Tag Archives: wars

Kristallnacht and Veterans Day

11 Nov

kristallnacht-bannerSaturday commemorated 75 years ago that the Nazis started the pogroms throughout Germany and Austria. This night in 1938 witnessed a strategic attack on Jews.  Kristallnacht — the Night of Broken Glass — marks the event where Jewish store fronts,  homes, and synagogues had their windows knocked out and smashed.  Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  The world learned on this night that the Holocaust had now started.  The Nazis were putting into play their “Final Solution.” 

This part of history is exceedingly ugly and painful.  We witnessed mortal racism and homophobia as Nazis assigned yellow stars and pink triangles to those they deemed unfit to live — people like Gad Beck. Sadly, we are currently seeing a rise in anti-Semitism in Germany and Russia.  We are also seeing a rise in homophobia around the world, including Russia, which is hosting the 2014 Olympics.

Thank goodness for all of the veterans and all those that helped to end World War II.  I do believe these veterans are heroes; they fought to ensure that regardless of our differing opinions and beliefs, the one thing that should unite us all is our shared humanity. That bond values those differences and does not try to limit them or take away people’s rights.

Call to action: I charge all people around the world to look for the humanity we all share and to interrupt oppression when we witness it. When we hear anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, homophobic, sexist slurs, we must interrupt that oppression or we dishonor those who fought to protect and cherish our common humanity and strove to create a level playing field.  We also strip ourselves of human dignity when we practice any form of hate against people who are different from us or collude in our silence with the oppression practiced by others.

For young kids, I would recommend reading Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.


Reflections of the 4th of July Holiday

3 Jul

DeclarationOn July 4, 1776 thirteen colonies, which would become the United States, declared their independence from England through the Declaration of Independence. I thought it would be interesting to look at this holiday and the document which sparked the American Revolution and examine where we are now through a social justice lens.

I must confess that I weep a little every time I read the Declaration of Independence, for it really is a beautiful living document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Allowing for the sexist language in its context, this is some powerful stuff here. Now —  237 years later — how are we living up to this declaration?  Several points come to mind when I read this and I worry we are still failing.  When I look at the current environment of how we try to control women and the disgraceful misogyny displayed today (Rick Perry and Wendy Davis), I am saddened. When I think about how we continue to target and marginalize the LGBT community, I am saddened.  When I think about the multigenerational impact of the intentional marginalization of people of color, I am saddened. When I think about the Occupy Movement and the devastating disparity in income in the United States, I am truly saddened.

What are we to do? How do we right these wrongs? How do we “throw off such a Government” that seems to be working for only 24% of Americans? How do we end endless wars? How do we take better care of our veterans? How do we ensure ALL people have health care?

It seems to me we have the answer in the Declaration of Independence.  The document charges us all with the task of: “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

A true democracy — of the people, for the people, by the people — is a glorious thing. But a Congress frozen in partisan bickering and held hostage by a slender fringe minority, a high court that capriciously abuses its power to place corporations over people, an executive that practices terror to fight terror, these are not democratic ways.

There must be some type of resistance, or non-violent way to have a revolution that ensures: “that all men (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Let us all join together, demanding the full celebration of our rights, and help transform this country to best represent its lofty, and laudable, intentions.

Hero of the Week Award: September 23, Elizabeth Warren

23 Sep

Hero of the Week

This week Elizabeth Warren really stood out amongst her peers and showed true leadership, when addressing a crowd and talking about the deficit and fair taxation.  Her video/speech earns her this week’s HWA.  If she does not win the Senate seat in Massachusetts, I fear this is a bad harbinger for the country.

Here is a part of Warren’s speech regarding taxation and class warfare:

I hear all this, you know, “Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever.”—No!
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.
You built a factory out there—good for you! But I want to be clear.
You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.
You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.
You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.
You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.
Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea—God bless. Keep a big hunk of it.
But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

I love this speech and I love that she refers to the Social Contract. Here is my enormous fear: I worry there are too few Americans who know what the Social Contract is and have never heard of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  I so wish Americans knew history; it sure would save a lot of time, anguish, and lives if we did.  Click here to see  the video of our Warren, provided by “Voice of the Trailer.”

I also have to give an honorable mention to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).  Ros-Lehtinen is the first Republican to have the social courage and integrity to break from her party and sponsor legislation repealing DOMA.  Our Ros-Lehtinen is a wonderful straight ally.

Honorable LGBT Ally

A New Year’s Wish…

1 Jan

As many of us reflect on this past year and look forward to the incoming year, I have a wish that my blog will become obsolete–that the threat of Fascism no longer looms, that all wars are ended, that misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia are all relegated to the past as human foils now rectified.  I am tired of so much hate.  I grow weary of interminable wars: we are still in Iraq (where we should never have been) and we are still in Afghanistan.  While I do put some of the blame on different religious zealots for wars, at the end of the day it is we that breed wars, “we carry it inside us like Syphilis.”   In this speech (click here) by Katharine Hepburn, in The Lion in Winter, we see that humans cause wars–just adding to my misanthropic ways.  My wish for the New Year is that we stop killing, stop denying people civil rights, start giving of ourselves, start loving one another for our differences, start making the world better and safer for all people.  We who believe in Freedom cannot rest until it comes.

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