Tag Archives: protest

Tragedy in Syria

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Assad's army slaughtering Syrians in Homs

I think one issue we can all agree on is how tragic the situation in Syria has become. Hundreds of people are dying, being shot down daily by the armed forces of Syria. Because journalists are not allowed inside Syria we only get a sketchy view of what is going on. I watch grainy videos shot by protesters which are out there risking their lives to bring down a brutal regime. The sickening thing about it is that we in the West are partly to blame for this situation. The Syrians saw how NATO came to the aid of the Libyans in their fight to topple the Gaddafi regime and thought they might receive the same kind of help. They say otherwise, but I suspect that hope was there. It is true that we cannot be the world’s policeman, and step in whenever such things are happening. If for no other reason, we simply don’t have the resources. It is sickening to watch Assad butcher his citizens, and have to stand by, helpless to prevent it. I am touched by the incredible courage and sacrifice of the Syrian people. God forbid it should ever come to that here in the USA. But I have already ranted and raved about encroaching fascism here, and I don’t want to revisit that again just yet.

It is shameful that Russia and China vetoed any UN action to prevent the carnage from continuing. Russia is now making an effort on it’s own to broker some kind of peace, but I suspect it would be a peace on Assad’s terms. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the vetoes took place however. Almost  daily I read about the outrages taking place in Russia and China when it comes to human rights. They are autocratic regimes who don’t give a damn about individual human beings. Vladimir Putin doesn’t even bother to pretend that he is not an authoritarian figure. It is obvious and he struts about proudly displaying his authority. However the Russian people are taking to the streets, even in a record-breaking cold, to protest  this ridiculous charade. Unfortunately, is is unlikely that anything like what happened in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya would ever happen in Russia and China. At least not any time soon. But I feel the United States and Europe should be actively working to aid the forces of democracy in Russia and China. Too often we are guided by economics instead of  by what is right. We should be the beacon of democracy, setting an example for the people struggling to free themselves from autocratic regimes. We can give them something better than iPads and iPhones. Lets give them something to aspire to.

It dismays me that the Egyptian revolution may be stillborn. The Egyptian military is forging an alliance with the Muslim fundamentalists. This could spell the end for true democracy in Egypt. I am even more enraged by Muslim religious fanatics than I am by Christian religious fanatics. The Muslim zealots would return the world to a medieval mind set, in which people’s arms are chopped off, women are disfigured or killed for the slightest infraction, and any freedom of thought involves risking one’s life. This cannot be God’s work, but perhaps Allah is some other entity. But no, I don’t wish to disparage all Muslims, just as there are good Christians who are doing good work, there are good Muslims doing the same. It is true that the press focuses on the extremism, and the not so dramatic and sound bite worthy people who are just quietly doing good, don’t get the news coverage.

Revolution #9 Politics, Art, and Sexuality for the 21st Century

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As I navigated to my blog to create this latest post, Revolution #9 started playing on  iTunes, which fit my topic perfectly. In this montage, you find protest, references to becoming naked, and a confusing mess of stuff which all adds up to 9, the number of spiritual transformation and one of John Lennon’s ongoing themes. This is right in step with the transformation I am undergoing (see previous blog).

I commented on Margaret Cho’s latest post on her blog at MargaretCho.com. Yes I am still following her blog. She always has something there which is worth reading. This time she was writing about women and tattoos. Recently, she had inquired about being featured in a Playboy pictorial and was told that Playboy doesn’t accept tattooed women. As I said in my comment, screw Playboy! Playboy used to stand for something, for sexual freedom and also cutting edge art and literature, although their attitude toward women was still very sexist by today’s standards. But for the time, it was revolutionary. We need the equivalent of that for the 21st century. Again, as I suggested to Margaret, lets create our own magazine! I put that out to writers, publishers, artists, beautiful women and men and transgender (which is all of us), to join together in a new magazine to bring together the cutting edge of freedom, in literature, art, politics, and, of course, a celebration of 21st century sexuality. I definitely think there is a market for it, just as there was a market for Playboy in 1953. I would love to participate in such a project and Margaret Cho could be our Marilyn Monroe, in the first issue!  Can you think of a better symbol of 21st century sexuality?

There is an interesting nexus here, between politics and sexuality. In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, Jon Carroll noted in his column that nudity and protesting so often go hand in hand. Although I haven’t noticed that the Occupy movement involves much nudity, maybe it’s too cold out for that. But for me, the overall theme in all of this, whether you are talking about political change, or a new direction in art and literature, is one of brutal honesty. People all over the world are sick of the bullshit. What better way of expressing the naked truth than by being literally naked? It drives some people nuts, and that is good, because that state of being nuts is an opportunity to get past your own programming and get real. All of us have bullshit prejudices that we often are unaware of until brought face to face with them. I was raised in the Midwest, and was programmed to believe all kinds of nonsense. I was taught to avoid niggertown, or I would get beaten up. I was taught that women belonged in the home, making babies. I was taught that sex is a necessary, but nevertheless shameful activity, which should not be celebrated. Only criminals got tattoos, and if you were gay you were a pervert. Even though I know better, and sometimes pride myself on being too hip for my jeans (sort of my variation of ‘too sexy for my shirt’), I discover those old prejudices creeping up on me when I am unawares. I have to constantly remind myself to be mindful and aware, instead of just a fucking robot.

My point? you say? I’m not the only bozo on this bus. We all need each other’s help in getting past our prejudices and being mindful. That would be the central focus of this idea of a new magazine. Mindful Sexuality Mindful Politics Mindful Art. What do you think? I’d love some feedback on this. I keep bringing up mindfulness because, for me, Buddhism, especially Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, stress mindfulness, and by that they mean Naked, naked right on down to the very ground of being. Mindfulness means brutal, but also tender, loving honesty in all things. But mindfulness also means Play. It means not taking it all that seriously, because at the ground of being everything is profoundly ok. It has already worked out. Everything is fine. But that is at the ground of being, ok? very far from the chaos of our minds. But if the first magazine was Playboy, why not name this one simply Play. Play in all things, political, artistic, and sexual. Sounds like fun to me.

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting a Buddhist magazine, although it could certainly touch on that, as well as other mindful religions, psychologies, and philosophies. Mindfulness isn’t about Buddhism, it isn’t “about” anything, that’s the point.

I think there a lot of people going off in all sorts of directions right now, but the connecting thread is Freedom. There isn’t enough of it. and Bravery. That is something all of us are going to need to cultivate. and Love. as the Beatles said……..

That magazine might be a place where my erstwhile novel (yes, it exists!) might find a home. In any case, I think it is a good idea. There are a lot of magazines that touch on different aspects of what I am choosing to call Revolution #9, but I don’t know of one that brings it all together. What an exciting project!