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Posts from the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

6
Jan

Saying Yes to Gay Marriage in Delray Beach Florida

The dream was delivered for marriage equality in Florida…. and I was there!!!
Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller, Sharon Bock, opened the historic mass wedding by reciting these immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Clearly recognizing the significance of Dr. King’s words, the crowed erupted in cheers as marriage equality was legally ushered into the Delray Beach Courthouse at 12:01 am., Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

There were at least 70 same-sex couples married in the large ceremony.  I stood only inches away from four couples who exchanged vows, rings and tears of joy.

I will never forget the joy and the love in that room – in that huge courthouse atrium where hundreds gathered to express their love for one another while others, like myself, were there to rejoice and be a part of history.

Financial guru (and all-around wonderful human being), Suze Orman attended the event with her partner. She lives in the Delray Beach area and attended in support of her personal friends.

What a night! What a dream!

Here are a few photos:

Balloons on the steps into the Delray Beach Courthouse

Balloons on the steps into the Delray Beach Courthouse

The Joy could not be contained

The Joy could not be contained

Stickers shared with the crowd

Stickers shared with the crowd

A Super Happy Couple talks to the Media

A Super Happy Couple talks to the Media

Suze Orman and Media

Suze Orman and Media

Suze Orman and the Media

Suze Orman and the Media

The Crowd and the Couples Gather

The Crowd and the Couples Gather

Couples line up in the hallway prior to assembling for the ceremony

Couples line up in the hallway prior to assembling for the ceremony

Couples raising roses in celebration

Couples raising roses in celebration

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5
Aug

Sharing the Outrage: An Innocent Man Executed

This morning I read this New Yorker Magazine article “Trial By Fire,” on my cell phone, as I was taking my dogs out for their first walk of the day, and my teeth are still clenched. I feel like there’s this vice-grip-like anger pounding in my neck.  It’s like this astonished and futile anger and I would just like to spit.  And curse – really loud.

Shit.

But, see?  Cursing is completely pointless.  So is spitting for that matter.

And then, after reading this insanely sad article, I realize it was written in 2009!

Where the hell have I been?  Todd Willingham was murdered by the state of Texas in 2010!

Another innocent man murdered by the death penalty – murdered by our own US government.   This is the greatest country on earth, we’re so often told, and we do this?   We murder our citizens is what we do.

I sat for a while on my couch, after reading the article, with my dogs on my lap, drinking my coffee, the sun pouring in from the window behind me, and I imagine being hauled away – accused of a crime I didn’t commit.  Dudes with guns coming into my home, throwing my dogs aside and tackling me in my pajamas because they knocked on the wrong door.

And then…What if I had to go to trial with a court appointed hack as a lawyer, in a paltry town in Texas, knowing my lawyer didn’t give a rat’s ass about me because his D.U.I. cases pay his bills?  What if?

And I think – forget what if – that could be me.  I could be Todd Willingham.  It could happen to ANYONE (well, except for the very rich – they buy themselves out of those kinds of outrages).

Our justice system isn’t. Our children are being scooped up – young black children, in particular. Yes,  children, scooped up in a system that isn’t even a system anymore because it only knows quotas and profits because criminal justice is a business now.  It’s become its own criminal enterprise.

See the movie “Kids For Cash” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. You’ll understand.

Thinking about the death penalty in this country and thinking about how criminal justice is itself, criminal, is very depressing.

“The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.”  Cameron Todd Willingham
 

I get so frustrated.  I want to work on this cause (to abolish the death penalty) with my whole body and soul and make it the single most important pursuit of my life.  Except I have a life with bills to pay and a mortgage that I can’t really afford because I live in Florida and got sucked into the mortgage mess.

I want to do something real.  But what?   Well, for now I can share what I read this morning – this insanely well written story in the New Yorker Magazine, by author David Grann,

Sharing the outrage.  It’s the least I can do.

The New Yorker Magazine article tells the story of how one woman, Elizabeth Gilbert, teacher and playwright, befriended Todd Willingham, while he was on Death Row, learned about his story, and fought to save his life.  She would have succeeded, too, if Rick Perry hadn’t intervened by ignoring the appeals and the new exculpatory evidence in the case (evidence which would have exonerated Todd Willingham).

Instead, Texas Governor, Rick Perry, had him killed.

Bastard. Shit-head. Fucking Lunatic.

Excuse me while I go spit.

Resources:

Elizabeth Gilbert’s website:

http://camerontoddwillingham.com/

A Movie about the case:

https://www.yahoo.com/movies/film/incendiary-the-willingham-case

A CNN clip

27
Aug

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013. A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial. Read more »

2
Apr

“off with his (cracked) head?”

Update:  August 27th, 2013.

A great deal has happened in my part of the world since the terribly sad outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.

I wrote about Zimmerman in the past, the article below I wrote in April, 2012.   I wanted to write about the Zimmerman case, as I had written about the Casey Anthony trial, but couldn’t bring myself to do it – knowing that once I started, I wouldn’t be able to stop.

That may sound odd, but the truth is, the horribleness of this case, and now its outcome, is terribly depressing.  Life is hard enough, I thought then, why go down that road of despair?  How could I write everything that needs to be said about the case and the verdict?

It’s too important to be taken lightly or to simply “blog” about.

I feel that writing about this moment in history is so serious and would take such devotion on my part, that I’d need to give it my full, undivided, attention – to do it justice.

So, instead of writing about it, I let it simmer in me.

The simmer – what I feel is not exactly “rage”, but its cousin.

I think of this case and its outcome every single day and now, today, Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lead defense attorney, is asking the state of Florida to cover Zimmerman’s bill! Yes, a million would cover it, thank-you-very-much-Florida.

So, I’m outraged more.  Paying Zimmerman’s legal bill????

Really?!!

It’s UNFAIR.  At least on moral ground.  As for legal ground, I don’t know, I’m not a lawyer. It must be legal for O’Mara to ask, and I don’t blame him for asking – that’s what lawyers do.  But, shouldn’t O’Mara at least try to walk on a higher ground?  Couldn’t he let the people of Florida get over this before pouring salt into this still bleeding wound?  Haven’t we suffered enough over this terrible tragedy?

Makes me angry. Really angry.

Zimmerman never apologized, as far as I know. And during the trial, he never showed one ounce of remorse for the murder (it will always be murder no matter what the verdict of 6 people.) of a defenseless young teenager.

A child with loving parents. Strong parents. Good parents.

The jury didn’t see Trayvon the child.  They didn’t see him for the child he was; they saw him as a young hoodie-wearing-soon-to-be-hoodlum-because-they-knew-that’s-what-all-young-black-men-are.

Had the jury thought of Trayvon as THEIR son, as THEIR child, I don’t think they could have let Zimmerman walk away, get away, with murder.

No. The jury didn’t see their child.  They didn’t see their duty to protect this child – their child.

The jury saw a young black man, probably up to no good, and a good, upstanding man with a license to kill, doing what good white men do – stand their ground because they have a gun to do it with.

What does this say to young men today? It says: Beware – you are targets in Florida.  Don’t drink your Arizona Ice Tea or your Skittles while black.

I have friends who, over the years, have referred to their status as a citizen behind the wheel of an automobile (especially an expensive car), as “Driving While Black.”  They have to be hyper-vigilant and it’s incredibly sad – beyond the beyond of disgusting.

It’s a given that young black men are racially targeted; it’s a given they are profiled; it’s a given they are increasingly disadvantaged economically and socially, but must we pour more money to the Gun-toting Southern white man’s sense of superiority?

Let’s give more money to the cracker-ass white men like Zimmerman who think nothing of starving their beast.

But, don’t get me started.

April 2, 2012: In Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, the character of Richard – who will do anything to be King of England – accuses Lord Hastings of all things foul, and thus Hastings is murdered.

In a video revealed today by ABC News, George Zimmerman’s head (as he’s being led out of a police car), appears injured and red.  Does the fact that Zimmerman appears to have an injured head make any difference?

No. No. A thousand times, no.

Photo by Getty, courtesy Huffington Post.

However, it IS important insofar as it supports Zimmerman’s claim to have acted in self-defense, claiming he’d been  attacked by Trayvon Martin.

Yeah. And, so what?

As we know, Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon Martin in self defense, stating that the young man, armed with a very dangerous bag of Skittles, pounded his head into the ground and bloodied his nose……

Wait.  Back up.  We don’t know if that is true or not!  And even if it is true, so what?!

Like the sign the guy in the above photo is holding – “They never stop & frisk old white guys like me.”  (I love that he’s wearing a blindfold like Lady Justice in the photo.)

It’s true.  We live in the land of the free, where people, no matter who they are, should be able to walk down any street while eating candy as it rains.

Just My Opinion:

Here’s what I think may have happened that night:

  1. Zimmerman sees a young man in his neighborhood that he does not recognize and calls the police.  Why?  Because Zimmerman realizes that the boy is black.  Strike one against Trayvon, he’s walking while black.  Clearly in Zimmerman’s mind that spells trouble.
  2. While Zimmerman is talking to the police operator, during his first call, it sounds like he’s walking.  Was he following Trayvon?  (Oh, he’s following in self-defense – that’s right, I forgot that detail.)
  3. Trayvon surely must sense that he’s being followed, or stalked by a man he doesn’t recognize.
  4. Does Trayvon fear Zimmerman because he’s white?  Possibly.  But more likely, he’s afraid because he’s being watched and followed.  I would be terrified.
  5. Zimmerman hangs up with the dispatch, talks to the Police who tell him NOT to take action.
  6. Does Zimmerman continue to stalk / follow Trayvon?  Does Zimmerman get too close?  Does he purposely appear threatening?  Does he brandish his gun?
  7. If Zimmerman brandished his gun, Trayvon may have, in a fight for his life, attempted to disable Zimmerman – separate him from his gun, to save his young life.
  8. Did Zimmerman lay hands on Trayvon maybe to question him?  Why?  He’s not a police-person.
  9. Common sense tells me Zimmerman was likely holding his gun.  People who carry guns do so because they want to use them. That’s just common sense, right?
  10. Did Trayvon see that gun and try to save his life by jumping on Zimmerman to try to disarm him?
  11. Was Zimmerman too strong for Trayvon?
  12. Did Trayvon, realizing he is no match against Zimmerman, now try to run away to save his life?  Or did he fall, screaming out and afraid of the man and the gun?

These things we may never really know, but we do know that Trayvon was crying out, afraid that he was going to be shot.  Who shoots to kill someone who’s unarmed and crying?

I will not go so far as to say Zimmerman murdered the young Trayvon because I do not know what really happened.  I only know there is something very wrong and a young man with an Ice Tea and a bag of candy should not be gunned down.

Florida and it’s NRA – written, Jeb Bush backed “Stand Your Ground” law is horrifying, senseless, and unconstitutional as far as I am concerned. The Second Amendment to the Constitution did not want a bunch of Zimmerman’s running around, in my opinion.

So, I won’t say “Off with his head,” about Zimmerman.  If he’s guilty of manslaughter or murder, he’ll have his day in court.  He’ll face Florida laws, which is what I’m afraid of.

15
Mar

American politicians make me want to puke

Like that GOP goon, Sanatorum, recently said about hearing John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech on the separation of church and state – that it made him want to “throw up…” well, I say, anyone who believes or takes these GOP operatives seriously make me want to puke!   Actually, they make me want to cry.

Any politician who also feels the need to stress their Christianity and tell everyone they are a good Christian, makes me want to puke.   Why in hell should you or I care about a politician’s religion?  Does it make a person a better person because they profess to believe in God and religion?  Never.  Never ever.

The Pope makes me want to puke because he is clearly a women hater.  The fact that the POPE can profess his hate for women on his world-stage is very frightening.

I’m angry.

I’m angry that men – in the 21st century – who are in the public eye – are actually making strides to destroy some of the basic rights that women hold dear such as the control over their own bodies.   And I’m angry that this country seems to have lost its way in the values department.

I’m so angry.

I’m amazed that we are even having a public discourse about, of all things, contraception!  I seem to recall that this is a war women already fought, and won!

Why are men again declaring war on women?  What is that about?

Why the hell can’t women in this country turn the tables on the contraceptive issue and DEMAND that ALL men who want to have sex become castrated? What’s the difference between a man being castrated and men demanding women give up their right to control their own reproductive system?  What’s the difference?

My body is my body no one has a right to tell me what to do with it – just like I have no right to demand a man be castrated.  If government and the church wish to control my female body, why won’t it then control the male body and require castration?

What’s the difference?

How can someone as morally corrupt as Rush Limbaugh, drug addict that his is, feel as if he can call women who use contraception sluts and whores, etc.?

If a woman has sexual relationships with men who are castrated she’d not need contraceptives and thus, using Limbaugh’s logic, they’d not be considered sluts or whores, correct Rush?

How dare any man or any church or any religion tell a woman how to respond sexually while a man can pop out his willy nilly willy nilly?

I need to talk about this but it’s late and I need sleep.

Here is a listing of my rants – for another day…..

I need to talk about immigration and the hate that goes along with that issue.  I need to talk about the killing of homosexuals in Uganda, and elsewhere. I need to talk about the war on women in this country.  I want to tell women in this country TO WAKE UP!  I want to tell idiots – total IDIOTS like those running against each other in the GOP race to SHUT UP and leave women, religion, marriage, and all social issues alone because you have no right to push a social agenda that is clearly meant to inflame those in our country who are uneducated because of the school system GEORGE CRIMINAL BUSH AND HIS ILK HAVE DESTROYED.

I need to yell and let loose with my anger about the dumb-ing down of America by the “Haves” who want it ALL and MORE.  I need to talk about what greed has done to this country.  Greed and Power, Power and Greed make this country tick and to hell with those living below the poverty level.

Money and power.  That’s it folks.

That’s why we cannot have a decent healthcare system in this country…. what would happen to the insurance and drug companies if healthcare were free?

If Americans would stop thinking about their next meal and get off the couch long enough to figure out what’s going on in this country, maybe they’d do SOMETHING to promote positive change?

Below is how I feel as a result thinking deeply about America and its politics, its religion, its values or lack thereof, and its MEN who want nothing more than  to see women BAREFOOT and WITH CHILD.

1
Mar

the path of happiness is measured by human kindness

So the Academy Awards are decided.  I enjoyed the show and agree with the outcomes.  I don’t care about the fashion or the best or worst dressed – everyone was beautiful as far as I’m concerned.

But, I’m so sorry that a wonderful, wonderful film was not on the award list. The wonderful movie, Happy, (thehappymovie.com), may not be Academy Award material, but it’s material that says a great deal about the meaning of life.

Happy is a documentary about the meaning and the search for happiness. When I saw the film recently, it reaffirmed for me that the path toward happiness is measured in human kindness.

To be happy, to find happiness is what we all want as human beings.  The filmmakers – psychologists and other professionals, tell us that the pursuit of happiness requires us to live a life in which performing acts of kindness is so ingrained in us it comes naturally and happens often.

When artists create, or writers write, they enter what’s best described as “the zone.”  That zone is where happiness happens and is measurable.

Depression, as we know, is an illness that is talked about, and talked about, and talked about. Depression is measured, diagnosed and medicated.  Acts of human kindness result in elevating the brain chemicals and systems that produce “happy endorphins and serotonin messages.”  When the brain is stressed-out and the happy chemicals in our brains go haywire on us, leaving us low, sad – depressed, medicine can turn it around.

Scientists and psychiatrists measure the level of depression and attempt to cure it with medicine that stimulates happy brain chemicals once again.   Granted, there’s much, much more to mental health – it’s serious and important and I don’t mean to make light of the topic… Instead, I wish to illustrate what the filmmakers of Happy tell us about how to create happiness, and that it can be measured and improved, too.

The main message of this film (for me) revealed a truth that simple human kindness, being grateful, sharing and giving to others, is a critical reality for living a life of happiness.  It’s all wrapped up in empathy, compassion for others; giving of ourselves, serving others, being passionate givers and knowing the return on that investment is our happiness.

In our daily lives we hear and read about hate and ugliness constantly.   Sadly we don’t hear about happy things such as examples of giving and compassion often enough. Rather, we hear and read news reports filled with politicians and criminals spewing hate.  They seem to embrace negativity and hate with a real passion.

Nearly every day this blog is used for people to talk about the Casey Anthony case.  Remember the Casey Anthony trial?  It was about determining who senselessly murdered a beautiful little child – Caylee Anthony.

In this Orlando, Florida case about the death of little Caylee Anthony, it was pretty clear that the toddler’s mother, Casey Anthony, single-highhandedly murdered her own daughter.

But, Casey Anthony was found not guilty by a jury of twelve people.  Granted, that was not a verdict anyone expected, least of all me, the reality of the trial’s outcome is something I’ve completely accepted.

Casey Anthony is not guilty of murder in the eyes of the law.

No one can punish or try her with this crime ever again.  No one…. That includes Federal entities, too, for those who are petitioning the government to try Casey Anthony in Federal Court.  It will not happen. And we need to thank our lucky stars that our justice system gives Casey Anthony that protection.

There are too many cases of truly innocent people punished by our system, and that is wrong, too, clearly.  The facts are these: The application of our state laws and our constitutional rights are often abused by over=zealous lawmakers.  There are prosecutors and law enforcement agencies out there who don’t always care about the innocent, they want to solve cases by any means possible.  It is up to us to VOTE for lawmakers who RESPECT the HUMAN Rights of all people, who apply the LAW evenly to ALL people.  That includes immigrants AND all ARAB human beings, by the way.

There are people in this country who believe in an eye-for-an-eye justice, like in Biblical times.  There are lawmakers who feel this way, too.  In fact, there are people with political power in this country who are so twisted, they’d like to give angry mobs the ability to hold be-headings, or hangings.  There is one GOP lawmaker in North Carolina who’d very much like that to happen. Republican Representative Larry Pittman says, “Let’s round up the (so-called), abortionists, rapists, kidnappers and murders and hang-em high.”  More specifically, Pittman said:

We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner,” Pittman wrote in the email. “If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well.  via North Carolina GOP Lawmaker Calls For Bringing Back Public Hangings, Starting With Abortion Providers.

As America gets dumber it’s reflected in the people WE VOTE into office.

There are Americans who feel just as Representative Pittman does about forms of punishment.  There are people who want Casey Anthony dead. These angry and sick people would like nothing better than to see Casey Anthony face the ultimate punishment, and no doubt they’d like it to happen publicly.

God help them.

God help us all if haters, in the name of religion, seek justice their way.

9
Feb

Creative Whack #15: Let Your Mind Wander – mostly to the left

It’s been a while since I posted a Creative Whack.  This is number 15 of the 64 marvelous cards created by Roger von Oech – http://www.creativewhack.com/

This particular card, Let Your Mind Wander, is a very good mind-tussle for me today.  It’s timely since there are many startling and mind-bending things happening in the news lately and I have so much to say!  I have more to say than I can write here…  I’m going to try to get most of it, out.

One of the things I’ve wanted to write about is the mind-bending topic of the crazy, bordering on obscene, GOP primaries.  This whole GOP primary is a fiasco bordering on madness. Does anyone expect Newt or Romney or Santorum to be taken seriously?   If it weren’t for the fact that it’s really happening, it would be a huge joke, and a great movie. It would be like one of those “Focker” movies.  The Fockers are a focked up family who…..

Anyway…..How anyone over the age of 40 could actually vote for Newt Gingrich, after his despicable history in congress and as Speaker, is mind-numbing.

If Newt was president, wouldn’t you be afraid that he’d treat the U.S. and its allies like he treated his former wives?  Wouldn’t you be afraid that he’d bring back his proposal to send the children of people on welfare to orphanages?  Don’t laugh.  That was a Newt proposal during his dismal “Contract ‘against’ America” days. Maybe he’d try to make school-children janitors, after all.

If the inane ideas of some (not all) of the people in the GOP weren’t bad enough, their religiosity drives me crazy!   And yet, the GOP, with their heavy reliance on family values, are not even holding their collective noses when it comes to Newt.  Now that surprises me.  Unless it’s a matter of the GOP realizing that Newt can’t possibly win anyway.  Maybe the GOP just doesn’t want to play with Newt.  I don’t really think they like Mitt too much either.

But, really, to the GOP who would back Newt, I’d ask, “What about your marriage and family values? How does fig the Newt stack up with those principles?”

And now there’s Rick Santorum who, in the last three primaries, has trampled over both Newt and Mitt (Romney).  Last week Newt and Mitt were the players to beat in Florida.  Now Rick thinks that because he won Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri, he’s joined the big boys….

Um, does anyone actually believe that Rick has a chance to be the GOP candidate?

Back to Newt and Mitt.… (There’s something about the iteration of those two names together…..  When I think of Newt and Mitt I think of the Little Rascal in Spanky and the Gang.)  

Newt and Mitt, they recall (for me) the days of Ozzie and Harriet, Denice the Menace cartoons, coming out of the 1960’s and segregation to be bowled over by the surprises of the seventies…. another story, the 70’s.

The Newt and Mitt Show.  The Mitt and Newt Show… No matter how you say it, it’s a lousy sounding title.  It doesn’t sell.  Neither does The Newt Show.  Or The Mitt Show.  Can’t take either seriously.  One sounds like it could be another Sid the Science Kid show with cookie commercials, and the other sounds like a story about a kitten who looses his mittens…..

With Newt and Mitt, or Rick – frightening men each one – in Washington, would Civil Rights be pushed back 50 years?  That’s what I am afraid of should either one win the presidency.

I was reading a book about the history of America yesterday.  From the Civil War, to WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, and all through the struggle for Civil Rights in this country.

And, I am reminded anew of the hard-fought battles for Civil Rights and equality for all.   And, not only did I realize that the lead-up into the Great Depression mirrors where we are today in our Great Rescission, but I realized that the GLBT is fighting just as hard for equality today as blacks (and women and other minorities), mostly blacks, fought for their rights.  It’s the same type of battle.  And the economy issues are the same issues today as the Great Depression.  There are many, many similarities!  Hoover’s failed state until FDRs New Deal… the rich v. poor, the banks, and on and on the similarities between today and the Great Depression continue!

The Hitler / Stalin Pact. Japan.  How this country treated Japanese American’s after Pearl Harbor is such a terrible blight, such a huge sore that festered until the US finally apologized, in 1988, I believe.  Can you imagine that happening now?  No?  I can.  You know why?  The people – not the government so much – the people of this country who are filled with hate and rage against “Muslim” or “Islam” that such isolation could happen all over again, like it did to the Japanese in this country.   I hate to think that… but, if we don’t remember our history, we’re bound to repeat it.

I pray we never forget the horrors that we put the innocent American Japanese through. I pray we continue to teach the bitter and ugly history of slavery.  I hope we continue to teach about what led to the murder of 6 millions, mostly Jewish, people. I hope we teach our children what hate does to people, to countries, and to us all.

Remember FDR?  He was a Democrat.  He followed Hoover who ran this country into the Great Depression.  FDR and the New Deal (and the lead up to WWII) got this country going again.  Anyway, FDR promised us that we need to hold sacred four freedoms:

The freedom of speech and expression.

The freedom of worship.

The freedom from want, and

The freedom from fear.

FDR's 4 Freedoms, painted by Norman Rockwell

FDR, of course, and his congress were not perfect.  Far from it.  But, FDR understood oppression.  He understood the need for equality.  FDR knew about fear when he consoled the American people by saying:  “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Whereas the Bush administration badly wanted an America who stood afraid so he could better control it, FDR wanted to warn AGAINST fear when he said, on January 6, 1941, in his speech that is now known as “The Four Freedoms” speech, the following:

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

To that new order we oppose the greater conception — the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

So, yes.  We must remember history.  We must believe in the bottom of our hearts that all men and women are created equal.  We MUST put religion back into the living rooms of our homes and in our churches or temples, where it rightfully belongs.  We MUST not care if a man loves another man, or a woman another woman, or if a man born a man but meant to be a woman, becomes a woman not by choice, but by necessity.  It is not our business.  Be happy for the men and women who marry each other.  There is no greater thing than the ability to be happy for someone else’s happiness.

There are mean and unhappy people in this world who wear their hate like a duck wears its feathers.  These people let happiness and thoughts of equality drop off of them like water on a ducks back. The trick is to deny them an audience – let them swim in a pond of their own making.  Ignore those who would wish ill on another person.

Our sanity depends on it.

February is Black History month, which reminds me of the enormous struggle, years in the making, that raged and raged, and to a large degree, still must rage.

However….. can it be there is light in the distance?

A wonderful and amazing and beautiful thing happened just the other day with regards to Civil Rights:  California’s Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional!  Which of course it is.

Other states, we hope, will follow suit and realize that equal treatment for all, means equal treatment for all.

Equal means just that.  Equality doesn’t measure sexual persuasion or gender into its equation.

The US Constitution never mentions the bedroom or the bed, now does it?  Does the Constitution mention sex at all?  Nope.

So, I would tell Mr. or Mrs. Jane and John Doe in Idaho who rails against abortion, same-sex marriage, and all GLTB issues —>  Keep your nose out of other people’s bedrooms, keep your hands off my female body, let me chose the contraception I alone want to use, and for Gods sake stay out of the marriage argument!

The only marriage argument any one person should have needs to pertain to their own marriage.  How dare anyone try to relegate my marriage?  I don’t think Mr. and Mrs. John and Jane Doe would like to be told who they can or cannot marry.  Equal means equal.  It doesn’t mean equal for everyone but GLBT and women!

Oh, and while we’re at it, can we please remember to treat Muslims with the same respect we give our Christian brothers and sisters?  That would be wonderful.

And so, as I think about this 15th Creative Whack: Let Your Mind Wander, I think, well, this is a good exercise for opening the mind to the acceptance of other ideals or values that are different from our own.

For instance, I just read that Bill O’Reilly, the loud and wild man on Fox News who I am loath to listen to, recently stood up for Ellen DeGeneres .  Yes, he is on record, saying that to fire Ellen or to treat her differently because of her sexuality is akin to McCarthyism.  My, my, my!  Who would have thunk that O’Reilly would have such a heart?

I heart Bill O’Reilly!!!  Well, today anyway.

I think, therefore, we all can have new thoughts, just like Bill O’Reilly did!  If we use creative associations that trigger thoughts and beliefs that are potentially loving and kinder towards groups that have historically been targets of hate, it’s a great start!  After all, no one wants to continue to see children bullied to death or to suicide due to their sexual identity, right?

So, think of the children. Think of poor Robert Champion who was “hazed” to death by FAMU students.  Think of humanity…… Think of the Ugandan government who believes so strongly in Western religion they tried to pass a law to give homosexuals who are “caught” either a life sentence in jail, or the death sentence.  (Their legislation is “dead” but is still being “reviewed” by the government as of today.)

To start with, this creative whack uses the example of Work and goes on to compare it to play.  You’d think that work and play would be opposite, right?  Not true.  To be creative and make work meaningful, there are strong elements of “play” (though some would disagree).

Anyway, the trick here is to keep our thoughts positive and kind….

So, when we say:

Marriage, let’s associate it with Anyone.

When we say: Equal, let’s say Same Sex

When we say: Homosexual, say Love;

Equality: Everyone;

Children: Protection;

Reproduction: Women’s rights;

Differences: Blessings;

Religion: To each their own.

Respect: Women’s bodies; laws; rights of others; differences…….

And on and on we go!

16
Jan

Dr. King’s Dream – Let it Ring Some More!

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

If collectively we didn’t have a group to hate, we’d have to invent one (to hate).

I can’t remember who said that, but sadly, I believe it’s true.

When I was born, in 1957, segregation still prevailed. There were “colored” bathrooms, beaches, water fountains and many other indignities.

Through the years, and again today, my mother said that, when I was two, I could read and I knew what the “colored only” sign over the water fountain meant, but not what it stood for.

She told me that I thought the “colored” fountain had pretty colored water, like Kool-Aid.   (Children will see things as they are, without filters or ugly meanings.)

“Did you allow me to drink from that fountain?” I asked my mom, today.  “You couldn’t have reached it. You were only two,” she explained.  “Well,” I asked her, “Could you have held me up to drink from it?”

As she thought about it, I pressed on, “Was it because of the times?”

“No, you were too little and didn’t know how to drink from a fountain,” she told me.

It was a different time; and my parents were not the type to rock the boat.

I don’t remember being told I could not drink that colored water.  I wonder if my two-year old self would have felt let-down, or maybe kind of deprived?

Little did I know that an entire population of Black Americans were deprived of much more than colored water.

We have come a long way since then, but not far enough.  I think that either we haven’t come far enough, or we’re regressing.  Personally, I think we are regressing.

We have a long way to go in regards to Human Rights, Equal Rights, and certainly with the right to marry, and Gender/Transgender Equality.

People who today will deny immigrants a place in our country have forgotten that Dr. King’s dream was for ALL rights.  Human rights, Equal rights, Equal treatment, and basic human decency towards all people.

The leaders here in Florida, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere, need to abolish their bigotry towards immigrants and towards anyone who happens to be different.  If the inhumane treatment of immigrants (and the torture of our enemies), continues, it will destroy the rich history of “for and by the people democracy” that continues to make this country appealing to people from other countries who simply want to come here for a better life.

We have to have compassion all people or hate will prevail in earnest across the other States in this united land of ours, destroying the fabric that keeps our country good and strong.

The Dalai Lama talks about compassion a lot.  In his book, “Ethics for the New Millennium,” he says that without compassion for the sufferings of others, a person will not be truly happy.  He talks about how we must continue to cultivate our inner goodness.  If we do, our actions become conducive to the creation of continuous compassion for others  Things like patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on, are the building blocks of compassion, says the Dali Lama.

The inability to have inner restraint will deny the ability to know compassion, thus happiness, he says.

With the bankruptcy of America, which was put into motion by the wealthy one percent, and by the banks who are not taking responsibility for their actions, we need Dr. King’s words now more than ever:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think it’s good that a dialogue about living Dr. King’s dream by engaging in service to others, is happening in my community.

If we lead by Dr. King’s example, our children will grow into people who are world’s better than the people of the 20th century.  Better than those who would erect signs to keep fellow human beings off of “white” beaches, out of “white” bathrooms, and unable to use “white” drinking fountains.

If Dr. King were alive, don’t you think he would tell the haters that the only way to heaven is to have compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender?

Wouldn’t Dr. King tell us that God doesn’t care what your religion is, or how pretty your church is?  I think so.  I also think Dr. King would say something like this:  It doesn’t matter who you pray to, what matters to God is, did you do the right thing?    I think what matters is to have compassion for others; to stand for something, and to deny the haters an audience.

I think he’d say something like that.  I know we’d listen.  But, would the haters listen?

We can dream, right?

7
Jan

rants about labels

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite writers.  His novel, The Grapes of Wrath, was made into a play in the late eighties.  It started at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and then went on to Broadway.  I had a chance to see it in New York because a friend of mine was in the  New York cast and he arranged a ticket for me.  Gary Sinise played the lead and he was incredible.

Needless to say, it was an amazing production.  It was especially cool because they built a pool on the stage – placed downstage center, and they created real rain, which was unique for the time, and utterly impressive to see.

Anyway, I came across a very timely quote of John Steinbeck’s (below) which accompanied the photo, also below…. And, that’s what made me think about The Grapes of Wrath, one of my all-time favorite novels.  The story about the struggle of poor folks moving away from the poor-as-dirt-West to find a better life in California, is very much an immigrant story of today.

Back then great wagons moved entire families.  Everything they owned was piled high on wagons bound for California – the promised land where there was work and better times.

It’s far different now.  Cubans come to our shores on make-shift rafts, Mexicans pay thousands to be smuggled in and these people have nothing when they arrive. Soon they’ll work their bodies into the ground in a job no American wants – a terrible job but to them it’s not; it’s freedom.

I find it very odd that many people in this country know so little about human rights issues.  The Human Rights issues are often ignored; people are labeled and the very ugly and distasteful issues about Human Rights are ignored, or so it seems.  I find it mind-boggling and more than ironic that the people who are hurting the most will vote against their own interests simply out of ignorance or out of living with perpetual rose-colored glasses teetering on the end of their noses.  Here’s what Steinbeck said so long ago about it:

photo from an anonymous source

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires. That’s the only reason I can see why people in the US continue to vote against their own interests. – John Steinbeck

Reading that quote, and the picture that went with it caused me think about the cruelty of today’s immigrant situation in the US, and the cruelty that we can’t seem to fix the homelessness of Americans.  Homelessness, instead of being a problem that needs to be fixed, it’s become something that we just deal with now.

There was a time, back in the 70’s and 80’s, when homelessness began to be noticed in the mainstream media.  A lot of people, and the government, talked about ways to fix or solve the issue, right?

Now, of course, it’s just a fact of life.  It’s so common-place now, universities and US Financial Aid – which is handled by the Department of Education, accepts it as a matter of course.  Universities EXPECT to have homeless students.

That floors me.

When I was in college there was no way a student could be homeless without the other students knowing about it. There would have been absolutely no way anyone would be homeless or hungry and in school without people helping them out.  Granted, I was naive and still am to a degree, but it would not happen back then, other students would help. Professors would find out and help, too.

That was then, this is now, I suppose.

The irony of homelessness in today’s society is that so many got so very rich off of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and now many, many of the American veterans are homeless, suffering from PTSD and other terrible mental health illnesses.   It’s so wrong on so many levels.

The problem with the immigrant populations, say the haters: “They’re taking our jobs, using our hospitals, crowding our schools….” and other such horrible and despicable words and comments about fellow human beings.

The facts are the facts.  Immigrants don’t take the jobs Americans want.  They do the jobs Americans don’t want!  This type of hate, by the way, is what drives class wars… And, well – that’s really a topic for another day.

(When I sat down to this computer tonight, I intended to post some of the pictures I took today, but somehow my mind got stuck on Steinbeck and I completely forgot about the photos!  There was nary a cloud in the sky today and I took Jazz (my dog) for a long walk around the neighborhood.  I took my camera and while he found nice trees to relieve himself on, I found nice flowers, a butterfly, bees and a bird to photograph!)

One of these days, maybe, I’ll understand how our country and so many of our citizens can get away with labeling someone a “Socialist” rather than coming up with a solution to an issue.  By virtue of labeling a problem or a person or a group of persons with some label, the problem is solved – it’s easier to label than to deal with the root of what is causing an issue to be labeled in the first place.  Like the label takes the place of the problem to be solved.

I label you as a Jew because I don’t like Jewish people and that takes care of my problem. You’re Jewish so I can avoid you as my friend, as my grocer, landlord, sales person, hairdresser, etc.   You are a Jew and I don’t like you therefore you are in the group called “my unlikeable’s” and so I put you over there, on a shelf, where you cannot mix with others who are not labeled like you…..

You know what I mean?  It’s the same thing we do to Muslims today.

And so, because my labeling has worked really well with Jewish people and I’ve gotten them out of the loop and out of my space, I’ll do the same thing with immigrant people and gay people, and Muslim people and red-headed people and poor people, and before you know it, I have huge groups of disenfranchised people who are shrouded with that one big label that gets put on groups that haters hate.  People get labeled because people are people and people have to hate because they know they can and be accepted by other haters for being a hater.

There are three kinds of people in the entire world.  Only three kinds – three groups:  Male and Female and In-between.  And they should not be labeled either because we are all the same, at the end of the day, anyway.

Do you want to see a crisis? How about the MASSIVE poverty? How about the generation of children growing up in poverty, children whose parents were foreclosed out of the middle class by greedy fucking bankers, children whose parents didn’t stand a fucking chance against the big banks, children whose parents were born into poverty themselves, straight on down the line for years and years. And I’m supposed to feel bad for the rich bastards who refuse to pay decent wages or taxes? ~ The Daily Kos – Dear Beltway Insiders, while you make pretty speeches, I am being cut to shreds

3
Dec

What is marriage and what is hate?

Marriage is a symbol of love between two human beings, usually.  Well, unless those two human beings are the same gender.   If two human beings are the same gender, such a symbol is not available for them to own – well, only in a few states.

But, in the US, marriage is the union of two persons.  Simple, right?  Not for the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender (GLBT) people.  Such a union is mostly outlawed, like in the wild-wild-west.

It’s difficult for me to understand what is the problem with same-sex marriage?

If Tom and Teresa can own the symbol, why can’t Tom and Terry?   Ahhhh, it’s how we perceive Tom and Terry or Sue and Karen – they are not like us therefore they are beneath us therefore they are not deserving of the basic human rights you and I enjoy.

To deny persons who are part of a GLBT community the right to marry, or to deny them anything at all based on sexual identity, is so obviously absurdly wrong! Well, to me it is.  Well, to most of us it is.

The people in power, those with religious power especially, cannot allow people who are hated as a group, any benefit that might encourage them to be happy.   Marriage would make people in the GLBT community happy.  That’s not good.  No no no no no.

If the GLBTs were happy the religious leaders would hate the political leaders for allowing that to happen.  That would be bad for the political leaders – they’d not get re-elected.   Then the religious leaders would put someone with more hate into power and everyone would be worse off.   If society got anymore hateful, a fertilized egg after a one-night-stand would have rights.   In fact, if the really hateful religious leaders had their way, a fertilized egg would have more rights than the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered person.

It’s bully-ism on a large-scale.  (Not sure bully-ism is a word, but you know what I mean, right?!)  I think hate is synonymous with Bullying.   GLBT (and too many others, namely immigrants), are the prime targets of school bullying.

We sit aghast at the stories coming from elementary and high schools about bullying and the resulting suicides.  But, do we realize that children, when they terrorize other children, are mirroring what they know adults and flaky pastors hate?

By the way, I don’t hate religion – I don’t hate anything, other than inequality.  I hate only hate.

I hate the hate of a Religious Right kind of hate because I see it becoming systemic in America.

What am I talking about?

I’m referring to the Religious Right who are not really religious but who thump the Christian bible because they think it will translate into political power.  I’m talking about the “Christians” who think God tells them to hate and to deny the rights of people they don’t even know.  I’m talking about the people who claim they take the bible literally but when push comes to shove they can’t but are loath to admit it.  I’m talking about the hate that is, religiously speaking, ironic because it promotes separation and racism.   I’m talking about the hate that denies equality to large  segments of society who are as deserving as you and I.

When two consenting adults wish to symbolize or honor their partnership, just as heterosexuals do, it should be a non issue.  It goes without saying that divorce trumps the statistics of those who stay married, that’s a non-starter though.  The issue is really not about that – that’s adding a negative to a the positiveness of love between the partnership of two people of the same-sex.

How in the world can people hate who they don’t know?  Why would anyone deny persons they don’t know the chance to experience happiness?  Who gives Sam – who has never left the state of Texas – the right to tell Joe, in Florida – a stranger to him, that he cannot have this or that piece of happiness?

So, what is marriage to the haters?  What is marriage to the GBLTs?   It’s the same thing – or will be when the GLBTs have the right to it.  The real difference between the GLBT marriage and the Hetero marriage is that one is more often made up of a love that is lasting.

This video explains it so much better than I ever could.

Two Lesbians Raised A Baby And This Is What They Got.

8
Oct

desmond tutu takes on child marriage

Yesterday (October 6th) was Desmond Tutu’s birthday.  He just turned 80.  With his birthday comes a new resolve – to begin the hard work on a very serious and heartbreaking issue.  Child Marriage.

Desmond Tutu.  I love this man.   I applaud everything he stands for, what he says, thinks and writes.  I had the good fortune to see him in person, and what a delight that was.  I wrote a blog post about seeing him in person in February, 2010.   Here’s a link to that February 2010 post:   blessings, warnings, and love from Archbishop Desmond Tutu

The work they do on the global stage, is inspiring.  And, whether we know it or not, we are all part of the global community.  The Internet has made our world flat, as Thomas Friedman observes in his interesting book, “The World is Flat.  (A good read!)

When I visited the Elders site yesterday, I learned that one of the more recent trips Tutu took was to Ethiopia where he learned how vast the problem of Child Marriage really is.

Desmond Tutu recently wrote:

I have to confess that I was simply not aware of the scale and impact of child marriage. 10 million girls a year, 25,000 girls a day, are married without any say in the matter, to men who are often older than they are. These girls almost always drop out of school to attend to household chores, and when they become young mothers themselves face serious dangers of injury and even death in pregnancy and childbirth. Child marriage robs girls of their childhood, of their basic rights to education, security and health.

I thought I had a pretty good idea of the human rights landscape on this precious earth we share. What I have realised is that these girls are invisible and voiceless, making them some of the most vulnerable, disempowered people on our planet.  (Desmond Tutu, 9/20/2011)   http://www.theelders.org/article/message-men-and-boys-about-child-marriage

I will be following this issue, and will write more in coming days.  For now?  Well.  I must jump into the weekend, (though it is and will continue to be, an incredibly rainy and windy weekend, it’s not gonna wash out my fun!

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