Archive for January, 2009

SOA 6 Sentenced Today

Posted: January 26, 2009 in Uncategorized

"SOA 6" Sentenced to Federal Prison for Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/ WHINSEC
Today, on January 26, six human rights advocates appeared in a federal
courthouse in Georgia. The "SOA 6," ranging in age from 21 to 68, were
found "guilty" of carrying the protest against the School of the
Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base. The six
were among the thousands who gathered on November 22 and 23, 2008
outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a change in U.S.
policy towards Latin America and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC.

The "SOA 6" spoke out clearly and powerful in court today. They
made a compelling case for the closure of the school and creation of a
culture of justice and peace, where there is no place for the SOA
mindset that promotes military "solutions" to social and economic
problems. The six spent the weekend preparing for their trials with a
team of lawyers, legal workers and volunteers, and today they stood up
for all of us working for a more just world.

The "SOA 6":
Father Luis Barrios, 56, from North Bergen, NJ, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine
Theresa Cusimano, 40, Denver, Colorado, found guilty and awaiting sentencing
Kristin Holm, from Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine
Sr. Diane Pinchot, OSU, 63, from Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison
Al Simmons, 64, from Richmond, Virginia, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison
Louis Wolf, 68, from Washington, DC, found guilty and awaiting sentencing

(from SOAW.ORG)

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So, you think you’re radical?

Posted: January 21, 2009 in Uncategorized

Today at my student group we had a MLK commemorative thing. It was pulled together really last minute, due to our previous idea for a program running into some unforeseen technical difficulties. What we ended up doing was an impromptu MLK liturgy that consisted on reading a long excerpt from his "letter to a christian nation" and discussing it. It was quite a good discussion, but it left me frustrated. It's difficult to have the sort of radical political ideas that I (and one handful of my friends do). This last election season really got to me as I attempted to constantly defend my position on non-voting. It had been easy as hell to be a radical in the Bush era. I was introduced to the radical community a few years back. I felt at home when we would sit around and talk about our disillusionment with the political system, how we don't feel listened to, and how we need to collectively mobilize to take power back into our own hands. Then suddenly, 5 or so months ago, all these same activists started talking about how hopeful they were about the political process with the prospect of a new, courageous, untainted leader.  "We're getting a democrat in office!" The tides have turned. Hope has come to America! Punk Voter stopped selling "Not My President" tee-shirts and began selling Obama gear. What the fuck? 

As we read Martin Luther King's Letter to a Christian Nation, which is a contemporary paraphrase of Paul's letter to the Ephesians put in light of American imperialism, I listened intently to a man who knows the depth of poverty that lays within our corrupt system. MLK was imprisoned by the state, beaten and torn, sharing the scars of Jesus. In his letter he spoke of allegiance to God trumping allegiance to the state. He spoke of love as the cosmic tie between all people, far and wide. He had been out it the streets, taking a stand against the government that was treating him as less than a person, as an abuser treats a child, or a colonial landowner treats a slave. 

As we finished this speech and began the discussion I felt as though the popular sentiment in the room was that his message was still immediately relevant to us, as much as it speaks against materialism and it speaks for love. But that MLK's struggle has reached it's concluding climax last Tuesday after Obama's inauguration. We elected a black man… the struggle is over! I don't know what martin Luther King would say to this. I'm sure he would be at the inauguration, as many notable civil right leaders were. But I'd like to think that he would keep with his style by calling attention to the underlying symptoms of the state that made it possible for it to oppress blacks, gays, and lower-class people the way it did and continues to do. I'd like to think that he would have taken the podium to congratulate a black man for making it to the white house, and then take the rest of the speech to talk about the oppression that still exists. He may say that he has a new dream, where people of color are out of the ghettos, where hate crimes against blacks cease, where toxic waste stops being dumped into the poorest parts of town, where prisons full of blacks and latinos are emptied, where cops get in trouble for killing black kids and the the war against drugs stops, or at least stops being militarized. I like to think that he would say he's glad that a lot of racist whites have died out and this new generation elected in a black man, but that he hopes it doesn't cloud our minds with the illusion that the state is an oppressor. 

It's hard to have radical thoughts, to look to the root of problems. But I like to think that in doing so I am following the example of Jesus and the prophets, who spoke of allegiance to god trumping -and even being in complete conflict with- allegiance to the state. God is love and that is my highest allegiance. I simply can't give it to America, which to me contrasts love so distinctly. 

 I saw a bumper sticker today that said, "Vote as if the fate of world depends on it!" If that's not American triumphalism, then I don't know what is.
 
I've been reading some articles by Feral Faun, a snarky, anarcho-primitivist writer whose critics of society, civilization and culture are flavored with unique insight. In a short piece called Radical Theory: A Wrecking Ball for Ivory Towers, Feral points out quite brilliantly that living a free and feral life, wild and unrestrained by societal obligation, will inevitably bring you in conflict with society at large, and that it is in this conflict that a radical analysis of oppression is birthed and fed. Here's a quote from it:

"Our attempts to create our lives as fully and intensely as possible, which will bring us into conflict with society, can be the basis of an ongoing analysis of society and our relationship to it that challenges and enhances our thinking and imaginations and stimulates an active insurgence against authority as it exists in the interactions that create our daily lives. This analysis cannot be a static set of ideas and principles, because it is an integral part of a dialectic of thinking and living as an insurgent, self creating individual."

Check out more Feral Faun here

Posted: January 4, 2009 in Uncategorized

"But now ask the animals, and let them teach you

and the birds of the heavens and let them teach you.
Or speak to the earth, and let it teach you;
and let the fish of the sea declare to you.
Who among these does not know…"

Job 12:1-9a

Teach2  Wwd2004-thailand09Sitting at the river1

Why I’m Studying Herbalism

Posted: January 3, 2009 in Uncategorized
I just began a yearlong journey of studying herbalism in the Wise Woman tradition. This is the story that I wrote to introduce myself to those studying as a distance with me:

I'm a Floridian. Nature is different down here. The trees are not as magnificent as in the north. There are no mountains and few hills except for the dump. The grass seems to be more scarce and of a different quality that in most places. I grew up running through the wooded area of my very rural neighborhood in southern Florida. My friends and I built forts and tree houses all day until mom called for dinner. Perhaps what is most different about Florida is that we were out building forts and running though the dirt in the summer, spring, winter and fall. With no noticeable seasons it's hard to orient your internal clock around anything but the school year. Winter is when we have Christmas break and the school carnival comes. Summer is when we are free to be kids and run wild with no nagging obligations. In a couple months from now I will be moving to Chicago, IL. I hear they have seasons there. 

The neighborhood that I just romantically reminisced about doesn't exist anymore. Every tree house, and every tree in that neighborhood has been replaced by houses. My rural home town quickly became an upper middle-class suburb where all the houses look the same and there is nothing to do but shop. This transition took place as I was coming of age. Sometimes I wonder if the removal of my childhood playground corresponded to the removal of my childhood dreams and passions. As I grew up and was initiated into the consumeristic lifestyle and boxed-in social stratosphere of south florida, something died inside of me. I was a victim to our cultures lack of connection to nature, community, and spirituality. These things, as well as my strict religious upbringing caused years of challenges that doctors would call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When I graduated high school I left south Florida  to see the world. My “OCD” was quite immediately cured as my mind expanded. Positive spirituality,   sensible political ideas and an introduction to the vast traditions and understanding that make up our diverse world flooded my mind, bringing healing and a renewed sense of self. 

I wasn't always so fond of nature. The medly of artistic capabilities, brilliance of skylines and   mass convergences of people have always attracted me to big cities. As I said, I'll be moving to Chicago soon. But recently, within the last year or so, I have been reconnecting with the natural world in such a deep way that I'm not sure how long I will last in a city. My reconnection began after discovering books like Guns, Germs and Steel that relate recent anthropological studies to our understandings of hunter-gatherer peoples and current societies that still operate in tribal systems. The findings of many anthropologists have turned Thomas Hobbes' suggestion that pre-civilized people lived lives that were short, brutish, violent and harsh. The reality is that pre-civilization peoples had  notably healthier, less violent and more ecologically and spiritually adept lives. Their deep understandings of life seems to have come from being immersed in the natural world, as we were created to be. We are part of this brilliant ecosystem and should not live as if we are separate from it. These ideas sparked my interest in primitive cultures and lifestyles and the pre-colonial spiritual medicine of shamans and healers.

A year and a half ago I began experiencing intense bladder pain that has not yet gone away. Medical doctors can't find any scientific reason as to why my bladder hurts. After months of intense pain, I went to a chinese herbalist who gave me a formula that took the pain way, almost completely. The condition persists, but my life is manageable and livable now that I am on a daily herbal formula. This healing of mine naturally got me very interested in herbal medicines. Reconnecting with the earth in everyday life and rediscovering the healing and nurturing relationships our species has with nature has brought me to this place in  my journey- to the start of a new journey, a healing journey. I hope that I may find myself anew, in a real and deep way, on this road to nourishment and life.