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Posts Tagged ‘Social Justice’

It’s February and winter is still on the lam.  Well yes, January brought some snow, but it’s hard to believe this is Wisconsin in winter.   Here at Sontheim temperatures hover in the balmy mid 40’s and occasionally tumble below 20 degrees.  The migratory birds are confused and the Canadian Geese can’t make up their minds if they should be coming or going.  On any given day you can watch great flocks fly South, only to see them return on the next day to head North again.  It is astonishing to watch such confusion and it makes me uneasy when I think of our Hummingbirds.

Other than experiencing the strange effects of climate change all else seems fine at Sontheim.  Our Sophia had a rough encounter with epilepsy last year while Sam and Lilly experienced good health and unfettered romps in the woods.  All we know is that the seizures started after Sophia had received her lyme disease booster and Dr. Sander, our trusted family vet, and I suspect that the vaccination may have been the trigger.

Sammy loves eye contact.

All together Sophia had four seizures, the first of which took place in the early morning hours on 8-24-11.  We tried medication which unfortunately she was not able to tolerate.  So I decided to treat her with food.   Sophia’s fourth and hopefully final seizure was on 11-01-11 and thankfully there has been no recurrence since.

Recently our Sam also gave us a scare when I heard him give a sharp yelp while he was out of sight.  All I know is that something must have happened to his rear end, because for several days thereafter he was not able to take the stairs.  In consultation with our vet I gave Sam some Rimadyl to ease his discomfort, and sure enough, it did not take him long to be his usual rambunctious self again.

While all things seem right on our beautiful patch of land high on the bluffs, nothing seems right in Wisconsin.  For a year now, our beautiful state has being torn apart by the divisive politics of Governor Walker and his cohorts in the State Legislature.

The Assembly just passed a mining bill which  will roll back long-established environmental safeguards.  All 183 pages of the bill were written behind closed doors by the republican majority and their mining company lobbyist.  As with the bill that stripped collective bargaining from workers’ rights last year, this bill is being rammed through the legislature without public input.  As it stands, bill AB 426 will give mining companies the right to rape our land by looking the other way when they divert water from our rivers, when they deplete our groundwater through high capacity wells, when they pollute the air and dump mining slag into our pristine wetlands.  And all of this for the mere promise of a few hundred jobs.  Or should we also mention the millions of mining dollars that are flowing into the coffers of the six republican incumbents who are being recalled by the people of Wisconsin!!!

All across our nation, the fight is on to preserve citizens’ rights and quality of life.  2012 has barely begun, but it is already clear that it needs a lot more than a just little bit of love.   Oh Charlie Brown, how I envy you Your Christmas Tree.

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in order to bring the wealth of communal knowledge to people in need.

Meet Bunker Roy whose lifelong committment to human dignity and self-sufficiency has proven that a single individual can make all the difference. 

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On September 25th the world lost a true hero in the untimely death of Wangari Maathai.  Her story is one of unmatched courage in the face of oppression and of boundless optimism for the future.  A story where one single women stood up to political and social oppression and to environmental exploitation.  She fought for the reforestation of her homeland which she knew was closely linked with bringing economic justice to the women of her homeland.

Honoring Wangari Maathai.

Upon hearing of Wangari Maathai’s passing I felt a deep sense of loss, as if she had been personally dear to me.  But in truth I know that the loss I feel is not personal but rather that it stems from the realization that an incredible force for the common good has left us forever.

I will mourn her deeply.

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All is well at Sontheim.  The gardens have turned into a jungle, the fruit trees are heavy and the air is alive with the sound of summer.

Hummingbirds are playing at the feeders and sugar-water production is in high gear.  Some of our beloved Hummers are getting fat and soon they will be ready for their epic migration South.

The dogs are having fun in the fields nearby and it is awesome to watch their curiosity when they encounter the myriad of wildlife coming from the woods.

The only thing that is short in supply among all this abundance is TIME.  The time to sit and tend to my blog seems to have disappeared.  So, instead of sharing my own ‘pearls of wisdom’ I give you more food for thought.

Meet Eve Ensler in her newest presentation on TED:

Enjoy!

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Meet Nadia Al-Sakkaf who truly represents the Arab Spring through her courage and committment to human dignity and freedom.

Since her father’s assassination Nadia is the publisher of the http://www.YemenTimes.com, a publication that continues to speak truth to power in Yemen.

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Food for Thought…

While I am still preoccupied with other matters I want to share Rebecca MacKinnon’s talk at the 2011 TED conference.  Her topic is not only timely but thought-provoking as we struggle to move forward as an open society that respects human dignity.  Enjoy!

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I’m sure you know of the man who was named “Dr. Death” because of his bold battle to bring the choice of physician assisted suicide to the terminally ill. 

As a person living with Multiple Sclerosis, and hence living with a very uncertain future, I have a deep interest in the topic of  ‘dying with dignity’.  I consider the act of ending my life at a time of my own choosing as a basic human right which no religion, state or government should be allowed to take away from me.

Of course, people commit suicide every day in the US and around the world.  And I have always thought that it is usually a desperate act, prompted by helplessness and suffering that simply is too much to endure.  But ending one’s life as an alternative to suffering the unending ravages and unbearable pain of a devastating illness, is in no way an act of  desperation. 

In fact, it is an act of courage and should be supported by society the same way we have long accepted euthanasia as a merciful alternative to the unnecessary suffering of a beloved pet.  Only here, with physician assisted suicide, it is the human being him/herself who determines IF and WHEN to die.  This is the complete opposite of a decision that many fear may be made by a second party on behalf of someone who cannot express their wishes.

In a previous post about how “To live and die with dignity” I shared Craig Ewert’s courageous story of how he travelled to Switzerland in order to find the assistance he needed to die his way and at a time of his own choosing.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/suicidetourist/

It seems clear to me that anyone who is brave enough to watch the documentary of Greg’s struggle with ALS and his final decision to die, will also witness the strength and the dignity of his final choice.

However, it is not the premeditated dying that is important here, but rather, it is the legal CHOICE people ought to have, that matters.   Even if the right to die were well established and acknowledged by the power of  law, not everyone would choose this path. 

My favorite example of such an individual is Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist, who has clearly chosen to live in spite of having lost his body to the devastating effects of ALS.   

In his case, no  financial or scientific means are spared to enable him to continue his work.

He also is an inspiration to me and I admire him for his straight forward and unsentimental way of looking at life.  In his recent book “Grand Design,” he says: “There is no heaven or after-life …, that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”   He also states that he is not afraid of death, but adds: “I’m in no hurry to die.  I have so much I want to do first.”

So there you have it: more food for thought. 

I’d like to close by thanking Dr. Kevorkian for his committment to human dignity and by posing the following question: 

What gives a society the right to deny any person a choice in determining how much suffering is enough?  And WHEN and HOW to die?

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