A Winter of Our Global Discontent

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Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost-of-living crisis is raging. Trust is crumbling. Our planet is burning. People are hurting – with the most vulnerable suffering the most. The United Nations Charter and the ideals it represents are in jeopardy….”

We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction. The international community is not ready or willing to tackle the big dramatic challenges of our age. These crises threaten the very future of humanity and the fate of our planet….”

But the reality is that we live in a world where the logic of cooperation and dialogue is the only path forward. No power or group alone can call the shots. No major global challenge can be solved by a coalition of the willing. We need a coalition of the world.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, address at the opening of the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s 77th session, New York, USA, September 20, 2022

I highly recommend that you take the time to listen to Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif’s address to the General Debate of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, September 23, 2022. What a “monsoon on steroids” has unleashed on the people of Pakistan will not stay in Pakistan.

Poem “After” by Brazilian Poet Martha Medeiros

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Brazilian Poet Martha Medeiros
Photo Credit: Martha Medeiros Official Facebook Page

My Poetry Corner September 2022 features the poem “After” (Depois) by Brazilian poet, journalist, and chronicler Martha Medeiros, born in 1961 in Porto Alegre, capital of Brazil’s southern State of Rio Grande do Sul. With more than thirty books published, many of which have been adapted for theater, TV, and the cinema, she has become one of the most read and respected writers in Brazil.

In the 1980s, after graduating in Social Communication from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Medeiros started out as a copywriter and content creator in advertising and marketing. Her debut poetry collection Strip-Tease, published in 1985, received great success. Over the next sixteen years, ending in 2001, she published five more books of poetry. Her favored themes were love, lovelessness, and relationships.

In the poem “The measuring tape of love,” she concludes: It’s not height, weight, or muscles that make a person great. / It’s their immeasurable sensitivity.

The extensive list in the poem “What is the purpose of a relationship?” includes:

A relationship has to serve you in feeling 100% comfortable with the other person…
To teach one to trust, to respect the differences that exist between people…
A relationship has to serve for one to forgive the weaknesses of the other…
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The Queen and I

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Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) – State Visit to British Guiana – February 1966
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never personally met Queen Elizabeth II. The closest I’ve ever come to Her Majesty was watching her drive by in an open-back vehicle in the company of her husband Prince Philip. That occurred in early February 1966 when she visited then British Guiana for the first time since her coronation in 1953. The two-day royal visit also marked the first visit of any reigning monarch during 152 years of British colonial rule. For the auspicious event, we showcased the best of our city, our culture, and our hospitality.

Following its independence in May 1966, Guyana joined the Commonwealth of Nations, founded in 1949 and headed by the British Monarch. The independent nation remained tethered to Britain with Queen Elizabeth as the Head of State until it became a republic in February 1970.

When I read the online announcement of the Queen’s death on Thursday, September 8, around 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time, I stopped what I was doing and tuned into the BBC TV news channel. My teary-eyed response surprised me. Such is the nature of my love-hate relationship with the British monarchy. Their fairy-tale lives had captured my imagination as a child. Over the years, I’ve soaked up news of their marriages and births, scandals and divorces, and deaths.

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Reflections on Entitlement

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New York Skyline with Brooklyn Bridge – USA
Photo Credit: Kai Pilger at Pexels

This is the second in the series of my reflections on the “shifts of being” proposed by Jem Bendell in Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos (UK/USA 2021).

#1: Reflections on the Nature of Being

The word “entitlement” did not enter my vocabulary until I arrived here in the United States. In Guyana, we used the word “spoilt/spoiled” to describe other kids and youth our age who believed that they deserved the biggest and the best of everything, and that the rules of good conduct did not apply to them. In Brazil, the Portuguese equivalent of entitlement translates as “to have the right of or as deserving of.” In Brazilian vernacular, the spoiled or entitled rich kid earns the label of “daddy’s son or daughter.” Entitlement takes on additional manifestations among white, rich, and male humans in the advanced rich economies: the right to the pursuit of happiness; the right not to feel emotional pain and suffering; the right to have one’s feelings heard and validated; and the right to have one’s basic needs met (Jem Bendell, pp. 125-127).

It would be great if we could all have our basic needs met and have a voice in issues that affect and govern our lives. Instead, the entitled few among us take a far greater share of Earth’s natural resources and offer little return for our collective human production. They also hold the power to silence our voices when we cry out against the extreme inequality and injustice. While the entitled rich and powerful get away with major crimes—including our current threat of omnicide—minority and poor populations face draconian punishment, even death, for simple infractions of the law.

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Thought for Today: The Human Comedy: Remember You Must Die

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Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei with glass sculpture La Commedia Umana: Memento Mori / The Human Comedy: Remember You Must Die – Venice – Italy – August 26, 2022
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno

We see the environment completely disappearing, being destroyed by humans’ effort … and that will create a much bigger disaster or famine. Or war, there’s a possible political struggle between China and the West as China asserts greater control over Hong Kong and threatens control over Taiwan…. We have to rethink about humans and legitimacy in the environment. Do we really deserve this planet, or are we just being so short-sighted and racist? And very, very just self-demanding, selfishness.

~ Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on his latest sculpture La Commedia Umana: Memento Mori / The Human Comedy: Remember You Must Die, Venice, Italy, August 26, 2022.

La Commedia Umana / The Human Comedy by Ai Weiwei (Detail)
Photo Credit: Lisson Gallery – Venice – Italy

One of the largest works ever created in Murano glass, the hanging sculpture is composed of over 2,000 pieces of blown and cast glass, weighing around four tons with a width of 6.4 meters (21 feet) and towering overhead at 8.4 meters (27.6 feet) high. The series of hand-crafted black glass bones and isolated organs first became a striking monument to the lives lost over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the war between Russia and Ukraine, the monument also encompasses those who die from all kinds of human conflict. If we want to leave behind more than the bones of our broken bodies, we must work together to address the dangers that threaten our survival as a species.     

Learn more at Berengo Studio.


AI WEIWEI, born in 1957 in Beijing, China, is a global citizen, artist, and thinker. He attended Beijing Film Academy and later, on moving to New York (1983-1993), continued his studies at the Parsons School of Design. His art works have been exhibited worldwide. Among his numerous awards and honors, he holds the lifetime achievement award from the Chinese Contemporary Art Awards (2008) and was made Honorary Academician at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2011). He now lives and works in Portugal.

Creating a drought-resistant garden in The City of Angels

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Rosaliene’s Succulent Garden – Los Angeles – Southern California – August 21, 2022

Eighty-one days have passed since emergency drought restrictions went into effect in Southern California. In an August 16th Press Release, Adel Hagekhalil, General Manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) that supplies our neighborhood with water, announced that discussions are in progress regarding the effort of the Colorado Basin States to develop “an aggressive but realistic plan to reduce demands” on the Colorado River by 2 to 4 million acre-feet. The MWD imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies.

“As these discussions continue, we urgently call on everyone who relies on Colorado River water, including communities across Southern California, to prepare for reduced supplies from this source, permanently,” Adel Hagekhalil said. “This is not simply a drought that will end, allowing reservoir levels to recover on their own – this is a drying of the Colorado River Basin. We are going to have to live with less. Working together, we know we can meet the challenge.” (Emphasis mine.)

So far, we have received no new directives from the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) regarding any further reduction in water allocation of about 80 gallons per person per day. Meanwhile, I have found ways of saving and reusing domestic usage for watering my small vegetable garden. Caring for my succulent and other ornamental plants remains a challenge.

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“He Called for Momma” – Poem by Barbados Poet Laureate Esther Phillips

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Barbados Poet Laureate Esther Phillips
Photo Credit: Peepal Tree Press (UK)


My Poetry Corner August 2022 features the poem “He Called for Momma” from the poetry collection Witness in Stone by Esther Phillips published by Peepal Tree Press (UK, 2021). Born in 1950 in the Caribbean island-nation of Barbados, she won a James Michener fellowship of the University of Miami where, in 1999, she earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing. Her poetry collection/thesis won the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets and went on to win the Frank Collymore Literary Endowment Award in 2001. In 2018, she was appointed as the country’s first Poet Laureate.

The poems in Witness in Stone [Footnote 1], Phillips’ fourth full-length poetry collection, are quiet and personal, often nostalgic in tone when honoring people who had played important roles during her childhood years growing up in the countryside. Her generosity of spirit shines through even in the poems that speak of the harsh reality of the legacy of slavery, colonialism, and postcolonialism that still looms large in the lives of Caribbean peoples.

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Reflections on the Nature of Being

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NASA James Webb Space Telescope – Deep Field Image SMACS 0723 – July 2022
Galaxy cluster as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago
Photo Credit: Webb Telescope (NASA)

This is the first in the series of my reflections on the “shifts of being” proposed by Jem Bendell in Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos (UK/USA 2021).

On July 12, I watched in wonder at the first full-color images of Deep Field Image SMACS 0723 recorded by the NASA James Webb space telescope. I am nothing amidst the thousands of galaxies in just a tiny patch of our vast Universe. Among the estimated two trillion galaxies in the observable Universe, our own Milky Way Galaxy extends for about 100,000 light years across. Such vastness boggles my mind, considering that one light year covers 5.8 trillion miles (9.5 trillion kilometers). Located in the Orion Arm, our Sun is just one of 100 to 400 billion stars caught in its gravitational spiral.

Planet Earth, my home, is a mere rock revolving around a life-giving star. The more our space telescopes reveal the secrets of our Universe, the greater the mystery of the dark matter and dark energy that fill the emptiness of space. We humans are nothing but stardust. I am humbled. 

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The more relaxing thing — Guest Post by Australian Poet & Storyteller Kate Duff

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Kate’s poetic reflections hit me exactly where I am at this moment when she writes: “Growth is suffering, growth is exposure, growth is moving towards the things which make us flinch, perhaps even terrify our hearts.”

Growth is not measured in the present moment It is always by looking back, seeing the difference Between there and here, that we are able to take a bearing Growth is not linear, it is not lateral It is perhaps more accurately, a series of curves that only a certain spatial awareness gained from standing…

The more relaxing thing —

The Writer’s Life: Creating New Narratives in a Post-Truth World

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Heat Wave Hits Europe: Trafalgar Square, London, July 19, 2022
Photo Credit: ABC News (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

For this week’s Sunday post, I had planned to share my reflections on “shifts in being” needed for deep adaptation to our planetary climate and ecological existential crises unraveling in real time. While regions of our planet face heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and other Acts of God, our political leaders fumble, grumble, and stumble to implement the solutions proposed and agreed upon at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences held since its establishment in 1992.

I could not find the right framework to put my reflections into words. By the end of my workday on Friday evening, I had scrapped four unsuccessful attempts. After clearing my mind with a touching father-daughter movie, Don’t Make Me Go (Prime Video, 2022), I returned to my writing task shortly after 10:00 p.m. At 2:24 a.m. of a new day, with frustration taking hold, I scrapped another four drafts and went to bed.

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