I just returned from 11 days in Venezuela, my sixth trip there since 2005. Many people have asked me how they can understand what’s really happening in Venezuela based on information from public institutions such as the U.S. government and the mainstream media. Sources they have used include television ranging from Fox News to MSNBC and CNN; newspapers from the New York Times to more “progressive” publications; and radio from private ad-based to public listener-supported stations. In order to analyze information today and in the future, there are three key points that most people in the United States and in Venezuela can agree on. 1 – No war.
In the first part of last night’s dream, I was trapped in a building, but as soon as I began to wake up, I lost that image. What lingered was a swarming crowd, people rushing to join a mass on the horizon, gazes transfixed skyward. Huge fireballs were forming in the blue air, spinning as they fell to earth, landing somewhere out of sight. Voices began to sound, the ordinary tones of TV newsreaders: clear, oddly animated, slightly robotic. They described the scene around me, the completely unprecedented and unexplained rain of enormous fireballs, in exactly the same way they might tell a story about a road accident or a snowstorm.
Engaging interdependently with others in the process of making decisions feels to many people like giving up autonomy. The freedom to make whatever decisions we want to make so long as we are not harming others is one of the core attractions of the modern world. I see it as a consolation prize for the loss of community and care.
November 22, 2018
Dear Mississippi White People,
Both of my parents were born and reared in Mississippi. They were part of the Great Migration of African Americans north in the early 1950s. When I was a little girl, we would go south for funerals. For most of my life, I have never felt comfortable south of the Mason-Dixon Line. I was fine for about 48 hours, then something inside of me, something that felt like an old soul, the spirit of an enslaved ancestor, wanted desperately to head back home.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow reflects on a letter from Linda Sarsour, leader of the Women’s March, which he reads in both spiritual and ecological terms: “In our very diversity, our different cultures, our disagreements, we are the rainbow refractions of ONE light.”
As human beings, we are a carbon-based life form.
We are close kin to the higher order apes.
We are homo sapiens, a bit of earth that can think.
We stand up straight; have an opposable thumb; have the capacity for rational thought; are able to use symbols to communicate abstract thoughts; we can use symbols to communicate about symbols; we can remember the past and plan for the future.
The gospel according to Jamie Lannister of the television version of “Game of Thrones”: “Strange thing, first time you cut a man, you realize we’re nothing but sacs of meat, blood and some bone to keep is all standing.”
I say: we are bags of water, flesh, blood, and bone called by a proper name.
We are body soul mind mysteries as long as we breathe the breath of life. We are character and personality that loves and hates, that laughs and cries, that sings and dances, that wills and desires, and sometimes just does not give a care. And when the breath leaves for the last time, our bodies become dust and ashes. We leave an empty space. Other human beings grieve.
The chemicals in our bodies are worth about one dollar.
So, what sense does it make to think that the color of the bag of water flesh blood and bone called by a proper name makes an individual more or less than any other? What sense does it make that the shape of it or the strength of it gives an individual the right to treat the Other as an object for one’s own drunken pleasure to be tossed away and forgotten like used tissue? What sense does it make that some bags think that they are superior because of the bit of earth upon which they were born or upon which they now stand or that they have a right to keep other bags from coming to that place? What makes the bags that we are fear the Other, hate the Other, and want to kill the Other to point of war?
World War I stands as one of the most deadly wars in the history of humankind. Between 15 and 19 million human beings died. Some 23 million military personnel were wounded. We do not know how many lives were shattered because of post-traumatic stress disorder, known at the time as shell shock.