Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanks -- but No Thanks

Some Personal Reflections on Thanksgiving Day 2020
"Oh, Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the winds, 
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me, I am small and weak,  
I need your strength and wisdom." 
 -- from a prayer
by Lakota Chief Yellow Lark, 1887
(Entire Prayer)

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, 
it was loaned to you by your children. 
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, 
we borrow it from our Children." 
-- Ancient Native American Proverb

The three day feast that brought together 90 Wampanoags and the 50 surviving Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation in 1621 has become part of our nation's mythology.

Unfortunately, this idyllic tale doesn't portray the stark reality of the European colonization of the Americas.

A holocaust occurred as "our forefathers" descended on this continent. They brought with them white supremacy,  a harshly judgmental Christianity, the European notion of private property, and an emergent capitalism.  (The pilgrims received a land patent from the London Virginia Company and financing from Company of Adventurers. The investors who formed these corporations sought to profit by colonizing lands overseas. )

Although the set of democratic ideals set forth in the Preamble to the US Constitution reflect humanity's quest for a just society, the settler colonists also brought forth on this continent disease, death, domination, and the destruction of the indigenous Way of Life.  Rather than embrace the wisdom of these cultures, with a spirituality that seemed to better understand and honor humanity's relationship to Mother Earth, to the Great Spirit, and to the Circle of All Life, the settler colonists that invaded Massachusetts branded them heathens,  massacred countless human beings, assimilated a few, and drove the others from their homelands.

The worldview of the Indigenous People embraced Connection and Reverence.  Our forefathers brought with them, instead, the Unbridled Greed buried in the belly of Capitalism, and a myopic form of doctrinal Christianity that produces a profound sense of separation from one another, from the natural world, and from our spiritual connection to all that is.  

Through force of arms, including germ warfare and the power of "law," the bad guys won.  Unfortunately for Mother Earth and her myriad beings, they still hold tremendous power today.

Yet, it doesn't have to be that way forever.

It is true that history shows us that those with more guns and less morals have often taken power.  Yet, the opposite is also true.  

In my own lifetime, Mahatma Gandhi, armed with nothing but a spinning wheel, the force of Great Loving Soul, and the Power of the People, sent the mighty British Empire packing.  Martin Luther King and legions of non-violent activists toppled the framework of legal racial segregation that existed here in the "land of the free." Non-violent revolutions toppled the communist governments of eastern Europe. 


Monday, July 27, 2020

Never Afraid to Make Some Noise

RIP Congressman John Lewis


Our fallen hero, Congressman John Lewis is laying in state in the Capitol Rotunda in DC. A memorial service for this lifelong champion of the movement for human rights, justice and equality, has been streamed on CSPN. You have the option of starting from the beginning (they cover the transport and arrival of his casket until the ceremony opens at 43: 56) or viewing a clip at link below:


Our fallen hero, Congressman John Lewis is laying in state in the Capitol Rotunda in DC. A memorial service for this lifelong champion of the movement for human rights, justice and equality, has been streamed on CSPN. You have the option of starting from the beginning (they cover the transport and arrival of his casket until the ceremony opens at 43: 56) or viewing a clip a link below:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Independance for Who?

It has been a long time since I've wholeheartedly celebrated the 4th of July.

Deeply touched by the civil rights movement as a teenager in high school, I was transformed by the anti-war movement and the SDS by the time I graduated from a small midwestern college in 1969. I could no longer look at the so-called American Dream as anything but a nightmare for the countless people oppressed by what Dr. King called "the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism" as he came out against the Vietnam War at a speech at Riverside Church in NYC in 1967.
Amidst the outpouring of revolutionary energy that has emerged in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, Amy Goodman and the team at Democracy Now! produced a special episode on July 3.

Opening with a reading of Fredrick Douglas's 1852 Independence Day Address, "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" by James Earl Jones, this gripping one hour show features interviews about recent events with Angela Davis, Cornell West, Keeanga-Yamahhta Taylor, and Tamika Mallory

Please take the time to watch and listen. Then pass it along.

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Time to Break Silence

"When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, 
are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, 
extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."
-- Dr. Martin King Jr., Speech at Riverside Church, April 4, 1967

"It is my firm belief that Europe of today represents not the spirit of God or Christianity but the spirit of Satan.  
And Satan's successes are the greatest when he appears with the name of God on his lips.  
Europe today is only nominally Christian.  
In reality, it is worshiping Mammon."
-- Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, August 9, 1920.

As the Tyrannotrumposaurus Rex wreaks havoc in the White House at an ever-increasing pace, the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. seem ever more relevant.  

One of the Gangster in Chief's obsessions, that of constructing a huge wall crafted of xenophobia and billions of our tax dollars, stands in stark contrast to the Dr. King's Dream.

Dr. King's vision was that of taking down walls not building them. 
Yet, in contradiction to the media's whitewashing of Dr King's legacy, the walls that Dr. King dreamed of removing didn't just consist of white supremacist segregation.  Like his Master Jesus, King had his eyes set on the unholy greed rampant among the rich, the moneylenders, and hypocrites who claimed righteousness while making, money hand over fist, serving Mammon.  He was intent on turning the tables on those who thrived on a system built on exploitation. 

The Truth, The Whole Truth, and....

For decades now, the corporate media has celebrated Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech -- and assiduously buried Dr. King's views on economic justice, materialism, and militarism.  Like Mahatma Gandhi, King's message was essentially Spiritual.  They each saw clearly that Mammon worship, the soul-sucking evil of materialism/consumerism, was alive and unwell, lurking in the belly of capitalism.

Throughout history, racism and economic exploitation have always walked hand in hand.  The prosperity of the capitalist English Empire and it's rebellious offspring, the USA, were built squarely on the horrors of genocide and slavery.  Sadly, although its current forms (cultural genocide, systemic poverty, and jailhouse slavery) are widely ignored or explained away, this continues today.

Like my identical twin brother, Lance, I usually tend to be more Buddhist in my lingo.  Yet, I just gotta say it out loud: I agree with Mahatma Gandhi.  Capitalism is the work of the freakin' DEVIL!  Its the dark side of the force.  In it's greed and exploitation it is taking aim on the survival of the planet.

Dr. King, like Gandhi, was a Holy Man.  He sought to alleviate the suffering created by a political and economic system that feeds on greed, hatred, and delusion.  Like many other prophets throughout history, both King and Gandhi threatened the ruling order of bankers and preachers -- and were martyred. 

Although Dr. King focused on the evil of racism in his "I Have a Dream" speech that late summer day in Washington DC, his words were delivered to the throng that had assembled for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  This effort, which he had helped organize, challenged economic exploitation and suggested bold governmental action to alleviate poverty. The FBI claimed the event was inspired by Communists and lobbied to prevent it from happening.

King continued to march.  He continued to preach love and championed a non-violent response to a system that has always used violence.  Like Jesus of Nazareth, and a myriad other martyrs, Dr. King knew full well that he would most likely be killed for challenging the ruling order -- and he chose Love instead.

Dr. King's assassination, five years after the "I Have a Dream" speech, occurred when he traveled to Memphis to support striking Afro-American municipal sanitation workers as the leader of the National Poor People's campaign.  That campaign demanded an Economic Bill of Rights which included five planks:

1. "A meaningful job at a living wage"
2. "A secure and adequate income" for all those unable to find or do a job
3. "Access to land" for economic uses
4. "Access to capital" for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses
5. The ability for ordinary people to "play a truly significant role" in the government

When's the last time you saw the Economic Bill of Rights highlighted in the corporate media coverage of Dr.  King's life? 

A Time to Break Silence

As Trump's legion of misanthropes, materialists, and military men continue to loot and scuttle our beleaguered ship of state, it's a time to break silence.  Dr. King did so, dramatically, on April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in New York City.   

On that day, Dr. King proclaimed, "these too are our brothers," and came out against the US involvement in the Vietnam War with a passion and an eloquence that many believe caused his assassination exactly one year, to the day,  later.

The corporate media today ignores this speech and remains silent.  I hope you don't.  Please listen and pass this along.  Then join some folks and speak out -- with love in your heart!

It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!

Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence

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*