SOCIAL JUSTICE SPONSORED TEAM ACTIONS WITHIN THE CHURCH IN FEBRUARY
Sunday, February 17, 12:00n, First Church Library: Episode Five of “The Untouchables” from Frontline on PBS, examining why some Wall Street bankers were “too big to fail” after the financial crisis, despite the disastrous effects on lesser-class Americans. Screening is accompanied by Naked Pizza and discussion. Bring desserts or other goodies if you like. See www.pbs.org
for further details, looking under “Frontline”, then “The Untouchables”.
Saturday, February 23, Sanctuary, 8:30am – 5:30pm: Dr. Riki Ott offers a deep democracy training and strategic retreat. The morning consists of an overview of US history as a series of Supreme Court decisions that have reduced democracy in America, and in the afternoon she will share templates for municipal ordinances and resolutions to ban toxic chemicals, including Corexit, as part of a national political action. For information on a longer version of the same retreat at the Unitarian Fellowship of Fairhope, Alabama, see the webpage: https://www.facebook.com/events/406680989410145/?ref=3
by cutting and pasting this link. Dr. Ott was a victim of the Exxon-Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, which inspired her to write these books: Sound Truth and Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Dragonfly Sisters Press (2005), and republished in 2007 by Chelsea Green, and Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Chelsea Green. Her experiences with governmental collusion with the oil companies led her to leadership roles in the movement to undo the Supreme Court decision, “Citizens United”.
SOCIAL JUSTICE TEAM SUPPORTED ACTIONS OUTSIDE THE CHURCH IN FEBRUARY
February 14 (Valentine’s Day) ONE BILLION RISING, Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, 10:30am opening; 11:00am parade to Congo Square; 12:00noon – 2:00pm prayer, poetry and dance; 2:00pm return to Ashe with participation as desired in all events.
The Ashe center will be the site in New Orleans for One Billion Rising, which is a day when both women and men are encouraged “to walk out, dance, rise up, and demand an end to this violence.”
“The 1 billion number comes from the U.N.’s work that pretty much tells us that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be raped or abused in their lifetime,” Carol Bebelle, co-founder and executive director of the Ashe Cultural Center, explained. “It’s an epidemic. We will talk about violence in general and we will get to guns and violence, and we never get to this ever-present danger that women live in all across our planet.”
The free day-long event begins at 10:15 a.m. at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., where an 11 a.m., a march will lead the group to Congo Square. “At Congo Square, we’re going to do an observance that will be composed of prayer, poetry, and, of course, dance,” Bebelle said. “People will talk about the importance of being together and doing this.” At 2 p.m., marchers can return to the center, where the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies plans to establish a red tent, where women can gather to talk and share their stories.
“The red tents are the places where women, when they were on their menses, would have to go, so they wouldn’t be with the rest of the village,” she said. “It’s a place where healing and nurturing and woman things happen.”
The center also will live streaming, via YouTube, other One Billion Rising events taking place around the world.
REFLECTION BY ROBERT DESMARAIS, MODERATOR OF SOCIAL JUSTICE TEAM: SOCIAL JUSTICE RENEWAL IN NEW ORLEANS 2013 (Part One, February 13, 2013)
Carnival is again behind us, and gone for another year is all the ribald fantasied color we project for several weeks onto the dark and dangerous universe in which we live and move and have our being. Those who analyze Carnival logically, let them do so at their leisure, while the rest of us follow our bliss and dance to the rhythms of the sacred space and time that is New Orleans at Carnival.
Today Ash Wednesday, we now return to clock-time in geographical space without forgetting what we learned while the veil of time was briefly pulled aside in Carnival. Faithful to the tradition that only the Fool may speak truth to the King, we all briefly became fools, and if we understand the need to speak truth to power, we also realize it is a life-threatening practice. Assassination has become part of the American way of debate, so we risk our lives when we disagree with the powerful. But we must do it, whether we have courage or not. The heroes of the nation are not those who go to war, but those who speak honestly despite the dangers of doing so.
Of course, the US is not unique. Socrates was assassinated for corrupting the young, but in Athens at that time corruption of the young had nothing to do with man-boy pederasty. In fact, it was expected of mature Athenians that they take an adolescent as lover in order to initiate him into manhood. So Socrates was not assassinated for having sexual relations with the young men of Athens, but for corrupting their ideas about the Athenian state.
The threat to the power of the state was equally important in the assassination of Jesus Christ, who famously said that we should render to the state only what belongs to the state and to God what belongs to God. That reasonable statement was heresy in the Roman Empire which taught that emperors were divine and that everything belonged to the state.
In modern times, Franz Jäggerstätter of Austria was assassinated by Hitler’s government for refusing to be drafted into the military. Franz knew nothing of the concentration camps, and he refused simply because he did not want to participate in the aggressive wars of conquest that began with the Nazi invasion of Poland. The Nazi invasion of Poland was justified on grounds similar to the US invasion of Iraq. Now, Franz was a motorcycle-riding lover of pleasure and music and would have made a superb New Orleanian, but he refused to obey his bishop, who told him he should go into the army. Franz even said that churches which did not resist might as well close their doors. Only two years ago, Pope Benedict beatified Franz, in effect declaring him a saint.
Assassination for silencing dissent has happened in the US, and government hit-men still work on the federal dole. Personally I do not believe any of the official stories given for the assassinations of so many progressive politicians in this country. Our political life today would be vastly different, had they not been removed from the scene, and I believe that was the conscious intention of the powers-that-be, who were in position to carry out these assassinations. If that seems outrageous, then I recommend the authors Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges for starters. After digesting them, Martin Luther King may be understood in all his power.
On their website, the King family states clearly they believe MLK was killed by a conspiracy, and the transcript of the 1999 Memphis trial which convinced them can be found by googling ‘’martin luther king trial transcript’’. This is a partial transcript, but the complete transcript of over 1200 pages can be downloaded at the end of the partial one. In it we read ‘’the FBI, the Memphis Police Department and others were involved in this conspiracy to murder Dr. King’’. This is the position of the King family.
Like Socrates, Jesus and Franz Jäggerstätter, MLK was killed by infuriated agents of power.
The list of victims is long in the US, and I am keeping a list and checking it twice, attempting to take notes about each victim. Now, of course, beginning with the National Defense Authorization Act of December, 2011, the list may become even longer and more inclusive. For 2013, I am committing myself to the exposure of all risks and all actions that limit justice and peace in New Orleans, in Louisiana, in the US and even in the world. I cannot do it all alone, so I hope others will help, but for me that is the only worthwhile mission of social-justice action. For me, all effective action flows from harmonizing our thoughts with reality and then choosing a goal based on our understanding.
Action without understanding is futile; understanding without action is suicidal.
In recent times, the Occupy Movement electrified the people and terrified the authorities, including our own beloved Mayor Mitch Landrieu, by exposing the autocratic reality of the financial and political elite. These are the same powers that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about when he spoke of the ‘’military-industrial complex’’, though we realize now that the complex is much more vast than that, and it includes historical nobility, prominent bankers and others who were not mentioned by Eisenhower. Participants in the Bilderburg Group, the Council for Foreign Relations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Bohemian Grove are of the elite that wish to rule the world.
As Meyer Rothschild (1744-1812) put it, ‘’Give me control of a nation’s money, and I care not who makes its laws’’. His numerous progeny by marriage or by lineage continue his philosophy, and in addition many others have adopted Meyer Rothschild’s principles, resulting in the Citizens United decision by the US Supreme Court, which was the immediate stimulus to the Occupy Movement’s famous cry, ‘’We are the 99%!’’ The Occupy Movement revealed the realities of class and power in the US and the world.
People may no longer be setting up tents in city parks, but the message of Occupy -- the distressing reality of the power of the ruling class -- continues to spread far and wide, like a former gospel that said, ‘’What you do to the least of my brothers you do also to me.’’ The lessons of the Occupy Movement have begun to sink in, and the frightened responses of city governments, police and Homeland Security only demonstrate how correct the lesson is.
In line with the analysis of the Occupy Movement, I intend to encourage and support all who work for peace and justice by empowering the 99%. Already there are many groups working locally and nationally with that mission. The mission is vast, and no one can even comprehend all the issues, but each person or group will focus on what is most relevant and engage others who are of like mind. We collaborate when possible, and we work independently when necessary. As the 99%, we do not have the money or the power that money guarantees, but at the same time we have no choice.
The Reverend King was convinced that the arc of the universe bent toward justice, though slowly.
ROBERT DESMARAIS of New Orleans