Wednesday, August 29, 2018

They Just Washed Away

They Just Washed Away 
Katrina a Man-made Disaster: Before, During, and After

(See Laura Flanders GRITv , Democracy Now!, and Brother Lefty Videos below)

Hurricane Katrina Takes Aim on the Gulf Coast
It still breaks my heart to cast my mind's eye on the Horror that swept through New Orleans in August of 2005.

Sometimes I still come to tears as I attempt to sing "Washed Away." The song wrote me ten years ago as I was apartment sitting for a friend in Queens, NY.   Choked with pain and anger, appalled at what was I was seeing on TV and the web, it was, and still is, difficult to accept that what transpired in New Orleans could happen in the wealthiest nation on earth.

Made in the U.S.A.

Although Hurricane Katrina, the ferocious vortex that was born over the Atlantic Ocean during the sultry days of late August that year was a "natural" phenomenon, what happened a decade ago was not. It was, from beginning to end, a man-made disaster, a glaring example of the continued institutional racism of the neo-liberal era.

In line for evacuation buses at the Superdome
The catastrophic series of events that decimated New Orleans, killing 1836 people (nearly a 1000 of them in the City itself), and displacing a million and a half others in the region, had been predicted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Officials at FEMA knew that the 100 year old system of levees and flood control protecting the half a million residents of the City, nearly 70% of whom were Black, couldn't withstand the force of a hurricane of that magnitude.  They had reported repeatedly that there was no adequate system in place to evacuate the people at risk.

Then, the buck was passed -- or the bucks, rather.  In a glaring example of Crony Capitalism at it's worst, FEMA privatized New Orlean's Disaster Planning in 2004!

This is all a matter of public record.  It's there in black and white. 

Those in charge knew.  Many of the career government service professionals were on record, trying to address the problem.

In fact, just three months before Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Agency responsible for flood control, had issued another warning to the Bush Administration which had not yet acted to implement a flood control plan involving extensive construction they had proposed years earlier.

Busted, Booked -- and Back on the Streets.

"I was a stranger, but you did not welcome me, and I was naked, but you did not give me any clothes to wear.
I was sick and in jail, but you did not take care of me."-- Jesus Christ

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,
and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
-- The First Amendment to the U.S Constitution

On Tuesday, August 28, at approximately 12:30, I was arrested for trespass on the Greenfield Town Commons where I was meditating as I’ve done for a half hour most days since the fall of 2011.

For almost seven years now, through good weather and bad, sometimes through rain and snow, three of us have participated in #OMG!, a noon meditation vigil that emerged as the energy of #Occupy Wall Street! swept the nation. Although I’ve participated in many forms of organized political action over the years, it was my first formal act of Civil Disobedience.

It was an Act of Conscience.

As best as I can tell, we are called to love our neighbors, not threaten them with arrest for finding a safe place to sleep. When push comes to shove, I believe the City’s treatment of our Homeless Neighbors has been immoral. There is a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that says it is  unconstitutional as well.

Sometimes you just have to take a stand – although, in my case I was Sitting in Silent Mediation before I was confronted and yanked to my feet by the two police officers, handcuffed, and put in the plastic shell that serves as a backseat in a police cruiser. I now know what it feels like to be shackled and led down a corridor to holding cell and back, to not know exactly what I would face from moment to moment.

Thankfully, almost all of the uniformed officers I encountered treated me with respect, patience and kindness.  I am an old coot after all. I was a bit dazed and confused at times on a 95 degree day. I guess being in the Cooler was okay in that regard. LOL

I'm a relatively free man again today and intend to return to the Town Commons at noon for the #OMG! Noon Meditation Vigil. I'll probably "Sit this one out" -- outside the barriers and yellow tape -- while I talk this over with others and figure out the best way forward.
You're welcome to join me in Silence 12:00 -12:30.
(Ya don't have to Sit to Be Present!)
One Love,
Brother Lefty

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*