Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday #OWS!

I fiddled and futzed and finally found a way to get my old Dell laptop up to speed enough to put together a Birthday Present music video for #Occupy Wall Street!

(Scroll down for the video if you don't want to bother with me rambling on.  LOL)

I had written the first version of "The Flame of Liberty Park" the night the Mayor Bloomberg had first threatened to clear Zuccotti Park--and collected 250,000 signatures in a day demanding that he back off. (A couple of thousand union members headed downtown, that night too.) Bloomberg backed off.

Yet events rolled on and #OWS! was cleared--as were most of the encampments that rose up last fall. As many of us know, though, the Movement hasn't died. It's alive and well. It's just taken on different forms.

Like the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-War Movements of our youth, #Occupy Wall Street! emerged from the ancient and indomitable human quest for a truly democratic approach to our collective life on this planet.  That quest is Spiritual; the values of peace, equality, fairness and compassion flow from the recognition that we are all in this together.  In fact, we are ALL THIS, Together! As modern quantum physics indicates, we are actually inseperably interconnected.  Loving your neighbor AS yourself then becomes the bottom line of politics. I felt that Spirit in the civil rights movement, in the segment of the anti-war movement I participated in.  I felt that back in October of 2011 in Zuccotti Park.

Even though our political process has been corrupted by the greed of a wealthy elite in this country, the brave souls of #Occupy Wall Street served notice last fall.  We the People will form a more perfect Union, one based on sharing and caring, not on unbridled greed, unending warfare, environmental degradation and unsustainable consumerism.  It's our democratic birthright.

It's SO not over. It's only a matter of time.

Happy Birthday #Occupy Wall Street!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

 Brother Lefty and The Hippie Revival 
Medicine Show
(or at least a Buddhy or Two)
Will perform at Greenfield's Stone Soup Cafe
September 8, 12 Noon-2 PM 
Stone Soup Cafe  
A free community meal held every Saturday from 12:30-2:00 at the All Souls Church at the corner of Main and Hope Street, in Greenfield, MA
Like Stone Soup Cafe on Facebook!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labor Day 2012--Lest we Forget

The Labor Day Weekend is not just about beer and barbeques.

Although my friends know that I actually am quite fond of each, during the Labor Day weekend I often find myself rather sad and frustrated by how little attention is paid to the history of this celebration or it's meaning.

It also generally falls within days of the anniversary of my dad's birthday. Perhaps, that accounts for some of the sadness.

In the 60's back when organized labor still a vital force in this country, my dad, Fred Smith, known as Smitty (and in his later years as Pappy) to his friends and family, organized a UAW local in the factory where he worked and became it's first president.  One of his favorite stories back when I was growing up was about his involvement in the Longshoreman's Strike of 1934 in an era when the Unions made tremendous strides and gave common working people some degree of power in this country.  It was intense.  At one point he had to dive behind a stack of shipping pallets with National Guard bullets whizzing around him.

Nowadays, after decades of corporate and conservative foundation dollars being spent to fund anti-union propaganda and slick teams of lawyers, it seems many folks won't even take the risk of a boss being a bit bent out of shape with them for considering signing a union authorization card.  If they only knew. 

Many of the privileges and rights we enjoy today and take for granted were the result of years of struggle.  Countless people died in the effort to curb the unlimited power of the "owning class" over the workers whose daily efforts actually were the source of the wealth.  The eight hour day, the 40  hour work week, the paid vacation, paid sick leave, workman's compensation, unemployment insurance? It took massive strikes and rallies, as well as concerted legislative and electoral campaigns over the course of decades to accomplish all that.

If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that for the past several decades there has been a concerted effort to destroy the unions and return us to the days of "laissez-faire" capitalism. The recent Republican attacks on public employee unions is only the latest effort in a concerted strategy.

So beyond enjoying the beer and barbeques, this Labor Day it might be a good thing to take some time to remember the heroic efforts made by millions of people over the years in the struggle, the immense contributions that organized labor has made to our way of life.  Take some time to consider what you might be able to do to strengthen the union movement.  Without a seat at the table, the folks who actually work for a living, who actually produce the goods, and provide the services are left with the crumbs.

My Humble Take on the Real Deal

I believe that the movement for peace, economic democracy and social justice is a Spiritual Quest. No mean feat, what is called for is a True Revolution of the Heart and Mind--and it starts with each of us.

This revolution has to be Peaceful. The Hippies (and Jesus and Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King, et al) had it right. It really is all about Peace and Love. Besides being a total drag, violence just doesn't work. It keeps our wheels spinning in fear, anger and pain. Who needs that?

Besides some hard work, I think the Revolution also calls for dancing, plenty of laughter, and some sitting around just doing nothing. (Some folks call it meditation.)

As Stephen Gaskin, proclaimed years ago:

"We're out to raise Hell--in the Bodhisattvic* sense."

Doesn't that sound like some serious fun?

(*The Bodhisattva Vow is a set of commitments made in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition. It basically says I vow to get my act together and figure it out well enough to really help out--and I ain't gonna stop until everybody is covered.

I've found that doesn't necessarily have to happen in that order. It's best to try to help out even before you have it all together! Like right now.)

-----Brother Lefty Smith, Founding S.O.B*