THE BeZINE, Vol. 4, Issue 2: Hunger, Poverty and The Working Class as Slave Labor

November 15, 2017


In the four-year history of The BeZine, this is the most significant edition. All of our concerns – peace, environmental sustainability, human rights, freedom of expression – depend on a more equal distribution of wealth, on making sure no one goes hungry and on breaking-down barriers to employment, healthcare, education and racial and gender equity.

This pyramid (courtesy of Wikipedia) reveals that:

  • half of the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1%,
  • top 10% of adults hold 85%, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth,
  • top 30% of adults hold 97% of the total wealth.

We’re all cognizant of that profile, but if you feel you’re sitting pretty and you’re not at risk, you’re employed, educated and middle class after all, you’d be well-advised to reconsider. The middle class is now – and has been for some time – dramatically challenged to find work, to acquire jobs that are fairly paid, offer stability and reasonable hours, and in the U.S., enable them to send their children to college.

The implications of a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the oligarchs and mega-corporations, are horrendous. Not the least is the undermining of democracy. Those who vote for and support the oligarchs because they think that’s where their security lies are victims of propaganda and bound for disappointment. The shadow of catastrophe (not too strong a word) that hangs over us is not due to the poor or the “other” who doesn’t look like us, worship the same God, or speak the same language, but to the 1%.  Huxley was disconcertingly prescient.


This month our core team and guest contributors create a picture that beckons and behoves us to abandon stereotypes and propaganda about the poor, to recognize slave labor in its most absolute terms (human trafficking and prison labor) and more subtly in the conditions faced by workers at almost all levels of the corporate pyramid. We are called to ethically source the products we buy, to study our history, to bravely speak out against injustice and stupidity and, by implication, to shine a light on best-practices, those programs, services and unofficial efforts in your city/town, region or country that are helping and that can easily be implemented anywhere in the world. (You can share these with everyone via our Facebook discussion group.)

Beginning with Juli’s impassioned editorial, The Exponential Demise of Our Well-being, and moving to our BeAttitudes: John Anstie’s powerful Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy; Corina Ravenscraft’s and Trace Lara Hentz’ thoughtful invitations to awareness; Phillip T. Stephens on prison injustice; Sue Dreamwalker’s encouragement to see the homeless as fully human (and she connects us with homeless poets and artists in England); and Joe Hesch’s honest exploration of self, we are called to responsibly participate in history.

We present a memoir from Renee Espriu and a short story from Joe Hesch this month. These are followed by yet another stellar poetry collection from poets around the world, including work by core-team members: Charles W. Martin and John Anstie.

New to our pages, a warm welcome to: Juli [Juxtaposed], Sue Dreamwalker, Michael Odiah, Evelyn Augusto, Michele Riedele, Irene Emmanuel and bogpan. We welcome work from among our previous and regular contributors: Paul Brookes, Trace Lara Hentz, Renee Espriu, Sonja Benskin Mescher, Denise Fletcher, Phillip T. Stephens, R.S. Chappell, Rob Cullen and Mark Heathcote.

In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes, Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine


HUNGER, POVERTY and THE WORKING CLASS AS SLAVE LABOR

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.


EDITORIAL

The Exponential Demise of Our Wellbeing, Juli [Juxtaposed]

BeATTITUDES

Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy, John Anstie
Change Your View and Your View Changes, Corina Ravenscraft
‘Til the Jails Are Empty, Phillip T. Stephens
Blessed Be, Lara Trace Hentz
Homeless, Sue Dreamwalker
Ramble Tramble, Joseph Hesch

MEMOIR

Meeting Poverty, Renee Espriu

SHORT SHORT STORY

And Crown Thy Good, Joseph Hesch

POETRY

As if …, John Anstie

Carolina Oriole, Evelyn Augusto

Ecomium, bogpan

Crow Share, Paul Brookes
Means Tester, Paul Brookes
A Hunger, Paul Brookes
The Good Employer’s Manifesto, Paul Brookes

Bitter limp fruit, Rob Cullen
Life in complicated times, Rob Cullen

Empty Pocket, R.S. Chappell
War Over Hunger, R.S. Chappell

proud at unjustified margins, Jamie Dedes
an accounting, Jamie Dedes

A Thread of Hope, Denise Fletcher

Dustbowl, Mark Heathcote
Humanitarian help worker, Mark Heathcote

Togetherness, Irene Immanuel

a slave’s mentality, Charles W. Martin

#ice&mud, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Nautilus, Michele Riedel

Life, Michael Odiah

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


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Giving Thanks: An Invitation to Awareness

A Vegan Gratitude Day Dinner, Leek and Bean Cassoulet
A Vegan Gratitude Day Dinner, Leek and Bean Cassoulet, keeping it kind
For Gratitude Day in 2010, Awyn (Jottings) wrote the piece posted below. It has remained with me since then and I asked Awyn for permission to publish it here. Awyn and I met thanks to Sam Hamill’s Poets Against War initiative to which we both contributed. She included two of my anti-war poems in “Salamander Cove,”  her poetry magazine, where I was honored to keep company with such lights as Sherman Alexie and Robert Peake. Wow! The magazine was paused in 2012 but is expected back this December. Awyn (Annie Wyndham) is a former human rights worker and an accomplished poet and writer of conscience. Her poems have appeared in Burlington Poetry Review and Spoonful (Cambridge’s Stone Soup poetry venue). You can sample her poetry on her blog. J.D.

Here’s Awyn:

Happy Thanksgiving! — to all those who celebrate this special holiday.

Last year on Thanksgiving, I itemized all the things for which I was thankful. Here it is that time again, one year later and that still all holds true but no special dinner has been planned. Canada celebrated its Thanksgiving Day in October and it’s nowhere near as big a holiday here as it is in the U.S.

In the U.S., for many Thanksgiving means not only a big family dinner but watching the annual parade or football game on TV, big sales on Black Friday the day after, and the horrendous traffic back for those who came in from out of town. All part of the tradition.

We have plenty of big, sit-down dinners here with my mate’s family, but my fondly remembered American Thanksgivings are now a thing of the past. I don’t know any Americans here, my mate’s not that crazy about pumpkin pie, and I’m a vegetarian, so there’d be no turkey. Turkey is traditional but I’ve had many an untraditional version, with calamari or tofu or soup.  It was still a thanks-giving.  My kids are hundreds of miles away and none of us can afford to visit at this time. Hence no big family Thanksgiving get-together celebration this year. We will share our good wishes over the telephone. As for spectator parade-watching or sports broadcasts or Black Friday shopping, none of that interests me. In that, I guess you could say I’m untraditional. Pumpkin pie, however, is non-negotiable. You absolutely cannot have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. It just doesn’t compute.

The most interesting Thanksgiving I ever heard about was from the wife of a former colleague who volunteered at a local soup kitchen. She told me that one Thanksgiving, to raise awareness of all the people who were starving in the world, some organization whose name I can no longer remember invited people to attend a big sit-down Thanksgiving dinner, for $15 per person, proceeds to go towards world hunger.

When you arrived, you were asked to pick your entry ticket out of a box. There were three kinds of tickets.

If you got a green ticket, you would be served the full dinner, with all the trimmings–and be allowed seconds on desert.

If you got a yellow ticket, you would be served what starving people in third-world countries sometimes get to eat–a child-sized helping of rice or thin, watery soup–and nothing else.

And if you got a white ticket–you’d get nothing at all.

So imagine you’re at this banquet and you get the full meal, with all the trimmings, and you’re sitting next to someone who got nothing. Would you turn and give half of what you have to that person? What if you’re one of the unlucky ones who got the thin, watery soup? Or worse, the empty plate. Would you quietly sip your water and listen to your stomach growl, hoping the people next to you might offer to give you some of theirs?

I’m sure a lot of sharing went around, probably immediately, after the initial surprise (and perhaps discomfort) wore off. Giving money to a charity, for which you get a sit-down dinner, is one thing; being invited to dinner and served an empty plate and having it suddenly sink in what real deprivation is like, is quite another. (Well, the invitation did say the theme was Awareness.)  But how uncomfortable to have to sit in front of an empty plate all evening long while others are eating. That glass of water can only go so far.

I went without  lunch yesterday–not by choice.  I simply forgot.  I was working on something and the hours flew and I suddenly realized it was getting dark outside and all I’d had to eat the whole day long was a cup of coffee at 6 a.m.  My stomach began reminding me it hadn’t been fed.  Loudly.  No problem.  I could open my refrigerator or reach for something in the cupboard and solve the problem, instantly.

But what if I couldn’t?  What if, for whatever reason,there was none to be had and no more food would be forthcoming for another day. Another two days. Maybe even a whole week. How would I deal with that?  Certainly, after a day or two, lack of food would make me woozy, lightheaded … lethargic, even.   I’d probably lose weight.  Temporarily fasting is one thing. Starvation, however, is quite another.

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I think that’s what the organizers of that unusual Thanksgiving dinner wanted to convey–that life is not fair.  Some of us get to sit down every evening to a good meal, Every Single Night.  Some can only afford to buy food meant for animals.  Some get somebody else‘s leftovers, fished out of a trash can.  And some get nothing at all.

So many things to be thankful for this holiday.   Awareness–however received–is one of them.

© 2010, essay, Annie Wyndham, All rights reserved; cassoulet photograph courtesy of SarahJane Veganheathen via Flickr under CC A – SA 2.0 generic license; little girl courtesy of Filipe Moreira via Flickr under CC A-SA 2.0 generic license; the sketch that says it all is Awyn’s

100TPC Event Today … Link in your poems, art, stories, film, music, videos for peace, sustainability and social justice with an emphasis on poverty and hunger

Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation<br/>Moshe Dekel (age 5)
Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation by Moshe Dekel (age 5)

Welcome to the 5th year of 100,000 Poets (Musicians, Artists, Mimes…) for Change, and the 2015 edition of The BeZine Online 100TPC Event! If you’ve done this before and you know the score, skip to the comments or Mister Linky at the bottom of the post and begin. If you are wondering, hey, what are you folks up to then check out some serious non-fiction here:

Our mission here today as poets, writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends is a sort-of fission for change—a burning with and expression of the desire for peace, environmental and economic sustainability, social justice, inclusion, equity and opportunity for all. We seek through our art to do a bit of old-fashioned consciousness raising, to stimulate thought and action leading to the kind of change that is sustainable, compassionate and just, and to engage in the important theme of the issues facing humanity today—but all with a goal to alleviate suffering and foster peace. We don’t want to just “talk about it,” we want words, art and music that help us take action in some way for positive change wherever we are in our lives, in our world.

We see a complex inter-woven relationship between peace, sustainability, and social justice. We all recognize that when people are marginalized and disenfranchised, when they are effectively barred from opportunities for education and viable employment, when they can’t feed themselves or their families or are used as slave labor, there will inevitably be a backlash, and we’re seeing that now in violent conflicts, wars and dislocation. Climatologists have also linked climate change, with its severe weather changes and recent droughts, to the rise violence in the world, and even contributing to inequities in areas – like Syria – where a severe drought destabilized food production and the economy, contributing to the unrest that led to the civil war, according to one study.

Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulged much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civial war and ISIS conflict
Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulfed much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civil war and ISIS conflict

There are too many people living on the streets and in refugee camps, too many whose lives are at subsistence level, too many children who die before the age of five (as many as four a minute dying from hunger, according to one reliable study—more info), too many youth walking through life with no education, no jobs and no hope. It can’t end well…

Syrian refugee camp, photo: The Telegraph
Syrian refugee camp
photo: The Telegraph

More than anything, our mission is a call to action, a call to work in your own communities where ever you are in the world, and to focus on the pressing local issues that contribute to conflict, injustice, and unsustainable economic and environmental practices. The kind of change we need may well have to be from the ground up, all of us working together to create peaceful, sustainable and just cultures that nurture the best in all the peoples of this world.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses in the global capitalist system). We are united in our cries against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues. We have to ask of what use will all their riches be in the face of this inconceivable suffering and the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised. We need fairness, not greed.

So, with this mission in mind, and with the complexity of the interrelationships of social justice, sustainability and peace as a framework, we focus on hunger and poverty, two basic issues and major threads in the system of inequality and injustice that need addressing throughout the world.

We look forward to what you have to share, whether the form is poetry, essay, fiction, art, photography, documentary, music, or hybrids of any of these—and we want to engage in an ongoing conversation through your comments on all of the above as you not only share your own work here today but visit and enjoy the work of others, supporting one another with your “likes” and comments, starting or entering into dialogues with writers, artists and musicians throughout the world and online viewers, readers, listeners.

Think globally, act locally, form community.

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem (with G. Jamie Dedes, California, USA)

DIRECTIONS FOR PARTICIPATION

Share links to your relevant work or that of others in a comment or by using Mister Linky below. To use Mr. Linky, just click on the graphic. (Note: If you are sharing someone else’s work, please use your name in Mister Linky, so we can credit you as the contributor—we will give the author / artist name in the comments, from the link when we post the link in a comment.)

You may leave your links or works in the comment section below this post. If you are sharing the work of another poet or artist, however, please only use a link and not the work itself.

In addition to sharing, we encourage you to visit others and make connections and conversation. To visit the links, click on Mr. Linky (the Mister Linky graphic above) and then on the links you see there. (Some Mr. Linky-links can be viewed in the comments section after we re-post them.)

Thank you! 

All links will be collected into a dedicated Page here at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.

Thank you for your participation. Let the conversation begin …

The BeZine, 15 Sept. 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 11 (Poverty/100TPC) – Table of Contents with Links

15 September 2015

For the past five years, September has been the month of 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC). All over the world, poets (musicians, artists, and, yes, mimes) have organized events on or near a Saturday in September each of those years, this year, on the 26th. For this, the fifth anniversary of 100TPC, there are over 500 events scheduled throughout the world. The readers of, contributors to and publishers of The BeZine have participated with a virtual event in the past and will again this year on the 26th.

Meanwhile, The BeZine’s theme for September also supports the 100TPC call for peace, sustainability, and social justice, with our focus on poverty in general and homelessness in particular. This focus relates to social justice in an obvious way. Yet, how could we speak of sustainability without social justice? If we still have poverty and homelessness, what is sustained other than inequality? And, without social justice could there be peace? For that matter, could peace be sustained without both justice and environmental plus economic sustainability? Our choice is not to put one of these three above the other, but to recognize that all of these three important themes, necessary areas of change, interrelate in complex ways. So we chose one aspect to focus on, and in so doing, this issue clearly points to all three themes through the lens of poverty.

We open by featuring three incredibly powerful poems by Sylvia Merjanian, Refugee, Second Chance, and Collateral Damage. Refugee and Collateral Damage come from her collection, Rumor (Cold River Press—proceeds go to help Syrian refugees). Second Chance debuts here. These poems show the relationship of war to poverty, oppression, and sexual abuse. In reading these, one senses the immense personal costs of war, especially to women and children. They provide an important window into the staggering worldwide refugee crisis, currently the largest human migration since World War II. Refugees are homeless in so many ways, even when they have a house to live in. And, the world seems to conspire to keep them destitute.

That war directly and indirectly causes poverty does not surprise. You might not know, until you read James Cowles’ essay, The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty, that something called The Compromise of 1877, which ended the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era, provided the political and economic structures of poverty that continued strong through the Civil Rights Era and, in many ways, still exist today. Certainly we know that poverty is not new in the United States, and neither is homelessness. In this issue you will hear music of the Depression Era that sounds too familiar today. The first time I personally participated in an editorial process and writing publication related to homelessness was in 1989, for the University of Minnesota student paper, the Minnesota Daily. We produced a special finals’ week issue, Ivory Tower, dedicated to the theme.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses). Our second feature, Jamie Dedes’ poem, Some Kind of Hell to Pay, cries out against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues, and it asks of what use will all their riches be in the Hellish realm of the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised.

photo credit: Sharon Frye
photo credit: Sharon Frye

The poems, prose, photo essay, and art in the rest of the September BeZine will ask you to feel, to see with empathy, to hope defiantly, and always to resist the status quo. The writers often look beyond the borders of the U.S. or Western Europe to see the injustices of a world-wide economic system of war, greed and injustice that makes it difficult to live outside of its oppressive realities—and for those pushed out, the available choices do not sustain their lives, their dreams, or their spirits.

Yet, people live, they dream, and they hope with spirit—often in defiance, sometimes by dying (see John Anstie’s As if and Sharon Frye’s Jacob’s Ladder in this issue), sometimes by living despite all of the forces lined up against their lives. Victoria C. Slotto’s Homeless Man tells of a “destitute” man whose story reveals that he may in fact have the most rich life of any of us. Always, there is more than what we see.

Read these words. Think about the change that could help to heal creation as Michael Yost’s poem Who Am I to Judge and Michael Watson’s essay The Realm of the Unimaginable speak to. Remember the admonition to think globally but act locally. And, most of all, imagine.

Then, join us on 26 September 2015, on our blog. Add your own thoughts, your own poems, your own essays. Join in our virtual, worldwide 100TPC event from wherever you live. We will post a page with instructions on our blog on the 26th. The posts will go up live. And, after the 26th, we will organize and archive the event (see the 2013 and 2014 pages in the tabs at the top of the page).

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem

My poem from the 1989 Minnesota Daily Ivory Tower

Soil

i
The plow cuts, disk or chisel?
How much of what lies below to bring up
leave exposed to dry in the wind?
What residue of last years’ crop
to leave upon the soil, cover over
to rot, return to the fertile land?

What fetish draws me along this furrow?
Street and curb meet here.  Step up or down into slime.
Dust, trash tossed around and dropped by the blind wind.
What fate ties strings to which embedded hooks,
Pulls my flesh forward forever forward towards the street?

The Spring fete begins, seeds in muck
anticipating dilettante dance of the chosen few.
Weed out the hungry whose appetite starves wind-pressed grain shafts;
water the rows of the obedient who face slick harvest,
brittleness in the searing sun and death with Winter.

I move, farmer in these city streets, man among the chaff,
I offer to fetch my elegant plow-tongue, to stop the wind,
describe the deep earth and the rotted residue, the dry grasses and newspaper
blown by, salvaged for shelter by the quick grasp of an old hand,
pulled on top of gray hair to keep rain out.

ii
I would pull the plow, but a voice from under the newspaper
covers my shoes in mud and mire.

    What d’you know ’bout
all this?
              He spit

from mown rye-stubble fields,
        fetid earthen face
          Cracked
crumbled
          creased

  Caressed once, long ago

     All you see’s a bum.
      Fuck you, you son of a whore.

At home I do not wash the dirt from me,
I scrape it off, place it in a box
with a key I open my belly and
secure the box within, sated.

The weeds fend for themselves

photo credit: Jamie Dedes
photo credit: Jamie Dedes

September 2015

Theme: Poverty

Lead Features

Rumor, Silva
Some Kind of Hell to Pay , Jamie Dedes

Articles/Creative Nonfiction

The Realm of the Unimaginable, Michael Watson
The Roots of Institutionalized Poverty in the Compromise of 1877,  James R. Cowles
Farming a Dancing Landscape, Priscilla Galasso

Poetry

As if, John Anstie

Why do you judge me?, Brian Crandall
Homeless, Brian Crandel
I Understand, Brian Crandall

Poverty Line, Sharon Frye
Jacob’s Ladder, Sharon Frye
Barometer of Bones (A Baltimore Teacher Remembers Freddie Gray), Sharon Frye

The Search, Joseph Hosch
Cold Comfort, Joseph Hesch

more Washington rumors, Charles W. Martin
five dollars and some change, Charles W. Martin

The H wor(l)d, Liliana Negoi

I Am Not Alone, Lana Phillips
Pulling Myself Up, Lana Phillips
Wounded Healer, Lana Phillips
Undeserving, Lana Phillips

~ Under ~, Corina Ravenscraft

Le Mendicant, Victoria C. Slotto
Homeless Man, Victoria C. Slotto

Who Am I to Judge, Michael Yost

Photo Story

Out in the World, Naomi Baltuck

Art

Mother and Child, Roy DeLeon, OSB

Special Feature
An Art Lesson with Leslie White … music by Grandpa Elliot

Music
nueva canción de Ameríca Latina
(the social justice music of Latin American) 

Sólo le pido a Dios (with translation and brief bio), Mercedes Sosa

from the Great Depression (1929-1941)

The Ghost of Tom Joad, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen
I Ain’t Got No Home, Woody Guthrie
Hobo Bill’s Last Train Ride, Merle Haggard
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Rudy Vallee
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, Bessie Smith

Contemporary

Democracy, Leonard Cohen

BIOS WITH LINKS TO OTHER WORKS BY OUR CORE TEAM AND GUEST WRITERS

FOR UPDATES AND INSPIRATION “LIKE” OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN

MISSION STATEMENT

Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling
June 2015, Diversity
July 2015, Imagination and the Critical Spirit
August 2015, Music

100,000 TPC 2015, Event Posters from Around the World

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As of this writing, there are well over 500 events scheduled around the world. To find an event near you or to register an event that you are organizing go to 100TPC.

Our own (Beguine Again and The Bardo Group) virtual event is scheduled to be held here at The BeZine blog on 26 September 2015. You are invited to join us by linking in your relevant work on poverty  (our theme this year) through Mr. Linky (directions will be included in the post that day) or simply by adding your link or your work in the comments.  You retain your own copyright.  All the links and works will be collected and posted in a Page at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.  Think about and prepare something you’d like to share so you can have your say and feature your own work.

To “meet” our host for that event, American-Israeli Poet Michael Dickel, link HERE.

To “meet” the founders of 100TPC, link HERE.

The Poet as Witness: “War Surrounds Us,” an interview with American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

Editors note: The theme for our September issue is poverty. It is part of our 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change event (change being peace and sustainability) to be held here as a virtual event on 26 September 2015. Michael Dickel takes the lead on this project and the September issue. Here’s an opportunity to get to know him better. Michael’s vision: “… hope must/ still remain with those who cross/ borders, ignore false lines and divisions/” is consistent with the mission of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine.  The September issue will post on the 15th. J.D.

5182N5cYeEL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_“That some of those labelled as enemies
have crossed the lines to offer condolences
at the mourning tents; that the mourning
families spoke to each other as parents
and cried on each others’ shoulders;
that we cried for the children who died
on both sides of the divide; that the
war began anyway; that hope must
still remain with those who cross
borders, ignore false lines and divisions;
that children should be allowed to live;
that we must cry for all children who die”

– Michael Dickel, (Mosquitos) War Surrounds Us

Jerusalem, Summer 2014: Michael Dickel and his family including Moshe (3 years) and Naomi (1 year) hear the air raid sirens, find safety in shelters, and don’t find relief during vacation travels.  In a country smaller than New Jersey, there is no escaping the grumbling wars that encircle. So Michael did what writers and poets do. He bore witness. He picked up his pen and recorded thoughts, feelings, sounds, fears, colors, events and concerns in poetry. The result is his third collection of poems, a chapbook, War Surrounds Us.

While some use poetry to galvanize war, Michael’s poetry is a cry for peace. He watched the provocations between Israel and Hamas that resulted in war in 2014 and he illustrates the insanity.

            And the retaliation
Continues, reptilian and cold,
retaliation the perpetrator
of all massacres.

Though the poems change their pacing and structure, they present a cohesive logical and emotional flow, one that takes you blood and bone into the heart of Michael’s experience as a human being, a poet, a Jew, a father and husband. He touches the humanity in all of us with his record of the tension between summer outings and death tolls, life as usual and the omnipresence of war.  Both thumbs up on this one. Bravo, Michael.

– Jamie Dedes

Poems from War Surrounds Us:
Again
Musical Meditations
The Roses

TLV1 Interview and Poetry Reading

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MY INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL DICKEL:

Jamie: Putting together a poetry collection and ordering the work in a way that enhances the meaning and clarity of poems included is not easy. One of the first things to strike me about the collection as a whole is how it flows, so well in fact that it reads almost like one long poem. I found that quality contributed to the work’s readability. How did you work out the order? Was it consciously ordered or did it arise organically out of the experience of the war?

Michael: I’m very gratified that you noticed this about my book. I hadn’t thought of it quite in that sense, of being one poem, but I like that it reads that way. The sense of a book holding together, a collection of poems having some coherence, is important to me. I don’t think my first book achieved this very well, although it has some flow poem to poem. The whole is not focused, though. My second book has a sense of motion and narrative, from the Midwest where I grew up to arriving and living in Israel, and now being part of the Mid-East. However, War Surrounds Us, my third book, finally has a sense of focus that the other two did not.

Unfortunately, I probably can’t take too much credit for that coherence. Even more unfortunate, a real war raged in Gaza, with rockets also hitting the Jerusalem area, not that far from where I live. As we know now, thousands died, most apparently civilians, many children. Just across the border to the Northeast, diagonally opposite of Gaza, a much larger scale conflict burned and still burns through Syria—with even larger death tolls and even more atrocities over a longer time. These wars had, and still have, a huge impact on me and my family.

During last summer, the summer of 2014, this reality of war surrounding us had all of my attention. And it came out in my writing as obsession with the war, my family, the dissonance between living everyday life and the reality of death and destruction a missile’s throw away. So the topic filled my poems those months, as it did my thoughts. And the poems emerged as events unfolded over time, so a sort of narrative wove into them—not a plot, mind you, not exactly, anyway.

This gives a chronological structure to the book. However, not all of the poems appear in the order I wrote them. I did move some around, seeing connections in a theme or image—if it did not jar the sense of the underlying chronology of the war. Some of the events in our life could move around, and I did move some poems to places where I thought they fit better. I also revised the poems, reading from beginning to end several times, trying to smooth out the flow. A few of the poems I actually wrote or started before this phase of the ongoing conflict broke out—but where they also fit into a pattern, I included them. In the end, I moved and revised intuitively, following my own sense of flow and connection. I’m glad that it seems to have worked for you, as a reader, too.

Jamie: What is the place of the poet and poetry in war? Can poetry, art and literature move us to peace? How and why?

Michael: This is a difficult question. Historically, one place of poets was to call the soldiers to war, to rile them up and denounce the enemy. There is a famous poem from the Hebrew Scriptures. Balaam is called by Balak to curse Jacob and his army. The story sets a talking donkey who sees an angel with a sword and other obstacles in his way, but long story short, he arrives and raises his voice. He is the poet who is supposed to curse the enemy. Instead, he begins, “How beautiful your tents, O Jacob…” and recites a poem that is now part of the Jewish liturgy. This is not necessarily a peace poem, but it shows words and their power to curse of bless. I think the place of the poet is to bless and, rather than curse, to witness with clear sight.

There is a long history of poet as witness and observer. Czeslaw Milosz in The Witness of Poetry and Carolyn Forché, following him, in her books Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness and Poetry of Witness, which goes back to the 16th Century, argue that the poet’s role is to observe and bear witness to the world—to the darkness, the atrocities, genocide, war… Forché quotes Bertolt Brecht: “In these dark times, will there also be singing? / Yes, there will be singing. / About the dark times.” I think that is what we do as poets. That’s what I hope that War Surrounds Us does at its best, albeit as much a witnessing of my own family and context as of the Other. Then, as feminist theory has taught me, the personal is political, the political personal.

A1oKsOxRrJL._UY200_Can art and literature move us to peace? I don’t know. I hope it can move us to see more clearly, to feel more acutely, and to embrace our humanity and the humanity of others. Perhaps that will move us toward peace. There is so much to do, and it is as the rabbinic wisdom says about healing creation: it may not be ours to see the work completed, but that does not free us from the responsibility to do the work. As poets, we make a contribution. I hope the songs about the dark times will also be blessings for us all.

Jamie: Tell us about your life as a poet. When did you start and how did you pursue the path? How do you carve out time for it in a life that includes work, children and community responsibilities. You live on a kibbutz, I think.

Michael: Well, starting at the end, no, I don’t live on a kibbutz, I live in Jerusalem (the pre-1967 side of the Green Line). I do teach English at a college that was started by the Kibbutz Movement as a teacher’s college in the 1960s, now Kibbutzim College of Education, Arts and Technology. That appears in my email signature and confuses some people outside of Israel, who think I teach as part of living at a kibbutz. I’m actually more like adjunct faculty, but no one at the college works directly for a kibbutz as far as I know, and the college is open to anybody who qualifies.

While I only have a short day, from when the kids of my current family go to pre-school until I pick them up, I also usually only teach part-time. Some semesters I teach full-time or even more, but usually not. And, many of my courses in the past couple of years have been online, meeting only a few times during the semester. This helps.

My wife works full-time in high tech, which allows us to survive on my irregular, adjunct pay. She also has some flexibility, which allows her to usually be free to pick up the kids as needed around my teaching schedule, and we have on occasion hired someone to help with the kids so I could teach, not so much for my writing. But that has allowed writing time on other days.

Mostly, I write during those few hours when the kids are at pre-school, after the kids have gone to bed, or even later, after my wife has also gone to bed. If I’m working on a deadline or a large project, such as some of the freelance work I do for film production companies, I write after my wife gets home from work even if the kids are still awake. Usually, though, I write when I find time, and I find time when I don’t have other obligations.

Perhaps of relevance to this book, the writing took over. I was late in getting papers back to students and delayed other obligations and deadlines, even canceling a couple of other projects—although it was not just the writing, but the whole experience of the war, dealing with it and wanting to be very present with my children. As the poems relate, we went to the Galilee, in the North, for a month, a vacation we have taken before. Last summer, though, it had extra urgency because of the war. Unfortunately, during an outing picking apples in the Golan Heights, we heard artillery across the border in Syria, and that’s when I wrote the title poem of the book, “War Surrounds Us.”

The summer before, on that same month-long getaway, I wrote a lot of flash fiction, which makes up most of my next book, which should come out by the end of the year. I wrote during both summers when the kids were napping or after their bedtime, mostly. The place we stay in, a friend’s house (he travels every summer), has a lovely courtyard, and after the children went to bed, Aviva and I would sit out in it, usually with a glass of wine. She would read or work online and I would write on my laptop into the night. It was lovely and romantic.

I have to say that I almost don’t remember a time when I didn’t write poetry or stories. I recall trying to stop on a few occasions, either to work in some other aspect of my life, or when I did a different kind of writing, such as for my dissertation (which devolved into creative writing for more than half of it). But really, going back into my early years, I wrote stories or poems of some sort—influenced I suppose by A. A. Milne, Sol Silverstein, Kenneth Grahame and, later, Mark Twain and even Shakespeare. I had books of Roman and Greek myths, the Lambs’ bowdlerized Shakespeare for children, and some Arthurian tales as a child, not to mention shelves of Golden Books. Later, I read Madeleine L’Engle and a lot of science fiction. And everything I read made me also want to write.

I owe the earliest of my poems that I can remember to exercises from grade school teachers, one in 3rd grade, maybe 4th, the other in 6th grade. However, I’m sure that I wrote stories and possibly “poems” earlier. My first sense that I could become a poet arrived via a junior high school teacher, who encouraged me to submit some poetry to a school contest. I tied for first place.

So, I started writing forever ago. By the time of the junior high contest, I had read e e cummings, Emily Dickinson, some Whitman. By 9th grade, I discovered the Beats through a recording of Ginsberg reading “Kaddish” and other poems. Hearing him read the poems, then reading them myself, changed everything.

Alongside this development, one of my brothers brought Dylan records home that I listened to. All three of my brothers, with my parents’ tacit approval, played folk music and protest music in the form of songs of Woody Guthrie; The Weavers; Joan Baez; Peter, Paul and Mary; in addition to Dylan. These influenced both my writing and my world view. The same year that I came across Ginsberg’s work, I was involved in anti-war activity in my high school. That spring, four students were shot at Kent State. In another way, that changed everything, too.

Writing, activism, and politics, for me have always been interwoven. I also heard that year about “The Woman’s Movement,” which today we call Feminism. Later, much later, I would read and take to heart the idea of the personal being political, the body being political. I think my poems, even the most personal, always have a political and theoretical lens. And the most philosophical or political or theoretical, also have a personal lens. I don’t think that we can help but do that, but I try to be aware of the various lenses, of using their different foci deliberately as part of my craft. I’m not sure that is the current trend, and much of my work doesn’t fit well in spoken word or slam settings (some of it fits). However, this is my poetry and poetics—and they arise from a specific cultural context, the complexity of which I could not begin to convey in less than a lifetime of writing.

My development from those awakening moments looked like this: I read. I wrote. I shared my work with other people who wrote. Sometimes I talked with others about writing. My first degree in college was in psychology, not English, because I naively thought that psych would help me understand the human condition and that English would “ruin” – suppress – my writing voice. However, I took a lot of literature courses and my study abroad term focused entirely on literature.

After college, I had a career as a counselor working with runaways, with street teens, with children undergoing in-patient psych evaluations, and in a crisis intervention and suicide prevention center—a career that taught me a lot about politics, gender, race, and justice. I continued to write, often about some of the most disturbing realities that I encountered, but not well.

I had been out of college nearly a decade when I took some courses in creative writing at the University of Minnesota, at the suggestion of some friends in a writing group who had also taken some. One of the professors encouraged me to apply to the Creative Writing Program, where I was accepted. The acceptance was a poignant moment—I was out of state at my father’s burial. My now ex-wife remained back with our then 2 year-old daughter. She saw the letter in the mail, so called and read it to me. It was also my 32nd birthday. So many emotions all at the same time. Mostly, I remember wishing I could have told my father—from when he first heard that I’d applied, every phone call we had included his asking if I had heard yet if I had been accepted. It was the most direct way he had of saying he was proud.

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Jamie: Tell us a little about 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) in Israel and how people can get in touch with you if they want to participate this year. Are you able to manage a mix of Arabs and Jews?

Michael: The thing about 100TPC is that it’s pretty loose, as an organization, and very anarchic in governance. Which is to say, I’m not sure there is something I could call 100TPC in Israel. There’s a wonderful poet in Haifa who does some events, I don’t think every year. She is very active in peace activism and poetry. There’s an Israeli mentor of mine, Karen Alkalay-Gut, who has organized 100TPC events in Tel Aviv since the first year. For the past two years, I organized a poetry reading in Jerusalem. The first one was small, a few people I knew and cajoled into reading. The second one was much larger, over 25 poets. We had one Arab writer, who writes in English, at the second reading. Her poetry is powerful and personal, written as an Arab woman, a mother, and an Israeli. An Arab musician was going to join us, but he had a conflict arise with a paying gig. It is difficult to manage the practical, political, and social barriers, but people do it here. I am just learning a bit how to do this now.

For this year, I am working with two other organizations—the Lindberg Peace Foundation, which has held annual Poetry for Peace events. This year will be the 40th anniversary (yartzheit, in Hebrew) of Miriam Lindberg’s tragic death at the age of 18. She wrote poetry, was a peace activist, and also an environmental activist. Her mother was a poet and professor, and passed away a few years ago. Joining us in planning the Jerusalem event will be the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development. Their mission as I understand it is to develop interfaith leadership for common goals related to eco-justice that would also provide a model for solving the Middle East conflicts.

The Jerusalem events won’t be the same date as the national event (26 September)—our dates will be 15–16 October, to honor the 40th anniversary of Miriam Lindberg’s death. Dorit Weissman, a Hebrew-language poet and playwright, also has become part of 100TPC this year, and she and I are having a smaller reading on 8 October with other poets.

We are just setting up a Facebook page for organizing with the three groups, 100TPC, the foundation, and the center. People could look for me on FB and send me a chat message there to be in touch. I hope that we will have the events posted on FB in the next few weeks, but we are still working on the details. The devil is always in the details, as the saying goes.

Michael will host The BeZine‘s virtual 100TPC this 26 September 2015.

Be the peace.

© 2015, book review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; words, poetry, photographs of Michael, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved; cover illustration, The Evolution of Music, by Jerry Ingeman, All rights reserved

Further Discussions on Poverty – Hunger! – 100,000 Poets for Change

Note: On our (The Bardo Group and Beguine Again, publishers of The BeZine) 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty, which is our theme for September. I’m sharing some of the conversation there. If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know. All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation. Instructions will be in our blog that day. Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability.

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Thanks to Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) and Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) for encouraging thought and discussion around poverty and homelessness. How about exploring poverty and hunger, often referred to these days as “food insecurity?” (Better, I think, to call it by its true name.)

One question, for example: How do our consumption patterns contribute to hunger? We first started thinking about and taking action on this (those of us who have been around long enough) with the publication of Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet in 1971 in which she explored the roots of hunger, poverty and environmental crises.

Here is part of an overview of the UN’s 1998 report on inequity in consumption courtesy of Anup Shah of Global Issues :

“Today’s consumption is undermining the environmental resource base. It is exacerbating inequalities. And the dynamics of the consumption-poverty-inequality-environment nexus are accelerating. If the trends continue without change — not redistributing from high-income to low-income consumers, not shifting from polluting to cleaner goods and production technologies, not promoting goods that empower poor producers, not shifting priority from consumption for conspicuous display to meeting basic needs — today’s problems of consumption and human development will worsen.
… The real issue is not consumption itself but its patterns and effects.
… Inequalities in consumption are stark. Globally, the 20% of the world’s people in the highest-income countries account for 86% of total private consumption expenditures — the poorest 20% a minuscule 1.3%. More specifically, the richest fifth:
Consume 45% of all meat and fish, the poorest fifth 5%
Consume 58% of total energy, the poorest fifth less than 4%
Have 74% of all telephone lines, the poorest fifth 1.5%
Consume 84% of all paper, the poorest fifth 1.1%
Own 87% of the world’s vehicle fleet, the poorest fifth less than 1%
Runaway growth in consumption in the past 50 years is putting strains on the environment never before seen.”
Human Development Report 1998 Overview, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — Emphasis Added. Figures quoted use data from 1995

Posted by me last night on The BeZine 100 100TPC 2015 Facebook Public Group Page

Here is some of the discussion that followed. Please add your own thoughts in the comments section below.  

There was a report by Oxfam, a couple of years ago I think, that produced even more extreme statistics regarding the very small percentage of those who own the vast majority of the world’s assets! I shall have to dig it out.”  John Anstie 

“interesting and arresting….but let’s not forget waste….have you ever seen what supermarkets throw away each day? It’s criminal.” Jacqueline Dick

“In a number of urban areas, groups collect “waste” from groceries and even restaurants to distribute to those in need. It should be done more widely. And, for the environment, what is beyond salvage should be composted, not tossed into landfills or incinerators.Michael Dickel

“I wonder how many of us are vegan or willing to go go vegan because land used to feed and raise meat and poultry can be put to better use – and more environmentally sound use – to sufficiently feed the earth’s population on plants? Lappe first brought this to our attention in ’71 followed by many others including John Robbins and Will Tuttle*. There is sufficient body of study to support this, which along with animal cruelty and human health is driving the trend to plant-based food consumption.” Jamie Dedes

* If people don’t have enough to eat, don’t have clean water, and don’t have employment, their anger will foster hostilities. So, for those who feel disconnected from hunger issues because it’s not in front of them and they have enough to eat, I would submit that in the interest of self-preservation world hunger needs to be faced and addressed compassionately and pragmatically.  I don’t know how many people outside the vegan community are familiar with Will Tuttle’s work.  Dr. Tuttle is professional pianist and composer, he’s an eloquent spokesperson for the vegan imperative.  I strongly recommend his book The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Harmony.

The reference to “Earthlings” in the video is about the movie, which I reviewed in 2011 and which I have scheduled to post here tomorrow.

May all sentient beings find peace.

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
– Metta (amity, good will) Prayer (Buddhist)

Photo credit: Jamie Dedes

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 2)~ The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation there.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

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This conversation was started on our The BeZine 100TPC 2015 Facebook Group Page by Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

It’s only a little more than a month until 100 Thousand Poets for Change—Fifth Anniversary—26 September! Time to start some provocations…

Just to get us thinking abou the Poverty Theme next month—this was posted in a FB group, “Philosophy,” a while back but just appeared in my timeline.

The question I have is, does the standing man reach into his pocket because of empathy? Does he see that the beggar could be him? Or is it narcissism, that he sees an extension of himself (rather than seeing the person himself as separate)? Is he only giving b/c it is another version of himself (white male)? Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?

I don’t ask these questions to be cynical, but because I think the cartoon suggests all of this and possibly more. Who do we see when we see poverty? Who do we help? Who do we wonder why they are not “making something” of their lives (as one commenter on the posted photo said he would ask “himself”—the beggar self—in this situation)?

Jamie asked me to take the lead for the poverty-100TPC page, if I understood correctly, so consider this a first provocation. I hope to put out a couple of more in the next couple of weeks.

Are they prompts? Inspiration? Irritants? I like the idea of provoking thoughts, creativity, ideas. So I call them provocations. Mainly, just use what generates something for you, ignore the rest or all if you’ve got your own excitement rolling.

– Michael Dickel

Some of the discussion that resulted from Michael’s prompt follows:

“Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?” Heartbreaking that we even have to ask. And we know the artist’s perspective, he is not seeing the other.” Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“I’d like to think in the spiritual sense he’s seeing himself but that is wishful thinking, eh? Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

“The ‘but for the grace of God, go I’ response. Maybe. I was more cynical…I was seeing the ego. Ego demands giving to look good. Ugh. I’ve been doing justice work too long.” Terri Stewart

“I think the cartoon suggest all of this—the empathy of “there but for the Grace of God” likely the intent of the artist. The ego the reflection in the mirror, and possibly also intent? Who knows, I guess about intent… and that sense of I will help those like me. And what about those not like me? Terri Stewart

The drawing is provocative. And privileged. And as such, regardless of intent, draws attention to our own privilege, those like me anyway, white male, sitting at my expensive computer writing on FaceBook, drinking good coffee, and not worrying about where my next meal will come from, just whether I can afford to install central AC.” Michael Dickel

What are YOUR thoughts? Please feel free to share them below.

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15. The theme for August is music.

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 1) – The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation here.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

This portion of the discussion was begun by Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) with this video:

Among the responses:

Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

“If you want change, let me throw it at you as hard as I can at your dirty face…”

Let me throw justice at you, let it hit your face
and wake us up. Let me throw opportunity at you,
let it hit your face and give us a chance.
Let me throw change at you, change in the world,
change creating justice and freedom,
change creating opportunity, real change
for all. Let me throw democracy at you, let it
hit us in the face so hard that it cracks open
and spills out into the land, everywhere, change—
real democracy, real hope, real opportunity.
Let me throw change and the stinking, rotten
carcass of consumer capitalism and greed at
those so privileged and shallow as to think white
teeth are more important than your humanity.
And then, god help me, let me find love
and compassion to throw as hard as I can
into our faces, into our lives, into the hearts
of us all, of us all standing here watching
in voyeuristic pleasures of despair.

– Michael Dickel

Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams):

“I want to shake all of those people who wrote those mean things and ask them what happened to their compassion? I want to ask them if their judgment makes them feel better about themselves and what they would do if they ever found themselves in such dire circumstances.”

John Anstie (My Poetry Library):

“Yes indeed, Corina, maybe no compassion, but where also is their insight?”

Please share YOUR thoughts below. Thank you!

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15.  The theme for August is music. 

Year 5 of 100,000 Poets & Friends for Change: 400 events scheduled.

IMG_1250I just realized that I haven’t published an update for some time.  All the news is good.

Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of 100,000 Poets, Artists, Photographers, Musicians and Friends for Change [100TPC] – change being all that is peaceful and sustainable – reported yesterday that there are over 400 events scheduled in various places around the world to celebrate the fifth year of 100TPC.

Michael’s message:

“Don’t forget September 26 is the 5th Anniversary of 100 Thousand Poets for Change! So far over 400 events are confirmed for that day. If you believe that poetry, music, and all of the arts are capable of making a more peaceful and sustainable world then 100 Thousand Poets for Change is for you! Contact me with your name, city, country and email if you would like to organize an event in your town to celebrate this important day. I will sign you up!”

Meanwhile, we have over seventy people united with us on our Facebook discussion page, The BeZine 100TPC, 2015.  You are encouraged to join with us. Leave me a message in the comments area below if you want to be included. The more the better … we welcome diverse participation.  This year we are addressing “poverty.”

For Discussion Here:

 

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), American Actress
Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993), American Actress

I took this photo outside a church theater. It reminded me of Actress Audrey Hepburn’s service as a UNICEF ambassador. She traveled widely as she worked on behalf of the poor and the hungry. She said, “I don’t believe in collective guilt, but I do believe in collective responsibility.” Your thoughts????

The Plan:

The tentative plan: On the 15th of September we will publish The BeZine as usual.  The theme is poverty.  We are reviewing submissions now.  Send them to bardogroup@gmail.com and put “poverty” in the subject line.  Nothing over 1,000 words please and nothing that is unkind. Thank you!

On 26 September we will publish a blog post. Readers are invited to join with us by putting the links to their own relevant work in the comment section or to connect via Mr. Linky (directions will be provided).  We encourage you to read everyone’s work and to comment. We will then collect everything into one Page and publish that on The Bardo Group site.  Michael Rothenberg will include a PDF of the Page in 100TPC archives.

American-Israeli poet, writer and educator, Michael Dickel (War Surrounds Us) will take the lead for the September issue. Michael has hosted live 100TPC events in Israel for the past two years, has a third event scheduled for this October, and attended The First World Conference on the Future of 100TPC.  You can read his article on that event: Salerno, il mio amore.

The next issue of The BeZine is scheduled for 15 August 2015. The theme is music. The July 2015 issue is up for your reading pleasure. The theme is imagination and the critical spirit.  Link HERE.

100 TPC … poets, writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends in solidarity for positive change … POVERTY

IMG_1250POVERTY: Discussion on Bequine Again/The Bardo Group Facebook page (let me know in the comments section if you want to be included there) has made it evident that some definition – some framework – might be needed. As we stand in solidarity and share our art, essays, poetry, music and photography on Facebook and our blogs on September 26th, I think I can safely say on behalf of the leadership at 100TPC (stated core value: peace and sustainability) and Bequine Again/The Bardo Group, publishers of The Be Zine (stated core value: nonviolence), that we are not primarily focused on spiritual malaise, ennui, or existential angst, the kind of indulgences that might characterize those of us who don’t live with bombs dropping and who so fortunately have three meals a day, clean and plentiful water, housing, health care and education. We are not primarily concerned with the psychological/spiritual insecurity that results in the need to over accumulate. These are real, important and relevant issues that do have a place in discussion. However …

… our key objective is to shed a light on the often invisible MATERIAL POVERTY that results in the death of 22,000 children each day (UNICEF) and in the nearly one billion people who entered the 21st century with no education, no reading skills. We are talking about the ever-widening distance between the haves and the have-nots even within the developed countries, with the increasing numbers of homeless, “food insecure,” and the marginalized and disaffected.

We want to shed some light on the decreasing number of the world’s richest countries v the growing number of the world’s poorest countries. In 1820 the number of poor countries to wealthy was three-to-one. In 1992 it was seventy-two to one (1999 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme – see also the Center for Economic and Policy Research). What do you think are the implications for all of us in that?

In short, our concerns are primarily centered on those issues that could be mitigated and perhaps resolved by deflecting investment in war to investment in people, by responsible consumerism, responsible corporate ethic and policy, and responsible national and global human development policy. We are of the same mind as Simone Weil (The Need for Roots, 1949)when she wrote that feeding the hungry is the most basic of human obligations and that “human progress” is defined by “ a transition to a state of human society in which people will not suffer from hunger.”

– Jamie Dedes

100,000 Poets … and writers, artists, photographers, musicians and activists … for Change … Italy

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100,000 Poets for Change [100TC): poets and other artists and activists in world-wide solidarity for peace and sustainability.


While the great global event is scheduled for September 26 in 2015, there are local events staged at varying venues and times throughout the world. From June 3-8 the first world conference was held in Salerno, Italy. The video below shares the delightful work of some musicians at that conference. (The music starts at 1:20.) At The BeZine (a publication of Beguine Again and The Bardo Group), poet Michael Dickel (War Surrounds Us/Is a Rose Press) will report on the conference in Italy in the July 15 issue.

The BeZine is hosting a virtual 100TCP event for those who do not have access to any local venue or are homebound for whatever reason. We hope you’ll join us. We have chosen to shed our light on poverty this year.  More news on that to come here at The Poet by Day and on The BeZine blog.

We have a Facebook group going for our event.  If you are on Facebook and would like to join us there, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add you to the The BeZine 100TPC 2015 Discussion Group. We do ask that you keep on topic and communicate about relevant issues and concerns. Thank you!

If you are looking for a local 100TPC event go to 100TPC blog and scroll down the blogroll to your right to see what’s happening in your area and to find a contact. If you want to organize an event yourself, go to the Home Page for information.

Dreaming

Autumn_BerriesPosted this evening in solidarity with The People’s Climate Mobilization, Sept. 20/21 a Global Day of Action

This week folks around the world will gather to call for real and pervasive action to address climate change. This post honors all who hold the vision of a just, kind, and healed world.

The weather has turned damp and chilly, with the temperature only in the mid-fifties. A couple of days ago the first Titmouse of the season landed on the garden fence and looked into our window with that classic  “Why is the feeder empty?” look. Fall has certainly arrived!

A few nights ago I dreamt about prophesy. In my dreams I longed to heal the world, to stop our country’s headlong dash towards Darkness. Then, near the time I awoke, my vision turned inward and I saw my own inner suffering and turmoil. In the dream I was shown that I have limited influence on the larger world, but I might have great influence in my inner domain.

The Dream world spoke of prophesy, the ancient teachings that speak of the fall of the colonial world. The power of those who favor wealth over kindness, self over community, is rising, a great Darkness that threatens to engulf the world. With their ascent, we witness sharp increases in poverty, racism, and misogyny, and a growing disdain for the young, old, and those with disabilities. Many of the young people I meet speak of a profound sense of desperation and a deep fear for the their future.

These things arise because we have failed to address the wrongs of the past and the challenges of the present. As a result, the violence of our country’s past haunts our collective consciousness and shapes our social world. The European project in the Americas and the South Pacific was one of slavery and genocide as avenues to wealth, and the oppression of the many for the economic gain of a few continues to be the centerpiece of our social order.

I grew up in evangelical churches, places where prophesy was alive. These were not wealthy mega-congregations. Rather they were the refuges of working class men and women, often new immigrants from farm to city. Their faith was immediate, as was their walk with the Creator as they understood Her/Him. In those small churches prophesy was lived experience.

Native American history, the great expanse of it, cutting across many hundreds of tribes and languages, and thousands of years, speaks to the power and truth of prophesy. The great seers were given visions of that which was to come, from the everyday to the earth shattering. Visions still come to The People. Often these visions are shared by our Medicine people and elders, although all to frequently the larger culture refuses to listen.

Still, the Creator speaks to all who will hear, encouraging us to be kind to ourselves and one another, to strengthen our communities, and work with Pachamama to heal our world. This healing is as much about the suffering in or hearts and spirits as that of the natural and social worlds. The tugging or breaking of our hearts in the presence of pain, ours and that of others, is the voice of the Creator, and the call of prophesy.

Prophetic vision may be vast or intimate, and addresses the condition of our internal or external worlds; in the end, perhaps there is no difference. Our realms of individual influence may be small, yet we can do our best to care for those whose lives we touch, including ourselves. We may keep in mind the awareness that vision that lacks compassion leads to tyranny while true kindness heals self and other, and we can allow that knowledge to guide our actions. Is that not the purpose of prophesy, to change and guide? May we each grow more kind, and more skillful at listening to the prophetic voice within us.

Post Script: This morning I attended service at our local UU church, in part because Jennie was singing in the choir, and because the congregation was gathering to bless the 100 or so members who are going to the Climate March in NYC next weekend. (The congregation is only 500 strong!) The minister reminded us that prophesy is action in the face of great odds, and that action takes courage and a soft heart. She then reflected on the place of joy in Dark times, on the necessity of a glad heart. It was good to gather with others who care deeply for the world, and  who put that caring into action.

May those who travel to NYC for The March, and all who do their best to heal the deep wounds of our world, find joy, companionship, and renewed hope.

– Michael Watson

© 2014, essay and photographs, Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

The Olympics, Polio, and the Medicine Wheel, Part One

Snowy-MorningEditor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part piece on Perfectionism originally posted on Dreaming the World. Part II will post here tomorrow.

I am an elder, and as such I am given the task of teaching and supporting the young. On the Medicine Wheel of this lifetime I am in the Northwest, the place of honoring the challenges of my life, understanding them as best as I am able, and sharing what I have learned with others. Perhaps you will share your thoughts about the experiences I share below; I would greatly value that.

We, along with many others, spent a good deal of time during the past two weeks watching the Olympics. Over time we noticed, especially from NBC’s coverage, that the commentators seem to believe winning and perfection were all important. This is a sad thing. One does not have to watch much before one becomes aware the announcers are ceaselessly pointing out errors and failures. Rather than empathy for the competitors, one is barraged with demands for perfection and minute details about failure to achieve such.  There is very little celebration of the athletes who fail to meet the announcers’ or judges’ criteria.

This hits home on two fronts. The first is cultural. I was raised to appreciate the efforts of all. Winning is fun, but should not shame others. Nor should anyone be left behind after the games are over. Further, perfection was considered suspect. One was advised to build imperfection into one’s art and welcome it in one’s life. After all, we are not the Creator although we are aspects of His/Her creation. Only the Creator can be perfect, and it is likely even S/He makes mistakes; as we are reflective of the Creator this suggests that even mistakes can be good and holy. The unbridled pursuit of perfection endangers the individual and the culture, the community and the ecosystem.

The second part is I am a survivor of Bulbar Polio. My phsysiatrist says I am “a walking quad”; rather than disparaging, this is a simple statement of truth. I have severe neurological injuries; Polio destroyed motor neurons all over my body. My arms and hands have considerably diminished capacity; my legs and feet lack strength and mobility; breathing can be a challenge. I am not perfect by the dominant culture’s standards.

Add to this my Native American heritage and the soup becomes thick indeed. I once heard a man, who understandably thought he was with other Europeans, say something like,  “There is nothing more pathetic than a disabled Indian.”  What are we to do with that? Indeed, what are we to do with NBC’s virtual silence on the topic of the Para-Olympics?

Herein lies the difficulty. One one hand I was encouraged to accept  and honor imperfections. On the other, as a Polio survivor I was taught to do my level best to pass as normal, to overcome limitations, and to forget my illness and its  aftermath. Additionally, as a child in a Native family that was actively passing, I was taught to be invisible, a lesson that surely applied to Polio as well.

It is a profound challenge to resist the limiting messages of our families and the dehumanizing ones of the dominant culture. I have done my best, yet I have also spent much of my life seeking to achieve others’ views of perfection, even though not even normalcy was not an option.This has been painful.

I don’t know whether you have ever thought about the Wounded Healer.  In Traditional cultures ill youngsters are often expected, should they recover, to become healers. I use the term “recovery” loosely. Youngsters who face and survive catastrophic illness may not have the same physical capacities as their normative friends. Yet their illness may also give them abilities and insights not readily available to others. When the child is ill the healers do their best to aid. They also seek to discern the nature of the illness; often such illness are understood to be calls from the spirits, initiations into the realm of healers. When there is a spirit call, training in the healing arts accompanies recovery. The illness frequently leaves a footprint in the life and work of the survivor; he or she becomes a wounded healer, knowledgeable about many of the territories and challenges that accompany illness.

This is a different model than the academic learning focus of the West. Of course, the two paths are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, they may intersect, even overlap at times. Both address the needs of the body. Some Western trained healers have adopted the Indigenous understanding that the soul and psyche must also be attended to.  (Milton Erickson, although not to my knowledge Indian, comes to mind as someone who walked both roads well.)

I have come to this point on the Medicine Wheel by living my life from within this severely injured body. This is a sharp contrast to the physically perfection of elite Olympic athletes, or the health and wealth gurus we see on PBS and on innumerable infomercials. The television sages convey the message to us that illness, poverty, loneliness, and all other forms of suffering are moral failures. They do not speak this directly, rather they hold up their carefully managed perfection as a mirror to our human frailties. They offer advice, even salvation; for a fee we can be just like them. But I, and many others, cannot.  The very lifestyles they espouse harm us, and endanger our precious planetary ecosystem and all that lives therein. Where, I wonder is their wisdom and compassion?

We approach the Spring, the East in the Abenaki view of the Medicine Wheel, the place of rebirth and awakening. I am curious how my changing understanding of this beloved, traumatized body will blossom in the coming year.  I wonder whether our culture can set aside the deeply held values of independence, competition, and perfectionism that shaped the  our country (the very ones espoused by those television commentators). Can we own our imperfections, and acknowledge the harm we have inflicted on ourselves and so many others, inside and outside our country? Can we embrace those who suffer illness, poverty, displacement, abuse, or isolation?

As we follow the journey of the sun into the East, we are invited to begin again, to open our eyes and practice compassion and understanding. May we  find the courage to do so.

– Michael Watson, Ph.D.

© 2014, essay and photographs (includes the one below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Little Papal Bling, but enough dazzle to grab our attention …

“Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points.?” Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (1936), Argentinian, 266th Pope of the Catholic Church

celebrating the intention of Nelson Mandela as a new year’s resolution

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Last year saw the loss of a great man and a widening of the world-wide gap between the few haves and the many have-nots, an injustice and a certain recipe for unrest. As we celebrate the birth of a fresh new year today, we also celebrate the man, Nelson Mandela, and his ideas. Poverty creates its own apartheid.

Over the course of the few next days, The Bardo Group will deliver posts that honor the man and second his ideals as a reminder of the need to be resolute, to continue Nelson Mandela’s fight for balance, justice and equality of opportunity.

Nelson Mandela’s Speech on Poverty (2005) 9 min.

May all mothers and their children have
 food, housing, healthcare, education, freedom of spiritual practice, peace and safety.

May open hands and open hearts reign. 

MAY GREATNESS BLOSSOM IN 2014

The Bardo Group Core Team

John Anstie

Naomi Baltuck

Terri Stewart

Corina Ravenscraft

Jamie Dedes

Josepth Hesch

Karen Fayeth

Victoria C. Slotto

Liz Rice-Sosne

Michael Watson

Niamh Clune

Priscilla Galasso

Lily Negoi

Charlie Martin

From Weaponry to Livingry

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Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

The following statistics are courtesy of the United Nations World Food Programme.

* 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. This number has fallen by 156 million since 1990.

* The vast majority of hungry people (827 million) live in developing countries, where 14.3 percent of the population is undernourished.

* Asia has the largest share of the world’s hungry people (some 552 million) but the trend is downward.

* If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.

* Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year.

* One out of six children — roughly 100 million — in developing countries is underweight.

* One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.

* 80 percent of the world’s stunted children live in just 20 countries.

* 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.

* WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.

“God is a verb not a noun.” Buckminster Fuller

May our compassion have legs.

Related articles:

* 2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics by World Hunger Education Service

* An End to World Hunger, Hope for the Future

* How to Help Typhoon Haiyan Survivors

* Help Syrian Refugees

Illustration ~ most likely thelivingmoon.com or, if it’s yours, let us know and we will credit you or take it down. 

– compiled by Jamie Dedes

need i say more…

aunt bea
and i
were sitting
on the front porch
when
a political campaigner
stopped to solicit
our vote
to which
aunt bea replied
lawd
lawd
lawd
you folks
done
lost your mind
promising prosperity
when there ain’t
even enough money
to pay the rent
and
children
are wearing
grandparent
hand-me-downs
to school
while carrying
church sponsored lunches
just so they’ll have
something
to eat
and
you fools
are telling me
that a vote
for your candidate
will bring back
the good-old-days
when
the hell
was
that

– Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

Moral Courage

This is a re-blog of my very first blog post ever from 2008! I have edited it a tiny bit.

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change. Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966. (Source: Wikiquote )

What are our sources of moral courage? I can tell you that I find moral outrage easy, but where does moral courage come from? Relying on my Methodist heritage, The Wesleyan Quadrilateral would have us examine scripture, tradition, reason, and experience in making deliberations. What does this tell me?

What does scripture say?

In Hebrew Scriptures and in Christian Scriptures, we are taught to care for the alien, orphan, widow, and poor among us. In the story of the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), we see a Jesus that stands between the accusers and the marginalized. This is what Christians are called to do. Take action in the face of injustice and stop pain from happening. Jesus teaches us repeatedly that we are to extend our hands to the hungry, the poor, the marginalized, and those outside of authority. This continues from the Jewish traditions. In Hebrew Scripture, we are told in Micah 6:8 that we are to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly” with God (NRSV). These teachings can be encapsulated in the single commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:14). Leviticus 19:34 tells us that our neighbor is the alien among us. Christ tells us that our neighbor is people outside of the power structure that he ministers too—the bleeding woman, the blind, the demon-possessed, or the widow. Those are the neighbors Jesus stands with.

What does tradition say?

In the Methodist tradition, John Wesley spoke out against many issues facing his generation. This included human rights, slavery, prison reform, labor rights, and education reform. Methodists also have the Social Principles and the Book of Resolutions to guide thoughts and deliberations in our present day. Wesley emphasized shaping public policies that would ensure equal and fair education for all children.

What does experience say?

It is very difficult to quantify experience across the board, but if I just examine one system, the education system, we know, through social sciences and the statistics they bring us, that poverty is the single most important factor in education. Poverty riddled areas simply do not have access to a great education system. And unfortunately, for many minority ethnicities in the U.S., poverty riddled areas are disproportionately filled with them. Why would that be? A good source for thought is this YouTube video from Tim Wise–

And we know that poverty is a world wide problem as the recent collapse of the factory in Bangladesh illustrates. The women who were lost there are typically impoverished, but they were considered the lucky ones. They were one step above abject poverty and simply impoverished. The literacy rate is 59%. Poverty and lack of education go hand-in-hand.

Bereaved mothers hold up pictures of their daughters who died in the factory collapse, but whose remains have yet to be identified. Photograph: Jason Burke for the Guardian

There is much to be outraged about. Let us find moral courage.

What does reason say?

Is it reasonable to expect there to be poverty in the world? Is it reasonable to expect there to be violence in the world? Is it reasonable that we hurt each other by action and inaction? I would say no. Jesus does say that the poor will always be with us (Matt 26:11), but that is after he has said that the world will be judged by its treatment of the poor, the hurting, and the hopeless (Matt 25:31-46). Why would Jesus say this bit about the poor being with us always? Perhaps he knew that the entirety of believers would not follow his command to visit the imprisoned, feed the hungry, and to clothe the naked. What would it look like if all of our faith communities fought against poverty by directly participating in feeding, clothing, and visiting? That is why it is unreasonable–we hurt each other by our actions and inactions because we are not doing the simple things that Jesus told us. It is unreasonable. Reasonably, we know that if we had a global will, hunger would be eradicated. God would be so pleased, I believe, to see all children fed.

And last, with these sources of moral courage available to us, what do we do with it? Issues in the world today are so complex and systems are so vast that it seems a hopeless exercise. We must remember that we are not called to fix the whole world, but we are called to be faithful. Be faithful and to keep moving forward one step at a time. Maybe even one meal at a time.

(c) 2013 post, Terri Stewart, all rights reserved

terriTERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Perpetua

I met Perpetua today.
Ready to die, to sacrifice all.
For the sake of a child.

Her child clinging.
Unaware of the rising trauma.
Taken away to a forsaken father.

“Renounce Christianity and you will be saved!
Your child returned to you.
Your home restored to wholeness.”

Perpetua does not flinch.
She steps forward.
Recanting the family.

Soldiers rise on their toes.
Readying for battle.
A jumping of the broomstick.

Divorcing the family that once enslaved.
She calmly faces each one.
Taking punishment for freedom.

© 2009, Terri Stewart

This was written to honor the courage and strength of a young woman who is being jumped-out of a gang.  She is doing it for her child and for God.  Perpetua was an early Christian martyr who, while imprisoned, kept her child with her for a time.  She was imprisoned for the sake of her belief in the Christ-child.  This young woman is being jumped-out for the sake of her child. We know of Perpetua because she was educated enough to keep a diary. There are fragments of this diary in existence today. She stayed with her child in prison until she was done nursing him. At that time, he was taken away from her and given to her family to raise.

Gangs and the fear they create are a scourge and it breaks my heart.  If we could lift people out of poverty and the resultant system failures (failure of healthcare, failure of education) these kids, who join gangs by the age of 7 or 8, might have a shot at turning life around.  In the long run, it is much cheaper to educate someone than it is to imprison them.  In the US, there are approximately 800,000 gang members. El Salvador has at least 50,000 while Mexico is at 100,000 at least. There are about 90,000 in Japan and over 160,000 in China. Italy has at least 25,000. (Source: Wikipedia).  This is a world-wide problem with real, heart-breaking consequences.

© 2013, post, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriTERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual.

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com