The Zeitgeist of Resistance—a Historical River Flowing
Justice is a historical river flowing to us, around us, and through us, toward freedom. The river’s current, like our current Zeitgeist, is one of resistance. In times of extreme injustice(s), people rise. This issue of The BeZine dedicated to Social Justice brings you some of the history and much of our Zeitgeist of resistance.
You will read about the current White House occupant, the state of race and gender relations, economic disparity, oppression, and more that disturbs us in our time. However, coming to The BeZine from unrelated directions—some invited, some offered, some come across by seeming chance—history has sent reminders to us that we are not alone. Others have lived in times of extreme injustice(s). And people rose up to defy and resist injustice, in the name of freedom. This river of historical struggle for justice can help sustain us in our resistance to the flood of today’s injustice(s).
The ongoing history of resistance certainly underlies the choices of music in a new album by New York guitarist Marc Ribot—Songs of Resistance 1942–2018. Ribot brings together songs from the Italian resistance, the Civil Right Movement, and new songs protesting Donald Trump—reminding us that movements need songs, and that fascism has been defeated in the past. Yes, also that we are in its shadow once again, and we have yet to get our race relations straightened out. In this issue, you can read more about the record, officially released Friday (September 14, 2018), and hear a cut from that album, with Tom Waits vocalizing Bella Ciao, an anthem of the Italian partisans.
While Marc Ribot chronicles this recent stream of freedom songs, Tamar Tracy Moncur’s poem in this issue sings of the problems facing the U.S. (and the world, I hasten to add), but reminds us that “America Still Sings of Freedom,” its title and chorus. Two poets, Michael C. Odiah and Joseph Hesch, sing to us about slavery. Odiah marks the continued echoes and reverberations of slavery today. Hesch touches on those, but in light of the Civil War—asking us if we don’t risk seeing the sacrifice of life during that bloody conflict negated as we witness democracy evaporating around us and a rise of white nationalism. Linda E. Chown sings about the mid-Twentieth Century fight against fascism in a poem about Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, aka “La Pasionaria,” a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War. In another poem by Chown, the speaker returns to Spain in 1988, after Franco’s death. Chown’s third poem in this issue shows McCarthyism, the tactics of which continually float up in the flood of our time.
Word War II comes up in this historical river, also, in two essays in our Be the Peace section. A British Officer from World War I had a spiritual experience, so the story goes, that led him to propose during the Second World War that people in the U.K. take a minute of silence for prayer or meditation to help end—and win—the war, but more broadly, for a lasting peace. His effort was quite successful, gaining the support of the King of England and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. You can read about the Silent Minute’s history in John Anstie’s recounting, and about a recent movement to bring it back for the resistance in Lynne Salomon Miceli’s account of her own efforts.
These historical streams come together for our issue in what I have been calling a historical river at a time when the present overwhelms us and floods our sensibilities. How can we resist? How can we find peace and social justice while preserving the environment in the face of an administration that seems bent on shredding all of those apart like a level-5 hurricane stalled out just offshore? How can we protect children torn from their parents, denied health care, and deprived of a reasonable future (theirs being stolen from them in the present)? These questions help to define the Zeitgeist. The historical river perhaps offers some answers in its rushing water.
Slaves survived, rose up (see the history of Haiti), and while they often got beaten down, eventually others joined in a movement that abolished slavery. Yes, we have a long way to go to heal from that terrible injustice and to resolve the racist legacy of colonialist slave-holding mentality institutionalized throughout the West, but people continue to rise to the challenge and struggle toward equality and justice. Yes, Black Lives Matter!
The partisans fought the fascists, lost many battles (and the Spanish Civil War), but also won—Hitler and Mussolini fell, defeated. Stalin may have continued, Western Imperialism may have shifted into Capitalist Imperialism, its center moving from Western empires to a military-industrial complex held up by the remnants of those empires—but the tide went against the fascists. Democracy—real democracy, not “open markets”—still has a chance.
And yes, we now stand with fascism rising again, using anti-immigrant, nationalistic rhetoric throughout the world to once more inflame conflict and division. Yet, people are calling it by name, and many are saying: “No.” Despite the bleakness of the picture, people are rising up—more than ever, louder than ever, on social media, and in protests on the streets.
Most importantly, in the U.S., women and people of color are standing for election as progressives and winning elections. Incumbents who have not stood up to the current U.S. administration’s anti-democratic policies have fallen to new-comers / outsiders proudly projecting progressive values and proposing progressive policies in opposition to that administration. We don’t yet know where this will lead for the mid-terms, but the weather vanes seem to be pointed toward hope. Change can’t wait!
I hope, we at The BeZine hope, that the forces of social justice, peace, and (economic and environmental) sustainability will win and lead to freedom for all. And to get there, deb y felio reminds us that community action is the collective action of individuals. Each one of us must act, personally, for the community to function. Corina Ravenscraft opens the Be the Peace section on a similar theme, with some helpful hints for how to maintain our own peacefulness in these times.
The writers in this issue call out injustice, but they also offer us reasons to believe that we who believe in democracy and equality, who focus on humanity and our living planet, can prevail. The words we bring you with this issue come as songs along a river of resistance history, with concern for social justice, peace, and sustainability, tuned to melodies that harmonize with the song(s) of freedom.
—Michael Dickel, Contribuing Editor
Jerusalem, 14 September 2018
Sepia — a poem, a controversy…, Karen Alkalay-Gut
Gibberish Jewel, Pat Berryhill
Coming Back: Franco not here no more, 1988, Linda E. Chown
McCarthy’s Girl, Linda E. Chown
What they said, Linda E. Chown
Lazy Bums Vanish from Lazy Town, DeWitt Clinton
Elegy, deb y felio
Killer Angels, Better Angles, Joseph Hesch
even the most civilized …, Charles W Martin
gambling on social justice . . ., Charles W Martin
systemic social justice, Charles W Martin
Universal Credit, Frank McMahan
America Still Sings of Freedom, Tamam Tracy Moncur
Black November, Michael Odiah
Life, Michael C. Odiah
BE THE PEACE
The Three Spheres of Peace Action
I’ve observed in the spiritual practice of various Indian traditions that “shanti”—the Sanskrit word for peace—is invoked three times in prayer and chant.
I learned from a friend that the first invocation is about making peace with ourselves. The thought is that we cannot make peace with and in the world without inner peace.
The second invocation is about making peace with – embracing – the human community, from our family, friends, neighbors and our smaller communities to the greater global family.
The third invocation is about making peace with nature.
Thus we have three spheres of peace action: personal, social, and the natural world.
For the personal, Corina Ravenscraft offers suggestions for balance, Miki Byrne gives insight into mental anguish, and Changming Yuan’s brilliant metaphysical gift to us presents the complex interplay of elements in the search for self and truth. Kerry Darbishire and Miki Byrne call our attention to forgiveness, letting go, and accepting the gift of love. Tricia Knoll and Joseph Hesch suggest healing, the former through love and the latter through art.
The Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and Paul Fullmer beautifully and wisely address our pathway to peace in the context of the social sphere. John Anstie and Lynne Salomon Miceli propose shared silent moment as a means to unify in a profound way, especially with the Silent Minute, borrowed from WWII England.
Our connection to nature is featured in Wabi Sabi, and in Anne Myers’ The Other World.
Yes to Blue
The work on this issue has been thoroughly enjoyable and made the more so by Michael Dickel’s genius, commitment, and hard work. This issue would not be half as good without him. His dedication each year to taking the lead on the September issue and on our virtual 100,000 Poets for Change on the fourth Saturday of September is the more remarkable because these always coincide with Jewish holy days, a busy time for him.
For my part, our editorial collaborations are fun and a delightful change of pace from the solitary endeavors of writing and poetry. I am in California and Michael is in Israel, so the back-and-forth of things is probably not as fluid and detailed as it might be under other circumstances, but there is an editorial flow, a sorting, strategizing, tossing, absorbing, updating, and always struggling with tech challenges (I struggle, Michael saves). Jim Haba‘s poem, Yes to Blue, rather captures the feel of it all…
Yes to blue after trying
to separate green from yellow
and hoping that everything
will get simpler each time you bring an idea closer
to the light which is always
changing always being
born day after day
again and again
(© Jim Haba, a poet, artist and teacher. Some may know him for running the Dodge Poetry Festival. My thanks to Jim for getting back to me so quickly with permission to use “Yes to Blue,” which is from Thirty-one Poems.)
So now, with love and gratitude for our indefatigable Michael Dickel, for all our wise contributors, our readers, and our dedicated core team, The Bardo Group Bequines…
In the spirit of peace, love (respect), and community, and
on behalf of The Bardo Group Bequines,
The BeZine, Founding and Managing Editor
Find Your Balance to “Be the Peace”, Corina Ravenscraft
Dataism, Changming Yuan
Sunday People, Kerry Darbishire
Fear and the Mind, Miki Byrne
Sore Spots, Miki Byrne
Yours If You Will Take It, Miki Byrne
Potting Up the Peppermint, Tricia Knoll
Blessed Sacrament, Joseph Hesch
the natural world
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