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“There’s no hope, but I may be wrong.”
 Pete Seeger
NPR: Weekend Edition, 2 July 2005

ol-pete

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country

A beautiful piece on death, dying and grieving written by a friend of my poet friend Adam’s wife Lee, who passed away a few days ago, way too young, way too soon:

Saying Kaddish

I’m sorry I never got to meet Lee, and I’m heartbroken for Adam and their children. I cannot help but think of my mother, who passed away when I was 16, and of all the children who grow up missing their mother, for so many reasons. I’ve spent my whole life searching for my mother. The other day, for the first time I saw some old home movies of my parents and grandparents playing with my sister and I when we were very young. It was amazing to see my grandmother smiling, something I don’t remember her doing much, and most especially to see my mother, young, beautiful and alive…. I know I’ll be watching that DVD again many, many times.

“All of us, we all have a responsibility. You have to get your news from news sources, not just one, ’cause they’re all biased, especially the cable channels: MSNBC – very liberal; Fox News – very conservative; The Animal Planet – always meerkats, never badgers.

“You know what bothers me is that every election year as well, you get the voter registration drives aimed at the young people – Rock the Vote, Think the Vote, Music the Vote…. Are we so lost we have to be sold our own democratic right?!…. We have to sexy up the vote for young people?

“Here’s what I would say to you: ‘If you don’t vote, you’re a moron.’ I know what you’ll say: ‘Not voting is a vote.’ No it isn’t. Not voting is just being stupid!

“Voting is not sexy. Voting is not hep. It is not fashionable. It’s not a movie, it’s not a video game. All the kids ain’t doin’ it. Frankly, voting is a pain in the ass! But here’s a word – look it up. It is your DUTY to vote!

“The foundation in this democracy is based on free people making free choices. So young people, if you can’t take your hand out of your bag of Cheetos long enough to fill out a form, then you can’t complain when we wind up with President Sanjaya.

“We have two patriotic candidates. They both love this country, they have different ideas about what to do with it. Learn about them, read about them, question them, listen to them. Then on Election Day, exercise your sacred right as an American and listen to yourself.”

– Craig Ferguson, The Craig Ferguson Show, 9/11/08

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“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
– Josef Stalin

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Best Campaign Season Song:

They Lost My Vote by my dear friends Ellen Bukstel and Nancy Wuerzburger
Watch it on the YouTube: They Lost My Vote
(I actually appear in this video very briefly!)

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Best Number to Call if You See Something Funky Happening at the Polls:

ELECTION PROTECTION HOTLINE
866/OUR-VOTE – that’s 866/687-8683

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Most Satisfying Campaign Violence:

David Alan Grier pulverizing an Obama-to-McCain vote-flipping electronic voting machine with a baseball bat – Chocolate News, 10/25/08

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Best Campaign Season Commercial:

Video collage of people ordering at the drive-thru, followed by: We know you have a voice. We hear it every day. Use it November 4th. VOTE. Have it your way ’08 – Burger King

“Who are we to give up? I’m a black woman living in America. At any other point in America I would have been enslavable. I would have been Jim Crowed. I’m a Professor at Princeton University!

“Who am I to give up? How dare I give up and say ‘Oh, we can’t fix it, it can’t be done.’ When people overcame, when people who are my people – my grandmother, who was a domestic worker, my father who went to Jim Crow public schools…. How dare I give up? I feel like we just have too much privilege to be the ones to give up.”

– Melissa Harris-Lacewell, on Hurricane Katrina Recovery
Bill Moyers Journal, August 2007

Perhaps you have heard the story of Maher Arar. If you haven’t, here it is in a nutshell: Mr. Arar, a citizen and resident of Canada was grabbed up – basically kidnapped by the U.S. Government – in 2002 during a family vacation stopover at JFK Airport, and illegally sent off to be imprisoned and tortured in the Middle East for over a year. The notorious Syrian prison where Arar was held and brutally tortured for over 10 months is known as “The Grave”. Arar’s arrest was made based on false information, and Arar was given no opportunity to consult with a lawyer – told by our government that he had no rights whatsoever because he is not a U.S. citizen.

Since being returned to Canada in 2003, the Canadian government has cleared Arar of any wrongdoing, made a formal apology to him, admitted its complicity in Arar’s wrongful detainment, and awarded him over $10 million dollars. The U.S. Government has yet to admit its illegal actions, or even take Arar off the terrorist watchlist – which he should have never been on in the first place – even though the Canadian Government officially requested Arar be removed from this list in January 2007. Arar’s case against the U.S Government continues.

I’m writing about Mr. Arar because I am moved by the story of his suffering and survival, and disturbed by how little I’ve heard about Arar in mainstream media. And I am inspired by the ongoing efforts in pursuit of justice by Mr. Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh. Were it not for the intense campaign of Mazigh to have Arar freed, he might still be imprisoned.

I first heard Mr. Arar’s story in 2006, and was reminded of Mr. Arar again when he was interviewed on Fresh Air recently. You can listen to the show here:
Canadian Citizen Imprisoned by U.S. Speaks Out

There have been a number of other excellent stories on NPR about Mr. Arar as well, which you can find and listen to by searching their website. You can find more info about Arar’s case on his website, as well as in an extensive Wikipedia entry on Extraordinary Rendition.

This is just one of many stories of illegal, unconstitutional actions taken by the current U.S. administration, and as citizens, I believe we all bear some responsibility for our government’s actions. So I sent this letter to Mr. Arar in October 2007, when members of the U.S. Congress also apologized to him, as he appeared before them to testify about his experiences:

Dear Mr. Arar,
I heard your story on several NPR programs in October of 2006, and was very moved hearing of the ordeal you and your family have endured. During an interview, you were asked about whether an apology from the US Government would help. As a citizen of the United States, I would like to apologize to you, knowing that an apology from this particular government will probably never be forthcoming. Though I am proud of my country, I am deeply ashamed of this government and its many inhumane and destructive actions. This government, which myself and many others believe was not legitimately elected, neither speaks nor acts on my behalf. And many, many of us are working to ensure that the people who did this to you will be removed from power. It is a challenge, but hopefully one which can be accomplished sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I work for peace, most especially with my friends of many faiths in an interfaith peace group, where we work to educate each other and the public at large about the beauty of each of our religions, and the many common values we share. We work to support each other, and in particular to change the perception that Islam endorses violence and that Muslims are dangerous and should be feared.

What happened to you, I believe, is a direct result of the scapegoating and fear-mongering being used by this government to further its political goals. I pray that such injustice will pass away from our world, and that no one will ever have to go through something like this again.

I started writing this message in 2006 but never completed it. Then the other day I heard that you had testified before Congress recently, and remembered that I had not completed and sent this message to you. I hope that the apologies you received from members of Congress provided you with some small measure of comfort. I know nothing can erase the wrong that has been done to you and your family, or make up for your suffering.

I wish you peace and healing, and thank you for all you are doing to bring attention to these issues.

Peace and Love,
Laura Sue

PS I am sending this via e-mail because I wanted to send this apology to you with my personal contact info, so you would know it is coming from a real person and US citizen.

* Flute Fusion * from The Silver Nightingale
(—–(-o-o-o-`—o-o-o-(0-ooo-()
http://www.SilverNightingale.com

“Do not be preoccupied with killing the dinosaur. Rather, invent the gazelle.” – E.F. Schumaker

I am posting this information because this is a story everyone, especially everyone in the United States, should know, and because I greatly respect and support Maher Arar and Monia Mazigh’s persistent work – in the face of tremendous resistance from the current U.S. Government – to make sure that what happened to them does not happen to others.

~

“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
So much has been destroyed –
I cast my lot with those who, age after age,
Perversely, with no extraordinary power,
Reconstitute the world.”
– Adrienne Rich

I’m excited to announce that I have a new article titled “How To Be Creative” in the September 2008 issue of Natural Awakenings – Broward County, South Florida edition. The theme this month is Creativity, and there are lots of other interesting articles in this issue as well. You can read the print version, available at numerous healthy locations around South Florida, as well as the online version here: Natural Awakenings – where you’ll also hear one of my original flute compositions – “Oriental Expression” – from my CD Sarabande – Solo Flute Meditations, accompanying the beautiful painting of a flautist on the magazine’s cover.

If you’re wondering who that is in the snapshot accompanying the article, it’s my big sister Eleanor and myself getting creative!

“A free spirit, huh? Well, you know I’ve been called that. But you know there’s no point in setting a spirit free if it just runs and hides once it’s sprung from the box. Now, too many free spirits confuse freedom with mere chaos. The fact is, you can’t lose focus. You can’t avoid the real world. A truly free spirit seizes their time and works like a field mule right around the clock to try to haul all the less free souls to someplace better. And this is the true job of the Artist, the Seer, and yes, even the Princess. Temptation is just the voice that whispers: ‘Don’t bother.’ Well here’s the word: Bother. Do it. Reach!

– Dennis Hopper, Concert for Diana, 1 July 2007

Some Thoughts for Independence Day

“The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?” – Pablo Casals

“I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” – Abraham Lincoln

“We’re not made by God to mass kill one another… and that’s backed up by the Gospel. Lying and war are always associated. Pay attention to war-makers when they try to defend their current war… if they move their lips they’re lying.” – Philip Berrigan

“War is obsolete. We are not here to fight something or tear something down. We are here to be the example of what is possible. Any sane individual will tell you that violence is not the way.” – Buckminster Fuller

“Do not be preoccupied with killing the dinosaur. Rather, invent the gazelle.” – E.F. Schumaker

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” – Nelson Mandela

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.” – Alan Paton

“My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
So much has been destroyed –
I cast my lot with those who, age after age,
Perversely, with no extraordinary power,
Reconstitute the world.”
– Adrienne Rich

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

“Never give up, and never under any circumstances, no matter what, never face the facts.” – Ruth Gordon

“I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“What would statesmen do for fun, if all at once the world was one?” – The King, The Little Prince – Antonie de Saint Exupéry

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Walt Kelly, Pogo

Happy July 4th Everyone! Let Freedom Ring!

Texas SWU student: “People seem to be critical of the hope that you put in your work. I was just wondering how you felt about those kinds of critiques.”

Tony Kushner: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s an ethical obligation to look for hope. It’s an ethical obligation not to depair if you can possibly not depair. If you look, there’s always a possibility of finding a place where action can change the course of things.”

– from the superb documentary Wrestling with Angels

Great Words from Great Wordsmiths

“I am the strings, and the Supreme is the musician.” - Carlos Santana

“What a wonderful life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner.” - Collette

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument, while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” - Rabindranath Tagore

“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” - Maya Angelou
February 2017
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