“We carry the world in our hearts: the oppression of all peoples, the suffering of our friends, the burdens of our enemies, the raping of the Earth, the hunger of the starving, the joy of every laughing child.”
—Sister Joan D. Chittister, O.S.B (b. 1936), Benedictine nun, author, and speaker
As we wage peace in this quarter’s The BeZine you’ll find exquisitely confirmed what you already know: that while the psychopaths and sociopaths will always be with us, so will the sane and sensible who are able to sit in contemplation, to recognize insanity and injustice, to frame the questions and outline issues, to open dialog and take action that will help to keep or generate the calm and rational, all first steps to a more peaceable H. sapiens kingdom.
Thank you to the contributors to this edition of The BeZine and to the twelve-member Bardo Group Beguines core team. Special thanks also to Mike Stone and Terri Stewart for writing introductions to this quarter’s two subsections: Migration (Mike) and March on Guns (Terri). Much much appreciation to Michael Dickel for his technical assistance and innovation. And always, thanks to readers for their time, energy, comments and shares. You are an important part of this peace-loving collective.
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”
—Author and counselor, L.R. Knost
On behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Founding and Managing Editor
TABLE OF CONTENTS
How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:
Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.
Flowers (are like people) | Naomi Baltuck
A Defense of Activist Poetry | Michael Dickel
time for the temple whores to sleep with insanity | Jamie Dedes
A Friend Speaks of Tibet | Sam Hamill
Why Do You Love to Hate Me | Agufa Kivuya
A Regiment of Leaves | Osama Massarwa
Bloody Revolutions | Joshua Medsker
The Edge After | Corina Ravenscraft
Peace | Sravani Singampalli
Gesture | Phillip T. Stephens
III | Pleasant Street
News from the Front: Guernica is Drapped | John Sullivan
by Mike Stone
I’m both a third-generation American and a first-generation Israeli. My immediate roots are English-Scotch-Irish and Russian. That said, except those born in a narrow region of Africa, we are all immigrants who came from Africa (and most Africans probably are immigrants within Africa), our motherland, and we come from all men (and women) and our descendants will go to all men and women.
We have all tasted the double-edged sword of fear and hope upon entering a new land, a new life, carrying our hungry children and our infirm parents on our backs, only some of us have forgotten or cannot see through the thick mists of time. When we think about it, we must realize just how lucky we are to be immigrants and to be able to contemplate our roots.
Being an immigrant confers on us huge advantages, like those of being able to speak two or more languages or to be able to consider two or more points of view. I’m reminded of the well-known lines of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns, “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” Immigrants carry their homes on their backs. They never quite leave the homes of their old country but, as soon as they set foot on new shores, they must build new homes and new lives, because they can no longer live in the old ones.
When an immigrant walks alone in a strange new land, he walks with the ghosts of friends and loved ones he left behind. If you came to this land before the newly arrived immigrant, it’s not enough to welcome him. You should also show him empathy by listening to the stories and the ghosts he carries on his back. Yes, an immigrant might need your help, especially in the beginning when everything is brand spanking new to him. Yes, in an attempt to provide for his family and be less dependent on your charity, he may be willing to work for less than you’d be willing to work for, just to get out from under the guillotine of abject poverty. Yes, if he works beside you, he may work longer hours or do better work than you, but consider whether you would rather pull him down or have him lift you up, which he would gladly do to return your generosity.
It’s been said that new immigrants, like new religious converts, see their new country through rose-colored glasses. That’s not completely true. They see through eyes of hope. They want to see the good. The not-so-good frightens and pains them, but being an immigrant doesn’t mean they see their adopted motherland only through rose-colored glasses, as though all is great when it isn’t so great. Sometimes, when you love something so much and you see it coming to harm, you lash out at the thing harming it and want to protect what is innocent and good in your new country with your body and soul. If you want to feel what it’s like to be an immigrant in a new country like yours, to be a stranger in a strange land, read the poems and a story by Anjum Wasim Dar (links below, in the Table of Contents).
—Mike Stone (Uncollected Works)
Song of Kashmir | Anjum Wasim Dar
Reluctant Immigrant | Lisa Ashley
..wouldst thou be pm, an abbreviation.. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
#russian | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.shopping in town. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.the questionnaire. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
.another country. | Sonja Benskin Mesher
The Partition | Anjum Wasim Dar
MARCH ON GUNS
by Terri Stewart
Gun violence is at the center of our attention for the current moment. The shooting in Parkland, Florida where seventeen people were killed by a mass shooting. [I am intentionally leaving the shooter’s name out of the conversation.] We have been riveted by this moment since 2013, that is in the last five years, 291 times. 291 times. And we have not taken meaningful action. Granted, some shootings are more grandiose than other school shootings. But does the number of people killed make a difference? Is there a magical tipping point of the number of folks murdered that will suddenly create a call to action?
I don’t think so. The United States embodies a culture of violence that is rooted in our inability to create meaningful reform. What may be different this time is that the youth are rising up with a clear and steady message:
Sensible reform now.
Republican or Democrat, if you take money from the NRA, we will hold you accountable.
We are registering to vote.
This is #NotJustParkland.
This has spread across the United States. Here, in Washington state, nearly as far away from Parkland as possible, students are organizing. Adults are joining in. There is a forming March For Our Lives (or March on Guns) movement. The dates of marches are:
- March 14, National School Walkout (past)
- March 24, March for Our Lives
- May 1, Teacher Walkout (Mayday)
It is not enough that we sit in our safety and support others to do the hard work of creating change. It is time for action.
I teach Bystander Intervention Training. In that training, I talk about discernment as part of the process of knowing what to do. What to risk. Can you put your body on the line? Do it! Can you risk arrest? Do it! Can you write persuasive testimony? Do it! Can you talk to your neighbor about common sense gun reform? Do it! Do what you can do. Risk what you can risk.
In many ways, there are two things that I think are very important. Showing up and being thoughtful. If you can show up to one of the walkouts or marches, then please do. The more our bodies are counted as standing against the culture of violence, the better. Numbers matter.
Second, have that difficult conversation. Do not descend into a shouting match. Here’s your task before you have a real dialogue with that person in your life who is wedded to the idea of no need for gun reform.
1-Reflect on your position. Become informed. Know what a bump stock is. Use the internet to help you.
2-Encounter the skeptic and ask some questions. Be curious not judgmental. Listen to their story.
3-Here’s the hard part. Find a place in their story to connect. Relate a personal story that connects in some way to their story. Maybe it is a concern about safety – For example, “I understand that protecting your family is important. My house was burglarized. I lived with fear of other people for a while after that happened.” Empathy is important.
4-Find a way to expand their thinking. Finish the story. Use different language – this isn’t about gun control but about gun reform. We put limits on most of our rights, such as limits on a free press, limits on free speech.
- We definitely need mental health reform in the United States. Currently our best mental health treatment is prisons. That is unhelpful for all of us!
- We know that there is a correlation between domestic violence and mass shooters. Tightening up access to guns for known domestic violence offenders would be a big step.
- We know that people start out with a regular gun and buy bits and pieces, like bump stocks, that enable them to be created into killing machines. We can regulate bump stocks.
- We need to study violence with guns in order to really know what the problem is. We can fund the CDC doing research rather than blindly shooting at unknown targets. (see what I did there?!)
- We need to make sure our databases that do background checks are fully operational and work at capacity.
- And we need to make sure every person that buys a gun should have a gun. Keeping guns in the hands of legal, careful gun owners.
If you can get one person to move towards one of these positions, you will have succeeded. But you must keep calm and keep curious and not take up too much space in your own opinion.
I hope that you are successful in creating a space where you can move into doing what is right for you as we march together in response to violence with guns.
PS: I want to recognize Dr. David Campt for the outline of the method of communication above.
Eds. Note: Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion, founders of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) organization, have been working with poet-activists to organize 100TPC anti-gun / memorial readings throughout Florida for March and April. More information here.
Please scroll down for features and poems on this topic.
From the Desk of a Gunshot Survivor | Evelyn Augusto
Sex and the Second Amendment | James R. Cowles
A Moral Failure | Jamie Dedes
A Letter from Vermont: A Near Miss | Michael Watson
Two Lamentations | Michael Dickel
The No Peace Piece | Corina Ravenscraft
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