Jeffster Awards #33

(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 on an ongoing basis 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.

Why are we so silent? at The Truth Shall Set You Free

Word of the Moment #1 at Shit’s Gotta Stop

PALESTINE by Joe Sacco & Edward W. Said at AWESTRUCK WANDERER

Why Must All the Bright Lights Be Extinguished? at Random Thoughts from a Thirty-Something White Girl

As a Child at Kitt O’Malley

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Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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All the difference

Well, it looks like my self-imposed hiatus is drawing to a close. Recently, the road I was traveling on diverged in some unexpected ways as I resigned my high school teaching position a week ago. Needless to say, it was a decision that did not come easily. My health has not been as good as it should be and I think some of it was related to the job stress. The classes I was assigned to had all special education students but I was expected to teach like a general education teacher and, to make a long story short, I got tired of being a performing monkey for administrators. I loved teaching and felt like I was turning my back on the students I was leaving but I realized the educational system turned their backs on them long ago. My own kids, who are now in 10th and 11th grades, have spent their entire school careers inferring that the high-stakes standardized tests at the end of the year are the ultimate measure of learning.

So many students have internalized the message that they are Level 1 or Level 2 learners who will be relegated to remedial classes until the day they (hopefully) graduate. Meanwhile, the pipeline is waiting for all those round-shaped students who don’t fit into the square-shaped schools. I’m down but definitely not out and, in many ways, I’m looking forward to the possibilities of walking down some roads less traveled. I am grateful for the messages of support and solidarity from  my fellow bloggers. Your words have served as a reminder that Deconstructing Myths must continue. On that note, I am here to let readers know that the blog will be returning to it’s regularly scheduled programming in the very near future, albeit, at a slightly lessened pace. On that (hopefully) uplifting note, I leave you with poetry/spoken word performances from high school students at Polytechnic High School in Pasadena, CA.

(One of my favorite performances is at the 48:00 mark.)

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Loss Can Lead to Happiness

Jeff Nguyen:

Skywalker is a gifted storyteller, poet and artist whose insights on fear and loss speak to me on so many levels. Letting go of the need to seek validation from my captors has been a lifelong struggle for me. I encourage readers to visit the link to SACRED and participate in the community that Skywalker is building. Here is a link to Skywalker’s Facebook page: Sacred community. Peace and solidarity to all readers.

Originally posted on Skywalker Storyteller is Rigzenchomo:

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Loss opens vistas/Attachment limits new movement/Freedom is empty

The word loss sends shivers down our spines. We are you afraid of losing our jobs, our spouse, our health, our good looks, our memory, our home, our children. And most of us harbor the unspoken fear of the ultimate loss – death?

How can loss lead to happiness?

Recognize when fear of loss controls our lives.

How many of us move through life motivated by Fear?

We enter unsatisfying relationships because we fear being alone.

We go to college because we fear disappointing our parents.

We take jobs we hate because we fear going into debt.

We wear the latest fashions because we fear being ridiculed.

At the base of all of these fears is one overriding fear, the fear of loss.

We fear the loss of a relationship.

We fear the loss of our parent’s approval.

We fear the…

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The concrete roots of capitalism’s magical thinking

Jeff Nguyen:

If I had any say in the Pulitzer Prize, a nomination for Systemic Disorder would be forthcoming. I highly recommend this exhaustive analysis of the cradle to the grave conditioning, state repression and controlling of the narratives that capitalism engenders. This read is time well spent.

Originally posted on Systemic Disorder:

Most people don’t actually like capitalism. Dislike of the jobs we head to each day is quite the norm. Resentment of the power of the corporations we deal with in our daily lives crosses all social lines. Loathing of banks is nearly universal, across the political spectrum.

A sullen resignation to the continual unfairness of the world is pervasive. And yet, “there is no alternative.” Mercenary scribblers furiously tell us so. That this barrage of propaganda ceaselessly flows from the corporate media and other institutions speaks for itself as to the necessity of reinforcing this message; but it doesn’t in itself account for the widespread acceptance of “there is no alternative.”

There is the argument that if we simply ceased to cooperate, it would grind to a halt. Tempting though that argument is — and, in theory, it holds much truth — the puzzle of capitalism’s continued acceptance is a good…

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Fair Food Fest

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Hiatus

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to let readers know that Deconstructing Myths will be on a (hopefully) brief hiatus. I have taken on a new teaching position which, along with family life, is currently taking up much of my time and energy. I will be working with 9th and 10th grade special education students at a school with a high population of at-risk students. The recent paramilitary events in Gaza Ferguson, MO, following another entirely preventable shooting of an unarmed young black man serves to highlight the need for awareness of our surroundings and the larger contexts in which they live and breathe. It is heartening to know there is a global army of bloggers who are wielding their mighty pens (keyboards) and willing to speak truth to power. Fair warning…like an elementary school principal in the night, I will be visiting my fellow bloggers to make sure no one’s sitting behind their desks goofing off or playing Angry Birds. So, until DM returns, I leave you with the poignant and haunting music of Tracy Chapman whom I’ve always loved for her integrity and the way she’s unafraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. We should all be so introspective.

“If you knew that you would find a truth
That brings up pain that can’t be soothed
Would you change?
Would you change?”

Update: Just a clarification…Deconstructing Myths is down for some time but not out. My apologies for any confusion and my gratitude for all of the support.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

 

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Aren’t we all?

Just sayin’…

(Photo credit: Jeff Nguyen)

(Photo credit: Jeff Nguyen)

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The crying games

For who would dare to assert that eternal happiness can compensate for a single moment’s human suffering.

-Albert Camus

There are times when one’s voice seems so small and so insignificant in the face of suffering and misery on an unimaginable scale. The people of Ukraine know this feeling as do the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the myriad of other countries that the U.S. has graced with it’s presence in the past decade. In fact, it seems that everything that the U.S. touches turns into a commodity for the lords of capital to speculate and trade on. Now, it’s the Skin Horse known as the Palestinian people’s turn (again) at the whipping post. The residents of the Gaza Strip have endured a brutal, month-long siege that has seen disproportionately high numbers of civilian deaths and injuries. The casualties have been so lopsided and the targets of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) so indefensible that many previously neutral observers have spoken out against the genocide. The unrest and protests taking place in the homeland and, especially, abroad have made the political elite in the U.S., who never met a campaign contribution they couldn’t accept, increasingly uncomfortable. The U.S. has prided itself on retaining the illusion of the high ground in it’s international affairs but there is none to be found when the world knows the U.S. has blocked U.N. votes debating sanctions against Israel and has authorized the provision of more arms to Israel. Some have argued that Israel has the courtesy to drop leaflets warning of their strikes, as if Gazans should send thank-you notes to the IDF. The people of World War I France and post-Sadaam Iraq know all too well that an occupying army uses these tactics not for humanitarian reasons but for propaganda and social control.

(Photo credit: www.occupyforanimals.org)

(Photo credit: www.occupyforanimals.org)

A fellow blogger at Crow’s Head Soup has helped to bring awareness to my embarrassingly limited consciousness of another group of sentient beings that are ritually slaughtered and literally chewed up by the capitalist meat grinder. These are the thousands of heads of cattle found in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) in the United States of (Con)Agra. During a summer road trip with my family, I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. It was an illuminating read, especially from someone who admittedly is not a vegan/vegetarian. There were two main takeaways I gleaned from the book, the first being the overarching influence that commodity corn has had on the food supply. There is no small trace of irony that the crop the indigenous people of North America gifted the colonial settlers with for their survival may be the very food source that hastens our downfall. While the author did not intend for the book to be a treatise against capitalism, it was hard not to see the tracks of the corporate interests in the factory farms that dot the landscape from sea to shining sea. The most important word in any good capitalist’s lexicon is efficiency. So, because grass does not produce cattle at sufficient sizes in acceptable time frames, America’s cattle have been raised on a diet of hormones, antibiotics and wait for it…corn. So, thanks to corn we can enjoy the modified fruits of our labor…cheap meat and corn in every product under the sun. The more I travel the road of social justice, the more I realize how interconnected all facets of our life are to both the capitalist grind and the natural world. We can be free without the former but never the latter.

(Photo credit: KeizerStreetArt)

(Photo credit: KeizerStreetArt)

Whether it’s the animal slaughterhouses of America or the open-air prison known as Palestine, there is a tendency for the occupiers to become sadistic. A study by Temple Grandin found, “It is important to rotate the employees who do the killing, bleeding, shackling, and driving. Nobody should kill animals all the time. Several plant managers and supervisors state that rotation helps prevent employees from becoming sadistic.” The equal and opposing force to sadism is compassion, 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. Nelson Mandela, who knew a little about suffering, once said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” If we are not able to find our collective power in our shared humanity, the elite will continue to divide and conquer us. If we are not able to find compassion for all living beings, we will reap the whirlwind of the natural world as it seeks to restore balance and the natural order, independently of humans. We, humans or animals, were not meant to live our lives in chains nor were we meant to stand by idly while others are so confined. The levees of cutthroat capitalism that undergird the military and agricultural industrial complexes will not fall under the weight of a single drop of water. Every tear shed and every voice raised brings us closer to the tipping points needed to turn the tide.

Peace and solidarity to all readers.

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Maps are written by the victors, too

“For decades, Israel has denied Palestinians their fundamental rights of freedom, equality, and self-determination through ethnic cleansing, colonization, racial discrimination, and military occupation. Despite abundant condemnation of Israeli policies by the UN, other international bodies, and preeminent human rights organisations, the world community has failed to hold Israel accountable and enforce compliance with basic principles of law. Israel’s crimes have continued with impunity.

In view of this continued failure, Palestinian civil society called for a global citizens’ response. On July 9 2005, a year after the International Court of Justice’s historic advisory opinion on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), a clear majority of Palestinian civil society called upon their counterparts and people of conscience all over the world to launch broad boycotts, implement divestment initiatives, and to demand sanctions against Israel, until Palestinian rights are recognised in full compliance with international law.

The campaign for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is shaped by a rights-based approach and highlights the three broad sections of the Palestinian people: the refugees, those under military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinians in Israel. The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

The BDS call was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, organizations, trade unions and movements. The signatories represent the refugees, Palestinians in the OPT, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Boycotts target products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.

Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.

Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

Sanctions are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.”

(Source: Introducing the BDS Movement)

Update: A summary of how each company on the boycott list is supporting Israel: Boycott Israeli Products

(Video link: Israel/Palestine 101)

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We are all Palestinians

Jeff Nguyen:

As the POTUS fiddles and Gaza burns. it is (hopefully) a sign of hope that the global community is raising their voices in solidarity with the Palestinian people. The U.S. has no high ground to claim as it continues to provide arms and U.N. cover for the genocide taking place in the occupied territories. It appears that Netanyahu has taken ‘no child left behind’ to heart as the indiscriminate targeting of civilians, women and children are tactical methods for suppressing future generations who know in their hearts they must resist to exist. The “humane” leaflet drops warning Palestinians of imminent bombings were first used by Germany in WW I and by the U.S. military in Iraq to instill compliance…nothing new under the sun.

Originally posted on Deconstructing Myths:

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Photo credit: Wikipedia )

Well, it’s February in the land of milk and Honey Boo Boo, the ruling class is ruling, the working class is barely working and the middle class, well let’s just say it was fun while it lasted. One of the more well received posts at Deconstructing Myths has been The giant and the boy who threw stones which discussed the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories in Gaza and the West Bank. When I consider my present standard of living in relation to that of the Palestinian people who have been livin’ la vida loca of modern day concentration camp conditions for decades, it’s like that feeling you get when you walk by a homeless person on the street. The recently granted United Nations non-member observer state status is a small step toward making the Velveteen Palestinians really real. Consequently, it is…

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