Sunday, January 29, 2006

the instruments of revolution...

From time to time I consider the priorities and values of my country and a great grieving overtakes me.

Again I return to what has become a recurrent theme… what is it that we… as a culture, as a society… value?

Prejudice, racism are complex issues. If we take the time to tease it out, it is not so simple as “Do I hate you for the color of your skin? for your religion, your sexual preference, your heritage…” Handed down to us is more than our genes. We live in a framework of expectations, wealth and privilege, social status and opportunity that is our inheritance. We are still living out the implications of the beliefs and attitudes of an endless chain of generations.

There are those who have been born to money and position and invariably that condition was provided for by past labor. In some instances this labor was the sweat equity of their own ancestors, in others, it was the sweat of slaves, share croppers, or a multitude of other exploited laborers. Even attitudes concerning self-worth, education and possibility might be said to some degree to be an inheritance from those who came before us.

Some still suffer under the prejudices, racisms, discriminations of the past. The impoverished of cities like New Orleans are often examples of this. Rather than teasing out carefully the cause and remedies for these situations, too often we apply a myopic vision to the scene and wonder at the inability of the poor to take charge of their own lives and better its cause.

From Casablanca:

Captain Renault: I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

The Croupier: (Handing Renault a roll of bills.) Your winnings, sir.

It was the same in New Orleans after Katrina… “I am shocked, shocked to find that there are poor people here!” …shocked to find that so many were without the resources to “just drive away.” What hypocrisy! We’ve been playing the system all along. It’s built in from generations back… the wealthy have a right to wealth, health care and other “privileges.” If you can’t afford it, you don’t have a right to it…

Would we deny medicine, shelter, or opportunity to poor children? Like a giant elephant we tromp around defending our national security… Our national security, our future rests with our ability to open opportunities up for all our children. We must accept this responsibility. Education can no longer be tied to property value or the economic status of the immediate community. All education must be rigorous, competitive and available to all our citizens who have the wherewithal to pursue it. “Higher” education, quality secondary and preschool education… is the responsibility of the People.

Education: a value of educators-child care-healthcare; these are the instruments of revolution. These are the tools of a future of promise. We must make a commitment to our environment and to our children and move beyond the concerns of instant gratification.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


This is Mike when he was in his 20s...

The last time I talked to him... he was so worried about everything that needed to be done... so worried about taking care of other people.

I think about the "moral" battles that go on in politics and I can't find anything moral about them.

Free Will... Judge not...

If someone wants an opportunity for a kind of life... to live openly... to not have to lie about who they are to be loved... if one would want to enter into a contract with another for the sake of love and to endow that person with all their worldly goods and with that the rights of family... who is Hecuba, or who is anyone, to say that it is not their choice... their right to pursue that happiness?

Is not my soul my own?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

au revoir les enfants...

I spoke to him last Wednesday… He was upbeat, yet anxious… concerned about what needed to be done at home to take care of his parents, his dogs, his brother, car stuff, house stuff – the business of life… Almost all of his thoughts had to do with taking care of his family. “I’m afraid to know what I’m going to find...” he said “…when I get home.”

He had been in the hospital for three weeks.

Last night I spoke to Chris in New Zealand. I wanted to make sure he knew that Mike was gone. We talked about the mysteries of Mike’s life and the secrets that our family keeps. (Are they my secrets to share with you now?)

Those secrets – who have they helped? What life have they made easier?

It seems to me they have caused more pain than anything else. When family cannot smile generously and embrace one another, when we can’t make room for those that our loved ones love, what does it benefit? And when, after all, are we worthy to judge the life of others?

What are the limits of love? What does love look like? How does it act?

When do we love for the sake of loving?

That much of Mike’s life was hidden, that even at the end he worried about what others might know – wouldn’t it have been better if he could have just known that we loved him?

How do we open our arms to the whole person?

Part of me falls away with you but still part of you stays.

Michael Cooper
Native of Hamilton, Alabama
Sign Aries
Birthday March 28, 1959 (I might be a little off on this.)
Mike lived for a time in Birmingham, Alabama and then lived for many years in Los Angeles. In the 90s, while living in LA, he was the victim of a knife attack. He returned to Alabama in the late 90s to help care for his parents.

He was my first cousin. I grew up with Mike. My other cousin, Chris, and I are concerned that those who knew him (loved him) are aware of his death. We would also like to hear from anyone who may have known him. Please leave a post or pass this along to anyone you know who might have known him.