Monday, October 15, 2018

WHERE MY TEARS COME FROM

From ducts deep in my soul
where pains and joys
and compassions swell…

From confluences in the course of our experience
where we meet and mingle
and recognize our sharing of common ground…
And feel that certain rush
of our destination’s blue…

From our confessions
voluntarily or otherwise given…
verbally or otherwise spoken…
That now allows for the lifting
of that lid which suppresses
a certain internal commotion
in the swollen chambers of our hearts
that threatens to explode unless relieved…

For those who look on and wonder…
That is where my tears come from…


Monday, September 17, 2018

THE AUTUMN OF WORN WAYS

The Challenges of Being and Becoming
The tension between who we are and who we must become in order to realize our fullest human potential is real. That tension is, for many, a source of great physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma.

The demands of growth and change can seem overwhelming, but to maintain our health and sustain our general well-being we must at some point make a determination to meet them. This process is without doubt uncomfortable, since it involves our breaking out of old ways into new ways of being and behaving. Some of us recognize and embrace the change that grows us; while some of us will have that change forced upon us in the very midst of our unwillingness.

Over the course of our lives, and from one generation to another, we develop a certain vested interest in keeping things stable. We do not like change. We work on the establishment of a certain status quo in our personal and communal experiences, and we invest substantial material and intellectual resources in its maintenance. We become comfortable with the ways we establish, and we resist any attempt to breach the walls that surround those ways. To keep those walls up we foster certain self-serving dogmas… We demand that others not rock our boats… And why?...  Well… We do not want our boats to be rocked! Simple. No more questions. That. Is. It.

Well, as for the no more questions part… Not so simple. For better or for worse, the rocking of boats is an inevitable fact of life in the very fluid course of our dynamic reality. The challenges of our existence are not just omnipresent and inevitable; they are necessary. They enliven us by stirring our creative juices. These challenges come and go like day and night. They are as present and as essential as Oxygen in the air we breathe. They are at once as certain, and as unpredictable as the wind. And, when they come, they demand that we make adjustments in both the perceptions and the practices of our lives.

Back Then, As In Our Time...
I experience a certain guilty pleasure from relating this experience of someone known to me. He is Caucasian, I am Black. Having examined my soul for traces of insensitivity, and after eliminating the possibility that I do not share his existential dilemma… I can now tell this story without the constraints of cultural sympathy, but with an appropriate consciousness of our shared humanity and the inherent frailties thereof.

This gentleman grew up in George Wallace’s South where the social, economic, and political prosperity of Whites was premised on the continued disenfranchisement and oppression of Blacks. He was probably there at Wallace’s inauguration as the Democratic Governor of Alabama in 1963, when in the face of the rising challenge to a racist status quo the newly elected Governor declared:

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Segregation forever? Well, maybe not.

All the passion in the world cannot make an untenable position durable. It matters not who it's proponent is, or the extent of his or her persuasion. Race was the outstanding line in the sand here; but color was not the only factor in the offensive and grossly immoral social dynamic of the time. The twin markers of gender and sexual orientation also played a role in determining social and political progress, and thus the possibilities for one’s overall prosperity. These things were true then, and they are still factors influencing a person’s ability to thrive in our time.

Back then, as now, the players on either side of the cultural divide weren't always who you would assume or expect. There were homosexual persons who publicly condemned homosexuality. Blacks were complicit in the oppression of other Blacks, actively promoting the self-denigrating dogma that ‘nothing black is ever good’. Women were activists against the political empowerment of women.

The late Phyllis Schlafly, an ardent conservative political activist who came to prominence as an anti-communist crusader in the 1950s spent much of her life championing the supremacy of “traditional values” over “progressive causes” like feminism and gay rights. She died on September 5, 2016 at the age of 92. It wont be long now till a woman is elected to the Presidency of the United States, and with this in mind many are mocking the declaration: “There will be a woman President over my dead bodywhich has been attributed to her. To be responsible I must add that this declaration has not been authoritatively verified as having come from Ms Schlafly, even though there is no doubt that this is a shared sentiment among many women who call themselves conservative.

The Not So Indelible Impressions of Our Dogma
The stain of our cultural myopia still colors the sentiments, and impugns the integrity, integumentary and otherwise, of many. Which takes me back to the case of this man, the subject of my story. He, while in his early twenties, had the Confederate flag tattooed …emblazoned across his sun-tanned chest… So that it would go before him wherever he went. This being the case, he would wear his shirt buttoned low, or open-fronted as often as fashion and etiquette permitted.

This son of the Confederacy himself became a father during the days of ‘Rock and Roll’. He thrived and raised his children during a period when the legacy of racial injustice and oppression, neo-colonialism, and the threat of nuclear war were ever-present themes. These were the overwhelming socio/political impressions of the time that led the inspired activist-artist Bob Dylan to pen such anthems as:

Blowin' in the Wind
‘’How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind
The answer is blowin in the wind”

And ...

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
“Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son ?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
And it's a hard rain's a-gonna fall”.

The season of Rock and Roll evolved into the season of Rap and Reggae… Reggae, a sound that has its origins in the shared dynamic syncopation of our heartbeats… This season mobilized a strident uprising against racism and apartheid, against wars and rumors of wars, against economic vampires and their bloodsucking ways... It shook the foundations of the System of Oppression from Jamaica to Rome to London to Paris to Washington to South Africa to Mozambique. This season spoke with an unmistakable force in the voice of prophetic luminaries like Robert Nesta Marley and the Wailers… A force felt in the well-fired architecture of renditions of:

Babylon System
‘We refuse to be
What you wanted us to be;
We are what we are:
That's the way it's going to be. You don't know!
You can't educate I
For no equal opportunity:
Talkin' 'bout my freedom,
People freedom and liberty!
Yeah, we've been trodding on the winepress much too long:
Rebel, rebel!”

And…

War
“Until the philosophy
Which holds one race superior and another
Inferior
Is finally
And permanently
Discredited
And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war
That until there are no longer
First class and second class citizens of any nation
Until the color of a man's skin
Is of no more significance than the color of his eyes
Me say war”

And it was in these days that this man became a great- grandfather… To a black baby boy.

You see, his granddaughter was a student at one of our now desegregated colleges here in the South. Yes, the ones that have the authors of those strident racist dogmas - ‘Segregation forever!’ - turning over in their graves. And it was while she was a student there that she fell in love with an African American classmate, a not so uncommon occurrence nowadays in the new evolving multicultural reality that a Barack Hussein Obama demographic represents. Oh, you did know that his mother was a white woman… ? Of course you knew that. And he went on to become POTUS… President of these United States of America; a world leader second in popularity only to this current Pope. Nothing said about him by a certain Donald J. Trump and the bigots among his followers can change that. And did I mention that these United States of America continues to include the great States of Alabama and Mississippi, and Georgia, etc. But I digress. Let's return to our new great grandfather.

Being and Beneficence
There is a well repeated fact that we regard and repeat with a kind of liturgical steadfastness: The Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. We say this with the reverence it deserves. Amen. When this man first learned that his granddaughter was expecting a child ‘‘by a colored boy’...that's how it was presented to him by one of the young woman’s aunts…he was speechless. By his own words, he ‘didn't know what to feel or what to think’.

In the months preceding the birth of the child, they were introduced to the youngman over and over. If nothing else, these reintroductions provided opportunities to get over the very real awkwardness that existed on both sides. The initial tentativeness wore thin with the experience of a growing familiarity. By the time the baby was born our great grandfather had gone from soft hesitant handshakes, to firm but still awkward embraces of the now husband of his grandchild.

And so that moment came when, as he sat in the well-worn, white rocking chair that adorned his verandah in rural Georgia; the baby boy…the black child of his white grandchild… was brought and placed in his arms. He held the child up to his eyes with his arms straight at each elbow, and then he slowly brought him to rest on his chest...his suntanned confederate-flag-emblazoned-chest. It was a moment like none that he ever expected to experience. Rocking back and forth in that chair, his chest became more expansive with the deepened breath that came to him in that very moment - Some would say a sigh - I say a deeper breath than he had ever taken in all his years.

And he became silent as something happened inside that flag-stained domicile of his emotional being. His face became flushed as his once very stubborn heart opened up and gave space to emotions that were more compliant with the demands of a deepened humanity. And as he experienced the liberation that Love brought, the tears that ran down his face became a libation to the sacredness of the moment. It moistened and lubricated the now non-existent space between his cheek and the soft innocently fragrant face of his new great grandchild. And some of those tears rolled to the edge of his lips, and he licked them in - savoring the essential blessedness of the new cultural reality that beckoned.

Love, we can affirm, is an agent of change. It carries the full force and authority of the essence of what it means to be. It comes to break down barriers cemented in the substance of our convenient dogmas. Love came. And change came. It did like a raging torrent in that moment.  And the tears that flowed in its track washed into oblivion the brokenness of a cantankerous past with all its coarse debris. And the child looked up at his great grandfather’s face and smiled. And he… He groaned in relief, as if to lay a burden down.

Until We Open Our Hearts...
The next day came, and not a moment too soon. He woke up early, and with a newfound determination he took time off from his usual chores. His world had changed. He must now become a willing agent of that change. Change does not require our permission or consent. It comes. And when it does we either flow in its course, or remain stubborn… But then, like unmovable rocks in the course of a determined river, we get reduced to sand and silt. We either comply with the demands of change, or we become the fertile remnants of a non-compliant past.

And so this man went about the business of finding out how and where he might go about removing that tattoo from the flesh that housed his heart. He had for too long walked down that road where some men are not regarded as fully human… as truly men. He was once a man who was ‘wounded in love’, who now felt the urgency to stop being an agent of hate. No more would he trod the winepress of bigotry. A new consciousness dawned in his blurred world when his heart was touched by Love in all its eloquent splendor.

In his quest to blot out that old symbol of hatred and oppression he was not totally successful. But he did manage to get that flag reconfigured to look more like the Star Spangled Banner. Not a perfect outcome we can agree, but one more in keeping with the promise of a more perfect Union.

In the face of everything that we are taught about being, we remain yet ignorant until we open our hearts to each other. Our dogmas serve to indoctrinate us in the ways of our cultural biases; but they are no substitute for the true learning that comes from the affirmation of the needs and the potentials of our common humanity. Beyond the narrowed perspectives and the practice of the dogmas informing the status quo in our lives, a real education awaits. To summarize a wiser soul than myself, …At the very heart of that education, is the education of our hearts.

A Nation In Decline?

A voice crying in the wilderness declares:

... American politicians are not as much concerned about right and wrong as they are about Right and Left. There is no longer a preoccupation with principles, they live and sell their souls for the privilege of power. The call to partisanship has drowned out the call to service, as those who were elected to serve now are the servants of masters whose priorities have nothing to do with the best interest of the populace.

Above the ideals that unite a people for their common prosperity, are the yells of demagogues who live to divide so they can rule. And this my friends is the dilemma we face; we are a nation in decline because our Congress has made a deal with the Devil. And this deal, it seems, has been co-signed by enough of us to give it teeth... or has it?

And a contrary voice shouts back
 ... NOTHING NEW THERE!

And the voice responds....
True. But can a nation thus conceived survive?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Stepping Back From The Edge... Surviving The Wilderness In Our Experience

In the mid 1990s, the leader of one of the world’s most popular musical enterprises shook up the assumptions many had about his life when he was found dead with a shotgun laying across his body. It was concluded that he had committed suicide. His “success” at what he did was rather obvious to the superficial observer, many of whom longed for the kind of fame/notoriety that this artist had achieved. My reflections on this event, and others like it at the time, led me to pen the following:

Heard your songs… Empathized with your lust
Sung along like a chorus must
Seen the litany… Of your strain
In lines recurring like water in rain
And I’m wondering… Wondering… Wondering why
You keep using new words… To tell the same lie

Heard your songs…. Recognized their thrust
Sung along like a chorus must
Known your emotions… As they touched our strife
Like the sharp edges of a butcher’s knife
And I keep wondering… Wondering… Wondering why
You think the same potion… Will cause a new high

Heard your songs
Sung them over… and again
You have drained all the juice
From your joy… and your pain
It seems you have achieved all you set out to gain
And so I’m wondering… Wondering… Wondering why
Instead of truly living
You have chosen
To die.”

Recently we learned of the apparent suicide of another cultural icon, a man who came to be regarded by many as the Elvis of our culinary culture. This man came across as a person who was doing what he loved. To the casual observer, he seemed rather comfortable in his own skin. Sampling food from various countries was his thing; we in turn were attracted to what appeared to be his voracious appetite for life in its many cultural variations. It seems we were wrong…

The prevalence of suicidal behavior has become a focus of our common experience. In the past two decades we have seen a fifty percent increase in suicides among women, and an over twenty percent increase among men in the United States. The reasons for taking one’s own life are many and complex,  but they are generally related to an inability to cope in the face of various stressors with which we are confronted in our various circumstances.

The assumptions that once informed our conversations about the “‘sacredness of life” seem to have worn thin in a culture that thrives on an all-consuming materialism. In addition to this inconvenient truth, we must come to terms with the role that our tendency to victimize those whom we perceive as being different continues to play in pushing some “over the edge”.  Not to be ignored in this conversation is a growing philosophical orientation that insists on one’s right to end one’s life regardless of any moral or other objections that are raised.

There is that juncture in our life’s journey where we are challenged to come to terms with the clich├ęd ontological dilemma… To be or not to be. For some persons this is that place where they feel without doubt that they must either choose to continue to live, or end it all. When confronted with as critical a circumstance as this, we may find ourselves fortunate enough to embrace the providential fact that it’s not just about us. This is that wilderness between all the places we have been that did not meet our expectations, and the ‘’promised land’’ in our experience. It is where we are confronted with the proverbial “burning bush’’ of unrealized truth, and are summoned to to take stock of the quality of the ground under our feet.

At critical points in our life journey we can be lulled into a precarious daze by any number of heartbreaking occurrences. Failed relationships, disappointing outcomes in our business affairs, disease, sudden misfortune; these among other spirit-depressing events can take us to the brink of that unforgiving precipice.

For those who have ears to hear, it is in this moment that the unmistakable prodding of the ominous “I AM” calls to our attention the critical fact that if we are to continue to be, we must fill our lives - with other lives. The wisdom of lives well lived confirm the substantial-ness of the oft repeated refrain: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.  Lucky, or maybe more aptly, fortunate,  because this is the proven formula for how we can save our own lives!

As we work our way through each life experience we come to realize that it is more important to give of ourselves, than to have for ourselves. With eyes wide open, and ears tuned to a more holistic reality, we come to embrace empathy instead of succumbing to self-pity. With the growing consciousness of an evolving spirit, we develop the ability to separate our needs from the things by which we have come to define ourselves and our lives in a culture of materialism. We come to realize, eventually, that there is a filling that results from fasting; a fulfillment that only comes when we engage in the process of emptying ourselves of the bloatedness of the vanity that consumes us.

The realization that it is our connectedness that will inspire our ultimate viability  is crucial. Embracing our need of each other leads to the expansion of the social dimensions of our existence, and inevitably to the broadening of our spiritual horizons. That broadening of our horizons is a function of our collective commitment to the work of healing our world. We are called to this task by a chorus of hopefulness… a hopefulness expressed in the well known song of Michael Jackson and company :

Heal the world
Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
There are people dying
If you care enough for the living
Make it a better place
For you and for me”.

Yes, there are people dying, if we care enough for the living let’s work to make the world a better place for you, for me.. for us all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

THE ONGOING CRISIS IN PALESTINE - Living and Dying in an Unsustainable Duality

The central problem is this: How can the oppressed, as divided, unauthentic beings, participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation? Only as they discover themselves to be hosts of the oppressor can they contribute to the midwifery of their liberating pedagogy. As long as they live in the duality in which to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the oppressor, this contribution is impossible. ” - Paulo Freire - The Pedagogy of the Oppressed







A Palestinian protester throws stones at Israeli troops during clashes after protests near the border with Israel in the east of Gaza Strip
Palestinians hurl stones and incendiary devices at Israeli forces
On Tuesday July 15 2014 an Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva published an op-ed written by Moshe Feiglin titled “ My Outline for a Solution in Gaza”. Feiglin spoke then as head of the Manhigut Yehudit faction, and a leader in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He refered to his article as: “Clear and concise...” because it is in fact very clear and very concise in its intention. These are Feiglin's - “Steps toward achieving quiet in Gaza”:

Ultimatum – One warning from the Prime Minister of Israel to the enemy population, in which he announces that Israel is about to attack military targets in their area and urges those who are not involved and do not wish to be harmed to leave immediately. Sinai is not far from Gaza and they can leave. This will be the limit of Israel’s humanitarian efforts. Hamas may unconditionally surrender and prevent the attack.

Attack – Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.


Siege – Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area. Israel, however, will allow exit from Gaza. (Civilians may go to Sinai, fighters may surrender to IDF forces).


Defense – Any place from which Israel or Israel’s forces were attacked will be immediately attacked with full force and no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’.


Conquer – After the IDF completes the "softening" of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF will conquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.


Elimination- The GSS and IDF will thoroughly eliminate all armed enemies from Gaza. The enemy population that is innocent of wrong-doing and separated itself from the armed terrorists will be treated in accordance with international law and will be allowed to leave. Israel will generously aid those who wish to leave.


Sovereignty – Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever. Liberation of parts of our land forever is the only thing that justifies endangering our soldiers in battle to capture land. Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel. The coastal train line will be extended, as soon as possible, to reach the entire length of Gaza.


According to polls, most of the Arabs in Gaza wish to leave. Those who were not involved in anti-Israel activity will be offered a generous international emigration package. Those who choose to 

remain will receive permanent resident status. After a number of years of living in Israel and becoming accustomed to it, contingent on appropriate legislation in the Knesset and the authorization of the Minister of Interior, those who personally accept upon themselves Israel’s rule, substance and way of life of the Jewish State in its Land, will be offered Israeli citizenship”

One would be right to question the audacity of such a statement published for the civilized world to peruse. There is an obvious insanity that undergirds such audacity, and it is not the kind of madness that we can afford to ignore. The article reminds me of another “solution” that resulted in one of the most abhorred episodes in human history. The Holocaust Encyclopedia records the following:

“On July 17, 1941, four weeks after the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler tasked SS chief Heinrich Himmler with responsibility for all security matters in the occupied Soviet Union. Hitler gave Himmler broad authority to physically eliminate any perceived threats to permanent German rule. Two weeks later, on July 31, 1941, Nazi leader Hermann Goering authorized SS General Reinhard Heydrich to make preparations for the implementation of a complete solution of the Jewish question." 

According to this same articleGerman SS and police murdered nearly 2,700,000 Jews in the killing centers either by asphyxiation with poison gas or by shooting. In its entirety, the "Final Solution" called for the murder of all European Jews by gassing, shooting, and other means. Approximately six million Jewish men, women, and children were killed during the Holocaust -- two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before World War II”.

With all due disrespect to euphemisms from the mouths of those we know as murderous villains in the course of human history, let me suggest that the word “solution” should never proceed from the mouth of a Jew toward Palestinians in the “occupied” territories. 

The article by Moshe Feiglin expresses the crassness and inhumanity that has come to characterize Zionist behavior toward the Palestinian people. This crassness and inhumanity found expression in the slaughter of dozens of Palestinians, including women and children, and severe injuries to thousands of others protesting against Zionist oppression in recent days.

According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia:

“After the September 1939 German invasion of Poland (the beginning of World War II), anti-Jewish policy escalated to the imprisonment and eventual murder of European Jewry. The Nazis first established ghettos (enclosed areas designed to isolate and control the Jews) in the Generalgouvernement (a territory in central and eastern Poland overseen by a German civilian government) and the Warthegau (an area of western Poland annexed to Germany). Polish and western European Jews were deported to these ghettos where they lived in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with inadequate food.”

In the minds of Jews like Feiglin, Gaza is nothing but a “ghetto” and its inhabitants are nothing more than “vermin” that must be wiped out to make way for Zionist ambitions. The “elimination of terror from Gaza” is the same as the elimination of any man, woman, and child who dares be perceived as obstacles to such ambitions. Feiglin has seen the enemy...it is him. He dwells in an unsustainable duality that has degraded his humanity. For him, to be is to be like, and to be like is to be like the Nazi that he has been conditioned to despise.

The Zionist is yet to realize that his own liberation is inextricably bound with the liberation of the Palestinian. He is numb to the glaring reality that his every expression are manifestations of his own dehumanization. He finds himself in a delusional state in which he actually believes that he can quarantine himself and his clan from the pandemic of violence that his inhumanity breeds.

Reasonable voices must prevail against the insanity of the rabid fundamentalism on both sides. Israel's right to exist and to defend itself should never be an excuse for the disproportionate use of force to accomplish patently inhumane ends. Reasonable people have laid the groundwork for two states living side by side in civility. That work must bear fruit despite the objections rationalized on each side and their detractors. 

The resolution of this conflict requires the engagement of truly liberated persons. People willing to let go, not forget, but willing to work in creative ways to establish Peace despite the horrors in their common memories. The process has not been and will not be easy, but it is critically necessary that it endures through completion. The establishment of a comprehensive Peace in the Middle East is necessarily a work of persons dedicated to Justice for all involved. It is a work that requires the efforts of truly liberated participants. 

Paulo Freire aptly describes the peril and the promise of the work that must be done: "Liberation is thus a childbirth, and a painful one. The man or woman who emerges is a new person, viable only as the oppressor-oppressed contradiction is superseded by the humanization of all people. Or to put it another way, the solution of this contradiction is born in the labor which brings into the world this new being: no longer oppressor nor longer oppressed, but human in the process of achieving freedom."

Despite the hopes of those who work and pray for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the birthing of a different state of being in Palestine is destined to be a process fraught with pain and bloodshed... on both sides.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

REALITY BYTES... Tragic Factoids Informing Our Laughter And Our Tears

I grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where the proliferation of “garrison communities” has to this day engendered a sense of persistent insecurity among the people who inhabit them. These are places where ruthless gangsters and politicians exploit the survival instincts of their henchmen in pursuit of their own ignoble goals. These “communities” suffer some of the highest murder rates in the world. The devaluation of life in these circumstances has led to the kind of social destitution in and around them that is described in Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” :
“Welcome to Jamdown, poor people a dead at random
Political violence, can’t done!
Pure ghost and phantom,
The youth dem get blind by stardom… 
To see the sufferation sicken me
Them suit no fit me, to win election them trick we
Den them don’t do nuttin at all”
I lived my teenage years in the environment that Damian Marley so aptly describes in his lyrical exposition of the facts of life in these violence disposed ghettos. By the time I was 20 years old, many of the boys I had gone to elementary and secondary/high school with were either dead or in jail. They had become perpetrators or victims, all equally susceptible to the destructive wrath of the sharp edges and bullets of the criminal/political tribalism around them.
I have been robbed. I have been shot at. I have loved ones who were raped. I have seen the mayhem of brutality and murder. I have been called a “slave” for believing in the virtues of hard work by those who chose to be “thugs”. I have been caught up in curfews where a policeman told me to “run” so I would become a target of his trigger-happy, murderous inclination. 
I believe I am alive today because something greater than the fear in me made me stand firm against this prevalent inhumanity. Scary as it was, I learned to walk through it. I know about the corrupt influence of politicians, and cops, and preachers. There are evil people in the world, and no amount of naivete or pseudo-liberal idealism will, or can change that reality.
I make no excuses for those who choose to cultivate their depravity with excuses about being poor or disadvantaged. I grew up among the poor and disadvantaged; and I know that decency and industry was as much a part of our experience and aspirations as it may have been among some of those experiencing the abundance that we longed for. I also know that we did not have the quality education and training facilities around us that the privileged were exposed to. Neither did we have the resources to bribe the police and politicians and other servants of the status quo in order to gain access to the advantages that the moneyed around us had.
Despite the deleterious influences around me I have always seen my life in terms of making a positive difference in my world. 
By the time I was 18 years old I had boiled down my vocational choices after high school to either law enforcement or the priesthood. I chose the church because I was convinced I would be no good at taking orders. Chalk that decision up to my persistent naivete. After four years of seminary I found myself in a vocational crisis that led me to the couch of a renowned psychoanalyst, who, after many sessions, concluded that my personality was most suited to work in a prison.
 I left her office laughing, I wasn't sure why… I remember that I was very sad.

Friday, April 20, 2018

4-20

LEGALIZE IT
By Peter Tosh

Legalize it 
Don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Some call it tamjee
Some call it the weed
Some call it marijuana
Some of them call it ganja
Never mind, got to legalize it 
And don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Singers smoke it, 
And players of instrument, too
Legalize it, yeah yeah
That's the best thing you can do
Doctors smoke it
Nurses smoke it
Judges smoke it
Even lawyer, too
So you've got to legalize it
And it don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
It's good for the flu
Good for asthma
Good for tuberculosis
Even numara thrombosis
Go to legalize it 
Don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Birds eat it
Ants love it
Fowls eat it
Goats love to play with it
So you've got to legalize it
And it don't criticize it
Legalize it, yeah yeah
And I will advertise it
Keep on telling you legalize it
And don't, don't, don't criticize it

WHERE MY TEARS COME FROM

From ducts deep in my soul where pains and joys and compassions swell… From confluences in the course of our experience where we meet ...