Tag Archives: privilege

Petition: Claire O’Brien

When I first heard about Claire’s story, I thought that it was an issue of concealing a witness to protect him or her from being heard in court. I thought that a reporter was claiming to have disputable information, and stated that it came from a credible, though anonymous, source. I thought that a reporter was expecting to testify on behalf of an anonymous person. I thought that the reporter was justly fired from her job, but since her employer refused to reveal the reason, she imposed a wild story about it.

I discovered that this was like the game of “telephone” in which a simple message is orally passed along a line of people, as accurately as possible, and the last version is found to be quite different from the original one.

I discovered that award-winning investigative reporter Claire O’Brien gave a voice to Latinos who often had no other voice, by publishing their stories in a newspaper. She obtained information about a murder from people who trusted her. A subpoena demanded her notes. The judge threatened to hold her in contempt of court if she did not reveal a certain source who revealed embarrassing and incriminating information about the popular person who was killed. She refused to reveal her notes and source. She won an award for the murder news story…after she was fired by the newspaper that had employed her while she wrote it. Quickly, organizations that claimed to support free speech and professional journalism joined a campaign to discredit Ms. O’Brien.

She is now destitute, dependent on public aid. Lawyers and reporters who are aware of the facts have been unable to share her story because of likely repercussions. Public pressure is her hope for justice, since she trusts that Tom Mauro, a key player in this dispute, will set the record straight, when pressed.

1. read her story
2. participate in her petition to Tony Mauro
3. share her story with others

Thank you for sharing Claire’s hopes and dreads.

Strike Forward to Let Go

 learning by exploration.

 strike forward with optimistic expectations.
 do all that I can do.

person approaching a goal sign, but the path to get there is broken

 high achiever.
 model of kindness.

 reach further.
 dream bigger.


Do I really live by these goals? What do I actually do?

a calm ocean at night

I actually let go of all that I want and expect: I summon each desire and dread, gaze upon it, savor the hope that I tied to it, explore the contours, and let it go. I cry over the loss of each one until I feel empty: my hands, mind and soul seem bare.

Then I am floating, flat on my back on a calm ocean at night. When I open my “eyes,” all I see is the stars of infinity. When I look at the horizon, I see shadowy trees overhanging a distant beach, and darkness beyond that. I hear slip-slaps of the dlippling water. I relax on the rippling cushion of the water’s surface. My breath and the salt water keep me afloat. My heels settle down a little as I breathe in, and level out as I breathe out. I am here, now. I enjoy this time of peace, however long it lasts, in this timeless place. This place just is.

Eventually a wave comes along that energizes me and aligns me with opportunities. I ride the wave for as long as I can, usually exhausting it. It beaches me at a distant land, to explore and gather wants and expectations.

Some time later, the tide rolls in, and the ocean reclaims me.


“Goal” image courtesy of jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
modified by Grace Buchanan.

“Ocean Night” image is a composite of “Under the Stars” by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes,
“Two Planet-hunters Snapped at La Silla” by European Southern Observatory / Alexandre Santerne, via Wikimedia Commons, and
“Untitled” by cuisy for openphoto.net.
“Ocean Night” is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by Grace Buchanan.

Lincoln to King: the next Great Emancipator

A river of emotion swells in me as a little-girl version of my voice overflows, singing with the marchers who are on their way to the Lincoln Memorial for a celebration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, and “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

We shall overcome
We shall overcome
We shall overcome some day
Deep in my heart
I do believe
We shall overcome some day

I long to believe, deep in my heart, that we will overcome so we can all have freedom.

via Martin Luther King ‘I Have a Dream’ speech: Re-live his famous speech – World Story.

As I watched this video today, I hung on to every word, recognizing that my understanding and attachment to this speech are deeper than ever.

Sure, “Whites Only” paper signs are gone from water fountains, buses and schools. Sure, 50 years ago, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, 50 years ago, the U.S. Civil Rights Act outlawed many forms of discrimination. Sure, Blacks can vote. Sure, the US now has a Black president. But how crippled is he, like many other people, by “the manacles of segregation” and “chains of discrimination” that persist? How much does he represent the end of “the long night of captivity” that people have endured? Where do invisible “Whites Only” signs still exist? What does “freedom” mean today for people who are African American, Native American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish, women, gay, sick, disabled, homeless, hungry, orphaned, aged, jailed…?

As President Obama confirmed, economic disparity is a real issue, not just an illusion.

via President Obama Marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington | The White House.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., by Betsy Graves Reyneau [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
What is, or would be, the fate today for a Great Emancipator like Dr. King, and a march for freedom like the one in 1963? Dr. King came 100 years after President Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation. 100 years later, will someone else hold their title? Who will move our world forward to provide more fair shots for the many, instead of more privileges for the few?

President Abraham Lincoln, 1865
Abraham Lincoln, by Alexander Gardner, 1865 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When President Lincoln promoted the Emancipation Proclamation, he reminded people that the U.S. Declaration of Independence “gave hope [for liberty] to the world for all time…that in due time the weights should be lifted from all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”

Let’s remember President Lincoln’s message, as we listen to or read Dr. King’s speech again, and reach for a deeper understanding and appreciation of emancipators. Then, let’s renew our personal commitment to freedom for all.

A Dog’s Life by Ed Kinane

Ed Kinane's dog Archie

Archie, our black lab mix, is a remarkably handsome guy (I think). He has soft, silky hair; a long, elegant muzzle; and thoughtful, soulful eyes. He barks ferociously when anyone comes to the door, but then within a minute decides our guest deserves his warmest, deepest attention.

We serve Archie the very best dog food and dole out a treat whenever we leave the house or whenever we sit down to eat (no fattening human food for this guy!). He’s never missed a meal. Archie has three human housemates, all retired. He doesn’t get left home alone all that much. He has a roomy yard enclosed with an invisible fence. But no day goes by without a romp with us in Elmwood Park.

A marathon napper, Archie has his own couch and pillow. He even has his basket of toys. Surely, Archie’s life is better than that of the vast majority of dogs on this planet. Heck, Archie’s life must be better than that of many – most? – humans.

Why does Archie have such a good life?

Mostly, because of how fortunate my housemates and I are in our lives – how privileged.

Awhile back I took part in a three-day workshop at a nearby campus. In one exercise, our facilitator had each participant list ten words that describe his or her identity – each word on a separate slip of paper.

Here is what I wrote: white, male, hetero, US citizen, honest, Green, non-car owner, partnered, nonviolent, privileged.

After we all compiled our lists, the facilitator had us crumple each slip and drop it to the floor. But first, we were to reflect on what our life would be like without that particular trait. So, for example, as I crumpled my male slip, I was to consider how my life might be different if I had been born something else.

Then the facilitator asked us to reclaim all the slips – except for those traits we wished weren’t part of our identity. While I’m ambivalent about a couple of my traits, I left none on the floor. For a moment, though, I considered shedding privileged.

Ours is a world where so many have so little. It’s a world where affluence often ultimately comes at the price of others’ impoverishment. Affluence also comes at the price of denying future generations resources and opportunities. Affluence takes an enormous ecological toll. My privilege is far from sustainable.

Rightly or wrongly, my rationale for keeping the privileged slip went like this: by US standards I consume little; as an activist I focus on what I think of as essential issues (anti-militarism, anti-imperialism etc.). So, I told myself, my privilege is partly justified since I try to leverage it for the greater good – how could I do my work without this pricey computer etc., etc.?

Sure, I may be kidding myself. We humans have an enormous capacity for denial and self-indulgence. Because I’ve had many years of schooling, I may even succumb to such delusion more than most.

Further, thanks to the advantages I’ve had (through little effort or merit of my own), I may well have an exaggerated sense of entitlement. You might call this “more-ism”: the more you have, the more you think you should have. There is a corollary: “less-ism.” Often, the less you have, the less you’re aware you should have. In other words, over- or under- empowerment.

One reason I cherish Archie is that I see in his eyes and in his body language that he’s calculating and pondering and sorting things out. If only I could enter into his mind for just a short time! I’d love to know what he thinks; how he thinks.

I’m sure Archie has more-ism. I doubt he ever questions the unruffled ease of his life. He never asks who built or bought that couch he’s made his own. Nor does he ask who pays the vet bill. Surely, Archie never wonders whose labor produces the food that magically keeps appearing in his bowl twice a day.

In Archie’s case the obliviousness is innate. The sadness is that we humans can go through life no less oblivious.

Ed Kinane is an essayist and anti-state terror activist based in Syracuse, New York. In 2003, he spent five months in Baghdad with Voices in the Wilderness … before, during and after “shock and awe.” An advocate of “prison witness,” he has twice done federal time for direct actions against the Pentagon’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ed has worked on Peace Brigades accompaniment teams in the war zones of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Sri Lanka. In the eighties, he spent nearly three years teaching in and hitchhiking around Africa. For the past several years, Ed has been preoccupied with exposing the Reaper drone war crime in Afghanistan originating from the 174th Attack Wing of the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, NY.

This piece was republished with permission from Ed Kinane. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Other articles by this author:
Truthout: Fearless, Independent News and Opinion

Read more about this author:
Result of trial February 8, 2014