Living in this World

Friday, September 30, 2011

#105 The blessing net

Dear all,
In a troubled world, I'm finding much to be thankful for--the opportunity to plant fruit trees in community space, ties of family and old friends, exciting sprouts of new relationships, so many people who want to do the right thing.
And I'm remembering that I've been passionate about popular education ever since I came of age; the form it's taking now is how to share what I know about economics in a way that's truly accessible. So I'm going to try something new--a very brief, hopefully thought-provoking, something about economics every month, along with whatever else has been able to squeeze its way into my busy mind--this month a poem about being present on the 64 bus.
Much love,

The blessing net

I climb aboard the 64
could continue with my book
decide instead to pay attention,
offering a prayer of “bless and keep”
for everybody on the bus.

The woman in the wheel chair
taking up four seats,
The teens in their school uniforms,
The young mothers with small children,
(ethnicity changing with the neighborhoods,
Black, Spanish, Southeast Asian)
The old Chinese man who struggles with each step
The white man with a caved in face,
as if he’d received a bone-crushing punch,
The older woman who is late to work,
worrying that another wheel chair
will be maneuvered into the bus
slowing her down still more,
The young woman on the phone beside me
pregnant, supporting a man who doesn’t do his share
wondering what comes next.

On the way home,
old men with bags,
young women with scarves,
the crossing guard
with his bike on the front,
but mostly the small boy slumped in the seat
across from me
unhappy, maybe tired or sick,
with a father who watches but does not touch.
Bless and keep.

They are there with me
I welcome them, hold them
then look around and they are gone.
The net of blessing on a bus
is full of holes.
Nothing can be known for sure
about what good it does
except that I am better off for holding it.

A new economy is possible!

In the first half of the nineteenth century, most people believed that our nation's economy required slavery. It was seen as an unfortunate but necessary evil. Fast forward 150 years. What has taken the place of slavery? What do we see in the structure of today's economy that just as clearly cannot be changed--that is unfortunate, problematic, perhaps even evil, but is a necessary part of the scheme of things? Economic growth? Wall Street? Corporations hard-wired for profit? Could we imagine challenging their necessity, daring to live without them? Let's help each other cultivate the courage and imagination that will make a new economy possible.

Some things that have made me hopeful recently:

The Envision Peace Museum,

A Greenpeace victory, getting Costco, the largest buyer of seafood in North America, to agree to no longer sell several endangered seafood species, pursue better aquaculture practices, and take a greater leadership role in the effort to develop a more sustainable tuna industry.

The growing number of bike trailers in West Philadelphia.

The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program where college students join with prisoners to take courses together, which now includes more than 120 colleges in 35 states, and has moved thousands of traditional college students to rethink the nation’s approach to criminal justice.

Check out:, a home for all the parenting
writing I've done over the past 20 years.

Also: START: a way to study and work together with
others to create a better world.

For earlier columns, go to
(If the background is too dark to read, I hope you can get a computer whiz
to help--and let me know what you figured out! When I go there on my Mac
via Safari, it's fine.)

And I've joined Facebook! We'll see if I can use it as a communications
tool and not get sucked into all the rest...