Sunday, September 30, 2007
But Robert of Left of Centrist fame lives in a city that is home to 3,000 to 3,500 Burmese - the largest population of Burmese in the U.S. He sees the faces of those who fled that country and came here for a peaceful life. And he has asked the blogging community to bring more awareness to the situation in Burma.
See Robert's film: Free Burma
The Burmese people have lived under a military dictatorship for 40 years. In 1990, a free election was held for the first time in 30 years and the National League for Democracy (the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner) won the majority of votes, but the State Law and Order Restoration Council (now the State Peace and Development Council) refused to step down and Burma has continued to live under its oppressive thumb. Now, citizens, including hundreds of monks, are protesting extreme hikes in costs of living, including 500% increases in fuel costs. The military is squelching their voices by killing and imprisonment.
Please, if you are so moved, sign the petitions below. Violence and oppression can happen to the people of any nation. There could come a day when we wished that the world would stand up for us.
Amnesty International petition
AVAAZ.org petition To Chinese President Hu Jintao and the UN Security Council
Yesterday, I participated in a celebration for the life of my friend, Jo. Laughter, tears, sharing, laughter... Aahhhhh... Jo's laughter. Deep-belly, abundant, spontaneous, joyous, full-body, infectious, eternal.
A recording of Jo's laughter was played, and the effects spread like a wave across the room until everyone was laughing - for no reason except that Jo's true laughter is contagious. Still is. Even though she is not here in body.
Jo didn't know how to respond to rules, other than to realize that they were only someone else's idea of right, but most likely not hers.
She traveled the world. And at one point, when she was young, she was put in prison in Greece for a couple of years (for reasons that I won't tell you here), only getting out because her father pulled some political strings. Her rebelliousness contributed to a distance between her and her family, but during the last couple of years, she decided to listen and love, letting go of being right. So for her last trip, she went home to spend time with her dad and other family members. Jo told many of us that she had searched the world her whole adult lifetime for one thing - love - and only now realized that it was right here all along.
In a hundred years, no one will probably know that Jo existed. But the world will be a little different than it would've been otherwise, because she affected the lives of those around her, which will affect the lives of those around us. And on and on. That is true for all of us.
So how do you want your footprint to affect the world?
but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from it's restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and
seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from
the river of silence,
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached
the mountain top,
then shall you begin to climb.
And when the earth shall
claim your limbs,
then shall you truly DANCE!
- Khalil Gibran
Saturday, September 29, 2007
The Sensuality, Wisdom, and Fragility of the Earth
This year, we arrived in the desert the day after a rainstorm. The washes were still wet with the sensual undulations created by the water run-off.
Last year at this time, I wrote about the fragility of the desert's cryptobiotic soil. Re-reading that, I find that I can't do a better job of expressing myself this year, so I pasted last year's post below. I have now been to this area of the desert five times. You would not be able to find any evidence of that. We leave no trace. After we have packed up, I sweep our site with a piece of wood that I find, so no footprints or any other markings are left. We avoid walking on fragile cryptobiotic soil, and the footprints we leave as we hike in sand will blow smooth in very little time.
We have visited our spot in the desert four times. The first two times, we didn't see a soul outside of our own group. But recently, the BLM created a map of the area and now, occasional bikers and ATV-ers wander through. On this trip, we heard a couple of ATV groups one morning. We were well-hidden and escaped detection - but we still got to hear the engines and loud voices from our camp-site.
The photo above shows some of the cryptobiotic soil that is prevalent in the desert. This soil is critical to the desert's health. Unfortunately, many ATV-ers and 4-wheel drive vehicle drivers (yes, and some hikers) either don't know or don't care about taking care of our earth and they end up driving over this precious soil, ruining it for many years.
"Soil crusts are important members of desert ecosystems and contribute to the well-being of other plants by stabilizing sand and dirt, promoting moisture retention, and fixing atmospheric nitrogen. Because of their thin, fiberous nature, cryptobiotic soils are extremely fragile systems. A single footprint or tire track is sufficient to disrupt the soil crust and damage the organisms. While some species within the soil crust system may regrow within a few years of a disturbance, the damage to slow-growing species may require more than a century before the delicate soil returns to its former productivity. This sensitivity to disturbance means that travelers in arid regions should be mindful of their impact on cryptobiotic soils. As a general rule, visitors should stay on pre-existing roads and trails, only traveling off-trail on durable surfaces such as bedrock or river gravel."
In addition to leaving an ugly footprint on the land and sometimes ruining this fragile soil, ATV-ers create a noise that assaults my ears as I commune with the quiet beauty around me. I find it hard to understand why someone would go to the beauty of the desert only to mar that beauty through creating tracks that last a long time. Why would you go to a naturally serene spot and create noise with engines and loud voices?
A big part of me can't wait until we run out of oil. I won't be able to get to the desert then, but at least the earth will be able to heal itself.
Friday, September 28, 2007
You Can Take a Woman Out of the Desert
I didn't want to come back!
We left for the desert on a cool, cloudy morning. At the Eisenhower Tunnel, which goes through the continental divide at an elevation of over 11,000 feet, we drove through some SNOW! Oh, I am not ready for snow yet...
It had rained in the desert the day before we arrived, so all evidence that humans have ever ventured there was washed away. Only the footprints of full-time resident animals showed themselves in the wet sand. And we never saw another human until the moment we left, three days later.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
One Last Thing Before I Go...
Marcel Marceau Died
I had a friend who studied mime under Marcel Marceau. People joke about street-corner mimes, but Marcel - and my friend - were artists. Great artists that moved people and connected us with our common experiences and emotions. I never saw Marceau perform, but my friend who learned from him could take me from tears of sadness to tears of joy in a matter of minutes. Without a word.
Mime takes time. We have to "listen" to the message. It is not the exciting, stimulating, loud, and in your face special effects that people seem to WANT now. But it is a beautiful human connection, and that is what we NEED now.
Labels: Marcel Marceau
Saturday, September 22, 2007
In honor of the U.N. International Day of Peace, events were held in Denver and hundreds of other locations around the world. Two women from our Women in Black vigil joined two from the Denver vigil to participate in the walk.
"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us "universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty." Albert Einstein
Labels: International Day of Peace
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Some Fun and Creepy Art
Prayer Booth with fold-away kneeler
Also a warning:
"This device exists to facilitate and control prayer in public space. Improper use may result in a penalty or fine. Please avoid the booth if you are sensitive to or feel threatened by actions that are religious in nature."
The Strength to Support Justice
This man is a former police chief, a Republican, who has stood for civil unions for gays and lesbians for years. He spoke of his change of heart only a day before he will formally announce his re-election campaign. Acknowledging his lesbian daughter and members of his staff, he said, "In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships, their very lives, were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife, Rana."
What a MAN!
I think of other lawmakers who support laws that take away the rights of the ones they proclaim to love - Mr. C, for instance - and I wonder how they justify their actions.
Watch the touching video of Mayor Sanders announcement here. It is a moment of real humanity.
You can thank Mayor Sanders by emailing him at JerrySanders@sandiego.gov
Tip to JoeMyGod.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
US Caused More Deaths in Iraq Than Saddam, Says Anti-War Tribunal
Labels: Anti-War Tribunal
D.C. March Photos
We used to apologize to the world for the madness of our "leaders". I remember some great websites that allowed people to send in photos of themselves with "I'm Sorry" signs.
This is Betty, my traveling companion. She brought this sign that was made by a woman here who served time for sitting in a Representative's office a few months ago. There is something wrong when people continue to be arrested for non-violent actions while W and Co., who are responsible for the deaths of at least a million Iraqis and thousands of Americans, are free to create more destruction.
An observation has been heard repeatedly: our youth have not been active in the resistance to the war as they were in Vietnam. It looks like that is changing. There was a very large contingency of college-aged people that took part in the march on the 15th. I'm really happy to see that.
And I feel very old.
By the time I took this photo, most of the arrests had been made and the Capitol lawn was pretty empty of protesters. I took all of these photos with my old, simple digital camera (not wanting anything to happen to my other camera) and those clouds still came out amazingly beautiful. It was a good day for a march.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Back to Colorado Tomorrow
So, when I get home, if I have any memory left, I will write more about this trip - even though all of you will have learned all about the march from other sources and it will be old news.
I absolutely love this old townhouse that I am staying in while in Baltimore. I love the couple that have put up with us here and the surroundings. We are right by the Maryland Institute College of Art, so students walk by carrying big art projects and plaster body parts. I have some photos of some of the work they have displayed around the neighborhood and I will post it another time, because right now, there is nothing more important than sleep for me.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I am foggy brained from sleep deprivation (at least that's the excuse that I have permission to use today).
My traveling companion (BG) chose to get arrested yesterday with 197 others who did the same. She was released about 6:30 this morning. I spent the night at a hotel in D.C. with fellow activists, some who don't believe in sleep and others who can sleep through anything. I don't qualify for either category. Maybe I need to give up this activism stuff since I like sleeping so much.
Anyway, I have little faith that our administration will change any foreign policy in response to yesterday's march. Because I am so sickened by the death and destruction that our nation causes around the world, my hope is that the march will at least be a sign to people everywhere that our government is not a reflection of the will of the majority of Americans.
All of the people I have interacted with or met here have been kind, kind, kind. I did witness some less-than-respectful interactions take place between a few supporters and some war opponents - instigated from both sides. But for the most part, with a couple of exceptions maybe, I come away from this experience agreeing with Anne Frank's famous quote:
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I will publish photos when blogger will let me...
In the meantime, I'll take you on a tour of my pics, so that when I post them, you'll already know what they are.
We first spent a few hours at the Holocaust Museum. No photos of that, except those that will live in my head for a very long time...
This is the WWII Memorial. I wanted to get photos of this for my dad - a WWII vet who has not been to D.C since this was created. My dad was in the South Pacific, so I got photos that commemorated events in that area of the world.
Here's the Vietnam Memorial, with people doing rubbings of names that mean something to them. Interesting that, even though this piece of art is really beautiful and poignant, after reading of it for years and seeing photos of it, I had created a much larger scene in my mind than what is really there.
At the Washington Monument, I took a photo of a little boy trying to push the monument over. He would've succeeded in toppling it, too, if it hadn't been for the woman standing against it and holding it up.
Soon after we arrived at this huge obelisk, a familiar person in an orange shirt showed up. Robert, with his hair that won't be cut until the war ends, took time out of his job as schmoozer/connector/master of the blogosphere to meet little ol' me. Here's a photo to prove it. That was fun!
Oh! I forgot! Here's a photo of a heron standing in a pond with the Washington Monument in the background. I love the birds, squirrels, flowers and trees here more than any of the man-made stuff.
I didn't get any photos of the Capitol or White House (do I hear a roar of "Thank you for not boring us with those!"?)
All in all, it felt like I put about 20 miles on my new sandals (dumb idea - wearing new sandals for the first time while walking all over the place). The people here are all really friendly and helpful. There are too many police officers, and we had to go through too many metal detectors. Living in the West, I am not used to mass transit, which we took to and from Maryland and D.C. M.T. is a very fine concept - we should think about that in Denver sometime - but it is a little intimidating when trying to be sure that we are getting on and off the right trains. That's when more of those friendly Maryland/D.C. people come in handy.
Tomorrow is the march. Hubba hubba. I should be able to meet another blogger then, also. Mary from Get Your Own will be there.
Long days... droopy eyes...
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Here I Am!
I was going to post a photo, but so far, it ain't happenin'.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
My Debut at Red Rocks Amphitheater and Where I'm Going Tomorrow
I am a part of a group of women that is raising funds for micro credit loans for Guatemalan women whose families have been affected by genocide. We work through the organization Friendship Bridge.
I have never purchased anything from a concession stand at a concert. We live very frugally in our house. So it was quite fascinating to watch concertgoers spend big bucks for beer and pretzels. And through it, I was touched by the kindness and generosity of everyone.
Last night at our Friendship Bridge monthly meeting, we had three guests. They are indigenous people who work for Friendship Bridge in Guatemala.
I learned about the poverty over there - how a meal may be only a tortilla and water; how many mothers do without food in order to feed their children or save for their school needs. A tortilla now costs 25 cents (thanks to the use of corn for ethanol). Twenty-five cents is a lot even when your family is lucky enough to live on the $200 a month minimum wage! Over half of the people in Guatemala are living below the extreme poverty level.
These people do not have meat, bread or milk in their diets. One woman saved for SIX MONTHS in order to buy the special gift of a chicken for her family to eat. Think about THAT when you sit down to a schmanzy dinner somewhere (or you spend $7 for one beer at a concert)! It certainly gives me pause when I think of my last dental bill. At minimum wage in Guatemala, I'd have to save every cent I made for FIFTEEN YEARS in order to pay for my last dentist visit!
Anyway, we have earned over $1000 for micro loans so far, and we have much more to do. A Salsa party and sales of Guatemalan crafts (tipicos) are all coming up!
If you are not going to D.C., I hope that you participate in peace activities in your area. The world will be watching - if the media will report it.
Hmmm... well, there are always blogs!
I will be blogging from D.C., so stay tuned!
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Too Many Words
And the memories and stories around this date... we can expand upon an experience by adding our own meaning to it and making it fit any belief system we hold.
On this date, six years ago, I cried and cried and felt a chill throughout my being, because I knew that we would use our victim-hood to justify attacking others. I knew that the mentality of "How dare you mess with the U.S.?" would bring our government to do things that I couldn't stand to even think of. Pain and suffering as an excuse to cause more pain and suffering.
But others have seen it differently and are glad that we kill people in other lands so that we can be free to drive anywhere we want any time we want. So that we can buy and vacation and watch television and do all of the things that only Americans deserve. "Those people over there" are the bad guys and we are the benevolent.
There really are no words to describe the sadness that I feel about a country that could be so much more. If my "freedom" can only be bought at the price of another's, I am not really free.
Monday, September 10, 2007
I Can't Help It!
So we need to learn to figure out how to work together.
You have probably already seen this study which claims that "the brain neurons of liberals and conservatives fire differently when confronted with tough choices, suggesting that some political divides may be hard-wired..."
The study suggests that
"Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.
"The affinity between political views and "cognitive style" has also been shown to be heritable, handed down from parents to children, said the study, published in the British journal Nature Neuroscience. according a study released Sunday."
Well, I'd have to say that I fit into the liberal category - and there isn't a thing that I can do about it. But I am an anomaly in my birth family - surrounded by those who crave structure and order. Something went wrong (or right) (or left) when my genes came together.
Watching the conservative people I know, I'd say they have the ability to change their way of seeing the world about as easily as I can. So, if we've accepted that people can't help that they are left-handed, mentally ill, gay (Well most people have accepted this one.), or prone to alcoholism, why don't we just accept that we are passive recipients of inherited and environmental circumstances? Only then will we be able to figure out how to live with respect for our differences.
And isn't that a part of the path to creating peace?
Saturday, September 08, 2007
What Do You Do When A Child's On Fire?
How Far Would YOU Go To Stop A War?
Watch The Camden 28 on PBS this coming Tuesday, September 11th. Check your local PBS listing for times.
How far would you go to stop a war? "The Camden 28" recalls a 1971 raid on a Camden, N.J., draft board office by "Catholic Left" activists protesting the Vietnam War and its effects on urban America. Arrested on site in a clearly planned sting, the protesters included four Catholic priests, a Lutheran minister, and 23 others. "The Camden 28" reveals the story behind the arrests - a provocative tale of government intrigue and personal betrayal - and the ensuing legal battle, which Supreme Court Justice William Brennan called "one of the great trials of the 20th century." Thirty-five years later, the participants take stock of the motives, fears, and costs of their activism - and its relevance to America today.
(Thank you to Darla for the tip.)
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Most People Want Us OUT of Iraq
Well, it looks like waving our little signs for an hour (plus all of your sign-waving and blogging - you're to blame, too, ya know) must've had an impact on the world, because a majority of people from 22 countries who answered a BBC poll said that they think the U.S.-led forces in Iraq should pull out.
Or maybe, just maybe, those polled don't believe that we should be in Iraq because they know we went there based on lies. And maybe the people across the world that want us out really care about the innocent lives that are taken daily as a result of our power and greed.
Half of the people polled also think that we will keep a permanent military presence in Iraq. I'm one of those who believe that, and I'd like to be proven wrong.
I canceled everything for the day except a peace vigil in Denver. An 80-something-year-old woman that I know a little had wanted to go to a vigil downtown last week, but I couldn't, so I committed to taking her to one last night. I really wasn't in the mood after the day's events, but this was important. I used to stand with Women in Black in Denver, and I remember the multi, mega, loud and raucous honks we got. Quite a difference from out here in burbia where our Women in Black vigil stands in relative quiet. So, yesterday, it was good to be out in rush-hour Denver with people and cars and bikes and buses EVERYWHERE. And the horns they did HONK! A couple of inebriated men walked up to me and tried to argue, and it was hard to remember that I could respond to them without my "standing in silence" sign.
Anyway, I am hoping that my dad recovers from all of this.
And I hope that I am still able to get to D.C. next weekend. I did tell you that I was going to D.C., didn't I?
Guess I'll have to write about that later. Now it's time for my 3-hour, butt-deadening, mouth-destroying, tolerance-testing dental appointment.
Just think! An opportunity for a three-hour meditation!
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Oh, We'll Be Very, Very Sorry...
San Fransisco Chronicle article:
A federal appeals court allowed the Navy on Friday to resume using underwater sonar blasts in anti-submarine warfare tests off Southern California despite possible harm to endangered whales, saying the nation's military needs come first.
The 2-1 ruling suspended an Aug. 6 injunction by a federal judge in Los Angeles that ordered the Navy to halt the sonar experiments during training exercises off the Channel Islands planned through January 2009. Three of the 14 scheduled tests had already been conducted before the judge intervened.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said the underwater sound waves could harm nearly 30 species of marine mammals, including five species of endangered whales. She said the Navy's planned protective measures were "woefully inadequate and ineffectual," and cited the Navy's estimate that the tests would cause 466 permanent injuries to whales.
The appeals court said Cooper had failed to consider the need for military preparedness.
Of Buddhas, Birds and Bees
Buddha (the dog) gets so excited for a hike, he dances and squeals as soon as I even THINK of putting on my hiking boots.
Buddha never learned to "heel" - he has always just pulled me, which makes for a great hiking dog on the uphill parts. But he also pulls me down hills, and that can be scary.
My old dog is now approaching 11 years and his ability to get me up those hills doesn't last through the whole hike anymore. Yesterday, before the end of our HOT journey, I was pulling him. And he had a long recovery time lying spread out on the cool, tile floor when he got back.
I know that he was really hot and tired yesterday, and he was pushed beyond his comfort zone, but he never complained once. And if I were to even THINK about my hiking boots right now, I KNOW that he'd be squealing to go.
That's my Boodie boy. I couldn't love him more.
If you want to see my four-legged sweetie, click here or here.
I startled this big bird (and it startled me!) but it never flew away - just quickly walked into the brush. I couldn't get a good shot at such short notice (I'd never make a hunter. And that's okay). I don't know what kind of bird it is.
When we think of the sky, we tend to look up,
but the sky actually begins at the earth."
- Diane Ackerman
- Terry Tempest Williams