Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Didn't Understand

As many of you know who read my blog regularly, I am a White single mother living and working in the African American community on the south side of Chicago. I have lived here for 6 years. I moved here when I began to attend church at St. Sabina. I am a firm believer in living in the community you choose to minister in, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of those who live there. I couldn't have been more correct on that score.
You see, before I lived here, I would ask myself, "Why do Black people seem so angry?" I would hear about looting and riots, I would watch Spike Lee throw garbage cans through windows and just shake my head. I just couldn't understand....
But then I moved to my community where I had to go for miles for decent groceries, or anything else for that matter. Where I couldn't get DSL for years after everyone else in the city had it, where they wouldn't deliver my pizza, and where the condescension of the police was outrageous. I saw the difference between the pristine schools of the suburbs and the inner city schools of my neighborhood where sewage leaked out of the walls.
My sons were stopped by two white female police officers who wanted to know what two "White boys" were doing walking down the street in this community. They used the term Negro in a menacing tone over and over that made it clear what they really meant. My boys tried to walk away from the car but were repeatedly commanded to return to the vehicle so that they could be forcibly subjected to further harassment and racist jokes , such as "What do you get when you cross and negro and a gorilla?" I saw my pastor , and other leaders of my community ridiculed and caricatured by the media... Their valid concerns ignored...
I felt my anger build. It was the anger of an unheard voice, crying in distress. It felt like falling backwards down a well, after being pushed. It was the anger of having your deepest wounds summarily dismissed as childish, irrelevant, exaggerated... It was the anger of having been slapped in the face, only to be blamed for wearing the bruise.
I would never presume to understand fully what it feels like to be Black in America, but I can state I understand a little better now...

***Whew*** Time for some more art...

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Jacob Wrestling with the Angel
Marc Chagall

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

C is for Courage

Let's try it again --
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"I heard him speak in person only once, when I was ten years old (1963), and I remember not his words, but his humble spirit and sense of urgency."

Cornel West on Dr. Martinin Luther King Jr.
I'm back at work now. School started last week. I have to admit after so much time off, I have been having a little trouble adjusting... the one thing I don't like is when I feel my alone time with God suffers. As I was preparing for work this morning I thought about it and what I can do to make adjustments to make sure my time with God isn't what suffers in my daily schedule. This may sound a little silly, but I am in the habit of going to God for ideas especially in such circumstances. I asked Him what I could do. His response...
"Its not about what I want you to do, its about what I want you to be...
I'll let you ponder that one for yourselves.

Monday, August 29, 2005


Okay --- so I'm listening to Good Morning America as I get ready for work, and I'm hearing about how the people who "couldn't afford" to evacuate New Orleans were all herded into the super dome. I'm looking at all of the faces and noticing that they just so happen to be people of color and I'm hearing the reports about how they are wondering if the roof will hold, how they had to usher the people out of their seats and down into the end zone where it would be "safer" and how there is a waterfall coming through the roof and I am just getting mad as hell. My God. Well at least it is official. Poor people's lives are not worth *&^% in this country. God forbid we should have the national guard do what they are supposed to do and get those ten thousand people out of there. Oh could I forget? They are all in Iraq dying for their commander in chief.

CW for President

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"To be an American is to raise perennially the frightening question: What does public interest have to do with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society?"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

CW Quote # 3

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"I am a Chekhovian Christian who banks his all on radical - not rational - choice and on the courage to love enacted by a particular Palestinian Jew named Jesus, who was crucified by the powers that be, betrayed by cowardly comrades and misconstrued by corrupt churches that persist, and yet is remembered by those of us terrified and mesmerized by the impossible possibility of His love."

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Well, I finally did it. I managed all by my little old self to add links to my blog. If you're not on there yet, either take heart, or heed the warning, you probably soon will be. The group listed is quite an eclectic bunch, I must say. There are varying levels of profanity. There are Orthodox Christians, Baptist, Catholics, Charismatics and Catholic Charismatics. There are staunch Republicans and ardent Democrats, and those who give succor to both. We fight. We argue. We weep, wail and gnash our teeth... but hey, what's a party without a few fireworks...

CW - quote number 2

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"...To give in to sophomoric relativism ("Anything goes" or "All views are equally valid") is a failure of nerve, and to succumb to wholesale skepticism ("There is no truth") is a weakness of the will and the imagination."

In Search of Evidence

I love the Bible.
Not just because it is the Word of God. Not just because it is alive, a two edge sword with which we find guidance, correction, encouragement, etc... But I love it because it is just so dead honest. Whenever God inspired the writers of the scriptures, for whatever reason, He inspired them to write the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So now, when we read the Bible we not only read that David, the shepherd boy became the victorious king, we also read that he committed adultery and murder. We not only read that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, but we also read that in his later years he was led astray into idolatry. We read about Noah's faithfulness during the flood...Only to read about his drunken nakedness after the fact...oops. We read about a bold John the Baptist declaring Jesus to be "The Lamb of God." Then we hear about the imprisoned John the Baptist, sending the timid message to Jesus, " Are you the one?" We read about victories, miracles, faithfulness, and obedience. And we also read about rebellion, incestuous rape, murder and mutilation, betrayal lies and theft. And it isn't as if we are talking about two distinctly separate groups of people here... No, I'm afraid not...these were all the children of Israel. Oh my.... The Bible is dead honest, even when it seems as if it is counterproductive to be so.
One of the things I have learned, especially in my sojourns to the Oriental Institute is that the Kings of Old weren't always exactly as forthright about their failures as they were their fact many times, they outright lied. And with no press corp to confirm or deny the facts... there wasn't really anything stopping them. But the Bible has a tell all style that rivals that of Kitty Kelly. We get all the sordid details of all the Biblical royals. We hear about daughters being offered up for rape, a concubine cut to pieces and sent out express mail, Peter's denial, and Paul's fallout with Barnabas... Who needs to watch soap operas?!? The Spirit of Truth apparently doesn't get days off. In fact the dead human honesty of the Bible might be the best defense of its authenticity yet.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Cornel West Quote of the Day

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"I remain a Christian
- primarily because the concrete example of love and compassion of Jesus
rendered in the Biblical Gospel narratives
constitutes the most absurd and alluring
mode of being
in the
tragicomic world."

What Color is Jesus? II

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I published my prior post asking about the race of Jesus, because I was very curious about what kind of responses I would get. They were really good, I thought.... but I have been pondering this issue for a little while, because I live in a community where the question of race always seems to be at the forefront. The above picture is now a famous mural that was commisioned by our church. Now its famous, but when it was first painted, it was infamous... there was a tremendous amount of controversy, pastors visited my pastor, in mass, and demanded he take our Black Jesus down... A tribute to our pastors tenacity, it hangs behind the altar still.
Whatever our opinions about the race of Jesus, I really don't see it as a problem unless it really matters to you. After all, even Jesus held His treasure in an earthen vessel...

Persepolis 1 & 2

This is page one of Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi. It is the autobiographical story of a child in Iran just trying her best to grow up. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a beautiful read. Don't let the unique format fool you. It can be deeply touching and heart wrenching. She also wrote a sequal Persepolis 2, which I find to be as equally appealing. It certainly gives the "enemy" a very human face...
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Beautiful Death

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Aren't they pretty? For those of you who like me, lived very sheltered lives, and have no idea what these are, they are drug pipes. It is illegal to sell these in the retale market in the U.S., but many times stores get away with it by posting a sign that states, "For Tobacco use Only."
And who is one of the biggest manufacturers of these pipes, you might wonder? None other than Corningware. Yep, that's right. Corningware, the manufacturer of the quality casserrole dishes that have been featured at countless church pot lucks for decades...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What I Did on my Summer Vacation.

Priest Charges Business Sells Drug Kits

Father Pfleger Led Activists Into Woodlawn Business

(CBS) CHICAGO Community activists and police stormed a South Side business Tuesday, busting it for allegedly selling illegal drug kits.

Saying enough is enough, outspoken community activist Father Pfleger led a small army of activists into a Woodlawn business.

As CBS 2's Mike Parker reports, the group demanded the store owner clean up his act.

It is a kit for smoking crack. It’s called a "hookup" and according to South Side priest Michael Pfleger, kits like that were being sold for $2 inside a Woodlawn neighborhood convenience store.

"You recognize this sir? You sell these here. We bought these twice in the last week," Pfleger said.

On Tuesday, Pfleger and 40 supporters went into the store and challenged the man behind the counter.

"Now you either empty them out or we're shutting down your store right now. Sir, when the police get here we're going to press charges. You can either work with us or you can go to jail. You make up your mind," Pfleger said.

Chicago police came to the store and quickly arrested the clerk on misdemeanor charges based on Pfleger's complaint. Although police say they found no evidence themselves, the clerk was led away in handcuffs.

There was praise for Pfleger's action.

"He does a beautiful job in the community. He fights for everybody," said resident Louis Kenniel.

"This is about protecting our children and providing a quality of life in the neighborhoods," said State Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16).

But others in the crowd outside jeered what was going on.

"We'll always have hecklers that say leave them alone, they're all right. This stuff is killing our kids," Pfleger said.

Pfleger says the state drug paraphernalia law, with its misdemeanor charges, is not tough enough. He wants a new city ordinance that would close down businesses that peddle the items.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Enough of politics...
Let's fight about religion!

What color was Jesus?
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Sunday, August 21, 2005

A Very Human Face

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We have been blessed at our church to have Archbishop Desmond Tutu come and speak twice. If you don't know who he is, shame on you! Truly an awesome presence. One of the things he told us was to be careful not to demonize our enemies. C.S. Lewis speaks of this as well in Mere Christianity. He wrote about how when we have problems with people, we tend to begin to see them as all bad, when in reality, no one is all bad, or all good for that matter. And it is true, we tend to do that, see people we dislike as larger than life monsters in our minds eyes. There are monsters among us, to be sure, but most of us fall somewhere in the in between.

Last week, for the first time, I saw the face of a would be suicide bomber. The young man was in his teens. He was from Jordan and had come to the West Bank to visit. While there he got caught up in the politics of the current situation and after seeing the smiling faces of two martyrs decided to volunteer to become a suicide bomber. After strapping on explosives, he came to his designated target. But as he approached he saw children playing in a park. He changed his mind. He walked into the middle of a field to blow himself up. He pressed the trigger. Nothing happened. The next day he was picked up by Israeli police. The interviewer asked him, " Are you sorry the bomb didn't go off?" He looked at the reporter like he was nuts and said, "No! Of course not! I want to go back to Jordan and get on with my life!"

What struck me about this young man was how much he talked and acted just like any other young man of his age. He could have been one of my sons. He was so...normal! That is the problem with labels, such as terrorist. They erase the human identity of the accused and turn them into a monster of irrational proportion. They allow us to tell ourselves that the bearer of the label is void of all human decency and lacks the ability to be reasoned with. They absolve us from bearing the responsibility of trying to work out our differences in a mature and rational manner.

I wonder, if when we watch the news, and see the horrors that other people have lived through, if we ever stop to put ourselves in their situation. If we imagine what it would be like to live in your family home for hundreds of years, only to be driven out and watch it bulldozed. I wonder if we imagine what it is like to watch your children go hungry. I wonder if we put ourselves in the shoes of someone watching a loved one wasting away with disease. Do we really truly try to understand the depth of the pain that people endure or do we, as the reporter in Hotel Rwanda stated, say, "Oh that's a shame." and go on with our dinners? Or do we only empathize with those who look and sound like us?

The young would be bomber has 15 years before he will be able to go home to Jordan and get on with his life.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


Maybe I should start this post with a disclaimer...I really don't want to offend anyone, or make light of the situation in Gaza. This is a heart wrenching situation, I think, regardless of where you stand on the issue...

My sons and I always try to catch the McLaughlin group on Saturdays up here in the Windy City. Today they were discussing the possible effects of the Gaza pull out on terrorism. What really surprised me is that I didn't hear anyone speak on the current living conditions of the Palestinians and how much that directly aids in the recruitment of terrorist. Its easy to recruit suicide bombers among people who live in such desperate circumstances they feel they have nothing to live for. I turned to my son and said, "Give those kids an mp3, a pair of Nikes and McDonalds and see how many you can find willing to blow themselves up!" Of course I was being facetious, but I honestly feel that the best defence Israel would have against Palestinian terrorism is investment and development...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Green Snake

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I used to work with a woman who married a man from South Africa. Shortly after her marriage, they went there so that she could meet his family. While they were there they took a walk in the jungle. At one point during the walk she looked down and saw a beautiful tiny pencil thin neon green snake circling in and out between her feet. They stopped and her husband began to whisper to her, "Don't move or it will run away!" He softly exclaimed over the beauty of the snake while it circled his wife's feet, going in and out, in and out, in and out. All the while he whispered to her, "Don't move, you'll scare it. It will run away." With hushed voices they stood admiring it for a few more minutes until finally it grew bored with its game and slithered off into the jungle.

After they came out of the jungle, her new husband told her that the snake was one of the deadliest in the jungle, and if she had jumped or moved in anyway it would have surely bit her and she would have died immediately.

I don't know why I felt compelled to post this. It is a true story, and one I usually share with my students to teach them the value of listening and following directions, even when they can't see why they should, or don't understand. But it has also spoken to me many times in my own life, especially concerning my walk with God.
Is it about faith?
Is it about how things that appear to be beautiful can actually be deadly?
Is it about the importance of being sensitive to the voice of God?
All of the above?


Norman Rockwell's Do Unto Others (1961)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Oh What's Goin On?

Mother, mother
There's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

Father, father
We don't need to escalate
War is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding, yeah, today

Aw, picket lines, picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
Talk to me so you can see

Oh what's going on
Tell me what's goin' on

Mother, mother
Ev'ry body thinks we're wrong
Baby who are they to judge us
'Cause our hair is long
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Good God

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Carl Larsson

Carl Larsson is one of my favorite artist. He painted beautiful idyllic pictures of rural family life in Sweden. He overcame a harsh childhood as the son of an alcoholic father and grew up to become a successful artist and family man.


Monday, August 15, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

August 15th marks the Independence of India from British rule. Below is an excerpt from the famous speech, "Tryst with Destiny" delivered just shortly before midnight on the eve of Independence, marking not only the birth of the worlds largest democracy, but also the successful conclusion of India's NON-VIOLENT REVOLUTION!

Tryst with Destiny

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.”
Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru

The Indian Tricolor
The Indian Flag
Saffron stands for 'Patriotism', White stands for 'Purity', Green stands for 'Prosperity' and the blue Ashoka Chakra (Wheel) in the middle stands for 'Progress'.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Chabad House

I went to the Chabad House last night to share Shabbat with Orthodox Hasidic Jews. It was a truly beautiful experience. The Rabbi and his wife were a young couple with three adorable children, 4, 5 and 7 months. They were irresistible. It was warm. They were welcoming, and for me this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I have read and been fascinated by Hasidism since I was 19. I'm now 41. That's a long time to carry a torch. We lit candles, sang, had service, ate, argued, drank 12 year old scotch, and in general had a blast. I look forward to returning, especially with my sons. But as I sat there and watched and listened to 4 year old Esther sing her "Welcome Shabbat" song, my joy was indescribably bitter sweet.
I married a man from India at the age of 21. If you don't know this, foreign students tend to stick together. And why not? They are strangers in a strange land, after all. So when we got married I met an incredible amount of people from all over the world. The were 19 nationalities represented at our wedding. I learned. I learned how to ask questions. How to be respectful. How to be open. But sitting at the Rabbi's table last night, I felt such a sense of Deja Vu. I thought to myself, "How many times have I sat at a table just like this and shared a family meal with Indians, Muslims, Asians, Christians, Hispanics, African Americans....My God! We are so much alike!"
During the meal, the end times were brought up, fasting was brought up, being the "chosen people" was brought up, Israel was brought up. I have had this conversation with Muslims, Jews, and Christians, each group claiming to be "God's chosen people". The Jews and Muslims claiming to have permission to annihilate the unbelievers... And now the Christians seem to have happily jumped on the annihilation bandwagon...All three groups utterly and devoutly believing their claims. How do you reconcile THAT!?! My saddest moment was when Rabbi Yossi said they would know when the Messiah had come because there would be peace on Earth. I despaired for an answer.
You know, I am sold out for Christ. I believe He is the one. But I also know that when we see the term "chosen" in the scripture, it is paired with the word "servant". Isaiah 41:8 "But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen,..." I have heard it said that God saves us to be a trophy of His grace. And that would certainly be an apt description of the definition of what it means to be chosen among most of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims I have met. But think about it...what is a trophy good for? It sits on the shelf, calling attention to itself. You rarely put anything in it. And you sure don't pour anything out of it.... In fact, many times, it just gathers dust while calling attention to glories past. It is usually one of the least serviceable items you will find in any given house....
In Isaiah 42:1, we again see this mystical pairing of the words servant and chosen... "Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight;" He continues on throughout the 42nd chapter talking about the purpose for which His chosen one has been called: to bring forth justice, to be a light to the gentiles, to open blind eyes, to free captives from prison, to release from the dungeons those who sit in darkness...

Sounds mysteriously like hard work, sounds like service to others...not something trophies are known for.

Perhaps the answer I despaired of won't be found in us trying to convince each other that WE are truly "the chosen." Maybe our answer will be found in redefining what being "chosen" really means...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Praying Jew

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Marc Chagall
" ... when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed all Christians."

Father George Zabelka

a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, served as a priest for the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and gave them his blessing.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Okay, this was too cute to pass up... and for the purist, I apologize in advance for any sensibilities I may offend.

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M.C. Escher

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I'll never forget it. I was a young stay at home mother with two young babies living in the middle of nowhere, going about my normal daily routine. Out of the blue, I heard God speak to me as clearly as He had ever spoken to me in my life. He said, " You have racism in your heart." I was arrested in my tracks. "What?" I thought. "You must be kidding! I love everybody! What are you saying God?"
He spoke again. " You have racism in your heart because you think that its okay for African Americans to live in poverty because you feel that is all they have ever known."
I was dumbfounded. But I was also convicted. I knew God was right. I was also flabbergasted because I had no explanation for why God was saying this to me now. I lived in the middle of nowhere. The few Black people that I knew were far away. There hadn't been any recent occurrences that I could think of that would cause God to address this issue in my life now. Little did I know then where my life would carry me.
I grew up in overwhelmingly White communities. African American History was relegated to two paragraphs in my History book. I knew about three African Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglas and Hariette Tubman. But God had his hand on my life. When I was about twelve I found myself deeply fascinated by African American authors. Its only because of this that I learned about Frederick Douglas. I would go to my school library, check out the books and take them home while friends and family would ask, " Why are you reading that!?! I couldn't explain it, but something in those writings resonated deeply within me. Still, even with that, I knew so little of the real horrors of slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the true story of lynching in America. Nor did I know anything of Emmett Till, Malcolm X, Bessie Coleman, Nat Turner, Langston Hughes, or James Baldwin. Nothing. I was ignorant with a capital I, yet I had graduated in the top 10% of my High School class with honors.
I knew precious little about African American History and racism until I moved into a predominantly African American Community on the south side of Chicago. And though I know much more now than I did before, I truly feel I know precious little still. But I am learning. Oh yes, I am. Because of all the things I have learned over the past six years, the most important one is that African American History is everyone's History. Eradicating racism is not a Black issue, it is a human issue. We try to deny it, ignore it, or bury it, just as a Mississippi Sheriff tried to hide the truth by burying the mutilated body of Emmett Till 50 years ago. But how can we ever be free, if we don't even understand how bound up we are?
The subject of racism isn't something I take lightly anymore. I wish I could say the same for the rest of my fellow Americans. But for whatever reason, whenever the subject of racism pops up in a group of non-African Americans, I can count the seconds before I begin to hear the same predictable old disclaimers with sickening familiarity:
"Those people are always playing the race card."
"People see racism where it doesn't exist."
"That was so long ago! They need to move on and just let it go!"
"Racism doesn't happen anymore."
And the walls of denial go up. The listening ends and the discussion is over, the hope of understanding eradicated. And yet the gap between the test scores of African American children and White children is horrendously wide, there are more young African American men in prison than in college and the median income for the average African American household is $18,000. less than that of non-Hispanic Whites.
It is said that those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it. But how can you learn from a history you do not know? How can you learn from a history that has been whitewashed and sanitized?
Racism and racist attitudes do not merely manifest in the hateful shouts and actions of the KKK. Racism can live in suburbia, in corporate America, among the educated and the political policy makers, and even a young mother who "loves everybody." It can be deeper and more subtle than who you want to live next to or even date and marry. African American History is everyone's history, and we all have a lot more to learn and a very good reason to learn it. Eradicating racism is everyone's responsibility, and it begins in our own hearts.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

False Mirror

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Rene Magritte

Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Monday, August 08, 2005

White Crucifixion

Okay, so the symphony is complete and its time to move on, at least for now. Don't guess there is any room for doubt about how I feel about the subject of War. I have decided to start regularly posting art, the main reason being that I love art, but don't know nearly as much about it as I would like to. If you are in the same boat, maybe we can learn something together. Please feel free to comment on the post.

White Crucifixion

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Marc Chagall

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger."
Herman Goering
Nazi Reichsmarshall and Luftwaffe-Chief


"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Jesus Christ, Son of God

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Friday, August 05, 2005


...but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them even as Elijah did?" But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and he said, "You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." and they went to another village.

Luke 9:53-56

Ode to Non-Violent Revolution OPUS VII

"Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.



Solidarity (Polish Solidarność) is a Polish trade union federation founded in September 1980 at the Gdańsk Shipyards, originally led by Lech Wałęsa. In the 1980s, it gathered a broad anti-communist social movement ranging from people associated with the Roman Catholic Church down to members of the anti-communist Left. The union was backed by a group of intellectual dissidents (Komitet Obrony Robotników - KOR), and it was based on the rules of nonviolence.

The survival of the Solidarity was an unprecedented event not only in Poland, a satellite state of the USSR ruled by a one-party Communist regime, but also in the whole Eastern bloc (Warsaw pact).

It meant a break in the hard-line stance of the Party which in another protest in 1970 had ended in bloodshed with dozens of people killed by machine gun fire and over 1,000 injured. In 1968, the Prague Spring was crushed by the Soviet Army tanks in the streets of the capital of Czechoslovakia.

The factors contributing to the initial success of Solidarity in particular, and dissident movements in general in the 1980s, were deepening internal crisis of Soviet-style societies due to degradation of morale, worsening economic conditions and the impending defeat in the Cold War. (See Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Collapse of the Soviet Union)

The ideas of the Solidarity movement spread very quickly throughout Poland; more and more new unions were formed and joined the federation. The program, although concerned with trade union matters, was universally regarded as the first step towards dismantling the Party monopoly.

"The Rural Solidarity", a union of farmers, was created in May 1981. By the end of 1981, Solidarity had nine million members. Using strikes and other industrial action, the union sought to block government initiatives. On December 13, 1981, the government leader Wojciech Jaruzelski started a crack-down on Solidarity, declaring martial law, suspending the union, and temporarily imprisoning most of its leaders. Poland then banned Solidarity on October 8, 1982. Martial Law was formally lifted in July, 1983, though many heightened controls on civil liberties and political life, as well as food rationing, remained in place through the mid- to late 1980s.

Throughout the mid-1980s, Solidarity persisted solely as an underground organization, supported by the Church and the CIA. But by the late 1980s, Solidarity was sufficiently strong to frustrate Jaruzelski's attempts at reform, and nationwide strikes in 1988 forced the government to open a dialogue with Solidarity.

In April 1989, Solidarity was legalised and allowed to participate in the upcoming elections. In these limited elections union candidates won a striking victory which sparked off a succession of peaceful anti-communist counterrevolutions in Central and Eastern Europe starting on June 4. By the end of August a Solidarity-led coalition government was formed and in December Wałęsa was elected president, resigning from his post in Solidarity.

Since then, the organization has become a more traditional trade union, but a political arm was founded in 1996 as Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS - now having a negligible political significance). Solidarity currently has around 1.5 million members.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ode to Non - Violent Revolution Opus VI

"Only a philosophy of eternity, in the world today, could justify non-violence."
Albert Camus

American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)

Martin Luther King is perhaps most famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The civil rights movement in the United States has been a long, primarily nonviolent struggle to bring full civil rights and equality under the law to all citizens of United States. It has been made up of many movements, though the term is often used to refer to the struggles between 1955 and 1968 to end discrimination against African-Americans and to end racial segregation, especially in the U.S. South.
The civil rights movement has had a lasting impact on United States society, both in its tactics and in increased social and legal acceptance of civil rights. This focus on the years between 1955, when the Montgomery bus boycott began, and 1968, when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, is somewhat arbitrary; the civil rights movement continued in different forms after that, and continues today.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Ph.D., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was a Nobel Laureate, Baptist minister, and African American civil rights activist. He is one of the most significant leaders in U.S. history and in the modern history of non-violence, and is considered a hero, peacemaker and martyr by many people around the world.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Ode to Non - Violent Revolution Opus V

"Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever walked upon this earth in flesh and blood."
Albert Einstein

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948) called Mahatma Gandhi, was the charismatic leader who brought the cause of India's independence from British colonial rule to world attention. His philosophy of nonviolence, for which he coined the term satyagraha, has influenced both national and international nonviolent resistance movements to this day. He is hailed by India as the 'Father of the Nation'.

By means of nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi helped bring about India's independence from British rule, inspiring other colonial peoples to work for their own independence, ultimately dismantling the British Empire. Gandhi's principle of satyagraha (from Sanskrit satya: truth, and agraha: endeavor), often translated as "way of truth" or "pursuit of truth", has inspired other nonviolent activists, such as Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Steve Biko and the 14th Dalai Lama.

Gandhi often said that his values were simple; drawn from traditional Hindu beliefs: truth (satya) and nonviolence (ahimsa). His autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth reveals his inner persona and reflections on his early life.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Enter Mission

Salvador Dali - Christ of St John of the Cross

Dali - Christ of St John of the Cross

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ode to Non - Violent Revolution OPUS IV

"Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."
Isaac Asimov

Rose Revolution

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters marched on the parliament carrying roses as a symbol of nonviolence

Rose Revolution refers to a peaceful 2003 revolution in the country of Georgia that displaced president Eduard Shevardnadze. Georgia had been governed by Eduard Shevardnadze since 1992 (President of Georgia since 1995). His government—and his own family—became increasingly associated with pervasive corruption that hampered Georgia's economic growth. The country remained very poor by European standards. Two Russian-supported breakaway regions (Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia) remained outside the control of the Tbilisi government, and the autonomous republic of Ajara was ruled by semi-separatist leader Aslan Abashidze. The political and socioeconomic crisis was close to reaching its peak just before the parliamentary elections appointed on November 2, 2003. Shevardnadze’s political alliance “For New Georgia” and Abashidze’s “Union of Democratic Revival of Georgia” were opposed by popular opposition parties: Mikhail Saakashvili’s “United National Movement” and “Burjanadze-Democrats” led by Parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze and ex-speaker Zurab Zhvania.

Georgia held parliamentary elections on November 2, 2003 which were denounced by local and international observers as being grossly rigged. Mikhail Saakashvilli claimed that he had won the elections (a claim supported by independent exit polls), and urged Georgians to demonstrate against Shevardnadze's government and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against the authorities. The main democratic opposition parties united to demand the ouster of Shevardnadze and the rerun of the elections.

In mid-November, massive anti-governmental demonstrations started in the central streets of Tbilisi, soon involving almost all major cities and towns of Georgia. “Kmara” (“Enough!”) youth organization (a Georgian counterpart of the Serbian “Otpor”) and several NGOs were active in all protest activities. Shevardnadze’s government was backed by Aslan Abashidze, the semi-separatist leader of autonomous Ajara region, who sent thousands of his supporters to hold a pro-governmental counter-demonstration in Tbilisi.

The opposition protest reached its peak on November 22, the day of an opening session of a new parliament, which was considered illegitimate. The same day, opposition supporters led by Saakashvili with roses in their hands (hence the name Rose Revolution) seized the parliament building interrupting a speech of President Eduard Shevardnadze and forcing him to escape with his bodyguards. He later declared a state of emergency and began to mobilize troops and police near his residence in Tbilisi. However, the elite military units refused to support the government. In the evening of November 23 (St George’s Day in Georgia), Shevardnadze met with the opposition leaders Saakashvili and Zurab Zhvania to discuss the situation, in a meeting arranged by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. After the meeting, the president announced his resignation. That prompted an euphoria in the streets of Tbilisi. More than 100,000 protesters celebrated the victory all night long, accompanied by fireworks and rock-concerts.

The outgoing speaker of parliament, Nino Burjanadze, assumed the presidency until fresh elections could be held. The Supreme Court of Georgia annulled the results of the parliamentary elections. In the January 4, 2004 presidential election Mikhail Saakashvili won an overwhelming victory and was inaugurated as the new President of Georgia on January 25. On March 28, 2004, new parliamentary elections were held, with a large majority won by the Saakashvili-supporting National Movement - Democrats, and a minority representation of the Rightist Opposition.

Ode to Non-Violent Revolution OPUS III

"Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win."
Cesar Chavez

Velvet Revolution
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The "Velvet Revolution" (Czech: sametová revoluce, Slovak: nežná revolúcia) (November 16 - December 29, 1989) refers to a bloodless revolution in Czechoslovakia that saw the overthrow of the communist government there.

It started on November 16, 1989 with a peaceful student demonstration in Bratislava. One day later, on November 17, 1989, another peaceful student demonstration in Prague was severely beaten back by the communist riot police. That event sparked a set of popular demonstrations from November 19 to late December, and a general two-hour strike of the population on November 27. By November 20 the number of peaceful protestors assembled in Prague had swelled from 200,000 the day before to an estimated half-million.

With other communist regimes falling all around it, and with growing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 they would give up their monopoly on political power. Barbed wire was removed from the border with West Germany and Austria on December 5. On December 10, the Communist President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29 1989.

As one of the results of the Velvet Revolution, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June, 1990, and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechoslovakia in over forty years.