Is This Child Safe?



I have been thinking about holidays and children. Not just American children, but children in the UK and children in India. I have been worrying about children in Russia and in Jamaica.


I have been thinking of children who don’t have good role models or lunch money. I have been thinking about children who are afraid and ones who like to look at books and yet they can’t read. They can’t write their names. This is for all the children around the globe, every last noisy, coughing, running, laughing, crying, dirty, sassy one of them. I hope they have someone to hug them tonight when they go to bed and I hope they did not see violence today.

If the Child is Safe

We pray for children

who sneak popsicles before supper,

who erase holes in math workbooks,

who can never find their shoes.


And we pray for those

who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,

who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers.

who never counted ” potatoes”,

who are born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,

who never go to the circus,

who live in an x-rated world.


We pray for children

who bring us sticky kisses and fistfulls of dandelions,

who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.


And we pray for those

who never get dessert,

who have no safe blanket to drag behind them, who watch their parents die,

who can’t find any bread to steal,

who don’t have any rooms to clean up,

whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,

whose monsters are real.


We pray for children

who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,

who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,

who like ghost stories,

who shove dirty clothes under the bed, and never rinse the tub,

who get visits from the tooth fairy,

who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool,

who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,

whose tears we sometimes laugh at and

whose smiles can make us cry.


And we pray for children who want to be carried

and for those who must,

for those we never give up on and for those who don’t get a second chance.

For those we smother…and for those who will grab

the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

—Marian Wright Edelman


This time of year, everyone is looking for presents. Some people just have everything or you don’t know them well enough to be certain to find the right present. A lot of time gets wasted on trying to find the perfect item. Well, I have a suggestion. You can go to and decide how much you want to spend. Your money will be added to others and a flock of chicks, ducks or geese will be sent to a village where there is extreme famine and poverty. You can send a part of a cow or goat. It is your choice. These gifts will help to feed their owners and the animals can breed and everyone is better off. You get a card to send to your friend or relative and the family or village gets what you pick for them. Perhaps, this year because of your kindness, there will be more children who will not go hungry and will be ever so grateful for the kind stranger who helped fill their belly. is an organization which has been around for seventy years. They provide livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of people who struggle to have reliable sources of food. They are currently working in thirty countries.





What we can do for a child of this world.

What we can do for a child of this world.




Children around the world playing. We can help them to continue to do so.

Children around the world playing. We can help them to continue to do so.

American Paychecks

I  found this on, who found it on the blog of Robert Reich.  It does give an interesting perspective on why we need trade unions again.  My grandfather was a union organizer, and I have a lot of respect for unions and what they can do for workers.  It’s probably the root my activism gene, and I respect that a lot, too.

I hope it makes you think, the way it did for me.  As always, I invite all civil discussion on the matter, because until this is fixed — until our people have a true living wage — we cannot stop poverty.



Why Wages Won’t Rise

Robert Reich

Jobs are coming back, but pay isn’t. The median wage is still below where it was before the Great Recession. Last month, average pay actually fell.

What’s going on? It used to be that as unemployment dropped, employers had to pay more to attract or keep the workers they needed. That’s what happened when I was labor secretary in the late 1990s.

It still could happen – but the unemployment rate would have to sink far lower than it is today, probably below 4 percent.

Yet there’s reason to believe the link between falling unemployment and rising wages has been severed.

For one thing, it’s easier than ever for American employers to get the workers they need at low cost by outsourcing jobs abroad rather than hiking wages at home. Outsourcing can now be done at the click of a computer keyboard.

Besides, many workers in developing nations now have access to both the education and the advanced technologies to be as productive as American workers. So CEOs ask, why pay more?

Meanwhile here at home, a whole new generation of smart technologies is taking over jobs that used to be done only by people.  Rather than pay higher wages, it’s cheaper for employers to install more robots.

Not even professional work is safe. The combination of advanced sensors, voice recognition, artificial intelligence, big data, text-mining, and pattern-recognition algorithms is even generating smart robots capable of quickly learning human actions.

In addition, millions of Americans who dropped out of the labor market in the Great Recession are still jobless. They’re not even counted as unemployment because they’ve stopped looking for work.

But they haven’t disappeared entirely. Employers know they can fill whatever job openings emerge with this “reserve army” of the hidden unemployed – again, without raising wages.

Add to this that today’s workers are less economically secure than workers have been since World War II. Nearly one out of every five is in a part-time job.

Insecure workers don’t demand higher wages when unemployment drops. They’re grateful simply to have a job.

To make things worse, a majority of Americans have no savings to draw upon if they lose their job. Two-thirds of all workers are living paycheck to paycheck. They won’t risk losing a job by asking for higher pay.

Insecurity is now baked into every aspect of the employment relationship. Workers can be fired for any reason, or no reason. And benefits are disappearing. The portion of workers with any pension connected to their job has fallen from over half in 1979 to under 35 percent in today.

Workers used to be represented by trade unions that utilized tight labor markets to bargain for higher pay. In the 1950s, more than a third of all private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today, though, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.

None of these changes has been accidental. The growing use of outsourcing abroad and of labor-replacing technologies, the large reserve of hidden unemployed, the mounting economic insecurities, and the demise of labor unions have been actively pursued by corporations and encouraged by Wall Street. Payrolls are the single biggest cost of business. Lower payrolls mean higher profits.

The results have been touted as “efficient” because, at least in theory, they’ve allowed workers to be shifted to “higher and better uses.” But most haven’t been shifted. Instead, they’ve been shafted.

The human costs of this “efficiency” have been substantial. Ordinary workers have lost jobs and wages, and many communities have been abandoned.

Nor have the efficiency benefits been widely shared. As corporations have steadily weakened their workers’ bargaining power, the link between productivity and workers’ income has been severed.

Since 1979, the nation’s productivity has risen 65 percent, but workers’ median compensation has increased by just 8 percent. Almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top.

This is not a winning corporate strategy over the long term because higher returns ultimately depend on more sales, which requires a large and growing middle class with enough purchasing power to buy what can be produced.

But from the limited viewpoint of the CEO of a single large firm, or of an investment banker or fund manager on Wall Street, it’s worked out just fine – so far.

Low unemployment won’t lead to higher pay for most Americans because the key strategy of the nation’s large corporations and financial sector has been to prevent wages from rising.

And, if you hadn’t noticed, the big corporations and Wall Street are calling the shots.





A few days ago, I wrote about the 1% of the world’s richest people having one half of the world’s money. Definitely doesn’t seem fair. There are a lot of middle class people in the world and they really work hard to be in this niche. Most are poor and/or extremely poor. They live through hopelessness and despair. Some are destroyed by these emotions.


What is poverty anyway? It is more than not being able to buy your child an ice cream cone in June. It is putting cardboard in the bottom of their too small shoes. It is wondering how you will feed your family through the end of the paycheck, and wondering if you can afford needed medication.


What is abject poverty? It is not having clean water so that you gamble with each drop not to get Cholera. It is dressing children in rags the rich wouldn’t use to dust their houses. Abject poverty is a mother that is so malnourished she can’t suckle her babies. Babies die from hunger. Is is neglect? It is horrifying to see a baby die from dehydration and malnutrition. The mother still has to go on to do what she can for the rest of her children.


Abject poverty is having no education, so you cannot have hope. Hope is what kept the prisoners in the concentration camps alive…at least until their number was up. Hope is what you wear when your country is at war, or there is a civil war. Can you take your family and run? No, not really. Many tried during WWII and were executed. In the nineties, the Baltic War robbed citizens of food, water, and even lives.


What happens usually is that people see the homeless and the hungry and many look away. They decide that what they saw wasn’t real. The homeless and the hungry people are lazy and are taking advantage of other people, people will say.

Many years ago I discovered this: people don’t want reality, they want pretty. I decided to begin random acts of kindness. Just doing something kind for someone who doesn’t ask, but it is needed. I have been questioned often, by by-standers.


I have heard, “don’t give your money away, they probably have more than you do”. I answer that that would not matter. What matters is the kindness and gentleness you show.


We as a species are getting a little smarter. We always used to send food. Now we send seeds and volunteers who will show villages how to plant, cultivate and harvest those seeds. Instead of sending money, there are organizations where for a donation of $15-$20, a family receives a cow, sheep or goat. The milk will feed the children and they will go to bed at night with full bellies. Just like we do every night.


The next time you see a person or a family who is obviously poor, meet their eyes. Look into their souls and see a brother or sister, a fellow human being. Just like we are, except we have more money than they do. Does it cost us to care about the poor? No. It makes us better people. People who walk their talk. It also gives us peace and a sense of well-being.


Neuroscientists say that the brain is changed by the traumas and horrors it survives. The brain rewires around the damaged areas. This is oversimplified, but tragedy makes us turn into different people. Love, caring, assistance changes people too and brings them a sense of inner peace.




The poor suffer in ways we can’t even imagine. They can’t even get medical care when they need it. So the next time you see a poor person, or a person on a fixed income, try a random act of kindness and watch how their eyes light up. It has nothing to do with religion or faith, kindness and compassion are part of a human’s basic character.





Botanical Gardens Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013

Botanical Gardens
Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2013



 Texas butterflies. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2007

Texas butterflies. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2007



No place for anger within us.

No place for anger within us.


Women’s Battles and How We Can Improve Life for Women

The issues facing women in our country are really not new or just a problem in America. We are actually in better shape than in some other countries. This doesn’t diminish our problems here. I am really tired of the excuse that this misogyny we face as women, began with Eve. My response is this, that:  Adam chose the fruit, Eve didn’t twist his arm. Yet, men are not held accountable for his decision. It is all Eve’s fault. Please. Divinity would not be omniscient and infinite if he did not know what happened and what the result would be. This story which is found in the Tanach is a good story. Jews also have a legend that the first woman was actually Lilith. She was not “created” from Adam’s rib. G-d created Lilith to be his equal partner. Adam couldn’t handle a partner so he asked G-d for a new helpmate who would listen to him and obey him. In the Jewish calendar, we are in the new year of 5773. It is a different calendar than the Western one. It is a Lunar calendar and based on the moon instead of the sun.

In the years since, the exile from the garden, most societies have blamed and diminished women as the natural course of events. 2012 is no exception. Women are treated without respect or equality by the men in their lives. Most sexist men and women feel women are weak, not as intelligent and the beginning of the evils men cannot resist.

Many fundamental sects of all the religions speak of  having to control women and that women should not speak. Some separate women in worship, some don’t allow them to speak, and some come up with ridiculous reasons that women are not equal. All of them use G-d as their as their right to use and punish women in unbelievable ways. Just being a woman, just having the power to create life seems to be a crime.

G-d, Adonia, The One, The Beloved, Buddha, Allah have been said to have given instructions for the deplorable treatment of women in the world. So the Divinity which resides within all of us and the fact that we are “All children of the Universe” matters not in terms of gender.

I began mentioning some of the terrible things that women were having to endure yesterday. I want to go back to the practice of polygamy in some fundamental Mormon sects. I find this to be disturbing because American children are being raised to think that this is a form of marriage that will help them into heaven. I have read the book, The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy.

This book goes back to the founding of the Mormon Church upon the revelations of one Joseph Smith. They actually started out in Kirkland, Ohio and as time went on they moved farther and farther west. My research has led me to many testimonies made under oath that tie Joseph Smith and Bringham Young to the revelations. Some were made by women that one or the other of them had tried to entice the women into plural marriages.

In the before mentioned book, you are able, if you wish, to read Joseph Smith’s revelation which he said he received on July 12, 1843. The revelation is called, “Revelation on Celestial Marriage.” Polygamy was made illegal by the Federal government in the late 1800’s.

My reading of memoirs of women and children who have “escaped” from polygamy (see yesterday’s blog for titles written by women involved in the practice of polygamy), have given me a distressing view of life for women and children in these sects. What I have discovered is that the so called “”Revelations” give Mormon men the right to have as many Celestial or Plural wives as they wish.

There are entire communities where everyone is living in polygamy. Los Molinos is one of them and is in California. These women must share their husband with ten, 20, or more sister-wives. They are raised to believe that the only way they have of getting into heaven is to become a jewel in a man’s crown. When he dies, if he has enough jewels, he will reach godhood. The wives make it in using his coat tails.

This is why educated women and girls put themselves into this situation. Polygamous families do have differences, in how the husband works out the challenges that come with more than one wife and with enough children to fill a cruise ship.

Some families live all together. the husband wives and all of the children. Try to imagine perhaps 50 people in a house trying to have meals, get ready for school/work, dealing with sick kids. The other scenario is that each wife and her children have their own home. In either scenario, the women have to deal on a regular basis watching their husband spend the night with one of the other women. This causes jealousy, envy, sadness, stress and loneliness for these women. Husbands often don’t know the children’s names or birthdays. Some wives go out to work and some stay at home to raise a scary amount of children.

The husband gives them as much money as he can, many are often working for the church so often that they aren’t available to work and generate an income all the time. Older male children often leave and go to large cities to earn money to send home for shoes, food, or additions to the family.

The fundamental sects keep this all a secret. Often women and children live in tents, or houses without running water or electricity. Most live in some of the worst poverty found in our country. The girls are prepared to take their place as a plural wife all of their lives. Some girls have been sealed into Celestial marriages as young as ten years of age.

Women have no control over their lives and abuse takes place and they believe they  have no recourse. Of course, they do, but these marriages are secret, and they are raised to believe they accept it unless they are willing to run with their children and lose their ticket to heaven.

Having enough food is difficult. Education doesn’t usually include college. Some of the sects are built in Mexico for protection from the law.  Having young girls as wives is more about the molestation of their young bodies than spirituality.

Wives often have children at home with the assistance of women who act as midwives. The man is to get anything he wants because he is a man. There are stories of girls being talked into running away from their families and marrying a man to ensure their heavenly place.

All of these conditions bring us repeatedly to women being property, owned by a man, demeaned, abused and kept in near slavery, in some cases. There is a Federal law which makes this lifestyle illegal, but it must be enforced. The Warren Jeffries case is just one of the cases happening in our country while we look away and women and children suffer. We must begin to enforce these laws without fear. We must protect these women and children. They — and all women and children — are part of the fabric of America.