Dee's Blog
Fri 12/12/2014
Hijacked Religion
Topic: Christmas
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Novel Peace Prize, is turning the world upside down with her youthful courage and commitment to speaking the truth!  If you've not read her autobiography, written with the assistance of Christine Lamb, put it on your "must read' list.  The title is 

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

The young author speaks often about how the Taliban has hijacked the faith that inspires her to keep going.  She insists that the Taliban is doing the opposite of what traditional Islam promotes.  Malala is very angry at what this hijacking has done to her culture. Yet she is determined that it will not destroy her, even if it takes her life.

I'm angry, too, anytime religion gets hijacked so that it is used to promote violence.  If I could sit down with Malala, I would tell her that it's not just Islam that gets hijacked.  In fact, Christianity has suffered the same fate throughout its history.  Jesus' message was about change that leads to peace.  It was about shining light into the darkness.  The Old Testament was filled with stories showing how people believed that God condoned violence, how God was on the side of certain people and not others.  

Today, far too many people who espouse Christianity do not understand that Jesus would not have agreed with those teachings at all.  People often end up suffering for what they believe, as Jesus did. After all, the world doesn't have much use for radicals who stand for peace.  However, suffering alone does not necessarily make us better people or more devout followers.  Sufering actually leads many people into hate and bitterness, just as it did with guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War.

When people use any religion based on love to promote hate, whether it is ethnic or class warfare, homophobia, or gender inequality, you can be sure that these are not the true followers of  that religion at all.  They are hijackers, trying to take the world in the opposite direction from where it needs to go.

Rather than throwing out the Baby Jesus with the bathwater of corruption and distortion that is making "Jesus" only a four-letter word to so many, it's time we clarified the true message: 

Peace on earth! Good will to humanity the world over!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:18 PM CST
Wed 11/12/2014
Sexual Assaults on Campuses
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Power

I'm horrified at the extent of sexual violence on campuses that's coming to light.  Grateful that President O'Bama has organized a task force to work on the problems, calling campuses into accountability.

Certainly the way campuses wink at the underage drinking is a big contributing factor.  The other, for which there is not excuse, is the crazy thinking of male students.  Look at these facts, and tell me what we have to do to get through to these 43%. 

 What's the risk?

• 19 percent of undergraduate women report experiencing attempted or completed sexual assault, and about 13 percent of women are stalked during each academic year.

• 95 percent of sexual attacks go unreported to law enforcement; crisis hotlines receive 10 times more reports of rape than police do.

• 43 percent of college-aged men surveyed said they have used coercive behavior, including ignoring a woman’s protests and using physical aggression, to have sex but did not see those actions as rape.

• 40 percent of rape survivors contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the attack, and 80 percent suffer chronic physical or psychological problems over time. Many rape survivors in college withdraw from classes.

• Rape survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than people who have never been raped.

Source: American Association of University Women


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:24 PM CST
Tue 10/28/2014
Conversation with a Wise Old Man
Topic: Shame

Two day ago I met Joelouis Mattox,an elderly gentleman, a historian of color, who has a passion for teaching young people the lessons of slavery and freedom.  See as an example.

 Joelouis was telling me that when he goes into schools to talk to classrooms about slavery, the resistance he encounters is not from the white children. "They want to hear, and they're eager to talk about it," he told me.  "It's the black children who don't want to hear it!"

 I thought about that, but not for long without venturing a hunch as to why.  "Could it have to do with shame? I asked.  "Because victims who have not found a way to move on, finding ways to thrive in spite of their past, often see themselves as losers.  And, of course, nobody wants to be a loser.  Losers are often ashamed, even though their losing isn't their own fault."

 "I think it's because they are ashamed that their ancestors so often weren't able to do anything except submit," he suggested.

 "Yet these children need to know that there is no shame in being helpless and powerless.  All of us at some point in our lives have been helpless and powerless.  It's a part of being human," I said.

We went on to talk about the exceptions, the men and sometimes women, too, who were able to escape and even to join the Union in fighting for their own freedom.

 Joelouis says he likes to surprise black children, to see the look on their faces when he tells them that there were over 200,000 white men who died that we black folks might be free.  "They never realized that so many really did care about them," he said, though we both acknowledged that not everyone who died on the Union side were radical abolitionists.  Still many stayed to fight even after Lincoln declared the War to be about slavery. According to Joelouis, that's very important as we put things into perspective.

The white kids often don't know that, had it not been for the black soldiers. who proved themselves so courageous to the Union Army, this United States of America probably would not have endured. 

How's that for evening the score?  There's no shame in being helpless and powerless as individuals.  Only when we find people who have managed to thrive (on all sides of the equation)--victims, survivors, and advocates together--are we able to experience true victory and embrace unity.

The only real losers are the perpetrators of injustice.

Want more insights?  Check out


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:22 PM CDT
Updated: Tue 11/04/2014 8:04 AM CST
Sun 05/25/2014
Mixed Emotions
Topic: Making Changes

I woke up this morning listening to NPR, as I do most mornings.  The news of Maya Angelou's death brought sadness along with rejoicing for the wonderful contribution she has made to so many of our lives in this work.

Moments later, I heard an exclusive NPR interview with President O'Bama about his unique perspectives on foreign affairs. He talked about peace without going to war, spoke of sadness about all the tragic loss of life that has been sustained because of our long history of seeing war as a way of making peace.

These two African-American have probably done more to inspire me anyone in the past two decades.  Their constant sense of presence in my life define what I long to accomplish as a writer who loves responding to my readers.

Then, as I turned on morning shows, I heard of how people are uniting at Harvard and across our nation to address the recently-recognized, long-standing crisis of sexual violence on our campuses.  I vowed to do all I can to stand alongside these people, especially using to provide education on the topic of institutional collusion.

At the same time, I am wrapping up the final details of the most extensive project I've ever undertaken:  the writing of Just Following Orders.  Thanks to my co-author Nancy Ketter, we'll be offering this novel, to students and teachers in middle school, an easy-reader version for reluctant readers, an e-book--all of which I believe will appeal to adults, as well.  PLUS, a fun-filled, educational website as an extension of Just Following Orders AND a second blog, where you'll be more likely to find me on a regular basis.

We hope to have all of this released by July 4.  The new website for Just Following Orders will be  

As you might have guessed, the book is about courage and peace in the midst of the horrific guerrilla warfare in 1863 that took place in western Missouri--all of this inspired by my heroines and heroes who have lived for peace.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Mon 07/29/2013
History DOES repeat itself!
Topic: Power

Three weeks ago,  I gave you the first hints about my new writing project and promised to get back soon.  I didn't forget.

In my research, I find more and more evidence of the raw revenge that was so present in the Civil War, on both sides.  Following the history of the abolitionist movement, of course, is essential in studying the complicated conflict in it's entirety.

What started out for the North as a set of good, solid principles on the part of well-intended abolitionists was picked up by those who believed that violence was the only way to obtaining justice. (John Brown is the foremost example.)

The extremists on both sides believed this and quickly got the full attention of everyone in the country.  That put a serious hiatus on the efforts of people who wanted to negotiate.  That's what frustrated Lincoln to the hilt.

Ever heard about compensated emancipation?  It was a plan that Lincoln tried to implement, but nobody wanted to listen.  It would have ended up costing the nation less than the War inevitably cost in dollars and cents.  Of course, it would have saved many, many lives, too.  For, if the plan had been well-received, by either the South or the border state of Missouri, then the War would have ended at least two years earlier than it did!

It was in Missouri that Lincoln held the highest hope for this plan that had first been proposed, years before the War began by Elihu Bruitt.  Lincoln thought this was the place that would successfully receive it.  He thought he could use Missouri as an example for the secessionist states.  Was he ever wrong!  Missouri legislators would not even answer Lincoln's letter of request on the matter!!

 No matter what we do as activists or advocates, for any cause, may we seek the avoid the trap that so many fall into today--using violence and unethical means to accomplish the end result immediately.  Not realizing how many more lives may be destroyed with such a strategy.  Or how long it will take to really obtain justice, once "peace" is initially obtained.   This is exactly what war does. 

 We haven't yet learned all of our lessons from the Civil War. History does repeat itself.  Extremists are needed for sure. They always are to make social change.  The challenge is to be an extremist who acts ethically, with wisdom and a degree of realistic expectations.

Stay tuned.  There's a LOT more to come!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:25 AM CDT
Wed 07/10/2013
I've Found New Gold
Topic: The Problem of Revenge

For months, I've been preoccupied with a new writing project.  Chances are you've given up on me coming back to the blog.

Never fear.  I can tell you exactly what happened.  Only two days after my last entry in early April, I stumbled on inspiration as strong as I've ever known! 

Here's what happened:  I went to the library, just expecting to learn a little more about our local history in order to be a better conversationalist around the dinner table.  Since the history of our city is a common topic, I figured this would be important as we continued to settle into this new, wonderful home of ours.

That's when I stumbled across a piece of history that I thought I'd just failed to hear about.  When I went the museum to see if I could figure out how I'd overlooked it, I discovered that it was not there.

Well, I'd already decided that I wanted to write about this.  I'd been researching and writing about it for weeks, always thinking of kids, since I felt the message was what we need to be instilling in elementary kids these days, with all the violence we are seeing.  So I'm writing a book for 5th graders--fiction this time. 

 Title "Just Following Orders."  Does that remind you of anything you've ever experienced?  Something like collusion?  Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are saying "YES!"

In the meantime, just know that the story is about how children survive war and about the problem with revenge that keeps feeding wars.  As it turns out, we're going to be seeing it in the museum here within a few weeks--not from anything I've done, but because the curator, also a newcomer, has discovered the need.   

 More soon.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:42 PM CDT
Mon 04/08/2013
Welcoming a New Generation
Topic: Making Changes

From the onset of my advocacy writing (in 1993), I've noticed that most readers who have taken my work seriously have been at least fifteen years younger than I am.  At first, that was disturbing--until I realized that the next generation tended not to need so much explanation.  In fact, they were finding new ways to put into words the things I'd been trying to say!

Today, I'm thrilled to have found another example.  Yet this blog is from a teacher who is probably younger than either of my children!!  It clearly shows that her class, filled with kids who are the age of my grandchildren, could easily "show up" almost anyone in my generation. 

After all, they have the courage to speak the unspeakable!  Please read:

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:43 AM CDT
Updated: Wed 07/10/2013 10:26 PM CDT
Sat 03/23/2013
After a Quarter of a Century!
Topic: Making Changes
We've come a long way in a quarter of a century! It was exactly twenty-five years ago that Ron and I were forced to resign because we refused to keep quiet about a Baptist missionary colleague, a sexual predator who had managed to quietly return to the States while keeping his protection from prosecution through the legal loophole that protects US citizens from being prosecuted for crimes committeed overseas. His victims included one teenager younger than the one for which a stateside pastor of a Baptist megachurch in Chicago was just given a LONG time to think! It is a strong reminder of how far we have come in this difficult work. It makes me very proud to have been a part of the movement that has often worked quietly behind the scenes!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:27 AM CDT
Tue 02/19/2013
The Wisdom of Heraclitus
Topic: spirituality

It is difficult to separate spirituality from wisdom.  For true wisdom requires that we be in tune with spiritual things, I'm convinced. 

How often we confuse wisdom with being intellectually gifted.  Not so!  Geniuses aren't necessarily wise at all.  A study of terrorism will lead to plenty of examples.

One of the wisest Greek philosophers was Heraclitus. He lived 1500 years ago.  He could teach us all the difference in genius and wisdom. 

Two great quotes:

"Much learning does not teach one to have understanding." 

"Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day."

I see nothing in there that encourages me to spend hours in front of the TV or playing some mindless video game.  Nothing that makes me want to surround myself with people who want, above all, to accumulate degrees, monetary goods or power simply for personal gain.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:23 PM CST
Mon 02/11/2013
Time Out!
Topic: Power

When I complained to some in my family about the skewed sports coverage in our local paper and how it's really a complex, cultural issue, my son James said:  "Mom, you need to send a letter to the editor." 

I did!  It was published Saturday.

This is actually a matter close to James' heart, as well as mine and his father's.  Our son grew up building cultural bridges in our back yard for years.  That space served many purposes, including a soccer field where grass seldom dared to grow. 

Sadly, the girls didn't come to play much.  They couldn't, though not because they weren't welcome.  Our daughter, Renita, spent many lonely hours waiting for her friends to find a few minutes away from their household chores and childcare.  Most of the time she had to venture out to build bridges in her friends' homes, joining them, sometimes visiting with them while they did some task that was very culturally specific, where she might not have been so comfortable. 

Renita is the mother of three boys who tend to love music and drama more than sports.  Our two teenage grandsons are as comfortable in cross-cultural activities as either of our children are. In fact, our granddaughters (James is their Dad) are, as well.

Today, James chooses to be an elementary girls' soccer coach.  Partly for his girls, perhaps also unconsciously because he saw the inequities that were far, far greater in Malawi.  He and the other coaches do not encourage competitiveness so much as skill development.  They don't even keep score in the early years! 

 As they get older, the girls are sure to notice the inequities, though.  How could anyone miss how our media today seems to be the "dog" wagged by the "tail" of public opinion?  How can any thinking person fail to see how much more money is poured into boys' athletics than girls'?  How can this be justified? 

I hope my granddaughters will both become strong and able to take stands for the gender inequity, which so many of the men and far too many women don't even seem to notice.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:02 PM CST
Updated: Tue 02/19/2013 3:11 PM CST

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