Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Month: April, 2015

Children of Vietnam

On Betty Lifton and Tom Fox, Children of Vietnam, 1972

The writer of children’s stories and a former IVS volunteer and journalist had to do something.  So they compiled this Mev Puleo-ish book of stories and photos of a few Vietnamese children who represent city/rural, rich/poor, living at home/refugees, imprisoned/bui doi, orphans/My Lai survivors, Amerasian black boys/Saigon hippies, and Montagnard/NLF girls.  The hope being that these images and stories would touch Americans who could be (re)motivated to work to end the war, which predictably wreaked havoc on the most innocent, the children (Dianne Lee’s voice ringing in my ears).

In their introduction, they write about the 27 years of war: First as a struggle against the colonial French; and now as a civil war in which America has intervened militarily to bolster a series of unstable [sic] governments in the South against the nationalistically inspired Communist government of the late Ho Chi Minh in the North (what about the indigenous NLF?).  I’m suspicious about the following in their epilogue: “However, as this book is finished, in a response to a recent North Vietnamese offensive, America is renewing massive air strikes over both the North and the South.” [111]  And Betty Lifton saying: “There seemed no words to convey the misery of it all, the scope of this tragedy that my country had so unwittingly bungled into in the name of anti-Communism, and now clung to so ferociously.”  The latter italicized expression makes it sound like a mistake.

The authors cited a quotation from an American Army Major  in the Binh Dinh province, “To take a leaf from Mao Tse-Tung’s Red Book, we’ve got to deprive the fish of the sea to swim in…. We’re going to dig Vietnam up by the rice roots and replant it, if necessary, until their infrastructure is totally destroyed. Remove the people from the guerrillas, turn the area into a free-fire zone and shoot anything that moves.”

The U.S. knew what it was doing. Independence in the South–anything outside of U.S. control–was unacceptable.   So, massive destruction was justified.

No bungling.

I Badgered and Pestered Rumi To See a Page of His Favorite Writing Notebook and He Finally Relented and Showed Me How Each Page of All Three Hundred Looked More or Less Just Like This—

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Share the Wealth with Jane Gramlich: The Role of People Raised “White” in Ending Racism

Hello my dear brothers and sisters!

I hope you will join us Sunday to further our understanding of racism, how it has impacted our relationship to self, our relationships with other folks raised white, as well as people targeted my this oppression.  We all are experts but it has to be drawn out from within.  This seems to take repetitive decision and enough safety to really make the progress necessary to unravel conditioning around race.

For as good as I know us to be, racism would have ended long ago, if we fully understood important details and the larger context in which racism was orchestrated. And true understanding is arrived at experientially. We, then, would have chosen to act on our power in every way, and every day! Read the rest of this entry »

The Right to Remember

“The right to remember is not among the human rights consecrated by the United Nations, but now more than ever we must insist on it and act on it. Not to repeat the past but to keep it from being repeated. Not to make us ventriloquists for the dead but to allow us to speak with voices that are not condemned to echo perpetually with stupidity and misfortune. When it’s truly alive, memory doesn’t contemplate history, it invites us to make it. More than in museums, where its poor old soul gets bored, memory is in the air we breathe, and from the air it breathes us.”

–Eduardo Galeano

Share the Wealth Sunday 19 April: How I Became a Poet by Maggie Needham

Hello all! In honor of National Poetry Month, I’d love to share with you the story of how I realized I was a poet and why I love spoken word so much. I’ll perform some of my poems, the topics of which may include: Harry Potter, trains, awkward boy problems, books, poetry, feeling alone, gratefulness, Edinburgh, brothers, MarioKart.  I’m a senior English major at SLU and a Ravenclaw.

Join us
Sunday 19 April
Potluck begins at 6:00 pm
Maggie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Patrick and Cristina Cousins
3856 Utah Place
63116

Maggie Needham

Presence

Shunryu Suzuki  Roshi was the first person I ever met for whom I felt immediate and total trust. It was something which I had never expected to experience. Every sense, every brain cell and nerve fiber in me suddenly woke up. I felt alert, and watchful, and euphoric, all at once.  … It was that he was so simple and utterly there, standing in that dim room, looking at us. There was a nakedness about it. No cover-up, no attitude at all. His gaze was flat, and extraordinarily deep. I felt he saw into and through me, and in spite of, or perhaps because of that seeing, he was totally kind.

–Diane di Prima, Recollections of My Life as a Woman

 

Just Received a Book in Today’s Mail…

And opened to a random page
which was “xi” of Arundhati Roy’s foreword
to the re-issue of Noam Chomsky’s
For Reasons of State

She writes:
Perhaps this belief in its own divinity
also explains why the U.S. government has conferred
upon itself the right and freedom to murder
and exterminate people for their own good.

When he announced the U.S. air strikes against Afghanistan
President Bush said, “We’re a peaceful nation.”
He went on to say
“This is the calling of the United States of America,
the most free nation in the world,
a nation built on fundamental values,
that rejects hate, rejects violence, rejects murderers, rejects evil.
And we will not tire.”

The U.S. empire rests on a grisly foundation:
the massacre of millions of indigenous people, the stealing of their lands,
and following this,
the kidnapping and enslavement of millions
of black people from Africa to work that land…
Genocide and slavery provide the social and economic underpinning
of the nation whose fundamental values
reject hate, murderers and evil.

adapted from Arundhati Roy, “The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky”

 

for reasons of state

At the conclusion of her essay, she writes:
“As a could’ve been gook, and who knows, perhaps a potential gook,
hardly a day goes by, when I don’t find myself thinking –for one reason or another–
‘Chomsky Zindabad.'”

Modern Crucifixion in Central America

Every day during the years of conflict in Central America, tortured bodies were found along roadsides—as in Jesus’ day the crucified victims of the Roman Empire were displayed on the side of the road—to instill fear in the population. Every day during the 1980s and early 1990s in Central America, people were killed, disappeared—because of  faith, because of their belief in a God who meant life, abundant life, life is all its fullness, for every human being.
–Margaret Swedish and Marie Dennis

 

People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador; they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disemboweled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones while parents are forced to watch.
–Father Daniel Santiago

Wishing You an Un-Great Experience

Now that you’re headed to _________
And people are wishing that you’ll have a “great” experience
I hope you have a non-“great” experience

If “great” means photo-ops
Looking good with beautiful smiling native children
After distributing our used t-shirts

If “great” means making the speaking circuit back home
To make everyone in the audience feel good
That they’ve got it so good compared to those in a country like ___________

If “great” means people exclaiming about you:
“Aren’t we Americans so capable
Skillful, and generous?”

If “great” means people saying about you
“You saw what needed to be done
And did it with record efficiency” Read the rest of this entry »