Monday, June 25, 2007

Can the U.S. Rediscover Its Moral Compass ... in Time?

The time for apathy is over. As citizens we either start paying attention or wave goodbye to the dream that was America—and our way of life.

It is time for each of us as mature adults to become part of the solution. Every thinking person in this country has a responsibility to help shift the direction of our nation, and to help save our planet.

The Law of Attraction, which means that like attracts like, holds the key. As Americans, we must answer to higher standards of character, ethics and morality in our own lives if we expect our leaders to mirror these qualities. This is the way to get back on course and keep the American dream alive for future generations.

There was a time when our moral compass held a steady course toward what was right, true and humane. Now the world situation has become a confusing, convoluted and messy quagmire due in part to our government’s foreign policies. Without a score card it’s impossible to follow our country’s complicated wheeling and dealing.

The slippery slope we have been sliding on for some time took another major downturn when we invaded Iraq with questionable intentions, and with no idea of how to win the peace. It continued at Abu Ghraib prison and Guantanamo Bay when we abandoned the Geneva Convention and sunk to the lowest common denominator of humanity and began torturing prisoners.

This is when most thinking U.S. citizens realized that as a nation we had lost our moral compass as well as the respect of many countries around the world.

Where are the outraged voices of our elected officials now? While many forget who they were elected to serve, I believe they give in to “the system” because they don’t know what to do to change the situation or the direction of our nation. And they have no idea if anyone would back them if they tried, and it could be political suicide to go outside the party lines.

Where is the voice of the people demanding accountability and a return to decency? Our leaders have treated us as children, keeping us in the dark about a lot of the actions that have been and are being taken. Even if we had been fully aware of our government’s transgressions when they occurred, we would not have been able to rise as one voice and demand a change. We have been lulled into national apathy by a government that uses fear tactics as a form of crowd control.

Many Americans are confused and have a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We can no longer trust our leaders or the media, which has become a political tool for the mega conglomerates that now own and control what information we do receive.

If we want the American Dream to continue for future generations, the time to snap out of our apathy is now. I believe the solution is simple. If we want our leaders to have moral and ethical integrity, we must live these qualities ourselves.

If we’re cheating on our spouses, our families, our taxes, our employees, clients and friends, then we will be lenient with dishonest elected officials because we’re doing the same thing. If money and greed are our gods, then we will look the other way when elected officials are accused of selling us out for money. If living in denial is our choice, and we just hunker down and hope that the situation will have no impact on our lives, we will ignore the fact that our children, schools, communities, states and nation are floundering.

If our leaders mirror what we are, and I believe this is absolutely true, there is a moral imperative here and the compass points directly to us.
Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch/

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Ode to a Tomato ... What Nature Can Teach Us

In the spring I purchased six small Early Girl tomato plants and planted them in large pots on my patio. I don’t know why I did this, as a few weeks before my son had removed thirty to forty potted plants to make my watering chores simpler in the coming summer months.

As the weeks went by I watered and fed the tomato plants and said loving words to them. When the plants grew upwards of four feet tall, I remembered that in the past I had grown only Tiny Tim cherry tomatoes in containers. I don’t know what possessed me to buy the Early Girl brand, which is a medium-size tomato. It was too late now, as blossoms began to present themselves in profusion on all the plants.

One day as I watered one of the pots my eye was drawn to a tiny grape-size tomato. I was in awe and then in absolute delight. I realized I had been too busy for too long to spend any time up close and personal with nature. The joy I felt at the sight of this tiny tomato was indescribable.

In the days and weeks that followed, I began to recall earlier memories, such as the time as a young child when we were visiting my paternal grandmother in the Missouri Ozarks. She asked me to help select vegetables from her large garden for a family dinner. She suggested that I pick the tomatoes, and the event as well as the scent of the tomato vines has remained etched in my memory.

I also remembered the intense pleasure my late husband experienced in his gardening. Although he was a sophisticated and successful executive, his pride and joy in life was expressed in being a master gardener. One summer, we returned from a trip to China near midnight and he raced to the garden, yelling out as he ran “Put on a pot of water to boil.” I did. He returned a few minutes later, face flushed, a huge grin on his face and his arms overflowing with ears of corn and red-ripe Early Girl tomatoes; his favorite variety.

We sat at the kitchen table sharing our feast and glorying in the joy of cooperating with nature. I still smile when I remember his response to anyone who gave God full credit for the annual bounty from his garden. He would ask with impish [and child-like] delight, “Did you see that barren land when God had it all by himself?”

I often wondered how my husband maintained his inner calm in the stress and strain of corporate life; now I understand. It was by connecting with nature that he was able to soothe his nerves and realign with the tranquil rhythm of Life.

He was a born teacher and I a willing student. I was also his number one “weeder,” and as such I heard these homespun homilies repeated many times: Take care of nature and nature will take care of you. Having patience is one of nature’s biggest lessons. Nature reminds us that we are not alone in the universe. Whether it is the delicate blossom of a flower or a hurricane-force wind that flattens us—it is the continuing serenade of God.

I believe that when we can slow down and allow ourselves to be in harmony with nature, we will find inner peace. A tomato that is now the size of a tennis ball did it for me: O small green orb that calmed my spirit and mind – you take no notice of sun, wind, rain or me – yet you renewed my desire to slow down and just be.
Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Kindergarten Commencement Carries Hope for the Future

I had no idea when I showed up for my grandson’s kindergarten commencement that it would be such an insightful and emotional experience.

As the formal recorded music announced their entrance, the proud teachers led their classes into the cafeteria. The children looked like deer caught in the headlights as they made their first “red carpet” entry as the day’s celebrities. When they recognized loved ones in the sea of faces, the glazed looks were replaced with a smile, and either shy or exuberant waves.

I felt a familiar surge of joy and relief when I saw Michael’s face light up as we made eye contact. I was reminded of many similar school events and the times I searched for the faces of my little ones who were venturing into this much larger world. The umbilical cord was being stretched. In the emotion of this event, and the reality of today’s world, I wasn’t sure whether it was the adults or the children who were most in need of reassurance.

When the full group was assembled on stage, a mass of parents with cameras moved to the center aisle to record the milestone moment. It was surely the children’s first brush with paparazzi-like activity, but through it all they and the photographers remained well behaved.

Naturally the performers were brilliant and wonderful. Class members recited the Six Pillars of Character they were learning to embrace—caring, citizenship, fairness, respect, responsibility and trustworthiness. They sang an energetic rendition of the alphabet song with arm movements that threatened to unseat the handmade mortar boards that were balanced on their heads.

The final song was about a rainbow of children, and there on stage sat a veritable United Nations of cultures and races. The words were beautiful and moving. At the conclusion of the song, the children in each row put their arms around each other. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place.

As we began filing back to the rear of the cafeteria for juice and cookies, parents and grandparents greeted each other with handshakes, pats on the back and a look that said we were no longer strangers, we were extended family with a shared dream for our children.

Two of my three offspring attended this same school. Today’s ceremony marked not only the sixth grandchild to follow in their footsteps, but the youngest and therefore the last grandchild to go through this rite of passage. I found myself greatly moved by this realization and by the event itself.

In the years since I had attended such a ceremony, I noticed several obvious changes. There was a greater emphasis on the acceptance and tolerance of others, as well as assuring that the children stayed in school. The principal implored the audience several times to promise that they would continue to support these children as they went on through high school and college.

I believe these children and millions of others like them across America are not only our legacy, they are our hope for the future. With an education, they will have the tools to pursue the American Dream. In learning to live the lessons of acceptance and tolerance, they can help heal our country by appreciating, celebrating and honoring similarities rather than focusing on differences. Go Michael!
Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available from, other online booksellers, and through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I'd Like to Buy the World a Home and Furnish it With Love ...

I recently overheard someone state that “marriage is just the barter system institutionalized.” His facial expression said that he wasn’t happy about it, but was resigned to it. I was surprised at how strongly his comment registered within me. It was all I could do not to stop and involve myself in the conversation and find out more.

Now I know that when such a seemingly casual remark remains in my mind there’s always a reason. I soon realized my connection with his statement. I had been in a life relationship that was based on the barter system. It was so long ago that I had almost forgotten about it.

My relationship at that time was all about ego love, which is based on bartering and trading in order to get what one wants. It is totally conditional and rests on the illusion that there isn’t enough love to go around, and the amount we receive is determined by the stipulation “I will love you if _____.” The blank can be filled in with a wide variety of choices such as: if you believe the way I do; if you do what I want you to do; if you agree with me; if you look the way I want or if you stay the same.

That form of love is actually a very narrow and false perception of love. It is based on the fear of separation from someone or some thing. In order to maintain this kind of love, it is necessary to have power over the other person or situation.

Once we connect with the Love within ourselves, we realize it resides in us and not in someone or something else. It makes our heart sing and changes us forever. It is then that no matter what life brings to us we are able to do more than survive, we thrive. It is the remedy that frees us from the original illusion of separation that lies at the core of every life problem. This illusion is that we are separate from the eternal and sublime energy that is within us and everything in the universe and that is called by many names, including God. All other fears simply build on this.

I know. I wrote about the journey I took to find this sanctuary of love, peace, wisdom and joy that every heart and soul yearns for in my book “The Heart Knows the Way.”

Healthy, unconditional love is freeing, open and inclusive. It is one of the most powerful forces in the universe. It can transform us by canceling out anger, bigotry, fear, greed, hatred, jealousy and the illusion of separation. This love embraces everyone in a way that could bring happiness and peace to the world.

This is love that fills you completely and is so expansive that you cannot contain it—you have to share it. When we touch even lightly this wellspring of love within us, it inspires us to live our highest and best truth. This truth is the polar opposite of love based on possession and fear. It really does make us want to buy the world a home and furnish it with love … to grow apple trees and honeybees and snow-white turtle doves.
Copyright 2007 by Fern Stewart Welch

The author’s book THE HEART KNOWS THE WAY—How to Follow Your Heart to a Conscious Connection with the Divine Spirit Within is available at and other online booksellers, as well as through major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders.