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Change I can believe in

I wonder if any of you can remember your life in politics before 2000? Before we were loaded with one outrage after another to the point that it became difficult to keep up?

I remember Monica and impeachment (ha-ha) and the "vast right-wing-conspiracy." But things get more fuzzy when I try to think about what issues were on the table, or which ones were off the table and we were trying to get them on.

The reason I'm going down this memory lane is that I'm doing my best to try to imagine a world without Bushco. And its hard to get there. I feel like I've been fighting them with almost everything I've got for so long that I can't imagine a world where that isn't a centering theme. But its about to happen.

I don't mean to say that there won't be political battles to fight. That has never been the case and I doubt very much that it ever will be. But I also don't want to dismiss the magnitude of the change that is about to happen.

I can hear it all…

A Revolutionary Soul

This week some of us will have a few days off from work and many will also gather with family for times rich in history and tradition. While the days that I celebrated all this as a christian are long gone, I usually like to take a few minutes around this time of year to reflect on the life of Jesus.

I have come to the conclusion that, while he was not god, Jesus was a truly revolutionary soul. As humans are want to do, we have for the most part, corrupted what he had to say. The christian fundamentalists have done this by focusing almost exclusively on his birth and death...completely ignoring what he had to say while he was alive. Perhaps that's because his words call us to a place that is difficult for many of us to go.

One of the most powerful messages he gave was the beatitudes.

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall possess the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger…

Moonlight Musings

Sometimes when it comes time to write, I'm in more of a contemplative mode, yearning to listen instead of speak. Today is one of those times. So I hope you can follow me on a bit of journey through some of the poetry and music that's speaking to me today.

I'm still thinking about darkness and light, as all kinds of seasons are shifting around us. Here are some words from James Baldwin that continue that journey.

One discovers the light in darkness. That is what darkness is for. But everything in our lives depends on how we bear the light. It is necessary, while in darkness, to know that there is a light somewhere, to know that in oneself, waiting to be found there is a light. What the light reveals is danger, and what it demands is faith...I know we often lose...and how often one feels that one cannot start again. And yet, on pain of death, one can never remain where one is. The light. The light. One will perish without the light...For nothing is fixed, forever, and forever,…

The Dark

The hard part about winter for me is not necessarily the cold...its the darkness. I don't know what its like where you are, but around these parts I figure we spend about 1/3 of any 24 hour period in the light and the rest of the time darkness rules. So its the dark that's on my mind today.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with darkness. Its a great excuse for the lazy among us to hibernate. And it seems that there are some who prefer the dark for prowling. But overall, we seem to want to avoid it.



On the other hand, we all know that a certain kind of darkness we've been living with is about to end. I find a mixture of disgust and curiosity as I watch George W. reflect on his tenure in office while trying to avoid the dark. As you know, he's in the process of giving interviews these days, perhaps thinking that he can shed some light on his "legacy."

It has been clear for a long time now that W. has no capacity to reflect on himself and his actions. That'…

Out of Balance

My thoughts are pretty random this Sunday morning. But if I reach for a theme, I think I can find one in the idea that so much in our world is out of balance.

My theme might not be apparent at first in this story. But I was struck by Bill Moyers' closing remarks on his show this week.



If this was anyone but Moyers, I'd be thinking it was someone who looks at the world through the eyes of American exceptionalism. But we all know that's not his take. Perhaps what we are seeing is a world out of balance when it comes to power...people all over the world who's fate is tied to what happens in the US. Of course ours is tied to theirs as well. Its just that too many in this country are unaware of that...hence the lack of balance.

Jackson Browne reminds us that there are lives in the balance.



And next, on this long holiday weekend as we hear stories of people getting trampled to death by shoppers on "Black Friday," I can't help but think of Annie Leonard's wonder…

Forbidden Fruit

Every human being has a biological drive for 4 things...air, water, food, and sex. We've pretty much accepted the first two as givens, but ever since Eve took that bite out of an apple, we've struggled with our need for food and sex, coming up with all kinds of rules about who, what, when and how. I, for one, think its highly symbolic that such a powerful myth in our culture involves a woman eating a "forbidden fruit." After all, we know the long fixation we've had with who and when a woman has sex. Is it any surprise that we are also fixated on what she eats?

From Meer Images Photography

But just as with sex, these rules about eating get all tangled up in our psyches and come out a mish-mash of myths that are difficult to sort. And while we on the left have at least a bit more awareness about how seeing sex as a forbidden fruit is damaging, we seem to have bought in lock, stock, and barrel to the myths about eating. Of course, we've been aided in that process …

On the Twoness of Being

Back in January, as the Democratic Primary heated up in an epic battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, there was a lot of what I would categorize as "silly talk" pitting women's issues against those of African Americans. I can't claim to have been untouched by that strain in our leftward attempts at coalition though. There were charges from both sides that were deeply painful and only occasionally a real discussion about how these systems of hierarchy and oppression are very much alive in our culture.

I remember that during those days, I found solace and guidance in the words of the one group who felt this tension deep in their souls...African American women. I traveled around the nets to find and listen to their voices and wrote an essay that attempted to capture some of it. At the time, these women were busy reacting to an op-ed by Gloria Steinem. But its these words that I remember most.

After reading Steinem's Op-Ed I felt invisible...as if black and…

Organizer-In-Chief

Throughout this most recent campaign I, like all of you, have been trying to get a handle on just who this man is that we have now elected as our next President. So many of us are projecting our hopes, fears, and cynicism onto who he is and what kind of President he will be, that it often gets confusing.



I continue to have lots of questions that will only be answered in the days to come. But the one thing I feel pretty certain about is that if you look at Obama's history and how he ran his campaign, this is a man who believes in community organizing. The question is, how will that affect how he governs?

My guess right now is that his commitment to organizing is one of the reasons Obama has become such a Rorschach for most of us. To be effective in that kind of work requires a different kind of leadership than what we have grown accustomed to in politics. One of Obama's mentors, Marshall Ganz, describes leadership this way:

Although we associate leaders with certain kinds of attri…

What they're saying

I originally got a "gig" on the front page here at DD because I made an attempt to write a weekly roundup of some of the discussions going on in the diversosphere called Blog Voices. Over the months, I've veered off that course, but I thought that the day after the United States elected the first Black President, it might be time to check in and see what folks are saying. This is definitely not an exhaustive look, but I checked in with some of the folks whose writing has had an impact on me and would like to share those with you.

First of all, Kai over at Zuky wrote an amazing piece before the election that he titled The Palin' Identity that captures the message of this campaign in a very powerful way. I'll give you a taste, but mostly encourage you to go take in the whole thing.

The reason why the McCain-Palin campaign has appeared erratic throughout the election season is that their strategic communications have been conceived and crafted according to the lang…

Walls

In Baghdad



In Palestine



On the US/Mexico Border



Around Gated Communities



More and more walls...what are they for?

I got a bit of a jolt about this as I listened to the cd of Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine on a recent road trip. At the end of the book she discusses the Israeli economy and the walling off of Palestinians in the occupied territories. She says,

What Israel has constructed is...a network of open holding pens for millions of people who have been categorized as surplus humanity..

I immediately thought of a speech given by David Simon (creator of the HBO show "The Wire") where he talked about the fact that, in our post-industrial economy, every day that goes by, humans are worth less. In other words, our current system as it now operates, needs less of us to make a profit and is content to categorize millions of people as "surplus humanity" and then wall them off to protect us from their anger and rebellion.

And in cases where we don't have permanen…

On finding "home"

I remember in the midst of the 2004 Democratic Convention, hearing Barack Obama speak for the first time. And like most of America, I was intrigued...who IS this guy? So a few months later when I saw his book, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I decided to read it.



In it, I found the journey of a young man with a Black African father and White American mother trying to find out where he belonged in the world. It was pretty hard-hitting and gut-wrenching at times. Here's a short passage from when Barack was in high school as an illustration.

Following this logic, the only thing you could choose as your own was withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage, until being black meant only the knowledge of your own powerlessness, of your own defeat. And the final irony: Should you refuse this defeat and lash out at your captors, they would have a name for that too, a name that could cage you just as good. Paranoid. Militant. Violent. N#####r.

The exploration of …

How to combine

In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.

–Alexis de Tocqueville

Over the last few weeks I have grown increasingly interested in the community organizing aspects of the Obama campaign's ground game. I have no idea how history will record what has happened in communities all over this country over the last couple of years, but it seems to me that it is as responsible as anything else for the success of the campaign. But like most things that are new and don't involve the rich and powerful, it's happening under the radar of the MSM and pundit class.

Of course, alot of this comes from Obama's history as a community organizer. But relatively speaking, that was only for a short period of his life. The person who has brought the skill and experience to this aspect of the campaign more than anyone else is a man by the name of Marshall Ganz.

Lecturer in Public Policy, entered …

Imagination

In my dream, the angel shrugged & said, If we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination & then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.

- Brian Andreas



Imagine My Surprise

Imagine my surprise,
sitting a full hour
in silent and irremediable
fear of the world,

to find the body
forgetting
its own fear the instant
it opened and placed
those unassuming hands
on life's enduring pain,

and the world for one
moment
closed its terrifying eyes
in gratitude.

Saying,
"This is my body, I am found."

- David Whyte



Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

- Albert Einstein

I cried my last tears yesterday

I must admit that this has been a hard week for me. As if the collapse of the global economy weren't enough, we've witnessed a presidential campaign successfully stir up the hatefulness that lies underneath the veneer of our so-called "color-blind" society.

I decided that it was time to take a tour of the diversosphere to see what they were saying about all of this. The condemnation of the McCain/Palin strategy was not that different from what I read in the rest of the progressive blogoshere. But I did find something that was amazing and just what I needed...a reservoir of strength and determination.

For most people of color, this election is about a struggle they've been fighting for generations. The fact that it engenders hatefulness is nothing new to them. They've been dealing with it their whole lives. And now, just when we are about to cross one of the most significant milestones in our nation's history, they are not about to be intimidated. To get an…

Fearless Thought

Men fear thought more than they fear anything else on earth -- more than ruin, more even than death. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible; thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habits; thought is anarchic and lawless, indifferent to authority, careless of the well-tried wisdom of the ages ... But if thought is to become the possession of many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back -- fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be.

-Bertrand Russell



Perhaps our current day exploration of this can best be found in the comedy of Stephen Colbert, especially in his performance at the White House Correspondent's Dinner where he satirized the Presidents reliance on "gut instincts" a…

The line dividing good and evil

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

My first job out of college over 30 years ago was as a counselor in a residential program for chemically addicted teenagers. I had lived an extremely sheltered life as a "good girl" and trained to be a teacher. When I graduated, there were no teaching jobs available. This one came along, so I took it. I didn't have to wait very long to learn I was in way over my head.

The kids in the program lived there for 6 months. During the first few weeks, we didn't see their families at all. After that, they joined us once a week for family therapy groups. I still remember one young man in the program who told me his story during those first few weeks. The abuse he had…

Writing while black

From The Field Negro this week, we learn the story of Fatimah Ali, a writer with the Philadelphia Daily News.

On September 2nd, Ms. Ali wrote a column titled We need Obama, not 4 more years of George Bush. In it she laid out the case that McCain and the Republicans will continue to deepen the divide between the haves and the have-nots in this country.

AMERICA is on the brink of a long, harsh and bitterly cold winter, with a looming recession that the GOP won't even admit to.

The policies of the current White House have brutalized our economy, yet the wealthiest think that everything is fine.

Rich Republicans just don't understand that millions are suffering. But many of their working class do, and they're beginning to abandon their own party.

After laying out the different economic focus of each candidate running for President, she says this.

If McCain wins, look for a full-fledged race and class war, fueled by a deflated and depressed country, soaring crime, homelessness - and …