Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: Activists

Breakdown Precedes Breakthrough

Graham earned enough to be under the taxable limit
Because he didn’t want to pay for war

He couldn’t say “No” when someone asked
“Would you help us fight back?”

He gave and gave and gave some more
Rarely drank, but smoked like it was the 50s

He said his “career” was resistance
He said he’d been arrested 17 times

His world was often crowds, noise, speed
A friend told him to take a day off

“But the poor and the Muslims can’t take a day off”
And he kept on going Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Natalie Long–Abogados Descalzados: or, How Latin America Taught Me to Be a People’s Lawyer 

From the period of September 2009-January 2012, I was a law student, a law school drop-out, and a pupil of revolutionary Latin America. I eventually finished my law degree and became a licensed attorney…but only after spending time learning at the feet of communities in Mexico and Guatemala, where people taught me what it means to struggle (and to be a lawyer accompanying those in struggle).

It gives me joy to share the stories of the people who welcomed me into their homes and the lessons they taught me. Please join us for an evening of storytelling, reflection, and fellowship.

Join us
Sunday 26 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 DeMun Avenue, 3rd Floor
Clayton, MO 63105

 

The Good News of Remembering, 3.18.2017

Yesterday I caught up with Liz Burkemper, home for spring break from her first year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Liz inspires me with her aspiration to simplify her life and take time for contemplation. I told her I was grateful for her remembering Mev and her Brazil message  at some of the vast and lively protests she participated in in January and February.

“I Am Ora Thomas” by Natalie Long

I am pleased to share the following from compañera Natalie, who reentered my life with a bang five weeks ago. She is an environmental lawyer, educated at DePaul Law School by way of Chiapas.

When class wraps up, she hurriedly packs her things – computer in case, mouse, notepad. Her professor stoops – “Whose is this?” he asks, holding up a charger. “Mine, thanks!” she responds, hand extended to take the device.

Backpack loaded, she switches gears, from student to sister, making a quick stop at the bathroom then walking out of the law school, waving to classmates as she passes them in the hall. Stepping out into the night, she distractedly notes that, despite it only being mid-February, her fur-lined red jacket is a bit too warm for the night.

Reaching her car, she drives off campus and straight into town, making a left at the strip. Already 6:25pm; hopefully she wasn’t too late. She pulls into the parking lot by the old train car, pushing down the fleeting thought that, despite her wishes to the contrary, she’s still driving around in this dreary town. She keeps saying she’s going to find a way to get out… Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News, 3.5.2017

The Good News is … Natalie Long has a working title for a memoir to come—
Wander, Work, Eat, Agitate

natalie-explaining
Natalie discussing how a Community Bill of Rights challenges an unjust legal structure that elevates corporate “rights” over a community’s rights

The Good News, 3.4.2017

The Good News is that Dianne Lee sent me the following letter, which reminds me of Hedy’s sharp wit, deep commitment to the Palestinian people, and support of people seeking justice.

Hedy letter to Burke

Share the Wealth with Tony Albrecht–Tentative Description of a Dinner Given to Promote the Impeachment of President Trump

During this time when Trump is on the tip of so many American tongues, I’m preparing for an unusually political Share the Wealth. Our conversation this Sunday will not, however, traverse the usual spectrum between liberal and conservative. No talk of Hillary’s emails. No talk about Mr. Trump’s…take your pick.

We will instead dive right into the deep end of the political pool and discuss why the Trump administration could pose an existential threat to our Republic based on their utter disregard for American values that transcend partisan politics, things like the freedom of the press and the separation of powers.

We will discuss what President Trump (and his administration) have done to compel citizens to protest in unprecedented ways. We will talk about how President Trump could realistically be removed from office well before the 2020 election, as impeachment is a topic I’ve become very interested in recently. And most importantly, I’ll share ideas for how you could help make impeachment happen AND engage in a little bit of activism (through writing) with the potential to have a big impact.

Join us for a delicious potluck supper followed by a robust discussion. Perspectives from across the political spectrum are most welcome.

Tony Albrecht is a lawyer and social entrepreneur who recently started Get Out of Our House, a campaign setting out to rally citizens around the single demand that President Trump and his administration be removed from office during 2017. He currently resides in Toronto with his wife Sawil but has returned to St. Louis to engage in the Resistance.

Join us
Sunday 5 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 pm
Tony begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Jessie and Savannah
714 Limit Avenue
Apartment #1N
Saint Louis, M0 63130

get-out-of-house

Arundhati Roy: The Right To Be Sentimental

Right around the time in spring 2012 I finished Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine for Nima Sheth on the occasion of her graduation from medical school, I came across a book of interviews with Arundhati Roy, and particularly appreciated the following:

I’m not here to tell stories that people want to hear. I’m not entering some popularity contest. I just say what I have to say, and the consequences are sometimes wonderful and sometimes not. But I’m not here to say what people want to hear. 61

Failure attracts my curiosity as a writer. Loss, grief, brokenness, failure, the ability to find happiness in the saddest things—these are the things that interest me. 75 Read the rest of this entry »

Hearts and Minds, Revisited by Mark Chmiel and Andrew Wimmer

This article was first published at Counterpunch, January 12, 2005.

 

The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds
of the people who actually live out there.

–Lyndon Johnson, on Vietnam

There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war ­ as least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.

–Daniel Berrigan, on the peace movement

In the months before the election, there was a lot of talk about the Vietnam War, some concerning where George W. Bush had been during that time, some dealing with what John Kerry had done, both in Vietnam and back at home. At the Democratic Convention, John Kerry declared himself proud to have served in Vietnam-consigning to Orwell’s memory hole his post-war activism against the war. In a campaign where he had to be seen as strong to rival Bush’s macho (yet fumbling) discourse, Kerry conveniently let that conscientious part of his own past slip away. (That “forgetting” is at least congruent with his support of the current war in Iraq and his enthusiasm not to withdraw but to stay and win.) And, of course, Kerry uttered the infamous non sequitor that even if he had known there were no WMD beforehand, he would still have gone into Iraq had he been President.

Gore Vidal’s apt subtitle for his latest book is “Reflections on the United States of Amnesia.” John Kerry wanted to be the Commander in Chief of this land of Amnesiacs, and he certainly offered himself as role model for abject forgetting.

Much nonsense was spewed forth at both ends of the political spectrum with each trying to trump the other when it came to proving militarist bona fides. The press can never resist a good martial tune, and so we all pretended, for what we told ourselves would be just a moment, that an illegal invasion and immoral occupation could be set right by a few more troops and better armor on the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The price we will pay for this collective amnesia will be enormous, though we have only begun to see the faint outline of its contours.

A stirring antidote to such amnesia is the 1974 Oscar-winning documentary by director Peter Davis, Hearts and Minds. Each semester in his Social Justice theology course at Saint Louis University Mark shows his students this film, which has been recently reissued in the Criterion series on DVD. Some students, in their early twenties, share observations of how hard it is for their relatives ­ fathers and uncles, mostly ­ to speak about their experience in Vietnam. Some have testified that these men, now in their fifties and sixties, are still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For them, and their families, the Vietnam War is not yet over, there is not yet healing. The war lives on, enfleshed yet mostly mute, and still dreadful, with a new generation.

And yet hardly a week goes by that we don’t come across-in newscasts, on the Internet, in newspapers-a pious invocation of our efforts to win Iraqi “hearts and minds,” harking back to Vietnam, and willfully forgetting that our military efforts there (where we learned to “destroy the village in order to save it”) killed 3.5 million Vietnamese before they came to an end.

Read the rest of this entry »

What One Veteran Said

Vietnam veteran Wayne Smith: We were broken. I had so much anger and pain. I was crushed. I left like I had blood on my hands. I resisted calling the Vietnamese gooks and dinks, but near the end of it I found those vulgar words would come out of my mouth several times; I had contempt for myself. How could I have been so stupid and foolish to believe this country? How could I have been so foolish to think that I could really save lives as a medic? How could I really make a difference in the face of so many catastrophic injuries? Read the rest of this entry »