Dee's Blog
Thu 01/19/2012
Scary Characters
Topic: Judgment

There are a lot of scary characters hoping to run against President Obama.  Scary characters without character.  They say one thing, but their lives and records show something entirely different.  These characters are lacking in integrity.

What scares me most is that we don't have enough intelligent people to sort out the emptiness of the half-truths.

For instance, this morning I heard Newt saying that this President has a record number of people on food stamps.  Like he's going out on the street corners, handing out vouchers!!   That's the implication.

Of course, we have a record number of people on food stamps.  Why?  Because the powers that be fail to see how much an economy that worships consumer capitalism creates the problems that contribute to people needing to apply.

Cicero said:  "So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge."

I don't think Newt ever studied Cicero.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:53 PM CST
Wed 01/18/2012
Success Doesn't Always Include Character
Topic: Power

"Character is formed through the allegiance to a code of moral and ethical conduct. Integrity is the adherence to that code, no matter the circumstance. It takes a good deal of courage to stand by core beliefs, especially when others are unable or unwilling."  That's what Patrick O'Neill teaches. 

A person can manipulate people, to find a way to get to the top.  One can get a PhD without having character.  Intelligence can be applied for good or evil.

O'Neill encourages us to look for examples of people who had both talent and integrity.  I always thought character and integrity went hand in hand.  Not exactly, I've learned from O'Neill's thought-provoking newsletter

A person needs intelligence and talent to be successful.  Character certainly helps.  Integrity, when the going gets tough, is remarkably rare.   Tomorrow, we'll consider integrity. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:18 AM CST
Tue 01/17/2012
Still Believing
Topic: spirituality

"Don't stop believing" the song lyrics tell us.  Believing what?  That depends on who you are, where you've been, with whom you associate, and where you think you should be going. 

I believe everyone deserves a wonderful life.  I believe institutions and their leaders should be transparent.

In my earlier years, I naively believed that anyone who had attained power could be trusted--at least in the "almost perfect" world view that I believed was close to utopia.  I believed that there would always be a greater power to stop anyone who stepped outside the line very far.  If not another person, certainly God would stop them.

Enter reality..........

I still believe that most people can be trusted to do the right thing in ordinary situations. 

When it comes to power, I still believe that institutions and their leaders should be transparent. 

Now, in my old age, I also believe that neither  powerful people, nor the institutions they serve, can be trusted to be transparent. 

I believe we need powerful people.  We just need to have the courage to remind them that the world is doing all it can to make them transparent--especially reminding those who are fighting to see that it doesn't happen!

For more insights, see


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:40 AM CST
Updated: Wed 01/18/2012 7:05 AM CST
Mon 01/16/2012
The Power of a Dream
Topic: Power

If the media had been as sophisticated and as scrutinizing in Martin Luther King's Day, as it is in 2012, there's a good chance that he would have been drug into court for plagairism.  He would have also been arrested for soliciting prostitutes, possibly even for physical assault of prostitutes!

King was an American Baptist minister.  American Baptists are known for their strong stand against slavery and racism.  Yet, from my close-range observations, I can assure you that they are not known for keeping a sexually promiscuous pastor in the pulpit.  Certainly, King's reputation among colleagues would have been demolished if what we now know had been known back then.

Yet it is not King's morality that we laud today.  It is his courage to put his life on the line, leading the masses to join him in working for the Dream that may not even have been his original words!  We celebrate the Power of the Dream that continues guiding people who are working for change in spite of powerful, oppressive regimes.  Especially the one that "kept good people in their place" while punishing anyone who dared to challenge the abusive, immoral thinking and behavior in this "land of the free."

The King is dead in the literal sense.  Long live the Dream!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:20 AM CST
Sun 01/15/2012
Honoring Principles, Not People

Children across the nation will be out of school tomorrow, to celebrate Martin Luther King Day.  Just as they will be in a few weeks, to celebrate George Washington's birthday (though we commonly refer to the national holiday as President's Day).

We now know that both King and Washington had what most people consider to be serious personal flaws. 

Washington was a slaveholder, though he was obviously convinced this was wrong.  He lacked the fortitude and generosity to free his slaves, however, until his death.  Both he and Martha wrote in their wills that their slaves would be free.  Yet only when they could no longer benefit by them! 

What's more:  Washington found a technical loophole that allowed him to keep slaves while President, even though it was against the law in the nation's capitol (ie. Philadelphia) for anyone to hold slaves!

By maintaining two residences, alternating between the two places, he could keep the slaves, provided they weren't kept for more than six months at a time in Philadelphia!! 

So does anyone question why we honor this man's memory with a national holiday?  I've not heard such, have you?  Neither am I suggesting it.  As I see it, we are not so much honoring our first President as we are honoring the principles of freedom that were espoused in that day--even though they were sometimes not lived out very well by the leaders of that day.

Tomorrow, I'll address similar issues with Martin Luther King Day.  Eventually, tying all of this together to raise complex questions that are difficult for most of us to answer.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:22 AM CST
Fri 01/13/2012
How Do We Use Our Power to Vote?
Topic: Power

 Yesterday, I wrote about how leaders of the Hesperian Foundation courageously voted to exercise power in order to remove themselves from the one with greatest power in the entire Foundation.  (ie. the Founder himself!)  Let's look at the power dynamics and see if we can connect the dots to something that, at first glance, looks far afield.

This is election year for the United States.  The world is watching to see how we, as citizens, are going to exercise our power over our elected leaders through our vote.  For countries that do not give citizens a chance to do this on a regular basis, this power  seems enormous.  They watch us like poverty-stricken kids at the window of a candy store!!

How ridiculous, people living under dicatotships must think it is, that almost half of Americans also choose to watch the "circus," but never put forth the small effort required to exercise this wonderful power!  It's hard for any of us to believe the truth--that, in a country this size, one vote can make a difference. 

Well, in the Iowa Republican primary a few days ago, only eight (yes 8!) made the difference for who came in first!!!  Back in 2004, the percentage of votes making a difference for a national election was much smaller and had far more disastrous results, in my opinion, than if that percentage had gone the other way.

Elections aren't the only way we exercise our power. 

In governments, corporations, places of business we frequent, how we choose to spend our time, non-profits we support--in all of these we are micro-managing OUR power!  And the decisions we make can be just as important, and difficult, as they are for a CEO--if we really take them seriously. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:16 AM CST
Thu 01/12/2012
Personal Shock
Topic: Power

While writing yesterday's blog, I decided to find out more about the credentials of David Werner, the founder of The Hesperian Foundation.  What I learned through Wikipedia and the Chicago Tribune sent shivers up my spine!  Never would I have dreamed that this man, responsible for saving so many lives around the world, had been dismissed 20 years ago from the organization he founded, due to strong allegations of having molested disabled teenaged boys in Mexico!

It's a rare example of how a good work, still distributed to Peace Corp volunteers, manages to live on despite the horrific acts of evil that were apparently being perpetrated by one who was, and still is, the author of a great tool.  There is no reason to destroy the good Werner did.  However.....

Sadly, it's also an example of how much more difficult it is to do an investigation of an American citizen operating in criminal behavior overseas.

So it makes me very proud to find this part of the Hesperian story.  It serves as another rare example.  Instead of decades of doubting, colluding and massive coverup, this organization unanimously voted to totally dismiss it's founder, even after it's strongly credible investigations were unable to be legally proven.  They could have done the "church thing" I've seen so often--refusing to take action because of fear of being sued by the perpetrator while knowing that the powerless victims didn't have a chance of ever being in a court of law!! 

Justice?  Marie Fortune would say "approximate justice."  The best that could be achieved under the circumstances in a place where "there is no doctor" and also "there is no court" available.

I'm still very proud of The Hesperian Foundation, proud to have supported it's colossal accomplishments that continue despite the horror that cruelly invaded the lives of vulnerable young people.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:42 AM CST
Updated: Thu 01/12/2012 6:24 PM CST
Wed 01/11/2012
The Hesperian Foundation
Topic: Making Changes

"A chicken in every pot!"  That was the campaign promise of Herbert Hoover in 1928, a year before the Crash!  It's easy to dream, important to set goals.

 More important to find practical solutions to the problems that exist while the dreamers work out the details for greater things.  At least, that's how it feels if you are working in the trenches.

David Werner is not a doctor.  He's a world-renowned biologist who has worked for decades in community health programs, especially in Mexico. 

In 1973, Werner, along with Jane Maxwell and Carol Thurman published a very practical guide for community leaders and health care workers.  It gave life-saving information and illustrations on how to prevent and/or treat health problems.  The title says it all:  "Where There Is No Doctor." 

This book has become the most widely used health education book in tropical and sub-tropical developing countries in the world!  In fact, before the decade was out, I had ordered several copies for myself and others in remote areas.

In 1975, Werner founded The Hesperian Foundation. which I have continued to support monthly now offers an array of health care books for places where there is nothing CLOSE to universal health care.  Places where health care as we know it would seem like utopia!  Donations to Hesperian help them provide many, many copies free of charge to struggling workers with very limited training, in rural areas where health care, otherwise, is simply inaccessible.

A look at the list of materials available will give you an idea of the scope of their growing work, made possible through volunteers and low-paid writers.  How do I know? 

This organization is so dear to my heart that several years ago I applied for a job as one of their writers, thinking that I could do the work through the Web.  No, they wanted me to be able to sit down with their team to hammer out every detail.  No quick productions--clarity on the very basic level wouldn't allow me to do it as I had dreamed of doing it.

Still not convinced, I proposed that I'd be willing to move to CA--until they told me the salary!  That brought me back to earth, convincing me of why I love supporting them from a distance. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:11 AM CST
Tue 01/10/2012
Working for Universal Health Care
Topic: Power

I've been an advocate for universal health care for decades before I knew what the term meant.  Long before the public was hearing much about it in the USA!

Seeing the discrepancy in New Orleans, while doing public health nursing there, opened my eyes a wee bit. Nothing compared to living in Africa, where clinics ran out of drugs as basic as aspirin every year.  I could count on it, back then in the 80's, as a steady stream of people found their way to my back door as supplies dwindled.

I've come to believe that our voices are most needed in the United States.  Monetary gifts are what citizens of all Western countries need to consider if we are to reach people who have the lowest levels of health care in the world. 

Speaking to power takes VOICES and MONETARY GIFTS.

If you are concerned about universal health care in the USA--great!  So am I.  Why not find out how to make your voice heard through

If you'd like to go a little further from our shores, consider Doctors Outreach Clinics or Doctors without Borders.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:04 AM CST
Mon 01/09/2012
Convenient Excuses for Passing the Buck
Topic: Power

"You have to really be careful!  Never know who you can trust!"

I've heard those words so many times.  When they express concern for physical safety or health, we definitely have to heavily weigh how we may be putting ourselves at risk.  Even so, parents wouldn't think of not running into traffic for the sake of saving their child who was in a dangerous situation!

What concerns me is that I hear these same words often when it comes to reaching out to empower others with monetary gifts. 

Passing the Buck is an institutional game, we think.  It happens because, out of fear, leaders do not take strong action that is obviously needed in order to protect the powerless or to increase the power of others who deserve more. 

Yet, when I get honest with myself, I can easily catch myself playing the same game on a personal level.  This is exactly what happens when I fail to face just how much power I hold in my own hands in comparison to most people in this world.  

"You have to really be careful!  Never know who you can trust!"  As if what we hold in our hands is better kept in our hands than to risk saving a starving child or poverty-stricken family whose cries we refuse to hear.

Literally "passing the buck" is a risk.  Just like writing or speaking to people we've never met about a serious concern.  We don't know what the end result will be.  Maybe we're just wasting our money or wasting our breath. 

So? What good is our power if we don't give it away?


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:04 AM CST

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