Category Archives: politics

No, Your Hate Won’t Break Our Love

It is unexpressed emotions harboring latent demands for redress which cause violent disruption to society. The seemingly extremes of heinous actions and vitriolic words each casting blame, instead of assuming responsibility and moving positively forward, actually feed eachother to ever escalating destruction. It is in the never ending cycles of human history rife with the absence of hope which manifest anger and discontent and, in some, a call for ‘retribution’. A politician stands up and speaks ‘on behalf of a nation’ with words that only serve to inflame those who hate, and exacerbate the fear amongst the panicked flock who demand a response to their collective fear with demands of isolation, xenophobia, and more brutality.

As Eve Ensler, poet, so perfectly and simply wrote:

“Bullets are hardened tears”.

We must unharden. We must stop the tears and the subsequent bullets and bombs. We must find a way forward between the madness and genius and that fraction of capability to cope with inequities tipping the balance to terrorist actions.

Anger can be a gift that keeps us sane; anger will make us sit-in, go on strike (hunger, walk off our jobs), meditate, light candles, and engage in activism we never imagined embracing fostering beautiful life affirming change. And, just like hundreds of thousands of cherry blossom petals ‘we’, coming together, cast a pink glow over our hurting world.

In various locations in Stockholm statues of St. George figure prominately – in the 12th and 13th centuries his legend came to include the story of a battle with, and victory over, a voracious dragon. In its purest form St. George’s tale is one of good vs. evil, light vs. darkness, life vs. death. Stockholm, Homs, Paris, Zliten, Baghdad, Nice, Kabul, Brussels, Boston, London, New York, Orlando, and sadly many other cities share a pain created in the absence of love. Our responses in each of the tragedies we have borne has been resilience and community.

“Absence is to love what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it inflames the great.” ~ Roger de Rabutin de Bussy

I believe that within us we are both a cherry blossom petal and St. George and the dragon we must slay is hatred, ignorance and fear. We must be kinder, more compassionate, empower not condescend, find a way to ensure hope remains a constant and together build a great reserve of universal love which cannot be extinguished in the name of any God.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via livelikeadog@gmail.com through PayPal, and do share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiPlease click here to order my book, thank you! 

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The Photographer’s Eye

Vietnam Memorial

Found on FB, but please see Ms. Pan’s portfolio here http://www.abpan.com/veterans-day-2015/

97 years ago yesterday the greatest armed (man-to-man) conflict the world has ever known ended by “a cessation of hostilities” (an armistice), the 11th minute of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month, it is known as Remembrance Day. In the United States 11 November is known as Veterans Day. I was struck (as were many) yesterday by a breathtaking image of Maya Lin‘s masterpiece, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, by photographer Angela B. Pan. I have always thought of Lin’s highly polished black wall of granite (without the Congressional driven design-compromised bronze soldiers statue added) as something both pure and raw. The ‘wound in the earth’ as something powerfully symbolizing the emotions which every family feels when death finds them, the darkest grief of our hearts made physical.  Pan’s image is the near perfect (while nothing is ever truly perfect I think the evergreen wreaths disrupt the integrity of her image). The wet surface of the walkway and the wall itself making ribbons of colour from the reflection of trees, morning mists hanging low on a still green grass and a sky streaked with apricot, sepia, silvery blues and gold leading us by two point perspective to the Washington Monument. Her photographer’s eye has pulled light into the darkness, reflected it, distorted the pain found in the open graves and transformed such into something transcendent offered at the end of our (visual) journey.

MBW war

Photo: Margaret Bourke-White c. 1945, Polish concentration camp survivor weeping near charred corpse of a friend, in Leipzig, Germany

Just as Pan’s perspective draws us toward a metaphorical Nirvana bathed in luminescence, other photographers’ eyes (and their respective lens) open up the horrors which a handful of stupid people drive our collective humanity toward. In the case of photojournalists (long before they were given that moniker of respect) they trudged into the blood soaked and muddy battlefields, into prison camps and shattered villages, and onto shelled roads thick with dust and disease to send black and white images to magazines and newspapers documenting the displacement of women and children and the elderly. The innocents of shameful behaviours politically and physically caught between machines of the military (defense industry) and those that carried out their orders using them. The Library of Congress exhibition of Women Come to the toni frissellFront highlights (what remains are their press credentials and bios online) the work eight women accomplished in chronicling war. Toni Frissell who is better remembered in photographic circles for her fashion photography image at right is just one of tens of thousands of images of what is left behind.

We are in the midst of the greatest exodus of humanity since World War II, yet again it is the intellectuals, the elderly and the children fleeing the carnage. Yet again we are faced with uncomfortable truths realised by a pebble being thrown in the pond. The ripple effects unknown to those who cast the first stone but keenly felt by tens of millions around the world. Humanity all bleeding the same shade of red. The front lines are blurred with a photographer’s lens. Tim Hetherington understood that, and it cost him his life in Libya. He documented the brutality of war, the real costs of lives living an obscene version of ‘normal’, disrupted from community but for being born in the wrong place.

tim hetherington

Photo: Tim Hetherington

“Underpinning my work is a concern with human rights and analyzing political ideas, with thinking about history and politics. It’s also about witnessing, about telling stories. Photography to me is a way of exploring the world, creating narratives, and communicating with as many people as possible…”

~ Tim Hetherington, after he won the World Press Photo of the Year 2007

War and wars. We destroy and create history at once and we learn nothing from either. There are no victors. War wrecks men and women, civilians and military alike. Those who fought and died in senseless wars that go on longer than they should because of both greed and malevolence. Mustard gas in WWI, Monsanto’s Agent Orange in Vietnam (which continues to impact the health of those who were on the ground and the children of their children). Nixon was criminally insane as was Saddam Hussein, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush and Bashar al-Assad most certainly are, the list goes on and on.

My girlfriend Nancy said, “We build memorials and preserve battlefields.” War photographs should haunt us to guide us to not repeat the endless tragedies.  A war memorial, and the photos of it, is often the only thing beautiful to come out of a war.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Politics, NOT as usual, Croatia’s presidential candidate Ivan Vilibor Sinčić

Hrvatska verzija slijedi engligh.

sunset over TrogirEach day starts with a unique promise – to change something about ourselves or the world around us.  I don’t think most people give this too much thought, but it’s always there, the possibility.  For six days I had been trying to break through the first line of contact to offer both my professional communications skills as well as leveraging my political campaign experience to the aspirations of a young man running for president of Croatia – yesterday an early morning Facebook text conversation netted me a phone number, and a path to Split.

civil disobediance

Lead by example – taking on “the system”

At the end of my day I wrote on my Facebook wall, and posted pictures:  “Interesting day. Honour your skills when you’ve no clue what to do and all of the sudden a MESSAGE is really loud. I was invited to share lunch with Croatian presidential candidate Ivan Vilibor Sinčić by members of his campaign team including Jakov Perica on Split’s Riva this afternoon.” As someone with a past history of serving as the finance director for three Congressional races in the United States it takes about two minutes for me to weed out ‘real deal’ vs. ‘fraud’ – Sinčić is the REAL DEAL. Thoughtful and articulate in a way that allows me to express Croatia would be VERY LUCKY to have him (especially because of his youth and track record on human rights and economic issues) as their next president. I don’t believe that I am here by chance over this – I am here because my friend Marijan expressed to me over a year ago “my country needs people like you”. Well, LET ME HELP and then let me make Croatia my permanent home.

Friends know that I never say, nor do I write, anything I don’t mean, and I am in sincere in this Tweet:

@TeresaFritschi #Croatia‘s Prez candidate Vilibor #Sinčić is like #ThomasJefferson #Robespierre

I am sure it is nearly impossible to imagine the intellect and incorruptible nature of two of the 18th centuries’ greatest minds existing in a single man today – but John Vilibor (Sonny) is such a human being.

Corruption is nothing new – every society has been victim to a percentage of its population that always demands more than is ethical, fair or just. On the bus to Split I was informed that Al Capone was actually of Croatian ancestry (keeping in mind that the Italians – specifically the Venetians were here when Marco Polo was a child).  For 800 years (or more) with further and bankfurther influence and decimation of society has come in the form of those behind global banking interests (oh DO watch this ½ hour video to understand that this is not simply in the United States but impacting people across the globe).

Ivan at foot

Touching the toe of Ivan Meštrović’s colossal sculpture of Gregory of Nin for luck

So like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders in the United States Croatia’s presidential hopeful Ivan Vilibor Sinčić gets it and he wants nothing to do with this influence in his country. He has built a record, as President Barack Obama did in his youth, of functioning as a champion of human rights, of being a community organizer deploying small efforts designed to thwart illegal evictions of homeowners by building a ‘living wall’ of protection and both knowing and leveraging the laws of Croatia. He is outside ‘the system’ which makes his efforts underdog in the extreme. He is a quiet presence in the throng of humanity, listening, touching an arm, posing for pictures – a very shy, very sincere, smile gracing his face.  Despite his stature he doesn’t take up much space – that is until he speaks and then he owns the room, fully and completely with his passion, and thoughtful rhetoric. Perhaps it’s because I have worked for my whole adult life making other people look good that in witnessing authenticity of this caliber my breath went completely out of my body – I don’t speak Croatian yet I understood exactly what he said.  But people see it.  Croatians feel at a cellular level and respond to Ivan as if crossing a desert and finding an oasis to quench their thirst. They seem ready to rise up and reclaim their lives and make their whole society better in the process; maybe all of our societies in leading by example. By what those of Nguni Bantu term roughly translating to “human kindness” but most literally means that you cannot rejoice if your neighbor has none – Ubuntu.

My friend Ken Herron has chided me for three years about my unwillingness to prostitute my skills to survive. He knows, because I inherited his role as a chief marketing officer, that I am perfectly capable of making crazy money “doing what we do” but I have never been able to do this. If I believe I will give of myself until I drop, but nothing can induce me if I don’t respect you, your product or your mission.  It’s been less than 20 hours as I write this since posting a 2:30 segment of Ivan’s speech yesterday from Split on Twitter and on Facebook, even as a seasoned communications professional I am stunned by the rate of viewership.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” 
― Anaïs Nin

I truly had no intention of ever returning to politics, so traveling 4400 miles to discover that the skills of my lifetime could possibly realise real value for 4.3 million people is at once a stunning revelation, and like slipping back into my most authentic skin. We seek other states, connect with other lives and other souls for resonance, and authentication of who we are at our most elemental. We travel to give of ourselves and to receive. We travel to leave the world and ourselves better than we were before we leapt into the void of the unknown.  I seem to have come home to myself.

Svaki dan počinje s jedinstvenim obećanjem-promijeniti nešto u vezi sebe ili svijeta oko nas. Mislim da puno ljudi o ovome niti ne razmišlja, ali ona je uvijek tu, mogućnost. Šest dana sam se pokušavala probiti  do prvih kontakata kako bih ponudila svoje profesionalne  komunikacijske vještine kao i da svojim iskustvom u političkim kampanjama podržim težnje mladića koji se našao u utrci za predsjednika Hrvatske. Zahvaljujući jučerašnjem ranojutarnjem dopisivanju na Facebooku  došla sam do telefonskog broja i našla se na putu za Split.

Na kraju dana napisala sam na svojem zidu na Facebooku, uz popratne slike: “Zanimljiv dan. Pohvali svoje sposobnosti kada ne znaš što bi i odjednom je PORUKA  vrlo glasna. Pozvana sam na ručak na Splitskoj rivi ovo poslijepodne s predsjedničkim kandidatom Ivanom Viliborom Sinčićem. Pozvali su me članovi njegovo tima uključujući Jakova Pericu .

Kao netko tko je u svojoj prošlosti radio kao financijski direktor u tri kongresne trke u SAD-u, treba mi oko dvije minute da prepoznam tko je pravi a tko lažan- Sinčić je PRAVI.  Promišljeno I artikulirano na način koji mi dozvoljava da se izrazim, Hrvatska će biti vrlo sretna što ga ima (osobito zbog njegove mladosti, ali i dokazanoj borbi za ljudska prava i ekonomske probleme) kao svog sljedećeg predsjednika. Vjerujem da nisam ovdje u ovome slučajno- ovdje sam jer mi je moj prijatelj Marijan prije više od godinu dana rekao: “moja zemlja treba ljude poput tebe”. Pa, dozvoli mi da pomognem, a onda i da Hrvatska postane moj trajni dom.

Prijatelji znaju da ja nikad ne govorim niti pišem ništa što ne mislim i da sam iskrena u ovom Tweetu :

@TeresaFritschi #Croatia‘s Prez candidate Vilibor #Sinčić is like #ThomasJefferson #Robespierre

(Hrvatski predsj. Kandidat Vilibor Sinčić je poput Thomasa Jeffersona i  Robespierrea)

Sigurna sam da je teško zamisliti intelekt i nekoruptivnu prirodu dvojice velikih umova 18. stoljeća  u jednom jedinom čovjeku-ali, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić je baš takvo ljudsko biće.

Korupcija nije ništa novo- svako društvo je bilo žrtva određenom broju populacije koja uvijek traži više nego li je etično, pošteno ili pravedno. U autobusu prema Splitu saznala sam da je Al Capone zapravo bio hrvatskog porijekla (imajući na umu da su Talijani-točnije Venecijanci bili ovdje kada je Marko Polo bio dijete. 800 godina (ili više) sa sve većim i većim utjecajem na društvo i njegovim desetkovanjem, ono je palo pod utjecaje globalnih bankarskih interesa. (Svakako pogledajte ovaj polusatni video kako biste shvatili da ovo jednostavno nije samo u SAD-u već utječe na ljude diljem globusa). Stoga, poput senatorice Elisabeth Warren i senatora Bernia Saundersa u Sjedinjenim Američkim državama, Hrvatski potencijalni predsjednik Ivan Vilibor Sinčić shvaća i ne želi imati ništa s ovim utjecajem u njegovoj Zemlji. Stekao je dosje, kao što je  predsjednik Barack Obama u svojoj mladosti, djelujući  kao prvak u borbi za ljudska prava. Ivan V.Sinčić je  suorganizator zajednice koja je uvođenjem malih napora stvorena kako bi spriječila ilegalne deložacije kućevlasnika, praveći “živi zid” zaštite,  poznavajući i koristeći zakone Hrvatske. On sam je “izvan sistema”  što čini njegove napore u krajnosti uzaludnima.

On je tiho prisutan u gomili ljudi, slušajući, dodirujući ruke i pozirajući za slikanja- vrlo sramežljiv, vrlo iskren, s osmijehom koji krasi njegovo lice.  Unatoč svojem statusu, on ne zauzima puno prostora-barem dok ne progovori, a tada je prostorija samo njegova u potpunosti, s njegovom strašću i  promišljenom retorikom.  Možda jer sam tijekom cijelog svog odraslog života radila čineći druge ljude da izgledaju dobro, svjedočeći autentičnosti ovog kalibra moj dah je potpuno napustio moje tijelo–ne govorim još hrvatski, a ipak sam razumjela točno što je rekao. Ali, ljudi vide. Hrvati osjećaju na baznom nivou i reagiraju kao da su prelaskom pustinje naišli na oazu koja će im utažiti žeđ.  Čine se spremnima uzdignuti se i ponovno preuzeti svoje živote u svoje ruke te učiniti cijelo njihovo društvo boljim u procesu; možda i sva naša društva, prednjačeći kao primjer.  Jedan od Ngunu Bantu izraza je ugrubo preveden kao “ljudska dobrota” ali doslovnije znači da se ne možeš radovati ako tvoj susjed nema ništa- Ubuntu. Moj prijatelj Ken Herron me tri godine korio zbog moje nevoljkosti da prostituiram svoje vještine kako bih preživjela. On zna, jer sam ja naslijedila njegovu ulogu glavnog marketinškog službenika, da sam ja savršeno sposobna stvoriti velik novac “čineći to što radimo” ali, nikad to nisam mogla učiniti. Ako ja vjerujem, ja ću dati sve od sebe dok ne svisnem, ali ništa me neće natjerati ako ne poštujem Vas, Vaš proizvod ili misiju. Prošlo je manje od 20h kako ovo pišem, a otkako sam postavila dio Ivanovog jučerašnjeg govora u Splitu na svoj Twitter i Facebook. Čak i kao iskusna komunikacijska profesionalka, zapanjena sam brojem gledanja

“Mi putujemo, neki od nas zauvjek, kako bismo vidjeli druge države, druge živote, druge duše. “― Anaïs Nin

Zaista nemam namjere se ikada vraćati politici, stoga putujući 440 milja kako bih otkrila da bi moje životne vještine  mogle možda realizirati stvarnu vrijednost od 4.3 milijuna ljudi odjednom je zapanjujuće otkriće, i  poput klizenja natrag u moju najautentičniju kožu. Tražimo druge države, povezujemo se s drugim životima i drugim dušama zbog reznonancije i autentifikacije  onoga tko smo u našoj srži. Putujemo kako bismo davali sebe i primali. Putujemo kako bismo ostavili svijet i same sebe boljima nego što smo bili prije nego li smo uskočili u nepoznato. Čini mi se da sam došla k samoj sebi.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Och Aye. Scotland and Freedom.

I have had a decade long love affair with Scotland that is about to come to an end.  I have sat on the edge of her St. Andrew's Cross, Adapted Gallery Page_editedentangled politics whilst trying to make one tiny portion of the country better, through my company Thistle & Broom, T&B, to perpetuate her traditional hand skills and unique culture and in providing economic benefit to the talented artisans and craftspeople that make their home within her geopolitical boundaries. My decision comes following the duplicity of an English customer and one of the 80+ year old Fair Isle hand-knitters whose work has only been available through T&B – my disappointment was immense.

My Scots blood is seven generations removed (and like most Americans I am a mutt joined with French, English, Irish, German and Polish heritage).  My maternal forebear, carrying the last name of Johnson was a mere scrolling signature of entry into Canada who later migrated to the United States, and who like so many in the 19th kiltcentury was forced from his Highland lands by greed and famine.  I do not self-identify with a specific clan, so I have also never worn a tartan or learned to properly dance a Highland reel (oh, but I do love a man in a kilt). I took my first sips of single malt early in December 2002 when I first stepped upon the sacred ground of ‘home’ and ate haggis six months later on a return to Scottish soil. I once sat with an officer of the Bank of Scotland spouting statistics about loss of jobs, the Diaspora, income disparities between the central belt (running between Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the Highlands, Islands and Borders whereupon he said “why do you know so much about my country?” to which I replied “why do you not?”.

I have ached over nepotism and patronage, smiled sweetly in the face of ridiculous levels of naiveté and been crazy angry over outright lies and swindle perpetuated by people who claimed to support Scotland.

I have been mightily frustrated by the “not-invented-here” Scotland comicmindset, the territorialism of middle level bureaucrats and the mind-numbing aspects of how 1000 years of subjugation can make a population of talented, intelligent people collectively feel like the utterly incompetent bastard cousin (Shaun Moore’s epic Wha’s Like Us? is perfect, do watch the video) – part of the family but looked down upon.  What happened to the people who affixed their signatures to the most important piece of diplomatic language ever written, The Declaration of Arbroath?

I have watched as Whitehall consolidated Scottish regiments just as the English banned wearing tartan in 1746, and wept. I have been welcomed into homes across the country, and toasted in pubs where I knew not a soul on entering and left richer with friendships that are as solid as Ben Nevis.  I have had a Scottish lover many years my junior who I still cherish and with whom I remain Glencoefriends. I have enjoyed eating fish and seafood hours out of her clear waters, and drunken my fill from ice cold cascades issued from chasms in solid rock. I have sunk up to my hip in a couple of peat bogs and been grateful for not ever encountering the quick sands found on her Outer Hebrides. I traversed her breadth, and width, logging tens of thousands of miles upon never previously traveled roads and made the last ferries on time in all kinds of weather.

Scotland is a home I didn’t know I had, until after 17 years of subtle messages made it damn clear she was calling me to her.  I have invested time, energy and financial resources I was ill equipped to make – and regret not one aspect of having done so. I have learn much – which I now take forward to the benefit of other countries and regions of countries and apply the T&B model. New beginnings. And so, on the eve of the Scottish Referendum where the country I have loved faces new challenges and opportunities herself I have a few things as an outsider that I have refrained from previously expressing.

DSCN9250First, a question to pose – if British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Barack Obama are so certain that Scotland will fail why plead for her to remain part of the union? Why does her independence so threaten the state of the global economy as to expound on this? Why not just let the little country fail? I have a short list of whys and they have nothing to do DSCN9253with altruism toward Scotland’s population and everything to do with greed – Timber, Oil, Natural Gas, Fishing, Wind Power, Tourism, Whisky and Innovation (scroll down, there are astronomical values at stake here). There’s one more thing, when you perpetuate meddling in global affairs using the military for the benefit of “interests abroad” the Trident nuclear missile silos of the United Kingdom are located on the west coast of Scotland at Clyde – the Scots have wanted them gone away for a very long time, and England doesn’t have a place to put the armaments.

At least some of you reading this will understand the history, how Scotland came to be part of the United Kingdom. For those that really don’t understand – allow me.

DSCN0275 As for believing a word the English promise the Scots we need only to look to history; earlier today I Tweeted this image, at left, and

Let’s take a lesson from ‪#‎history on ‪#‎English ‘promises’ to ‪#‎Scotlandhttp://www.thistleandbroom.com/scotland/glen-coe.htm

For those who appreciate a bit of humour with their hard facts I commend John Oliver (Englishman though he may be) for his explanation of the Scottish Independence vote.

Scotland is where she is today because, very short history lesson, in the 17th century Scots founded the Darien Company to conduct trade – which would have been in competition with England’s East India Company. Aside from the various disasters which befell Darien, from the beginning England was keen to protect its trade monopoly, global expansion and world dominance.  With DSCN9259the failure of Darien the bankrupt Scottish aristocracy was offered a bailout – The 1707 Treaty of Union allowed the 1% to maintain their status and lands and essentially sold Scotland cheaply giving over her population and sovereignty to England to the considerable benefit of the latter’s trade, colonialism and war efforts. With that unlikely and largely unwelcome marriage the British monarchy realised 10% of all revenues from Scotland – go back to the Timber, Oil, Natural Gas et al link above and calculate the monies involved on an annual basis to fully comprehend that Scotland has been propping up the UK economy for a great many years (not the other way around as Cameron and company would have the world believe).

Now, least you, dear reader, think that I am a fan of Alex Salmond and the SNP – I am not. I also do not agree with most Scots as they wish (incredibly enough given that the Windsors are not actually the legitimate heirs to the British throne) to have HM Queen Elizabeth continue as their monarch (maybe it’s my being an American?) but it’s particularly frustrating to me given how much land surrounds Balmoral and the other properties owned by the royal family in Scotland and how these would better serve the Scots. Again, an outsiders view.

So, YES (a thousand times yes) I believe that Scotland should be a free and independent nation. I believe that the time of the British Empire is long over yet many upper class English men cling to the DSCN0401vestiges of the historic glory days where trade was really a pretext for pillage and meddling in the sovereignty of other nations (you really must read William Dalrymple to truly understand the history of British classicism, racism, bigotry, entitlement and arrogance that we continue to witness on the global political stage daily).  Yes, the ‘natives’ are restless, no doubt that the significant changes (should a Yes vote be realised) will be daunting to overcome (and I have doubts about the managerial, negotiation and diplomatic skills of the SNP), but if you tell people that they will fail there is no greater rallying cry to success (the heist of the Stone of Destiny being a wonderful example, another is Michael Forbes who has tied up Donald Trump for so long). New research shows there is a lot more under the North Sea than the “Better Together” folks would have Scots believe. And yes, it is getting vocal and ugly on the streets of her beautiful cities – this is a divisive, life altering decision for nearly 5 million people.

On the eve of a historic vote for Scottish Independence I am ready to sell Thistle & Broom. To let someone Scottish, I hope, grow the business in ways that truly give Scots the considerable bragging rights they should own because Scotland and her people are truly remarkable.  Step out of the shadow and own your destiny Scotland.

Sláinte mhath.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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The ferment of genius in a broken world.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
― Anaïs Nin

Flee

Photograph by Massimo Sestini, accompanying the Italian navy in rescue June 2014

According to (nearly) universally held scientific beliefs human beings have traversed the breath of the Earth for over 60,000 years. Migration is not a new phenomenon, neither, sadly, is the terror of being a refugee, but the epic proportions of displacement are all too familiar across the globe certainly are new.

Somalis in Ethiopia

Somalis in Ethiopia

There can be nothing more de-humanising than to have your community scattered, the traditions of your culture destroyed, to experience the brutality of violence directed toward you because of your geographic location (and the covetousness for what lies beneath your feet) or your faith. That we, who are all ‘of one’, could do this to another and not understand that we are doing this to ourselves (for eventually we always reap what we sow) is beyond my capacity to comprehend.  Being assigned refugee status and then being forced to live in an encampment with tens of thousands of others who likewise are forced to accept this fate and ‘live’ on the handouts of NGOs is beneath human dignity. And yet, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR, there are more than fifty (50) million people living this way. FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE living in tent cities and if you can read this from the comfort of a home, where water runs in your tap and flushes your toilet, where you can bathe, and cook, and sleep anytime you wish, a piece of you – in our common existence – is living this other life.

I believe in the ferment of genius.  That there are ideas floating all around us, destined to be pulled down because at a precise moment in time we see a problem and know with every fiber of our being that there is a solution to it that ‘we’ have been called upon by the universe to fix.  Goethe understood it too.

Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.
                                                                                                     ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Because of her Lexus Design Award winning “Weaving a Home” project, I discovered the extraordinary work of Abeer Seikaly a couple of weeks ago. I have worked with artisans and Abeer_Seikaly_woven_tent_2craftspeople for more than a decade to find a way of taking their traditional skills and making them contemporary and commercially viable so, you can imagine how Seikaly’s efforts took my breath away. The conjunction of honoring the traditional housing of nomadic peoples everywhere, seeing in handwoven baskets a possibility for something more, and her training as an architect have created something truly innovative and worthy of the (all too often loosely assigned) appellation of genius.

In combination with “ovens made from old bath tubs” we might be able to fix some bathtub ovenpressing problems and build communities (and all the healing, dynamic energy which accompanies such) within refugee camps to restore a level of human dignity.

I have facilitated introduction between Ms. Seikaly and a friend of mine who is the CEO of Glen Raven (Sunbrella) fabrics.  I suggested that the integration of a rain collection and cooling system into the functionality of her design and they have now taken the conversation into the business development core of Glen Raven for direct conversations. I can’t know the outcome, but I see NO REASON why something couldn’t be developed for those living near salt water but within an arid environment to cope with increasingly demands on water resources. I am so very hopeful of something smart, and cost effective, will come of the connections I saw and acted upon.

If you enjoy my blog please consider ‘buying me a cup of tea’ in your currency via PayPal to livelikeadog@gmail.com and then, please do share the blog with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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In the midst of Eid, Armageddon

As my readers know I am what many religious would call a heathen, I am also an infidel, and, to some Christians I would be a heretic, there is (I am sure) a long list of other names which would also apply to me.  I acknowledge the historic men and women of various religions and respect the stories of their piety and charity and how their teachings have made many contributions to humanity in God’s (and gods’) name(s) but I don’t worship the Divine through them.  My relationship with God is direct, all-encompassing and loving, there is no damnation, there is no sin to atone for; there is only love and healing in my relationship with God.  A personal ethos to leave the room lighter than it was when I came into it and yes, I view the entire world as the room I just mentioned.  No, sacred places do not fall down when I enter them, and my being fills with a pure white light around my heart when I do (which I call ‘getting the passions’) and I, generally speaking, cry tears of gratitude for being so connected to the elemental.  I am very much like the saint for whom I was named in my connection to God – just without being a Bride of Christ. Oh, and as some of what follows is ‘controversial’ least anyone accuse me of being anti-Semitic my father’s sister converted to marry so all of my first cousins are Jewish.

eidToday is the last day of Ramadan, and the three day festival of Eid al-Fitr begins. For all my Muslim friends – regardless of where you live:

May today be one of delight, and lightness.  May each moment be filled with a special joy which you and your whole family can share and always treasure. May the year ahead be fruitful for you and your family and may your home always be blessed.

After 30 days of prayers and fasting (nothing to drink or eat from dawn until sunset – period) today should mark the beginning of a celebration of joy and of renewal, and in some parts of the world it still will be.  This post is not about those places. Sorry.  This is about Gaza, and increasingly the West Bank.  This is about what greed, hatred and holding a faith contrary to your neighbours does to your normal religious celebrations – it turns them to mourning and funerals.

And yet.

From the Qu’ran, [7:199], “Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.”

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Photo of Gaza by Lazar Simeonov, printed in http://www.palestinemonitor.org/

Here’s my truth, as an outside observer to so much that is ugly in the Middle East right now, as a compassionate being, as a humanist and pantheist; forgiveness is what keeps us from killing the Divine’s beauty within each of us.  And ignorance (and my readers will also know this, I have a very low threshold for stupid) is frankly unacceptable in our globally connected world.  Don’t be rigid in your views based upon the tenets of your faith, your education (or lacking) or the pressure of your peers – use a search engine and find 10 vastly different responses to the point being made, read them – and then, make an informed decision. Do not hold a lack Palestinian womanof knowledge as an excuse for spewing hatred and committing violence.  And so, why should I quote the Qu’ran?; because the death toll of Israel’s excuse for its attacks on Gaza now stands at over 840 with over 5400 injured and frankly I am humbled at the level of forgiveness which the average Palestinian is able to offer their oppressors in the face of this siege of terror and destruction.  Because Hamas is as guilty as Israel, and if Hezbollah gets involved as it is indicating it will then Nostradamus’ prophesies about World War III are about to be all too real and played out in real time on social media.

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto: but if a person forgets and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah.” Qu’ran [62:40]

So forgiveness, and prayers for reconciliation are both necessary, and we, those in the West, need to get off our backsides and create a two state solution out of this dispute that should have been palestine mapforeseen in 1946 as the planning for the establishment of Israel was being hashed out. One only need look at a map of Palestinian lands lost to Israel and the location of Gaza to understand the ‘why’ behind the Apartheid, and what this is all really about – that last bit of prime ocean front real estate. Throughout history it has always been about land and who possesses it. And that’s why when I read a piece written by Stephen Pizzo on Alternet I thought – he has absolutely gotten to the heart of the matter!

Israel-Gaza-map-for-web-001I have long maintained that in the absence of hope man will do anything to survive – including kill (others and themselves) – desperation drives this madness because all religions value life.  We, the West, culpable for the bloodshed for reasons ranging from military aid to oil speculation, for standing by while an Apartheid state exists for Palestinians, for not being willing to say NO! to a population of people who once were oppressed and are now the oppressors, for CIA meddling, for profiteering of our businesses, we who are responsible for every single death stand by, safe in our homes, largely ignorant of the scope of the circumstances because our lives are good. They aren’t and, believe this – they won’t be. I read a fascinating piece this morning and have been mulling it over all day – if we think that there won’t be repercussions for ‘all of our sins’ we are sadly mistaken. 

He is the One GOD; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth. He is the Almighty, Most Wise. Qu’ran [59:24]

It doesn’t matter what Prophet you might follow, the words about God above resonate with each one of us, creation formed of physics an element of the Divine is found in everything. At a time when (all) Muslims should be celebrating their holiest days, honouring the same exact God all monotheistic faiths believe in, mayhem instead of joy because some is not enough for Israel, or for Hamas. I pray that the wisdom of the Almighty can prevail before it is our end of days.

As a postscript, this dramatic shift in US foreign policy – this gives me hope.

As another postscript – Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4 has just returned from Gaza with this video editorial. Please watch and share, demand your government (wherever you live) have the United Nations intervene.

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschiTo order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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Eh gads, I am a Feminist?

I very clearly recall a conversation between my parents at the dinner table in the late 60s or very early 70s. My brother and I were in school all day at this point, and while my mother mandingohad an expansive vegetable garden to tend,  and read novels like, oh gawd, Mandingo (I remember sneaking a page and being mortified of the vivid description of a rather endowed man’s anatomy), she also sewed, baked and cooked, but she wanted to get a little part time job at the local pharmacy as a cashier, to have her own money and get out of the house. My father told her in no uncertain terms that if she went to work “it will put us into a different tax bracket” and that was the end of the discussion.  (Lord knows she’s never expressed her opinions to his face in 54 years of marriage. )

It’s notable that my father’s favorite TV show of this time was All in the Family, the parody of a ultra-bigoted, racist and sexist man, a man all too literally sitting at my kitchen table each evening. It pains my heart that, as so archiemany of you reading this will attest, the telling line of the theme song “guys like us we had it made” reflecting a nostalgia for a different time when women stayed home (like my mother) is still with us and our collective humanity. And “angry old white guys” are making things difficult and ugly for so many because the world as they would like it to be doesn’t exist – exerting excessive control, spouting abhorrent rhetoric, always seems to escalate when this segment of society feels threatened. (My father peeled rubber down the driveway throwing gravel, stormed out of rooms with the toss of his chair, or gave you ‘the look’ whenever he was challenged or somehow something anyone else knew and expressed was contrary to his closely held view.)

Growing up in a childhood environment such as this, and with all the ills that remain for women to fight against even to this day, how is it that I have not actively and passionately embrace this moniker until recently?

I mean at 12 I was having a conversation about Roe v Wade with my priest and I have struggled against the barriers to equal pay throughout adulthood, the mere idea of human trafficking makes me quiver with angerHumanTraffickingMythbusterPOSTER, and yet it took a social media chat with a man of Latin heritage who can claim serious credibility in “enlightenment” to push me over the edge and realise, I AM A FEMINIST! (if you aren’t also you need to watch this video from the brilliant Lacy Green.)

This ‘title’ doesn’t feel authentic to me yet (there are women and men I know that truly fight the good fight every day, utterly committed, and they are damn loud about it) but (for clarity, just now) I called up Merriam-Webster online and according to their site feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”, who wouldn’t want that? (Okay, other than the Republican Party in the United States and the ultra-Orthodox of any and all religions.) Feminism, in case you reading this were unaware, actually traces its roots back to the age of Enlightenment and the hero of said movement Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My claim to being a feminist came about because the aforementioned man posted an image on his Facebook wall entitled ‘Tennis Sweets’ (not a reference point to Sugarpova) which  featured a nubile young woman in (ridiculously) high heels, the shortest white pleated tennis skirt imaginable, lace panties, no shirt, no bra and a white sweater draped in such a way as to just cover her nipples. This was in such a stark contrast the Universalist mindset of love he had presented that I was compelled to call him out on it, and he responded that he took it down but not for me (okay, fine, whatever).

gender is not between your legsWhat’s odd is that in his posting the image he did me a huge favour, so I thanked him and expressed: “my reaction told me something I didn’t truly realise about myself – eh gads, I am a Feminist!”

And then he wrote: “That’s not healthy… Be human first… Your sex is not you…”

If you think about it, this is kind of funny because the image that prompted this personal discovery for me was about sex, a woman’s sex, and objectifying her rather than seeing her ‘in fullness of being’; and that has ALWAYS been an issue for me, the objectification. (How one woman balanced the ‘creepy man syndrome’ – do click thru, it’s brilliant!)

Equally so, I suppose, is the assumption that he made earlier (and men often make) that unless a woman has a partner, a lover, a man, there is something wrong (with her). Because despite the fact that he freely acknowledged my “great soul” and later in our text conversation wrote “enlightenment will disable all thoughts of need of equality between man and woman.. That’s my point… I believe your higher then you believe so…” he had pointedly asked: “How you survive the nights? in terms of sex? or companionship? You have a active lover?”

sadhuSigh. So even when we have reached a higher level of consciousness, our souls having a human experience, it ever comes down to ‘who are you spending your nights with’? And if you aren’t spending your nights with someone that somehow either makes you a freak, diminishes you in the eyes of humanity or evokes pity. Does anyone express such about monks, nuns and sadhus?

So let me be clear, Madison Kimrey is the kind of chutzpah packing feminist I wish I was and she’s not yet 13 years old (I sincerely hope no one is asking her who she is spending her nights with)! I absolutely love that she has taken on uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly  in the common ground of a bra to eloquently express that equality really means having choices. My choice, as a woman and as a feminist, and more accurately as an evolved soul having a human experience, is not to share my bed simply for the sake of doing so.  The energy in the sacred sanctuary of our sleep needs to be nurturing, protective, harmonious, inclusive and yes equal – and I am unapologetic about abstinence and exclusion until I find that singular person unquestionably worthy of aligning all of my chakras as I take responsibility for the care of his.  

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There will be consequences for your stupidity! 😉

In the meantime there’s something to be said for being a feminist, a humanist, a mindful sensualist and for not suffering fools. (Yes, I unfriended the Latin man. )

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