Thursday, June 30, 2016

Quote of the Day

I know what smashing the system looks like, I just don't know how to achieve it. If I did, you could call me Che, and we'd be living in our utopia on Mars.

Incrementalism is a ruse, yet revolution often eats its own. Maintaining the status quo is the enabler, but bystanding only fuels demagoguery. We have to take action, but cleverly and with guile. Change can come in a flash, but that's only because many people tested the system for weaknesses and helped hobble the beast when the time is right. Yet, we've put a million chinks in its armor since the 60's civil rights movement, but the fucking thing continues to slouch on.

I thought the anti-war sentiment in 1990 was going to do it. Then the stolen election in 2000. Then opposition to the Iraq invasion in 2003. Then Occupy. Then Black Lives Matter. Etc. It ain't gonna happen in our lifetime, so all we can do is work smart, try to influence others, and pass along what we learned to the next hopeless generation yearning for improbable change. Or keep Jesse William's speech on a constant loop and pray for intercession from his steel gray eyes.

– Mick Schommer
via Facebook

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Threshold Musings
"I Will Dance"
Actually, There's No Question About It
Saying "No" to Endless U.S. Wars
Hope, History, and Bernie Sanders
Thoughts on Prayer in a "Summer of Strife"
Getting Started
Quote of the Day – May 9, 2010

Image: Michael Bayly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Australian Sojourn – May 2016

As perhaps regular visitors to this site may have gleaned, for most of May and the first part of June I was in Australia visiting family and friends.

This evening I share the first in a series of posts that will document my recent time in the Great South Land. Enjoy!

Part 1: Maroubra

Often when I return home to Australia, the first friendly face I see is that of my good friend Raphael, or Raph (right), who lives in Maroubra, a beachside suburb in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Maroubra is a local Aboriginal word meaning place of thunder.

I've known Raph since my teaching days in Goulburn, New South Wales, where his dad was the principal of Sts. Peter and Paul Primary School. I taught at Sts. Peter and Paul's for six years before moving to the U.S. in 1994. I was Raph's older brother Jeremiah's 4th grade teacher in 1989, and Raph's sister Tess's 5th grade teacher in 1992.

I've stayed good friends with all the members of the family ever since our time together in Goulburn, and I always try to catch up with as many of them as possible whenever I visit Australia from the U.S.

In 2011 Raph visited the U.S. and cycled the Trans-America Trail with two friends. His trip was cut short, however, when Raph received news of his sister Tess's melanoma diagnosis. He returned to Australia via Minnesota in October of 2011. I returned to Australia for two weeks in April-May of 2012 so as to visit Tess and her family. Tess died a little over a month later.

In 2012, Raph cycled from Adelaide to Sydney, a distance of over 1900 kilometers, in memory of Tess and to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research and prevention. For more about Raph's inspiring achievement, click here, here, and here.

I arrived in Sydney from Los Angeles on a United Airlines flight on Friday, May 6, having first left Minneapolis on Wednesday, May 4.

And, no, I didn't travel for 30+ hours. Rather, I lost a whole day due to traveling west across the International Date Line. (The day I lost, incidentally, was May 5, the tenth anniversary of this blog. Luckily Blogger allows you to schedule posts, and so my special tenth anniversary post was posted while I was winging my way across the Pacific.

My first full day in Australia was Saturday, May 7, and I marked the occasion by walking down to Maroubra Beach to watch the sunrise. It was a beautiful and very special experience.

I have to say that my sunrise experience reminded me of just how much I miss the unique colours and contours of the Australian landscape.

Interestingly, a few days later I was reacquainted with the illustrations in the 1965 book, The Dreamtime, which presents Australian Aboriginal myths through the artwork of Ainslie Roberts and the writings of Charles P. Mountford.

I remember these illustrations from my childhood, and seeing them again so many years later I was struck by how powerfully they reflect the haunting beauty of both Australian indigenous culture and the Australian landscape; two realities that really are inseparable – a truth I acknowledge and honor.

Ainslie Roberts acknowledged and honored this truth too. We see it in his art. And then there's this beautiful anecdote: Toward the end of his life, Roberts described himself as "a communicator . . . a white man painting in a white man's way and trying, visually, to show the white people of Australia that this fascinating land they live in has a rich and ancient cultural heritage that they should be aware of and respect."

Above and below: Views of Maroubra Beach, aglow in the early morning light.

Above: Bondi Beach – Saturday, May 7, 2016. "Bondi" or "Boondi" is an Aboriginal word meaning water breaking over rocks or noise of water breaking over rocks.

Right: Raph and his girlfriend Meera at Bondi Beach.

Above: At Bondi I reconnected with my good friend Garth and his lovely family.

My friendship with Garth dates back to our shared time in Goulburn in the early 1990s. We last saw each other in 2014.

Above: Meera, Garth and his two beautiful daughters, Raph and me.

Above : Fun times with good friends at Bondi Beach – Saturday, May 7, 2016.

Above and left: Yes, there are all kinds of beautiful sights on Bondi Beach!

Notes Wikipedia about Bondi Beach's surf lifesaving history and culture:

Bondi Surf Bathers' Life Saving Club claims to be the world's first surf lifesaving club, and North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club is a federation club. Both clubs were founded in 1907. Bondi members invented the surf reel and many other icons of lifesaving. Surf lifesavers from both clubs were involved in the largest rescue ever on a single day, known as "Black Sunday." Bondi holds the most Australian Surf Lifesaving Championship gold medals in R&R (rescue & resuscitation) and North Bondi holds the most gold medals in March Past.

Back at Raph's apartment, Raph, Meera and I enjoyed a relaxing evening, one that included the making of a delicious Green Soup, which we shared together under the stars on Maroubra Beach. We also shared lots of stories, memories and laughs. . . . Oh, and music too!

NEXT: Morpeth

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Australian Sojourn – March 2015: Roving Sydney's Eastern Beaches with Raph
Sydney Sojourn (2010)
Boardies, Budgie Smugglers and Euro-Togs
Earth Day – 2015

Opening image: Atop Hanging Rock in rural Victoria – Friday, May 13, 2016.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Quote of the Day

The pope wants the church to apologize to gay people for marginalizing them, while also upholding the Catechism's teaching on homosexuality. You can't apologize to people and simultaneously reassert the doctrine that harms them. That's just dysfunctional, if not downright abusive.

– Jamie Manson
via Facebook

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Quote of the Day – June 26, 2016
Stop in the Name of Discriminatory Ideology!
Oh, Give It a Rest, Papa!
Catholic Church Can Overcome Fear of LGBT People
"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Says Christians and the Roman Catholic Church Should Seek Forgiveness from Homosexuals for Past Treatment – Philip Pullella (Reuters via Religion News Service, June 26, 2016).
What Does Pope Francis Mean When He Says "Apologize"? – Kimberly Winston (Religion News Service, June 27, 2016).
Gay Catholic Groups Want the Vatican to Do More Than Apologize – Jim Yardley (New York Times, June 27, 2016).
LGBT Catholics Welcome Statement of Pope Francis That the Catholic Church Must Apologize to Gay People, But Say Apology Must Be Followed by Concrete Actions – DignityUSA (June 26, 2016).
Pope Calls for Church to Apologize to LGBT People and Others Who Have Been Marginalized – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, June 26, 2016).
Keeping Pope Francis' Comments on the LGBT Community in Context – James Martin, SJ (Commonweal, June 27, 2016).
Cardinal Marx: Society Must Create Structures to Respect Gay Rights – Sarah Mac Donald (National Catholic Reporter, June 28, 2016).
Catholic League's Bill Donohue Melts Down on CNN After Pope Tells Him to Apologize to Gays – David Edwards (Raw Story, June 28, 2016).

UPDATE: Catholics Split on the Value of Pope Francis' Call for Apology – Bob Shine (Bondings 2.0, June 29, 2016).

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 2)

This evening I share a second batch of photos from this year's Mayday parade. As I mentioned in Part 1, on Sunday, May 1, I attended the 42nd annual In the Heart of the Beast Theatre's Mayday parade in south Minneapolis.

This year's theme was "Radical Returnings," and was all about "turning towards each other rather than away from each other, repairing our relationships and the earth, finding redemption and freedom in tune with the turning of the earth and the return of spring." Inspiring stuff, to be sure!

The text that accompanies my photos is excerpted from the Mayday 2016 program guide. Enjoy!

Parade Beginning: Howling for the Whole Earth

This years parade was headed by the Phillips Project, a Heart of the Beast Theatre partnership in its fifth year with Little Earth of United Tribes, Waite House, and Collaborative Village Initiative.

For this year's parade, Phillips Project youth apprentices from Little Earth expressed a wish to make a giant Medicine Wheel rolling down the street to honor Native American culture in our neighborhood. The Medicine Wheel is a sacred indigenous symbol representing health, wholeness and unity. Youth from all three sites coincidentally and magically chose to all make wolves to accompany the medicine wheel. The wolf image represents the community-oriented yet independent strength of the youth and neighbors we work with. We howl for the healing of the whole earth.

Parade Story, Section 1: Humbly We Shape Our World

Humbly, we shape the rebeginning of our world, in turn. The storied origins of life are founded in the firmament of clay.

A new world is on its way. On a clear day you can hear it breathing. The former world, one of so many modes of domination, must be configured in different ways. "Mine"-ing must be challenged for its dehumanizing effect, which allows the trespass of humanity by constructs like borders, and so distorts the recognition of what it means to be human.

Clearing away possessions are ritual beings of sweeping change and dervishes of possibility, spinning round and round into some balance. The soft swishing and earthen scent of grasses raise the dust of the earth.

Large islands of clay-colored earth float by, seemingly separate, but part of a larger whole: Earth mother, bathed in the concrete of the street, source of life and possibility.

Here or there, we might see a turtle stroller with a young one, or attendants to new life, spare or bare and earthen in hue of muddy mix. They dig clay from the belly or hand of this larger creature, to link parade performer and parade observer in a covenant of shared care and creation.

May this new life be free from domination as it is given to those on the side of the parade's journey to care for, or maginatively collaborate by taking the clay in some new direction, in the same way we shape each other.

For some, clay is the embodiment of living power, of truth. In many of the world's stories, it is steeped in possibility, imagination and ritual, and used to create sacred objects. Clay is meditative in its response to push and pull. It breathes out when wet and absorbs moisture when dry. It carries the weight and intention of the imagining of the Earth, changing its quality according to its use and care. For us this section's intent is to charge each of us with the humbling task of shaping and caring for the world we share.

Clay. It's rain, dead leaves, dust, all my dead ancestors. Stones that have been ground into sand. Mud. The whole cycle of life and death.

– Martine Vermeulen

Section 2: The Earth is Our Home is Our Body is . . .

Take a look at the hermit crab. The hermit crab resourcefully makes its temporary home in empty sea shells left behind by snails. These shells are spirals, ancient symbols of transformation. The hermit crab carries its home with it everywhere it goes, reminding us that, very directly,the earth is our body is our home . . .

When the hermit crab outgrows its shell it will search for a better fit. Should the hermit crab stumble across a vacant shell whose size surpasses its needs, it will know that such resources could be put to better use and will wait for a larger hermit crab. When more hermit crabs arrive on the scene also finding the vacant shell too large, they too wait.When a hermit crab of appropriate size to fit in the vacant shell arrives,something remarkable occurs: The hermit crabs organize themselves into a line, largest t smallest. The largest crab hops into the vacant shell, and the others follow suit, hopping into each others' shells, and returning the smallest shell to the earth. It is an extraordinary communal effort.

If we, like the hermit crab, could share in this way, recognizing our own needs alongside those of others, taking only what we need and giving back to the earth, perhaps we would find ourselves in a much more harmonious and equitable society. One that is not so plagued by conflicts over resources and such gaping disparities between those with and those without.

Section 3: Safety is Measured in Human Kindness

To build a wall against each other,
to build more gray-colored jail cells,
To build a tightly closed door for yourself,
to brace yourself with a gun
Will these guarantee you more safety
and a better community?

Now is the time that we build
a space for our community,
Where countless stories are made
A space filled with the warmth of our heart
Where we can share laughter and tears.
The days are gone wen you had to cry alone
in a desert-like prison that you made for yourself,
Deprived of hope and compassion for others.

Let's put our heads together and walk abreast
Leaving behind lonely days.
Let's keep pace with each other --
I'll march to the beat of your drummer.

Let's we choose peace over violence.
Let's we share food and shelter
and put down the fear,

Let's take a moment
To remember the homeless,
Wishing them a warm place
to stay for the night.

As our act of resistance,
Let's walk arm in arm,
singing a song of spring
and life to come.

There is always time for us to
Cry with each other
and laugh with each other
in times of trouble
and in times of happiness.

It was called The Way. The site where the 4th precinct stands today, on Plymouth Ave on the north side of the city, wasn't always a police station. Before it became the place that, for so many, stood for "law" and "order" and "surveillance" and "profiling," it was another kind of place. Before a police station stod there, it was a community center.

During the protests, those 18 days when we gathered together despite the cold and our heartache, despite the threat of violence and our anger at the cops who killed an unarmed black man – despite all that, we made that place a center for community again. Cars pulled up day and night and brought hot coffee, warm food and dry clothes for the protesters. We talked and sang, we chanted, we made plans. Some of us learned to knit or build a fire. We gathered around donated food lined up on a long table to celebrate Thanksgiving together, as the first flakes of snow began to fall. And on those autumn days, we made it a community center again.

And why couldn't it be The Way again? What if we imagined other institutions that keep us apart, transformed into places that sustain us? What if we reject the idea that we need bars to keep us safe? What if we imagine that another Way is possible?

– Erin Sharkey

Section 4: Reparations on Our Soul: Have Heart, De-Mask, Wild Seed

Our ancestors were never slaves. Even though they were stuffed in the bottom of boats with pregnant bellies and terrified hearts in awe of evil that would shackle soulful humanity. Some of them jumped off the boat and whisper still from the bottom of the Atlantic. So don't act like you forget. Blackness is our wild and resilient magic. It is time to pay back the debt to our souls.

Sweet ancestral resiliency is our magic. And Wild Seed is our new possibility. Black soul shapeshifts and we alchemized into Prince, Malcolm X and Collard greens, James Baldwin, Basquiat and Angela Davis, Rock and Roll and Toni Morrison, Candied yams and Hip Hop, Mae Jemison and Serena Williams, agricultural advancements, Paul Robeson, Alice Walker, James Brown and Nina Simone and the Nay Nay, Phoenetic Ones and Bro Suns and infiniteness.

There is a debt owned for the wealth yielded from stolen lifetimes of Black existence. It is time to honor descendents with a mournful gratitude and radical returning of reparations.

Welcome to Wild Sees. We live in lush and green wildness and in tune with nature's rhythms. We heal with the earth. Home of the ild seed Public Schools where children learn the complex truth of heir ancestors and fly on butterfly wings. Where the Bank of Wild Seed: Reparations and Radical Returnings, pays out the resources earned by our ancestors who were unpaid, and unacknowledged.

Speak your truth


Bring to light






When we address the needs of our heart, hold them in their brokenness and wholeness, when we are able to heal our hearts, without fear, we open ourselves to the expansiveness of our beings. We see our souls reflect the vastness of the cosmos. Collectively, we can bring forth new realities when we are better in tune with the infinite.

Section 5: Turning, Turning, the Earth is Returning

My struggle doesn't erase my smile,
Shouting out expands my lungs
as well as my prayer;
This rage doesn't come from me.
When I raise my fist,
My culture is alive,
Lifting the dust on my feet.
The earth is my color,
a cosmic melting pot,
all the blood, all
all the races, all
all the being, all
all dancing together
from one side to the other
of the Earth's smile.
Smiling, smiling
the earth is turning.
Turning, turning
Earth's returning.

In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the Water, from the Corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the Rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers, is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of the planet.

Our Mother Earth – (militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic human rights are systematically violated) – demands that we take action: Let us build societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way in a way that protects life.

Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and its spirits.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"Radical Returnings" – Mayday 2016 (Part 1)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
"And Still We Rise!" – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
Mystics of Wonder, Agents of Change (Mayday 2014 – Part 1)
"The Spiritual Dialectic of WONDER?!" (Mayday 2014 – Part 2)
See the World! (Mayday 2013)
The End of the World as We Know It (2012)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 1 (2010)
"Uproar!" on the Streets of South Minneapolis: Part 2 (2010)
Getting Started: Mayday 2009 (Part 1)
Celebrating Our Common Treasury: Mayday 2009 (Part 2)
Mayday and a "New Bridge" (2008)
The Time is Now! (2006)

Images: Michael J. Bayly.