Editor’s Note: Last summer, 13 year old Ethan Kadish was struck by lightning at Goldman Union Camp Institute in Zionsville, IN — the camp at which my wife and I met, as well as where my parents met. Here’s the story of the horrible event. Ethan’s camp buddies, Nathan and Asher Moskowitz are celebrating their Bar Mitzvah this weekend by making a tribute to their friend and raising money for his health care. Here are their stories:
Sometimes in life we don’t stop and think about what we are thankful for. With the sacrifice of well being our ancestors were forced to take a moment, appreciate their blessings and give thanks.
In my Torah portion, the Israelites made a special offering called the sacrifice of well being. They slaughtered the animal, and then splashed the blood of the animal all over the walls of the altar. The kidney and the liver were then turned into smoke in front of the altar. Not the most pleasant – laws about sacrifice and blood. But for me, all this blood and smoke, is teaching us about how we give thanks.
For our ancestors, the forced sacrifice of well being made them appreciate the blessings they had. It was a way to stop and think about what was really happening and what they needed to be thankful for. Today, fortunately, we don’t make sacrifices. Instead, we have our prayers – and they are here to remind us of what is good in our lives. But also, what we can do more of. Just like the sacrifices, they help us think of what needs to be done in our world, like who might need our help.
For me, this entire bar mitzvah has made that happen. When I first thought of what my bar mitzvah meant to me, there were a few ideas that immediately popped into my head. Being a Jew, the importance of our Jewish tradition and that being up here tonight is part of our history. But there was one idea that had me thinking for a long time; that we have to work at making the world a better place and helping others. That’s the value that we have always learned as most important in being Jewish. And after what we experienced last summer, I knew we could live this Jewish principle for our b’nai mitzvah.
My Torah portion talks about the sin offering, a sacrifice that had to be made when someone did something wrong. It says that if one person in the community commits a sin, the entire community is responsible and has to make a sacrifice. The sacrifice made was a bull and if they didn’t have a bull, the community used a goat. Our ancestors brought the bull before G-d and then slaughtered it in the Tent of Meeting. Then they burned the animal’s blood in the fire.
When I first read this, I found how they dealt with sins in ancient times really weird and gruesome. Besides, how does sacrificing a bull and sprinkling bull blood fix our mistakes?
I imagine that the Israelites were concerned about giving up something as valuable as a bull, so maybe that would stop them from committing a sin. That fear would make them behave better. Though in my mind, linking this to G-d, doesn’t make a lot of sense. I don’t think G-d cared about someone’s sacrificed animal that was killed to make up for a mistake made. I believe that all G-d wants us to do, is that which is good and that we should work on fixing our world.
Yet what would happen if we could fix our mistakes and take back the wrong we did in such a simple and practical way? When I was at a temple retreat, one of the counselors asked “have you ever squeezed toothpaste out of a tube and tried to put it back in?” Well the thing is, it’s impossible. Once we do something bad – once we hurt someone, once we call someone a name, we can’t take it back. Now some people might think you can always just say, “I’m sorry.” But for me that doesn’t cut it.
Words aren’t enough. Even though as Hannah Montana taught, “Nobody’s Perfect,” and “Everyone makes mistakes,” our actions need to show that we care enough to work at the wrong we did, that we can redeem ourselves and do something kind to help and to make things right.
This got me thinking. There are moments when mistakes are made and we wish we could go back in time and fix them. But that’s really true with everything we experience, everything we might want different. Think about all the things we would change! I wish we were able to do this because then I’d get my friend Ethan out of the way so that lightning wouldn’t strike him.
Of course, that’s not possible. But I wish it were. I guess the lesson is that when things happen, even bad things, we can’t change them. But we can work to make things better. And that actually is connected to my Torah portion.
Like I said before, the whole community is responsible for the sin that one person committed. Yet, why is the entire community connected to what went wrong when only one person had sinned. I think that is the most important lesson here, that community means everyone is responsible. When things are good, everyone can experience the good. When things aren’t good, everyone can try to make things better.
Today we are part of Ethan Kadish’s community. To help Ethan, Nathan and I are doing a 5k fun run walk so that we can raise money for Ethan’s medical care.
Becoming a bar mitzvah means I have the chance to be more of a leader – for my temple community leading us in prayer and also celebrating a tradition that has been passed along to me. The most meaningful part of this is connecting with my temple, my family and my friends and bringing everyone together. And that tomorrow we will be a community that works together to help our friend Ethan.
Our friendship with Ethan is ever lasting. We played Ultimate Frisbee together and we even had our own handshake after one of us scored. I hope and pray that one day we will be able to do our handshake again. The day he was struck by lightning, all of us at camp broke into tears. That night a new tradition began as we sang the prayer of healing, the Misheberach, together as a community. We continued doing this every day for the rest of the session, dedicating it to Ethan. It gave us time to think about how we wanted to help him. On the day we left camp, on the car ride home, I said, “we have to do something for Ethan.”
We’re blessed to be able to share Ethan’s story and ask everyone to make a difference in his life. It makes us feel good to know that our b’nai mitzvah is helping. And on some level, not only helping Ethan, but also reminding us how much helping there is to do in our community and in our world.
It seems, there are many people, who contribute or frequent the RP website, who claim to be progressive Democrats or politically define themselves as “on the left”. I have my doubts!
Here’s is my test to see if you really are operationally and ideologically “the left”
You can test yourself for compliance using my 12 Point Platform:
1. A Living Wage
2. Medicare for all
3. Tax the Rich
4. Job or Income Guarantee
5. Debt Jubilee
6. Retirement Security
7. Post Office Bank
8. Enforce the Bill of Rights
9. End the Wars
10. Food Sustainability
11. Clean Air and Water
12. Carbon Negative Economy
Supporting the 12 Points, and necessary to pass, implement, and sustain them, are 12 Reforms:
1. Net Neutrality
2. Fairness Doctrine
3. Local Ownership of Media
4. Public Campaign Financing
5. Electoral Integrity
6. Self-organized web-based citizen deliberation
7. MMT Macro-economic Policies
8. Preserve and Expand the Commons
9. More Co-operatives, Fewer Corporations
11. Fiat Justitia. Ruat Caelum
10. Strategic Non-Violence
12. Points and Reforms Are Indivisible
Finally, to explain, revise, or extend the 12 Points and 12 Reforms, One value:
The One Value
1. Public Purpose.
My test is a work in progress. Google searching may be required to answer. What are your results? Suggestions for list improvement are welcomed.
Gary Yarus is a freelance writer, a student of political movements, an escapee from the duopoly, a progressive populist, a Green Party pro-democracy advocate, who is committing a revolutionary act as the publisher/editor/curator of an online magazine, devoted to democracy, ecology, peace and social justice called “The Beacon” (http://bit.ly/TheBeacon ). Email: email@example.com
Wesley Bolin, a 25-year-old college student from Murray, knows it usually takes a ton of money, name recognition and some political experience to win a seat in Congress.
The candidate confesses he lacks all three.
Plus, Bolin is running as an unabashed liberal in the First Congressional District, where more than a few voters cast ballots based on what some wags call the “Four Gs – God, guns, gays and government.”
“People say we need a fresh face in Washington,” said Bolin, a Democrat who wants to unseat 10-term incumbent Republican Rep. Ed Whitfield in November. “Well, nobody’s face is fresher than mine.”
Bolin’s mug is also bearded. He considered shaving his whiskers for the campaign but decided against it “because it is better to look 25 than twelve. My beard isn’t presidential like Lincoln’s, but I think it looks congressional.”
Bolin is a senior history major at hometown Murray State University. His dad, Dr. Duane Bolin, is a history professor, author and well-known Kentucky historian.
Both Bolins are partial to hand-tied bow ties. Neither Bolin minds being compared to the late Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988.
The Bolins, Wesley, his dad, mom Evelyn, and sister, Cammie Jo, are devout Southern Baptists and active in the Murray Baptist Church.
The candidate believes in strict separation of church and state and promises not to pander on the social issues. “I believe in equality for all Kentuckians,” he declared.
Bolin leans decidedly leftward on economic issues. He is for upping the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits to the approximately 1.4 million jobless Americans whose eligibility ended Dec. 28. Bolin is also pro-Affordable Care Act.
Bolin, like his dad, is a fan of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The candidate favors New Deal-style public works programs.
He is staunchly pro-labor, declaring “I learned a lot about unions listening to Pete Seeger songs.”
Bolin opposes right to work laws. He supports prevailing wage laws and the Employee Free Choice Act. He believes public employees should have the right to unionize.
He opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement and similar trade deals including the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, “NAFTA on steroids” to its opponents.
He said he isn’t fazed by the fact that the district delivered more than 66 percent of its vote to Republican Mitt Romney over President Obama in 2012. Nor is he daunted because Whitfield piled up nearly 70 percent of district ballots against Charles Hatchett, another little known and underfunded Democrat, and a conservative, to boot . Hatchett has also filed in the Democratic primary.
Bolin knows his path to Washington is a steep climb. “I’ve only been to Washington twice,” he confessed, “once on a band trip.”
He says a big reason he decided to run for congress “is because I’m tired of having to choose between the lesser of two ‘who cares’ on election day.”
Bolin plans to shake a lot of hands across the district, which meanders from the Mississippi River through western Kentucky and rolls eastward to Casey County in south central Kentucky. “But I’m not kissing any babies until after flu season.”
He added, “In 20 years, I’ve learned to read and write, tie my shoes, ride a bicycle and play two instruments – banjo poorly, and saxophone well . A lot has changed for the better in my life, but the district hasn’t changed for the better since Newt Gingrich helped elect Ed Whitfield in 1994.”
Bolin says he has no choice but to run a campaign on a shoestring. Between classes, he works as a library assistant and makes $8.92 an hour. He will take a leave of absence to hit the campaign trail.
Bolin said he understands all too well that Whitfield enjoys an almost bottomless campaign war chest, much of it filled by well-heeled contributors, the candidate added. The Democrat doubts any corporate cash will come his way.
Bolin’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, he can be reached at his official Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bolinforkentucky and on twitter @wesleybolin.
Time and time again, we’ve heard our leaders tell us they want to be “uniters, not dividers,” but no one has ever explained how they plan to achieve that.
That is why No Labels is calling for a new governing process — a process that starts with bringing our political leaders to the table to develop shared national goals before the debates and policymaking begin.
In our book released today, we lay out our blueprint – how we bring our leaders together and forge consensus around an American agenda for national success. No Labels: A Shared Vision for a Stronger America, edited by Governor Jon Huntsman and featuring a forward by Senator Joe Manchin, is just the beginning of a three-year campaign to change politics in America. It will take combined efforts and resources to get the word out. So once again, we need to ask for your help.
Please click here and take a moment to rate and review No Labels: A Shared Vision for a Stronger America. Your comments are integral to building buzz around the ideas, moving the e-book up the charts, and helping others to find and join our campaign for a new politics of problem solving.
From Mexico to Singapore to Brazil, our competitors are thinking strategically about how to achieve clear goals for their own success. If we don’t start thinking strategically, we will fall behind.
And while you’re at it … be sure to tell your friends and colleagues about the e-book. Get them reading! No Labels: A Shared Vision for a Stronger America is about developing shared goals. The only way our leaders will be convinced that the time is right for a new national strategic agenda is if the groundswell of support from across the country is impossible to ignore.
Please, help us spread the message. We all have our sights on a strong, prosperous, secure nation. Together, we can get there.
A “rebellion” is about to begin the second day. I am tracking its progress on the Internet.
Staging what they have dubbed “the New Hampshire Rebellion,” a group led by Harvard professor, author and activist Lawrence Lessig set out for a 185 mile journey across the “live free or die” state calling attention to what they see as one of the most important issues in U.S. politics today—the dire need for campaign finance reform.
Lessig recently wrote in The Daily Beast:
On Saturday, we begin a walk across the state of New Hampshire, to launch a campaign to bring about an end to the system of corruption that we believe infects DC.
The march will pay homage to a similar attempt by famed activist Dorris Haddock, or “Granny D,” who, fifteen years ago at the age of 88, marched across the United States from Los Angeles to Washington DC with a sign reading “Campaign Finance Reform” across her chest.
Haddock is credited with helping to galvanize public will around the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act,” “which was signed into law in 2002.
However, since then, the Supreme Court, has ruled in favor of big donors, and the politicians who use them. In 2010, in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, and in 2013, in McCutcheon vs FEC many of the limits put in place on campaign finance has been overturned, paving the way for a new era of unprecedented spending by special interests, corporations and individuals.
Lessig said he expects over 100 people to join him along the way as they stop in over a dozen towns over the course of two weeks. The group will hold events and public discussions centered around the issues of big money in politics—and how to cleanse such influence from the democratic process.
Citing the importance of New Hampshire in U.S. presidential elections, being the site of the first presidential primary, the goal of the walk will be to convince voters to pressure candidates on the issue of campaign finance reform.
Along the way, we will recruit everyone we can to do one thing: We want them to ask every presidential candidate at every event between now and January 2016, this one question: ’How will YOU end the system of corruption in Washington?
A system of corruption, a system of campaign funding in which fundraising is key, and the funders represent the tiniest fraction of the 1%. That system, we believe, corrupts this democracy. (We, and 71% of Americans according to a recent poll.) And until that system changes, no sensible reform on the right or the left is possible.
As this question gets asked, we will record the responses. Literally. And post them. And through allied campaigns, we will put pressure on the candidates to surface this issue — and if we’re lucky — make it central to their campaigns”.
The walk began in Dixville Notch, NH, the place where the first presidential ballots are cast and will end in Nashua, NH, on the day Granny D was born, January 24th.
The activists embarked Saturday January 11th, exactly one year after the the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, a close friend and colleague of Lessig’s.
“I wanted to find a way to mark this day,” Lessig writes. “I wanted to feel it, as physically painful as it was emotionally painful one year ago, and every moment since. So I am marking it with the cause that he convinced me to take up seven years ago and which I am certain he wanted to make his legacy too.”
Lessig talks about the New Hampshire Rebellion:
The walkers current location, Akers Pond Inn, Errol, NH. Distance Traveled: 10 miles. Distance To Go: 175 miles.
How would YOU end the system of corruption in Washington? Send responses to email@example.com. I will summarize them in a future article.
For me, as for most Americans, the words of Martin Luther King have been and will always be inspiring.
In my hometown, as many other cities, the life and accomplishments Martin Luther King are celebrated, in may different ways, by many different segments of our community. Later this month, for the Jewish community and for all who wish to attend, Temple Adath Israel, will be offering a uniquely special remembrance of not only the life of Martin Luther King, but also pausing to remember the contributions of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel whose life is intertwined with Dr. King’s.
Rabbi Heschel, met King in 1963. King asked Heschel to help lead “prayer services” for civil rights during a march in Alabama. Rabbi Heschel had to receive permission from the Jewish theological seminary where he was teaching, A few days later, the Rabbi called the seminary to ask for money to bail him out of jail. They asked, aren’t you suppose to be leading prayer services for civil rights. Rabbi Heschel said he was doing just that, “his legs” were praying. For eleven years, Temple Adath Israel has acknowledged the life cycle coincidence in time of these two great men” with a special Shabbat service of righteousness and peace.
Rabbi Marc Kline of Temple Adath Israel, told me “Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was not about about racial equality but the divine dignity equal in every human. King’s fight was for social justice, economic justice, racial equality, anti-war, and more”. Rabbi Kline went on to say “Oppression is when one person asserts power over another, thus diminishing their dignity. King’s dream was for equality. Prayer is what we do, not only what we say”. In a similar vein, a book, I once read entitled, “God is the Good We Do” echoes what Rabbi Kline is saying. With these thoughts in mind, is it not appropriate for the “spirit” of Martin Luther King be used for the launch of a new social justice, economic and political movement known as the Worldwide Wave of Action.
Plans for the Worldwide Wave of Action are beginning to take shape.
David DeGraw, is one of the organizers behind the Wav. David, recently wrote in an email that when he “pressed play on the new Worldwide Wave of Action video, the voice of Martin Luther King rang out crystal clear with a message that could not be timelier”. Dr. King went on, “We have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”
DeGraw said, he thought he had slipped into a vortex and transported into a new dimension as Dr. King went on to say, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom. ”. David then wrote, “I had fallen down the rabbit hole declaring” as Dr. King did “let freedom ring!.”
The Worldwide Wave of Action has already inspired several other videos (see some here, here, here & here) and has just launched a new organizing site at WaveOfAction.org. The call to action found there, states, “this will be a decentralized crowdsourced movement open to all willing to engage in a wide diversity of nonviolent tactics”.
As their homepage pleads: “Be the change. What are you waiting for? This is your movement! Let’s create a culture of transformation. Share an action or event that you are organizing. Whether it’s a large-scale demonstration or a small personal act, tell the world what you are doing to be the change we need….”
It is obvious, The Worldwide Wave of Action, has been influenced by the Anonymous, Occupy and 99% movements. David DeGraw, who was involved back then, said “building on the foundation of these movements provides a powerful opportunity to regain momentum and recapture mass consciousness. Considering that the social conditions, economic inequality and corruption of the political process have become even more severe than they were in 2011, when the Occupy Movement was born”
To me, the timing seems right. Many more people are now aware of the injustice and exploitative nature of the present system. Even the new Pope is now reciting from the Gospel of Occupy, and Gartner, the respected technology research firm, has predicted, “A larger-scale version of an Occupy Wall Street-type movement” in 2014. Other research also reports that it only takes 3.5% of the population to create significant change. With the communications power of the Internet, is it not a viable movement possible? I can’t help but think back to the two Viet Nam demonstrations I attended and results they had.
Is this movement more than naive wishful thinking? It seems the facts indicate otherwise, but organizing and coordinating in a more coherent and unified manner will be needed, not like the loosely knitted Occupy movement.
The organizers have picked a three-month span of time for action. beginning on the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King, on April 4, 2014, to ignite and unite their collective actions into what they call “an unprecedented Worldwide Wave that cannot be ignored by anyone”.
Rabbi Kline, often says, “if not now, when?” referring to social justice participation, but is the tipping point near? Will there be critical mass? Is there a turning tide to ride? Can a wave of transformation rise over the horizon? In time, these questions will be answered and reported here. Are you going to ride the Worldwide Wave of Action?
Gary Yarus is a freelance writer, a student of political movements, an escapee from the Democratic Party, a progressive populist, a Green Party pro-democracy advocate and the curator of an online magazine, devoted to democracy, ecology, peace and social justice called “The Beacon” ( http://bit.ly/TheBeacon ). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the end of my December 30th post in RP, “Is a “Third-Party Needed?”, I asked the question, Do you know which President was the last successful third-party candidate? I suspect most reader’s had a common thought that this must be a trick question. Surely a third-party candidate could never be successfully elected President. I am equally sure some of you used Google and found the “rest of the story”.
There was a time a respected lawyer, well known in his community, got elected to office at the state level. He was then approached by an existing political part, organized for several years that asked him to run for President. The man never thought about higher office, but after talking with his advisers and family took up the challenge and began campaigning across the country. Wherever he went, the two major parties of the day would just criticize him and his relatively unknown party. After much campaigning, in 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States as a Republican. Yes, the Republican Party was the third-party during that time period when Whigs and the Democrats were the two major parties who had held the Presidency until then.
Written with national Presidential elections in mind, there have been many different kinds of challenges to dominance of the two major parties, yet we have had the same two-party duopoly in power for 150 years as both Republicans and Democrats have proved their staying power. During this time period the duopoly has had landslide victories, demoralizing defeats, cliffhanger wins and losses, major splinter movements, and the realignment of their electoral support base. Yet they have endured Presidential campaigns and stayed in power.
The reasons for dismal third-party success is not always the same. The reasons may change over time and usually, no one factor limits the development of a third-party. It is often, several factors working in combination.
Read the rest of…
Gary Yarus: Roadblocks to Third-Party Success – Part I
In 2012, just prior to the November presidential election. I wrote in RP, a closing argument on behalf of my chosen candidate, Jill Stein of the Green Party. I asked readers to try to imagine a political party really wanting America governed progressively. Imagine its platform stressing the environment, social justice, human and civil rights, peace. and disarmament. I had concluded, the two-party duopoly, may claim they support advancing these values, but the truth, upon closer analysis, proves they do not.
The election results showed only about 1.8% or 2.3 million of the combined popular vote were cast for any third-party candidate. All third-party campaigns had been predicting a better turnout than in the past, but like most, I knew, at this time, a third-party candidate would not win the election. Nonetheless, I felt good about my pragmatic and principled vote for Jill Stein.
The control exerted by the present two-party duopoly leaves third-party candidates little hope of being elected to a major office, until fundamental changes in our electoral process occur. Such candidates have continued to run and by doing so, have influenced election outcomes while often shifting national conversation.
The question remains, has anything changed in America since the 2012 presidential election, which would improve third-party chances in the future? Do the majority of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, think a capable and robust third-party is needed?
The Gallup organization, for the past 10 years, has been asking this question. In October 2013, they reported their latest’s poll results. Perhaps it was a surprise to some, but voters polled have said “yes!. The majority of Americans, now believe a major third-party is needed.
Presently, Americans see dysfunction, by both political parties, in the way government works is within a point of it’s all time low, suggesting, Americans are fed up with the way the major parties are handling things, even going as far as saying the best solution is a major third-party initiative in 2016.
Lookin at the numbers: 26% of Americans say the two major political parties are doing an adequate job, yhgt 60% say the two major parties are doing such a poor job that a third party is needed. Is that a big change from previous polls? Not really, although that 60% the highest Gallup has ever seen on this question over the last ten years.
Also, for the first time in U.S. history, Gallup found, given the inability of the Republican and Democratic parties to agree on the most basic of government functions, 52% of Republicans and 49% of Democrats believe a third party is needed to adequately handle today’s problems. Expectantly, 71% of independents support a third-party initiative.
How about other demographics? You might expect young voters to favor a third-party. You would be wrong! Young voters, aged 18 to 29, perhaps due to difficulty finding a job paying a living wage, the pressure of going to college, then trying to payoff exorbitant college debt has caused them to take their eye off of politics. According to Gallup, this demographic polls the highest, saying the current system is OK. It’s the 50 to 64 year olds, probably worrying about healthcare, Social Security and Medicare who most want a third-party choice.
Also, what about the idea of divided government? Most of us, along with some pundits and commentators, have come to the conclusion having divided government, as it is now, with the Presidency and Senate controlled by the Democrats and the House of Representatives by the Republicans lead to the kind of paralysis we are seeing in Washington. But, the Gallup poll found there is no pent up demand by the American public for one-party control of all three branches. It is just the opposite.
25% say it is better for the country to have the same party in control of the Presidency and Congress,
38% say the political party of the President and the Congress makes no difference, and 28% say it is better to have the President and Congress of different parties. Matter of fact that 25% is, by a few points, the lowest interest in having a single party government in the 10 years the Gallup organization has been conducting this poll.
Similarly, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, the current Congress is not just bad, it is terrible. Two-thirds of Americans think it is clearly the worst Congress in their lifetime.
CNN wrote: “That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old, all think this year’s Congress has been the worst they can remember,” “Older Americans, who have lived through more congresses, hold more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans”.
Amazingly, despite the terrible results of these two polls, well over 85 percent of the current members of Congress are expected to be re-elected in 2014! Upcoming columns will explore the question, is there not something wrong with the design of an electoral system when the connection between job performance and election outcome can be so weak?
Just hope and desire for a third party is not sufficient to ensure there will be another successful one. Unfair structural factors contrived by the two-party duopoly for the presidential and congressional elections and the parties’ own abilities to deceitfully, yet skillfully, adapt to wavering public opinion and preferences, then altering their campaigns, helped the Republican and Democratic parties remain the dominant parties for more than 150 years. Emerging third parties have challenged their dominance but not been able to sustain any degree of electoral success.
All hope for a third-party presidential victory may not be lost. It has happened before in U.S. history. Do you know which President was the last successful third-party candidate?
Gary Yarus is a student of political movements, a progressive populist, a Green Party pro-democracy advocate and the curator of an online magazine, covering democracy, ecology, peace and social justice called “The Beacon” ( http://bit.ly/TheBeacon ). Email: email@example.com
I hear the noise from the right wing, claiming Mandela was a “Terrorist,” that he applied “Torture” and “Violence” in accomplishing his goal of freedom. He probably did. But that is the way of the world, where a group of oppressed people rise up for their rights to a reasonable life.
Those in power never yield power without a fight. I believe it was John Kennedy who stated that when peaceful revolution is denied, violent revolution becomes inevitable. History records that the South African regimes that kept Mandela and his people down, committed atrocities far and beyond anything Mandela and the ANC committed against their government. Racism is violence.
I wonder…would Mandela’s detractors accuse George Washington and the Continental Army of being “Terrorists” because they used violence against the ruling power of England?
Mandela led the way to freedom for his people. As in most revolutions, his side had next to nothing in weapons or logistics. Revolution depends on the fire in the soul, the drive to make life better for the oppressed.
Was Mandela a “Communist?” his goals sound more like the U.S. Constitution than some group of despots who call themselves “Communist.” By the proper definition of the word, the world has never seen a true Communist regime.
Mandela was a great man, a great leader. I wish we had a Mandela in America.
Neal Smith is the Chairman of Indiana NORML
I am writing my thoughts about Nelson Mandela, having the advantage of reading over a dozen commentaries written here by others. These commentaries celebrated his life with views most people can support. There is no doubt he was an iconic figure, the father of his country, triumphing over South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime. To me, this great man can be more accurately eulogized and admired, in other equally important ways.
Mandela was a political activist and agitator who without universal approval did not shy away from controversy. Before and after his release from prison, he embraced a feerless progressive and provocative platform. Shortly after his death one commentator wrote “Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel’”, because of the his Malcolm X moments of anger. None the less, I see Mandela as the inspirational freedom fighter’s freedom fighter.
Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism accusing the United States of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war, all for oil. He saw the Iraq War as an example of American imperialism around the world. He said “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States”.
Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right calling p overty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. He said “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,”. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty:
“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life,” “While poverty persists, there is no true freedom.”
Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.” He reminded a larger crowd at Yankee Stadium that racism was not exclusively a South African phenomenon. “As we enterthe last decade of the 20th century, it is intolerable, unacceptable, that the cancer of racism is still eating away at the fabric of societies in different parts of our planet,” “All of us, black and white, should spare no effort in our struggle against all forms and manifestations of racism, wherever and whenever it rears its ugly head.”
May his memory be a blessing.