Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘freedom’

Let It Run Deep

61gbBPp8TJL._AC_US218_More Than Simple Words: Reality vs Love
by Xcaliber Anthony and Derrick Marrow.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

The best way I can review this intimate collection of poetry by Mr. Anthony and Mr. Marrow, is to write a poem about it. Here is my reaction to More Than Simple Words.

Rhyming, lyrical, longing and love
More than simple words is all the above
It whispers of grief, trust, and intimacy
with sublime and insightful legitimacy

These poets hearts are crying for freedom
and reveal the depths of our racism
Redemption, pain and peace travel steep
and the words are laid plain for us all to keep

If you love love, and don’t want it to sleep
read More Than Simple Words and let it run deep.

One of my favorites from the authors revealing collection is One Love.

You keep my tongue in ecstasy
The mental images bless me
Your rapture keeps me stress free
Emotions change when you caress me

I study your history
I don’t repeat those mistakes
When I’m gone you miss me
I know what’s at stake

My mind revels in your rhythm
Passion entered my system
You schooled me with your wisdom
You flowered this lifeless stem

Wrong words can cause a schism
so I watch what I say
We split preconceptions like a prism
for you eternally I’ll stay

My lips wait and wish for your kiss
As a kid I never imagined this
You took the mental cuffs off my wrists
We too struggle to attain bliss

Now we play music fingerless
remember the world is yours
Tighter than a clinched fist
we shine brighter as we mature

S.E.E.I.T.

Everything happens so fast. In the blink of an eye, sensations, emotions and thoughts come and go. We usually remain unaware of these reactions to internal and external experiences, and remain as slaves to our conditioning from culture, family, and ourselves. To break these unconscious chains, we can learn to pause, look closely at what is happening and make choices. Psychologist (and holocaust survivor) Victor Frankl summed up our situation, and opportunity, when he said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and our freedom.”

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Mindfulness meditation can be one of the ways to take that pause, that moment or breath, to stop and look at what is happening. But, what if what we witness, or observe, is overwhelming and/or jumping from one thing to another? What do we do when the sensations, emotions and/or thoughts are arising and passing, seemingly all at once, or in rapid secession?

One of the means that can be used to decipher, and simplify our experience is by naming or labeling what we see moment to moment. There are a number of aphorisms and techniques that are available for such practice. Here is one called S.E.E.I.T., which can define and refine our observation and understanding of what we are aware of.

S.E.E.I.T. encompasses everything and anything that may come into our consciousness or awareness. S stands for Senses. E is for Emotion. The second E denotes Emptiness. I is the letter for Intention. And T is our Thoughts.

Senses include all that can be felt, heard, tasted, smelled, spoken or seen.
Emotions are a spectrum including sadness, joy, grief, pain, laughter, anger.
Emptiness is when there are no emotions, thoughts, senses or intentions.
Intention arises as desire and/or wishes and motivations.
Thoughts can be seen as P.U.F.F. (Past, Unfolding, Fantasy or Future).

Each of these aspects of our mind, and our experience of living, can be separated further into more distinct categories, and labels for objects of our awareness, but S.E.E.I.T. more than suffices for beginning and experienced practice. It is a way to remember, a means to slow down, pause and see what is happening in our body moment by moment. It can assist our understanding that what is going on internally and externally is not who we are, but what we are experiencing in the present. It is a step towards not only creating “space” between stimulus and response, but also identifying what happens in that space and giving us insight and freedom to choose.

Drinking in Land of the Buddha

Drinking in Land of the Buddha
by Gabriel Constans

Gautama Buddha once said, “Desire is a trap, Desirelessness is liberation.” Obviously he had never tasted a smoothie, or he would have said, “Desire is freedom, and the best desire of all is for smoothies.” Over the last few years, many Buddhists have been known to be secretly converting to Smoothism. This is a simple, satisfying meal, which, like Buddhism, is nourishing and easy to digest.

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Yield: 5 cups

1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup coconut milk
1 banana
1/2 cup shelled, unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 pineapple, peeled and chopped

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and mix on low speed for 45 seconds.

Pour into small bowls, serve and discover true enlightenment.

China’s Most Famous

Gabriel –

You may not know his name, but my friend Liu Xiaobo is a global icon for freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.

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Today, this hero remains in jail, as China’s most famous political prisoner.

Xiaobo is serving an 11-year term for his activism demanding that the Chinese government make his country more democratic and make its courts more independent. His wife, who has never been convicted of any crime, is under house arrest. This is not just.

I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for my work fighting the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. I am humbled to share the Nobel legacy with someone so brave as Xiaobo.

Today, with more than 130 other Nobel Prize winners, I am calling on the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to release Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife, Xia, from house arrest.

Click here to join us and call for their freedom by signing the petition I started on Change.org.

This is an historic moment in China. Every 10 years, the Chinese government hands over power to a new generation of leadership. As of a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping has succeeded his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in leading China — and hopes are that he will open China to reform more than any of his predecessors.

The Chinese government doesn’t usually listen to voices from outside the country. (Or voices from within the country, for that matter!) But the world has a singular opportunity to push for change when China’s leadership changes over every 10 years. This is our chance!

Humans are wonderful, and we can do amazing things when we act together. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes.

Click here to sign my petition now, and call on China’s new Premier Xi Jinping to release Nobel Peace Prizer winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Brothers and sisters, we are going to move mountains together!

God bless you,

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa

Tweet To Jail In Bahrain

Dear Gabriel,

Is tweeting a crime in Bahrain?

Ask @NabeelRajab. After tweeting a sentence shorter than the one you’re reading right now to Bahrain’s Prime Minister demanding political change, Nabeel Rajab was arrested.

Is protesting a crime in Bahrain?

For taking that same message to the streets through organized protests, Nabeel was once again charged and this time, sentenced to 3 years in prison. In fact, since May of this year, Nabeel – a prominent leader of the human rights movement in Bahrain – has been kept in a small, dark cell.

Tell Bahraini authorities to free Nabeel Rajab now! Send a message by Tuesday and we’ll amplify your voice during our upcoming demonstration in Washington, D.C.

Unfortunately, we know that Bahraini authorities aren’t just after Nabeel Rajab. They want to tear down everything he stands for. They want to intimidate others so that no one will stand with him. They want Nabeel Rajab to sit in that small, dark cell and feel alone.

But that won’t happen. Nabeel Rajab will never sit alone in darkness because Amnesty International will always be there to shine a light. It’s what we do. It’s who we are.

Nabeel’s peaceful actions for freedom in Bahrain — from tweets to marching in the streets — exemplify why he is a signature case for Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights event. That is because whether you show solidarity by writing and mailing letters, updating your Facebook status, organizing rallies or taking any solidarity action in between, you can make a difference in the lives of this year’s 10 Write for Rights cases.

Mark your calendars, because from December 5 – 16, we will build upon Amnesty’s 51-year tradition and incredible history of writing letters to save lives. Thousands will gather in classrooms, coffee shops, community centers and more; united by the power of the letter and for the cause of writing for human rights.

But we start building momentum today. Your action for Nabeel Rajab right now will fuel our special demonstration in D.C. on Tuesday to draw attention to Bahrain’s disgraceful treatment of Nabeel Rajab and its crackdown on human rights. For every 100 actions taken, we will hold a special place so that we can represent our full force — that means you! — when we hit the streets.

You’ll just have to stay tuned to see how your actions will add power to our work to free Nabeel. Take action to free Nabeel Rajab now so that we can add your voice to Tuesday’s special demonstration.

The spark for this year’s Write for Rights begins with you, but the flame that burns for Nabeel Rajab and others who defend human rights will last forever.

In Solidarity,

Beth Ann Toupin
Country Specialist, Bahrain
Amnesty International USA

Suu Kyi In D.C.

Dear Gabriel,

I wish you could have been with me when Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese opposition leader and former prisoner of conscience in Myanmar, electrified the Amnesty Rights Generation Town Hall this morning at Washington DC’s Newseum.

Today’s heart-stopping moments are too many to recount – here is a small sample:

Aung San Suu Kyi spoke with unflagging conviction and courage, filling me with pride for the role Amnesty supporters like you played in securing her release and sustaining her spirits over the last 23 years.
Alex Wagner, our moderator from MSNBC, recalled how as a child visiting family in Burma she drove by Daw Suu’s compound with a feeling of fear, admiration, and yearning.

The entire audience proclaimed ourselves “all Aung San Suu Kyi” and held up a mask with her picture on it; the next moment we each turned our mask over to reveal the faces of other prisoners of conscience who remain behind bars.

Indeed, it’s been a long road, yet our journey is not over. Strengthen our work – donate to Amnesty International.

Aung San Suu Kyi is free, but prisoners of conscience around the world are denied their basic freedoms. We take up their cases with equal vigor. It is what makes Amnesty unique, and necessary.

The reason Aung San Suu Kyi made time during her visit to the United States to join our Town Hall was precisely because she wanted to inspire legions of activists to work on behalf of other prisoners the way they worked for her.

As Amnesty supporters, you and I have the power to change the course of history, to right great wrongs.

Realize that power with me today – make a gift today and your impact will be doubled.

I’ve set a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts this month during our annual Membership Drive. Thanks to a generous donor, we can match every dollar of your donation made before Sept. 30.

Political repression comes in many forms. Take the case of feminist Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, so poignantly represented at today’s Town Hall meeting.

Last month, three members of Pussy Riot were convicted of “hooliganism on grounds of religious hatred” for playing a protest song in a cathedral. They are headed to a prison camp for two years.

Today, Pyotr and Gera Verzilov, the husband and 4-year old daughter of present-day prisoner of conscience Nadja Tolokonnikova from Pussy Riot, presented Daw Suu with a bouquet of flowers, as a torch passed from one generation of prisoners of conscience to the next.

Like Daw Suu’s imprisonment, the Pussy Riot conviction is a bitter blow to free speech. It reminds us never to take for granted the hard-fought human rights we have secured.

As long as people like the women of Pussy Riot are behind bars, we know what we must do. We must join and act for the greater good.

But Amnesty doesn’t work without you, so please, do your part to keep this movement strong – make a contribution to Amnesty International today.

In Solidarity,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Stand With Joan

Dear Gabriel,

It is impressive how powerful the nonviolent human rights movement has become.

But unless we are constantly vigilant in standing up for human rights, we risk losing them.

Here’s what’s happening, and why I’m urging you to stand with me and take action:

After a year of both promising advances and broken promises, Egypt’s transition to accountable government is an open question. Despite activist progress, women remain marginalized from leadership positions, the new civilian government is without a constitution, and officials are still using Mubarak-era laws to attack the media and freedom of speech.

Here in the U.S., the state of Texas just executed a man, Marvin Wilson, with an IQ of 61, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 10-year ban on executing people with “mental retardation.”

House lawmakers continue to hold up reauthorization of an inclusive Violence Against Women Act, leaving the fate of critical new protections for Native American and Alaska native women, immigrant women, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in limbo.

We must not stand by while human rights are under attack. Action is the antidote to despair.

I’ve been with Amnesty from the very beginning, and this month, during our September Membership Drive, I’m reminding myself and others to raise our voices for Amnesty to defend human rights for all.

Donate today to help Amnesty respond to these assaults on human rights.

Amnesty has a bold goal of inspiring 50,000 gifts during the drive, and is offering a 2-for-1 match on your donation before Sept. 30.

Amnesty knows what it takes to fight for human rights on a global scale.

To this day I am still deeply moved and inspired by the story of Burmese human rights defender and former prisoner of conscience Aung San Suu Kyi. Thanks to the persistence and solidarity of human rights advocates like you, Suu Kyi is free to continue her pro-democracy work and spread her message of freedom and dignity.

Freeing Suu Kyi took 21 years of unwavering activism. This is what it means to be a part of the Amnesty movement.

Please, give no ground to doubt. Go forward in the fight for human rights with Amnesty. Click here to stand with Amnesty during the Membership Drive today.

We are counting on your concern, caring, love, and nonviolent action.

In Peace,
Joan Baez
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER

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