Ezekial 44:11

21 January 2009

[King James Bible] Yet they shall be ministers in my sanctuary, having charge at the gates of the house, and ministering to the house: they shall slay the burnt offering and the sacrifice for the people, and they shall stand before them to minister unto them.

Dr. Martin Luther King - Hammerskjold Plaza, UN 1967

Dr. Martin Luther King - Hammerskjold Plaza, UN 1967

Those who were once servants shall have charge of this house.

Starting when I was extremely young… about three… I had this recurring dream for more than a year in which I lived the final two hours of the life of a teenaged girl, from a family of household servants in central pre-industrial England.  She died attempting to deliver his forgotten lunch pail to her brother, in the unfamiliar setting of an early iron smelter in Coalbrookdale.  When I was asked later (in kindergarten) what I wished to become when I grew up, I replied without hesitation – “A servant.”  

I could come to no other conclusion… saw no better or other conceivable place for myself. The mindset of that particular life had been impressed deeply upon her, and hence upon me.  Her father and mother were deeply indentured to a wealthier family for their entire lives.  As children she and her younger sister moved into their place in the household and were prepared for a lifetime of similar service.

People in the service of others become very good at noticing. They not only notice and comprehend the neglect of their own personal families for the sake of those with the power and prestige, but they also become expert at noticing the nuances which create satisfaction and momentary happiness in those they serve. A good servant, like a good nurse or a good babysitter, is adept at stepping quickly forward to assuage a subtle need.

When I stepped down after several years as the Executive Director of one non-profit, I recommended to my Board that I be replaced by my own Administrative Assistant. Who better to lead?  She knew my job second only to myself.

Things likewise have now changed in this great lumbering institution called the United States of America.  

Just yesterday, the 20th of January – an elderly black minister moved slowly to the podium and (using cadences on preaching I have come over the years to love) he extolled the multitudes… and there were many multitudes before him… to open their hearts and and minds to a new rhythm of faith.  And he asked the privileged whites to release their privilege, and to genuinely share their place with the black, the brown, the red and the yellow persons of this country.

And that time has certainly come to let go of the perks of “white privilege” and any final accompanying illusions of self-importance. (Not that “white privilege” will vanish… white skin and male gender and Protestant/European ancestry will create easy pathways in many American settings regardless of how egalitarian the bearer of such genes might want to be.) But the sea change is upon us all, and those once resigned to be servants shall now have charge of this house. 

In sheer numbers we white folks are a slim and ever-slimmer plurality.  And as for exemplifying moral authority… well, the last decade has proven without question (if you didn’t know before) that there has been something terribly rotten in our crusty white old-boy Denmark.  Corruption.  Torture.  Fear-mongering, racism and xenophobia.  Short-term exploitation of the lowest order in every sector of business and the environment.  Mean-spiritedness and classism.   A virtual cesspit of venality.  

So unless you’ve been standing on your tiptoes in the sewage, yelling at the top of your lungs for the past eight years… in one way or another we all must take responsibility for the way things have become.

Sure there were “bad guys”… badder than we’ve seen in a long time.   The foisted-upon-us political, business and social climate of “the Bush years” was not a simple changing of the guard into Republican hands.  It was a rising to the top of a self-congratulating hyper-indulgent froth, through every form of chicanery conceivable.  As I suggested to the publicists for the Green party at the mid-term elections six years ago – perhaps they might consider using the slogan, “Welcome to Potterville.”

It appears to be well past time to give the keys to the servants of the house.  Not just African-Americans, but any of those whose family’s blood and sweat have watered the fields for generations, whose torn hands have built the highways and the buildings (as Elizabeth Alexander so ably pointed out)… those whose humiliations and losses and indenture AND slavery were the cornerstone of this country’s beginning can now ably take their charge, and minister unto the people.  Back to the bottom-up basics – “Women and children first.”

This change is not about somehow re-balancing “years of dignified suffering” by chambermaids and waitresses, valets and ditch-diggers.  

This change is about paying attention to the human scale, and the human dimension of decisions – and of a population becoming again aware and joyful instead of being stuck in gloomy, mistrustful denial – or blame.  We all must become more aware, awake, accepting and alive to one another.  The divine has certainly not died among us.

And it is high time now to give the keys to those who have already been stewards of this house, to see how we fare under their already seasoned hands.


Lieberman Freeze-Dried by Hutt Operatives

17 November 2008

 

Sen. Daniel Lieberman, frozen during an episode of party dysphoria, is prepared for hoisting upon his own petard

Sen. Joe Lieberman, flash frozen during an episode of party dysphoria, being prepared for hoisting upon his own petard

 

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D, I, or probably R-Connecticut) was unexpectedly waylaid by operatives from the Wakken (the) Hutt Corrective Services Corp, Inc. late last week, as he was in the middle of a swing through his home state of Connecticut –  hoping to convince voters there that he remembers that he is a sometimes Democratically-identified Independent Senator from that state.  He has confessed in private interviews that he often wakes up in the morning “wanting to be a Republican.”  Not everyone is sympathetic.

While he was attempting to give yet another unctuous speech praising “My Dear Friend” Senator John McCain, a group of WHCSC employees moved into position behind Senator Lieberman. Giving the signal to proceed, Hutt Inc. froze Lieberman in mid-sentence before he could make a further oxymoronous fool of himself.

Lieberman had evidently missed Senator McCain’s concession speech and is still bucking for a seat in the “new” Republican administration. (The operation also prevented Senator Lieberman from declaring himself once again the very, very best ally that Israel ever ever could have… ever… and that if they needed any help with anything… ever… just give him a call.)

Senator Lieberman will be embedded in carbonite for an indefinite period of time until there is some sign that his party of choice (Republican, we suspect) has grown more fond of him.  But for the time being Oliver North, Rev. Tim LaHaye, Michael Chertoff and other members of the “Sarah Palin Anonymous Nominators” have all pitched in to help pay for Lieberman’s petrification.

Previous Wakk Hutt job, still on display

A previous Wakken Hutt job, still on display in the White House


this is how… the war came home

12 November 2008

I want you to hear Jim Page sing.  As a brief aside before that, and having heard from several people reporting on the targeted arrests and bedlam at the Convention in Minneapolis (and seen a few of the tapes from the street and de-briefings), I can believe his to be an absolutely fair and accurate critique.

Nothing about Obama’s election spares us the lingering impact of the label “terrorist” and how it has been widely applied in so many instances to hold, spy upon, arrest, hurt or torture people in the course of what otherwise would have been once simply lawful protest, dissent, the exercise of free speech and even innocent travel, inquiry or charitable donations in this country.   All this since the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was written and passed (without being read in full by most of the people who originally passed it).   Those laws are still on the books.

What Jim’s song fails to capture, perhaps, is the absolute shock and disbelief… one family at a time… as individual and idealistic supporters of non-violent protest found themselves in the crosshairs.  Their front doors were kicked in as they ate supper with their kids.  SWAT teams crowded in with leveled automatic rifles – it was the movie “Brazil” come to life, over and over again all over the city.

Being labeled “conspirators,” “terrorists,” and “agitators” (when what, in many cases, they were really doing was providing food to hungry people) was generally a new and terrifying experience.  Except for the people of colour, few had the first-hand feeling of being an “enemy” inside one’s own country, one’s own town.  For the police – it made little difference who these men and women were as individuals until after they were processed and delivered.  

Enough of the police and security squad members were Iraq combat veterans that at the least sign of resistance, or appearance of what could be a threat to themselves, their bodies and psyches went into automatic reaction.  It is actually fortunate that none of the protesters were killed – although many did get very badly roughed up, quite out of proportion to their demeanour and their non-violence training. (Which is not to say that the police violence against the protesters was not pre-planned… by all appearances, it was.)

People protesting on the streets… should they choose to be on the streets… will have to become accustomed to being called “the enemy.”  They are no better than the residents of Fallujah for those brief moments they come face to face to black-armoured security personnel.   Jim Page picks a precise title for his equally precise song – “This Is How The War Came Home.”


Sub-prime Mortgages Save the World from Despotism

1 November 2008

 

Ahmadiinejad Presidency Threatened by Sub-prime Crisis

Ahmadinejad Presidency Threatened by Sub-prime Crisis

I heard radio commentators today talking about how “repressive regimes” (founded upon oil money-wealth) persuaded their citizens to sacrifice short term freedoms such as freedom of the press in exchange for the immediacy of all the money spread around on their behalf.  Uh, yeah right, I guess.

Wierdly (and they point to Venezuela, Russia and Iran as examples), the pundits were today glowing that these very countries… “bad” countries… are by losing oil revenues suddenly no longer able to “pay off” their citizens with anything of value in exchange for their loss of personal freedom and democracy.  Hence the despots are losing their mandate to run heavy-handed regimes.  

Their fiefdoms are seemingly in danger.  The commentators believed they are teetering dangerously close to collapse (maybe) as the dollar rises in value against the ballooning U.S. national debt, and oil prices fall.  

Hey, they wish.  Look, this government didn’t fall.   If “off with their heads” would have been the cry in the streets anywhere, it would have been here, right?  If a personal investment/nest-egg/mortgage family bonus in every pot wasn’t promised in exchange for infringement of the press private ownership, invasion of privacy, abridgement of habeas corpus and posse comitatus, as well as the watering down of environmental protections, child education, health and nutrition standards, and reduction of most funding for the national infrastructure of transportation, veteran’s care and education and… well, it’s endless.  Those promises, those devil’s bargains were made right here in the U.S.A.  

And now everybody is pretty much losing their shirt with little to show for it except, well, a loss of civil rights; a lot more police, war deaths and jails; and a deteriorating, unfunded infrastructure.

And our erstwhile leaders, and scores of self-congratulating bonus-receiving bankers are all still quite comfortably in place, are they not?  So I wouldn’t really think it’s a very well proven strategy against despots, frankly.  At least not so far.

But geez, maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe, somehow, the United States… by flooding the world with inflated and inflating, unsecured sub-prime mortgages… was doing the world a favour.  Maybe that was what Alan Greenspan was really up to.  He was overthrowing despotic governments with irresponsible banking policies and no-oversight loans.  Who woulda thunk it?   Boy is I dim.  

It was all about regime change.


Vive la différence

26 October 2008

 

At samhain there’s an uncertain dividing line between the visible and the invisible, between the dark and the light, between the safe and the untrustworthy.  The American elections are always scheduled at samhain.  And why is that, I ask?   Is it to blur the distinctions, right in the middle of all that finger pointing? 

You are this!  No, it is You who are that!

We could all get stuck in taking sides.. pointing fingers, dividing ourselves into camps.

Certainly the Irish (and both O’Bama and McCain have Irish ancestors only a few generations back) are unfairly identified with pugnaciousness – of clinging to a grudge, of fighting to the last man (or woman), and of wreaking vengeance on a son for what a grandfather has done.

But there is a nobler Irish… an Irish harking back to a mysterious people who ruled Ireland peaceably for almost 500 years during the Bronze Age.  Their legacy is understanding that dwelling upon differences is the pathway to destruction.  

Rather, focussing on shared needs, commonalities and shared understandings (the root of mediation and conflict resolution) is our legacy from the Tuath Dé Danann (as well as their keen intellect, love of beauty in the arts, and connection with earth energies).

So in that spirit, I’ve made a samain mask of connection – not sameness – but shared concerns such as hope for a strong future for American, safety of its children, prosperity of its families, and kindness and generousity toward one another.

 


       

It’s samhain – let’s point out the connections!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Download a life-sized pdf of this mask – for your own play of connections.  Print on stiff matte paper – MCB  (1 Mbyte).  Samhain this year begins at sundown, November 12th.


This is NOT the Night Before Krystallnacht!

24 October 2008

original - unretouched

original - unretouched

 

 

Republican Donors – Your Dollars at Work

This photo was provided by McCain/Palin campaign for press use… and presumably for any and all uses.  Oh, all right then I don’t have to be told twice.  I have a few uses in mind.  Let’s just say that this one doesn’t leave much to the imagination, as the worst of Sarah Palin keeps showing up every time I open a newspaper.  This one photograph comes close to resembling the rabble-rousing Sarah in the stories that are emerging.

Out there is a part of America-loving America (Henderson, Nevada, I believe) where it’s apparently also easy to think of herself as smarter than a lot of people – she has gone full tilt boogie beehive in front of a lot of cheering, hooting folks driven by fear and uneasiness.  Their lives are falling apart.  They need someone to pick on, someone to unload their frustration upon, someone who has “chosen to be unsaved.”

Their fear of job loss and their misplaced anger at people only slightly different than themselves make them easy marks for being manipulated by demagogues. There are restless youth out there, looking for people to hate.  Just like in times past… times I would dearly love to not see repeated.

So – Lowest Common Denominator Sarah.  Pretending to be our “Everywoman” laundramat confidante, folding overalls next to the coin machine.  Ranting about “those people” who will supposedly bring down the neighborhood, or the country, if we let “them” take control.  Offering up fired-off little pumped up exaggerations and half-lies that feed on the very worst instincts in people – instincts to blame others, instincts to hurt, instincts to banish and isolate and attack that which is “foreign” and unfamiliar.

Hey, but we all do know you’re not one of us.  We know how much those clothes, those shoes, those eyeglasses, that makeup, that couture hair-streaking cost.  Your $26,000-plus monthly hairstylist bill exceeds all my annual household expenses.  You are not “Everywoman.”

Love America?  Is that what this hyperventilated dissing of half your fellow citizens is all about?  Feels like tear America apart to me.  

—–

Shrieking harpies egging on fights, and petty grudges, and wholesale wars pop up throughout history – pushing men who crave the temporary approval handed out by such pampered beauty queens.  She’s picking for a fight – but it’s always a fight that someone else will fight for her… hoping for a flash of that glistening barracuda smile.

In Nevada - Sarah Palin signs Campaign Brochure

In Nevada, Sarah Palin signs Campaign Brochure (retouching by MCB) Click to download full sized version.

Hand America to her, you’ll be handing your future and your children to Missus Fixit – whose personal witnessed exorcism and 1/10 of a million dollar wardrobe and hairdo are all supposed to propel her into the White House cockpit, where her new VP Michael Chertoff and she will run your life in whatever way makes sense to them, guided by their prayers, not yours and mine. 

John McCain is just engineered obsolescence (sorry Senator McCain… but I think you’ve been set up).  

Look out, everyone.


green glass – slippery slope

15 August 2008
I absolutely love the fact that this dangerously beautiful piece of a bottle looks so un-touched and icily un-climbable.
it was a sunny day... why not?

it was a sunny day... why not?

  
This is the Monumental Found Object, more likely than not.  Huge, cadillac-shiny, GPS all-points alert icy green crag just begging for a tiny, intrepid mountaineer or two.
 
I couldn’t help visualising them… match-head high, wearing crampons and rigged out with wreaths of carabiners, colourful braided ropes and some trick to pull it off.  Or maybe just free climbing with total daring-do and little puffs of chalk dust, as they slap their hands into those next-to-impossible holds.
  
Waving, later, from the top (having conquered the jagged treacheries of rolling rock or vin ordinaire) – there surely was a Kodak moment for someone lucky enough to have a camera.
  
Myself, I had to leave early.
  
Did you make it back to see the triumph glittering in their eyes?
                                                       •
J. Attenberg’s original image at http://www.whatever-whenever.net/072408.html

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