Journal of daily reflections on the progress of my home-based agriculture experiments, mixed with observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends.
I am not an anarchist, mobster, outside agitator, disappointment to Mayor or engaged in actions harming public safety. However, I am a human being and believe Black Lives Matter.
Friday afternoon sitting in my living room I looked up at the clock and noticed it was 3:45 pm. I thought of what I was going to do next. I could go shopping for my wife, post the video on military training at Catholic Universities on YouTube or go to the rally at Red Arrow Park for Justice for Dontre Hamilton. Already I had scheduled a necessary haircut for Saturday morning. I chose to go downtown to the rally. I have been to these rallies before and we usually march to city hall, police station or country building demanding justice for Dontre Hamilton, a 30 year an unarmed black man who was shot 14 times by a white police man for sleeping on a public park bench downtown at Red Arrow Park.
Dontre had been killed April 30, 2014 and still there is no decision by the District Attorney on charging the police officer involved. Dontre’s killing is part of pattern and long history of black men who present no danger to anyone being killed by police or other white persons and not held accountable by legal charges.
The time I got to the Park and parked my car the march was just starting. I found out that there was just a short prayer before the marching begun. As usual family members, Dontre’s mother, brothers, sister and cousins with community organizers led the march. I got right in step with the 150 or so persons marching. We marched to a road that led to on ramp to the expressway downtown.
I sensed something was happening when on the road to the expressway ramps there were police and sheriff cars with lights whirling on both sides of the road behind us. I remember that Sheriff Clark had threatened to arrest anyone who went on the country expressway system, his domain. Above us there were a couple of helicopters. Police and sheriff cars blocked entrance to road and ramps in front of us. We splint up into two groups, one going up the north ramp to the highway and one. that I was in, going up the south ramp. I found out later that the plan was to go up the ramp and, unless one wanted to go on freeway to stop traffic, to go back down ramp when ordered to do so by police or sheriff deputies. However, when we got up on top of ramp and were ordered by police to go back down there was no turning around. The line of squad cars was blocking us from retreat on the ramps below and sheriff deputies formed a line stopping us. Going forward meant going on the ramp meant going further on freeway. Some went on the freeway and were immediately arrested. Most of us just stood there at end of ramp with nowhere to go since there was a concrete wall on the other side of ramp and freeway. We were trapped on the ramp. When all the hand cuff gear was pulled out we all knew it was a matter of time before we got handcuffed behind our back with these white plastic handcuffs pulled tight.
The woman next to me had a panic attack when she was cuffed and kept crying out “I can’t breathe.” She went down on the ground and eventually we were able to get deputies to cut off her cuffs. She stood up leaning against me and getting her breath back. The time some medics came she was doing okay and refused treatment. One of the deputies yelled out if she did not get treatment to put the handcuffs back on her. It did not happen.
I was in one of the last groups cuffed and waiting for transportation to the county jail. The officer had told me to take my gloves off when he cuffed me so now my hands were wrists were hurting and my hands numbed from the cold. After a long wait cuffed in the cold I started to have a hard time breathing.
There were so many of us, nearly 80 on both ramps, being arrested that there were not enough police and sheriff transportation vehicles. After what seemed to be a long time a city bus came to pick up the rest of us up. In the bus, now after 6 pm, I noticed a friend from peace and justice events in the 60’s was on the bus. I had seen his wife in the group being arrested and later found out his ex-wife, son and grandson were also in the group. The police let his son call his wife to come and get the seven year grandson. His son had come into town to pick up a check, Christmas present, from his father and decided to join the march. He and his son were trapped and I heard on the news today that the father was facing additional charges for bringing his son on the ramp. No one in our group expected to be trapped on the ramp and to be arrested.
On the bus my friend had somehow got out of his handcuffs and signed me so. I communicated through mouth movements my wife’s cell phone number so he could text her of why I was not home when she got home from work expecting to go out for a fish fry or pizza.
When one of the middle aged men got on the bus people started to cheer. He was the father of an 18 year old African-American student who was killed by three white men in a liquor store who thought he was shoplifting and leaving the store. He had got caught shoplifting by store owner who told him the police would not be called if he surrendered the stolen items. He did and apologized to the store owner and was leaving the store when these three white men jumped him and wrestled him to the ground in a strangle hold. By the time the police arrived he had stopped breathing, was revived, and died four days later in the hospital. When meeting with the district attorney, the same one holding back the decision in Dontre Hamilton case, the DA asked the father what he thought the charge should be. He told the DA something like second degree reckless endangerment of a life and the DA told him that in this county with the racial situation between black and white he would not be able to get a jury to convict the three white men. Of course if the three black men and killed a white teenager in the same situation they would have been charged and probably found guilty.
When the bus finally got to the County jail the handcuffs were taken out and all our stuff except on shirt and pants were taken from us and put in plastic bags. I had a Guatemalan cloth bracelet on my wrist that I have worn for years to remind me of the struggle of Maya people for human rights. I had tied it so it could not come off or fall off as others had done. The deputy took a scissors and just cut it off in a way I could not be use it any longer. I stood there horrified. He then told me to take off my rings and when I had a hard time taking off one of the rings the deputy told me that if they would not come off I could keep them on. I said to myself jokily I was glad he did not have to cut the rings or my fingers off.
We were chained to bench outside of the jail and one by one led into the building. A group of us men were led to a waiting area. We waited and waited and finally one by one were called up to a nurse for a health check, a few test and lots of questions. One question was if we knew anyone from Sierra Leone due to the concern about Ebola. I have an African sponsored niece from Sierra Leone but since she had been in this country for over 16 years so I did not mention it.
A few of us were written up and given citations, a $178. 80 for being on the freeway, which really was the ramp, and one for disorderly conduct with a fine of $484.00. I asked the deputy what the disorderly conduct citation was for and he said it was for the same thing, going on the ramp to expressway. The deputy warned me if I was arrested again before the court date there would be no citation issued but I would go right to jail, which I was already in.
Suddenly the processing of us stopped and it was the first sign it was going to be a long night.
Part Two December 24, 20014 “Do not turn human on me now!”
See the full list of articles in the Diary of a Worm.
First they ignore you
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and His teachings were nonviolent except Christians.” M. Gandhi
A Biography of Dorthy Day by Jim Forest
Letter from Dorthy Day prime directive of Gospel
In general, in the first flush of Lent, the struggle is undertaken bravely. What if during the long weeks the fervor lessens and the work of accumulating graces was continued with many lapses, but by effort of will. That time when will has to be brought into play is perhaps the most important of all, despite failures and the total lack of a sense of accomplishment, of growth. Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.
To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son—that is the aim of Lent. — Dorothy Day from her column “Day After Day”, The Catholic Worker, April 1935
People Need to be Distrubed.
“When it is said that we disturb people too much by the words pacifism and anarchism, I can only think that people need to be disturbed, that their consciences need to be aroused, that they do indeed need to look into their work, and study new techniques of love and poverty and suffering for each other. Of course the remedies are drastic, but then too the evil is a terrible one and we are all involved, we are all guilty, and most certainly we are all going to suffer. The fact that we have “the faith,” that we go to the sacraments, is not enough. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ with napalm, nerve gas, our hydrogen bomb, our ‘new look’.” (“Are The Leaders Insane?” By Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1954, 1, 6.}
“Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
— Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage, December 1965
Where we are all going?
…. “I am sick up to the teeth and beyond the teeth, up to the eyes and beyond the eyes, with all forms of projects and expectations and statements and programs and explanations of anything, especially explanations about where we are all going, because where we are all going is where we went a long time ago, over the falls. We are in a new river and we don’t know it.”
(extract from a letter from Thomas Merton to Daniel Berrigan)
Violence embedded in culture itself
“The real focus of American violence is not in esoteric groups but in the very culture itself, its mass media, its extreme individualism and competitiveness, its inflated myths of virility and toughness, and its overwhelming preoccupation with the power of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and psychological overkill. If we live in what is essentially a culture of overkill, how can we be surprised at finding violence in it? Can we get to the root of the trouble? In my opinion, the best way to do it would have been the classic way of religious humanism and non-violence exemplified by Gandhi. That way seems now to have been closed. I do not find the future reassuring,” — Thomas Merton edited with an introduction by Gordon C. Zahn (Boston, MA: McCall’s Publishing Company, 1971), p. 230
If you want to study modern history
If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.-- Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation, ch 17
worshiping the false self in place of God
“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is… And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.” —Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe
Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349
silence between words
“For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence,”
—Thomas Merton, “Philosophy of Silence,” in Disputed Questions
(NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960), p. 181
“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”
Poor in the Military
“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
Worth Dying for
“If you haven’t found something worth dying for, you aren’t fit to be living.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Fear Each Other
“We often hate each other because we fear each other; we fear each other because we don’t know each other; we don’t know each other because we can not communicate; we can not communicate because we are separated.”
Priority of Conscience
“And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is agrave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.” Fr. Roy Bourgeois in his letter to Maryknoll why he could not recant his belief and public statements that support the ordination of women.
“Over the pope … there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI,in his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes.
Nonviolence or Militarism
Breaking the Silence
Child Soldiers and Military Training at Marquette University
Military Spending Voting Records of Rep. Paul Ryan [R]and Rep.Gwen Moore [D] of Wisconsin from 2005 – 20012.
Chris Hedges gave this speech Saturday at the Sauk County Fairgrounds in Baraboo, Wis., before a crowd of about 2,000. His address followed one there by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who seems to be preparing to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. The Fighting Bob Fest, the annual event at which they appeared, brings together progressive speakers from around the country and honors Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette (1855–1925), a U.S. senator from Wisconsin who opposed the United States’ entry into World War I. Parts of this talk were drawn from Hedges’ past columns.
by Chris Hedges
I would like to begin by speaking about the people of Gaza. Their suffering is not an abstraction to me. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I spent seven years in the region. I speak Arabic. And for much of that time I was in Gaza, including when Israeli fighter jets and soldiers were attacking it.
I have stood over the bodies, including the bodies of children, left behind by Israeli airstrikes and assaults. I have watched mothers and fathers cradle their dead and bloodied boys and girls in their arms, convulsed by an indescribable grief, shrieking in pitiful cries to an indifferent universe.
And in this charnel house, this open-air prison where 1.8 million people, nearly half of them children, live trapped in an Israeli ghetto, I have witnessed the crimes of occupation—the food shortage, the stifling overcrowding, the contaminated water, the lack of health services, the crippling poverty, the endemic unemployment, the fear and the despair. As I have witnessed this mass of human suffering I have heard from the power elites in Jerusalem and Washington the lies told to justify state terror.
An impoverished, captive people that lack an army, a navy, an air force, mechanized units, drones, artillery and any semblance of command and control do not pose a threat to Israel. And Israel’s indiscriminate use of modern, industrial weapons to kill hundreds of innocents, wound thousands more and make tens of thousands of families homeless is not a war. It is state-sponsored terror and state-sponsored murder.
The abject failure by our political class to acknowledge this fact, a fact that to most of the rest of the world is obvious, exposes the awful banality of our political system, the cynical abandonment of the most vulnerable of the earth for campaign contributions. Money, after all, has replaced the vote.
The refusal to speak out for the people of Gaza is not tangential to our political life. The pathetic, Stalinist-like plebiscite in the [U.S.] Senate, where all 100 senators trotted out like AIPAC windup dolls to cheer on the Israeli bombing of homes, apartment blocks, schools—where hundreds of terrified families were taking shelter—water treatment plants, power stations, hospitals, and of course boys playing soccer on a beach, exposes the surrender of our political class to cash-rich lobbying groups and corporate power. The people of Gaza are expendable. They are poor. They are powerless. And they have no money. Just like the poor people of color in this country whose bodies, locked in cages, enrich the prison-industrial complex.
When you are willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable for political expediency it becomes easy, as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have amply illustrated, to sacrifice all who are vulnerable—our own poor, workers, the sick, the elderly, students and our middle class. This is a Faustian compact. It ends by selling your soul to Goldman Sachs and ExxonMobil. It ends by deifying a military machine, now largely beyond civilian control, that, along with our organs of state security, has established surveillance and a security state that make us the most spied-upon, eavesdropped, monitored and photographed populace in human history. It is impossible to describe yourself as free when you are constantly watched. This is the relationship of a master and a slave.
Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared—“democratic despotism.”
The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, which Bob La Follette denounced and fought, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act.
Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.
As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties. They know that nearly half the country lives in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are harder and harder to hide.
It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has yet to rebuild itself and turn on a feckless liberal class that has sold its soul to a bankrupt Democratic Party.
“The thing about following Jesus is that you don’t do the right thing because it works; you do it because it’s the right thing. If it doesn’t work, nothing works because the wrong thing doesn’t work either. I think we have proven that.” Rev. John L. McKenzie
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
“In reality, there is a single integral community of the Earth that includes all its component members whether human or other than human. In this community every being has its own role to fulfill, its own dignity, its own inner spontaneity. Every being has its own voice. Every being declares itself to the entire universe. Every being enters into communion with other beings.
In every phase of our imaginative, aesthetic, and emotional lives we are profoundly dependent on this larger context of the surrounding world.” -Father Thomas Berry
“The problem which divides people today is not a political problem; it is a social one. It is a matter of knowing which will get the upper hand: the spirit of selfishness or the spirit of sacrifice; whether society will go for ever-increasing enjoyment, or for everyone devoting themselves to the common good… .”
~ Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, co-founder of St. Vincent De Paul Society
Jokes and Editorial Cartoons
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Restoring the Senses, Gardening and Orthodox Easter