We welcome the arrival of Kwanzaa. People of good will everywhere welcome this opportunity to bring more light into a world shrouded in darkness. Kwanzaa celebrates community as a vessel to receive and dispense the flow of hope and service required to minister and serve others. It is a wonderful reminder on the importance of community and excellent opportunity to strengthen the bonds of the individual within communities.
The Seven Principles
- Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
- Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
- Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together.
- Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
- Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
- Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
- Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
We welcome Kwanzaa and wish its celebrants an enriching and transforming experience.
You Tube Music Video: Herbie Hancock, Don Cherry, Kawaida, Kamali
Risk: holiday, culture, faith
For this years Thanksgiving, I have decided to focus on developing a sense of gratitude. The world is full of real bad stuff happening to too many people and its easy to let the darkness of our times cast long shadows of resentment, anger and ill will over our outlook on life. So today as I travel to a relatives home to gather for our national day of thankfulness I choose to leave resentments at home and cultivate a sense of gratitude.
I’m grateful for my eyes. My sight allows me to perceive the million graces The Almighty abundantly confers upon the inhabitants of the good earth each and every day. My eyes help me to discover the pressing needs of others and respond to it. My eyes help me to discern light from darkness, distinguish the forest from the trees and eschew pedestrian views to behold a beautiful vista. My eyes are a pathway to my soul moving me to contemplate the good, forsake the bad and move against evil in service to truth.
I’m grateful for my ears. The grace of hearing permits me to listen. My ears alert me to the cries of my brothers and sisters and enables me to understand our shared human condition. My ears tune my spirit to the chords of exquisite music and the natural symphonies of Mother Earth’s angelic chorus of singing birds, heaving oceans, the majestic pause of silent mountains and the fleeting rush of the swelling wind are all divine voices singing the joyful hymns of life.
I’m thankful for my sense of smell. Graciously my nose breathes in the inviting aroma of a lovingly prepared home cooked meal, the wholesome scent of baking bread wafting from the door of the corner bakery, a briny snort from the boundless sea, the rich compost of the deep woods after a soft summer rain, the bouquet of an infants hair and the perfume of a lovers embrace.
I give thanks for my ability to touch. Hands engaged in productive work and gainful employment is a blessing absent from too many Thanksgiving Day tables this year. We yearn to connect and the sense of touch invites our ability to feel. Feeling is the father of empathy and the mother of compassion. Caring for our animal friends we live in communion with all sentient beings. As we touch one another and allow others to touch us; the hardest of hearts is softened, the most grievous wounds are healed to liberate the sensual yearnings dwelling in the deepest recesses of ourselves. Feeling allows us to become fully present, fully aware and fully alive in the celebration of what it means to be fully human.
I’m thankful for my sense of taste. As Sinatra croons “from the brim to the dregs” the wine of our lives may not all taste good but it all flows clear and true. Sample, savor and learn. Taste and see the glories of the Lord’s banquet so abundantly placed before us. The bitter herbs, the sweet cakes, the leisure repast, the fortifying meal and unrequited hunger is the daily bread of being human. Pause to consider those that are lining up for the tenth Thanksgiving Day meal in Afghanistan and Iraq and pray that the awful rations of war fed to our young soldiers be supplanted with the good manna of peace.
Perhaps we loose our sense of gratitude because expectations of ourselves and others always seems to come up short of the mark. Imperfection is our most endearing quality. It informs our ability to forgive transgressions, form bonds of friendship and unconditionally love each other. I remain grateful for the sense of my imperfection as I overlook your imperfections and remain ever hopeful that you will extend your hand to help me over come mine.
You Tube Video: Jean Ritchie, Shady Grove
risk: resentment, gratitude, peace, metal health,
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
This is how the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
The Hallow Men TS Elliot
A few interesting news items recently passed without much notice. Two nuclear reactors located in the Northeast had to be brought offline due to operational failures. The Vermont Yankee reactor sprang a leak and had to be shut down. The other incident occurred at the thirty six year old Indian Point reactor located about twenty miles north of New York City. The cause of the problem at Indian Point was a transformer fire. Both reactors are owned and operated by Entergy and mirror similar problems at the Excelon operated Oyster Creek reactor located in south central New Jersey.
These incidents are endemic to aging nuclear power facilities. These plants came on line during the the 1970’s and are now approaching the half century mark of service. When these plants were commissioned it was believed they would have a shelf life of 40 years. As the expected useful life span of these facilities approach regulators routinely grant extensions to the operators. Operating these facilities past that point heighten potential risk factors. As nuclear reactors age, the stress on these complex systems and containment facilities raise risk factors heightening the potential of system failure that lead to catastrophic events.
Leaky plumbing at the Oyster Creek nuclear plant is the culprit in poisoning the Cohansey Aquifer with 180,000 gallons of tritium contaminated water. Regulators and environmental officials assert that the level of radio active isotopes in the water supply that serves South Jersey and parts of Philadelphia is well within acceptable levels for human consumption. I guess that all depends on your definition of human; but I and many others remain skeptical on the subject of drinking radioactive laced water.
The aging nuclear infrastructure of the United States is a growing cause for concern. The nuclear power industry was halted in its tracks in the 1980’s by a strong No Nukes environmental movement. At the time it was generally understood that the cost of catastrophic risk and the industries inability to solve the long term problem of disposal and management of nuclear waste turned the public against the industry.
The Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania and the disastrous meltdown at Chernobyl in the Russian Caucuses led to a moratorium on new plant construction in the United States leading to the actual abandonment of plant construction in the Washington and New York. It created a capital market crisis as the fear of defaults on WPPSS revenue bonds spread to cast long shadows on the entire Muni Bond market. The state of New York stepped in to purchase the facilities of Long Island Power in order to make bondholders of the closed facility whole with tax payer money. It was kind of like socialism for investors.
While most of the world has continued to build nuclear plants to address growing energy needs; the United States has not built a nuclear plant since the 1980’s and has lagged the world in using nuclear power to address energy needs. Sentiment on the desirability of nuclear power is beginning to change. The Pickens Plan, former VP Dick Cheney’s secret meetings to develop a national energy strategy, the Gulf Oil Spill, the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil and the growing acceptance that the burning of fossil fuels is slowly cooking the planet has placed nuclear power back on the table as a viable component of America’s energy portfolio.
China is committed to building 100 nuclear power plants to wean itself from its crippling dependence on coal. The United States is charging hard to keep up with its fast growing Asian competitor in a 21st Century nuclear power race. The aggressive pursuit of nuclear plant development will increase the power and control of corporate entities charged with their construction, management and on going administration. To accomplish a dramatic build-out in nuclear infrastructure large areas of land situated near a plentiful water supply will need to be secured. Environmental impacts, regulatory oversight and public transparency will be sacrificed at the alter of cost efficiency, expedience in implementation and security to protect the vulnerable facilities against the pervasive armies of terrorists that lurk in the shadows near every nuclear plant.
The controversy surrounding the collusion of government and business to exploit the Marcellus Shale natural gas vein is an instructive model of what we can expect from the stakeholders pursuing an aggressive campaign to develop Americas nuclear power infrastructure. The dismissal of regulatory controls, the eminent domain of corporate interests, the opaque wall that shrouds risks factors and hides the environmental degradation resulting from the practice of fracking and the sacrifice of watersheds and aquifers to the expeditious extraction of natural gas are some of the documented behaviors of a wanton corporate will imposed on the body politic. Tragically this near sighted perspective willfully sacrifices the sustainable ecology of communities to the sole purpose of the profitable extraction of resources to serve shareholders of private corporations. The nature of the nuclear beast will require that its interests be enforced by courts of law guided by extreme prejudice and protected by police battalions, state guard units and private security groups in the name of national security interests.
The recently discovered Stuxnet computer virus is an indication of how the stakes are being raised in the nuclear power shell game. The launch of a successful cyber attack on a nuclear facility anywhere in the world is a real game changer. Self deluded uber patriots act more like real pinheads if they believe that the destruction of Iran’s nuclear power capability is a harbinger for Middle East peace or enhances the security of either Israel or the United States. A nuclear event in Iran or North Korea are real game changers for the course of human history and the well being of humanity. A clandestine service that can take out Iranian nuclear reactors can also be deployed to take out a reactor that is twenty miles north of New York City. Or consider the consequences of a summer heat wave ravaging the citizens Philadelphia dying of thirst because the water supply is contaminated with radiation. The extent of civil unrest would be extreme overwhelming the local law enforcement and judicial capabilities. If these bleak scenarios come to pass, Americans will be pining away for the good old days when a quick feel up at the airport by a TSA gendarme is fondly recalled like a high school make out session. The pernicious yoke of marshal law under the nuclear challenged corporate security state will be incessant in practice and swift, sure and dire in its execution.
You Tube music video: No Nukes Concert 1979: Doobie Brothers Taking it to The Streets
Risk: democracy, energy policy, nuclear power, civil liberties
Tonight marks the arrival of Kwanzaa. People of good will everywhere welcome this opportunity to bring more light into a world enshroud in darkness. Kwanzaa celebrates community as a vessel to receive and dispense the flow of hope and service required to minister and serve others. It is a wonderful reminder on the importance of community and excellent opportunity to strengthen the bonds of the individual within communities.
The Ancestors Prayer
Our great African parents who are among us we humbly offer our thanks
for the many blessings you have given.
We extend our love to its ultimate state of being –
For the suffering that you have endured so that we may not suffer so.
Mothers of our great African nation Fathers of our African selves –
We invoke you to furthur lead and guide us to a higher understanding
Of our true greatness –
And a more encompassing dedication of love for our African people.
Parents of all African children;
Guide us toward a greater unity –
Guide us in a stronger African Value System and lead us into the zenith of respect and love for our people, through education and the
“Family Communal Structure”
We swear upon the heritage and legacy that you have left us to uphold and sustain our rightful status on this earth, and to continue the struggle for the total mental and physical liberation of all African People.
The following is a Christian prayer offering for Kwanzaa
O come all you faithful, rejoicing and victorious! Come, let us adore the Lord of life and goodness, as we celebrate Kwanzaa and the African American heritage. Come and give thanks and praise for the journey. Jesus, by your mercy, grant us the grace to cherish this life. Guide us to uphold the dignity and respect of life from the moment of conception to its natural end at death. Lead us to be to true to our nature as you created us. We ask these things because we have our roots in the divine origin of Creator, Savior, and Sanctifier, Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Peace to all this Kwanzaa Season.
You Tube Music Video: Seven Principles of Kwanzaa
It 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