Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama By Alice Walker

Alice Walker on expectations, responsibilities and a new reality that is almost more than the heart can bear.

Nov. 5, 2008
Dear Brother Obama,

You have no idea, really, of how profound this moment is for us. Us being the black people of the Southern United States. You think you know, because you are thoughtful, and you have studied our history. But seeing you deliver the torch so many others before you carried, year after year, decade after decade, century after century, only to be struck down before igniting the flame of justice and of law, is almost more than the heart can bear. And yet, this observation is not intended to burden you, for you are of a different time, and, indeed, because of all the relay runners before you, North America is a different place. It is really only to say: Well done. We knew, through all the generations, that you were with us, in us, the best of the spirit of Africa and of the Americas. Knowing this, that you would actually appear, someday, was part of our strength. Seeing you take your rightful place, based solely on your wisdom, stamina and character, is a balm for the weary warriors of hope, previously only sung about.

I would advise you to remember that you did not create the disaster that the world is experiencing, and you alone are not responsible for bringing the world back to balance. A primary responsibility that you do have, however, is to cultivate happiness in your own life. To make a schedule that permits sufficient time of rest and play with your gorgeous wife and lovely daughters. And so on. One gathers that your family is large. We are used to seeing men in the White House soon become juiceless and as white-haired as the building; we notice their wives and children looking strained and stressed. They soon have smiles so lacking in joy that they remind us of scissors. This is no way to lead. Nor does your family deserve this fate. One way of thinking about all this is: It is so bad now that there is no excuse not to relax. From your happy, relaxed state, you can model real success, which is all that so many people in the world really want. They may buy endless cars and houses and furs and gobble up all the attention and space they can manage, or barely manage, but this is because it is not yet clear to them that success is truly an inside job. That it is within the reach of almost everyone.

I would further advise you not to take on other people's enemies. Most damage that others do to us is out of fear, humiliation and pain. Those feelings occur in all of us, not just in those of us who profess a certain religious or racial devotion. We must learn actually not to have enemies, but only confused adversaries who are ourselves in disguise. It is understood by all that you are commander in chief of the United States and are sworn to protect our beloved country; this we understand, completely. However, as my mother used to say, quoting a Bible with which I often fought, "hate the sin, but love the sinner." There must be no more crushing of whole communities, no more torture, no more dehumanizing as a means of ruling a people's spirit. This has already happened to people of color, poor people, women, children. We see where this leads, where it has led.

A good model of how to "work with the enemy" internally is presented by the Dalai Lama, in his endless caretaking of his soul as he confronts the Chinese government that invaded Tibet. Because, finally, it is the soul that must be preserved, if one is to remain a credible leader. All else might be lost; but when the soul dies, the connection to earth, to peoples, to animals, to rivers, to mountain ranges, purple and majestic, also dies. And your smile, with which we watch you do gracious battle with unjust characterizations, distortions and lies, is that expression of healthy self-worth, spirit and soul, that, kept happy and free and relaxed, can find an answering smile in all of us, lighting our way, and brightening the world.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

In Peace and Joy,Alice Walker
© 2008, Alice Walker

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

Long ago,
on the 11th hour
of the 11th day
of the 11th month,
“The War to End All Wars”
Was declared “Over.”

My Grandfather Ernst Mueller
Was freed from the Russian Prison Camp
Where he had been housed in a box car
As a Prisoner of War,
Somewhere in what is now Poland,
That day in 1918…

Long ago,
on the 11th hour
of the 11th day
of the 11th month
When “The War to End All Wars”
Was declared “Over.”

Happy to be free, I imagine
Happy the war was over, I imagine
- I’ve read some of the things he’d seen
Going home to the Black Forest
Bullet wound in his leg
Were strangers kind to him,
As he travelled homeward?
Were there tears in his eyes
As he passed wreckage and ruin
Going home to the Black Forest
Bullet wound in his leg
And all the images in his head…

“It is also celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I. (Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.”) - Wikipedia

Kurt Vonnegut was born on this day in 1922:
"I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

And all music is.
(Also from Wikipedia:

Two German Soldiers’ Stories:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dec. 7, 2008 CT-wide March against the War!

From the Students for a Culture of Peace:

Need Money? End the War!


No War on Iran! No War on Pakistan!
End US Support to all Wars and Occupations!
Money for Housing! For Jobs! For Education! For Pensions! Not for War!

Sunday, December 7th
March and Rally
2:00 pm
Hartford, State Capitol Building

Next Organizing Meeting:
Sunday, November 9th at 2:00pm

Quaker Meeting House144 South Quaker Lane, West Hartford

After more than five years the war in Iraq roars on with roughly one third of Iraq's 26 million people killed, wounded or displaced; more than 4,000 US soldiers dead, hundreds of thousands suffering severe physical and psychological wounds, and trillions of dollars going up in smoke. Instead of withdrawing forces, US policy makers are expanding combat in Afghanistan and into Pakistan, ordering assaults in Syria and threatening to Invade Iran.

They Continue to support Israel's brutal occupation of Palestinians that repeatedly turns into regional war - most recently in the summer of 2006. With a full blown economic crisis bringing skyrocketing home foreclosures, rising unemployment, loan freezes, and collapsing pensions, war funds are needed at home now more than ever!

Join activists from across Connecticut as part of a week of nationally coordinated actions to demand that our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters be brought home now!

And come to the next organizing meeting at 2:00pm on Sunday November 9th at 144 Quaker Lane, West Hartford!

For More information or to sign the call contact Marissa at 860-218-0566 or e-mail
The Ad Hoc Connecticut December 7th Mobilization Committee

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Studs Terkel, 1912-2008

The legendary radio broadcaster, writer and oral historian Studs Terkel has died at the age of 96 in Chicago.

Studs Terkel worked as an activist, a civil servant, a labor organizer, an ad writer, a television actor, and a radio DJ, among many other occupations. But since the 1960s, he was particularly well-known as a world-class interviewer, a writer and radio personality who drew celebrities and, far more often, average citizens into sharing their oral histories.

For 45 years, Studs Terkel spent an hour each weekday on his nationally syndicated radio show, conversing with famous and not-so-famous guests and with a loyal audience of Chicago listeners.

With his unique style of oral history on subjects such as race, war and employment, Terkel spent decades interviewing Americans across the country, creating intimate portraits of everyday life and chronicling changing times through this century.

He was also a regular guest on Democracy Now. Below are links to watch or listen to our archive of interviews with Studs Terkel.

‘Hope Dies Last’–An Hour with Legendary Broadcaster and Author Studs Terkel

October 05, 2005
Legendary Broadcaster and Author Studs Terkel on President Bush, Mahalia Jackson, James Baldwin, Louis Armstrong, the Rebuilding of New Orleans and What Gives Him Hope

May 16, 2007
Studs Terkel At 95: ‘Ordinary People Are Capable of Doing Extraordinary Things, and That’s What It’s All About. They Must Count!’

November 13, 2007
Legendary Radio Broadcaster and Oral Historian Studs Terkel on the Iraq War, NSA Domestic Spy Program, the Labor Movement and His New Memoir ‘Touch and Go’


Monday, November 3, 2008

Live Election Night Coverage

Democracy Now! will broadcast & video livestream a five-hour election night special on November 4th from 07:00PM–12:00AM ET to report the results as they come in.
On November 5th, Democracy Now! expands to a two-hour, “The Morning After” broadcast & video livestream from 08:00AM–10:00AM ET to provide complete coverage of the election outcome.
Ask your local TV & radio broadcasters to run this special programming and watch here.
More information …
Friday, October 31 1:39 pm EDT