04 December 2009

06 February 2009

"Once there was a way to get back home ...."

This post is particularly dedicated to Harry Ibsen and Constance Carlson Ibsen, who share my loves of great cars and honest unions, with my love. mp

Maybe he was one of those "Depression Era kids" trying to "straighten out" the Baby Boomers, but when I was 19, my dad bet me $100 that I couldn't last a month in a factory. (I was between junior and senior years in college at that point, and I presume he thought I knew too much of the "reel world," and virtually nothing of "the real one.") In 1968, $100 was no joke, my friends, so off I packed to Eureka-Williams' employment office, applying for a job on the line.

The first morning of the first day, my assigned job was to pick up an upright waxer, swing it upside down over the head of a co-worker, and put it on the bench so she could air-drill four screws into the base. Just an FYI, the current Eureka upright vacuum weighs 21.5 lbs. The waxer was heavier -- I seem to remember 25 lbs. I took one look at the woman standing next to me, who had been working on the line for some 15 years, and I knew, dead to rights, that hitting her in the head with a waxer was a poor survival strategy.

So, up and over, up and over, up and over for two hours, 120 minutes, one waxer every three minutes. You do the math. Then, coffee break. I just sat on the floor and leaned on the concrete block wall in the women's locker room. Someone brought me a cup of coffee from the machine. "Oh, I can't pay you... I haven't gotten my check yet."

"Yeah, that's all right. We take turns paying for the coffee," someone explained.

Precisely as I was trying to figure out what would really happen if I simply put the waxer down and walked away, the noon whistle blew. My arms and shoulders were so spent, I could barely lift my sandwich or drink the soup from my thermos. All around me, people laughed and talked and jostled as though their muscles weren't burning in pain. I knew death was preferable, but was too damn tired to die.

When we returned, I discovered the devil had written another chapter of hell for me. Rather than lifting the waxers, I now stood motionless, or shifting from foot to foot, while another absolute stranger lifted the waxers over my head and I drilled in the four screws. At 2:00, another cuppa and two cookies appeared magically in my lap in the ladies' lounge. I managed a weak smile, mainly because I was conscious enough to pick up on the conversation on the other side of the room. They were putting into a betting pool over whether I would show up the next morning.

After I managed to drive my 1955 Ford Fairlane (with overdrive) five miles home and take a brief nap in the parking lot, it took me 10 minutes to walk up one flight of steps to my apartment, where I fell onto the couch dead asleep. My roommate woke me up at 11:30 with a hot bowl of soup and cornbread, and then ran a hot bath for me. She may have said something to me. I don't know. I was too tired to hear.

Just another FYI: betting against my stubbornness is a lost cause. During the days that passed, I learned a number of life lessons: how MUCH the government takes out in taxes; don't talk politics at work; not everyone is a brain surgeon; being smart isn't everything; and you can get used to pretty much anything. After I got paid, I bought everyone in the women's lounge coffee, and totally startled them. That's when I realized they'd just been "bein' nice" to buy my coffee when I was broke (and saving my dignity). I learned many things about my coworkers in those brief days with them. That standing at the same drill press for 30 years will wear concrete into inverted "normal curves" where your feet have stood. That one woman lived in an all-red interior "double-wide," including using red light bulbs. I asked her if there were any problems living in the all-red trailer, and she said, "Well, only on Sundays and holidays, you can't read the calendar."

But there came a pivotal day when all of my preconceived notions about union factory workers got blown out of the water big-time. The management people decided to replace the metal step-on switches with plastic ones. The assembly line was shut down, and the whole place fell silent. As we held our stations and watched, one of the foremen, a union rep, and an inspector installed the new switch on a waxer. Then, with clicker in hand, the inspector began stepping on the switch. On ... off ... on ... off ... on ... off ... on ... No other sound. At 63, the switch broke. They replaced it with another. On ... off ... on ... Broken, at 61. The union rep raised her hand. Everyone sat down on the stools which stood behind all of our stations, but which were so rarely used.

Books and newspapers came out of backpacks. A couple of transistor radios. Random decks of cards. "What's going on?" I asked."

"Sit down," my neighbor said.

I sat. "But what's going on?"

"That's what's going on. We're sitting."

"People work hard for their money," someone else said. "They deserve better."

We sat, played cards, read, listened to the radio, smoked, waited, for two and a half days. Then the union rep came down, followed by a fork lift with boxes of the metal switches. Just as quickly, the line came back to life. Again, a new waxer came off the line, every three minutes, with the durable metal step-on switches. (Okay, I know this is a long piece. Go get your tea and come on back for the second half... I just hate the idea of my readers suffering!)

"The Ford Pinto was a subcompact manufactured by the Ford Motor Company for the North American market, first introduced on September 11, 1970 [speaking of terrorism! mp]. Before production[,] however, Ford engineers discovered a major flaw in the car[']s design. In nearly all rear-end crash test collisions[,] the Pinto's fuel system would rupture extremely easily. Because assembly-line machinery was already tooled when engineers found this defect, top Ford officials decided to manufacture the car anyway, exploding gas tank and all, even though Ford owned the patent on a much safer gas tank. Safety was not a major concern to Ford at the time of the development of the Pinto. Lee Iacocca, who was in charge of the development of the Pinto, had specifications for the design of the car that were uncompromisable. These specifications were that "the Pinto was not to weigh an ounce over 2,000 pounds and not cost a cent over $2,000." Any modifications[,] even if they did provide extra safety for the customer[,] that brought the car closer to the Iacocca’s limits was rejected.

"The rush of the Pinto from conception to production was a recipe for disaster. Many studies have been concluded by Mother Jones on Pinto accident reports which have revealed conclusively that if a Pinto being followed at over 30 miles per hour was hit by that following vehicle, the rear end of the car would buckle like an accordion, right up to the back seat. The tube leading to the gas-tank cap would be ripped away from the tank itself, and gas would immediately begin sloshing onto the road around the car. The buckled gas tank would be jammed up against the differential housing (the large bulge in the middle of the rear axle), which contains four sharp, protruding bolts likely to gash holes in the tank and spill still more gas. Now all that is needed is a spark from a cigarette, ignition, or scraping metal, and both cars would be engulfed in flames. If a Pinto was struck from behind at higher speed say, at 40 mph chances are very good that its doors would jam shut and its trapped passengers inside would burn to death." (Source: Mother Jones.)

So, somewhere in the late 1960s, early 1970s, the American worker began to lose the battle to people like Iacocca and those who originated the grand scheme of "planned obsolescence." (For more on that misguided philosophy and its unholy results, see Vance Packard's The Waste Makers (1960), an exposé of "the systematic attempt of business to make us wasteful, debt-ridden, permanently discontented individuals.")

In contrast to the wonderful design, engineering, and construction of which we were so capable and respected the world over, exemplified by the gorgeous 1951 Kaiser pictured here and the Golden Gate Bridge, the people who were "management," those "white collar bastards" we used to routinely suspect and detest, began to produce goods which were meant to break, fall apart, give out, wear out, be crap, need replacement, okay? And, as I have said, as the unions all across the country have said, we fought this. We read our Consumer Reports, talked to our friends and family, did what we could to find the Maytags, the Levis, the Amanas, the American-made goods that were worth our hard-earned money. (Now, not only are we not resistant to the shenanigans of those "white collar bastards," we don't even see that there might be a problem with electing the son of an SS officer governor of California.)

The white collar bastards who ran things with a slide rule and an eye to their own bonuses and golden parachutes, who paid pro-employer (read "union-busting") law firms like Littler Mendelson, P.C. to destroy labor unity, eliminate benefits, and erode the rights of the American worker, eventually, somehow, they got control of everything. Somehow, we got confused. We let them. It's not that I think unions are all that and a cherry on top. But it is the mongoose and the cobra thing. Any fool would be afraid of both of them. Now the American workforce just bends over for the corporations. (Corporations, in my view, battle for first place with nuclear weapons as the very worst thing we as a people ever visited on the planet Earth). The very idea that we should act in concert in the workplace to provide our customers with the very best we can give them brings a snicker of derision.

When Enron imploded, their latest little brainchild in an obscenely ruthless quest to grab money from anyone within stealing range so they could continue to snort more of the world's resources up their noses, drive ever bigger BMWs and screw even more young foolish women, was to buy the water rights to India from corrupt government officials over there. Yes, in fact, you did hear that right. All of the water rights to India. Which would mean every single human life on the subcontinent would depend on people like Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, people with absolutely no moral or ethical context, for the second most valuable substance required to sustain life on the planet, the first being the air we breathe. I assume no one really requires further comment from me on this nightmare. Except to say that if that isn't terrorism, what is? And Bechtel Corporation, for one, is still trying to pull this deal off, according to those in the know at Human Rights Watch. Not only in India, but in Latin America as well.

So now, in 2009, we have sunk to a place so low that Stewart Purnell, the owner of Peanut Corp. of America, can sit before a committee of the House of Representatives and refuse to eat peanuts from his own company, smug in his belief that risking the public safety is not as important as his little company's bottom line. So sleazy that he simply refused to answer questions put to him by the United States Congress by wrapping his very small self in the United States Constitution's protections against self-incrimination after he had ordered "product" shipped throughout the country since the company's 2006 request that JLA USA testing service "help control salmonella in the plant." After Darlene Cowart of JLA USA visited Peanut Corp.'s plant and pointed out problems with the company's peanut roasting and storage which could lead to salmonella, the PCA discontinued using the lab for testing purposes on the grounds that the testers had "identified salmonella too many times." (Um, don't shoot the messenger, Mr. Purnell?) So we have what? A confirmed nine deaths and 600 cases of potentially deadly salmonella? And this is a problem because....?

Mr. Purnell of course is the bastard spiritual son of Lee Iacocca who is responsible for far more deaths. "By conservative estimates Pinto crashes have caused 500 burn deaths to people who would not have been seriously injured if the car had not burst into flames. The figure could be as high as 900. Burning Pintos [became] such an embarrassment to Ford that its advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson, dropped a line from the end of a radio spot that read[,] 'Pinto leaves you with that warm feeling.'"

(Two years before the release of the Pinto, one of our neighbor men was arrested for stealing a chicken from an IGA to feed his family, and spent five years in Menard State Prison for stealing. When his wife chased the power company man up the phone pole for trying to shut off her lights, my parents collected the money to pay her bill and buy her kids groceries. At this juncture, Purnell faces one year in jail and $1000 fine.)

Of course, incalculable are the effects of the mistrust created in this country of American-made small cars. Yes, we lovingly buy our Toyotas, our VWs, our Hondas. The saddest joke in all of that is that the Japanese purchased the plans for the very self-same 1955 Ford Fairlane four-cylinder overdrive which was my first car, and updated its plans to become the wildly popular Toyota Corolla, which we couldn't buy enough of. And, happily, we discovered Accords and Camrys as we grew older and had more disposable income. Buy American? Are you nuts? When an Accord will run 300,000 miles, if properly cared for? Low emissions, terrific performance, stylish looks, great ride! Detroit buys up the rights to electric cars and now we're driving what? Oh, Prius. You know. Toyota. Why? Because we know it didn't bother Lee Iacocca to turn us into crispy critters just so long as we signed on for those monthly payments. Stick a little American flag in the window of the dealership so people would feel patriotic and let them pay for death traps on time. What a great guy! Saved Chrysler. American hero.

Once there was a way to get back homeward

Once there was a way to get back home

Sleep pretty darling, do not cry

And I will sing a lullaby . . . "

(Golden Slumbers, Beatles...)

And so this brings us where? The Industrial Workers of the World were the first American union to use the sit-down strike, which is a form of civil disobedience in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers or, in some cases, moving production to other locations. "The United Auto Workers staged successful sit-down strikes in the 1930s, most famously in the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936-1937. In Flint, Michigan, strikers occupied several General Motors plants for more than forty days, and repelled the efforts of the police and National Guard to retake them. A wave of sit-down strikes followed, but diminished by the end of the decade as the courts and the National Labor Relations Board held that sit-down strikes were illegal and sit-down strikers could be fired. While some sit-down strikes still occur in the United States, they tend to be spontaneous and short-lived." [Wikipedia....] And the sit-down strike, of course, is the precursor to the sit-in.

While our elected (and bought by corporate interests) representatives sold our public airwaves to the cable companies for a penny on the dollar of what they were worth (as though you could ever put a value on a free people's right to know rather than be manipulated), Rupert Murdoch and the other robber-baron media conglomerates worked 24-7 to convince us that the problem with Detroit is the workers. The Unions. Greedy. Lazy. Trouble. Un-American. Always their little mantra. If you don't want your kids to die in illegal and unjust wars? Un-American. If you don't want your kids to die in death-trap cars? Un-American. If you vote to support small business, good schools, election reform? Un-bloody-American. Ad nauseum.

Somehow, we've transformed in the past three-quarters of a century, or three generations, from a people who would stand up and stop the companies from all manner of bad behavior, to people who would allow their life savings to be handed over to robber barons who have no shame at paying themselves huge bonuses for destroying the very companies they were charged with the stewardship of. Oh, yes, we are the victims of terrorism, hell yes! But not from a few impoverished groups of angry, frustrated people from middle-eastern countries. The terrorism destroying our once-great nation is economic terrorism, which has siphoned off the money, the jobs, the means of producing goods and services, and the ownership of the media (with the one notable exception being this internet) which we could use to discuss these issues in a thoughtful and deep way. And, given the opportunity, they have not only destroyed the means of obtaining higher education, they've sucked off so much of the resources of our educational systems that we are even hard-pressed to keep the bathrooms clean, functioning, and disease-free.

Somehow we've lost our dignity, our sense, our ability to work together for the greater good, our focus and our vision.

Somehow we've lost the ability to talk to each other. To listen. To solve our problems as a group. To stop those who do not wish us well from taking the very words that we need now, such as working together collectively, and making them "un-American." [See, www.rockridgeinstitute.org.] We can't even live together without large dogs and guns. We are a terrified people in desperate need of salvation. And it will not be Jesus who saves us. If we are saved at all, it will be our own doing. When we relearn what we always knew before. How to invent. How to take care of ourselves. How to think of our communities and people as a whole. How to educate our children. How to protect them from credit card companies, sexual predators, drug dealers. America will again deserve the moniker of "great nation" when, sober, serious, and dignified, we move forward and relearn how to coordinate our efforts and, when necessary, shut down the line.

Copyright 2009 by Mugsy Peabody. All rights reserved. Photographs of 1951 Kaiser used courtesy of Grace Harwood, Images of Amazing Grace, Oakland, California.

26 January 2009

Why We Need The Ledbetter Equal Pay Act

Note: This story is for Suzanne Conti and all the other tough, brave, farsighted women who carry it for the rest of us. So good to know there are those whose dignity and self-respect will never be on the table. Baci Baci. MP

I had been driving for hours alone in my 1983 Corolla across the prairie from Red Cloud, Nebraska, headed across Oklahoma to Perryton, Texas, to visit a friend from the 1984 Women's Voices writing retreat. Red Cloud, as you might know, is where Willa Cather was born. (If you don't know who she is, well, that's why God made Google.) Red Cloud is a scant 10 miles from McCook, where my mother's mother was born, and where my great grandmother, Martha Ann Duffield, "lost her mind" because the wind across the unplowed prairie was unrelenting, and "loud as a freight train."

As my tires rolled mile after mile onto the odometer, I mused over great-grandma's being roadkill in the headlights of Manifest Destiny, over her premature death at 45 from the madness caused by deafening isolation -- while others, like My Antonia, thrived and lived to ripe old age.

When my car radio could only crackle country 'n western, I really began to comprehend her plight on a visceral level. There was nothing, in any direction, except the unbroken horizon line. It was clear I was never going to get out of here. New meaning to the expression, "500 miles west of East Jesus." No way out but through. I began singing to myself, an old Illinois folk song:

Oh, the horses run around

Their feet are on the ground

Oh who will wind the clock when I’m away….

A snake’s belt slips, because he has no hips, and

We hope that Grandma’s clothes will soon fit Ginny….”

I've always been dedicated to maintaining a hold on sanity, no matter how tenuous, but I realized my grip was slipping. So I pulled over and pawed through my bags for tapes, finally settling on The Greatest Hits of Elvis Presley. Laugh all you want, but let me tell you, I couldn't have beat that with a stick. If you are ever on a seemingly endless road trip ("Ace of Cakes" staff, are you listening? Geoff?), the King will carry you.

After I'd sung along with "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" until I'd deluded myself into thinking I actually sounded pretty good, I saw a bump on the horizon. I pulled over again, and drank an orange juice out of the cooler, figuring my blood sugar was dipping to the point of delusion. But after Elvis and I had backed away from the low blood sugar edge, the bump was still there, and actually looked like a square.

The square grew larger and larger, until, an hour or so later, it proved to be a one-room concrete block building with a wooden lean-to kitchen built-out in the back, and an outhouse. The sign on the side said, "Rosie's Cafe." "Oh, sweet Jesus, there is a god," I sobbed, leaning on my steering wheel. I checked the time. 5:35. No wonder I was half-nuts! I hadn't eaten since breakfast.

But as soon as I walked through the door of the cafe, I realized I had truly crossed over. Every single person in the cafe wore either a vermilion or red clown wig, a bulbous red plastic nose, clown make-up, blue overalls, tattered boots, and striped shirts. No one spoke, but they all turned and stared. A couple of bicycle horns at the ready were squeezed in greeting. Since the room was at best 12x12 feet, it wasn't an option either to back out and run for my car or slip quietly into the chair at the one vacant table. I sat.

From the lean-to came a full-sized Raggedy Ann doll, balancing four blue-plate specials on her arms. After downloading, she stopped in front of me and pulled her order pad from her apron, her pencil from her wig. "Hungry, stranger?" she asked, and I thought, "No stranger than you, lady...." I ordered from the black chalkboard menu above the soft-drink cooler. Raggedy Rosie brought me a soda and returned to the kitchen. I tasted the drink gingerly, half expecting exploding paper snakes to emerge from the bottle, but it in fact tasted like "The Real Thing." I began to settle down a bit and to contemplate my fate in this bus full of clowns.

Who had clearly been contemplating me. A late 20th c. Lesbian from Oakland, California. Just guessing, I'd say I was a first. Might as well have been from the moon, Alice. While I smiled, and others smiled back, there was little direct conversation while we ate. I was most of my way through the actually quite good plate when one fine gentleman carefully wiped his mouth with his red bandanna and asked the assembled, "Well folks, why don't we take this little lady from California down to see the dinosaur?" As I listened to the general cheering and hoots of agreement, I began to see my entire life pass before my eyes. Well, mostly the part about my mother telling me women who drove around the country by themselves met with a "bad end."

The fella with the bandanna and the suggestion said, "You ride with us." Soon I was, with the entire cafe, driving off into the Oklahoma sunset in a caravan of clowns in Ford and Chevy pick-ups, at the time, I thought, an apt metaphor for this great land of ours.

About 20 minutes later, over dirt roads, through cattle gates, and over gullies, we arrived. I found myself gazing across a huge pit in the earth at a circle of clowns, and I thought, "Perhaps there is a clear advantage to knowing which ditch you will actually end up in, but what it is, I cannot think." Then, I looked down. And there, 12 feet below me, was a complete fossilized Sauroposeidon. "Sauroposeidon is a genus of sauropod dinosaur found in rocks dating to the Early Cretaceous, a period when the sauropods of North America had diminished in both size and numbers, making it the last known giant dinosaur on the continent." (Thanks, Wikipedia.) (Note: At the time, I had no idea that is what I was looking at, but I knew it was one damn big dinosaur.)

One of the women asked me if I would like one of the bones. "I don't think so," I responded, looking at the yellow plastic "Do Not Cross. Crime Scene" tape which had been unrolled and staked around the entire pit. I wondered to myself how on earth the paleontologist had figured out this poor Sauroposeidon had been murdered.

"Why not?"

"Well, I think if this fella has been here for millions of years, we'd best not disturb."

The guy with the red bandanna nodded. "That fella from the University said we needed to leave it be until they've figured her all out. And they're still digging."

"You know, it's strange to watch them down in there in that hole," another clown said. "They're usin' paint brushes and dustpans to take the dirt off them bones. And then they're puttin' the dirt through a flour sifter. I'd figure they'd be petro-fied, but one of them fellas said they wasn't."

We all stood there, marveling, in the sunset. I took a few desultory pictures, but it really was too dark to make anything much.

"My name's John," the lead clown said. "And this is the Missus."

Then, sounding off like the original Mouseketeers, they all introduced themselves.

"...George.... And the Missus..."

"...Kermit.... And the Missus..." all around the pit.

I asked one of the women directly, "And what was your name?"

"Oh, I'm the Missus..."

I asked three of them, and each time, "the Missus" was the answer. So I observed, "Why, all you ladies must be related."

"How so?" the Missus of the Bandanna clown asked.

"Oh, because you all have the same name." Fortunately, everyone laughed. We ambled companionably back to the pickups.

Rosie was most glad to see us all, particularly since we'd left without anyone paying. We all stood outside in the new moonlight, drinking coffee and enjoying the night air. "Mugsy?" Rosie asked.


"Kin I ask you a question?"

"Sure, if I can ask you one back."

"Did you ever figure out it's Hallowe'en?" They all busted up, and of course, realizing how hilarious it was, I fell out myself.

Then Rosie asked, "What's your question, Mugsy?"

"Well, how'd you end up with your own name? None of these other ladies seem to have one."

"Oh, that," she said. "See, my husband passed away."

I drove on into the night toward the Texas panhandle, over who knows how many Sauroposiedons, past oil wells pumped Oklahoma crude from the residue of their days. Listening to Elvis, musing about my great-grandmother who transplanted from Hartford to the Nebraska Territory via a wagon and horses, a place where women had nothing, not even their own name, from which to build a life. Musing about loneliness and silence, about dinosaurs buried and and those still alive. Knowing this was a place where I'd have no chance of surviving.

I don't remember where I stayed that night. I suppose I was near enough a town with a motel or I drove on through the night to Perryton. But whenever I hear some city woman say she can't imagine why we still need the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act or the ERA in this day and age, I remember those women standing around the Sauroposeidon dig, dressed as identical clowns, not even able to offer their given name to a stranger. Koko, the great ape, had a name. Alex, the grey parrot, had a name, and his obituary would be printed in The Economist. But not these human women.

I am so very fortunate not to have had to marry someone because, as one of my friend's mother told her, "at least he was clean," just to survive. I feel so blessedly fortunate to have had been able to create a situation for myself where I have what Virginia Woolf called for so very many years ago, "Money and a room of our own with a lock on the door..."

Copyright 2009 by Mugsy Peabody. All world rights reserved.

Note: The wagon and oxen photograph was taken by my grandmother, though in the 1930s, not at the time they lived in Nebraska.

19 January 2009

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. 1929 - 1968

Nearly a decade ago, my friend Grace Harwood sent out the above card in honor of Dr. King, commemorating the brave stance he took against the VietNam War, for which he was vilified. With her kind permission, I reprint it here.

From Dr. King's speech of April 4, 1967:

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

"We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

"Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history."

For those of you who don't read Italian, the St. Francis prayer in English:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.