Jones of the Nile

Friday, September 30, 2005

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Nine days of abstinence

It's been nine days since I've had the chance to put anything on the Nile! Sorry about that, folks. I forgot to mention that I was heading to Washington, D.C. for the big anti-war mobilizations this past weekend, and I've been playing catch-up since I returned. I'll have some reflections on this past weekend's events, in particular the faith-based angles that took shape. My favorite line from the weekend came from Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, with Faith Voices for the Common Good. At an interfaith tent revival, she got up on stage, pointed directly to the White House, and belted out, "They may be the right wing...but we're the rest of the bird!" Amusing.

For those who so desire, you can check out this article from Catholic News Service, which features quotes from me! Teehee...I never get over the fact that I was once a reporter-in-training, and now get interviewed by the same people who would have been my colleagues. I'm kind of glad. I don't think I have the stomach for reporting. I'd just rather blog and write about the spirit.

I'll leave you this Friday with a quote that I found quite moving, from Teilhard de Chardin. I consider him a mystic, and an overall cool dude.

"Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire."

Preach it...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Would You Consider This Photograph Pornography?

Working for a non-profit NGO (non-governmental organization), a debate often arises about how we use photos - most notably photos that show extreme suffering. How far is too far? When do you reach a point where you're no longer calling attention to an issue, but rather exploiting an image or a person? Tough questions...or "hard work" as our President would say.

Here's an excellent article on the debate, that birthed a new phrase for me: "Development Pornography." Development pornography happens, according to this Reuters article, when organizations use shock tactics in their fundraising appeals, publications, or Web sites - with the intent of getting people to give money, visit a Web site, volunteer, etc. But is this a bad thing? I don't know.

The article points out that during the 1984 Ethiopian famine, shock tactics are what led the Western world to respond. But it also points out that shock tactics (i.e. photos of children with pencil-thin wrists, babies with flies crawling on them, etc.) exploit people, and reinforce negative stereotypes within the developing world. "Oh, look at these starving, poor, people of color in the developing world. Won't the white people come and help them out?"

I don't know the correct answer in this debate. But I appreciate the dialogue.

I do agree with the parts of this article that talk about photographing naked famine victims. To me that's inappropriate and hypocritical. We freak out about Janet Jackson's boob, but it's OK to show a Sudanese refugee walking around nude, or a Haitian child wearing a torn rag that hides nothing. I get that the images are striking, but where's the dignity in an image like that?

Maybe I'm a prude...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Whenever I See Your Smiling...Faces

Check it out...a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic wants to attempt the world's first "face transplant." No, this isn't so that ugly people can look like beautiful people - at least not yet. Right now it's a possible breakthrough in helping burn victims and other such face trauma sufferers to reconstruct the look of their face.

Be warned: this article is freakin' creepy. They actually take the face off of a dead cadaver (well, can't really have a live cadaver), put it on a hanger or something while they remove your own face, and then extend the cadaver's face over the bones of your skinless face. Hence you have a new face. And a two-week hospital stay to make sure your body doesn't reject your new face.

Wow, I have never been more grateful that I'm not a burn victim. But I think these doctors may have tapped into a future reality television show..."ABC Face Makeover" or "FaceSwap" or something.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

So That's What He's Doing

Turns out that Michael Jackson is working on a song for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In his first contact with any press since his trial, Jackson told AP that he is moving 'full speed ahead' with the song, tentatively entitled, "From the Bottom of My Heart."

Not that I care. The real reason I'm posting this is because in the first paragraph, the reporter notes that Jackson feels his creative juices are flowing again.

Blech. Haven't we already heard enough about Michael Jackson's juices?

Hope you all have a great rest of your weekend. Cheers!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

They Agree She Has an Image Problem

Much to my disbelief, Republicans in Florida are actually admitting that Rep. Katherine Harris has an image problem. Harris was made famous for burning and/or swallowing enough Al Gore votes in 2000 to give Florida, and hence the world and several deserts in the Middle East, to George W. Bush. She's since been elected to Congress by the fine people of Central Florida, and has just launched her campaign for Senate, to try and knock-off Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.

An image problem...sheesh, you ain't kidding! I don't think there's enough botox in the world! It's like Wendy Malick gone horribly bad.

But I digress...I shouldn't be so shallow. My mother taught me to be fair to election-stealing, attention-grabbing, power-hungry nutballs. Oddly enough, this article says some Republicans describe Harris as "as a flirty, vacant, beauty-queen wannabe."

If this is their definition of a beauty queen, however, I'd hate to see what they call UGLY.

Seriously, people in Florida need to wake up and smell the Revlon. I can't think of anyone who deserves a Senate seat less than Katherine Harris. Or wait...maybe I can. How about Tom Coburn, who's actually in the Senate right now. Check out this piece from Nation columnist Max Blumenthal, that talks about how Sen. Coburn - who sits on the judiciary committee in the Senate - was doing crossword puzzles during the confirmation hearings for John Roberts!

It's nice to know that our country is in such capable hands sometimes. Hehe...

Friday, September 16, 2005

Overturning the Gospels

Sometimes I wonder when I'll stop being moved by pieces about Hurricane Katrina. There is such a thing as saturation, and normally by this point in a news cycle I've long had it with articles, news coverage, photographs and interviews that seem to drag misery on and on and on.

But yet again I found myself captured by an article on Hurricane Katrina, this time from Newsweek, and the author Melinda Henneberger. It's going to be hard to top this one in my book, which is a knock-out. I'm going to copy and paste the whole thing rather than just include a link (though I'll do that, it is).

Reading this for me was like throwing a pie in the face of all the Christian-right crazies in our world. It's never been more clear to me that these people are not only out-of-tune with reality, they're out-of-tune with their own faith, too.

    Overturning the Gospels
    Katrina has reminded us that Christian morality should be about responding to the wretched and loving the unlovable—not about other people’s sex lives.

    By Melinda Henneberger

    Sept. 14, 2005 - There was a great piece in Harper's last month, "The Christian Paradox: How a Faithful Nation Gets Jesus Wrong'' by Bill McKibben, about how three out of four Americans believe the Bible teaches this: "God helps those who help themselves.'' The Gospel according to Mark? Luke? Actually, it was Ben Franklin who came up with these words to live by.

    "The thing is," McKibben writes, "not only is Franklin's wisdom not biblical; it's counterbiblical. Few ideas could be further from the gospel message, with its radical summons to love of neighbor. On this essential matter, most Americans—most American Christians—are simply wrong, as if 75 percent of American scientists believed that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up."

    Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we have seen—and been unable to look away from— the direct result of this self-deception.

    And if such tell-me-I'm-dreaming scenes as rats feeding on corpses in the streets—American streets—isn't enough to make us rethink the public-policy implications of turning the Gospel on its head in this way, then truly, God help us.

    We as a nation—a proudly, increasingly loudly Christian nation—have somehow convinced ourselves that the selfish choice is usually the moral one, too. (What a deal!) You know how this works: It's wrong to help poor people because "handouts'' reward dependency and thus hurt more than they help. So, do the right thing—that is, walk right on by—and by all means hang on to your hard-earned cash.

    Thus do we deny the working poor a living wage, resent welfare recipients expected to live on a few hundred dollars a month, object to the whopping .16 percent of our GNP that goes to foreign aid—and still manage to feel virtuous about all of the above.

    Which is how "Christian'' morality got to be all about other people's sex lives—and incredibly easy lifting compared to what Jesus actually asks of us. Defending traditional marriage? A breeze. Living in one? Less so. Telling gay people what they can't do? Piece o' cake. But responding to the wretched? Loving the unlovable? Forgiving the ever-so-occasionally annoying people you actually know? Hard work, as our president would say, and rather more of a stretch.

    A lot of us are angry at our public officials just now, and rightly so. But we are complicit, too; top to bottom, we picked this government, which has certainly met our low expectations.

    The Bush administration made deep and then still deeper cuts in antipoverty programs, and we liked that. (The genius of the whole Republican program, in fact, is that it not only offers tax cuts and morality, but tax cuts as morality. Americans do, I think, want to feel they are doing the right thing, and when I hear an opponent of abortion rights say, "I'm voting for the most vulnerable, the unborn," I have to respect that. Of course, we also like tax breaks and cheap gas and cranking the thermostat up and down—so when Republicans play to both our better angels and our less altruistic ones, it's not that tough a sell.)

    But have Democrats loudly decried the inhumanity—or even the hidden, deferred costs of the Bush cuts in services to the most vulnerable among the already born? Heavens, no, with a handful of exceptions, such as former vice-presidential nominee John Edwards, who spoke every single day of his campaign—and ever since—about our responsibilities toward those struggling just to get by in the "other America."

    Most party leaders are still busy emulating Bill Clinton, who felt their pain and cut their benefits—and made his fellow Dems ashamed to show any hint of a "bleeding heart." Clinton's imitators haven't his skills, though, so his bloodless, Republican Lite legacy has been a political as well as moral disaster.

    That's not, of course, because voters give a hoot about poverty, but because along with the defining moral strength of its commitment to the underclass went most of the party's self-confidence, and all of its fervor.

    Incredibly, they even ceded the discussion of compassion to President Bush, a man who has always struck me as empathy-free—to an odd extent, really, as we saw again last week when he cracked jokes about his carousing days on his first trip to the Gulf Coast.

    Immediately after the disaster, Bush quickly intervened—to make it possible for refiners to produce dirtier gasoline. He has since zapped working people on the Gulf Coast all over again by suspending the 1931 law that requires employers to pay the prevailing wage to workers on all federally financed projects.

    Others in his party have expressed concern about all the freebies evacuees will be enjoying: "How do you separate the needy from those who just want a $2,000 handout?" Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski asked—by way of explaining why debit cards for Katrina victims were a bad idea.

    So far, though, I'd love to be wrong, I see no reason to think the president's sinking poll numbers will persuade him that there's more to (pro-)life than opposing abortion.

    I still dare to hope Democrats may yet remember why they are Democrats, though. And that would be a real come-to-Jesus moment.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Bad Joke Alert

This is worse than anything I could have ever made up...and this was sent to me by a nun!


Q: What is President George W. Bush's position on Roe vs. Wade?

A: Non-Committal. He really doesn't care how people get out of New Orleans.

It took me a second...

The Ideology that Fails the American People

I've stolen this line from so many people, I can no longer remember who originally said it, but Hurricane Katrina has made crystal clear that conservatism fails the American people. One of the fathers of today's neoconservative craze is Grover Norquist, a God-like figure in Republican circles who walks around Washington like he's the Don Corleone of the Beltway. Check out this rather prophetic quote he made on why he wants neoconservatives to control the government:

"My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub."

Way to go, Grover. Look at New Orleans...I think you've fulfilled your mission.

Thankfully, there's a group that's calling attention to this comment, and why people like Grover Norquist are not prepared to govern. Check out Working Assets, which is going to pay for this billboard to go up right outside Norquist's DC office - reminding him of his kind words to the American people.

Just more evidence that an ideology rooted in the politics of individualism - like that which Bush, Norquist and company proffer - is not based in any sense of reality, and is clearly not capable of running this country.

Untitled: Girl with Brothers and Sisters

Shameless plug time for The Photomedia Center, which is featuring an outstanding collection of photography this month from Kerry Stuart Coppin, a photographer from Florida who has documented the "Rural Black Experience" in Africa (Senegal), and Latin America (Cuba).

As Coppin says in explaining the work, "When the national media addresses issues of race, particular to the Black African American experience, it often addresses only those large urban (North American) Black communities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. While teaching at Kansas State University, in rural Kansas, I came to recognize and appreciate a rural Black experience, significant in number, as diverse and complex as those in major cities, which has gone unrecognized and undocumented. And, even more significant, are the experiences of people of African decent in the rest of the New World. Virtually unknown and undocumented, for example, are the lives and experiences of an estimated 150 million persons of African ancestry in Latin America."

These pics are all from his experience in Senegal, and they are rustically beautiful. Great pieces of documentary photography that should give you something to chew on.

Speaking of chewing on, I'm going to help myself to a Tim Horton's donut now. Alas, they have made their way across Lake Erie from Canada to pollute my arteries.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Pope Nudist XVI

I don't have a top-five breakdown or anything, but of all the people in this world that I'd like to see nude, you can bet that Pope Benedict XVI would not be on the short-list. Or the long-list. Or the list that stretches out to infinity.

Good thing he doesn't live in his hometown anymore! I saw this in the moderate Catholic magazine U.S. Catholic yesterday, and sure enough, I found some stuff on the web about it. Turns out that PB XVI's hometown in Germany, Marktl am Inn, is a big haven for nudists! Hmm, you'd think it would be too cold for nudists there.

But apparently not. According to reports...

    "The Schuetzing Valley near Marktl am Inn where Pope Benedict XVI was born, has become a popular spot for visitors since Josef Ratzinger was elected to the Papacy.

    But Catholics have been stumbling on more than the cobblestones lining the streets of the quaint market town after the valley became popular with extrovert nudists.

    On one nudist Web site a fan writes: 'The Schuetzing Valley is really happening in the summertime. Lots of nudist areas with great orgies. There's something for everyone.'"

You know, is there really such a thing as an introverted nudist? Perhaps a question for the Socrates' and Plato's of today's world. I'll leave you with the best paragraph from this report:

    "Police spokesman Franz Sommerauer admitted that the paths of the pilgrims and the nudists have crossed a few times recently, with Catholics out for a ramble bumping into couples making love on the forest floor."

Friday, September 09, 2005

George Lakoff on Hurricane Katrina

Lakoff wrote the influential book "Don't Think of An Elephant" last year, and his article on Katrina from this week hits it right on the head:

"Katrina's tragic consequences were not just due to incompetence, natural disaster, or Bush policies (though he is accountable). This is a failure of moral and political philosophy."

You can read the whole article here. It's like I posted (stole!) the other day from Amy Sullivan at the Washington Monthly (who actually stole from Joan Walsh at Salon! Hehe...) - what we're seeing is the failings of conservatism played out in the Gulf Coast.

Hope you all have a great weekend. Shalom!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So what is 'environmental racism'?

It's a term I've heard bandied about now for several years, but something I've never completely understood. Or perhaps more accurately, a term I never really bothered to reflect on, since I grew up a middle class white boy in the suburbs. But in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it's a term I've been trying to get a handle on - especially since race, the environment and poverty have seemingly never been so closely intertwined in the national conscience before now.

So what are people saying environmental racism is? Well, a Webster's-like definition is available from Eco-Justice Ministries. They say it's "a form of environmental injustice in which the impacts are identified as falling primarily on people of color. The term was coined in a 1987 study drawing together US census data and government data on the location of toxic waste sites; the study documented 'clear patterns which show that communities with greater minority percentages of the population are more likely to be the sites of commercial hazardous waste facilities.'"

A more 'human' definition can be found in this interview with Black Voices for Peace founder Damu Smith from Democracy Now. As we see all these wrenching images from New Orleans and the Gulf Region, people like Damu are reminding us that large petrochemical, plastic and manufacturing companies have been reaping damage on poor communities of color in the Gulf region for decades. The "Toxic Soup" marinating in New Orleans now is only special because of its magnitude. But, as Damu Smith points out, companies have been releasing 'toxic soup' into the environment for years, in communities of color all throughout the Gulf region. It just took a category 5 hurricane to shed some light on it.

It all sounds very "Erin Brockovitch" to me. But now that I think about it, I wonder if Brockovitch would have been able to pull her story off if she was a poor black woman, and the communities affected in her story were poor black communities.

Everything feels so complicated right now. This Hurricane just isn't a Hurricane. It's a race issue, a poverty issue, an environmental issue, a federal budget priority issue, and more. It's so many things, it's hard to think about it anymore as just a storm. Like one of those M.C. Esher images, and no matter which way you turn it, something different is viewable.

But it says a lot about our country when the only thing that jogs us back into a discussion on things like race and poverty is a category 5 hurricane. What a privilege it is for white people to not have to think about race, save for the occasional national disaster.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Can it be 2008 please!

Ugh...I'm sick...we just finished an election cycle less than 10 months ago, and I'm already salivating at the thought of caucuses in Iowa. Partly because a real leader is possibly going to run...Sen. Russ Feingold.

Check out this article from AP: Call for Timetable Sets Sen. Feingold Apart. I don't know if this dude has any baggage, but if I had to vote today, he'd get mine. Finally, a senator with some vision and a plan for ending the war in Iraq, and making us actually safer in the world. Now there's a concept...

Bush rejects Chávez aid

Now, I know not everyone really likes President Hugo Chávez from Venezuela, especially President Bush. Some say he's a Commie, others a Socialist, others a brutal dictator...I don't necessarily think they're right, but whatever. I'm not the most objective when it comes to this, because I've actually met Chávez and had coffee in his palace. Here's a picture I took from the delegation I participated on two years ago. This was during his televison show, "Alo Presidente," which we were invited to observe. Don't get me wrong...Chávez has his faults (many of them, including an ego the size of South America, and some questionable hirings and firings and appointments, oh my!), but I don't think he's the demon spawn lots of folks make him out to be.

Anyway, I digress. What got me thinking about Chávez in the first place is this article from The Guardian, which says that the U.S. is not going to accept aid from Venezuela for Hurricane Katrina. Uh, hello? People are dying, starving, drowning, and getting diseases, and we're going to turn down aid?

This is when I really start to hate politics. My coworker wrote and said, "Oh, may this empire's cruelty be further unmasked." I couldn't agree more. Does it matter that Chávez is a leftie? Help is help, right? So what if he doesn't get along with the Bush administration...there are more important things on the line here than keeping up the cowboy routine. If Bush was a real leader, he'd understand this catastrophe is bigger than politics. If Bush was raised by a real leader, his mother wouldn't be saying this Hurricane is a blessing in disguise for poor people.

I'm going to keep buying my gas at Citgo just to show my disgust. Oh, on a more interesting note, Venezuela offered to sell more oil to the U.S., and the Bush administration kindly accepted that offer. So food and water treatment supplies are rejected, yet more oil is accepted.

If that's not the epitome of cruelty, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Food Porn!

Don't worry, this blog entry won't be raunchy. Crunchy, maybe, but not raunchy. That's because the new "Nutrition Action" newsletter has a fun little piece called "Food Porn!" which gives you the low-down on what fast-food items are good for you, and which ones will eventually kill you (hence the name Food Porn!) (you don't suppose regular porn will end up killing you? Not that I have any, or anything...).

This issue's winner for promoting good health: the fruit and walnut salad from McDonald's.

This issue's loser (and Summer 2005 Food Porn champion!): the deep dish pepperoni pizza from Pizzeria Uno.

Regarding the Fruit and Walnut Salad: "With the mini-pack of walnuts, the salad has 310 calories (160 calories if you don’t eat the nuts). It’s low in saturated fat (1½ grams) and sodium (90 mg). And the candied nuts add only ¾ teaspoon (three grams) of sugar. What’s more, the salad delivers a respectable six grams of fiber, a good dose of potassium, and 15 percent of a day’s calcium. But odds are you’ll be thinking “sweet and luscious,” not “fiber and calcium,” as you dig into each flawless bite of fruit." (Editorial Note: The words 'sweet and luscious' and McDonald's will never be found in a sentence that I write. I save my 'sweet and luscious' for describing things like Andy Roddick!)

Regaridng the Pepperoni Pizza from Uno's: "Now you can tuck into a slice of pizza that delivers 410 calories and eight grams of saturated fat — 40 percent of a day's worth - and never have to get off your couch. And you don’t have to pay extra for the 860 milligrams of sodium that makes Uno’s a double whammy to your arteries."

Ugh...if it wasn't so hard, I'd be a vegan. Take care, everyone!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

A much more reasoned liberal approach

A professor friend of mine from Mercyhurst College (shout out to my undergrad alma mater! Viva la Lakers!) sent me Michael Moore's well-crafted rant on George W. Bush and Hurricane Katrina. My favorite line: "On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that."

Great rhetoric that soothes my soul, but I'm also conscious that this type of language doesn't win anyone over who isn't already converted to working against GWB's wacky-ass policies.

But this morning I came across a much more reasoned reason (teehee!) about why GWB and his cronies have failed our country miserably. I say reasoned because this hits at so many of our society's problems - all of which conservatism is miserably inadequate for. It's from Amy Sullivan, who is an editor at the Washington Monthly and writes often on faith and politics. Enjoy...

    These are desperately poor people who've been deliberately left behind, in so many senses of the word. Left behind by society, shut up in housing projects and hideous poverty, and now truly left behind by local and federal officials who failed to come up with an evacuation plan for people too poor and isolated to leave on their own. Why didn't we send a caravan of buses into the city's poorest neighborhoods on Saturday or Sunday, when the dimensions of the disaster were already predictable? Sure, Houston's got electricity and running water, but tens of thousands of scared, angry people packed into an abandoned sports stadium? We couldn't come up with a better symbol of how little we care about the poor, how little we've thought about what to do with them, for them, if we tried.

    We've heard the warning "this isn't about politics" over and over in the last few days. The hell it isn't. And I don't mean kicking Bush while he's down, just for the fun of it, although there are surely liberals eager to do that. For the rest of us, however, we're seeing the awful real world consequences of conservatism play out on our television screens. This is why we're liberals. We don't yell about poverty and racial disparities for kicks. An evacuation plan that consists of telling people to get out on their own is not an evacuation plan.

    A Washington Post reporter shares this account of one family's ordeal leaving New Orleans this week that made me initially frustrated and then just profoundly sad. The father describes standing in his living room with his wife and five children as the floodwaters rose, trying to decide what to do. They have a car, but he says "it's a five-seater" and some of the family members would have had to sit on laps. Seems like a ridiculous reason to stay, no? But then he explains that they heard the highway police would not hesitate to arrest drivers who broke the law. So he stayed at home, choosing to take his chances with nature instead of taking his chances as a black man in the Southern criminal justice system.

How sad. Sad that it takes a killer hurricane to get us to even start talking about racism, poverty and class in this country again.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Life may be scary, but...

I've been doing some quick reflecting on the hurricane this evening. I absolutely hate the coverage the news media is giving this thing, and can barely stand to listen to NBC, CNN and their ilk for more than five minutes without feeling queasy. Nothing says ratings like a natural disaster, especially when there's floating dead bodies, floating dead animals, and/or floating gross sewage. Well, sure, that's stuff been around for years in places like Haiti, Niger, Colombia...but now's not the time to complain about how no one seems to notice those catastrophes. Now is the time to just, prayers, positive energy, whatever. Give today, challenge tomorrow. I heard someone today bought all the shoes at a local K-Mart and is going to send them down to New Orleans, so that homeless people don't step on glass.

So in hopes of trying to make something out of all this chaos, I've been trying to pay close attention to what some progressive religious leaders have been saying. I found one of the best statements to come from Rabbi Michael Lerner, who is the editor of Tikkun, a Jewish magazine (a movement, really, rather than just a magazine) from Berkeley. I'll post a link to the full article that Rabbi Lerner wrote, but I'll include a brief excerpt here that resonated with me. Be well, everyone. And grateful.

    There is one beautiful thing that sometimes happens during these kind of emergencies: the cynical realism that teaches us that people just care about themselves, a teaching that makes most of us feel scared to be “too generous” or “too idealistic” temporarily falls away, and people are allowed to be their most generous and loving selves. When the restraints are momentarily down, there is a huge outpouring of love, generosity and kindness on the part of many Americans. People do things like this that I saw yesterday: advertising on the internet’s Craig’s List that they are willing to take in to their own home for many months a family that has been displaced by the floods. This kind of selflessness is something that people actually yearn to let out, but under ordinary circumstances they’d fear to do so. So watch the goodness show itself.

    Not to deny that ugliness will also appear. The looting of stores in New Orleans momentarily revealed the “bottom line” of government responsibilities when the New Orleans police announced that they were going to switch policing priorities from saving lives (of the poor) to saving the property of the wealthy and the corporations from the looters. It’s this kind of misplaced priorities over the course of many decades that makes some poor people (and not only poor people, but others who feel that they have a deep sense of social grievance) think (mistakenly and unjustifiably) that it makes sense to take advantage of this moment to rectify a long history of social injustice by taking from the “haves” to provide for themselves as the “have-nots.” It’s hard to witness this perversity on the part of both looters and police without a deep sadness of heart about the depths of depravity that reveal themselves in these moments, alongside the heights of goodness mentioned in the previous paragraph.

    For me, this is a prayerful moment, entering the period just before the Jewish High Holidays (starting Oct. 3), realizing that the Jewish tradition of taking ten days of reflection, repentance and atonement is so badly needed not just by Jews but by everyone on the planet. I hope we can find a way to build this practice among secular as well as religious people, because America, indeed the whole world, so badly needs to STOP and reflect,repent and atone, and find a new way, a new path, and return to the deepest truths of love, kindness, generosity, non-violence and peace.

    (To view the entire article by Rabbi Michael Lerner, click here.