2017

Heartache & Misery

The hurricane had barely hit Houston when there was a frantic rush to save the pets. Aid workers, airplanes, crates, National Guard, humane societies and doctors were deployed in a massive evacuation process that transported those hundreds upon hundreds of poor animals to the many different locations across these United States. One could not but be moved by this compassionate operation!

She said: “If only they cared for people as much as they do for animals in our country!” Her words were startling, in a way, and remained at the back of my head as I viewed the latest images of human heartache and misery on my television screen and thought to myself: what a strange dichotomy this is!

Just in these past two weeks we had the CEO of Equifax testifying before Congress about the massive breach that occurred within that company putting at risk the private information of about 145 million people. The breach was due to two factors: human error, in that the negligent security team member in charge of placing a certain required patch on the Equifax system didn’t do their job; the second factor was technological, in that the Equifax system did not detect that the patch had not been placed. Believe it, or Not: One Person, One Human Being, One Cog in the Security Machine put at risk the credit information of 145 million people! The CEO resigned and was rewarded with a ninety million compensation package!!! Go figure!!!

Then on October second, I woke up as I usually do in the wee hours when even the birds were still sleeping. It was a fresh and brisk dawn heralding the arrival of a fall season that I love. Much as I enjoy my cup of coffee and cigarette in these few pre-dawn minutes with my own thoughts and feelings, I dread going in and switching on my television. What, I wonder, is the disaster of the day going to be, for, it seems, that there is a new dramatic catastrophe greeting me every single morning?

And, certainly, there it was: the blood-curdling events in Las Vegas the preceding evening that ended up with a tally of 58 dead Human Beings and over 500 injured Human Beings! All due to One Murderer! How can this even be remotely possible? I am aghast! The world is aghast!

I have been in a daze since that morning, listening to all the stupid talk and frivolous analysis by Mainstream Media Personalities who seem to wait in giddy anticipation for such tragedies in order to make themselves sound more important and relevant; for Corrupt Politicians to go on the air and spout out their decadent opinions about the morbid event with discussions of guns and gun laws – and reasonable legislation that they won’t execute – and get their day’s five pathetic minutes of fame!

As a political junkie myself, with opinions galore that I am constantly mouthing off, I find that talking politics today seems to be so senseless to all the innocent dead, their families and loved ones. No one can console them enough for losing a Human Being out to enjoy an evening of fun and entertainment. We, and all our loved ones, families, friends and neighbors have attended concerts and events at arenas and other venues. It could have been any one of us, or ours, being massacred that fateful evening.

At the end of the day, the blame for that carnage is on Every One of Us!

It is we, the People, who prove every day that we are Unkind, Cruel and Wicked. It is really Us who have abandoned our Civic Duties while in search of our own selfish and egocentric satisfactions at the expense of All and Everything else, and we disregarded our fellow human beings at home and all across the planet while in search of those trivial needs and wants. It is Us who get all riled up and directed this way and that by an irresponsible media that is concerned only with its revenues, and by corrupt politicians engaged in the game of playing politics with our lives and well-being. Alas, we continue to elect those same ones! How could we but be responsible for all the tragedies and chaos that we moan and groan about when we are silent as the vultures in our political and corporate lives continue their bleeding of every decent, moral and ethical law on the books? It is Us who are not demanding better while in venal pursuit of our immediate pleasures, because we are too neglectful to be constantly engaged in our political, societal and cultural issues shrugging them off with the mostly flippant: That’s Just the Way It is. Yes, the unfortunate reality is that it is Every Uncivilized One of Us who is responsible. You, Me, He and She. All of Us.

Here we are, becoming more and more paranoid and in a constant state of worry and anxiety due to all this chaos! All around us the toxicity of our planet is increasing so that we don’t know anymore whether to fret about our computers and devices being eavesdropped on and hacked, or the electronic systems of the tens of vendors that we deal with on a daily basis, or all the myriad issues challenging us daily. We don’t know anymore whether the next threat will come from corrupt Political Un-Leaders, hacks, a breach, a home-grown or foreign terrorist, a pathogen; a hurricane, a flood, an airplane, a truck, a concert, or a drone. Certainly we cannot underestimate the fact that none of us, or any of our institutions, have yet adjusted to the Pandora’s Box of Technology in this Information Age with all its positives, negatives and humongous unknowns. Quite terrifying!

Yet, Internet and Information Age notwithstanding, I am absolutely convinced that it is every one of Us that is causing all our chagrins, and until we care enough about all of humanity and much less about our own individual selfish pursuits then our condition will never ever improve, and none of us should be surprised when the next mass act of violence occurs . . . it is not anymore a question of If, but only a question of When and How Devastating and Heart-breaking!!

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2017

Oppression is Universal

Respect!

Yes, Respect for the Kneelers! Respect for the Raised Fists! Respect for Peaceful Protests! Respect for all those who are Oppressed!

Whether it is Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Mohammad Ali, or the hundreds of others across the world and throughout history who have rejected Oppression and Injustice, been persecuted, incarcerated and killed for their Rightful Cause: Respect! Yes, Respect and plenty of it!

And did that Awesome Kneeling Phenomenon begin with Colin Kaepernick in August of 2016 when the footballer knelt during the National Anthem in Protest for all the Injustice and Oppression being daily perpetrated on Black Lives? Or, did it begin when Mohammad Ali refused to fight in Vietnam and got stripped of his title for daring to say that he had no quarrel with the Vietnamese? Or, was it when America’s winning Sprinters raised their fists in the now famous Black Power Salute during the 1968 Olympics? Or, was it in 2014 when Derrick Rose wore a shirt that said: “I Can’t Breathe” after the hapless Eric Garner was killed when he was held in an unnecessary chokehold by NY Police? Or was it after Fergusson, Trayvon Martin, Black Lives Matter and . . . we can go back to the lynching era when white Christian men, women and children coming out of their churches, during all the years since slavery began and  up to the early Fifties (yes, Fifties, not Centuries ago!) stood around the trees and watched black men being strung up, and then had the audacity to clap . . . or do we go as far back as that first ship when its cargo of Black Slaves landed on our shores . . . yes, the Oppression began then, and it hasn’t Stopped!

Some inherently Racist White Americans smugly point to Oprah, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Barack Obama and the hundreds of other, known and unknown, successful – some, very successful – and prosperous Black Americans and say: where’s the Oppression? If the US was Oppressing Black Lives would these examples have made it this far? My answer to that is that successful Black People made it in spite of and despite the Oppression! Some in this nation simply cannot see, do not want to see, or do not understand the issues of Racism and Colonialism because they have never been in our shoes, and that’s precisely why we Kneel and Raise our fists in the admirable Black Power Salute! And, No, this has nothing to do with disrespecting the anthem or the flag, except as a deflection from the real question, especially that the anthem was introduced onto game fields only as a result of the jingoism of 9/11. Such utter nonsense!

However, Oppression is Universal. Today in our world there are more and more Indigenous Struggles going on than ever before. Struggles against a Colonialism that is still rampant and insidious; the aftermaths of that Imperialism, just like the aftershocks of earthquakes, persist and did not end when the armies withdrew leaving behind them Oppressive Rulers to do their bidding; Constitutions, laws and regulations that the Colonists dictated; torture methods and incessant injustice as tools with which to continue their devouring of resources; and, whether it is Black Lives Matter, Native Americans, Catalans,  Rohingya (and the list goes on) the Oppressed Human Beings of the world persevere in Protesting and demanding Equality and Justice. Short of that, they are rightfully demanding Secession!

Do you remember when Margaret Thatcher sent her Armada bobbing across the ocean for weeks in order to wage a war against the two and a half people (so to speak, facetiously) of the Falklands? Or, when Ronald Reagan waged his war on the two and a half people of Grenada? What were these two insane wars all about if not re-affirming White, Colonialist and Military Superiority? How utterly sickening! And this is just one example of how White Supremacy continues to wield its power and to intimidate. It is appalling!

I, a Palestinian woman, whose people have been Oppressed by a Criminal Occupation since 1948 and the establishment of Israel on our lands, feel the Oppression being inflicted on Black Lives in these United States much more poignantly! The Suffering is the same. The arbitrary Incarcerations, Confrontations, Humiliations, Blatant Aggression, Intimidations and Extrajudicial Killings that have been going on against the Palestinian people for almost seventy years leave me with much the same Pain, Frustration and Anger that my Black sisters and brothers witness on a daily basis. And, of course, the Oppressor’s disregard of our plight, whether it is the US, Europe, or Israel, is imbued with Racism and feelings of Superiority. And as long as the majority of White people in America and Europe remain silent in the face of this abhorrent behavior towards Black Lives and Minorities, and as long as the majority of Jews remain on the sidelines in the face of the repugnant conduct of the Israeli Government towards the Palestinian people, we will continue to Kneel, to Raise our Fists, to Protest, to Resist and to Condemn the Injustice.

The Silencing of Dissent coupled with the propaganda that falsifies the sordid reality and envelops it in a mantle of white-washed lies and distortions that make the Victims seem like they are the Aggressors is not acceptable to us anymore. The innocent Black Lives being wasted by some in the racist police culture where the murderers receive no punishment, and the young Palestinian lives being wasted by an Israeli Army that is never found wrong are purely evil actions that cannot be tolerated by any person who calls themselves Human, or Compassionate; by any person who knows the true meaning of Justice and Legality; by Anyone calling themselves Fair-minded. Decent people anywhere and everywhere should take a Knee and Raise a Fist.

I alienated some of my friends when I refused to go along with the drum beats pounding against President Trump since even before his inauguration. I felt that my sense of Justice and Fairness compelled me to give him and his administration time and a fair chance, especially that he had no previous political experience. I gave him all the space. No more, because the exchange of infantile, bombastic, braggadocio being hurled across the oceans is taking us where no one wants to go! Is it because the President doesn’t get it, or is it deliberate? In either case, it is very dangerous and irresponsible. Daring North Korea to ignite a war with reckless taunts, name-calling and insidious challenges; lying about Iran as Israel goads us either to start a war over there, or to give them the green light to do so themselves is plain folly; inciting violence against Venezuela because we want to monopolize the oil resource is plain criminal! Everything that’s being said and done is debasing these United States and its people. Shameful! Disrespectful!

So, Yes, we will continue to Kneel, to Raise our Fists in Defiance and to Oppose Inequality!

Yes, we will!

And it will not stop until we defeat Racism, Oppression, Injustice and Colonialism!

We, the Oppressed, will stand together in Support and with Respect!

Yes, we will!