Dee's Blog
Mon 09/29/2008

"This is the greatest transfer of wealth out of minority pockets into big corporations that has ever happened in the history of America!"  That's what one economist said on NPR earlier today, commenting about the housing crisis that was "designed" to bring big business benefits to those in power.  I hadn't stopped to think of it that way.  Just another form of oppression--with people in power in a panic because they couldn't figure out how to squeeze any more out of the middle or out of other corporations where there just wasn't the opportunity in the desperate economy.  "Desperation" leads to greed leads to exploitation and suffering.  And the beat goes on!

Yet the verse I learned as a kid came ringing into my head immediately:  "Be sure your sins will find you out!"  Seems they have, no matter who has to help pay the price.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:24 PM CDT
Sun 09/28/2008
The Death of the Story
Topic: Making Changes
Considering that we need stories to connect ourselves with our universe and with our history, it's a tragedy that story-telling has almost died out.  That's what Patrician Monghan points out at

It started dying with the advent of TV.   That box that tells stories very quickly, stories that we only see and hear once so they don't slowly sink into the crevices of our hearts and brains, especially due to the noise.  TV makes us think that life happens at a break-neck speed.  And it seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy since it now does. 

My guess is that it TV was just the start.  Maybe cars were the forerunner, for they quickly took us off of the slow roads that our ancestors had to take, filling their otherwise boring lives with slow-cooked stories that spoke from the heart, without visuals, and required so much creativity.  That's the kind my grandparents told, the kind my mother still tells as eyes glaze over and we rush to find ways to rescue ourselves from that slow way of life that is so much a part of the pre-technology age that they treasured.

As much as I prefer change as a whole, today I find myself agreeing with my mother.  Maybe some things shouldn't change so fast.   We need to hold on to the stories that have shaped our lives.  For it is in the stories that the eternal or spiritual threads are woven. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Fri 09/26/2008
How Stories Grow into Legend
Topic: spirituality

Society wants to shape how our stories are told and sometimes limit how often we tell the same story.   It's like a tug of war.  Society gets bored easily.  OK, I'll admit I certainly do, especially when hearing the same story told by older people in my family.  To me, they seem to tell the same story over and over.

Not so, says Patricia Monoghan.  Each time a story is told, new truths have opportunity to emerge.  We are able to tell and see the story in a new way.  While the facts may remain the same, even those can change without us being dishonest.  Facts do get lost over time, but facts aren't nearly as important as the legend--unless you are in a court of law, where people are so often more interested in proving and disproving the facts than of examining the principles at stake.

Legend is what needs to survive as we make sense out of the story.  Legend is what shapes our cultures and effects changes--in the culture, as well as in ourselves.

Monoghan even suggests that there is no real story until it is reiterated.  For it is with the re-telling, that the real story emerges.   I guess that is true, even if nobody is listening.  For story is powerful even in our own individual hearts, especially the broken ones.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Thu 09/25/2008
The Importance of Stories
Topic: spirituality

One method I like to use, in exploring new ideas, is to take a profound book that gets me going down a new thread of thinking, then to work quite a lot off of the bibliography as the author picks up many strands that she or he has woven into writing to formulate creative thoughts that will stimulate thoughts of various nature in readers.

Real art does not lead us all to the same conclusions.  Nor to necessarily to the exploration of the same strands of thought.  It frees our minds to roam--okay, as Leslie Van Gelder would say, "on the wild side."

Patrician Monaghan is the author that recently caught my eye, thanks to Leslie.  This scholar's work is mind-boggling.  I don't contend that I understand half what she is saying, but I love her thoughts on the importance of story.  You can explore some of her ideas through an interview:  Here's the gem that I bring to you today:

I think that (with) a group of people talking, and really listening to each other, the situation becomes more complex because they note their connections through storytelling. Then they become connected to each other. I told my story last night, because Joe told his. Systems move towards complexity and then to a stasis where you've heard each other's stories....."

Seems to me that stories that are difficult to tell and difficult to listen to so easily get lost in history.  It is SUCH work to keep them alive.  Or even to keep the principles that they illustrate alive!  Yet so important that we become more willing to connect through stories--especially the listening part.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:07 AM CDT
Wed 09/24/2008
Let's Just All Get Our Guns!
Topic: Making Changes

Heard it no NPR this morning.  Election predictions and concerns.  I have a love-hate relationship with trying to keep up with this campaign.  Figure it's a lesson in human behavior, anyway.  And Lord knows, I need lots of those lessons as I continue to try bringing my expectations and appropriate responses to violence and oppression into check.

This time it seems that the people in Southern Pennsylvania think one of the biggest issues is the right to hunt down wild animals as a sport.  So they are showing great excitement for Gov. Palin now.  She's one of them, they are thinking.   Rather significant observation since this is one of the the geographical areas where the way the vote goes may determine the final outcome of the election.

Amazing the attitudes people have toward the "wild life"--whether it's animals or people thinking outside the box!   More amazing.....

Last week I was shocked to read that 40% of Caucasians in the United States are hesitant to vote for a person of color, just because of the skin color!  Yes, in this "enlightened day," 40% say they still "do not trust 'em" and think "black people are lazy."

Sad to think that we are such a backward nation in our thinking, after all these years of "progress."  When will I ever learn that paradigm changes always take much longer than I think they take?   When will I stop being shocked at bigotry?   I hope never.   Heaven help me when I do!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:59 AM CDT
Tue 09/23/2008
Keeping the Wild Life Reserves from Becoming Dangerous
Topic: coping

Back in the 80's when we were living in Malawi, a young mother and her daughter were walking in an area near a wild life reserve.  It was located right in the heart of a major city, however.  Generally, the wild animals did not leave their protected area.  This time, unfortunately, one did.  When it was least expected--right in the heat of the day!  The result was disastrous.

The young girl, walking ahead of her mother, was suddenly attacked by a hyena.  In order to save her daughter, the mother distracted the hyena, who then turned on her and bit off several of her fingers before somebody managed to come to her rescue and somehow scare the animal so that it ran off into the woods.  I do not recall what decisions were made about tracking down the wild animal; but as I recall, people were quite certain it would be impossible to even do so.  People could only look at the story and learn from it, drawing conclusions as best they could about what actions to take in the future--in regard to city politics, as well as individual actions for self-protection.

The protected area had always been considered quite safe for visitors, as well as wild life.  There were rules so that hikers did not trespass onto the rights of animals.  It was as though there was invisible fencing around the wild life reserve. 

Nobody knows what went wrong, but the results sent shivers down the spines of the city's residents as they read the paper telling of the incident.

It was a strong reminder that we must be vigilant, and that there are limitations and unpredictable outcomes at times, even when we've lived for years in harmony with others who are enjoying the wild life areas.

So do we want to do away with the areas where we can learn and explore and consider how we want to believe and live in connection with other creatures, including people who are also learning and exploring, learning to tame the wildernesses of their lives?  Or do we want to just work to make them safer while respecting the choices of those who choose to use the areas and choose where and how they will roam?

Those are the big questions that keep environmentalists, as well as politicians, engaged in conversations that aren't about to end anytime soon.  They are the same nature of conversations that take place in our institutions when it comes to what we do with people who act like wild animals.

Keeping the freedom to think and move, while still enjoying the advantages of the wild life, is indeed a challenge!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Mon 09/22/2008
Diversity in Thinking--the Way of the Wild Life
Topic: spirituality

When we are comfortable living the "wild life" way, we do not expect everyone around us to think like we think.  Nor do we believe that our way of thinking if necessarily the ideal way to think.  We accept diversity and are content to live in our own section while respecting others.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:31 PM CDT
Sun 09/21/2008
Confucius Says
Topic: coping

As Confucius saw it, we stand in a fast-flowing stream, with our backs to the past.  We look into the future as we also are feeling the present and seeing the things closest to us.  At least, it seems that's how he thought it should be in a healthy state.

The strong current comes from the past, and it is continually pressing in on us so that the present and the future is interpreted according to how we are currently perceiving the past.  Our perceptions change as each new wave hits us, bringing with it the opportunity to see the present and future in a different way as we evolve.  

The important thing is to stay standing.  We cannot allow the past to wash us away or make us topple over.  For it's definitely hard to see downstream at all if we allow the past to be our primary focus.   

"Forgetting what is behind, I press on....."  or look forward, counting my blessings for what I still possess and for my potential in the days ahead.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Fri 09/19/2008
The Darkest, Brightest Wilderness
Topic: coping

It seems that the darkest places to be--the ones that seem most like wilderness--are the deepest recesses of our hearts.  The longer they are neglected, the darker they become, the more difficult it is to make these places into lovely "wild life" areas.

Yet they also hold the potential for being the brightest places, for there are both unknown shadows and unknown places of intense light in those recesses.  To avoid entering is to avoid experiencing the greatest joys, even as we attempt to avoid the sorrows that come because we are afraid to explore.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:38 AM CDT
Wed 09/17/2008
Moving from Wilderness to the Wild Life Area
Topic: Making Changes

Just in case you were wondering where I was yesterday, I should tell you that I was in the wilderness.  Quite unexpectedly.

Partly from the shock of the economic news on Monday.  It sent me, perhaps like some of you, to start taking stock of my meager assets and to wake up from some of my denial about getting older and needing to be less of a risk-taker than most people my age are.  Literally, when it comes to my tendencies with my personal financing.

Oh, I'll stay a risk taker in some other areas.  That shouldn't come as a surprise to any of you.

Of course, as I get older, I'm recognizing the need to think twice about a lot of risks and about how I want to invest my time, as well as money.

Then, yesterday while I was coming to grips with some decisions from the Monday "crash," I had about a 10% reduction of my weekly income with some unexpected calls!  Ouch!!  Even for a self-employed person who rolls with the punches somewhat gracefully, this was a shock I'd never experienced all in one day.

This morning I found an e-mail from a friend I haven't seen in a couple of years or more.  Asking me to get together with her for lunch.  That was all I needed to make me realize that the wilderness experience is indeed temporary, and it really doesn't have to take much to bring us back to a place where we realize what is really important in this unpredictable life we all lead.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:39 AM CDT
Updated: Wed 09/17/2008 9:42 AM CDT

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