Monday, September 29, 2008

The normal and the abnormal

Another journey is now completed. My sense of "our reality" grows deeper. I traveled by train from Seattle, Washington to Cleveland, Ohio with my daughter, Amanda, and her 19 month old son, River. For the most part the ride was beautiful across the mountains and plains states. Our little family grew together and enjoyed the world family on the train and in the Chicago station.

We had a family reunion at Geneva on the Lake, catching up with everyone and experiencing the storms and the calm sunsets over the lake. My 92 year old mother was also able to visit with us for a day. Our four generations are blessed.

We stayed with old friends from the Thomas Merton Community of the 1960's. Though the near West Side of Cleveland has become gentrafided over the years, my bonds with the friends has only grown stronger. We still share concerns for our society and the world which is more precarious than the conflicted days of the 60's. We have grown in spirit and in deed. Now, yoga, community gardens, and peace demonstrations have transformed the expressions of forty years ago.

I worked hard on this trip. With the help of peacemaker friends, I offered twenty Gandhi appearances. Three colleges, two high schools, and an interfaith peace gathering were the venues. Also, I offered two book signing events. Finally, we traveled to Dayton to the Peace Museum where we participated in the International Day of Peace on September 21st. We were hosted by Chris Dull who made the original request for my Gandhi portrayals. What a heartfelt time!

The twenty day experience in Ohio was overshadowed for me by the consciousness of global threats: finance and climate change. Hurricane Ike reached up to Ohio from Haiti, Cuba, Texas. Forty four or the 48 counties in Ohio had electrical breakdowns from wind storms. Caravans of electrical repair trucks crossed Ohio to the south from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The Storm was deadly and costly.

The financial crisis caused by the failure of several institutions and by the governments inability to handle the crisis (suddenly the private markets were screaming to the government to bail them out) occured during my last week in Ohio. As of this writing, we are still watching the harried efforts of Congress and the "Presidency" to come up with a plan. No doubt that whatever the plan is human services and US infrastructure will suffer for years. My reading on this trip was Richard Heinberg's PEAK EVERYTHING, WAKING UP in the CENTURY OF DECLINES. It was most instructive that in the midst of the financial crisis, I happened to read the chapter noting the collapse of the US economy. Even the Wall Street types are claiming that there is no clear way to handle this, could be much worse than the depression's collapse.

My Gandhi presentations at least mentioned the usual three: climate change, the effects of peak oil, and nuclear weapons/war making. I think people are traumatized, ignorant, and empty handed. Some have their eyes open. Our hope.

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