Friday, October 30, 2009

Colors of Joy

I think that Autumn is my favorite time of the year. And this year the colors are so vibrant it makes me shout for joy. As I walked in the NY Botanical Gardens the trees inspired a poem, which I share with you.

Colors of Joy

I can’t be sad in autumn.
The trees won’t allow it.
They roar in red faced glee
‘rousing my eyes awake.
They dance delightful
orange jigs in my soul.

Fiery shrubs, sienna
burnt, shout out as I pass
‘neath golden canopies,
‘midst magic magenta,
through the last gasp of green.

They yell oh so loud
my heart explodes in song
as I grovel in
glorious gratitude.

© E.M. Ramos

Friday, October 23, 2009

National Parks - The Best Idea

A few weeks back, I watched all six episodes of Ken Burns PBS epic on the national parks. Many parts of this series relate to Michael Moore’s film "Capitalism" (See my blog below). "National Parks" covered history, conservation, natural science and the politics of launching and maintaining our magnificent National Parks System. So many Americans were involved in that struggle: ordinary citizens and wealthy businessmen, politicians and conservationists, young and old. A true coalition. Some like John Muir faced personal attacks in the quest to save our wilderness areas of incredible beauty from blatant exploitation.

The war is never won. If you lose a battle, that valley – like the one in Yosemite – is lost forever; if you win, you know that future generations will have to fight all over again. Greed goes on.

One episode focused on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC’s), one of FDR’s New Deal programs to help America out of the Great Depression. The CCC was aimed at helping young unemployed men, and at the same time, sprucing up the National Parks System. It gave them structure, an army barracks style discipline, and job training. They fought forest fires, built ranger stations, planted trees. For many, it was their first glimpse of the natural wonders of the West and they developed a deep love of nature. The interviews with three CCC veterans were poignant. But I know personally how great this program was because my Dad was in the CCC’s and told us how it changed his life.

And here’s where the National Parks series touches on the "Capitalism" film. The CCC was the kind of "win-win" project I had hoped the president would promote to get us out of the current economic decline. Not a bail out of the villains who got us into trouble in the first place! FDR’s New Deal put Americans to work and helped the nation in innumerable ways. Why haven’t we learned this history lesson?
By the way, you can still catch re-runs of the Ken Burns National Parks series on PBS. It’s worth a watch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Capitalism: A Love Story

Last week we saw Michael Moore’s latest film, which addresses the economic crisis in America and the system of Capitalism. Now I know that Moore is controversial but he comes across to me as passionate about ordinary hard working people, who believe in the American dream, and who are suffering. He is also an outstanding film maker: funny, confrontational, and thought provoking.
I found myself chuckling at times - like when he strung yellow criminal tape around the headquarters of the big financial institutions: Chase, Citigroup, AIG, etc. And I shed tears at people losing homes that had been in their families for generations, or their jobs, leaving behind veritable ghost towns. There were also moments of real hope: the grassroots opposition to the bailout of Wall Street. I had almost forgotten. Probably because the Congress backtracked and sold out after all. I believe it when Moore points out the scare tactics that were used to pass the bail out bill. And I agree that democracy is under attack by vested interests – within our capitalist system. There’s plenty of blame to go around – for Democrats and Republicans alike. And while I don’t believe that unions are all that innocent, my heart goes out to working people.
At any rate, the film clarified for me a lot about how we got into such an mess. I remember thinking not long ago – when did monopolies become legal? What would Teddy Roosevelt say? I was surprised, but not really surprised, at the insidious way that corporate greed has taken over. It is outrageous that most of the wealth of America is in the hands of one percent of the population. And the gap widens. The rich did not suffer from the economic decline – we bailed them out! But the rest of us sure did! I also liked how Moore looks into the teachings of Jesus - they don't support the Capitalist system as it has evolved today. Tell it like it is, Michael. Meanwhile, why not see the film and decide for yourself. If nothing else, it will spark discussion.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Prayer Always Works

Prayer always works. When I’m feeling "murky", I thank God for everything I can think of – from my grandkids to the brilliant blue sky. And suddenly, I feel whole once more. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Monitoring appointments fill me with anxiety. On the day of a recent appointment, I was feeling very sorry for myself – like no one knew or cared that I was facing this ordeal alone. I prayed "Lord be with me", and as I walked to the doctor’s office, something made me check my cell phone. There was a message from my sister that I hadn’t noticed the night before. I listened to her voice reassuring me about my appointment and of course, she remembered. I felt so grateful to God for being present to me in my sister that day. I was not alone.
Recently I had a disagreement with a friend. Knowing I had done nothing wrong, but desiring peace, I decided to apologize and prayed for the right words to say. Next day I saw the person and began my apology, only to have her apologize to me instead! Our relationship was healed instantly. What a surprising answer to my prayer. I truly believe that God is a God of surprises. And prayer always works.