Dee's Blog
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
Sun 02/03/2013
A Point of Agreement at Last!
Topic: Making Changes

One of my good friends told me recently that she is burdened by the polarity she sees in the western world more than any other thing that disturbs her.  Well, I'll be seeing her tonight; and I can't wait to share with her what I learned this week, while attending a conference on slavery and human trafficking at the University of Kansas.

It seems that people on the extreme right AND the extreme left have been agreeing for years that human trafficking must end.  In fact, Chuck Colson and Gloria Steinem were two of the leaders in getting anti-trafficking legislation passed!  So was the governor of KS, Sam Brownback, who kicked this conference off, in fact. 

The most likely reason for any person to be roped into slavery today is the offer of a job.  No, most of these kids and adults (the average age to begin is 13) don't have to be coerced.  Being at economic disadvantage makes them vulnerable, whether they are in the United States or India, the country that leads the world in the number of victims.

Compared to slavery in the pre-Civil War days, people are very cheap commodities!  In the mid-19th century, a Southern slaveholder would expect to pay as much as $1800 for a single slave.  That's the cost of building a house back then!  Today, the price averages $90!!!  While the population has soared, the number of slaves now exceeds all of those who were ever enslaved in the Deep South in pre-Civil War days!  Supply is up; demand is up since there is still plenty of corruption and more crooks in our world due to the soaring population, as well; yet price is down.

I kept wondering, during the keynote speech, just what you and I can do as ordinary citizens.  Turns out, the most important thing is to keep our eyes open.  Ask:  "Where is the human trafficking in our community?"  Cause it exists in every state in the United States, as well as every country in this world!  More to come......

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:59 PM CST
Updated: Sun 02/03/2013 3:00 PM CST
Wed 01/23/2013
Keeping Congress Busy!
Topic: Making Changes

Marie Fortune always gets the message across so well, so there's no need for me to waste my time with this.  Please read Fortune's blog for today.  Then, take action as she suggests.  Let Congress know this is another issue where they need to get moving!  After all, women's lives depend on it--our friends' lives, our daughters', our granddaughters', our mothers, if not ourselves or our neighbors.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:13 PM CST
Fri 01/18/2013
Excuses, Excuses!
Topic: Power

"I didn't invent the culture, and I didn't try to stop the culture."  Out of all the ridiculous attempts to "apologize" for his sociopathic behavior, this is my favorite quote so far from Lance Armstrong's "tell all" interview with Oprah.

Of course, he's not telling all.  It's obvious.  As one commentator says, he's learning to tell the truth in this process.  Not sure how much he's learning, frankly.  Yet you and I can learn a LOT about collusion with evil from his comments.

Perpetrators and colluders both try to excuse themselves through rationalization.  Blaming the culture--whether it's the national culture or a sub-culture, such as a professional community or, in Lance's illustration, the racing community--is just one form of rationalization. 

It's what we all do when we fail to stand up against evil or just blatantly give into the thinking of the day that allows us to join other perpetrators like this guy that so many saw as an honest hero.

Just a few days ago, I asked a pertinent set of questions.  One was:  "Can we be both a loser and a winner at the same time?"  Lance Armstrong clearly shows that he could have been, if indeed there was no way to win without doping.  There are more important ways to be a winner than winning a race!  Sadly, he isn't a winner in any way.  Unless, of course, the race is about messing up other people's lives.  In that, he's got lots of company, though he may rank close to the top of this list of "(s)winners."

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:11 AM CST
Updated: Wed 01/23/2013 6:06 PM CST
Fri 01/11/2013
Do We Worship a Loser?
Topic: spirituality

Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, wrote an important article a while back.

Rohr writes about the difficulty that men have in expressing feelings, especially sadness.  He contrasts this to the richer inner life of women in a world where women have more inner choices while men have more outer choices.

What he had to say is complex.  It weaves in spirituality, inner emotional conflict, and the problems of violence.  He points out that all of us lose when we frame the world's population in terms of "winners" and "losers."

The most important question he raises, in my opinion, is one that will keep me thinking for a long time.  In referring to Jesus' death on the cross, he asks: 

 How do we dare to worship a “loser” and yet so idealize winning?

My immediate answer is that Jesus wasn't a loser, except that he lost his earthly life.  What would yours be?  How does this compare to your own experiences of losing?  Can we be both winners and losers at the same time?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:27 AM CST

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