Long may we run

I had a song stuck in my brain recently and went looking for a take of Neil Young doing his stirring ballad, “Long May You Run”. At some point, I realized I was looking in the wrong place. Instead of Young’s solo performances of the song, I should have been seeking out his collaborative performances with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This was the universe reminding me that alone, I can only so do much but that collectively, we can do so much. By the way, this video is from the Bridge School Benefit Concert, an annual gig on behalf of the Bridge School which helps children with severe physical and communication impairments to accommodate their differing abilities through the use of technology. Since you asked, yes, Neil Young even has an anti-war blog. On a side note, before I was a teacher and social worker I worked with adults with developmental challenges in the community. I was also a special education teacher for students with emotional/behavioral issues and have a son with a neurological impairment, Tourettes syndrome. Long may we all run, indeed.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

(FYI…”Long May You Run” starts at 1:00:30)

Update: Speaking of collectively we can do so much…props to skulzstudios for bringing to my attention Neil Young’s plans to play Israel this summer. This is disappointing news, to say the least, for anyone who has admired Young’s commitment to indigenous rights and peacemaking. Following are some groups trying to dissuade Young from going to Tel Aviv due to the illegal, ongoing occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Canadian groups press Neil Young not to play Israel at Mondoweiss

Petition: Neil Young, Please Cancel Your Concert in Israel in July at Care2 News Network

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

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Jeffster Awards: Week 20

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given each week to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.

Bipolar Snowballs at Weaver Grace

To Not Behave as a Victim at smilecalm

Indian Child Removal and the Ga-Ga at Voices from the Margins

Beginning to Discover the Magic at The Chameleon Scholar

Rethinking Multicultural Education: Teaching for Racial and Cultural Justice at Rethinking Schools Blog

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers

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Takeover

Jeff Nguyen:

In-depth and insightful, well worth the read.

Originally posted on Philosophers for Change:

take1

by Steven Miller

Capitalism in the 21st Century is no longer based largely on profits resulting from a real economy productive process, windfall financial gains are acquired through large scale speculative operations, without the occurrence of real economy activity, at the touch of a mouse button. — Michel Chussodovsky

There are decisive moments in the history of capitalism when one form of wealth, one kind of property, becomes the most lucrative. The capitalists that control this property often become the dominant sector of the capitalist class and take control of the state, dictating policy to society. Marx writes, “The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.” [1]

The ruling class: call them the 1%, call them capitalists – who commonly wage war against itself to seize markets and articulate the strategic view that makes the most profit, especially for…

View original 5,737 more words

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The lightest cage

 

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(Photo credit: fdtate)

I will lift my face
to the warm sun
as tears trickle down
like soft drizzle

I will not let their darkness
be the iron chains
that bind me to their
oppressive presence

I will let my words
tell an expansive story
so that your voice
can breathe with mine

I will not let their myths
be my immutable truths
their incantations no longer
leave me spellbound

I will spread my wings
like the wandering albatross
my feathers may melt
but at least they will soar.

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Jeffster Awards: Week 19

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given each week to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.

Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize at ART FOR NOTHING

Codeswitch, Part 1 at adoptionechoes

Living With Ethics ~ Of Extinction, Power and Good Intentions at Living As If Others Really Mattered

Philadelphia’s Artists and Activists Protest Prisons with Humour, Love and Visual Strategy at Prison Photography

¡Chicano Primero! Student activism and the Chicano/a Movement at theSALSAcollective

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers

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The parable of the mosquito and the testicles

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A nation at-risk: They ain’t heavy

(Photo credit: Eugen Anghel)

(Photo credit: Eugen Anghel)

While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

-Eugene V. Debs

As America wrestles the last throes of winter to the mat and the bipolar vortex known as Congress prepares to do their constituents corporate masters’ bidding, one song remains the same. The United States will continue to imprison more men, women and children than any other country on this magnificent blue orb we call Earth. The U.S. currently comprises about 25% of the prison population for the entire planet with more than 2.2 million human beings labeled as property of the state. This is an alarming disparity not easily explained away by the U.S.’s comparison to other nations relative to size and population. In the Nation at-risk series, I have necessarily painted some broad brush strokes to convey the political nature of the prison industrial complex (PIC). There are many nuances to the evolution of the PIC that minds far better than myself have addressed. There is a fundamental struggle going on in America to undo the progress made by generations of civil, labor and human rights groups. Some opine that America’s problem is that it has drifted away from it’s democratic roots. What’s left out of that narrative is the fact that the “founding fathers” were far from interested in securing the rights of the marginalized and oppressed, namely, at the time, the indigenous people, imported slaves and immigrant laborers of the brave new world. They were much more concerned with establishing a status quo which would be maintained in part through the military and prison complexes we see today.

(Photo credit: Saint Huck)

(Photo credit: Saint Huck)

As the U.S. continues to devolve into an authoritarian police state, it is fast approaching the fascist/corporatist reality that Mussolini spoke of as the merger of state and corporate power. Education has long been a double-edged sword in it’s potential for either fomenting monumental change or maintaining the status quo for the dominant/power culture. Paulo Freire was exiled from Brazil for 15 years and professional educators were one of the first classes targeted in Khmer Rouge-era Cambodia. Thus, the school-to-prison pipeline has served multiple agendas as it both maintains social control of the nation’s most energetic minds and bodies as well as buttresses the bottom line of the corporate interests involved in the PIC. As conditions continue to deteriorate for Americans in the Age of Austerity, the people will begin to look in increasing numbers for someone to blame. While the poor, minorities and immigrants will always serve as useful scapegoats, the people’s wrath will eventually turn on the designers of their cages. The homeland has been secured because the architects of austerity know that social unrest always accompanies the economic WMD’s of privatization, deregulation and cuts in social spending being lobbed into communities across the nation while multinational corporations and global banks enjoy massive profits. The next phase of the PIC has been codified in the post-9/11 free-for-all, a veritable gold rush for any company even loosely associated to the surveillance and security industries.

DSC_0051

(Photo credit: chrisgeovanis)

The overly punitive aspects of the criminal justice system are the results of decades of increasingly draconian laws and catchphrases that serve to criminalize morality in addition to behavior from a framework of the (mostly) white, obscenely wealthy class. There’s a reason they’re called the ruling class…they are the ones who make the rules for everyone else to follow, while at the same time being above the very rules they create. The neoliberal, corporate-capitalist culture further advances the disconnect between human capital and human suffering. A colossal and fundamental shift in our class consciousness is needed unlike this country has ever seen, much less experienced. The etymology of compassion is Latin, meaning “co-suffering.” Compassion moves beyond mere empathy as it gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. In order to see others in reality, we have to see ourselves more clearly first. The concept of “others” is sorely lacking in the education and media outlets which still perpetuate the tired notion of the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”, rugged individualism that detaches rather than connects us to our fellow citizens. It’s then a small cognitive leap to collective airs of exceptionalism and moral superiority over others who seemingly haven’t worked hard enough for their cut of the American dream. For those, who achieve the pinnacles of American society, surely it was manifest destiny that delivered such bounty into their laps.

(Photo credit: Untitled blue)

(Photo credit: Untitled blue)

The depths of the damage done by decades of mass incarceration and systemic abuse of power and privilege will not easily be rectified. In the U.S., we give lip service to reformation when what we practice is retribution. Contrary to popular belief, race and class are man-made constructs and can conversely be deconstructed. Perhaps, it’s time to not just move away from retributional justice but beyond reformational justice. Some have argued that nothing less than transformational justice is needed. Reformation deals with fixing what is broken and, at times, irrecoverable. Sometimes a house is beyond repair and needs to be gutted rather than mere band-aids applied to give the appearance of structural soundness. What has been lost sometimes can’t be recovered and what is broken in some cases can’t be mended. What may be possible is a paradigm-shifting change in the heart and mind. Here, lay the possible keys to our collective liberation. Prison, for some, became a cocoon for real and permanent change to be fused into their being. Presently, this is not by design but happens incidentally as men and women reach states of education and enlightenment that were unattainable in the hustle and bustle of their daily lives or when mental illness and addictions interfered with such pursuits. Some dismissively refer to this as “finding religion” but many undergo their metamorphosis while still entombed by the state. Cervantes wrote Don Quixote in an Italian prison.

Bettman Fountain in Eden Park

(Photo credit: elycefeliz)

In my lifetime, the United States has declared a war on Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua, Panama, Philippines, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Grenada, Libya, Kosovo, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, drugs, terror, poverty, obesity, crime, Soviet Union, Muslims, immigrants, unions, blacks, Japanese-Americans, LGBT, organic farmers and reefer. If your country or sub-group was not listed, rest assured, it’s only a matter of time. The irony of a nominally Christian nation having the highest incarceration rate in the world is not lost on our global neighbors. A country at war with the world will, inevitably, be at war with itself, as evidenced by the widespread imprisonment and disenfranchisement of it’s citizens. Once upon a time, when I was walking through my own valley of addiction a counselor told me, “Jeff, you don’t have to change much, just the people, places and things in your life.” In other words, I had to change everything about my old life if I was to have the hope of a new life untethered to the crutches I had built for myself . It was a difficult and painful process but the struggle made me stronger and, ultimately, freer. I was fortunate to learn this lesson outside of prison but it could easily have been me inside those walls. Our brothers and sisters deserve our compassionate support and solidarity in the fragile, vulnerable process of transformation. What they get are obstacles to employment, voting, housing, treatment and social inclusion that can make the old life seem more enticing. A nation in chains is a nation at-risk of losing not just it’s freedoms but it’s own soul.

This is the third and final installment of the nation at-risk series. Peace and solidarity to all readers.

______________

A nation at-risk series:

American hustle (Part 1)

The hardest lesson (Part 2)

They ain’t heavy (Part 3)

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Jeffster Awards: Week 18

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

(Photo credit: skulzstudios)

This is the next installment of an ongoing series at Deconstructing Myths…the Jeffster Awards! This award will be given each week to five outstanding blog posts that caught my wandering eye. There are no strings attached or requirements for reciprocation. I don’t have time to comment on other blogs as much I’d like to so the least I can do is direct readers to some of these outstanding writers, poets, and visual artists. Please direct all feedback (likes, comments, follows) to the blogs themselves. I hope you enjoy these exemplary posts as much as I did. So, without further ado, here are the recipients of this week’s Jeffster Awards…hot off the (Word)presses.

On My Disconnection To The Aboriginal Community at Comfort Zone Expansionist

2014, then hell? at Banks need Boundaries

‘blurred lines’ at beyond two worlds

The Criminalization of Journalism: Icelandic MP Birgitta Jonsdottir Pens Open Letter in Defense of Jailed Journalist, Barrett Brown at Rise Up Times

CONSCIOUSNESS IS RISING – BRING ON THE ADMIN BODS! at thepoliticalvagina

_________________

Peace and solidarity to all readers

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Hallelujah

Man, I hope I’m this suave when I’m 80-years-old. Leonard Cohen’s brilliant paeanHallelujah, makes reference to the biblical narrative of King David’s affair after he spotted Bathsheba, his neighbor Uriah’s wife, on the rooftop in her Sunday best. The king saw fit to abuse his privilege and sent Uriah to certain death when he ordered one of his generals to not only put Uriah on the front lines but to withdraw from the battle and leave Uriah to die. It’s a tale as old as time…man (unlike Sinead O’ Connor) wants what he hasn’t got. After all, when you cut through all the geopolitical rationalizations, justifications and just plain b.s., isn’t that what all wars are about? Taking what belongs to another…their land, resources, labor. The ruling class mantra goes something like this…if the drones don’t get you then austerity will. At least, we are still in the presence of musical Davids who see fit to gift us with their own secret chords and allow us to forget for just a moment our manifestly destined place on the global plantation.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Gatekeepers 2.0

GREEKS PROTEST AUSTERITY CUTS

(Photo credit: PIAZZA del POPOLO)

If the structure does not permit dialogue the structure must be changed

-Paulo Freire

Well, dear readers, it appears that the architects of austerity are nothing if not consistent. It seems that wherever the neoliberals go these days, mass protests and unrest are sure to follow. It’s the Ukraine’s turn at the whipping post as riots took place on the streets of Kiev and has resulted in police firing on the opposition forces which somehow happened to be both well armed and organized. Kinda similar to the well-connected “rebel” groups that keep popping up in Syria, Lybia, et al. The POTUS did a perfect reading of a mentally challenged pacifist when he warned the current, democratically elected Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych against retaliation against its citizens who have admittedly resorted to violent encounters. What the POTUS neglected to mention was the well-documented fact that he unleashed the brutality of the state against a peaceful protest movement in the homeland. This is a man who is clearly allergic to democracy wherever it rears it’s beautiful head. In Venezuela, the streets are smoldering as well, where, wait for it…opposition forces are doing their best to unseat democratically elected Nicolas Maduro. Before Hugo Chavez passed away, he hand picked Maduro to be his successor. Both men surely knew what was coming…a full court press from the financial oligarchs aligned to the Washington Consensus. After all, consensus has a much nicer ring to it than regime. Like clockwork, the corporate media has weighed in to denounce the brutality of both “regimes” in Kiev and Caracas. Well, as long as CNN tells me what side to root for I can save my cognitive activity for more pressing matters like wondering which black man will be killed in Florida next or why my busted bronze healthcare plan won’t cover anything until I reach the $150,000 deductible?

Journalists Protest against rising violence du...

(Photo credit: Knight Foundation)

Meanwhile, as more parts of the world go up in flames, the U.S. remains eerily docile. There is an increasingly vocal minority that have questioned Glenn Greenwald’s role in “THE LEAK OF THE CENTURY”. Sibel Edmonds did an epic MMA takedown of Greenwald’s new BFF, Pierre Omidyar, and his company Paypal’s role in freezing the financial donations of Wikileaks. Most of the readers and commenters here are politically savvy and cringe at the Frankenstein of journalism being built before our very eyes. However, the majority of mainstream America, including the ones newly suspicious of the mass surveillance state, are not as hip to the game. When the state allowed the Snowden leaks to be widely disseminated in the Guardian and WaPo, they no doubt weighed the risk-benefit ratio very carefully. The conclusion they invariably came to was that any potentially harmful side effects were worth the impact the “leaks” would have in further normalizing the surveillance state and sending a message to future whistleblowers that you best be ready to give up everything for the cause…family, friends, citizenship. Like hockey great Wayne Gretzky, the ruling class learned long ago to skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s already been. My unscientific hypothesis is that Omidyar and whomever else is behind the curtain know that, as a consequence of the Snowden leaks, more people are waking up and some will eventually ask uncomfortable questions. For those who start to think a bit critically, the new and improved gatekeepers with progressive creds will be in place to make sure those seekers go no further. Matt Taibbi. the latest target of Omidyar’s merger-acquisition spree, may have not have been serious opposition but he did get in some good zingers especially those aimed at Dimon, Blankfein, ad nauseum.

City Spaces No. 5

(Photo credit: ROSS HONG KONG)

Thus, the illusion of dissent is preserved while future threats to the status quo are deftly subverted. The issue of gatekeepers is essential in a society that claims the vaunted mantle of democracy. This week, three pacifists who staged a visual protest in 2012 at the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear facility in Tennessee, were given federal prison sentences ranging from 3-5 years. According to the Transform Now Plowshares site, “under the cover of darkness they intermittently passed beyond four fences in a walk for over two hours through the fatal force zone.”  Their mission totally possible to breach the fortified defenses of a government nuclear facility clearly embarrassed someone high up the food chain. Sister Megan Rice stated in her jaw-dropping allocution, “We can now report to you and the general public, who are the government, of the conditions where people are experiencing punishment and torture as unsentenced, awaiting changing court dates, or places in federal prisons today.  We have seen how this far-profit detention contract system fails to accomplish any kind of restorative justice or rehabilitation.  Women and men who are the victims of a nation, impoverished by the violence and cost of an economy based on manufacturing WMDs and war-making – inhumanly separated by distance and poverty, managerial incompetence; inordinately separated from contact with loved ones and families.” Gatekeepers will continue to find gainful employment in creating new “victims of a nation” but there will always be gate crashers to the party. Not every potential loose cannon has been hoovered up by the Omidyar Dyson. There are still men and women whose moral clarity compels them to insist that information belongs to the people and to remind us that justice for just some is justice for none.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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