two birthdays

Happy Birthday, Julian Assange! The man is 50 years old today, sitting in Belmarsh prison. Let this be the day he goes finally free.

It is unimaginable that Assange’s imprisonment carries on even as the case built against him, always specious and never on solid ground, completely crumbles to bits. The main witness in that “case” recently confessed that it was simply lies he told about Assange (Stundin 6_26_21). But perhaps you haven’t seen that information, because, surprise, mainstream media won’t carry it.

This weekend, here in the US, we are observing another sort of birthday, Independence Day, celebrating all things freedom with flags waving everywhere. This, while Julian Assange is imprisoned and tortured for the crime of revealing truth. This, while Edward Snowden remains unable to return home, for the same crime. This, while Daniel Hale faces 50 years in prison. This, while Reality Winner tries to reassemble her life.

And, very sadly, it seems we are not learning the lessons of the truths so revealed or the terrible consequences government is prepared to wield against those who stand for uncomfortable truths.

This is not just about Julian Assange. This is very much about YOU. It’s about your kids and theirs. It’s about freedom and justice, truth and peace, all around the world.

FREE ASSANGE.

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victims

The nation looks on with sadness and grief at the Miami-area building collapse. As each day passes, some victims are found, many more still missing.  It breaks our hearts to think of what happened to those individuals, and to think of the terrible impact on their families and friends left behind.

And yet, in the midst of this grief, as if there is not enough death and destruction, the Biden administration sees fit to launch airstrikes Sunday targeting “Iranian-backed” groups in the Iraq-Syria border region. 

According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, seven people on the ground were killed. This comes after February’s destruction of nine buildings by the US in Syria, killing at least 22 people, also targeting Iran-backed militias, with seven 500-pound bombs.

Iraq’s military spokesman decried the US air strikes as a “breach of sovereignty.” As if anyone should have to put that in words. 

As we embrace the terrible unfolding of grief in Miami, it should also give us all pause to consider the grief of victims and their families on the receiving end of military strong-arming around the world. So much incredible loss and grief through the years.

Let’s put a stop to such intentional death and destruction. Let’s look instead to healing, communication, and cooperation for a world in which we can all live safe and free from designed, deliberate disasters.

Stand for love. Stand for peace.

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still walking the path

Some years ago, I became vegan. It happened incrementally over a period of many years, until it became a conscious decision. That decision was a way point along a much longer and larger spiritual journey. I did not realize at the time that it was a choice that would facilitate my capacity to continue deeper on that journey, to walk a path of compassion.

Lately, I have been pondering the spiritual metamorphosis that continues to blossom in ever more amazing ways in my life. 

Even as all the church buildings were shuttered last year, I suspect the ensuing months were very spiritual ones for many folks. With so much on our minds, the constant fear peddling, loss, and our limited in-person contacts, who could help but be introspective, reflective about what actually matters? 

Now, as we attempt to reclaim our freedom and ways of life, the spiritual self cannot be ignored. The spiritual self is integral to all facets of the way forward. Rather than be corralled into an ever-smaller world of fear-driven mindsets, protocols, and division, the spiritual self expands and aspires to wisdom in the broadest spectrum.

It seems we are at one of those classic forks in the road. We stand at a moment of opportunity to reach toward a much more whole and healthy kind of society. 

The spiritual self points to the path of compassion, to love not fear. 

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action and inaction

The “end of slavery” is certainly worthy of commemoration, celebration, and introspective examination.

In the designation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday, it’s possible that we’ll become a little better educated on this moment of United States history and contemplate its significance then and now as well.

Nevertheless, it boggles the mind that our legislators can be this transparently hypocritical. They managed to pull themselves together to actually accomplish something for once, and that something turns out to be nothing more than official lip service. This activity on the part of our legislators is simply virtue signaling writ large, the status quo. From some perspectives, it is even a pitiful co-opting of a long-standing African-American observance.

No, our illustrious “representatives” in Washington did not manage to accomplish anything else that might actually affect, say, matters of social or economic justice, equality, or freedom. You know, things that might actually impact peoples’ lives for the better. They did, however, give themselves a day off in the process.

Hopefully, though, the new federal holiday will fuel more discussion, and who knows, maybe even action around those urgent issues. Anything’s possible, right?

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mirage of freedom

If you are one who writes, or speaks, or thinks, or yet has the ability to feel your compassion, the continued imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange should send shivers down your spine. 

Assange’s ongoing persecution should trouble everyone who thinks freedom of the press, freedom of information, and free speech actually matter. Assange is in the vanguard of those protecting these precious rights. These are things that have been disappearing before our eyes, with terrifying implications, and yet we remain docile and somnambulant. 

That journalists do not rise up as a body against this injustice speaks volumes about the extent to which these freedoms are already lost. That they demur makes another reason to support indie journalists doing the actual work even as various platforms ban them, carrying water for this curtailment of freedoms.

It is long overdue that the US drop the charges against Assange, and the UK halts his extradition. This man, an Australian citizen, should be freed to go home to his family, and thanked and honored for his brave work.

Then, who knows, we might turn our attention to the actual crimes, and hold our government leaders to account for once. But, oh, I forgot, “nothing will fundamentally change,” will it? 

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fugitive

he walks out of the darkness, hands in the air, to be met with either a spray of bullets or handcuffs. does one mean life and the other doesn’t? imprisonment began long before the moment of guilt. when the gavel comes down, that cell door slams, or voltage snuffs the breath, then hands are washed but stains persist. mankind asks what kind of man but neglects to query kindness. the fugitive, the walking amalgam, just like other animals, born and constructed, shaped along the months and years of his life, carrying the weight of generations and the stamp of his place and times, finally becomes just a reviled memory, but still and always forgotten, another flawed discard on the manufacturing floor.

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this day

as the birds warble me awake
into the yet dark birth of a new day
i slowly pull away from already forgotten dreams
and the mantle of anxieties begins to weave around me

i watch as the light comes
and the birds cease their song, they fly,
as if they, too, know this world’s troubles
but the birds, they know who they are

a decision drifts like haze in the air
then takes form, a rock, left unpainted, in my hand
this day, no,
i will not wear this cloak of human constructs

i loose the creeping fingers
i can remember who i am, i can,
i do remember the air and the blue of the sky
i know the arms of the ever-giving trees

this day, i fly with the birds
this day, i am home, child of earth and stars 

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approved protest only

A to Z challenge, theme: anatomy, day 13: M
Flash fiction, 100 words 

Tyler stepped up to the microphone and opened his mouth to speak. His eyes scanned the small crowd before him, wondering if the gathered folks could tolerate, much less actually consider, his vital message.

Freedom of speech only applied if you were in compliance with approved themes and virtues. Anything outside the accepted conventions could be shunned, derided, and lead to loss of friends or family, job loss, arrest, or worse.

Tyler took in the well-meaning but empty eyes. He noticed the ever-present police politely stationed around the fringes of the group. 

He would look for another way.

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fourth estate

I don’t know about you, but, for me, the news, even as it dominates our daily lives, has become absolutely worthless. It’s become nonstop coverage of government, government figures, government data, government posturing, government restrictions, government policing, government cover-ups, government blah-blah-blah. Oh, and, still, a whole lot of sports. 

I’m really sick and tired of government 24-7. I have no use for glorified sports. And it all looks like propaganda to me.

Remember what news used to be? 

Good old-fashioned newspapers used to have a local, community focus. Yes, you could read what your local government was up to, but you could also read about businesses, about community programs, about social events, about local concerns. There used to be whole sections devoted to features — glimpses into what cool things people in your community were into, along with what churches were up to, what was going on in the schools (actual education, not just controls and sports), art, music, books, movies, cooking, and more. Columnists were local people writing about the community, or about how big issues impacted the local community. 

These newspapers actually served to connect us with our communities and society and ideas.

Now, there isn’t much community to be had — in newspapers or elsewhere. Most community newspapers were swallowed up by national media entities which reduced them to a local story or two surrounded by a wealth of wire stories on the usual government and sports crap. They might still include some local crime information because that’s useful, divisive propaganda. They might throw in a dose of a generic wire feature to give the illusion there’s real people out there — somewhere.

I look at the last vestiges we have of local news, and it’s all pretty much worthless whether online or in print. It’s just garbage. 

The big news outlets, obviously, amount to garbage, serving only to remind us on a daily basis how extremely propagandized we are. 

Hence, there’s the usual sorting through of blogs and social media, much of which is now conveniently censored. 

It all serves to erode and oppress community and agency, and, God forbid, ideas. And it’s no accident. Nevertheless…

seems like an opportunity.