movement moments

i don’t have long but i wanted to say hello to you all – we are past the halfway mark today and things are going beautifully. i have to reflect with you on the movement moments i have been having, and what i have been learning.

movement moments happen in small rooms, or from stages – in one on one interactions of solidarity and in the logistics of taking care of people.

in the past few days, i have gotten to help a woman named cecilia whose wheelchair broke on the first day, learning to care for her in ways that protect her dignity and independence.

i had the honor of facilitating a 7am conversation in which the us social forum national planning committee, through the coordinating team, made the historic decision to cancel a workshop which violated our principles. i got to see the look on the face of persecuted people when we choose solidarity over safety.

i have gotten to watch barriers fall down as the ruckus team supports action after action for local detroit communities.

i have seen people step up to take care of children, water, confusion – watched folks shift roles in order to resolve crisis.

i have seen grace lee boggs be celebrated for her 95th birthday – and i got to sing to her! her idea that every crisis is an opportunity for something new to be created, for solutions, that idea has helped us make it through this event.

and we have made history through our logistics. we have had a plastic-water bottle free event, and even got the cobo convention center to agree not to sell bottled water, to be in alignment with this vision. we have also learned a lot about the practical ways to move that strategy better in the future.

we have had all gender bathrooms and made it a clear policy and commitment. we also learned how important it is to have signs up.

i have been humbled by how much people want to support this effort, and how tirelessly people can work when they are believers in a larger vision, a something beyond capitalism, a something beyond profit.

i have also been held and healed. i particularly want to thank susan, who gave me a craniosacral treatment last night, and charity, anjali and cara for making that possible. i want to thank mike and jenny and diana for making the overwhelming pile of recycling in my home disappear. i want to thank ashindi for bringing me cookies, sharon and megan for being so fucking incredible at leading ruckus, ruckus for being MVPs to all the folks in this city i love.

it’s not over yet – today i get to be a part of more history as i co-facilitate the ecojustice people’s movement assembly. our intention is to hold the full length of our ancestral lineage in the room with us as jump the broom towards a whole thinking approach to planet, people and justice. i am ready.

love to everyone i have interacted with, whatever my state was at that moment.

Ten Lessons from Years of Activism In Detroit Community Struggles and International Solidarity And “Lessons in Grace,” a Poem Celebrating the Life of Grace Lee Boggs

Ten Lessons from Years of Activism
In Detroit Community Struggles and International Solidarity
And “Lessons in Grace,” a Poem Celebrating the Life of Grace Lee Boggs

By Gloria House, Ph.D. (aka Aneb Kgositsile)
Presented at the Panel on Detroit Movement History
United States Social Forum
COBO Convention Center, Detroit
June 23, 2010, 6:30 p.m.

1.Your priorities for struggle arise out of the deepest aspirations, hopes, needs of the people with who you are united. These deeply felt needs and aspirations provide the powerful energy for revolutionary struggle, and they offer greatest capacity for generating qualitative change in social conditions.

2.Work with those most severely injured by the recklessness of imperialism and the effects of the global economy as we are experiencing them currently. With our brothers and sisters who are suffering most, we will be able to correctly identify the priorities of our work.

3.Respect the cultural, religious and spiritual realities and allegiances of the people with whom you are working. These important characteristics of the community will influence the forms the struggle will take. Stay true to those cultural realities. Stay indigenous, stay local. Remain rooted in the culture(s) of the people with whom you are working. This rootedness and deep understanding of the struggles of the community where you are will prepare you to be truly in solidarity with distant, international struggles. Avoid imposing imported ideas/formations from other situations. Then watch closely to see how in your daily practice established cultural patterns will be modified, will evolve into new forms that respond to the current needs of the community. Study the new genres and directions being created by the youth. Examine with them which new directions lead toward a higher humanity, which do not.

4.Remain independent and self-determining. Avoid corporate/foundation funding if possible. These funds require/influence you to conform to others’ interests and expectations.

5.Protect and secure the children – through alternative educational processes designed to free their minds and prepare them to be creators of a new world; through determined actions against police brutality, war, and militarization of our cities; through working for food security and decent housing.

6.Build principled alliances and collaborations. Require the powers (transnational corporations and ruling class) to fight on many fronts at once.

7.Allow for human weaknesses such as egotism among our fellow activists, but when enough is enough, say so!

8.Work for balance in your personal life and in your community. Don’t wreck your health by assuming that you have to do more than you can manage. However, when you commit, try to follow through. Be reliable.

9.Love and protect those who stand by you, and send out love to universe through affirmations, and by living mindfully, aware of our relation to and dependence upon the natural world. The love will come right back.

10.Trust that no matter how insurmountable a social change task appears, there are ways to resist and to eventually create alternative ways of living. Though the impact of the global economy of the transnational corporations has dismantled vital aspects of our cities and communities world-wide, remember that the wrecked terrain that has been left offers us a field of opportunity for rethinking, recreating, claiming a higher quality of human life. Of course, this requires our greatest effort of collective work and responsibility, of hope, and of unswerving faith in the people’s ability to make “a way out of no way!”

Lessons in Grace
(For Grace Lee Boggs,
Chinese American Revolutionary, on Her 75th Birthday)
by Aneb Kgositsile

Face like stone sculpture,
Features rounded, softened by the wind.
The flesh concedes to weathering,
but the eyes will not relinquish
their keen measuring of the world
where you have chosen
to put down roots.

From you we learn
the costs of commitment,
the clarity of courage;
how, even, to withstand the trivia
that assails a spirit in search of sanity.

You are the lesson of balance, grace:
where to invest
to forward battle or fashion beauty,
where to withhold;
bold when strength is wanted,
silent when words are futile;
knowing when to be gentle
because there is pain,
where to object
because there is deceit.

Your work
inscribes this terrain of human striving
for those
who would travel the road
you have braved.

You planted your life
in African American soil.
Now it seems
China and Africa
are married in you.
The example of your life
weds us to the whole world.

From Shrines, Third World Press, Chicago, 2003.

deliriousity and prayer

these two pieces of art are constantly in my life – the first as background on my computer, the second in my home, signed by the artist. that’s how i am feeling right now.

i have said it so many times it is easy to say – another world is possible. another world is happening.

tonight i was given the gift of an invitation to pray with someone i love, and then reflect on that.

i have been delirious, not sleeping a lot, working more than i generally believe i have capacity to do…there’s a giddy new energy that comes from this pace. i feel like zorro, slashing a Z through problems, deeply engaged. it is easy to get to a place of reacting well, but not remembering why i am doing this, what that other world might be.

tonight in prayer i thought of how much this is an act of faith, doing this us social forum thing. i am absolutely sure, at this point, that i don’t know what i am doing, and won’t be able to do everything required of me. i know the same thing is true for everyone i am working with – and i stay surrounded by some of the hardest working people alive. but none of us KNOW – we run the gamut from hoping to praying to rationalizing to planning, but none of us really really know how to do this.

and yet i know that i need the vision and strategies and solutions and the experience of multitudes of people of faith gathered together for another world. i need the humility of process that is represented by the forum, with all its flaws.

i need people who are different from me to build with.

i need all of us to see that we cannot go without each other, that we cannot function apart, that we live on one planet, that we are one system of life here.

when i think of what is happening all over home/mother…not think it – feel it – when i feel what is happening here in detroit…my longing for us to realize our divinity and realize our potential becomes greater than any of the ties i have to the world as it currently is.

separation doesn’t make sense to me – those who work to silo the world, whether they say they are conservative or progressive, capitalist or marxist, -ive or -ist, etc…i look at the practices. are the practices divisive? oppositional? competitive? harmful?

then that’s not right, because that is not how spirit flows, not in me.

i am the living embodiment of wholeness. whether i get enough sleep or not, i am committed to radical love as a practice, as the key practice of my life, in the work of restoring the wholeness i FEEL we are capable of, that which is already within us waiting to unfold.

what is in us, we are in.
what is of us, we are of.
what is possible, we are.

my prayer friend reminds me of gratitude, and of something my grandfather once said – “be grateful for those problems. those are your teachers.”

in 9 days, thousands of teachers arrive in detroit – some are already here. i want celebration, prayer, gratitude and welcome to be the spirit of this period of my life.

amen.

this madness, this moment

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.” – Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

what will the river look like?

will it look like israel launching a military attack on an unarmed humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters? that is what is happening as i write this.

will it look like BP pouring an immeasurable amount of oil directly into the ocean, destroying the Gulf of Mexico and impacting the coastline, the islands, the living breathing ocean? that has been the center of my heartbreak this may 2010.

will it look like volcanoes erupting, ash clouds filling the sky and grounding air travel?

will it look like gays being allowed to serve in a military, allowed to violently force ‘democracy’ on nations who have resources we want/need? we must be so careful with the victories we celebrate…

will it look like 75,000 marching in arizona against racist policies that dehumanize new immigrants based on the fear/hatred of descendants of older immigrants?

will it look like communities shooting each other over side eye looks, and police shooting children while reality tv films it all?

“They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.” – Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

even with my whole head, heart, body, fiber of being – everything i have – engaged in behaviors of solution, or a new world, or transformation…i cannot ignore the madness of this moment.

to me it feels that all sense of control, of the world being a logical and/or safe place for anyone, is shaking, cracking, crumbling, dissipating, disappearing. whether it’s man-made/natural disasters, or urban/international/domestic terrorism by authority figures, the mask is falling off of this world and you have to be preparing for a new way of living and being.

i feel the tension of those who are holding onto the shore – believing some authority figure will save us if we can just get a better policy (no incendiary devices, shoot in the arm or leg, only drill in this place and/or in this way, allow part of my humanity but not all of it) without shifting the deep, structural belief systems that uphold our destruction of the planet and the majority of the people on it.

i feel the liberation as more and more people become truth tellers and freedom fighters. we march to shut down gas stations, we march on arizona, we march on israeli consulates, we flotilla our supplies in as humanitarian aid, we write, we make music to tell the story to our people in more ways. we converge, in larger and larger bodies, to dream and fight a new world into existence.

“Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.” Hopi 11th Hour Prophecy

i believe this, completely. i understand that letting go must come with grief, and so i have a feeling now of trying to swim and weep. but i dabble with a different sensation as well – perhaps the feeling at the heart of the biblical tale of lot’s wife, who was offered freedom and continuing life if she could just not look back as her world was destroyed – but she did look back, and she did turn into a pillar of salt. trying to look at this world and understand it emotionally does make me feel granular and easily blown away.

tonight my meditation is that pushing off the shore involves accepting and knowing the reality of what is happening, screaming that the truth cannot be covered up and cannot be survived. tonight is full of war on many fronts, moving in many directions. tonight, and this moment in history, is full of blood and pain and massive acts of self-hatred as a species/planet/people. tonight is full of movements, of acts of bravery, of sacrifice.

i am in the water, i am aware of the currents moving so fast – i feel all of that, every day, as i try to keep my head above water.

i’m lucky

i just came out three non-stop days of meetings. and it was the smoothest meeting so far in the us social forum process. we’re over some hump and snowballing into summer success. i think. and we will make some major mistakes – absolutely for sure. but we will make them with style and grace and growth.

i’ve been swimming daily.

i’m in love. and it’s work, and it’s getting better all the time.

ruckus is the shit. in a very humbling way, i just have to feel significantly better when ruckus is in the room because our network is just skilled in very tangible things. sharon, my coworker and a future co-director of ruckus, showed up in detroit and jumped into actions and she is so fresh y’all. it’s a blessing to feel this good about my work.

the city i live in has hard, heartbreaking work to pour myself into. and i don’t know how to walk around with my heart broken…i only know how to love at this point. i’ll give that love to the D – and i hope to be well-used.

“The pitcher yearns for water to carry/The person for work that is real.” Marge Piercy , “To Be of Use.”

and – there’s a show on hulu called Glee. i put it on when i am taking things too seriously and it reminds me i am just a show choir nerd dressed up like a revolutionary.

love you ALL and hope you do something bold and then let it go this week.