Archives for category: The World

“Come what may, time and the hour run through the roughest day. Hamlet

Intentions to write, interspersed with velvet chats with Nancy, my host as I recuperate from both break and fracture in my hip. Memoir. That word nags me as other voices wanted me to write of my life. Bill said, “You must,” but I am stopped by this daunting task. I write and reveal myself for others, not as one with all the answers. At times I am filled with certitude, and at others don’t know which end is up. I don’t want solipsistic scratch marks on the page which indicate navel watching, intense absorption of my inner landscape. I am very much like someone on the Good Ship Lollipop or someone who bobs along the ocean of despair in a rubber boat. Hardship and joy seem to be my drink of choice.

I have been given to great sensitivity in my life started by being a 4 pound baby with dendrites tightening and then just plain social issues, born into America, facing WW II, and the like; division in the country, and me a mewling child.

Lord knows what happened to yesterday. I think that was snack, exercise and sleep day, plus caught up on reading; today I have been up since 8.30; this last hour looking at my blog; got encouraging comments from online writer. I need to get back to blogging, don’t have a clue how. Gotta put the word out there; I need help, tutorial help on getting over my past 3 year disappearance and start jawing with other kindred souls.

My fingers and blood cells slow down when I think write memoir. This seems too grand a thing when my life, compared with so many others in the Baha’i world and elsewhere. I am now older, old enough to fracture a hip and make it of concern, and I need to just put things down. We are in the dark heart of humanity’s age, a gift for a writer who is able to record these times.

When I was young, I pushed myself out of the children’s section of the West Roxbury Library on Centre Street, and furtively slid past endless biographies in the adult section. Now, I some of us are like people from the previous ages,, whose lives now noted by simple name on the spine of a biography: Jane Addams, Etty Hillesum, and the like. I think of myself as in training to be a hero; not heroine, just a simple 4 letter word which translates to one who lives and faces life with a willingness to try the tough side of things, to trod paths which are open, and to toss fear behind my back. I have done this on a lot of levels. When I see someone who has tremendous qualities, like loving, I think I want that. This is how I evolve, plus studying, reading, and just plain inhaling the fumes of oneness, brotherhood, and I know we are on the path to a wondrous future. I also know we are in the dark heart of humanity’s age, and much is to be asked of us. We cannot go on as a corrupt nation, although many sincere and willing to help type of people are pure hearted.

I write for the future generations, and I live for the past, the present and future generations. I am a brick builder, one brick at a time, building that dome of safety, metaphorically of course, of the Baha’i Teachings, the oneness of humankind, the promise of no prejudice, and we are in a cesspool of skin color privilege and hatred, nay dungeon like Baha’u’llah’s prison cell when he was in 200 pound chains in Tehran’s underground prison, no way out, vermin, filth. “The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage…” where he had his vision.

Basically our society is going bonkers, and this bonkers tugs in qualities such as disregard, extreme coarseness, and a one-dimensional life – like living on a flat earth.
This is the age when all is breaking up, where the immigrants’ home is the end of a gun barrel, or a muddy ground on which to place oneself to rest just for a moment. This is the age of sweeping transition where the old shibboleths, like dragons holding on to their last bad breath moments, have to weaken and let go. As dark as it is and as brutal as men whose “necks are stretched out in malice,” are things will be different. We have much suffering ahead, and gradually we will become an enlightened civilization. Right now the extremes are so upon us.

These conditions, like personal tests, are really a gift for the soul grows through suffering. That is not to say one should go hair shirt shopping, which is definitely out of vogue. But do a lot of us live on Pinocchio’s Island, larking and lurching for the next pleasurable fix so we can avoid the pain and joy of actual living in the grit? This writer thinks the mystical path is filled with grit and action, not necessarily climbing to a remote cave and seeking a wise smelly old person’s advice, but I am sure there are some cave dwellers in history’s past who are very wise. It does not take a Harvard degree to be wise if one dips into the Teachings of all of the religions, not the man-made artifice or dogma but the original teachings.

Shades of the Golden Rule. And that’s why I am trying to add as an image a cover of a new Baha’i magazine recently published that stills my heart. I am stunned with the simple circle designed so abstractly and splendiferously; I will say no more.

My two doggies, for whom I am an aunt, lie sidewise like fallen bookends; as they age, they sleep more. Coco, the brown lab is like Nureyev of grace and stretch and limb beauty; breathtaking when she arches those furry brown Labrador legs into the air, and arches her back; Bubbles, on the other hand, is our gal Bubbles, given to barks that are relentless; a caramel, golden, thick furred babe with a full figure not held in by any corset. She reminds me of Wojohoitz on Barney Miller and I don’t have a clue how to spell Wojo’s name.

So here I sit; up at 8.30; sh

ould walk and do physical therapy; but needed to figure out how to get back to my blog; that’s where my thought’s energy likes to hang out; it’s like slinging hash, no critical writer observing my method, my use of show and tell and image and moment, just plain jawing with my brothahs and sistahs in the world; oh joy I am back; I must pray to be able to load this properly; I have ten drafts sitting somewhere and that evidences my complete inability to launch into published form; then I have to learn how to become more au courant and spread these words down trotting trails to similar and dissimilar minds.

 

Advertisements

tearWHAT IT MEANS TO ME TO BE WHITE

I sit inside seventy-seven year old white skin which once covered a four-pound baby born into a family whose neighbors said, “Mrs. Bradley had one white baby and one dark baby.”  Skin color myths came early to us on Wren Street in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1938.  We were an Irish-Catholic family with four kids born within three years.

Class consciousness ruled our small crowded house. Mom had student taught one of the ghettos, and she was a stalwart advocate of the public school system. We kids attended Randall G. Morris Elementary School a block down for our little brown house on Wren Street.  My mom also taught there.  Our neighborhood was white.  Any idea of difference was inconceivable in our young world.

We were white on the Green Street Bus to downtown Boston, but we were definitely black and white at Dudley Street rapid transit station as people of all colors, particularly black, poured into hot steamy trains.  Our skin color difference seemed purposefully ignored by our parents.

Roslindale High School gave us a window into races when we took buses to our guys’ basketball games in East and South Boston.  The black girls didn’t like us and became angry.  We were told to leave in the middle of a basketball game, and we were hurried out a back door and onto buses headed back to our high school.  I think I slotted these kids as tougher, never wondering if their life conditions were harder because of skin color.

I had two options after high school graduation:  Boston Teacher’s College and Boston Clerical School.  I was afraid to go to Teacher’s College so I chose Boston Clerical School, a red brick building, smack down in Roxbury, a predominantly poor and black neighborhood.  I discovered my prejudices flat on, but didn’t think of them as prejudices, but felt a white superiority.

My mother died when my twin and I were in our last year of high school.  My father married a few years later.  He and my step-mother were class conscious, and cast low slung scorn towards lower economic and less educated classes of people.  Their attitudes were scornful of those with different skin color. Boston was a racist town.  Still I remained unaware.  Liz, my twin, and I mixed with all classes of people, but still lived in an all-white world.  Looking back, I felt I grew up inside a large brown paper bag and questioned nothing.  At Emerson College, a close friend confided to me of her deep love for a young black man, but she couldn’t marry him.  “My father would beat me up,” she said.

I left Boston, driving alone out to California in my beat up 57 VW Convertible.  I felt protected in an unseen spiritual sense, a definitely new experience. Before I left Boston the Cuban Crisis erupted.  Nuclear war threatened our nation.  A friend’s father was in the Federal Reserve. She spoke of members of the Federal Reserve going to safe surroundings in case of a nuclear attack. Boston also harbored fear because the infamous Boston Strangler, who raped and killed old women, stalked an edgy silence which seemed to hedge in the City.

I had rented a room in Belmont, and a very old, pale and fearful lady, Miss Gunn, rented the other room.  I was nervous about the Strangler.  Then the Cuban Crisis ended, and a lighter, less fear-filled atmosphere took over the City, but the Boston Strangler was still on the loose. I continued throwing everything I could into a large black trunk and even bought a dime store wedding ring.  If anyone stopped me on the road, I’d tell them, ‘I’m meeting my husband at an army base.”  One very early Monday morning in October, with the cold nipping my heels and a car heater that was kaput, I headed out via Route 66 towards Buffalo, my final destination: Los Angeles . My aunt knew I was headed their way. Boston was stultifying to me.  Get me out of here, thoughts banged inside my head.  Critical parental lectures as to my failures in life set off images of Bambi and his bags packed at the edge of the forest. I had to get out of Boston.

I made it to Ohio, eventually Texas, Arizona, and in California I took a right on Western, drove up to Franklin Avenue, took a left into Griffith Park, twisted on paths by smooth stucco walls, until I drove into a large patio overlooking the city, and stood and looked at the roses blooming.

My trip lasted 6 and half days. My relatives seemed wealthy and imperialistic.  “We never knew a working girl,” was an early comment as I headed off to work in a law firm.  One relief was eighty year old Uncle Charlie who came from Los Angeles when it was small, and covered with Orange Groves.  He’d tell me, “Drive in the middle lane of the freeway where you’ll feel safer.”  He was real. I never wore jeans, only dresses or skirts and blouses.  Occasionally the family would host a black tie party.

My aunt was very kind to me.  I walked into the basement of this large house, and its beauty greeted me.  Everything was in soft greens, and rich black oriental screens and gleaming silver and even a Japanese sword decorated the walls.  She had traveled the world as a Navy wife, and her home seemed to represent a lush salon. She took me under her wing and buffed me up socially, and she accepted me a stark contrast to my father and stepmother’s view.

God help me.  I drank alcohol and took a little blue over-the counter Compos to quell my fear of social groups was invited to someone’s New Years Day party. “Dress is informal,” my date said.  So I showed up wearing sneakers, a wrap around Madras skirt, and light blue long-sleeved blouse.  The women wore Talbot dresses and low slung heels.  I immediately took a drink, and another.  Casual on the East Coast differed from that of the West.  They were forming a Young Republicans’ club which in my hazed condition seemed splendiferous.  After that, I was invited to Bachelors’ Balls in Los Angeles and San Francisco and did the social scene, all the while working in law firms, finding myself scared and bewildered.  I found a roommate and lived in the Wilshire District.  Then I met a guy and married him on a May day in 1965.

A year later, I heard about the Baha’i Faith.  As we stood by the Manhattan Beach pier, the waves lapping our bare feet, a close friend, who was a former atheist and then agnostic, told me about progressive revelation, the oneness of humankind, and the purpose of this day and age:  to bring about oneness and much more.  I became a Baha’i within three weeks, and I felt thrust me into a global village.  Seals and Crofts’ manager had large gatherings at her house in Hollywood for anyone who was interested in this Faith. She was Dash Crofts’ mother-in-law, a Baha’i, and her house spilled over with people.  This is before Seals and Crofts were famous.  One Friday night, I sat across from a man who was African-American, Chuck Rhodes, a large handsome man dressed in blue overalls, looking quite serious.  Somehow he took scattered, skinny me, under his wing. He’d tell me becoming a Baha’i was like surfing the waves.  Sometimes I’d feel up, other times down, always stretching and learning. Chuck spoke eleven languages and would later marry Ulla, a lovely Scandinavian woman and they would move to Finland.  He was a big brother to me for over a year, and I am still intensely grateful.

I was now immersed in a world where blacks and whites mixed easily.  We were family.  I also read Black Boy, American Hunger, and since then have inhaled lots of books by people of color and books about white privilege, slavery, you name it. Today I am enormously aware of race, and I have had this developing consciousness since 1966.  I have to say becoming a Baha’i raised my awareness that God’s purpose mandates our oneness as a people.  I still had and have to do the work and become aware as to how this oneness is perceived.  Not as assimilation by people of color into a white world, nor by my ignorance of black culture’s rich heritage, and not by ignoring the dreadful history and treatment in our nation of over 300 years of cruelty.

When I went back to college at age 42 and an African American Baha’i spoke to our community, he challenged our assumed belief that life was fine and we were one.  I was upset that night, and I am sure I sounded racist.  But on campus, my house was filled with black, whites, all of whom could go out a window rather than take time to exit by door.  Kids were mixing.  I was by this time, attending UC Irvine, and my son and I lived in what is known as Old Verano, student housing with periodic plumbing mishaps, and an extremely diversified life.  When Nick went to an Irvine high school; he wasn’t a mainstream kid.  He was asked by his African-American friends to join their club.  He was the first to be asked, and maybe the only one.  I gave all the kids names, and one was Junior High Jared, the other Pomona Dave.  Turns out Pomona Dave’s brother is the African-American comedian on Jon Stewart’s show, and I adore this comic.  Nick was a rebel in high school and caused me concern, but I was proud of his awareness of his black brothers and sisters, and I still am. Still I was not aware of the larger society’s impact, ethos, and all aspects of racism.  I thought because my own small world was unified on some levels, everyone was.

After I graduated and took a year’s Education courses, I flunked the math portion of the State’s C-Best exam.  I was to teach English.  One professor said, “You will save lives.”  So much for saving lives.  Nick went to live with his dad, and I moved to Los Angeles to return to being a legal secretary.  A friend in Manhattan Beach said, “Come stay with me.”

I met my second husband Bill at a local Baha’i gathering. He had just become a Baha’i, and I had been one for twenty years.  We were active regarding racial justice, racial unity, racial amity groups from the get go of our marriage.  He looked black, and whenever we hoofed about walking for good causes, the Brothers nodded at him acknowledging another brother.  People at the market would ask him, “Are you mixed?” and he always said yes, because he probably was.  But he lived with white privilege too.

In Seattle a wonderful activist Harriet came to one of our meetings and told us how the newspapers wouldn’t publish comments written by African-Americans.  I felt a lot of pain in those circles, and know, it was part of my share of the pain that goes into this whole skin color mess.  I went home and wrote a letter to the Seattle Times mentioning their only showing blacks being arrested in photos, never whites.  The day my letter published, we had another race meeting.  Harriet said to me, “You made the black community very happy tonight.”  Boy was I grateful.  Ironically on the same day, my father’s will was mailed to me, and he barely mentioned my twin and me, nor my older sister or brother.  I was stunned.  What were we to my father? Nothing?  But still, I made the people of color in my area happy.  Which is more important,” I said to myself.  I knew the answer.

For the rest of the time, even living in Russia/Ukraine 1990-1993, we would mention color and interface with international African students.  I feel my whiteness.  I feel the agony and despair of blacks, and feel despair and powerlessness. I must never give up.

I am now in an organization called Coming to the Table, which is an offshoot of Gather at the Table, a national organization. www.Gatheratthetable.com.   I feel it is now the time of an ingathering of the earth’s people.  I am humbled to be a part of this organization.

I still feel myself sitting in my skin, but my soul proclaims the oneness of all, and I immerse myself in this oneness.  In the Baha’i Writings, it is suggested blacks must forgive, and whites must rid themselves of their inherent superiority.  Lord, it’s a crawl up the mountain; which is harder?

I feel gut wrenching agony over the conditions in this country. Consider:  if one is white and feels superior how unconscious primitivism is perpetuated.  I think about skin color privilege every day.  This is how I feel: I can drive anywhere sitting inside my aging white skin and feel unquestioned.  No one will follow me in the department stores.  No one will pull me over for driving while white.   Bill got pulled over when we moved to a fringe area in Seattle.  We had friends who walked the neighborhoods in Jamestown, Western New York, stopped by the police as guilty of being “black by walking.”  Overt, institutionalized and unaware racism permeated that town.  We and others started a Downtown Dialogue for Race which caught the attention of our Representative Amo Houghton.  Our family during our time in Jamestown was the people of color, and more than one tragedy wrenched our souls.

Last week I saw a Target ad which showed a game page and who was holding the big plastic Uzi type of gun?  A young African-American boy.   Look at the pictures in newspapers, how many blacks are seen committing a crime? Check out the mainstream magazines and see what skin color owns the majority of these pages.  Consider our prison and court system as a vehicle for the New Jim Crow.   I teach in black neighborhoods and a lot of my friends live there.  I feel the pain, the injustice, the weariness. I think the world is a dystopia for blacks. Certainly, I don’t suggest all African-Americans are poor and live in troubled neighborhoods.  But what I do suggest is unaware racism and institutionalized racism has cut a swath of vituperative hatred across our nation.  Yet, we whites sit in our houses, with diversity magazines on smooth glass-topped coffee tables, feeling uncomfortable but safe.  A lot of us are overwhelmed.

What helps for me is the vision and promises within the Baha’i writings.  I need to always remain aware, and learn more every day.  Until I draw my last breath, this is my call.  I want to recommend a book, “The Last War, Racism, Spirituality and the Future of Civilization, by M.I., Perry, George Ronald, Publisher, Oxford, www.grbooks.com, ISBN 0-85398-491-3.

 Why do I insert academic references to this vast and horribly sad topic of being white in America?  Because it means, I do know some things.  I’ve removed a lot of ignorance and illusion in my life.  I will never be done. I would give my very life to have this dreaded blight removed from our society.  It’s going to take time.  But the time is now.  That’s what white means to me.  Never stop.  Always stretch to be aware.  Be conscious of inherent white superiority in myself.  Be action oriented.  Be humble.

Finally, I would say the whites in our world should run to this subject.  We need to get to the marrow of other people’s suffering.  We need to eradicate our ignorance.  Some politicians seem reptilian in nature regarding race.  What we have done to our President will not go unnoticed in the pages of history, and I think our deeds, our very thoughts will be recorded on that Chrysolite tablet where our spiritual doings or lack thereof are imprinted.

Almost 50 years later I look back and realize I had to learn about being white.  I must be conscious as to how I use my whiteness.  “Esther gets it,” a black friend said.  Another said, “Honey, you are black inside.”  We all know I am not.   Maybe I have some awareness, but racism and its impact can run on microscopic moments.   I am humbled by my African-American friends’ trust in me, but that doesn’t let me rest and not be part of solutions for justice in a world where institutionalized racism is rank, pernicious, and palpably evil.

 

 

 

 

9780804136631
ISBN 978-0-8041-3663-1

Thanks to Blogging for Books, I just finished, A Spy Among Friends – Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal.

Certainly a good read, one which incredulity spikes about every other page. Kim Philby was known as one of the greatest spies in the 20th Century. Ben Macintyre has written a suspenseful novel, and he has based tremendous psychological insight into personal papers and never-before-seen intelligence files.

I normally am not a reader of spies or World War II. Anyone who wants an intricate view of the range of events and plans and depth of intrigue occurring during World War II will not be disappointed.

It is a prodigious book, clear to follow, except for this reader who at times was boggled by the duplicity of so many spies, and who trusted whom. Basically, Kim Philby was a product of good schooling, elite circles, exclusive clubs. Sprinkle long night of drink and carousing and the cavorting wiles of spies, albeit, against or for, whatever country, and the book becomes a page turner.

Kim Philby was unknown to anyone close to him and duplicitous to all. Many were fooled by his being a double spy for England and the USSSR.

This reader lived in Russia, really Ukraine and Belarus for a 3 year period with some trips back to the states. We were there really with the concept of peace and promotion of a different concept of the oneness of humanity. We were ordinary citizens meeting the rank and file in the society, a society encased in shame. The people were grief stricken that they had been so deluded. Communist changed into business suits, the mafia kept on keeping on, and yet the society opened up.

The intricacies of the spy trade command a horrific attention. So much intrigue; so much mathematical callousness as far as ordinary people were concerned. Philby caused 100s to die, but he remained very British, very club oriented, very alcoholic. None of his wives really knew him. They thought they did. His children adored him. How would they know? He does come across in this view as a father who cared, but what a price he pays.

I ended my horrified reading wondering was it total power, just being ahead of the game, any game, and why not two competing powerful nations. How could he be so deluded by Communism, and Stalin? The egos and delusions of spy networks and the crumbling times we all live in.

At any rate, it was a compelling read, but shocking. My questions remain. Was Philby a sociopath? What compelled him? Such blind allegiance. What really motivated him?

As an aside, I’ve been watching Manhattan on PBS and the same power hungry intrigues are revealed as the story of the atom bomb unfolds. Obsession, ego and power – oh dear.

Once again, thanks Blogging for Books! great way to spread the word about good reads!

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”My Mother’s Voice” border=”0″ src=”https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1359982576m/17324149.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17324149-my-mother-s-voice”>My Mother’s Voice</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/614105.Kay_Mouradian”>Kay Mouradian</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/886920404″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
<br>I met Kay Mouradian at a very crowded Author’s Day in Pasadena.  Their first such event.  We all had assigned spots at tables and then were free to wander to meet fellow writers.<br><br>My Mother’s Voice is a profound book and a must read.  Of course, it was a gripper, but perhaps that word shows a paucity of feeling;so many people go through such terrors, abuse, genocide, and in the western World, some of us can become numb to these conditions or simply are unable to read about any kind of suffering.<br><br>Nobility and anonymity are huge themes in my life, and I read about these people, always giving me a higher and higher standard to attain.  Then, become mine.  We have a history laden with heroes and heroines amidst the chaos of a world destined to come of age.<br><br>This is one such book.  My Mother’s Voice.  I haven’t checked amazon, Alibris for it, but its ISBN 978-1-4525-6169-1, Balboa Press, a Division of Hay house. This has received Honorable mention as a documentary and considered Best Documentary at a film festival in Toronto.<br><br>
<br/><br/>
<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/2785181-esther-bradley-detally”>View all my reviews</a>

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

In view of the recent sufferings and the accompanying feelings of oneness I would like to offer the quote below from the Baha’i Writings, revealed by Baha’u’llah (whose name means the Glory of God) with hopes it will lighten hearts that are heavy. esther

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in…

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

in-the-shadow-of-angkor-new-writing-from-cambodia-and-cambodian-america

Did you know there’s a type of bug or spider that runs along in the Iraqi desert along side the figure running, and this spider is vicious and has teeth and will give a deadly bite, but it hides in the shadows. I read a biography of a doctor’s time in Iraq, a time where her husband, a Marine also, stayed home with the twins (toddlers) and her mom and dad came in to do heavy duty grandparent duty. I can’t remember the title of the book, and given the multiplicity of books now emerging, can’t remember. Today, as never before, a plethora of memoir on the war; did I say war, I meant “wars” emerges, and I think all valid. It is time to give voice to a day, a moment, an hour, and those who do will cause me to think and feel, and say, “I’ll not forget.”

The pages are still blank as far as our future history goes. Did we go down that random vortex of unimaginable horror, like living In the Shadow of Angkor, written and edited by a friend Sharon May, and also Frank Stewart, and is a University of Hawaii Press publication?

Today as never before, did I say that? Today as never before, the forces of light and darkness duke it out, and how can one forget moments. Yes, my world is still as small as a canary-yellow and-white-cough-drop-colored paper bag, and a picture of a very fat, curly tailed pug, with stocky front legs resting on a small child’s red chair, but over these images lays a heaviness of what is happening out there; out beyond the insulation of our culture and those who romp and play on a Fantasy Island, like Pinocchio, and mercifully, there is always beauty in the world, and prose of horrors overcome, as in Angkor.

I am reminded of a weekend course on the foundation of education building a world society, and realizing we are in a paradigm shift, and it is uncomfortable, but current educational practices are based on getting all of us through a system as the Industrial Revolution, and that won’t work.

Now is the time for us to enable capacity and connection and authentic perceptions, and spiritual insight. We are children of a half light emerging into a global civilization which must consider that we are coming of age spiritually, and it’s time to throw down all shibboleths (is that a word) of difference and pulsate on hoping our tattered world will win the battle of old egos as in old dinosaurs.

But I am dangerously near preaching or lecturing, and the heart, anyone’s heart will go into heels dug into the ground, don’t push me into a way of thinking, but to end with a remembrance of a day I’ll not forget is to remember 9/11 after the airplanes’ destructive paths, before politicians’ games of power, a blank space, like the action potential of the cell before it hits the synapses, and a blank time where we were cylindrical in our unity and our caring for the other; we seemed to be enwrapped in columns of blue misty caring, and we were one – giving new meaning to prayer as a state of being.

Stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com-Thank you Steven!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He  gave out Reader Appreciation Awards to 7 people – My blog was one of them!

I Googled the award today, looking for the bright sunflower, and didn’t find its source. So Reader, this is what I think it is.  We bloggers, who run across out computer keys at night when the earth sleeps, play word games in the velvet ether of the night, toss out sorrows, hug happiness, create metaphoric mountains and potholes, and all the while race towards the world and each other in a prepublishing, I’m going to publish this tomorrow on WordPress!  We all fall into this category.  We who blog.  Those who read blogs.  Both, all, none, many.

The rules of the Reader Appreciation Award:

1. Include the award logo somewhere in your blog – check center photo above.  Ta da!!

2. Answer 10 questions (listed below) for fun if you want to.

3. Nominate 6 or 10 to 12 blogs you enjoy

4.  Provide the links to these blogs and let them know they’ve been nominated

5.  Provide a link to the blogger(s) who nominated you —- http://stevenleocampbell.wordpress.com

10 Questions and my answers for the Reader Appreciation Award

1.  What is your favorite color?

The color of the current book I am reading, or the wine colored cover of Gleanings, Baha’i Writings.

2. What is your favorite animal – no need for me to answer; everyone who reads this post will roar back.  Pug Dogs.

3.  What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Lemonade, don’t drink Alcohol

4.  Facebook or Twitter

FB, my home away from home, the entrace to the train station called my life!

5.  Favorite patterns?

Pattern of oneness and connectedness in relations throughout the globe.

6.  Do you prefer getting or giving presents?

Giving, giving.

7.  Favorite number?

Nine (9)

8.  Favorite day of  the week?

Wednesday

9.  Favorite flower?

Purple Iris

10.  What is your passion?

Giving people opportunities to discover and/or develop their voice – teaching creative writing.

My 8 nominations for the Reader Appreciation Award:

http://normanpickles.blogspot.com/  – Pugs, pugs, and more pugs.  Enchanting when the heart is orphaned      and one’s physical space not allowed this type of 4 legged package of      entitlement.

http://pagesforsmallwages.wordpress.com/  Gwendolyn McIntyre – perceptions on      writing, life, things that go bump, keep the writer going!

http://www.bahaithought.com   Phillipe Copeland is author of the blog, “Baha’i Thought” which offers commentary on issues of religion, society, and culture based on the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

http://mrslittlejeans.blogspot.com/,      mrslittlejeans is a scientist and offers enchanting views of her two      felines, photographs of same, and a sharing of mystic perceptions.

http://writingasasacredpath.blogspot.com/   Jill Jepson – I have her book, the back cover of which reads in part, “Discover the Soul of Writing,” writing medications, prompts, rituals, exercises all drawn from traditions of Buddhist monks, Navajo storytellers, and much more.

.http://www.studiomorran.com/  Studio Morran, dogs, crafts, art, visual whimsy!

http://gerrygwilson.com/about/  A published writer, writing teacher of note, an encourager to all

http://whimsygizmo.wordpress.com/  prolific poet, enchantress with words …

http://wordrustling.wordpress.com/  metaphors and smiles – enchanting poetry-Hannah Gosselin

http://swthink.blogspot.com/  so whatcha think  – Brooke Ryter – a book, an impact, soon to be revealed – check it out.

http://arachnoidcystsupport.blogspot.com 

Maria McCutchen has written a book, It’s All in Your Head, and I think her story should be widely read.  I’ll show image. I got my book at Alibris, an online bookstore, which sometimes has prices less than Amazon.  At any price, this is an important book.

http://lublenok.blogspot.com/  Leonid’s World  is the name of his blog.  We met him inMinsk when we gave English Club sessions.  He’s fascinating, innovative, and dear, and he speaks of past history and his family.

Love and best wishes to all.

l  a n g u a g e  a f t e r  t h e  1 0 0  y e a r  w a r

 

The Nouns were in control in the neighborhood of Verbiage.

Adjectives were forced to end their 100 Year War.

This war was known as the Great War of Planet Earth in the Days of Rhetoric Only.

Verbiage, like a fireplace bellows of yesteryear,

had simply exhausted its wheeze and could no longer

control the Nation.

Politicians would no longer be described adjectively.

Thus, our President could be described by the Press as, “A   

man whose eyes narrowed when a syllabic word entered the

toy store of his mind; a man whose Rubber Ducky drowned

when his bath water became higher than what is necessary for

the average leader; or, a man who could bob eternally on the

Ocean of Platitude.”

This leader called up his country’s Reserve Marines again.

These Marines were sent to a land which resembled a cannon

to which they would become fodder. They would obey their

mission, climb into these cannons, and be shot out over the

land of buildings which no longer resembled buildings.

Naught would be seen but structures of rubble which resembled

cookies crumbled in the hand of a monster as tall as the

sky.

The Congress would not be allowed to use descriptions

which included the much abused adjective. This caused some

consternation, for our Congress knew of the paucity of adverbs

when running for election. The Congress member

would no longer be able to crawl into that vat of adjectives

filled with words guaranteed to portray an individual Congress

person righteously and puffily. These adjectives, I might

add, are thrown carelessly into this vat, like screen plays in

Los Angeles, like potato chips in a Lays truck which had escaped

from their Bag Containers.

The Nouns issued an edict: “Stick to the Facts, Jack.

Straight Facts for a Straight Land,” a land which had lived adjectivally

and splendiferously for too long, thereby wreaking

an ecological knowledge gap of a very long five years. Politicians

had appeared on the NewsHour program with Jim

Lehrer, and on what used to be Peter Jennings’s NewsHour,

and on Tim Russert, to reveal Sunday after Sunday (or was it

Monday after Monday?) narrow gamboling minds and nuances

of the political dance. These very same politicians verbally

trolled linguistically along to thinly expand titles such as

“Theatre of Operation,” “War Games” and, last but not least,

the most abused noun in the world, Democracy—Democracy

became a gutted, slutty word, misused and stretched like

hardened taffy in a candy machine after the summer crowd

had gone home.

A rape of the Nouns had occurred. What choice did the

Nouns have but to take over the Nation? They cried out,

“Aack, aack, aack! No more.”

And so as this tale is difficultly told, but blessed for its attempts,

all the while failing in adverbial splendor, time will tell how language

controlled its environment so that facts and integrity might emerge again

 children of the world forget that “Truthfulness is the foundation

of all human virtues” (Ruhi Book 1 – Reflections on the Life of the Spirit)

from You Carry the Heavy Stuff, Lulu.com/Amazon, the author’s garage….. ISBN 978-0-557-20933-0-essays, poetry, observations from a twin’s dying to cubicle despair in a corporate world with voices of buoyant pathos, mystical reverence – you catch my drift

Why do I write?  Like now, when the dishes sit orphaned in the kitchen sink because I, the washer, am typing, sharing, breathing, living, putting off the inevitable, because once a long time ago, I was so hurt, I couldn’t breathe.  I carried that hurt with me forever, until I found out that sensitivity is the price and the prize for being able to write, for being able to read people, to Braille the unsaid.  I write to a lady in prison, who said “I liked a phrase you wrote, “The language of God is a tear running down someone’s cheek.”

I write because I read, insatiably, gobbling, inhaling, filling myself with the human condition; splat on the floor some days, like a big old squishy bug, flattened, dead, its body swept up by old straws on a broom; and then I write to show the magic of St. Theresa’s Snow Queen Altar when I was young, and how everything looked like a wedding cake, and I write to tell how when I was younger, and so needy I could have impaled myself on a stake wide and big, sort of like a meta-letter holder, except the stake would run through my insatiably needy heart, and a note on my back would read “loves too much,” and that was before the book Women Who Love Too Much.

I write because I have gone beyond Medieval Posts puncturing my despair and loneliness and have decided Men Who Love too Much is here too.  Maybe we all love too much, and I write because maybe none of us love too much, for we are told by images in advertising, that we should be thin, jaded in the eyes, like the look of models for Vogue or whatever, who probably could shoot up heroin on their lunch hours, and because despair is trendy and nihilism and materialism and not giving a damn might be the language of the hour.  But then there is the lonely, little, big, young, old, trembling, brassy, you-catch-my-drift-writer who writes because he or she must, and words have a visceral effect upon her, him, the dog, the surrounding room.  I write of hopes for the world, and a good ham sandwich or description thereof on a sour dough roll, with slabs of mayo, and a bed of lettuce, and curled pink ham,  ready to go into someone’s mouth which is opened to the size of half a ladder, is  a good thing, a good description.

What this nation needs is a good ham sandwich and a Pepsi without the aspartame and some down to honest to goodness honesty that is the natural condition to communicate, to be real, to be afraid of bugs in knotty pine walls when the walls come alive at night; to watch an elderly blind woman, clutch the corners of her walker, take a breath and remain a sweet sweet spirit, knowing that her condition, her tests are the divinely calibrated kind, even though trucks have run over her emotionally, and I write to tell of the anonymous amongst us, the bravery, the small acts of courage, kindness in this nation where the world is narcissistically checking its derriere in the mirror, and no one or precious few are listening to the “midnight sighing of the poor,” and where we must have immense courage and speak up; talk, yeah, walk the talk, be it; speak up; tell future generations who we were, wanted to be, became anyhow and our hopes for the future; because someday we will all be sensitive, spiritually inclined, aware of our oneness,  and otherness will go on a back shelf like Twinkies, no longer approved of by the American Heart Association, and writing will be celebrated by hoots and hollers and a piping or two from a medieval horn or Siberian throat, and the arts will have a way of grabbing our soul’s innards and carrying us through the day.  These are some of the reasons I write, but there are others, but today is Wednesday and those are my Wednesday’s writing reasons.

A harmonica

We sit inside a lodge near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It is 1990 and all the young people are going off onto a boat, where they will come back and say with a crooked grin, “We had to eat the raw fish lunch.”

Leslie, myself and a few others have stayed behind, feeling a bit ragged in a large hunting lodge, alone, empty time, tired.   I have an enormous sore throat.  I feel hot red fur going from the back of my throat down to the back of my ankles.  Well, yes I do exaggerate.  But this is coupled with the fact we are in the middle of nowhere, in the tundra maybe that’s what it’s called.”  I will later incur a toe plague which will itch interminably as we wait at the Ulan Ude Airport, and I will be hustled away to some hallway in an inner corridor and a Russian lady with white hat and lab coat will apply green stuff on my entire foot liberally.  This green stuff will remain stuck on my whole foot for the length of the full 63 days on tour with a musical group in Siberia,Ukraine, i.e.,Kiev, L’Vov.  I was like an aging rock star, no voice, green feet, stuck in the back of the chorus.

In L’Vov, we will hear rumors of a revolution which will turn out to be two arguing forces yelling at one another in a downtown park, and where we have found a coffee place and gorgeous pastries, but that’s another story.

Leslie walks into my room, a large woman, with a very small harmonica.  She sits on my camp-type bed and plays,  Notes, small, steady and true fall into my heart.

A knock at our door.

We open it, and a doctor whom we met the previous week, on instinct stopped by to visit.  He gives me stuff for my throat, and I am agog by the fact that we are so isolated, in a strange city, trees, roads, fish and the vastness of Lake Baikal, and my very unspoken needs are met.  It’s like that.

Leslie plays and plays, and I settle into my bed, comforted.  She then says, ‘I had a dream last night.  We were all knots in a fisherman’s net.  When my knot went down because of something I did that was negative or plocha, Russian word for not so hot, bad, I pulled the whole net down a little.  Then she said, pausing to pipe out My Old Kentucky Home’s first few bars, “When my knot when up, I also brought up all the knots with me.  We are all knots in a fisherman’s net.”

Sore throat and all, those simple words, framed in amber notes of harmonic beauty, stayed in the inner lining of my soul.  And that’s the news from Lake Baikal this week, where the fish are full-bodied , the lake is wide and pure, and all the people in the lodge go home deepened and filled with the wonders of humanity.

Five weeks ago I had a steady Sorry Gnat blog following of about 7 people.  People know me a bit around the City of Pasadena.  A few months ago my Irish Mug was on the cover of Pasadena Weekly, because I teach writing at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, a workshop for volunteers, homeless women, and women in transition.

I also teach a couple of other  writing workshops in the Pasadena- mainly at the La Pintoresca Branch, and conduct a small one, for donation only, in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages, the most fantastic and aesthetically snappy fair trade store, located on Lake and California.

I felt stagnated by my inadequacies with my blog.  I had a major friend who has helped me a lot.  The fabulous Mizz V – shrunk my SorryGnat banner, twiddled and twaddled comments and headings appropriately, but she got a job, and I ordered 10-12 books from the library on Blogging.

I need to stretch I thought.  This is how I get creative thoughts.  They nudge me or pop up when my nose is halfway down my first cup of coffee in the morning.  Along came #@MNINB, and I was a hashtag apprentice, a Linkedin Babe, a Twitter type of gal.  I’m already on FB with people from around the world.  It helps to travel and live in other countries.

A few weeks ago someone sent The Versatile Blogger award, and I have still to figure out how to affix it to a margin type area so it hangs out in the neighborhoods of facts and figures about this writer who’s up there in age, but has the writing voice of a 35-year old.

This week, of which Monday seems a 100 years ago, 2 of the #MNINB recommended me for a Liebster because for the month of  April MNINB challenge a goodly amount of writers scattered from Massachusetts to Malta (not really) connected, with a spirit of oepn welcome and we cheer each other on.

So thank you to  Susan Craig, http://bysusancraig.wordpress.com/ .  She’s a scientist with a background in neurobiology, and studied effect of Alzheimer’s disease proteins on brain cells for over 10 years.  She currently teaches college biology.  Her favorite thing to do is write books about strong, smart women and men who love and appreciate them.  Her blog reveals true stories, science material, fiction, inspiration, and you name it.  Lucky us.  Lucky me, I subscribe to her blog.

And also, another blogger nominated me during the same week of 100 years:

Thank you Kristi Carver, http://kristicarver.blogspot.com/2012/05/  Kristi is a writer, small business owner, and Registered Nurse.  My twin was a Registered Nurse, and believe you me, I felt safe with her in my life. Thanks Kristi.  When you visit her blog, you fall into a heavenly photo of a lake in Colorado, and all tension slips away.  Colorado beauty, plus aspiring author, who is a blueberry fanatic, wine enthusiast, and constant reader, and a memoir addict.  Be still my heart.

Now, I pay it forward and nominate up to 5 blogs with less than 200 followers, and let these nominees know they’ve come under the Liebster shadow by leaving a comment on on of their posts.  I added the Liebster image, so I’m okay ont hat.

My nominees are:

http://kofeart.wordpress.com/category/doodles/ – what can I say? When the world gets too lurchy, self-absorb, insane, I click on Kofeart’s site and her art enchants me.  I hope you like it too!

http://blackwatertown.wordpress.com/ I don’t know if he has 1,000 followers, but he was one of my original 7 devotees, and he’s special in my blogger’s heart; funny, current, aware, and enchanting.

 The blog & the book – are by Paul Waters from Northern Ireland, writes, makes radio & telly shows, blogs and footer about with social media. Get in touch if you’d like me to do it for you, either here or at paulwaters99 at hotmail.com .  It’s not a kangaroo, it’s a horse’s head, which might be from The Godfather. The pith helmet however, definitely used to sit on the head of Spike Milligan.

http://krpooler.com/feed/ (Memoir Writers Blog)I need all the information on Memoirs.  I don’t know if she’s widely blogged, so I added her, because I learn from people like this blogger.

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-of-cake.html – okay, okay, the blog is about depression – but to a writer, artist, or whatever creative type, depression is a fantastic topic, and I am sure she heals herself by her work.  Her images are enchanting.  I adore her post.  What can I say, check it out!

http://swpulley.wordpress.com/ – Artist, writer, traveler, whimsy, E.B.-White-wit goes outer space, early member of CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters.com, incredible friend, encourager, and lives next town over.  His Uneasy Rider posts are terrific.  He’s the reason why I write better than I used to after my first book, and why I published (he helped-bless his saintly soul) You Carry the Heavy Stuff, and is just all in all an enchanting wit and fried of both myself and Bill and so many others.

So that’s it. Now they check out The Liebster Award, and sally forth.  Gratitude to all who labor! Smile.

aargh

I definitely am a communications maven, the drawback being, I wasn’t savvy about social media management tools.  Last night, or night before, I read a whole page describing social media, but it would not enter my brain.  I think the Blog is my favorite (Psst, don’t tell the others). I’ve also added many blogs to follow, conquered LinkedIn, decided against shrinking my URL now, and am considering the blogs mentioned in MNINB, April 21.  I think I’m up to date, theory only.  I have to assimilate.

This morning I awakened thinking about Tweeting, Twittering, you catch my drift.

Before I started my blog, I communicated with a couple of hundred people around the world.  It helps to move a lot.  Al, my recent graduated from marketing at Yale, with his MBA, said, “You have to have a blog.”  I did.  I was grateful to my 2-3 followers; bless their stalwart qualities.

I blogged, FB’d, emailed everyone about everything.  I’ve written 2 books and can promote them well.  I teach writing, so there you go, more computer time.  I like FB.  I didn’t think Twitter could be used for ordinary computers.  I thought it was for cell phones, the kind of cellies my young friends carry, i.e., sleek black, red, buttons, icons, push here, push there.  I felt Twitter was the scoop-up-words type of thing, words from the top of my head.  I like to go deeper.  Too brief, too shallow, too Valley Girl almost.

LinkedIn repelled me.  I grew up in a family that regarded their status proudly. Boston was glutted with those families who know their social divides.  I didn’t retain these traditions.

So I thought, Linked-in-schminked-in.

Now, I’m a Twitterer, a FBer, definitely a blogger, an email, and a Yenta of sorts locally for people who look for work, relationships, just anything.  A new friend, in from India, said I’m like a local Google, except with a small g.

I write because I must.  I write to weave humor, pain, suffering, and I write about anything, from sow bugs and sorry gnats to concepts of racial justice, oneness,  and I glut Goodreads with my I’ve read or to read type of thing.  I subscribe to Powell’s on line, Book browse, locally, and on.

I am like an untrained Dalmatian.  I bound into life.  But, a concern I have, throwing aside professional need, is Twitter.

I wonder what sociologists will make of our current culture.  We have invisible lace webs over our heads that cartoon out – “didja eat,” “how bout them Dodgers,” and every other light through, phrase or sentence that settles tentatively on our brains.

What does this say indicate about attention span in the future?

I’m light, I’m funny, and I love whimsy and playing with words.  We do a lot of that on CHPercolatorcoffeehouseforwriters, and I guffaw on the floor over our hilarious exchanges.  But, I wonder, if we just go to a restaurant, casual, Marie Calender’s, Denny’s, Cocos, and see kids to adults to seniors.  A lot of heads are bent over their cell phones tweeting.

What about social skills?

We live in a society that is tremendously immediate.  Instant news.  “You heard it first at Blah Blah News.”  I can multitask without a blink of an eyelash.  But, can I sit down and study things, reflect at great length.  At this point in our world, is the speed of light winning, and reflection of the light losing?

I want quality.  I’m naturally speedy and can type rapidly.  But I want depth too.  It seems in the world today we inhale.  We inhale words, sounds, pressures, work, you name it.

A Hopi prophecy said, “When the world speeds up, slow down.”

That said.  I throw myself into my day and am enormously busy, but my relationships are fun and solid, and we form friendships in our writing circles, in my Baha’i life.

Sure, I’d like to be recognized; what writer wouldn’t.  But life is more than that.  I tell my students, we are reaching a time on the planet where arts should be everywhere, an Arts Rising type of thing.  The world is so busy, so full, why can’t we soar locally, forget the star system, a Kingdom of Names type of thing.  It’s all about bringing life and love and creativity to one another.  We don’t always need a stage.

I’d love and welcome other comments.  These are mine at the end of a busy Sunday.

 Graduation-address to graduates; fiction – Esther Bradley-DeTally (this was        

a CHPercolator prompt a while back)

Dear Graduates:

Here on the planet, at Earth School, in Dirt City, on the Blue  Marble, advice is going to be slung at you as you leave your  schooling behind.

I want to tell you a few things. One, fame is an illusion, because  it is just a mercurial moment in time and space where you are a star  who gleams brightly. We live in something called the Kingdom of Names which has to do with who we are, What We Wear, Who We Vote  For. Consider this, maybe that’s nice, necessary, and maybe unreal.  Think of a wider goal.

You are living in an era where you are World Citizens, and either through trial and struggle, or a great
consultative process, we the people of the nations, will go down a  road pointed towards the Oneness of Humanity, a Golden Age spoken of  by prophets and seers. We will do this by today’s standards, “Boys will be Boys” and blow up much of the planet, leaving a postage stamp  somewhere by an abandoned pond on which survivors will survive, and  abolish war forever. Better yet, we individually could all realize
our oneness and strive together for justice and unity.

Consider your body, it is a mass of teeming action and all parts work  to sustain the whole – homeostasis. Did you know that everything in  the spiritual world has an exact counterpart in the physical world?
We are carrying around a blue print for unity in diversity by the  mere fact of our bodies operating with intelligent rhythm.

As you leave this joyous commencement, you each will be handed a packet of instructions. They consist of:

A Hopi Message
A writing from Oriah Mountainkeeper
A Comment from Thomas Merton
A view from Etty Hillesum
An excerpt from the Baha’i Writings.

The rest is up to you.

Thank you for allowing me to deliver this commencement address in  record time, thus leaving no stone unturned.  I suggest you reflect  upon these handouts carefully in that some of you will be tested in
odd ways. Perhaps strangers will come to you and offer you the  chance of a lifetime, and the only way to accept this chance is to  leave with this stranger, thereby not saying goodbye to all you  love.

Some of you in the science fields will have to decide how you can contribute to the Earth’s Beleaguered Being, and come up with  solutions for the healing of the Earth’s Surface.

Mostly it is up to you to live your life independently, investigate truth independently, be just, know you are in the process of becoming your true selves, and finally, be aware, exceedingly aware, of the
exigencies of your time. In a phrase, power is no longer used for personal gain, but it is used for service.

May I suggest, service to humanity be your highest aim. May we all be blessed with your struggles and
attainment.

Handouts

Hopi Elder’s Message 2001 via email to me from friend in Ohio

To our fellow swimmers. There is a river flowing now very fast. It
is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They
will try to hold onto the shore; they will feel they are being torn
apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its
destination. The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, push
off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our head
above the water. And we say, see who is there with you and
celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal,
least of all ourselves, for the moment that we do, our Spiritual
growth and journey come to a halt. The time of the lone wolf is
over. Gather yourselves. Banish the word struggle from your
attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred
manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Share this.
———–
Invitation
Oriah Mountain Dreamer
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure
of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to
know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have
been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without
moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can
dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic,
remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I
want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If
you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every
day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and
still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the
full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I
want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and
not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I
want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls
away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly
like the company you keep in the empty moments.
———–
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like
to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in
detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for
the things I want to live for. Between those two answers you can
determine the identity of any person.”

Thomas Merton, from the Man in the Sycamore Tree

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life, An entry dated August 20, 1941,
states:

“You must continue to take yourself seriously, you must remain your
own witness, marking well everything that happens in this world,
never shutting your eyes to reality. You must come to grips with
these terrible times, and try to find answers to the many questions
they pose. And perhaps the answers will help not only yourself but
also others.”

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of
the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and
friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich,
an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of
thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be
unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto
them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the
thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the
victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all
thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a
tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a
guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the
countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of
the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind,
an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of
virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of
knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of
wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit
upon the tree of humility (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings
of Baha’u’llah, p. 285)

A friend, Al, who is in advertising,  said to me one day over coffee at Peets in California, “You need to have a blog,” and so because of that casual remark and my faith in his techy wisdom.  I commenced walking over rocks and pebbles of techy knowledge, and a blog was born.

September 5, 2006, Sorry-Gnat enters hyperspace life letting those who are interested know that in the Baha’i Writings one can go on the path of transformation and be a sorry gnat and become a giant eagle.

“I’ve just had lunch at Tuohey’s Restaurant in Alhambra and had dinner there last night.  No I’m not trying to be giant like an eagle physically.  I’ve ruminated a good deal about stuff to put into this blog:  poetry?  pug dogs? notes about books?  human rights? racial justice: schlepping, Esther, don’t forget schlepping.  I have a lot to learn on this blog, and will consult with my techy friends as to how, what, why, when!  I’m reading The Earth is Flat, Thomas Friedman, excellent. Very good writer.  We just saw Jessica, our granddaughter, at an early soccer practice.  She’s almost 7-going into first grade, and all the little girls are not aggressive players at all, but very cute.

Today, April 5, 2012.

Well Jessica is 12 now, and has an equanimity about her and kindness to all that I adore.  My family was like a Rorschach test, and I used to wonder what it’s like if my kid had the soul of an accountant.  He didn’t, and that’s okay, but Jessica, my granddaughter’s mom, leans to that side:  stable, and a tremendous educator with regards to child rearing.

Okay, I do blogs, and  at times in my life the only themes seem to be pug dogs or spirituality, and for a while pug dogs were winning.  Of late, it’s books, and maybe a while or so about my adequacy level down by my ankle bones,  blogging wise-the techy side.  I’ve avoided Twitter.  Facebook?  Boys and girls, I’ve got FB down; I have friends all over the globe.  The good thing about moving 17 different times in 25 years is you meet a lot of people.

Sure I grieved over leaving some, but I tell you, I’ve met incredible people and to this day I never cease to wonder.  Today we had lunch at Farideh’s and we had Tadiq, golden crusted flat slabs of potato under Basmati rice.  Oink.  We had wild salmon, vegetables even turnip.  Then we had dessert served on creamy white china and looked like a vibrant water color:  blueberries,  peachy colored mango, and a scoop of vanilla soy ice cream.  I’m so slogged with fatigue and memories of good food, my brain turns to sludge.  Later I hooked up with Jean a new person in our Baha’i community.

She’s new to Pasadena, and hasn’t been in the States for 10 years.  She has lived in India, and I can’t remember the name of her city; small – 5 million, but she’s traveled all over. Did I mention she’s blind and gets around by cane.  We’ve hung out before.  She’s done everything; social worker, worked in radio stations, done voice over, teaches ESL, works via the computer.  No dust on her heels!  It gave me just another chance to marvel.

Tomorrow, I’m off at a little before noon to a Christian church up the Street on Lake, in Altadena/Pasadena area, where the Ecumenical Council is observing Good Friday.  I remember Good Friday when I was Catholic, sitting in the silence of the church, the religious figures draped in purple silk, and I remember a day before, called Holy Thursday, when Liz, my twin, and her best friend Jannie Cleary, walked and visited the 7 Catholic churches, a tradition we participated in only once.  When we got home that day my sister Meb (Mary Ellen Bradley) was hanging her head out of the bath room window on the second floor, showing a newly bleached blonde.

We were three sisters; close in many ways, and yet Meb would die of alcoholism, as my mother did.  They were terrific.  They both played classical music, and I can’t not stop when I hear Chopin’s polonaise in something Minor.  My mom died when we were 17, and my sister died when I was living in Dnepropetrovsk. She was the size of a twig, ravished by emphysema and years of alcoholism which I think she kicked towards the end.  She had once survived on the streets for five years.

So back to homeless women.  I’ve done two things in my life influenced by these two women so close to my heart.  My mom had Latvian Babushkas come to our little house on Wren Street, tuck into the small kitchen with the red checkered oilcloth table covering, and she’d teach them English for free.  They talked of their husbands, “lost behind the Iron Curtain,” and I’d visualize a large iron shower curtain stretched across a vast empty land.

Years later, in 1990, I traveled to Siberia with Bill, my husband.  I wrote a book Without A Net: A Sojourn in Russia, which tells about Meb, Russia,Ukraine, and all.  People like it.  I often thought  my mother’s selfless act of reaching out had reverberations into the future, when I, her daughter, very much her daughter, went into Slavic countries for service only.

That said, we’ve lived in Pasadena for 11 years, and it’s the longest we’ve ever lived anywhere.  Bill is 77 and I am 73, and first we house sat in a gorgeous condo for 3 years and then found this pool house, and we can afford the rent they charge which is not high.  I’ve survived open heart surgery, having the surgeons write the whole business off for free, and I’ve had a lot of trips to Cardiology at Kaiser, bleeding out, stuff like that, but now I thrive.  I’m like a Russian doll that tips over and bounces back.  Someone said to me the other day, “You have a strong life force,” and I do.  I feel life gets better and better for women as they age. I am no longer moth-holed by self-doubt and scalding inner words of rebuke.  I’m me now, and I sort of glow at times, at least when I’m teaching writing, meeting friends for coffee and always stretching to do more.

Poem by Chris Annick

poetry of women from women's room - fund raiser flyer

A few years ago I gave a goodly amount of writing workshops-method, process, and did so for free at the local library branch of La Pintoresca in Northwest Pasadena.  The Women’s Room a group formed and created by members who were connected to an Ecumenical Council realized women in Pasadena, either homeless or in transition, had nowhere to go.  This is a day refuge, but oh what a refuge. Showers, laundry, good food, make up suggestions now and then are available, and oh, my writing class.   Long story short, a room above the food pantry of Friends in Deed was created, like a small living room, dusty peach walls, art with symbols of 3 poppies, art on the wall, small kitchen and on Tuesdays 1-3 I teach writing.  Everyone is welcome, the volunteers and the guests (homeless/in transition) and it is truly solidified in love and community.  The bonds are strong.

We were asked to have something for tomorrow’s program at this Church.  I wrote a poem on forgiveness.  I’ll publish it later.  Then I had the women do a group poem, each writing 2 lines.

They’ve performed before; different women, different voices, and at first they were terrified.  But after they had the guts to get up behind a microphone and say their piece, their pieces, they were and are proud.  You can’t take that away from anyone.  Above is a poem written by Chris Annick which graced our first fundraiser flyer.

I always say to them before they read, “Own this.  Own your voice,” and by golly they do.  So with that, I didn’t expect this to be such a rattle on blog, but here you go, and that’s the facts Jack.

stunning, epid, riventing

"The Orphan Master's Son is a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption and casual cruelty..."

The Orphan Master’s Son is a major book; a major read. It is epic; almost an oratorio, notes of which float over incredible deprivation, struggle, and an exceedingly oppressive society. . I could not put it down. Someone once asked, “Why do you read such books as this? My answer for that day as “If we believe mankind is one, i.e., we are one people, one planet, and we know of peoples’ horrendous suffering,” then we cannot be silent.  I must speak about it even if only in a book review.

This novel pulls from the reader gasps of horror, Adam Johnson’s novel relentlessly pursues a systolic drive to the center of the North Korean world  whose outer shell is constructed of a rigid totalitarianism, and whose  inner core reveals an absolute and moribund corruption.  Its core is rotten. Yet, slivers of nobility, slivers of courage from different individuals emerge.

One critic said, “This is not the real North Korea.”   Perhaps not.  However, books are appearing on the landscape, one of which is the Aquariums of Pyongyang  verify an appalling state of society, and a nightmarish existence in North Korea’s prison camps,  and also in the general society.  We live on a planet where forces of light and darkness lick each others shadows. If we cannot speak for the silent ones, what can we do?

I feel an awe regarding Adam Johnson’s novel .  I believe this novel goes far beyond Pulitzer awards. It is through fiction such as this that truth shines.

Adam Johnson teaches creative writing at Stanford University.  His fiction has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Tin House, Granta, and Playboy, as well as The Best american Short Stories.  His other works include Emporium, a short story collection, and the novel Parasites Like Us.

http://educationunderfire.com/multimedia/

Image

A string of laughter is all the trees lining our long driveway, the bamboo, the eucalyptus, all laughing, small nasty chuckles, because once again, I am thatched headed, in pjs and not walking.  It was a choice, but then the lure of words, the Zen of quiet air pushing out of the fan under my laptop; which if you really must know, I found this fan at a garage sale for $1.00, mighty fan.

A string of laughter makes me think of kites flying over Afghanistan, that land of dust and caves, and cities, and brave women’s hearts, and children’s tears, and when the kites are allowed, they fly into the air, twisting, turning, colors.  What are the colors of kites in the Afghan air? And someone’s heart exults, and then of course, there’s the birds.  They were banned during the time of the Taliban, and now I hope they are back, and I will sit back, and stop clickety clacking across the a, ;.s;. k, dk’s and think in peace you can’t own the sky..  It’s been tried, but the sky is ours, and then a heavenly invisible low long drawn out chuckle, like God was a Westerner with a Cowboy Hat, and then a belly laugh which translates into winds over the mountains, cleansing air, and Scattering Angels of the Almighty seeking the hearts of righteous men (generic of course); women too, and then what do I think.

Hmmm, a string of laughter is a word sky, where the sun and the moon negotiate, because now there’s lots of new solar stuff out there, and it might be a night game of “Olly, olly oxen free… ready or not, here I come.” Or maybe lawn bowling will be the game of choice, except it would be sky lawn ball, and then there are balloons, another topic altogether. Some balloons laugh, go up on a string, and twist out of grasping hands of greed.

You can take a lot of things away from people:  money, a place to live, shoes, health, but laughter always springs from some invisible source, and laughter moves the ribs up and down and up and down, and you can’t take that away.

Siobhan Fallon writes well, eloquently and her prose and content are straight arrows to the heart. I don’t know how many books have been written from her point of view, but these stories, with exceedingly diverse points of view, points of view that bring you inside the characters’ soul, are just in time for the rest of the world to view.

Fort Hood.  Women Left Behind.  Heart in throat kind of stuff.  Factual insights into life at Fort Hood.  She brings the sound of loneliness and waiting to the page in a visual way.  Agony, waiting, lives upended, lives united.  These are the stories this reader feels everyone should read.  What a tribute to all who serve and all who wait.

 

www.youtube.com

CXXX: Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in …

1

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.

Awakened to cup of coffee in bed; staggered to computer; am on Word Press this am with thatched head, but Persecution of a Christian Minister in alarm shot my body full of, “Post this on SorryGnat,” and lo and behold, good old Word Press offered a prompt: When you are most happy?

Dear WP Question Person,

I am most happy when I drive up my driveway and my husband comes out of our small pool house and is just there, but then of course there are days when I spot pug dogs through my inner radar and Kismet, by the end of the day, I am sprawled on a pavement, petting said beastie, even though my friends shake their heads at my constant devotion to Pugs, and still I am most happy when I see writers emerge from their cardboard boxes which were labeled “I don’t write, I can’t write,” and like last night, offer revisions of the Three Little Pigs, turn the story on its head by having the first pig (of straw, and lazy, darned lazy if you ask me), and find out this little pig had invested in derivatives, and now, only now, when red stiletto heel click along New York streets, in huff puff, click, click, hurry to my job, don’t know how long it will last,” all the while these red stiletto heels, which if you want to know, can have outer soles of turquoise and magenta print, if the person, wearette of said stiletto, is well heeled financially, and now on to more than feet, because this is about happiness, and I’m most happy when I think some day, despite the crocodile kingdom here on earth, and dripping juicy mouths in political power (not all) (there are nice cats and dogs in the mix in leadership in this country), but back to the question, my tummy and my heart, and my soul are in sinc (not sink) (another day, another tale) when I see on the horizon, signs, not of Humvees built as slug bugs for war and destruction, but hands, thin hands, old hands, wrinkled hands, long tapered fingernails, fingers bumpy and sludgy and chewed, tough hands covered, dark hands, covered with dust, Kardashian hands pampered and isolated, but all hands, get to the point, writer, reaching out around this Parker’s Pen Color of Blue Ink Planet hold one another, some grasping one another, and despite a world gone tilt, bonkers, and a world which may be screaming, “I miss my hormones,” is lurching towards maturity, even though the crocodiles, hereinafter called The Crocs, salivate and slide towards a fugue state of power, illusive and unattainable, because some day we will be one, and every baby born (visualize Kunte Kinte(sp) holding his richly brown velvet baby son to the sky, and someone in Idaho lifting a peaches and cream baby up to trees stretching as if hands up in praise to their unseen Divine Essence (Higher Power too Germanic in tone to put here), and that day when each baby will be perceived, cherished, regarded as a “Trust of the Whole,” and we will get about our planetary work, and that’s a good Tuesday morning reason for being happy, because happiness is not an outside thing in that it’s just about pleasure, but reader, if you have been patient enough to go through this all, would you consider that abiding joy, and release from oppression and We Are One is our divine right?

This isn’t to say there are not a gazillion other reasons, like listening to a young doctorate in realization of astrophysics, skate across the sky and explain planetary dust in such a fascinating way as she reads in a basement in a store called fair trade, on Lake Avenue, in Pasadena, if you want to know, where a bunch of us writers laugh and cavort and toss bon mots of principles, concerns and an occasional jello recipe around – that makes me happy, and one other thing, because I’m on my way there – giving people voice; how on God’s Green Earth did I get so lucky to teach at the Women’s Room in Pasadena, said WR is an offshoot of Friends in Deed, an ecumenical group, and the WR is a day haven for women to take showers, do laundry, get decent food, most to commune with one another, and to participate, those who wish, in writing and slipping on their newly acquired writing voices to the cheers and huzzahs of the group, (we are way beyond Vogue and Marie Claire magazine), and I guess I can sum all of this “oh how we dance” piece in it’s about service, “walking the mystical path with practical feet” and helping one another and seeing everyone as a soul in progress or process and realizing we are just at the beginning of this journey. So those are my Tuesday morning reasons. (Quotes I’ve used come from Baha’i Writings or my own stuff reader, and if you know how to use spell check on this here Word Press, I’d be grateful till the end of the day.-E)

Baha’i International Community calls for release of Christian pastor facing death sentence

GENEVA, 4 October 2011 (BWNS) – The Baha’i International Community has joined the call for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor from Rasht, Iran.

Pastor Nadarkhani, who is the father of two young children, leads a network of house churches. He was found guilty of apostasy – “turning his back on Islam” – and “converting Muslims to Christianity,” and sentenced to death in September 2010.

Iran’s Supreme Court recently asked for a re-examination of the case to establish whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. The court ruled he was not but, nevertheless, is still guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

The case has sparked strong condemnation from governments, organizations and religious leaders around the world.

Then on 1 October, following this global outcry, Iranian state media suddenly reported that Pastor Nadarkhani had in fact been sentenced for other reasons – including violent crimes, extortion, Zionism and being a traitor. These charges had never once been mentioned throughout the entire period when Pastor Nadarkhani was charged, tried, sentenced, up to and including the most recent court hearing.

Statement from the Baha’i International Community:

We join with the global chorus of condemnation protesting the sentencing of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, and calling for his release.

For a court of law to rule against someone from Muslim ancestry who has freely chosen to be a Christian is yet another instance of the brutality being meted out by the Iranian authorities on their own people.

The recent public proclamation reporting that the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani have been changed – as a result of the global outcry at his conviction – only further exposes the arbitrary nature of decisions made by the judiciary system of Iran and the transparent injustice of the situation.

The sentence he faces is not only reprehensible; it is a violation of every legal, moral, spiritual and humanitarian standard.

Which temporal government in the world can reasonably decide it has the power to curtail freedom of belief? Belief is not something that can be taken away or bartered; it is a matter of conviction, of the heart, the mind and the soul, beyond the realm of any government’s control.

The Baha’i community understands well the challenging circumstances facing minorities living in Iran today. And now it is evident that those minorities which are nominally recognized by the state are as equally subordinate to the majority as those who have no rights.

There is little need to rehearse here the endless list of executions, torture, imprisonments, privations and other afflictions that are being meted out on the sorely-tried people of Iran.

Everything that country’s representatives profess on the world stage is contradicted by their treatment of their own people at home. Yet, its officials travel freely to other nations where they are offered a platform from which to broadcast their untruths, denying the callous treatment of their own citizens while displaying pretensions of good will for the people of the world.

There is much to be done to alert the people of the world to the hypocrisy of a government which is widely and continually oppressing its people.

There is much to be done for humanity to be alerted to what is going on inside Iran and to be awakened to the appalling memory of what can occur when we fail to act against state-sponsored, campaigns of hatred.

“To All” – A message from Troy Anthony Davis.

Below is the text of a Huffington Post article, with links to further
information

The Trials of an Educator in Iran
Anthony Vance, Director of External Affairs, Baha’is of the United States

“If your tea is too sweet, you can stir it the other way.” This kind of
quip was typical of Mahmoud Badavam and of Persian humor in general. I saw him
frequently as a college student in the mid-1970s in Cambridge,
Massachusetts where he gained a reputation for a quick, wry sense of humor. At that
time, Iranians were few and far between in the U.S. So, it was an eye-opener
to be exposed to the exquisite courtesy, humor, and hospitality that can be
so prevalent in Iranian culture and that certainly was not lacking among
the handful of Iranian students studying in universities in the Boston area
at the time. None of us suspected then that revolution in Iran was just
around the corner. With the large number of political and religious refugees
it would bring in its wake, exposure to Iranian culture would soon become
common place. But, at the time, Mahmoud and a small handful of others were
novel and made a deep impression on me. I met Mahmoud in Baha’i meetings — a
religious faith we both shared. He returned home just before the
revolution and chose, despite the difficulties it created for Baha’is, to stay.

On May 21 of this year and the days that followed, during raids on over 30
Baha’i homes in four cities in Iran, Mahmoud was one of 18 people arrested
for teaching in or administering the Baha’i Institute for Higher
Education. In late July, after the release of some of those arrested, Mahmoud and 7
others were reportedly charged with “conspiracy against national security”
and “conspiracy against the Islamic Republic” by “establishing the illegal
Baha’i Institute for Higher Education”. The first of the trials is
reportedly set to start this Monday, September 12. For years, he had used his
Masters degree in engineering from M.I.T. and his earlier training in Iran to
provide classroom instruction to Baha’i youth who had been barred since the
revolution from Iran’s system of higher education. The arrest on May 22 was
not his first. He returned to Iran in 1978, married shortly thereafter, and
held a job as an engineer in the government. Soon after the Islamic
Revolution, he was fired, lived with relatives in different cities, was arrested
for being a Baha’i and imprisoned for about three years.

In revolutionary Iran, among the many forms of persecution directed at
their community, Baha’is were dismissed from university teaching positions and
students were dismissed from institutions of higher education. After
numerous failed appeals to the government to correct this injustice, in 1987 the
Baha’i community organized what came to be known as the Baha’i Institute
for Higher Education to provide university-level instruction to its youth.
In recent years, BIHE was a central part of Mahmoud’s life with regular
classes in his small apartment in Tehran and administrative and curriculum
review meetings held late into the night. He spent most evenings and weekends
correcting homework and preparing for his classes. If planning with others
to educate young people can in some contorted worldview equate with
conspiracy against national security, I suppose Mahmoud and anyone else who has
ever transferred skills in the arts or sciences to a student is guilty as
charged — and unabashedly so. Over the years, others in Iran and abroad
learned about this endeavor and volunteered to assist with it.

Similar raids and arrests on BIHE were recorded in 1998, 2001, and 2002.
The official government position was documented in a 2006 letter from Iran’s
Ministry of Science, Research and Technology addressed to 81 state run
universities and institutions of higher education and in a 1991 Memorandum
signed by Dr. Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, the secretary of the Supreme
Revolutionary Cultural Council, with a signature endorsement of the Supreme
Leader, Ali Khamenei. Each of these documents specifically mandates the expulsion
from Iran’s system of higher education of any student who is discovered to
be a Baha’i.

The banning of Baha’is from higher education is a violation of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights to which Iran is a
State Party. I hope that such a grievous assault on an entire minority
group consisting of about 300,000 people will not go unprotested by the world
community. In the meantime, from the bleakness of Evin Prison, far from the
beautiful summer to fall change of seasons in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
Mahmoud Badavam can only pray that some day he will get back to correcting
homework, preparing for classes, and perhaps even coming up with a new
witticism about tea from time to time.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anthony-vance/the-trials-of-an-educator_b_9546
42.html

http://iran.bahai.us/

To my beloved friends worldwide, please pray for these noble souls. Gratitude, immense gratitude. Love to All, Esther

Baha’i World News Service to me
show details 2:24 AM (6 hours ago)

Grave concern for safety of Iran’s imprisoned Baha’i leaders

NEW YORK, 15 February 2011 (BWNS) – Iran’s seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders have been transferred to more brutal sections of their prison complex.

In the case of the two Baha’i women, the circumstances of the move have raised concerns that it may have been orchestrated as a means of creating an insecure environment that threatens their lives.

The Baha’i International Community has learned that one of them – Fariba Kamalabadi – has already been physically threatened by inmates since being sent to the notorious Section 200 of Gohardasht Prison.

“Apparently, the atmosphere is highly charged in this section, and there is a great deal of tension and animosity among the inmates,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

Mrs. Kamalabadi was transferred to Section 200 on Saturday 12 February, along with Mahvash Sabet.

“It is difficult to be certain about the reason for the move,” said Ms. Dugal. “However we believe that, since their arrival at Gohardasht, the Baha’i women – despite their own extremely challenging situation – have nonetheless been a constant source of comfort and hope to other inmates. The prison authorities apparently became alarmed that the two women began to receive signs of respect from a growing number of prisoners. As a justification for the increased harsh treatment, the authorities accused the two of teaching the Baha’i Faith.”

Throughout their entire imprisonment, added Ms. Dugal, the two women have conducted themselves in a spirit of service to others. In early 2009, for example, they shared a cell at Evin prison with Iranian-Japanese-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who later wrote that they had helped her through her ordeal.

Last week, a general announcement was made to all prisoners that they were not to have any contact with the two Baha’i women. Undeterred, however, fellow inmates continued to seek them out.

“After the women were transferred, a number of prisoners made their way downstairs to visit them in their new quarters, despite efforts by the guards to restrain them,” said Ms. Dugal.

Mrs. Kamalabadi and Mrs. Sabet were told that – prior to the move – the inmates in Section 200 had been “warned” about them, she said.

Harsh and unsanitary conditions

The seven Baha’i leaders were sent to Gohardasht prison, 20 kilometers west of Tehran, in August last year. Having previously been incarcerated in Tehran’s Evin prison without charge for 20 months, they were accused of espionage and the establishment of an illegal administration among other allegations. All the charges were denied. After a brief trial, they were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

While Gohardasht is infamous for its harsh and unsanitary conditions, the Baha’i prisoners were at first kept segregated from some of the more violent elements at the complex. They also had relatively frequent access to outdoor exercise areas.

But over the past few weeks, all seven of them have been moved from the quarters they originally occupied into sections where conditions are much worse.

The five men were transferred three weeks ago to a wing set aside for political prisoners, known as Section 4, which is more crowded and reportedly under close surveillance. They are now suffering severe physical deprivations.

“Three of them are together in one cell, with the other two sharing another cell,” said Ms. Dugal. “There are two beds in each cell, so one of them has to sleep on the floor.”

“The inmates in this part of the prison are able to go outside for fresh air only at designated times, whereas previously they could do so whenever they wished,” said Ms. Dugal.

Appeal to governments

“In our open letter of 7 December 2010 to the head of Iran’s judiciary, we stressed that such an odious and degrading environment is unworthy of even the most dangerous criminals,” said Ms. Dugal.

“We say to the Iranian government once again – does it believe the principles of Islamic compassion and justice to be consistent with the imposition of such conditions on innocent citizens?”

“We continue to call upon governments and people of good-will throughout the world to take whatever action they can to impress upon the Iranian government that its actions are being watched, and that it will be held responsible for the safety of these and the more than 50 other Baha’is who are imprisoned throughout Iran,” said Ms. Dugal.

http://media.causes.com/1005500

I humbly suggest if this concerns you, not to react with hate or anger towards anyone, but to find Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and go to page 285, and Paragraph CXXX. “Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generaton, a fruit upon the tree of humility.”

thank you, esther

The best writing teacher you'll ever want to meet

Jack Grapes -fantastic writer, teacher of poetic souls, and lovely man

Help, I lost a few days. Last I knew it was the 11th and then this morning, I called out to Bill, “What day is it”? He replied, “the 13th.” I read from the most incredible daily reader of the Baha’is Writings, published in London and out of print, and it is heavenly and unique and the fragrances of same float around my heart. Baha’is are encouraged to read from the Writings in the morning and the evening, and of course, we say what prayers resonate with us. There is a requirement of an Obligatory Prayer, and there are 3 choices. The following is the noonday prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.

There is none other God but Thee, the help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Baha’u’llah

I wake up in the morning, and the first thing that flies to my mind is “I have wakened in Thy shelter, O my God, and it becometh him that seeketh that shelter to abide within the Sanctuary of Thy protection and the Stronghold of Thy defense. Illumine my inner being, O my Lord, with the splendors of the Dayspring of Thy Revelation, even as Thou didst illumine my outer being with the morning light of thy favor.”. Baha’u’llah

You know this blog started out about losing a few days; all of which have been action packed, insightful, wonderful connection with people, but here I sit, it is 1.25, and I should walk. I haven’t even taken my morning meds. I may take a nap instead. Hard to be wise with my body.

Last night in Pasadena, at the Judges Nelson’s home, Navid Dheghani spoke. He’s a scientist and one of the people who work on the Mars is it Rover? the machine that lands on Mars, and all. Last night he gave a wonderful presentation of an overall view of the Baha’i Faith, and then in the question and answer times, talked about science a bit. A funny, modest, humble, and knowledgeable man. It was great.

I have several books to read: Mudbound. Read it once; it’s terrific and it’s Pasadena’s One City, One Book read; a friend wants me to participate in my favorite library, La Pintoresca, so I will re-read it, and our book club which has been meeting for at least five years is reading it for February. Then, we are reading The Long Walk, now made into a film; the author’s name is a Polish one, and I lent my copy of the book out.

Years ago, late 1960s I discovered this book, and it made such an impact upon me. I notice it’s been republished, and one of the blurbs on the front cover describe it aptly as “Homeric,” and I would say yes. The story of this man; his survival; the group he is with, their connection and unity with each other, remains nested within my memory bank; hopefully forever; and surely along with An Interrupted Life by Etty Hillesum and her Letters from Westerbork.

Why is it I am so drawn to memoir? I think I have always been fascinated with man’s inhumanity to man, and man’s humanity to man. My first pilgrimage, trip to Israel, visiting Christian and Jewish holy places and then to Haifa, to the Baha’i Shrines, I felt the themes of this ribboning through the country as I witnessed the Holocaust memorial.

The Baha’is believe in all the religions and consider religious truth to be like an unfolding scroll, relative to the day and age, but God, an unknowable Essence, is absolute. Spiritual truth is spiritual truth and is not obsolete. It is revealed with each Messenger in a different manner, much like if you looked around you and saw lights or lamps of different kinds, you would see the light source is the same, but the vehicle holding the light is different, and then the social teachings are changed to meet the needs of the day. All of the Messengers of God, Prophets, or what we in the Baha’i Faith call Manifestations occupy the same high, mystical, incredible level, an abstract level of unity really which we as puny souls can hardly imagine. We need these Divine Luminaries, these Educators of Mankind, these Divine Physicians of the Age.

At any rate i read voraciously and read a lot of books by Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic writers. And of course all memoir. I think we are in such an age of transition that people must speak out and record their truths. I often think of a kaleidescope as an image; are we not all chips of different colors – moving, shaping, but connected? I would like to think so.

Wow I can’t believe i’m going on like this, but so be it.

I had a writing workshop Monday evening, at Ten Thousand Villages, which is an awesome and aesthetically pleasing experience. They feature artifax, jewely, vases, cloth, you name it, from around the world, made by villagers who support themselves by their creations. I am st up in the basement, and it is a long white walled room, and somehow we did it: 2 tables, some folding chairs around, and I set up a whiteboard talking about showing versus telling in writing. I spoke about Oakley Hall and Jack Grapes, two of my writing heroes and teachers, and 17 people of all manner came, and we had a blast. We cooked as I like to say. then the next day i taught my usual writing workshop at the Women’s Room, a haven for homeless women, and women in transition, and they (the clients) and the volunteers can participate in writing. They have done soooo well, and we are family. What a group.

So now, I’m going to close after this unexpected tell it like it is, blog, and take a nap. Bill’s daughter, Tory, coming up for a vist. Did I mentioln, the day is utterly gorgeous, sun, breeze, temp of about 71 degrees by our little pool house.

One more thing; i liked President Obama’s talk; my heart twisted, particuarly gazing at the father’s face of the wonderful little 9 year old girl; I hope this even brings about more civility and unity. If we had children, would we let our kids squabble so divisively in a family?

High regards to all who read this.

A minister friend sent this to me; thank goodness people are writing about this.

To: sightings@lists.uchicago.edu
Subject: *Sightings* 1/6/2011 – Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution

Sightings 1/6/2011

Iran’s Baha’i Minority Suffers Increasing Persecution
– Elise Auerbach

Seven leaders of Iran’s Baha’i community were sentenced to twenty years in prison by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran last August, a sentence that was reduced to ten years in September. They were convicted on serious but baseless charges including “espionage for Israel,” “insulting religious sanctities” and “propaganda against the system.” They had also been charged with ifsad fil arz or “corruption on earth.” These charges could have resulted in death sentences. The seven leaders were convicted after a trial that failed to adhere to international standards for fair trials.
The Baha’i faith was founded in Iran about 150 years ago. An estimated 300,000 Baha’is still live in Iran; they are Iran’s largest non-Muslim religious minority. Although Baha’is had faced persecution in Iran since the founding of the religion, their treatment grew worse after the Iranian Revolution. Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, the Baha’i community has faced systematic persecution and harassment. While other minority religions such as Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity are officially recognized (adherents of those religions having been deemed “People of the Book”), the Baha’i religion is not recognized in Iran’s Constitution and Baha’is are denied equal rights to education, employment and advancement in their jobs. Furthermore, they are not allowed to meet or hold religious ceremonies.

Worse forms of persecution have been committed against Iran’s Baha’i: More than 200 Baha’is were killed after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, after which a large number of Baha’is left Iran. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran was disbanded in 1983 after the government outlawed all Baha’i administrative institutions. Since then the community’s needs have been met by the Yaran, or Friends, who are now responsible for the Baha’i community’s religious and administrative affairs.

Although persecution of the Baha’is abated in the 1990s, harassment has increased since President Ahmadinejad’s first election in 2005. According to the Baha’i International Community, there are currently 47 Baha’is in detention throughout Iran.

The Baha’i faith is considered heresy by hard-line clerics since it was founded in the mid-nineteenth century. Because it post-dates Islam, it is viewed as a repudiation of Islam. After the Iranian Revolution a “pure” form of Islamic government was established with the support of conservative clerics, which involved discrimination against adherents of more recently founded religions such as Baha’is. The clerics implemented punishments such as stoning and amputation. This theological “purity” is maintained by clerical hard-liners who are crucial allies of the current government.

The Baha’is are convenient scapegoats—the government points to the Baha’is as fomenting the post-election unrest. The Iranian authorities have also blamed the Baha’is, among other groups, for orchestrating much of the unrest that took place on the Shi’a religious observance of ‘Ashoura on 27 December 2009.

The religiously fraught charge of ifsad fil arz has been specifically used against the Baha’is, but another charge, moharebeh, or enmity against God, has been lodged at more and more people in the past year. It has been used to justify imposition of the death penalty for politically motivated “offenses.” Although it should only be used in cases where there is evidence of armed resistance against the government, the charge of moharebeh has been used against ethnic and linguistic minorities who advocate for greater cultural rights or who are otherwise politically active.

The persecution of Iran’s Baha’is—and specifically the harsh sentences imposed on the seven Yaran—has been roundly criticized by prominent figures the world over, including the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. His report of October 14, 2010 noted that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed deep concern over the absence of international observers and the lack of due process in the Baha’i leaders’ trial and that the criminal charges brought against the seven appeared to constitute a violation of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular those of freedom of religion and belief and freedom of expression and association. Despite the international condemnation, the Iranian authorities remain obdurate. In February a high-level delegation, led by Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Secretary-General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights, defended Iran’s human rights record before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Mr. Larijani insisted that no Baha’i is persecuted because of his or her Baha’i faith, but rather because of their engagement in illegal activities—completely evading the issue that perfectly legitimate activities or beliefs are construed as “illegal,” that the evidence for such “illegal” activities is generally non-existent, and that the legal procedures that try and convict people on such charges are woefully inadequate.

Elise Auerbach is the Iran country specialist for Amnesty International USA. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.

———-

Sightings comes from the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Submissions policy

Sightings welcomes submissions of 500 to 750 words in length that seek to illuminate and interpret the intersections of religion and politics, art, science, business and education. Previous columns give a good indication of the topical range and tone for acceptable essays. The editor also encourages new approaches to current issues and events.

Attribution

Columns may be quoted or republished in full, with attribution to the author of the column, Sightings, and the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Contact information

Please send all inquiries, comments, and submissions to Shatha Almutawa, managing editor of Sightings, at DivSightings@gmail.com. Subscribe, unsubscribe, or manage your subscription at the Sightings subscription page. Too many emails? Receive Sightings as an RSS feed. Sign up at http://divinity.uchicago.edu/rss/sightings.xml.

WAR PROFITEERING
2. VA, Prudential Made Secret Deal

Could this resonate as much as the Walter Reed scandal? Bloomberg
reports that since 1999, Prudential Financial Inc. has had a secret
agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that allows it to
withhold lump-sum payments of life-insurance benefits to the family of
fallen soldiers – so that Prudential can invest that money and keep
whatever money it makes for itself. The arrangement was completely
secret for 10 years until it was put into writing in 2009. “Every
veteran I’ve spoken with is appalled at the brazen war profiteering by
Prudential,” says the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.
Survivors who request lump-sum payments are sent “checkbooks” –
essentially, IOUs that aren’t insured by the FDIC – instead of actual
checks. Prudential makes eight times as much through the investments as
what it pays in interest to beneficiaries.

Read it at Bloomberg:
http://e.thedailybeast.com/a/tBMj9SLB7SwhTB8Us9YCayQbnuB/dail2
*************************************************************************

 

 Okay, Regarding Those Buildings in New York and Everything Else Ishkabibbly

 Was there really a person called Ish-ka-bibble?

 Listen you dweet, in my neighborhood on Wren Street, we knew the name ishkabibble, ‘cept we pronounced it ishhhkahhbibbble.  You know what I mean?  Anyone who listened to radio shows in the 40s knew words like that.  What’s more, my linguistic heritage, you dweet, thank you for asking, was on stuff like Baby Snooks, when she was surprised, and Baby Robespierre wasn’t screaming enough “wah, wah, wahs.”

Those “wah, wah, wahs were loud enuf to hit our pointed roof and bounce off gas lit street lights shining dimly on top of old Buicks and Studebakers (now there’s a vehicle – great ashtrays).  Where wuzz  I? My skill lay in imitating Baby Snooks, “Well, I’ll be a yellow-belled chuck wagon.”  Later in the 50s I went on to memorize the Drop of the Hat dialogue, from a play that ran in London and then New York for years.  Now when people ask about balances and present treasurer’s reports, as we so oft do in my young life, I think to myself in large white cloud-like puffy letters, “Many a Mickle Macks a Muckle.”

 Today,  there’s more than one rumble going on.  And because of this question Ishkabibble, and fighting over buildings and rights to worship and mudslinging both ways, another phrase comes to mind, “Come what, come may, time and the hour pass through the roughest day,” and that was a phrase from Hamlet which graced our walls with indigo, green and traces of yellow and magenta  threads on old white linen, framed with a thin black frame.

 There are so many interesting phrases in the world.  Get your mind off buildings.  Guys are all alike.  Start with blocks and where are you?  Ranting and raving about blocks, except now it’s buildings. 

 But that isn’t to say life was so much better in the olden days, olden meaning the 40s, 50s, and perhaps the 60s, cuz brotha, may I call you brotha dweet, good for who or whom?  I’m beginning to think that phrase, you know about a butterfly flying, or flapping — maybe baby just one wing — has repercussions in the next century. I can’t figure it out mathematically because I’m still trying to figure out how Doris got to Harvard Square by bike with pears and mayonnaise, and Dennis is on his way to West Hollywood with kiwi and crackers, and the  time, mileage thing and fight the despair they’ll never meet, even though they are soul mates, except for the fact that Doris does not like kiwi.

 I think there’s a wing of a butterfly in history called point of view.  Everything depends on point of view an English prof once said. Whose point of view?  Now there’s a handy little four word phrase and a dandy question at that. 

 What if the 50s were a great era?  Yeah for white guys who went to the Diner and ate skinny French fries loaded with salt, and didn’t go home, but grunted dialogue between each other, all the while, the white girls, their counterparts, were worried about “will he like me,” and “please God let me get married.” Down the road apiece in starkly structured architectural lines, invisible walls went up.  Walls so invisible and solid, people like Whitey Bulgur and some of the FBI could load drugs into the Boston projects, and blacks couldn’t move an inch, and they had to get on the elevated at some Station after Green street.  That’s when women were worthless if they weren’t married, and they had to wear veils to Catholic Church, for “bless me Mary, I’m a woman, and I’m sorry.”

 I think a lot of things were done under Imperialism, which some call skin color privilege, but nothing’s that starkly simple.  Hatred is awful in any sector. 

 I think the power boys behind the scene, don’t give a rat’s ass about where buildings are.  I think the power boys and girls want what they want and feel entitled.  I think blessed is the heart that listens to the midnight sighing of the poor, and I ain’t just whistling Dixie, or spitting mud, and this all comes from someone who used to seriously believe in Chicken Little falling from the sky.

 Maybe the sky is falling after all. Dunno.  Many a mickle macks a muckle.  Who knows? The Shadow, that’s who.  The Shadow knows, and if a Jungian read these fast flowing words going to goodness knows where, he/she might say, “Ah, the shadow.  And what is your shadow telling you”?  Words, love em, hate em, can’t live without em.

washingtonpost.com
Opinions » Follow Opinions On:
In Iran, shackling the Bahai torchbearers

By Roxana Saberi
Saturday, August 28, 2010

For several weeks last year, I shared a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison with Mahvash Sabet and Fariba Kamalabadi, two leaders of Iran’s minority Bahai faith. I came to see them as my sisters, women whose only crimes were to peacefully practice their religion and resist pressure from their captors to compromise their principles. For this, apparently, they and five male colleagues were sentenced this month to 20 years in prison.

I had heard about Mahvash and Fariba before I met them. Other prisoners spoke of the two middle-aged mothers whose high spirits lifted the morale of fellow inmates.

The Bahai faith, thought to be the largest non-Muslim minority religion in Iran, originated in 19th-century Persia. It is based on the belief that the world will one day attain peace and unity. Iranian authorities consider it a heretical offshoot of Islam.

After I was transferred to their cell, I learned that Mahvash had been incarcerated for one year and Fariba for eight months. Each had spent half her detention in solitary confinement, during which time they were allowed almost no contact with their families and only the Koran to read. Recently the two had been permitted to have a pen. Oh, how they cherished it! But they were allowed to use it only to do Sudoku and crossword puzzles in the conservative newspapers the prison guards occasionally gave them.

Mahvash, Fariba and their five colleagues faced accusations that included spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities and, later, “spreading corruption on earth.” All three could have resulted in the death penalty.

The Bahais denied these charges. Far from posing a threat to the Islamic regime, Mahvash and Fariba told me, Iran’s estimated 300,000 Bahais are nonviolent and politically impartial.

Despite the gravity of the accusations against them, Mahvash and Fariba had not once been allowed to see attorneys. Yet my cellmates’ spirits would not be broken, and they boosted mine. They taught me to, as they put it, turn challenges into opportunities — to make the most of difficult situations and to grow from adversity. We kept a daily routine, reading the books we were eventually allowed and discussing them; exercising in our small cell; and praying — they in their way, I in mine. They asked me to teach them English and were eager to learn vocabulary for shopping, cooking and traveling. They would use the new words one day, they told me, when they journeyed abroad. But the two women also said they never wanted to live overseas. They felt it their duty to serve not only Bahais but all Iranians.

Later, when I went on a hunger strike, Mahvash and Fariba washed my clothes by hand after I lost my energy and told me stories to keep my mind off my stomach. Their kindness and love gave me sustenance.

It pained me to leave them behind when I was freed in May 2009. I later heard that Mahvash, Fariba and their colleagues refused to make false confessions, as many political prisoners in Iran are pressured to do.

It was January when the Bahais’ trial began. This month, the same Iranian judge who had sentenced me to eight years in prison on a false charge of spying for the United States sentenced the Bahais to 20 years. The charges they were convicted of have not yet been reported.

Human rights advocates have said the trial was riddled with irregularities. The defendants were eventually allowed to see attorneys but only briefly. The lawyers were given only a few hours to examine the thousands of pages in the prosecution’s files. Early in the trial, state-run TV crews were present at what were supposed to be closed hearings. After the Bahais’ attorneys objected, family members were allowed to attend the hearings, but foreign diplomats were barred, and the only journalists permitted were with state-run media. It appears that no evidence was presented against the defendants.

As their lawyers appeal, Mahvash and Fariba sit in Rajai Shahr prison outside Tehran. Even Evin prison, cellmates told me last year, is preferable to Rajai Shahr. The facility is known for torture, unsanitary conditions and inadequate medical care for inmates, who include murderers, drug addicts and thieves.

While Iranian authorities deny that the regime discriminates against citizens for religious beliefs, the Bahai faith is not recognized under the Iranian constitution. The known persecution of many Bahais includes being fired from jobs and denied access to higher education, as well as cemetery desecration. (The Bahais created their own unofficial university, which Mahvash used to direct; Fariba earned a degree in psychology there.) In addition to the seven leaders, 44 other Bahais are in prisons in Iran, the Baha’i International Community reports.

People of many nations and faiths have called for the release of the Bahai leaders. But many more must speak out — such as by signing letters of support through Web sites such as United4Iran.com. Protests of these harsh sentences can make clear to authorities in Iran and elsewhere that they will be held accountable when they trample on human rights. Mahvash and Fariba occasionally hear news of this support, and it gives them strength to carry on, just as the international outcry against my imprisonment empowered me.

I know that despite what they have been through and what lies ahead, these women feel no hatred in their hearts. When I struggled not to despise my interrogators and the judge, Mahvash and Fariba told me they do not hate anyone, not even their captors.

We believe in love and compassion for humanity, they said, even for those who wrong us. Roxana Saberi, a journalist detained in Iran last year, is the author of “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.”

I just read an article this week about hormones in Monsanto’s food and a friend just sent this:

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25th, 2010

Contact: Travis English, AGRA Watch
(206) 335-4405
Brenda Biddle, The Evergreen State College & AGRA Watch
(360) 878-7833
http://www.seattleglobaljustice.org/agra-watch

GATES FOUNDATION INVESTS IN MONSANTO
Both will profit at expense of small-scale African farmers

Seattle, WA – Farmers and civil society organizations around the world
are outraged by the recent discovery of further connections between the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and agribusiness titan Monsanto. Last
week, a financial website published the Gates Foundation’s investment
portfolio, including 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock with an estimated
worth of $23.1 million purchased in the second quarter of 2010 (see the
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission). This marks a
substantial increase from its previous holdings, valued at just over
$360,000 (see the Foundation’s 2008 990 Form).

“The Foundation’s direct investment in Monsanto is problematic on two
primary levels,” said Dr. Phil Bereano, University of Washington
Professor Emeritus and recognized expert on genetic engineering. “First,
Monsanto has a history of blatant disregard for the interests and well-
being of small farmers around the world, as well as an appalling
environmental track record. The strong connections to Monsanto cast
serious doubt on the Foundation’s heavy funding of agricultural
development in Africa and purported goal of alleviating poverty and
hunger among small-scale farmers. Second, this investment represents an
enormous conflict of interests.”

Monsanto has already negatively impacted agriculture in African
countries. For example, in South Africa in 2009, Monsanto’s genetically
modified maize failed to produce kernels and hundreds of farmers were
devastated. According to Mariam Mayet, environmental attorney and
director of the Africa Centre for Biosafety in Johannesburg, some
farmers suffered up to an 80% crop failure. While Monsanto compensated
the large-scale farmers to whom it directly sold the faulty product, it
gave nothing to the small-scale farmers to whom it had handed out free
sachets of seeds. “When the economic power of Gates is coupled with the
irresponsibility of Monsanto, the outlook for African smallholders is
not very promising,” said Mayet. Monsanto’s aggressive patenting
practices have also monopolized control over seed in ways that deny
farmers control over their own harvest, going so far as to sue–and
bankrupt–farmers for “patent infringement.”

News of the Foundation’s recent Monsanto investment has confirmed the
misgivings of many farmers and sustainable agriculture advocates in
Africa, among them the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, who commented, “We
have long suspected that the founders of AGRA–the Bill and Melinda Gates
Foundation–had a long and more intimate affair with Monsanto.” Indeed,
according to Travis English, researcher with AGRA Watch, “The
Foundation’s ownership of Monsanto stock is emblematic of a deeper, more
long-standing involvement with the corporation, particularly in Africa.”
In 2008, AGRA Watch, a project of the Seattle-based organization
Community Alliance for Global Justice, uncovered many linkages between
the Foundation’s grantees and Monsanto. For example, some grantees (in
particular about 70% of grantees in Kenya) of the Alliance for a Green
Revolution in Africa (AGRA)–considered by the Foundation to be its
“African face”–work directly with Monsanto on agricultural development
projects. Other prominent links include high-level Foundation staff
members who were once senior officials for Monsanto, such as Rob Horsch,
formerly Monsanto Vice President of International Development
Partnerships and current Senior Program Officer of the Gates
Agricultural Development Program.

Transnational corporations like Monsanto have been key collaborators
with the Foundation and AGRA’s grantees in promoting the spread of
industrial agriculture on the continent. This model of production relies
on expensive inputs such as chemical fertilizers, genetically modified
seeds, and herbicides. Though this package represents enticing market
development opportunities for the private sector, many civil society
organizations contend it will lead to further displacement of farmers
from the land, an actual increase in hunger, and migration to already
swollen cities unable to provide employment opportunities. In the words
of a representative from the Kenya Biodiversity Coalition, “AGRA is
poison for our farming systems and livelihoods. Under the philanthropic
banner of greening agriculture, AGRA will eventually eat away what
little is left of sustainable small-scale farming in Africa.”

A 2008 report initiated by the World Bank and the UN, the International
Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD), promotes alternative solutions to the problems of
hunger and poverty that emphasize their social and economic roots. The
IAASTD concluded that small-scale agroecological farming is more
suitable for the third world than the industrial agricultural model
favored by Gates and Monsanto. In a summary of the key findings of
IAASTD, the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) emphasizes
the report’s warning that “continued reliance on simplistic
technological fixes–including transgenic crops–will not reduce
persistent hunger and poverty and could exacerbate environmental
problems and worsen social inequity.” Furthermore, PANNA explains, “The
Assessment’s 21 key findings suggest that small-scale agroecological
farming may offer one of the best means to feed the hungry while
protecting the planet.”

The Gates Foundation has been challenged in the past for its
questionable investments; in 2007, the L.A. Times exposed the Foundation
for investing in its own grantees and for its “holdings in many
companies that have failed tests of social responsibility because of
environmental lapses, employment discrimination, disregard for worker
rights, or unethical practices.” The Times chastised the Foundation for
what it called “blind-eye investing,” with at least 41% of its assets
invested in “companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals
or socially-concerned philosophy.”

Although the Foundation announced it would reassess its practices, it
decided to retain them. As reported by the L.A. Times, chief executive
of the Foundation Patty Stonesifer defended their investments, stating,
“It would be naïve…to think that changing the foundation’s investment
policy could stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of
companies in which it invests billions of dollars.” This decision is in
direct contradiction to the Foundation’s official “Investment
Philosophy”, which, according to its website, “defined areas in which
the endowment will not invest, such as companies whose profit model is
centrally tied to corporate activity that [Bill and Melinda] find
egregious. This is why the endowment does not invest in tobacco stocks.”

More recently, the Foundation has come under fire in its own hometown.
This week, 250 Seattle residents sent postcards expressing their concern
that the Foundation’s approach to agricultural development, rather than
reducing hunger as pledged, would instead “increase farmer debt, enrich
agribusiness corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta, degrade the
environment, and dispossess small farmers.” In addition to demanding
that the Foundation instead fund “socially and ecologically appropriate
practices determined locally by African farmers and scientists” and
support African food sovereignty, they urged the Foundation to cut all
ties to Monsanto and the biotechnology industry.

AGRA Watch, a program of Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global
Justice, supports African initiatives and programs that foster farmers’
self-determination and food sovereignty. AGRA Watch also supports public
engagement in fighting genetic engineering and exploitative agricultural
policies, and demands transparency and accountability on the part of the
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and AGRA.


GENET-forum

providing background information for the
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

contact:
Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

phone……. +49-531-5168746
fax……… +49-531-5168747
email……. hartmut.meyer(*)genet-info.org
skype……. hartmut_meyer
url……… http://www.genet-info.or

Ana Etchenique
Vicepresidenta
Confederación de Consumidores y Usuarios – CECU
Mayor 45, 2º
28013 Madrid
91 364 13 84
619 955 277
fax 91 366 90 00
ana.e@cecu.es
anaetchenique@yahoo.es
http://www.cecu.es

_______________________________________________
plataformarural-socios mailing list
plataformarural-socios@listas.nodo50.org
http://listas.nodo50.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/plataformarural-socios

I discovered  this wonderful young lady by trotting thru Facebook today, and a friend had posted her site:

http://www.kickstarter.com/e/fjl0c/projects/brina/reggae-singer-brina-needs-to-mix-and-release-her-d

All I can say, is try it, you’ll like it, and I hope she makes her deadline!

WWW.bigsunday.org Volunteer opportunities in Pasadena

#38 – *Rebuild with Rebuilding Together

Rebuilding Together is a wonderful organization that helps low-income elderly and disabled people restore their homes in wonderful and amazing ways. They have branches all over the country. We’ve been working with them in Pasadena for many years. This is a great opportunity to work hard (check out the hours) repairing, painting, and cleaning. Try and sign up early for this one: the more people we have, the more ambitious we can be!

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Start Time: 08:00 AM
* Age Group: 18+ * End Time: 03:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 8 * Location: Pasadena/Altadena
Address
Captain will provide address

#148 – *Help Food Forward Pick Fruits & Vegetables for Food Pantries (Pasadena, Saturday)

Food Forward helps to feed thousands of hungry people each year by gleaning peoples’ excess fruit and vegetables and donating the harvest to Los Angeles area food pantries. Volunteers will pick fruits and vegetables from three different locations around L.A County (your project captain will let you know the exact address). Don’t forget to wear sturdy shoes and sun block, and bring gardening gloves and pruning shears if you have them. (If you’d rather pick on Sunday, check out project #s 346, 347 & 348.)

Sign Up Now!

Email this project to a friend

* Date: 05/01/2010
* Age Group: 12+ * Start Time: 09:00 AM
* Location: Pasadena * End Time: 12:00 PM
* Volunteers Still Needed: 17

No One Would Listen, a True Financial thriller by Harry Markopolos is a gripper. Forget that I, a daughter of a municipal bond person, can’t read the stock page, and this book is filled with discussions of derivatives, Ponzi Scheme (think Madoff), Harry Markopolos grips the reader to his account of discovering Bernie Madoff and his scheme which was ignored by the SEC and eventually grew to the size of $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Markopolos is a wonderful writer, chatty, very intelligent, a math geek, quant, who sees relationships among number as a writer would letters to a page and a composer stairways to the sky in a jazz rift. He struggled for 8 years trying to warn investors, the SEC of Madoff’s schemes, only to meet disinterest and disfunction.

Totally huge event. Had agencies listed to Markopolis. Had the SEC listened to Markopolos in the year 2000, the money saved would have been forty-three billion dollars.

Amazing story; brave man, and it was dangerous for himself, his family and his team. a must read.

Race Discussion Glossary – compiled by Bill DeTally – hope helpful to all who browse these pages:

RACE DISCUSSION GLOSSARY
Ally – A person committed to dismantling racial injustice and racism. This commitment is shown by the person’s willingness to learn about racism and racial justice; challenge his or her own racial prejudices; learn and practice anti-racism; and interrupt statements, behaviors, and institutional practices of racial prejudice.

Antiracism – Actions and attitudes which challenge all forms of racism. With an understanding of the systemic nature of racism, an anti-racist works actively to counter racist practices and attitudes in herself/himself and others, and dismantles racist institutional structures and policies.

Anti-racism is more than tolerating or even celebrating diversity. A diverse organization is not necessarily anti-racist. An anti-racist, multicultural organization or institution is one that includes people from diverse cultural backgrounds as “stakeholders” in the work, benefits, responsibilities and key decisions of the organization (adapted from Bailey Jackson)

Racism has been historically institutionalized into every organization and system of the United States. It is now time to institutionalize anti-racism in all those same places.

Culture-The vast structure of behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, habits, beliefs, customs, language, rituals, ceremonies and practices peculiar to a particular group of people, and that provides them with a general design for living and with patterns for interpreting reality.” (Wade Nobles)

Cultural Diversity-Differences in age, color, gender, ethnic heritage, language, national origin, spiritual belief or tradition, sexual orientation, physical, mental or emotional nature, and economic circumstance. Each of these differences brings a diverse perspective, reflection and insight to every life experience.

Cultural Racism-This form of racism undermines the history and culture of certain groups by ignoring, devaluing, laughing at or misrepresenting their experiences. The dominant group sets the standards of beauty, art, music, and other cultural norms. This leads to a lack of knowledge and appreciation of diversity for the dominant group, and to a lack of pride and self-esteem for excluded groups. All of society loses the awareness of important contributions of all groups in our global society.

Cultural racism occurs when attempts are made to debase or assimilate a group of people, thus ignoring their individual and collective contributions to the mobility of humankind. Stereotyping is one of the self-perpetuating features of this form of racism.

Discrimination-An Act. A failure to treat all persons equally where no reasonable distinction can be found between those favored and those not favored. (Blacks Law Dictionary) A showing of partiality or prejudice in treatment; specific policies or actions directed against the welfare of a group. Discrimination is a tool of oppression.

Environmental Racism-A form of racism that manifests itself by locating trash dumps, toxic waste sites and other objectionable material/discards in storage areas in proximity to neighborhoods of people of color.

Ethnic (Group)-Grouping of people with some similar set of religious, linguistic, ancestral, tribal, or physical characteristics.

Institutionalized Racism-Occurs when institutional power is added to or combined with racial prejudice. When the institutions of society – the economic system, the legal system, the health care system, the education system, the media, the civil system, etc., are controlled by one group and operate on the basis of racial prejudice.

Many members of societal institutions assume their dominant race is superior, more valued and more worthy of inclusion or benefit. Participants in these systems, whether decision makers or beneficiaries, may be unaware of the institution’s biases, or may be deliberately discriminatory.

Internalized Racism-The belief by people of color that the stereotypes and lies about them are true. Results of this are: self-doubt, loss of self-esteem, self-hatred, and lowered expectations and motivation.

This tragic form of racism occurs when the victims of racism believe the stereotypes and misinformation, then turn society’s negative evaluations about their group inward. They take out the anger, hurt and frustration on themselves and members of their own group.

Justice-Fair and just treatment to all and in all actions and attitudes.

Kinship-This is the recognition of family not necessarily limited to blood relatives. We seek to reclaim this recognition through love, respect and concern for all humankind.

Oneness- The oneness of humanity is a spiritual truth abundantly confirmed by science. To paraphrase a definition by Albert Einstein: a human being is part of the universe. He or she can experience himself/herself, and their personal thoughts or feelings, as something separated from the rest of the universe, which is a delusion of his or her consciousness. This delusion can be a kind of prison, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in all its beauty.

Oppression- A system of dis-equality where the goods, services, and benefits of society are available to people based on their membership in social groups. This system is supported by the power structure. The root of the word “oppression” is “press.” Presses are used to mold things, flatten, or reduce them. The experience of oppressed people is that one’s life is confined and shaped by forces that are not accidental. It is the experience of being caged in or blocked.

Power-One group having control over the major institutions (economic, political, social, etc.) of the country.

Prejudice-an emotional commitment to ignorance; a preconceived notion; a negative evaluation based on insufficient or erroneous knowledge; irrational hostility toward a group or individual based upon supposed characteristics; a negative attitude about a person or group based on comparison, in which the person’s own group is used as a positive reference point.

Race-Ethnic grouping by skin color shades, with the realization that there is only one race, the human race.

Race Unity-the process of bringing together as one family all ethnic groupings.

Racial-relating to ethnicity.

Racial Equity-Treating all ethnicities impartially.

Racial Justice-Treating all ethnicities just and fairly.

Racial Prejudice-An emotional commitment to ignorance about ethnic groups other than your own group. Usually negative and usually formed without personal experience.

Racial Stereotype-A generalization imposed on an entire ethnic group or an individual of that ethnic group based on a real or perceived characteristic of some individual belonging to that group; or based on a cultural norm which has been distorted; or based on myth or total misunderstanding of the group/ethnicity/culture.

Racial Supremacism-The most vile form of racism. “Ethnic cleansing” and genocide are its watchword and horrible legacy.

Racial Unity-A commitment to interconnectedness of individuals in an ethnicity which leads to harmony of thought and purpose.

Racism-A system of manifestations of oppression and advantage. Racial prejudice as practiced by a person from the power ethnic group. An emotional commitment to ignorance relating to ethnicity by a person belonging to the power ethnic group. This group then assumes they have the right to dominate, exclude, discriminate against, abuse, hate, kill…Racism is racial prejudice that’s practiced by a person from the power ethnic group.

Racist-A person practicing racism. That person is not a racist unless they are a member of the power ethnic group and are practicing racial prejudice.

Reverse Racism-This is a misnomer. There is no such thing. There is only one power ethnic group in our country and that is the “white-skinned” ethnic group.” “People of color skinned” do not have the systemic social power to oppress “white skinned” people as a group. The people of color ethnic groups can practice racial prejudice, but they don’t have the power to practice racism.

Separate But Equal-Extreme separatism, nationalism. The U.S. Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) established the practice of ‘separate but equal’ facilities for differering races, and this practice continued until the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954). Some examples of this concept still voiced today are, “I don’t mind such and such a group, but not in my neighborhood, not with my kids, not with my daughter,etc.”

Spatial Racism-The practice of constructing space that is prejudiced against people of color.

Stereotype-From a printing term for the metal plates from which copies are made. In this sense, racial stereotypes are conventional notions about people based upon oversimplified ideas, opinions or beliefs. They can also be manifested when groups are thought to conform to a standard pattern or manner, lacking individuality.

Stereotyping-The act of generalizing that is believed about an entire group of people (all Puerto Ricans, or all Italians…) It is based on a real or perceived characteristic of some person that belongs to that group; or based on a cultural norm which is being distorted or based on a total misunderstanding of the group that is being practiced.

Structural Racism-The term refers to a system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial (group) inequity. The term identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time, (from “Structural Racism and Community Building” by Aspen Institute Round Table on Community Change).

Unaware Racism-Participants in this difficult type of racism are not conscious of or sensitive to how their behavior perpetuates ideas that are false and damaging. Everyone in American society is affected by unaware racism, as we have been exposed to misinformation from the media, movies, literature and curriculum on all levels. Most people remain with people of their own group, so first-hand knowledge about members of other groups is not obtained. We can acknowledge unaware racism and strive to be sensitive to it in all aspects of our daily lives.

Unity-this is the recognition of interconnectedness of individuals and groups which leads to harmony of purpose, thought, ideas, or aims, goals, etc.

White Privilege-Choices, advantages, benefits, assumptions and expectations granted to “whites” by the society as well as the assumptions and expectations internalized by white people. Privilege group membership is usually determined at birth (“white” child, male child, child born into economic security, etc.) White privilege group has a powerful tool for dismantling racial injustice when this privilege is used with integrity. Likewise, when members of the white privilege group adopt a passion for justice and thereby challenge unjust structures, attitudes and institutions, they further the dismantling of racism.

Monday, September 29, 2008. Dear Ones, the following is from Guidance For Today and Tomorrow, under The Present Day and this particular passage is entitled “Universal Fermentation.” I offer this passage with the hopes that enlightment of a process will solace and galvanize.

“Universal Fermentation”

As we view the world around us, we are compelled to observe the manifold evidences of that universal fermentation which, in every continent of the globe and in every department of human life, be it religious, social, economic or political, is purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established. A twofold process, however, can be distinguished, each tending, in its own way and with an accelerated momentum, to bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet. The first is essentially an integrating process, while the second is fundamentally disruptive. The former, as it steadily evolves, unfolds a System which may well serve as a pattern for that world polity towards which a strangely disordered world is continually advancing; while the latter, as its disintegrating influence deepens, tends to tear down, with increasing violence, the antiquated barriers that seek to block humanity’s progress towards its destined goal. The constructive process stands associated with the nascent Faith of Baha’u’llah, and is the harbinger of the New World Order that Faith must ere long establish. The destructive forces that characterize the other should be identified with a civilization that has refused to answer to the expectation of a new age, and is consequently falling into chaos and decline.
A titanic, a spiritual struggle, unparalleled in its magnitude yet unspeakably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is being waged as a result of these opposing tendencies, in this age of transition through which the organized community of the followers of Baha’u’llah and mankind as a whole are passing. …”
***
The following paragraphs deal with the process of disintegration:

The process of disintegration inexorably continue, and its corrosive influence must penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of a crumbling age. Much suffering will still be required ere the contending nations, creeds, classes and races of mankind are fused in the crucible of universal affliction and are forged by the fires of a fierce ordeal into one organic commonwealth, one vast, unified, and harmoniously functioning system. Adversities unimaginably appalling, undreamed of crises and upheavals, war, famine and pestilence, might well combine to engrave in the soul of an unheeding generation those truths and principles which it has disained to recognize and follow. A paralysis more painful than any it has yet experienced must creep over and further afflict the fabric of a broken society ere it can be rebuilt and regenerated.” pp. 152-153

www.art4worldpeace.com is a terrific website, and I’m going to put it in my list on the side of this blog as soon as I remembeer how.

more later

“It is time for us to stop expecting others to take care of us,” Thomas Homer-Dixon said in talk to a Baha’i audience.Rebirth can follow breakdown, says best-selling author
MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, Canada
29 August 2007 (BWNS)
Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of the Canadian best seller “The Upside of Down,” says he has spent a lot of time working out a diagnosis of what is wrong in the world today. His conclusion, he says, is scary.

“We are in real trouble,” he said in a talk at the 31st annual conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies in North America, held in mid-August near Toronto. More than 1,200 people from 16 countries attended the four-day conference.

He said five enormous pressures – demographic change, energy scarcity, environmental damage, climate change, and the widening gap between rich and poor – are bearing down on humanity. These problems are magnified by the interconnectedness of people today and the increased capacity for destruction, he said.

People want to turn for leadership to supposed experts – in finance, in science – thinking that someone at the top should know the answers, he said.

“But something tells us that the experts really don’t know what is going on,” said Professor Homer-Dixon, who is the director of the Trudeau Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto.

Although not a member of the Baha’i Faith, Professor Homer-Dixon said he agrees with Baha’is that individuals must become knowledgeable about problems and solutions rather than waiting for leaders to provide top-down strategies.

“It is time for us to stop expecting others to take care of us – those knights on white horses,” he said. “As power has moved down the hierarchy, responsibility has moved down that social hierarchy, too.”

Knowledge is key, he told his audience, many of whom were academics, scholars, or highly trained professionals.

Surveys have shown, he said, that a significant number of Americans of college age do not know that the earth revolves around the sun in one year.

“How can you have a conversation about climate change if you are talking to someone who does not know this?” he said.

Although Professor Homer-Dixon gives a pessimistic assessment of the crises in the world, he looks for hope in what he dubs “catagenesis” – rebirth through breakdown.

“This is the opportunity for you Baha’is,” he said, proceeding to quote from the writings of Baha’u’llah on the subject of knowledge and hope: “Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. …”

(Sandra Bean contributed to this article.)

(For reports from the Canadian Baha’i News Service on the recent conference of the Association for Baha’i Studies, go on the Web to http://www.bahainews.ca. For information about the association itself, go to http://www.bahai-studies.ca.)

Confidential Iran memo exposes policy to deny Baha’i students university education
NEW YORK
27 August 2007 (BWNS)
The Baha’i International Community has received a copy of a confidential 2006 letter from Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology instructing Iranian universities to expel any student who is discovered to be a Baha’i.

The letter refutes recent statements by Iranian officials, who say Baha’i students in Iran face no discrimination – despite the fact that more than half of the Baha’i university students enrolled last autumn were gradually expelled over the course of the 2006-2007 academic year.

“This latest document, which flatly states that Baha’i students should be expelled from universities once they are discovered, proves unequivocally that Iranian authorities remain intent on utterly blocking the development of Iranian Baha’is, despite what they say to the outside world,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations.

“Along with other recently received reports and documents, the letter exposes a duplicitous campaign by Iran to pretend that it does not violate the internationally recognized right to education while, in fact, the government is actually continuing to implement its secret, long-term plan to prevent Baha’i students from obtaining a university education.

“Coupled with ongoing reports of physical and economic harassment directed against Baha’is of all ages and in all regions of the country, this latest development should serve to remind those who care about human rights that Iran’s 300,000-member Baha’i community remains gravely threatened,” she said.

“Not only Baha’is, but also others – students expelled under directives that target them on absolutely baseless grounds; women whose human rights are grossly violated through the enactment or perpetuation of discriminatory laws; and other victims of injustice in that land – need international defense,” she added.

The 2006 letter is from the Central Security Office of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT) and was issued by its director general, Asghar Zarei, to 81 universities around the country. Stamped “confidential,” the exact date of the letter is undecipherable, although its contents are legible. (Document 1 in list of original documents.)

“[I]f the identity of Baha’i individuals becomes known at the time of enrollment or during the course of their studies, they must be expelled from university,” states the letter, which was signed by Mr. Zarei. The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology oversees all state-run universities.

The directive flatly contradicts public and private statements of Iranian government officials over the last several years. They have sought to portray their educational system as open to Baha’is and free of discriminatory practices.

In early March, for example, newspapers carried a story by the Reuters news agency reporting that some 70 Baha’i students had been expelled from universities in Iran since autumn 2006.

In the Reuters story, however, an anonymous spokesperson for the Iranian Mission to the United Nations was quoted as saying in reply: “No one in Iran because of their religion has been expelled from studying.”

The number of 70 students expelled as of March 2007 as reported by Reuters has since risen to more than 128, out of approximately 200 who were enrolled last autumn after more than 25 years during which Baha’i students were banned from universities in Iran.

Last year, as well, deceitful statements by Iranian officials came to light when Clare Short, a member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, received a communication from Hamid Reza Arefi, the charge d’affaires of the Iranian Embassy in London, who likewise denied that Baha’is are discriminated against in their access to higher education in Iran.

“Although Bahaism [sic] is not recognized as an official religion but by law Baha’is are entitled to equal rights,” wrote Mr. Arefi in an 8 June 2006 letter to Ms. Short, adding: “In Iran, no individual is excluded from higher education solely because of his/her ideology.”

Similar statements have been made by Iranian diplomats and officials in other venues.

The 2006 letter from the MSRT’s Central Security Office also makes a clear reference to the secret 1991 Golpaygani memorandum about Baha’is, which was released to the public in 1993 by a United Nations official.(Document 5.)

Despite Mr. Arefi’s assurances that Iranian Baha’is are legally entitled to equal rights, other voices state that the Golpaygani memorandum takes precedence.

That 1991 memorandum outlined a comprehensive plan to “block” the development and progress of the Iranian Baha’i community. The 1991 memorandum states for example that Baha’is shall be denied “any position of influence” and that “employment shall be refused to persons identifying themselves as Baha’is.”

The 1991 memorandum states clearly that Baha’is “must be expelled from universities, either in the admission process or during the course of their studies, once it becomes known that they are Baha’is.”

Signed by Hujjatu’l Islam Seyyed Mohammad Golpaygani, secretary of the Iran Supreme Revolutionary Cultural Council, the 1991 memorandum was approved by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As such, it reflects the highest policy of the government.

A number of fair-minded Iranian individuals have offered sympathy and a measure of support for the plight of the Baha’is; however, they are largely powerless in the face of the official policy of the government to oppress the Baha’is, Ms. Dugal said.

“The Baha’i International Community asserts that unless and until the Iranian government revokes this pernicious document, there is little hope of any justice for the Baha’is of Iran,” she said.

The Baha’i International Community has also recently received several other documents and letters that clearly indicate the policy outlined in the 2006 letter is being actively implemented.

These documents include:

— A second, follow-up letter from the MSRT’s Central Security Office to officials at Payame Noor University, dated 17 March 2007, which instructs them to “prevent the enrollment of the Baha’i applicants.” (Document 2.)

— An 18 May 2007 letter from the academic counseling and higher education office at Guilan University to the director of university academic affairs, asking for the immediate discharge of a Baha’i student. (Document 4.)

— A 27 May 2007 letter, also from the academic counseling and higher education office at Guilan University, to the above-mentioned Baha’i student, notifying the student that she has been “disqualified” from studying at Guilan, as required by the 1991 Golpaygani memorandum. (Document 3.)

The Middle East; the many masters…

An interactive map of the Middle East and war:

http://www.mapsofwar.com/images/EMPIRE17.swf

From every standpoint the world of humanity is undergoinga re-formation. The laws of former governments and civilizations are in process of revision. Scientific ideas and theories are developing and advancing to meet a new range of phenomena.

Invention and discovery are penetrating hitherto unknown fields revealing new wonders and hidden secrets of the material universe. Industries have vastly wider scope and production. Everywhere the world of mankind is in the throes of evolutionary activity indicating the passing of the old conditions and advent of the new age of re-formation. Old trees yield no fruitage; old ideas and methods are obsolete and worthless now. Old standards of ethics, moral codes and methods of living in the past will not suffice for the present age of advancement and progress.

This is the cycle of maturity and re-formation in religion as well. Dogmatic imitations of ancestral beliefs are passing. They have been the axis around which religion revolved but now are no longer fruitful. On the contrary, in this day they have become the cause of human degradation and hindrance. Bigotry and dogmatic adherence to ancient beliefs have become the centra land fundamental source of animosity among men, the obstacleto human progress, the cause of warfare and strife, the destroyerof peace, composure and welfare in the world…… Abdu’l-Baha Foundations of World Unity p. 10


I am praying harder for the people of Baghdad and for soldier
who are there! I feel the agony of it all!

A MUST READ; read BassiBabba’s post; re Anderson Cooper

Don’t think political position; just read the story about the little girl and then continue, even though your heart may break!

Seeing Syriana
Esther Bradley-DeTally (1/04/2006)

I write poetry which speaks of white skin color privilege, of seeing underwear ads, with handsome white, thirty-somethings, trim in their Hanes, pornographic in their Victoria’s Secret. Sometimes I attempt a math-impaired Haiku; how do you Haiku frustration, absence, a feeling of Gargoyles 24, Unicorns 0. It was the film that did it. “Syriana,” a word or words manufactured like Xerox, or Aluminium, Ltd., or Pepsi moment did it. Syriana, a friend said, “means a carved-out territory, made up of whatever lands are useful to the dominant powers that need oil.”

Long story short, the film is brave, profound, staggering in its mirror of global duplicity. Some how the bad guys seem in charge, and urgency screams at us to look. Memory’s soft song, “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you know, do you know,” ribbons around my brain as my cilia pushes sounds and concepts on a direct route into my heart.

I write of daily moments: the turn of a wrist, hairs caught in a watch band, a tired dark hand clinging to a subway strap; two years of dirt on the homeless lady at California and Lake; conversation at Peets’ sitting at round glossy wooden tables, our laughter vaulting towards Peets high ceiling; moments; shattered and reassembled.

Peace seems like an illusive dancing creature these days, tossed about like an old crouton, nicely mentioned on street corners, politically correct on placards and bumper stickers. Attaining this peace seems like the sound of blossoms falling on rippled water.

If writing verse is “like throwing rose petals down the Grand Canyon,” – at least that’s what the guy who wrote Archie and Mehitabel said; what is working for justice, seeing naked structures of greed, as the guys in the back halls cavort along vortexes of greed for today and tomorrow’s oil? Danger, implosion ahead, standing on the edge of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Scene II in the years 2000 and on. Y2K had nothing on this.

And yet, a voice, voices of those who know of the coming of the Advent of Divine Justice, the witnessing of the spontaneous spawning of ordinary groups coming together for global oneness; unity, begins to be heard. Like a sliver of the moon, this force for a society promised by poets and seers and prophets of old and a prisoner named Baha’u’llah, this curved small ray of moonlight in the darkened sky with no sounds, not even of sounds of blossoms falling, is pointing towards the future; suggesting solutions.

Time will reveal the fullness of moons; our shift away from the shaking frame of a beleaguered mankind; it’s an old jail, and we have to leave; a new race of man will struggle towards its destined spiritual maturity, a webbing of clusters of ordinary people, helping one another; preferring others instead of a self; all in start relief against night’s darkness of greed and hatred. The blossoms seem noiseless but startling white as th

What Terrorists Want, by Louise Richardson, is a book about understanding the enemy, containing the threat, which is the blurb put over the title of this red and back with white letters book cover. The author grew up in Ireland, had a background that produced many a terrorist, and has spent her professional life trying to understand them. Now, Richardson is a professor of government at Harvard, has taught courses on international relations and American foreign policy. Finally her students talked her into teaching about terrorism, to a limited size class of 15. 130 students signed up. “As always happens when teaching smart students, you learn as much as they do.” Needless to say, her classes and teaching expanded to this new level.

“After September 11 an entirely new breed of terrorism expert emerged. The priority of these experts was countererroism policy and American power. they were very knowledgeable about….” (p xix) She suggests knowing one’s enemies and that “We must prove them wrong.”

Okay from here on I am going to distill just a few points as I sit in nightclothes, hair thatched, half touched coffee beside me (one cup).

What is terrorism? “Terroism simply means deliberately and violently targeting civilians for political purposes. If an act does not involve violence of the threat of violence, Richardson writes it is not terrorism. A third point she writes is the point of terrorism is not to defeat the enemy but to send a message, and that finally the act and its victim(s) usually have symbolic significance.

The point that interested me is her 5th point which is controversial and is, “terrorism is the act of substate groups, not states, and lastly (I hope) the victim of the violence and the audience the terrorists are trying to reach are not the same.” (p. 8)

I then flip to page 263 to What is to be done-chapter; after all, we are interested in solutions, and you the reader, can delve in any manner through the book.

6 rules for counteracting terrorism

1. Have a defensible and achievable goal
2. Live by your principles (sound familiar)
3. Know your enemy
4. Separate the Terrorists from Their Comunities
5. Engage others in countering terrorists with you
6. Have patience and keep your perspective

She then speaks to “where are we know”? and “what is to come”?-

I am not usually so academic first thing in morning.

Another good book, by Thomas Friedman, Lordy, i hope i am getting this right The World is Flat, tremendous and prodigious but readable, in clumps for me; I haven’t read the whole thing.

Yours, girl reporter on a grey and cloudy morning where the birds tweep, I recoup from a bit of a stay in the hospital and where I have high hopes for humankind,

esther

Subject: Baha’i Writings — Warring For Our Tombs


…..How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth! …….. How terrible it is that men, who are of the higher kingdom, can descend to slaying and bringing misery to their fellow-beings, for the possession of a tract of land! The highest of created beings fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth! Land belongs not to one people, but to all people. This earth is not man’s home, but his tomb. It is for their tombs these men are fighting. There is nothing so horrible in this world as the tomb, > the abode of the decaying bodies of men.


Abdu’l-Baha Paris Talk p. 28

The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Promulgation of Universal Peace, “29 August 1912, Talk at Home of Madame Morey, 34 Hillside Avenue, Malden, Massachusetts, Notes by Edna McKinney”)
Watched tv tonight re terrorists; some of it was corroborated by books i’ve read at library; scary and only one point of view; and then i came across this quote; we don’t grow when we blindly imitate, but society is slow to change and so we adjust to wars, skermishes like frogs sitting in water which gradually heats us to death;
oh dear! just came from Interfaith gathering; good; intense, but good; too tired to talk.