Dee's Blog
Tue 01/24/2012
Naive Realism
Topic: Making Changes

Those who specialize in defining truth sometimes speak of "naive realism."  It's something we all need in healthy doses to get through the day.  Without it, we'd have to start back at Day One, doing an indepth analysis of everything we see before making the most mundane decision.

There is nothing scientific about naive realism.  When we act on it, we are not setting out to prove anything beyond the shadow of a doubt.  Our actions, choices, and assumptions are based on what seems obvious, in spite of the fact that many of those assumptions are based on illusions that we have been taught to accept without question.

Old people who are "set in their ways" have a lot in common with youngsters who do not know enough to question what they see. 

Naive realism works well for mundane tasks.  How I sweep my kitchen floor doesn't matter much.   When it comes to decisions that impact our world, though, we need the attitude of hymnist Clara H. Scott:  "open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth....."   that "set me free."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:08 PM CST
Mon 01/23/2012
The Power of Much Experience
Topic: Power

When I hold the hand of a child who is looking up at me in trust, I am in awe.  My awe mirrors that child's awe.  I am in awe that he trusts me.  She may be in awe at how anyone so wrinkled and grey could still be alive!

Very few young people keep a sense of awe when it comes to their elders.  That requires maturity that usually takes many years to develop.  Western culture values youth and book learning more than it values age and experience.

Even worse to me, all cultures seem not to trust nor to listen well to young people who have experience beyond their years, due to the traumas of neglect or abuse.  These kids are hard to trust, to be sure, when their behavior masks the truths that their stories tell.  If we, as elders, can find ways to see beyond the behavior long enough to gain from what they have to say, then we certainly speed along the process of maturity that allows them to listen again with awe.

Neither those of us who are old from both years and  experience nor the youth who do not have the years, but are "rich" in experience hold in our hands absolute truth.  What we can have in common, if we dare, is a willingness to challenge the current short-sightedness that can exist in both the young and the old--especially when it comes to institutional short-sightedness. 

Oh, that we may all grow in the skill of listening and considering what new truths we can learn in that process!!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:07 AM CST
Updated: Tue 01/24/2012 3:48 PM CST
Sun 01/22/2012
The Power of Silence
Topic: spirituality

This week I realized how thirsty my soul was to sit in silence with others of like mind.  As I've done from time to time before, I went to sit with my Quaker Friends. 

The church I attended is "unprogrammed."  Unlike many others that have programmed services with leaders, a lot of music and speakers or preachers. 

Recently, I was telling my 12-year-old grandson about the Quakers and their interesting way of worship.  He smiled and said that it sounds very boring.  For my personality, which takes little time to be still, I should think it would be to me, as well.  Yet.......

Whenever I sit in silence, I learn what's most important to me.  My heart searches for what I need to contemplate during this luxurious time.  Most of my thoughts come through musical messages, spiritual songs I have learned to treasure in the past.  Nobody else gets in the way of my communion with God.

Today, I was reminded that the world continues to turn without me thinking about what to do or say.

I was reminded that so many times my greatest witness has been through my refusing to respond to the forces of power that would "pull my strings" and use what I have to say as a trap.  There is truly a time to speak and a time to remain silent.  May God give me the wisdom to know when I need to be silent as much as when I need to speak.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 5:05 PM CST
Sat 01/21/2012
A Little Child Leads

Just forty-eight hours ago, Calysta Cordova was just a 9-year-old student in Colorado Springs.  This morning her face is being shown around the globe.  Not because she was a victim, but because she refused to remain one.

If you've yet to see the story, you can read it at

Calysta's story is especially striking to me because I have a 9-year-old granddaughter.  I cannot imagine what this young girl's family went through for almost 24 hours before they got the wonderful news that she was alive and being transported to a hospital.  I cannot imagine the relief of learning, a few hours later, that the alleged kidnapper had been identified and arrested in large part because the mother of another victim had promptly reported him for molesting her own daughter just hours before Calysta was abducted.

I can only hope that Calysta is able to work through this trauma and to find emotional healing, though it's almost certain that the emotional will take considerably longer than the physical. 

One thing that is certain.  She has already taught us much about the life-saving power of quick thinking and the courage to formulate a plan and act quickly will be passed on to many children and adults learn from her example.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 11:14 AM CST
Fri 01/20/2012
A "Good Man" Is Hard to Find
Topic: Power

Last night's debate left more questions than answers about the men trying to become the Republican candidate for Presidency this year. 

It reminded me of a story that Ben Franklin once wrote in the Pennsylvania Gazette, of which he was founder and editor.  It was written in response to his difficulty, as an editor growing in power, with trying to please everyone at the same time:

Two grown men--father and son--were travelling with a donkey.  At first, the older man was riding the donkey while the son walked.  People they met began to criticize the old man for making his son walk while he rode in ease.  So he got off and let his son ride.

The next people they met criticized the son for mistreating his father.  The son shrugged and deferred to the father, who suggested they both ride the donkey.

The next people they met accused the two of abusing the donkey with too heavy a load.  So they both got off, took the rope in hand, and let the donkey walk alongside them. 

At that point, the next travellers they met made fun of the two guys for being stupid enough to not put the donkey to practical use at all.  So the father's solution was to suggest that the two of them throw the donkey off the next bridge to be done with the criticism! 

Of course, I've shared this story with you today as a piece of comic relief.  It doesn't exactly fit the current political debates, I guess.

It's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, as Lincoln later declared.  Yet isn't it important, in real life, to expect integrity of a President?  I think so--especially when it comes to the basic expectations of how a man treats his wife/wives or one's willingness to be transparent with tax returns.

I hear the "Oh, but nobody is perfect" phrase again.  Give me a break!!  Are we saying "Nobody is honest and that nobody can be expected to stay with spouses who have just learned that they have serious, life-threatening illnesses (as was the case in both Newt's marraiges!)   You can probably give me scores of examples to refute this.  Put my own husband on the list!  Political stands aside, I'm seriously concerned with that line of "reasoning."

What's more:  These guys aren't even Donkeys.  They're Elephants!!  Look out for the Elephants!!!!



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:10 AM CST
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

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