. I hope they touch your hearts, too.

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