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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Follow Blogger/Poet Samia J. Hassan in Somaliland

Blogger/poet Samia J. Hassan
Twitter: @SamiaHassan23
Blogger Samia J. Hassan writes beautiful poetry. You can read it on her blog at

These words especially resonated with me:

For your country you are merely a number

They want to brag about

(See the full post/poem, "Numbers and Stories")

Samia J. Hassan writes from Somaliland, a self-declared state that is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia.

"Numbers and Stories" reminded me of two blog posts of my own -- though the poetry of Samia J. Hassan says it all much more succinctly and beautifully:

I look forward to reading everything Samia J. Hassan writes.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yasujirō Ozu: Saint for Our time

Who has more power than filmmakers? And who, among filmmakers, had more power to invoke the spiritual than Yasujirō Ozu?

Chishū Ryū and Setsuko Hara in Late Spring by Yasujirō Ozu

A few weeks ago, I was inspired by a visit to a San Francisco church that "celebrate[s] those whose lives show God at work, building a deep character to match the godlike image which stamps them as God's own from the start." It was an invitation to think about who, for me, are some of the people -- saints -- who have made a special stamp on the world. (See Who Ya Gonna Call? (Saints for All Times))

Then, several nights ago, I watched once again the film Late Spring by Yasujirō Ozu at a screening at BAMPFA in Berkeley, and I thought, "Oh yeah, he's definitely one of those saints!"

Yasujirō Ozu
(Note the cap ... Ozu brings his own halo!)
Ozu is a hero to a vast community of people who love film, and a great deal has been written about him and his work. I once saw Roger Ebert introduce Ozu's work at a talk at the Siskel Film Center in Chicago, and a post from his blog captures much of what he said:

"To love movies without loving Ozu is an impossibility. When I see his films, I am struck by his presence behind every line, every gesture. Like Shakespeare, he breathes through his characters, and when you have seen several of his films you feel as if you must have known him."

(More at "Saluting a Master Of the Cinema, Yasujiro Ozu")

What I particularly like about Ozu's films is the way they let us listen in on intimate conversations between people. We may not find those conversations full of high drama -- at least not at first -- but if we slow down and look and listen carefully, we realize that we are being privileged to be able to get at the truth about what goes on between people, and within people.

Late Spring is an Ozu masterpiece, and film lovers study it frame by frame. It is about a man and his adult daughter, and the question of whether she will continue living with him or go off to have a life of her own. This is a plot that held quite a bit of interest for me when I was a young adult, when I felt the pull of my widowed mother in conflict with the challenges of figuring out the life I wanted to pursue. Those years have passed, and my own children are adults now, and little by little I'm becoming aware that the this film holds other relevance for me.

There is a moment in the film when the "aging" father says "I'm 56 now . . . ." and I went gulp ...! You can bet I was watching and listening even more closely from then on.

As my years advance, I'm becoming a student of listening. Great films help us hone our listening skills.

Choreographers, poets, playwrights, novelists, jazz musicians - you can find all of them on the walls of St. Gregory of Nyssa church. My array of saints also includes filmmakers . . . .

Related posts

The array of saints on the walls of St. Gregory of Nyssa raise a fascinating question for all communities of faith: who would you select to memorialize and celebrate on the walls of your church?

(See Who Ya Gonna Call? (Saints for All Times))

I often refer to how important the films of Iran have been in helping me open my mind to the possibilities of a peaceful relationship with that country. I have been fortunate to be able to go see some of the best films from Iran every year at the wonderful Siskel Film Center in downtown Chicago. The will be another Festival of Films From Iran showing there in February, 2014.

(See A Force for Peace: Getting to Know Iran Through Film)

The films of Hou Hsiao-hsien came after my time in Taiwan, but for me they are a happy addition to my attempts to understand the place.

(See Taiwan Through "City of Sadness")

I'm not sure the "7 habits of highly effective people" are necessarily identical to the "7 habits of highly effective apostles." But they do pose an interesting framework to consider building from.

(See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Apostles )

I wondered at how we could have covered all that in just a minute or two -- the time it takes to go a few stops.  After all, when I walked onto that bus we were strangers.

(See Listening for Community (A Chicago Encounter))

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chicago Aldermen Stepping Up for Police Accountability

A bill is going before Chicago City council to assure a democratically elected civilian body holds the police accountable.

In the past I publicized a poster showing the members of Chicago City Council with the word MISSING in bold red letters superimposed over it.  Now it's time to replace that with a new poster, because some members of Chicago City Council are stepping up for police accountability.

What this means is accountability for Chicago's police and also for the City Council itself.

The bill's sponsor is Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) (P) and he is reported to have the support of 8 more aldermen (including 3 who are fellow members of the Progressive Caucus, and 3 who are members of the Black Caucus):

Joe Moreno (1st)
Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th) (P)
Toni Foulkes (16th) (P) (BC)
Howard Brookins Jr. (21st) (BC)
Ricardo Munoz (22nd) (P)
Roberto Maldonado (26th)
Emma Mitts (37th) (BC)
Ameya Pawar (47th)

Members of the Progressive Caucus are designated with a (P). It is hoped that they will bring along other members of the 11-member Progressive Caucus as well.

Members of the Black Caucus are designated with (BC). Other members are Chair Ald. Roderick T. Sawyer (6), Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Will Burns (4), Ald. Leslie Hairston (5), Ald. Greg Mitchell (7), Ald. Michelle Harris (8), Ald. Anthony Beale (9), Ald. David Moore (17), Ald. Derrick Curtis (18), Ald. Willie B. Cochran (20), Ald. Michael Scott (24), Ald. Walter Burnett (27), Ald. Jason Ervin (28), Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29), Ald Carrie Austin (34) and Ald. Emma Mitts (37)

You can help by reaching out to your alderman today. (Find your alderman and contact info here.) If they're already a supporter (list above) - thank them. If they're not yet a supporter - urge them to become a co-sponsor.

More background on the campaign for police accountability in Chicago:

Will Chicago Televise Hearings on Civilian Police Accountability Agency?

CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Impose Civilian Control on CPD

A Modest Proposal for Chicago's Progressive Caucus: Support CPAC

Does a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) need to be part of a "new plan of Chicago"?

#PeopleOverPolice: Is This What Democracy Looks Like?

Chicago Vocabulary Lesson: "Overcharging" and "Undercharging"

We need to get the police off the streets of Chicago. QED.

CHICAGO: Twilight Zone? Constitution-Free Zone? (What's it look like to YOU?)

Whence this Trollish Stoop? Oh, Britain . . . !

First #Brexit, now #Trident renewal. What next? A UK lit only by fire . . . ?

 Troll Bridge - pencils by Gido

"The hell with our neighbors. We've got a big stick, that's all we need . . . . "

Where did they learn to act this way?

Oh . . . right . . . they learned it from us . . . .

Related posts

How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?

(See 360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States))

Many people will argue that it was only because the U.S. made a threat of force that Syria offered to enter into an agreement on chemical weapons. The sequence of events certainly suggests some relationship between the two.

(See "OR ELSE!" (What the U.S. threat of force against Syria teaches us) )

The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. And that is why the entire country is mobilizing for mass action for nuclear disarmament in 2015. Are we capable of making sure the messengers -- Obama, Putin, the other agents of government -- hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )

Take a look at the activism of people in Scotland against the stationing of Trident nuclear-weapons-equipped submarines in Scotland.

(See We're Rooting for You, Scotland! (Trident NO Scotland YES) )

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Up next: Putin and Obama Talking Nuclear Disarmament?

The NATO summit fueled pessimism on US-Russia cooperation for nuclear disarmament; but things could change in an instant and Putin and Obama could sit down together. Maybe we need to demand it?

Putin and Obama: #talk

In the last 48 hours there were two pieces, both in the Washington Post, both by Josh Rogin:

"Obama plans major nuclear policy changes in his final months"

"Obama’s Syria plan teams up American and Russian forces"

Apparently Secretary of State Kerry is in Moscow for talks as I write this.

Now . . . what's the over/under on an Obama-Putin meeting on nuclear weapons before November? (Or better yet, before the August 6 Hiroshima anniversary??)

(For more background, here's the A-B-C on why Obama needs to go to Moscow to negotiate nuclear disarmament.)

Today, we may not be seeing kinetic (currently unleashed) violence on anything like the scale that consumed Europe and other parts of the world and resulted in 60 million deaths. Instead, thanks to technology, we have potential (waiting to be unleashed) violence -- nuclear devastation just the push of a button away.

(See Obama's (and Putin's) Missed Opportunity at Hiroshima)

There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

IN BERKELEY: Declaring Sanctuary, Changing Hearts and Minds

We are a Lutheran congregation declaring our commitment to help people facing deportation to dangerous situations . . . so of course we gathered around the waters of promise . . . .

Supporters from over a dozen area congregations and organizations gathered
around Pastor Jeff Johnson of University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley
poured the waters of promise as part of the ceremony in which ULC declared
Sanctuary for undocumented persons facing deportation.

Today, University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley stood shoulder to shoulder with these congregations and organizations to declare Sanctuary for undocumented persons facing deportation:

Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity / East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition (EBIIC)
Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose
Kehilla Community Synagogue
Hope Lutheran Church of El Sobrante
All Soul’s Episcopal Church
Newman Holy Spirit Catholic Church Non-Violent Peacemakers Group
Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy
Lake Merritt United Methodist Church
Pittsburgh-Antioch Community Church
Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Episcopal Diocese of California
Oakland Catholic Worker
Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana

Over the last two years, the Sanctuary Movement has had 16 Sanctuary cases, winning relief from deportation for 13 people in 9 cities throughout the country, building a growing network of over 350 congregations in 30 states.

The focus of the day was the danger many people face if they are forced to return to the places they came from. We heard testimony from and about immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala giving specific examples of the threats to their lives that caused them to come here.

At today's event, the emphasis was on faith, conscience, and humanity: we are committed to helping these people simply because they need it. I couldn't help remembering that there is also another reason to help: US complicity in creating the violence in chaos in so many parts of Latin America. (See links to related posts below)

Two weeks ago the City of Berkeley affirmed its support of Sanctuary for undocumented persons facing deportation. Berkeley city councilman Kriss Worthington spoke at today's event and told those present that the movement is not just providing assistance to specific individuals, but also educating people everywhere about the need for Sanctuary, and changing hearts and minds.

More information on Sanctuary at University Lutheran Chapel in Berkeley for undocumented persons facing deportation is at

Related posts

It will take me multiple posts to spell out everything that I feel needs to be said about the Ayotzinapa 43.  People in the US need to work to change their own attitude about Mexico, and about the culpability or all of us here in the US in the wrongs that are being done down there. The Ayotzinapa 43 were persecuted for saying "the future can be different." It's time for us to take up their cry.

(See Ayotzinapa43: US People Need an Attitude Adjustment )

I dedicated Indigenous Peoples Day 2015 to making some progress towards writing about the perspective of indigenous peoples in the Americas.

How do you observe Indigenous Peoples Day?

(See Reflections on Indigenous Peoples Day 2015)

Perhaps, like me, you will read a sentence like, "In 2001, many people came to her neighbourhood looking for a new home, fleeing from the Naya River where the paramilitaries had massacred and displaced the Afro-Colombian communities," and wonder what it refers to.

(See COLOMBIA: Where did the violence come from?)

The second half of the 20th century saw massive human rights violations in countries throughout Central America and South America, committed principally by governments and government-sanctioned paramilitaries. The United States government encouraged and enabled this through arms shipments, training, and other forms of support.

(See How Is the US Implicated in Argentina's "Years of Lead"?)

Kids' Art Says "NO WAR!"

Children have a crystal clear idea of the world we need. (One without war, that is.) They can even draw us adults a picture.

V @auroandre12:
"To save the world... My little bro Andrea has created a monster eats-war!"
(Please retweet this!)

I love the image above, shared on Twitter by @auroandre12 with the message "My little bro Andrea wants to save the world... My little bro Andrea has created a monster eats-war! #NoHate #NoWar." "My monster that eats war" is depicted eating paura (fear), guerra (war), armi (guns), egoismo (selfishness), odio (hate), razzismo (racism), and cattiveria (wickedness). Andrea is 7 years old.

Maybe we need to hear less from politicians and more from 7-year-olds.

Related posts:

What value might be obtained by having a really high quality "channel" on social media that people can tune in to for news and ideas about war abolition?

(See #NOwar - Permanently Trending on Twitter? YES! )

AK Songstress connects to the antiwar legacy of world music -- "in the era of legends like Bob Marley, he was always advocating for peace, unity, love and tolerance."

(See Product of Ghana: #NOwar / Pro Peace Music)

I don't think Alanna and I ever talked about what it must be like to be trying to escape a shower of sparks and hot ash. But she seemed to know that the sparks and hot ash are too important a part of the picture to be left out.

(See The Children Are Waiting )