Be the Change #11 – Make Your Voice Heard

I’ve been trying to keep these posts pretty politically neutral up until now. No matter who you voted for, we are all Americans, with our own idea of the country’s best interests at heart.  We need each other far more than we need any particular president or form of government.

But the first week of the Trump administration has been so distressing that I now feel that I must speak my heart.  If you voted for Trump, know that I do not see you as my enemy and you are welcome to continue reading these posts.  Most of my proposed actions could apply to anybody.  But, I do see President Trump as the enemy of every value that I hold most dear, and this post in particular will be targeted at resisting the actions of his administration.

To say that it’s been a bad week would be an understatement.  The President and his senior advisers have attacked freedom of the press.  An appalling inaugural address ended, in 16 minutes, the Pax Americana that has kept the world safe for over 7 decades.  The President doubled down on his insistence that “torture works.”  The infamous wall is now to be built and the President has feuded so angrily with the President of Mexico over who’spaying for it, that a planned visit has been cancelled.  For 100 years, the USA has prospered partly because have friendly countries on our northern and southern borders.  After only one week in office, Trump has reduced that by 50%.

And then came the ban on immigration – and even the return of Green Card holders – from certain Muslim-majority countries (interestingly, ONLY Muslim countries where our President doesn’t have business interests).  We see the distress of separated families, and refugees who have already undergone extreme vetting are now sent back to danger and possible death.

But, we don’t despair.  We act.  We resist.  Millions of women and men in cities all over the world participated in resistance marches on January 21.  Hundreds protested at JFK and Dulles airports against the immigration ban and deportation.  Here in Pittsburgh, we had a volunteer fair called Help or High Water a couple of weeks ago.  On-line and in-person resistance communities are forming.

Your action for this week is to check out the 10 Actions in 100 Days website. The first action is to send postcards to your Senators, giving your views on the issues that are most important to you.  If you have the equipment, you can print postcards right from your own printer.  Or you can download the file and order postcards from Staples, with same-day pickup in most cases.  Or print the Hear Our Voice logo and paste it on a plain post card.  Or just send any old postcard.  But do it.  Take action.  Then check the website in 10 days for your next action.

Here are some other sources of actions that you can take to resist the misguided agenda of this administration.  Don’t despair.  ACT.  RESIST.  History has its eyes on us.

The Indivisible Guide

We Are the 65

Order the Countable app to make it easier to contact your Senators and Representative from your phone

Find a local group you can work with.  I found mine by walking down my street and knocking on the door of a house with a big RESIST TRUMP sign in their window.  Ask friends if they know of a group.  Look for Facebook groups.  Get support.  We need each other.

Be the Change #10 – Defend Minorities

If you’re concerned about minority rights, click on this link to a site that lists national Civil Rights organizations that could use your donations of time or money.

If you are located in the Pittsburgh area, this link will take you to the Just Harvest site, where they list their local Civil Rights allies.  My friend Theresa Orlando serves on the board of Just Harvest. This wonderful organization connects needy people to food resources and advocates for sound anti-hunger policies.

If you are interested in Diversity education, here is a list of resources courtesy of my friend and former manager at PNC, Vincent Johnson, who has done work in this field:

Experts & Consultants on the Topics of Diversity & Inclusion

  • Basic Diversity training and consulting firm
  • Kimberly Papillion on neuroscience and bias
  • S.L. Robins & Associates Diversity and Inclusion—Dr. Robbins does not think of himself as a diversity expert but as a student of human behavior and his years of study of human behavior have led him to the conclusion that “diversity work” is really the work of “understanding human behavior in a diversity context.”
  • Diversity Best Practices—Offers resources, news, and models, as well as consulting
  • DiversityInc‘s mission is to bring education and clarity to the business benefits of diversity
  • Diversity Central with its people-centered design and a structural overhaul, exists as a business center for diversity management, building inclusive organizational cultures, creating high-performing diverse teams, and developing individual competencies for a diverse world—we call it “cultural intelligence.” Offers various resources and consulting
  • International Multicultural Institute—Founded in 1983, one of the first organizations to have recognized the nation’s need for new services, knowledge, and skills in the growing field of multiculturalism and diversity
  • Diversity Advisory Consulting Services offers consulting, training, and diversity software
  • Workforce Diversity Network is one of the nation’s leading networks of professionals and organizations. We are dedicated to being a catalyst to enhance professional development, understanding, promotion and management of diversity and inclusion as an essential part of business success. We provide our members with easy access to solutions-based organizational development, consulting, training, and networking with other high quality organizations
  • Visions Inc.—Consulting and training in diversity and inclusion. Founded in 1984, a non-profit training and consulting organization, specializing in diversity and inclusion
  • Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaborative network of researchers investigating implicit social cognition—thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control

Meet Saint Ambrose

st-ambrose-1Do you enjoy singing hymns in church?  Then thank Saint Ambrose; he is generally credited with introducing hymnody into the Western church from the East.  And that was only one of his many accomplishments.

Ambrose was born around 340 and raised in Trier in present-day Germany.  His father was a praetorian prefect (an administrator of justice), and his mother was known for her intellect and her piety. Like his later protege, Augustine, Ambrose showed intellectual promise early in life.  He was educated in Rome and was elected Bishop of Milan at age 34.  He had to be hastily baptized before he could take the job.  Late-life baptism was common in early Christianity and Ambrose hadn’t gotten around to being baptized yet when he was elected bishop!

I selected the above image of Ambrose from among many choices, because it seemed the closest to descriptions of what he looked like.  He is said to have been small and frail, with very large eyes and a melancholy face.

Ambrose may have been physically small and weak, but his character was mighty.  In 386, the emperor’s mother demanded that Ambrose cede control of two Milan churches to followers of the Arian heresy (short version:  Arians denied that the Son was co-eternal with the father; people got very excited about these things in the 4th century). Ambrose refused, barricaded himself in one of the churches, and got most of the Christians of Milan on his side – including the emperor’s own troops, who surrounded the church protectively.  Ambrose prevailed over the imperial family, and the churches remained in the hands of the Catholics.

Ambrose was also known as a powerful and persuasive speaker, with a voice out of proportion to his small stature.  His sermons were sensational entertainment.  During her time in Milan, Saint Augustine’s mother, Saint Monica, befriended Ambrose, and Ambrose is generally given a lot of credit for finally converting Augustine to the Christian faith.  Augustine admired Ambrose’s wisdom and learning.  He was awed by Ambrose’s ability to read silently.  This was unusual in the 4th century.  Most people who could read, read aloud, even when they were alone.  It was Ambrose who persuaded Augustine to accept the Christian Bible, by explaining that it should not always be taken literally but should instead be read for deeper truth. Thus, we may owe to Saint Ambrose, a great man himself, the conversion of one of the greatest fathers of the Church.

Saint Ambrose’s body was preserved and can still be viewed at the Basilica of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan.  My husband and I saw it there in 2009, when I was doing my research for The Saint’s Mistress – along with the remains of Gervasius and Protasius, of whose authenticity Augustine is initially skeptical in my book.







Be the Change #9 – How to change minds

zzbethechange“I don’t want to talk about politics any more.”  I wish I had a dollar for each time I’ve heard that phrase since November 8.  I don’t blame anyone who’s sick and tired of how ugly the 2016 campaign was.  I’m not tired of politics, but I’m bewildered.  I don’t understand how so many people I know, like and respect could have voted for Trump, and I don’t know what to say to them – so I say nothing.

But, that’s exactly what would-be dictators want.  They WANT silence.  They want us to be sick and tired of the ugliness.  They don’t want us to talk about what they’re doing.  They less we talk about it, the more they can get away with.  They need our despair and our silence.

So we need to talk to each other, even if we’re hearing things we don’t like and passionately disagree with.  But, according to the Scientific American article linked below, it’s more important to listen than to talk.  You are unlikely to convince anyone to change their mind by pointing out to them where they’re wrong.  You have a better chance at convincing them by listening to their thoughts and asking questions that might get them thinking.

Try this and let me know how it works out for you:


Be the Change #8 – Remember the Elderly

Nursing home

Nursing home

This is another easy one.

Almost all of us have an elder in our lives.  If your parents and grandparents are no longer living, you have great-aunts and uncles, or elderly neighbors.  Many elders are widowed and may be lonely.

This week, spend some time with an elder.  If you still have one or more of your parents or grandparents, make a date to take them out to lunch, or to a movie or another event they might enjoy.  As a parent of grown children myself, I absolutely guarantee that you will make their day.  If your parents or grandparents don’t live near you, then call them, or send them a surprise.  It can be something small, like a book or video that you think they would enjoy.

If your parents and grandparents are no longer living, do a small kindness for an older relative or an elderly person in your neighborhood.  Pick up their newspaper from their driveway and put it on their front porch.  Better yet, knock on the door and hand it to them with a smile and a few words of conversation.  Take your elderly neighbor a jar of homemade soup of a plate of fresh-baked cookies if you’re cooking this week.

I’m blessed to still have my mother in my life.  My plan is to take her out to lunch this weekend.  What’s your plan to brighten up an elder’s day?

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