Marion Witte

October 13, 2018

Ghosting is Just Being a Coward!

Filed under: Thoughts — Marion Witte @ 7:51 pm

I was talking to my daughter the other day about how the norms in our society have changed dramatically the last few years, and how people are very comfortable in taking action to avoid human communication. She explained to me that is rampant in young people, and there was even a word for it – “ghosting.”

The Urban Dictionary Definition of Ghosting – “The act of suddenly ceasing all communication with someone in hopes that the ghostee will just “get the hint” and leave the subject alone, as opposed to the subject simply telling them that he or she is no longer interested.”

Marion’s Definition of Ghosting – “A selfish way of avoiding a difficult conversation.”

While ghosting may have started as a way to break off a romantic relationship, I have noticed that a growing number of people, in all age groups, are now using this technique to avoid dealing with any unwanted text, email or phone call.  I have encountered this myself several times the last few months, and so I began to wonder about its causation.  I was recently ghosted in a business situation, when someone with whom I had been communicating for weeks never responded to my final proposal.  And a person, who I thought was a friend, used it as a way to blow off a planned get-together.

Many folks attempt to justify ghosting as a way to cease a relationship without hurting feelings.  In truth, it actually shows that the person ghosting is thinking more of himself or herself, as ghosting often creates more confusion for the other party than if the subject kindly stated how he or she feels.

I know that most people have busy, complicated lives, and that responding to a text, email or phone call cannot always happen in a timely fashion.  When I cannot return one of those communications the same day or the next day, I try to send a quick note, stating that I cannot get back to them at the time, but I will do so later.  This way they are not left hanging wondering if I received their communication or if I am ignoring them.

Yes, I am old-school and old-fashioned.  And I think making a timely response is an act of courtesy.

There are many psychological reasons why someone ghosts, but at its core, ghosting is avoidance and often stems from fear of conflict. Which means, at its heart, that ghosting is about wanting to avoid confrontation and avoid difficult conversations.

My intention in writing about this topic is to explore why we now are compelled to “ghost” other people, when that term was relatively unheard of 10-15 years ago.  In addition to the psychological reasons listed above, some more specific factors that come to my mind are:

  1. We lack the courage to confront an uncomfortable situation
  2. We use it as a way to avoid an unpleasant face to face or verbal communication
  3. We use it as a way to escape personal responsibility

Here are some of the excuses I received back after I was persistent in getting in touch with certain parties, after they repeatedly ignored me.  These are the excuses I got after sending a text (or email), then a second text (or email) a few days later, and finally a phone call to ask what was going on:

  • Their response: “I didn’t get your text.”  My thought: I guess that “Delivered” function on my phone isn’t working.
  • Their response: “Your email went to my spam.”  My thought: And what about the thread of business emails that went back and forth between us for the last month.
  • Their response: “My voicemail isn’t working.” My thought – Yeah, blame it on the phone company.

Psychology Today posted an interesting article by Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., about how ghosting may be causing long-term psychological damage in young people who have not developed the tools to deal with this type of rejection.  Some of the more interesting conclusions in the piece are:

  1. Regardless of the ghoster’s intent, ghosting is a passive-aggressive interpersonal tactic that can leave psychological bruises and scars.
  2. People who ghost are primarily focused on avoiding their own emotional discomfort and they are not thinking about how it makes the other person feel.
  3. The more it happens, to either themselves or their friends, the more people become desensitized to it and the more likely they are to do it to someone else.

After reading this article, I tried to think about anytime I ghosted someone, and how that may have left him or her in the dark, or worse yet, damaged.  I can only commit to do better in the future.

Therefore, when you think about ignoring someone’s attempt to get in touch with you, perhaps it would be a good idea to remember the words of Jesus as relayed in Mark: 2018:

“If a person shall decide to ghost another person, thou shall first examine your actions, to determine if you are just being an asshole.”


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October 12, 2018

Friends for a Lifetime!

Filed under: Thoughts — Marion Witte @ 1:09 am

I recently attended an inspirational/motivational seminar, with the intention of being to ascertain if there were any new techniques or tools being offered for self-improvement.  I was not sure what to expect. This course turned out to be a combination of many of the ideas offered in the early 2000s, including Tony Robbins, the law of attraction, Jungian psychology and soul work.  There was even an interesting new topic included in the agenda – becoming a medium!

My current area of interest is exploring where philosophy, spirituality and quantum physics intersect, so when I looked at the class agenda upon arrival, I thought this might be a waste of my time.  Yet I stayed and I listened, and was glad I did, as I heard some words of wisdom that resonated with me.  I do not know if they were new ideas to me, or if they were concepts I heard years ago and was not ready to process at that time.

A particularly intriguing idea about friendships was offered by one of the presenters. She suggested that we clear out any friends who no longer serve our purpose, so that there is a space for new people to arrive.  That concept resonated with me, although it would have been more useful when I was younger.  Her suggestion was that we should rank our friends on a scale of 1 to 10, and if they were rated an 8 or less, we should eliminate them from our life.  This approach seemed a little harsh to me, as I could imagine myself getting rid of most of my friends or acquaintances!  She offered no technique for such a ranking, which makes sense, as it seems that would be a very personal and subjective concept.

I pondered her idea upon returning home, and I decided to experiment with the idea of long-term friendships, using a process that made sense to me.  My intention did not include removing people from my life.  Instead, I wanted to examine these staunch friendships to determine why they had sustained themselves for several decades – up to 60 years.  I based my inquiry on the question of “What was the common denominator that got us through our individual difficulties, the times when we were out of touch with each other, or when we had a disagreement or misunderstanding?”

I also thought that perhaps the results of this exercise, from an old lady’s perspective, might be thought-provoking to younger folks.

After reflecting on my long-term friendships, I concluded that the length of time since our friendship began, until today, did not determine our connection. Conversely, it was the depth of our friendship that had created its longevity.

For me, the common denominator of these friendships includes three core issues.  These criteria would, of course, be different for anyone doing their own evaluation:

  1. We have a mutually supportive relationship. I know I can count on them to be there for me if I need help, and they know the same is true of me.  We provide support to each other, on a reciprocal basis, so our friendship never becomes one of taking advantage of each other.
  2. We have an honest and open relationship. My true-blue friends have the courage to let me know when they disagree with me, and to suggest that I look at a situation in a different way, in an effort to give me options that I could not see for some reason. I do the same for them.
  3. We work towards maintaining an authentic relationship. We have a deep understanding that we are each on a personal journey and we support each other as we walk those separate paths. Neither of us are interested in bullshit.

True-blue friends fall into a special category, and those friendships need to be honored.  These friends enrich our lives.  They make the good times more enjoyable and the tough times more bearable.  Being a faithful friend is not always easy and it does not happen overnight.  Instead, it requires constant attention and nurturing.

On the other hand, not everyone will fall into category of a life-long friend, yet those individuals provide valuable lessons, companionship and socialization.  They are often referred to as “friends for a reason” or “friends for a season.”

To anyone who is interested in developing a life-long friendship, I suggest you make it a priority.  We often expend more energy into buying a house or looking for a job than we do in finding staunch friends.  Decide what qualities in a friend are the most important to you, so that you attract that sort of person into your life.  If you currently have any “toxic” relationships in your life, consider removing them to make room for healthier people.

As an added benefit of this exercise, I was reminded that I have a 10+ friend in my life – my beautiful daughter Angela.  She is there at the “drop of a hat,” and she is the most honest person in my life!

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September 26, 2018

Thank you, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Filed under: Society — Marion Witte @ 12:48 am

This post is to support and honor the courage of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Christine Blasey

I spent the last few days deciding if I really wanted to write this post. After much soul-searching, I knew, with absolute certainty, that I needed to do just that. I find the reaction of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to the claim of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, to be both appalling and condescending. Let me be clear, I am not taking a side about the veracity of Dr. Ford’s allegations. What I am willing to do is confirm that the way she recalled and disclosed her attempted rape is quite normal, based on my very personal experience in this area.



When I was 16 years old, a neighbor who was ten years older than me attempted to rape me.

That was well over 50 years ago.

I obviously do not remember everything that happened to me during my teenage years, but I remember that event as though it was yesterday. I remember the look on his face. My terror. My anger. I remember the knife. And I remember hearing him say, if I ever said anything to anybody, he would kill my father, the most beloved person in my life. The hair on the back of my neck rises as I think about the Army pistol he aimed at me, as of proof of his intentions. I believed him, and so I said nothing to anyone at the time, and for many years thereafter.

37 years after my attack, my father passed away. I delivered what I hope was a loving, yet honest and authentic obituary at his funeral. As I exited the church to get into the funeral car to go to the cemetery, I noticed a man leaning on the hearse. It was my attacker. I gathered myself, as best I could under the circumstances, and I approached him. With a sarcastic grin, he said “Nice speech.” I quietly thanked him. He then preceded to ask me if I remembered what had happened between us. He went on to tell me, since I was now such an uppity woman, maybe he should tell everyone what I compelled him to do, so that people would know what kind of a girl I really was. I had to gather my thoughts, as my anger and grief were each fighting for my attention. It suddenly struck me that he could no longer do harm to my father, and at the same time I also realized that I had been holding on to that fear for years. So I channeled my dad’s energy, and said what I think he would have said. I told him, using my Big Girl Panties voice, “Say whatever you want to say, and then get the fuck out of my life.”

If anyone were to go back through the records of the various therapists I talked to over the years, you would find a discussion about the attempted rape in many of their notes. You would also read an abbreviated version of the event in my memoir published in 2010.

The attack I describe lasted less than thirty minutes, yet it has affected me my entire life, in ways both big and small. I am writing about this now, not as a victim, yet as an attestation that the type of events Dr. Ford outlined, and the related remembrances, do indeed happen, and we owe it to females everywhere to be HEARD.

And so, I ask that any members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have experience with the subject of sexual assault, or who are sympathetic to the difficult situation of the accuser, please take that into account and show compassion to Dr. Ford’s very complicated and sensitive situation.

And to the members of that same Committee, those who appear to have no interest in pursuing any form of truth, or showing any form of compassion to those who may have been subjected to such a vile experience, I say, with all due respect:

“Please, shut the fuck up!”

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September 23, 2018

Another Out-Of-Touch, Old White Man

Filed under: Catholic Church — Marion Witte @ 5:29 pm

I must be naïve, for I thought most people would support the idea that children shouldn’t be raped by men wearing dresses, especially if he flaunts his power by wearing wizard hats and bead necklaces with alpha-male sized crosses.

My latest blog posts are focusing attention on the issue of childhood sexual abuse, especially in religious organizations, including religious schools. Several people have made it clear that this also happens in religious organizations other than the Catholic Church. Point well taken.

That said, I have been somewhat surprised, yet not shocked, by the reaction to my posts about the childhood abuse that occurs specifically within the Catholic Church. Most people agree that this abuse needs to end, yet they offer several reasons why they will not speak up:

  1. They are afraid of what family members will say
  2. They are afraid of what their social media “friends” will say
  3. They are afraid of what their employer might say
  4. They are afraid of the Church’s response to them within their community
  5. They are afraid of what will be uncovered by getting outside law enforcement involved
  6. They are afraid the cost of settling all the lawsuits will bankrupt the Church

These fears, and others that I have probably not considered, appear to be holding people back from expressing an opinion or getting involved with this important issue.  What is disconcerting to me is that, while I believe most people find childhood rape an abhorrent behavior, they also consider it “someone else’s problem.”  Perhaps people would be more vocal in their outrage if they understood that their fear of speaking up is inconsequential compared to the fear inflicted upon these children.  I speak from personal experience.

The Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania was the first major law enforcement agency in the United States to investigate child abuse within the Catholic Church.  Their report did not cover the entire state, as it did not include the State’s largest diocese in Philadelphia.  In spite of that, the results of that inquiry are appalling.

A national survivor’s organization is calling for an investigation to be conducted by officials in each state.  So far, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Nebraska, New Mexico and Kentucky have begun inquiries.  California’s attorney general is currently under pressure to undertake a similar investigation.

Below is a link to an online site where you can petition to have an investigation done in your state.  Note: For some reason the list is not alphabetical, so you have to scroll down this list to find your state.

Call for Church Investigation

God only knows the extent of the massive national abuse that may be uncovered, as it has been in Australia, Ireland, Canada and many of the European countries. We should all welcome the results of the various investigations in the United States that are to take place, so we understand the magnitude of this problem.

If you are a Catholic, a non-Catholic or a compassionate human being, please ask yourself why you have remained silent about this issue, and if there may be some action, even if it is a small one, that you could take to show your support for the survivors, and the children currently being abused. I am one small voice with one small platform, and I do what I can, yet we need many more “small voices” to speak up in order to effect change.

As you decide what personal action you need to take (or not take), you may also want to ponder about what side of history you want to find yourself.

As a society, we can change our political alliances, our court system, and even our Constitution.  That said, if we do not stop raping and abusing children, we are morally bankrupt, and none of those other actions matter.


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September 7, 2018

Memes-Catholic Church Abuse

Filed under: Catholic Church — Marion Witte @ 12:22 am

This is an album of 12 memes I prepared for use by any social media sites that are working to keep the awareness of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal alive in the news.

Hopefully they will appear around the internet.

Feel free to scroll through these photos using the arrow keys. You can share any that are of interest to you by going to my Marion Witte Connection Facebook Page.

From Memes. Posted by Marion Witte Connection on 9/07/2018 (12 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2

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August 17, 2018

Father Stephen Colbert, Please Help!

Filed under: Catholic Church — Marion Witte @ 12:05 am


Below is a letter I sent to Stephen Colbert at The Late Show.

  If you are interested in supporting this effort, you can email his press secretary,
Lauren Kamm:

Or write to an individual or organization who you think can help to effect change.


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August 15, 2018

WTF – When Is Enough Enough!

Filed under: Catholic Church — Marion Witte @ 7:09 pm

I usually wait until my outrage over an issue has subsided before I post on my blog.  This is not one of those times.

Yesterday the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a Grand Jury report related to continuing sexual abuse occurring in the Catholic Church.

The report states that “Church leaders protected more than 300 “predator priests” in six Roman Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania for decades because they were more interested in safeguarding the Church and the abusers than tending to their victims. More than 1,000 young victims were identifiable from the church’s own records.  The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal. Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them did nothing: They hid it all.”

The report includes descriptions of priests engaged in rape and child pornography for decades, using “whips, violence and sadism,” and in one case joining together in a secret cabal of abusers. To add to the injury, the report contained accounts of bishops who had actively defended the accused priests.

Sadly, this is not really anything new – just more of the same.

Bishop Ronald Garner of the Harrisburg Diocese, who was cited in the report as having lobbied not to defrock offending priests, has issued this official statement on behalf of the Catholic Church:

“As part of our on-going need for repentance and healing, Bishop Gainer will celebrate a Mass for Forgiveness at 12 noon on Friday, August 17, in our Cathedral Church of Saint Patrick, 212 State Street, Harrisburg.”

To Bishop Gainer, I say, “enough with the fucking repentance and forgiveness – how about some change.”

As someone who was subjected to sexual abuse myself as a child, by a trusted person, the wounds from my past were reopened as I read this story. I have let many people know during my lifetime that my personal experiences left me with a “hole in my heart.”  I listened to some of the survivors telling their stories today, many of whom still cling to their faith, saying that they have been left “with a hole in their soul.” It was then that I could no longer hold back the tears, for I understand this at a deep level.

I left the Catholic Church at the age of 18, and am still in recovery from it. If I were still involved with that organization (or learned of any organization that operated a pedophile sex ring), I would be protesting and demanding change. Therefore, to the good Catholics who are sitting by silently, I ask “When you are going to wake up?”  If you stop going to Mass for six months, the Church would get your attention and perhaps do something to stop this legalized sexual abuse. Better yet, stop making your weekly donations.  Money is the power base of this organization, so such an action could bring the Church to its knees, and perhaps force it to take some real action to stop all of this, and not just issue statements about repentance and forgiveness.  Ugh.

Churches are much like families, in that the desire of the members to be part of a tribal situation often supersedes the willingness to speak up, tell secrets, and do the right thing.

For me it’s really very simple – you either give a fuck about kids, or you don’t!

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August 13, 2018

The Tea Cups in Our Lives

Filed under: Thoughts — Marion Witte @ 12:00 am

I thought about the following story during a recent email exchange with my niece.  As a reminder to myself, and anybody else who may benefit from its reading, I think now is an appropriate time to re-share it with others.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

It was with more than a little trepidation that I slid into the front seat of my brother’s truck for the ride from my hotel to my mother’s house. I was in Fargo, North Dakota as part of a ten-day adventure to visit family and friends in the Midwest, and my daughter Angela was accompanying me on my journey back to my homeland. One of the goals of this trip was to say hello to my mother, or at least knock on her door in an attempt to find out if she was interested in talking to me. We had not spoken for eight years, and during that time I had published a book about my life and my childhood experiences on the farm on which I was raised. I assumed that she was not happy about the contents of my memoir, and so I expected that she may not answer the door, or perhaps she would slam it in my face. I had braced myself emotionally and mentally for either of those outcomes. What I had not prepared myself for were the events that would actually unfold.

My brother Frank also lives in Fargo, and he graciously offered to assist me in making the connection with my mother, by placing a telephone call to her to confirm that she was home. He asked my mother if he could stop over to take a look at something on her car, and I heard him tell her to make sure she was up and dressed. He said nothing to mom about me being in town.

My brother picked up my daughter and I at our hotel, and we made the short trip to my mother’s house. When we arrived, I exited his truck and stood in the driveway by the vehicle’s open door. My brother walked up to our mother’s front door and knocked on it. I saw it swing open, yet I did not immediately see my mother, as she remained inside. I heard him say to her “You won’t believe what the cat has drug in!” My mother stepped out, looked over at the truck, and then at me. A look of anguish came over her face, and I saw she was, to put it mildly, shocked. She hesitated for a moment, and then she proceeded down the sidewalk.

As the contorted look on her face started to gradually fade away, I focused more clearly on the almost 90-year-old woman walking towards me. I was struck at how much weight she had lost since I had last seen her, and the degree to which her face had aged. On the other hand, she was maneuvering quite well down the sidewalk towards me, so I was confused that this woman, with her life experiences now literally etched on her face, had maintained her physical health. This was all a bit disconcerting to me, and I was trying to take it all in as she approached the truck.

She stood directly in front of me, looking me squarely in eyes, making no further movement. I took the initiative to make the first move, and I reached over and put my arms around her and hugged her. Then I said something that I do not ever remember saying to her – “I love you, Mom.” She reacted to neither the hug nor my words, and I released my hold.

At that moment, Angela got out of the truck, and my mother went over to her, and gave her a hug. Obviously still flustered, she said “Well, I guess we should go inside.”

We all proceeded to enter her small condominium and Angela and I took our seats on the couch and she sat in her recliner. My brother then surprised me by saying, “You know, I have some errands to do, so I will pick you up in a couple of hours.” I was stunned at his words, and at first I was a little miffed. Then I reminded myself that it was me that wanted this experience, and I settled into our visit, leaving myself open to whatever was about to occur.

My mother was very talkative, and much of the conversation revolved around her life and what she was doing. She brought me up to date on what was happening with the relatives, her friends and the church. She spoke to Angela, and I paid attention as they engaged in conversation. For my part, I listened to my mother, and I answered any questions she posed to me. Our conversation was cordial and light, and we did not talk about the past, nor was any mention made of my book.

My mother stated that she was getting her affairs in order, and I commented that it was always good to have things set up the way you want them to be. I could tell from her comments that she has reached a point in life where she is divesting herself of her personal possessions. She offered me a box of old photographs that she had collected over the years, and I accepted them as graciously as I could, and said I would go through them when I got back to California. She asked Angela to pick out some teacups and saucers from her collection in the dining room china cabinet, as a remembrance of her. Angela chose two that appealed to her, and my mother was delighted when my daughter told her she was going to put them beside the vases she received from her other grandmother.

Then my mother asked me to pick out two sets of cups and saucers for myself. Almost instantly, the little three-year old girl still inside of me started to tell me she did not want anything from this person! So, in an attempt to appease that child-like part of myself, I declined the tea cups and gave my mother the excuse that they were fragile, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to get them back home safely on the plane. I watched my mother’s lighthearted expression change when I made that comment. At that moment, a piece of advice that I am accustomed to giving others came into my consciousness, and it immediately altered my thinking and the mood. I heard my mind silently speaking to me as it said “It is better to make the choice to be kind, instead of always needing to be right.” My mother was offering me a gift, and if I was going to walk my talk, I needed to take the higher road of gratitude and acceptance.

I selected two sets of pastel cups and saucers, each decorated with the variety of a flower that you would find in a Midwest garden. As I held them up to look more closely at each one, I noticed how delicate they were. I also chuckled to myself as I wondered how long it had been, since the age of Starbucks and Coffee Bean, that anyone had used a saucer. I thought about the hundreds of cups of coffee they held and the various people who had enjoyed the porcelain decorations. As I examined them, I realized that they had held their beauty, even when most people would no longer consider them useful. A lot like we treat people, I thought!

My brother returned, two hours later, and suggested we all go out to dinner (they call it supper in the Midwest!). My mother was delighted to be asked, so we journeyed off to their favorite barbecue rib place, where I ate way too much food!

We drove back to my mother’s condo to drop her off after dinner, and I got out of the truck to walk her up the pathway, and make sure she got the front door unlocked and opened. As she was about to go in, I wrapped my arms around her and once again said “No matter what happened, I love you Mom.” She was silent, although she hugged me back.

And then, as I was walking down the sidewalk towards my brother’s truck, I heard my Mother’s voice calling out after me. “Marion,” she said, “This was a great day.”

For a split second, I thought about responding, yet my instincts told me to stay silent, for everything that needed to be said has been said. I turned around, smiled and waved goodbye.

I sat in silence in the front seat of the truck as my brother drove us to the hotel, and I pondered what has just transpired. I thought about my mother and her last comment. Before this trip, I was pretty sure my mother was wrong about anything of importance. My thinking was altered during this visit, as I now knew she was right about at least one thing.

Indeed, it was a great day!


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August 7, 2018

Stewie – An Old Teacher

Filed under: Stewie — Marion Witte @ 1:13 pm

Stewie (aka Jon Stewart) is my 12-pound ShihTzu, and he came into my world about five years ago. He has given me the opportunity to think more profoundly about our personal histories, and how they play out in our current lives.

He and I are kindred spirits, as there is a special language between us. Stewie came off the streets of West Los Angeles, dumped there when he was about two.  When we found each other, he was scraggly (actually homely if I’m totally honest) and he had a variety of health problems.  I cannot imagine what it was like for him to be rummaging for food and shelter, and fending off dogs ten times his size.

Nevertheless, he survived.

Recently Stewie went blind. Even so, he has adjusted amazingly well to his new world – it is I who cried for two weeks upon finding out this news!   Watching Stewie cope with his sight impairment has taught me so much about how he gets on with life (regardless of what has come before) by using all that is available to him right now. Does he see the water dish when he steps in it and knocks it over? No. Does he care? No.  When I witness his actions, I am concerned, but Stewie just goes on with his life, not giving a care about what I perceive as his “handicap.”

When I look at him I wonder what he would tell me if he could relay his back-story. Then I realize that I don’t really need to know the details, as his story plays itself out in his behavior. When he first came into my life, he was skittish, tentative and he would pull his head away when I tried to pet him – those actions told me everything I needed to know.

I wondered if he had strayed away from a loving home – although his actions when I found him contradict that idea. I pondered if he ran away from an abusive situation, willing to wander dangerous streets in search of a better life. That scenario makes more sense to me.

And even now, I watch as he is still willing to approach everyone, his tail wagging and waiting for the obligatory pat on the head. If he does not get what he needs, he moves on, not concerned about whether someone likes him or not, just looking for the next loving soul.  If he senses any type of danger, he removes himself from the situation.

Stewie has to navigate the world a little different now than he did before – yet he is the same dog in the most important aspects. I am the one who is different, because of what he has taught me over the years. These blessed little souls do not judge you.  They don’t care about your view of the world, and they don’t leave you if you don’t always follow their plan.  They just listen, look at you compassionately, and love you.

By the way, what a wonderful world this would be if humans would do the same.

My father was blinded in a farming accident when he was three years old, yet he remains my “constant and forever” teacher and mentor, although he has been gone for many years. He taught me how to “see” things that most sighted people miss.  At times, I find it ironic that a blind dog would come into my life to take over my father’s instructional role.

Maybe, just maybe, it was our destiny.


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July 22, 2018

Monsanto, Halliburton – And a Bunch of Dead Indians

Filed under: Society — Marion Witte @ 5:10 pm

I was born and raised on the prairies of North Dakota, so let me give you a little history lesson about my state.  The information I am relaying in this blog was not taught to me in the elementary school, high school or university that I attended.  I discovered it myself after doing research on my own as an adult. The reader is free to do the same.

During 1873-1883 the United States government, in coordination with commercial hide-hunting companies, promoted the slaughter of the American buffalo, including those in the Dakota Territory.  The bison was a primary source of sustenance for the Great Plains Indian tribes.

The decimation of the buffalo was part of a deliberate, and successful, effort to starve the Plains Indians into submission. Many high-ranking U.S. officials were explicit about their intentions. In 1873, Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano declared “The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains.”  Two years later, General Philip Sheridan told a joint session of Congress that buffalo hunters had done more to settle what he called “the vexed Indian question” than the entire U.S. army. Sheridan urged the politicians to continue to support the hunters.  “For the sake of lasting peace,” he said, “let them kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated.”

By 1884, the bison population in the United States was basically extinct.  Although the exact extent of the carnage cannot be determined, it has been estimated that the population of 30 to 50 million buffalo was reduced to less than 1,000. This is one of the worst, and perhaps the most under-reported, animal slaughters by humans ever undertaken on our planet.

And, as planned, the systemic annihilation of the Native Americans of the Plains was almost complete.

Mission accomplished.

As this dark past has come to be revealed, shame has been brought on to my home state, and on to our country.  My hope is that we can atone for our past actions, or our complacency about it, by agreeing to do better in the future.  A recent trip back “home” after being away for years has made me question whether we have kept that promise. Only time will tell.

North Dakota is in the midst of an economic boom.  Shale-based oil is being drilled in Williston using the process of fracking, which is drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to reach the oil reserves. The state is now the second largest producer of a non-renewable energy source in the United States.  Corn is one of the primary commodities raised, and the agricultural community is recording record-high profits.  This activity has generated surpluses for the State’s coffers, and reduced the unemployment rate to one of the lowest in the country.

On the reverse side, there always seems to be consequences to any type of economic windfall.  These are some of the observations I made during my recent visit:

– Large quantities of the most fertile farmland in the United States have been sold to non-farming investors, with the concurrent elimination of many of the family-run farming operations in the state.

– Corn is now a major commodity crop, due to the profitability it affords the farmers.  There is a growing demand for corn by the food industry, as high-fructose corn syrup is used in many of our food products.

– Monsanto Corporation, a biotechnology giant, has created a monopoly in the agricultural seed industry by using tactics to drive small farmers out of business, and to force growers to use its genetically modified seeds. Corn grown using Monsanto Corporation seeds is now labeled as a “genetically modified plant.”  (Note: This corporation has been banned from doing business in a growing number of countries around the world).

– The state’s oil resources have been turned over to out-of-state oil producers, drilling contractors and engineering firms, including corporations such as Halliburton (who is at least partly responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill).

– There is a potential for the pollution of the environment and the poisoning of our water supply because of the chemical leakage that happens during the process of fracking.

The activities in this list are no different than those happening in other farming and oil-shale fields around this country, and probably around the world.

Sadly, as of today, no governmental agency or environmental organization has been able to assess the long-term effects of the 600 chemicals used in the fracking process, and their introduction into the ground water supply.  Even proponents of the fracking process are unable to provide complete assurance that we are engaging in safe practices, and that the health of future generations will not be detrimentally affected.

And although there is major controversy and a growing concern among the public about the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms), these products continue to be included in our food source.

We do not know how all of the actions we are engaging in today will affect our children, our grand-children and even our great-grandchildren.  If we find out twenty (or even a hundred) years from now that we made some “bad” decisions today, the effects of the killing of the buffalo in the 1880’s may seem like child’s play in comparison.

What is occurring in North Dakota is not exclusive to that state.  It is a cautionary tale for all of us in this country, and around the world.


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