Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour 2012

We observed earth hour tonight.   It was fun to sit together at the dining table and converse for an hour (actually longer).  Our teenage played with candles and wax.  We had a somewhat clumsy conversation about how to save the planet, and here are a few of the ideas
  1. Don't buy a new car
  2. Don't impulse shop
  3. Influence federal farm policy to change it so people don't use extra water to grow what grows elsewhere without extra water.
  4. Plant trees - not here but where they are needed. 
  5. Explore and work to fix the causes of deforestation
  6. Explore and support, or work to change, the state's energy strategy.
  7. Fight coal.
  8. Vaccuum the refridgerator's filters (so it wll be more efficient)
  9. Work to reduce vehicles miles driven in my community.
It's a mish mash list, but all the ideas are good. Did you  observe Earth Hour?  Did you talk about how to make the world better?  What ideas arose at your table?

Peace, y'all


Friday, March 30, 2012

Immigration reform - when?

America badly needs immigration reform.  Our status quo is NOT working.  We have 11 million hard-working people "without paper," undocumented.   We have the potential, often actualized, of abuse of these workers because they fear deportation.  We have an economy crying for low-wage workers and milllions who answer the call, and cannot particpate in our democracy fully and openly.  

Immigration reform has stalled in Washington DC becuase it has become a partisan issue, and the prevailing speed for partisan gridlock is PARK.  Nothing happens.   Perhaps that will change after the 2012 presidential election.  Perhaps.   Obama wants to try again, but it will be safer for members of Congress if they don't have an election looming over them.   Perhaps if a Republican wins, that party will be eager to mend its relations with Hispanic voters. 

Perhaps not.  Here is an ominous report on Candidate Romney's approach - make life so miserable for the undocumented that they 'self-deport."   This is draconian.   what will making life more miserable look like?  here a a few ideas
  1. Unable to find a decent job, workers will turn more to those who will exploit them.
  2. Unable to find a decent job, workers will turn to crime. 
  3. If the crime is not solved, the victim of crime suffers.
  4. If the crime is solved, the accused will be deported.  And what of that worker's family?
  5. If children cannot attend school, their futures are doomed.
  6. If undocumented cannot get medical care, they will be sicker and will die. They'll suffer.  
  7. If they cannot get drivers' licenses, they are more likely to drive unsafely. 
  8. Women and girls may turn to prostitution, voluntarily or involuntarily.
I don't want my government to impose these outcomes on anyone on our soil.  

I want comprehensive immigration reform.  I expect more from our government than its current inertia.

Peace and justice, y'all


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Good health is good business

My community is 9th in the nation for obesity.  What a terrible claim to fame.  A shocking 33.2% of my neighbors are obese,  

Businesses look at factors like this when deciding where to locate.  Because obesity is clearly and strongly correlated with expensive diseases, particularly hypertension, other heart disease, some cancers (digestive-related ones in particular), and diabetes.  These are expensive for employers as well as awful and expensive for the people who suffer from these conditions. 

There is also a strong correlation between a walkable community and good health.  The more we use our cars, the less healthy we are.  

Like so other many good things, good health and good business go together.  Because healthy workers are more productive and less sick.  

Walkable communities are happier communities.  

Get out of your car, and you will not only become healthier, you will save money!  

Many people in the US don't think they have good alternatives to a car.  Certainly a car is convenient, especially in a spread-out community.  (In cities, it's easy to see the merit of ditching the car and using other ways to get around!)   It's up to city leaders to define the vision, and for city staff to define the criteria, to change this status quo.  

Require sidewalks.   Require them to be set off from the street a bit so there can be a strip of grass, or a bench, or a tree or something else to calm the street and make it more pleasant for those who are not in a car (and even for those who are)!  Require connnectiveness.   Don't block access to other areas with cul-de-sacs or long walls, without some breaks -- like a path out of the cul-de-sac and like gates  or breaks in walls. 

Cities shold be designed for people, not cars.  Not that cars don't have a role in our lives.  But this role must be smaller, for the sake of our health, our economy, and our planet.

Good health is good business.   Help people get out of their cars.  

Peace, y'all


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

a good day

Today turned out very well.  Tomorrow I don't work, instead I go to a transportation meeting.  There is lots wrong in the world, but also there is much that's good.   I have much to be thankful for and so do you. 

There was a fundraising sale today to benefit anti-trafficking cause locally, and I missed it.  But I will do something more for anti-trafficking this week and this month. 

Peace and justice, y'all


Monday, March 26, 2012

On prisons and pals

Today I offered to become a pen pal to a prisoner.  I did this once when I was a teenager and it didn't go well.   He wanted sex and money.  I'm older and wiser now, and hope to avert such requests. 
I also contribute monthly to a nonprofit that supports the salvation of dogs and prisoners, by the inmates training the dogs to be service animals.   Prison Pet Partnership Program, it's called.

Criminal justice in the US is a mess and I don't give it a lot of energy but am well aware of how messed up it is.   I hope pen palling will help one prisoner.

The starfish metaphor remains with me.

Peace and justice, y'all


Sunday, March 25, 2012

On slavery, priorities, virtues and vices

It's still percolating in me, this notion that slavery is in my own town in the form of child sex trafficking.  I have wondered which starfish to rescue and the answer is clearer.  

If you know about slavery in your town, can you remain complacent?  Can you NOT act?   So many things wrong in our world -- our own bodies (are we as fit and healthy as we should be?), our home, our families, our homes, our neighborhoods, our communities, our nation.   I guess we all have our own priorities on what to work on fixing.  

I guess you can be against something (like injustice) and for something (like justice) without throwing your heart, voice, time and money at it.  

I must remember this.   We all are working to make the world better in some way or another, and my ways are not the only ways.   There is probably a sin of pride and virtue of humility involved in this. 

I am going to work on trafficking, community building, and my health (that fitness thing) at once by participating in a fundraising run to benefit the local center that helps victims of sexual assualt. 

Peace and justice, y'all


Friday, March 23, 2012

Sex trafficking - fighting slavery, part 4

Last night I viewed the movie Sex + Money.  It was disturbing.  When is prostitution voluntary and when is it slavery?  Perhaps the difficulty in finding that dividing line is why the term "trafficking" is used now.  Sex between consenting adults is one thing.  Sex between a child and an adult is something different, and it is illegal as well as morally reprehensible. 

Sex trafficking is now the second most lucrative form of organized crime.  Unlike weapons or drugs, a girl can be sold over and over again. 

Most girls (and boys) who enter prostitution do so at the AVERAGE age of 12-13.  Often they are drugged, and while drugged, raped and photographed, and videoed.  If the girl tries to leave, she is threatened with more violence, and with the revelation of the photos and videos.

Girls (and boys) who are so entrapped are usually runaways, or more tragically, throwaways -- children whose parents reject them.  Sometimes, and more frequently recently, girls are the homey ho's of a gang.  Gangs are getting into the pimping business. 
Almost, almost always, the victims of sex trafficking were sexually abused  in their home of origin.
I learned last night sex trafficking takes place in every town in the nation.  It takes place in my little town. 
There are so many ways to stop this. 
1. Don't be a John (a customer, if the J word makes you flinch)
2. Don't sexually abuse a child
3. Don't have children you don't want to love and cherish and protect.
4. Don't use pornography (do you really think everyone in those pictures is over 18 and in this voluntarily?

Sharedhope is dedicated to fighting minor sex trafficking.  This group was featured in the Sex+Money film.   It has put out a report card to evaluate each of the United States.  My state got a "B".  

When our governor signs the 10 bills our legislature passed this last session, we may be in line for an A.  I certainly hope so. 

Why is it that if a man has child pornography or inappropriately touches a kid, he's prosecuted as a sex offender.  But if he pays for the service he's a john and he goes unpunished?  if anyone is "caught," it's the girl, who is thrown in jail for prostitution!

I'm very interested in the Swedish model which has decriminalized prostitution and CRIMINALIZED buying sex.  This protects the women and puts the penalty on the man.  This is unjust. 

Understanding that girls (and boys) are so badly abused, that they are kept hungry and off balance, a nonstop siege on their sense of selfworth, that they are beaten and raped, to profit one man and to pleasure another, is obscene.  It's evil. 

Thinking again about the starfish, I think the star I want to throw back is in my own town.  I will donate to the sexual abuse resource center and the shelter for runaway teens before the month ends.  I will ask the governor to sign those 10 new bills.  I will write a thank you note to my legislators for voting for them. 

Peace and justice, y'all


Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to fight slavery,part 3

Talk about it!  (as I am doing right now)

Trafficking is the 21st century name for slavery.  I think the word slavery is clearer to most people. Also, think about the persons.  "Slaves" vs "traffickees?"  "trafficked persons?"  "Victims?"   I think the term slave is clearest and strongest.  "Victim" is accurate but not specific.  A victim can be many things besides a slave, sad to say.

I am still considering the fable of the starfish.  You know the one - the child throws the starfish back into the sea to save its life.  The old person points out it's impossible to save them all, so what's the point?  The child tosses one more into the sea and says, "it matters to that one."   Then the old person, and soon many others, join in and they do save all the starfish.

Which slave can I save, and how? 
Locally or far away?
Man (usually labor slavery), woman (domestics and sex slavery), or child (sex, military, and labor)? 

It distresses me to make these distinctions, to make a Sophie's Choice decision.  But there is no need to.  I save any slave I can.  If my words lead another to action, I'll never know which slave I helped.  I pray for this, BTW.   If I reject slave chocolate and lead others to as well, I am probaby helping African labor slaves.  Great!  If I give money to educate girls in Asia, perhaps I help keep a girl from becoming a sex slave. 

If I buy local and fair trade every chance I get, I can be much more confident my purchases are promoting justice and NOT supporting abusive practices, including slavery. 

Tonight a local service club that has taken up the anti-trafficking guantlet is showing a film called Sex+Money.  Doubtless when I go to bed tonight I will know more than I do right now, and will have something worthwhile to share in part 4.

Peace and justice, y'all


Sunday, March 18, 2012

ways to combat slavery, part 2 (at least)

FREED.  That's the name of the group at the Bethel church I have allied with.   The mission:  To equip and mobilize the church to effectively make disciples as we work togethr to combat the area of human trafficking, local and globally.

Our ambition: to see every man, woman, and child freed from opppression as we
Free slaves
Restore and redeem surviviors and perpetrators with the love of Christ
Educate about education and its factors
Equip and connect Christ-followers to combat human trafficking
Demolish cultural strongholds that enable and perpetuate slavery.

I am not on board with every word of this, because it limits itself to Christ followers.  But I'm on board anyway. 

FREED partners with International Justice Mission.  Also with Agape International Missions and Shared Hope International.

Thinking about how to fight slavery from my home, these thoughts come to me
  1. Visit websites like Interanational Justice Missions, and learn and follow their suggestions
  2. Exercise those First Amendment rights and petition our government to take stronger actions
  3. Open that checkbook (figuratively speaking) and donate to slavery-fighting groups and to charities that help displaced and distressed populations, near and far. 
  4. Refrain from buying things that are not slavery free.
After I click the "publish post" button, I'm going to order fair trade chocolates, the little bites I ran out of last week.

Peace, y'all


Saturday, March 17, 2012

ways to combat slavery. part 1?

I have reflected much recently about human trafficking and how to stop it.

(maybe it's wrong to call this "part 1" because I have written on this topic before. Well, I've been wrong once or twice before.)

It's comforting to know that this isolated Quaker is not alone in this quest - in my community, I have found allies in a Christian church, and in a Republican state senator who I usually disagree with strongly. It is wonderful to have allies!

Allies told me about a neat app for Iphone or Android called Free2Work, which gives a scorecard to companies and specific products. Divine Chocolate gets an A, by the way. Hershey's gets a D. How sad, considering the honorable history of the company when it was founded. Ditto Cadbury, which hurts me more because that's a Quaker company. Or, was. has a survey to help identify the slavery in the supply line of what you buy. They have an app too - Free World. It requires Facebook to log in, however.

The Christian group is on fire. Full of Christian zeal. The group is called FREED. You can find it on facebook, of course. More on this later.

The troublesome truth God gave me during the prayer part of the last FREED meeting is this: Slavery can persist in a free and democratic society. 21st century United States proves this, since there are labor slaves and sex slaves in this nation.

That means - and this is hard for me -- Peace is NOT the answer to fighting slavery. Sure, it helps, because peace allows people to get on with their business and not be displaced, for example. And peaceful societies are less likely to conscript children for their wars.

Peace's sister Justice is the answer to slavery. Slavery is unjust. Therefore Justice is the answer.

I have dedicated much of my heart and time and self-identity to peacemaking. This is not wrong, but it won't end slavery, which is something I care about deeply.

If you want peace, work for justice - Pope Paul VI
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere - Martin Luther King
And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and to walk humbly with your Lord ? Micah 6:6-8

So, God has been suggesting this to me for some time.  It took more focused prayer with the FREED group (in Quakerese, it was a popcorn meeting).  The humble part is hardest for me.  

I have more work cut out for me.

Peace (and Justice!), y'all


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On world hunger

We humans like to eat. It nourishes us, it satisfies us. I am grateful I always have enough to eat, and so do the people I love. Yet so many souls on this earth go to sleep with an empty tummy. This bothers me.

In 2010, 925 million people were hungry. Most were in Asia and the Pacific. A significant minority are in sub-Saharan Africa. A tiny minority are in developed countries such as the U.S. (Numbers courtesy United Nations)

Most of the undernourished are children. Undernourishment complicates and exacerbates illnesses. It's implicated directly in many deaths and makes the suffers fall to other diseases.

The world produces enough food. But not everyone has enough land to grow food or money to buy it.

Poverty is the prime cause. Harmful economic systems, in which a very wealthy and tiny minority control the resources and the rest must do without, is another main cause. Conflict causes hunger. Conflict displaces and destroys.

Peace prevails if conflict has just and nonviolent resolution. Peace's sisters are justice and love. With more justice, resources are more evenly distributed. In a just society with calm (another of peace's sisters)and stable conditions, people can find work or stick around to grow and harvest food.

Something to chew on....

Peace, y'all


Monday, March 12, 2012

Peace begins with me

So many things wrong in this world, yet many things are right as well. Peacemaking fixes wrongs and reinforces rights, in that word's many meanings.

I'm always seeking more ways to do Good in the world. I've just come home from a trip that distracted me fairly well from this goal, but now I'm home and want to renew my personal peacemaking efforts. What good shall I do this day?

How about you?

Tomorrow is another day, and I look forward to it and to the good I may do.

Here are a few thoughts:
* Give a kind word to everyone I talk to
* Work hard and honestly
* Finish some jobs that are lurking, persisting, and eroding my well- being
* Do something modest and humble.
* Sign some petitions and lobby a bit (I do this nearly daily, and it's good, though not enough)
* Write a few cards that are NOT petitions because they are said to have more impact than petitions.

That would be a fine start.

Ideas, friends?

Peace, y'all


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Separate Oil & State

his I cribbed directly from price of, a website I found and like.

Our government should not be under the influence of Big Oil.

The greatest barriers to clean energy are political, not technical—and these barriers are largely fueled by the oil industry. We know that in order to achieve a clean energy future, we have to expose and eradicate the political influence of the oil industry; we have to achieve a separation of oil & state.

Over $114 million has been paid by the oil, gas and coal industries over the last decade to buy access and influence in Congress. Although we’re not sure yet, the 111th Congress could end up being the dirtiest yet.

The next step to ending our collective addiction to oil is reducing oil’s influence over our representatives and demanding political independence from Big Oil.

Here’s what you can do:
•Write to your member of Congress to demand a Separation of Oil and State.
•Check out to find out how much money your elected officials have received from the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Lots of things wrong in the universe, and this is one of them.

Peace, y'all


Saturday, March 10, 2012

How to oppose slavery

There's a story about a little boy throwing star fishes into the sea. Someone points out that there are far too many stranded star fishes and he cannot save them all. What does his effort matter? The boy throws another back to the life-giving sea and says, "it matters for that one."

That's how I fee about fighting slavery. We must say no every way and every time we can.

My advice on fundraising is 1. Any time 2. Any one. 3. Any where. 4. Always 5.Ask. This is the five finger, one A per finger.

Putting these thoughts together, and anytime, anyway, anyone, always oppose slavery. If there's slavery in the chocolate DONT EAT IT. If there is slavery in the making of the clothing, DON'T WEAR IT. Never buy it either. If you don't know about it, that's one thing. But once you do, you must not enjoy the fruits of a slave's labor.

I miss chocolate. But I think of children denied school, forced to work long hours with dangerous machetes and heavy loads, beaten or neglected, sold for as little as $130, and I can't stomach the chocolate either.

I know there is slavery in the world. I don't know how to stop all of it and would sure like some suggestions!

Peace, y'all


Friday, March 9, 2012

On our do-nothing Congress

Readers in other lands, excuse me. This is very US-centric.

I am disgusted and outraged at Congress. The partisan gridlock harms the people of the United States and on teh other living things in this nation and really, around the world.

Failure to implement comprehensive immigration reform means families are torn and separated. It means that hardworking souls risk their lives to come here. They die trying to get here. It means that undocumented people can be, and are, exploited by others.

Failure to implement comprehensive reform of our medical compensation system means that only in the US can people go broke because they're sick. And while costs continue to climb, we are getting fatter, sicker, and weaker.

Failure to control costs mean we will pass to our children an intolerable debt, and can someday soon undermine the full faith and credit of these United States. Someday soon we may have to sell off our treasures to pay the bill. What would we sell? Hawaii? The Grand Canyon? Yosemite? Fort Knox?

Failure to address climate change makes the problem harder, if not impossible to fix. And that means climbing costs from catastrophic weather events, and greater impacts to people who can afford it the least, the people who live on coasts in the global South.

Failure to reform mining laws means more miners will die.

Enough griping. I believe as individuals we have power. We have the power to influence others, we have in this nation some really great rights in our First Amendment. We can assemble, petition our government, write to Editor and read anything we want in the press, and we can speak out and we can pray.

I think grass roots action is not one option. It's the best option, especially with the impaired and useless Congress we now have. I think we need to model the behavior we want in our world.

Let's cooperate, even with people with opposing views. We can find common ground if we try.
Let's live gently on the land, and limit our impact on the planet.
Let's stay in touch with our representatives and make sure they know we expect them to work for the common good, not just the interests who contribute to keeping them in office.
Let's share.
Let's help others.
Let's build community, every way we can.

Let's show Congress what democracy looks like on the ground.

Peace, y'all


Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's History Day

It's today.  Did you celebrate it, wherever you are?   I am doing so right now.  I'm a woman and I drive the car and make the money in my family.  I have more assets than my husband, and I'm a mom as well as a sis and a daughter.

This is to say - I saw no recognition of the holiday whatsoever.  I did hear a radio report of the sexual abuse, even trafficking, of Afghan women in the police force.   And Google's name today had a feminine symbol. 

That's it.

While women have ascended to the presidency of dozens of nations, from Brazil to Germany to .... the stinking Intermonetary Fund, we still hear of sexual abuse on grand scales, we still have a siege on reproductive rights in several of the United States.

One key to making the world better is to educate girls.  When girls are educated, they earn more and they delay becoming mothers.  And have fewer children. 

So, let's put more of our efforts toward educating girls.

And let's send a thank you to Brazil, where it's now a crime to pay women 70% of what men in the same job earn.   In the US it's okay, but Brazil is putting some teeth into the rhetoric for women's equality.

I wonder what my mother would think of how I've turned out.  And I wonder what HER mother might think, were she still around. 

Peace, y'all


Wednesday, March 7, 2012


TMy daughter returned yesterday from a study visit to Israel and Palestine. She has yet to process everything she learned, but her incidental comments have shaken me. Example : her friend Dahlia's boyfriend, a high school senior at a Quaker school in Ramallah, was beaten to a bloody pulp by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint --because he wore a Palestinian red and white checked head scarf. Example: more than 40 resolutions to support Palestinian human rights have been blocked in the UN thanks to Israel's stalwart ally, the USA. Example : the intense and hostile interrogation my daughter got when leaving Israel at the Telaviv airport.

I know some Palestinians are violent but oppression is morally reprehensible and my nation's complicity disgusts and appalls me.

Peace, y'all


Monday, March 5, 2012

on morality and budgets

Today I phoned my legislators to say the budget the Washington state Senate had agreed to (using the term "agree" very loosely) was immoral. It balances the state's budget by harming the vulnerable in our state - children, elderly, disabled, unemployed, hungry or poor. This is wrong.

I said a budget is a moral document that reflects the values and priorities of the people of our state. This budget doesn't do that.

This led me to thinking about personal budgets and values and priorities. Every time we spend any money, we are choosing to allocate that resource in a way that reflects our values and priorities, even it's simply "don't get evicted," or "have a full tummy tonight."

This makes me want to spend money more mindfully. I want every nickel I spend to be for Good. For God. For people, especially the vulnerable.

Peace, y'all