...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
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I was thinking about the Cleveland Five, the young men who were led astray and attempted to damage a bridge. I’ve been musing about bridges and the affection I feel for them and what this means in the context of my sadness over the situation of the Cleveland Five.
Bridges are powerful. In a physical sense, it is a very notable thing when a bridge is built to connect one side of a city to another, one community to another.
Sometimes they’re controversial, like bridges that have been built over neighborhoods, eliminating some existing housing, erecting a physical barrier in the neighborhood. But that’s not where I’m going with this. I’m interested today in the positive aspects of bridges. I’m interested in bridges that connect.
So there are bridges that connect such that we are one world, one peace, such that we know we are one piece of world. These bridges go all around the world. You can always find a bridge by just watching a video and learning about the beauty of another culture:
And there are bridges between the material world and the mind of God (however you define It, God/Goddess/Reality/Interconnectedness)… bridges that make God more perceptible to us, like praying, just meditating and perhaps talking to God, thinking about God, doing something good, appreciating reality.
There are bridges that connect you to me, family member to family member–the bridge of communication is one of the best bridges of all. There’s also the bridge of example, but it is very good to be able to communicate respectfully and hopefully joyfully with each other. It’s a good thing to be able communicate well as a mature adult, although I wouldn’t say that just because one doesn’t communicate well doesn’t mean that they are not mature. It’s just that, well, it helps a lot. And although although it hasn’t been very prevalent in modern life, I think that with social media, it is becoming more so, and that all people are really starting to wake up, look around, see what they are doing and not doing, and adjust accordingly.
Sometimes I make deals with God/Goddess, and then I think, “well, that deal isn’t necessarily mine to make, but if You feel this is a good proposal, please run with it as best You can.”
And I look for other people to make concessions. I look for them to make concessions, to give ground, so we can move forward.
I make concessions in the way I live to better match my point of view, to lay the groundwork to help my ideals become reality, hopefully insofar that they are wise. I shop union stores as much as I can muster, I bike as much as I can muster, I reduce my driving and I handle multiple chores at once when I do drive as much as I can muster. And there are other things.
There’s still room for improvement–I can still bike more; I can eat less sugar. But I do what I can with a healthy dose of pushing myself beyond obsolete boundaries.
I guess the question becomes: what happens if a significant portion of the population holds a different point of view than I do–that their ideals don’t match mine significantly? Then in that case where can we at least find as much common ground as possible?
You see, I have a big favor I am asking of reality. And that favor is to see things from my point of view when it comes to the sentencing of the Cleveland 5 (some say the “Cleveland 4” because one of the people is testifying against the others, but even so, I believe in compassion for all, am not judging, am not judging).
I do not wish for these young men to be sentenced the extreme amount that some in our government have been asking: life sentences. That would be very very sad because some in the government actually created the plot and facilitated and pushed the carrying out of the plot for which the young men are being sentenced. If that is not entrapment in a bad sense, what is?
The sentence one of their lawyers is asking for is much more reasonable: 5 years.
So I’ve been wondering what can I do to give ground on my point of view about some issues so that other people will give ground on their issues? What can we do to be less extreme?
I’ve always considered myself pro-choice for the most part, but I’ve noticed that conversation about the details of what that means tends to be heated, so much so that I’ve just kind of held the issue at arm’s length and not engaged in discussion. Interestingly enough, I’ve experience far more anger from the “pro-choice” side of the issue than from the “pro-life” side, but this is probably because I tend to talk more relaxedly with people who tend to be “pro-choice” and tend to have more of them around me.
I am willing to make a concession, and that is that I can see that it is reasonable for people of sound mind and capabilities who are over 18 years of age to do better to prevent themselves from getting pregnant (except in the case of rape), and that these people should act more responsibly–and possibly that the right to an abortion regardless of circumstance might be something that we can reconsider.
(And yet I adamantly believe that children (people 18 years old and younger) do not have any obligation to carry pregnancies to term, and people who have been raped.)
Since I make this concession to seeing the “other” party’s point of view on abortion, will the “other” party see my point of view? And where can we find common ground on the anti-war issue and being pro-life?
POETRY LETTER FOR SOCIAL CARING For the Cleveland Five
There’s a machine that works on metaphor, action,
prayer, intent, art, words, poetry, communication.
It permeates and inflates. It girds up the health
of clay to pen open lung heart.
It works on levers, breath, promise points, little
areas we work to heal the big areas, the endurance
of holding softly to kind open mind,truths I can
muster as much as possible.
It’s a machine that trusts me and I trust it.
Advaita. This machines is me, Thee, the stuff
around me and Thee. It says “I am.”
The levers are consistency in truth and action,
keeping promises. The more promises are kept, the
more effective the oar. It stirs a reservoir of
ever renewing wellness. It rachets down
conclusions to tender secure for sure.
Promises are keeping the faith. Keeping the faith
can be doing the marginal things to make a
difference, to widen or winnow the circuit,
circumference, area, mindful resource.
Keeping the faith is having a foot in the door to
to nourish us, propping that door open to let in
the sun, the rain, whatever is needed for the
garden, the garden interior, the garden exterior.
The more calm discernment, the easier the
propping. The window. Windows passing through
Keeping the faith. How can one not forget some
sadness, gently? What genie lets one care and not
immerse in steeping ill-ly? Can the highbeam
eyebeams focus concern but not open danger vistas
on account of wanting to be healing? Ruach.
This letter is a ladder leading to a jail cell in
which someone for whom weather unladened something
rotten and I’m sorry. I cannot just skip tiles at
convenience, follow the yellow brick road with
Thou shalt not forget; thou shalt not obsess too
much. Thou shalt not abandon. Cannonballs and
canons. Cannonballs through canons sometimes.
Cannonballs of canons. Personal cannons, cans,
ons, Can on. We can on. We can carry on. Our
cannoning of community histories. Our cannoning of
that which we wish to accrue.
Progress is carried on the rachets and the breath
and when we inflate with intent of best, when we
let the stuff wind kind for a long while, well,
that’s a good way. Progress is mindful of what has
I seep the silk of a ladder of attention to the
jail cell in which someone is not forgotten. The
silk is a tieline of care that kindles calm balm.
Light it like a wick. Let the candle be the
outside air, and the letter about ladder be soaked
in something that matters. Let the person
receiving this letter find his reservoir by
candlelight, softly, softly.
Tuesday evening we participated in “Spring Training for the 99%,” a three hour session of galvanizing brainstorming, case studies and exercises at the Steelworker’s Union Hall on Independence Road in Cleveland.
Perhaps eight people from the Occupy Movement per se were there, yet the meme “99%” is associated with the Occupy Movement and the literature we received frequently refered to the movement. Over sixty people participated, mostly union members.
I was pleased to see many people of color. I am a person of mostly European heritage and I grew up in “white” suburbia, so am always looking to broaden my horizons and become less insular. I am also encouraged that so many people of color are employed in unions. As always, when I talk about “race” issues I kind of worry because I have been so ignorant in my life, albeit full of compassion. My ignorance has been in my kind of awkwardness and lack of comfort in diverse groups. I think this is something that many kind-hearted people experience, and it is important to understand our awkwardness and work on becoming more comfortable in the community on which we are working on becoming more a part, the diverse world community.
I wonder to myself how frequently people get together in union halls and what is discussed. Is it typically union issues, or is there also camaradery and perhaps talk about the larger issues of society?
The most interesting part of the gathering was that we were broken up into groups (we counted off by number), given a large sheet of paper, and asked to brainstorm and draw in twenty minutes all the things we want to see in an ideal community. We named our communities, too–ours was the town of “One for All.” (Later I got a kick out of learning that smith’s group’s town had the name of “All for One.”)
At the center of One for All we drew a community garden. Then one guy said, “We need more jobs here again; we need industry; let’s put in a shoe store and clothing factory.” So we put a shoe store and clothing factory in the upper left. Below that, affordable housing. And a river under the community garden for which we specified “clean water.” Train tracks for high speed rail right through the center of town which the inhabitants can use to zip around to other communities. Free education building, a city hall, a free clinic, a free hospital. We had it made!
The organizer for the evening then came to our table and drew a big “X” right through our free hospital and clinic. “This land is being taken over for WalMart,” she said. “There’s nothing you can do about it.” And then she ripped the section off our map.
We drew a wall and protestors around the torn off area but she came back and tried to take away the paper. I held on to it but then thought, “Oh, perhaps there is supposed to be some kind of lesson here,” so I let her take our beautiful community and she proceeded to rip it up and walked away with the pieces. (I still have it in my head, though, so it’s not gone.)
Later we learned that three of our groups had actually protected their communities by creating a physical blockade so that the “corporate actors” couldn’t get to them. This was what we were supposed to do–think outside the box. And what really would have been great, the organizer said, was if we had called on adjoining communities’ tables to help us defend each other from the attacks. Food for thought.
The idea of the tactic star is to really think about how to hone one’s tactics to achieve a particular goal. Many good points are touched on–largely related to how the tactic will be received by those we are working on helping and persuading and if this reception aids the goal.
Upcoming events in Cleveland:
Today (April 12, 2012) at 4:45 by the Free Stamp–”Save the Post Office”–rally to prevent cutbacks of Post Office services, locations, budget…
Saturday April 14 @ 9-3 & 5-8 – Community Forum and Dinner events (register and pay at saveourcommunities.org)
Sunday April 15 @ 3:30 – Justice for Trayvon gathering at 2917 E. 116 & Buckeye at Second New Hope Baptist Church
Monday April 16 @ 4 – Justice for Janitors Rally at Public Square
Tuesday April 17 @ 4:15 – Tax Day Protest @ NW Quad. Public Square – help stop war spending–instead use the money to help our communities and have a fairer rate of taxation of wealthy people (Buffet rule)
Tonight’s occupy Cleveland General Assembly meeting – foto Smith
Just stood in the cold for an hour for tonight’s Occupy Cleveland General Assembly so Lady could offer a proposal to help slow down a bank evicting a woman with cancer. It was 29 degrees Fahrenheit but felt like 16 according to weather.com. It’s going down to 20 tonight – what’s that going to feel like . . . 7 degrees?
Tonight’s hour out in the freeze and blow hurt my feet, hands, neck, and ears. How do these young adults stay out there 24 hours a day 7 days a week manning the open Occupy Cleveland info tent without heat, without tents, without sleeping bags, without electricity, without gas to cook hot food?
I know their youth makes them stronger, sturdier, able to acclimate and endure more. And I know their protesting our country’s rigged money game is going to be one of the moral highlights of their lives, perhaps one of the most important things they’ll ever do for themselves, and us. But still, it’s so cold, bitter.
Lady tries to make it a wee bit better every morning by taking down 4 hot egg and cheese sandwiches for them (or a quiche and fried potatoes, or this morning it was a Spanish omelet) plus a large thermos of coffee one day, cocoa the next (all of which is seriously damaging our low income budget and is forcing us to shop at the Great Satan Wal-Mart so we can afford supplies),
The 8-14 constant info tent occupiers (who refer to themselves as the Troglodytes) wanted December 24th off to rest and shower and drink and party and get warm so Lady decided she would start her 39th birthday off by having us take the 5am to 10am shift.
We started off comfortable and warm in the 29 degree cold, but as the hours pass, the heat seeps from your body and cold creeps in. We spent most the time huddling on the heated sidewalk around the steam grate trying to keep various body parts warm — something I’ve seen the homeless do for years.
By 10am when our relief shift was to arrive I was cold, miserable and more than ready to go home, so of course our relief didn’t show up. Three hours later at 1pm a couple of the regulars returned and we took off. But that 8 hour shift in the cold on the concrete gave me a whole new appreciation for what these occupiers are doing.
And they needn’t have to. Cleveland’s Mayor Frank Jackson is just being petty, pissy, shitty in denying them electricity, heat, tents, sleeping bags, sleep, cooking while hoping that the elements will defeat us where his police mercenaries can’t.
This is especially galling because Cleveland lets Christmas shoppers set up tents in parking lots so they can camp out over night to be first in line for the Big Box Store sales, and they let the Cleveland Brown fans have grills and fire barrels for their illegal tailgate parties, so Mayor Jackson is selectively enforcing city laws — if breaking them benefits his Corporate masters, he looks the other way; but if breaking them involves free speech and the use of our civil rights which embarrass his Corporate owners, he has his SWAT team arrest us.
According to the recent U.S. census, one of every two Americans is slipping into poverty, while less than 1% of the rich own 90% of this country’s wealth – in fact 6 of the Wal-Mart descendants own more wealth then 50 million Americans combined.
This is sick. Just plain wrong. And very shortsighted.
Occupy Wall Street has changed the conversation in this country. Before OWS, this gargantuan disparity in wealth was seldom mentioned in the news; now it is talked about everywhere.
And if the rich and corporations and politicians listen and heed and actually do something about this grotesquely unfair rigged con-game that brings such disparity, we can turm America into a nation we can finally be proud of. If they don’t, then blood will run from boardrooms and mansions into the streets, as it morally should.
Making things fairer might also turn out to be financially more rewarding and definitely physically safer for the elite.
The rich need to realize there are repercussions to their theft and lawlessness. It is in their best interest to start paying their taxes, start paying their employees decent wages, establish universal free healthcare and education, and to stop raping the Earth.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I will remember Mayor Frank Jackson’s corporate ass kissing actions when I walk into the voting booth next election and vote for anyone but Frank Jackson. And that includes any other politician I get to vote on who is not actively supporting Occupy Wall Street.
People and politicians forget that protesters changed the racist segregation laws in this country, forced Nixon to get out of Viet Nam, forced men to give women the vote, forced slave owners to free their slaves. Principles and protest and persevering actions and dedication can and has changed things for the better.