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I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?”
Eve Merriam

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.
– John Lennon

Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
– Lao Tzu

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
– Harriet Tubman

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.
– Helen Keller

Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.
– John F. Kennedy

Most people see things as they are and ask why… i dream things as they could be and i ask why not.”
– George Bernard Shaw

The best soldier does not attack. The superior fighter succeeds without violence. The greatest conqueror wins without struggle. The most successful manager leads without dictating. This is intelligent non aggressiveness.
– Lao Tse (Lao Tzu)

Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace.
– Buddha (560-483 B.C.)

Please post “I Declare World Peace” on the wall of your favorite social medium.

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So, those who were once heroes of 9/11 are instead once again showing their true grit. Some 800 peaceful protesters, members of #occupywallstreet were effectively herded into a mass group on Brooklyn Bridge and arrested. NYCs finest has yet again proven Forrest Gump to be quite correct; “Stupid is as stupid does.” The thing that gets me in all of this is that the police in general, and it’s no different here in Sweden, really tell you they want your respect and really wish for you not to call them pigs, fascists, motherfuckers, ass kissers, idiots, and to smile as they arrest your family for doing absolutely nothing while their colleagues are buying drugs down the street and paying for it with prostitutes services. I see Al Pacino in the great film Dog Day Afternoon, the great scene where he sees the crowd and hollers “Attica, Attica Attica!” . In other words, dear reader there’s a pattern here and it ain’t plaid!  I think to myself “Gee, wouldn’t it be easier to get respect if they actually did manage to serve and protect?”

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Torture fears for Bahraini women and girls in detention | Amnesty International.

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Racism on the rise in Europe – Opinion – Al Jazeera English.  Very sad to hear that this is happening. I had hoped I’d gotten away from such rampant racisim when I left the US, but sadly it seems to be everywhere. I don’t want to sound like Rodney King, but Can’t we all just get along?  Racisim isn’t inborn, it’s learned, and as such it can be unlearned. I can only hope that with time it will pass.

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#PALESTINE NEWS | Aug 16, 2011.

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Fox News gets upset over President Obama’s Ramadan message, fails to mention President Bush’s.

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I wrote earlier about my youth. A time spent hiding from bullies and the search for a way out. This time, I want to write about more current events and what lead me to be so outspoken on Palestine and the “Arab Spring”. I’ve never much cared for those who for whatever reason feel the need to jump from one “cause of the moment” to the next, or one trendy diet to the next, or one relationship to the next. If I feel the need to get involved with something or someone, it’s because there is something there that touches me deeply, catches my imagination or simply that I find irresistible. In 1972, as I mentioned before, the McGovern campaign was about so much more than who would give us a break from Nixon. It was about the war, civil rights vs. big business, and a new fresh humane perspective vs. the same old ‘Old’. Of course it grabbed a hold of me, and even though Sen. McGovern is deceased, he and the possibilities that he represented still have a place in my heart. After the election in 72, I felt decimated, as many young liberals did. I tried to use those feelings to stir me on, got involved in issues on a state level, going back and forth to Salem, (the state capitol and seat of the legislature) many times to speak on this or that issue and even caught the attention of a few in the Democratic party who wondered if I was interested in running for office. I was flattered but politely declined. How could I explain to them that I was there on a mission for humanity and didn’t believe in their system anymore? I tried to continue the effort for about 3 years or so, but my heart simply wasn’t in it. Like so many before and after me, the belief, once so bright and alive had been beaten down. There were a few times and events that roused my passions but that didn’t last, Nelson Mandela finally being released from prison, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Orange revolution in the Ukraine even though it can be seen as less than successful, I was fascinated by the visions on my television screen and will never forget the hope it ignited. But there were also many other events, some new some old that made me feel beat down, Tiananmen Square and the continued repression in China, the occupation of Tibet, the continued dreadful treatment of women in hardcore fundamental Muslim countries, the occupation of Gaza by Israel and the building of the wall, and of course, the war in Bosnia and the butchery by people like Mladic. When I moved to Europe, my mind was opened by a new European view of the world and the place of the US in it. I finally was out of the grip of Fox News and all the disinformation, lies, and deceit and oppressive worldview of the United States of Homeland Security. It’s a view that I wasn’t exposed to in the US but I’m so glad to have found, now I want to share it with as many as possible here so that maybe if more and more start to figure out the truth, then slowly things can change. I’ve always thought the most powerful weapon against oppression is the truth. When Obama was elected president, I was thrilled. I thought finally we had a president who would listen, and that we could cast off the oppression of the Bush era. Homeland security was going to fall, Guantanamo would be closed down and we could build a bridge of peace between the west and the Arab world once we put Israel in it’s place and stop the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. Sadly that hasn’t happened. In the flow of life we’re rarely aware of the currents and eddys that lead us from one spot to the next. From event to event, the details of who we are and what we believe in can easily get lost. It’s not often in one’s life that we get more than one chance to really see things in perspective, to consider with clarity how we got where we are, what changes led us here and to trace our own personal mental and emotional development. So many things clutter our view, that it’s usually impossible. I’ve been blessed with that chance on more than one occasion. Moving back to Portland in 1972, was one, and with it the election and discovery of my own voice. Moving to Stockholm was another in that it gave me a fresh perspective and I found, once again, the voice that I had lost. In the summer of 2010, my wife and I took a trip to Sarajevo. She had been active in Let Bosnia Live and the Sarajevo List, activist groups to raise awareness of the genocide in Bosnia during the war. She had never been there but had wanted to see it first hand since the war. I had never been there either and since I was in the States at the time of the war, I didn’t get enough information, (media in the US can be VERY ethnocentric) I remembered Sarajevo from the winter Olympics, and I was looking forward to the trip very much. I was also curious as to what my reaction would be, visiting my first war zone. In the taxi from the airport, we got to see the first signs of the horror. Buildings were still severely damaged, and it was a harrowing ride as I could almost hear the mortar shells exploding and feel the terror from the people as they tried to dodge them. I fell for that city and my heart ached as we toured the parks filled with graves, learned about the tunnel, which was the only means of escape and the only way for supplies and aid to arrive. I salute the bravery of the wonderful people of Sarajevo and Bosnia in general. Those feelings of deep respect stayed with me, and continue to stir in me. When I heard about the Arab Spring, I was still deeply under the influence of the trip and those feelings were given a new focus and renewed energy. I found twitter at the same time, and signed on almost immediately as a means of gathering information and learning but also as a means of showing my support. There are others who are much more informed as to why these events have started in the Middle East and Northern Africa than I am, and I’ll gladly leave it in their capable hands to explain. I am no expert on politics but I do have my own perspective, and I do have a strong fundamental belief in humanity and our rights to self-determination. To me it’s rather simple, human rights, no more and no less. I will take up that mantle with all that I can offer and will gladly add my name to the list to be counted. When my wife and I were in Sarajevo we took part in a demonstration supporting the first Gaza flotilla, and will do so again here at home. I look back on the changes and directions my life has taken and while I am sometimes saddened by the periods of political inactivity, I also realize that it took that time for me to arrive where I am now, where ever that is. I wrote a dream filled bucket list once, some of the items on it were to meet Nelson Mandela and tell him how much I admire him, walk into Tibet next to the Dali Lama as free men into a self governing country, and now I have to add other items, such as have a meal in Cairo with many of you and toast your freedom, see a new government in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and the destruction of the wall in Gaza, and the end of the monetary oppression of the United States and Europe in the oil rich countries in the region. I have high hopes for all of you and for your struggles. I do believe we will find our way. Let me quote one of my favorite poets Kenneth Patchen from his poem “A letter to a policeman in Kansas City” “I’m not too starved to want food Not too homeless to want a home Not too dumb to answer questions come to think of it It’ll take a hell of a lot more than you’ve got to stop what’s going on deep inside us when it starts out when it starts wheels going worlds growing and any man can live on earth when we’re through with it:” YALA MENA!

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This is the start of what may or may not be a search into myself. Who am I? What made me Me? What factors still influence me? Let’s start at the beginning.

My family has always been supportive of me. I want to say this from the start. We still love each other very much, even though we’ve had our moments and our disagreements. This is about the rest of my childhood.

I had a small group of friends when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, and after school we’d get together and watch the old Superman series on TV, followed by wrapping blue towels with crayon drawn superman emblems on them around our necks and jumping off the furniture pretending to fly. I think I remember the Moms being ok with it, because they probably felt that it was a great way for kids to get rid of energy and maybe we’d calm down a little after an hour or so of playing superman. For me, even at that age, I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to save someone, anyone, from harm and first and foremost to save the world. (Nothing like starting small, eh?) It was great fun, of course, but it was also a role that I think I took seriously. I also remember that I loved school then, although at the time I didn’t appreciate it like I would later, but that had less to do with what was happening then and much more to do with the hell it became.

Everyone’s life changes, and mine did too when my parents separated. I was 8 years old. We moved away from my school, my hometown and my wonderful friends to live in a small town 45 miles and a lifetime away. Almost from day one a pattern emerged, a pattern that I now know of as bullying that only ended by moving away 9 years later.

I was popular in my old school and I remember crying about losing my friends when I was told we were moving. This is hardly news, it happens to kids everywhere everyday. I was told the same things, “Oh but you’ll make so many new friends. You don’t need to worry about anything” Kids, let me tell ya,, when an adult says that you don’t need to worry about anything, START WORRYING!

Without going into lots of detail, my time in my new school was hell. I know it pales in comparison to what I’ve heard from others. I am going to say that for 9 very long years I was harassed and beaten up almost daily and that for 3 of those years I was subjected to what they called a “Hass hunt” in which at least 5 guys announced (always during art class, just before the afternoon break) with the teacher standing right there and listening, that they thought it was time for a “hunt”, and everyone, including the teacher, knew what they meant and no one acted on it. They would chase me from the instant class ended, giving me a little time to “get a head start” and then hunt me down and assault me when they caught and surrounded me.

By the time I reached Junior High School it got meaner and more physical. By that time the instructors had become accustomed to it and turned a blind eye, in fact a couple of them actively encouraged it saying that if I wasn’t going to stand up for myself then they were right to do it and I had it coming. (Always at least 1 against 3, mind you, even if I wasn’t non-violent, I would have had no chance at those odds I told myself) Until High School I was rarely bloodied too badly, I have to admit. They knew where to hit to not leave visual marks, but the idea of being treated that way left a mark on me for a very long time, much more inside than outside, although that certainly happened too.

It seemed that every friend I made during that time eventually turned their back on me, and decided that I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. It wouldn’t take very long, a month or so on average but there were some that took longer. I was and still am grateful for the ones who stuck by more for longer than that, but the pain of their betrayal made it difficult to trust people for a very long time. Although I didn’t blame myself necessarily it took years for me to stop wondering if or when my new found friends would, turn their back on me and become a “hunter”, as every friend I ever thought I had in that small hell town did.

All those days of pretending to be Superman paid so many dividends. They set a level of self-confidence that the worst hunter could shake but never break. I believed in my self and my own self worth and I knew even at that age that I was born for much more than they could ever imagine.

We moved out of that small town the summer before my senior year in high school, 1972, the election year, the year of Watergate, the beginning of the final end of the American Song of Innocence. I was elated to go back to Portland. Back to the city life, back to where I knew I belonged. I remember I thought, “Now was going to be my chance. I would show those doubting Thomases that I wasn’t trash, or stupid, or retarded or worthless or less than human or any of the other cruel labels they threw at me and tried very hard to make me believe I was, or wasn’t.”

At my new high school, my first few days were terrifying!!. IT WAS HUGE!!!! The senior class alone was more than three times the size of the entire student body of my little 4-year high school COMBINED!! YIKES!! So many people, I thought to myself. I was so terrified of walking down the halls in my old tiny school with just a small amount of bullies, how on earth could I protect myself from all of these people if they wanted to hurt me?

But they didn’t and something happened there, that I could never have expected, and from a source that I could never have predicted.

The last 2 or 3 years at my small school I was slowly beginning to be exposed to the outside world and that meant the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali, race riots, Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, Eldridge Cleaver and Malcolm X, Ghandi, Alan Watts, the Doors, Jimi, Janis and all the rest of the 60s even though I was a little too young to truly experience them in the way one normally thinks of it, (no I didn’t get to Woodstock.) I started to rebel, in small ways, for example my clothes and my attitude. I decided to become as much of a “hippie” as the situation allowed and as much as I dared, for I knew if I went too far I would definitely get beaten up for it.

Not too long after I arrived at Sunset High, I noticed a quote on some campaign literature posted on the wall, and I slowly started to think about what one of them said, the quote was “I’m sick of old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in” and the man quoted was Senator George McGovern.

The Vietnam War was still raging, and I was getting closer to it everyday, without knowing it. (2 years later, in 1974 my turn to face the army draft came up, they stopped the draft just in time and I would miss being drafted by a scant two weeks) Something about that quote hit a chord with me, as it was designed to. Was this my future calling to me? Hmm,, Sunset High School Young Democrats,, and they have a meeting coming up! My isolation vanished in a blur of political fascination. Maybe this could give me the chance I had wished for so long, to speak out on things, be a part of the world. Of course, Nixon won re-election easily but for me personally it was a time of enormous growth.

The time I spent hiding in the blackberry bushes in the lot next to our house, so wanting to run and play with the other kids but too afraid to, the time I spent in front of the mirror, staring myself in the eyes, trying to force a belief in my own self worth, a sense the other kids were trying so very hard to ruin, all of this went away, not the deeper pain, that took considerably longer, but the more immediate damage, dissipated like mist on a warm spring day.

I had used the solitude not only to hide and “lick my wounds” but also to think deeply about why my life was the way it was. I didn’t want to let them win, didn’t want to accept their low opinion of my self worth. I somehow always believed in myself, no matter how hard they tried to break me down. I found a strong belief, based on my inner strength and things that I heard from news or media or wherever I could find it, that the world doesn’t have to be cruel. I didn’t have the ability to express it in the way I can now but I knew how I felt.

The message on that board and the work that I did after I got involved gave me a sense of validation of my own beliefs about our place on earth and the ability of mankind to better our existence. Unless we act globally we live the life we are taught, or forced to accept, while inside we yearn for so much more, so much better. It seems I’ve always known that but didn’t realize it until then. This campaign and the subsequent ones I became involved in gave me the chance to speak out on the thoughts that I had to keep to myself for all of those years. It was extremely empowering to be sure. I suspect maybe that’s why I feel that empowerment is one of the most beautiful words I know.

After the elections of 72 through 76, I started college and became less and less interested in the day-to-day job of politicians and decided to go on with my normal life as a student of the world and drifted around the University trying to figure out the whole mess. (I still haven’t.) I did get involved in some ways but never with the same drive. This urge still drives me and hopefully it will never go away unless we somehow manage to learn to live together globally. In University I managed to find other ways to express myself, dance, theatre art, poetry and some of them are still interests to me.

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