ALL THE LITTLE CELL PHONES GO TWEET, TWEET, TWEET

By Paul

By rights, I shouldn’t even be writing on this topic.  After all, I’ve never in my life sent a tweet, and I don’t even own a cell phone.  Still, I’ve wondered about the limitations of the twitter format, and how it’s possibly that this could be both a good thing and a bad thing.  As far as the latter is concerned (that bad part, that is), I suppose that’s fairly obvious.  The tendency, when so limited, is to revert to something inane, or at very least trivial.  I mean, how much can you really pack into 140 characters (including the spaces, I have come to find out)?  The other side of the coin, however, is the challenge of it all.  In one sense, it might be argued, how is twitter so very different from the limitations set on the creation of a sonnet, let’s say, or a haiku?  Except for the obvious one of far greater brevity, of course.

All of this led me the other day to think about what in fact people could come up with if they were challenged to write a thing of a little more substance or consequence than, say, “At Starbucks, ordering my double latte. New barista on duty. Very cute (no wedding ring). Wonder if she’s available?”  That comes to 119 characters, by the way, if you’re counting.

One idea that occurred to me was that of creating poetry, using these same limitations, with one or two others elements added in just to make it interesting.  I’ve always, for example, liked the rhyming couplet that traditionally ends a sonnet, and thought this might be a good way to start twitter-poetry, or twittery, if you will.  Let’s call this particular form, in fact, a tweetlet, instead of a couplet, and see what comes of it.  Here are the rules (as you can tell, we’re keeping them simple):

  1. No more than 140 characters (obviously)
  2. Must consist of two relatively equal lines.
  3. The last word of each of the lines must rhyme with the other.

Here are a few examples I’ve come up with

  • Sitting here thinking at my desk
    Of a graceful dancer’s arabesque
  • What happens to life when the world goes still?
    Where will we all go to drink our fill?
  • A tweet was a birdcall when I was a child, nothing more or less.
    Now, plastered in cyber space, what it means is anyone’s guess.

But, as you can see, this is maybe too easy.  So, let’s add one more limitation to our list in order to make it a bit more challenging.  Here, then, is a fourth requirement:

4.  Each line must contain at least 10, but no more than 12, syllables

Let’s try these on for size:

  • Is this the practice of humility,
    Or more an exercise in futility?
  • The tale of history is ever instructive:
    The good, the middling, and the destructive.
  • The world is a wonder wherever you go;
    I wouldn’t say so if it were not so.

Come to think of it, even these tweets seem awfully easy, and maybe we ought to up the ante a little.  Also, we’ve obviously only used a fraction of the 140 characters available to us in the examples above (none uses more than 90, in fact).  So, let’s try writing a short story in 140 or fewer characters, and see where that gets us.  Here are a few attempts; each one has more or less what you might think of as a kind of beginning, a “body,” and a conclusion:

  • She dumped her old boyfriend. He was no better than the rest, and worse than some. Now she tweets for a living, and is happier than ever.
  • Camping is fun. Snuggling in the tent, they were oblivious of time, and of the food they left out, with marauding raccoons on their way.
  • We met, we talked, we laughed, we ate. I thought him more handsome and funnier than I.  Later we exchanged a kiss, and parted forever.

Each of the above “stories” has respectively 139, 140, and 138 characters in it.  My tendency is to call them “tweeties,” aka tweeted-stories, although it does occur to me that I could be pushing things a bit too far when it comes to playing with the words tweet and twitter.

Ultimately, I suppose, I have to be honest and admit that the twitter format is a thing that puzzles me, and which I don’t really get.  In fact, the allure of sending out such brief messages (even “artistic ones”) to people, or to whole lists of people (thousands and thousands in some cases, apparently), escapes me entirely; nor do I understand what people on the receiving end of them find attractive or instructive, or even interesting.  Some might say that it’s entirely a generational thing, although there are those in my own age range (upper 60’s and going on 70), who also tweet.  From my point of view, however, the very word seems to suggest a thing of minor consequence or of little substance (perhaps by unfortunate comparison with the word “twit”?).

That said, however, it is also difficult not to aver that there is power in the form, a greater power in fact than I had initially ascribed to it.  Just the other day, for example, someone hacked into the Associated Press computers and tweeted the following message:  “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured”.  These 71 characters immediately brought about such panic (perhaps particularly in light of the recent Boston bombing) that the Stock Market dropped 150 points in only a few minutes.  The ruse was quickly discovered and rectified, but the fact remains that thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people received it and reacted immediately to a form of communication that I, in my ignorance perhaps, claim to find both trivial and inane.

So, who can say whether or not I am the one who ought to reconsider and reexamine my thinking?  Even so, however, and ever incorrigible perhaps, I will leave you in the end with the following tasteless doggerel:

  • Don’t waste your time and your money on tweets;
    Far better to go and play in the streets.

THE SACRED, THE DECORATIVE, AND THE REVELATORY IN ART

By Paul

It was common practice among early Pueblo Indians, as well as many other indigenous peoples the world over, to “kill” a pot or other ritual object when it was no longer deemed to be part of the life of the family, clan, or larger community.  A hole would ritually be drilled through its base, and this “living being” would then be considered to have “died.”  From this we can deduce two things:  first, much more than plants and animals were (and still are) considered to be alive by many indigenous people, and two, objects created by and for people could take on a spiritual life of their own.

The issue, which may appear quaint or odd to so-called modern people, still in fact resonates today.  Just last week, for example, the French auction house Drouot sold off dozens of Native American objects, most of them belonging to the Hopi Tribe, in spite of the pleas and the lawsuit brought by both tribal elders and US government officials.  The 70 or so objects, mostly masks, that were auctioned off realized $1.2 million.  One mask alone, referred to as “Mother Crow” brought in over $200,000.  The objects had been “removed” from the Arizona reservation in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s.  How, why, or with whose permission, or lack thereof, is not clearly known.

Auctioneer Gilles Neret-Minet, as reported in an LA Times article dated Saturday, April 13, 2013, entitled “French Auction Defies Tribe,” said that he was “happy that French law had been respected.”  No mention was made of “Hopi law,” but we can surmise that the tribe was not as happy about the outcome of the matter as was Monsieur Neret-Minet.

One obvious question all this raises is, when is an object considered a piece of art (an “object d’art”), and when is it considered something legitimately held sacred by people, and therefore removed from the world of market-based negotiations?  Would it be all right with Drouot, for example, or with the French Government, or with people in general to sell the Shroud of Turin as a piece of art, rather than holding it, as many believe, to be the sacred and inviolable image of Jesus, imprinted by Christ, Himself, on the way to Calvary?

Enlarging the question somewhat, we can ask ourselves what actually constitutes art, and what constitutes the sacred?  Is there, indeed, a difference between the two, and if so, what is that difference?  We could even extend the questioning to ask when is something merely decorative, and when is it thought of as “high art”?   Some museums have whole sections dedicated to the so-called “Decorative Arts,” which suggests that curators and art historians the world over do see a difference.  That essential difference, as many would maintain, seems to hinge on whether or not the object could have been considered “useful” in some way.  In other words, “high art” is not useful, at least not in the everyday sense of that term, and is instead considered as a thing apart from the quotidian.  And yet a priceless Greek amphora, let us say, marvelously preserved and beautifully painted (i.e. “decorated”), would probably not be considered to be merely “decorative art.” This is so, even though its original use was merely as a kind of vessel to hold wine or some other such commodity.  Can we conclude then that it might not be thought of as “merely decorative” because of the antiquity of the object, or its market value, or simply because people the world over perceive it to be a thing of surpassing beauty?

The walls separating these various categories, in other words, are not as clear-cut as they would at first seem.  Many anthropologists and students of world culture have noted that even the word “art” itself is not a term that exists in the lexicon of the majority of indigenous peoples.  That is to say, things are not made by them for the sole purpose of sitting on a shelf, or merely to be hung on a wall, but because they are organic participants in the spiritual and the psycho-social lives of the people.  In many traditional instances, masks were ritually “put to bed” after particular ceremonies in which they were worn, and during which the individual wearing the mask became one with the spiritual being it embodied.  There the masks remained until, in due course of time, the moment came for that spirit to again reappear and assist the tribe in some specific way.

It was only as societies became organized on a grander scale that objects were begun to be made by specialists, and eventually by “artists,” who later came to think of them as expressions of their own private and personal artistic vision.  But note even here the use of the word vision.  And does that not in some sense harken back to the ability to “see” into another world, another dimension, another reality, akin to but different from our normal world, and which can either help or hinder the life of the individual or the community?   As recently as the nineteenth century, for example, monastic painters creating Russian icons would never dream of signing their work.  That was because it was considered a sacred task, not a “personal expression,” and the “object” created was in some real sense the embodiment of the holy image it portrayed.  The same could be said regarding so-called religious art in virtually every culture of the world.

To the modern mind, art today is mostly about either the private and the personal, or the political.  And we do not claim that it represents, or certainly that it embodies, anything more than its creator meant.  That, and of course, any interpretation and speculation either on the part of art experts or of the public in general as to its meaning.   In most cases, though, that representation is not normally thought of as sacred.  Why?  Perhaps in part at least because we have lost the knowledge or the feel of the sacred in today’s world.  And it has been replaced by – might I even say reduced to? – the manifestation and the insight of a given individual about him or herself.

Even so, it is not at all unusual for people to think of contemporary artists as gifted in some special way, as possessing insights and perceptions that go beyond the ordinary.  Great art, as least as I understand it, both plunges to the depths and rises to the highest heavens.  It cuts through and helps us to experience a profundity of feeling that is beyond what any of us can normally experience or express in our everyday lives.  And I am not talking here only of the plastic arts, so called, such as painting or sculpture or even film, but of music, literature, theater and dance, as well.  The best of the best embodies something that it alone can express, and only in its unique way, which can then reach across the unspoken divide between its own vision, transferring itself into the hearts and minds and spirits of those viewing, or otherwise experiencing it.

And is this so very different from the great “Mother Crow” mask of the Hopi, ignominiously sold in a recent Paris auction?  In one sense, and perhaps taken to the extreme, could we not even say that no art ought ever to be sold, since it is (ideally) the embodiment of a particular vision of that which is beyond price.  Of course, we all know that this is not the modern world we live in, and that artists also must provide for their own living and make their way in the world.  I only mention this at all in order to highlight the fact that all true art is, or can in some sense be, sacred.

One of the great ironies, not to say discourtesies, of the story of the sale of the Hopi masks is that tribal tradition never even allowed photos to be taken of them.  Again, it should be emphasized that, at least by the Hopi, these are not considered “art.”  They were never meant to be objects hung on a wall and admired; they are the embodiment of otherworldly beings, who have come to us in order to help in some specific way.  The LA Times article itself, in fact, even references that these masks were to be kept out of public view, and that it was considered “sacrilegious even for pictures of the objects to be shown.”  And yet – and yet – there at the top of the article, proudly displayed, if I may say so, are four photos of the very masks themselves!  What are we to make of this?  Is it merely an example of ignorance, or of arrogance or even provocation, or of some subtle, but deliberate, kind of editorial statement on the part of the paper about what art ought to be?

One way or another, the more general question remains, whether art is a private and personal expression of the individual who creates it, and who can therefore sell it, or otherwise dispose of it, since it belongs to that creator her or himself.  Or is it an unspeakable and ineffable representation of a higher order that both permeates and transcends the day-to-day reality we live in?  Is it, in other words, sacred or profane, decorative or of a higher order, societally or self referential, or is it revelatory of some unexplained and unexplainable metaphysical/spiritual essence?  Or, yet again, some highly idiosyncratic, mysterious and mystical combination of any and all of the above?

Perhaps, in the final analysis, the answer depends on what you think of yourself, of the world you live in, and of what you believe exists, or does not exist, beyond the boundaries of the everyday sphere we normally think of as home.

THE DOWNSIDE AND SHARP EDGES OF CAPITALISM

By Paul

The recent passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher has brought to mind the many changes she was responsible for bringing about in Great Britain during the time when she was Prime Minister there.  While it is true that the England of the late 1970’s could in many ways be described as something of a dysfunctional society, and what the new PM did may have brought a certain degree of economic stability to the country, much of what was done also unfortunately brings to mind what we used to say about Vietnam way back in the 60’s, that is, that we may have to destroy the country in order to save it.

Mrs. Thatcher, like so many other conservatives both in the UK and in the United States, was a great believer in “get-what-you-can-for-yourself-ism.”  The underlying philosophical position here is pretty much every man and woman for him or herself, and if you can’t cut it for some reason, then you deserve what you get, namely, nothing.  As a result of her policies – and much the same can be said for President Ronald Reagan and company in this country – the rich got much richer, the middle class got a little bit, although we have seen nothing but stagnant growth ever since, and the poor got, as they say, bupkis.  Bupkis is a Yiddish word referring to beans, but in truth the term was used because the small roundish shape of the beans reminded people of goat droppings.  And goat droppings are pretty much what the poor can expect these days from our own more updated version of Thatcher/Reaganism.

If it is true that a society can be judged on how it treats its least fortunate members, then I fear that we are in for some well-deserved condemnation.  The recent, and for many still very much present, economic recession cum depression has left a lot of people out in the cold.  And that term can and should be taken literally in many instances.  Homelessness has increased drastically, and there are currently more than a million and a half people in this country living as best they can, whether that be in their cars, camping out at the home of a friend or relative, or actually out in the street.  Hunger, too, is a daily fact of life for many people, not just in far off lands ravaged by war and drought and predatory or dysfunctional governments, but here in the United States as well.  Fully 1 in 6 Americans is classified as hungry.  33 million people are listed as “food-insecure,” and a staggering 16 million are labeled “very food-insecure.”  And this in what is still proudly referred to as the richest country in the world.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not arguing for communism in America.  In all practical terms, that discredited philosophy has long since exited from the world political stage (as someone ought perhaps to remind Kim Jong Un), or even for socialism, God forbid, which some Americans appear to feel is akin to throwing their sick and aged grandmother out into the street.  But in a country the size of, and with the wealth and resources of the United States (even in spite of the recession), it is and should be a great shame on all of us that almost 50 million people are living in poverty.  For those interested in percentages, this comes to something in the neighborhood of 16% of our population.  And that is up from 37 million back in 2007, right before the recession hit, and an almost incredible jump up from only 12.5% back in 1997.

And these are just the aggregate figures.  The picture is far more dire if we drill down and take a look at specific communities of poverty and dispossession.  For Hispanics, the numbers are more like 26.6% (in 2010) living in poverty, and for Blacks it was 27.4%.  The rate of increase for children under the age of 18 jumped from 20% to 22% that same year.  And for the moment anyway, at least until President Obama’s much maligned Affordable Health Care Act kicks in (discourteously, in my opinion, referred to as Obamacare), there are still some 50 million Americans without health insurance.

I could go on with statistics.  Any of us could.  They are out there for everyone to see with the mere click of a mouse.  For example, the above figures do not reflect the fact that official levels of poverty do not include cuts in governmental programs that assist the poor, such as Food Stamps.  If all this is calculated into the mix, the numbers rise even more precipitously and more alarmingly.  Unfortunately, after a while we become inured to the numbers, in a similar way as we often do with the facts surrounding global warming. And it is easy to quickly feel hopeless and overwhelmed, or to throw our hands up and say, but what can anyone do?

Some of the more obvious answers to this question, such as giving to charities or volunteering one’s talent and energies, let us say, might not resonate with everyone.  Many may not have either the money or the time to take these on.  Additionally, and again making an analogy to the fight against global warming, it’s easy to say that small steps taken by individuals are of little overall benefit in the long run, given the enormous magnitude of the problem.  And I don’t deny that there may be some truth to this.  I have always believed that for us to do anything really serious, for example, about the disastrous warming of the globe that we are currently witnessing, what is needed are macro actions on the level of governmental and inter-governmental programs.  Something of the same can be said in regard to poverty, as well.

The battle against poverty, however, is perhaps one that can best be undertaken on a country-by-country level.  Just look, as an example, at how poverty rates have escalated in Egypt after the tumult of the recent elections there.  It is clear that one of the obvious causes of poverty in the world is the degree of chaos and political instability that a country is experiencing.  In the United States, on the other hand, as dysfunctional as Congress may be, we have probably not quite reached the level of disruption and upheaval found in some other parts of the world.  Still, political stability notwithstanding, the facts and especially the figures stand by themselves. Many American children and adults suffer the demeaning and debilitating consequences of a life lived in poverty.

In my view, the very least we can and must do is to inform ourselves of what is happening.  This is, in fact, the first and most essential duty, and the solemn obligation of everyone privileged to live in a democracy, to find out what is happening in their own country.  There is no dearth of news sources available, from television, to newspapers, to the internet.  Find out what is going on.  Read, read, read, or at least critically listen to the news and to what commentators are saying.  It’s not that we always have to agree with what journalists have to say, but informative, well-formed, and well thought out analysis and reportage can be of enormous value.

Once informed, perhaps the next most important thing is to vote, and then to keep in touch with your elected representatives.  My advice is to choose those individuals who care for and about other people, and to vote out of office anyone who displays a callous disregard for helping those who are less fortunate.  Even so, it goes without saying, I suppose, that there will always be differing views people may have when it comes to deciding how to deal with the many problems related to poverty.  Which brings us back again to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and to their more contemporary political progeny.

All I can say is that, if I had my way, I would not want to see anyone elected who appears to believe that life is a tabula rasa, or that everyone starts out with the same basic socioeconomic advantages.  Yes, no argument, we all absolutely must work hard, and not willy-nilly expect the world to take care of us, irrespective of our beginnings.  But that is not the same as being ready to deal with people compassionately and empathetically, or the simple willingness to demonstrate a degree of human caring for those whom life has treated more harshly.  And any of us, by the way, might in the end wind up among the less fortunate.  So, be careful whom you condemn, and be willing to lend a hand when people are in need.  This, too, is a great hallmark of democracy, even if it is not necessarily the trademark of raw, sharp-edged capitalism.

“HEALING EARTH PAIN THROUGH THE ARTS” – an interactive creativity workshop

Earth Day Weekend, Saturday, April 20, 2013 – 10 am to 12:30 in the sanctuary (Coffee downstairs at 9:30 am)

 Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, 328 W. Orange St. Lancaster, PA 17603 (This event is sponsored by HIVE of Planet-Loving Activity — See our Facebook page)

FREE – Bring an object of nature (leaf, feather, bone, flower, etc.) to use during the event.

Miller The Flood finished full canvas March 10 2013 photos 006[1]

“The Flood,” Kevin L. Miller, 52” x 52” oil on canvas will be shown for the first time in public

  •  Jerry Lee Miller will emcee and speak.
  • Kevin Miller will show “The Flood” and 8 to 12 other large works of art. There will be a discussion about healing and transformation through creative action and the arts.
  • Streetbeets will perform, including Paul Montigny, Tom Tucker, Kati “Kanga” Gruber, and Jerry Lee Miller.
  • Christi Hoover Seidel will read her poetry.
  • Kesse Humphreys will offer a performance art piece.
  • There will be opportunities for silent reflection, singing, moving, writing, and group participation and discussion.

Miller The Flood finished photos March 8 2013 022 check cropped

Detail from the lower left corner of “The Flood,” Kevin L. Miller, oil on canvas, 2013

Some of the topics covered in the workshop may include:

Bill McKibben’s Terrifying New Math

  • 2 degrees Celsius is the maximum warming the Earth can sustain. We’re nearly halfway there including inertial rise.
  • 565 Gigatons of CO2 release is the maximum the Earth can handle from 2012 to 2050.  We will reach that level in 15 years by 2028 at our current rates of carbon extraction and use.
  • 2,795 Gigatons of CO2 are in the process of being released from proven oil, gas, and coal reserves that fossil fuel companies and fuel-rich countries have already promised to develop.

Allen Miller Deep Woods 3x4ft March 12 2011 IMGP3146

“Deep Woods” Kevin Miller & Robert Allen, 3 x 4 ft acrylic on canvas (signed “Allen Miller”) 

How Will Climate Change Affect Planet Earth? (from the World Bank’s Potsdam Report on Climate Change — “Turn Down the Heat”) 

  • CO2 Increase:  Current CO2 levels are higher than at any time in the past 15 million years and rising rapidly. 
  • Global Warming: At a time when the Earth should naturally be cooling, it is warming faster than at any time since the last ice age. 
  • Ocean Acidification: As CO2 dissolves in the oceans, acidification adversely affects marine life and coral reefs.
  • Sea Levels Rise: Even if warming is below 2 degrees C, sea levels will rise 1.5 – 4 meters by 2300 causing coastal inundation and loss around the world. 
  • Wetter Atmosphere: Earth’s atmosphere is holding much more moisture now, causing more severe storms. 
  • Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Super-storms: Extreme weather events like Hurricane Katrina and Super-storm Sandy are becoming more common. 
  • Fire Transforms the Ecosystem: We have already seen massive fires in the U.S. Southwest. In Amazonia, forest fires could double by 2050 with current warming trends. 
  • Sudden Changes: Antarctic ice sheet disintegration would lead to rapid sea level rise. Rapid Amazon forest dieback would lead to drastic wider ecosystem damage. 
  • Cascade Effects: Key failures would lead to disastrous regional events.

Miller Woodland Spirits 4x4ft Sept 9 2010 IMGP2225

“Woodland Spirits,” Kevin L. Miller, acrylic on canvas, 2010 

How Will Climate Change Affect People and Animals? (from the World Bank’s Potsdam Report on Climate Change — “Turn Down the Heat”) 

  • Extreme Heat: There is a ten-fold increase in areas with extreme heat since the 1950s. The 2010 Russian heat wave left 55,000 dead, 25% crop failure, and a hundred million acres burned. 
  • Risks to Human Support Systems: The Potsdam Report “identifies a number of extremely severe risks for vital human support systems,” including water scarcity, flooding, drought, wildfires, transformed ecosystems, forest dieback, and “large-scale loss of biodiversity.” 
  • Adverse Health Effects: Extreme weather events will cause injuries and deaths. Epidemic diseases and allergies are expected, as well as respiratory, heart and blood disorders caused by heat-amplified smog levels.

2OL The Corn is Dead... Whats Next ART

“The Corn Is Dead… What’s Next?” Kevin’s digital illustration for TwoOldLiberals.com

How Will Climate Change Affect Our Food Production and Supply? 

  • Agricultural Food Security Disruption: As temperatures approach and surpass 2 degrees C, food security will be undermined by extreme heat, drought, floods, invading insects, diseases and sea-level rise in low-lying delta areas (Bangladesh, Egypt, Vietnam, Africa, etc.) Agricultural disruption will lead to nutritional deficits. 
  • US Agricultural Disruption: The 2012 US drought has already caused widespread crop failure throughout the Midwest.

HIVE photo Eco Anxiety poster

“Eco-Anxiety” rapid image poster by Kevin L. Miller for HIVE of Planet-Loving Activity 

How Will Climate Change Affect Our Psychological and Spiritual Health? 

Most of us experience some or all of these Seven Stages of “Eco-Anxiety” in our efforts to cope with Earth Pain. They occur in no particular order and are often repeated: 

  • Denial: Many people experience at least some period of denial, even if it is only a failure to hear current realities. 
  • Fear: You are not paranoid. Climate change is happening, and it is truly frightening. You are not imagining it. How can we face our fears and move on constructively? 
  • Depression: It would be unnatural NOT to experience some despondency after realizing that the Earth and all life are in serious peril. How can we continually process our depression and remain productive? 
  • Guilt: We are all complicit in the human activities that  have caused climate change, and many of us feel guilt. How can we forgive ourselves and save the world? 
  • Anger: What could be more natural than feeling rage when we truly realize that all life on Earth could end? How can we harness our anger for constructive action? 
  • Grief: Periods of weeping and wailing on the floor or on our knees may be appropriate and necessary. How can we transform our grief into creative action? 
  • Action: We can transform the six states above into joy, hope and fulfillment when we take creative action on behalf of the Earth based on our ability, interest, and willingness.

Miller Global Warming Apocalypse March 2012 color art final

“Global Warming Apocalypse,” digital art by Kevin L. Miller, 2013 

Four Questions That Help Us Move Toward Creative Action 

  1. What CAN I do? – We can all list a lot of things that might be possible for us to do to arrest and reverse climate change and to raise awareness about it. 
  2. How the HELL should I know? – If we are to approach this monumental task with some degree of good humor and humility, it would be advisable to start by admitting that we don’t know what to do. We are making it up as we go along. 
  3. What am I WILLING to do? – There may be many things that we could do, but we will be most effective pursuing those things that we are so willing to do that we actually feel real motivation and passion to act. 
  4. What am I QUALIFIED to do? – On the short list of things that we can do and are willing to do, which ones are we most qualified to do? Do we have some training or background in certain kinds of skills that could be useful in helping to save the world? Can you build an electric car? Are you a good letter-writer? Are you an experienced public speaker? Do you know how to plant trees?

2OL Utopia with Stinky and Squeak March 2013

“Stinky and Squeak in Utopia,” digital art by Kevin L. Miller, 2013

Uniting People of Diverse Perspectives for Creative Solutions and Action 

Earth’s climate is warming rapidly and approaching the point of no return. Now is the time for people of diverse perspectives from every point on the political, socio-economic, and religious-cultural spectrums to unite for the purpose of innovation and action on creative solutions to preserve Earth as a habitable planet for future generations. In order to do this, we will all need to be willing to venture outside of our comfort zones to work with people we do not usually associate with, and to tolerate and even respect their points of view. 

Pope Francis expressed it eloquently during his inauguration homily on March 19, 2013, when he talked about the true meaning of the Christian vocation: 

“… It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the world… It means protecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live…” 

“Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!” 

Jerry Lee Miller and the other artists and I hope you can join us for “Healing Earth Pain Through the Arts” on April 20, 2013, 10 am to 12:30 (9:30 for coffee) at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster, 328 W. Orange St., Lancaster, PA 17603. Yours, – Kevin