The message below went out on Wednesday, January 18, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
“Occupying space is not inherently bad, it’s all about who and how and why.”
–Julian Padilla of the Occupy Wall Street People of Color Working Group
At Occupy locations across the country, the idea of the “human mic” or “peoples mic” has taken hold. Simply put, this is a way of creating a welcoming, pluralistic space where everyone can be easily heard and their words are repeated back to them to express an understanding of what has been said and to amplify the speaker’s voice, without the need for amplification equipment. For those who have attended Occupy gathering, this way of communicating in large groups is incredibly powerful and provides a unique approach to listening.
Today’s action is about the spaces we occupy with our speech, and the ways in which we listen:
In order to cultivate love, compassion and understanding, it is important to practice active listening in our relationships. Making room for our own thoughts, and space for others’ thoughts, is crucial to standing on the side of love.
Today, from morning to night, speak in a gentle voice, sparingly, allowing for silence as much as possible.
Note how this feels. Does speaking gently change the nature of your conversations, or how people interact with you?
Share your answers with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.
**For each of the questions we pose this week, the two responses with the most FB ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love bumper sticker or rally sign.
The inspiration for today’s action came from a good friend of mine – a mother of two kids, ages 8 and 12 – told me a few weeks ago that she was becoming increasingly frustrated at the tone of voice she found her children using. They were constantly talking over their friends, as well as each other, and their parents. The kids were, she said, becoming a couple of “little, interrupting devils.” What’s worse, she said, is when she sat down to address the issue with her children, her son told her that she did the very same thing. “Mom,” he told me. “You interrupt all the time. And you are loud!”
“I was mortified,” she said. “Mainly because I knew it was true. It wasn’t the first time I had heard this about myself, but now I could see it mirrored in my children.”
From that moment forward, my friend set out on a task: she would speak more softly and work not to interrupt other people. “After one hour on the first day,” she said, “I realized just how difficult this would be for me.”
My friend continues to actively work to grant other people more space in conversation, and I have noticed a real change in her demeanor. I am intrigued by what this exercise can mean on a larger scale.
Being the Change,
Standing on the Side Love
The message below went out on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
“Polish your heart for a day or two; make that mirror your book of contemplation.” –Rumi
Today, we delve into the theme of the week: the story of self. In order to know the story of us and the story of now, we must know the story of self. As the New Organizing Institute says, “How can you lead others if they don’t know who you are, where you come from, and what your values are?”
Powerful actions emanate from profound self-reflection.
Join us in introspective love by answering crucial questions this week. I love today’s question because it takes us to the heart and mission of our campaign: to harness love’s power to stop identity-based bigotry and oppression, and to promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
Today’s question: How is love part of your personal identity?
Share your answer with our community on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.
**For each of the questions we pose this week, the two responses with the most FB ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love bumper sticker or rally sign**
I feel so blessed to have love at the forefront of my personal identity in many ways at this point in my life: I manage the Standing on the Side of Love campaign(!) I have spent more than a decade working towards ending marriage discrimination as both an issue of justice and love. I proudly officiate several weddings each year, many for same-gender couples. And I am thrilled that I will be getting married later this year to the love of my life. But in some ways, these are just the surface items. When I dig deeper, and honestly, I know that the desire to love myself – and others — unconditionally is also a key part of my personal identity. And that quest for unconditional love is the result of the bullying and marginalization I faced as a young person, targeted for torment because I was deemed too effeminate and not “one of the guys.” My social justice work is largely driven by this desire to make sure no one ever faces the sort of taunting and dehumanization that I faced.
What about you? I look forward to hearing more about your story of self, and how love is part of your personal identity.
Have a wonderful, love-filled day.
Being the Change,
Standing on the Side Love
P.P.S. I loved this article, Real-World Change Can Come From Within, by Parker J. Palmer, Author, “Healing the Heart of Democracy.” Here is my favorite paragraph as a teaser:
The notion that social change can be sparked by an inner revolution is not only realistic. It also gives us a gift that conventional “realism” withholds — a chance to do something that might make a difference. What passes for political realism may make for lively academic debates. But it often functions, ironically, as a tool of social control, rendering us passive with an analysis that overwhelms and paralyzes us. If massive structures, complex systems, big money, military might and long-term cultural-historical trends are where all the action is, how do you and I become part of the action? The inner life agenda, however, is always actionable, even when we are isolated — as Nelson Mandela was as he spent 27 years in prison preparing inwardly to lead the anti-apartheid movement.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Monday, January 16, 2012. You can sign-up for these emails here.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Stength to Love, 1963
Welcome to the commencement of National Standing on the Side of Love Month: The Story of Us and the Story of Now! On behalf of all of the Standing on the Side of Love supporters who came together to bring this idea to fruition, I hope you will find these Thirty Days of Love to be rewarding, challenging, and inspiring.
Our community is kicking off National Standing on the Side of Love Month with powerful witness and service across the country in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., known the world over as one of the greatest champions of freedom, justice, equality and peace ever known. After all, as Dr. King said, “I think of love as something strong, and that organizes itself into powerful direct action.
Click here to see some ways you can join us in honoring his legacy.
The rest of this week, our journey will take us into our theme of the week: the Story of Self. For our Story of Self, the key focus is on our choices, those moments in our lives when our values moved us to act. This is a week full of questions to guide your personal reflection.
We encourage you – if you are so comfortable — to share your answer with our robust Facebook community that is approaching 28,000 people: http://www.facebook.com/SideofLove.
For each of the questions of self-reflection we pose this week, the two responses that have inspired the most Facebook ‘likes’ will receive a free Standing on the Side of Love bumper sticker or rally sign.
Here are a few additional important things to note on this first of Thirty Days:
*You can download the 30 Days of Love Guide to Creating a Story of Us, Story of Now and commit to working with your community over the next 30 days with the guide.
*We also have a theological reflection guide available for download so you commit to mulling over important questions in your community in the next 30 days.
*Make sure you have the resources you need for any public witness events on or around National Standing on the Side of Love Day, Feb. 14th.
*Are you planning a witness event that is timely with the potential for serious local impact on behalf of marginalized communities? Apply for a Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grant today: http://www.uua.org/giving/funding/102184.shtml
We look forward to hearing how individuals and congregation are moved by the commemoration of Dr. King’s ministry! Please share your thoughts and photos with us as soon as possible so we may include them in our round-up.
As the King Center for Non-violent Social Change states on its web site, about Dr. King “… in many ways the true power of his legacy remains untapped.”
Undoubtedly, one of the keys to Dr. King’s legacy was love. Let’s tap that love today and every day to inspire our social justice work.
P.S. Thirty Days of Love offers daily, direct actions for love, and the calendar is a template to guide you through a meaningful Thirty Days. We already sent out our first email about today’s suggested calendar actions this morning. If you’re not yet signed up for daily updates, click here to make sure you receive them going forward. We will also have them posted on our blog.More >
The message below went out on Monday, January 16, 2012 to those Standing on the Side of Love supporters who signed up for daily Thirty Days of Love emails. You can sign-up for the 30 Days of Love emails here.
What better anchor for our Thirty Days than a celebration of the ministry of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!
Whether you are working or at home today; whether you are participating in witness or in service, may this be a moment for meaningful reflection on the power of one to inspire many, and on the very notions of progress, justice, and love.
As we begin our Thirty Days immersed in the teachings and legacy of Dr. King, here are two actions you can take to honor the spirit of love that Dr. King espoused:
- Share a favorite Dr. King. quote on our Facebook page and on your wall. Half the reward of this endeavor is reading through the virtual treasure chest of thoughts that Dr. King offers the world. After all, he is considered one of the greatest orators in U.S. history. Here are a couple of links to guide you: http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Martin_Luther_King_Jr.
- Watch Dr. King’s most famous speech with the young people in your life and discuss what it means to you. Ask what they glean from his messages.
- Check out this op-ed, “Reflections on Martin Luther King Day” from Kevin Alexander Gray, a writer for Progressive Media Project:
- This video of Nina Simone has been making the rounds, and it’s powerful:
- If you’re not familiar with Nina Simone’s musical stylings, many of which encompass strong civil rights themes, you are missing out on one of the most powerful singers to ever live. Here is a link to a place where you can start to explore her discography: http://grooveshark.com/#!/nina_simone/albums. Don’t skip over “Mississippi Goddamn.”
- This post from the NAACP is a good reflection on Rekindling the Fire of the Civil Rights Movement: http://www.naacp.org/blog/entry/rekindling-the-fire
- The UUA offers a wonderful resource for congregations: “Keep Talking, Start Doing: ten Ways to Deepen Your Congregation’s Multiculturalism Journey”. Click here to explore it: http://www.uua.org/multiculturalism/introduction/185106.shtml
- Beacon Press offers a number of literary resources related to Dr. King worth checking out: http://www.beacon.org/contributorinfo.cfm?ContribID=1818
- And here is a You Tube trailer of Beacon’s new book, “Thou Dear God” The Prayers of Martin Luther King Jr.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LfVNi3nRw0
Wednesday, January 12, 2012 marked the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo Bay prison. I, along with hundreds of other activists assembled outside the White House on a cold and rainy day to witness against the continued operation of this shameful symbol of torture and unlawful detention.
171 wore orange jumpsuits with black hoods. There are 171 detainees in Guantánamo. The 171 marched silently past the White House and then continued on to the Department of Justice, Capitol Hill, and the Supreme Court. Those of us who followed were anything but silent in our protest.
All three branches of our government are responsible for the abuses that have occurred and are still occurring at this prison.
Mohamedou Ould Salahi was transferred to Guantánamo on August 4, 2002, more than nine years ago. He was arrested in Mauritania in November of 2001, on suspicion that he had been involved in the failed “Millennium Plot” to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport.
Salahi admits that he traveled to Afghanistan in 1990 to engage in Jihad against the communists and was part of al-Qaida. But he claims that he severed ties with al-Qaida in 1992.
In 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge James Robertson heard Salahi’s case. In the trial report he wrote,
“Salahi’s admission that he once was part of al-Qaida but that he severed his ties after 1992 raises burden-of-proof questions: May the burden lawfully be shifted to Salahi to prove his dis-association? If so, at what point does the burden shift?” ….how can Guantánamo detainees – locked up for years on a remote island, cut off from the world, without resources, with only such access to intelligence sources and witnesses as the government deigns to give them – how can such people possibly carry the burden of rebuttal, even against weak government cases?”
Most of the evidence the government used against Salahi was obtained during interrogation. But, again, in the trial report, “There is ample evidence in this record that Salahi was subjected to extensive and severe mistreatment at Guantánamo from mid-June 2003 to September 2003.”
Judge Robertson concludes,
“The question, upon which the government had the burden of proof, was whether, at the time of his capture, Salahi was a “part of” al-Qaida. On the record before me, I cannot find that he was. The petition for writ of habeas corpus is granted. Salahi must be released from custody. It is SO ORDERED.”
Unfortunately, on November 5, 2010, the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded this decision by former U.S. District Judge James Robertson. Salahi remains imprisoned in Guantánamo.
Holding detainees for years without trial, admitting into evidence statements made under “extensive and severe mistreatment”, and placing the burden of proof on the defendant to prove his innocence, are unconstitutional actions. These actions are fundamentally inconsistent with a country that likes to proclaim it is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
In the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty there is a plaque with these words of Benjamin Franklin, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
In the case of Salahi and the 170 other prisoners being held at Guantánamo, we are sacrificing essential liberties. Let Salahi go! Try all the remaining detainees in open court where hearsay and coerced confessions are not admissible as evidence.
Military tribunals are about to begin that may result in a death sentence for some of the detainees. It’s bad enough that we are one of a handful of countries that continue to impose the death penalty. What would be even worse is if we were to impose it on someone who has not been afforded all the rights guaranteed by our constitution, the one document the President, the Justices of the Supreme Court, and the members of congress have all sworn to uphold and defend.More >