Saturday, December 31, 2022

Brother Michael Moore Connects the (Blue) Dots!

Michael Moore is up to know Good -- again!

If you haven't caught up with "Blue Dots in a Red Sea," yet, do so!  (It's a 12 part series of podcasts in progress, NOW.)

In a world where we find ourselves trying to navigate across a vast corporate sea of misinformation  -- one that portrays human nature as mostly fucked up and evil --  Michael Moore, sets the record straight.  

Challenging the corporate media's projection that the most evil among us -- the rich and powerful  (along with their unknowing dupes) -- will always be in control of things, Michael calls on us to get real!  Those political maps that give us the impression that we Progressives are tiny blue dots in a vast red sea don't really show what is happening:

In reality: There are more of us than there are of them!

As numerous reputable polls continue to show, item by item, most folks in the country -- even in the red zones -- support a progressive agenda!  Most people don't like bullies and bossy people.  Most people want to do what's fair.  They'll pitch in and help out when they can.  (Heck,  that even holds true for some of the Republicans you know, right?)

So, WTF? Why so much red?   

We just gotta get our political act together! 

In "Blue Dots in a Red Sea: How to Win if You're Blue in a Red State" (Each of the 12 podcasts is about 15 - 20 minutes long), Brother Michael makes the case for pulling off a peaceful and loving grass roots revolution in this country.  

He's not just "whistling Dixie"here. He backs it up with numerous examples,  pointing out some of the places where blue dots have been winning.  Just like that old dude in the Bible,  blue folks have been parting the Red Sea.  It's happening.

Brother Michael then goes on to lay out a strategy and list of practical things we can do to make it happen-- everywhere!  (Remember this guy's not just a talented and courageous filmmaker.  He's a freakin' activist. As a teenager, he got himself elected to a conservative school board out in Michigan.  )

Even if you, like me, live in an area where there are "nothing but blue skies," please have a listen.  There's still things you can do. Throw a rant and a link up on social media.  Think of friends and family who feel isolated and alone in areas the Republicans have dominated for awhile.  Call those folks up, send 'em an email or social media blast.  

Get the freakin' word out!  This is DO-ABLE!

Here is a link to Episode 4, but if you wanna take it from the beginning, you can scroll down that webpage to episode one and be along for the entire ride!  

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Lumps of Coal: An Open Letter to Family and Friends


"Civilization, in the real sense of the term, consists not in the multiplication,  but in the deliberate and voluntary reduction of wants. This alone promotes real happiness and contentment, and increases the capacity for service."
---Mahatma Gandhi

It is my firm opinion that Europe 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 is today only nominally Christian. It is really worshipping Mammon. `It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom.’ Thus really spoke Jesus Christ.
---Mahatma Gandhi

I was appalled -- but not all that surprised -- to see that Christmas decorations had become part of the Halloween displays at CVS this year.  Early birds and worms come to mind.  "The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out" quickly follows. (But, I digress...sort of....)

The Mad Dash really begins on Black Friday as crowds of people stream into stores.  Sometimes pushing and shoving, sometimes actually punching each other out, people race to grab the very latest toys that the gears of Rapacious Capitalism have ground out -- almost invariably through the outright exploitation of other human beings and the destruction of the delicate biosphere that sustains Life on this planet.  What in the world does this all have to do with the birth of Jesus Christ, with His gospel of Love, Compassion, and Service to the "least among us?"  What do our family rituals of wrapping, then ripping paper and ribbons and bows off more stuff, creating more mountains of landfill material in the process, have to do with Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Humankind?

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Lest We Forget

(I'm sitting here in tears listening to soul singer Marvin Gaye's rendition of "Abraham, Martin, John" as I write this. )

It was exactly 59 years ago today.

My fingers were fumbling away at the keyboard in Mrs. Jefferson's 5th period typing class when the teacher from across the hall came into the room, walked to her desk, leaned over, and whispered in her ear.

Mrs. Jefferson's  face turned white.

The other teacher left and Mrs. Jefferson broke into tears as she announced that President Kennedy had been shot and taken to a hospital in Dallas.

No one said a word.

Moment's later the other teacher returned. He didn't have to say a word.  His face, a portrait of horror and helplessness said it all.  We knew.  He knew we knew.  Holding back tears, he shrugged awkardly, turned -- and left. 

The unimaginable had happened.

Friday, February 25, 2022

The Dogs of War

Photo by Genya Savilov/AFP


They've cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Again.  

It's a bitch.

It turns out that Vladimir Putin's bite is even worse than his bark. In the long tradition of national leaders, the top dogs who have the power to control other people's destiny, Putin has pulled the trigger.  He's used the might of the Russian military to achieve his political and personal goals. 
And other people, mostly young soldiers and innocent civilians, will suffer. 
This, of course is increasingly the case in modern warfare. The ascendancy of computerized technology, with its "smart" bombs, drones, cyber-warfare, economic sanctions, etc., has only increased the likelihood of widespread human misery -- and the wealth of those who reap obscene profits from creating endless wars.
I don't claim to be an expert on the Ukraine, but I do have skin in the game. As a young child I heard more Yiddish than English at family gatherings. My mother's parents, Ashkenazi Jews, immigrated from Kiev at the dawn of the 20th century.  Later, my eyes set on a possible degree in Soviet Studies, I took Russian. Then Woodstock and the counter-cultural, collective kensho swept me up -- and an advanced degree seemed irrelevant.
I'm grateful that others chose differently. 
Chris Hedges is one of those. Ten years my junior, Chris was only 13 years old when I stumbled forth with my B.A. to save the world in 1969.  His brilliant mind and courageous heart propelled him on a trajectory which took him through Harvard Divinity School before realizing his gift was writing, his ministry, journalism. 
Chris Hedges on the Streets --  CC Photo by Steve Rhodes
As a war correspondent for the New York Times, Hedges was literally in the trenches during the tragic siege of Sarajevo, winning the Pulitzer Prize for his efforts to expose the reality of war.  He then went on to serve as Middle East Bureau Chief for the Times before resigning when the top dogs there reprimanded him for coming out against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.  Since then, as well as teaching at a New Jersey Prison, writing several books and numerous articles, he's been on the streets with activists across the nation for years. 
I trust this guy. 
Yesterday, my heart ached as I heard what was going on in Ukraine.  I turned to Chris Hedges to get his take on the situation. 
Here it is:

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

As Plumvillage.Org continues their livestream schedule of events memorializing the life of the peace activist, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, I share a recent post by Norm Stockwell, the publisher of the Progressive Magazine.  





The Passing of Thich Nhat Hanh

Late monk used engaged Buddhism to build a foundation for a peaceful world.


Monday, January 17, 2022

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.

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*