Subscribe

Saturday, August 30, 2014

If We Must Die...

 Claude McKay1889 - 1948 

If we must die—let it not be like hogs... Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot/ While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs/ Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must die—oh, let us nobly die/ So that our precious blood may not be shed in vain; then even the monsters we defy/ Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe/ Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave/ And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack/ Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
* Claude McKay was born in Jamaica, on September 15, 1889. He was a pivotal voice in the Harlem Renaissance. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Telling the story of Mike Brown's murder at the hands of Ferguson's police

https://news.vice.com/video/exclusive-the-man-who-live-tweeted-michael-browns-death-dispatch-7

Click on the link above to view a young rapper's account of Mike Brown's murder at the hands of Ferguson, Missouri's Officer Wilson. He also talks about the history of violence in this community and attitudes to that history.

View From A Bubble

Often we become so preoccupied with the many difficult issues all around us that we defer or forget altogether the sacred responsibility we have to take care of our own selves.  If we would be durable participants in the creation of a more viable world we must change this. This suggested change is necessary because in many instances our view of the events unfolding around us is a function of the quality of the most intimate spaces we occupy and what is happening in them.

When thoroughly examined we find that almost invariably our perspectives and our prescriptions are reflections of our own perceived fragility...or of our own determined durability. If we would speak and act with the kind of profundity we aspire to, we must take seriously the responsibility to examine and to improve where necessary, our own most intimate world. I have found that everything I say to the world must first be spoken to myself. It was with this in mind that I wrote the following piece some years ago.

View From A Bubble

A limpid bubble drifting…
Bending against the elements of nature
And against the minds
Of gods…

A translucent sphere
Inspiring visions of futures past
And the days of the dreams
Of wishful destiny…

Drifting…yes
And bending too
As it facilitates the indentations
Of all our hopes
And all our fears…

My life unfolds today
In a bubble called time…
And I will be gentle with myself
Lest I impair my view

 From the book  “In My Element.” By Roy Alexander Graham 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fulfilling The Promise Of The United States Of America

A relatively unknown Barack Hussein Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2004, stirred the gathering with a call to unity and community that seemed to resound from all the various dimensions of our national consciousness. It was a defining moment for a young politician who saw the possibilities for American life in terms of his own sense of himself and the "unity in diversity" that is a part of his biology... And, it has been suggested, ...  "biology is destiny".  This is part of what our now President had to say on that occasion :
"I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible."
In a rebuke to those he saw as attempting to divide the country for partisan political gain he declared:

"..., I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there's the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too: We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States, and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq."

It is ten years later and President Obama is in the second year of his second term in office. It has been a testy six years in which the opposition Republican Party has done everything they can to prove the Obama who spoke in 2004 wrong. From Healthcare reform to Immigration reform, from foreign policy to community policing; the arguments have been configured and the national political consciousness gerrymandered to make "divide and rule" the creed of what has become a frustratingly unproductive Congress. It is easy, in a political environment like this, to declare that the Idealism expressed by Barack Obama in 2004 was nothing more than the aspirational over-reach of a dreamer. It is easy to conclude that there is in fact a black America and a white America and a Latino America and an Asian America. Watching the punditry on TV one might be convinced that there is a real division of our country into Red States and Blue States. But that is letting ourselves off easy. That is the course of the convenient lazy-think into which we have been lulled by our own innate partisanship and by the charlatans who have a stake in maintaining a state of divisiveness.

We have witnessed a country more divided than many expected with the cultural shift indicated by the election of a Black President in a historically racist United States of America. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a cultural shift, but those who expected the "end of race" as a defining feature of the American experience are in fact neophytes in their understanding of the human experience. I fully expect the "drowning man" to "clutch at a straw"; in this case the racist instinct is expected to find its most blatant expression in the face of its coming certain demise. Don't believe me? Take a look at the demographic trends. Consider the following from an article entitled "The Browning of America" written by Richard Lyon:

"In 2008 Pew Research published a demographic projection of the US population in 2050. This 
document has been the subject of considerable discussion and no little alarm in the conservative bastions of white privilege. It paints a picture of a society in which the non-Hispanic white population will have tipped over into minority status. The founding fathers are surely turning over in 
their graves."

Demographic projection is not an exact science. There are a number of variables to account for, but what is agreed on is that if birth rates continue as they have the changes predicted will become reality. 

There are different ways of hearing what Barack Obama said in 2004. Some people looking at the circumstances around them reasonably conclude that he was... and is WRONG. Fortunately the framing of Reality is not the exclusive purview of our SUBJECTIVITY. We believe what we see. That is easy. But some dare to see what they believe. That my friends, is an act of Faith. It is the DOING of the PROPHETIC among us. It is a demonstration of the kind of Idealism that says ... I know you think I am wrong, the facts before us agree with you... But I see something different... And I am SPEAKING IT INTO BEING. 

When the Founding Fathers declared that ALL MEN are created equal, they were not echoing the humanitarian sentiments of racist Southerners who did not believe that the Black Beings in their midst were men. If  Life has taught us anything it is that we must proceed with the vision of a more just society despite the shortcomings of those whose vision of life is corrupted by their own sinfulness... Their own reptilian perspective. The declaration of a new and more civilized society is a work that must continue beyond the inspiring words which give that declaration wings. It is not the function of a "big jug" to "little mug" dynamic. The most effective change will come through the working together of a conscientized citizenry... Not through a top down dynamic in which we expect someone else to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves. The change which will make our vision of a more just society a reality is a work that calls us all to become engaged. It demands that we educate ourselves and our children. It demands that we exercise our franchise through voting. It calls us to become involved in, and help direct the mechanisms of our community life. It is a work that demands that we commit to being productive in the many "callings" of our lives, no matter how humble. 

The work of making-over our world is not a task for any single "leader". Such a leader can inspire and call us to action, but WE... all of us, must put our shoulders to the wheel in the cultivation of the better society we aspire to. 




Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Shifting Sands Of Bigotry

In America today and in other places around the world, the tormented hound called bigotry barks loudly...and incessantly. The resounding terror of its constant noise sometimes shake to its very foundations the communal aspirations of a world that yearns for greater civility. But beyond the terrorizing bark of the hound of bigotry, reality bites. The inevitability of change is a fact of life staring down the pack of tormented barkers across the lines that they have drawn in the ever shifting sand of their tenuous reality.  Day by day, year by passing year, they find themselves having to rationalize their irrationality to a world evolving to greater degrees of moral and cultural literacy.

We no longer need to psychoanalize the bigot. That work has been done; and what we know for sure is that beneath the mask of terror that the hater wears is a soft yellow core of fear. Beyond the show of force that they must constantly exhibit, is an insecurity that finds its reason for being at the very base of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. They find threats everywhere outside of their ever shrinking world. The more that world shrinks, the louder their bark. But that bark will eventually become a whimper... That is the inevitable destiny of the pathetic course that they have chosen. Racism and its expressive bigotry is the function of a way of seeing that bets the viability of its own existence on the oppression of "others". In the words of Robert Nesta Marley:  "Now the weak must get strong,... Oh what a tribulation!"

There are white men in the South today with the Confederate flag tattooed all over their bodies whose  children and grandchildren proudly and lovingly bear the children of black men. In ever-changing circumstances like these it is up to these old soldiers to opt for their own redemption by learning to love their children's children. We have a President of these United States of America who is a living testament to this reality. The "facts on the ground" of American life are about to overtake "the lines in the sand" of an unsustainable legacy of fear.  And fear, my friends, is the womb in which hate is carried. The shaking ground that we feel from time to time is a precursor to ...and a cause of the necessary abortion that must be effected to save the lives of the bearers of this terrible offspring of developmentally warped parents.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Cultivating The Courage To Face Our Truths... As Uncomfortable As They Are

As uncomfortable as they are, there comes a moment when as a Nation and as individuals in community we are required to speak truthfully about the dysfunctions that afflict us. It does us no good to remain in a state of denial as we continue to devolve into an existentialism that has as its end product our ultimate demise. Recent events in Ferguson, Missouri force us into such reflections. America cannot deny its history of militant racism that has resulted in the destruction of the lives of some of its citizens who until recently were denied not only the rights of citizenship, but also their most basic human rights. On the other hand, African Americans have a sacred responsibility to consider the ways in which we have fed the beast of our own victimization. Truth beckons, and we can't cringe in the face of its call to rise up and take charge of our futures. I offer the following as one starting point in our needed reflection.

 “The journey through life is essentially a journey through our imperfections. Honest reflection on our experiences grows us, and contributes abundantly to making the lives of others on this journey less precarious. From beginning to end, there are circumstances that make us who we are that are at times uncomfortable to talk about. The instabilities we experience are mostly rooted in this truth.

We must all, every day, squarely face the stories that have gone into making us who we are. If we do not, we will find them staring us down at the most inopportune moments of our lives. For better or for worse, they are there. It therefore becomes our wise duty to face them, and in doing so, free ourselves from them where necessary.

The tyranny of those experiences can be broken. Our discomforts about them can be relieved. The dysfunctions that they breed can be aborted. The dis-ease they generate can be resolved, and we do need to engage in this very necessary process of healing.

If we do not, the possibility that we might be able to engage in positively creative relationships is vastly diminished. The truth does set us free. The courage  to face our truth is the most force-full stimulus in our liberation both as individuals, and as communities."

We cannot change the past, but we have a sacred duty to do the necessary work of creating the future we want. We must begin that work now. Everyday. All of us.

Excerpt From: The Introduction to the book  “Of Scattered Seed and Broken Souls.” 
 By Roy Alexander Graham... Visit FigTree Books at www.FigtreeEnterprises.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

AGAINST BIGOTRY... A Prophetic Word For Gaza and Ferguson and...


His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia in a Speech to the United Nations (excerpt) 
New York CityNY  October 4, 1963


"...Until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned: That until there are no longer first-class and second class citizens of any nation; That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; That until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; That until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained; And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes that hold our brothers in Angola, in Mozambique and in South Africa in subhuman bondage have been toppled and destroyed; Until bigotry and prejudice and malicious and inhuman self-interest have been replaced by understanding and tolerance and good-will; Until all Africans stand and speak as free beings, equal in the eyes of all men, as they are in the eyes of Heaven; Until that day, the African continent will not know peace. We Africans will fight, if necessary, and we know that we shall win, as we are confident in the victory of good over evil..."

And so this was true for the places named, and it is true for all the place that come to mind in our our restive world...today.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Peril Of Walking Barefooted Over Rough Roads

There is a vacuous liberalism that would have us believe that we can in fact claim our human right to Freedom while slighting our communal call to Responsibility.  This is especially true in the usual analysis of what is wrong in many communities, and specifically in African American life.  On any given day we can tune in to various media and read and listen to the arguments that basically posit the view that the reason peoples' lives are the way they are has to do with the over-arching influence of some other entity flexing its cultural and economic might to the disadvantage of those perceived as victims in this dynamic. Any critique of this way of seeing this issue is usually greeted with the reflexive liberalism that we are "blaming the victim for his victimization"? Any serious critique of the socio-economic disparities in our society must account for and acknowledge that this disparity has some of its roots in the victimization implicit in the liberal critique. It is true that greed and a corrupted sense of being are afflictions in the pathology of our societal dysfunction; but we would be incredibly amiss to end our analysis there.

We cannot ignore the fact that corporate compensation has outpaced the value placed on labor to an extent that a moral society finds abhorrent. This in some cases acts as a disincentive to pursue work, especially where the reality is that becoming a welfare recipient is a better option due to the accrual of certain necessary benefits. The current ongoing political haggle over raising the minimum wage highlights much of the impoverished logic that go into objections to  doing what is right for workers and their families. We must continue to insist on doing the just thing over the loud objections of those who have a stake in maintaining the status quo. Let us note for the sake of History that those objecting were the same voices against the 40 hour work week, Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the ACA, and other programs designed to make this a more just and economically secure society. Having acknowledged the persistent inequity that exists in our society, we must not ignore the most fundamental consequence of our claim on Freedom, that is the need to assume responsibility for our present circumstances and for our futures as individuals and as groups.

I speak as a descendant of a once enslaved people. I was raised by a grandmother who was born in the year 1900. That happens to be one generation removed from the Emancipation Proclamation. I grew up in a house in which the absence of "modern conveniences" was immediately obvious. My children look at me strangely when I tell them that for most of my primary school years I walked the five or so miles to and from school... Barefooted over mostly unpaved roads. We did not have much in terms of "stuff", but what we did have were parents (in my case Grandma, and Mother) who inculcated in us, sometimes through harsh means, a sense that we were expected to "do right" regardless of the challenges around us. Remember that dictum about "sparing the rod and spoiling the child"? Disrespect was never tolerated. Laziness was discouraged. We were taught that "cleanliness was next to godliness", and that went as much for our garbs as it did the floors of our oh so humble abode.  Despite the scarcity of opportunities we were raised to have great expectations.

Through a connected effort between home and school and church we got not just an education in the "three Rs", but in the Ten Commandments which we were expected to live in our relationships. Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't covet. Don't bear false witness. Honor your mother and father so your days may be long...and so on. My Grandma, and in my teenage years my Mom, would ask us "What did you learn in school today?"  When they did not go to church with us we had to tell "What the preacher preached about today". My Mom knew nothing about Pythagorus' theorem, but it was enough for her to hear me trying to explain something about the square on the hypotenuse being equal to the sum of the squares on the other two sides. Or that the shortest distance between any two points was a straight line joining those two points together. They couldn't help with homework, but they did what they could to make sure that we were doing as we should. We kept the house and our yards clean. It was our duty. No allowance! We participated in growing and harvesting the food for our sustenance. We were taught to respect our elders. By these means our parents raised seven children all of whom are upstanding productive citizens to this day. What I got from those experiences was a template for raising my own children.

Without belaboring the point I will put before us the reality that we need to return to some basics. Whether we live in cities  or wherever, there are basic acts of living and growing up that we are ignoring. They are acts of industry. The inculcation of moral and ethical values. Acts of basic decency. Cleanliness. These are the foundations which we ignore to our peril. With regards to the business of  being free we have come to the bank of our lives without the collateral of assumed responsibility. By so doing we are complicit in the impoverishment of our own circumstances.

And oh yes... I never met my dad till my brother and I and our mother went in search of him just before my twenty first birthday. I still remember the tears from his eyes when he finally realized who these two young men standing beside the woman he once knew were. We loved our father, but his tears were his. He chose to act out his freedom by ignoring his responsibilities to two sons that he helped bring into this world. His pain is demonstrative of the peril of claiming his freedom while ignoring his sacred duty to be responsible... Kinda like walking barefooted over a perilous path.






Thursday, August 14, 2014

Devolution To Fascism In Ferguson, Missouri

Emilio Gentile, an internationally renowned authority on fascism and totalitarianism, describes one of the ten constituent elements of a fascist state as : " a police apparatus that prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, even by using organized terror".

The pictures emerging from Ferguson, Missouri regarding police response to citizen protest over the murder of unarmed 18 year old African American male Mike Brown by a member of the Ferguson police are deeply troubling to say the least, and to the adept observer... clearly fascist. After a pronounced period of silence that led many to wonder where the hell was the leadership of the State of Missouri as this sordid episode unfolded, one newspaper reports the following:

The night's events were described as "deeply troubling" by Jay Nixon, Missouri's governor, who will visit the area on Thursday. "While we all respect the solemn responsibility of our law enforcement officers to protect the public, we must also safeguard the rights of Missourians to peaceably assemble and the rights of the press to report on matters of public concern,"

You are damned right Governor! But we ask again... Where the hell have you been as all this developed? After shooting down this son of a now grieving community and leaving his body lying in the streets for hours, the police have against all precedence refused to make public the name of the murderer among them. To add insult to injury they have been acting to prevent any effective reporting on this crime by trying to block the presence and work of national reporters. The actions of this police force are way past despicable. In fact these actions may be in and of themselves against the law, and we expect a full and thorough investigation of the actions of this department. One description of the disgraceful behavior of the Ferguson police on Twitter aptly says this is:
" Excessive use of force to stop people from protesting the excessive use of force".

Instead of an open process that addresses the terrible pain of the aggrieved and the just grievances of the community and the country, what we have seen is an unprecedented display of militarism with snipers pointing high powered rifles at reporters and demonstrators from their perches on surrounding rooftops. THIS MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE. A police apparatus that "prevents, controls, and represses dissidence and opposition, using organized terror" must not...and will not be tolerated in our democratic society. They are paid to "protect and serve" the people whose taxes guarantee their livelihood. What is needed now in the face of their response to the tragic criminality of one of their members is a total disbanding of this "force". They can no longer be trusted with the sacred duty that defines their charter. We demand action from the Federal Government to address this egregious display of fascist brutality in our midst.

And...those who are responsible for leadership in Ferguson must now account for the devolution from the democratic rule of law to the outright fascism that the nation has witnessed over the last few days.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Foul Stench Of Hatefulness

The foul stench of Hate lingers still in the air of the South. It grows more pungent with the every breath of those and their children and grandchildren who lynched, and assassinated, and raped, and pillaged, and thwarted the lives and livelihood of our fathers and grandfathers and grandmothers and mothers and sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts...

It lingers in places high and low. In churches, and private clubs, and banks, and police precincts. In schools, and businesses, and in our courts, and jails. On highways and byways, and the various nooks and crannies of our public lives. It lays wait like a vampire in the dark, seeking opportunities to feed its bloodlust. It discriminates not between our young or old. It preys on our sons and daughters every chance it gets...seeking to satisfy the insatiable lusts of empty amoral souls.

It ignores the law, assuming that a "jury of its peers" will continue to turn a blind eye to its bloody indiscretions. It ignores the changes occurring all around that tells it in no uncertain terms that a new wind cometh, and that the days of its acrid pungency are numbered. It clings to perches of ignorance and denial, hoping against Hope that the demise that seems most certain will somehow not come. It holds on to the cliff of its irrationality like a drowning man to a straw. It sticks to the tongue of its apostles like maggots on rotting flesh.

It is what you smell when the killer of Trayvon Martin opens his mouth. It is what comes forth when the chokers of Eric Garner pass by. It is what is causing the firestorm in Ferguson, Missouri right now. EIGHT TO TEN BULLETS IN AN UNARMED 18 YEAR OLD!!!

Parents. Gather your black sons. Gather your black daughters. Tell them again the history of our enslavement. Tell them again the reality of Jim Crow. Of social and political exclusion. Of water hoses and rabid dogs. And lynchings. And assassinations. Of bigotry. Of murders unsolved and ignored. Tell them about the criminals who think  that their whiteness will absolve them of the sins that stain their souls. Arm them with the knowledge they need for a struggle that continues.





Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Mother's Letter To Her Son On His 18th Birthday... Written By Monica Rhea Graham

The following is a letter written by my wife to our son Trei who turns eighteen today.


August 10, 2014

To my son Trei (Simbah) on the occasion of the celebration of your 18th birthday.

I know that you hear these words on a daily basis, but I will say it again... I Love You; Mommy and Daddy Love you; Love ya! Every day of your life, know that you are Loved and Cherished!

I've loved and cherished you ever since I discovered that I was pregnant with you. As an expectant mom, you receive all types of advice on what to do when the baby is born but no one can prepare you for the overwhelming feeling of Love that washes over you when you give birth. The Love that you feel for this little baby that you just brought into the world is indescribable! You also experience this fierce sense of protectiveness over this little gift from God, who was only born a minute ago, but for whom you would single handedly fight an army to protect… and you know your Mom… I would fight an army to protect you.

You've heard this account many times before but I'll tell the story again:
You were born at 32 weeks (2 months premature)... born on Saturday, August 10, 1996... born at 4:11 AM... weighing in at 4 pounds, 6 ounces. When I left the hospital on Wednesday, August 14th (My attending physician pulled some strings to let me stay in the hospital for a few extra days so that I could spend time with you), it was extremely difficult for me as I had to leave you behind to be cared for by the wonderful staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I visited you every day of your stay in the NICU... from11:00 AM (after the morning rounds had settled down) to 11:00 PM. The night before I brought you home, the NICU staff set it up for you and I to spend the night in a 'home like' suite on the same floor as the NICU. This type of arrangement is set up for parents so that they can see what it's like to care for the baby at home by themselves without the aid of the NICU staff. I was so anxious and excited that I don't think that I slept a wink that night. I also spent most of the night with my hand on your back checking to make sure that you were still breathing... you'll understand this when you have children.

On the occasion of your 18th birthday, these memories are as vibrant in mind and in my heart as if it were yesterday.

As you look forward to turning 18 and as you prepare to go off to college, I can't help but to feel nostalgic as I think back over the years and look back at the cuter than cute baby... handsome little boy... handsome young lad... who has grown into this wonderful and very handsome young man. Although I know that you are intelligent and strong willed and resourceful and hard-working and just an all-around 'well-rounded' young man, I can't help but to be a little anxious as you 'go out into the world'. The world out there is not always a kind place and at times I can't bear to think of 'my baby' out there navigating through all of the fragganackle, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that you will be okay... all of the strengths that you have developed will only get stronger helping you to navigate the paths ahead of you.

Just so that you know:
If I've been overprotective...  it's because I Love you and want to protect you from all of the ugliness that may come your way. If I ask too many questions... it's because I want to know what's going on in your life and I want to know that you are okay. If I insist on your best... it's because I see the greatness and the potential inside of you that you yourself may not fully recognize. If I insist that you 'do as I say'... it's because I know better (at the time) and will not be swayed by your insistence that we do it 'your way'. When I walk into your room and kiss you on your face every morning... it's because I want you to know that you are Loved and Cherished. When I can't lay my head down at night without telling you, "Good Night, Mommy and Daddy Love you" (sometimes accompanied with a fist bump)... it's because I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED AND CHERISHED.

I have always been and will always be your biggest supporter and your biggest fan. As you become a man, there will come a time when the things that I do now that make you 'roll your eyes' or make you 'kiss your teeth' or make you exclaim "MA!"... will make you laugh and chuckle as you recall them in memory. I promise that you'll LYAO!

You are a wonderful son and I Love you dearly... I COULD NOT BE MORE PROUD OF YOU. 

Love,
Mommy (Ma)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Two Wrongs In Gaza Will Not Make It Right

Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections in 2006 is evidence of its ability to organize according to democratic principles. International response to this event ranged from surprise on the part of the then American Administration, to affirmation of the Palestinians'  desire for democratically oriented solutions to the problems they faced. Israel's response derived from the persistent animus that exists between their geo-political ambitions and Hamas' violent objections to those ambitions. We are all witnesses to the tragedies that persist as a result of this conflict. 

In the last month or so nearly 2000 lives and counting have been lost in Gaza, seventy percent of which are the lives of innocent women and children. Over 65, 000 families have been left homeless through Israel's indiscriminate blaze against anything in its path, and the United Nations has referred to some of Israel's actions as criminal. It should be noted that Israel has a history of ignoring U.N. rulings that exceeds that of any other nation. The insistence of morally warped hard liners that no one in Gaza is innocent as long as they support Hamas has reaped the due disdain of people around the world. But we must also raise serious questions about Hamas' strategy in this "war" which has brought the kind of devastation to the people it claims to represent in Gaza.

The ineffectiveness of Hamas' military praxis is highlighted in the fact that their launching of  thousands of rockets at Israel has been a total bust. It is reminiscent of the proverbial aggrieved damsel who flails away at the chest of her aggressive assailant with ineffectual blows while screaming :"You brute, you brute, you brute!". The brute force of Israel is all too evident, but it is time for Hamas to stop fighting in a way that only serves to bring more death and destruction to Gaza and its inhabitants. It may gain much sympathy from the world, but Israel... with US support... does not give a damn about International condemnation. People's collective memories are as abbreviated as the next news cycle, and Israel has the kind of presence in popular media that is effective in forming the content of those memories. Enough blood has been shed. Too many lives have been shattered. There are too many homeless. Time to stop the madness!

Hamas must stop playing into the hands of of the Zionists. Instead of persisting with a strategy that gives an excuse for Israel to continue its policy of apartheid, it is time to build on the democratic instinct that brought it to power and gave it legitimacy in the Palestinian political process. Accumulating countless ineffectual weapons is an exercise in futility. The repulsion of Israel's Iron Dome nullifies them. The repulsion of civilized people who insist that it is wrong to indiscriminately fire missiles at civilian populations must not be ignored. Two wrongs do not make a right. It is time for  Hamas to become a more effective partner with the rest of the people of Gaza in repelling the occupation that threatens the viability of their future and the future of their children. There are many ways to "skin the cat" called Apartheid. Irritating it with ineffectual "straws" is not one of them.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

SACRIFICE

( A wail from the rubble in Gaza... Listen )

"So…you want to live vicariously…
Eliminate your pain…by killing me
Flaunting your rage
By putting me in your cage
And throwing away the key…

So you…want to live
Vicariously…
Eliminate your shame…by upstaging me
Pointing your fingers
While I sit through the wringers
As you expiate…through me

So you want to live
Vicariously…
Throwing stones
From the heaps
Of your hypocrisy…
And after my death…You being hungry yet
Will tear my flesh…and eat me”


From my book “In My Element.” 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The problem with our gods

We live in a time when people still treasure their religion. As such the times of our lives are marked by the significant events on our religious calendar. The rituals that mark the various events are usually very elaborate, and the faithful are expected to set time apart for them and participate in each with all our hearts.

Passover comes and goes from generation to generation, but few of us as enslavers and as descendants of enslaved people recognized its significance to our emancipation. Easter is celebrated annually, but even though we are a still a significantly agricultural community, we have forgotten its significance to the planting season... To Spring. We talk about “salvation”, but most of us have no clue that this discourse has real applications to our freedoms and the real quality of our lives here and now. We pray for Peace, but are not taught to make the necessary connection between Peace and its foundation in Justice.

The disconnect between our religious experience and our day to day lives has become casually evident. We indulge in the rituals of “righteousness” on the days of worship, and then go about the business of taking gross disadvantage of each other on the other days. We “renounce Satan and all his works” in one breath, and proceed to the business of doing the devil’s dirty work in the next. We declare our worship of “the one true and only God...creator of all”; we say that all are created equal... And then we proceed to discriminate against others in scandalous ways. We declare that “we are all sinners”, but then proceed to designate ourselves “chosen”.

The many contradictions between our expressed religious beliefs and our behaviors have always been, and remain, the subject of much doctrinal and intellectual discussion. Many have come to the conclusion that our problems have their roots in the fact that as humans we are imperfect. It is true that as persons, groups, nations...we are still works in progress. But it seems to me that our dilemma is more fundamental than just a quirk of our humanity. Could it be that the thing that ails us runs much deeper than an evolutionary dynamic of our characters? To the extent that our “faith” makes no qualitative difference in our human relations we may reasonably ask... Could it be that our gods are codependents?