Tuesday, March 13, 2018

SONGS OF FREEDOM

The stark socio/political impressions that inspired the pen and voice of  activist-artist Bob Dylan, who recently was a recipient of a Nobel Prize, are still with us. Those impressions led him 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”

Are you listening?
Are ... You ...  Skanking ...?



THE ROCKING OF OUR BOATS... A NECESSARY DISCOMFORT

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.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

REMEMBER MALALA

Remember Malala?

“Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan. As a child, she became an advocate for girls’ education, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived, and has continued to speak out on the importance of education. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. In 2014, she was nominated again and won, becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize… “ ~From her biography

All of us, female, male, and those who find themselves in the challenging position of not being able to declare for either side of the gender equation must speak with our own words about our own lives. We must articulate our aspirations with the force of our own breaths. This is the great challenge of our existence. It is a challenge that we must own in the face of every circumstance that seeks to define who we are and what we can become. And when we have lived up to that challenge we must then become the voice of those who cannot speak. We must stand up for those who cannot stand. We must insist on equal treatment for our fellow beings who depend on us because they suffer disadvantages and disabilities that make them unable to do so for themselves.

In a world that has tended to encode the “law of the jungle” as our modus operandi, we continue to witness the use of tradition and religion to express the imbalance that is a fact of our communal experiences. In too many of our “villages” the “strong” continue to inflict their will on those they can use force to victimize. It is in this kind of world that a girl can be shot in her head for pursuing an education that does not limit her to the roles that some men have carved out for her. It is in this kind of world that girls and women are raped and sold into slavery to satisfy the fundamentalist delusions of those who have not sorted out their existential insecurities. The rest of us must not stand by and allow this lunacy. We must face this madness with resolve. We cannot ignore the cries of the disadvantaged, nor can we remain in our safe enclaves while our fellow human beings are subjected to the unspeakable horrors of a culture of vile ignorance.

The great challenge of our time is not just the building of civil societies. That work must be enhanced by our insistence on the encoding of Justice in our laws. Justice is a function of Equality… the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunity. This then is not just a work that must be pursued in Pakistan and other places afar off. The work of Justice must be done on our own doorsteps, in our own homes, and community, and nation. The areas of concern are many. They include the arenas of race and gender. Just wages. Equal access to every opportunity for betterment. Equal pay for equal work. The right to vote of every citizen must be guaranteed.

Those who seek to deny others these basic human rights are in fact not better than the men who shot this young woman in her head. It is time to stand with courage against every brute who lives by denying others their just claim to Life,  Liberty,  and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Starbucks recently announced it is partnering with the Malala Fund to improve the lives of at least 250,000 women and girls from all over the Globe. And we should all say an ongoing “Amen!” to efforts such as this.

Like Lilies In Spring

There is a bulb buried deep inside us all that longs for the end of the season of dormancy. It contains, and is the symbol of all our ...