6 March 2001
”When you knock, ask to see God – none of his
servants.” - Henry David Thoreau
When I was a teenager, a man was excommunicated
from our church for masturbating.
It was a big event in the church – the excommunication
of someone. My father explained it to me as the church delivering
someone over to the devil. It wasn’t that the sin was so great, it
was that the person refused to stop sinning that caused the church to take
the action – symbolically throwing the man out of the family of god and
into the arms of the Devil. (Of course, one might wonder, knowing
the man’s sin, if the Devil would shake hands when he met the man or not….)
For the ease of the story, I’ll call the man Dennis.
Dennis was a paraplegic. I don’t know how
he came by his disability, but he traveled in a wheelchair that required
a great deal of effort to get in and out of vehicles. I remember
my father struggling to remove the wheelchair from our car one night before
The excommunication occurred on a Sunday.
After the service, the women and the children were sent out of the Sanctuary.
The hundred or so male adults remained in side to confront Dennis.
Although I wasn’t allowed inside, my father told me later of the proceeding.
Denis was confronted by the church elders, who reported he had been caught
masturbating by his wife and so reported. They had confronted him
once before, and he refused to stop. Will you stop now? They
demanded. He refused. The male adults in the church voted.
I remember my father unloading the bulky wheelchair
on the curb that night.
I never saw Dennis ever again after. No
one ever mentioned him again. He’d been delivered to the Devil.
8 March 2001
“In the nineteenth century the problem was
that God is dead; in the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead.”
- Erich Fromm
Today, in San Diego, a fifteen year old boy was
charged as an adult for shooting fourteen classmates and killing two.
He may spend the rest of his life in prison.
Today, in Iraq, the United States continued to
bomb, as it has almost uninterruptedly, for the past 10 years. It’s
difficult to say how many people have died, thought I suspect a few more
than fourteen. And some of them didn’t get an easy death by gunshot,
instead the leaders of the United States starved them to death.
Starving isn’t all that wonderful way to die.
First, of course, is the pain of hunger. Then there is the dementia,
the loss of site, and then of course, the actual death. It takes
awhile. It’s slow. It’s torturous. Lots of Iraqi people
died that way, especially children.
Bombs are really expensive. When I was in
the Navy, a single Tomahawk missle cost one million dollars. And
we fired then by the boatload – literally. Every time one shot out
over the desert, you could almost see the dollar bills trailing behind
Henry Kissinger was responsible for the deaths
of lots of people. Lots and lots of people. He gets paid thousands
of dollars to appear in public now and has never gone to jail.
Colin Powell commanded troops to kill hundred
of people and he’s the Secretary of State.
Ronald Reagan invaded a couple of sovereign countries,
supported military coups and made sure lots of people were killed and we
just named an aircraft carrier after him.
11 March 2001
“In an organism, what is good for one part is
good for another. What is good for the mind is good for the body;
what is good for the arm is good for the heart. We know that sometimes
a part may be sacrificed for the whole; a life may be saved by the amputation
of an arm. But we also know that such remedies are desperate, irreversible,
and destructive, it is impossible to improve the body by amputation.” –
Wendell Scott as quoted by Paul Rogat Loeb in Soul of a Citizen.
13 March 2001
“Why not seek other formulas and admit that
humankind is able to organize itself in a more rational and humane manner?”
- Fidel Castro
With the recent drop in the stock market, the
television and media commentators have turned up their rhetoric about the
economy. Some say the economy is in a recession, others say it is
in a slow down bound to last only a few quarters. Everyone seems
to be asking: When will the economy be back on track?
What exactly is “the economy”?
It’s a term I hear all the time, and one we are
trained to listen for. But what does it really mean? And how
do we measure this thing we call “the economy”?
It’s pretty easy to see what the economy if you
watch the news, regardless of the source. Indicators of the economy
are frequently reported as consumer spending, consumer confidence, manufacturing
activity, new home sales and above all else – corporate earnings.
What is this thing we call the economy? It is simply the health of
And we are led to believe that when the economy,
or corporate profits, fall, this is bad. When the economy is growing,
and corporate profits increasing, this is good.
I’m sure if we were all corporations, this would
be true. But we’re not corporations, we’re human.
What the concern about the economy fails to consider
is the state of humans supporting it. Does the economy moving up
mean people are happier? Do we have fewer children living in poverty,
less homelessness, better health, cleaner water, improving education, more
security for our elderly and disabled?
The reality is that corporate profit growth often
comes at the detriment of human beings. During the last twenty years,
while corporate profits have grown, when adjusted for inflation, the average
wage of workers in the United States has been stagnant. A wealth
of indicators – from the growth in prison population, the number of shootings
in schools, the population of homeless, the growing question of global
warming – all point to the high cost of this “economic growth.”
While a rising stock market buoys our hopes for
being part of the few that gain wealth in this national lottery, it serves
as a distraction from the real cost of the society we have chosen to create.
It’s easy to argue that capitalism is the best
economic system going and that communism and socialism have failed miserably-
pointing to the final vestiges of these systems as they disappear.
This argument supposes that only three options exist. Is it not possible
that as human beings we can take another look, and consider creating an
entirely new option – one that builds a society that takes care of people
first and corporations later?
This planet belongs to us – the people and creatures
who live here – not the corporations which are just legal entities we created
If you believe it’s time to make a change for
the better, I recommend checking the website of Positive
Futures Network, founded by David Korten, author of When Corporations
Rule the World. This organization is committed to creating a compassionate,
sustainable future for the world.