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Dick Bernard: Scaffold, continuing.

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

The main post, May 31, 2017, is accessible here.

6:13 a.m. June 2, 2017: There are, thus far, 17 responses to my May 31 post on the [likely) now-being-removed “Scaffold” at the Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center. You can read the responses to my post here.

Here, in pdf form, are the statements of the Artist and the Executive Director of the Walker Art Center on “Scaffold” from May 29 and May 27 respectively: Sam Durant Statement May 29, 2017. These are found under the tab “NEWS” at samdurant.com At the same website, under “PROJECTS”, click on “Scaffold” to see the now removed art work.

POSTNOTE 8:02 a.m. June 2, 2017: There are several letters related to the Scaffold in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune, as well as a column by citizen Timothy S. O’Malley in the June 1 issue of the newspaper. You can access these letters and column here. Click on tab “Opinion”. In today’s issue, as well, is a long article about the controversy in the Variety section.

POSTNOTE about 11 a.m. June 2, 2017
(click to enlarge)

Scaffold, Friday, June 2, 2017 about 11 a.m.

POSTNOTE 9:48 a.m. June 3, 2017: An article in the Minnesota section, and two op eds in todays Minneapolis Star Tribune: here.

POSTNOTE 2:15 p.m. Sunday, June 4, 2017:
(click to enlarge)

Scaffold June 4, 2017 2:15 p.m.

POSTNOTE: Wednesday, June 7: A significant development reported in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. You can read it here.

POSTNOTE: Thursday, June 8: At the Walker website are two statements about the Scaffold situation: You can read them here May 31 and here June 5.

POSTNOTE: Saturday afternoon, June 10, 2017 I visited the Sculpture Garden this morning, about 10:30 a.m., right after it opened. It is a lovely place, of course. My mission, though, was to see the site of the Scaffold, which I had first seen 13 days ago. Here is a “before and after”.

(click to enlarge)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In the two photos you can see the common elements – including where the Scaffold used to be.

Where the Scaffold and its concrete base used to be was freshly laid sod.

I walked around for awhile, and the most vivid sight this hot, sunshiny and very windy day was what I’ll dub the “wind chime tree”, literally what it was. It added its music to the environment.

June 10, 2017

Through out the garden were patches of earth, each of which was identified with a sign, as below:

June 10, 2017

Wouldn’t it be nice, I thought to myself, if the site of that now destroyed Scaffold would have the sod removed, and replaced with the same future possibility as these natural areas….

Visit the Sculpture Garden some time. You’ll enjoy it. And think about how we can do things a bit better.

from Dick, July 6, 2017: A general e-mail from the Walker Art Center about the debate about the Sculpture, received on July 5 from Anne Gillette Cleveland and David Goldstein:
Dear Community Member:

On behalf of the Walker staff, we appreciate your honest feedback regarding the acquisition, placement and recent dismantling of the Scaffold sculpture in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. We humbly acknowledged that we were “learning in public”, as we quickly understood the pain we caused the Dakota people and many others.

Going forward over the next 3-6 months, we will be transparent about how we conduct community outreach for future public artworks, re-build our external relationships with the Dakota people and broader community, and be better stewards of the public’s park across from the Walker Art Center.

Please accept our apology for any harm that we have caused. We hope to earn your respect once again.

Two photos taken on a visit to the Sculpture Garden on July 2:

Horse sculpture at the Sculpture Garden, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, July 2, 2017

At the Sculpture Garden, Minneapolis, July 2, 2017

An example of what I felt was a misuse of a symbol at the International Peace Garden (ND/Manitoba) which I saw in July, 2009. You can read about it here.

It is included in my response to the July 5 memo quoted above: Walker Staff001

Dick Bernard: The Scaffold (a Sculpture, a Gallows).

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

June 29, 2017: Recommended by a reader: The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Chief Red Cloud, an American Legend

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POSTNOTE 5:20 p.m. May 31 – A decision was made about the Scaffold today. See comments section below.

POSTNOTE 8:30 a.m. June 1 – This seems an appropriate place/time for a general timeline of historical events impacting on this conversation: FAHF Timeline 001. This two-page document was prepared by the French-American Heritage Foundation in 2016 as a beginning sketch of relationships in Minnesota and surrounding areas.

UPDATE June 2 here

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ORIGINAL POST May 31
If you are around the twin cities and follow the news at all, you’ve heard the controversy about the new proposed exhibit at the refurbished Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. The tentative decision has been made to remove the Scaffold, and today is the official meeting about it. The issue is of such concern to me that I hand-delivered a letter plus photos to the Executive Director of Walker Center Tuesday afternoon. There has been, and will continue to be, news in Minneapolis Star Tribune, if you wish.

Here’s a photo I took of the sculpture at issue on Sunday:

(click to enlarge)

The Scaffold, from Lyndale Avenue, May 28, 2017.

To begin, here are the positions of the sculptor and the Walker Art Center, as found at the sculptors website (click on the tab “NEWS”). This perspective, probably not seen thus far, helps provide relevant background. In part, from the artist statement: “Scaffold opens the difficult histories of the racial dimension of the criminal justice system in the United States, ranging from lynchings to mass incarceration to capital punishment. In bringing these troubled and complex histories of national importance to the fore, it was my intention not to cause pain or suffering, but to speak against the continued marginalization of these stories and peoples, and to build awareness around their significance.”

Before I visited the above website, I had delivered the following personal letter, along with photos, to Walker Art Center. The letter is presented as sent, with slight additions in brackets to help give additional context. I’d be interested in other perspectives, if you wish.

My letter to Walker Executive Director Olga Viso, May 30, 2017:

“We are members of Basilica of St. Mary. Each time we drive home we pass by the Sculpture Garden heading south on Lyndale.  So it was, Sunday, about 11 a.m. We saw the “Scaffold”, and then read about the controversy in the STrib.  Later that afternoon I went back for a closer look. 

The Scaffold should stay. Its message is powerful and it is needed. This is a complex issue.  In my opinion, both the Walker and the advocates for removal are making a serious mistake in taking down this powerful work. Everyone will be the losers.

To be clear, I’ve long had an interest in the disgrace of December, 1862, in Mankato, and the events which preceded it, and the long history of running the Native Americans off their land, however that has been justified. The existence of the Scaffold is essential to an essential conversation.  Yes, it is stark, as it should be. I am grateful that it was contemplated, completed and installed, and yes, for the controversy which brought it to my attention.

September 21, 1997, I traveled to Mankato for the solemn dedication of the Memorial there, indeed I visited briefly with the Sculptor.

At the Mankato dedication, September 21, 1997.

The Dedication Plaque at Mankato 9/21/1997

Perhaps the Mankato executions drew me because one of my earliest Minnesota ancestors, Samuel Collette of Centerville, was a private in the First Regiment of Mounted Rangers, General Sibley’s command, Oct. 6, 1862 – Nov. 28, 1863, and thus quite possibly he was at Mankato at the time of the executions.  Samuel came to Minnesota in 1857, from Quebec.  Depending on one’s particular point of view, in this instance, he was good or evil.  For a year he was part of the militia which drove the natives west of the Missouri River and on to Reservations. [The official narrative of the Rangers, written about 1890: Mn Mtd Rangers 1862-63001].  

Both my paternal and maternal ancestors have benefited from white settlement taking native lands in northeast and south central North Dakota. My mothers parents had been in North Dakota four years when the monument was set at the site of Whitestone Hill massacre, about 30 miles from their new farm.  As you likely know, the Whitestone monument is to the dead soldiers who had been part of the unit which massacred the Natives encamped there for the annual buffalo hunt. Years later a simple symbol – an unlabeled boulder down the hill from the monument – was placed remembering the slain Native Americans.  I’ve been there many times [most recently a year ago].  More on the deadly encounter here. [Longer articles can be read at Whitestone Hill 1863001, and Whitestone 1863 at 1976002]

Whitestone Hill ND July, 2005

Whitestone ND Monument July 2005

At Whitestone Hill Aug 1994. Below soldier graves is a plain stone monument to the Indian victims in 1863

Succinctly, I’ve thought a great deal about the Hanging and similar atrocities in our past, and in the world itself…the focus of the Scaffold.

Were I in charge, I’d suggest a timeout of weeks, months or years to talk about what this all means.

Removing the Scaffold, will not destroy it or put it in hiding – I took 19 photos of my own yesterday; removal will do nothing to improve understanding or relationships or anything else.  

Looking at the Scaffold for the first time, Sunday, from the other side of the fence and the protest banners, I thought it would present an excellent focal point for better public understanding of our often inglorious history as a people.  

The Scaffold, with the Basilica of St. Mary in the background, May 28, 2017.

Put the sculpture in its own “prison” if you wish, surrounded even by concertina wire, but do not remove it. Let us see it, with a large plaque explaining what it is; why it was envisioned and commissioned. Let us talk about its meaning, publicly.

There are analogies, though every such event/place/circumstance is unique.

In 2000, we were with a Pilgrimage of Christians and Jews from Basilica of St. Mary and Temple Israel to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other holocaust sites.  

At Birkenau the horrid railroad tracks, examples of the awful barracks, even the remains of the hideous ovens, are kept as permanent reminders of the horrors that happened there.

May 4, 2000. Approaching the entrance to Birkenau death camp, Poland. Photo by Dick Bernard

I have been to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. several times.  The memories displayed are not abstract.  There, you are confronted with the reality of the horror.

I am only a citizen….”  

Others at that meeting today in Minneapolis will move towards a decision on what to do. My hope is that the Scaffold remains and becomes a point for us to look at ourselves, reflectively, and work towards a better future.

May 28, 2017. Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden Site.

One of the protest signs at the site, May 28, 2017

Your opinion? My e-mail dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom if you want to share thoughts with me, and with others through this post.

COMMENTS:
1. From Norm: I’m with you Dick. There aren’t enough such things to remind us of our past indiscretions.

2. from Virgil: Your position is well explained. I think you know me well enough that I would be an ally to not forgetting history as it has been lived with its particular circumstances for communities and individuals across the globe.

Thank you for your very clear explanation and for creating a platform for facing issues which should influence our thoughts about the place others should have in a world where dominant stories represent positions of a strength that should be tempered through a call such as you are putting forth.

3. from Jerry: Thanks, Dick, for your response to the new art at Walker Art Museum. I agree with you that the scaffold should remain and reasons for it given. We keep trying to hide the history of our relationship with the Native Americans and so much of it is very painful. I need to get over to see the art piece myself.

4. from Jeff: I agree with you on this.

The recent art display on lynching in America at the Museum of Modern Art in St Paul was excellent. Open wounds need to see sunlight to heal.

I think part of the issue is that native americans were not consulted on the piece. They should have had a seat at the Table.

5. from Bill: Dick, as an 8 year old child I had a very personal experience with this 1863 Indian uprising when my neighbors took me to the 75th anniversary of the uprising in Mankato in 1938. I approached a very elderly Indian man and made a comment to him about how bad the Indians were and he responded to me “Little boy, remember there are two sides to every story!” I have never forgotten that wisdom when ever there were sides being proposed in an argument.

As an adult I have read about the circumstances that led to the Indian uprising and have come to the conclusion that the Indians had been betrayed by the White politicians of the day in their promising that land along the Minnesota River would be set aside for Indian settlements only to have much of these lands taken over by the flood of European immigrants occurring about that time. Just one more broken promises of the White Man to the Indians.

6. from Greg: I must confess to being a contributor to [the Scaffold] controversy, albeit unintentionally. I remember attending the Lunch with [my City Councilperson] at which Olga Viso, the Walker Executive Director, described the artwork being added to the garden.

For some sad reason this controversy potential escaped my thought process. Thus, I failed to speak privately with her to politely express my strong opinion the Walker was making a major mistake in proceeding with the installation in the manner they had chosen, apparently without first meeting and speaking with members of the Native American community.

I agree that The Scaffold should ultimately remain. I also understand the reaction of the people who oppose The Scaffold, but this reaction does not seem to be acknowledging the valuable educational value of this art work, and that the Native American community will benefit from such educational value, as will we all.

7. from Jermitt: Thank you once again for your thoughtful and inspiring commentary. As a Nation we continue to fail in our commitments to the Native American Communities. And we continue to cover up our faults. Only through lessons from the past can we prevent similar atrocities in the future. Thank you, my friend.

8. from Janice: Powerful blog. Thank you for forwarding. You articulated my views—although with quite a personal history to back it up. I think it can be a powerful and important part of our city. I hope they can reconcile all the parties. Already, look at all of us who now know of this history, who were ignorant before (me included!)

9. from Johnathan: Beautifully written and expressed – US owns its share of national shame. Sunlight heals wounds. Native American voices must express their perspective on The Scadfold. Asking forgiveness is a means of educating future generations to the worst and best of the human condition. Thank you for sharing a great example of balanced and mindful view of facts…and the realities continued to be faced by Native Americans – and all human beings.

10. from Catherine: I too would like to see the sculpture remain, but I would stipulate that it be under the curatorship of the artist along with the local tribes of wherever it’s being displayed. It’s their history and they have never had proper control over it in the history books or the art world. The scaffold itself is painful — that’s the point — but unless it’s exhibited as a teaching tool and a public apology, it could be downgraded easily by trivial popular culture. That has to be avoided. Years ago the Mpls Art Institute had a controversial show on the costumes of the Native Americans for a secret religious ritual. Out of respect they worked closely with the local native population and had the galleries blessed by one of their elders. Even so there were complaints but overall that gesture was appreciated. I think the Walker meant well but went about it wrong.

11. from Catherine, 4:43 p.m., 8 minutes after preceding: Looks like we’re all too late. It will be dismantled by the Dakota and burned at Fort Snelling. That will be impactful at the moment, but what will remain of the many lessons learned?

11A. from Dick: Thank you, Catherine. I heard the same news at 5:10 p.m. on the news. I’m glad I made the effort, and I think burning the symbol will not be as effective as it being used as a long-term learning tool. But…the decision is made, apparently.

12.from Florence: Recently the daughter-in-law of friends of ours had a painting displayed at an art gallery in NYC. The subject was of a 14-year old boy who had been mutilated and hung to die, accused of raping a white woman, in the 1940’s. Yes, he was black. There was a huge out-cry from the African American community and a demand that the painting be removed and destroyed for dishonoring them. I supported their sentiments in my heart, as I support the sentiments of the Native American community against the Scaffold sculpture. Both artists had good intentions, but failed to talk with people from the injured communities. Those injuries don’t go away with time. We need to “walk a mile in their shoes.” I understand that the Walker Art Center has reached an agreement with the Native American community to remove and burn the sculpture/playground. I’m grateful.

13. from Paul: Dick, I, too, have been pondering this “Scaffold” incident. However, I have a very different conclusion than you.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

You seem to argue that the sculpture, “Scaffold” has good intent. And I can agree it has spurred a meaningful and perhaps eventually productive discussion and long deserved public attention to the history of injustice represented by government conducted executions.

However, another view of the sculpture and its prominent display at the Walker Sculpture Garden is to see it as an example of cultural appropriation by a white artist and the white dominated Walker Art Center.

Mostly we see cultural appropriation when the dominant culture uses artistic or cultural characteristics from a minority race or nationality. Sometimes these are displayed in offensive ways such as a tomahawk or headdress used by a sports team. Other times they seem more benign such as using in a new way some hot sauce borrowed from Mexican style cooking. I think back to when white hippies wore afro hair styles – clearly cultural appropriation. When is it wrong? Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it is not so wrong at all.

But what about the “Scaffold” is cultural appropriation? The indigenous people and other groups who have suffered the long-term trauma of past aggressions against their ancestors have a primary claim of ownership to the use and remediation of that trauma in our white dominated culture. The artist and the Walker failed to recognize that claim. While attempting to stimulate the healing dialog that is so needed, they failed. The did not even realize that the people who most need to have the power over the remediation of their cultural trauma were being ignored in the creation and the installation of this sculpture. From their point of view, it is white domination all over again. Just another example of the white power players deciding what is good for them, what is the best way to confront their trauma, what is the best way to start the healing.

At the very least, the artist when he first conceived the sculpture a few years ago, owed to the descendants of the victims for whom he had so much sympathy the opportunity to be part of the creation of the sculpture and it’s presentation. The Walker Art Center likewise owed those same people a chance to know about the sculpture and weigh in on its merits and the way it should be displayed (or not displayed).

Good intentions do not excuse colossal blunders. There is a reason that quote at the start of my thoughts is famous.

Now it is time for the next steps to be taken in concert with the people who are the victimized cultures. The Walker, the artist, other institutions have this responsibility. They should provide opportunity for these steps. They are not the leaders in this. They should be the followers. They can apply their resources to the cause and help facilitate.

14. from Fred: A very thoughtful piece on a terribly complex subject. Your family and personal history makes you well qualified to consider the topic. I hadn’t considered the situation in Minneapolis in the light of the German decision to preserve evidence of the Holocaust. The Mankato scaffold and what it represents should be burned into the minds of Minnesotans and their fellow countrymen.

15. from Dick: Here is the official report of the result of the Mediation which will remove the art work. I will next comment after the structure is burned.

16. from Maryellen: Thank you for your very thoughtful and thought-provoking post on the controversy over the artwork called the scaffold. I read through all the comments with great interest.

The hangings of Dec. 26, 1862 are a haunting thing. It will take a lot more than this artwork to put these ghosts to rest.

This parallel lacks some exactness, but I bring it up for painful contrast: the scaffold is a form of execution and so was the cross. How would the early Christians have reacted to a ‘Cross’ created as a Roman work of art? Even with the intention of reminding everyone of its horror?

And yet, it is true that this ‘Scaffold’ may help, if only by reminding us all.

17. from Barbara: Dick – This is the best response I have heard. And I agree with you.

18. from a boyhood friend in ND: Interesting reading. There have been, and still are, some very horrible people living on this planet. We have talked about the book that I am trying to write about religion and the difficulty that I have on the issue of morality because of how hypocritical people are. I don’t know whether there is an afterlife with a heaven and hell, but if there is a hell, it will be full of folks like our founding fathers for what they did to the Native Americans and their enslavement of other humans. It would also be filled with the Europeans that were responsible for not only for the invasion of North America, but also the invasions of South America, Africa, Australia, and portions of Asia during their colonization movements, and what they did to the native populations.

One thing that I am always curious about is the big deal that the world makes about the German Holocaust. There were more Iranians killed in the Iranian Holocaust that we were partially responsible for, and far more Native Americans, and possibly Armenians at the hands of the Turks. So why do we all make a big deal just about the Jews. Hitler killed more Christians than Jews. Where are all the monuments and museums commemorating the deaths of all those Christians. And what about the hundreds of Christians that have been killed by Israel in Gaza? Over 400 in just the 2014 attack on the UN shelter in place facilities. Don’t they count? I could go on and on, but to no avail. It is unfortunate though that historically evil has generally trumped good.

And thanks for that bible atlas that you got from your friend. I will take good care of it and will return it if Joe wants it back. I got a kick out of your notion that this is a hand-me-down from a Jew to a Catholic, to a Muslim. I would have thought that you would know that to be a Jew, Christian, Muslim or any other of the Abrahamic sects, a prime requirement is that you worship the Earth God of Abraham, and that from our previous discussions of my book, I do not believe that the Earth God of Abraham exists, like so many others that are pursuing a set of beliefs that are more consistent with our current knowledge base. I am what is called a freelance monotheist. That was a term coined by a lady back in the 1990s, whose name I cannot remember. [Karen Armstrong]

19. from George: Being from MN and from a southern MN family I immediately related the scaffolding to Mankato. I see it as an item of horror not of art. Just as I see Kathy Griffin’s attention grabbing ploy to not be comic “art” but in poor taste, and definitely not a threat.

19A. Response from Dick: One of the most interesting comments so far has been from Maryellen (above): “It will take a lot more than this artwork to put these ghosts to rest.

This parallel lacks some exactness, but I bring it up for painful contrast: the scaffold is a form of execution and so was the cross. How would the early Christians have reacted to a ‘Cross’ created as a Roman work of art? Even with the intention of reminding everyone of its horror?”

I happen to be lifelong Catholic. I hadn’t thought of the cross piece before. There is hardly a more ubiquitous piece of art than the cross, including in church art. I’d guess Christians would consider the crucifixion on a cross as a “horror”, but nonetheless it seems acceptable as art. The question is a difficult one, I’ll say. Which makes the conversation even more important.

20. from Stacy: I liked your article and the perspective you have on this. It would be a shame to sweep this under the rug when it is such a opportunity for conversation and reflection.

21. from Sandy:
Good and meaningful thoughts Dick! You certainly can speak with great knowledge on historical events and issues. thanks

22. from Rebecca: Because of your interest: Re: the Walker Art Center sculpture, I want to recommend to you the book An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, in paperback this year from Beacon Pr. It won the 2015 American book award. After reading this book last month, I contacted the author, a now 77 year old white/Indian woman scholar of American history who lives in California and is emeritus from one of the California universities. I contacted her just before the Walker art museum scandal had happened. I have invited her to come to the Twin Cities to speak and I will hopefully have an announcement about it at the MAP delegate meeting June 13th.

22A. Response from Dick: Thank you, Rebecca. Re “Because of your interest”, I’d like to share a few thoughts about what brought me to this particular place in my own history awareness and position on the sculpture issue. I’m North Dakotan, living there through college (1940-61). We lived, and thus I grew up, in a succession of tiny towns throughout the state. Basically, I’d say, the towns were Catholic; or Lutheran; there were Germans from Russia (mostly), and Scandinavians. That was our notion of “ethnic diversity”. This was back in the days when Catholics and Protestants had little to do with each other, to the point of outright hostility. There were others: Jews, Moslems, but they were rare and very unusual. It was not an enlightened time.

My mother grew up on a farm, which became very much like my “hometown”, as it was a consistent place in my life. My Dad grew up in a town of a few thousand, and his Dad was chief engineer in a flour mill.

I have said publicly as far back as the 1980s that “Indians” to us were about the same as “Negroes” in the south, even less fairly treated. Indeed, the situation for the Native Americans was probably worse, as they were on Reservations. My earliest memories, experienced, not spoken, were between 1945 and 1951 when, on occasion, we drove through the Ft. Totten Reservation near Devils Lake ND. I say “through”, it may have been beside – I don’t know for sure. What I am sure of is the sense I had as a kid that this was where the Indians lived, and it wasn’t a place you’d want your car to break down.

A few years later we lived a few miles west of Wahpeton ND, and I attended a tiny rural school and I was on the high school basketball team. At least twice we played basketball against the “Wahpeton Indian School” team out at the School of Science gymnasium. I remember the “Indian” ball players as very quick. I think that this was the same school, at about the same time, that author Louise Erdrich‘s father was superintendent. My Dad was school superintendent then at our tiny school. Both times we played on the Indian Schools court. Again, there was nothing spoken. The Indians were in their place, and it wasn’t with the rest of us.

Until the air bases and missile facilities of the late 1950s, there were few if any Negroes in ND.

I read somebodies memories of growing up in northeast North Dakota in the 1880s, and she remembered her French-Canadian mothers admonishment to the children: “Don’t trust the Indians or the Norwegians”!

I don’t have any Native-American ancestry – I’m half French-Canadian (Dad) and German (Mom) but I know of relatives of my French-Canadian grandparents generation who had strong native American ancestry. It is not at all unknown to me.

I first took a very active interest in Native Issues perhaps in the 1980s; in Whitestone Hill in the early 1990s. I am guessing the 1990s was the first time I knew of Whitestone (since it is remote – you need to be going there to really know it exists), and I’m also guessing it was a trip from the rural ND farm the 35 or so miles to see it. It is an impactful place, remote, alone, in its way beautiful. Rarely have I been there with any other visitors on the grounds. If one wishes an opportunity to meditate, Whitestone is a good choice.

My intention is to write more about this issue as time goes on, probably after the lumber is burned.

For certain, feel free to pass this along to the author you mentioned.

Thank you again.

22B. POSTNOTE, DICK June 9, 2017 The Scaffold has been disappeared from the news, replaced in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune by a long piece in the Variety Section, “Something to crow about”. Where the Scaffold was would have been the first sculpture seen as visitors entered at the “New Entry. It has been disappeared.

The culminating event, the burning of the pieces of the Scaffold, has been postponed.

Personally, I think the apparent leadership of the Native American community and its allies missed a major opportunity for dialogue and reconciliation, and possibly they recognize this now, and too late. The Walker doesn’t distinguish itself either. One can only imagine the behind the curtain discussions, and debate, within both camps.

I may wander down to see the new Garden June 10. At some later date, when/if it is decided to burn the pieces of the scaffold, in one ceremony or in many, I will try to cover that story as best I can, if I am privy to information about it.

I’m satisfied that I did what I could.

The photo below is of artifacts found over many years at the North Dakota farm of my ancestors, probably from plowing. Their home was three miles “as the crow flies” from the James River.

May a path be found to Peace. The June 2 post contains updates as I have found them over the last two weeks.

(click to enlarge)

from the North Dakota farm, found sometime after 1905.

23. from Norm: Thanks for your commentaries on the scaffold as well as your remembrances of growing up in the vicinity or the Fort Totten reservation and/or at least driving through it.

I grew up just a few miles from a reservation in Carlton County occupied by the Native Americans who now operate the successful casino located at I-35 and H-210 west of Carlton and south of Cloquet.

The conventional wisdom when I was growing up as well is that you did not want to have car trouble while driving through the reservation, especially around Sawyer which is on H-210 west of Carlton.

The Native Americans were seen in the same light as were negroes in the south and other parts of the country as well just as you said was the case in the state that you grew up in and where I was stationed for eighteen-months at the Minot AFB until being shipped to Thailand.

To this day, many of the residents of my home town and the surrounding area especially those near the ditch-bank areas northeast of town, continue to hold the Native Americans responsible for the lack of deer in the area because “they can hunt at anytime regardless of the season” and so on. They also hold them responsible for any thefts or damage that occurs to property and residences just outside of the reservation.

I had the good fortune to work with many dedicated Native Americans when I was the chief of EMS for the Minnesota Department of Health for several years. We utilized several talented folks from the Red Lake reservation and others as part of our testing crews as well as for the ambulance transportation services in the Red Lake area and on the White Earth reservation as well…and other places beyond that .

It was a privilege to work with them just as it was to work with all number of committed volunteers all across the state who provided basic emergency medical response services to their communities.

The fact that an Native American couple did come off of the reservation to a home just northeast of Cromwell a few years ago and kill a young couple and then stole their new truck that they later tried to burn on the reservation did add fuel to the fire of that perception no matter that the couple was later tried, found guilty and placed in prison.

Thanks again, Dick.

23A. Response from Dick: Thank you. Re your last paragraph “The fact…in prison”, I always pay attention to how such incidents are treated if by “people like us” versus “other”. A dramatic pre-9-11-01 example was Oklahoma City, where initially the suspect was somebody who apparently looked middle eastern. When it became known that it was two white anti-government guys, the conversation seemed to change, immediately.

We have a very long way to go….

(click to enlarge)

June 11, 2017, about 11 a.m. at southwest corner of the space formerly occupied by the Scaffold.

24. Dick Bernard: I returned to the site again this morning (June 11). A quick storm had passed through, refreshing the space. At the corner of the site of the former Scaffold location, I saw the flag and flower shown above. I don’t know who put it there, what their intention was, how long it will remain…. It was definitely put there on purpose, as would such symbols be seen at the Vietnam Wall in D.C. or elsewhere.

I want to comment briefly on my forbears role in this story, which I hope will continue long after “the ink dries” on these words.

Shortly after Whitestone Hill (1863), the final Treaty transferring Indian Lands to the United States was concluded at Huot Crossing in northwest Minnesota, at the Red Lake River (Huot Old Crossing 1863003). It was to the Treaty land that my French-Canadian ancestors came in 1878, and a number still remain to this day. They settled in Dakota Territory, not far west of the Red River. North Dakota became a state in 1889.

In 1904, my German ancestors came to North Dakota, taking virgin prairie south of Jamestown, perhaps 35 miles from Whitestone Hill, which with hardly any doubt they had never heard about. Whitestone had occurred over 40 years earlier – like the late 1970s compares to today. Indeed, they came across Indian artifacts such as the hammerheads shown above. These were turned over in plowing the prairie. Their farmstead was about three miles from the important James River, and on a rise in the surrounding countryside. Most likely it was a good vantage point in native days, as it is, still.

I doubt that either group, nor any of the ordinary settlers, had any notion of having stolen someone elses land. But, maybe they did?

What we’re left with is the present, over 150 years and many generations after the fact.

It has occurred to me that an appropriate resolution at the Sculpture Garden might be to have a mutually agreed to and designed nature garden (common on the Sculpture Garden grounds) placed at the exact site where the scaffold stood for those few days. That is just a suggestion.

Leaving the garden this morning I decided to take a closer look at what I called the “Chime Tree” yesterday. I was most intrigued by the story accompanying it. Both are pictured below.

The Cottonwood at the Sculpture Garden, June 11, 2017

Explanation of the history of the Cottonwood Tree

I wasn’t sure what kind of tree it was, yesterday, but when I saw the word “Cottonwood”, I thought of a story I had written some years ago about another Cottonwood on the North Dakota farm. Here it is.

Let us keep working towards reconciliation, no matter how long or hard the road.

25. from Mary Ellen: I read everything. So much to process. So many important perspectives. I was stunned by the choice of memorial placed where the scaffold stood so briefly– an American flag and a white carnation. What does that mean?
Yes, keep this going!
Right now I have nothing to add. Still thinking.

25A. from Dick, June 18: I was over to the Sculpture Garden today. The flag and white carnation were no longer there. A mystery perhaps no one else will notice or care about. For me, the Sculpture Garden has taken on greater significance than it ever had before.

Marking Times – Some thoughts on Memorial Day 2017

Monday, May 29th, 2017

Have a good Memorial Day. This morning (beginning 9:30 a.m.) I’ll be at the Vietnam Memorial on the MN State Capitol grounds for the annual Vets for Peace Memorial Day observance. Stop over, if you’re in the area. (See end of this post.)

This Memorial Day musing began with an unplanned detour on a north suburban Minneapolis highway on May 18, and concluded with a powerful musical May 26, about a post WWI farm family and community in northern Minnesota.

I hope my musing might bring back to you some memories from days past. All families have legacies which we inherit, and pass on…. (My own family list is at the end of this post.)

(click to enlarge the map, click a second time for greater enlargement, explanation below)

part of 1940 Shell Oil Co. Road Map for Iowa.

*

Some days ago I drove to an annual dinner in my old stomping grounds of Anoka County MN. Road work required a detour, and I found myself on Minnesota Highway 65 in Blaine MN, a route to/from work, which I had traveled daily for three years, 1966-69. The approximate six miles, from about 80th Ave NE in Spring Lake Park (1st Ave is downtown Minneapolis) to what used to be called 125th (Main Street east from Anoka) came on this day to be a reflective trip for me – a time to reminisce.

Hwy 65 at 109th in Blaine MN May 18, 2017

These days, the route is strictly suburban, and middle class; home to the world known National Sports Center. Back then, near 50 years ago, Blaine was just developing. Small tract starter homes were blooming west of the highway, ending about at 109th as I recall. To the east and north were essentially nothing but sod farms, and occasional small businesses and rural homes of the day.

I crossed Clover Leaf Parkway at about 94th Avenue NE, and remembered that back then I saw the large barn of Clover Leaf Farms, then a well known company name in the Twin Cities. The farm is long disappeared, but there remains an interesting history of the place here.

This is how history comes back to mind, unintended. The past is never that far gone.

As I drove up that stretch of “65” (as locals would say), I was listening to Vol IV of a CD collection from the 100th anniversary collection of the Minnesota Orchestra: it had been an impulse purchase at a garage sale a short time earlier. Playing as I drove that stretch was Mozart’s Piano Concerto #25 in C Major – a personal favorite. I stopped at Roosevelt Middle School, the place where I had been a teacher from 1965-72, and looked to see when the selection I was listening to had been recorded. Nov. 15, 1957, it said. I remembered Nov. 1957 in my life: we were at my Grandparents farm in Henrietta Township ND, probably at Thanksgiving, and in the evening we gathered on the lawn to watch Sputnik blink its way across the night sky – in those years, the newspaper printed the track of that first satellite in their areas.

I was a senior in high school.

in 1957, “CDs” were many years from becoming part of our vocabulary; now that same CD is rapidly becoming just another fossil. The computer on which I compose this blog, doesn’t even have a CD player as part of standard equipment.

Bernards, Summer 1956, at Anoka MN roadside park

Ah, Sputnik…it gave fuel to the space race and a real emphasis on science in American schools, and all of the other assorted things, good and bad, that went with the Cold War. Ah, CD’s….

Back home a few days later I was looking through a bag with some remaining items from my Grandfather Ferd and then Uncle Vincent’s desk at that farm, and came across several old road maps I had found there after Uncle Vince died. One of them, a well worn one of Iowa roads and towns in 1940, included the map of the U.S. which leads this post. This was, of course, printed long before the Interstate Highway System, which was designed as America’s autobahns, first and foremost a military defense highway system. I first drove on a section of Interstate in 1958, between Jamestown and Valley City ND. “A million dollars a mile”, they said of its cost, then.

My trip down memory lane, at least this trip, culminated last Friday night when we went to see “Sweet Land, the Musical” at Minnesota History Theatre. We were part of a packed house. Its last show was yesterday, though my guess is that it will be back. But you can still access the movie of the same name, or read Will Weaver’s short story which inspired both film and musical, “A Gravestone Made of Wheat”

Short synopsis: Sweet Land is of the triumphs, trials and tribulations of small farmers in Minnesota, from post WWI when a German war-bride came to marry a Norwegian farmer, when anti-German prejudice was still very high. Years later, the intended husband helped save a neighbors farm, and the community in turn helped them save his own farm. It is story of humanity, about greed and about generosity and the tension between invaluable legacy and valuable land. A further history summary of the era, from the program for Sweet Land, is here: Sweet Land001

The show begins with a for sale sign on the property, whose owners have died; it ends with the land not for sale…. I thought of my own families 110 year old farm which recently has begun a new life in North Dakota.

I thought of all of the inhabitants of that farm, now all but one deceased, and those of the neighbor farm whose owners were brother and sister of my own grandparents.

*

For this Memorial Day, I remember all of those people who lived for all or part of their lives on that land in rural LaMoure County North Dakota. May we be good examples of their raising us up.

The children of Ferdinand and Rosa (Berning) Busch: (born 1907-27) Lucina, Esther, Verena, Mary, George (Lt., U.S. Navy, Pacific Theatre 1943-45), Florence, Edithe, Vincent, Arthur (U.S. Army 1945-46).

The children of August and Christina (Busch) Berning: (born ca 1907-28) Irwin, Irene, Lillian, Cecilia, Rose, August (Captain U.S. Marines, Pacific Theatre WWII), Hyacinth, Ruth, Ruby, Rufina, Anita, Melvin (U.S. Army, Korea).

These families felt the cost of war. The husband of one was killed over Italy near the end of WWII; the son of another committed suicide on return from Korean war – he couldn’t leave the war behind; the brother-in-law of another, my uncle Frank, went down with the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor; a neighbor of the family, Francis Long, was killed in action, hardly a year into active duty in WWII. Everyone is affected by war. This day the tendency is to honor the fallen, who we call “heroes”. But among us are survivors, suffering in assorted ways from the effects of war. War is insane. We need to work very hard to rid ourselves of the impulse of war as a solution to problems.

And there are other true heroes who have committed their lives to finding some ways to seek peace.

Last night we watched the always moving Memorial Day program on PBS. At the end of the program Vanessa Williams and choral group sang the Hymn which captioned my 1982 Christmas greeting. Below is the cover, and here is the text of that card: Vietnam Mem DC 1982001

.

Listen: “Let There Be Peace on Earth, and Let It Begin With Me.”

COMMENTS:
from Donna: Thanks for your inspirational words once again. This Memorial Day I am thinking of my relatives in Germany where my daughter and sister are currently visiting. Rich and I had the opportunity to visit them in southern Germany last October and it is amazing how welcoming they all were. While there I could not imagine leaving the beauty of southern Germany and arriving in North Dakota. It must have been a rude awakening that first winter. I expressed this to one of my cousins from Germany and he said “well if they hadn’t left they would most certainly been part of World War I & II”. Apparently during WWII my relatives would draw around their feet and then send their foot outlines to my dad and he would send back shoes. Growing up in an the all German community of St. Mary’s I am sure that all of our neighbors and friends had family back in Germany that were caught up in the two wars.

from Annelee (who grew up in Nazi Germany): Dick,Thanks for the Peace and Justice memorial Day 2017. I learned a great deal about the past as you took us down along the highways of memory lane. You brought alive the toils and struggles of your ancestral families on the farms. Then they were asked to give their sons. They were called to serve and they gave their lives.

Times have changed, some for better, some for much worse. Young men throughout the world since then have died and are still dying to serve a cause?

I remember my papa: I don’t know where he read, heard or came to the conclusion on his own.

He always said when our young men were called during WWII, and he learned that that many he knew had died — he shook his head and said
“WAR IS INSANITY AND INHUMANITY OF MEN TO HIS FELLOW MEN— I MAY NOT REMEMBER IT EXACTLY.

WAR IS STILL GOING ON, AND IT WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS WAR AND ITS COST ARE GLORIFIED AND WE NEGLECT LIFE AND ALL ITS BLESSING PEACE COULD BRING.

from Christina: What great thoughts for this Memorial Day!

Veterans for Peace at Vietnam Memorial on MN State Capitol Grounds, May 29, 2017.

It was a chilly, blustery day, but there was a large group who gathered. Below are a few photos from the annual gathering.

May 29, Veterans for Peace gathering.

Ceremonial Bell Ringing remembering those who have died.

May 29, 2017

Dick Bernard: Reflecting on Benjamin Ferencz

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Someone asked me about my Mom a few days ago. Esther (Busch) Bernard died August 20, 1981, at age 72, cancer. A few months before her death I turned 41. She was a remarkable person…then again, all persons in their own ways were and are remarkable. We all have our own memories of our own missing persons in our own lives. Likely in that can of human hair I found in the possessions at the North Dakota farm where she was born and raised is some of hers. Today is a time to remember and to reflect.

*

Today is Mother’s Day, now better known in Minnesota as fishing opener weekend….

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mom’s, in all their infinite variations.

*

A few days ago I featured the quotation of an immensely accomplished mother of six, Eleanor Roosevelt, in a newsletter I edit. Mrs. Roosevelt said this: “Believe in yourself. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…You must do that which you think you cannot do….The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
(p. 4, here: CGS News May 2017001)

Among her many accomplishments, Eleanor Roosevelt was the leader who led the process leading to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

*

Today’s post, however, is about a son, Benjamin Ferencz, 36 years younger than Mrs. Roosevelt, but nonetheless tied together with her by a shared history – WWII. I can only begin to explain by these few words. Perhaps you’ll want to follow up. I didn’t know Mr. Ferencz existed till a week ago.

*

Yesterday I was organizing a bunch of assorted papers on world peace passed along to me by Joe Schwartzberg, who had previously received them from the family of Martha and Stan Platt, two giants of the twin cities peace community back in the days of Eleanor Roosevelt. The assortment was from the early 1950s to the early 1990s.

The task was one I had avoided for a year or more. There were many musty old file folders, probably from the Platt’s garage, unceremoniously parked in a torn grocery bag, which in turn was placed inside a kitchen garbage bag.

Rummaging through the files among hundreds of items I came across the below letter, referencing a then-upcoming book by Prof. Benjamin Ferencz:

(click to enlarge)

(The book referred to was published, and some copies are still available for the inquiring reader here.)

I knew of Stanley Platt and his wife by reputation, though they are long deceased. I never met either, but they were legendary in peace circles in the U.S.

Benjamin Ferencz?

May 7, long time friend Dr. Joseph Schwartzberg, sent a few of us “this gem of a beautiful interview with Ben Ferencz that [he] just found” which aired on PBS July 14, 2009.

A couple of hours later, CBS “60 Minutes” had a feature segment on the same Ben Ferencz, now 97 and still a stalwart for dealing with the insanity of war.

So, in the space of a week, the unknown Benjamin Ferencz became much more a known in my own life, through a 2009 PBS program, the segment on 60 Minutes, and a 1993 letter.

The quick note is this: a newly minted lawyer as WWII ended, the 27-year old Ferencz happened to draw the short straw as the lawyer who “prosecuted 22 German officers at Nuremberg for murdering over a million people in World War II….” (from the PBS text).

The longer story, accessible in the programs above, is worth your time.

*

These days, it is easy to feel there is no hope; that individuals and small groups cannot make a difference.

Making a better world takes all of us, women, men, Moms, Dads, boys, girls, all the time.

Margaret Mead said it best, years ago: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

To all, everyone, Happy Mother’s Day.

Dick Bernard: Three Opportunities At 100 Days of MAGA

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017

The end of April marks the 100th day of MAGA (“Make America Great Again”).

If you are even a tiny bit concerned about our future as a planet of people, here are three programs that are worth your time, more information accessible at GlobalSolutionsMN.org (Global Solutions Minnesota*) All information at home page of this website.

1. Tomorrow (Thursday) evening, April 20, at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, Dr. Roger Prestwich speaks on “Brexit, the EU and rising European Nationalism.” 6:45 p.m. Free and open to the public.

(click to enlarge photos, double click for greater enlargement.)

2. Sunday afternoon, April 23, is the World Premiere of “The World Is My Country“, the amazing story of Garry Davis, World Citizen. Show time is 2:30. Best advice to be ticketed and at the theater no later than 2:10 p.m. St. Anthony Main Theatre, Minneapolis. More here (link to theatre box office in second paragraph). Box office 612-331-7563 Tickets required for this event.

Garry Davis (on screen from Vermont via Skype), Lynn Elling, film producer Arthur Kanegis and another guest share thoughts on the pursuit of world peace at St. Anthony Main Theater on January 6, 2013.

3. Monday evening, May 1, at Gandhi Mahal Restaurant, Minneapolis, Shawn Otto addresses “Science, Law and the Quest for Freedom in the Age of Trump.” Mr. Otto’s book, “The War on Science. Who’s waging it, why it matters and what we can do about it” has just won the 2017 Minnesota Book Award for non-fiction, general. Shawn Otto is well known and respected in the Science community. Reservations required for this limited seating dinner meeting. $25 per person, $15 for students. Reserve by contacting Dick Bernard, dick_bernardATmsnDOTcom, or by mail at Box 25384 Woodbury MN 55125, or 651-334-5744. This is the 5th annual of the re-initiation of World Law Day, which began in 1964, and went on for about 30 years in the Twin Cities. Each event is filled with opportunities for stimulating conversation.

Shawn Otto August 10, 2016

* – all these events are sponsored by Global Solutions Minnesota, an organization of which the writer of this post is vice-president. We wish we could claim foreknowledge in planning these events at what is ever more apparent, a crucial moment in history, but all three came together in the random way that such things happen.

We need to be well informed. These are excellent, in differing ways, for us to inform ourselves not only about problems, but solutions, and how we can impact as persons.

Absolutely, these will be excellent events, chock-full of good and especially timely information, led by presenters who are very knowledgeable.

If you can’t go to all three, how about sharing the wealth, and find someone else to cover the other two, then talk about what you learned afterwards!

For those with an interest in the preservation of a global community, peace and justice, these can seem like very dark days. Each of these sessions will stimulate participants who wish to be more knowledgeably involved.

Shack II – Good Friday at the Basilica of Saint Mary. “God” Among Us.

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

SEE COMMENTS AT THE END OF THIS POST.

In my tradition, today is Easter. Whatever your tradition, this day, all best for a happy one!

(click to enlarge)

At the Stone War Memorial at the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, March 28, 2017. Each Minnesota County contributed a boulder on which part of a single war time letter was inscribed. This one is from Todd County Minnesota.

March 17 at this space, I posted about the film and movie, The Shack. You can revisit it here. At the beginning of that post, I very deliberately mentioned Columbine High School which became memorable April 20, 1999. At the end of that post I have now added my blogpost about The Shack written at the time I read the book in 2009, plus my Amazon review at that time. At the end of this post – postnote 1, below – is my unedited first rough draft thoughts about todays post, saved on March 19.

*

It’s been almost eight years since some friend told me about the book, “The Shack”, and now well over a month since I saw the film version in Littleton CO (see postnote 2 below). I have had some very interesting conversations about the book in the past month (including with myself!), and my antennae have been up to observe, as I say in the headline, “God Among Us”.

These are two repetitive thoughts this day:
1) Ours is an individualistic society, with a tendency to create God in our own image and to justify our own action. This is a real dilemma for organized hierarchical religion of all varieties, long accustomed to controlling the flock through one or another view of what God is, or is not.
2) We have great trouble dealing with forgiveness…of others, and of ourselves. The 1916 quotation on the boulder which leads this column merits long and very serious reflection and conversation.

*

Tenebrae on Good Friday evening at Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis – two days ago – seems to bring it all together for me at this moment in my history.

We were in a jam-packed church Friday night.

The stage for Good Friday had been set for me, personally, through a brief back-and-forth between two of us – long-time good friends – earlier in the day.

I’m a regular at Catholic Mass; my friend used to be. He has his reasons.

Some snips:
J: “Happy Easter from the Apostate. I haven’t been to a Good Friday service in ages… do they still pray for the conversion of the Jews?”
D: “Maybe we’ll go tonight and I’ll let you know…we visited Auschwitz, etc., in the spring of 2000, a mixed group of Jews and Catholics from Basilica and Temple Israel. About that time, the big story was the shakeup in the famous Oberammergau (sp?) Passion Play, where the big deal was the guilt of the Jews… But, I think, there is a relatively positive equilibrium at the moment….

Seated, I leafed through the program booklet, and in the section, “Jesus Breathed His Last” on p.6, was this (click to enlarge):

Tenebrae Program booklet at Basilica of St. Mary Minneapolis MN Good Friday April 14, 2017

The powerful service continued, and at page 12 in the booklet, came a prelude: “Remarks (Please be seated.)”

Presider and Basilica Pastor John Bauer began brief remarks by talking about the tragic history of Jewish – Catholic relations, and the strong impetus to change those relationships particularly in the time beginning with Pope John Paul II.

Then he introduced the speaker, Rabbi Sim Glaser of neighboring Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

I have heard Rabbi Glaser before, and we did go to Auschwitz with Temple Israel members in 2000, so what I and the others were about to hear was not a surprise.

I would summarize Rabbi Glaser’s very powerful remarks in this way:
1) There are three major Abrahamic religions: Jews, Christians, Moslems.
2) Jerusalem is important to all these religions.
3) We all live together in this world, and we need to relearn how to communicate with each other, rather than continue isolation and division.

I usher at Basilica often. I am sure that many of these people who Rabbi Glaser was addressing from this Catholic pulpit had not been in Church for a long while. Some may have been surprised.

The Rabbi had been introduced to much applause; when he returned to the pew, seated among all of us, the applause was even greater and sustained. This at a service where the final words in the program are “All depart in complete silence“.

I thought of my earlier conversation with my apostate friend, and about “The Shack”, whose focus (at least to me) is the need for forgiveness, of others, of ourselves.

A few hours earlier, my friend and I had closed our e-mail conversation.
J: “Heck, I go [to Catholic Mass”] fairly often… at least 2 Sundays per month at least, at St Joan… and I don’t even consider myself either Christian or Catholic….
D: “Actually, I like going to church. It’s a good calming place for me. We’re a large diverse place so there’s all sorts of folks who wander in, including me, I guess.
J: “Yep, calming… agree!

The Shack? A novel followed by a movie. By traditional standards, perhaps, a purveyor of bad theology.

But what I witnessed at Basilica of St. Mary on Good Friday 2017 was the very essence of what I had read about and saw in “The Shack”. It may not seem like it, but people are beginning to get it. Let’s leave it at that.

Happy Easter.

*

POSTNOTE 1 – the early draft of this post, March 19, 2017: This post begins with two pages from an 1896 8th grade Geography book, used by my grandmother when she was in 8th grade – the final year she went to school at a Catholic school in Wisconsin, not far from Dubuque IA. It speaks for itself. (Click a second time and you can enlarge both).

The above was 131 years ago, in the United States of America, in a textbook sanctioned by my Church, the Catholic Church. It was the basis of instruction for 8th graders in a Catholic School.

We have changed, and I think very much for the better. But where we started was dismal, and for some what the standard should still be.

POSTNOTE 2: We saw the film, the Shack, literally across the street from “Cross Hill“, overlooking Columbine High School in Littleton CO. By sheer coincidence, I was visiting my family in Littleton five days after the massacre on April 20,1999. We joined the throng of people who slowly moved up that “hill” of construction remnants, to see the crosses that had been planted there by a man from another state for each of the victims killed that terrible day. It was incredibly moving.

It is long ago, now, so I don’t remember precisely, but in my memory, the day we reached the top, two of the crosses in that line had been cut down – the ones erected for the killers, the two students who had killed the others and then themselves. They, too, had perished, but denied standing as having also been killed.

In effect, they had been denied the right to be grieved – two more lost lives on an awful day.

My son and I walked up that same hill little over a month ago, and there is now a permanent monument – presently being reconstructed – remembering those killed 18 years ago.

But the killers seem to appear nowhere in todays monument, at least nowhere I can see. I can see the reasoning. At the same time, how long will it be till we can forgive, to echo that letter in the photo above, written in 1916, about the Civil War 60 years earlier.

In my opinion, unwillingness to forgive others, and ourselves, is the blind-side of forgiveness that affects every one of us. No one need qualify for forgiveness. To me, that seems to be the essence of this day, Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017.

Have a great day, and all which follow.

COMMENTS:
from Flo: Amen.

from Jermitt: Wonderful testimonial, wonderful historical story of your Grandmothers education and great lesson on forgiveness for everyone.

from Larry(wordchipper@gmail.com, with permission): Found your pieces on “The Shack” and Good Friday in your Roman Catholic Church to be thought stimulating. Will watch for the book and/or movie. I’ve bypassed the book several times but your article prompts me to maybe read it or at least look at the movie.

Regarding the Roman Church, I have my problems with this body and not just because I’m a lifelong ELCA Lutheran. I have many dear friends – like you – who are Catholics and when my wife and I have visited places like Mexico and Hawaii, we’ve attended mass at the most prominent landmark in any village, the Catholic cathedral. I find your church’s emphasis on string instruments and piano refreshing. I’m with Garrison Keillor on protesting against overly-enthusiastic organists. We have them in our church and, apparently, they’re also playing loudly in Mr. Keillor’s.

But my concerns today with your church have to do with their heavy-handed role in American politics. Although it raises my blood pressure, I listened to Catholic media, both radio and television, featuring endless praise for Donald Trump because of his stand on “abortion,” although his stance on anything, including abortion, is a bit suspect. The commentators on Catholic media sounded like they took their training from Fox News. Horribly one-sided. I called into one national program and reminded two of the on-air expounders, who were praising Republicans and blasting Democrats, that it was Democrats who put across the Civil Rights Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and fought for working class people, many of whom belonged to unions and were good Catholics. Also, because I’m “pro-choice,” does not mean I’m against life. I believe Republicans and Catholics ought to care as much about babies who are born – through health care, education, and so forth – as they are about getting between a doctor, his or her patient, and the patient’s God, or no religious belief. Our Republican legislators in North Dakota, many of whom are Catholics, cut health care programs for women and others but pass unconstitutional measures that waste tax dollars on wild goose chases that do nothing but please the Roman hierarchy.

Noting the personal morality record of Mr. Trump, multiple divorces, not paying subcontractors, and proposing to cut health care while investing more money with the Daddy Warbucks of the country, I just don’t get it why the Roman Church in the USA is so in love with Trump and expressed such hatred for Mrs. Clinton. They preached their right-wing philosophy so strongly during the Presidential campaign that, I believe, the should have lost their 501-3c tax exemption.

Response from Dick: Larry, it’s a rather daunting task to take on your response. I just googled the words “Catholic census” and the first link was a reputable one, Pew Research, that says there are over a billion Catholics worldwide, half of the Christians. The whole global population is over 7 billion. I usually hear that Minnesota has about 20% Catholics; the U.S. about 25%. That’s lots of folks, and I know from long experience that they aren’t all alike.

I was in college in the transition from the old to the new Church – 1958-61. Generalizing is dangeous, granted, but I think I can fairly say but “authority” took a hit in the post-Vatican II era. This was great for many Catholics; “the pits” for many as well. In one sense or other this battle is joined every day in one way or another.

Personally, I’m on what I’d call the social justice side of the debate within the church. I’m sure the authoritarian side would also say they’re for social justice, but they’re more into control, often played in the assorted debates that you cast concern about in your state (which is a state very familiar to me.)

I choose to stay within the Church. I don’t see it doing much good to drop out and start over in some other denomination. Those I would call “authoritarians” are not comfortable with the current Church, which is fine by me. The Catholic Church, like many Christian churches (and others, doubtless) has a very long history of authoritarianism, going all the way back to Constantine’s embrace of Christianity as essentially the state Church of the Roman Empire about 300 A.D. In general, where the ruler went, the people went. Some places, everybody was Lutheran; other places, something else. in the olden days sense, we’re sort of in the wild west.

I think I’ll leave it at that, except to emphasize once again Rabbi Glaser’s advice at my Catholic Church on Friday: we need to look at and talk with each other. That is risky, but the only way to break the current and very unhealthy stalemate. Just my opinion.

A LETTER: On April 17, I sent a letter to the Denver Post. I almost immediately got a call back that they were interested, and I expected it would be printed. Thus far (Apr 26) I haven’t seen it printed. So here it is:
Last month we were in Denver to visit family. I asked to visit “Cross Hill”, the place above Columbine dating back to just after April 20, 1999. March 11, 2017, we walked to the memorial.

April 25, 1999, I was in Littleton to visit the same family, who then and still, lives little more than a mile from Columbine. In a steady rain, four of us patiently trod up to those new crosses.

At the top were two fewer crosses than originally set in the ground. Those two were those raised for the killers, also students, who also perished that day. Those crosses were cut down.

I know the reasons those crosses came down.

Today I speak to the need, in my opinion, to recognize once again these two students whose personal demons led to the heinous results. They were victims too.

Forgiveness is difficult. Consider it, seriously.

#1250 – Dick Bernard: “The World Is My Country”, the Garry Davis story

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

“When the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
York Langton*

Today begins the 2017 MSPIFF (Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival). The schedule promises “350+ films & events”.

I highly recommend one film among the many options: “The World is My Country“, which has its World Premiere at the St. Anthony Main theater in Minneapolis, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 23. In order to accommodate possible overflow crowds, the festival has scheduled three screenings. So if you want a seat at the World Premiere, get your tickets early. All necessary information is on the Festival site accessible here.

Along with the World Premiere of The World is My Country will be an eight minute short adapted from the Minnesota film: Man’s Next Giant Leap. The was made especially for this Premiere by Arthur Kanegis and his Associate Producer Melanie Bennett, who edited it mostly from a 30 minute film made back in the 1970’s. Take a look – you’ll be pretty amazed to see what our governor, mayors and other officials had to say about World Citizenship. The short can be viewed here. The Minnesota Declarations of World Citizenship can be viewed here: Minnesota Declarations002

The World is My Country is the remarkable story of up and coming ca 1940 Broadway star Garry Davis. It deserves a full house at each of its three showings. Garry Davis, then into his 90s and very engaging, tells his own life story in the film, which is richly laced with archival film from the 1940s forward. Among the many snips from history: the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rightss at the United Nations, in Paris, 1948.

New York Times front page July 29, 2013. Garry Davis pictured in lower right.

I wrote about this film on April 8, and again after its work-in-progress preview, also at the St. Anthony Main, on January 6, 2013. (See here and here.)

Garry Davis? I didn’t know he existed until his name came up at a lunch in June, 2011. Filmmaker Arthur Kanegis was in town, and a friend of his invited four of us to lunch. It was there that Garry Davis came to life for me. A WWII bomber pilot, his brother already killed in WWII, Davis couldn’t justify killing by war as a solution to problems. In 1948, he gave up something precious to him, his U.S. citizenship. He said he did it as an act of love for the United States, following in the footsteps of our founding fathers who gave up being Virginians or Marylanders to be citizens of the United States of America. He declared himself a Citizen of the World, and ignited a movement promoting world citizenship beyond even his imagination. He took a huge risk he lived with the rest of his 93-year life.

From there, I’ll let the film tell the rest of the story.

I was enrolled, that day in June, 2011, and had a small opportunity to see the dream evolve, and now return to the screen for its World Premiere in Minneapolis.

In the fall of 2012, I received permission to show an early draft of the film to a group of high school students in St. Paul. How would they react to ancient history (WWII era film and characters)? Very well, it turned out. They liked what they saw.

About 100 of us participated in Work In Progress test of the first draft of his film in Minneapolis, at St. Anthony Main, in January 2013. The reaction was positive.

Again, I asked permission to show the preview to a group of retired teachers meeting in Orlando, and they liked what they saw. And on the same trip I showed the in-progress film to the Chair and Founder of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. He was very attentive and liked what he saw.

Time went on. Last summer, I attended a private showing of the film, now nearing completion. The process of making a film is tedious, I found, simply from occasional brushes with this one. To make a film is to take a big risk. Now it has earned its time “in the lights” for others to judge.

I do not hesitate to highly recommend this film, particularly to those who feel that there have to be better ways of doing relationships than raw power, threats, and the reality we all face of blowing each other up in one war after another. This is not a film about war; it is about living in peace with each other.

The key parts of the film focus on Garry Davis in his 20s and 30s, roughly the late 1940s through the 1960s. It’s an idealistic film, especially appropriate for young people, with an important place for positive idealism in todays world.

“The World is My Country” does not end with somebody dying (though the real Garry Davis died 6 months after that first preview I saw in 2013). Rather, its call is for solutions other than war or dominance.

Viewing this film is an investment, not a cost. It brings meaning to the timeless quotes of Margaret Mead – “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world indeed it is the only thing that ever has”; and Gandhi – “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Applications for World Passports will be available for those interested at the film.

POSTNOTE:
Here is the first, last and only e-mail I was ever privileged to receive from Garry Davis, Jan. 7, 2013. He died 6 months later.

(click to enlarge)

Garry Davis (on screen from Vermont via Skype), Lynn Elling, film producer Arthur Kanegis and another guest share thoughts on the pursuit of world peace at St. Anthony Main Theater on January 6, 2013.

On taking risks (from a Church bulletin in Park Rapids MN 1982) (attributed to William Arthur Ward):

Attributed to William Arthur Ward

* POSTNOTE:
York Langton was a Minnesota Corporate Executive in wholesale business, and often used this quotation in talking about relationships in the 1960s.

“When the people lead, leaders will follow” is a common sense axiom in business. If people want a product, they buy it; if they don’t, they won’t. Fortunes are made by following this simple truism.

The same is true in political relationships. If people make unwise decisions in choosing their leaders at any level, they face consequences.

So, “when the people lead, leaders will follow” is an important one for all of us.

Dick Bernard: One month.

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

Feb. 20: For a long and very good summary of the issues check this “weekly sift”, here.

*

Today ends the first month of the term of the 45th President of the United States. This means there are only 47 months – 98% of the term – to go.

In a one mile race, our country has finished about 100 feet. The next crucial election day is Nov. 6, 2018, about 19 months away.

We will not be living within a “four-minute mile” these coming months, and if the first month is at all a prelude, this will be a very, very long four years.

What does one write about when a consensus already is that a prudent person cannot believe anything that this President says, at any time, about anything? Certainly, on occasion this old man now and then in the White House occasionally tells the truth, sometimes even deliberately. But it is all but impossible to separate truth from fiction from his assorted declarations.

Best I can tell, lying has been the basis of his career “success”.

In my little corner of the world, I receive lots of “must reads”. One of them is here: by Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan spent most of his adult life, including now, as a political conservative.

People like me – liberals – are quite certainly despised by this President as losers, not even worthy of acknowledgment. Our issues are to be dismissed and ridiculed. We are ‘enemy aliens’. All one needs to note are his choices for Cabinet level positions, his closest political advisors and their orientations on issues. His truth is outing itself.

The temptation, even this early in what appears to be a very dark time in our history, is for the average citizen to say and do nothing, to stay “under the radar”, to keep from going mad ourselves.

Please don’t succumb to inaction.

The solution lies within each one of us, one small, positive, courageous action at a time, where we live. This has always been true. A favorite quotation of mine is this one from Margaret Mead: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.
More here.

I hope we don’t give up; that instead we become and remain incessantly active, impacting on those who in turn can impact up the chain of power up the line.

To this end, former U.S. congressman Barney Frank recently authored some advice to citizens which is worth reading. (You can read it here, and it is also reprinted below.) Frank co-authored the endangered Dodd-Frank bill attempting to rein in, a bit, Wall Street and the high finance industry.

Earlier Posts about this Presidency beginning in 2017 here.

POSTNOTE: I was refining my always imperfect thoughts (above) early this morning, then I went back to bed. I awoke to a vivid dream, one of those one remembers, though the specific details are never quite as they appear while you’re sleeping.

Three of us were in some intense conversation about actions for change: myself, (born before WWII); an activist lady I know who’s about one generation younger than I, and a third participant, younger, of a millennial age (roughly 20s-40s).

Doubtless this blog generated part of the dream; perhaps it came from learning that Barney Frank’s column came from a very successful Millennial website; perhaps a Millenial-age speakers comment at a Thursday evening meeting I was asked to convene played into the dream, as did my own union history in my 20s and 30s in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s as well.

The dream ended with a realization that what people like myself bring to the table in the current year is the voice of experience; and we have to speak with that well-informed voice. But it is the people younger than us who are going to decide whether or not they are willing to learn from the successes and the failures of the past as they go into their own future.

The new U.S. President, who is younger than I, from early baby boom years, does not seem inclined to learn from, or value the past; nor do most of his “Make America Great Again” followers who represent his base and seem committed to the slogan on the bumper sticker I see now and again, “We’re spending our kids inheritance….”

It is, in reality, up to todays Millennials, who will rise or fall by their own actions now and in the future, to rise up, and really pay attention to future consequences of present actions.

I can only sound the alarm.

* * * * *

SOME POINTERS FROM BARNEY FRANK
received Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 from Harold.

After 32 years in the House of Representatives, here is my advice on how people opposed to President Donald Trump’s assault on our basic values — a majority of those who voted last November — can best influence members of Congress.

Done the right way, communications from citizens can have a significant impact on legislators, even when they claim to be immune to “pressure.” (“Pressure,” in legislative jargon, is the expression of views with which legislators disagree, as opposed to “public opinion” — the term used for sentiments that reinforce their own.)

The key to doing it right is being clear about the goal, which is to persuade the Senator or Representative receiving the communication that how he or she votes on the issue in question will affect how the sender will vote the next time the legislator is on the ballot.

This means the following:

Make sure you’re registered to vote — lawmakers check.

Many office holders will check this, especially for people who write to them frequently. Elected officials pay as much attention to those who are not registered to vote as butchers do to the food preferences of vegetarians.

Lawmakers don’t care about people outside of their district.

You can only have an impact on legislators for or against whom you will have a chance to vote the next time they run. In almost all cases, this means only people in whose state or district you live. Senators or representatives whose names will not be on the ballot you cast are immune to your pressure. There is a small set of exceptions — representatives who want to run for a statewide office in the next election will be sensitives of voters throughout their states.

Your signature — physical or electronic — on a mass petition will mean little.

You are trying to persuade the recipient of your communication that you care enough about an issue for it to motivate your voting behavior. Simply agreeing to put your name on a list does not convey this. I have had several experiences of writing back to the signer of a petition to give my view on an issue only to be answered by someone who wondered why I thought he or she cared.

The communication must be individual. It can be an email, physical letter, a phone call or an office visit. It need not be elaborate or eloquent — it is an opinion to be counted, not an essay. But it will not have an impact unless it shows some individual initiative.

Know where your representative stands.

If you have contact with an organization that is working on this issue, try to learn if the recipient of your opinion has taken a position on it. When I received letters from people urging me to vote for a bill of which I was the prominent main sponsor, I was skeptical that the writer would be watching how I voted.

Communicate — even if you and your representative disagree.

On the other hand, even where you are represented by people whom you know oppose you on an issue, communicate anyway. Legislators do not simply vote yes or no on every issue. If enough people in a legislator’s voting constituency express strong opposition to a measure to which that legislator is ideologically or politically committed, it might lead him or her to ask the relevant leadership not to bring the bill up. Conflict avoidance is a cherished goal of many elected officials.

Say “thank you.”

If your Representative and Senators are committed to your causes, you should write or call to thank them — not frequently, but enough for them to feel reinforced.

Enlist the help of friends in other districts.

Your direct communication with legislators outside your voting area will have no impact. But you do have friends, relatives, associates etc. Find out who the potentially influenceable legislators are on issues of prime importance to you, think about people you may know in their constituencies, and ask those who share your views to communicate with those who represent them. On an extremely important issue, get out the list to who you mail holidays cards or important invitations and ask them to communicate with their legislators.

To repeat the essence of point 5, if a legislator who you might have expected to vote differently — e.g. a Republican who votes no on a Trump priority — votes as you have urged, send a thank you.

— Barney Frank, former Democratic representative for Massachusetts.

Dick Bernard: Killer or Healer? A Decision We All Need to Make

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Sunday’s homily at Basilica of St. Mary was a powerful commentary on a portion of the Gospel of Matthew: “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with brother will be liable to judgment.” (full text MT 5:20-22A, 2728, 33-34A, 37).

Fr. Harry, a retired Priest of the Diocese and frequent celebrant and gifted homilist at Basilica, wove his message not around physical killing, but the more common, now almost ubiquitous and unfortunately acceptable practice of “killing” others by actions other than a gun or similar. He talked of a couple of old guys, once friends, who hadn’t talked to each other for decades, though they worked in the same building, who were more or less forced into contact by the marriage of their respective granddaughter and grandson…and in the process of renewal of their long interrupted relationship couldn’t even remember what caused the fracture in the first place….

So it goes.

Driving home, for some reason, I got to thinking of a homily I had heard in a Port-au-Prince Haiti Catholic Church on December 7, 2003. Six of us were in our first full day in Haiti*. The congregation of the church was financially very poor, but vibrant. The Priest, Gerard Jean-Juste**, was a charismatic preacher, and this particular day, he knew he had a target for his message in we six visitors from the United States, an hour or so flight away.

(click to enlarge)

Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste and parishioners at Ste. Clare Parish Port-au-Prince Haiti December 7, 2003 (Dick Bernard)

Fr. Jean-Juste saying Mass at Ste. Claire Dec 7 2003 (photo by Dick Bernard)

He didn’t look at us – we really hadn’t met him at this point, but he knew we were there – but his message about the role of our wealthy society in the U.S. – to be the “killers” or “healers” of this desperately poor country – struck home. He supported the democratically elected President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide; and by the sundry means available to it, the U.S. was in the process of “killing” this president whose constituency was the poor. Rather than helping (“healing”) the poor. We were making it all but impossible for Haiti to compete in any way with their very wealthy neighbor, our own country. Democracy in Haiti was competition, and could not be tolerated. With “friends” like us, who needed enemies?

While there weren’t dead bodies in the street – at least not a great number of them – nonetheless, they may as well have been: farmers who had grown rice were forced out of business by U.S. undercutting Haitian farmer prices, and then dominating the rice market…things like that.

I got to thinking of a recent visit to our towns bookstore. I was looking for a book of meditations for a friend whose wife had recently died. Walking down an aisle, I was stopped short by a sign, which so struck me I went back to the car to bring in my camera and click this photo:

Book Display December, 2017

I googled the author and found quite an array of books, almost all dark topics: about killing Patton, …Kennedy, …Lincoln, …Jesus; similar about the attempted killing of Reagan; in effect, the killing of Hitler and the Nazis, and per the picture, killing “The Rising Sun” in WWII; the Next Nuclear War….

Clearly, killing was O’Reilly’s selling point for his books. There is a polarity in this country in which many enshrine the idea of killing an enemy: a political opponent, “al Qaeda”, on and on. We sort of enjoy killing. It is politically very useful to have an enemy to kill.

Similarly, I am sure, there is a “healing” niche as well, with a completely different audience….

A friend of mine, a migrant from another country, here for many years, but not yet a citizen, described us well, recently. The U.S., he said, is a polarized country, where we largely exist in “bubbles”, like those two old guys that had no relationship whatever for many years, until some unplanned event brought them together again.

I’m on the “healer” side of this polarity. At the same time, I say we have to find ways to constructively communicate with the other side as well.

“Killing”, whether physically or by character assassination, is no solution. In assorted way, the assassins described in the books ended up dying themselves, either individually (like Lincoln’s assassin) or on a larger scale (Nazi Germany).

“Killer” or “Healer”? I’ll take “healer” any time.

TUESDAY, VALENTINE’S DAY: a shining moment when “healing” held sway.

* – More about the trip, if you wish, here.
** – Jean-Juste was on the “wrong” side in the battle with the U.S. Less than 3 months after our meeting him, he was imprisoned, then deposed to the United States, where he ultimately died, effectively in exile. President Aristide was deposed and taken out of his country by the United States. It was a sad lesson for me, on my first visit to Haiti.

Dick Bernard: Three weeks after inauguration day. Letters to Judd

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

More on the topic of the 2017 Presidency here.

(click to enlarge)

The town in which we live, Woodbury MN, would be considered a prosperous suburban community just east of St. Paul. Sometimes I refer to it as “suburban 3M”, since 3Ms headquarters are nearby and many highly skilled employees live here. Politically, we’re probably a “purple” place: our State Senator and one of our two state legislators are Democrat and female; the other side of the district had a hard fought race between two women: one Democrat, one Republican. The Democrat (we call Democrats DFLer – Democratic Farmer Labor in Minnesota) is a young African-American professional woman; our town of 62,000 has a significant number of Muslims, primarily highly educated professional people.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was, yesterday, to see our local paper, the Woodbury Bulletin, carry a front page and very long column by Youssef Rddad on the WWII internship of the Japanese in America, with a headline “Does Trump order echo the past?

Meanwhile, back in Washington…. A good daily summary I look forward to every day is found in Just Above Sunset, a retired guy in Los Angeles. The last number, overnight, is titled: “The Persistence of Nonsense“. [Feb. 11: the most recent posting, again overnite, is chilling and important, here. Avoiding reality is not a good option…for us.]

Here at home I had occasion to pull down one of the boxes of farm “junk” – part of the last remaining residue of my grandparents 110 year farm in rural North Dakota.

I was looking for the book about the 1997 Red River Valley Flood (which is here, somewhere), but instead, sitting on top, was a 64-page pamphlet, “Letters to Judd”, originally written in 1925 and, according to author Upton Sinclair, “reprinted in 1932 and 1933. I might have rewritten it, but I thought you would learn more by reading it as prophecy.”

It would count as “prophecy” for the first decades of the 2000s as well.

Upton Sinclair was a prolific author, a Socialist, once a candidate for Governor of California. You can read the entire 1933 pamphlet here.

The pamphlet I have is the 1933 edition, and five pages can be seen here: Letters to Judd002

Take the time to read the first couple of letters. I think you’ll want to continue to the end.

Grandpa Busch was about 53 – my oldest sons age – when he picked up the book in 1933. His area, North Dakota, was in the hard times of the Depression. He had lost, or was about to lose, part of his land.

I’ve gotten to know a lot about Grandpa and Grandma and their family over these past many years.

Grandpa came to the prairie in 1905 to be somebody. As so often happens to the little guys (and gals), greed of bigger shots than he put the brakes on his aspirations. The Non-Partisan League beckoned; later he was one of the first to join and become very active in the North Dakota Farmers Union.

But I think he was always on the conservative side, not happy with “loafers” who got government jobs in the CCC and WPA and such (even though a nephew was in the CCC). He was a gifted tinkerer, convinced that inventing stuff – he had patents – would sail his families boat, though it never did.

It would be great to have a conversation with Grandpa about “Letters to Judd” – how he came to learn about it; what he thought of it…. He lived on 34 more years, on the same farm, always a dreamer, a tinkerer.

Letters to Judd is about the battle between concepts: Capitalism versus Socialism. We are in a society where Capitalism has won, but have we…?

Read the pamphlet, think about what you’ve read, share it, have a conversation.

What part do you play in our future.

COMMENTS:
from Corky: Letters to Judd is interesting read. Economic analysis is interesting. I understand the plight of farmers much better now.

from C: How sad. We watched the movie Grapes of Wrath last night on [TV]. You couldn’t help but cry at what they went through. I kept thinking of our refugees. I know we shouldn’t live in fear, but I can’t help it. I fear what is happening in our country. Is this the coming of Hitler’s dictatorship time? I hear how, ” this and that” is being investigated and it gives me hope but it’s so slow in happening. It’s like I read where a president was told “Don’t piss in the pot we all have to eat out of”. The women in congress speak up but the only men that speak up are Democrats, Senators Tim Kaine, your [Mn Sen.] Franken, and Republican John McCain.

from Emmett: As I read through the material, I found that it paralleled the story of my family. My dad suffered from a hernia and wore a truss, as did Judd. Our house was also made of a couple of houses brought together, and then other additions were added later. Much of what is said sounds a lot like what my dad said. And much of what is said is still happening today (automation). The letter writers would be shocked by what is currently happening in this electronic world we live in. It is interesting as to how people can witness the same thing and yet process it in such different ways. All this makes me think about Mitt Romney and his comment about makers and takers. You have a work force making things and the wealthy executives of the company take the profits for themselves leaving little for the makers. Yet from Mitt Romney’s perspective, he was the maker by virtue of his investments, while the 47%, made up largely by poor underpaid makers were the takers in his mind. I was thinking that this should be sent to Trump. But I’m not sure he has the intellect to digest it all. All this makes you understand the passage of Glass-Steagall, to protect us from the wealth crooks that caused the Great Depression and the Bush Recession.

from Peter: Here is a letter I just sent to my extended family. I encourage everyone to follow the link and take effective action

Love

Peter

*******

Family,

It may have been awhile since you heard from me about other than births, deaths or marriages.

We are confronted with an administration that seems bent on harming as many as possible of the most vulnerable among us. Most of you saw this coming, and opposed it, but here we are.

Today immigration raids have begun in earnest, tearing apart families all over America. I had seen this under the previous administration, when I participated in a workshop in Boston with teenagers who often came home from school to find the front door missing and their parents gone. In Boston. In America. But this is now set to “surge”, according to ICE.

This can’t be accomplished by haranguing people who already agree with us, which is what happens when we blog or use the Book of Faces. One way that might have real impact, however, is to erode their corporate support, as outlined below. Because, although corporations are not democratic in any way, they exist because we put up with them, regardless of politics or law. And we don’t have to put up with them. They live under the Rule of Money, not the Rule of Law, and in that country [Money], we have considerable, innate power.

The history of the list, and those included on the list, is GrabYourWallet.org/about.

We are seeing a massive power-grab by the likes of Bannon, who is a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist. He is now attacking Planned Parenthood, the golden goose of his hate-spewing career, now that he is running the White House. That person knows no limits, and believes in an an ultimate war between the few people he likes, and the rest of humanity. The President, as is obvious, is a loon who is easily steered by such manipulators, and will be discarded – a last great trumpian spectacle – when his puffery ceases sufficiently to distract the nation from the deep substantive changes his backers are making to our system of governance.

We are all needed now. Meanwhile, as Joni Mitchell sang:

“The gas leaks

The oil spills

And sex kills…”

Love,

Peter
PS- as with all links in emails, paste it in your browser, don’t click on it here!

from Fred: Here is [a] Kipling poem The Sons of Martha and the note my friend sent. If you want to see Upton Sinclair’s comment [on the poem] just google reviews of the poem*.
“I’ve seen this cited in a couple of places on the web as a key to (at least some of) the psychology of the 2016 election. It’s called “The Sons of Martha”. Biblical reference is Luke 10. Notes here.”

Rudyard Kipling (1907)
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother, of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains “Be ye removèd.” They say to the lesser floods “Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are –
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons!

* – Upton Sinclair: from “The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.(Under this title the English poet has written a striking picture of the social chasm. He figures the world’s toilers as the “Sons of Martha,” who, because their mother “was rude to the Lord, her Guest,” are condemned forever to unrequited toil. “It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.” The poem goes on to tell of the ignorance and torment in which they live—while the Sons of Mary, who “have inherited that good part,” live in ease upon their toil.
“They sit at the Feet and they hear the Word—they know how truly the Promise runs.
“They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and—the Lord he lays it on Martha’s Sons.”
But it appears that for a long period of years Mr. Kipling has refused to permit this radical poem to be reprinted. Under the circumstances, all that the editor can do is to state that it may be found in the files of the New York Tribune and other newspapers throughout America having the service of the “Associated Sunday Magazines,” on April 28, 1907. The editor ventures to doubt if there exists a more dangerous social force than the man of genius who turns his divine gift to the crushing of the efforts of his fellowmen for justice)”