Here, There and Everywhere

Archive for May, 2014

Celebrating in South Sudan

Women for Women International (WfWI) South Sudan

Despite the ongoing violence and worsening food crises in South Sudan, Women for Women International recently celebrated the first graduating class of women in South Sudan. The 277 program graduates, who began their training last spring, each received a graduation certificate at ceremonies in the Yari, Payawa, Longamere and Ronyi communities.

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Women spoke of their personal success stories, and graduates who were trained in bread-making offered mandazi, a popular type of bread, to those in attendance.

Reflecting the important ways men can champion women’s equality, many men – from the mayor of Yei and other government representatives to the graduates’ husbands, brothers, and fathers – attended the ceremony to support and congratulate the women. A number of them spoke positively of the impact of the training program on their wives, sisters, and daughters, how successful the women had become, and the transformative impact on their families and communities.

This May and June, we have over 1,800 women graduating from our programs in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Help us celebrate our graduates in South Sudan and elsewhere with a donation that celebrates a special graduate in your life.

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Words of Wisdom Album

I’m creating an album of original music that integrates many of the interviews I’ve done on my radio show over the past 17 years! I’m raising funds for the project through a new crowd-funding website that went online today. It’s a non-profit format, generosity-based and named after the Buddhist Pali word “dana.” The album will benefit Free Radio Santa Cruz and Food Not Bombs.

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Here is my two-minute video about the project: WORDS OF WISDOM

You can also go directly to the dana website and see the video and details and offer a contribution toward producing “Words of Wisdom” if you’d enjoy: https://dana.io/

Peace,
John Malkin

Memorial Day “Holiday”

Memorial Day – “a legal holiday in the U.S. in memory of the dead servicemen of all wars.”

That’s how Webster’s defines Memorial Day, but is that what takes place? Has this day of remembrance become just another holiday; another three-day weekend; a day of forgetting?

Memorial Day can be a powerful reminder and opportunity for honoring and remembering our dead; for paying homage to those who died believing that their lives made a difference; that their lives were sacrificed for the benefit of others.

In many respects, those who have died for this experiment in democracy are still living. They’re living in the water we drink, the food we grow, the ballot we cast, the policies we protest, the pains, sorrows and struggles of everyday life.

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I respect the men and women who fought to end slavery in the Civil War and those, like my grandfather William, who fought in World War I, believing it would be “the war to end all wars”. I remember and give thanks to my father-in-law, who fought during World War II against the Nazis and lost his parents, grandparents, family and friends in the concentration camps. I thank my father, who went away for years to an unknown fate to stop the dictatorships of German and Japanese governments during the second world war. And I remember and honor all those who died in Lebanon, Panama, Viet Nam, on 9-11, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those who returned from those conflicts and died from resulting disease, addiction or suicide.

Though Memorial Day honors those who have died during wartime, let us not forget the military women and men who have died outside of conflict; those who have died while training; while in transport; during missions of peace and rescue; and at home from illness, accident, governmental disregard or neglect.

Before we can ever proclaim, “Never again!” we must exclaim, “Never forget!” Never forget the soldiers and civilians who have perished. Let us honor they’re memory, by keeping them in our hearts and doing everything possible to prevent and end the wars that have caused such great sorrow and suffering. Take some time to bring out pictures, tell stories, make a toast, thank those still living and recommit our selves to the peaceful resolution of conflict.
Memorial Day reminds us that blood and tears are the same in any language. Every life is precious and every loss must be remembered, mourned and honored.

These thoughts and reflections are an excerpt from Good Grief: Love, Loss & Laughter.

Also see: Paging Dr. Leff: Pride, Patriotism and Protest.

Grainy Curves

This is from a block of limestone. I tried filling in the grooves I made in the rock with an orange/red puddie/paint, but it didn’t stick, so had to re-sand and leave as is. The shape emerged as I carved. The brown grains in the rock look good. Then used bees wax to polish and protect. It’s called Grainy Curves.

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Stop Meriam’s Execution

A judge in Sudan just sentenced 27-year-old Meriam to 100 lashes and death by hanging for violating her faith and marrying a Christian man.

We must act immediately to save Meriam from this horrific death. Click here to sign the petition asking the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene and put pressure on Sudan to stop Meriam’s execution.

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Meriam is 8 months pregnant and has a 20 month-old child. The courts are convicting her of violating her Muslim faith and adultery because her marriage to a Christian man is void under Sharia law. But Meriam says she was raised by her mother as a Christian her whole life.

Adultery and violation of faith should not be considered crimes at all, let alone acts worthy of the death penalty. Human rights groups are calling this a breach of international human rights law.

If enough of us raise our voices in protest against this horrific sentencing, the government of Sudan will be forced to protect Meriam from execution. Please sign the petition to join the campaign to protect Meriam.

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Thank you for taking action,

Jen
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Fishing Was Never So Good

BaitShopBlues_Final-PinkSatinpdfBait Shop Blues
By Nancy Pirri
May, 2014, Melange Books
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

Leif Flying Eagle and Cassandra (Cassie) Thompson go together like water and oil or fire and ice. Though they are instantly attracted to one another, when she lands at International Falls, Minnesota, to find out more about the bait shop and land her grandfather left her and Leif, they have about as much in common as a bear and a hummingbird.

Bait Shop Blues portrays a man and a woman who are both reluctant and afraid of commitment (for different reasons) to discover what it is they want most in life and questions whether they can break free of the past, move beyond their fear and be honest about their deepest intentions.

The story moves along briskly, as readers’ are taken into life on the lake, fishing, camping and the nearby reservation, where most of Leif’s family still lives. The supporting cast, most notably Maxie (Leif’s bait shop assistant) and Shep (Leif’s dog), are perfect contrasts of stability, commitment and devotion, to that of Leif and Cassie’s confusion and mixed message.

As expected, but still enjoyable, the sweetness, love and attraction overpower the character’s rough edges and initial testing of the waters. Bait Shop Blues is a good story to pack for lunch, a picnic or the next time you go out fishing and dream of the man (or woman) of your dreams.

The Suffering of Others

Trance of “Unreal Other”
by Tara Brach
From Tara Brach’s Blog
14 May 2014

The truth is: without a genuine willingness to let in the suffering of others, our spiritual practice remains empty.

Father Theophane, a Christian mystic, writes about an incident that happened when he took some time off from his secular duties for spiritual renewal at a remote monastery. Having heard of a monk there who was widely respected for his wisdom, he sought him out. Theophane had been forewarned that this wise man gave advice only in the form of questions. Eager to receive his own special contemplation, Theophane approached the monk: “I am a parish priest and am here on retreat. Could you give me a question to meditate on?”

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“Ah, yes.” The wise man answered. “My question for you is: What do they need?” A little disappointed, Theophane thanked him and went away. After a few hours of meditating on the question and feeling as if he were getting nowhere, he decided to go back to the teacher.

“Excuse me,” he began, “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. Your question has been helpful, but I wasn’t so much interested in thinking about my apostolate during this retreat. Rather I wanted to think seriously about my own spiritual life. Could you give me a question for my own spiritual life?”

“Ah, I see,” answered the wise man. Then my question is, “What do they really need?”

Like so many of us, Father Theophane had assumed that true spiritual reflection focuses on our solitary self. But as the wise man reminded him, spiritual awakening is inextricably involved with others. As Theophane focused on the needs of those he had been given to serve, he would recognize their vulnerability and longing for love—and realize that their needs were no different than his own.

The question the wise man suggested was wonderfully crafted for awakening in Theophane the true spiritual depth that comes from paying close attention to other human beings.

Like Theophane, whenever we are caught in our own self-centered drama, everyone else becomes “other” to us, different and unreal. The world becomes a backdrop to our own special experience and everyone in it serves as supporting cast, some as adversaries, some as allies, most as simply irrelevant. Because involvement with our personal desires and concerns prevents us from paying close attention to anyone else, those around us—even family and friends—can become unreal, two-dimensional cardboard figures, not humans with wants and fears and throbbing hearts.

The more different someone seems from us, the more unreal they may feel to us. We can too easily ignore or dismiss people when they are of a different race or religion, when they come from a different socio-economic “class.” Assessing them as either superior or inferior, better or worse, important or unimportant, we distance ourselves.

Fixating on appearances—their looks, behavior, ways of speaking—we peg them as certain types. They are HIV positive or an alcoholic, a leftist or fundamentalist, a criminal or power-monger, a feminist or do-gooder. Sometimes our type-casting has more to do with temperament—the person is boring or narcissistic, needy or pushy, anxious or depressed. Whether extreme or subtle, typing others makes the real human invisible to our eyes and closes our heart.

Once someone is an unreal other, we lose sight of how they hurt. Because we don’t experience them as feeling beings, we not only ignore them, we can inflict pain on them without compunction. Not seeing that others are real leads to a father disowning his son for being gay, divorced parents using their children as weapons. All the enormous suffering of violence and war comes from our basic failure to see that others are real.

In teaching the compassion practices, I sometimes ask students to bring to mind someone they see regularly but are not personally involved with. Then I invite them to consider, “What does he or she need?” “What does this person fear?” “What is life like for this person?”

After one of these meditations, a student approached me to report that a wonderful thing had happened since she’d begun doing this practice. When seeing colleagues at work, neighbors walking their dogs, clerks at stores, she’d been saying in her mind, “You are real. You are real.”

Rather than being backdrops for her life, she was finding them come alive to her. She’d notice a gleam of curiosity in the eyes, a generous smile, an anxious grinding of teeth, a disappointed and resigned slope to the shoulders, the sorrow in a downcast look. If she stayed a moment longer, she could also feel their shyness, their awkwardness, or their fear. She told me, “The more real they are to me, the more real and warm and alive I feel. I feel a closeness in just being humans together. It doesn’t matter who they are … I feel like I can accept them as part of my world.”

When we stop to attend and see others as real, we uncover the hidden bond that exists between all beings. In her poem “Kindness,” Naomi Shihab Nye writes:

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

We are all journeying through the night with plans, breathing in and out this mysterious life. And, as my student discovered through her practice , the more we can learn to pay attention to others, and truly see them as “real,” just like us, the more we can allow the “tender gravity of kindness” to naturally awaken and bloom.

Adapted from Radical Acceptance, 2013

Read more from Tara at her blog. TARA BRACH

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