The Children Of Maidanek.

‘Surreal Butterfliesâ’ by Gloria
Also published by
American Chronicle in a slightly different version

Or, Drawing Gas & Drawing Butterflies

I’m looking at a visible universe on the road to Dabda, that which is the 5 stages of grief according to Swiss psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial > Anger > Bargaining > Depression > Acceptance. To those who deny global warming, this is a global warning from Ms Elisabeth, who presented Dabda as a psychological road map to the world some 40 years ago.

I’m walking on a parallel, invisible universe; I’m on the road to Taniap, turning a negative into a positive, the route to take if we want to go from bad to worship, from fire to fresh air, from dying to living again.

The best thing that ever happened to Ms Elisabeth was a global warning in her head that dying was about living. ‘Teacher Of Life‘ (, this Swiss-American studied terminally ill patients and wrote her seminal book On Death And Dying in 1969, introducing the idea of ‘5 stages of dying‘ or ‘5 stages of grief’ (

In teaching the world about dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross taught the world about living. In teaching the world about global losing, with An Inconvenient Truth Al Gore is teaching us about global winning.

Ms Elisabeth was a pioneering woman of deeds – among others, she fought and won for the rights of dying patients, ‘including hospice care, living wills, and speaking openly about life and death’ ( And for all that, on 29 March 1999, Time listed her among ‘Time 100,’ the magazine honoring ‘The Great Minds Of The Century’ (

So I want to speak openly about living and dying on this planet, of this planet. While Terra Cognita is not yet terminally ill, we must now recognize that we have to talk globally and locally about life and death, the Eternal Circle, and that, learning from Ms Elisabeth, in fact we can for instance apply the concept of Living Wills to mitigate global warming.

Living Wills for Climate Change can be in the form of grants for projects for R&D in biofuels, and loans for enterprises to encourage villagers to blanket Planet Earth with gas-guzzling green monsters – that is to say, plants harvesting carbon dioxide from the air, decreasing air pollution. An intelligent species nursing wastelands back to life with its own refuse; for this, we already have the crop: Sweet Sorghum. In 2002, FAO called it the ‘camel among crops‘ because it can grow in problem soils: dry or wet, salty or sweet ( A Survivor Crop. We must learn from the camel and be a Survivor Species.

Now I dare say global warming is the best thing that ever happened to farmers in the tropics, for now they have to face the reality that they can no longer be profligate with water, and they can plant a survivor crop where no other crop dare grow.

Sweet Sorghum? In the United States, Sorgo used to be big; in 1888, the total US production was 20 million gallons of syrup, mostly from family farms in neighborhoods with one farmer with a mill for squeezing the canes and an evaporating pan for cooking the syrup (Ken Christison & Keith Kinney, 2002, Kentucky syrup alone in 1994 was worth $8 M, a mere half of Kentucky’s potential (Morris J Bitzer, According to Morris, community Sorgo projects of one or more counties are becoming common.

Family farms and community projects – the Sorgo potential is all there. They are all to the good – if only we can bring ourselves to graduate from the stages of Denial of Global Warming to Anger to Bargaining to Depression to Acceptance. I’m thinking you don’t know global warm if you are in a cold country. That is bad enough. You don’t know global hot until you are in the tropics, such as the Philippines. It’s badder such as it is.

I’m half naked as I write this, and it’s May, traditionally the onset of the rainy season, and it’s only 0944 hours in Manila. I’m actually in good old cool Los Baños, not anymore the summer capital of Southern Luzon. The air is dry and hot even inside the apartment. If you don’t call this global warming, you’re using a different language. Or you don’t call a spade a spade.

The old world is dying, and we are not about to grieve over it? Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s study of global grieving, if I may call it that, started when she saw hope in dying in Maidanek, a concentration camp in Poland, where Adolf Hitler had many children gassed to death. She was amazed that the children filled the camp walls with drawings of butterflies (Daniel Redwood, 1995, Why would dying children think of butterflies? Butterflies are free. The children had all accepted not death but the idea of dying, and still harbored in their hearts the hope to live and/or be free again.

If the living cared for the dying and gave them dignity, the living would be free to live life in full again. In Ms Elisabeth’s 1969 brainstorm On Death And Dying, ‘she not only provided a window into the minds of the terminally ill; she offered a psychological road map for the end of life and the course of grief’ – that is to say, ‘she taught us how to die’ (Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, 29 August 2004, Rather, I think Ms Elisabeth taught the dying how to die, and simultaneously taught the living how to live.

What is called for is not simply Tuesdays With Morrie but all days. In nursing the dying, we are nursing the living. In nursing dying soils, we are nursing Earth back to life.

Living Will? While I can, I will continue to write about dying soils brought back to life by the Survivor Species called Sorgo, and I will expect to watch real butterflies fleeting about in the green fields, reminding me always to be free, and that to learn about dying is to learn about living.

Copyright 20 May 2007 by Frank A Hilario
Researched for, written, organized-reorganized & formatted via Microsoft Word 2003.


Explore posts in the same categories: butterflies, children, dying, living

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