Archive for March, 2012
I. The West is obsessed with Islamophobia. Look at Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, which had democratic elections in 1955, and, despite a period of dictatorship, had returned peacefully again. Are we fighting wars in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for justified reasons? ‘The most important struggle is with the dictates of conscience: what is morally wrong cannot be politically right’, quoted Anwar Ibrahim, MalaysiaII. I’m a patriot. I’m committed to nonviolence. the Occupy Movement is not a me-generation, let’s all get jobs and go home. Occupy Movement is mobilizing many of us to change. The US is no longer a democracy but it’s not apartheid (not yet!). I hate to say it, dear friends, but this last decade congress has eroded our hard-fought rights. The Patriot Act, The National Defense
Authorization law passed the last day of 2011 violates our 4th 5th, 8th amendments in the Bill of Rights. Police in the Occupy movement have infringed on our 1st amendment right for free speech and peaceful right to assembly. And then there’s the drain of our income, with 50% of our budget going into the military. Supposedly we pulled out of Iraq in November, ludicrously declaring success. More than 70 Iraq Shias were killed the first week of 2012. Obama built up troops in Afghanistan to keep.
III. Obama is a war lord throughout the world. He wants to maintain troops in Afghanistan, as if the US could be a supreme war lord among the tribes. The USA wants to control Latin America with a pointless embargo on Cuba, with CAFTA/NAFTA which controls trade; and the SOA or WHISNIC in GA training military officers in abusive military tactics. And I benefit by having a warm house at 62o in the winter and a hot water heater which keeps 20 gallons hot on demand for my daily shower. Do I really need all this natural fuel?
IV. For their own sanity, I hope US soldiers believe what Defense Secretary Panetta told troops, “You will leave with great pride — lasting pride,” Leon Panetta said in January 2011, “Secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to begin a new chapter in history.” He described the mission as “making that country sovereign and independent and able to govern and
Iraqi citizens don’t see the rosy glow of freedom. “The Americans are leaving behind them a destroyed country,” said Mariam Khazim of Sadr City. “The Americans did not leave modern schools or big factories behind them. Instead, they left thousands of widows and orphans.” Not to mention decimated towns and a weaker health, education and commerce. You judge for yourself, Is US need to control oil, worth the costs of war?
V. For me, I bathe in the sun drenched winter days lamenting the US tragedy. The tragedy is that we can’t extract ourselves from being the Top Gun and the devastation caused in 2011 in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Bahrain. Where did I miss? I have to pinch myself to say “the US is at war. I am contributing to many deaths in the Middle East.”
In the cold, the squirrels chase each other in circles above in the canopy of tree fans. The blue jay for random reasons screeches ruffling a posy of sparrows on the smoke tree. An obscure beauty calls out to us. Nature is violent and beautiful. My pet cat loves to catch innocent mice. Killing mice does not violate my moral code. I don’t allow mice to eat my stored food. Mice in my flour turns me into a mouse murderer. Yes, I can be violent, but I won’t call mice terrorists because they invade.
My world is still intact despite all the rawness of life around me. I do not plan to kill Murdoch, Romney or lavish billionaires even though their lifestyle is killing the planet, our home. Only greed and senseless killing is ugly.
I thank g-d that day-by-day in my streets there are no gunshots nor robberies. I live surrounded by a bubble of peace even though my world is full of violence. I don’t love mice, but I won’t kill them if they’re outside. I won’t begrudge the squirrels and blue jays. I love their quirks and flashy tails. The law of love is different than the law of nature. Don’t invade countries for control and oil. You, I, in the name of freedom, must not intervene in another country. Divine Presence, may it be so.
Today the river was liquid cellophane, silver and lugubrious. Thank God I am ambulatory and up before the Harvard hordes.
I had a nightmare the night before. The dream was a bad car accident where I was terribly hurt but without a drop of blood. Do you ever wonder where pain comes from? Does the river feel the pain of all the chloride and aluminum metals? Do beetles have receptors, knowing when your boot crushes them? Such were my thoughts on this early morning run by the Charles River. I was running despite the groaning of my joints and the dullness of my head. Often when I’m stuck or in trouble, I just run by the river edge. Sure , just rationalize it as exercise to relief stress, but I know better. I’m actually trying to become the river, to move over this earth soaking knowledge like water.
Today I was not disappointed. Spring came in the strangest form, not daffodils, not the bluegills running downstream. There, next to the packed earth of my running trail were little 5 centimeter mounds of dirt. These primordial mounds were tiny bubbles. Not linear ziggurats my brother made of sand, no they were pebbles of dirt piled by a blowhole. Scattered like confetti They were everywhere. The worms of spring had awoken. Not a one of their congregation was visible, just these tiny portals crested with a posy of earth. This way I knew the worms are doing their work without having to step over the slimy buggers. The geese were out trumpeting and cropping the grass to a nub. Among bright green tufts sat the worm piles, like drip castles made on the beach. They are fine decorations without their slithery blind carpenters. I know worms are the farmers of dirt, composting our soil. It’s nicer to see delicate mounds instead of a toilet thimble.
Running under the majestic sycamores, I saw buds all about. My stride stretched. I made my shoulders drop with my exhale. I and the worms are sharing this plot of earth. Do worms have nightmares? I just steamrolled over a worm hole pulverizing the mound. Oh well. “Sorry, for destroying your day’s work. Sorry for being a chunk in a delicate world of new growth. I can’t claim to be an animal rights maniac when I kill so many species with my gluttonous lifestyle. On a material plane, I take up more space than an elephant.
These squirmy, gutsy worms not just making rich loam for mammals, but aerating the surface. I run, thud, stretch, thud. My heavy steps harden the earth. I am planning Seder dinner, I pray for my son in New Orleans, I will build a garden bed. But the worms, they are preparing the earth better than a horse and plow. I run hard over the land, and the worms, one by one pull out the dirt, leave earth in piles, dive under and push the organic stuff.
Two Quakers taught me a lot. The first one I listened to and the second one I argued with. The first one, John Calvi, is a well-known healer who pronounced, “If you can’t pray, at least do something for 10 minutes daily where you are not thinking of yourself.” Oh-kaay. That way I’ll be ready, and open for the Messiah, who has come and is coming. So though my turbid brain wasn’t pray, my song to earthworms has saved me for today. The other Quaker, Lita, told me that history wasn’t important, but the fact that Quakers believe in continuing revelation is. I protested, I love the story of daredevil Quakers. This history informs me. But reveling in Quaker past glory is hubris and bunk. I lost the argument with my friend.
I feel strong and relaxed as I run over the last bridge. Revelation comes in small increments. I dodge a patch of daffodils on my way home. My nightmares met into the dank soil. But my foot comes down flat onto a worm mound. Splat!
Occupiers, like our sisters/brothers in the Arab Spring are determined to spring forward with democracy. The Occupy movement is making a difference. We have delayed the XL pipeline and fracking (hydraulic fracturing). We are shaking down the US oligarchy, the US plutocracy which is no less than a plutarchy. (Don’t you love my newest vocab word?–plutarchy?) The tectonic plates of the Middle East are changing. I am seeing a surprising Spring in the West.
I go into a General Assembly of OccupyBoston (OB) and see tall, short; curly and straight; pale and dark-eyed. Some, with a smile, are more polite to me, some are bluntly more honest with me. I like it. OB has a friendly grittiness.
I write about OB to focus our lens on 3 issues: decision-making, image, and tactics. As a Quaker wedded to equality, I’m the last to complain about OB’s commitment to consensus. Occupiers and Quakers use 2 variations of consensus: both are sticklers for process. For instance if you overspeak in Quaker Meeting, the room becomes full of porcupines, with quills about to dart.
What form of decision-making is fair? As Process Queens OccupyBoston spends a lot of time accepting every proposal (value of egalitarianism), putting 3-5 proposals on the ‘stack’ each general assembly (1st working groups and then individual proposals). Thirdly, Occupiers scrupulously deal with anyone who ‘blocks’ a proposal. Blocking can be mostly an attention-getter for those who disagree. But blocking a well-reasoned and well-seasoned proposal is a serious move.
Blocking isn’t baring your teeth or growling because you disagree. You block because the proposal is damaging, like a bear trap that will hurt. Examples of blocking consensus is when a march excludes trans gender folks or a proposal asks for money already assigned for the May 1st strike. If I don’t want to participate or I am ambivalent about pouring blood on the floor of a bank, that’s not a reason to block. If 10% or more are on principle opposed, then the proposal is sent back. Then there are clarifying questions, small group discussions, objections, checking to see if there’s a 75% in favor, adding friendly amendments, going back to clarifying questions, and trying again for 75% approval.
At OB General Assemblies, we need to find a less time consuming way to communicate our ideas. Yes, work on decision making, and find ways during General Assembly to anchor our trust and common values. Consider whether anonymous masked people with black robes at a public hearing on cutting transportation communicates the right message. Of these values: creative, distrust, solidarity, dead-seriousness, freedom, child-friendly, I don’t think the Direct Action black disguise communicates what we want. The Guy Fawkes disguise at OB reminds me more of Darth Vader than Dan Berrigan. Guy Fawkes was hung in Britain after trying to blow up the Parliament. Does he stand for revenge and retaliation?
I have another bone to pick with my sister Occupiers. What is this commitment to a diversity of tactics which overrules a commitment to no violence? Why don’t we have both? We can shut down military recruiter offices, start a love-fest in the JP Morgan lobby, and send Scott Brown a gallon of tar sands crude oil for his birthday. There are soooo many tactics. Of course we want diversity. Nonviolence is more of an approach that says, I will not harm another being. I will preserve the sacredness of all life. Is this confining? I think not.
The cliché, ‘God Bless America’ echoes of patriotism and supremacy. The Occupy movement shakes us off the altar of nationalism. I honestly fear that collective patriotism becomes fascism. We have changed the discussion away from butchering public transportation in the MBTA, we have stopped for a while nuclear energy and odious oil pipelines. We
Occupiers live in an orchard with exotic seeds and nutty doctors. We are apples and pears; mangos and papayas. I am a nonviolent Quaker, and I want us all to grow. When I tell Dick Cheney or Whitey Bulger you can’t Occupy the orchard because you are evil, then I’m an OB snob. We welcome kiwis and watermelons. If the watermelon rolls over my strawberry, then OB has to restrain the watermelon. Welcome melons, immigrants, circus acts and donkeys. And an absolute whistle-blowing to any violence committed.
Anarchy arises with the Occupy movement, and has been a vocal voice for centuries. Here’s a poem by Shelley written as a tribute to the British citizens after Manchester massacre. We are all dependent on ‘one mighty mother’ which is the movement, the homeland. Notice the poem names slavery as an echo of our own name. (stanza XL). Are we are slaves to a tyrant today? Isn’t the 21st century tyrant Bank of America, (more…)
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