Gretta ‘I Dare You Speech’ ignited in me a need do my part, which includes writing – primarily as Letters to the Editor in our local and county Silver City newspapers. I have collected them here to remember and to hope.
Gretta’s Power and Passion ~ The Joy and Sorrow ~ Sept 2019
Dear Editor, Often this last year I, as a 72 year old, I have comforted myself with the words “My Hope is with the young people’. I pinned my hope on them — for what can I do? Then this past Monday I felt Gretta Thunberg’s powerful cry out at the UN Climate Summit in her ‘I Dare You’ speech. It shocked me. It over-whelmed me. And it brought tears. Why was I crying? Who was I crying for? How could my tears be both of Joy and of Sorrow?
Joy came as her words were an answer to my prayer song that I didn’t realize I had been singing all these months; it came in the words and the melody of a music group, the MoonShine, ‘Just Give Me The Truth’. Gretta gave that to me.
What of the Sadness? As she spoke the words, “We draw the line Now; Change is Coming”. My years of experience knows how impossible that goal is . . . unless . . . unless . . . I Change Unless We Change. It Cannot be ‘Business as usual’. My old bones may not be able to join a grand march. But for me writing my first letter to the editor is a beginning. Collectivity of We Are The Change that Is Coming. We need each other.
Obituaries ~ Honoring The Wholeness of a Life ~ Oct 2019
I have something to confess — I read the obituaries . . . a lot. In the early years, I would just skim them, comparing their age of death to mine. As most of the time they were much older than me, I would breath a sigh of relief, but occasionally one would be younger. Then I would try to search out the cause of death. Perhaps it was a car accident, yes that was it probably, I am OK.
Then every few months I would go to my 1965 Canton Ohio high school web site. They were So Organized — They had a whole page of deceased classmates. I would read though the names vaguely remembering some, but a few would pop out like ‘Joanne Snyder’. Oh, such a sweet being and she died so young. But I wasn’t done yet, I would go through the long list of deceased, counting the names and calculating in my head the fraction that had died . . . 1/6 . . . later on 1/4 and now a full 1/3. I even found an old, old picture of a classroom filled with students seated in six rows and as my classmates died, I imagined one row empty, then one and half and now two whole rows empty — their lives completed and yet I was still here.
Also, a couple of times a year, I would go through the pages and pages of pictures of celebrities and famous people who died that year, noticing those that I cared about the most. I remember when Mr. Rogers died and how only now do I realize how much, I miss his kindness and love. Remember his words, “I Love You . . . Just the way you are”.
Then in June of 2019, we moved to Silver City, and as I read the Daily Press obituaries, I immediately noticed they were different. They were so much more detailed. All the family members were listed, sometimes over a dozen. Not only that but the deceased life time work and accomplishments were lovingly honored and appreciated — in the community — at the church — and most of all with the their family and friends.
And as I read these obituaries, I see not only how are they are different but I read them differently. I no longer care so much about their age compared to mine or even the cause of death. Instead, I care about the wholeness of their lives; lives of integrity; lives of feelings. And now looking at my life that is what I want to live too. Writing these letters is one small way I am doing that.
Tim DeChristopher, of Bidder 71 fame, said something at the Gila River Festival keynote speaker that got me thinking. He said, “ Most of what we say is just the repeating of what others have said.“ It is like I am reading off their talking points, acting like they are mine, not knowing what I actually think. In fact, it may go even deeper than that, perhaps much of what ‘I Feel’ is actually the opinions of others that I have taken in and am reflecting back as my own. And perhaps what I think and feel is more important than I realize For example, if I see a coiled rope and think, “Snake!” I create fear. Even those nearby will feel this fear. Or if I suddenly come upon a dog and react with “Danger I think I am going to get bit.” Even the dog feels “Danger I need to get ready to bite.” So it seems what I send out matters. But as Tim suggested, these thoughts and feelings I am passing on, may not be my own at all.
What kind of distorted game is going on here? For example if I use the word, ‘socialism’ like its a swear word, am I not caught in this game. And too, if I react in anger to this tossing around of the phrase ‘a socialist’ like it something dirty. Am I not too, caught in the game. A little humor often awakens me what is really going on. For example, a few weeks ago, a friend told me a story about when her grandmother first got her medicare card. The old lady held it up and loudly spit out the words, with a kind of ugliness — “This Is Socialism ! “ And then with a gentle smile and a twinkle in her eye she said, “But this is the good kind of socialism.“
So as you can see, I am tired of being pushed into feeling this judgement or that; I end up being Angry or Depressed about it all. I can see it is no accident a new phrase has entered our vocabulary, ‘Taking a media fast.’ And like a fast of old it is to get clear, to discover one’s own feelings. And what are these deep feelings of mine?
One thing is very clear to me, “I am tired of this game, and as best I am able, I refuse to engage in it anymore. I am turning over a new leaf. In fact, I am starting right now with an appreciative comment about someone I have been taught to hate — Donald Trump. Last week he sent out this kind words of condolence upon the death of Elijah Cummings.
You Can be the Change ~ Nov 2019
Some weeks ago I read a letter to the editor describing the blight of our senior citizens who are being targeted with repeated property invasions and vandalism. The writer then put forth a simple solution: we need to put the Republicans in charge. They will fix the problem. Yes, I too, have heard that they are stronger than the Democrats on the law and order. Perhaps that’s the solution.
Over the next few weeks, when I read about the jewelry robbery downtown and talked to the door checker at Walmart about shoplifting, I kept thinking about the problem. Remembering my Dad’s words: “Gerry, there are a lot of simple solutions, but unfortunately, there are no simple problems.” Heeding my Dad’s words, I tried to understand the problem. Unfortunately, I often blame someone or something for the problem which I realize is ‘No Solution At All’. To get to a solution, I have to understand the complexity of the problem. Doing this is frustrating, complex, and difficult. In fact, it’s even boring. So here I look inside myself and ask, Do I really want to solve the problem?
Let’s consider the problem of crime. Yes, as the letter stated, part of the solution is more enforcement. That means more police protection, toucher laws, and more prisons. All this means more funding. Since police protection is primarily a municipal and state function, we as local governments unlike the federal government cannot just run up deficits. We have no choice but to raise taxes. So it comes back to me again: am I willing to pay more taxes to solve the problem?
But the problem of crime is even more complex than this. If more prisons were the answer, the US, with the largest prison population in the world, would have little crime. Perhaps, I need to look at the other side of the problem, the criminals themselves. Here I have to credit the Silver City Daily Press for helping me. As I read the details of the couple allegedly robbing the jewelry store downtown and the subsequent arrest, I certainly felt good about the work the police had done. However, a new and different feeling began to arise as I read the many details the paper offered. How the two of them posed as an engaged couple when they cased the store, then of the robbery itself and the subsequent the pawning of the jewels in Las Cruses. And that detail of the young man seemingly trying to protect his love from prosecution by telling her when she pawned the jewels that they were his grandma’s.
Slowly . . . slowly . . . something changed in me. These people were no longer just ‘the problem’ I could judge and discard. They were real people. Here were young people in love with their own hopes and dreams and God knows how many problems. What had pushed them to this criminal act? Was it lack of job prospects? Was it the repossession of the family home? Was it a family medical emergency? Now, this way of feeling I could label ‘a bleeding heart liberal’ but that’s just blaming again. I am just trying to understand the complexity of the problem so as to help reduce the crime crashing down upon our senior citizens.
And what about the type of crimes? Maybe there is something to be learned about this. Is vandalism the same as a jewelry robbery or does it express a very different set of causes. Is it an expression of pent up anger? Is it an extension of the bullying we see in our society and schools? Is it part of the many expression of hate we feel in the media?
As I begin to see the complexity and vastness of the problem, what do I do? Do I fall back upon my simple answers and blaming. Do I shrivel up into a ball and give up as I binge on food and media? Am I willing to be the change I am looking for? For me the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” I am blaming less. I am judging less. I am feeling more for both the victim AND the criminal. “Yes.”
Nov 2019 ~ Where is Democracy?
As I read and watch the news, I see selfishness and deceit. It’s called partisanship, but it’s really hate and dishonesty. Even what I call my opinion is just a manipulation in a great game in which I’m not included. Something is very wrong. I am left with this one feeling of anger.
Like in the 1976 movie ‘Network’, I feel like opening my window and shouting, “I am angry as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!” In every direction, there is someone or something to be angry at.
I am angry at Boeing Airlines knowing their plane had safety issues and hiding it for years until 346 people died. I am angry at Obama for letting Wall Street off the hook after causing so many Americans to lose their homes. I am angry at the tobacco companies in the 1950’s knowing their cigarettes were addictive, caused cancer and would kill us. The list goes on.
I am angry at our national government letting big Pharma go after it flooded this country with opioids they knew could destroy us. I am angry at a tax cut costing trillions of dollars that benefits only the richest people and corporations while the working poor watch their teeth rot. What is happening? I thought this was a democracy.
In desperation, I look up the definition of ‘democracy’ and it leads me to a fancy word I can’t even spell: oligarchy. Oligarchy is “the rule of the few for the benefit of the few.” That’s it! Our country has turned into an oligarchy. That’s the real deep state! It hides in plain sight. It is in corporate board rooms, in the political action committees, in the media focus groups. It is not in one place nor one party. It’s everywhere that “The Few” selfishly rule for their own power, wealth, and ego. It hides under words like ‘free enterprise’, ‘corporate rights’ and ‘America’s greatness’.
As I feel this seemingly endless flow of anger, I am reminded of Forest Gump when he says to Jenny as she throws rocks at the house where she was abused in, “Sometimes there just aren’t enough rocks.” Just like Jenny, throwing around, my anger doesn’t work because there just aren’t enough rocks. What am I to do?
Then I remember that word democracy means, “the rule of the many for the benefit of the many.” That’s what I want. But I can’t do much nationally; ‘The Few’ are just too powerful, too well placed. Selfishly, they fight anything that challenges their power, profits or wealth. They control everything. For they are not in one place or one party. They are everywhere.
In desperation, I go to the only place I can help. And that is locally, right here in Grant County. Here I can listen, respect and honor each of the many voices, then from this understanding I can take actions to help. It’s talking with my neighbor across the street. What do they need? It is listening to the farmer in Gila or citizen of Hurley who worries about their water source. It is helping senior citizens plagued by crime. It is collectively responding and seeing their problems as our problems.
Democracy is this sense of community caring and response. We can be an example of what democracy is meant to be—rule of the many for the benefit of the many. And in this, our local democracy can be what America needs to be again. This is my hope—Esta es mi esperanza.
We Connect The Past and The Future ~ What If ~ Dec 24
In this season of great blessing, as I gaze at the photos of my friends and loved ones that have passed, I feel a deep wondering that feels like “What If?”.
What if, in the One Great Love, our caring for each other reaches beyond time. What if in this very moment, I can feel all the love and hope my parents, grandparents and friends poured into me. And what if right now I can feel it not just in memory but in actuality. I feel it surrounding me; it is alive in my body. These prayers are not frozen in time but live on, in and through that Great Love. So that in this precious moment, I am still receiving all that has passed.
And what if, miracle of miracles, the prayers of future generations can reach me too. What if I am a link to both the past and the future? What are these prayers from the future? How do I receive them?
One way these prayers reach me is through my heart-felt response to the daily news. For example, last week I was shocked upon seeing a map of the entire United States, published by the World Resources Institute, indicating by colors the degree of water stress in various states. There were the light yellows, darker yellows and oranges, and, as I expected, California and Colorado stood out as highly stressed in a bright red. But then, to my dismay, in the center of all the other colors, is New Mexico — In Dark Red ! The report said, “New Mexico tops the list and is the only state with ‘Extremely High’ pressures on water availability.” And then I imagined the future calling out to me, “Why didn’t you do more when you saw what was coming? Now, only the very rich among us can afford the water to wash clothes or dishes or even bathe, let alone to drink.”
Sobered by this shocking possibility of such stress, I reach inside for another form of listening. I listen for the emotions of those future times. And to my surprise, I hear a child’s voice crying out as if to its parents but meant for us. “Please stop fighting. Please stop blaming. Please stop this hating and meanness. Don’t you see the future you are creating for me? For America. For the World.”
And now, through these tears of future times, I accept my responsibility of stewardship of what is to come. I want to help the future not burden them with more stress and pain. Their message to me is clear. I know what I must do. I know what I must be. And however, small or large my role may be, I feel blessed that I can serve the future as my parents did for me. This is my hope — Esta es mi esperanza.
The Virus: Listening with Both Ears ~ Silver City’s Great What If ~ Mar 11
Many times a day I compulsively look at the news about the virus. I am trying to find simple, clear cut answers, but there just aren’t any. It is just one ‘maybe’ or ‘not sure’ after another. I want to know how bad it will get or if it will get bad at all. There are so many conflicting story lines. I’ve noticed the ones I pick out to believe depend upon ‘How I Listen’. Let me explain.
If I listen with my left ear, with a filter of paranoia, I imagine the worse that can happen. And if I listen from the other ear, I listen in a way that denies there is a problem. And I if am overwhelmed with the anxiety and uncertainty of it all, I don’t listen at all. So inside I am in conflict. It is like there is a battle going on and I am trapped between these ways of listening or not. What can I do? I will try to — Listen with ‘Both Ears’ — while still respecting the need to withdraw from time to time entirely from listening. What follows is an imaginary conversation between both ears.
“This Virus is just the flu. It will probably kill less people than the flu.” — “Yes, but almost every year, our 20,000 Americans die from the flu. That is why our caring nurses and doctors, tell us to wash our hands, get vaccinated and stay away from others when we are sick.” —“Also, with this virus the death rate for those over 60 is much higher than with just the flu. But thank God very few children die from it. ”
“This Virus is different than ordinary flu. How different? We don’t know. But it seems to be about twice as contagious spreading very rapidly. Also it may not be seasonal and disappear as winter ends. — “But people hardly get sick from it at all. Many of us can continue our ordinary lives going to work or school.—“Yes, and we may then be infecting many others.”
“No one has caught it around here.” — “But it is getting uncomfortably close, with community spreading reported outside of Tucson. And we have only just begun testing. Our hospital could become swamped reducing their response to ordinary medical emergencies.”
What if this paranoid way of listening is only half correct, and there is a very big problem coming our way. What can we do here in Grant County to overcome it. We can be Proactive not Reactive. If we close an elementary school after a student is tested to be positive, it is already too late. Remember to require a test, process it and retest all takes time so for many days or weeks it has been spreading in the school and community.”
We can do: Follow the advice that our health professionals told us all through the years. Wash our hands. Drink plenty of water. Stay warm. If you suspect you are getting sick, stay away from others. Don’t shake hands.
And do even more: Wear surgical gloves, for the common surfaces may be infected with the virus droplets. Do not gather in groups and if in a group keep a social distances of at least 4 or 5 feet. Wear surgical masks so as not to spread it to others and to not infect yourself by keep touching your face or nose. And if you have any suspicion of having it, self isolate for ten days or more. The list goes on . . . but always do more rather than too little.
In doing all this, then let’s dream a dream together, a great ‘What If’. What if, by our isolation from major airports and the big cities we are protected from mass infections. And the ones that come our way, we face head on through being proactive. What if we cancel some of our early festivals because of the virus spread it will bring. What if we stop this infection in its tracks. What if after doing this, we achieve national recognition, as one of the very, very few counties and cities in all of America that have successfully faced down this common enemy. Perhaps, in the long run this positive reputation may benefit us economically. But without a doubt having overcome it, we will grow stronger as a city, as a county, as a community. This is my hope — Esta es mi esperanza
OUR TWO GREAT PANDEMICS — published Mar 28
There is a Great Decision being presented to us, for there are two pandemics in America. One is the virus which we read about everywhere, as we see graphs and predictions about it. The other is just now appearing. It is the Great Recession of 2020-2021. Up to now all we have heard of it, is the rich worrying about their shrinking stock portfolios. But now, we see it in Grant county with unemployment spiking and business closures beginning. When the aid package passed by Congress kicks in, it will help but it will only get us by for a month or two. But this virus will be burdening us well into next year when the vaccine comes out.
Furthermore, Grant county is being hit with both barrels — record high unemployment and — a New Mexico budget that is under attack as crude oil and gas prices are dropping precipitously. And heaven forbid, more job loses may be coming as the mines could be red flagged with the drop in copper prices. On top of that, even as the virus has not yet hit us directly, the Gila Regional Hospital and other medical service centers are running out of money, as so many of us stay away for our routine care. So here we are with two severe pandemics and so little control over them. What can we do?
— What We Can Do Is Face Down This Virus — The world nations have shown the way to defeat it. Those countries that have tested and tested early were able to contain the virus. But the United States has failed miserably in their testing and most of the country is now over run with community spreading. Fortunately, Grant county’s geographical isolation has saved us so far and with our governor’s state wide stay at-home-order we may be spared widespread infections for a few more weeks and by then, hopefully, massive testing will be available. Then with lots of testing and followup contact tracing — We Will Contain This Virus ! Our hospital need not be overrun. Then as testing is ramped up, we can emerge from our homes and begin to build our local economy again. Then we can do something that helps solve both pandemics.
— Buy Our Goods and Services Locally — We have many good doctors and medical groups who care and are ready to serve us. We also have wonderful shop keepers, there to help us in our Hardware stores, Bike shops and Grocery stores. Our farmers and ranchers too are there to serve us with their locally grown vegetables and pasture fed beef. And we can get the Farmer’s Market going again. And we might even treat our selves to some take out burritos or a sit down meal in town. In none of this need we take our dollars out of the county in those trips to Tucson, El Paso or Las Cruces. And by not going there, we will not bring back the virus from there!
And some of us can do more. The more wealthier among us can launch projects they always hoped to do. Develop their land. Construct and renovate. And with local testing coming, some of us can train to help with the labor intensive work of contact tracing and containment. And all of us, can grow our version of Victory Gardens that our grandparents grew during the War. Through all this we will be healthy and our dollars will stay here. We will no longer be victims. We will be facing down and conquering both Pandemics.
So as desperate as our situation is, it also presents a opportunity to change and to become stronger, both economically and as a community. We Are Grant County! We Can Do This ! This is my hope — Esta es mi esperanza
SiteNotes: Further Investigation on safety of our air flow in that space is being continued as our UW friends made several suggestions. Contact the University of New Mexico / Industrial Hygiene & Toxicology Departments to as ask about air flow safety. Also Dr Jake McDonald at Lovelace/Lockland Insitute was suggested to contact and ask