Old Diary

Why Can’t We Find


I woke up this morning to stories about International inspectors leaving Syria after their search for evidence of poison gas usage by the Syrian government.

time to wage war

There’s no secret to the fact that I’m a pacifist.  But I just can’t get over the fact that politicians are so under the control of the big money military-industrial complex that they can  watch our healthcare system go down the tubes, and cry about how far in debt we are — yet they can always find money to spend, and time to discuss starting a new war,, or at least spending a bunch of millions of dollars in weapons to keep the machine humming along nicely.

The Brits have finally decided that maybe a country It’s size has no reason to stick its nose into problems in every single country.

What will it take for the U.S. to realize that if any country tried to bully us around the way we stick our nose into everyone else’s business that we’d be mightily put off.

So when we wonder why Islamists hate us, perhaps we should look at our own behavior.


This is my SEPTEMBER Blog4Peace post, one day early.

Old Diary

If We Try…

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try to understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou


It’s half way through August and I haven’t posted my August Blog for Peace.  I have been thinking about peace with an emphasis on hopeless causes. Never fear, I’m not thinking peace is a hopeless cause; rather about those times in life when we stubbornly set ourselves a difficult task knowing we shall fail but determined to try anyway.

It seems common nowadays when watching various sports programs for athletes to talk about mental conditioning and the power of visualization. I’m kind of tired of hearing  Of course team members on both sides of the field might be visualizing the same victory and only one party can win. There’s so much talk about winning, or winning at any cost, or never giving up, etc., etc., etc..  Everyone wants to win.  And no one wants to be friends, to be equals, to come to an agreement.

One of the benefits of travel that you don’t get from sports is the opportunity to see and experience the commonality between humans.  Sports encourage antagonism.  Travel brings people together by leaving the familiar behind and venturing out into the unknown — the land you cannot predict, the time you cannot control, the companions you never expected.

Define the word ‘sports’:

An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.

Millions of people will tell you about team building and how wonderful sports are; and I’m not here to lobby AGAINST SPORTS.  My point is that we TRY very hard to compete against others.  If we would try equally hard to understand maybe we would just become friends.  I know there’s an argument that some people just don’t WANT to be friends — that some people are just bad — but if we never give try to find out, if we automatically assume they want to cause trouble then that is all we will ever get.

Peace will not occur without trying.  Pure and simple.  Too much of our society is based in conflict.  Business is conflict.  It’s not personal, it’s business.  Business is war.  All our employers are out to steal business from other companies. Find a better mousetrap.  Or make the same thing better, or cheaper, or faster.  There are ‘X’ dollars out there to be spent on any given item/activity, we have to get ours before someone else does.

Peace begins before conflict or after it.  Peace does not thrive in the midst of conflict.

Travel takes us to new places and shows us different ways of doing things, different things to eat, different customs.  Travel shows us possibilities.  Travel also shows us the commonalities between us all, rich and poor, black and white, healthy and sick, smart of dumb.  Years ago we went to our first nudist resort.  One of the things I found particularly interesting is that after people arrived from their journey and removed their signs of status — clothing, jewelry, etc. — that everyone got along quite well.  There were no obvious reminders of the world they left behind. There was no status amongst the guests, we were all humans.  Living in a clothes free environment isn’t going to work as a world solution but it was a good reminder that if you give other people a chance they often prove to be just like us…..

Well, that’s it for peace for August.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Old Diary

Conditioned For Violence

What is he being conditioned FOR?

What is he being conditioned FOR?

Yesterday, the 4th of July, our national Independence Day here in the U.S., I was taking a walking when a neighbor here at the campground roared down a finger of the Mississippi River on a jet ski — with his 4 or 5 year old little boy sitting on the jet ski in front of him.  They rounded the corner of a partially flood covered island and roared up the swollen river. That was the last I saw of them for a while.

I know a lot of folks would look at that scene and seen a touching example of a father “spending quality time” with his child. Dad is spending time with his ‘little man.’  The little man is learning what it’s like to be a MAN.  But, I’m afraid what I saw was a father conditioning his child to a lot of the ‘negative’ things.

Speed and noise:  you can’t have fun without speed and noise.  So often that seems to be the way with us Americans (meaning no offense to Canadians or Mexicans who also are “Americans” but whom I am not referencing). Faster & louder that’s the true nature of fun — at least that’s what this boy will grow up thinking.  Jet skis or power boats, racing cars and ATV’s: the measure of a man’s masculinity is determined by the dangerous things he does, by the risks he takes, by the rules he breaks.  And he learns these things well, for during the summer the family hook up the 3/4 ton pickup to the 40′ 5th wheel trailer, they hook up a speed boat behind that, and behind a second vehicle they tow a 25′ pontoon boat.  Weekending is serious business in this family.

multiple boats and multiple vehicles all for the same weekend RV'ing family

multiple boats and multiple vehicles all for the same weekend RV’ing family

When the child is old enough to engage in team sports dad will be out there teaching him the importance of winning, of giving your all, of the ‘virtue’ of adversarial endeavor, and how a group of boys who train hard enough and work together can ‘beat the pants off’ some other group of boys, or men, or nations or religions, or…. well, you get the idea.

We pass on to the next generations those things that we love the most.  What is it we are nostalgic about?  What is it that makes us all warm and fuzzy?  What are the things we devote ourselves to after we are out of our parents home, living our own life, and doing whatever we want?  We become the things we think about, my friends.  We pass on to those who follow us those things we do habitually.

When our daughter was young I had a sobering realization.  Children see and react to everything.  And that includes things we don’t want them to see or hear.  But the scarier part is that from all those things that they see and hear it is impossible for a parent to anticipate which of all the attitudes possessed by their parents will the kid choose to copy, to emulate, to fashion themselves into.  On more than one occasion the thing our daughter adopted as her own was a part of me that I’m not all that proud or satisfied with!!!!!

It would be just as easy to condition our children to seek peace,  to appreciate beauty, to love nature without killing it, and respect your neighbors without getting the best of them.  The problem is that in order to do so requires that the parents first learn to love peace, and responsibility, and the earth that nurtures us.  But too many of us don’t; we don’t do any of those things.

There is no shortcut to peace.  We become the things we think about — if we want peace we need to start thinking more about how to peaceable, and live in peace with one another and with this earth.  But it’s more fun to think about going faster; or going further; how to catch the bigger fish, the pointier deer;  how to beat the opposing team and when it’s worth while taking the short-term penalty if you can put your opponent at a lasting disadvantage. For some, its even more fun just to think about going out and getting drunk — their way of escaping the boring life they live.   We, in this country,  spend billions to televise sporting events for the viewing pleasure of millions;  when will we see anyone televising the peace? Or advocating it?  Or when will millions of consumers buy videos showing us how to be more kind instead of more ‘ripped’, ‘cut’, and sexy.

There is no shortcut to peace. In order to love peace I fear there is a part of us which needs to have experienced the opposite, anger, rancor, hatred, war.  I wonder sometimes how many pacifists become such theoretically; and how many become such because they have experienced the wasting, the ruin, the desolation of anger and hatred?  I’m not sure where I fit in that continuum of experience.  I’ve never been to war but I’ve been a pacifist since age 12.  I had a happy childhood — so I don’t think I witnessed violence or hatred at home. And my abhorrence of violence and war have never been purely philosophical.

There is no shortcut to peace.  A longing for peace is a passion that can only arise from within when we realize as individuals that what we have been doing as a culture, as a society, as a family, as individuals is not working.


Once a month I blog about peace and a group of other bloggers dedicate a day’s blog to the subject of peace.  Why not join Bloggers4Peace.

P.S.:  I’ve got nothing against water sports, or sports in general, or racing, or speed, or any of the things I mentioned. I simply believe that as parents we teach not only the things we think we are trying to teach to our children, but that our children learn from our actions what THEY want and need to learn — whether or not we are trying to teach them.  And a great deal of what they learn is NOT conducive to a world living in peace and harmony.


My B4Peace post for June

I could write a lot of words.  But children reduced to sticks because adults are busy killing each other are the strongest argument for a little peace….

The Cost of War is Best Told in the Faces of Those Who Suffer

The Cost of War is Best Told in the Faces of Those Who Suffer


Old Diary

We Cant Live Without Water – B4Peace

Old Diary

I want to publish 2 – B4Peace posts this month.

Like the first one, Where Childhood Thrives, I don’t want to talk so much from my own experience but to give you something to think about in story form.

So, let me share this story:

There is a story by Osho which tells us how humanity has been indoctrinated by the system.

The story is called:

The Animal School

The animals got together in the forest one day and decided to start a school. There was a rabbit, a bird, a squirrel, a fish, and an eel, and they formed a board of directors.

The rabbit insisted that running be in the curriculum. The bird insisted that flying be in the curriculum. The fish insisted that swimming had to be in the curriculum, and the squirrel said that perpendicular tree climbing was absolutely necessary to the curriculum. They put all these things together and wrote a curriculum guide. Then they insisted that all of the animals take all of the subjects.

Although the rabbit was getting an A in running, perpendicular tree climbing was a real problem for him. He kept falling over backward. Pretty soon he got to be sort of brain-damaged and could not run anymore. He found that instead of making an A in running he was making a C, and of course he always made an F in perpendicular climbing.

The bird was really beautiful at flying, but when it comes to burrowing in the ground, he could not do well. He kept breaking his beak and wings. pretty soon he was making a C in flying as well as an F in burrowing, and he had a hell of a time with perpendicular climbing.

Finally, the animal who ended up being valedictorian of the class was a mentally retarded eel who did everything halfway. But the educators were really happy because everybody was taking all the subjects, and it was called a “broad-based education”.

(Osho 2001, 151)

I’m sure there are many who would disagree with me, but I rather think this is about how the U.S. has come to feel about other nations.  We intervene in their affairs and when we are all done they aren’t themselves, and they aren’t us, and too often we have bombed their society into ruins.


Kashmiri’s seach the rubble of their bombed out home

Iraq Violence

Iraq Violence


Animal School – B4Peace


My B4Peace post for May 2013….  This is one that doesn’t need a lot of words.

A picture is worth 1000 words.

where war exists

Consider becoming a blogger for peace….




Old Diary

Where Childhood Thrives…

Old Diary

Dance the Best Dance You Know — ADDENDUM


Dance the Best Dance You Know
Even if it doesn’t look like you are dancing at all.

My friend Dianne Gray who has her own blog commented on yesterday’s post.  Something in her words reminded me of this graphic that I’ve had in my image catalog for several years — and had forgotten about.

It’s a good illustration however, so here it is.

And lest you take me too seriously, here’s another just for fun.


Old Diary

Dance the Best Dance You Know


It’s April and time for my April Blog for Peace article.  I want to start these thoughts with something elementary to peace, which is respect for others.

I was never a certified teacher.  When I went to UW-M I was sure I wanted to become a secondary school teacher and my courses (English / English Lit) were aimed in that direction.  It took me a while to realize that no matter how rewarding teaching might be as a profession that my personality would not thrive constrained within 4 walls — even with three months a year of time to myself.  (Of course any teacher worth their salt knows that those months are often filled with those continuing education credits it takes to progress up the payroll ladder).

I never had a free spirited professor such as the author of these quoted thoughts met. That doesn’t prevent my understanding where the professor and author are coming from:

From:  The Write Project

…while I felt equipped by my education program to navigate the world of adolescents in the classroom, no classroom teacher ever taught me more about kids than what I learned from a free-spirited, ex-hippie professor I had in grad school named Nancy Spejcher.

As far as professors go, she was about as far away from the wire-rimmed-glasses/leather-patch-on-the-blazer stereotype as one end of the rainbow is from the other.  She often eschewed the status quo, especially if toeing the company ever got in the way of caring for kids.  Quite simply she loved on kids in a way that sure inspired and challenged teachers.  One nugget of wisdom from her mouth has stuck with me, some eleven years later:

Everyone is dancing the best dance that he or she can.”

To buy in to this philosophy is to choose to think the best of kids, to extend grace in a way that they are not used to getting.  It means to drop the rocks of condemnation and use those arms to embrace. It means to refuse to snidely  pass judgment on the boy whose missing assignments are more routine than the morning newspaper.   To believe that the girl with the chip on her shoulder is truly dancing her best dance, instead of simply trying to bait me into the ring every day. To understand that maybe there’s a reason behind someone’s lack of productivity, and it’s not just pure laziness;  it’s because navigating a harrowing home-life requires just about every ounce of energy he can muster.

Photo by Claudia Crane, Creative Commons

It’s pretty easy to like the kids who are perfect, the kids whose educational pirouettes look sublime. What about the kid whose face comes to class with a permanent scowl?  Understanding that he’s dancing the best dance that he can might mean seeing that even his silent brooding in class is a lot better rumba than a spew of vitriol from his lips.

2013033009281680Granted, such an approach doesn’t merely tolerate everyone’s shortcomings with a pursed-lips pout of resignation.  No matter how spirited the waltz, improvement is always possible, especially if someone notices the dance and is willing to lead.  To believe in that possibility, to imagine the possibility of change, is to be fully human.  To join a student in the dance of life and lead him or her towards a new tomorrow is why teaching is a priceless endeavor.

Even with my own kids, I need to realize they’re dancing with everything they’ve got.

Imagine what would happen if you approached everyone in your family or your office the same way.  Remember, it’s not about just summoning super-human levels of patience to deal with all the difficult people in your life.  It’s about giving the benefit of the doubt daily.  Maybe Janice from accounting’s constant negativity is enough to make you scratch the veneer off your desk . . . with your teeth.  Realizing that there’s more below the surface and that she’s dancing the best dance that she can might just give you the grace to lend a hand instead of throwing a stone.


Doing so might just make your change your own cha-cha.

How could realizing this truth about people change your life today?  Who do you need to show a little more grace towards?

I find it hard to think that any professional teach would find much to fault with these words — no matter how burnt out or jaundiced they might have become by fighting with their local school system to be allowed to do their job better.

Let’s Extend the Dance Metaphor

The quoted blog entry was about teaching, but if you consider it, it’s a lot about peace as well.  We go to war with those we feel superior to.  We go to war with those we think are harming us — or are about to harm us. We go to war because we think our way of life is “better” than theirs — as if another culture was some failed attempt to by like us.

It seems we rarely consider that other nations are Dancing the Best Dance They Know.  That doesn’t mean they are ignorant of our way of life — goodness knows we pepper the airwaves 24/7 with entertainment and news to brag about just how great we are.  But how often do we look at another’s way of life, or another nation’s way of life to find the good things, the things that are better there than what we have, the admirable and laudatory things?

We can’t have peace, world peace, national peace, regional peace, marital peace unless we begin with mutual respect.  And mutual respect begins with realizing the other party is Dancing the Best Dance They Know.