We cannot live in a world that is not our own,
in a world that is interpreted for us by others.
An interpreted world is not a home.
Part of the terror is to take back our own listening,
to use our own voice, to see our own light.
Hildegard de Bingen
Speak to them of the great mercy of God…
Sometimes people are helped by your telling
of your own lamentable past.
~ In peace and fellowship ~
At a Regional Park on Comox Lake near the town of Cumberland, British Columbia, the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers Union erected a sign memorialising labour martyr Ginger Goodwin, who is buried in the local cemetary under a stone inscribed “A Workers’ Friend”. One side of the sign carries the words to “The Ballad Of Ginger Goodwin.”
BALLAD OF GINGER GOODWIN
Ginger Goodwin is a name you don’t often hear or see.
They don’t say a word about him in our country’s history.
He was a labour leader and he wouldn’t go to war.
“While the army breaks our strikes at home, its strikers I’ll fight for.”
In Trail back in the summer of 1917.
Ginger fought against conscription even though he was class D.
But when he led a miners’ strike to spread the eight hour day
Conscription checked him out again and found he was class A.
Ginger hid from cops and soldiers in the hills near Cumberland.
Miners brought him food and sheltered him, they knew he was their friend.
So the bosses hired special cops when their power was at stake.
Dan Campbell murdered Goodwin at the head of Comox Lake.
The whole damn town of Cumberland turned out for the funeral hike.
Vancouver’s workers shut her down for a one day general strike.
Soldiers back from foreign wars then attacked the labour hall.
Both the bosses and the workers knew who caused the Czar’s downfall.
You can still see Ginger’s grave along the road to Cumberland.
He didn’t win no medals and no one understands.
Don’t tell me that a hero has to die in foreign lands.
We lost heroes here in labour’s wars and they all had dirty hands.
Song and Lyrics by Richard von Fuchs
Victoria Catholic Bishop Remi De Roo speaks at ceremony at Comox Lake (on June 27, 1987) to dedicate the memorial plaque to slain unionist Albert “Ginger” Goodwin, killed by a conscription officer in 1918. Behind de Roo is Leo Nimsick, a former Mine Mill and Smelter Workers organizer and Mines Minister in the NDP provincial government of Premier Dave Barrett.
Remi De Roo, now 94, also gave a tribute to Dave at his memorial on March 8, 2018 at the University of Victoria Farquhar Auditorium. Remi was a spiritual advisor to Dave Barrett after he left office.
“Just as the church in our day has to disassociate itself from structures of domination, so also must Western culture change its model and goals of social power, learning instead to trust and serve the needs of ordinary people. . .
Nor should we be misled by the East-West ideological confrontation which tends to obscure the deeper reality of structural injustice that threatens global stability. it is tragic that political experiments regarding alternative models, such as Nicaragua for example, are given little chance to survive because of this ideological straight jacket.
Having sat at the same table with peasants and leaders of the Third World, listened to their aspirations and learned from there wisdom, I have no hesitation in saying their hopes and desires are not a matter of being communist or capitalist but of being more self reliant through community ownership and control.”
Excerpted from Cries of Victims, Voice of God – by Bishop Remi De Roo, 1986
Cheers ~ Bruce
My brother Allan has put in a 17 kilowatt Solar Array for his home in Saskatchewan pictured below. He also uses Geo-thermal energy via a heat pump. Good work indeed.
Cheers ~ Bruce
The following are quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. interspersed with a few excerpts from Harry Belafonte who was a good friend:
from page 319 – My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race and Defiance – by Harry Belafonte
Ever since America had become fully engaged in Vietnam, a fierce debate had raged in Martin’s inner circle. Poor blacks were being drafted in disproportionate numbers, and sent straight to the front lines, where a lot of them were dying. Didn’t our fight for civil rights obligate us to fight this institutionalized racism? But Martin’s dismay with the war went deeper than that.
As a pastor and a pacifist, he viewed it as a terrible abomination for all involved: for white soldiers as well as black, for Vietnamese as much as Americans. Yet to speak out against the war carried serious risks for him. He would lose support. How much, no one could predict, but in 1967 a lot of media were pro-war, Time magazine famously so, as were a lot of church congregations. President Johnson would be furious, and likely become a political foe. Was all this worth it? In my talks with Martin, I said I thought it was, and so did others. But still I was surprised when Martin began drafting his anti-war speech in my apartment…
What fascinated me most about the speech, when I heard it, was its depth of detail. Martin had read deeply on its origins. – Harry Belafonte
Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City
Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence: short excerpt
“We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered,” …This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King’s speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all. It is important today with continued American led world gun and war violence, it is as important today as it was the day MLK was assassinated by such a weapon, 50 years ago. The text of the full speech can be found here. Or the full 53 min. audio recording here]
“And I’m sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit… God didn’t call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war, as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We have committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I’m going to continue to say it…”
In Belafonte’s book a few pages later, 326 to 329, he tells of the depth of Martin Luther King Jr’s frustration and anger with what happening in America:
Harry Belafonte –
“Martin’s plan for a gathering of poor people in Washington, D.C., had taken shape… Instead of a one day march, he would bring thousands of poor people, both black and white, along with Mexican- American farm labourers from California, Native Americans, and more, to build a shantytown near the White House. There the protestors would remain until Congress passed an economic rights bill to alleviate poverty in America.
Bobby Kennedy had declared for president at last, and said his first goal was to erase “material poverty.”… Martin called his circle together in my home, and with Stan Levison and the rest of us, pondered long and hard, deep into the night, about what our options were, along with what the consequences would be. We concluded we would have to move ahead as planned. Martin spoke to large and excited gatherings around the country about his Poor People’s Campaign.
On March 27, a week before his assassination, he came up to New York for a big party at my apartment, one of the biggest we had held. As usual Martin was late. He always packed too much into his schedule, trying to do it all. This time, a stop in Newark, New Jersey…”
After the guests had left, King and some of his closest colleagues stayed and talked about the conditions in the country and the state of the civil rights movement. Among those present, in addition to King and Belafonte, were King’s lawyer, Clarence Jones, his secretary and bodyguard, Bernard Lee, and Andrew Young, who would later become a congressman, the mayor of Atlanta, and also the US ambassador to the United Nations under President Jimmy Carter.
This passage in Belafonte’s book deserves careful examination. The political establishment had reacted with fury to King’s denunciation of the Vietnam War. The ghetto rebellions had erupted in nearly every major northern US city over the previous four summers. King was intensely affected by these conditions.
In the midst of the discussion Belafonte asked King why he was in such a surly mood. King exclaimed:
“Somehow, frustration over the war has brought forth this idea that the solution resides in violence. What I cannot get across to these young people is that I wholly embrace everything they feel! It’s just the tactics we can’t agree on. I have more in common with these young people than with anybody else in this movement. I feel their rage. I feel their pain. I feel their frustration. It’s the system that’s the problem, and it’s choking the breath out of our lives.”
Belafonte continues, “In the pause that followed, Andy [Young] replied, ‘Well, I don’t know, Martin. It’s not the entire system. It’s only part of it, and I think we can fix that.’
“Suddenly, Martin lost his temper. ‘I don’t need to hear from you, Andy,’ he said. ‘I’ve heard enough from you. You’re a capitalist, and I’m not. And so we don’t see eye to eye—on this and a lot of other stuff.’
“It was an awkward moment. Martin was really angry. But I understood the subtext. Deep down, Andy was ambivalent about the Poor People’s Campaign…
“The tension peaked. ‘The trouble,’ Martin went on, ‘is that we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level…That’s the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we’re going to have to change the system.”
~ the Brandt Series ~
Frater Charles Brandt became 95 years of age on Feb. 19, 2018 – peace and blessings.
Some of you who know Charles might agree that his quiet life and demeanour as a humble Christian hermit is somewhat similar to his fellow Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh – “a cross between a cloud, a snail, and piece of heavy machinery – a true religious presence.”
Self and Environment – Part Two
This is the second part of an abridged look at Charles’ original book, Self and Environment.
To access Part One click here, Transformation and Age of the Earth, which speaks about recovering wholeness by showing how meditation and insight into the beauty of the world offer vital hope for a world in crises.
Now Part Two explores the damage inflicted on our sense of self and of God by the split we have made between our humanity and the natural world. Being present is imperative for us to gain full attention of the sacredness of creation and to our oneness with nature.
Photography is by Charles Brandt, Geoffry Leighton, Bruce Witzel and Francis Guenette
~ By Charles Brandt ~
My hermitage is located deep in the temperate rainforest, on the Oyster River, British Columbia. The logging road along with other trails through the forest is where I practice walking meditation.
I do not think of the road as leading anywhere. It is the road to nowhere, the path on which I journey and have been journeying for a lifetime. When I walk this road I have no destination, no timetable or estimated time of arrival. I simply place one foot in front of the other, let all my cares, anguish, angst, fears drop away. My breathing is in harmony with my pace, my pace is in harmony with the universe.
And although this is a path of nowhere, in reality it is a way to everywhere, because it enables me to enter into communion with the whole community of beings, beings which are diverse, interiorized, and each in communion with every other being in the universe. I become present to the most distant star, and she to me, the ‘complicated web of interdependent relationships’. Every atom of my being is present to every atom in the universe, and they to it.
There is new story that is being told today, although in fact, of course, it is and old, old story. It is the universe story, the earth story. It is a cosmological story that is just dawning on our minds and imagination. As Brian Swimme describes it, “this universe is a single multiform energetic unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence, and life.” The universe as a whole behaves more like a developing being. It is a single, multiform, sequential, celebratory event. And we are integral with the story. Indeed, it is our story as well as the universe story. This is the story we have to come to understand, the story which describes our true journey.
Spotting a Super Nova – photo source unknown
But we have not been paying attention to the story. If we could learn to pay attention we could go forward into the future.
In the depth of our being we have a longing to know the earth and its plan, to know the universe, and ourselves in its deepest and truest form, and to know the Ultimate Reality. Somehow we suspect that if we could only come to the discovery of our true self we would arrive as well at the true meaning of the earth and the universe.
Coastal Mountains of BC
Especially today we want to understand because there is a deep lurking fear within us that the viability of the human species depends on a healthy relationship with the earth, that our destiny is tied with her destiny, that somehow we have to free ourselves from an exploitative relationship and move into a loving communion with the earth and all her creatures.
We know that we cannot simply intend this new relationship to occur. It lies more in the field of attention than in the field of intention.
It is clear we are at a turning point. We are on the verge, or already in the midst, of creating a new mode of consciousness that gathers up all previous forms of consciousness and then goes beyond them. We are at a crossroads.
Ottawa, Canada ~ Peace Tower in the distance
We look forward to a better world, a kinder world. The transformation I speak of is already in orbit.
It is occurring in our thinking, in the perception of ourselves, and especially in the perception of our environment.
We all naturally have a sense of the sacred. From this sense of the sacred we shape our lives, our norms of social behaviour, even our explanation of life and how we relate to others about us and to the wider world. To develop our sense of the sacred, it is imperative that we have a true cultural formation. Unfortunately, today the cultural formation that is being provided by our institutions is no longer providing proper and adequate guidance.
Today we are living in a strong cultural trance. Mostly we are unaware of this but it has infected us deeply.
Humanity has unleashed powers that we can no longer control and having exploited out natural resources so wantonly that we are in danger of exhausting them.
Each minute more than an acre of rainforest is destroyed. Here on Vancouver Island, we are becoming acutely aware that our forestry practices have been less than perfect.
On the earth species are dying at an hourly rate. By the end of the 20th century we may have lost as many as 20 million species. And there is nothing so absolute as the disappearance of a species. Never again shall we see the passenger pigeon or the Carolina parakeet. They are gone forever.
This is only a small fraction of the ruin we are bringing upon on ourselves, spiritually, socially, economically, psychically.
58,000 Pines & the Living Memorial Sculptural Garden ~ Mount Shasta
In the face of this crises our government and leaders, our churches and institutions continue to behave as if these very apparent signs of devastation are not the most crucial issues of our times and lives.
Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal ~ St. Joseph Oratory in the background
It is exactly the same with any personal illness: first of all we have to admit we are suffering. Since most of us prefer to remain in denial such an admission is difficult. It is essential to name the crises that we live in and then respond in an effective and healthy manner. This is perhaps our only hope, whether on a planetary or personal level.
We are a dysfunctional society. For a lifetime, indeed for a millennium, we have been functioning out of a human to human, human-divine set of relationships, to the almost complete exclusion of the whole community we form with the earth and the universe. Our ancestors assumed that we are separated from the rest of creation, that we are the sole species possessing intelligence, an understanding, consciousness, and a spiritual dimension. That is where our dysfunction lies.
We have ignored a spirituality of the earth. As part of our cure we must open ourselves to the stunning beauty of the earth.
What is needed globally today is a healing of the earth. But if we individually do not undergo a transformation of body, soul, and spirit, healing cannot take place. Our search is deeper than economic policies or political ideas.
Frater Charles Brandt pictured (left) in the 1960’s
We seek a new way of life, a way of life that flows out of awareness of the cosmic story and the holiness of the earth. We have to change the habits that have made us so ill culturally. We have to discontinue the destructive, addictive, oppressive behaviour we have perpetrated on our planet.
Destroyed birdlife on Northwest Vancouver Island ~ from the Netuscaca Oilspill ~ 1988
Any degradation of the planet is adverse to our own well-being, physically, economically, and spiritually. If we allow such abuse of ourselves it indicates how little we love ourselves in the true and proper sense of ‘self’. To be human means to be in communion with the entire community of the planet.
In the words of Thomas Berry “the earth is mandating that the human community assume a responsibility never assigned to any previous generation.” We are being asked to learn an entirely new mode of conduct and discipline. We need to listen to the countless voices of earth and, indeed, the entire universe.
A walk in the forest
In the distance, in my early morning walk on the old logging road every day, in the first light, a robin begins its canticle. The song is taken up by the Swainson’s Thrush and then the finches, and finally, a solitary vireo.
The forest suddenly becomes a celebratory event, exploding into song and motion and joyous exchange of the community of beings communicating and articulating themselves in a grand celebratory event.
Earth, moon and sun ~ In Space
They speak the story of the universe from its primordial flaring forth – the galactic story, the earth story, the life story, and the human story – down to the end of the Cenozoic period where we now find ourselves.
Cliff dwellings ~ Mesa Verde, Colorado
Because it is terminal we are fearful. We do not know yet whether we are a viable species, whether we will make it or not.
Walking Meditation ~ Charles Brandt Hermitage
The human community and the natural world will go into the future as a single sacred community or we will both perish in the desert.
Charles A.E. Brandt
Over many years Charles Brandt has been an advocate for the world wide Christian Meditation movement – WCCM. He has earned a living as a professional book and paper conservator completing restoration of many historical books like the Nurmburg Chronicles printed in 1493 as well as part of the original Audubon series.
In the 1940’s Charles received a degree Wildlife Conservation and Ornithology before entering religious life – first as an Anglican priest and then entering a Catholic monastery. Before he took his final vows Charles was advised by Thomas Merton that the monastic life would make him a good monk but not a good contemplative.
In 1964 he moved from the U.S. to British Columbia and soon thereafter was ordained a hermit priest by Remi DeRoo, the well known Canadian Bishop of the Diocese of Victoria. Charles and Remi remain close friends.
Charles lifelong contemplative activism has been dedicated towards healing the world – his faith has moved mountains. Tsolum River was declared “dead” from pollution in the 1990’s. Charles’ voice inspired a broad-based movement that was able to heal the river by reclaiming an abandoned open pit copper mine and continuing ecological enhancement of the watershed.
Charles Brandt has been honoured with numerous environmental awards. In the broader world he is a Catholic oblate member of Saccidananda Ashram in Tamil Nadu, India.
This is the 26th instalment of the Brandt series. The full archive can be accessed here.
A deep personal thanks to you Charles, on your 95th year.
Last Wednesday morning – January 10th, 2018
View of the rising sun . . .
Come, you lost atoms to your centre draw near and be the eternal mirror you saw.
Rays that have wondered into darkness wide, back into your sun, subside.
Sufi poet, Attar
Growth and Power
Humanity has harnessed water power since earliest civilization. Dams have changed the natural flow of rivers to run mills, control flooding and provide irrigation and water.
Water mill near St. Catharines, Ontario – bruce witzel photo
In the Great Depression of the 1930’s large hydro electric projects were built to create power for homes and industry and hence, a multitude of jobs for the American people. The developed world’s lifestyle is largely based on using vast amounts of power.
Although hydro-electricity is considered a renewable energy source, it comes with an ecological cost – flooded valleys and loss of habitat, farmland and ways of life.
There’s pros and there’s cons to all forms of power.
Roosevelt Dam – bruce witzel photo
Site C on the Peace River
Here in British Columbia controversy has developed over construction of a 3rd large dam on the Peace River, known as Site C. It will be the most expensive public megaproject in Canadian history. When construction began in 2015 it was estimated to cost 8.7 billion dollars.
On June 29, 2017 the freshly elected New Democratic Party formed the provincial government. This ended16 years of Liberal Party rule. Then in fall of 2017 the BC Utilities Commission were ordered to do a special review of the Site C dam.
Site C dam, September 2017 – photographer unknown
On December 11, 2017 the BC Premier John Horgan announced that his government would reluctantly continue the project, but that it was now predicted to cost 10.7 billion dollars. In typical political fashion he blamed the previous government.
Reactions were swift. Many business groups and trade organizations lauded the decision – other groups did not.
Kwatsisthah Totem on North West Vancouver Island – Bruce Witzel photo
Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, immediately released a strong condemnation:
“We are truly shocked at the callous disregard for the rights and well-being of Indigenous peoples, despite the Premier’s acknowledgement of what is at stake…
The Premier knew coming into office that flooding the Peace River Valley would be profoundly destructive for the Dunne-Za and Cree peoples whose histories and cultures are inseparable from that land…
He (Premier Horgan) has even acknowledged that construction of the Site C dam would violate Canada’s legal obligations under Treaty 8. The fact that he would allow the destruction of the Peace River Valley despite such serious concerns is a blatant betrayal of his government’s commitments to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Children overlooking the Peace River Valley – photographer unknown
Another contentious issue surrounding the dam is the question, does the province actually need the power? An opinion editorial published by Dermond Travis, the executive director of Integrity BC, points this out:
“B.C. consumed 62,467 gigawatt-hours of electricity in 2010. Last year, it had jumped to 62,951 gigawatt-hours, an increase of 0.8 per cent, In 1996… we consumed 64,664 gigawatt-hours of electricity. By 2016, B.C.’s population had grown to 4.75 million, there were 468,000 more households (than in 1996)… and we consumed 1,713 less gigawatt-hours… In 15 of the last 20 years, we’ve used less electricity than we did in 1996.”
This has come about from energy conservation and better efficiency standards. The public electrical utility, BC Hydro, has an aggressive Power Smart program. Even so, they have repeatedly overestimated long term demand for power in British Columbia.
The Road Less Travelled
The powers that be tell us that the Site C damn, and indeed all destructive energy mega-projects, are simply about supply and demand. I believe it’s something profoundly different.
In 1976 the physicist and energy policy analyst Amory Lovins coined the term soft energy path to describe a future where energy efficiency and appropriate renewable energy sources steadily replace a centralized system based on fossil and nuclear fuels.
A solar powered home in Carbondale, Colorado – bruce witzel photo, Oct. 2016
Here is Amory Lovins take on the matter:
“The energy problem, according to conventional wisdom, is how to increase energy supplies to meet projected demands. The solution to this problem is familiar: ever more remote and fragile places are to be ransacked, at ever greater risk and cost…
We must… take care to preserve resilience and flexibility, and to design for larger safety margins… recognizing the existence of human fallibility, malice, and irrationality (including our own) and of the present trends that erode the earth’s carrying capacity.”
Alberta Rockies near Longview – bruce witzel photo
“People are more important than goods; hence, technology, and economic activity are means, not ends, and their quantity is not a measure of welfare…
The energy problem should be not how to expand supplies to meet the postulated extrapolated needs of a dynamic economy, by rather how to accomplish social goals elegantly with a minimum of energy and effort, meanwhile taking care to preserve social fabric that not only tolerates but encourages diverse values and lifestyles.”
From the introduction of Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace,
by Amory Lovins –1977
This Weather-worn World
The earth is at a turning point. Past U.S president Jimmy Carter said it early in his administration way back in 1976:
“We must face the prospect of changing our basic way of living. This change will be made on our own initiative in a planned and rational way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.”
PE (Professional Engineer) Magazine Dec. 1976, pg. 9
photo compliments of DeSmog Blog
Now four decades have past and the world is witnessing this change – some good and some bad.
On the day before Site C’s continued construction was announced, I read a blogpost from lens and pens by sally entitled (in part) Nature Photography in the Age of Uncertainty, (by Sally W. Donatella click the purple for the link).
Along with 2 beautiful photos, she begins by saying:
“One cannot think of climate change without its partner the weather. And the weathering of our hearts is just as affected by the myriad of weather-related altercations that are becoming more and more prevalent, regardless of one’s location.”
She describes a walk with her grandson at sunset by the East River in Lower Manhattan – how nature can provide us tranquility and inspiration.
“We paused, we watched, we embraced our good fortune,” she concludes.
A view of the lake on Northern Vancouver Island – bruce witzel photo, Jan. 10, 2018
This brings me full circle.
What kind of growth and power will you and I witness for, in this weather-worn world?
Cheers ~ Bruce
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1) REMEMBER OUR VOWS
2) PRACTICE PATIENCE
3) REFRAIN FROM OUTRAGEOUS BEHAVIOUR
1) SUSTAINABILITY - For at least seven generations
2) GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY
3) SOCIAL JUSTICE & RESPONSIBILITY - personal & global
4) NON VIOLENCE - a call to arms is the last choice
5) DIVERSITY - biological, cultural & spiritual
6) POST PATRIARCHAL CONSCIOUSNESS
7) SEXUAL & RACIAL EQUALITY
8) DECENTRALIZATION - of energy, politics & wealth.
9) ECOLOGICAL WISDOM