Tonight was the annual award night for The People’s Life Fund, which is the Bay Area’s local chapter of the No War Tax Movement. Because my free clinic had been awarded $1,500 last year, I was going to appear at the potluck, with a dish, and take one of the many people who benefit from our services, but I had been at a People of Color for Bernie event in San Francisco, the first Concierto del Pueblo, since I am the lead organizer for Latinos and POC in our area, the previous night and got a rather late start. After cleaning up we left the place at almost midnight; by the time I drove one of our organizers home, and got home myself, it was almost 3 in the morning.
I have been a no war tax activist since the 80’s, and have also spent many years doing counter-recruitment with the AFSC (that was the name in Pennsylvania; here it is called “Full Picture” ) at local high schools. For a while I was even appearing in various colleges in Pennsylvania to speak about the duty to protest and engage in direct action…
Cornel West once said: “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” His book, Democracy Matters: Winning the Fight Against Imperialism, is one of those works that people should be required to read and share… I have been thinking a lot about Cornel when pondering the Black Lives Matter movement… He was influenced, among others, by Dr. King and by Malcolm X, as so many of us are, and we seem to be facing a terrible quandary in the latest seat of Empire, where even the right to clean elections is becoming an extinct species…
A number of grants were again awarded this year to some wonderful peace and justice groups and organizations at the BFUU Fellowship Hall on Cedar St. in Berkeley, including:
Berkeley Food Pantry
East Bay Community Land Trust
East Point Peace Academy
Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence
Indigenous People’s Day Committee
Lower Bottom Playaz
Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy
People’s Community Medics
The Creators Gift 137
Young Workers United
Many of the people I admire such as Carolyn Scarr of EPI (EPI also got a grant last year so we could buy good audiovisual equipment), David Hartsough, whose book Waging Peace is another must-read, must-share work, and so many more who are doing the hard work of change from war to peace, from greed to disinterested work on social justice issues, spoke briefly about their work. Trust me, redirecting our taxes from war-making to peace-making is an idea that we can all engage in, and in much the same way as the BDS movement (which ended apartheid in South Africa in another century), will perhaps convert us to Dennis Kucinich’s wonderful suggestion that we institute a Department of Peace rather than a War Department, which was the original name of what later became the United States Department of Defense in 1949. You can find out about becoming a tax protester by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 510-842-6124. And you can even learn how to resist from the National War Tax Resistance Committee at http://nwtrcc.org/resist/how-to-resist/
As I was putting this post to bed, I found something from two years ago, which I append here because it goes with the subject…
“OK, so after a very hectic day (which started at the Hayward BART at 6:30 this morning… giving out brochures for the New Priorities Campaign to people trying to take the train to get to work/school/life), with Gregorio Rienzo and Jim Gonzales, and having people try NOT to take the brochures bec. they were going to be late to catch the train, so coming up with rather outrageous tactics such as singing “Leaving, on the BART train, don’t know when I’lll be back again” quite loudly, and making people smile and take them… or Gregorio and I singing las mañanitas with a twist (for peace, for not having bombs rained on people with ‘our tax dollars…’) And a couple of hours later sharing ‘the stage’ with a wonderful young guitarist, who started improvising, and I, ni corta ni perezosa, improvising right along with him, he was trying to raise money for his BART ticket and bus so I gave him the last 3 bucks I had on me, but not without again, very loudly singing about peace, in English and Spanish… and later at 10 I got home and got busy on my flyers for tonight’s City Hall PROTEST GENTRIFICATION AND CRUELTY TO THE HOMELESS!, with so much stuff out there to get inspiration from because these are definitely ‘the days that try men’s and women’s souls…’
And as Mother Pollard (a 72-year-old Montgomery, Alabama woman who refused to ride the bus) stated to someone about the state of her soul: “My feet is tired, but my soul is rested,” (mentioned by Dr. King in his letter from a Birminghan jail). So my feet is tired, and the rest of my aging body is too, but my soul sure is rested! So what are your priorities on this soon-to-dawn tax day, militarism and war, health, housing, education? And Friday we will be singing at Livermore, with rested souls, listening to the marvelous Kathy Kelly, to stop the insanity, because (according to the Ploughshares Fund), EVERY HOUR on the hour the U.S. spend almost TWO MILLION dollars on nukes… Imagine what just a little bit of that money would do, it would help the kids this morning who were running off to college to pay for their education! It would help the people out there without homes or roofs, food or clothing, to be able to live the way human beings should live!
Yesterday was my heart granddaughter’s birthday party… I had spoken to one of my mentors, Betty DeForest, on the phone about starting a literacy program, because I had found out that some recent friends had never learned to read or write, and they were embarrased by it, and so we will do this new project because that’s what our group does, it creates miracles out of what were problems, just because, (I am talking about the South Hayward Parish, whose homelessness initiative, HCAN, was recently denied its request for a $12,000 grant, because the City installed a new uploading program which DID NOT WORK and failed to provide the assistance that was needed), but I am actually talking about miracles here, so I was thinking on my way to Jocy’s celebration, that Jim would have been right there teaching people how to read, because reading was so much a part of our relationship, we read to each other, read with each other, recited poems or lines from stories, at bedside and hospital, and that set me to crying, with sorrow and joy, mind you, but here I was going to help this girl celebrate, and I figured I couldn’t cry into her cake so I had to stop, but here is what I have to tell you before I go off to a well-deserved rest:
Life is full of miracles!
Being alive is a miracle!
Love is the biggest miracle of all!
If you have love, everything else ‘will be added unto you.’
So, wanna join me in singing, spiritually, with deep profondo tones,
My feet is tired, but my soul is rested!
Tonight, at Hayward City Hell, (oops, that was a typo, but I am going to leave it in for now… and think about when I get up). 7 PM tonight, your appointment with destiny!
Love you guys, one and all!