Mar 30, 2011

A Confession

I stand between the shame and relief
I breathe............
The missiles missed this time
Truth is , they didin't miss entirely
Someone's house is destroyed
but not the house I know so well
Someone's family is grieving
but not the one whose name I carry
I linger between my shame and relief
I breathe
I tell myself
"This flesh, torn and scattered,
is not flesh I have ever embraced,"
I soothe myself,
"nor are these small lifeless hands
the ones with a crayon I've traced".
I ...breathe...this time
the missiles missed
those whose names are engraved on my lips.
This time they didn't stop those hearts beating in my chest.
They live.....
I breathe.
But I must confess
Every time the bombs fall on Gaza
I search for answers
Where did they strike?
Which street did they blow up?
Which neighbourhood did they destroy?
Which lives did they steal?
Aware of my guilt I whisper a prayer
Dear God, please don't let it be the ones I love.
Ya Allah......
Ya Allah......
And when it's over
And when the less fortunate ones weep
I stand between shame and relief.
I breathe.....
I breathe.....
Thank God my loved ones....are spared
This time.
- Samah Sabawi

Poem published here by the Palestine Chronicle, a great resource. Thanks to Simon Dalby for pointing me to this poem and the book, "The Journey to Peace in Palestine" which Samah Sabawi co-authored, with Bill Baldwin. Samah was born in Gaza and lives as a refugee in Australia. Bill was in Palestine as an accompanier with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Mar 26, 2011

solidarity fatigue

I have posted before about empathy fatigue, and heard the term 'compassion fatigue'used regarding caregivers - but is there such a thing as 'solidarity fatigue'? This article using the term got widely picked up by other sites, particularly in the Catholic network. The article does not explain the term but says:

""For many, Colombia equals coffee and drugs", said Presbyterian theologian Milton Mejía. Those stereotypes are compounded by a decades-long internal armed conflict that "seems to be worsening constantly", Mejía added, the result being "a widespread loss of interest and fatigue".

According to Mejía, who coordinates the Observatory of Church and Society at the Reformed University of Barranquilla, this solidarity fatigue affects even international organizations towards which Colombians turn for support. As a consequence, Colombians face difficulties when trying to explain the extent and urgency of the humanitarian crisis in their country."

Is there a difference between solidarity fatigue and empathy fatigue? I don't know, to me solidarity fatigue makes me think more of activist burnout than what Milton is describing above. As in being tired of making a fist, of holding hands up high.

Mar 19, 2011

crazy map of new US military construction in Latin America

Well, the map itself isn't crazy, it's quite smart. What's crazy is that the amount of military construction in Latin America planned by the Pentagon for this year has doubled since 2009. How often have you seen that mentioned in mainstream media coverage of Obama's trip? Kudos to FOR for developing an annotated map of current and planned U.S. military construction in Latin America based on publicly available information on federal contracts. Check out the map here or below. Looks like US Empire feels like it needs to retrench in its back yard.

View US military construction sites in Latin America, 2010-2011 in a larger map

Mar 15, 2011

Foucault on solidarity

Thanks to Wes for pointing me to this, previously posted here.

We are just private individuals here, with no other grounds for speaking, or for speaking together, than a certain shared difficulty in enduring what is taking place.

Of course, we accept the obvious fact that there's not much that we can do about the reasons why some men and women would rather leave their country than live in it. The fact is beyond our reach.

Who appointed us, then? No one. And that is precisely what constitutes our right. It seems to me that we need to bear in mind three principles that, I believe, guide this initiative, and many others that have preceded it: the Ile-de-Lumiere, Cape Anamour, the Airplane for El Salvador, Terre des Hommes, Amnesty International.

1. There exists an international citizenship that has its rights and its duties, and that obliges one to speak out against every abuse of power, whoever its author, whoever its victims. After all, we are all members of the community of the governed, and thereby obliged to show mutual solidarity.

2. Because they claim to be concerned with the welfare of societies, governments arrogate to themselves the right to pass off as profit or loss the human unhappiness that their decisions provoke or their negligence permits. It is a duty of this international citizenship to always bring the testimony of people's suffering to the eyes and ears of governments, sufferings for which it's untrue that they are not responsible. The suffering of men must never be a silent residue of policy. It grounds an absolute right to stand up and speak to those who hold power.

3. We must reject the division of labor so often proposed to us: individuals can get indignant and talk; governments will reflect and act. It's true that good governments appreciate the holy indignation of the governed, provided it remains lyrical. I think we need to be aware that very often it is those who govern who talk, are capable only of talking, and want only to talk. Experience shows that one can and must refuse the theatrical role of pure and simple indignation that is proposed to us. Amnesty International, Terre des Hommes, and Medecins du monde and initiatives that have created this new right-- that of private individuals to effectively intervene in the sphere of international policy and strategy. The will of individuals must make a place for itself in a reality of which governments have attempted to reserve a monopoly for themselves, that monopoly which we need to wrest from them little by little and day by day.

-Michel Foucault (1984)
On the occassion of the announcement in Geneva of the creation of an International Committee against Piracy

Mar 10, 2011

great news and a beautiful solidarity campaign

I have blogged several times here asking for your solidarity for my friend Martha Giraldo. Today the sergeant who killed her dad was found guilty, and they officially declared her dad not a guerilla. She will continue to press charges against the other 7 army men involved, but this is a great start. An important victory to celebrate in dark times. Thanks to all for helping me support her struggle, part of our greater struggle for truth and justice in this world.

And now for another moment of beauty. The organization Martha is involved in, the Movement of Victims of State Crimes in Colombia would like a photo of your feet please. Join them on their big march for justice in the streets this Saturday by sending photos of your feet around the world. Send a photo of your feet to by Saturday. There are some fabulous ones up already! See them at the slideshow below, or to see them with locations and comments look at them here.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Mar 2, 2011

beyond fair bananas

Sobirania Alimentaria "Comunidad de Paz San José de Apartadó" from Albert Farnos on Vimeo.

this beautiful video about the peace community of San Jose in Colombia shows all the steps it takes for bananas and chocolate to get to you. bananas start at minute 9:30 and chocolate at 14 - but the whole thing is mesmerizingly beautiful. it's all in spanish, but even if you don't understand it the images are stunning. it makes eating chocolate and bananas an entirely different experience. I would love to show this in a course about commodity chains. Why 'beyond fair'? Because selling these bananas at a fair price to their German solidarity buyers allows the peace community to not sell to the only other buyers in town, who are all connected to the paramilitaries. Wish I could eat these 'peace bananas' in Vancouver!