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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Standing Rock in Colombia: A Real Vision of Peace After Decades of War and Displacement

May3

by: Sabine Lichtenfels on May 3rd, 2017 | 1 Comment »

I am writing this from Colombia, where we – a small group from the Global Campus from Tamera/Portugal, Bolivia, Brazil and Canada – have been invited to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the peace community San José de Apartadó. Peace activists, farmers, local indigenous people, representatives of embassies of various countries and of the United Nations, as well as human rights lawyers are meeting in the remote region in the tropical northern part of the country to honor a peace community, which has been in existence for twenty years – despite all attacks, violence and murders. It is horrifying to read the reports by the peasants and the indigenous people – the women and men who are daily risking their lives to counter the policies of displacement with their commitment to life and hope.

In this country, in which the FARC guerilla’s agreement to disarm is being celebrated before the eyes of the world as the beginning of a new time of peace, the misery of the poor people, the indigenous population and those persecuted has in reality increased. It is the same the world over: Those who have truly earned the Nobel Peace Prize and who have been practicing non-violent resistance for decades, these communities and committed peace workers are being persecuted and maligned and often have to pay for their commitment with their lives.


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Parashat Tazria-Metzora

May3

by: Lisa Rappaport on May 3rd, 2017 | No Comments »

[Editor's note: Some of the weekly Torah readings--called the weekly parasha-- are hard to relate to, and this past week's reading, Parshat Tazria/Metzorah, is among them. More difficult. Rabbinic student in the Aleph program Lisa Rappaport gave one of the most interesting approaches to it I haveve encountered, so I am sharing it with our readers.--Rabbi Michael Lerner]

This week’s parasha, Tazria-Metzora, is challenging, with parts that seem completely unrelatable to our lives. It is in this parasha that we learn about tzaarat, a spiritual affliction causing a white discoloration of the skin. It is often translated (or rather mistranslated) as leprosy. But leprosy is a physical condition with a physical cause, while tzaarat is a spiritual affliction that renders the sufferer tameh, or ritually impure.

Several things cause tzaarat, but the primary cause is leshon hara, translated literally as the evil tongue and commonly understood as negative speech (gossip). While tzaarat may seem strange and unrelatable, whatisrelevant in every era, in every generation, is the power of our words. Torah gives us the opportunity a couple times a year to examine our relationship to leshon hara-it comes up again later when Miriam is afflicted with with tzaarat. This is a good thing, because leshon hara is an insidious and destructive phenomenon. Of the 43 sins listed in the Al Chet confessional prayer, 11 of them are committed through negative speech.


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Equalitarianism

May2

by: Dan Brook on May 2nd, 2017 | 1 Comment »

There are, tragically, many insidious discriminations, aggressions, oppressions, and other social injustices — micro, meso, and, macro — based on a variety of socially-constructed divisions, fears, and hatreds. Just as tragically, we get caught up in these, to varying degrees and with devastating consequences. Perhaps Dr. Paul Farmer isolated the phenomenon: “The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” The antidote to this social disease is equalitarianism.

Instead of singularly focusing on the important individual problems of classism, racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, islamophobia, ableism, looksism, or other forms of what Robert Fuller calls rankism that do not necessarily have a catchy name, and instead of negatively being against one or more of these tragically otherized divisions, we could positively embrace an all-encompassing equalitarianism and each be an equalitarian (a little-known term that has been around since about 1799).


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A Traditional African-American Christian Prayer

May2

by: on May 2nd, 2017 | 3 Comments »

May 4 is National Day of Prayer.

In advance of that day, I offer this traditional African-American Christian prayer. My ancestors used their faith to survive the horrors of the Middle Passage, slavery, Jim Crow and every manner of institutional and structural violence with their souls in tact. This was not only a political act, but it was a revolutionary act.

Faith and prayer were, and still are, means of resistance:

 

O God, It is once more and again that we come before your Throne of Grace humble as we know how, head bent and body bowed, empty vessels before a full fountain asking you to be mercy because mercy suits our case.

O God, we know that you are the One who sits high and looks low. You know our down-sitting and our up-rising. We are weak and you are strong, and we ask you to prop us up on every leaning side. Put a hedge of protection around us to keep us safe from all hurt, harm, and danger.

O God, we thank you for another day’s journey. We thank you that you woke us up this morning clothed in our right minds, that our bed was not our cooling board and our sheets were not our winding sheets. We thank you O God for one more day to raise our voices and to give you praise because you told us in your Word to let everything that has breath to praise the LORD. We thank you God for new mercies morning by morning and that you supply our every need every day.

O God, we ask you to order our steps in your Word. Help us to do your will your way. Give us the wisdom to know your will and the courage to do it. Help us to treat everybody right, to treat everybody the way we want to be treated. Give us more love, and help us to live diligent to the full assurance of hope until the end. For it is given once for us to die, and after death the judgment.

And when our time on this earth is over, when we have run our race and finished our course, when we come to the chilly waters of the River Jordan to lay down our sword and shield and study war no more, shape your Word and take us safely to the other shore where there is no more pain, no more sorrow, where every day is Sunday and sabbath will have no end.

Gather us to our people where there is only howdy howdy and never good-bye, where we will sing and shout and can’t nobody put us out.

World Without End.

We pray it all in the matchless mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

 

 

Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”

Nuclear is NOT an “Option”

Apr20

by: Lynn Feinerman on April 20th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

Digging in my tiny Jewish library this Passover season, I came across a short contribution to a published symposium, made by Rabbi Nehemia Polen, a well-known scholar, author and congregational rabbi.

Polen wrote his short piece in 1986, for the literary publication New Traditions. But his words were ominously current for me, discovered as if by what we Jews call “hashgachah pratit,” a kind of destined timeliness.

He was considering the phrase in Jewish prayer liturgy, “hem yevoshu ve’yehatu mi’gevuratam,” translated “may the nations of the world be put to shame and crushed despite their power.” He meditated on the meaning of this phrase, and its intention in prayer:


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Anthology Double Exposure, Editor’s Preface

Apr12

by: Samah Sabawi and Stephen Orlov on April 12th, 2017 | Comments Off

Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas is the first English-language anthology worldwide in any genre of drama, prose or poetry by Jewish and Palestinian writers. Playwrights Samah Sabawi and Stephen Orlov address in this slightly updated anthology preface the artistic and political challenges they faced on their journey across the cultural divide to edit this groundbreaking collection of plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

How do two strangers, a Boston-born Jew in Canada and a Gaza-born Palestinian in Australia, come together to choose seven plays for such a groundbreaking anthology about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

The starting point for us was trust, something we felt from the moment we read each other’s plays about the issue. What made our process work were mutual respect, honest exchange and guiding principles.

Diaspora writers outside the conflict zone offer a distinct viewpoint. Many of us live in multicultural societies that accord us both privilege and perspective, enough that we view the conflict through a more diverse prism and experience its impact differently.


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Job Opening at Tikkun: Managing Editor

Apr4

by: on April 4th, 2017 | Comments Off

You Probably Know Someone Who’d Love This Job as Managing Editor to Tikkun magazine! So spread the word on social media and to your friends, contacts, students, colleagues, etc. 

Please read this thoroughly to the end because if you are interested in this job, this note sets forth several steps in the application process.

Tikkun magazine is looking for a managing editor to produce its award-winning print magazine and manage its lively online content–someone who is aligned with our goals (described in the articles mentioned below) to heal and transform the world. Ideally, you have prior editorial experience, but we would be open to hiring an academic, a social change activist, a religious leader, a social change theorist, a psychotherapist, or someone who has the intellectual sophistication and also has editing skills even without previous journalistic training to fill this role. But it would be someone who is deeply aligned with the ideals and vision of Tikkun magazine.


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“Get Out”: the Hidden Injuries of Race and the Horror Genre

Apr4

by: Martha Sonnenberg on April 4th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

James Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in a Village” was written more than sixty years ago.  In that essay he described his feelings of extreme alienation as the only black person in the all-white Swiss village home of his white lover, but the essay really spoke to his feelings about being black in America. He wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”  The essay is an uncanny precedent to the new film “Get Out”, written and directed Jordan Peele, and described as a “social thriller.” Having just seen the documentary “I am Not Your Negro” about James Baldwin’s exploration of the civil rights martyrs and his incisive perceptions of America’s pervasive façade about race, I had Baldwin on my mind when I saw “Get Out”, almost as if he was sitting next to me as I watched the film.  This film is brilliant and challenging—to see its horror genre as diminishing is to miss the whole point of the film.


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The Cost of Crazy

Apr4

by: on April 4th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

If Donald Trump was not bound by the limitations of his own ego and by alternative facts, if he was not obsessed with seeing crowds of people that do not exist or insisting that two to three million people voted illegally in a desperate attempt to avoid the reality that he did not win the popular vote, if he was truly the deal maker that he claims he is and not just someone who played one on television, the country could solve some big problems and move forward.

Instead, we are where we are with a president who is not only stuck on stupid, but on crazy and very possibly beholden to a foreign government.

Imagine if Trump had admitted in his inaugural address he did not win the popular vote. Imagine if he said that his mission was to unify a divided country and that he was willing to work with Democrats to solve the nation’s problems. Where would we be now? Remember, coming into office, Trump owed the Republican establishment nothing. They were lukewarm at best with the prospects of him becoming the 45th president of the United States. He could have claimed a mandate from the people to be independent.

Imagine if Trump had said that he recognized that he gave a list of Supreme Court picks generated by right wing groups and many people voted for him because of that list, but because of his status as a minority president, he felt an obligation to bring the country together. He could have nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court seat that the Grand Obstructionist Party and its Senate leader Mitch McConnell stole from President Obama. All the Democrats with enough sensible Republicans could have confirmed Garland easily.

We would not be facing, in my opinion, a justified filibuster in the Senate. The GOP would not be looking at the nuclear option to blow up the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. McConnell and his minions will do it. I say good riddance. The GOP abused it during the Obama administration, and it is nowhere to be found in the Constitution. There is worry that this will make the Senate more like the House of Representatives, that the filibuster is what preserves minority power. However, this is not true.

The length of terms in the Senate is what makes it different from the House. Senators hold terms that are even longer than that of the president. Senators elected in 2016 will be in office two years after Trump has to stand for reelection. Members of the House of Representatives must face the voters every two years which means they are held to accountability more often.

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A Modest Proposal

Apr1

by: on April 1st, 2017 | 1 Comment »

We know that President Donald Trump says he has the safety of the America people in mind when he imposes travel bans from first seven then six predominantly Muslim countries. Both bans have been held up by the federal courts. Let us presume that Trump is serious about the safety of the American people. Thus, I offer this modest proposal.

Write an executive order and support legislation in Congress that would prohibit men from buying a gun until they are at least 65-years-old. Studies show that nearly 90 people in the United States die from gun violence every day God sends. Nearly 55 of those deaths are suicides. Women who live in households with a gun are more likely to be injured or killed by a gun, and children are often not only victims of accidental shootings by other children, but they are the shooters. In contrast, no one from countries who are subject to the travel ban have perpetrated terrorist attacks in the United States. We are killing ourselves.

I can hear the howls of “what about our second amendment rights?” echoing across the land. I say: “what about them?” We have a Congress, especially the United States Senate that does not give a hoot about the Constitution, especially if there is a president in the White House not of their party. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell led his party in stealing a Supreme Court seat from a duly elected president who won with a majority of the popular vote as well a majority in the Electoral College, to make way for a pick by a president who did not win the popular vote. Never mind the Constitution.

Supreme Court Justice Scalia writing for the majority that said people have a constitutional right to bear arms apart from military service, read words into the text that were not there. So much for strict constructionism. Further, whenever there is a mass shooting pro-gun people say that the problem is not guns, rather we ought to think more carefully about treating mental health and keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental health issues. Since Trump has been president, the Republicans in Congress have made it easier for people with mental health issues to own guns, and their healthcare replacement plan would have dropped the requirement for insurance companies to cover mental health.

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