Tag Archives: Hope

16 Years Sober: Gratitude

Sometimes a moment set aside to display a little gratitude is good. There are a few times a year that this comes about for me, but May 2nd is one of particular importance for me. It was this day, sixteen years ago, in 2001 that the life I now enjoy was given to me. No, that is not the day I was born, that was some thirty-five years ago and we celebrated my born day and my mother on April 5th. 05/02/01 was my first day sober and today makes 16 years.

I remember, when I was 16 years old and in a juvenile prison when an O.G. Vice Lord from Chicago came in to speak with us. He said that he remembered being more free while locked up and more a prisoner while he was on the streets. Back then, I thought he was full of shit. I thought he was out of his mind, so I wrote him off. I was not until I was 19, had overdosed on ecstasy, walked across the country, joined a priesthood/cult type of thing, relapsed, slithered my way back to Seattle and into of self-made pit of quicksand that stretched in all directions as I hurt and destroyed relationships with everyone in my family; doped out, strung out, and on my way to throw myself from the Aurora Bridge that the O.G.’s words came back to me. It was at that moment that I finally understood what he was talking about and what he meant when he said that he was a prisoner on the streets.

That night I made myself a promise, namely, that if my life did not get just a little bit better then, I could always return to the bridge to finish what I started. A brother of mine used to say, “when the pain outweighs the pain, then we change.” What he meant by that was when the pain of doing the same old thing over and over again becomes greater than the pain of doing something different, doing something to change our conditions, then we opt for the lesser of the two apparent evils. Of the many decisions I have made in my life, that is perhaps the one I look back to with the least regret, the most pride, and absolute gratitude and humility. I used to underestimate the power of planting a seed in a mind especially, a mind that seems as though there is nothing for the roots to take hold within. Life is an awesome thing and sometimes it takes much experience to prepare the soil adequately for the seeds once planted to sprout.

For anyone who has traveled down this path than no further explanation is necessary, but for those of you who haven’t it was no easy feat. There were many days that I wished for death to visit me quickly. There were a few years that every day my stomach felt like it was tied in knots because I wanted to get loaded so bad I couldn’t make sense of the world around me. But the people close to me held me down and encouraged me not to give up. One person in particular, aside from my mother who held me down always and with true heart, a bother to me eternally, Marcus. I know for sure that without him and through him, Seance, no one would know me as Renaissance, and I would not have emerged as the prolific artist, emcee, and poet you all know me to be today. I am almost as certain of this fact, as the fact that had I not have gone to that juvenile prison that I would not have met that O.G. whose words eventually granted me the guidance I needed to reclaim my life, and that it was there that I first began to write poetry. These are just a few of the most prominent examples from my life that I appreciate the opportunity to recall that I neither got to where I am today alone, nor would I have really wanted to, and that I have a lot and many people in my life to be grateful for and whom I love dearly to this day.

Since I got sober, I have made the rounds of the people and the institutions I caused harm to when I was lost in my addiction and sought to set things right by them. I got my G.E.D., then my high school diploma, an incredible feat for one such as I who had earned a 0.0 G.P.A. in high school prior to dropping out. I earned a printing degree from Job Corps. I failed out of college my ‘first’ attempt. I worked my way from a day laborer in my mentor’s construction company to being his partner. I started, hosted, and planned the Cornerstone Open Mic with Marcus which we ran for five years and built an incredible family of emcees, poets, DJs, and musicians. I worked with The Service Board (TSB) as a way to pay forward the grace and investment made into my own life by a life-long friend Rice Yoba who showed me that Hip Hop is so much more than blunts, bitches, and 40s, but that it was revolutionary, educational, powerful, and my heritage. And I returned to college, was the valedictorian of North Seattle Community College, and barely skirted under the honor roll at the University of Washington when I graduated double majoring in History and Philosophy. I have studied immigration in Greece, lived with the Peasant Rice Famers in the Philippines, and been a Climate Justice and Black Liberation organizer fighting against police brutality and to end mass incarceration, on the front lines with our Indigenous relatives in Washington, Arizona, and North Dakota, and fighting against the dehumanizing deportation and incarceration policies of the United States.

I have done a lot, that I know for certain would not be possible had I not sobered up sixteen years ago. However, it is not the things I have done or that I have accomplished that matter to me most. It is that I am no longer a slave. It is that I have my own mind. That I can see clearly. That I do not destroy relationships, but I build and nurture them. Today, unlike when I was a youngster, I have the ability, capacity, and the desire to love, and I am loved in return. These are the things in my life that I value the most and that I am most grateful for. These are the things that I fight so hard for and that I will never sacrifice. These are the things that I fight to make sure others have the opportunity to enjoy.

I am because of my community and I only am because of my community. Without my community I would not be. My community is the reason that I am still alive. My community is the reason that I am here. And my community is who I receive my direction, guidance, and passion from. I am an extension of my community and my community is an extension of me.

There are two people in particular from my community who I esteem above all others and who have had the greatest impact on my life and who I am as a human being, my mother and my partner. My mother not only gave me life, but has been the continuous rock and guiding light who has kept me grounded on the right path since I was born, and she has never wavered.  No matter how tight money was, or how hard times were, she always loved me and my brother unconditionally and gave freely of herself without question or regret. She has worked hard all of her life and has always put others before herself. She taught me everything I know about being a man. I can remember, how she would scowl at my brother and I when we were younger and be like, “I am not going to go clean up after someone else all day long only to come home and clean up after you monkeys!” She taught me the value and the reward of hard work and that I am never to push my responsibility off onto others, especially women who already give so much. Without her and her love and guidance, I most certainly would not be. And my partner in life and in crime, my heart; I would be lost without her. Until I met her, I did not think that true love actually exists. I did not think that I could devote myself to someone else so fully, or that I could ever permit someone to be so devoted to me. She continues to surprise me and to reveal the beauty of our world to me. She has this way of seeing the beauty in everything and everyone, that until years together was simply beyond me. And whether times are at their worst or at their greatest, for four years now I have been blessed to share and be partner in everything. Zahara took me to my first protest when Portland Rising Tide organized and shut down the Columbia River in protest of the tar sands that were being shipped through Washington to be transported to China. It was Zahara, who showed me that I am nothing without my community, but that I am everything with you and that I am liberated. It was Zahara who helped me to believe that I and you have immeasurable value and that we are worth much more, and that we are worth fighting for. Without my mother and my partner, I would not be Renaissance and I would not be the human being I am today.

I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for each and every one of you. I am grateful that today I have the opportunity to continue to strive for the life I know we all deserve and to become a better human being. And whether anyone reads this or not, at least I know, that I have taken, if but a moment, to display my gratitude.

Thank you.

#PowerToThePeople

Advertisements

“Invisible Walls” by Renaissance

 

Verse 1:

Stuck in transition
Lacking position
Latitude, Longitude
Complicates Mission
Glossed over vision
The world, no it isn’t
A visit, Cuz this myth
Is bigger than Wizards
My head in orbits
Round phantoms so gorgeous
Dreams in remission
Yo God has been missin
From my prayers
Through night terrors
And Flashes of RAGE
Blank stares, at my wares
I’m locked in a cage
I’m put on display
Just to shock and amaze
Gawked at through windows
I’ve been here for days
There is no escape
From a place that can’t be
I’m telling you now
You bark up the wrong tree
I’m just out of phase
Between your world and mine
Hear but cant see
Smell but cant find
I’m just trying to live
I hope you don’t mind
Crossing the barriers
Encroaching lines

Chorus:

Fight against the poison of the mind cuz I believe

Fight against the prison with walls that I can’t see

Fight against the system makes us seem like the enemy

Fight against the barriers don’t want us to be free

Fight against the urge to quite, instead live my destiny

Fight against the trap to become another tragedy

Fight against the lies they use to justify their tyranny

Fight to pull these walls down until they come tumbling

 

Verse 2:

Stay in your place
Respect your race
You don’t belong, man,
Just look at your face
Been turned all around
Feeling things just like this
Every time I walk
In to their office
My degree don’t mean shit
When I’m caught in the grips
Of whips, chains, and ships
Hist the scars on my wrists
Blind fold my eyes
But there’s still no surprise
America filled
To the brim with its lies
Got their roles and the jobs
All neatly comprised
Prison bed counts
Done from third graders’ eyes
How well they read
Forget what they need
They work or they bleed
Jim Crow concedes
Some walls we see
Others we don’t
Some will believe
Others just won’t
Cuz they’ve not had to cross
Deal with the loss
Traverse the gauntlet
Risk paying the costs

The Ideals We Strive Towards

I love my life, but despise much of the context in which I have to live it.

The principles contained in the Constitution had great potential until they became tainted by self-interest, distorted with the pursuit for profit, and subverted by a desire to retain power.

The democratic experiment failed before it ever got started because Women, Black people, Native people, and poor people were not included, which is by definition not a democracy, but an oligarchy. Democracy necessitates the full participation of all those who choose to participate, thus, a practice of barring participants nullifies and disqualifies the system in the United States as being democratic. The people who have been in power in this country have employed numerous methods to silence dissenting opinions or simply the opinions of those they did not want to hear from. It had potential, but it fell short of its ideal.

Corporations are not human beings, but they are counted by United States law as being persons, and they, the people who compose these corporations are able to act and harm others with impunity behind the veil of incorporation. There is nothing inherently wrong with a group of people coming together to pool their resources and make collective decisions about them for the benefit of the group. However, when said group acquired it’s possessions through unjust means, and perpetuates injustices that are protected by law, then there is a manifest problem that contradicts what the object of law is supposed secure; namely, protection from injustice. The human beings who compose the corporations who are causing harm to our planet and our people are not beyond reproach, and are not above the law. Again, it had potential, but it fell short of its ideal.

The freedom to practice religion, any religion, was also a principle contained the Constitution and had great potential. However, for much of the time since 1788 and 1791, the only religion to receive full protection has been Christianity. That is nonetheless not what the Constitution says, it does not say the free exercise of Christianity, but the free exercise of religion. Our Native sisters and brothers from many Tribal Nations know this truth and the history of it all too well. Today, we see the ever present need for the object of law, the protection from injustice, to protect us from the religious suppression of the Muslim faith. Bobby Seal, was kidnapped and hauled to Chicago in 1968 on charges of inciting riots at a rally, but Trump is permitted to spew his vile rhetoric with impunity. It had great potential, but with the arbitrary application of the principles, they fall drastically short of the ideal.

We are supposed to be granted the Right and the Protection of due process of law so that no human being is deprived of life, liberty, or property unjustly. We are supposed to have the Right to feel secure in our persons (our bodies), or homes, and the things we intended to be private (our relations or effects). However, none of that is the case. The police, who are supposed to be the agents of the object of law to protect human beings from injustice also kill people with relative impunity disregarding the people’s Right to due process. The F.B.I., the C.I.A., the N.S.A., COINTELPRO, and whatever other secret organizations the Patriot Act (2001) has permitted have destroyed our Right to privacy, even when exercising our other Rights; espicially our Right to peaceably assemble to petition the government for redress of grievances. Yet again, they have fallen short of their ideals.

I love my life because I can and do stand up in opposition to injustice, however, I despise the context in which I live and that I have to. We have ideals to strive for and we are all responsible for achieving them.

SPSstrike at Garfield

1441934692581[1]

#SPSstrike #PicketPix #JusticeForStudents #SupportOurTeachers #SupportOurSchools

Seattle Education Association (Seattle’s teachers and support staff) with community support standing strong in the fight for justice in front of Garfield High School. Solidarity honks echoed between the buildings and up the street all day.

The people were unquestionably happy, but underneath the smiles and laughs I could feel a fierce determination to ensure our that schools provide the education our children deserve and our teachers are more than capable of providing with the support of the administration, Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle, and the State of Washington.

Please do not let them stand alone because their struggle is our struggle and they are fighting for us and our collective and individual futures.

#Seattle #Garfield #Teachers #Community #education

Perception: Learning How to View the Glass

When we focus on the negativity in our lives it forms a cascading effect of compounding negativity wherein each little thing that occurs becomes exponentially more severe and negative than it would if it had occurred independently of everything else. Humans have this tendency to seek order and to find patterns or reasons for things occurring and when we focus on the negative it tends to exacerbate the problem by assigning an underlying negative force focused on our personal lives.

This is problematic and it leads to a lot of harm, suffering and stress that could otherwise be averted by not linking everything together. However, this trait also tends to work in the opposite direction; i.e., when we focus on the positive the positive tends to have an escalating compounding effect of positivity. Many like to call this or liken it to “good luck” or a “stroke of luck” or “being blessed,” but what is happening regardless of the nominal characteristics associated with it is that the positive is being focused on and it changes how each particular event is analyzed and evaluated.

In a nutshell, the key for me is to not dwell on the negative things associating evil or harmful purpose to independent and mutually exclusive events, and instead focusing on the positive things in my life. This does not mean that I ignore that bad things happen because that would not be healthy and some things do not to be dealt with as they arise. But it does mean that I strive to not let those things consume my being by crowding out the beauty that surrounds me.

(Exercise)

Make a list of ten negative things in your life that come to mind. I think for most of us this should come fairly naturally and easily. Do not be concerned if you have a hard time with this because that means you are already on the path to achieving and maintaining greater peace and joy in your life.

Then beside or underneath that list, or even on another sheet entirely write of list of twice or three times as many positive things in your life or your world. For many of us, myself included this is often much harder at first because we are not accustomed to looking for the beauty in our own lives, but it is there I assure you.

When you are finished look at the two lists side-by-side and allow yourself to feel how seeing the positivity in your life makes your feel. You may even enjoy a practice that I like doing; I like to burn the list of negative things because it symbolizes my letting go of the harmful things in my life. I actually feel as though I am letting go of the negative thinking I tend to allow to harbor in my soul crowding out the light.

I was surprised to learn that it was not the things that happen in my life, no matter how problematic they may seem to be that cause the harm to my spiritual well-being, but rather, it was how I perceived and thought about those events that caused the harm.

(Conclusion)

This is the philosophy behind viewing the glass either half full or half empty and it one method I have found useful in helping me to envision and experience the world and myself as being full of opportunity and beauty. Perceiving the glass as half empty reveals a thought that something is being taken away from us that we feel we deserve, which dramatically decreases our level of peace and contentment. In contrast, viewing the glass as half full reveals a thought that something has been given that was not deserved, an unwarranted gift. Learning how to view life as a gift and not as something that is deserved which is being stolen from me has allowed me the freedom to live in the grace that abounds uninhibited by the feeling that the world is out to get me. It has made a tremendous difference in my level of serenity, and I hope it helps some of you as well.

Not Worth the Sacrifice

One of the hardest things to do after participating in all the activism this last year has been holding on to myself, and who I used to be with my humility and my humanity. Inundated with such ruthless hatred and violence it is more than easy to lose hope in humanity and the human condition, to become bitter and despair of seeing goodness anywhere in the world, and least of all in the faces of the people I see around me. However, I have come to the conclusion that if I lose sight of what is best about us, and if I sacrifice who I am at my core during this battle for justice and freedom, then not only have I lost or forgotten the reason for the struggle, but I will not belong in the world we would create because I will have become that which I have been fighting so hard against.

Report Back From Kingian Nonviolence Training in Rochester New York: School 17

When Jonathan “GLOBE” Lewis invited Cynthia Wanjiku and I to join him in Rochester, New York for a Kingian Nonviolence training of the administration, teachers, and students of school “17,” I was both skeptical and nervous because I have never conducted a training like this before. I questioned what it is that I have to offer given that I had not completed the training myself nor had I read all the material. However, as I completed the readings I began to see why Globe selected me; it was because I am an activist and I also practice many of the principles that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proposed, and I also share many of his thoughts—though less developed. I was full of fear about how helpful I could be to the students, but I was also excited to work with a group of youth who were interested in solving the problems they were confronting in their schools and lives.

On July 6, 2015 Globe, Cynthia and I began the workshop with 14 other participants at 9 am in the morning and began with introductions. The young people in the room did not reveal their full personalities until we had established relationships with them. They were very cautious when it came to participation, especially when it involved speaking in front of the group, which included their teachers and principal. It seems, and this is only conjecture at this point, that they were dealing with some previous traumas associated with their identities and feeling empowered to shape the directions and outcomes of their own lives. Ironic, but not surprisingly, in the beginning of the first day the teachers answered for the students, even when the questions were directed at the students themselves.  Since we were attempting to engage with the students, get to know them, and to identify how they felt and thought about the situation and conditions at their school, this was particularly problematic. It seemed as though the teachers who were present did not trust that the students were capable of answering the questions we posed or at least not to their satisfaction. Regardless of what the reason for this behavior was, it nonetheless, silenced the students and invisibilized their experiences.  Violence does not have to be physical; it may also be psychological, emotional or intellectual. Being silenced or invisibilized can be interpreted as violence when considered through this lens and it is my opinion that the dynamics of this relationship was part of the harm leading to problems in the school’s environment.

None of what I have stated is intended to suggest that the teachers were not well intentioned. Quite to the contrary, throughout the course of the two days that we spent with the faculty and administration of School 17, it became readily apparent that they had devoted their entire lives to ensuring the success of their students. In fact, that is precisely why the teachers devoted themselves to participate in the two-day training. Most of the teachers expected to learn how to create a safe learning space for the students by participating in the training, and one of everyone’s core values was to have a safe community. The first major shock to the teachers and the administrators was that they shared many values with their students; students they thought they knew. This did not stop them from speaking for the students, or from occupying much more space than any student, but it did begin to bridge the chasm that had separated the two parties. I think the values exercise we introduced was the first major step the teachers and students took to healing their relationships and working toward reconciling the grievances they had toward each other.

Globe made it clear that the similarities in values between parties and individuals who knew each other or not prior to the training and across the world, all tend to share a few of the same basic values; the most common being honesty.  What this did was shatter the isolated and individualistic perspective that both the students and the teachers shared, both among themselves and among communities far and wide. The power in this recognition is the realization that began to settle in that they were not in a relation with some distant other, but rather, with people just like them; furthermore that they were and are on the same side. Immediate to the group at hand, the students and teachers began to wrestle with the realization that they were and are on the same side and share common objectives. This was the next step in the reconciliation process and the healing of their relationships.

In the space of an hour I witnessed two groups of people who entered the room as opponents in creating a safer learning environment begin to join forces. I have never witnessed such a transformation in people; it was inspiring. I also saw the power of shared values and ideals. We humans love to categorize and compartmentalize everything because we have an intrinsic desire for order, but we so often prejudge wrongly, and fail to dig deep enough beneath the surface of a person to discover how much we have in common. Young people are too often disregarded as if they do not have the sense necessary to form complete and complex thoughts and analyses, as too immature to care about sophisticated issues, and as not being intelligent enough to be worth an adult’s time to form a deep and meaningful relationship with. It was a true pleasure to watch this pattern come to an end before our eyes as the teachers and administrators truly began to see the similarities they shared with their students.

The student-teacher relationship is of course not the reason that our crew was invited to Rochester, but rather, the inner-school violence that has been pervasive, and while we did address some of those concerns through the training, much of our attention was focused on healing the relationships between teachers and students. The reason for this focus on relationships pertains directly to the method by which the problems will be solved; primarily through the collective and inclusive actions of both teachers and students. The two groups will have to work together, top-down and bottom-up, if they intend to heal the culture at their school.  It is beyond question that adults have had vastly more life-experiences than adolescents have had, but that in itself does not discredit the very real experiences that the youth have had. Nor does it diminish the very real opinions and feelings that the youth have about the experiences they have had. However, it also does not mean that the youth do not have anything to learn from their teachers. I think Globe put it best, “We are all human beings. No one is better or more important than any other human being.” So, in terms of working together to solve the issues with violence that School 17 is having, the two groups have to be able to respect and value the opinions and feelings of each other to come to satisfying conclusions and plans of action that will be acceptable and beneficial to all.  This is why much of our training focused on the healing of relationships between the students and teachers who were present.

Through conducting the nonviolence training an implicit agreement formed that became explicit by the end of the second day that it was this particular group of teachers and students who would be leading School 17 into a nonviolent future. This however, was not so apparent when we began the training on Tuesday morning. As a matter of fact, even though they all provided the expectation of achieving a safer learning environment for the students and teachers, most of the participants looked and emanated the feeling as though none of them really wanted to be there. I think this may have stemmed from a mild skepticism that this training would actually prove to be helpful to them. Many of the teachers have been teachers for years and have attempted countless methods to earn the respect and trust of students to minor avail. Given that, it may have seemed like another ditch effort, like it was just one more plan that was destined to fail. For instance, one of the teachers had resorted to bribing his students with chocolate to get them to conform to school standards and to garner information about violent incidents that had occurred. This threw up all kinds of red flags when he mentioned it, but none of us were really quite sure what was wrong with it at the time. It seems problematic and like a failure in the teacher-student relationship that has not developed, wherein respect is earned by the teacher. It also seems that it was sending the wrong message to the students about how to solve problems. Notwithstanding those concerns, the point is that many methods had been attempted to solve the problems to no sufficient conclusions and I think they were skeptical about the training because of it. At the same time however, they were all desperate enough to show up and invest their time. So, it was really encouraging to watch as their eyes began to light up at the potential of what Kingian Nonviolence could do for their school community. One teacher who was about to retire revised his decision and declared that he would remain with the school for another five years to see the program through. That decision was made at the end of the training though.

When we walked into the Gandhi Institute of Nonviolence on Tuesday morning the teachers were having a tense discussion among themselves about what names to write on their name tags. There was a separation between teachers and students that the teachers wanted to maintain and it seemed that the threshold of their relationship was maintained by the distance the use of their last names created; as if being referred to by their first names by the students would have somehow undermined their authority. One teacher even asked Globe what names they should write on their tags, to which Globe remarked, “Whatever name you are most comfortable with,” and the teachers all selected their surnames. Thus maintaining the hierarchical structure and holding the students at a distance and valued as less important. It was a strange dynamic to watch unfold and the first sign that there was conflict in the student-teacher relationships. It seemed that the teachers, although, proclaiming that they wanted to know the students better, did not want the students to know them much deeper than that they were their teachers.

Fortunately, the second exercise was designed specifically for people to get to know one another on a much deeper level than simply their names. There were five questions that each participant had to answer about themselves: name, family, favorite childhood game, dream vacation, and expectations for the nonviolent training. Then, each participant was asked to report the answers of their partner while the audience was to maintain eye-contact with the person not speaking. The entire group was able to get to know more about the other people in the room than they knew walking in. It also bridged some of the chasm the teachers wanted to remain in order to distance themselves from their students. This was the third major step towards reconciling their relationships that occurred during the training.

Looking back on my own experience growing up and going through school, I do not remember knowing anything personal about my teachers and I also remember never forming any deep relationships with any of them either. And as I consider that now I wonder if that is part of the reason that school never meant very much to me. I am now a student at the University of Washington and again I am confronted with another alienating environment wherein it is very difficult to form relationships with my professors and I am reminded of my experience at North Seattle Community College and I feel a dramatic difference in how welcome and empowered I felt there. There is definitely something important to forming and maintaining deep and personal relationships with those who are charged with instilling in us principles, morality and intellect. If it is important to me as an adult to feel valued by my professors, then I know it is important to teenagers to feel valued and important to their teachers, especially given that they are in their formative years constantly questioning who they are and where they fit in this world of ours.

The first day ended on a tense note because everyone knew that we were only going to be there to conduct the training for two days and it did not seem like we had gained much ground. Cynthia, Globe and I discussed how the second day of training should proceed that first night. Globe was put into the position of revising the training because not only did the students not want to read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work, but neither did the teachers and principle. It was troubling to hear an entire room of people who claimed to be interested in finding a more equitable and just means of organizing their school not desire to learn from one of the great reconcilers, but we made do with what we had to work with. We agreed that it would be best to focus the second day of training on helping the group to form their own plan of action based on the principles of nonviolence presented to us by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So, the first thing we did on the second day was introduce the group to the principles of nonviolence, and then we set them to work on devising and working through problems together.

We observed a dramatic contrast on the second day that none of us expected, the teachers began to respect the students’ opinions. I am sure this had at least in part something to with the space that Globe made for the students to express themselves because the teachers were made to listen and through this discovered that the students had some phenomenal ideas. When the teachers began to observe that the ideas their students were generating about how to solve the problems School 17 was having were better and more engaging than their own, they began to listen more intently and to occupy less space in the conversations. In the span of two days the group transitioned from not believing they had anything in common, to seeing that they shared the same set of core values, to listening to the youth, and eventually to teaming up with the youth and even following their lead on some particular things.

The harm that Globe, Cynthia and I were asked to come in and provide training for was the violence in School 17 and what the training actually focused on was the violence implicit in the teacher-student relationships. It is my belief that it will not be possible to solve the problems of violence in the school without solving the problems of violence in their relationships. In the scope of two days, much reconciliation had been accomplished between two groups who thought they were in competition with one another, but discovered that they both had and have the same goals and, are now working together. This of course is just the beginning of a long process of healing and when the classes begin in Autumn and the pressure is on to maintain order within the school setting, the situation may yet again devolve into a separation of the student and teachers. I am nonetheless hopeful because the students led the way to forming a top-down, bottom-up committee composed of both teacher and students that will continue the lines of dialogue between both parties. It is my belief that the most fundamental factor and component of any healthy relationship is communication and as long as communication is functioning then healing may continue to prosper. The conflict resolution inherent in Kingian Nonviolence is paramount to healing those relationships and all the students and teachers who have formed this core group that are intent on leading School 17 into a nonviolent way of life and community have also decided to carry forward the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into the school to the rest of the students, teachers, janitors, custodians, councilors and members of their community.

Healing tends not to occur overnight, but sometimes there are leaps and I believe that is what we were witness to in Rochester, New York earlier this July. I recognize and want to stress that this is but a beginning and that there is a long road ahead of them to completely healing their relationships. I am however very encouraged to know that there is still hope for our sisters and brothers and to know that we are not alone in the struggle for peaceful and satisfying resolutions of our differences. Lastly, it is encouraging to know that as difficult as it is to set aside our differences and our preconceived notions, that it is nonetheless possible to do so when we are motivated to work toward a brighter and more just future for us all.

Quake

There is a quake in the belly of a demon called love

fixed on your presence

well

because your beauty is not enough

there is no compliment

that will settle and rest

neither word nor phrase

will capture your essence

only these fragmented pieces of your fantastic puzzle

casting dazzling questions of enchantment

rose petals to the feast

and eyes to the dawn of conception

while lies lie still

bundled up in your satchel of wheat untasted

and death be not what it is

fore to die to what was

is but to live again

and am I

not but the touch that longs to feel

and do I not

stand in the furnace that houses the blue flame

and plead for you to pluck me with your thorn

to tear me limb from limb

to mend me

to you

my pulse

in the womb of true love

yes

there is a quake in the belly of a demon called love

and how you threaten to consume me whole.