Monday, October 31, 2011

Guns in Wisconsin

Guns - open carry and now concealed carry. I have started to wonder what the real agenda is of the National Rifle Association (NRA) as it has managed now to push more guns into the hands of millions and millions of us, nearly unlimited rights to arm ourselves everywhere.

Playing on fear of things that almost never happen (the guy who invades my house and shows up in a dark shadow hovering over my bed in the night, but then I reach under my pillow, pull out my Glock and blow him away), we are now actually having intense arguments about whether or not even houses of worship ought to have the right to prohibit guns on their premises.

What do they want? Armed protection from the changes that are coming? Armed protection from the hungry masses, from the dispossessed? Armed protection from government authorities protecting rights of 'minorities' and the common good - you know, like the Environmental Protection Authority or National Park Rangers?

What are we arming ourselves for? Because we all know that concealed carry is not making us safer, it is making the human community more frightening. We know that most gun violence occurs in the home. We know that most of our guns, except for the sport of hunting, either go unused or get turned on one another.

And I wonder about a culture so bent on arming itself, so bent on seeing threats everywhere, so afraid and insecure that it thinks purchasing a gun can keep a bad thing from happening.

What I know it has done (and the NRA has proved brilliant in spreading this darkness, this social mental illness) is create more chasms of suspicion and rage among us; it has further divided the human community; it has enhanced the very alienation that we must heal if this state, this culture, is going to find a way through multiple economic and ecological crises with our humanity intact.

Friday, October 28, 2011

New reflections from this Swedish in Milwaukee

You know, I put this blog to rest last summer, but of course, in cyberworld, it still exists. So here's the thing:

I have this project, my work on ecology and spirituality which is my current 'vocation,' if you will - addressing the dire ecological crises of our times and asking fundamental questions about how we will live through them - but I have many other things going on, issues that I'm thinking about that don't fall under that umbrella, new writing projects, other kinds of spiritual searches, communities with which I connect, and thoughts, like all of you, about our multiple challenges here in Wisconsin and my hometown of Milwaukee.

At times I have longed for a space to reflect on these other things and to invite people to join me in conversation.

Sooooooo, I'm thinking about reviving this blog for that purpose - for all those other things, new writing projects, thoughts on our Wisconsin political culture, the wonderful local 'spaces' from which new life is emerging, our deep-seated cultural baggage of racism, blind patriotism, individual self-interest that obscures the interrelatedness of all things and the impacts of our life choices and behaviors on our communities. Think of it as a free-wheeling exchange regarding all these things that Swedish in Milwaukee is thinking about, and so many others here in our precious state of Wisconsin.

So, over the weekend I'm going to kick this off. I hope you will participate, and I hope you will invite your friends and family to sign up, chime in, give this space a little resonance.

I mean, right now in Madison, decisions are being made that are going to impact nearly every aspect of our political, cultural, and economic life. From guns in the Capitol (and everywhere else), to easing of consumer protections, to tax policies favoring the wealthy, to proposals that will further shred the fabric holding the most vulnerable among us, to pleasing some of our worst corporate actors by easing pollution regulations and standards - we are in a time when our quality of life, our belief in fairness and justice, our faith in one another, our democratic system, and the natural beauty of our state are all in jeopardy.

What can we do? Well, of course, we can do many things, and engaging the political process is one of those crucial things. But part of this challenge for me is that we create a new culture in keeping with the scale of the crisis. We are facing new challenges all across the planet. Values of solidarity, unselfishness, compassion, justice and fairness, inclusiveness - ramping up these values to scale - and then embracing the necessity of vast changes in how we live our lives - all of this is necessary if we are to pass through the crisis time, the time of transition, with our humanity, and our life-bearing eco-communities, intact.

Milwaukee sunrise - Photo: Margaret Swedish

What does this mean for us here in Wisconsin? What kind of life do we imagine creating here? What is the best that we can bring to that creation, and what is the worst, the negative baggage, that we can and ought to leave behind? What harms that new creation? What can support and nurture it - from right here where we live? That's what I hope we might think about together here in this space.

So, I hope you will visit, reflect, and join in as we think out loud - or think with our fingertips on our keyboards - about these things.

Happy Halloween. Look for a first post by then.

Proud Milwaukee Native