Implicit Bias in Sacred Stories

From my daily practice today, I encountered implicit bias. Implicit bias is: “The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness.  Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The dude in today’s story needs the reiteration of another dude to understand and hear the woman. There you have it.

A Few Key Characteristics of Implicit Biases from the Kirwan Institute:

  • Implicit biases are pervasive.  Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.
  • Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs.  They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.
  • The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.
  • We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.
  • Implicit biases are malleable.  Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.

Given the events of last week in which implicit bias is seen all over the news (we have seen the news of the 11 Jews gunned down in Pittsburgh and held vigils, but have we seen the news of the 2 black folks gunned down in Kentucky by a white nationalist? And the reticence to label it as a hate crime, although the police are now investigating it as such-after public pressure.  And the dude had tried to enter a traditional black church to gun down folks before he settled on the grocery store.

And implicit bias affects how these killers were taken in. They are both alive and untouched. And yet we hear the call all the time with regard to people of color who are shot and killed–we must keep the community safe–we had no choice but to kill this man in his own backyard (Stephan Clark) or we had no choice but to kill this cooperating man in his own car (Philando Castile). Surely, if they couldn’t be “taken alive,” then two mass murders … well, you know. They were white. Implicit bias affects how we treat and approach folks. If there is bias in favor of whiteness, they there is a chance of having a kinder, gentler approach taken that allows life to continue on. Anyway, my rant of the day.

Onward to my daily practice that instigated it all!

Altar’s smoke rises
Blurring earth and the cosmos
Connecting us all

[end]

Judges 13
This is the beginning of the story of Sampson of the tale of the super strong guy who lost his strength when his wife cut all his hair off.

I was so excited by his birth story that I didn’t read through to the entire allegory. Because, #biblegeek. Come on!

Anyway, I forgot the bit about his parents not having children and that they entertained a stranger who told them they would have a child anyway. Hmm…who does this sound like? Sarah and Abraham? And later, Elizabeth and Zechariah? Miraculous birth stories abound!

What I had remembered was that Sampson was pledged to be a Nazarite from birth. In Numbers 6, the rules for being a Nazarite for “men and women” is revealed. I even looked in the KJV version…the inclusion of women was not a modern-day inclusion. It was there from the beginning. The basic rules for Nazarites was no cutting of hair, no drinking of alcoholic beverages, no going near dead people, dedicated to God.

What I liked most about this story was the birth story and the messenger of God that came to Manoah and his wife (another unnamed woman in the Bible). The messenger goes to Mrs. Manoah first. Then manoah who doesn’t get it and needs clarification and asks for the messenger to come talk to him directly.

Manoah asks the “messenger” to stay so they can have a goat together and the “messenger” says, “No, make a burnt offering to the LORD.” So they do that and when the flames and smoke rises, the “messenger” rises up into the heavens along with the smoke (hence today’s drawing).

Then Manoah declares, “We’ve seen God.” The messenger wasn’t a messenger, it was God.

The leadership challenge may be one of implicit bias. Do we let implicit bias drive our “double checking” of voices (like Mrs. Manoah’s voice) or do we believe them?

Peace,

Rev. Terri Stewart

Note: Terri (a.k.a. Clocked Monk) is a pastor in the United Methodist Church at the Church Council of Greater Seattle’s Youth Chaplaincy Coalition. She is the founder of Beguine Again, focusing on spritual practice and ideals. Terri is a member of the Zine’s core team. Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine. ./ Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

#judges #bible #nonbinary #Lgbtq #queer #metaphor #values #seattleu #Poetry #Leadership #Leaders #Haiku #UMC #Christianity #Poetry #PNWUMC #Scripture #Gonzaga #Seattle #BibleJournaling #BibleJournal #Pastor #Chaplain #seattleu #biblestudy #biblereading #implicitbias

sensei

It’s been awhile since we’ve shared some of Gretchen’s work, much loved by all. So delighted to feature her work here today: beauty and wisdom. Enjoy!

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 10/2018

O’ Great Spirit

help me always

to speak the truth quietly,

to listen with an open mind

when others speak

and to remember the peace

that may be found in silence.

………Cherokee Prayer

I love coyotes. Perhaps it is their inquisitiveness most of all that I adore. I walk with my dogs every day in the Guadalupe Oak Grove wildlife preserve. My day is perfect when I have a coyote sighting and especially perfect when they follow me on the walk. These coyotes are quite small compared to the Mountain coyotes, but coyotes they are indeed. Makes me feel like I am running with wolves. Being with wild animals invokes the Cherokee prayer above. The wild things teach me stillness They take me to the depths inside myself where stillness abides. I am rejuvenated with great love. So, you see, coyote is truly my sensei, my teacher when we gaze…

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SPOON JACKSON, imprisioned for 41 years for a crime he committed at 19 is still writing poetry and now asking for help to get commutation

This poet needs our help . . .

THE POET BY DAY

c Spoon Jackson

“We make our world with words! No one knows this truth better than the Poet, the wordsmith crafting perception of moments into bite sized pieces of sound—line, verse, phrase, sentence; meaning and its absence.” Longer Ago, Poems by Spoon Jackson, Feeling is a footpath to the heart of the world, RootfolksMORE



c Spoon Jackson / photo with family, friends, teachers

“I have found that prisons are created internally and are truly found everywhere.” Spoon Jackson (realness network)


In the interest of time, I’m sharing this from Wikipedia.  The petition needs to go to the governor tomorrow, October 15.  As this post goes up,  there are only 1,651 signatures. 2,500 are needed. The petition is HERE. Please feel free to reblog this post.

“Spoon Jackson (Stanley “Spoon” Russell Jackson) was born August 22, 1957 in Barstow, California. He began serving a life without possibility…

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Zine related news, timeline and contacts

“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful – in a word, more alive.” Alice Waters, chef, author, food activist, and founder and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California



The header to this post is our new banner for the 2019 The BeZine 100,000 Poets and Others for Change. It was designed by Team Member Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon Dreams). I appreciate the color and the flowers, which to me imply hope. So onward we go.

We use the banner as a header for our discussion page on Facebook (a gathering place of sorts) which you are encouraged to join. Our goal there is not about sharing poetry or regurgitating the news. It’s largely about “best practices.”

2018/2019 NEWS & GUIDELINES FOR POSTING ON THE DISCUSSION PAGE: We’re especially interested in filling a gap by collecting info on practical initiatives – ideas for taking action – from anywhere in the world, “best practices” so to speak that foster peace, sustainability and social justice, especially those that might be picked up and implemented elsewhere. Examples from the past include the churches that open their parking lots at night to the homeless, the barber who uses his days off to give homeless people haircuts or the group that put out clothing for people to take if needed.

Rev. Terri Stewart

FOR WRITE-UPS ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE for Beguine Again, sister site to the Zine,  message Terri Stewart on Facebook. We also have a FB page – The Bardo Group Beguines -where we provide Zine info, inspiration, notice of spiritual events of interest to seekers and links to work posted on beguineagain.com founded and managed by Terri.

PLEASE DO NOT POST POETRY ON THE DISCUSSION PAGE. There are plenty of poetry groups on FB. We’re unique and doing something different but we do offer other opportunities to share your poetry and creative work.

SUBMISSIONS to The BeZine of poetry, essays, short stories, creative nonfiction, music videos, and artwork for The BeZine – journal or blog – are considered via email only: bardogroup@gmail.com.

The BeZine is published quarterly. Here are the schedule, themes, submission deadlines and publication dates for the rest of this year and 2019.

December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

March 2019 issue, Deadline February 10th. Theme: Peace.

June 2019 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability

September 2019 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice

December 2019 issue: Deadline November 10th. Theme: A Life of the Spirit

SEPTEMBER 28, 2019, 100,000 POETS AND OTHERS FOR CHANGE, GLOBAL, 2019 and THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS AND OTHERS FOR CHANGE VIRTUAL EVENT

Michael Dickel

Facebook message me or email me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com if you have poetry news or essays on poetry to be considered for The Poet by Day. For submissions (poetry and short fiction or creative nonfiction) for consideration by Michael Dickel for Meta/Phor(e)/Play  you can message Michael on Facebook or contact him through his blog.

The Bardo Group Begines is a twelve-member core team of poets and writers, artists and musicians, philosophers and clerics providing comfort, inspiration and information via thebezine.com and beguineagain.com.  

The BeZine is an entirely volunteer effort and a peace and justice mission.

For those who are interested, our freshly updated submission guidelines are HERE.

– Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

Unite with Might Event, Aug. 11-12

It is tempting to fall into silence when confronted with people whose attitudes and choices are so much different than your own.  For example, we know that Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement, are planning to have another rally and march, similar to the one they had at Charlottesville where Heather Heyer was killed.  We decided to do something about it and I hope you will join us.

Unite with Might

We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.

Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next.  But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us.  The beloved community.  We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion.  Hence the name, Unite with Might.

On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.

Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.

In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding.  And so we propose gathering around food.  This is a different kind of gathering.  A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.

Bloggers!  Let’s splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!

Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day.  Love always wins.

We will be hosting a party online at our Facebook event, and everywhere in the world that unity and diversity is declared to be an important value.

Please join us this weekend and link your blog post at the Facebook event or write directly into it.  Tweet using the hashtag #UniteWithMight .  Instagram with the hashtag #UniteWithMight.  Let the world of love declare that hate cannot win.

Sincerely,

Rev. Terri Jane Stewart

#UniteWithMight #LoveYourNeighbor #TheTableIsOpen #AllAreWelcome

Autumn milkweed

When I die, bury my body
amid a pile of leaves,
then go home.
Plant clematis vines along fences,
fill the rest of your yard
with only native flowers
that will desire compost—
tend them lovingly,
as though you had cared for me.

—Michael Dickel
©2007


This poem is in the forthcoming collection of Michael Dickel’s poetry, Nothing Remembers.

Originally published online in: Abramelin: the Journal of Poetry and Magick. E.V. 2(1) Winter (2007).

Thanks to Tereza Joy Kramer for helpful comments and edits.

owl medicine

A wonderful note on which to start the new month. Thanks to Gretchen Del Rio …

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor aceo 2018

‘A warrior’s strength is measured by the size of her heart. She is respectfully humble. She will stand with honor. She will fight with love. In the face of adversity and for the ones she loves, she will be a voice and a shield. She will be a beacon to light the way home for the old. she will gently make way for the young. She is a sister, mother, daughter, grandmother……….she is a warrior.’

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sacred wisdom

A word from Raven via the incomparable Gretchen Del Rio.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

Watercolor 1/2018 5 x 7

This is just one of so many Native American tales about Raven as well as other animals. I love to read them.

When Raven was killed

Raven had played so many tricks on mankind for so long that one day a great chief decided to kill him. The chief caught Raven unaware and threw him into a large skin bag. Then he began to climb to the top of a steep mountain. Raven asked from inside the bag “what are you doing, where are we going.” The chief ignored Raven. Raven told the chief that bad things would happen if he hurt Raven. But the chief did not listen and finally on top of the mountain, he threw Raven off the mountain. Raven was torn to pieces falling. The chief had killed Raven.

Everyone in the village was happy and they celebrated for days. Then…

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HEADS-UP POETS AND POETRY LOVERS in and around Hamilton Ontario: Save-the-Date, The BeZine Contributing Editor, Michael Dickel reading


 

MICHAEL DICKEL a poet, fiction writer, and photographer, has taught at various colleges and universities in Israel and the United States. Dickel’s writing, art, and photographs appear in print and online. His poetry has won international awards and been translated into several languages. His chapbook, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism came out from Locofo Chaps in 2017. Is a Rose Press released his most recent full-length book (flash fiction), The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us, Midwest / Mid-East, and The World Behind It, Chaos… He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36(2010). He was managing editor for arc-23 and arc-24. With producer / director David Fisher, he received an NEH grant to write a film script about Yiddish theatre. He is the former chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. Meta/ Phor(e) /Play is Michael’s blogZine Michael on Social Media: Twitter | FaceBook Page | Instagram | Academia  Michael is also an a member of The BeZine core team.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a poem written by the child, Pavel Freidman (short bio included), before he was murdered at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp

THE POET BY DAY


Regular Sunday Announcements are in process and will post later today, but yesterday was International Holocaust Rememberence Day. I share the poem of a child imprisoned and murdered at Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. We remember it with the hope that there will never be another genocide and that children of every race, country and creed will be allowed to fulfill their promise, to grow up, to grow old and to die in God’s time. Even as we do, there are genocides currently happening around the world, ten of which are full-blown. Ironically, “prominent scholars of the international law crime of genocide and human rights authorities take the position that Israel’s policies toward the Palestinian people could constitute a form of genocide.” Details HERE May all sentient beings peace.

I Never Saw Another Butterfly

by Pavel Freidman

The last, the very last,

So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.

Perhaps…

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warriors of the rainbow

This month’s post from Gretchen Del Rio … stunning and wise as always.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 4 x 5 1/2018

Spirit of the Wolf

‘The spirit of the wolf resides in my heart

Mostly peacefully, but ever wild

Running in time to the blowing wind,

Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens

The spirit of the wolf resides in my soul.

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The BeZine, December 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 3, A Life of the Spirit

“The spiritual life . . . is not achieved by denying one part of life for the sake of another. The spiritual life is achieved only by listening to all of life and learning to respond to each of its dimensions wholly and with integrity.” Sister Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

The theme this month is “Spiritual Paradigms, Awakenings, Miracles.”  I expected to get submissions that spanned the distance from atheism and agnosticism to firmly entrenched faith, which I did. I did not expect to get several notes from writers and poets who admitted that though they wanted to contribute, they found themselves seriously blocked. Despair. Depression. Those two do confound our creativity and both are rife in a world where 1.6 million people lack access to adequate housing (Habitat.org), where forced displacement is “an unpresidented 65.6 million people” (UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency) and where, while hunger in general is on the decline, 3.1 million children still die of malnutrition each year (Independent).

For people in kinder circumstances it’s often near impossible to reconcile with the realities of physical illness, disability and mortality, poverty and food “insecurity”, decreased opportunity/upward mobility, and difficulty finding employment and/or getting an education. These circumstances create anger and make it understadable that some doubt a compassionate God or simply find it impossible to believe in a God at all. My own thought is that perhaps God, like Creation, is evolving. That thought is not new with me.

Having said all that, what for me came through in reading submissions is that atheist or agnostic, religionist or independent spiritual being, all have a Life of the Spirit. The spark of Light is clear from the writing desk to the neighborhood bar. Sometimes the Light goes by other names: Hope, Compassion, Wisdom, Generosity. To paraphrase Rabbi Meachem Mendel Morgenszter of Kotak, Poland, God (however you might define that Being) is found wherever you let the Light in.

This month we are proud to introduce a wealth of new-to-us writers: Julie Henderson (U.S.), Eithne Lannon (Ireland), Imelda Santore (Philippines), Mike Stone (Israel), Anthony Vano (U.S.), and Ali Znaidi (Tunisia). We welcome back: bogpan (Bozhidar Pangelov, Bulgaria), Paul Brookes (England), Kakali DasGhosh (India), Mark Heathcote (England), Juli [Juxtaposed] (England), Michele Riedel (U.S.), and Sonja Benskin Mesher (England).

My warm thanks to all twelve members of our core team, some of whom have contributed poems or feature material to this issue: John Anstie (England), Naomi Baltuck (U.S.), James R. Cowles (U.S.), Michael Dickel (Israel), Joe Hesch (U.S.), Charlie Martin (U.S.), and Corina Ravenscraft (U.S.).

On behalf of our entire core team, The Bardo Group Beguines, I wish everyone wonderful year-end celebrations and a peaceful 2018.

In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes,
Founding and Managing Editor,
The BeZine

A LIFE OF THE SPIRIT

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.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editorial

A Frozen Spring, Juli [Juxtaposed]

BeAttitudes

The Light of Laughter, Corina Ravenscraft
Looking for the Light, Naomi Baltuck
The Spiritual Life Is One of Constant Choices, Henri Neuwen

Essays

Toward Becoming “UnLapsed”, James R. Cowles
Old Church, Old Hat …, John Anstie

Creative Nonfiction

Stelle Nacht, Joseph Hesch
Wild Turkey Neat, Anthony Vano

Poetry

First Christmas, John Anstie

Christmas, bogan

Ash and Prayer, Paul Brookes

#I just washed#, Kakali DasGhosh

Selections from Nothing Remembers, Michael Dickel

Braid Your Hair with His, Mark Heathcote
There Is Music in Silence, Mark Heathcote

Workshop, Julie Henderson

December Sky, Joseph Hesch
Our Better Angles, Joseph Hosch

‘especially in times of dark’, Juli [Juxtaposed]

Earth Music, Eithne Lannon

full circle, Charles W. Martin

.saint anthony., Sonja Benskin Mesher

Waiting for My Nails to Dry, Michele Riedel

The Scent of a Soul, Imelda Santore

Contradictions, Mike Stone
A Word’s Worth, Mike Stone
A True Believer, Mike Stone
By the River Jordan, Mike Stone

Sufi Ghazal, Ali Znaidi
Doubt, Ali Znaidi
Mysticism on the Move, Ali Znaidi

EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE NOTED,
ALL WORKS IN “THE BEZINE” ©2017 BY THE AUTHOR / CREATOR


CONNECT WITH US

The BeZine: Be Inspired, Be Creative, Be Peace, Be (the subscription feature is below and to your left.)

Daily Spiritual Practice: Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.

pathfinder

This month Gretchen Del Rio brings us Wolf Sprit, pathfinder and protector.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolour 9/2017

Wolf Spirit guide is a shape-shifter. He adapts to the energies of the forest and is a pathfinder by nature led by his intuition. When you are feeling lost and do not know where to go….he guides you. He will be your protector as you make your journey. And, very importantly, you must be willing to face your own deepest fears in order to evolve.

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tatanka

Our monthly thought and art from one of our favorite artists, Gretchen del Rio

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 2017

Among Native American tribes, especially the Plains Indians, the bison is considered a sacred animal and regarded with reverence. Native Americans consider that all given to them by Nature was to be treated with great respect and the bison was used down to every last part to ensure survival of the tribes. How devastating the disappearance of the bison by the hand of the white man. That act itself alone could have destroyed the tribal nations on the plains because they depended upon the bison for their well being. How insulting to their beliefs. How could the senseless killing of almost all of these sacred animals be understood by the Native Americans…….or by we who look back at the senseless devastation.

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THE GOOD WORKS of poets and their allies …

Worthy projects that deserve attention … Featured: Evelyn Augusto’s “Guns Don’t Save Live, Poets Do,Dueling with Words to Stop Gun Violence;” Jazz singer Candice Hawley’s “Let’s Talk About it,” a free and open discussion of Anxiety and Depression; and, Rev. Terri Stewart’s Peacemaking Circles for Seattle’s incarcerated youth. Terri is the founder of The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again, and a member of the zine’s core team.

THE POET BY DAY


When I started The Bardo Group, now The Bardo Group Beguines (publishers of The BeZine), back in February 2011, I had in mind the human union in sacred space (common ground) as it  is expressed through the arts and the sharing of work that is representative of universal human values however differently they might bloom in our varied religions and cultures. I feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” They also offer a means to get some other good things done.

I have written about:

  • English poet and musician, John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group, that was founded through Twitter friendships and that published a collection to raise funds for UNICEF;
  • Dorothy Yamamoto, a poet and editor who brought a group of A-list English poets together…

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Rob’s Morning Glory …

 

“The harp at Nature’s advent strung

Has never ceased to play;

The song the stars of morning sung

Has never died away.”

The Worship of Nature by John Greenleaf Whittier

Posted in memory of Robert Rossell one of the three original Bardo Group members.

Nature’s Gifts

by

Robert Rossell, Ph.D.

This morning I had an amazing encounter.   After a sleepless night,  I woke up late and decided to go for my morning walk in the local nature preserve behind my house.   It was drizzling slightly— a very gentle spring rain.    I was deep in an intense internal reverie as I entered the park.  I looked up and found myself  looking at three deer slightly ahead of me on the trail.  I instinctively calmed myself and walked slowly forward.   They didn’t seem in any hurry to leave as they often do when I encounter deer in the preserve.  It may have helped that I caught one of them, a two year old buck, in the middle of “doing his business.”    He turned around and looked at me head-on but didn’t move because he wanted to finish.  The others, perhaps encouraged by his unwillingness to stop what he was doing, were in no hurry to leave either.  They just managed to  keep  themselves at a safe distance as I slowly moved forward.     Very slowly, I walked forward.  The buck kept me in his gaze but didn’t move.    I was able to get maybe within six or eight feet of him, almost within reach.   Finally he finished his business and slowly walked away from the trail, still keeping me in his gaze.

Then while walking further, I encountered a mother quail and ten teeny, teeny, babies  walking into the tall grass on the side of the trail.   It was like a cartoon, the last little straggler trying to negotiate and jump over strands of weed and grass, mother scolding/encouraging them all to come along.  The little chicks must have been no more than a day old, very small, very cute.

Then I arrived at a farm in the middle of the preserve.  The farm is for families with children—goats, pigs, chickens and ducks to enjoy, and a cow, named Luna.   I have become very fond of this cow over many trips to the farm–perhaps because of my bovine heart valve.   She knows me now and accepts my touch, and will occasionally give me a big affectionate lick. (I haven’t brought myself yet to lick her back).    Anyway, she has been away for a while so they can repair her paddock and I haven’t  been able to see her.    But to my great delight she was there this morning, nursing a  baby bull and calf.  Even while occupied with her nursing babies, she recognized me and let me give her a few scratches and nuzzles.

I felt so gifted this morning by Nature.   It was as if in the inscrutable wisdom of nature the Gods found a way of bringing me out of my funk and deep reverie and welcomed me into the world.   All of my efforts at self-care in a painful, sleepless, night had utterly failed me.   But somehow Nature’s magic managed to touch me and bring me out of my funk and  reverie.   It amazes me  that this happens over and over again in my life.  When I seem to most need it, Nature finds a way to touch me.    I am grateful. I am also grateful that I am still able to be touched!

© 2011, Rob Rossll, All rights reserved; photo credits – California Quail in Golden Gate Park courtesy of Mila Zinkova under GNU Free Documentation License; the duck is in public domain and courtesy of Arpingstone; cow courtesy of Mandie Lancaster, Public Domain Pictures.net.

 

100TPC, 2017 / Stand with us now for Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice

This year, the last Saturday of September, the regular day for the Global 100,000 Poets for Change Events around the world, falls on Yom Kippur, considered the Holiest day of the Jewish religion. Observant Jews around the world are fasting, having spent the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur asking the people in their lives for forgiveness and inventorying their transgressions against Creation. Today, we Jews go to synagogue and ask Creation (G-d) for forgiveness. Another name for Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.

First, the order matters: We ask the people in our lives for forgiveness. Then we think how we have acted against the World. Then and only then do we turn to G-d for forgiveness.

Second, saying sorry is not enough, in our tradition. It is a start. In the Jewish tradition, people must also act differently, that is, they must enact the apology with a change in how they are in the world.

Third, human purpose can be understood—in how I have been taught—as working toward Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the repair or healing of Creation. While there is definitely a range of interpretations that could be made on what this healing entails, it certainly incorporates attention to the physical world as well as the spiritual. These two intertwine and interrelate in such a way as to be inseparable. Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace—and writing, the arts, music in service of activism for positive change—are very relevant issues to our human purpose, from this view.

And thus, on the Holiest Day of the Jewish Year, it is appropriate to work toward Tikkun Olam, asking G-d’s forgiveness for all we have done that harms our fellow humans, inventorying our own role, and moving forward with action that shows our genuine desire to change and make things right again.

And, further, as the spiritual and the physical are interrelated, so are all of the arts (literature, art, music, dance, stage, film…), so are all three of the themes: Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace.

So this year, on Yom Kippur, we ask you to join in with your contributions from any of the arts—share your efforts toward healing and repair of our World. As you do, remember this, paraphrased from the sages:

Do not despair at the iniquity and injustice of the world in which we live. For today, that is, in this period where injustice, racism, and greed seem to have risen to power, do not give up or give in.

It is not up to us to complete the work of Tikkun Olam, but this does not free us from working toward the healing and repair of Creation. That is, although we may not achieve our goals of a just, sustainable and peaceful world in our lifetime, we must continue to make progress, and in working toward them, the healing of Creation will occur, one poem, one essay, one novel, one painting, one sculpture, one song, one symphony, one performance at at a time…

By action, not words alone, will this be done. If ever there was a time when this action is more needed than others, certainly now is one—Resistance! Activism! Peace! Sustainability! Social Justice!

Instructions for how to participate follow below.

—Michael Dickel, Contributing Editor


Thanks to Jamie Dedes for getting our virtual 100TPC underway. Travel issues left me in the lurch. My apologies. May this introduction partially atone for my tardiness in getting the event going! Instruction on how to participate in today’s event are included below:



“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [woman or] man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966

Today under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Here is a sampling of the posters announcing these gatherings.They give you a small idea of how far-reaching this annual global event is and for which we have the work and vision of  100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to thank.

Think on this when you are tempted to lose all hope for our species. Remember that—not just today, but everyday—there are ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage crossing borders in the form of poetry, stories, art, music, friendships and other acts of heroism. Hang tough. And do join with us—The Bardo Group Beguines—today to share your own creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.

 

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Meanwhile our 100TPC host, Michael Dickel, was caught somewhere between Israel and the American Midwest, so we got off to a late start. Michael will be around during the day today.  He did especially want you to have the link to the 100TPC Resist Wall, where you can post activist and resistance poetry today or any day.


POST YOUR WORK HERE TODAY

To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100TPC today, please use MisterLinky for url links. Just click on the icon below.  You can also simply paste your complete work or the url into the comments section.  Remember the themes are peace, sustainability and social justice.


To read shared work see the comments section and click on Mister Linky. Enjoy!

On behalf of Michael and the rest of The Bardo Group Beguines
and in the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes
Managing Editor,
The BeZine

Silence i — Warm Blanket of Silence

It was September in 1998 when I last visited this text, but I began writing it in 1988—an unlikely time for warm humid air in Minneapolis where I lived. Still, brought up by storm, bereft of beaches, warm ocean-born air covered me in that north-central city, the nearest seacoast thousands of miles away; I could smell that salt breeze left over from and carried here by hurricane Gilbert and his aftermath.And this is what I wrote in 1988 and revised (somewhat) 1998. Now, in 2016, I pulled it out, dusted it off, made some additional revisions and edits (including cutting about 15 pages out at the end) for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I read the version of the following at Verses Against Violence 3, organized by Rachel Stomel in Jerusalem, on 24 November, 2016. I have made some edits to the version I read and added a bit more, to more clearly state my position at the end. Both the edits and what I added arose from the discussion after the reading in November.

When you read this, the bombs may be falling still, or falling again; or a temporary lull may have been ordered, or a ceasefire may be in effect. This peace-around the corner, while children, invalids, and old people are blown into mass graves, has been the latest, most visible testimony to the power now handled by a few men—which begins to seem like the power of nature, to bring famine, plague, or cyclone and take it away again at will.

“The bombings, for example, if they have anything to teach us, must be understood in the light of something closer to home, both more private and painful, and more general and endemic, than institutions, class, racial oppression, the hubris of the Pentagon, or the ruthlessness of a right-wing administration: the bombings are so wholly sadistic, gratuitous and demonic that they can finally be seen, if we care to see them, for what they are: acts of concrete sexual violence, an expression of the congruence of violence and sex in the masculine psyche.”

—Adrienne Rich, “Vietnam and Sexual Violence,” a column for APR, first published in 1973

“…it’s time for men to start having programs about rape. It won’t stop until men learn that the victims aren’t responsible.”

—Irene Greene, director of the U of Minnesota Sexual Violence Program
in an interview with Doug Grow.]

 

The Warm Blanket of Silence

It is a comforting warm atmosphere, and that it should bear with it the responsibility for the death of hundreds and the devastation of fragile third world economies, responsibility for the spawning of floods and tornadoes, dumfounds me at this distance. The air around me is a comfortable blanket, secure and cozy, cuddling me into gentle submission, into ignoring the terrible violence that spawned it, that delivered it to my doorstep along with the bananas and the coffee and the economic well-being that are part of my privileged existence. How do I set my comfort aside and grapple with the need for others’ relief, for a fair-weather change? So easy to retreat, to retreat to the warm blanket, to snuggle against the supposed truth: I am not the perpetrator of those violent deeds. For I am not a violent man, myself.

So it is with the storm, the raging blast of destruction and domination that is U.S. foreign policy, especially in the what we once called the “Third World,” now (in 2016) also the Middle East. That storm accounts for the cozy climate of the privileged in the U.S. (and I own that I was, while living there, and still am, as an ex-pat, one of those privileged). Thousands of deaths, devastation of economies, the spawning of the floods of war and the tornadoes of insurrection and destabilization all account for the stolen ocean breezes. And if I feel as helpless against the hurricane of foreign policy as I do against Gilbert, that same comfortable blanket beckons me: I am not the perpetrator of these violent deeds. For I myself am not a violent man.

If not perpetrator, then collaborator, if not in the destruction wrought by the storm, then in the destructive forces let loose when men beat women, when parents beat children, when men beat other men, when men rape women, when men use violence, oppression and sexual power to coerce those around them into submission. And if it seems that I have leapt hugely into an abyss from foreign policy to domestic, personal, and sexual violence (are these different?), then it is because I am looking for the beginnings of our national imperialism in the place it seems to me things begin: at home. If acts of violence in foreign affairs are not acts of sexual violence, as Adrienne Rich suggests they are, and I by no means believe that they are not, then the same indifference and silence towards the raping, beating, and emotional violence that plagues our own sisters, mothers, lovers, colleagues, brothers, and ourselves allows for our silence and indifference about how our nation conducts its foreign affairs. We may not perpetrate the violence, but we collaborate with it when we remain silent: Even if we are not, ourselves, violent men.

Collaborate? With silence. Silence is collaboration, the great hushed whisper that approves by not calling out, by not naming the violence of person against person, by looking the other way. Too long men have ignored the violence, or viewed it as the victim’s problem, or, when forced to acknowledge the truth, tried to suppress the violence in patriarchal fashion with laws, jails, and punishments (more often than not punishment for other suppressed members of society more than for those in power), rather than treating the roots, looking to the core of the matter.

“Such inhumanity will not cease, I believe, until men, in groups of men, say “no more.” Until the Jaycees, Rotary, American Legion, male sports groups, and the like begin to discuss rape in their meetings and begin to give a loud prohibition to sexual abuse of women rape will not stop.”

—Ted Bowman
quoting himself from a letter to the editor
of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune, December 30, 1983.

Part of the problem is that many men do not see wife and child beating as a men’s issue. Here I generalize, for some activist men indeed do (singer, songwriter, activist Geoff Morgan, for instance, or witness quotes above), and no sweeping statements should be made about men, women, or any group of people. Traditionally, however, men do not seem to have dealt with this issue except as an issue of the victim—a woman’s or child’s issue, or if a men’s issue, a men’s issue based on their own victimization, as in child abuse. Rarely have men confronted the issue as an issue of their own suppression of others, or of their own fears or inability to be whole. An issue of their own rage and explosiveness. We often ignore the fact that we can be violent men.

I know I have viewed this as a “women’s issue,” I know my friends have, I know that some of the concerned men I met with in Minneapolis have all ignored men’s responsibility, to greater and lesser extent, while wanting to acknowledge our “sensitivity.” In failing to acknowledge our potential for violence, we continue the oppression. It is when we deny our own anger, often at ourselves or other men, that we become most likely to blow up with rage at others, also.

But, I am not a violent man. And I do not beat or rape women. Why should I consider this my problem?

Because men are the most common perpetrators of this violence, and men ought to consider solutions that will stop other men from violating other human beings. (I speak hear of male abusers because I wish to arouse men to action to stop sanctioning this abuse with our silence—what I say may apply to women abusers as well.)

We should stop being silent and start taking responsibility, stop saying that this only effects the victims and recognize the effects throughout society and culture, stop subscribing to the patriarchal code of silence that allows the male, even requires the male, to dominate and control those around him, and start working with each other to end family and personal violence. If we want accusations like Rich’s to be untrue, (that violence and sexuality are one for men), we have to speak out and say that it is untrue for us and unacceptable in those around us. We have to act according to these words. We must disentangle them in our own psyches and lives and acts. We must, as men, face our own violence, turn our own sexuality from oppression to eroticism (not to be mistaken for pornography) and spirituality (not to be mistaken for patriarchal indoctrination), from desire for self-gratification to tenderness for the Other.

(skipping about 15 pages to coda at end of original essay)

The first step for any change in attitudes we have and perpetuate about gender, sexuality, and violence begins in the mirror. I must face up to my own capacity for abuse, my own tendency to authoritarianism: my own reluctance to feel, to trust, to be vulnerable, to love (and be loved). I must face myself in my worst aspect to create my best. If this has been, up to now, a social commentary and proposal, it is now a call to all men, and to myself, to begin the act of change within each of us. I ask no one to give up manhood. On the contrary, I ask each man reading this to embrace his own manhood, and to recognise that this manhood is not the violent, competitive, truncated beast that is so often reflected in our culture and our self-images.

I am not a storm, unleashed by nature, not a furious distemper whipping and whirling through the world. I am not corrosion, destruction, death and war. I am not powerless in the face of my actions, hopeless or helpless. Although I could be all of those things. I am not Hurricane Gilbert run amuck, nor Gilbert merely placated, worn down by feminism, politics, my mother, my lover, or my therapist. I am a man choosing to change that which I can. I have missed opportunities in the past, and these missed opportunities are scars that run deep into my psyche: I watched one man die violently where I might have made a difference had I not been silent. I experienced the sudden death of my father with an incomplete relationship because the silence between us—despite all of our words—had grown too big, was broached too late. I have attacked myself, despised myself at times, and lashed out at others.

I may be hunter, and warrior, which means I have the capacity for destructive and abusive violence, and also the capacity for sustaining power and strength. I am also lover and parent, which some may take to mean that I could control and possess a (male or female) vessel in an attempt to fill my needs, but for me means that I can form a tender, erotic, spiritual, and emotional alliance which truly satisfies. I am human, which means I have the power to repress and deny the reality of my emotions, and also that I have the power to experience, survive, and grow in the world by knowing my deepest feelings. I am parent, which means that I can continue the cycle of destruction and violence that I have inherited, and also that I can be open to growth and change. I live in the world, which means that I can strive for dominion, and also that I can strive to form a spiritual community not only with my fellow humans (male and female), but with nature itself. Change begins at home, the choices are mine.

If I do not wish to suffocate under a warm blanket of storm blown silence, I will have to own the destruction that the silence protects. If I own the destruction, I take responsibility for the violence, and then I can change. If I change, I empower myself. I can complete myself. I can choose life, spirit, love, nature. I am not, by inheritance from my father or otherwise, beast; but human being by inheritance of my mother and my father, together. And I will try to be.

“While I have yearned for leadership from persons and groups more influential than I, I also know that the burden of responsibility lies on my shoulders. Consciousness-raising doesn’t cut it! It is time to talk with my sons, brothers, and male friends and yours also. Will you join me in speaking to your male acquaintances? Can we make a difference? I think so! Let’s do it!”

Ted Bowman 1988

(This is as far as the reading went.)

I have brought this essay back for what I imagine are, to the readers of The BeZine, obvious reasons—an unrepentant “pussy-grabber” has been elected to the office of President of the United States. As a man, I renew my decades-long commitment to stand against such violence and abuse, to resist the “locker-room” excuses and all violence, but most certainly violence against women and children. One thing I take heart in, though, is that what I have witnessed at the Verses against Violence reading this year and in the past—people speaking out, women (mostly) and men resisting the violence embedded in our society and breaking silence. The outcry about the orange-man’s grabbing statement, while it did not stop him being elected, was loud and clear. In 1988, I suspect his comments would not have been a subject in the media. I suspect, but who can know for sure, that the media of that time would have shrugged their shoulders and themselves said, “locker-room talk.” In 1998… possibly not much better. Things are not where they should be, they are not where I want them to be, but at least there was a shout of “NO!”

So, let’s shake the blanket of silence off of our shoulders. Let’s do what we must, do what we can. Let’s not accept in complacency what this presidency likely will bring.

—Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play)