angel Kyodo williams

when the people rise

In culture, identity, politics, relationship on March 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm

why self-determination will always overcome fear
INcite with angel Kyodo williams


Tunisia. Egypt. Yemen. Bahrain. Libya.

The last few months have borne witness to a powder keg of successive uprisings by Arab Peoples throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The desperate act of a Tunisian vendor—setting himself on fire in protest of his cart—and means of livelihood—being taken away—was a stand for self-determination that has been amplified by Arab People reclaiming their dignity one county at a time.

If nature abhors a vacuum, then indeed, it resists none more persistently than a vacuum of natural selfhood. When the breaking point of lack of fulfillment meets with the illuminating function of self-awareness, human beings, like nature, seek to restore balance.

When this happens collectively, We Are All Khaled Said…

…and the People rise.

This (r)evolutionary imperative to see manifest condition in which one can thrive is more ancient, more deeply rooted, and thus more powerful, than the inclination to oppress others for one’s own warped sense of self-gain.

In a global, media-drenched world, awareness of self is expedited by the sheer number of other self-expressions to compare one’s own expression (or lack thereof) to. Thus the cycle of being lulled to sleep by paternalistic promises–only to be rudely awakened by a nightmarish loss of freedom–is quickened. We come to terms more rapidly with the reality that as soothing as it may first appear when we are young and naive, we do not want to have everything taken care of by the Great Hero Father. Hence our empires rise and fall more swiftly than ever. Dictators, monarchs, aristocracies and elite parties beware: you are remnants of the past even before you take your corrupted seats these days. When your fabricated means of distraction falls away, the People will rise.

Beyond survival and security, self-determination is the underpinning of justice. When corrupt leaders falter on the first two, the last is the restorative penance that must be paid. Beyond simple survival, being able to determine our own path is the hallmark of self-expression, self-fulfillment, and most importantly, self-love.

In insisting upon the removal of decades-long dictators, the People reclaim their fundamental, inalienable right and responsibility to determine their own path. A right they have come to recognize has been obscured and hampered by individual men projecting an image of themselves as the sole reflection of an entire People:

  • what they will and will not have access to
  • how they are to be governed
  • what they can and cannot become

It would appear to the untrained eye that these Arab Peoples were ruled by different men, but to the eye of the astute, each dictator was a differently dated carbon copy of the other, and all of them mere proxies for fear.

But the People eventually stay the Iron Fist, lift the veil and see the cowering figure clinging to power is neither God nor Hero, just a small, desperate man. Emboldened by their commitment, empowered by their collectivity, liberated from the shackles of fear, the People rise to find liberation from the shackles of oppression.

Questions abound as to how the all-knowing US didn’t see such a wave of revolutions forthcoming: America’s deep-seated racism and perceived religious-cultural superiority conspire to make the quiet swelling of a sea of brown and black People calling for their freedom with fearlessness, grace and unwavering determination a political improbability. To see them do it in succession, leaving the realm of mere anomaly? Impossible.

Having paid so much to keep them divided, we simply lack the imagination to conceive of Arab Peoples bonding together in solidarity to restore the dignity and rightful place of their own. How else could we justify funding the suppression of their beautiful brown selves for so long? How else could we be so confused as to whether we should continue to underwrite Mass Muslim Control rather than proclaim the side of the People the only righteous side to be on?

Even as we witnessed it with our own eyes, we clung to our reductionist, divisive values: it was the youth, it was the educated, it was the middle class, it was the non-religious. No matter that many of the largest protests formed after Friday prayers. Even more un-humanizing, it was Facebook or Twitter. Make no mistake: no matter the vehicle or tool, it was the People.

The brown, red, black and yellow People of this country can learn volumes from the hopefulness and vision expressed by our Arab brothers and sisters. If invested in transformation of society beyond the policy win, past the campaign, despite the funders, our own organizers can benefit from the study of revolutionary change—rooted in the mass power of collective love for the People that unifies, coupled with the individual compulsion for self-determination—that will always eventually transcend fear.

When that happens, we the People, too, shall finally rise.

—yours in truth, aKw


dedicated to the power of the People. may they rise again and again.


angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Fan angel on Facebook
Follow angel on Twitter
Find angel on the Web
angel in the blogosphere

red, white and black

In culture, politics, relationship on February 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm
red white black

Hail from Above. Nile River, Luxor, Eqypt.

standing with the people


As the world watches—despite the Egyptian government’s best efforts to darken the light of revolution—the People of Egypt increasingly come forward to express their will for change and they will not be deterred. Just over a year ago, I had the great fortune to be in Egypt. Making my way through Cairo, up the Sinai and deep into Luxor, I left holding vivid impressions of who these crowds are made up of, who they gather for and who they risk on behalf of: the People. As movements of people calling forth transformative social change, we are further empowered when we recognize our relationship, deep connection and interdependence with the movements towards justice in the world. I hope these snapshots of with whom it is we stand in solidarity empowers each of you:

I stand with Egypt.
I too, stood in defiance of President Hosni Mubarak’s police in downtown Cairo’s Midan Tahrir, or Liberation Square. Coming from all over the world, we gathered there to link Freedom for the people of Gaza with the Liberation of the people of Egypt. Even then, Mubarak sought to keep the attention we were bringing to the plight of the People from coming to light. We were just a few hundred, but it was clear he knew even then that if the People saw us, they would stir. Now, a million—and counting—stand too.

I stand with the low-ranking and even lower-paid soldiers that are shuffled around and posted as human barricades to contain the peoples’ movements but can’t contain their support for the hopeful defiance of ordinary men and women, young and old, that may finally usher in real change.

As long as Egypt is willing to be home of the well-behaved Arabs, America has been willing to deeply fund a dictator to keep up a pretense of peace while Egyptians paid the price of their dignity. Like the Red people of America, their self-determination is systematically denied while US-made and paid for weapons are used to dissuade them from their conviction.

I stand with the other Hosny, the travel guide who rents horses and poses us in pictures with camels while solving the mystery of the Great Pyramids of Giza with an easy plausibility that confirms westerners are the only ones still questioning what the people have always known.

While we watch the legions pouring into the streets from the comfort of our living rooms or the palms of our hands, the People risk the stability that was for three decades secured at the cost of liberty. They trade complacency and comfort for an unknown future, but are determined to define that path on their own terms.

I stand with the soft-eyed captain of the Jolie, the fifth generation of his family to guide feluccas up and down the lush banks of Luxor’s Nile. He has the help of a young boy that has lost his father but would receive neither service nor support in an Egypt that leaves the poorest to fend for themselves.

Egypt’s revolution is of and by not just some of the people, but the many. There is no fringe to dismiss. Lines of class have blurred into oblivion. The haves are coming forward for the have-nots. Like the White people of our own nation that have stood in solidarity with folks red, black, brown and yellow, refusing to be divided from their values to protect their places, this revolution sees the interdependence of all. They stand in protection of their collective heritage, denying would-be thieves the opportunity to steal their treasures and steal their triumph.

I stand with the head of security at the mighty Valley of Kings. Charged to protect the final resting place of dynasties that rose and fell for thousands of years before an America was considered, he cannot comfortably care for his family. His harmless scams occasionally lighten the pockets of gullible tourists, but when it becomes clear that we are neither easy prey nor think ourselves better than he, his feigned sternness gives way to easy laughter and easier talk of his love for his land, history and people. He insists on treating us to a tour of the grandest tomb of all.

For far too long, the rest of the world has passively looked aside while the People have lived with their requests unanswered, their demands ignored and their dreams deferred, as a leader that promised democracy delivers corruption and stomps out dissent instead.

I stand with Mohammed, the Bedouin with the striking resemblance to the boy-King Tut, now selling papyrus in Talaat Harb Square. His beautiful heavy eyes a window to his heavy heart because his place in society is limited by his birth. Like our Black people, Bedouins are economically deprived and their government metes out uneven punishment against them, institutionalizing a caste system rooted in prejudice. With good luck and by good hearts, this practice will not survive.

Waving their flags of red, white and black with defiance and dignity, destiny is on the side of revolution and the government must finally yield to the eternal law of change. What I see in Egypt is all the people of the world that seek out justice when it is too long denied, insist upon equality when it too long unbalanced, and take back freedom when it is too long withheld. It is time to take our place on the right side of Egypt: the side of the people.

I stand with Egypt because Egypt is me.

your in truth,aKw

dedicated to Ahl Masr, the people of Egypt, home of the soul of Ptah. May your freedom come swiftly that we might learn, insh’allah, that your freedom is our very own. ‐aKw


copyright MMXI. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Faceboook: Fan angel on Facebook
Twitter: Follow angel on Twitter
Web: Find angel on the Web
Blog: angel in the blogosphere
Blog: Train with angel

state of union

In leadership, politics, relationship on January 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Jambo-Welcome!

resolution for revolution


Each January, whether formal or informal, uttered or silent, many of us resolve to do something different for the coming new year. We commit to starting some things and finishing others. We put plans into motion, we reassess, reevaluate and take stock of the life that we have and where we want it to be.

In two weeks, as President of the United States, Barack Obama will issue the State of the Union, as is constitutionally required “from time to time,” reporting on the condition of the country and setting forth his legislative agenda — resolutions for the nation — for 2011. Likewise, as a Movement of Peoples United in striving for a just and equitable world, we should require of ourselves a reflection upon the state of our union as we reconsider and reset our course for change in this new year.

To do this, we could overwhelm ourselves with a long list of far-reaching goals that get left to collect dust on our collective to-do lists while we wait for the perfect conditions that never seem to arrive: a perfect President, a balanced Court, a less sinister Senate, a reasonable Congress. But instead of pondering what we don’t have, I propose one single resolution that we can take on right now: A resolution for revolution. I propose that we put our efforts into forming a new state. A state of union. I propose that we become a single movement of movements. I propose that we become one.

One with what? Union with whom? Not just a new age platitude, being in union means seeing beyond the crippling illusion of separation and acting from the abiding awareness of our fundamental, indisputable interconnectedness. Separation breeds fear and perpetuates its own myth until we believe To be effective, our movements must be coherent. To be sustainable, our organizations must be aligned. To be whole, as individuals we must act from oneness.

Union within our Movements:
Let’s see where we can bridge the divides and emerge from the silos that even with our best intentions isolate the issues that we care about and create false illusions of disconnect: that somehow the oxygen created in rapidly disappearing old growth forests is not related to the oxygen disappearing in the lungs of black and brown children in inner-city jungles. Work for the environment IS work for justice but when it’s disconnected from the truth of our equal worth and inherent rights, pro-Green becomes anti-Black, Red, Brown, Indigenous and Impacted.

Union with Each Other:
As organizations trying to put asunder the corporate takeover of democracy that has recast citizens as mere consumers and cultures as mere commodities, most of our work exists in a hand-me-down paradigm designed by those same corporations. We imbibed their values when we drank the corporate Kool-aid. We’ve bought into the perpetual need to consume resources as the Holy Grail for all our woes. Now funding our fights beg us to jump through one foundation circus hoop after another and puts us squarely in competition with the very same folks we should be organizing, collaborating and conspiring with. We forget that the money we now scratch, bite and sell our integral souls for is mostly sourced from systems of oppression. Why be divided in reclaiming what was made on our collective backs? The American Economy is the Mother of all Ponzi schemes—putting Bernie Madoff to shame—and until we see the means and the ends as one, we fuel the hyper-capitalist engine of the systems that steamroll our imaginations. We are left bearing the false belief that we must depend on the path that suffocates us as the only route to freedom when really the only liberation worth attaining is that of the self: self-liberated, self-funded, self-actualized.

Union with Ourselves:
It’s no secret that if we want to get to the first two, we have to get with The One. The single individual that if we are out of relationship with, we have no hope for relationship with the rest of people, place and planet: we must find relationship with and within our selves. The good, bad, ugly and even hideous parts that we far too often cast aside. Because every day we head out to fight the good fight, we bring along the unaddressed and disconnected wounded parts of ourselves to the battle. If we don’t heal our wounds, they’ll consume our hearts, sap our strength and cripple our courage. And we all lose the war.

So how do we fulfill this resolution and make good on the necessary promise to get to know, show up for and love ourselves? To be in Union with who we are as we are? No magic pills here. It’s as simple as Practice: We set a date for meeting ourselves each and every day, 365, and we show up for it.

To usher forth a transformative movement, we resolve to work on ourselves & our organizations toward becoming the reflection of what we wish our world to become. We gift our movements, our work, our communities and our own lives with the single most significant effort we can make on behalf of all that we love and care for: we become leaders that transform hearts, minds and societies by becoming leaders—and lovers—of our very own selves.

—yours in truth, aKw

postscript: On Virtual Practice
Don’t have a favorite local practice dive? Don’t get isolated, get online. Here are three of my current favorite virtual practice opportunities, a few extras I ran across thrown in for good measure.

Daily
28 Days of Practice: Gibran Rivera of IISC and a cohort of buddies got together to support each other in committing to a daily meditation practice (centering prayer, silence, contemplation, stillness, quiet reflection…take your pick). Noting that consistency is far more important than quantity, 5 minutes per day is the bar along with taking 10 seconds to record your daily progress. Social witnessing helps keep us on track, and helps get us back on the horse when we fall off (which we will).

Yoga Today 365: Not feeling freezing your yogi toes off to trudge through cold snow for Hot Yoga? Not free, but for 25cents a day you get unlimited access to a hefty library of yoga classes on streaming video. If you’re working your way up to commitment, $3.99 gets you a “drop-in” virtual class of your choice. (Note: While an interesting resource, YT365 isn’t exactly oozing with social justice awareness. Not a brown/colored person easily found. Searching for online yoga that’s also justice-savvy? I’ll leave finding that balance to you.)

Weekly
MTX: Mind Training & Transformation: Yours truly has been chewing on this idea for five years now. Inspired by the profound Jewish tradition of Torah reading, each week MTX takes a look at one of 59 pithy non-religious “slogans,” or trainings that, with practice (and some commentary to help) are designed to transform—and unify—the mind.

Yoga Today Free Weekly Class: Mentioned above, this virtual yoga library offers a free video class each week to whet your appetite, so grab your mat, props, blanket and the front row in front of your laptop to get your body union on. (And don’t forget your eye pillow. Far from accomplishing acrobatic feats, it’s the integration at the end that gets you cool points. Don’t just do something…lie there.)

Seasonal
27 Days of Change: Winter, spring and fall, Center for Transformative Change hosts a seasonal “practice period” to help you get your alignment together. You make a formal agreement with yourself in areas such as improving relationship, taking care of the planet, giving more where and when you can. 6 intentions. 27 days. 360 degrees. (What about summer, you ask? CXC hosts an annual Inner Justice Intensive around June/July. While not for the faint of heart, if you want to “sit it down to kick it up a notch,” this may just be your mid-year game.)

BONUS:
While not virtual, if you are looking to become a resource for practice, these could be right for you: fearlessMEDITATION Instructor Training. Teaching about meditation from a social justice lens gives people permission to do the inner work that’s needed to sustain the outer work that’s called for. fMIT does just that. And if “yoga built built for justice” sounds like your fancy, the fearlessYOGA Teacher Training shares the unique legacy of being practice designed from the ground up for agents of social change. After a first year pilot, 2011 will see fYTT trainings on the east and west coasts. The time to sign up is now.

If your organization wants to become a resource, get info to get your people trained to hold practice space as a Social Justice Sitting Circle, coming to your neighborhood soon.

your in truth,aKw


copyright MMXI. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and Founder Emeritus of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
permission granted to retweet, repost,
repaste & repeat with copyright and contact
information intact.

Faceboook: Fan angel on Facebook
Twitter: Follow angel on Twitter
Web: Find angel on the Web
Blog: angel in the blogosphere
Blog: Train with angel

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