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Posts Tagged ‘gun control’

Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

SEEKING LIGHT:Pantano Wash, Tucson Arizona

(Note: WordPress seems to have a mind of it’s own right now and will not let me organize paragraph’s and spaces as needed.)

     Forgive me, I am feeling the urge to purge some of the thoughts that keep racing around my brain. Yes, this is absolutely a diatribe. No matter how hard I try, I can’t stop my mind from living and reliving the many nightmares that I see surrounding me, my community, our nation, and our world. The world feels like it is getting worse by the moment.
     With information coming to all of us at a rapid fire pace, it is hard to convince myself that things aren’t really as bad as they seem. They are bad. Our world is a really challenging place and regardless of our politics, we are all feeling it.
Before I start, let me say, I am writing in my blog and I don’t want to be politically correct. Mostly I have been respectful of others on my blog. I share my journey, many of thoughts, and now it is time for me to say what I really about Israel, marginalization of black people, gun control, immigration, women’s rights, climate change, modern day slavery and the list could go on for hours.
     While I accept the fact that none of my thoughts are simple, they feel like they should be. Human rights matter!!! Period. No question. If you feel differently, please don’t continue to read. And in all honesty, if you have Republican leanings, it is due to so many of your beliefs and/or the staunch Republican politicians that our country is in the condition it is.
     I love people. I am a bleeding heart liberal that wishes that I could really make a positive impact in not only my community, and our nation, but in the larger world. I do what I can and I always will.
     Let’s start simple, why do people purchase items made from slave labor? Why would anyone want a sweet morsel of chocolate that comes at the expense of another human being. In truth, I understand that not everyone is aware of who makes their clothing or who picks their cocoa beans, but seriously, if you do know, why wouldn’t you change your ways and look for ways to end slave labor? I don’t have two spare cents to rub together, but I have made decisions for how I shop. If you want to learn more ask. . .I will share. But you don’t need me, there are amazing resources in the fair-trade world. And if money is your concern, don’t buy what you can’t afford or go to thrift shops, consignment stores, etc. to get what you need and want. At least, this way, those that are human rights violators don’t receive direct benefit. And if you really feel like you need something that you can’t live without then only buy exactly what you need until you can afford products that take human rights into consideration. And if your curious, yes that does mean that Hershey is ENEMY #1.
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     Climate change is hurting our universe. It isn’t a fabricated tale and yet there are so many limited people that believe this. Look at the storms, look at the landscape, the pollution, and look at your carbon footprint. And if your really curious, consider taking the time to study what scientists are saying, not politicians that want to fabricate a story to meet their needs. And look at the loss of lives, home, and land over the last decade.
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     Having a child is a choice. There are so many reasons that women need to make a choice that may not seem “right’ to you and even to me, but it isn’t my right to dictate how people take care of their bodies. As a survivor of rape, I can’t imagine how I would have responded to being told I couldn’t have an abortion. While I didn’t have that experience, I wouldn’t want it. And as for some pregnancies, if I were to have gotten pregnant during my fertile years, it would have been an unwanted baby. I wanted children more than words could say, but my one surviving birth was a miracle. I lost many pregnancies before and after my biological son was born. Once doctors understood my genetic reality, there was no way I would have wanted to carry a pregnancy to term or even until I miscarried it. Why should I even have to? Why should anyone?
     Let women decide how to take care of their bodies and meet their needs. And don’t make people go to back alleys and have abortions by scummy beings or doctors that are awesome enough to break the law. Let’s not go back in time and cause the devastation that once was.
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     All my life, I have heard about the countries that turned their backs on the Jews before and during the Holocaust. And now that refugees are trying to navigate towards safety and a life of freedom, we are perpetuating the same realities that existed in the late 1930s and in the 1940s. We are creating situations that allow for the black market to take over. Why can’t we open our country up and make immigration easier. I feel like I live in a population full of prejudice with an ethnocentric politicians/people.
     Instead of building a fence, make it easier for people to live and then watch them flourish. While it make take a while, people will thrive once they are given the room to soar.
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     How many more school children and students have to be murdered at the hands of someone that should never have had had access to a gun? For $200 you can go out and buy a gun. Perhaps you are facing an emotional crisis and you feel despondent for a period. No problem, just go to the local store and buy a gun, a couple bullets, and then take your life. Or better yet, you find out that someone screwed you, why not just buy a gun and blow them and their family away. It really is that simple. Why not consider a federal tax and a local tax for each and every gun you own. We can do this yearly or upon purchase. Heck, our dogs need a license to live in our homes.
     And seriously folks, who needs assault riffles? I am reasonably certain that no one does except perhaps military, law enforcement, and drug dealers.
     There are many steps that can be taken from all encompassing background checks, waiting periods, significant taxation, required training, and making it illegal for children to have access to all guns. Finally it should be illegal to have undocumented private transfer with no background checks.
     While I don’t understand why most people need a gun, I do understand that more can be done to prevent firearm related deaths.
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     Black Lives Matter! Period. While we can all say all lives matter, I know that as a white woman, the color of my skin will not marginalize in any way, shape, or form. I am secure that even if I made a mistake and ran a red light, I wouldn’t have to fear police brutality. And while I know the majority of officers are keeping our streets safe, there are some that aren’t and too many that are being kept on the force despite previous actions. And while I know there are challenges in the black community, we aren’t doing enough in society to change this reality. Violence begets violence – I pray that no more officers lose their lives due to hatred for ‘the uniform’ and I pray that those same officers show discernment while also keeping themselves safe.
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     Israel occupies territories and then wonders why a subjugated people are angry and ungrateful. Gaza is an open air prison that Israel has more or less created.
     No children should have to see their parents blown away on any side of the fence. And should I even discuss the fence? I will skip that here. No one should have to fear going out on an evening walk. And yet none of this is simple. Daily, there have been regular attacks on Palestinians in the territory, even the recent deaths of Israelis. And you wonder why violence is being perpetrated and people are ready to explode. We keep building settlements and destroying the dignity of those that live on their land. Again, I do not encourage violence, but I do think the current government is destructive and destroying any chance of peace in our lifetime.
Finally
     Our world could be so much better, if different choices were made. With every ounce of my being, I pray for peace for all.
From Langston Hughes:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore-
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

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Everything we say and don’t say matters; everything we do and don’t do matters.

Words and Silence – Action and inaction. . . .

Over the past many weeks, I have been more selective with what I say and what I do. Allowing myself to room for silence of voice and action has sometimes grounded me and has sometimes left me profoundly uncomfortable.

Too much is going on in the world. Every day, we are bombarded with information on the Iran Deal, US politics, climate change, the illness of loved ones, poverty, racism, human trafficking, refugees, immigration, gun control (or lack of control). The world feels really dark and painfully out of control. Opinions, prejudices, and biases emerge as if they are fact. And the facts are skewed by whoever is sharing them.

While each of us may see or hear about the same event, we tend to interpret what is happening based on our life experiences and views. I am no different. And I am realizing that so many people lack the power to discern what is happening in the world because they are being influenced by whatever sunglasses they are wearing instead of by interpreting the facts with the openness to really embrace the facts.

With so many human travesties and a feeling of hopelessness, I find that I am doing less than I should. I am not visiting the sick, helping teens navigate the world; I am not taking the time to care for others or the environment as much as I should.  Instead I am feeling stuck; I am unable to process the world as I once did.

Add the above to life’s normal challenges and some not so normal challenges, I have been feeling paralyzed and unable to make a difference in the world.

With all of this in mind, over the recent period of time, I have found myself going a little more inward and looking for quiet ways to care for myself more. This week alone, I have slept more, read a little more, taken some amazing yoga classes and listened to some amazing podcasts. I have allowed myself some time to invest in close friends and my sons. This time has brought core exhaustion to my core, but it has also brought about some intense realizations.

When I allow my momentary sense of hopelessness to surface, I live in fear that the world can never recover from the human conditioning that exists today. And then. . . just as I settled in myself sparks began to emerge, so many beautiful moments. There are people that are really trying to address the horrific issues of our century. A couple of days ago, I received an email with the following link http://www.globalgoals.org/prayer-for-everyone/.  Open it up and allow yourself to dream, to believe, and then to join those that have created Global Goals, those that have yet to give up on the human atrocities. There is work to do; we can make a difference.  At the same time, that I woke up to find the above link in my mailbox, a couple of new friends and old friends alike have found ways to let me know that my voice matters.

A day doesn’t pass without me looking deeply into the world.  With that responsibility comes the opportunity to listen and to share; we can learn from one another.  Listening and sharing leads to action and sometimes inaction. There are things we must do and sometimes we simply can’t do it all.

As I move towards 5776, I am aware that my voice matters so I need to find my voice even as I listen to all of the voices that surround me. In the coming year, may I leave the very tight cocoon I have woven for myself and be the butterfly that brightens the world around me. May I truly make a difference by impacting the world and doing things that make improve the lives of not only my family, my community, but the larger world too.

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful? Courtesy of Karen Judin

Can I be a butterfly that makes the world a little more beautiful?
Courtesy of Karen Judin

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I am hard on myself. I never believe that I am enough, that I give enough, that I am present enough. This is especially true for doing my part to repair the world (tikun olam) or to stand up for the politics I believe in.

Instead of lamenting about what I could have or should have done before this time, I have decided to begin doing what I can now. This actually started weeks ago, but over the last days, I have really been called to action.

Here I am; I am here to serve you!

Here I am; I am here to serve you!

 On Wednesday night, two things happened that nudged me out of my inertia.

  1. Nine beautiful souls were massacred at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
  2. A devastating fire in the San Bernadino National Forest near where my son is working in Angelus Oaks, California forced the staff to evacuate from where they were camping. For this moment, the camp is safe, but all is not looking good for that area. At this point 17,000 acres has been destroyed and the staff only have the belongings that they had on their overnight. I am happy that the residents and firefighters are safe at this point; may that continue! I am devastated for the wildlife.

The visceral reaction that I had initially shifted to a deep desire to ‘do something’.  By Thursday, I asked my chant group for possible chants so that we could shift the energy, I created resource sheets for comforting those in mourning, those affected by the deaths, and for the wildfires too.

Nearly every waking moment since Wednesday, I have chanted, prayed, visualized, healing for all in need. I haven’t been able to sleep or eat much either. I have allowed a few tears to fall and my heart to crack open.

And yesterday, I called a local reverend to ask if he would mind if I joined his upcoming vigil. I also emailed my rabbi to see if she would be willing to have my new congregation host a shloshim* gathering for the local AME church. Regardless, I will be reaching out to them myself and finding out if perhaps I can organize a mandala making gathering so that we could send cards or mandalas to each and every member/family of the Charleston church.

The bottom-line is I am a tree hugger and a lover of all life-force. I may not be able to do much, but I can do something. There is a part of me that is simply not able to sit back and do nothing.

Over the years, I have been inspired by people that make a difference. Today, I have the ability to touch lives. Just because I have yet to do enough for others doesn’t mean I have to stay on that trajectory.

Politically, I plan to find my voice over the coming year for the upcoming elections, gun control, and the environment. Next summer, I am hoping to find a trip that will allow for me to learn more and have a greater impact in American policy towards Israel. I live in Houston, Texas now; it is my time to step up to the plate. I can’t hide from being involved any longer.

It is also time for me to celebrate that my life is quite amazing. My sons are healthy young men that are beginning their launch into adulthood. During much of their growing years, I was absorbed with their healing from serious illnesses. (They are both healthy now.) And in recent years, I had some of my own personal challenges to contend with.  But it is important for me to remember that I rarely sat back and did nothing. There were years when I volunteered in shelters weekly, took in a homeless family for six months, did work for the environment, stood strong for Israel, worked towards eliminating modern-day slave labor, and did my part for local and national politics. BUT I truly have not done enough and I am ok with that. As long as I stand by the below equation now:

KNOWLEDGE + VOLITION + ACTION = RESULTS**

After my older son healed from serious illness, I had a false start and thought I would do more, but it wasn’t my time. I have to find peace with that reality. I am not the same person I was then. I have faced a few more demons, fear of homelessness, and what it means to work for a hourly wage. Both my spirit and my body were seriously impacted by what happened to me in Tucson, but I am thriving now.  Still, Tucson gave me one of the most precious gifts imaginable, it gave me the ability to hear differently and the determination to help others.

So, here I am. Hineini. I am here to serve others, to impact the world for good, and to weave my words so that others may be drawn to reflect, to stretch, and to grow.

With every fiber of my being, I pray that my actions and my words do their part for tikun olam, repairing the world, while I walk gently and lovingly with each step.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

Notes:
*In traditional Judaism, the first 30 days after someones burial is for intense mourning. For this situation, I am thinking we could mark 30 days after the massacre and create a healing ritual.

** This equation was originally found from Susan Peirce Thompson, Ph.D., but I do think I have seen it elsewhere as well.

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In Breisheet, also known as Genesis, we learn about the creation of the world among other things.   Regardless of how you see the Torah, there are amazing teachings for each of us to consider from both the written words and the white space between the words.  As the fireworks of creation begin, it is hard not to notice how evolution often occurs with a spark, a moment of enlightenment.

IN THE beginning G-d created the heaven and the earth.  Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of G-d hovered over the face of the waters.  And G-d said: ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.  And G-d saw the light, that it was good. . . Genesis 1:1-4

Making things happen takes a light or spark.  Unless you ignite a spark, nothingness will remain.  Silence or quiet lead to nothingness.  If you want to make a difference, you have to be willing to cause some sparks to fly.

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC  Photo courtesy of Wendy Harris Delson

Climbing towards the beach -Topsail, NC
Photo courtesy of:                 Wendy Harris Delson

Climbing the steps to inspire change takes a strong belief and some very hard work.  A beautiful vision with a whole lot of perseverance is the only way to make a difference.

In the last few months, I have been struggling with my own personal demons as well as the world around me.   The work has been intense and has forced me to alter some of my connections and grow some new connections.  There are times when I have chosen to sit quietly feeling lost as opposed to opening the doors that surround me in search of solutions to whatever challenges confront me.  While I am always working on myself and reflecting on ways for me to personally grow, now I am realizing that I need to get back to my grassroots way of making a difference in the world outside of my little universe.   I need to be be more of a light or a spark.

Tonight as I listened to Congressman John Lewis speak at the JStreet Conference in Washington, DC., I realized that I have been way too passive since moving to Tucson a year ago.  There are issues to tackle and sparks to ignite locally, nationally, and in the greater world.  Unless I choose to embrace these issues more fully, I am not living with personally integrity.

This journey did not begin tonight. Over the past months, I have begun what I am referring to as the Dance of Emergence.  I have been finding my voice and growing more comfortable with my surroundings in Arizona.  While I have always been a little crunchy or alternative, coming to Tucson made me feel out of my element personally, professionally, and politically.  Leaving DC and the community I loved working with took away my roots.  Instead of planting new roots, I became still and silent in every area of my life.

When Congressman John Lewis said, “You have the power to be the headlights and not taillights.  You can do it.”  I realized that I had to start igniting the world with the beliefs, energy, and love I have.  Silence speaks louder than words and silence leads nowhere.  With silence, change is not possible.

Tonight, I am ready to continue my Dance of Emergence with determination and action.  I am ready to let the sparks fly.  Over the coming weeks, I will share some of the issues that have been filling my thoughts.   I will begin to share my heart more fully as I actively seek how to take the necessary steps to make our world a better place.

Hineini, Here I am!

P.S. – Some of my issues will include:

  1. Israel/Palestine – 2 state solution
  2. fair-trade chocolate and the chocolate Industry
  3. gun control
  4. child advocacy
  5. Jewish education
  6. environmental consciousness

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