Dear friends and readers,
I wanted to celebrate this ancient ritual day which the international socialist, labor and workers’ movement around the earth took as their commemorative day by linking in a blog I wrote here during the high point of the Occupy Wall Street era, when (it seemed) all over New York City there were parades, picnics, singing, speeches in honor of the day, and as a mode of strengthening ties among the 99% as the OWS movement so memorably called us all. But like Amazon (no longer a place you can go to to see what books are in print, available from all booksellers registering with this company), Google has so corrupted its engine I can no longer find my blogs by typing in strings of letters — or for that matter research any topic generally (all I get are the commercial sites Google hopes to make money from or are tied to Google to generate eyeballs). I’m sure I did write such a blog here.
This was discouraging, but I did find a blog I wrote on LiveJournal May 1, 2012. And I found this record of a full day’s schedule in NYC on May 2012. But I resolutely told myself there was a time I could not reach anyone at all beyond those in my house or a few friends I might see around May 1st.
So some signs of hope: Bernie Sanders declared his candidacy for the president of the United States. I’ve sent him a small donation, endorsed him, and shared one of the announcements. Even if he does not win (and in the New Yorker he was characterized as someone ineligible to run as the laws the US are set up to prevent anyone of integrity running), he will bring into the public conversation central issues and move Hillary Clinton (we may hope) to make promises and shape her agenda to a more humane decent one. From the mainstream online press, the CNN interview, and from Amy Goodman’s interview of Ralph Nader on this.
Today 6 of the police officers who together were responsible for the hideous death (screaming in an agony of pain as his spinal cord was severed) of Freddie Grey in Baltimore last week were indicted for homicide. Even if the later trial does not result in a conviction, this is significant. It’s apparent for a number of years now police have been trained to shoot first with impunity (not worry about the consequences to themselves). This is a moment to feel some hope for change from murdering black and minority people — and treating any poor or white people with disrespect. Read Ta Nehisi-Coates on where the plunder and invisible violence lies everywhere.
Mothers day for a portion of the thousands of women whose sons are dead from police killings:
Read about Valerie Bell’s son’s murder, November 25, 2006
A whole host of issues may be brought in to change: the mass incarceration of black men, the horrible conditions of our prisons for anyone in them, the draconian sentences which destroy lives. I saw the first article I’ve seen by a respected judge questioning the idea that apparently enough middle class white people believe and the priorities acting on such a judgement assume: that locking up for life or decades black people will directly decrease serious or trivial street crime: “The Silence of the Judges” by Jed Rakoff (NYRB, May 21, 2015).
In a world wide bleak landscape, these developments are small and local, but they are signs that the huge percentage of people so suffering in the present economic and political climate can make their will felt through the legal and judicial and electoral systems of given countries. I’ve not mentioned (as I’ve not been writing anything about politics lately) how Syriza winning Greece is significant and the courage they have shown in their attempts to turn back the clock on the punitive austerity measures that the people now running the EU and World Bank are perpetrating.
Words matter of course. Here in the US the some few years ago now supreme court defined money as free speech (Citizens United) so the more money a group can give to a candidate or use in an election the more free speech they’ve exercised. Then this past year they defined discrimination as religious liberty (Hobby Lobby) so now in many localities in the US Republicans are passing laws on behalf of people’s right to discriminate. This past week the Republicans in Congress tried to pass a bill they can impose on DC to allow employers not to pay for women employees’ health insurance; on that principle they could fire her for private decisions with her doctor). We know the 8th amendment (bill of rights, anyone?) where the gov’t is forbidden to bankrupt individuals has been gutted; the 2nd perverted, the 1st and 4th nullified.
Muriel Rukeyser did not give up hope and in August 2012 I wrote a foremother poet blog about her, quoting some of her greatest poems, including the famous “I lived in the century of world wars” and from “Kathe Kollwitz.” To these I add another:
Waking this morning,
a violent woman in the violent day
Past the line of memory
along the long body of your life
in which move childhood, youth, your lifetime of touch,
eyes, lips, chest, belly, sex, legs, to the waves of the sheet.
I look past the little plant
on the city windowsill
to the tall towers bookshaped, crushed together in greed,
the river flashing flowing corroded,
the intricate harbor and the sea, the wars, the moon, the planets,
all who people space
in the sun visible invisible.
African violets in the light
breathing, in a breathing universe. I want strong peace,
the wild good.
I want to make my touch poems:
to find my morning, to find you entire
alive moving among the anti-touch people.
I say across the waves of the air to you:
today once more
I will try to be non-violent
one more day
this morning, waking the world away
in the violent day.