December 18, 2014
“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default.”
– Greg McKeown
I’m currently reading Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which I’ll admit I had been tempted to look at earlier in the year and then decided not to for a couple of reasons. First of all, to me the sub-title smacked of a certain level of privilege, given that there are so many people who need more not less – more resources in the face of poverty, more fundamental regard for their humanity and rights in the face of injustice. In addition and seemingly validating of my initial wariness, the book’s opening stories focus on Silicon Valley executives and other corporate players. And yet at the same time I was pulled in by this notion of “essentialism,” embodied in one of the opening quotes attributed to writer, linguist and inventor Lin Yutang:
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
May 21, 2014
Vincent Harding died on Monday and our world is emptier for it. Vincent is an unsung hero of the Civil Rights era, whose work as a speechwriter for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was essential if not widely known. His best-known speech was Dr. King’s speech Beyond Vietnam, where Dr. King boldly extended his critique to U.S. foreign policy, connecting the struggle for civil rights in the U.S. with struggles for justice in other parts of the world. You can hear Vincent explain the significance of the speech in an interview with Democracy Now! You can hear or read some of his thoughts on spirituality and justice in an On Being podcast called Dangerous Spirituality. Read More
June 26, 2012
Today I am inspired to write about the hag. This is timely in that I am staring right into my 63rd birthday, born in 1946, the year that ushered in the baby boomers for better or for worse (depending on your point of view). It is also timely because like many others in the social sector, I am a founding executive director seeking to make room for the next generation of leaders (see future blogs) and challenged to re-imagine my continued contribution to social justice.
Not to be a caricature but again like so many of my cohort who were called to service by President Kennedy and came of age in the civil rights era, my life’s work was initiated as one of the first Vista Volunteers stationed in the border town of Laredo, Texas. It was there that I learned first hand about oppression, racism and injustice as well as hope, change and activism. I knew the work I wanted to do in the world. I was young then, not yet a hag.
April 30, 2012
We often focus on the understanding of power as a process and as a social construct. As Beth Roy says, “power is not something you have; it’s something you do.” I was struck by a contrast as I listened to a brief story this morning about Lyndon B. Johnson.
Biographer Robert Caro described Johnson as having “no power” as Vice President because the Kennedy’s didn’t want him to have any. When President Kennedy was assassinated, he suddenly had all the power conferred by that office. Read More
November 10, 2011
Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites. She was active in the women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.
September 26, 2011
I apologize to the passionate and brilliant Hena Ashraf for failing to link this post to her blog. My friend Saulo Colon shared her story with me and I wrongly assumed he had written it.
I woke up today as I’m sure many of you did thinking of how I get to wake up today, and Troy Davis doesn’t. I thought about how this country kills innocent people abroad and at home. And I felt immense frustration at the recent news of how much the NYPD targets and monitors the Muslim community. I went to the Troy Davis rally that took place last night at Union Square at 5pm.
January 19, 2010
Having attended a community MLK Day celebration and listened to several radio programs today, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re missing the point about the meaning of Dr. King.
One student, to his credit, spoke of Dr. King’s opposition to discrimination and linked that to what he saw as injustice in our present day health care system. No one should be discriminated against – and everyone has a right to access health care. Right on! This young man got the point. But, sadly, he’s the only young person I heard today who spoke of justice or attempted to connect Dr. King’s legacy to current day justice issues. I heard several other middle and high school students say things like, “No one wanted to resist Jim Crow until Dr. King gave them inspiration,” or “He opened the doors for hope and then people walked through.”
Not quite. Read More