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Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

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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