It’s Time for “Speaking Out” Again

The following Post was initially published a few years ago on “Breath Free”.

Given the circumstances of the last year or so
Domestically, and in Foreign relationships
both with our historic Allies, and those who wish us ill,
I thought this was a very appropriate time
to republish “On Speaking Out!”.

First the Nazis Came

“First the Nazis came for the Communists,
And I did not speak out –
For I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists,
And I did not speak out –
For I was not a Socialist

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
And I did not speak out –
For I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
And I did not speak out –
For I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me –
And there was no one left –
To speak out for me.”

The above poem (with certain variations of it from time to time), was written by Martin Niemoller, 1892 -1984. As for Niemoller, there is much controversy surrounding him: his beliefs, when he wrote the poem – even questions as to his authorship of it. A German, he served in their Navy during the First World War.

Some years after the end of the War he decided to study Theology. He also became a strong Nationalist and Racist. So much so that in the early 1920’s he found a compatible voice in Adolph Hitler, and became a follower. Even voting for the Nazi Party in the 1924 election.

By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Niemoller had become an ordained Pastor in the Lutheran Church. In his sermons, he praised Hitler on his views of German Nationalism and Racism, of which Niemoller was in complete accord. However, when the Nazi leader started attacking the Protestant Church, Niemoller quickly became a very vocal critic of Hitler.

In 1937, Hitler arrested Niemoller and sent him and other Religious activists to concentration camps, where he survived throughout the Second World War, until liberated by the Allies in 1945. After the end of the war, Niemoller became very active in urging the German population to acknowledge it’s complicity in the Holocaust.

A second quote relative to speaking out is:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

This has been attributed to Edmund Burke, or John Stuart Mill, and perhaps one or two others. Whomever it may some day prove to be, I will leave to the “Quotation Investigators.” For me the beauty and truth of it stands for itself.

  • Fortunately, and thanks to our Founding Fathers, we citizens of the Republic of the United States of America, never had to contend internally with the Evilness of an Adolph Hitler – and probably never will –  assuming we never lose the words, light and reasoning of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution – imperfect though they may be. Furthermore, our history shows that we Americans have never been short of speaking out, when our Liberties and Laws appeared to be threatened and curtailed by domestic individual or group ideologies.
  • Today, we may, or may not, have ideologues (either on the political left, or the right) to deal with – that’s a Philosophical and political term that, for now, I will leave to the philosophers and politicians. But we have many major issues confronting all of us in the upcoming Congressional elections this year and the Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2020. – more major issues than we have had in the last 50 years.
  • Wherever we are on the political, economic or social spectrum: Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Capitalist, Socialist or Anarchist – how we vote, whether we speak out — will have major consequences impacting us Politically, Economically, Socially, Militarily, Philosophically and probably even more so – how we will be Governed.

One of the advantages of living in a free Republic, is that every individual has the opportunity to choose to participate – or not, to some degree in the process of governing. It may be only through one’s vote, or more aggressively  as a dissident,  activist, or revolutionist.

All of those in our past, and those currently so, did and can, truly change the nature of how we are governed. If you think that one or two activists can hardly change the course of government – think again:

  • The Anti-slavery Movement in Colonial America started small, years before our Revolution. But it continued to grow over the ensuing decades in strength and vehemence – culminating in a  Civil War of incalculable horror to end the immoral and pernicious act of Slavery. Followed by the four Amendments to the Constitution to give them their full Constitutional rights as citizens of the United States. Sadly, it took some 90 years after our Declaration of Independence declared that, “..all men are created equal”, for our country to partly accept the truth of that statement.
  • Women’s Suffrage Movement, once again started in Colonial times with a few individual women, culminating in the 19th Amendment, giving all women the right to vote.
  • Prohibition. The seeds of the movement to make the sale, production etc. of Liquors illegal, were first sown in the 1820’s and 1830’s. Interrupted during the Civil War, the movement grew once again, until Prohibition was passed as the 18th Amendment in 1920. Unfortunately, Criminal chaos ensued, until the 18th Amendment was, thankfully, repealed in 1933.

And nothing illustrates more the power of speaking out, than the confluence of voices doing so to create our Revolution of 1776, and the same for all the Civil Rights Movements from the 1950’s and 1960’s, through the ensuing years to today.

All of those Movements started with a few voices speaking out. It may have taken decades, or as we have just noted, a century or more, but those initial few voices speaking out, gathered multitudes of sympathetic voices, dissidents, and activists. And they all ultimately culminated in successfully changing, not only our Constitution, but also the lives of untold millions. I would say they are pretty powerful examples of accomplishment.

Obviously, from what sits at the beginning of my blog site, I am a fervent believer in Free Will and Choice for every individual. So each of us has the choice: to vote – or not, speak out – or not, become even more aggressive as a dissident or activist – or not. Once again, the choice is ours.

To each of us reading this – there is one Caveat:

If you choose nothing, then you leave the field of governance to others. I would hope you, and everyone reading this has a belief system. Do you really want to leave something so precious as your very Life and Beliefs to the control and governance of others?

Others, whose belief systems may be diametrically opposed to yours!

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Other Voices: Robert Heinlein – “This I Believe”.

Mr. Heinlein was one of the most renowned Authors in the field of Science Fiction. But he was much more than that. As the following piece shows. It was written for the Edward R. Murrow radio show,” This I believe” in 1952.
Although the world has changed enormously since then, what he wrote then, still rings throughout with the  feelings and beliefs of a human being of compassion and thought.

Mr. Heinlein’s Voice:

“I am not going to talk about religious beliefs, but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them.”

“I believe in my neighbors.”
“I know their faults and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults.
Take Father Michael down our road a piece
I’m not of his creed, but I know the goodness and charity and lovingkindness
that shine in his daily actions.
I believe in Father Mike; if I’m in trouble, I’ll go to him.
My next-door neighbor is a veterinary doctor.
Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat.
No fee — no prospect of a fee. I believe in Doc.”

“I believe in my townspeople.”
“You can knock on any door in our town
Say, ‘I’m hungry,’ and you will be fed.
Our town is no exception; I’ve found the same ready charity everywhere.
For the one who says, ‘To heck with you — I got mine,’
There are a hundred, a thousand, who will say, ‘Sure, pal, sit down.
I know that, despite all warnings against hitchhikers,
I can step to the highway, thumb for a ride
and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop
and someone will say, ‘Climb in, Mac. How how far you going?’ ”

“I believe in my fellow citizens.”
“Our headlines are splashed with crime,
yet for every criminal there are 10,000 honest decent kindly men.
If it were not so, no child would live to grow up,
business could not go on from day to day.
Decency is not news; it is buried in the obituaries –
but it is a force stronger than crime.
I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses…
in the tedious sacrifices of teachers.
I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds
that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land.”

“I believe in the honest craft of workmen.
“Take a look around you.
There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work.
From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam,
these things were built level and square by craftsmen
who were honest in their bones”

“I believe that almost all politicians are honest.”
“For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians,
low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best
without thanks or glory to make our system work.
If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.
I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today
because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River.”

“I believe in — I am proud to belong to — the United States.”
“Despite shortcomings, from lynchings to bad faith in high places,
our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices,
and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.”

I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown
“In the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability….and goodness…..
of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet.

“I am proud to be a human being.
I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth,
that we always make it just by the skin of our teeth –
but that we will always make it….survive….endure.
I believe that this hairless embryo
with the aching, oversize brain case and the opposable thumb,
this animal barely up from the apes,
will endure –will endure longer than his home planet,
will spread out to the other planets, to the stars, and beyond,
carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity,
his unlimited courage –and his noble essential decency.”

“This I believe with all my heart”

Living with Cancer

I do not believe in Mysticism
Of any source or definition.
Going beyond that to whether or not
I am a Non Believer, Agnostic, or Atheist,
I leave that to the confusions of dictionary definitions,
And the writings of others
Who wish to spend their precious time in the endeavor.

However, I do believe that I, and all humans
Are of BodyMindHeartSoul –
With absolutely no separation between any aspect of them
My definitions of those four reside in my earlier writings
Of my other Blog Site: BreatheFree –
If anyone is curious enough about them

I have Cancer

Believing in the Harmony of the Human Spirit
Illness is an indignity to my Body.
A cruelty to my Mind
An atrocity to my Heart
A savagery to my Soul
A perversion to my Spirit..

One could think like that
And I am quite sure
that almost all of us
Upon hearing the dreaded word Cancer
Myself included
Initially might have had such thoughts

I have had Prostate Cancer for 24 years.

One would think
Living with any kind of Cancer,
Would cause a life of Disharmony.
That just the word Cancer
Can enslave us in fear!
Except for one factor
The Human Spirit!

I like the word Spirit
As in “that person has Spirit”.
Or, “although they tried
To break his body and mind,
They never broke his Spirit”!

But over millennia, the word has been used to describe
Disembodied beings or used in various Religious definitions,
Both of which my BodyMindHeartSoul rejects.

What then to call that presence of individuals,
Who precede their Body by ten feet or more,
Whose presence fills a room
And remains with others after leaving them,
Or after leaving Life?

For want of a better word and as not to confuse
It with Occult or Religious uses of Soul and Spirit,
One could call these parts of us, the Essence of Humanity.
But being obstinate of Mind and finding inadequacies with either word,
I wish to reclaim both Soul and Spirit in Human terms.

For to me, Spirit and Soul are two inseparable parts of the Human Condition
As they are inseparable from the Human Body, Mind and Heart
All of which have evolved and grown over the many millennia,
And further – working in Harmony –will continue that process
Of evolution and growth far into the future

So Spirit I use to mean that unyielding part of us,
That in purpose and Joy can never be controlled or conquered,
And Soul to mean that part of us that beholds the Universe
With a sense of Awe, Wonder, Curiosity and Love,
And responds to all of its Grandeur
With the awesome totality of Human Creativity and Accomplishment

Having been born in 1929,
I have been writing off and on since I was 14.
Never as creatively as now, and as I expect to do so
For many years to come

As for my Cancer, all I can say is:
It has led me down so many paths
To remarkable people, avenues of health
And a total life changing self-reflection of my Human Spirit
Paths I may never have taken without my Buddy.

Yes I have looked at Cancer as a Buddy.
After all it’s been my constant companion for 24 years
Though a very dangerous Buddy for sure
I can’t explain it beyond that
Nor do I have any desire to do so!

LOVE WITHOUT COMPASSION IS NO LOVE AT ALL

We would think that Love and Compassion
Would be inseparably linked
But are they?

We’re human – we have relationships
In fact Relationships filled our lives
From birth, we’re born into family relationships:
Mothers, Fathers, Siblings

We’re human – we Love.
If we were born into Families
Who provided us with guidance
Self-esteem and Love
We loved them
For that is all we knew

If we were born into Families
Who abused us with their anger
Physically, Emotionally, Mentally, Sexually
Then we had no Love
For them – or our selves
For all we knew was shame, guilt,
Uncertainty, diminishment, our own anger

This was a time for Compassion
Did we ever receive it?

From our birth Families onward
Through formative childhood years,
Through our teens into adulthood
We started and discovered relationships
For all kinds of reasons
Some positive – some negative

At the same time as we were developing
(Growing up I believe it’s called)
We were also developing pasts,
Those histories we lived through.
Whether they were, or are now,
Beneficial or detrimental to our beings
They have remained integral parts of who we are

One thing is certain
To every relationship
Our pasts will always accompany us
Even if we fail to recognize
As so many of us do – that we have pasts
Pasts that will reflect on how we live today

We’re human – we suffer hurt Emotionally
If we were born into abuse
We can be sure we carried into the present
Pasts of horror and pain
Guilt, diminishment, and anger
Long settled deeply into our psyches
Pasts none of us deserved

This was a time for Compassion
Did we even know what it was?

Some of us
Though not born into abuse
Still found life profuse
With uncertainties
And lost opportunities

Youthful true love relationships went awry
As did even more adult ones
Careers were careening uncertainties
Childhood dreams of great accomplishment
Disappeared with the rising sun of adulthood

This was a time for Compassion
Did we know its feeling?

Those Pasts not beneficial to our beings
Created traumas within us
That became -from that time forward –
An integral part of our psyche

We’re human – we dislike pain
We don’t want to hurt
So we protected ourselves,
Wrapped our emotions, our feelings,
Our most sensitive thoughts
Under a cloak that smothered it all.

It was a matter of survival
Or so we thought
For the protection, ironically, was also a restraint
On the freedom, openness and Love of
The Mind, Heart and Soul
Of the Human Spirit

A tragedy in itself
Layered atop the pain and trauma
Of earlier tragedies

This was a time for Compassion
If ever needed it was then – and now

We’re human,
But unlike relationships and Love
Compassion, sadly and unfortunately
May not have filled our lives

All those times needing Compassion
How many of us (I included)
Throughout our lives
Truly knew the emotional meaning of the word?

How many of us knew
When Compassion’s emotional expression
To a loved one
Was a loved one’s imperative need?

And worse how many of us
Even understood that
Compassion is a deeply felt
And very precious emotion

This was a time for Compassion
Were we able to be it?
Are we able to be it?

The simple truth is
If we are in relationships
With ones we love
Who we feel love us
But lack Compassion for others
Or even for their own selves
Then sadly, we are in relationships
With our selves – alone

In Love relationships,
Compassion is a two way emotion
Very much as is Love
But if it is we not our Loved ones
Who lack Compassion for others
Or lack it for our own selves
Then sadly it is our loved ones
Who are in relationships
With their own selves – alone

 

OTHER VOICES – PESHA GERTLER “THE HEALING TIME”

Pesha Joyce Gertler – now deceased 2015 – was the Seattle Poet Populist.

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin and bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them,
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy
holy.

OTHER VOICES – JAMES FINLEY: SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND THE ABUSE OF POWER

 

In quite a few of my previous postings, I have written at great length on abuse of the Individual. Whether it be Physical, Sexual, Mental, or Emotional. And the horrific  destructive consequences to the Human Spirit of the abused.

So when I come across a spokesperson so lucid and compelling (thanks to my wife’s voracious spiritual reading) about the use of sex to abuse and control others – I want as many others as possible to hear about it. The spokesperson I refer to – Mr. James Finley – the Author of “Standing Against Sexual Harassment and the Abuse of Power”,  is a core Teacher in the Center for Action and Contemplation founded by Father Richard Rohr. A renowned Spiritual and Religious movement and organization.

Although I consider myself Spiritual – as I define Spiritual – I am not a Religious Individual. There are for sure many things Mr. Finley and I would disagree on from a religious viewpoint. But I have learned when a voice speaks the Truth, (Obviously as I see it) – regardless of the source – embrace it as if it is your very own thought. Otherwise, not only is your Mind very limited, but sadly so are your Heart and Human Soul.

I have excerpted a paragraph (I divided into two) to give an example of what follows. But the full discourse really needs to be read in its entirety. It’s only two plus pages, But he has so much to say – some of it quite surprising.

Here is Mr. Finley:

“And I want to talk about especially about, not at this point about situations of rape where there’s physical force, which is extremely traumatizing and needs to be looked at in its own right. . . . I want to talk about not positions of rape where there’s physical force, but rather where two people are in a relationship and one has more power than the other, and the one who is more powerful sexualizes the relationship and exploits it to their own gratification at the price of the other in which case they dehumanize the other, or they dishonor, or violate the dignity of the other in showing no sense of empathy or caring about that. So in a very broad sense this would include all instances of incest, of sexual childhood abuse.”

“It would involve all instances where a teacher or an athletic coach sexualizes the relationship with team members or students. It would affect the crisis the Catholic Church has been through—is still going through—where all that has come out into the open around priests sexually abusing pre-adolescent and adolescent boys. It also has to do with—I’m a psychotherapist, a psychologist—a psychotherapist who sexualizes their relationship. And also then it has to do with the workplace where the person in power—the president of the company or president of the country, whether they’re a chairman of the board, where they’re the boss, where they’re whatever it is—they’re the person on which the person in the workplace knows they depend on that person’s approval, that person’s acceptance to be able to stay, to keep the job they need, the promotion they need, and that person lets them know the condition for that happening is that we be sexual.”

To continue on with his complete talk, click on the link below.

STANDING AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND THE ABUSE OF POWER

DISCOVERING ONE’S EMOTIONAL HEART AND SOUL — (PART: 3 OF 3)

 

 ( CONTINUED FROM PART 2 )

It made him feel more than a little uneasy
It made him fearful
The more he thought, the less he knew
His Intellect had always been there for him
And now it provided him little comfort
And worse little Reason

Without his Intellect
Without his Reason
Everything is Confusion
Everything is Frustration
Everything is visceral Emotion
He lived his whole Life with Intellect and Reason
He wanted to Cry

He needed Clarity
A strange thing for him to think
In his Mind he always lived with Clarity
And suddenly he thought something stranger
It was not Clarity of the Mind he needed
It was Clarity of the Heart and Soul
What the hell does that mean?

And other insights followed
Those Protections that crumbled,
Were not Protections, they were Obstacles!
What does he do with that?

He had deeply felt Emotions
But they were Sublime in character
This visceral Emotion is of another kind entirely.
Perhaps of the Heart and Soul?

With all this Turmoil
With so much happening Foreign to his Being
He had a new insight
Something he had never thought before
He needed Help!

Slowly and painfully, through the Doubts
And Uncertainties of Unanswered Questions
He saw not Answers, but a Journey
A Journey to a long and complicated Quest

And then the thought came to Him
Not a physical Journey
He had already made that one
Here to the Redwoods

This was a Journey
Or Quest if you will
Of his Mind, Heart and Soul
A Quest to what though?

This time the Question was partly answered
Almost as soon as it was asked
A Quest out of Self-Enslavement
Enslavement to His own Thoughts and Deeds
A Quest for Self-Honesty and Self-Honor
Wherever they may lead

What he had forgotten
Through the previous months of Turmoil
Was why he was here in this cabin
In this Forest, by this Ocean
In this his Soul Place

He did come here for Freedom
The Freedom to Think undisturbed.
Lots of luck on that one.

But it did give him the Quietude and Serenity
Of the Forest and Ocean – his Soul Place
He so desperately needed
If he was ever going to get out of
The Mental Quagmire and Turmoil
Of these last months.

DISCOVERING ONE’S EMOTIONAL HEART AND SOUL – (PART: 2 OF 3)

( CONTINUED FROM PART 1 )

Foolish, Foolish Child Man
Their voices could not be stilled
As realizations tumbled into his Mind.
It is not the Forest
That will give him his Freedom and Beauty
Nor is the Forest his place of Quietude, Meditation and Serenity

No, his Freedom lay,
In recognizing and acknowledging his Fears
It was here His Fears would be confronted
As they could never be confronted elsewhere

But the process was not to be an easy one.
Daily his protections crumbled,
Not unlike Mayan ruins,
Revealing visions of his earlier years

Oh he had been loving and caring
But there were the other times
Now seen in a new light
And they were UGLY to his eye and Mind

Things He had said
Actions He had taken
Without thought or consideration
Against Loved ones
Against Friends
Against his own best self

Did he not have standards of Behavior?
Love? Compassion? Ethics? Reason?
Was he a Hypocrite, or worse, a Moral Fraud?

The River of Deterist  left nothing
The Doubt! The Doubt!
Why is there so much Doubt?
And so it continued,
As the weeks turned into months

But as each Doubt
Turned into a Discovered Truth,
There was an accompanying discovery.
Pain. This was not physical pain
That he could easily overcome

This was different.
It was something new to his Psyche
Something not so easily overcome.
The all encompassing feeling of
Soul wrenching Emotional Pain

And so the real conflict began.
Doubt versus Truth versus Emotional Pain
A pretty weird trio he thought
He wasn’t even sure – in this context
What each of them meant
.
How does he resolve a problem
When he doesn’t even know
the meanings of the words involved?
And even worse,
What meaning does he give
To all the new emotions and feelings
Churning inside of him?

More Unanswered Doubts He thought
And then reality hit him.
All Doubts do not turn into Discovered Truths!
In fact at this stage in his Quest
Most Doubts turn into Questions, not Discovered Truths

Questions! Questions!
His world is becoming one of Questions!
And one of Doubts!
With nary an Answer to any of them
It’s all Ifs, Ands, and Buts
It makes no sense.

( TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3 )

DISCOVERING ONE’S EMOTIONAL HEART AND SOUL – (PART: 1 OF 3)

He sat in the isolated forest cabin
Surrounded by towering Redwoods
A sense of Unease
Permeated his being.

Outside it was night
And with it the Forest darkness
Turned windows into mirrors
Reflected back the light and interior of the room
And seemingly much more

Feelings never felt before
More than just a sense of Unease
A feeling of Uncertainty of Life
And an unknown Apprehension

Absurd he thought
He came here for Freedom and Beauty
His place of Quietude, Meditation and Serenity
The Redwoods and the Ocean nearby
Became his Soul Place on first sight

For three months it was so.
And then slowly, over the ensuing weeks,
This ever increasing Uncertainty captured his being
And the Apprehension grew into something more –
An unreasoning feeling of Fear

It made no sense. He had never walked with Fear.
Yet here it was – Primordial and entrapped
Within his Mind Body and Soul.
Incapacitating him as He tried to understand
Whence this fear arose.

He was born, raised and lived his whole life
Amidst Civilization and Societies.
They provided the Opportunities to realize
Self-Fulfilling activities, accomplishments
And always the comfort and Joy
Of Human Love and Companionship.

The cohesiveness and stimulation of it all
Drowned out the Voices
Of Self-Diminishment and Uncertainty.
Voices he never knew existed within Him,
Until now.

How Ironic He thought
This place of Solitude and Equanimity
This Haven of Peacefulness
Had become an open River

A River upon which all the Detritus of his Life
Flowed unimpeded into Mind, Heart and Soul
Stirring Thoughts and Emotions never before known
And most certainly never before felt

He had seen this before
In the lives and anguish
Of Loved ones
Some of whom lived their days,
Unknowing of the root cause of their Daily Despair

But He never knew
What caused their Anguish
He only saw the end result
Of their River of Detritus
And for however much Love between them
It caused many harsh and troublesome days

But now he knew.
For the first time in his Life.
He knew them.
He saw them.
And at first flush
It was overwhelming

They were Ghosts
Ghosts who lived with those he loved
And now he had his Ghosts
To deal with – if he could.

Unknowingly
He carried them with him always,
But here in the loneliness of the forest
He had no defense
Against recognizing their presence

( TO BE CONTINUED IN PARTS 2 & 3 )

COMPASSION AND GRIEF FOR AN UNBLESSED WOMAN

Oh unblessed woman
Twice now that shrouded courier
Of dismal tidings
Has touched thy brow
And brought you
To an untimely end.

To have him visit someone
So brave and capable
Whose inner beauty
Shone through every word
Is for me a desecration

You are mourned by
A man never met
But the pathways that Emotions travel
Are varied and beautiful

For I was touched and enchanted
By an inner vibrancy and beauty
Radiant in look and smile

And for you
With full promise denied
And achievement wrenched away
Along with so many years of life
That is ugliness elevated
To the highest pinnacle

Twice death kissed thy brow
The first a husband wed less than a year
Grown weary of life’s vagaries
And I felt for you then

And now that inevitable caller
His hand not stayed by
Youth and beauty
Has given you a callous end

And I suffer thy death
With shock and disbelief
No less so
than if you were family