Dee's Blog
www.takecourage.org
Thu 05/05/2016
It's All about the Future

I'm always encouraged by what younger people are doing in this work to fight collusion these days. There's plenty going on.  I'm trying to pull it all together, with a considerable piece of history, as well, for the largest writing project I've ever taken on.

 

So if you'll stand by, I'll be telling you much more in the days to come.  Meanwhile, please check out a page I helped my husband put together.  http://www.takecourage.org/callforstrongmen.htm

 

We are convinced, based on what we are seeing with young men standing up, that the next generation of activists will be filled with young men ready to stand alongside, even taking the lead in some ways, to fight gender-based violence and abuse in the most likely of all places.  Yet the place where we should see the leadership in this work:  the institutional church.

 

You'll find some organizations who share this belief through the above page. 

 

It's time we shattered Sunday morning silence, for starters.  

 

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:21 PM CDT
Updated: Thu 05/05/2016 4:24 PM CDT
Thu 09/24/2015
Update on a Young "Old" Friend
Mood:  cool
Topic: Making Changes

For an update on an old friend of mine, please check out http://www.takecourage.org/deepwnd.htm

I think you'll find it very exciting. 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 5:03 PM CDT
Updated: Thu 09/24/2015 5:05 PM CDT
Tue 06/16/2015
Learning from the Past
Topic: Making Decisions

Tis the season for having lots of fun. For me, that includes going to area festivals and historical sites, hoping to connect with crowds in regard to my latest writing venture. When it's festivals, I have hundreds of brief conversations with 1-3 people at a time.  My favorites, of course, are the older kids--old enough to put some things into perspective. And they do, sometimes better than their parents.

This past Sunday I was at Jesse James Farm and Museum in Kearney, MO, for an hour-long program. It had taken me days to prepare. I was hoping for 25-50, at least.  Instead I got a handful of travelers who just happened to be at the museum and were kind enough to stay and listen.  They knew even less about the Border Wars along the Missouri-Kansas border than local residents. It was fun and fulfilling. They learned a lot and were very receptive.

Disappointing, too, since the program was rather well publicized by the event coordinator.  Really disappointing since it was supposed to be for children with much of it about adult bullies (like James) in the 19th century who created terror with guns, oiled with religious extremist views. Even more disturbing, the facility has hosted several authors the last few Sundays:  all with the same sort of turn-out.

Raises the concern that few Americans seem to share:  How are we going to learn from the past in order to shape a better future if we don't see the need to do so?  That covers a myriad of topics!

http://justfollowingorders.takecourage.org


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:46 AM CDT
Fri 02/13/2015
When Secrecy Is Not an Option
Topic: Judgment

It must have been one of the hardest stories NBC ever had to cover.  Yet they were given no choice.  Brian Williams, a guy many of us have long admired, was found guilty of a serious breach of trust.  Not in a court of law, but through a thorough investigation.  

Nobody tried to hide the fact that there was an investigation either.  We knew that was going on some time before the findings were concluded and he was given six months leave of absence without pay. Did anyone question making the investigation public?  Absolutely not!

Every time he steps back into the public limelight as a journalist, if he chooses to do so, we're all going to remember that he embellished a story for his own good.  Trusting him will be up to each of us as an individual. 

Because of what Brian did, we may all be a little more hesitant to trust journalists in general.  Yet what if NBC had tried to protect him?  What would the consequences have been for the profession if/when it was found out?  There is no indication that NBC cowered behind the potential threat of a lawsuit if Williams had decided to challenge their findings in a court of law?   

So tell me--please tell me if you can--why "Christian ethics" marches to a different standard.  In other words:  Why does religion, either in its the organized or disorganized state, "reason" things so differently when faced with a breach of trust that's far more serious than Brian William's?  Why do they still refuse to give full disclosure when one of their own, especially a member of the clergy, is being invesigated for sexual abuse?  Why is the public not fully informed if a person is found guilty, though (for whatever reason) the case doesn't end up in court?

 

 

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 4:49 PM CST
Sun 01/11/2015
A REAL Hero
Topic: Making Decisions

 


If I’d known the story of Silas Soule when I was writing

“Just Following Orders,” I would have been sure to include

him among the remarkable true characters I included in

the historical fiction.  Since I didn’t until his story appeared

on the front page of the Lawrence Journal World (Lawrence, KS)

last month, all I can do now is tell you about the courage that

Silas showed, first as a teenager and later as a man in his

20’s.


At 16, he came in 1854 with his family to Lawrence, Kansas,

where I now live.  As one of the courageous families who were

devoted to abolishing slavery, Silas soon found himself playing a

dangerous role, escorting runaway slaves and rescuing captured

abolitionists. Chances are when the massacre occurred here in

Lawrence, Silas was off fighting for the Union so that he escaped

being one of the victims.  Perhaps his heart was so touched by the

news of what happened at Lawrence, when 250 children were

left fatherless in the massacre, that he was extra sensitive to

another tragedy that occurred a year later, this time one that

he was “supposed” to be a part of.  I’m referring to the Sand

Creek Massacre, which you can read about in "Just Following

Orders."  This massacre, like Lawrence, was one of the bloodiest

in U. S. history.  The difference was that it wasn’t carried out by

Confederate sympathizers, but by Union soldiers, under the

command of a Methodist minister, no less!


At 26, Soule was a captain in the U. S. Cavalry when the order to

attack Sand Creek (in Colorado Territory, just across the Kansas

border) was issued.  Soule refused to  obey!  Yet his name isn’t

very well known in history, though it should be.  For what he did

was remarkable!  As a young man of courage and character, he

was willing to stand up against power greater than his own,

because he must have recognized full well that torturing and

killing people was something he could not be a part of, no

matter what the consequences.


On that awful day in late November of 1864, which we can only

pause to notice now and learn from, almost as many citizens of

Sand Creek were slaughtered as in Lawrence. The big difference: 

all of the Sand Creek victims were Native Americans and most

were women and children. 


Less than six months later, Soule was dead.  He was shot because

of his testimony during the hearings that followed when officials

in Washington, D. C. wisely opened an investigation. Despite the

military action being condemned, Chivington, that Methodist

minister,  was never prosecuted.  In fact, he was given a hero’s

burial!


Not sure what kind of burial Soule got.  Yet today his name and

honor have been preserved.  Thankfully, in December, 2014,

there was finally an apology issued to the victimized tribes along

with ceremonies to commemorate Soule’s act of courage.


For more information on “Just Following Orders,” my 2014

historical fiction, plus the 5th and 6th-grade version "Mighty TALL

Orders," see www.justfollowingorders.takecourage.org


 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:52 PM CST
Updated: Sun 01/11/2015 3:24 PM CST
Fri 12/12/2014
Hijacked Religion
Topic: Christmas
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Novel Peace Prize, is turning the world upside down with her youthful courage and commitment to speaking the truth!  If you've not read her autobiography, written with the assistance of Christine Lamb, put it on your "must read' list.  The title is 

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.

The young author speaks often about how the Taliban has hijacked the faith that inspires her to keep going.  She insists that the Taliban is doing the opposite of what traditional Islam promotes.  Malala is very angry at what this hijacking has done to her culture. Yet she is determined that it will not destroy her, even if it takes her life.

I'm angry, too, anytime religion gets hijacked so that it is used to promote violence.  If I could sit down with Malala, I would tell her that it's not just Islam that gets hijacked.  In fact, Christianity has suffered the same fate throughout its history.  Jesus' message was about change that leads to peace.  It was about shining light into the darkness.  The Old Testament was filled with stories showing how people believed that God condoned violence, how God was on the side of certain people and not others.  

Today, far too many people who espouse Christianity do not understand that Jesus would not have agreed with those teachings at all.  People often end up suffering for what they believe, as Jesus did. After all, the world doesn't have much use for radicals who stand for peace.  However, suffering alone does not necessarily make us better people or more devout followers.  Sufering actually leads many people into hate and bitterness, just as it did with guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War.

When people use any religion based on love to promote hate, whether it is ethnic or class warfare, homophobia, or gender inequality, you can be sure that these are not the true followers of  that religion at all.  They are hijackers, trying to take the world in the opposite direction from where it needs to go.

Rather than throwing out the Baby Jesus with the bathwater of corruption and distortion that is making "Jesus" only a four-letter word to so many, it's time we clarified the true message: 

Peace on earth! Good will to humanity the world over!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:18 PM CST
Wed 11/12/2014
Sexual Assaults on Campuses
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Power

I'm horrified at the extent of sexual violence on campuses that's coming to light.  Grateful that President O'Bama has organized a task force to work on the problems, calling campuses into accountability.

Certainly the way campuses wink at the underage drinking is a big contributing factor.  The other, for which there is not excuse, is the crazy thinking of male students.  Look at these facts, and tell me what we have to do to get through to these 43%. 

 What's the risk?

• 19 percent of undergraduate women report experiencing attempted or completed sexual assault, and about 13 percent of women are stalked during each academic year.

• 95 percent of sexual attacks go unreported to law enforcement; crisis hotlines receive 10 times more reports of rape than police do.

• 43 percent of college-aged men surveyed said they have used coercive behavior, including ignoring a woman’s protests and using physical aggression, to have sex but did not see those actions as rape.

• 40 percent of rape survivors contract sexually transmitted diseases as a result of the attack, and 80 percent suffer chronic physical or psychological problems over time. Many rape survivors in college withdraw from classes.

• Rape survivors are 13 times more likely to attempt suicide than people who have never been raped.

Source: American Association of University Women

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:24 PM CST
Tue 10/28/2014
Conversation with a Wise Old Man
Topic: Shame

Two day ago I met Joelouis Mattox,an elderly gentleman, a historian of color, who has a passion for teaching young people the lessons of slavery and freedom.  See http://www.kclibrary.org/event/joelouis-mattox-blacks-blue as an example.

 Joelouis was telling me that when he goes into schools to talk to classrooms about slavery, the resistance he encounters is not from the white children. "They want to hear, and they're eager to talk about it," he told me.  "It's the black children who don't want to hear it!"

 I thought about that, but not for long without venturing a hunch as to why.  "Could it have to do with shame? I asked.  "Because victims who have not found a way to move on, finding ways to thrive in spite of their past, often see themselves as losers.  And, of course, nobody wants to be a loser.  Losers are often ashamed, even though their losing isn't their own fault."

 "I think it's because they are ashamed that their ancestors so often weren't able to do anything except submit," he suggested.

 "Yet these children need to know that there is no shame in being helpless and powerless.  All of us at some point in our lives have been helpless and powerless.  It's a part of being human," I said.

We went on to talk about the exceptions, the men and sometimes women, too, who were able to escape and even to join the Union in fighting for their own freedom.

 Joelouis says he likes to surprise black children, to see the look on their faces when he tells them that there were over 200,000 white men who died that we black folks might be free.  "They never realized that so many really did care about them," he said, though we both acknowledged that not everyone who died on the Union side were radical abolitionists.  Still many stayed to fight even after Lincoln declared the War to be about slavery. According to Joelouis, that's very important as we put things into perspective.

The white kids often don't know that, had it not been for the black soldiers. who proved themselves so courageous to the Union Army, this United States of America probably would not have endured. 

How's that for evening the score?  There's no shame in being helpless and powerless as individuals.  Only when we find people who have managed to thrive (on all sides of the equation)--victims, survivors, and advocates together--are we able to experience true victory and embrace unity.

The only real losers are the perpetrators of injustice.

Want more insights?  Check out http://justfollowingorders.takecourage.org

 


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:22 PM CDT
Updated: Tue 11/04/2014 8:04 AM CST
Sun 05/25/2014
Mixed Emotions
Topic: Making Changes

I woke up this morning listening to NPR, as I do most mornings.  The news of Maya Angelou's death brought sadness along with rejoicing for the wonderful contribution she has made to so many of our lives in this work.

Moments later, I heard an exclusive NPR interview with President O'Bama about his unique perspectives on foreign affairs. He talked about peace without going to war, spoke of sadness about all the tragic loss of life that has been sustained because of our long history of seeing war as a way of making peace.

These two African-American have probably done more to inspire me anyone in the past two decades.  Their constant sense of presence in my life define what I long to accomplish as a writer who loves responding to my readers.

Then, as I turned on morning shows, I heard of how people are uniting at Harvard and across our nation to address the recently-recognized, long-standing crisis of sexual violence on our campuses.  I vowed to do all I can to stand alongside these people, especially using www.takecourage.org to provide education on the topic of institutional collusion.

At the same time, I am wrapping up the final details of the most extensive project I've ever undertaken:  the writing of Just Following Orders.  Thanks to my co-author Nancy Ketter, we'll be offering this novel, to students and teachers in middle school, an easy-reader version for reluctant readers, an e-book--all of which I believe will appeal to adults, as well.  PLUS, a fun-filled, educational website as an extension of Just Following Orders AND a second blog, where you'll be more likely to find me on a regular basis.

We hope to have all of this released by July 4.  The new website for Just Following Orders will be www.justfollowingorders.takecourage.org  

As you might have guessed, the book is about courage and peace in the midst of the horrific guerrilla warfare in 1863 that took place in western Missouri--all of this inspired by my heroines and heroes who have lived for peace.


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Mon 07/29/2013
History DOES repeat itself!
Topic: Power

Three weeks ago,  I gave you the first hints about my new writing project and promised to get back soon.  I didn't forget.

In my research, I find more and more evidence of the raw revenge that was so present in the Civil War, on both sides.  Following the history of the abolitionist movement, of course, is essential in studying the complicated conflict in it's entirety.

What started out for the North as a set of good, solid principles on the part of well-intended abolitionists was picked up by those who believed that violence was the only way to obtaining justice. (John Brown is the foremost example.)

The extremists on both sides believed this and quickly got the full attention of everyone in the country.  That put a serious hiatus on the efforts of people who wanted to negotiate.  That's what frustrated Lincoln to the hilt.

Ever heard about compensated emancipation?  It was a plan that Lincoln tried to implement, but nobody wanted to listen.  It would have ended up costing the nation less than the War inevitably cost in dollars and cents.  Of course, it would have saved many, many lives, too.  For, if the plan had been well-received, by either the South or the border state of Missouri, then the War would have ended at least two years earlier than it did!

It was in Missouri that Lincoln held the highest hope for this plan that had first been proposed, years before the War began by Elihu Bruitt.  Lincoln thought this was the place that would successfully receive it.  He thought he could use Missouri as an example for the secessionist states.  Was he ever wrong!  Missouri legislators would not even answer Lincoln's letter of request on the matter!!

 No matter what we do as activists or advocates, for any cause, may we seek the avoid the trap that so many fall into today--using violence and unethical means to accomplish the end result immediately.  Not realizing how many more lives may be destroyed with such a strategy.  Or how long it will take to really obtain justice, once "peace" is initially obtained.   This is exactly what war does. 

 We haven't yet learned all of our lessons from the Civil War. History does repeat itself.  Extremists are needed for sure. They always are to make social change.  The challenge is to be an extremist who acts ethically, with wisdom and a degree of realistic expectations.

Stay tuned.  There's a LOT more to come!


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:25 AM CDT

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