Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here's a good song for today - or any day. Just a reminder: Christine Kane's No Such Thing As Girls Like That.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here's a column that says what needs to be said about the ongoing US response to 9/11:

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Mobbing Syndrome

Two of the most important pages in Noa Davenport's valuable book, "Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace, are pages 40 and 41. The information on these two pages is also a description of what happened to me at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. The "ganging up" mentioned on Page 40, although begun by a co-worker, was actually carried out by management, and to some extent is continuing to this day by management's ongoing refusal to acknowledge what was done, to be honest, accountable, and demonstrate a commitment to health care and healing.
The "Ten Key Factors of the Mobbing Syndrome" listed on Page 41 is exactly what I experienced at St. Alphonsus. I couldn't have written a more accurate list of my experience from January, 2004 until August, 2006 at St. Alphonsus myself. An unknown number of other former employees have suffered the same traumatic experience there, and probably at other Trinity Health facilities also.


"The Mobbing Syndrome"

"In the following paragraphs we describe the elements of the mobbing process and how it manifests itself in more detail. As mobbing comprises numerous factors that occur in combination and severely affect an individual's health, we chose to call it the mobbing syndrome. We define it as follows."

"The mobbing syndrome is a malicious attempt to force a person out of the work-
place through unjustified accusations, humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse, and/or terror."

"It is a "ganging up' by the leader(s) - organization, superior, co-worker, sub-ordinate - who rallies others into systematic and frequent "mob-like" behavior."

"Because the organization ignores, condones, or even instigates the behavior, it can be said that the victim, seemingly helpless against the powerful and many, is indeed "mobbed." The result is always injury - physical or mental distress or illness and social misery and, most often, expulsion from the workplace."

Page 40


"The Ten Key Factors of the Mobbing Syndrome"

"The mobbing syndrome contains ten distinctive factors that occur in various combinations, systematically, and frequently. The impact of these factors on the targeted person then becomes the major element of the mobbing syndrome.

1. Assaults on the dignity, integrity, credibility, and professional competence of employees.

2. Negative, humiliating, intimidating, abusive, malevolent, and controlling communication.

3. Committed directly, or indirectly, in subtle and obvious ways.

4. Perpetrated by one or more staff members -"vulturing."

5. Occurring in a continual, multiple, and systematic fashion, over some time.

6. Portraying the victimized person as being at fault.

7. Engineered to discredit, confuse, intimidate, isolate, and force the person into submission.

8. Committed with the intent to force the person out.

9. Representing the removal from the workplace as the victim's choice.

10. Not recognized, misinterpreted, ignored, tolerated, encouraged, or even instigated by the management of the organization."

Page 41


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"The Civil War left the South a graveyard of ashes and poverty. Clouds of smoke clung to smoldering cities while people in rags foraged for food in the country-side, drifting down dirt roads lined with the bloated carcasses of farm animals the Yankees had shot to starve the Confederates. The war wounded so many people that in 1866 one-fifth of Mississippi's total income was spent on artificial arms and legs."
from The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, by Philip Hoose page 29.

" In pioneer days. it was said that there were so many trees in Ohio that a squirrel could travel from the Ohio River to Lake Erie without ever touching the ground. The settlers made up their minds to rid the land not only of fierce beasts like bears and wolves, but of any other animal that might eat their crops."
"In 1807 Ohio passed a law requiring each taxpayer to turn in between one and one hundred squirrel scalps each year along with his taxes."
from The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, by Philip Hoose page 30

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Well, while all that is going down, I'm in the hospital drooling all over myself. One morning I'm in this One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest group therapy shit, and some crazy guy tells me all I need to get myself cured is a mission. I got to thinking about that, and realized he wasn't as crazy as everyone thought." He looked at Kate. "So I found a mission."

from Sworn to Silence, by Linda Castillo, Page 266

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Today is the anniversary of the deaths of app 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States. May it remind us of the preciousness of human life and that people were not created to be sacrificed for political or nationalistic causes. May we remember that all humans are created in the image of God and that human life is sacred. To keep this tragic event and all terrorism in perspective, here are a few reminders of other acts of terrorism in human and US history.

1. The destruction of hundreds of Native American tribes, their languages, cultures, and the stealing of their land.

2. The kidnapping of Africans for use as slaves. In 1860, only 150 years ago, the population of the United States included 3,950,528 slaves, 13% of the total population.

3. The Nazi killing of app. 6 million Jews and others with a total death toll in the 10 to 17 million range.

4.The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing 135,000 people instantly and over half a million eventually from injuries and cancers caused by the radiation.

5. The dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki killing 64,000 people instantly and, like Hiroshima, many more from injuries and radiation poisoning. Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings were deliberate attacks on civilian populations.

6. The Vietnam War, which resulted in the deaths of 3-4 million Vietnamese plus 1.5 to 2 million Laotians and Cambodians. As in all wars since World War 2, 75 to 90 % of the victims were innocent civilians. Such a high percentage of civilian causalities makes all contemporary wars acts of terrorism.

7. The first Gulf War, often called Desert Storm, which killed 100,000 Iraqis.

8. The current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which has killed and injured hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and as in all terrorist attacks, they were killed and injured with no regard for individual guilt or innocence and no due process of law. Millions of Iraqi and Afghanistan families have been damaged or destroyed and many people have become refugees as a result of these wars.

There are many more acts of terrorism now going on around the world. Although US citizens were victimized on 9/11, history shows that, in past acts of terrorism, frequently we were the terrorists. Let us pray that we will not be so blinded by idolatrous devotion to a political entity, or to trust in military violence, that we are willing to engage in acts of terrorism against others. Our security as a nation is intimately connected to the security of other countries and peoples around the world. We can never be secure if we are threatening the safety and security of others.

Leonard Nolt

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Here's an article that provides one reason for many of the problems this nation is currently having...

Heritage Foundation: Solutions for America (Part 2 - Looking at the Introduction)

On Page vi of the Solutions for America we find a two-page "Introduction. " (Note that my responses will not necessarily be in the same order found in the Solutions for America). In the "Introduction" the authors attempt to briefly state the problem. They begin with the following sentence: "America has reached a tipping point."

It's their perception that the problems facing America are primarily caused by the government. In the introduction to Solutions for America the following phrases, "government policies," "excessive government intervention," "federal grasp and reach," and "Government now intrudes," and others convey this perception. Is the government really that much of a problem? Let's see how well the Heritage Foundation checked the facts.

In the first paragraph the writers of "Solutions for America" later called "...a team of Heritage experts," complain about the government dictating; "..the mix of fuel we can put in our cars, to the kind of light bulb we use." Let's look at a few of the substances the government regulates. Is it possible that the Heritage Foundation would like us to still use leaded fuel in our cars, considering that lead in the environment adversely impacts the health of children interfering with brain development and learning ability? What about asbestos, which was used in building materials as insulation from temperature and sound, and is know to cause asbestosis and mesothelioma, both fatal diseases for which there is no effective treatment? Mercury is another toxic substance that can harm the brain, heart, and lungs of people of all ages, but is especially toxic to pregnant women. The Heritage Foundation, in the Solutions for America, seems to think that the federal government should not be regulating businesses, but if they didn't would the the oil companies have voluntarily taken the lead out of their gasoline? Would the construction industry still be using asbestos in buildings? Certainly the government is bigger than it used to be, and is probably bigger than it needs to be, or should be. But the country is also much bigger in terms of population. Is the over growth of the federal government really a problem when it comes to protecting citizens from toxic substances that otherwise would end up in the environment? Or is the federal government overgrown in some other area? Would it have been realistic and effective to expect state and local government to impose their regulations on these toxins? We all know that discharges of poisonous substances into the environment is still a problem throughout this country, indicating that perhaps more regulation is needed. Mercury is one toxic substance that needs more regulation since power plants that burn coal still release mercury into the environment.

In the "Introduction" the Heritage Foundation complains about government funding of alternative energy sources. They write "Government policies have stifled domestic energy production while pouring billions of dollars into alternative energy subsidies..." The countries that are leading the world in alternative clean energy production, Germany and Spain, are doing so precisely because their government have poured "...dollars into alternative energy subsidies."

According to "Renewable Energy in Germany" at, "The renewable energy sector was aided especially by the law that required businesses to buy energy generated from renewable sources first, before buying energy from non-renewable sources." Also "People who produce energy in their own homes have a guarantee from the government that they can sell their 'product' at fixed prices for a period of 20 years." In a corresponding article about Spain is found: "In 2005 Spain became the first country in the world to require the installation of photovoltaic electricity in new buildings, and the second in the world (after Israel) to require the installation of solar hot water systems." Note that the reason these two countries are leaders in developing clean alternative energy thereby reducing their dependence on foreign oil, is because the government passed laws requiring changes to be made. There should be similar laws in the US including laws encouraging and facilitating home and small business owners installing clean energy sources. These laws should be so attractive with funding and financing options that people would be lining up at the doors of solar and wind production business to purchase their own production systems. If we can select, embrace, and fund a crash program to put a person on the moon in a given period of time, we can also do the same to eliminate or significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The Heritage Foundation complains about energy being too expensive even though a gallon/liter of gasoline in Europe costs much more that the same in the US. Keep in mind that the cost of gasoline in the US includes the cost of both US military attacks on Iraq and also on Afghanistan.

At the end of page 1 of the Introduction the "Index of Dependence on Government" is quoted as showing that Americans' dependency on government - "increased last year at the fastest rate in over three decades." No where do they mention that this "Index" is determined by the Heritage Foundation.

The Heritage Foundation emphasises the need for government to be smaller and seems to prefer local and state government actions to decisions made by the feds. They write, "The closer a government is to the citizen, the more effectively it will spend the citizen's tax dollars; i.e., the federal government wastes the most, state governments somewhat less, and local governments waste the smallest portion of each tax dollar" (Page iv). However I don't see them advocating turning the nation's defense over to state and local governments. Since our sources of energy (pipelines and power lines; domestic and imported oil) also cross state lines, as does polluted air and contaminated rivers, isn't it just as ridiculous and un-workable to suggest that environmental regulation and energy policy be developed at state or local levels of government? Since citizens frequently travel and relocate, moving from one part of the country, crossing state and local boundaries, naturally taking their health issues with them where ever they go, isn't it also better for the federal government to address the issue of health care, providing a single payer plan, independent of drug and insurance company input. Such a plan would be cheaper and more efficient, resulting in less overhead and paperwork, and providing more consistent care, compared to each employer or state having different plans which threaten citizens with tons of paperwork and loss of coverage every time they change employers or living locations.

The Heritage Foundation laments over, "Our burgeoning welfare state now dispenses a trillion dollars annually to tens of millions of Americans without asking for anything in return." Doesn't the Foundation realize that this trillion dollars being dispensed to Americans each year are tax dollars that came from Americans in the first place? Who does the Heritage Foundation think this money should be going to? Should they be going to finance the bombing of people in Iraq and Afghanistan? Should they be used for corporate welfare at the expense of individual and family support? Conservative decisions during the recent Bush Administration, which included cutting funds for education and veterans, as well as funding two questionable wars and bailing out the bankrupt banking industry, would lead us to believe that the Heritage Foundation might just think this trillion dollars should go to people other than the ones who earned the money in the first place, that is the US taxpayer!

Leonard Nolt

Friday, August 27, 2010

Heritage Foundation: Solutions for America (Part 1- Changing America's Course)

The Heritage Foundation, according to their website, is "a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." They go on to write that "Our vision is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish."

The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 and have more than 684,000 members who pay an annual fee of $25. so they are very well funded. Members include well-known conservative such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and also many not so well known, such as my father, who was much more conservative than I am. Unfortunately he died in 1995.

On their website the Heritage Foundation has a section called "Solutions for America," which is over 50 pages of their ideas of how to solve many of the problems facing this country today.

In the coming weeks I intend to look at some of the solutions offered by the Heritage Foundation and respond to them. Stay tuned

Here's my first response

Page 1 of Solutions for America is entitled "Changing America's Course. The authors seem to have an exaggerated idea of US uniqueness in the world. The first sentence says; "The United States is the world's strongest, most prosperous, most just, and freest nation."

Is that really a truthful statement? Let's examine it starting with strength. Strength can be measured in many different ways. If the Heritage Foundation means military strength, or our ability to attack and destroy other countries, we probably are the strongest. But strength also has to do with the possibilities available to each individual in this nation. If people are hungry, do we as a nation have the strength to provide them with food? If they are unemployed or homeless, is it possible for those needs to be met? If people are sick or injured and cannot find affordable health care, we certainly aren't a very strong nation. Sick, injured, hungry, homeless, and unemployed citizens do not make for a strong nation. I'm not necessarily saying that the government should automatically meet those needs. But if opportunities are not available for people to help themselves, then changes need to be made so people can have hope. When unemployed young men and women cannot find a job anywhere except by joining the military, we certainly have a very weak country. It probably means that we have devoted so many resources to the military that we are starving the other necessary parts of our economy, such as education, business, and health care.

The strength of a country can just as accurately be determined by its ability to respond to the needs of its citizens, as it's ability to attack another nation, or respond to an attack from another country.

Is the US the most prosperous nation? A study researched by Jane's Information Services and published in the British Sunday Times on March 25, 2008 addressed that very question. On the list of the top 50 most prosperous nations, the US was, NO NOT # 1, much to the dismay of the Heritage Foundation, but # 24 behind such notorious countries as Canada, France, Andorra, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, and Sweden.

Is the US the most just country? Or to put it another way, is the US the country with the most justice. Justice has to do with fairness, especially in the judicial system. If we believe that all people "..are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" (Page 1 of the Solutions for America), than justice is certainly an important issue.

The Equal Justice Initiative at states that the United States is the most punitive country in the world. "Mass incarceration in the United States continues at record high level despite outsized costs. According to recent data reported in The Economist, the United States has the world's highest incarceration rate, locking up five times more people per capita than Britain, nine times more than Germany, and 12 times more than Japan."

"Recent reports have documented the magnitude of the increase in mass incarceration in the United States. In 1970, one in 400 Americans were incarcerated, compared with today's rate of one in 100. Counting people on parole or probation, one adult American in 31 in under correctional supervision."

Does this mean that there are simply more criminals in the United States? Of course not. It means that our criminal and judicial systems are essentially unjust, especially when you take into consideration that the portion of minorities incarcerated is out of proportion to their populations. Is this a just system? No way.

Is the United States the freest nation in the world as the Heritage Foundation wants us to believe? Any country in which the citizens have access to universal health care coverage is a country with more freedom than the US. This is especially true if there is a single payer plan. Then citizens have the freedom to change employers and living locations without losing their health insurance, or worrying about being unable to get insurance elsewhere especially if they have a pre-existing condition. Thankfully Pres. Obama has taken some successful steps to correct this problem with the passage of the Health Care Reform Act, but we still fall far short of nearly every other industrialized nation. Some countries like Canada are so far ahead of the US in this area that they've had coverage for over 60 years and we're just beginning to work at getting it.

In the US workplace freedoms have been disappearing for the past several decades. Mark Ames in "Going Postal" writes, "In Soviet times, workers often had to show an ID to enter their factories, which usually had a security entrance, but once a worker was inside they were never subject to the degree of full spectrum dominance as today's American workforce." Ames goes on to say that: "The strangest thing about all of this is that if you were to tell an American that his workplace is more Soviet than what the Soviets ever created, he would think you're simply a nutcase or a troublemaker" (Page 107-108).

According to Lewis Maltby in "Can They Do That: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace," your freedom "... disappears every morning when you go to work" (Page 1). Professor Bruce Barry from Vanderbilt University said, "Your boss can fire you for your politics, the books you read, or even the baseball team you root for, and there's usually nothing you can do about it" (Page 5).

Maltby writes, "Glen Hillier lost his job because he asked a presidential candidate an embarrassing question at a public political rally. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Hillier, who worked at an advertising and design company, attended a rally for President Bush in West Virginia. He attempted to ask Bush a challenging question about the war in Iraq. One of his company's customers, also at the rally, was offended by the implied criticism of Bush and told Hillier's boss. When Hillier came to work the next day, he was fired. When Hillier called his lawyer he was told that his boss had done nothing illegal."

"What happened to Hillier's freedom of speech? What Hillier didn't know is that, where his employer is concerned, he has no freedom of speech. The United States Constitution, (including the Bill of Rights) applies only to the government. It does not apply to private businesses. A corporation can legally ignore the constitutional rights of its employees"(Page 5).

As you can see the trend in this nation is loss of freedoms. Certainly employees who have union representation, a pension, paid vacations, and cost-of -living raises have more freedoms than those who do not, but those benefits are some the benefits that have been disappearing from the workplace during the past three conservative administrations (That includes the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Administrations. Although Clinton was not as conservative as the other two, he was an accomplice to conservative regulation including welfare reform and NAFTA and was certainly more conservative than the Republican Nixon Administration) .

It was during these conservative administrations that many of our freedoms have been lost and not just the one I focused on, freedom of speech in the workplace. Now the conservative Heritage Foundation foolishly and inaccurately claims that we are the freest nation in the world. This ethereal platitude by the Heritage Foundation that I just dissected indicates that we have some problems with their approach. If they are going to make initial outlandish statements with no documentation, can we really expect them to offer credible sincere solutions to the problems facing America?

Stay tuned for Part 2.

Leonard Nolt

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Trauma and Recovery

I'm reading Judith Herman's fine book "Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror" published in 1992 by Basic Books.

Here's an important quote from page 58: "Restoration of the breach between the traumatized person and the community depends first, upon public acknowledgement of the traumatized event and second, upon some form of community action."

Victims of crimes may get the public acknowledgement and community action they need through the legal process of apprehending the criminal and prosecuting him/her, but that alone is rarely adequate. They also need support from family and friends and many need opportunities to express themselves. Unfortunately those who are the victims of acts of violence that may not be criminal in the legal sense are often not granted any public acknowledgement or community action. This would include, but is not limited to, victims of warfare (since war is usually "legal"), sexual harassment and abuse and physical harassment and abuse since those behaviors are only infrequently publicized and prosecuted; bullying and mobbing, both at school and in the workplace; whistleblowers; plus any form of discrimination. It's true that there are laws and policies addressing some forms of harassment and also laws and policies protecting whistleblowers. Unfortunately these laws are very weak and designed to protect the companies and corporations who otherwise might be liable for what happens to people on their campuses.
Any student or employee taking legal action against an institution or company due to their failure to provide protectection from some form of discrimination, harassment, or abuse is taking a very risky step. Virtually no individual has access to the unlimited financial and legal resources possessed by a large company or educational institution. In my own experience of being the target of a workplace bully for over two and a half years at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and injured with PTSD (See "Workplace Psychological Abuse" on this blog for more information), I've made numerous attempts to address the problem with those involved by requesting a professional mediated conflict resolution process. My requests have been denied even though such a process would have the following advantages over litigation:

1. Cheaper
2. Quicker
3. Access to more information
4. Everyone could come out a winner
5. Not a punitive process
6. Open communication
7. More possibility of preventing similar injuries in the future
8. Increased possibility of publicity, thereby increasing awareness which
would make the community and region safer
9. Financial and other resources directed toward prevention, not retaliation
10. Would include possibility of hearing everyone point of view,
not just those who were most directly involved.
11. Better educational opportunities
12. More flexible option
13. No gag rule

A few of these overlap, but the point remains. This would be a much more efficient and inexpensive way to resolve conflicts. In spite of these advantages, management at St. Als adamantly refuses to consider this option. The reasons are obvious. Selecting a venue or process for addressing a problem that does not utilize their legal department and is not a conflict they can win while inflicting a loss on the other party, is outside their comfort area. Also their legal department would advise against choosing such a resolution because it minimizes or eliminates the role attorneys play in resolving conflicts and thereby reduces their need for attorneys. Unfortunately the losers are the citizens of this region as well as all St. Alphonsus employees.

A medical center ignoring a request to be heard from a victim violates everything that a responsible health care employer represents. It blocks healing; it foolishly implies that the company cannot make mistakes and that it has no responsibility for those mistakes when they are made, and it also makes the leaders and members of upper management look very uncivilized in their unwillingness to acknowledge the trauma. I watched the film "Food, Inc." last evening and it includes the story of a small boy who died as a result of eating a Jack-in-the-Box burger contaminated with e-coli. The boy's mother expressed her grief and disdain at the appalling behavior of those individuals who were responsible for the contaminated meat that killed her son, and their refusal to listen to her grief, to apologize, or to in any way be personally accountable. Certainly the first lesson of Civilization 101 that we should have learned in kindergarten is the lesson that when we hurt someone, we offer a sincere, public, and official "I'm sorry." Are those who refuse to do that really civilized?

Herman writes on Page 8 and 9:

"The study of psychological trauma must constantly contend with this tendency to discredit the victim or to render her invisible. Throughout the history of the field, dispute has raged over whether patients with post-traumatic conditions are entitled to care and respect or deserving of contempt. whether they are genuinely suffering or malingering, whether their histories are true or false and, if false, whether imagined or maliciously fabricated. In spite of a vast literature documenting the phenomena of psychological trauma, debate still center on the basic question of whether these phenomena are credible and real. "

"It is not only the patients but also the investigators of post-traumatic condition whose credibility is repeatedly challenged. Clinicians who listen too long and too carefully to traumatized patient often become suspect among their colleagues, as though contaminated by contact. Investigators who pursue the field too far beyond the bounds of conventional belief are often subjected to a kind of professional isolation."

" To hold traumatic reality in consciousness requires a social context that affirms and protects the victim and that joins victim and witness in a common alliance. For the individual victim, this social context is by relationships with friends, lovers, and families. For the larger society, the social context is created by political movements that give voice to the disempowered."

"The systematic study of psychological trauma therefore depends on the support of a political movement. Indeed, whether such study can be pursued or discussed in public is itself a political question. The study of war trauma becomes legitimate only in a context that challenges the sacrifice of young men in war. The study of trauma in sexual and domestic life become legitimate only in a context that challenges the subordination of women and children..."

I would like to add here that the study of psychological trauma from bullying and mobbing in the workplace only becomes legitimate if discussed in the context of employees and customers/patients at a place of employment. Does management have the right to ignore their own standards? Do they have the right to threaten someone with termination for reporting an on-the-job disabling injury as the Employee Relations Manager did to me in July, 2005? It's about how management treats their employees - everything from refusing to enforce or even follow their own standards, to the absence of unions whose presence would help protect employees and patients from injury. It's a human rights issue as well as a safety and health problem.

Herman goes on to say: "Advances in the field occur only when they are supported by a political movement powerful enough to legitimate an alliance between investigators and patients and to counteract the ordinary social processes of silencing and denial. In the absence of strong political movements for human rights, the active process of bearing witness inevitably gives way to the active process of forgetting. Repression, dissociation, and denial are phenomena of social as well as individual consciousness."

"Three times over the past century, a particular form of psychological trauma has surfaced into public consciousness. Each time, the investigation of that trauma has flourished in affiliation with a political movement. The first to emerge was hysteria, the archetypal psychological disorder of women. Its study grew out of the republican, anticlerical political movement of the late nineteenth century in France. The second was shell shock or combat neurosis. Its study began in England and the United States after the First World War. and reached a peak after the Vietnam War. Its political context was the collapse of a cult of war and the growth of a antiwar movement. The last and most recent trauma to come into public awareness is sexual and domestic violence. Its political context is the feminist movement in Western Europe and North America. Our contemporary understanding of psychological trauma is built upon a synthesis of these three separate lines of investigation."

The next form of psychological trauma that needs to addressed by society and that also needs a political movement to support the actions taken, is the very common and serious problem of workplace psychological abuse, commonly called bullying or mobbing.

Leonard Nolt

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The first principle of Biblical interpretation is the life and teachings of Jesus. If as Christians we want to get the clearest idea of how Jesus expects his followers to live, then we look at how Jesus, the founder of Christianity, lived and related to others.
It's also through the life and teachings of Jesus that we get the most accurate picture of who God is, and what he expects from, not just those who believe in him/her, but from all people.
The best place to find the information we need to follow Jesus is in those books of the Bible that are reports of how he lived, that is the first four books of the New Testament; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
And the most complete and concise expression of Christian beliefs in found in the Sermon on the Mount.

"The term recovery, however is somewhat problematic when applied to trauma survivors. In one sense, it is quite appropriate, for recovery connotes health. In another sense, however,
it is inapprorate, for it suggests a return to one's previous condition, to where one began. Trauma survivors return to a state of health: they do not, however, go back to where they began."

from Shattered Assumptions: Towards a New Psychology of Trauma by Ronnie Janoff-Bulman, Pub. 1992 byt The Free Press, New York, NY, page 169.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"vengeance can fill any fool with conviction"

Mark Erelli from the song "Seeds of Peace"
on the CD "Hope and Other Casualities"


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least."

Dorothy Day

"We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems."

Margaret Mead

"The search for someone to blame is always successful."

Monday, June 7, 2010


The concept of "forgiveness" is well known, even if not well used. Most people know what forgiveness is although we rarely see it practiced, at least not by countries in their international relations, and certainly not by the competing political parties within this country. When forgiveness is offered someone for a hideous offense it becomes front page news, as in the story of the Amish forgiving the man who executed five Amish girls at the Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania on Oct. 2, 2006. In the June 5, 2010 edition of Shaping Families we have the story of a family whose daughter was murdered and their process toward forgiveness. Like the story of the Amish victims, this one is also very remarkable.

Even though the concept of forgiveness is well known, there are many mistaken ideas about forgiveness. We may think we know what forgiveness is, but it's just as important to know what forgiveness is not.

Forgiveness is NOT forgetting. Often the offense is so repulsive, as in sexual, physical, or psychological abuse, that we don't want to talk about it and we wish the victim would be quiet and just forgive and forget. That attitude does a grave injustice to the victim who will have to talk about the abuse in order to recover, a process that may take years. People who have been abused, or lost loved ones have had their lives irreversibly changed by the experience. Expecting them to forget, is expecting them to deny their own history and the different person they've become as a result of the abuse or loss.

Forgiveness is NOT excusing the abuse. The abusive behavior still demands a response. In some cases it has to be publicized to warn and thereby protect others. The victim has a right to expect the abusive behavior to be addressed, if illegal, by the authorities, and if legal as in workplace bullying (which can be as emotionally harmful and injurious as rape or torture), by the employer and the community.

One who forgives does NOT necessarily refuse to address the abuse. The victims or victims, especially in cases of abuse are often dismissed by others who don't want to hear any more. In my own experience I was diagnosed with PTSD after being bullied by a co-worker consistently for over two years at my former employer St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Idaho. After repeated reports of the problem and bullying to management, which resulted in no change, management told me to "just move on," and "let's act like adults" and also to just forget about it and "focus on my family and my job." A psychologist I was referred to by my employer for treatment of the PTSD hastily dismissed me after only half a session by telling me to "write about the experience but don't think about it." It was clear that his dismissal was permanent. Only later did I find out that he was also an employee of St. Alphonsus. Needless to say these responses did nothing to solve the problem and only aggravated the PTSD injury.

People injured by any kind of abuse, or those who lose loved ones to acts of criminal violence, need someone who will listen to them. The story on Shaping Families of the parents who lost their daughter demonstrates the extensive process people who have been victimized must endure. Talking about the trauma that caused the injury or the loss, is necessary for their recovery. The list above is incomplete. It's important to know what forgiveness is not, as well as what it is. We cross paths every day with people who are hurting as a result of abuse or because they lost a loved one to an act of violence. Telling them to "forgive and forget," 'just move on," or "don't think about it," is not helpful. Listening to their story, even for just a few minutes, can make a big difference, and help them move toward a state of real forgiveness.

Leonard Nolt

For more information on forgiveness check: "Sexual Abuse in Christian Homes and Churches" by Carolyn Heggen, especially pages 126-133; "Caring Enough to Forgive" by David Augsburger, and also FORGIVENESS/RECONCILIATION on this blog.

Friday, June 4, 2010

On Families and Poverty

I don't know more about it than what this article contains, but this effort in the San Jose, CA to provide affordable housing near public transportation for underprivileged families seems to be something needed in most large cities in this country: I almost daily use the city buses here in my home town of Boise, ID and it's clear that many people who use buses in Boise would not have access to any form of transportation if the bus service was not available, since they do not drive or even own a car. The same is true for many cities in this country
As Jim Wallis stated in the May 29 issue of
"Forty-four percent of all homeless people work, have jobs, and yet still can't afford houses" Wallis goes on to point out how wrong this situation is, especially in a country with all the wealth and resources found in the US. Certainly providing affordable housing for underprivileged and homeless people is the right way to go, but that housing must be located near public transportation options so the residents can get to their jobs.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ten Quotes for March

Ghandi's Seven Deadly Social Sins
1. Politics Without Principle
2. Wealth Without Work
3. Commerce Without Morality
4. Pleasure Without Conscience
5. Education Without Character
6. Science Without Humanity
7. Worship Without Sacrifice


"On most crews, each cutter harvests six heads of lettuce each minute, or 360 an hour. At this pace a farmworker earning an hourly wage of $8.37 is paid just two cents per head: these heads are then sold in stores for about $1 apiece. Although total farm labor costs are less than one-third of grower revenue, companies argue that low wages are necessary in an industry forced to deal with unpredictable weather and shifting market demands. But Philip L. Martin, professor of agricultural economics at the University of California - Davis, has shown that even a dramatic increase in labor costs - passed fully to the consumer - would have a very modest impact on the typical American household budget, which spent $322. on fresh fruits and vegetables in 2000. Martin's detailed analysis of the agricultural industry found that a 40 precent increase in framworker wages would increase a household's annual spending on fruits and vegetables by only $8., to $330. A single head of iceberg lettuce, selling for $1., would increase by just two or three cents."

From page 14 of "Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (most)
Americans Won't Do." by Gabriel Thompson.

Also from Page 2 of the same book; "At the height of the winter growing season, Yuma (Arizona) farmworkers are harvesting an astounding 12 million heads of lettuce a day."


"Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you" RASHI

"A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of people have sold their moral allegiance." Wendell Berry

"The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you
are traveling for." Louis L'Amour
This quote is similar to another from Joe Conanson's book "Big Lies" that I posted on this blog a couple years ago. It's at The information in this quote is one of several strong reasons why I am not a conservative.

" When you decide whom to vote for, remember who is on your side as an employee. Virtually every law in history that helped employees was initiated by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. This includes social security, the minimum wage, bans on discrimination based on race, gender, and other illegitimate factors, workplace safety and health standards, and many more. The Republicans even opposed child labor laws. I've been working in Congress for better employment rights for twenty years. I could count the number of Republicans who have ever helped me on my fingers (and have a few left over). "
From "Can They Do That? Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace" by Lewis Maltby, Page 243.
On Jan. 23, 2010 while holding hands and running together across the Boise State Administration Bldg. parking lot on our way to a basketball game, my six-year-old grandson, Zach, said to me, "God is actually squeezed between us, holding hands with us as we run." The he quickly added, "Jesus too," as if Jesus would feel left out if he wasn't included.
"Freedom only exists when it is a treasure shared by all."
from "The Surrender Tree"


"Maybe all of us are the same height when we meet our God."
from "Face" by Sherman Alexie, Page 122

"Hope is not the assurance that things will be easy or will work out well. Rather, hope is the deep inner assurance (a "dimension of the human spirit" he calls it) that what we are doing makes sense and has purpose and that it is the right thing to do, whatever the immediate consequences."

by Czech playright and former president Vaclav Havel. From page 183 of "The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen," by Jeffrey B. Symynkywicz.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"But the way in which we are alive is meaningful, and it does have a certain radiance."
John Updike

Monday, January 25, 2010

Letters From the Past (Sept. 9, 1999)

On Sept. 9, 1999 this letter I wrote was published in the Idaho Statesman.

According to the Idaho Statesman, the US Army is considering changing its advertising slogan. It's about time. For years the Army has insulted the youth of our nation and their parents with its "Be ALL You Can Be" slogan, falsely implying that the greatest potential young people have is to join the Army and learn how to kill other people. Each young person's life has a greater and better potential than anything an army can offer.

We only have one life to live and we can use it either to make peace or make war. Since armies today generally attack civilians, not other armies, a decision to join any army is a decision to add to the escalating violence and terrorism against civilian populations in the world. A new and honest slogan from the US Army will make that clear.

Leonard Nolt


Here are a few of the responses I received, also published in the Idaho Statesman on the dates indicated.

PROUD OF ARMY - 9-26-99 (Response #1)
I couldn't disagree more with the Sept. 19 letter from Leonard Nolt of Boise regarding our US Army. We are citizens of the greatest country in our planet's history. The men and women of our armed services have helped make this so.

From our nations' birth to today, it has been their commitment, their love for their country and its people, and their sacrifice at home and abroad that defines the true meaning of "Be All You Can Be."

I am a veteran of the US Air Force, but given the opportunity, I would proudly serve in the Army if so asked. I would welcome the challenge, for I owe (as we all do)a great debt to those who have served before us, those who have died fighting for our nation's ideals, and for those who may follow.

Nolt should be thanking our enlisted men and women and the Army they dedicate their lives to. It is their daily sacrifice that allows his anti-American feelings to be printed. (from a Boise resident.)

HURT BY REMARKS - 9-30-99 (Response #2)
In reply to Leonard Nolt (Sept 19 letter), I again felt the anger and hurt remarks like Nolt's provide. My grandfather headed the Minnesota National Guard. My father remains an Air Force MIA in Vietnam.

Our son, a member of the National Guard, is an Army-trained nationally certified EMT. He also attends the University of Idaho as an ROTC member. Since joining the Army, his grades are up, his self-confidence has risen, and he has turned into a proud young man with a purpose, a goal and a very bright future. He has what many young people do not have today: a sense of duty, honor, and pride in his country. He is and always will be "All He Can Be."

The next time Nolt wishes to say something like this, he should think twice and remember who gave their lives so he may remain free to do that. All the men and women of the United States armed forces and we, their families, would appreciate it. (from a Boise resident)

ARMY SLOGAN FITTING - 10-2-99 (Response #3)
I was appalled at the apparent lack of military knowledge and obvious bias, that Leonard Nolt illustrated in his letter in the Sept. 19 Statesman. The US Army has a long history of contributing to American society; there have been and currently are millions of young and seasoned veterans who make up an important part of our national fabric - in government, commerce, education and many other professions.

Tom Brokaw's book, "The Greatest Generation," vividly depicts the military's "personal and personnel" contributions to the greatness which our nation enjoys. The Army's current slogan, "Be All You Can Be," has been a theme that has inspired many young Americans who served their country for varied number of years. My lengthy military experience has netted the view that young people who have served in the military are generally mature and focused, and proud of having served their country. Should the Army adopt a new slogan, I hope it will be a as inviting and hard-hitting to young people as "Be All You Can Be." (from an Eagle resident)

A NOBLE PROFESSION- 10-8-99 (Response #4)
I am writing in response to Leonard Nolt's letter dated Sept. 19. Nolt contends that the Army is not a worthy profession and that it promotes violence. He obviously lacks historical knowledge and fails to possess the ideals and values that this great nation stands for.

As an active-duty Army officer, I consider it an honor and privilege to serve. Our country won the freedoms we enjoy because of the selfless service and ultimate sacrifices made by the members of the armed forces. The purpose of the military is to protect our freedoms and national interests.

The noble men and women who pursue careers in the military, and those citizens who support them, are true Americans. They are worthy to take advantage of the freedoms and opportunities our country has to offer. Those who complain about our military and believe it is immoral are not worthy. (from a Meridian resident)

Obey Orders - 10-25-99 (Response # 5)
As a veteran of the Army, I agree with Leonard Nolt's letter concerning the Army's slogan. He was not attacking the character of our soldiers; he was simply questioning the appropriateness of the slogan "Be All You Can Be" for an institution that really has no interest in whether its soldiers are living fulfilled lives and being all they can be.

The Army simply wants soldiers who will never orders. With this in mind it comes as almost no surprise to learn of the slaughter of hundreds of women and children during the Korean War, which only recently came to light.

Why would good, decent young men, fighting to defend our freedoms, decide to spray bullets into a crowd of helpless non-combatants?

They didn't make that decision - their commanders did. The first thing you learn in basic training is that you don't think for yourself. You just do what your told. Never question orders.

The Army's newest slogan, if they were interested in being honest (they're not), should be: Never Question An Order, No Matter How Cold-Blooded and Inhuman." (from a Boise resident.)



Although these letters are over ten years old, the issues they raise are still current. Here are a few observations.

1. First let me say that in the letter I wrote (Army Slogan), I was simply expressing my distaste for the slogan which is, like much advertising, dishonest in that it implies the greatest potential young US citizens have is to join the Army and learn how to kill people. Contrary to what was implied or stated in the responses, I was not suggesting that members of the Army and other branches of the military lack commitment, bravery, maturity, or that they don't love their country.

2. I'm aware that soldiers in warfare often act with great courage and bravery under unbelievably threatening and destructive circumstances. I also believe that war veterans should have quick and easy access to any first-rate physical, psychological, or spiritual care they may need for life.

3. It's interesting to note that none of the four letter writers who criticized my letter actually addressed the two points I made. First, that it's insulting to claim US young people do not have any greater potential than learning how to kill young people from other countries. Second, that soldiers in warfare primarily kill innocent people, not enemy soldiers. Is their refusal or failure to respond to the points I made an indication that they have no argument against them?

4. I believe that every person has a much greater potential that simply learning how to kill other people. It's a higher and more noble calling to learn to heal and help, rather than hurt or harm others. It's better to construct than to destroy. It's better to help feed, clothe, and house people than to destroy their sources of food, clothing, and shelter which is what usually happens in war. It's also better for a person to be a peacemaker than a war maker. Einstein said, "One cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war." If we're spending our time, our lives and other resources preparing for war, we cannot use those resources to prevent war. Preventing war is better than preparing for war.

5, Two of the writers mention the "greatness" of the United States. One person wrote that the US is the "...greatest country in our planet's history." Another refers to the US as "...this great nation." The word great is a very vague term. Which aspect of US life is the "greatest?" Is it our wealth, the potential destructiveness of our military's weapons, or is it our commitment to freedom and the care and concern we show for the poor, minorities, immigrants, and other marginalized people? Another category of greatness to be considered is the availability and affordability of education and health care for all people. Are we the greatest in the world in all these categories? We may be the wealthiest country that has ever existed and we certainly invest more resources in developing our potential to kill more people and destroy more land than any other nation. We spend more on warmaking than all the other countries in the world combined, but is that a sign of greatness? Should we be proud of our ability to kill and destroy others?

6. The letter writer dated 9-26-99 claimed that my letter expressed "anti-American feelings." There is nothing "anti-American" about expressing concern for what often seems to be an eagerness to wage wars in this country. The wars we have fought in recent decades have been against countries too poor or weak to attack us, or even defend themselves against us. They've clearly been fought for reasons that have nothing to do with self-defence (Iraq-oil/Afghanistan-possible oil pipeline/Vietnam & Southeast Asia-virulent and blind anti-communism as well as an attempt to expand US control and try out new weapons systems). These wars have also resulted in the premature deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, and in Southeast Asia the victims number in the millions. Most of the people victimized by US military action have been innocent civilians. Is protesting the killing of innocent people "anti-American?"

7. Two letter writers (10/299 and 10/8/99) use the word "service," each one twice. Others write of duty, honor, and sacrifice. If we're waging war to steal oil or other resources, no one is receiving a service. We have no duty to kill civilians for any reason and there is no honor or nobility in doing so.

8. The letters dated 10/8/99 and 9/30/99 mentions "freedoms" or "free." Killing people, for whatever reason, destroys freedom. Dead people have no freedom of speech, press, or religion, no choices on election day, and no democracy. Even people who are not killed but injured with lasting physical or psychological injures have had some of their freedoms destroyed.

9. Over 40% of the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan are under the age of fifteen so these wars we are fighting now are primarily wars against children, teenagers, and women. They are the primary victims of our military violence. There is no honor or duty in attacking women, teenagers, and children, all of whom pose no threat whatsoever to the US.

There is more that could be written in response to these letters but I'll leave it for now.

Leonard Nolt

Friday, January 22, 2010

APOCALYPSE ( a prose poem)