“Not until this moment are we seeing the people who make this world work: the myriad invisibles, the anonymous, the undocumented, the overworked and underpaid professionals—some of whom we don’t even grace with the status of ‘professionals’ or pay them a living wage or take care of their health.” Julia Alvarez, We Will Emerge: Awareness
PEN America launched We Will Emerge, a collection of 111 short essays from writers and actors, politicians and reporters, artists and poets, together urging readers to imagine a future beyond the current crises. Sparked by a conversation between Wajahat Ali and Dave Eggers, the project asked participants to briefly respond to the prompt “We will emerge…and find a better way.” Participants include Chelsea Clinton, Roxane Gay, Julia Alvarez, Min Jin Lee, Lynn Nottage, Peter Sagal, Ishmael Reed, Jelani Cobb, Reza Aslan, Alyssa Milano, Mayor Michael Tubbs, Maya Wiley, and dozens more.“There is no one way to understand how the multiple crises of our current moment will forge the future of this country,” said Wajahat Ali, curator of the We Will Emerge project. “We designed this project with a sense of hope, or perhaps a delusion, that somehow we will emerge from this chaos. We gave no set motives or restrictions on how to respond. Some entries are bleak, some are fueled by righteous rage, others are humbled, and few imagine and prescribe how we can achieve a freer and more equitable future. But all the contributions are grounded in the reality that there will be a day after our current crises, and we all need to prepare and grapple with the once-in-a-century lessons of a deadly pandemic, our overdue reckoning over white supremacy, and the deliberate attacks on our democracy.”We Will Emerge immerses readers in the thoughts and stirrings of some of the greatest thinkers of our current moment. The digital experience is broken into chapters, where the 111 contributions are categorized into five thematic categories that capture the connective threads among the dozens of contributions.
Julia Ioffe, in the chapter of essays centered on awareness, writes that we will emerge “humbled and more respectful of science.”
In the section on community and unity, Rep. Val Demings quotes Dr. Martin Luther King, “In a real sense, all life is interrelated.”
Another section of essays focuses on the themes of gratitude and empathy, where Gary Shteyngart muses on culinary ambition: “We will emerge…and be yummier.”
Challenging economic inequality, Mehdi Hasan in the section on liberation writes, “We will emerge and be less forgiving.”
Imam Abdullah Antepli, in the section on action, calls for a more engaged democracy: “What if we all renew and significantly increase our ownership of our democracy and act accordingly a result of it?”
“We Will Emerge is an effort to think beyond our cascading crises and elevate insights that can point us toward a healthier, more equal, just, and sustainable future,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America and author of Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All. “These micro-essays throw down gauntlets, unmask truths, and issue calls to action to take responsibility for the ways we’ve failed one another. Recognizing that there is no panacea for all that ails our society, these contributions collectively offer ideas, pathways, and building blocks aimed to spark new thinking and action, all in a direction forward.”
Throughout the coming weeks, PEN America and contributors from the project will be sharing their essays across social platforms under the hashtag #WeWillEmerge. Visit pen.org/we-will-emerge to read and share.
PEN Americastands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. It champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Its mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
”News is best in its absence if it’s not the birth of a child . . . ” Mbizo Chirasha
Calling the morning with a mournful urgency, sleep fell off the
routine checks of protocol and the gong silently, if urgently,
summoned a sermon of fleeting feet. A son beheld the sun’s shadow with
loving thoughts packed hurriedly into a strained back. The beauty of
smooth roads and distance hills failed dismally to tell the dreams on
a runway refusing crafts to land. Temporariness is a weed with long
tendrils as only those with healthy respect for shadows know. To part
with tomorrow’s hope to the hands of a paid Piper whose mission in
“his appointed career” is to poach livelihoods of passerby’s in quest
for a nights nest on this migratory routine is a pain bordering on a
tooth extraction without anaesthesia. That this accepted sin is
described in business lingo as lucrative is tearing off fresh from the
living and asking to be thanked.
And the revolutionary chant is not over!
Am blind and love it because that way I judge nobody.
Am deaf and trust it because that way I hear only hope from Angels from afar.
Am immune to cold and heat so the elements don’t scare me,
I am a lamp post planted by hands I can only guess at. Am a child and
a man honest enough to acknowledge God exists in the spirit of
creation and the heart of men however few.
When borderslam doors louder than an irate spouse demonstrating
disgust at an assumed slight by love, common sense stirs the soul for
an instinctive triple jump.
Am a son of the South where the sun rises with the song of the hills
and cattle calling milk to duty,
Milk is a source of life and it’s absence is a bitter song that speaks
kwashiorkor and other third rate needs unmet.
Am a product of great souls that the universe unites to clear the
morning smog with a heart’s torch.
And the struggle song is not over!
What is Man but a product of Man?
I refuse to reject humanity and I do it with humility.
Where I am is a location whose dust reminds me of my earliest form and
my final formlessness.
I am a journey on a travel and now is time to chant an old tune,
That no struggle is without cause and course if it’s the one that chose you,
And in the beauty of such times as we are living in, islands within,
Am counting thousands of breaths in gratitude for the spice that life
and living is.
For spice true, is in the variety,
Not only of terrain but of origin,
But also the hand that tended it,
The hand that picked and packed it,
Making the whole a part of the bits and vice versa.
Cycles refuse to rest, like a month in flight, a soul flies in the
night leaving a sad dream on a prodigal sons wet eyelids,
And the liberation vibe is not far!
Who can say the taste of life is anything but mysterious and hard at its best?
News is best in it’s absence if it’s not the birth of a child,
Am awake to all truths even the most banal and morbid,
Am human enough to weep at wickedness and laugh at jest,
But tell me fair men of this land that “ unlanded” me how to virtually
bury my own,
Tell me like am a three year old how to grieve with dignity this
vehicle that bore me to your shores and must now bid a silent goodbye
in my blinded monastery upon this cavernous existence,
And the redemption thunder is rumbling more closer!!!
Am flesh and flesh has demands to weep and touch it’s own in making
Who will roll this mist back a day and allow a wish to plan a shared hug?
Am a child of the universe bleeding hard on the winds that make
commandments of demented bafoonery,
I fall on these weakened knees sending this mute anguish up into the
If I see tomorrow it’s all because silence has given me a route to
walk in this barren vacuum of misplaced hunger of human touch,
That voices sprout hands that feed my sanity with a purity only angels
know, am grateful,
And some day, when the grass has grown over that mound that settled unto itself,
This boy with a grey beard shall come back to plant a fruit tree on
the home square and name it “ Silver” in honor of all dawns and dusks,
And the tender hands that give me dew upon this journey at the
earliest of arrivals.
Am all that because you are all that, even as you now ride the stars
in the silence of night and the wind of days.
And the revolutionary chanters are chanting still
Its not yet uhuru . . .
Aluta Continua, the fight and chant for freedom continue.
MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of The BeZine core team. He is the founder of Womawords Literary Press, which is dedicated to giving space to the voices of women and girls and is a partner in The BeZine International Poetry Month,a blog event. He is a multi-award winning poet from Zimbabwe who is on the run. We have been coordinating in the search for safe harbor. In part I am posting this today to remind everyone that while we’ve made progress with funding, we still need to find a host for Mbizo, preferably Germany. Open to suggestion. Connect with me if you are able to help, have leads, or have questions. You can read more about Mbizo and his story: Zimbabwean Poet in Exile: Award-Winning Poet Mbizo Chirasha, A Life on the Run, Interview.
Regular Wednesday Writing Prompts will resume on January 3, 2018. This thoughtful piece is shared here with Michael’s permission. It was originally published on his blog, Dreaming the World.
Well, the weather turned warm again, with a bit of rain; now the temperature is dropping slowly and there are hints of blue through the overcast. There are rumors of a snowstorm next week and more before Christmas. We shall see.
Here in North America we tend to forget how pervasive sexual violence is, and how retraumatizing public conversations about sexual abuse and harassment can be for victims of sexual crimes.
This was brought home to me again yesterday while speaking with a colleague in Boston. She works with severely traumatized individuals and spoke about her clients’ experiences of retraumatization due to the recent flood of sexual assault accusations against prominent men. We agreed the resulting, much-needed, public discussion about sexual assault has resulted in a cascade of memories and fear for our clients. This adds to the retraumatization caused by the behavior of government officials who seem Hell-bent on glamorizing sexual assault while destroying the social framework. We also agreed we are experiencing much increased anxiety as we try to understand how to provide some sense of safety to our clients and ourselves in an increasingly difficult social environment.
Not surprisingly, our culture’s focus on sexual assaults and intimidation by males has felt isolating for clients who were abused or harassed by women. Somehow we as a society appear to have once again lost sight of the uncomfortable fact that women can also be abusive. Perhaps there is less attention to assaults by women simply because abuse and harassment at the hands of women appears to be underreported in general. In addition, men, particularly, report experiencing more shame when speaking of being abused by women and are, thus, more reticent to report being assaulted.
The sad truth is that people of all genders are capable of harming others when given the opportunity. Further, such abuses become more frequent when openly, or tacitly, accepted by communities. I’m sure we will hear much more about sexual abuse by persons with power in the days to come. How we respond is crucial.
MICHAEL WATSON, LCMHC (Dreaming the World) is a poet of the spirit, if not of the pen, and a contributing editor to The BeZine, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent.
Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont,where he is retired from his teaching position in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College. He was once Dean of Students there. He also had wonderful experiences teaching in India and Hong Kong, which he’s documented on his blog, Dreaming the World. In childhood Michael had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.
“Fascism?” says the simplistic Tory MP, “Where are the Concentration Camps?” My answer is, “You don’t need them – you do things far more subtly these days. You have learned a lesson from the past – not to be quite so callous…” In the thirties, the Camps were a physical symbol of depriving individuals of their humanity, starving them, murdering them… Now there’s a Concentration Camp of the Mind. You do it by depriving the ‘plebs’ of aid & sustenance & meaningful jobs, and you force them to work till they’re too old to stand upright so they don’t have time or energy for protest. You peddle lies like the need for ‘Austerity’. Or you plug them into e-devices and they just die that way quietly at home or on the streets, sometimes by their own hand.
Here are the TWENTY LESSONS outlined by Timothy Snyder. The headings are his, the descriptors are mine. He brilliantly details the way in which the history of the 20th Century offers ‘lessons’ – the antidote to TYRANNY.
1. DO NOT OBEY IN ADVANCE When you signify approval by voting for them or falling in with their machinations against any better judgement you might have had you make them think they’re winning 2. DEFEND INSTITUTIONS The United Nations, The European Project, all regulatory organisations – institutions of this kind protect us from their greed & exploitation 3. BEWARE THE ONE PARTY STATE Resist all indications that they’re the only way, that there’s no alternative – listen out for the words… 4. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACE OF THE WORLD Remove all their hate signs 5. REMEMBER PROFESSIONAL ETHICS Expose corruption in high places, share signs of their chicanery at all levels, support honesty 6. BE WARY OF PARAMILITARIES Resist their uniforms & insignia of power 7. IF YOU MUST BE ARMED, BE REFLECTIVE Verify everything for yourself. Be prepared to say NO to them! Thus far no further… 8. STAND OUT Say something different, speak the alternative words, don’t repeat their mantras like a parrot – many do! 9. BE KIND TO OUR LANGUAGE Study what they say carefully; read books; say your own thing; notice all abstractions – they beguile us into agreement 10. BELIEVE IN TRUTH Don’t accept all this post-truth/fake news stuff 11. INVESTIGATE Verify, verify… Don’t go for sound-bites & headlines; be prepared to read lengthily 12. MAKE EYE CONTACT & SMALL TALK Stay in touch with real people 13. PRACTISE CORPOREAL POLITICS March! – don’t let them tell you it’s pointless. They’d have you glued to the telly. Feel the truth of things deep in your somatic sensibility. Don’t go along with their emotional bluster 14. ESTABLISH A PRIVATE LIFE Resist all attempts to have them spy on you 15. CONTRIBUTE TO GOOD CAUSES Support AVAAZ, 38 Degrees, War on Want, Greenpeace – whatever grabs you. Start small 16. LEARN FROM PEERS IN OTHER COUNTRIES Relate to as many other like-minded people as you can across the world so you know you’re not alone 17. LISTEN FOR DANGEROUS WORDS Be angry about the way words snake into your being – ‘extremism’, ‘terrorism’ for example 18. BE CALM WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ARRIVES Notice how an event (23rd March 2017) like the carnage caused by the nutter who drove into people on Westminster Bridge (Earth has not anything to show more fair/Dull would he be of soul who could pass by/A sight so touching in its majesty…) is exploited by them to keep us in a state of terror. ‘Act of terrorism’, ‘an attack on Democracy…’ [abstraction] – ‘must be willing to give up certain liberties’ [abstraction] in order to maintain security [abstraction]. Focus on the enemy without so we forget the enemy within. Hitlerian trick 19. BE A PATRIOT rather than a nationalist. It’s so nice to wake up on a spring morning in the place where you live 20. BE AS COURAGEOUS AS YOU CAN Resist all tyranny, whatever form it takes. Be content in your self
Blogging “I hate the word! Like I hate most things in the e-world. I will not join the Twits twittering… Things that are worth saying are worth saying at length…” Colin Blundell
I ♥ Colin Blundell’s work. It never fails that I learn something or think about something differently when I visit Colin’s “Globbing” as he calls it. While I was busy encouraging folks to read Prof. Snyder’s book, Colin was already using it as a jumping-off point for the delivery of his own observations. / J.D.
Colin says of himself:
“I work with people to help them gain a deeper insight for themselves into who they are and what they might do.
“Having escaped wage slavery in 1991, I began to suit myself when I worked, never really thinking of it as ‘working’ but more like the opportunity to sample various hotels and training venues round the country and as a way of paying for the renovation of an ancient decaying heap that I could call ‘home’.
“Since 1991, I’ve taught NLP, Accelerated Learning, Covey’s Seven Habits, Change Management, Problem-solving and Time Management. Currently, when I feel like it or when networkers ask to pick my brain, I teach the art & practice of the Enneagram and a robust coaching model deriving therefrom.
“The ‘Enneagram Apprentice’ series is for friends who have attended my Enneagram course. It follows up and develops the ideas created by them there.
“I write poems, novels, philosophical tomes, music and make watercolours and Magic Cities.
“I hand-make paperback books.
“I do long distance motorbike treks.
“‘The best is still to come…’ Stephen Covey (when he was 70)
“If you’re expecting short blogs from me you’ll be severely disappointed! Sound Bite Exhortations are enticing or immediately attractive but say very little in the end… The knack is how to get on the inside of a seemingly snappy apophthegm. I teach how to make ideas come to life.”
Timothy Snyder is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. Before joining the faculty at Yale in 2001, he held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.
Professor Snyder spent some ten years in Europe, and speaks five and reads ten European languages. Among his publications are several award-winning books, all of which have been translated: Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998, revised edition 2016); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (2008); and Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010). Bloodlands won twelve awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought. It has been translated into more than thirty languages, was named to twelve book-of-the-year lists, and was a bestseller in six countries. His book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, was published by Crown Books in September 2015 and in twenty-one foreign editions thereafter.
Snyder is also the co-editor of Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001) and Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013). He helped Tony Judt compose a thematic history of political ideas and intellectuals in politics, Thinking the Twentieth Century (2012).
Some of Snyder’s essays on the Ukrainian revolution were published in in Russian and Ukrainian as Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014). Other essays will be published in Czech as The Politics of Life and Death (2015). Snyder sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Modern European History and East European Politics and Societies. His scholarly articles have appeared in Past and Present, the Journal of Cold War Studies, and other journals; he has also written for The New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and The New Republic as well as for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, and other newspapers. Snyder was the recipient of an inaugural Andrew Carnegie Fellowship in 2015.
Timothy Snyder is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and sits on the advisory councils of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research and other organizations.
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