Hooray for Jackie Robinson!
Activism and Volunteering
Not being reactive is not being passive. It’s now not a type
of stupidity, holding returned or being uninterested, doing away with
oneself from the sector. Real equanimity isn’t always indifference.
It’s the ability to be gift together with your complete being and
no longer upload gasoline to the fire.–Jack Kornfield
I had my first flavor of “activism”–extraordinarily naïve, but properly-intentioned–after I wrote letters to “Dear Chairman Mao Tse-Tung,” the first on May 23, 1956, as well as letters in assist of the Civil Rights Movement which genuinely captivated the eye of a few of my grammar college instructors, nuns, who gave me books to read. It changed in the 12 months of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. I was 12 years old, residing some distance away in Norwalk, Connecticut. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s enterprise solicited letters of the guide from many churches, along with our Catholic church. A few nuns have been very energetic in requesting letters of support, however handiest from people who really believed in the motive. I learned so much from their mindset of no longer enforcing their activism on others. Several people jumped at the danger, in addition, to writing down letters to China to invite for the release of harmless prisoners. The nuns knew that letters needed to be respectful however very precise in listing the names of the prisoners & mentioning within the starting that China’s government surpassed the closing date promised to launch the prisoners. Then the relaxation of the letter seems to simply kiss Chairman Mao’s ass, however, maybe this is just diplomacy. The nuns recommended us to write down something unique and quick. We wrote the letters very cautiously in pen.
When I awoke to “activism,” the most urgent social difficulty for me became the African -American Civil Rights Movement, inside the middle 50’s.
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In 2017 DNA checking out showed my father’s genes to be blended: I located I changed into about half of black Haitian and half of Iberian on my father’s side. I by no means knew how intimately related I changed into to black roots, which we all have maximum basically. We arose from Africa, mother of our commonplace humanity.
When, as a primary school student, I become writing letters in assist of Civil Rights, I would in no way feel piously righteous about other countries’ lack of human rights (which include in China), because of the apparent loss of human rights for African Americans in my own usa at that point.
Human rights are each a local and a normal trouble. I’m instructed it is none of my enterprises to speak about different countries. An activist aligns his or her voice with others, against what’s felt as an abuse of human rights, in whatever usa. Writing a letter was so small, however many human beings, stimulated by Dr. King, had been throwing tiny pebbles into the lake of exchange.
A high-quality hero of my adolescents become the gallant and dignified, yet hard, Jackie Robinson, and–with awe– I visited Ebbets Field to peer him play with the Dodgers. My abiding reminiscence of him: stealing-sliding across the domestic plate in the 1955 World Series, with my beloved Yankee’s catcher, Yogi Berra, going loopy. The Bums–to my dismay– in the end gained!
Jackie’s plea was for an inclusive humanity. In 2007, it became sixty years considering the fact that Jackie courageously started playing ball professionally, breaking the “coloration barrier,” no matter vicious racist taunting and going through segregated resorts, restaurants, transportation, water fountains.
In the early 60’s, I have become aware of Cesar Chavez (whom I first saw sitting serenely at the Jesuit seminary in Los Gatos, California) and later I could volunteer with the United Farm Workers Union Movement prepared via Cesar and Dolores Huerta who has carried at the paintings for so many courageous and enthusiastic years.
“Activism” was coined around 1915 to indicate the doctrine or exercise that emphasizes direct energetic motion (as mass protests), some energetic styles of competition/call for human rights, such as marching for civil rights, picketing to organize a union. Now activism includes plenty extra humble–but wished each with the aid of the student & the community–efforts which includes a high faculty scholar assisting the nearby library or college. Unlike the time of my excessive faculty, volunteering is a crucial part of maximum high school students’ experience, now not handiest as a requirement on a college utility, but additionally growing as someone who’s getting to know to offer as well as to take, to be inquisitive about others as well as in himself. Though I’m writing approximately a number of the more jazzy testimonies, actually a maximum of my volunteering has been as simple as accumulating garments, books, traveling a convalescent domestic or being on a soup kitchen line.
One of the students currently got here back from an excursion to Alcatraz which he observed fascinating. I turned into teaching high school boys in San Jose, Bellarmine High School (1969-71) while a friend, Marcus Holladay, referred to as me and asked if I’d assist the organizing attempt of getting garments, blankets, food for American Indian people who had “occupied” Alcatraz within the San Francisco Bay (November 9, 1969) to make humans privy to contemporary Indian human beings and the way they experience handled within the U.S. Society. They had been in Alcatraz for 17 months, supported by donations.
American Indians began having a few fights among themselves (“being their very own worst enemies” said one of the organizing leaders). On June eleven, 1971, one of the leaders became arrested for stealing copper from Alcatraz. It changed into over, but that they had gotten a few human beings questioning a chunk more extensively approximately Indians whom we’ve come to see as complicated, complete of nobility as well as treachery as in us all.
On April 6, 1930, Mohandas Gandhi (born October 2, 1869) manufactured salt from seawater, publicly breaking British regulation (“civil disobedience”) in a motion to deliver political freedom to the Indian humans. Indians were best supposed to buy British salt.
Salt water from tidal marshes was gathered in pots. The sun then evaporated the water, leaving salt in the back of which changed into placed on sale. “With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.” India has become impartial seventeen years later.
It’s October 2, 2000. In India, lots acquire at a sweetly incensed park at the Jumna River at Delhi in which Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Today hymns are sung, verses from the Gita, the Koran and the Bible are recited. Stories, poems, prayers, human beings blend into each other; pleas for peace within the Middle East. Cotton thread is spun on small spinning wheels (as our ever-converting flow of life) to remember Gandhi’s virtue of simplicity.
At the stop of April 2007, two hundred and eighty in their neighbors’ Chongquing, China properties have been leveled, but Yang Wu (a martial artist) and his spouse, Wu Ping, stand on my own on a shaky dust hill in their brick family domestic (given that 1944 and absolutely re-constructed from the ground up in 1994). They’ve refused to give up to developers who want a mall and pricey residences. They’re surrounded by a large, bull-dozed pit. Wu Ping says: “People need to stay with dignity… In case you are proper, you have to stand up for your self and not permit your rights to be trampled.” A local courtroom has ruled that the residence should be vacated. Yang is hanging a protest banner while Wu Ping, unfortunately, says: “I am losing desire.”
In May of 2007, peasants from counties in Guangxi province protested against China’s one-toddler coverage. They protest compelled sterilizations and obligatory abortions. Fortunately, such coercive government action is a whole lot much less commonplace than in the late 70’s and eighty’s.
The Internet said (June ’07) the cry for assist from four hundred fathers searching out their sons who were made slaves at brick kilns in Henan province. Some of the dads even went “undercover” to look for themselves the horrible working conditions at a few kilns where the grueling day might start at 5 a.M. And cease in the dead of night. Outraged Chinese residents sparked the authorities to raid about eleven,000 kilns. More than 500, along with a few youngsters, were gratefully released from the pernicious grip of forced hard work. President Hu Jintao ordered a radical research.
I’m in Rowland Heights, California being attentive to Chinese Falun Gong members–Bin Li, Jie Li, Hongwei Lu, Lingyun Zhao, Fengling Ge– who are talking approximately being in Chinese exertions camps and prisons for practicing their beliefs. They are talking out to put stress on the Chinese government and Communist Party to prevent persecuting Falun Gong participants in China.
They are inquiring about aid. Bin Li with tears in her eyes recounts: “All people have been brainwashed. We have been overwhelmed, insulted so gradually you suspect, why are you here? At some point I concept I shouldn’t exist in this universe.” She says she’s grateful to have come to the U.S. In 2004, with a visa as a traveling scholar. An AIDS activist who was formerly banned from leaving China turned into currently allowed to acquire an award inside the United States. Activists preserve to ask for reform of the considerable use of detaining civil rights activists without trial. They endorse for the give up of censoring the Internet.
Former pupil and buddy, Dong Fong Liu, just got here back from China. He is interested in highlighting the want of the Chinese government to shield coal miners, to preserve improving paintings protection within the coal mining enterprise which affords 70% of China’s strength desires. Also, there’s a movement to provide a minimum wage. Government officials need to put into effect new government coverage; 60% of five.5 million coal miners are rural immigrants who’re greater liable to exploitation. In 2006, four,746 miner lives were misplaced in injuries, gratefully down 20% from the preceding year. June 5, 2012, marks the twenty-third anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. I noticed a photo of hundreds and thousands of human beings in Victoria Park (Hong Kong) holding candles to don’t forget the pro-democracy pupil motion in an earlier memorial. Activists retain to ask for deeper political reform in China.
I’m in Watts today (2003) and meet Anna Carter, an adorable woman who wears flowers in her Afro. Only approximately 40% of the high schoolers finish right here; Watts is the vicinity of Verbum Dei High School where the Jesuits these days commenced a program. Students at Verbum Dei work someday every week for agencies, both for mastering and to make a reasonable training feasible.
Anna is known as the Seed Lady, as she commenced the Watts Family Garden Club remaining yr. It is complete with youngsters gambling and helping plant tomatoes, pansies, chamomile in the backyard.
She recently got here lower back from Cuba in which she found out farming strategies in urban environments. She was part of a delegation with the organizations, Food First and Institute for Food and Development Policy. They have been studying using raised compost box beds in cities.
Anna was born in Oakland, California. In the middle 90’s, she was electrically stunned; some Native American pals recommended she touch the roots of bushes and work with soil to heal the electricity in her frame. After three years of improving, she took a master gardening software through the University of California device. She located coaching others took her mind off her ache and self-pity.
She says she needs humans within the community to see that they’re themselves dealers (seeds) of trade, that they can empower themselves, sense accurate about themselves, experience self-respect, even in tough surroundings. She offers lessons in vegetarian cooking and gardening: “Wok with Me”; “The Value of a Seed”; “The Organic Greenhouse”
The whole established order became of majestic look,
with richly adorned towers and fairy-like turrets, the four-
storied courts, their dragon-like projections and colored
eaves, carved and ornamented pearl-pink pillars, richly embellished
balustrades, and roofs protected with tiles, reflecting mild
in 1000 sunglasses. –Huien-Tsiang, writing approximately Nalanda
I’m at a nonviolent protest against the Taliban’s obliteration of ancient Buddhist carvings and high-quality statues in Afghanistan. I reflect consideration on the early 12th century Turaskas, fanatical, murderous Muslims from Afghanistan, who entered India and destroyed all the Buddhist groups of their direction of destruction. I keep in mind the sad tale of the over-strolling of the extraordinary Buddhist monastic university, Nalanda; and the beheading or burying alive of heaps of Buddhist clergymen. Nalanda became a middle of studying and contemplation from the fifth century to c. 1200. You can nevertheless view the ruins of Nalanda in India. Once a walled city of instructors and students, its status of open inquiry, discussion, debates and scholarship attracted gifts from kings from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Java, Bengal, China, Sumatra, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, Turkestan. At Nalanda, college students and instructors 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 university. Nalanda’s good sized library–torched by the invaders– became stated to have burned for months, devoured by fire and hatred.
It’s Christmas holiday, ’03, and I’m accompanying an Evangelical Christian church to Baja California, Mexico. This church goes two times a yr to San Tecla which is home to a big ranch, which draws indigenous Oaxacans to journey north for a better revenue of approximately $eight.00 a day which is twice what they could get in Oaxaca if work is even to be had.
Some Oaxacans settle in Baja California, and others travel seasonally. The church members and I arrive on the ranch early inside the cold morning to arrange presents for youngsters, food/clothes baskets for households; we have driven 2 ½ hours from the seaport of Ensenada, positioned on Bahia de Todos Santos, 65 miles south of Tijuana. There’s a rousing Christian provider, with one hundred twenty kids sitting in front of the church’s degree which capabilities 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 big white letters on a brown go. The solar is shining its vibrant yellow into the rocking church. Children go to a few small classes, even as the adults receive luggage of beans, rice, sugar, clothes, soap, and shampoo. It’s very bloodless outdoor; a number of the shivering children still do not have shoes, so the church participants ensure they may be given sneakers. I watch a teen receiving a gift, an unexpected and short beaming response, warming; the so-known as “generous” volunteers realize they’re receiving one of those small, fleeting satisfaction that feeds our souls. Seven men take a brief dust avenue truck ride to view the sea, dashing past the tomato flowers, which the Oaxacan Indians are overlaying with plastic to protect from the sour bloodless sea winds. We stay at the hilly shore for a half-hour, slipping on wet rocks, mostly grays, a few ivory-colored blotched with rust, white and brown corrugated clam shells, delicate detached crab legs; waves spray salty water on me. I take a handful of ocean water to splash on my face.
I do not forget traveling Oaxaca (Oaxaca gave us Mexican president, Benito Juarez, a Zapotec Indian) with its fertile, good sized plateaus, pretty valleys, the fabulous Sierra Madre del Sur Mountain Range. Chiapas and Oaxaca have the biggest Indian populace in Mexico, within which lie generous bounties of lifestyle, handicrafts, folklore, and spirituality.
The Indians right here in San Tecla, doing farm paintings, are descendants of the Mixtec or Zapotec; they’ve left their villages reluctantly to enhance the first-class in their residing.
Going home, we forestall at the Tijuana border, on las playas of Tijuana. There are tall black spotted, rusted metallic pilings which form the Frontera. We see some human beings placed their heads thru openings, perhaps yearning for the “different facet.” As we pass the border, my pal, Margot Alvarado (from El Salvador) shows us where, in ’78, she went, together with her three youngsters, through a large drain into the U.S. She turned into fortunate, she says, too had been led by means of a “proper” coyote.
I changed into in El Salvador to recall the 5th anniversary of the violent passing (11-sixteen-89) of six Jesuit priests 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. Bodies turn up in the brush of vacant plenty, within the garbage, 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 using the land and its human beings, to cry for brothers and sisters who’ve suffered, to snigger and have amusing, to try to understand and study with reverence. And cry for myself, for my own tolerance for violence. I requested many how should politics-power-government, conceived to serve the humans, to “en-proper” and increase all, emerge as this kind of unfavorable repression and death?
El Salvador is a surprise: display of hills, vegetation, metropolis marketplaces, fresh ocean, and sure, exquisite people, a wounded, however resilient human beings. I say a prayer at the memorial of the murdered Jesuit padres and for Elba and Celina Ramos who died with them. In the early morning, on the UCA University, round 2:30 a.M., six Spanish monks were jerked from their beds and carried out. Their housekeeper, Elba, and her daughter Celina have been additionally assassinated. There have been about three hundred officers and enlisted guys at the UCA campus on the night of the murders. The UCA had been bombed in April and July of ’89.The dying squad wrote “FMLN” over the partitions to get away blame. In January of 1990, eight guys had been arrested for the murders, six from the Atlcatl Battalion and two officers of the navy academy. Two guys had been convicted, Col. Benavides of seven murders, Lieutenant Mendoza of the homicide of Celina Ramos. They have been sentenced to thirty years. The provincial of the Jesuits in El Salvador, Fr. Tojeira, formally requested for pardon the 2 convicted guys, due to the fact he said those who ordered the attack had been now not introduced to trial. Both men had been let out. The Jesuits had openly preferred a peace accord the various political factions within us of a. Some of the armies wanted to hold hateful polarities, particularly propagating that the Jesuits had been best helping the guerrillas. The Jesuits, in truth, were imploring for the combination of the various political and economic elements in Salvadoran society. Father Ellacuria and President Christiani, with all their ideological variations, had been both speak me approximately how they might unite energies to give to the peace accord. Many human rights corporations say that is why far-right elements killed Fr. Ellacuria and his pals.
The Jesuits preferred agrarian reform and the give up of political repression that stifled a sharing of energy. Jesuits together with Rutilio Grande had been speak out for the poor, in addition to for all elements in the society, political and economic. They were teaching standards of a way to use and percentage, irrespective of what one’s wealth or political belief is probably. They spoke openly for social justice, human rights and in opposition to political terror. In 1980, Oscar Arnulfo Romero (after 3 years as archbishop of El Salvador) changed into gunned down while pronouncing Mass (March 24, 1980). Now I see pix of bloody, mashed our bodies of the six Jesuits and two girls. I anguish want to feel the supremacy of the soul and inviolable spirit, but earlier than me are photographs of bloody corpses.
I later spend a few days touring the UCA University within the summer of ‘ninety-four. The peace accord became signed in 1992. I feel a relaxed environment here at the college. Politically, first steps of the peace procedure are being taken. Pockets of recovery and pleasure in piano, drums, guitars, voices of college students, site visitors, college, people, buildings going up, dance, critical look at, a full library. I pay attention talks that encourage extra political enlightenment and calls for the cease of repression and the outlet of a multi-faceted society, imbued with a know-how and cherishing of human rights.
I meet Ken Hauser, a volunteer from Virginia who has been making several trips to El Salvador, bringing wished materials to the bad from the generosity of U.S. Organizations. I run into an ecologist from Ireland who’s operating with farmers, organizing answers to pollutants and “natural aid exploitation” problems. I visit Padre Vito Guarato who’s offering a domestic for three hundred abandoned handicapped children, at Casa de Piedra.
I’m welcomed in the domestic of a former pupil whose father– a “casualty” of the civil warfare– is now in prison. She says a lot of her friends not will talk to her. Yet she speaks so lovingly of her “disgraced” father… How, when a bit lady, she and her father might dig for clams, mendacity buried, like gray fruit in the moist sand. I am very stimulated by many activist organizations and individuals. I find the spirit of activism and volunteering, alive in young humans and those of all ages. I do not don’t forget activism or volunteering as unique; it is very herbal and profitable to ourselves, in addition to imparting wished assist; engaging activities to make others more impartial and alive, to talk out for what we may also strongly agree within, to provide financial help to a carefully considered motive. Activism’s engine is revved by this confidence in people’ resourcefulness (while absolutely trying a few trades).