reflections

Home  »  reflections

Tuesday, February 1

1902: langston hughes born

1960: greensboro, nc woolworth’s counter sit-in

If a child is to keep alive her inborn sense of wonder without any such gifts from fairies, she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with her the joy, excitement, and the mystery of the world we live in.

~ Rachel Carson

Wednesday, February 2

groundhog day

We should not have a tin cup out for something as important as the arts in this country, the richest in the world. Creative artists are always begging, but always being used when it’s time to show us at our best.

~ Leontyne Price

Thursday, February 3

Luna Nash

1965: selma, al schoolchildren arrested in mass protest for civil rights

I took a bath this morning in six war speeches, and a sprinkle of peace. Looks like ever body is declaring war against the forces of force. That’s what you get for building up a big war machine. It scares your neighbors into jumping on you, and then of course they them selves have to use force, so you are against their force, and they’re against yours. Looks like the ring has been drawed and the marbles are all in. The millionaires has throwed their silk hats and our last set of drawers in the ring. The fuse is lit and the cannon is set, and somebody is in for a frailin. I would like to see every single soldier on every single side, just take off your helmet, unbuckle your kit, lay down your rifle, and set down at the side of some shady lane, and say, nope, I aint a gonna kill nobody. Plenty of rich folks wants to fight. Give them the guns.

~ Woody Guthrie

Friday, February 4

1913: rosa parks born

We only want, we only ask, that when we stand up and talk about one nation under God, liberty, justice for everybody, we only want to be able to look at the flag, put our right hand over our hearts, repeat those words, and know that they are true.

~ Barbara Jordan

Saturday, February 5

Whether you have a Ph.D., or no D, we’re in this bag together. And whether you’re from Morehouse or Nohouse, we’re still in this bag together. Not to fight to try to liberate ourselves from the men — this is another trick to get us fighting among ourselves — but to work together. Then we will have a better chance to just act as human beings, and to be treated as human beings in our sick society.

~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Sunday, February 6

1945: bob marley born

It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts.

~ Shirley Chisholm

Monday, February 7

Independence is a complex word in a foreign tongue. To resist occupation, whether you’re a nation or merely a woman, you must understand the language of your enemy. Conquest and liberation and democracy and divorce are words that mean squat, basically, when you have hungry children and clothes to get out on the line and it looks like rain.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

Tuesday, February 8

1968: orangeburg,sc massacre kills 3 and injures 69 protesters

1978: longest march begins, san francisco to washington, dc

Poetry is not a luxury, it is a vital necessity for our existence. It forms the quality of light from which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

~ Audre Lourde

Wednesday, February 9

1944: alice walker born

1996: us reveals human radiation experiments on 9,000 subjects

Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.

~ Alice Walker

Thursday, February 10

Tom Lumpkin

Now I stand in the zoo next to the yaks.

Let the ghosts of those recently starved rise

and like piranhas in ten seconds flat chew down to the public bones

the generals and the experts on antipersonnel weapons

and the senators and the oil men and the lobbyists

and the sleek smiling sharks who dance at the Diamond Ball.

I see from the afternoon papers

that we have bought another country

and are cutting the natives down to build airstrips.

This is butterfly’s war song addressed to the Congress of the Sharks.

You eat bunches of small farmers like radishes for breakfast.

You are rotting our teeth with sugar

refined from the skulls of Caribbean children.  Thus far

we have only the power of earth magicians, dream and song

and marching, to dance the eagle to sleep.

We are about to disappear into the fire.

There is only time for a brief curse by a chorus of ghosts

of Indians murdered with smallpox and repeating rifles on the plains,

of Indians shot by the marines of Santo Domingo,

napalmed in the mountains of Guatemala last week.

There will be no more spring.

Your corn will sprout in rows and the leaves will lengthen

but there will be no spring running clean water through the bones,

no soft wind full of bees, no long prairie wind bearing feathers of geese.

It will be cold or hot.  It will step on your necks.

A pool of oil will hang over our cities,

oil slicks will scum your lakes and streams killing the trout and

the ducklings,

concrete and plastic will seal the black earth and the red earth,

your rivers hum with radioactivity and the salmon float belly up,

and your mountains be hollowed out to hold files of great corporations,

and shale oil sucked under the Rockies till the continent buckles.

Look!  children of the shark and eagle

you have no more spring.  You do not mind.

You turn on the sunlamp and the airconditioning

and sit at the television watching the soldiers dance.

~ Marge Piercy

Friday, February 11

1967: a j muste dies  |  1990: nelson  mandela released from 27 year imprisonment

I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear. Knowing what must be done does away with fear.

~ Rosa Parks

Saturday, February 12

1909: naacp founded

Many people will walk in and out of your life. Only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, February 13

2010: peace pilgrimage from oak ridge to united nations departs y12 in oak ridge

I have no problem not only criticizing but also denouncing any theology that keeps us trapped in our fears rather than helping us face them.

~ Robert Jensen

Monday, February 14

1817: frederick douglass born

Violence can never work on both sides of a conflict. It always fails to attain its objective in half the cases.

~ John Howard Yoder

Tuesday, February 15

1920: susan b anthony born

As crowds increase, we build our forts of inattention, and the more we talk the easier it is to mean little and listen not at all.

~ Frank Moore Colby

Wednesday, February 16

The evil the enemy may do never expresses all he or she is. Nonviolence is a wager—not so much on the goodness of humanity as on its infinite complexity.

~ Robert Inchausti

Thursday, February 17

Mary Wuller

In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. And then another: my daughter in a yellow dress. And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon. Until I learned to be in love with my life again. Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, I have taught myself joy, over and over again.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, February 18

1931: toni morrison born  |  1934: audre lorde born

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

~ Audre Lorde

Saturday, February 19

Awe is what move us forward. Society is the enemy when it imposes its structures on the individual. To refuse the call is stagnation. If you follow someone else’s way you are not going to realize your potential.The very cage you are afraid to enter is the very thing you are looking for.

~  Joseph Campbell

Sunday, February 20

Solitude and togetherness make one another possible. Take away solitude and togetherness becomes subhuman gregariousness; take away togetherness and solitude becomes desolation. Community can only exist in the tension between solitude and togetherness.

~ David Steindl-Rast

Monday, February 21

1965: malcolm x assassinated

One rejects force not to keep one’s hands clean or to keep one’s conscience confident, but for the sake of the personhood of the neighbor.

~ John Howard Yoder

Tuesday, February 22

To be a peson in the modern world is to be broken. Only a very few very lucky people live their lives unscathed. We all need a sense of the sacred, a place to heal.

~ Robert Jensen

Wednesday, February 23

1868: w e b dubois born

It is by building a sustainable culture that we will come to live in that virtue of life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars.

~ C Baird Brown

Thursday, February 24

Joe Parko

Everything you should do you will find in this:

Do nothing to others that would hurt you if it were done to you.

~ Mahabharata 5:15-17 (Hinduism)

Do not offend others as you would not want to be offended. ~ Udanavarga 5:18 (Buddhism)

The successes of your neighbors and their losses

Will be to you as if they were your own.

~ T’ai-shang Kan-ying P’ien (Taoism)

Is there any rule that one should follow all of one’s life?

Yes! The rule of gentle goodness: That which we do not wish to

be done to us, we do not do to others.

~ Analectas 15:23 (Confucianism)

That which you do not wish for yourself

You shall not wish for your neighbor.

This is the whole law; the rest is only commentary.

~ Talmud Shabbat 31 (Judaism)

In everything do to others what you would have them do to you.

This sums up the law and the prophets.

~ Matthew 7:12 (Christianity)

None of you shall be true believers

Unless you wish for your brother

The same that you wish for yourself.

~ Sunnati (Islam)

Do one of the above;

And live in such a way that you will enrich, and not diminish

Our relatives in the Earth family

Of animals and plants, soil, air and water

~ Earth wisdom

Friday, February 25

1912: 20,000 women strike for better working conditions

Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

~ John Muir

Saturday, February 26

Hope is the source and spring of all the alchemies of transformation, the greatest treasure of the heart and mind, the philosopher’s stone that transmutes agony and tragedy into new life. Never abandon hope, or you abandon your closest and most helpful guide.

~ Vaclav Havel

Sunday, February 27

1973: second us siege at wounded knee

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~ The Dalai Lama

Monday, February 28

1958: campaign for nuclear disarmament launched in england

Any significant resistance community has its own distinct way of reading not only its own story, but the story of the wider society, against whose stream it affirms its criticism.

~ John Howard Yoder

Tuesday, March 1

For all our capacity to process data and analyze patterns, the truth of the world will always appear to us to be chaos if we choose to limit ourselves to the rational.

~ Robert Jensen

Wednesday, March 2

When they asked for those to raise their hands who’d go down to the courthouse the next day, I raised mine. Had it high up as I could get it. I guess if I’d had any sense I’d’ve been a little scared, but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do to me was kill me and it seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could remember.

~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Thursday, March 3
Betty Johnson

I am the woman who sits by the river

river of tears

river of sewage

river of rainbows.

I sit by the river and count the corpses

floating by from the war upstream.

I sit by the river and watch the water

dwindle and the banks poke out like sore gums.

I watch the water change from green to shit brown.

I sit by the river and fish for your soul.

I want to lick it clean.

I want to turn it into a butterfly

that will weave drunkenly from orchid to rose.

I want to turn it into a pumpkin.

I want it to turn itself into a human being.

Oh, close your eyes tight and push hard

and evolve, altogether now. We can

do it if we try. Concentrate

and hold hands and push.

You can take your world back

if you want to.  It’s an araucana

egg, all blue and green

swaddled in filmy clouds.

Don’t let them cook and gobble it,

azure and jungle green egg laid

by the extinct phoenix of the universe.

~ Marge Piercy

Friday, March 4

1917: jeannette rankin first woman elected to us congress

It takes four generations to recover from every act of violence.

~ Rebecca Adamson

Saturday, March 5

1991: last us cruise missile removed from greenham commons

When we are present in each moment, the past gently rolls up behind us and the future slowly unravels before us.

~ Richard Levy

Sunday, March 6

1970: nuclear nonproliferation treaty enters into force

The feeling of powerlessness is the deepest form of estrangement our civilization produces.

~ Dorothee Soelle

Monday, March 7

1965: selma to montgomery civil rights march

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

~ Mother Theresa

Tuesday, March 8

Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.

~ Mae Jemison

Wednesday, March 9

It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.

~ Audre Lorde

Thursday, March 10

Beth Brockman

1913: harriet tubman dies

There is no tribe who dance and then sit down and wait for the crops to harvest themselves and supper to roll over the pot. We shall survive only if we win; they will kill us if they can, and killing is what they do best. We have learned to do nothing well. We are still strangers to our bodies, tools fit awkwardly in our hands, our weapons explode, we speak to each other haltingly in words they gave us…We are not worse revolutionaries if we remember that the universe itself pulses like a heart; that the blood dances within us; that joy is a power treading with hoofs and talons on our flimsy bodies; that water flows and fire leaps and the land gives strength if you build on it with respect, if you dance on it with vigor, if you put seeds in with care and give back what is left over; that a ritual of unity makes some of what it pretends; that everything is a part of something else.

~ Marge Piercy

Friday, March 11

1899: albert einstein born

The results of scientific research very often force a change in the philosophical view of problems which extend far beyond the reach of science.

~ Albert Einstein

Saturday, March 12

To be able under all circumstances to practice five things constitutes perfect virtue. These five things are: gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.

~ Confucius

Sunday, March 13

Diversity may be the hardest thing to live with and the most dangerous thing to live without.

~ William Sloane Coffin

Monday, March 14

The idea of a dark night speaks to a more universal experience of facing times that challenge our settled ideas about the meaning of our lives.

~ Robert Jensen

Tuesday, March 15

Over the last decade our country has lost an average of 300 farms a week. Large or small, each of those was the lifes work of a real person or family, people who built their lives around a promise and watched it break.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, March 16

1921: war resisters international founded

2003: rachel corrie murdered in gaza strip

I don’t want to argue about the morality of violence because I won’t get anywhere.  People will stick to their guns, literally, and others will not stick to their guns, literally. The point is, violence polarizes society, and as soon as you initiate violence, you suffer repercussions.

~ Ryan Harvey

Thursday, March 17

Dane Baker

All my life I have been a prisoner under the Tower.

Some say that grey lid is the sky.  Our streets are hammers.

Grey is the water we drink, grey is the face I cannot love in the mirror,

grey is the money we lack, the itch and scratch of skins rubbing.

Grey is the color of work without purpose or end,

and the cancer of hopelessness creeping through the gut.

In my bones are calcium rings of the body’s hunger

from grey bread that turns to ash in the belly.

In my brain schooled lies rot into self-hatred:  and who

can I hate in the cattle car subway

like the neighbor whose elbow cracks my ribs?

Above in the sun live those who own, making our weather with

their refuse.

Their neon signs instruct us through the permanent smog.

Rockefellers, Mellons and Du Ponts, you Fords and Houghtons,

who are you to own my eyes?  Who gave me to be your serf?

I have never seen your faces but your walls surround me.

With the loot of the world you built these stinking cities

as monuments.

The tower is ugly as General Motors, as public housing,

as twin piles of the World Trade Center,

tallest, biggest and menacing as fins on an automobile,

horns on a Minotaur programmed to kill.

The weight of the Tower is in me.  Can I ever straighten?

You trained me in passivity to lay for you like a doped hen.

You bounce your gabble off the sky to pierce our brains.

Your loudspeakers from every television and classroom

shout you are impregnable and righteous forever.

But any structure can be overthrown.

London Bridge with the woman built into the base

as sacrifice is coming down.

The Tower will fall if we pull together.

Then the Tower reversed, symbol of tyranny and oppression,

shall not be set upright.

We are not turning things over merely

but will lay the Tower on its side.

We will make it a communal longhouse.

~ Marge Piercy

Friday, March 18

Tolerance consists of seeing things with your heart instead of your eyes.

~ O A Battista

Saturday, March 19

2003: us attacks baghdad, starts second gulf war

If renewing the life of faith is to be coherent and thorough, it will necessarily bring with it a renewal of the ethic of nonviolence.

~ John Howard Yoder

Sunday, March 20

2004: tens of millions march worldwide in protest of us war in iraq

No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs—anything—but keep the automobiles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and other sanctums of our culture, and we should treat our national parks with the same deference for they, too, are holy places. We are learning the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Let us behave accordingly.

~ Edward Abbey

Monday, March 21

1960: sharpeville massacre kills 69 in south africa

The modern economist is used to measuring the standard of living by the amount of annual consumption, assuming that a person who consumes more is “better off” than one who consumes less. A Buddhist economist would consider this approach excessively irrational. Since consumption is merely a means to human wellbeing, the aim should be to obtain the maximum amount of well-being with the minimum of consumption.

~ E F Schumacher

Tuesday, March 22

Eighty percent of the food on our tables is harvested by hand.

~ Madeline Rogero

Wednesday, March 23

There comes a time in life when you walk away from all the pointless drama and the people who create it, and surround yourself with people who make you laugh so hard that you forget the bad and focus on the good. Life is too short to be anything but happy.

~ Tomeka Cauls Rhoades

Thursday, March 24

Beth and Bob Gehres

1980: archbishop oscar romero assassinated in el salvador

1999: us and nato begin 78 day bombing of serbia

Penetrate quietly…fight persistently…spread like the squash…Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar…Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.  Live a life you can endure…Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:  reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in. This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always, for every gardener knows that after the digging, after the planting, after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~ Marge Piercy

Friday, March 25

There is a key to everything, and the key to Paradise is to love the poor.

~ Mohammed

Saturday, March 26

1979: camp david peace accords signed

1.2 billion people live in Absolute Poverty, a condition of life so limited by malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, squalid surroundings, high infant mortality and low life expectancy as to be beneath any reasonable definition of human decency.

~ Robert McNamara

Sunday, March 27

When faced with a radical crisis, when the old way of being in the world, of interacting with each other and with the realm of nature doesn’t work any more, when survival is threatened by seemingly insurmountable problems, an individual human—or a species—will either die or become extinct or rise above their limitations with an evolutionary leap. This is the state of humanity now, and this is our challenge.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Monday, March 28

1979: three mile island (pa) nuclear reactor failure

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

~ André Gide

Tuesday, March 29

Throughout history, the really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from the dictates of governments or the results of battles, but through vast numbers of people changing their minds, sometimes only a little bit.

~ Willis Harman

Wednesday, March 30

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can’t keep, all passion is really a setup, and we’re doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. … Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I’m nuts.

~ Barbara Kingsolver

Thursday, March 31

Nancy Gowen

1927: cesar chavez born

We have bigger houses but smaller families; more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgement; more experts but more problems; more medicines but less healthiness. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet our new neighbor. We built more computers to hold more copies than ever, but have less real communication. We have become long on quantity but short on quality. These are times of fast foods but slow digestion, tall men but short characters, steep profits but shallow relationships. It is a time when there is much in the window but nothing in the room.

~ The Dalai Lama