Friday, December 26, 2008

Slipping Past Hibernal Solstice

Slipping Past Hibernal Solstice

The quietude of winter mosses the soul
(a warm home in a hollow log). The low
wind in a velvet tone slides along the satin snow.

The cherry nose of our deity drops below the brink
of earth as he ducks away from us to drink
in darker lands, staining our white fields pink

as he goes. Bearing World Hearth away for a while,
he allows bright snow to fly and children to smile;
before spring’s warm kisses, this world without guile.

- James McColley Eilers (copyright 2008)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Winter Solstice

As usual, Martha and Thom's Solstice Party was full of wonderful humans, ending with the beauty of Toby Blome playing this instrument (I forget its name -- somehow referring to keys protruding from it -- or its origin -- Swedish?)

Elisa Welsh, who plays a stringed instrument in her public gigs, accompanied Toby on her penny flute...

so that could not help dancing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Re Rick Warren

It is strange being a person who does not exist. For long stretches of time, I have thought that I do exist, but over a lifetime someone always knocks me back into nonexistence. I did not exist in childhood when I knew I was gay, but I sensed that I was not supposed to exist. There was the time when I confided to a close friend finally that I was gay, not prepared for the change in his face and his words, from friend to nothingness. I no longer existed for him; although I was sitting there before him, he no longer saw me as I did not exist.

There has been a lifetime of those reminders. In the latest reminder, I was not prepared when President-Elect Obama, for political expediency, to forge an alliance with the Christian Right, sacrificed gay people – literally “sacrificed,” as gay hate crimes have increased since the passage of California’s Prop 8, and now, with Obama honoring Rick Warren who teaches that gays are less than human, more bigoted nuts will attack more gay people. If Rick Warren revealed an anti-Semitic or Anti-African-American streak, he would not have been chosen, but Obama feels that hatred of gay people is acceptable. Obama and Warren cannot be considered bigots if they hate a people who exist, at best, as ghosts wearing clown suits -- right? Obama and Warren assume that the LGBT community does not experience feelings such as they experience (Oh – but then Obama and Warren do not have any sense of compassion, only a love of power or political gamesmanship).

Each time I am reminded that I do not exist, it is so difficult not to help the situation by killing myself. And that might be one solution: to stage a mass suicide before the Inauguration platform. A much healthier solution would be violent action as the U.S. does not see anything that is not clothed in violence.

But what I hope is that all of us in the LGBT community understand that we will never exist in the “U.S.A.” We exist in a larger place, not so trashy, corrupt and disgusting as the U.S.A. We are here, we exist, but we don’t seem to exist because we are always arriving from the just world of the future. We do exist, but those lacking a sense of justice and compassion cannot see us. They “lack eyes to see.”

In fact, what is the name of the country that the LGBT community and others in our situation live in? Not “America” – There are two American continents, and we only occupy a portion of one of them. It is arrogant for this country to co-opt the name of a continent. And we would not want that other country we live in to be called the “U.S.A.” – initials are meaningless, or, as with the “U.S.A..,” they stand for overthrowing democratically elected leaders, killing and torturing people, bigotry, accepting the population of the homeless in the streets, etc., etc. I wish the name of our country could be Compassion so that I could say “I live in Compassion,” but some politician would immediately make the word an insult. The name for many indigenous people was their word for “the people.” I hope we can come up with a good name for our true country as it is the only country in which I exist.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free Muntather al-Zaidi

The “Free Muntather Al-Zaidi” petition (one of several?):

For the Calendar of Saints: 14 December (2008): Muntather Al-Zaidi

Drawn from the Oakland Tribune, 15 December 2008, and from the blog of the very angry Sunni Iraqi exile, Layla Anwar :

Oakland Trib: “On a whirlwind trip shrouded in secrecy and marred by dissent, President George W. Bush on Sunday [14 December 2008] hailed progress in the wars that define his presidency, and he got a size-10 reminder of his unpopularity when a man hurled two shoes at him during a news conference in Iraq.”

Layla Anwar: “Whilst Bush was pontificating from his ass, Muntather Al-Zaidi, a 28 years old journalist, a leftist, from the independent anti-occupation, anti-sectarian TV, Al-Baghdadia, stood up and threw not one shoe but TWO pair of shoes at Bush, calling him at the top of his voice YA KALB – “YOU DOG.”

Oakland Trib: “ ‘This is your farewell kiss, you dog!’ shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. ‘This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq.’ Bush ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head….”

The shoes that flew from his hands actually were being thrown through him by most of the people on the planet earth!

Layla Anwar: “Let me tell you more about Muntather Al-Zaidi. Muntather was kidnapped, tortured and humiliated and when released he resumed his work as a journalist at the Baghdadia TV. He graduated from Baghdad University in Journalism and was active pre-2003 in the Iraqi Federation /Student Union and was/is known to be a vehement opposer to the dual occupation of my Beloved.

One of his colleagues confirmed that Muntather came to the press conference late, and his other colleagues from the same TV station had preceded him way before. This other colleague also confirmed that they had to stand for hours for stringent security checks before being allowed to enter the press hall.

Muntather as a dignified Iraqi, used the only weapon available to him - HIS SHOES.

He threw the first one with such dexterity, Bush ducked and within seconds he threw the second one and aimed right above that bastard's head and landed smash into the American flag … Amidst the stupor and shouts, I could hear his screams while he was being kicked, his hair pulled, and his face scratched...

We all watched it and Mom and I burst into tears, tears of happiness and tears of grief.

Happiness because Muntather filled us with hope, hope that there are still brave heroes left in Iraq. Mom even called him the Salah El-Deen Al Ayubi /the new Saladin.

A historical moment in the Iraqi tragedy indeed and during Bush's last visit !
… We were also filled with grief and recited the Fateeha, because we knew that Muntather Al-Zaidi signed his own death warrant. This guy is finished.

Mom added that he will be tortured first, most probably with shoes before his execution.

I therefore urge all people of conscience, in particular Journalists without Borders, any syndicate or union of journalists anywhere in the world, to mobilize themselves for the release of Muntather before he gets executed.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Virtual Holiday Card

Some holiday displays --
Happy holidays from someone who lives somewhere between the profane (lights descending out of the dome of Bloomingdale's Department Store)...

...and the sacred (lighted trees leading to the new cathedral in Oakland)...

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sherrill Cheda Graduate Scholarship

The Sherrill Cheda Graduate Scholarship in Women's Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada, "honours Sherrill's contributions to feminism and her dedication to making a difference. The award will allow future students to share in her passion and understand the importance of social justice." For U.S. residents, donations can be made with the usual tax advantages through York University Foundation's sister organization,
Friends of York University, Inc.
c/o Roha & Faherty
Attention: T. Roha
1725 I Street N.W., Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20006-2423

Monday, December 01, 2008

Take a Breath

On 5 November 2008

Until the night when Barack Obama stood in the Chicago night and people shouted with joy, laughed and cried with joy, certain struggles always surged toward the future, a search as constant as breathing. The unexpected halt, for a night, in that single-minded intention, was like a slow, but powerful train engine coming to a sudden stop, all the cars it hauled clanging together behind it. All involved in the eternal journey toward the best that humanity can achieve might hestitate to pause, take an extra breath, and conceive that certain battles may have been won or may seem, for the moment, to have been won.

Before that moment, you did not stop to consider all the battles, reaching as far back into history as you like, the people involved, their patience and endurance, and then suddenly that crowd of dedicated humans is halted for a moment as Obama lifts a hand. All those millions in this particular wave of history, from FDR until now, stop for a moment to realize what seems to be victory.

You could not help but laugh and cry. Not used to such a moment, you take a breath, pay your respect to all who sacrificed so much, including their very lives, give credit to the millions who have walked thousands of miles in demonstrations, or countered reactionary forces in other ways, recalled the horrors of what was there to begin with, what demanded to be rectified, especially what was endured by African-Americans from the horrors of lynchings to the daily, hour-by-hour humiliations.

Such a surprise that a victory can come, or, to be more guarded about hope, that a certain plateau has been reached in the endless track of progressive people. It is all right, it is even necessary, to stop for a moment and scan the scene. Can we say that President Obama is on or near that mountaintop that Martin Luther King foresaw that he might not reach? To share this moment with others is part of the process. It is all right to say something has been accomplished and not fear that a moment’s relaxation, a moment of joy, is a dangerous indulgence. Rather, a moment of celebrating together, a celebration of rapport, is the heart and purpose of the process – the solidarity of humans involved with a loving purpose (not united in hatred), the end of the isolation and division that oppression imposes on people.

Now, to continue....