The Least, First

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Pres. Obama’s Inaugural Address

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President Obama, perhaps the premiere American orator of our day, could have thrilled the million on the Mall to goose-bumps.  That he chose a different approach suggests to me that he was after something deeper: words of substance rather than words of emotion alone.  Let’s see how they read.

The Speech
Image by Kaptain Krispy Kreme via Flickr

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation…

(APPLAUSE)

… as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Obama Inauguration
Image by john w via Flickr

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Great comments of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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In honor of Martin Luther King, several great quotes.  All are sourced at Wikipedia.

  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
    President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Marti...
    Image via Wikipedia
  • I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway … I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
  • Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time — the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts… man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
  • What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.
  • [T]hrough violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.
  • This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. …  I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.

And today on the National Mall—where 40 years ago “I have a dream” became a part of the world’s lexicon of ideas—men and women again gather.  This time they face the other direction—not toward the Lincoln Memorial, but the platform on the steps beneath the dome of the U.S. Capitol.


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Palestinian Loss of Land and American Manifest Destiny

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If it were, say, Iowa, and Century Farmers had been evicted at gunpoint since WWII by more recent immigrants, things would look mighty different. (h/t Clipmarks friend Jimbo1000)
clipped from www.ifamericansknew.org

Palestinian Loss of Land 1946-2005

four maps of shrinking Palestine
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Native Americans flee from the allegorical rep...
Image via Wikipedia

Tragically, Israelis may owe much to an American model. Their expansion so reminds me of the American doctrine called Manifest Destiny. It assumed all the territory that would become the USA was divinely given to white people. MD was used to justify the moving, killing, containment and lasting impoverishment of Native Americans. Indeed, westward expansion’s completion and total dominance of the indigenous people of the contiguous United States (not to mention Hawaii and Alaska) was only thirty years old at Israel’s birth in 1946: about as recent in American memory as the Vietnam conflict is today.

I would guess that the writings of the Hebrew Bible were used to encourage westward expansion in the USA; they are still, of course, the claim some Zionists stake (and some evangelicals support) to all the territory in and around Israel.

Such dominance—in either American or Israeli history—is starkly at odds with the ways of Jesus Christ, of course.


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Obama inauguration to use Lincoln’s Bible

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Think of the symbolism in this:  Barack Obama will be sworn into office with the Bible used by Abraham Lincoln for the same purpose in 1861.

Here’s a beautiful slide set of the book:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Lincoln’s Bible “, posted with vodpod

Sweet.


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Written by Monte

December 24, 2008 at 11:10 am

Posted in History, Politics

The suppressed Thanksgiving-day speech of Wamsutta James, Wampanoag

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from Information Clearing House:

This is the suppressed speech of Wamsutta (Frank B.) James, Wampanoag, that was to be delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970.

Wamsutta (Frank B.) James

Wamsutta (Frank B.) James

The Massachusetts Department of Commerce asked the Wampanoag Indians to select a speaker to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival, and the first Thanksgiving.

Three hundred fifty years after the Pilgrims began their invasion of the land of the Wampanoag, their “American” descendants planned an anniversary celebration. Still clinging to the white schoolbook myth of friendly relations between their forefathers and the Wampanoag, the anniversary planners thought it would be nice to have an Indian make an appreciative and complimentary speech at their state dinner. Frank James was asked to speak at the celebration. He accepted. The planners, however , asked to see his speech in advance of the occasion, and it turned out that Frank James’ views — based on history rather than mythology — were not what the Pilgrims’ descendants wanted to hear. Frank James refused to deliver a speech written by a public relations person. Frank James did not speak at the anniversary celebration. If he had spoken, this is what he would have said:

— I speak to you as a man — a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction (“You must succeed – your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!”). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first – but we are termed “good citizens.” Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you – celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection.

Samuel de Champlains 1605 map of Plymouth Harbor, showing Wampanoag village Patuxet, with some modern place names added for reference. The star is the approximate location of the 1620 English settlement.

Samuel de Champlain's 1605 map of Plymouth Harbor, showing Wampanoag village Patuxet, with some modern place names added for reference. The star is the approximate location of the 1620 English settlement.

It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

November 28, 2008 at 9:51 pm

Europe mapped by language

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Fascinating—pondering boundaries, wars, and language groups!
Click the image for a larger view in its original context.
clipped from www.bookofjoe.com

Languages_of_europe
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Written by Monte

November 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Shinichi’s Tricycle

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We like to think wars are fought by nations. But what a tidy fiction that is! Nations lose no arms or legs or blood or sanity.
Kurt Vonnegut, I believe, said that we allow war because of “a failure of the imagination.” We simply don’t consider what we do when we yield to those pleas of our governments.

The story below might sub for some of that imagination. I’ve clipped just a bit, but I encourage you to read the rest from Doug at the link.  It is excellent.

And I hope you and I can be people who cling fiercely to reality when passions run high and facts seem clear and resistance looks like treason.  For in the end, a share of war’s price will be paid by little Shinichis who find themselves in the way of things others thought more important.

clipped from unitedcats.wordpress.com

Shinichi’s Tricycle

Shinichi Tetsutani was a three year old boy who loved to ride his new red tricycle. 63 years ago this day he was riding his trike in his front yard. He was playing with his friend Kimiko. It was 8:15 in the morning. A quarter mile away there was a bright flash in the sky. Shin was badly burned and buried in the debris of his house. He was still alive when his parents dug him out, his hands still gripping the handlebars of his trike. They were unable to get to his two sisters in time as the wreckage of their home burned. Shin died that night. The next day his parents buried their children in their front yard, they thought they were too young to be buried in a lonely grave far from home. Shin’s friend Kimiko had also been killed in the blast, so they were buried together, holding hands. Shin’s beloved trike was buried with him.
Killing children is a crime, not an act of war

God rest their little souls. God grant us the wisdom to never do this again. God help us all through the dark days ahead.
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Hat tip to Homeyra. Thanks, friend – you help me remember!


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Written by Monte

August 14, 2008 at 2:34 pm