Monday, June 27, 2016

Just What IS Unity, Anyway?

Greetings.  I'm constantly shaking my head at the bigotry and divisiveness so prevalent in politics and public rhetoric today - the U.S. elections, Brexit, and the immigration crisis in Europe most alarmingly.  We so desperately need to come together to really start solving the very real problems we face.

But just what is unity, anyway (and closest to my thinking here would be choice #3) ? In these thoughts, rather than use a static definition, I'd like to offer some snapshots to suggest the essence of unity.

Unity is nexus.

I learned the vocabulary word 'nexus' because one of my all time favorite bands, Argent, recorded an album with that title. I know in one interview I read, Rod Argent said it meant people working together (interestingly, look at the word origin - it's from the Latin for 'a binding together'). I'm sure we know of many examples of folks cooperating to achieve a purpose.  I think of my graduate school class in curriculum working as one team to give our final presentation.  I think of the Abolitionists, who, Prof. Eric Foner pointed out, sometimes had different reasons for opposing slavery but came together to fight that evil. That spirit of cooperation is exactly what is needed now to address the challenges we face. We should, at the very least, pick one or two critical issues most folks can agree on and work together on solutions.  For example, shouldn't we all agree that children need a good start?  So wouldn't it make sense for all to work for things such as universal pre-K (which does seem to be gaining ground across the country)?

Unity is peaceful.

How can we come together if we don't agree to end using violence to solve disputes?  We must find better ways of dealing with conflicts or potential conflicts.  Let's start by remembering The Golden Rule, whose essence is taught by many faiths and traditions.

Unity is not always uniform.

We are unique individuals, after all.  We are similar to some other folks in some ways,  But we all share that we are fellow humans on Planet Earth. (nod here to former colleague Dr. Fred, whose wonderful presentation I heard years ago, I still can here echoing).  I also remember the occasion when the ESL students at my college gave a play to present their English skills.  By the end, as they all stood together, holding flags of their home countries, I had tears in my eyes.  They were different, but they were united!

Unity is beautiful.

If you readers were to see a photo of a large enough group of my cousins, you might think it was a photo of a U. N. meeting.  So many races/ethnicities involved through ancestry and marriages.  Each of us is beautiful and all of us together is a beautiful sight.  We need to see the beauty in each other, even those "others" who are different from us.

Unity is freeing.

Bigotry and hate block the person holding those noxious beliefs from progressing as a full person.  They block critical thinking concerning the real problems facing us.  They build walls and encourage others to build defensive walls in return.  We need to stop that cycle.  We need to build bridges and connections instead.

Unity is solidarity.

As I've mentioned so many times on this blog, to gain progress for the 99% we need to stand together.  To get real reforms and to make things more responsive to "We, the People", we need to stand together.  We must STOP being divided and conquered!

Unity is the past being prologue.

We all know the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) knew the then-colonies had to unite to gain Independence and worked to accomplish that goal.  As detailed in another post (Music of the Spheres/Music From the Spheres), Dr. Kirsten Wood told us the founders knew the nation needed to find "harmony in its diversity."   She further noted they didn't pay attention to all the diversity of the nation. and that for us today, the task is "far more complicated but as urgent as ever."  We are called today to make further strides toward the destination called unity - one that Dr. King also pointed us toward.

Unity is Love.

After hearing Mr. Lin-Manuel Miranda, do you need any further proof?

Related Posts:

In addition to the post linked to above, all posts labeled 'unity' can be found by clicking on unity in the tag cloud on the right.

And please, if you like this post (or any other post here) please share and/or comment.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Big Chill? - Updated Again!


Anyone there - human that is?  Found out that pageviews may not always be real pageviews but something called "referral spam."  So it would be wonderful if an actual human reader would leave a comment.  C'mon - we real people should stick together!


Well, The Intercept strikes again.  Just read this report of arrests for social media posts and felt it should be brought to anyone's and everyone's attention.  And it follows the theme of threats to things such as free speech.

Original post starts here:  Well, when I went The Intercept, I knew what the next blog post topic must be. Protest and dissent are facing increasing challenges and attacks.  Please, readers, don't just think it only applies to "them" or that Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly are so "ivory tower" that they have no relevance.  Even if they don't affect YOU directly NOW:  a) you should stand for those rights for others and b) be aware that it might come to affect you in the future - and you'd better hope it's not too late then.

Let's begin:  This report about visits to activists' homes and such in Cleveland was indeed the impetus for this post.  From the article:   “The purpose of these door knocks is simple: to intimidate the target and others in efforts to discourage people from engaging in lawful First Amendment activities,” Jocelyn Rosnick, a coordinator with the Ohio chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, wrote in a statement denouncing the home visits.

Now also consider this (again from the article): 
Maggie Rice, an organizer with Food Not Bombs, said that members of her group were visited by police but felt too “rattled” to speak to a reporter. The group is not planning to stage protests but has applied for permits to be in the RNC event zone in order to feed both protesters and Cleveland residents dealing with disruptions...  [emphasis mine]

In case you're not familiar with some background, there has been much controversy about "rules for protest"  that Cleveland drafted for the days of the  RNC (Repub. Nat'l Convention). You can read in the linked article also that the ACLU of Ohio is suing Cleveland over these rules.  One update I found was that the ACLU of Ohio is asking for a speedy resolution of this suit.

Monday, June 20, 2016

World Refugee Day

Would you believe - I was just doing an unrelated search and saw the note on Google that this is World Refugee Day.  So I absolutely have to get out a quick post.  With the curent bigoted political climate, which more than likely led to the murder of UK MP Jo Cox, we need to remembe that, in the U. S. at least, we're a nation of immigrants.  And when I hear someone disparaging 'economic refugees' I think they need reminding that most Europeans came to what is now the U. S. to better their lives.  There is a very ugly political atomphere here in the U. S. and the U. N. High Commissinoer for Refugees recently spoke of the 'climate of xenophobia' gripping Europe.

The theme this year is "We Stand Together With Refugees."  Let's hope many of us do just that.

Here is a poem which I originally posted back in November 2015.  It's appropos again now.

Reminder Needed

We forget that we are a country of immigrants
That many hands of diverse ancestry built this country
And continue to do so
It seems we forget when someone whispers, "The terrorists are coming."

 We forget things such as "Chinese Exclusion", 
The stain of Japanese incarceration,
Those against admitting Jewish refugees from the Holocaust
Have we not learned from our history?
But it seems we forget if someone intones, "The terror threat is high."

 We forget that we face risks everyday
We forget that liberty should not be sacrificed for security
But it seems civil liberties and even common sense
Seem to be discarded if someone pronounces, "We just want to keep you safe."

 We forget, but there's a certain statue in New York harbor
Which should be a reminder to us
She stands as a token of friendship and a beacon of liberty
So will we stand with her?

Related Post:
         Excursion Together

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Path of Love (With a New Note)

Hello there -

How to address the very ugly political climate is much on my mind these days.  J. C. Wolfe has some cool writing prompts, and some of the best ones are about love and peace.  One was -  What if social tolerance were taught in schools?  Very interesting idea - maybe not so easily implemented, but interesting.  It certainly is clear we need to address the bigotry floating around and try to stem it.  Probably more of a topic for a meaty article, but I'll leave that for others.  However, since at this point I have more questions than answers, thinking about that question did lead to a poem:

The Path of Love

How do we adhere to the Path of Love?
And what signals or signposts would direct
Those who have drifted from the path,
Calling them instead to a procession toward true community?

Where is the Spirit – Divine Mediation –
Our Greater Selves – or however one thinks of a Positive Force
That can enable our coming together
And propel us with hope along a sometimes rugged path?

How do we do what we must
For the human family to follow the Path of Love?
Since that is the path we must follow
For humanity to thrive, fully and whole

Must Note:

Isn't it clear in the wake of the Orlando shootings, and now in wake of the shooting of UK MP Jo Cox that we must turn away from the hatred and bigotry? The Guardian has an excellent editorial concerning the murder of MP Cox and the need to turn away from divisive politics.   To quote MP Cox:  " ... we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.”   And from The Guardian's editorial"But their brand of angry blame-mongering could very well serve to convince particular individuals – especially those who are already close to the edge – that some people are less than human, and thus fair game for attack."  THAT is what is so concerning about this hateful rhetoric both in Europe and here in the U. S..  THAT is why we need to get back to The Path of Love!


Monday, June 6, 2016

Overreach indeed

Greetings -

This is very concerning...

The Gov. of New York just signed an Executive Order blacklisting those involved with BDS against Israel in support of Palestinian rights.  Whatever position one holds on the issue it should be evident that such an order violates such things we supposedly uphold in this country; things such as Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association.  The government should NOT be blacklisting nor punishing folks for their views. Note Trevor Timm's tweet in the article. And advocating a boycott is indeed a tradition and should be protected. Folks should be able to spend or NOT SPEND to support businesses or causes they believe in and to advocate for the same.

BDS is really seemingly under attack on many fronts.  Professor Steven Salaita made a point on a C-Span presentation that the government is likely to seek to punish those who criticize its interests and the BDS/Palestinian Rights seem to be a real target.  Shouldn't this concern ALL of us?  Wasn't the First Amendment designed to protect AGAINST these sort of abuses?  

And a side note: have you noticed the preponderance of "executive orders" both at the national and now state levels (maybe even local, too, if anyone has been checking...)?  There may be problems with our elected reps, but this sort of executive fiat seems to be setting a possibly VERY dangerous trend.  We should be aware and oppose policies. laws, and "e. o.'s" that violate Constitutional rights.