Wednesday, July 27, 2011

75% are welfare dependent in US

If statistics by John Sununu in his Time magazine commentary are true, all the dialog and vitriolic fighting and fiddling on the debt ceiling in D.C. may prove helpful.

"Tax preferences, like the deductions for mortgage interest, retirement savings and health care, bring the number close to 75%," he noted this week.

Americans receiving perks or benefits include those on Medicaid, farm payments, housing subsidies, Medicare, tuition grants and food stamps, for example, according to the former Senator from New Hampshire. He opened my eyes, if all that is accurate reporting.

Somewhere else I read about concerns about the United State going under. And, the response was that "we're the healthiest of the horses in the glue factory." My wholistic physician was delighted to hear that as I completed my annual physical with her in Chesterfield Township yesterday. And, I hope my Blue Cross will reimburse me for my "out of pocket" payment for the three-hour examination that billed me satisfactory minus the blood test results that will take a few days to examine.

She mentioned people she knows who aren't working, those who wait until their unemployment compensation is about to deplete before they look to land a job, and, others who think she will provide liquor for them when they visit her for gatherings. She refuses to enable them, thank God.

"Good for you," I slammed back, saying that "enablement, co-dependency and most of the nation getting aid needs to be evlauated now."

Dysfunctional and three-quarters of Americans who are dependent on government for assistance must give all of us pause to ponder: What's going on?

Am I enabling all this aid with my tax dollars? Is this what all the combat in Washington is about this vary minute?

If so, let the conversation roll on.

And, stop the dependency, and stop those taking advantage of food stamps, and the like, and make the unemployed start looking to land a job here or across the state lines now.

Those who are really poor, I'm with you, but I'm also for conditions and consequences on your benefits as the clock ticks and aid runs out, and, my wallet empties to 75% of Americans on assistance. Go figure. Is John Sununu accurate in Time?

Regulations must be enacted now.

And, those doling out the doe need supervision when so many are getting so much on my back and the little I earn.

I'm suspect even though I want to believe Sununu's stats. Where do I verify his alarming facts?

More than 25 years after John Paul II's Synod on Effects of Vatican II, it still stirs faithful today

While so-called religious extremists grip the media these days, some are conversing about the late Pope John Paul II's 1985 Synod "to celebrate what the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) had set forth, and, to search out ways to implement it better," claim notes of the late John Cardinal Dearden.

He was among eight invited prelates in Rome for that synod because they were primary sources and witnesses of the historic ecumenical council decades earlier.

Dearden led Detroit's Catholic community for over two decades since 1959 before he retired for health reasons.

Before that Vatican synod, however, in 1984, Dearden told a crowd at the Center for Pastoral Studies at Orchard Lake, MI., that a "sense of historical perspective allows us to see the 20 years since Vatican II for what they are: The church is more alive and dynamic and meaningful in people's lives than it has been for years."

"We are especially proud as his people for his labor and contributions in making the Vactican Council a reality in our lives," said the Rev. Clifford Rutkowski of Detroit, who introduced him.

"Collegiality has led a new way of acting in the church," Dearden, who also often spoke of "communio," a rich Latin word full of meaning, voiced at the Orchard Lake symposium.

"Despite some exaggerations, people are aware that they are the church and do not just belong to it," according to Dearden documents and archival entries at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Calling for more conversation, Dearden was conscious of the "obstacles," yet, a "sense of hopefulness."

"During the synod I could sense a still strong desire to continue the kind of dialog that has been taking place. It is one that calls for patience, understanding and a great trust that, in God's good time, it will bear fruit," pages of notes by Dearden show.

Repeatedly, Dearden praises "The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World," part of a two-inch thick tome of proceedings of Vatican II, with chapters on the liturgy, Mary, and more:

"In the synod it received much positive comment. Issues such as war and peace, human rights and social awareness have come to the fore," reflected Dearden who hailed from Pittsburgh, only days after the much-loved Pope John XXIII announced the Council. Pope Paul VI completed the council after his predecessors sudden death. The council has stirred people the world over ever since, some even suggesting that Roman rite priests be allowed to marry, while some people call for women to hold higher positions in the church.

Recently, a faceoff and tensions mounted between two opposing groups of opinion, in the Burton Manor in Livonia, MI., and, thousands who met at Cobo Center in Detroit on the same weekend from as far away as Germany.

A local young adult who was baptized a Catholic at birth, admitted that he did not attend either conference, said: "Both gatherings could have been welcomed by hierarchy, like Jesus conversed with the outsider, the Samaratin sinner. Talk is good. A welcoming bishop at each could have moderated and bridged both as a learning lesson."

While some say that the synod that evaluated Vatican II was effective, others asked for increased inclusion of their administrative and human skills now at the local level.

"Not everything that happened in the church after Vatican II was due to the council," Dearden confessed.

He recommended that a "solid grounding in the total body of that teaching, sound in presentation must be approached by the student with patient seriousness, free of partisan opinions."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Oh, for the Contemplative Life

Each day, countless adherants pause to be still and quiet.

That's quite an accomplishment in a culture of noise and frenetic movement almost non-stop.

Yet, those who calm down daily for a set time of fifteen to twenty minutes know the richness and fruits of what is called centering. Centering prayer, that is.

Such prayer or communion with God aims to consent and say "I do" to the will of the Creator.
That's accomplished by being in union with the Maker through quiet and calm.

Trappist monk Father Thomas Keating of Snowmass, CO., is a principal leader and guide of this Catholic contemplative prayer movement that welcomes all believers. Keating is on the board of Contemplative Outreach, an ecumenical, international network aiming to renew and restore contemplative living these days. (Google contemplative outreach for more).

Personal relationship is achieved with God by way of centering prayer that prepares one for contemplation.

Christian mysticism - one who is head over heel in love with God - brought Keating to the awareness of scripture's invitation to a personal relationship with God.

The false self of negativity and shadows falls away in this divine therapy and healing while one sits in silence and simply uses a word to guide her or him when she or he is distracted by the programs of life's burdens. My word is beloved. When distracted in my prayer session I gently and effortlessly return to my union with the Maker quietly saying, beloved. Beloved stems from Jesus being called God's beloved at his own baptism in the Jordan River. "This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased."

The practice of centering prayer follows the wisdom teaching of Jesus in Matthew 6:6:

"If you wnat to pray, enter your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret."

This daily practice moves one beyond simply knowing or hearing of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus the Christ. Growing an interior life bears fruits in a hectic workplace, school, or neighborhood, for example.

Like an anchor, this stillness affords one the armour, if you will, to stave of stressors of daily living.

Deep inner resources are required of today's demanding world.

In metropolitan Detroit, MI., people pray this way twice daily and gather on the first Friday monthly at 7 pm in Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, at Gratiot and Utica Road for group centering prayer. Jim Gadd or I convene the crowd for twenty minutes of centering prayer following some instruction with reflection after the pray session.

The session goes like this:

Choose a sacred word.

Comfortably settle into a chair or sit on the floor.

Recall the word (mine is bleoved, remember?) when distractions come.

At the end oftheprayer period, the group recites the Our Father.

The fruits of the Spirit emerge from this calm and quiet.

Try it. You may like it.

My daily living is lived out well when I am faithful to my prayer sessions each day. I relish and savor such praying time. My exterior life is enhance by the interior sources buoying within.

But, in any event, do find a way that fits you for prayer and a divine connection with the Creator. Life is different given one's inner life of surrendering to God, the Maker of heaven and earth.

After all, our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good Time to be a Good Neighbor

These hot days of a sizzling summer are a good time to be a good neighbor.

Vulernable neighbors are at risk.

Check in on the elderly nearby. And, remind others of the need to hydrate often with the temperatures cooking us all at 100 today in the metropolitan Detroit area.

Dehydration begins quickly when the body is not consuming sufficient fluids.

Taking to heart the great scriptural mandates to "love God and neighbor with all one's heart, mind and soul," and, "to love your neighbor as yourself" are key reminders in these baking temperatures, for sure.

Senior residents may be feeling isolated closed up inside their home, or, worse, abandoned by the great weather God, and creator. They may need something from the store and too weary from the heat to get out and get what is necessary for survival.

Others may need to know about drinking unsweetened tea, plenty of water, and other non-caffenated, nonalcoholic beverages.

Indeed, it is a good time to be a neighbor.

For sure.

Be that neighbor now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Self Acceptance

So many people have difficulty accepting themselves these days, it seems to me.

Hatred of self has to dissolve if acceptance of self is to be realized.

Since acceptance is an agreement, or a covenant of freedom that liberates one, there is little room for abnegation and worthlessness, hatred and lingering residue that keeps one from the "abundant life" that Jesus the Christ, among others, spoke of often.

Wellness requires that people know fully that the Creator hovers over and within self more than a mother over her hens, for example. Inner morphing happend when one know he or she is loved. The song with the lyrics telling that one is nobody until someone loves you heps to appreciate the tremendous love of the Maker. Nourishing that rapport is critical.

Life changes profoundly when one decides and chooses to accept Jesus, among others we love and live with as companions on the trail. Loving relationships are commitments that forge freindship with the Maker, in turn.

That's why the great commanment to love God with all one's heart, mind and soul, and, your neighbor as yourself is key to one's wellness and happiness in life today.

Early on in life I was driven to do more with high expectations. I needed to be in touch with that ache, talk to it, feel the pain, and by the grace of God be healed of such an obstacles that can burn one out. Counselors helped rid that. And, ultimately the Divine Therapist dissolved it.

Little did I do that pleased significant teachers and parents.

Surrendering means accepting the life, the mess, and the moments we have for consolation and desolation, and, moving on once all of the doubts, fears, defeats and disappointments are dissolved.

Often we build our interior and spiritual life on emphasizing our love for God over God's love for us. Pelagianism, saving one's self, was borne of this faulty thinking. We cannot save ourselves without the Savior God.

God's enveloping love for each of us paves the way for our own love of God and neighbor.

God knows neighborliness is a need today on our streets, in our homes, but first in one's own heart.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Betty Ford the Healer

A grand ship.

That's what seems to sum up this grand mother.

And on that ship is the grand healer with a huge heart for band-aiding so many defeated souls.
Those ravaged by alcoholism found in Betty the comfort and challenge and transparency surrender needs. Her son is included among those she was the first to band-aid in his own alcohol attachment disorder.

That is after Betty Ford faced her own denial that, 'YES, my son is an alcohol dependent.'

That is after her son reminded her: "Mom you can't be in denial. You're like the poster child of this; you're Betty Ford."

A healer who trusted in her God. As Steve surrendered on that great grand ship in defeat. Yet, he came up stronger, firmer, surer, ever more grand Thursday as he urged my eyes to water streams of tears in his own transparency to admit his own weakness.

As he eulogized his mother - the grand ship - with his dad as the aircraft carrier as a Navy pilot - in Grace Episcopal Church in East Grand Rapids, MI., his mom, the hospital healer on the grand ship comforted mourners as she lay still and breathless, but not lifeless. . .after all, others now soak up her comfort close to their own hearts tore asunder in parting.

The only thing we know about death is parting, the poet noted. I remember not who, but I recall the separation anxiety of my own brother who was murdered in Vietnam in '68, my dear mom who died at 54 of colon cancer, and my dear dad - his own heart valves leaked, weakened without the push and pumping of blood through his heart throughout his body and being.

Betty was the minister of healing on the grand ship.

And, she was also the Sunday school teacher in Alexandria, Virginia, where H. Coleman McGehee, Jr. was her pastor, who also attended her funeral Thursday sitting in the sixth pew behind Donald Rumsfeld and his wife, and, sitting in the seventh pew with me behind President Bill Clinton, First Lady Barbara Bush, and Vice President Dick and Lynn Cheney who also eulogized Betty Ford:

"She knew how hard women work in the home."

Mrs. Cheney seemed to want others to appreciate how weary and tired women can be in their toil that goes unappreciated.

Historian Richard Norton Smith said Betty Ford was a grand 'liberator." She was, and more.

Calling each person to be who he or she is made in the image of God. No denying who you are whether alcohol attached, breast cancer victim, or . . .

The Betty Ford Clinic, an addiction treatment center that bears her name in California, is another grand ship sailing with sucess stories of recovery.

The Ford's put all their trust in the Lord as Proverbs was read each night before the kids were put to bed.

After all, Betty was a Sunday school teacher after being a mom and a grand ship now sailing home at last fully, completely in the arms of the Healer God she loves.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Diary on Focus:HOPE'S Eleanor Josaitis

Dear Diary:

Hello dear diary. I'm here to talk to you again!

My weekly visits with co-founder of Focus:HOPE Eleanor Josaitis are far from easy, yet engaging most times I'm there with this civil rights leader who hopes to return to work soon as she battles cancer.

When the Detroit riots ripped Motown in 1967, kiling 43 people and injuring thousands, residents seemed to walk out of town as they moved readily.

That same horrific year, the late Father William Cunningham, Eleanor Josaitis, and the late Father Jerome Fraser launched Focus:HOPE, each leaving "cushy" jobs and homes to mend unhealed wounds of division in Detroit.

Decades later, William Jones, executive leader now, sat one Sunday with Governor Jennifer Granholm, and me, while patient, Eleanor Josaitis, waxed eloquently despite the pain she endures these days, only eased with morphine when the ache overwhelms her.

Is it practical, intelligent, and going to help reach our goals, were queries asked when deciding
how to "fix" fractured lives.

She's still about hope -- that eternal virtue that stands while others choose to sit and say nothing in the face of injustice.

Eleanor is tenacious as she grips my hand when I lean over to kiss her hello when I visit.

Today, Jospehine Dare, the aide to CEO William Jones, reported that Eleanor was the best she saw her in months. She read the newspaper, smiled, and, probably winked once or twice, I bet.

"If anyone can beat the cancer, you can," I keep telling her as she
prayed a page from her daily devotional last Wendesday when Frank Kubiak read the script as Eleanor looked on.

She never gives up. But, the life-long social activist is weathering another storm.

"I refuse to be intimidated," she often says.

Her inner strength is hard as nail. Her faith as firm.

Eleanor is the first to arrive and the last to leave Focus:HOPE. I wonder who is now as she
has to be frustrated confined to a bed and a busy flow of visitors each day, away from her office.

Go Eleanor, GO! You can do this, dear friend.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Sick as one's secrets.

I began to believe that years ago. When family stories and horrors are kept clandestine and kept under cover, healing hardly happens. Dysfunction brews, even depression.

Family trees tell much about households and families down through generations.

That was learned in searches of my own family of faith and orgins recently.

Even at 62 it is never too late to discover roots and relationships.

I know.

In the past couple weeks I researched both sides of my parents.

My great grandparents were re-married. Boths sides emerged from Poland into America.

This online adventures was cathartic and freeing in many ways.

A glimpse of family secrets was apparent growing up. Yet, no one told me directly about my maternal greatgrandma who committed suicide six years after her marriage.

My own dad's alcohol attachment disorder came on early in his life after his mother died at 18 when he was six-months old, oral tradition reports. He was abused apparently.

We are as sick as our secrets, sad to admit.

Researching a family tree is worth all the energy consumed. Findings can be horrors and nightmares; however, but necesssary in mending and healing the family tree.

I wondered why depression was commonplace on both sides of our family tree.

The searches helped me appreciate why.

It seems that almost every family has some secrets.

Bringing them to light is a necessary part of reconciling unexpected events in the family story.
And, if necessary, counseling is an important piece in the puzzle of
entangled stories.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

He Had A Way of Drawing People into His World

Did it all begin for Walt Romanik in a garden, on a tree farm, at the lake fishing, or in the woods hunting?

As in Walt's trek through time here in Cheboygan, for each of us, life begins in a garden, in a womb, in the Garden of Paradise where we return. The first book of the Scriptures notes:

"Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and God placed there the man whom God formed." (Gen. 2:8)

In our movements and moments of desolation and consolation, like a roller-coaster-like ride through life's brief sojourn on earth, John's Gospel tells of Jesus exiting the upper room to commence his passion and death:

"When Jesus had said this, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered." (Jn 18:1)

Jesus had a presence and power that is a present to this day.

Walt Romanik, a pilgrim among the People of God in the diocese of Gaylord, Michigan
had a powerful presence "that had a way of drawing people into his world," Walt's daughter,
Marcia said. He is a present "who touched a lot of people's lives," Marcia noted.

"Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they placed Jesus there." (Jn 19:41-42)

Walt "never strayed from his beliefs or traditions," a family member admits, "and it's your world Grandpa; we're just living in it," a youngster told Walt last week before his final breath.

A citizen of heaven. A present. And, a powerful presence. "Walt will be missed for the rest of
their lives," William Rabior said Tuesday. He will.

His citizenship is in heaven, "and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," St. Paul writes this "not to shame you but to admonish and warn you as my beloved children."

A powerful present and presence. Like Jesus' own powerful presence. A present here at this table of the Word and altar of the lamb of God.

Not only that -- the tomb is empty. Amazing grace abounds, how great thou art!

Mary Magdalene, Peter and the beloved disciple don't know what to make of this. They experience finally the Risen Lord, "for see,the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear, th etime of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the dove is heard in our land. And, the fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance. Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!"

Jesus, a powerful presence, present. Walt, similarly engaging, influential, even speaking truth to power in his presence.

"Receive who you are, the body of Christ. Make of your hands a throne and receive who you are," St. Augustine notes.

A powerful present, presence. A gift. To be, or not to be, in or out of that tomb. That is the question. It all begins and ends in a garden.

Fresh air and a fresh fragrance. A new wind and aroma calls you and me.
Walt leaves fresh air to feel, even follow, and be set free. A present. Presence.

The Bible's last words in Revelation say it:

"Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God. One either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit 12 times a year. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

+ Our help is in the name of the Lord. Who made heaven and earth!

- Lawrence M. Ventline, D.Min.
Sacred Heart Church, Riggsville, MI.

When will we ever learn? When?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Page from My Diary on Visits and Vigil with Eleanor Josaitis

My visits with Eleanor Josaitis find her engaging with a firm grip of my hand, a wink, and, a smile.

That's a lot from one who is battling cancer each day, and, the pain that pokes deep within her soul.

Take today, for example: I asked the co-founder of the civil and human rights organization, Focus:HOPE, she founded in 1968 with the late Father William Cunningham, how she was feeling.

Unlike the past Wednesdays I was there when she replied, "Frustrated," and "Fed up," this day she seemed more hopeful, saying, "Let's go home."

Eleanor wants to go home to her family, to Focus:Hope, to . . .

One can only imagine if she's also thinking of going home to that lasting place prepared for those who love God.

Frank Kubiak, manager of the Food Resource Center of Focus:HOPE took time off and joined Eleanor and me.

We shared our frsutrations with church leadership, the "different wind" winding around a fledgling institution, and, Kubiak's visit to the Secretary of Agriculture in Wasington, D.C.
last Thursday.

That was the same day the Neighborhood Service Organization honored Eleanor Josaitis with
an award for her decades of service to the community.

We shared some home-made pumpkin, pecan and carrot cake with tea, with a few smiles and laughs amid Eleanor's wincing and obvious pain.

My mother said her cancer of the colon was like two knives cutting at her, and, Eleanor nodded when I asked her if that was true for her own ordeal also. She nodded again.

My phone vibrated and I excused myself. It was my cousin wanting to plan the Thursday funeral liturgy for her father, Walter Romanik of Cheboygan, MI.

After concluding the call, we prayed God's blessings, as Frank was about to read a page from Eleanor's favorite devotional while I exited with a wave and "Good-bye."

Powerful presence and present Eleanor is to many.

Until my next visit, I sadly processed multiple feelings fleeing the nursing center. Dominant was
a heavy sadness balanced with memories of much fruit in this great woman's life.

Lessons Learned in Online Ancestral Search

Sorry for any inconvenience but I have some news for you.

Wendtland is my last name, not Ventline.

That's according to official census records that go back to the 1800s in Mogildo, Poland where
my father's side of the family originated and practiced their faith at St. Martin Church in the village of Paledzie Koscielne.

Baptismal records, like official civic census notes, help track ancestral roots, even though the ecclesiastical markings are in Latin, dating as far back as 1832.

My online exploration of family of faith and origin had me on a three-hour rendevous with my guide, Cecile Wendt Jensen, a genealogist, and, director of Polinica American Research Institute (PARI) of the Polish Mission at the Orchard Lake Schools on Commerce Road and Orchard Lake Road in Oakland County, MI.

"I thought I could work relatively fast on your line since there is no "V" in the Polish alphabet, and your surname is similar to my maiden name, Wendt," she said, as she worked profusely on my family tree.

According to the Hamburg Passenger List, great granddad left Germany on April 9, 1881, and arrived in New York on April 29 when he was 30.

Three generations traveled together. Valentin, my great grandfather brought his wife Josepha, and children, Franz and Rosalie, as well as his own parents Warsin and Barbara.

My own grandfather, John, was born in Michigan and wed Marcyanna Skrzypinski on November 8, 1911, in the historic Polish community of Parisville, MI. His second marriage to Annie Stazak was July 2, 1918 in Port Austin, MI., according to the site, Gramps original wife died at 28 of tuberculosis when my own father was very young at six months old, oral traditions reports.

So ends this search as I'm challed by PARI to get back online to Poland to find the roots of my
mother's side of the family, also from Poland and Cheboygan, Michigan where I return this week for a funeral of Walter Romanik, a man who reached out and touched many hearts and hands with a powerful presence and present like his Lord, Jesus the Christ, his guide, God.

I'll get some help with mom's family tree July 18 at PARI on the Orchard Lake campus when they host workshops and seminars on family roots and relations and tri-generational stories of German, Jewish and Polish immigrants.

You may want to get in on these explorations, the history and ethnicities of Poland, family photos and portraits, ship manifests, and U.S. Census records through August 26 on the campus that is only miles from Detroit, MI.

A "Grandparents Project" and more for aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and significant others is
set. Call the Polinica Americana Research Institute at 248 683 0323 for more information and registration, or, visit, or

"Z Bogiem!" "Go with God!"

Safe travels!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Vets, Families and Independence Day

"I dissolved in the sea, became white sails and flying spray,
became beauty and rhythm, became moonlight and the
ship and the high dim-starred sky!

I belonged, without past or future, within peace and unity
and a wild joy, within something greater than my own life, or
the life of Man, Woman, to Life itself!

To God, if you want to put it that way."

- Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night

The 235th anniversary of the United States of America marks its independence this Fourth of July.

We may anoint American exceptionalism, a doctrine we have come to embrace - I have assumed to be true - that has us believing that the USA is better, even greater, more superior to other lands.

Content of character and a courtesy and care and compassion dimming within the soul of each of us, the call to commitment and accountability and "workhorsing beyond showhorsing" for sure once more challenges citizens to rise again in this land given to us by the Maker.

For veterans and the families and friends, for my 1968 Vietnam-murdered brother, Specialist Four Lukas J. Ventline, US Army, and the Purple Heart for wounds received, this day is bitter

It is a holiday and holy day yearning for wholeness and healing in a fractured globe drunk with battle and conflict as battles brew to beat and become "top" of the heap in God's land.

This land is your land, this land is my land. . .

Yet, mending and morphing is the menu's agenda for families of veterans today.

We think we are free, yet we are held hostage by more drug addicted people, or as many as Mexico, our partner in attachment disorders due to the cartel of a failed President Richard Nixon's war on drugs countless dollars later, admitted authorities who seem to know we lost.

Character and compassion with a dimmed courtliness and courtesy of Francis of Assissi, Italy,
define the USA.

We can do better without being bitter.

The bar can be raised.

It better be.

We will get what we deserve.

And, we deserve to stand taller for each other even as we stoop low to lift and serve life that
falters in schools, society, business, religion, and neighborhoods.

America can be great again.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Independence Day and Freedom?

While Americans grill tons of beef burgers and more this Independence Day weekend, recall that freedom has a price.

Today's freedom that citizens take for granted, at times, is tagged with the price paid with pioneers of parents, grandparents, and, immigrants, perhaps your own and mine. Their struggle
to build and bond in rootedness and relating in dire squalor and heat cost them dearly. On their shoulders we stand this day. And, I'm grateful to God and them.

Freedom is not free.

Wars, and the loss of life like that of my own brother, Lucas, in Vietnam, among countless other battles brewing daily prove the cost to be free.

This Independence Day saw the U.S. break from the link and chain of another power.

Independence can be a good thing, and is today.

To be interdependent as a global people and village pokes on to pause and ponder how tied nations are in need of each other beyond goods and services to buy and sell.

The war on drugs cost $155 million, and, yet, addiction holds this beloved country hostage.

Forty yers ago this past June 17th, President Richard Nixon asked Congress for those millions, yet, regretably, only weeks ago, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, declared:

"The global war on drugs has failed."

It has.

And, we are still not free from attachment disorders as the ancient spiritual leaders, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, Spain, dubbed that wretched robbery of one's deepest meaning, and, soul, the center of one's eternal thrist for more to quench that void and hole in one's heart.

In spite of that war on drugs, what is new now, and increasingly alarming, is the rising trend of extreme underage drinking and its epidemic in the good ole U.S.A.

Young lives are ruined and meeting death daily throughout the metropolitan areas and urban settings where substance and process addictions of gambing and alcohol dependence locks its jaws in an unending grip on humanity.

Individualism is cherished here in this land. It anoints freedom on persons to define themselves as they want, and, to explore the world on one's own terms as ghastly as they may be.

American television watched this horrific drama unfold last January in Tuscon, Arizona when Jared Loughner, a loner, took six lives.

He didn't know most of his neighbors. And, neither did his neighbors know each other, The Washington Post writer, Philip Rucker reported.

"They're all like that in a sea of anonymity," Edmund Cardinal Szoka told me on the telephone the other day from his home in Northville, MI., when I asked him to join a seminar on "love of God and neighbor," and its meaning and message today.

"I know some of my neighbors, but not many," the retired archbishop of Detroit, and, former Vatican leader, confessed.

Independence challenges humans to connect and know neighbors, nevertheless, an art lost since World War II, or, at least when front porches went and were no longer built facing the street and sidewalk as others pased. Attached garages keep residents from even facing each other each day as they walk from the house into the garage and into one's vehicle.

Freedom can be lonely, also, as people tell me about it in counseling in their own sea of anonymity, and desire for connecting in relationships face to face.

The Golden Rule of "love of God and neighbor" needs reclaiming in this Nation this holiday.

How can I be a neighbor and friend of the invisible God if I neglect to know and greet my neighbor next door who I see?

Commitment to connecting costs.

It does.

It's like freedom. Bought with a price.

Yet, we win some and lose some like the war on drugs.

God bless America, and, God bless the globe, beginning with the blessing I am to my neighbors
nearest me dwelling in Harrison Township or Royal Oak, Orchard Lake, or Detroit, Michigan.