Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Eve: Imagine

ONE: BATON ROUGE, SUMMER 2016

Civil Disobedience, July 2016
The first photo was taken by Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman during the Black Lives Matter rally in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. People from many states had gathered to protest police brutality, in July, following the shooting of African-American Alton Sterling.

Later, it was revealed that the woman’s name is Ieshia Evans and that Ieshia is the mother of a five-year-old son. A nurse by profession, she decided to take part in the action because she wanted a better future for her child, according to social media.  After her arrest, she spent 24 hours in a Louisiana jail.
From Jami West on Facebook: Look at her posture. She is balanced, powerful, upright and well grounded with both feet firmly planted on the earth. Look at the line made from the crown of her head to the heels of her feet. She is only protected by the force of her own personal power.

By contrast, the officers have the transitory, temporary, protection of their equipment that will be removed at the end of their shift. They are rocked back on their heels, knocked off balance, and appear about to fall over backward, just from the power of her.

This is a legendary picture. It will be in history and art books from this time.

TWO: STANDING ROCK, WINTER 2016
 
Confession at Standing Rock, December 2016

The second photo was taken by Josh Morgan for The Huffington Post at Standing Rock, just a few weeks ago.  Though many military personnel are in favor of the Dakota Pipeline--due to the potential boost it might offer the economy--others continue to see it as another instance through which indigenous nations are abused and ignored.  To attempt to 'right' the wrongs of the past, a brave group of 2000 veterans arrived at Standing Rock to protect Sioux Water Protectors and ask for forgiveness.

According to Jon Eagle, tribal preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux, Leksi Leonard Crow Dog forgave the veterans present for past actions of the U.S. government.  In turn, he asked forgiveness for the Battle of Big Horn--known as Custer's Last Stand--when Sioux warriors killed approximately 268 soldiers affiliated with the 7th Cavalry.  One Sioux leader wrote that forgiveness was offered "for actions taken to dehumanize the indigenous of this country, and a step towards solidarity has been made."
 
This same group of veterans has already committed to taking their peaceful soldiering from Standing Rock to Flint, Michigan, where again water has been poisoned and polluted and hundreds of thousands of people have been hurt. If you haven’t seen what these remarkable women and men stand for, watching this video sums it up better than anything else.
We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain… We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness. ~ Wes Clark, Jr. (Army Veteran)
Leksi Leonard Crow Dog

Peace is happening.  In the hearts of brave and compassionate veterans.  In the hands of Sioux elders.  In the life and body of a young mother in Baton Rouge.  No matter who occupies the White House, no matter how angry and dysfunctional our politics, peace rises in the intentions of real sisters, real brothers, whose very bodies reflect the grace of God, the love of God, and the possibility of peaceful revolution.  The only revolution that really matters.