Hooray for Jackie Robinson!
Activism and Volunteering
Not being reactive just isn’t being passive. It isn’t a sort
of stupidity, holding again or being uninterested, eradicating
oneself from the world. Actual equanimity is not indifference.
It is the capability to be current along with your complete being and
not add gas to the fireplace.–Jack Kornfield
I had my first style of “activism”–terribly naïve, however well-intentioned–when I wrote letters to “Pricey Chairman Mao Tse-Tung,” the primary on Could 23, 1956, in addition to letters in assist of the Civil Rights Motion which completely captivated the eye of some of my grammar college academics, nuns, who gave me books to learn. It was the yr of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. I used to be 12 years outdated, residing far-off in Norwalk, Connecticut. Physician Martin Luther King, Jr.’s group solicited letters of assist from many church buildings, together with our Catholic church. A number of nuns have been very energetic in asking for letters of assist, however solely from those that actually believed within the trigger. I realized a lot from their angle of not imposing their activism on others. A number of of us jumped on the likelihood along with write letters to China to ask for the discharge of harmless prisoners. The nuns knew that letters needed to be respectful however very particular in itemizing the names of the prisoners & stating within the opening that China’s authorities handed the deadline promised to launch the prisoners. Then the remainder of the letter seems to only kiss Chairman Mao’s ass, however perhaps that’s simply diplomacy. The nuns inspired us to write down one thing authentic and temporary. We wrote the letters very rigorously in pen.
Once I woke as much as “activism,” essentially the most urgent social challenge for me was the African -American Civil Rights Motion, within the center 50’s.
In 2017 DNA testing confirmed my father’s genes to be blended: I found I used to be about half black Haitian and half Iberian on my father’s facet. I by no means knew how intimately linked I used to be to black roots, which all of us have most mainly. We arose from Africa, mom of our frequent humanity.
When, as an elementary college scholar, I used to be writing letters in assist of Civil Rights, I’d by no means really feel piously righteous about different nations’ lack of human rights (similar to in China), due to the apparent lack of human rights for African Individuals in my very own nation at the moment.
Human rights is each a neighborhood and a common challenge. I am informed it is none of my enterprise to speak about different nations. An activist aligns his or her voice with others, towards what’s felt as abuse of human rights, in no matter nation. Writing a letter was so small, however many individuals, impressed by Dr. King, have been throwing tiny pebbles into the lake of change.
An important hero of my youth was the gallant and dignified, but robust, Jackie Robinson, and–with awe– I visited Ebbets Subject to see him play with the Dodgers. My abiding reminiscence of him: stealing-sliding throughout dwelling plate within the 1955 World Collection, with my beloved Yankee’s catcher, Yogi Berra, going loopy. The Bums–to my dismay– lastly gained!
Jackie’s plea was for an inclusive humanity. In 2007, it was sixty years since Jackie courageously began taking part in ball professionally, breaking the “colour barrier,” regardless of vicious racist taunting and dealing with segregated resorts, eating places, transportation, water fountains.
Within the early 60’s, I turned conscious of Cesar Chavez (whom I first noticed sitting serenely on the Jesuit seminary in Los Gatos, California) and later I’d volunteer with the United Farm Staff Union Motion organized by Cesar and Dolores Huerta who has carried on the work for therefore many brave and enthusiastic years.
“Activism” was coined round 1915 to indicate the doctrine or follow that emphasizes direct vigorous motion (as mass protests), some energetic types of opposition/name for human rights, similar to marching for civil rights, picketing to prepare a union. Now activism contains way more humble–but wanted each by the scholar & the community–efforts similar to a highschool scholar serving to the native library or college. In contrast to the time of my highschool, volunteering is a necessary a part of most highschool college students’ expertise, not solely as a requirement on a college software, but additionally rising as an individual who’s studying to provide in addition to to take, to be interested by others in addition to in himself. Although I am writing about a few of the extra jazzy tales, truly most of my volunteering has been so simple as amassing garments, books, visiting a convalescent dwelling or being on a soup kitchen line.
One of many college students just lately got here again from a tour of Alcatraz which he discovered fascinating. I used to be educating highschool boys in San Jose, Bellarmine Excessive Faculty (1969-71) when a buddy, Marcus Holladay, known as me and requested if I would assist the organizing effort of getting garments, blankets, meals for American Indian individuals who had “occupied” Alcatraz within the San Francisco Bay (November 9, 1969) to make individuals conscious of up to date Indian individuals and the way they really feel handled within the U.S. society. They have been in Alcatraz for 17 months, supported by donations.
American Indians began having some fights amongst themselves (“being their very own worst enemies” mentioned one of many organizing leaders). On June 11, 1971, one of many leaders was arrested for stealing copper from Alcatraz. It was over, however that they had gotten some individuals considering a bit extra broadly about Indians whom we have come to see as advanced, filled with the Aristocracy in addition to treachery as in us all.
On April 6, 1930, Mohandas Gandhi (born October 2, 1869) manufactured salt from sea water, publicly breaking British regulation (“civil disobedience”) in a motion to carry political freedom to the Indian individuals. Indians have been solely supposed to purchase British salt.
Salt water from tidal marshes was collected in pots. The solar then evaporated the water, leaving salt behind which was placed on sale. “With this, I’m shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” India turned impartial seventeen years later.
It is October 2, 2000. In India, hundreds collect at a sweetly incensed park on the Jumna River at Delhi the place Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. At the moment hymns are sung, verses from the Gita, the Koran and the Bible are recited. Tales, poems, prayers, individuals mix into one another; pleas for peace within the Center East. Cotton thread is spun on small spinning wheels (as our ever-changing stream of life) to recall Gandhi’s advantage of simplicity.
On the finish of April, 2007, 200 and eighty of their neighbors’ Chongquing, China properties have been leveled, however Yang Wu (a martial artist) and his spouse, Wu Ping, stand alone on a shaky grime hill of their brick household dwelling (since 1944 and fully re-built from the bottom up in 1994). They’ve refused to surrender to builders who desire a mall and splendid residences. They’re surrounded by an enormous, bull-dozed pit. Wu Ping says: “Individuals should dwell with dignity… in case you are proper, you should rise up for your self and never enable your rights to be trampled.” An area court docket has dominated that the home should be vacated. Yang is hanging a protest banner whereas Wu Ping sadly says: “I’m dropping hope.”
In Could of 2007, peasants from counties in Guangxi province, protested towards China’s one-child coverage. They protest pressured sterilizations and necessary abortions. Happily such coercive authorities motion is way much less frequent than within the late 70’s and 80’s.
The Web reported (June ’07) the cry for assist from 400 fathers searching for their sons who have been made slaves at brick kilns in Henan province. A few of the dads even went “undercover” to see for themselves the horrible working situations at some kilns the place the grueling day may begin at 5 a.m. and finish at midnight. Outraged Chinese language residents sparked the federal government to raid about 11,000 kilns. Greater than 500, together with some youngsters, have been gratefully launched from the pernicious grip of pressured labor. President Hu Jintao ordered an intensive investigation.
I am in Rowland Heights, California listening to Chinese language Falun Gong members–Bin Li, Jie Li, Hongwei Lu, Lingyun Zhao, Fengling Ge– who’re speaking about being in Chinese language labor camps and prisons for working towards their beliefs. They’re talking out to place stress on the Chinese language authorities and Communist Social gathering to cease persecuting Falun Gong members in China.
They’re asking for assist. Bin Li with tears in her eyes recounts: “All of us have been brainwashed. We have been crushed, insulted so step by step you suppose, why are you right here? In some unspecified time in the future I believed I should not exist on this universe.” She says she’s grateful to have come to the U.S. in 2004, with a visa as a visiting scholar. An AIDS activist who was beforehand banned from leaving China was just lately allowed to obtain an award in the USA. Activists proceed to ask for reform of the in depth use of detaining civil rights activists with out trial. They advocate for the tip of censoring the Web.
Former scholar and pal, Dong Fong Liu, simply got here again from China. He’s interested by highlighting the necessity of the Chinese language authorities to guard coal miners, to maintain bettering work security within the coal mining business which gives 70% of China’s power wants. Additionally there’s a motion to supply a minimal wage. Authorities officers must implement new authorities coverage; 60% of 5.5 million coal miners are rural immigrants who’re extra susceptible to exploitation. In 2006, 4,746 miner lives have been misplaced in accidents, gratefully down 20% from the earlier yr. June 5, 2012, marks the twenty third anniversary of the Tiananmen bloodbath. I noticed an image of hundreds and hundreds of individuals in Victoria Park (Hong Kong) holding candles to recollect the pro-democracy scholar motion in an earlier memorial. Activists proceed to ask for deeper political reform in China.
I am in Watts right now (2003) and meet Anna Carter, a stunning woman who wears flowers in her Afro. Solely about 40% of the excessive schoolers end right here; Watts is the placement of Verbum Dei Excessive Faculty the place the Jesuits just lately began a program. College students at Verbum Dei work sooner or later per week for companies, each for studying and to make an affordable tuition doable.
Anna known as the Seed Girl, as she began the Watts Household Backyard Membership final yr. It is filled with kids taking part in and serving to plant tomatoes, pansies, chamomile within the yard.
She just lately got here again from Cuba the place she realized farming methods in city environments. She was a part of a delegation with the organizations, Meals First and Institute for Meals and Improvement Coverage. They have been finding out utilizing raised compost container beds in cities.
Anna was born in Oakland, California. Within the center 90’s, she was electrically shocked; some Native American associates advised she contact the roots of bushes and work with soil to heal the electrical energy in her physique. After three years of convalescing, she took a grasp gardening program by way of the College of California system. She discovered educating others took her thoughts off her ache and self-pity.
She says she needs individuals locally to see that they’re themselves brokers (seeds) of change, that they will empower themselves, be ok with themselves, really feel self-respect, even in a tough surroundings. She presents lessons in vegetarian cooking and gardening: “Wok with Me”; “The Worth of a Seed”; “The Natural Greenhouse”
The entire institution was of majestic look,
with richly adorned towers and fairy-like turrets, the four-
storied courts, their dragon-like projections and coloured
eaves, carved and ornamented pearl-red pillars, richly adorned
balustrades, and roofs coated with tiles, reflecting gentle
in a thousand shades. –Huien-Tsiang, writing about Nalanda
I am at a peaceable protest towards the Taliban’s obliteration of historic Buddhist carvings and noteworthy statues in Afghanistan. I take into consideration the early twelfth century Turaskas, fanatical, murderous Muslims from Afghanistan, who entered India and destroyed all of the Buddhist communities of their path of destruction. I keep in mind the unhappy story of the over-running of the good Buddhist monastic college, Nalanda; and the beheading or burying alive of hundreds of Buddhist monks. Nalanda was a middle of studying and contemplation from the fifth century to c. 1200. You may nonetheless view the ruins of Nalanda in India. As soon as a walled metropolis of academics and college students, its status of open inquiry, dialogue, debates and scholarship attracted items from kings from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Java, Bengal, China, Sumatra, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Turkestan. At Nalanda, college students and academics explored and plumbed the meanings of the Hindu Vedas and Upanishads (pre-Buddhist scriptures) and the Buddhist philosophies of Hinayana, Mahayana, Madhyamika and Yogachara. The Buddhist saint, Naropa, was as soon as the abbot of the college. Nalanda’s in depth library–torched by the invaders– was mentioned to have burned for months, devoured by fireplace and hatred.
It is Christmas trip, ’03, and I am accompanying an Evangelical Christian church to Baja California, Mexico. This church goes twice a yr to San Tecla which is dwelling to a big ranch, which attracts indigenous Oaxacans to journey north for a greater wage of about $8.00 a day which is twice what they will get in Oaxaca, if work is even out there.
Some Oaxacans settle in Baja California, and others journey seasonally. The church members and I arrive on the ranch early within the chilly morning to prepare presents for kids, meals/garments baskets for households; we have pushed 2 ½ hours from the seaport of Ensenada, positioned on Bahia de Todos Santos, 65 miles south of Tijuana. There is a rousing Christian service, with 120 youngsters sitting in entrance of the church’s stage which options musicians, singers and woman preachers; electrically-guitared, percussion beats and melodies. We’re weaving and swaying, swooning with Jesus, alleluia-ing.
Dios es Amor is painted in massive white letters on a brown cross. The solar is shining its brilliant yellow into the rocking church. Youngsters go to some small lessons, whereas the adults obtain luggage of beans, rice, sugar, garments, cleaning soap, and shampoo. It is very chilly exterior; a few of the shivering youngsters nonetheless do not have footwear, so the church members be sure they’re given sneakers. I watch a teen receiving a present, a sudden and fast beaming response, warming; the so-called “beneficiant” volunteers understand they’re receiving a type of small, fleeting satisfactions that feed our souls. Seven guys take a fast grime highway truck experience to view the ocean, dashing previous the tomato vegetation, which the Oaxacan Indians are protecting with plastic to guard from the bitter chilly sea winds. We keep on the hilly shore for half-hour, slipping on moist rocks, mosty grays, some ivory-colored blotched with rust, white and brown corrugated clam shells, delicate indifferent crab legs; waves spray salty water on me. I take a handful of ocean water to splash on my face.
I recall visiting Oaxaca (Oaxaca gave us Mexican president, Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Indian) with its fertile, huge plateaus, fairly valleys, the beautiful Sierrra Madre del Sur Mountain Vary. Chiapas and Oaxaca have the biggest Indian inhabitants in Mexico, inside which lie beneficiant bounties of tradition, handicrafts, folklore, and spirituality.
The Indians right here in San Tecla, doing farm work, are descendants of the Mixtec or Zapotec; they’ve left their villages reluctantly to enhance the standard of their residing.
Going dwelling, we cease on the Tijuana border, on las playas of Tijuana. There are tall black noticed, rusted metal pilings which type the frontera. We see some individuals put their heads by way of openings, maybe eager for the “different facet.” As we cross the border, my pal, Margot Alvarado (from El Salvador) reveals us the place, in ’78, she went, together with her three youngsters, by way of a big drain into the U.S. She was fortunate, she says, to have been led by a “good” coyote.
I used to be in El Salvador to recollect the fifth anniversary of the violent passing (11-16-89) of six Jesuit clergymen from Spain (Ignacio Ellacuria, Amando Lopez, Joaquin Lopez, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramon Moreno and their housekeeper and her daughter, Elba and Celina Ramos. Joan Didion, writing in 1982: “Terror is the given of the place. Our bodies flip up within the brush of vacant heaps, within the rubbish, thrown in ravines within the richest districts, in public restrooms, in bus stations. Some are dropped in Lake Ilopango.” I went to El Salvador to the touch and be touched by the land and its individuals, to cry for brothers and sisters who’ve suffered, to snort and have enjoyable, to attempt to perceive and be taught with reverence. And cry for myself, for my very own tolerance for violence. I requested many how may politics-power-government, conceived to serve the individuals, to “en-right” and enrich all, develop into such a harmful repression and loss of life?
El Salvador is a surprise: show of hills, vegetation, metropolis marketplaces, refreshing ocean, and positive, nice individuals, a wounded, however resilient individuals. I say a prayer on the memorial of the murdered Jesuit padres and for Elba and Celina Ramos who died with them. Within the early morning, on the UCA College, round 2:30 a.m., six Spanish clergymen have been jerked from their beds and executed. Their housekeeper, Elba, and her daughter Celina have been additionally assassinated. There have been about 300 officers and enlisted males on the UCA campus on the night time of the murders. The UCA had been bombed in April and July of ’89.The loss of life squad wrote “FMLN” over the partitions to flee blame. In January of 1990, eight males have been arrested for the murders, six from the Atlcatl Battalian and two officers of the navy academy. Two males have been convicted, Col. Benavides of seven murders, Lieutenant Mendoza of the homicide of Celina Ramos. They have been sentenced for thirty years. The provincial of the Jesuits in El Salvador, Fr. Tojeira, formally requested for pardon the 2 convicted males, as a result of he said those that ordered the assault weren’t delivered to trial. Each males have been let out. The Jesuits had overtly favored a peace accord among the many political factions within the nation. A few of the navy needed to proceed hateful polarities, particularly propagating that the Jesuits have been solely supporting the guerrillas. The Jesuits, actually, have been imploring for the mixing of the numerous political and financial parts in Salvadoran society. Father Ellacuria and President Christiani, with all their ideological variations, have been each speaking about how they might unite energies to provide to the peace accord. Many human rights teams say this is the reason far proper parts killed Fr. Ellacuria and his associates.
The Jesuits favored agrarian reform and the tip of political repression that stifled a sharing of energy. Jesuits similar to Rutilio Grande have been talking out for the poor, in addition to for all parts within the society, political and financial. They have been educating rules of how one can use and share, it doesn’t matter what one’s wealth or political perception may be. They spoke overtly for social justice, human rights and towards political terror. In 1980, Oscar Arnulfo Romero (after three years as archbishop of El Salvador) was gunned down whereas saying Mass (March 24, 1980). Now I see photos of bloody, mashed our bodies of the six Jesuits and two girls. I anguishly need to really feel the supremacy of the soul and inviolable spirit; however earlier than me are photos of bloody corpses.
I later spend just a few days visiting the UCA College in the summertime of ’94. The peace accord was signed in 1992. I really feel a relaxed surroundings right here on the college. Politically, first steps of the peace course of are being taken. Pockets of therapeutic and pleasure in piano, drums, guitars, voices of scholars, guests, school, employees, buildings going up, dance, critical research, a full library. I hear talks that encourage extra political enlightenment and requires the tip of repression and the opening of a milti-faceted society, imbued with a information and cherishing of human rights.
I meet Ken Hauser, a volunteer from Virginia who has been making a number of journeys to El Salvador, bringing wanted supplies to the poor from the generosity of U.S. companies. I run into an ecologist from Eire who’s working with farmers, organizing options to air pollution and “pure useful resource exploitation” issues. I go to Padre Vito Guarato who’s offering a house for 300 deserted handicapped youngsters, at Casa de Piedra.
I am welcomed within the dwelling of a former scholar whose father– a “casualty” of the civil war– is now in jail. She says a lot of her associates now not will communicate to her. But she speaks so lovingly of her “disgraced” father… how, when a bit woman, she and her father would dig for clams, mendacity buried, like grey fruit within the moist sand. I’m very impressed by many activist teams and people. I discover the spirit of activism and volunteering, alive in younger individuals and folks of all ages. I do not think about activism or volunteering as particular; it is very pure and rewarding to ourselves, in addition to providing wanted assist; partaking actions to make others extra impartial and alive, to talk out for what we might strongly imagine in, to supply monetary assist to a rigorously thought of trigger. Activism’s engine is revved by this confidence in human beings’ resourcefulness (when actually wanting some change).
Source by Morgan Zo Callahan
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