angel Kyodo williams

Archive for December, 2009|Monthly archive page

splintered road to gaza

In Uncategorized on December 31, 2009 at 7:14 pm

northern Sinai, Egypt. 30 december 2009. 7:50pm

here we are on the road to Gaza.

i am one of what ended up being 65. i was included in the original 100. i got the news that I was selected last night at 9pm. “pack your bags” my friend and coordinator of the media team said. “you’re on the list. you’re going.”

when they held a meeting to tell everyone, obviously it did not go down easily for many people for many different reasons. over 1300 people impossibly pared down to 100. and with only two hours to decide and make the selections. it could never be satisfactory. finally and still, we the 100 were to meet two buses at 7am.

we packed. wrote last email. some of us slept and woke again. but when we left our rooms at 6:15am, we were met with the news that the organizing team decided they’d made the wrong call in accepting the 100-person proposal without being able to consult everyone, etc. they were very sorry for the pain and challenge it had caused. so we would go to the bus, this perspective of the organizers would be shared and whoever still wanted to go would go.

long story short, the left thing happened. the people that felt we should all go or none of us should go began tactic after tactic to convince people they should not go. that they should get off the bus. that the foreign minister issued a statement saying the 100 chosen were selected because they were not dangerous but the remaining were. that the people would not want us to come. that the entire movement–all of the years of work–would be destroyed if we went.

it was not a conversation. it was not thoughtful. it was not nonviolent.

over the next 3 hours, much shuffling occurred. people getting off the bus. people getting on. people screaming that everyone should get on, screaming that everyone should get off. people just screaming. a few people took turns holding up a hastily scrawled sign that said “Get off the buses. Do you think 100 people represent 1400 Palestinians dead?”

very few of the people that had made it through the passport check already were firm all the way through. neither firmly on nor firmly off. there were a handful, though, that for whatever their reasons–and they were varied–knew without a doubt that they intended to go.

Zainab Salbi, the Iraqi author and leader for women offered, in a dignified and repectful way, “if you are here for humanitarian reasons, you should stay on. if you are here for political reasons, you should get off. they are both right.”

from the time I knew there was unsureness about whether fewer than all should go, I knew that if the bus went, I would go. if not, I would not.

looking into the ony heart that knows, I realize, with all the complexity, that I am not here for reasons humanitarian or political in the conventional sense. I am here by the call of Spirit. I am here as a priest. I am here in my role as a fellow human being Bearing Witness to what too much of the world has ignored for far too long.

so given the choice, if it were at all possible, I would bear this witness with my own eyes, being and heart.

having been a witness, perhaps my Jewish colleagues will no longer send me email telling of how well Palestinians are faring. perhaps when the debates are riddled with charecatuers and hyperbole about either Palestinians or Israelis, I will have the trust of my own, undoubtedly limited experience. perhaps i can be a credible voice that contributes to the voices raised for truth, even if that truth is just my own. and…perhaps the people will not want us there as was suggested by the off-Busers. be that so, I will Bear Witness to that, too.

what I bore witness to today was the hypocrisy that lives in our hearts when we speak of nonviolence, when we speak of choice, when we speak of basic respect. but I rest assured that my crossing the border to say “you are not forgotten” will not destroy a movement towards what we all–humanitarian, political, spiritual–wish for, to see the Gazan people, and through them all people, Thrive.

so I am ON the bus, and on a now-Splintered Road to Gaza. but my heart and my spirit are whole.


ps, we just became 75. ten of some 30-odd folks that had come to Al-Arish hoping to get across the border but ending up on house arrest in a hotel were just transferred to our 2nd bus.

pps, i hear we’re officially 86.

being your best

In culture, identity, leadership, money, politics, relationship, spirit on December 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

Enthroned Virgin and Child. Haghia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. photo © 2009 angel Kyodo williams

child of hope

the theory, art and practice of change

Every one of us holds some hope for a future America, indeed a future world, that is changed. Changed to what is not always as tangible as our minds would like it to be. Perhaps that’s why Martin said “I have a dream…” In the best of expressions, Jesus Christ, depicted above with the Virgin Mary as a tiled mosiac in the Haghia Sophia, represents Hope. His birth brought Hope to a world that had gone awry, thus the title of the image “Child of Hope.” As agents & allies of social change, we, too, represent Hope for a world that has gone a little astray from the path of expressing the best humanity has to offer: love, compassion, fairness, security, sustainability and self-determination for all living things. We have our work cut out for us. But with a grounded theory, a willingness to learn the art and a committment to practice, practice, practice, we can and we will be our best and through our example, through our leadership, we’ll inspire the best in everyone.

In keeping with a year-end “Best of…” theme, (while doing as little as possible as I head out in the world on the first leg of my sabbatical) I offer these snippets from not one, but all of the past year’s INcite essays. Take them individually or as one big riff on this profound movement towards Transformative Social Change. May any one of these ideas, instructions or inquiries inspire you towards being your best, today and in the year to come.

January | finally American
On the one hand, 2009 brings with it the incredible challenges of the freefall of an economic house of cards built with smoke, mirrors and lots of dishonest spit, an unjust war built on outright lies, and a devastating attack on a people that the world can no longer deny is on the short end of a harsh stick, built on a 60 year theft. On the other hand, we are embarking upon a new year, a new era, and a strange, new hopefulness that real people, tired of being polarized by fear, hate and separation can organize for hope, progress and change. And together, our collective will can make a difference.

February | being all we can be
President Obama has gone on record saying that he opposes gay marriage, but admits this may be a wrong-headed view drawn from his own religious beliefs. I’m suspicious of the idea that God whispers in anyone’s ear and says “you are chosen to have something that other’s aren’t entitled to:” be that right to love or right to land. But since I’ve only been trying to listen to God rather than talk, maybe She doesn’t whisper back to me. So, I’m not one to question Obama’s or anyone else’s personal relationship with God…why don’t we stop questioning anyone’s personal, mutually respectful, consenting relationship with anyone else?

March | can you see me now?
Being in real relationship with “the other” closes the bias gap…But to even get there, we have to look at ourselves first. We have to stop letting ourselves off the race hook and commit to actively resisting the biased waters we swim in by raising our unconscious, implicit fears to the level of conscious, explicitly articulated ones. That’s painful, exhausting, heart-breaking work, but it’s the real work that needs to be done. No less important than your next action, petition, campaign or board meeting. (Those explicit biases could use a good eyeballing here, too.) Plainly speaking, if you’re doing work for change in what’s “affectionately” referred to as AmeriKKKa without a practice of examining race, you’re pretty much adding to the problem.

April | seven deadly sins of change
The Watchmen for Change are made up of Freedom Fighters, Organizers, Agitators and Activists paired with the folks that, like it or not, foot the bills. In a perfected partnership, they are our Supporters, Advocates, Advisors and Allies. Some of us pay with the currency of creativity, vitality, energy and soulforce. Others pay with hopefulness, steadfastness, wild cheering and dollar bills, y’all…Together we are the Jedis of Justice. We are The Ones that We have Been Waiting for to illuminate the Matrix and reveal the passage out of Babylon. We are the Agents of Transformative Social Change.

May | this is our time
A Black Organizer is in the White House. (Wise Latina) Justice is getting off the bench and in the Game. It’s our time. The era of the lowly grunt that toils for justice being the under-appreciated, underpaid underdog is officially overrated. We are now the wunderkinds that can capture the imagination of our nation with our unwavering commitment to Hope, resounding call for Freedom and heart-stopping effort to reveal Truth, Justice and a truly New American Way.

June | a more perfect union
But as powerful as symbols, phrases and slogans are, they only derive their energy from the wellspring of the people they represent. People that don’t just stand in the truth, but express it through the way they live. And just as “words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights” the more perfect union we seek for this country will not arise from a speech, a bailout, or even a healthcare plan…What it will arise from is the embodiment of that more perfect union by folks that know and act on what’s right…

July | the greatest transformation
(And) when Death comes to Friend you, as it will, you can’t ignore it. Where will your vast but virtual network be then? Will they be there to sing songs, share stories and send your ashes back to ashes, and dust back to dust? Will they memorialize you? Yes, connections can be made quick, Friends, Followers and Fans, but relationships are still slow…and the best ones are grown over time.

August | the practice of inconvenience
This is, more often than not, the nature of deep practice: It isn’t convenient. It doesn’t fit your schedule. It doesn’t conform to your whim. It isn’t selectable for good days instead of bad. In short, it isn’t a hobby…it’s a practice. If not as dramatic, remaining committed to established personal and organizational practice–especially in the face of challenge–is a stance no less determined than that of Gandhi’s Salt Marchers, or those folks that continued to cross the bridge in Selma. We put our butts on the line and on the cushion to usher forth a new way of Being Change.

September | beyond the boycott
(It’s) a time for action: sometimes, no matter how many ways you try to describe a thing, you have to experience it to know what it really is. i’ve been talking about transformative change: what it is and isn’t. what it could look like and what it can make possible in the world…But it’s also time for those of us pushing for change to do so in a way that actually seeks resolution, transforming the issue into an opportunity for real change: change that matters. Thus, any action taken should be thoughtful, respectful, measured and leveraged only if it is needed…

October | doing darkness
Unlike change, which can be undone with a shift in context or the swipe of a presidential pen, there’s no going back on transformation. The depth of change that takes place is so deep, rooted and resounding, that the former way of being is no longer possible. While transformation can’t be undone…the decisive question we must ask is “Transformation towards what?” If we want positive transformative outcomes, we must intentionalize and work toward them. Deep change requires deep practice. Simply put, we have to stay with it in order to see transformation through. Through and through, we must weave the fabric of our movement culture with ways of being, knowing and doing that embody precisely how we want to see society transformed: into an equitable, sustainable and just place for all. How we are showing up right now is the state of our transformation. However, if you can imagine the exact outcome, it’s more likely to be change than transformation because our vision is necessarily limited by our current perspective and conditions.

November | meeting change
Transitions are the doorways to change. Choosing to engage transition and enter each doorway as consciously as possible, but with a willingness to not know what’s on the other end, is what makes that change intentional. Life IS change. And if you’ve been around for five good minutes, you know that Change Happens. So your only real choice is to either let life happen to you or for you to choose to live it. One way to do that is to become practiced at happily, humbly and heartily Meeting Change.

Happy holidays. Free Palestine. Love, peace and blessings to and for all.

copyright MMIX. angel Kyodo williams

angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher,
author, social visionary and founder of
Center for Transformative Change.
she posts, tweets & blogs on all things change.
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