Risk Rap

Rapping About a World at Risk

Elevated Terror Threat for LGBT Community

The Department of Homeland Security needs to raise the terror threat level to Severe Bloody Red.   The escalation of attacks, intimidation and threats against the LGBT community is on the rise and taking a bloody toll.  The most recent consequence of escalating harassment have resulted in the tragic suicides of two young teenagers and the curiously deranged and dangerous social media stalking of a gay university student leader by an assistant attorney general from the State of Michigan.    These attacks pose a clear and present danger to the physical safety and emotional wellness of the LGBT community.  It exemplifies the prevailing climate of intolerance and bigoted hatred exponentially spawning in the polluted vitriol of America’s political culture.  It is clothed in the righteous banality of religious fundamentalism.  Justified with the certainty of theological platitudes  and enforced with the zealous sword  of biblical scripture.  It presents an extreme risk to the civil liberties of all citizens.  It assails our right to freely associate, compels behavior and demands conformity of thought and adoption of a common belief system.  It is a grave and  looming threat to our democratic way of life.

Tyler Clementi was a college freshman at Rutgers University.  Tyler, a gifted musician, diligent student, good friend and loving son jumped off the George Washington Bridge after Dahrun Ravi, his roommate of three weeks, surreptitiously videoed a sexual encounter Tyler had with another male and broadcast it on a social media site. To ensure the video attracted wide exposure, Mr. Ravi Tweeted to his followers that they should log on to the live stream.  The horror and shame of being victimized by a vicious hate crime and personally violated in such a manner was too much to bear.  Mr. Clementi chose to end his pain by taking his own life.

Understanding this event as the result of a misguided college prank gone wrong or an unfortunate consequence enabled by the misuse of powerful social media technologies misses the point.  To do so would absolve Mr. Ravi’s distorted and heinously warped value system.  His punitive glee in perpetrating the offense.  His demonstrative lack of capacity to feel empathy or acceptance of his roommates sexuality.  His failure to recognize his right to privacy.  His lack of any sense of compassion.  Mr. Ravi’s prurient pursuit of degradation and defamation of his hate crime victim and his intent to do extreme harm to Mr. Clementi is evidence of his deep rooted and socially acceptable homophobia that is shared with many people.

It is curious that one would expect that as a person of color, Mr. Ravi would have a heightened sensitivity to the poison of prejudice and the destructive capacity of  hate crimes.  Trying to understand Mr. Ravi’s motives for his action is an impossibility for anyone to fathom save himself; but one can surmise that as a person of color Mr. Ravi may have experienced a situation where he was cast as “the other”.  The other is always an uncomfortable and dangerous geography to inhabit.  The alien outsider, one who stands apart and is different from the dominate ethnic, racial, creed or sexual orientation is usually cast in shrouds of suspicion, fear and ridicule.  Perhaps Mr. Ravi’s attempt to revile an LGBT person because of their sexuality was an attempt to gain acceptance with his classmates by victimizing Mr. Clementi in league with other straits?   Mr. Ravi gets a pass and is welcomed into the inner circle as one of the good ole boys whose prejudices, fears and bigotries mirror the dominant culture.  The price of admission for Mr. Ravi was the death of his roommate.

The other disturbing factor in Mr. Ravi’s assault was the use of social media technologies.   Many youths enabled with powerful communication platforms like You Tube, Facebook and Twitter have a difficult time perceiving the boundaries of private and public life.  The domain of the public persona and private life has become obscured and confused by the ethical vagaries and accessibility of a multichannel digital life.  Since the time of their birth, today’s youth have been totally saturated, empowered and enraptured in the world of digital technologies and media.  It has become the necessary open source to project your ego, display your passion and live out your angst as a real time avatar.   The reality of interpersonal connections and human skills erodes in a universe of self seeking holograms guided by a radical social ethos to project power through the aggressive pursuit of self will with the ultimate objective to seek aggrandizement and demand  instant gratification.  Mr. Ravi used that power to devastating effect.

Mr. Ravi may believe that his technical prowess provided him license to pursue the character assassination of his victim.  Questions will arise about the harm these social media technologies can cause.  Many believe the power of the technology is to vast and dangerous for teens and children and provides tools for stalkers, predators and criminals to aid their enterprise to exploit others to do harm.  A great example being the recent clamor about Craig’s List and its promotion and support of child prostitution and sexual slavery.  The proliferation of online bullying, sexting and other pernicious uses of social media technologies are problems with no easy solutions.  No doubt these are real concerns but it is not the inherent nature of the technology that is at fault it is the values and intent of the users of technology that are cause for concern.

The problem is not about having too much freedom, or having access to enabling technologies we don’t yet  know how to tame.  Twitter,  Facebook, and blogging sites empower the user.  Like the Luddites of old who believed machines were enslaving them the crux of the matter lied in the intent, use, control and deployment of the technology.  These technologies are powerful tools to enlighten, cultivate, uplift and empower individuals but it can also  just as easily be used as tools to harm, denigrate, enslave and oppress.  Its all about human values.  The values of a society that believes it has the license and the moral conviction to defame and destroy the lives of others because they have the means and tacit consent to do so is terrorism.   The fact that one can quote Leviticus, or find the appropriate passage from the Quran or  St. Paul does not justify nor confer the right to “righteously” expose, denounce or shame a perceived moral depravity in a secular society.

That brings us to the other tragic suicide, 13 year old Asher Brown, returned home from school last week, walked into his closet and used a handgun to end his life as a result of being terrorized by his Middle School classmates in Houston.  Classmates of Asher bullied him and taunted him about his perceived homosexuality.  On the day Asher took his own life, he admitted to his parents that he was gay.  It is startling and comforting to learn that Asher felt safe enough in his own home to admit his sexual orientation to his parents.  Asher’s mother and father accepted their son’s sexuality and did not scorn or condemn him.  They continued to unconditionally love and embrace their son as all good parents do.

It is unfortunate that the boy’s  tormentors did not share the same understanding and practice the acceptance of Asher’s parents.  Children live and emulate what they learn from their parents and communities they participate and live in.  If children are prisms of the families and communities that create them the bullying behavior and bigoted hated must have been a keystone of Asher’s tormentors homes.  Public education is under sever pressure.  Homophobia and bullying is not on the curricula of the public school system.  Tolerance, diversity and secularism are values that  public schools try to promote and are often the ideals that are derided by indidivuals and institutions that condemn public schools as propagators of these “liberal values”.   In response to their abhorrence to these unsavory ideals they choose to home school their children and teach them to fear Ungodly secularism, be wary those who are different and condemn the sinfulness and moral depravity of same sex relations.  Demonizing homosexuals and preaching distrust for people and persons who may not look or think like you do is fertile ground for a violent reaction to express the pent up fear and resentment of the alien and reprobate other.

Since No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the public school system has been directed to be a “value neutral” institution.  It is pressured to reform its curricula to better reflect the prevailing conservative culture that demands creationism be taught as a science, Darwinism is dangerous and unionized teachers are fonts of liberal ideology that needs to be silenced.  The learning  experience in the public school system has devolved  into a mundane exercise of  preparatory drills  to take commercially developed state examinations.  Teachers and institutional  effectiveness is quantitatively  measured by a students ability to retain a series of specious facts.  The quality of the educational experience, love of discovery, pursuit and exchange of ideas, respect for diversity and different points of view are lost in the “value free”  world of pedestrian test taking and fact retainment.  Had these children been schooled in the value of tolerance and the reality of diversity or had time and opportunity to interact with other children unlike themselves, the fear and resentment of Asher may have been lessened and the young boy may still be with us.

The crowning jewel in this trinity of hate has to be the State of Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell.  Mr. Shirvell has engaged in a cyber bullying of University of Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong.  Mr. Armstrong is openly gay and was elected by the university’s student body to represent them.  This has not sat well with Mr. Shirvell a University of Michigan alumnus and a fundamentalist Christian.  Mr. Shirvell has started a website, Chris Armstrong Watch where he unleashes a consistent homophobic fueled diatribe against Mr. Armstrong’s alleged “radical homosexual agenda”.

As a private citizen, Mr. Shirvell closely peruses Mr. Armstrong’s Facebook page to pick out posts and photo’s that raise his ire and uses the material as grist for his Chris Armstrong Watch website.  The accompanying comments and altered reproductions of Mr. Armstrong photo’s scream about his elitism, sexual degeneracy and Nazi like political tactics Mr. Armstrong employs in service to the advancement of a radical homosexual agenda.

This is truly frightening stuff.  A state Assistant Attorney General scouring Facebook pages and setting up a blog site dedicated to attacking and undermining a student leader because of his sexual identity is sickening and comes dangerously close to the abuse of office which I understand Mr. Shirvell was relieved of today.  Mr. Shirvell defends his actions on the grounds that he is exercising his rights of free speech as a private citizen.  Driven by his Christian fundamentalist faith and a reactionary political ideology,  Mr. Shirvell’s political fixation and strident personal vilification of  Mr. Armstrong are classic Rovian attack politics.  Mr. Shirvell stands shoulder to shoulder with James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart.  All three have shown a disdain for the truth, law and private rights of their targets in pursuit of a radical right wing agenda.

The values of a society that believes it has the right and the moral conviction to defame and destroy the lives of others because they have the ideological conviction, means and tacit consent to do so is the definition of tyranny and its pursuit is terrorism.  The US Constitution protects all citizens from zealots emboldened by personal truths derived from their holy scrolls.  A secular democracy protects the civil rights of its citizens and frees them from the righteous tyranny of others.  The Constitution stipulates that there is a single law of the land and it is a  violation of civil rights and a crime to expose, denounce or shame a person based on a theological interpretation of moral depravity.  The Constitution is the final arbiter and surest protection of individual liberty for all; damning the psychological culture of extreme political egoism advanced by Shirvell, Breitbart and O’Keefe.

Character assassination and appeal to the baser instincts of fear and loathing help propagandists to demarcate the lines that separate groups, reinforce prejudice and make dialog and the formation of consensus all but impossible.  Consider if you will a government administration populated with individuals with the temperament of Shrivell, O’Keefe and Breitbart.  America would be ruled by a government that edits reality to conform to their ideology.  It would propagate a political narrative that blindly  pursues ideology by running rough shod over the personal life of citizens while resorting to character annihilation and entrapment tactics.  It would truly be an embodiment of an Orwellian nightmare

The terror threat must be raised.  Terrorists are harming our citizens.  The world will miss the gracious presence of Asher’s beautiful smile.  Asher will never anoint another with the promise of renewal again.  The dear gift of youthful transformation is now lost to a world deeply in need of a rebirth.  The precious resource of Asher is squandered and silenced by those clinging to the old ways of ugly bigotry.   Asher’s spirit will remain with all who loved him and venerated by all who respect individual liberty.

We have also lost the exquisite melodies of  Tyler Clementi’s music.  Tyler’s silence will never weave harmony into a cacophonous world crackling in ugly dissonance.  Tyler’s violin now entombed in its case will never sing the sounds of joy, enlightenment, revelation and transcendence to those who refuse to listen to the symphonies of understanding, acceptance and appreciate the celebration of love.  The beautiful music Tyler created and brought into the world will never be heard again.  Tragic that the wonderful harmony of Tyler’s life was quieted by the deaf ears of those refusing to listen and most needing to hear it.

Rest in peace beloved.

Youtube Music Video: Janine Jansen, Lark Ascending

Risk: LGBT, civil rights, constitution, free speech

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October 1, 2010 Posted by | Bible, children, Civil Rights, community, culture, democracy, education, gay rights, government, LGBT, politics, Quran, religion, social justice, teaching, terrorism, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Suicide of a Friend

mounts_bay_sunrise_2This is one of those mornings in our lives when we welcome a rising sun with grim dread. This is one of those mornings where we become loosed from our moorings of certainty. This is one of those mornings where words fail and the throne of faith is overthrown by shame and guilt. This is a morning to put on a nice suit and proper tie to attend a funeral of a friend who died by suicide. So final. So silent doth the dead speak to us. Crying out their pain with a clarity we never heard or understood as they walked among us here on earth. My friend continues to speak to us from the beyond.

This man was more then a friend. He was a father, husband, brother and a son. He held many occupations, enjoyed diversions, displayed passions and imperfections like all human beings. He was also a child of God. Though tormented and sick he was never forsaken. He deeply loved many and was unconditionally loved by many. In the end an addled brain led to a desperate alienation. Self medicating himself to find sanctuary in the hollow solace of prescription drugs and booze. It would in the end consume him. Enabling him to close the door on a life that family and friends diligently tried to keep ajar. All we wanted in return was his continued presence among us. My friend choose to slam the door shut.

Anger rises. We put so much into him. How could he slap us in the face like this? As we gathered about his coffin, in hushed whispers we sought out information, confirmation and consolation to alleviate a sense of guilt and quiet the shame that enveloped us. The deceased’s mother, shaking with Parkinson’s disease, stares down at a bare coffin holding the remains of her son. How much did she invest in this boy? She suckled him at her breast. She mothered him under her roof for two decades. She continued to mother him with a pervasive love that continued till the end. Did the child squander this love? Has this mother loved wastefully? I see no anger in her. Only a continued extension of her abundant love. “Sleep well my child. I’ll soon join you.” I could hear her coo silently to herself as she softly touched the burnished wood of her child’s casket. Any anger was mine, certainly not hers.

My friend’s sisters were his loving attendants to the end. They were heroic in a desperate attempt to save their beloved brother. They gave him refuge under their roof. They nursed him within the sanctuary of family. One may think that their deeds of heroism now matter little or count for less. But such shamelessly squandered love is what our hurting world needs more of today. I marvel and cherish their example, as I witness one sister arrange an errant ribbon on the cluster of roses sitting atop the casket. A loving touch, a caring hand, an attending heart remembered to bring their brothers beloved Boston Red Sox cap also placed on the casket.

My friend’s daughters and former wife arrived to the service late. One daughter entered the crowded room nestling flowers. She moved quickly toward her father’s casket. Her expression was like that of a child racing toward a Christmas tree on the blessed morning. Did Santa come? Is it really here? Has this thing arrived? Her breakdown into tears confirmed her worst suspicion. A terrible expectation realized. Her father was really dead. Now laying in state in a room full of awkward people. The other daughter fraught with grief remains in the protective arms of her loving aunt. She sobs into the woman’s bosom. Tears saturate her blouse. Women absorb the pain and transform it into strength and a curious wisdom that remembers how to endure future pains to come.

How do you approach the daughters of the deceased? What can you say that has any meaning to them during the nadir of their young lives? How do you expect them to understand the sincerity of your pain when theirs is fathomless? You fear for them. Has the actions of their father bound them to a lifetime quest to seek answers to questions that cannot be answered, motives that cannot be understood, truths that will remain forever hidden?

The grace of my friend’s former wife was sorely tested. She is devastated to discover her ex husbands casket on display at the front of a crowded room. She sobbed, embracing and kissing many as she made her way toward the casket. Her painful separation from my friend after 27 years of marriage was difficult for her but was a consequence of her husbands spiral of decline. She loved him greatly and it was greatly returned to her by my friend. College sweethearts, they joined together in a youthful promise to love and endure all things as one. I pray she isn’t consumed by the demons of nostalgia and fall into a black hole of guilt. I don’t think that will be. She is a spiritually centered, emotionally healthy woman. She does yoga. Her next life chapters are waiting to be written.

On the day they were married I wore a new gray suit and tie to the affair. During the cocktail party a man played musical glasses. It was a bit quixotic and it stamped their union as something that was uniquely blessed. I liked it very much. I also liked the open bar. I got sloshed. As I would continue to do until I got sober 27 years later.

My friend knew of my sobriety and participation within AA. I asked him to join me at a meeting one week before he died. He left a message on my cell phone. He said he was going off to rehab to start the process of recovery. He said he would call me when he got out. He left the rehab after one day because of insufficient insurance coverage, checked into a hotel room and killed himself.

When I entered the room for the funeral service my friends crying sister met me with an embrace. Her tears stained a new tie I chose for this service. She thanked me for trying to help her brother. She said that her brother called her on the terrible day asking for a slip of paper that had telephone numbers of important people. I was number two on that list. I shudder and ask myself, for the want of a phone call?

As I left the service I stopped by to wonder at a small aviary of tiny exotic birds that was in the lobby. The multicolored birds were nesting and gleefully chattering at the roil of life. They flitted among hanging flowers of verdant vines of ivy. They were beautiful. Seeing such beauty is one of life’s simple affirmations.  My friend is now winging home.

Vaya Con Dios Amigo

You Tube Video: JS Bach Badinerie Wine Glass Music

You Tube Video: Vaughn Williams, Lark Ascending

August 15, 2009 Posted by | children, culture, faith, family, life, love, psychology, religion, seasons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Water

holding-a-piece-of-time-2It was an amazing experience to attend the Gay Pride parade in NYC last Sunday. The colorful exuberance of celebratory revelers enthralled in a proclamation of who they are is a refreshing revelation to experience. For so many LGBT people, the prevailing culture still casts aspersions on their lifestyles and persons. Many LGBT people face ridicule, terror, exclusion, violence and death as a daily reality of their lives. It forces them to hide who they are. Many go throughout their entire lives hiding or denying their identity for fear of discovery or from the guilt of self loathing. This is a pernicious condition of a daily life that takes a physical, emotional and psychic toll on victims guilty of nothing more then claiming a sexual identity different from what is perceived as the cultural norm. It is brutally enforced by religious pronouncements, civil law and a pervasive peer pressure that seeks to eradicate anything that diverges from acceptable community standards of sameness and conformity.

For LGBT youth it is particularly damaging. Afraid, alone, uncertain and unaware they are extremely vulnerable and remain at risk to the dangers and condemnation their sexuality exposes them too. So it was wonderful to witness young people at the parade expressing pride in their identity; perhaps for the first time in their lives beyond the eyes of judgment. It is wonderful to witness and participate in an event that allows people to express a self affirmation and experience the joy of true freedom.

So it was with great pleasure that I recognized the Reverend Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire offering water to the Gay Pride marchers and celebrants. It was a poignant scene to witness, and it brought to mind the Woman at the Well scripture from the Gospel of John.

At its center, John’s passage speaks about affirming identity. Indeed it is the through the acceptance of one’s identity that allows one to drink from the well of living waters. God calls the faithful to affirm oneself in spirit and truth. I cannot help but to think how this scene captures Bishop Robinson’s personal journey of discovery, self affirmation and coming to terms with the truth of his sexual identity. As he offered water to the thirsty, I realized how the many generations of LGBT celebrants and activists salved the thirst of Bishop Robinson as he came to the well of living waters wanting to live into the spirit of truth about who he was and what God calls him to be. On this day Bishop Robinson was dutifully living into God’s spirit of truth by offering water to marchers and celebrants ever so thirsty to drink from the same life affirming well of living waters. This could not have been possible had there not been someone from a non-distant past  encouraging Gene Robinson to drink from the ladle of living water, dipped in the truth of God’s deep well of unconditional and inclusive love.

Let our hearts not be troubled. Bishop Robinson stands with ladle in hand offering all who thirst a long and cool drink from God’s abundant well.

Thanks be to God.

You Tune Video: Mahalia Jackson, Women at the Well

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Bible, children, Civil Rights, community, faith, gay rights, holiday, LGBT, life, politics, psychology, religion | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Paying The Mentor

Spread Those Wings

Spread Those Wings

A recent discussion board on Linked In posed a question about mentoring.  Specifically the question asked is, “can mentoring be profitable for the mentor?”

The distinction between being a mentor and selling mentorship is an interesting question.  It is a valid distinction.  A few years ago I was required to take mentor training when I volunteered to mentor children of incarcerated parents. The sessions were conducted over the span of two Saturdays.  The sessions were fantastic and provided me with insights, resources and skills that are critical to being an effective mentor. The woman who conducted the sessions was compensated and paid by the participants and sponsoring organizations.  For her mentorship is a commodity.

It reminds me of a quote Bill Parcells made when asked by a reporter why he was getting so worked up over the loss of a football game.  Parcells answered that yes football for many is only a game but for him it was a profession.  Parcells makes a great point.  If the professional loses his passion he loses his profession. The distinction of a vocation and avocation is a question of receiving monetary or psychic remuneration.  Its up to everyone to decide what kind of treasure one stores up for oneself.

As many who have mentored know, mentors receive various kinds of compensation which may include the spiritual or emotional manna that serving and coaching others confers on the mentor.  That also applies in a corporate setting where a more senior executive is assigned to mentor and coach a younger or new company employee.   Though it may appear that the senior executive may be required to mentor as part of his job he still will be blessed with the benefit of psychic compensation that helping a mentee richly pays to the mentor.   The institutional interest is served because the mentor conveys the values and mores of the corporate culture to the new employee.   This is a critical function that all institutions need to do.   Without a shared and understood corporate ethos the sustainability of the institution is at risk.

A few weeks ago I was listening to a discussion on WNYC.   The guest was talking about how business models are radically changing.   Specifically he was speaking about Google and how it is transforming whole industries.   The “Google” revolution is seriously altering the business models of numerous industries that include advertising, newspapers and software subscription marketing to name but a few.   One of his points was that corporations need to discard the knowledge of the older workers because it was becoming increasingly irrelevant to the new emerging business practice paradigms.   Its a valid point that goes to the heart about the nature a revolution.   Total transformation changes mores and cultures.   The old has been overthrown by the new.   The implications are a difficult and scary truth to digest.    Particularly for a person like myself who has been in the world of business since 1979.

It is however written somewhere that there is nothing new under the sun.   And people who have been blessed with the experience of witnessing many sunrises have much to offer our world.   The global economic crisis has revealed a startling pervasiveness of institutional failure and the paucity of leadership.   This applies to business, politics, schools, places of worship and many communities we are part of. New leaders need to be raised up.    Mentoring people to assume positions of leadership is a critical priority of our nations recovery.

Cory Booker the Mayor of Newark NJ has stated that he believes that mentoring is one of the city’s most critical need if it is to break the cycle of deprivation, violence and cultural decay.   He is spot on.   Mentoring is an absolutely critical skill and vocation that we need to develop, encourage and commend.

President Obama in his inaugural address alluded to the passage from Corinthians “when I was a child” to implore his countrymen and women to grow into a more mature nation to meet the pressing challenges of our country and the world.   It is a clarion call for all mentors to come to the aid of their country.   We posted on this subject on Risk Rap which can be read here: When I Was A Child.

You Tube Music Video: Balam Garcia, Infant Eyes

Risk; lost generation, lost knowledge, socialization, community, civic values

March 8, 2009 Posted by | children, culture, education, teaching | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On The Ground in Gaza

Banksy

There is a large controversy concerning the BBC’s refusal to air an appeal by relief organizations trying to get aid to the suffering inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.  We understand the BBC’s reasoning of trying to maintain its neutrality in the political morass of the Israeli / Palestinian war.  But we also understand that the unending agony of the people who live in Gaza needs to be addressed.

We publish an appeal for devotions and aid from the Religious Society of Friends, Friends United Meeting (FUM) that operates a School in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Risk Rapper

Hope will never be silent. ~ Harvey Milk
Because “the job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.” ~ Gunter Grass

Dear Friends,

The following message from Joyce Ajlouny, Director of the Ramallah Friends School, came to us from FUM today. It gives details about what is actually happening on the ground in the Gaza strip that we have not encountered anywhere else.

We are grieved at the violence that has permeated Israeli-Palestinian relations for so many years, and are horrified at this most recent chapter. Let us all pray for peace in this region and continue to work for peace there and around the world.

Christopher Sammond, general secretary
Ernestine Buscemi, clerk

_________________________________________________________

—–Original Message—–
From: C D Williams
To: fum_devotions@lists.fum.org
Sent: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 8:18 am
Subject: [FUM Devotions] Prayers for Palestinians in Gaza

Friends –

I hope this finds you well and ready to receive the New Year. Let us hope 2009 will be the bearer of good news for all!

I know that you’ve been hearing the horrific news from Gaza. We are doing fine here on the West Bank – at least physically. Our hands are tied as well feel so helpless seeing our people suffer. It is a blood bath in Gaza – a real massacre against a people who have been living under siege for months on end. Over 360 people are dead so far (many are civilians including children) and over 1700 injured. The humanitarian conditions were catastrophic even before Israel waged its present offensive. I just spoke to a friend in Gaza who said that there is no electricity, no water, no food, no candles, no medical supplies, no oven gas… where do we start. She also said that there is hardly a house left with windows intact and families are scraping plastic sheets to shut their windows to protect themselves from the cold and that hospitals are overflowing with the injured lying in the hallways. Gaza is the home of around 1.5 million.

I am working on a humanitarian appeal targeting our parents. We hope to raise some funds and send to Gaza soon.. From our families to theirs. I know we can at least succeed in this act of solidarity, knowing that the needs are too grave for our efforts to make a huge difference. We are thinking of going through reputable humanitarian fund in Gaza and ask them to prepare care packages for some of the neediest families. The question is the availability of goods… I am not sure what is available anymore since goods have been prevented from entering for a few months now. The market is probably depleted – nonetheless we are trying.

Anyhow, this is a short note, to ask for your prayers that the Israeli leadership will find it in their hearts to stop this act of severe aggression on an already impoverished and imprisoned population. Pray for justice and peace in Palestine and all other war-stricken regions around the globe.

Blessings to all,

Joyce

PS – The school is still on break until the 10th but I am working along with the school engineers on our construction projects – there is so much going on ( I feel I am living on a construction site). With all of what is going on the being preoccupied with work is a welcomed distraction.

A short Eyewitness Article from The Guardian can be seen at

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/29/israel-gaza-attack-shifa-hospital/print

Note: Joyce Ajlouny is the Director of the Friends School Ramallah.  More on the school’s history and mission at:

http://www.palfriends.org/ and at: http://www.fum.org/worldmissions/ramallah.html

You Tube Video: Randy Weston: Blue Moses

Risk: ambililence, silence, turning a blind eye

January 27, 2009 Posted by | children, Gaza, Palestine, war | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Lark Ascends

Lark
John James Audubon

This weekend I attended a memorial service for a six month old child that passed this world. The service was moving and emotional. The young parents and the departed’s two year old sister were gracious and carried a quiet strength through their visible grief. The service was attended by many friends and family members that were eager to offer support and love. Life is fragile and sometimes fleeting but time spent on this earth has little to do with the quality of a life lived.  It is how one is loved and how much one has loved that marks the quality of a life well lived.

Christmas reminds us that every child that comes into this world is a profound gift. Honor the gift of life by respecting the grace of childhood. Children embody beauty, innocence, purity, the miracle of life and the power and presence of unconditional love.May we be always mindful of the special needs of this world’s children and take action to help and nurture those whose needs are apparent. By giving help and offering a hand we truly receive the grace of love.

A poem composed for the dearly departed.


The Lark Ascends

The lark ascends on light wings
Taking flight toward a heavenly home
It lingered here but a short while
Certain of the course she must go
A delicate beauty and playful grace
And twittering eyes revealed
Deep trust for love and sturdy branch
Of her verdant and earthly home
We reveled in her abundant joy
She fed our spirits and fondest hopes
Her gossamer wings a fragrance breath
Her heart angels hath divinely blessed
The lark is light!
The lark is life!
Her song forever young
The lark is kind
The lark is Thine
The lark is winging home

LAP
God Speed Beloved
12/20/08


You Tube Video: Janine Jansen, The Lark Ascending

Part 2: Janine Jansen, The Lark Ascending

You Tube Video: Josh Groban, What Child is This?

Risk: sanctity of life

December 23, 2008 Posted by | children, classical, faith, family, love | , , , , , , | Leave a comment