The Rose Guard

rose

How can we appreciate the roses

When our bread is nearly gone

When our bread was

Stolen from us last week.

How can we feel any happiness or

Understand hope when our

Bread is nearly gone.

Our bread was stolen from us

Last week.

Where has the bread gone,

Where are my roses?

The Rose Guard is here

To provoke a new era of

Hope, of love, of beauty, of

All good things that we can imagine

Collectively.

The Rose Guard will protect us

But more importantly nurture us

Nurture our minds, our bodies,

Our souls

As we march on

Without any bread.

The Rose Guard ensures that

The gifts of our earth are

Shared and used to

Nourish

Rather than to cause

More harm.

The Rose Guard is me.

The Rose Guard is you.

Our Purple Toenails

Purple has always been my favorite color. I love to wear it, surround myself with it, and integrate it into as much of my life as possible. It makes me feel happy, calm, and grounded.

I sometimes paint my nails purple, most frequently my toenails. About two decades ago I was visiting my grandmother, my toenails adorned with a lovely purple hue. As I sat on her fluffy sofa, as others watched television, I read a magazine. It was in that magazine that I saw a photograph of a child, dying of mal- and under-nutrition, who also had purple toenails. I was stricken by the disparity between me, a privileged American who can afford the luxury of painting my nails, and the nearly 25,000 people who die of hunger, either directly or indirectly, every single day. To this day I am unable to wear purple nail polish without being reminded of the suffering of millions of people around the world, and the political and economic injustices that create these unthinkable conditions.

I felt, and still feel overwhelmed, by the many inequities in our world. But even though it may seem impossible to provoke change, every little thing we do to make a difference helps. Our vote matters. Our consumer choices matter. Our contributions, financial or otherwise, to charitable and social justice causes matter. My privilege, however small it may sometimes seem in relation to others, makes it impossible for me to give up. Not just because it would be unethical and unfair, but because giving up would only serve to reinforce that divisive privilege. And that is simply not good enough for me.

The first step is to educate ourselves. If you would like to learn more about global hunger, the following website offer excellent resources:
Mercy Corps
U.N. World Food Programme
Stop Hunger Now
Freedom from Hunger
The Hunger Project

The following websites have information about domestic hunger in the United States:
Feeding America
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Research and Action Center

All Animals Have a Name

lion

I often have ideas about things that I would like to do, but I don’t always act on those ideas. That is a good thing, as many of my ideas are not necessarily constructive or useful or even interesting.

But one of these ideas, which I had in high school but more than 20 years later have still not gotten around to doing, was to print labels with names on them and stick them on packages throughout the meat department of a grocery store. This action would raise awareness that all animals have a name, are capable of giving and receiving love, and deserve better than to end up anonymous and grotesquely displayed under plastic wrap in an open, public refrigerator.

When it was first reported that Cecil the lion had been murdered, I did not join with those who found this act extraordinarily offensive because Cecil had a name and was specifically known and protected by a group of people. All animals have a name, a name in the heart of their mother which is too often not communicated as animal babies, when exploited as part of an economic scheme, are taken from their mothers too young. I found this act extraordinarily offensive because we are meant to love and protect our animal friends, not to kill them and parade their carcasses for pleasure.

So while I was deeply saddened by Cecil’s death, I did not feel more sympathy for him than I did for the animals I saw in a safari display at a textbook nouveau riche home not too long ago, or for those animals that I see every week at the grocery store. Cecil deserves our attention, because he was a beautiful and sensitive animal who was unjustly taken from us. But his legacy is much greater than his own life; such is the way for all who sacrifice themselves willingly nor not. His unfortunate death is a reminder that all creatures on this planet are precious and deserving of our love, attention, and protection.

All animals, like people, have a name. Whether or not we take the time to learn that name, or anything else about each person and each animal, is up to us.

70 Generations

tree

There is an Iroquois doctrine which states that people ought to take into consideration the potential impact that their actions could have on the next seven generations. When we drink water from a bottle, for example, there is an environmental cost of packaging and transporting that water — and too often those bottles end up strewn about the street or in the trash (I know, it looks just like the other round bin with the big recycling logo on the front. Right.). So many accumulated water bottles, over so many years, has a devastating impact on our earth.

When I was a little girl, about seven or eight years old, my aunt — who also happened to be by third cousin twice removed — gave me a book with the genealogical history of one side of my family. A few years later, aunts and cousins started trying to recruit me for the Daughters of the American Revolution. After years of procrastination and other priorities, I finally joined an ancestry service so that I could more fully explore my roots. With the assistance of this service and many other dedicated researchers, I was able to speculatively trace my ancestry back 118 generations — through Revolutionary War patriots, pilgrims, queens, and kings.

These discoveries, in a way, made me feel closer to much of humankind. It is amazing to think that so many people, probably including a lot of people with whom I interact everyday, share common ancestry. It is also interesting that I, who had to work in garment factories and, even worse, as a telemarketer — but thank goodness (for the customers much more so than for me) not as a stripper to work my way through college, could have such illustrious ancestors as Edward III and Philipa of Hainault. What a difference 23 generations makes. I wonder…if those kings and queens of yore had lived a bit more intentionally and sustainably, perhaps today all of their descendants — and all human beings as well as animals on our gracious planet— would be living in a beautiful, responsive, and plentiful world where everyone’s needs and purest desires could be easily met.

No, I don’t have a chip on my shoulder due to some ingrained sense of white privilege. I believe that all people should use what they have — material or otherwise — to make the world a better place, or rather to lovingly restore our planet so that its life and potential is replenished and renewed.

Therefore, I am now taking a broader view and thinking about what our world will be like for those who will be alive in another 70 generations — should our planet withstand the increasing pressures to its precious resources — and how I can contribute toward co-creating a more resilient environment, inclusive socio-economic structure, and impassioned culture for those future earthlings. Every little thought and action counts.