angel Kyodo williams

Posts Tagged ‘prop 8’

a more perfect union

In culture, leadership, politics, relationship, spirit on June 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

using our wholebody



Days after California’s Prop 8 was propped up by its Supreme Court, former vice president Dick Cheney unapologetically (of course) and righteously affirmed the novel idea that “freedom means freedom for everyone…people ought to be able to enter into any kind of union they wish.”

Many of us pulled the lever to cast our vote for an oddly hopeful promise of “a more perfect union” of our Divided States. We watch with our breath held, our hearts in our throats, ready to put our bodies on the line as our One Government lets individual Republics of imaginary divides decide one-by-one, state-by-state, who freedom means freedom for: our embodiment of a more perfect union catastrophically undone by an unwillingness to recognize our most precious union: the one of the heart.

In an historic constitutional referendum in Bolivia, the voters expressed their more perfect union through the powerful symbolic act of embracing a second official flag: the formerly illegal flag of the indigenous people and of the social movement that brought down the previous corrupt governments.

The seven-color Wiphala flag is arranged as 7×7 colors in a square:

Historically, it is the flag of the Incan territory that spanned Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina.
Culturally, it is the flag of the Aymara-Quechua Andean and Amerindian people.
Politically, it is pan-indigenous, multi-ethnic, cross-class and trans-issue. With it’s similarity to the Gay rainbow flag and use for urban social movements, it is becoming an international symbol for diversity and solidarity, equality and equity, dignity and reciprocity…all coming together.

A celebration of the order of cosmos, symbol of life and fertility, it’s rainbow covers the spectrum of colors and represents the honoring of all that should matter to a society:

  • RED for man and the earth
  • ORANGE for society and its expression through culture and education
  • YELLOW for energy and strength through collectivity
  • WHITE for time and community transformation
  • GREEN for natural resouces and the land
  • BLUE for the heavens and natural phenomena
  • Last, most powerfully and sanely, VIOLET for harmonious governance and self-determination of the people.

Taken as a whole and liberated from the neo-colonial closet, it represents that more perfect union that we should all strive for in our quest for a fair and equitable society.

Some worry that Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous President, may be inadvertently diminishing the symbol, as savvy politicians have been wont to do, putting a cursory end to movements of the people by absorbing their symbols and slogans into government. Our own Civil Rights Movement came to an abrupt, stunted and co-opted halt on Lyndon B. Johnson’s appropriative declaration that “we shall overcome.”

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: like the whites and blacks that fraternized in backwoods jook joints, using rhythm to find harmony. From learning how to dance together, they eventually found the ability to pray, sit and stand together “always at great risk.”

It will arise from the embodiment of principles in and by the people that show up every day to “narrow the gap” between the hope for our society and “the reality of (our) time.” It will arise through the embodiment of actions that manifest the longing held in our hearts, the vision that we cannot yet see, but can feel the truth of in our very core. Thus with great faith, we reach inward, act outward, and move toward it. Our more perfect union will arise from within the people.

Some think this union will come as the result of the broad view of Analysis: political, social, grounded. Others believe we’ll be brought together by the deep current of Spirit: fundamental, ethical, rooted.

In the end, it will express itself as nothing that we currently know of, but rather as a constellation, integration and distillation of all. It will be individually-particularized, collectively-driven and universally-appealing. It will be a social movement because we are social creatures that can form the shape that expresses what we wish to become. It will be a cultural movement because together we create the conditions in which new ways can thrive. It will be self-determined and other-honoring. It will be systemic, endemic and talismanic. More than anything, it will, because it must, be transformative. Our more perfect union will be neither this nor that. Leaving nothing and none of us behind, it will be WholeBody: a Third Way that embraces and embodies being fully Human: ever-evolutionary, ever-revolutionary, ever-dynamic and always Divine.

From there, state-by-state and heart-by-heart, in our more perfect union, we can get Dick Cheney’s wish granted.

Jai Bhim! We shall overcome…Si, se puede. A Better World is Possible. Venceremos…Yes, we can. By any means necessary: Power to the People. Power by the People. Power FROM the People.


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angel Kyodo williams is a maverick teacher, author, social visionary and
founder of the Center for Transformative Change.
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being all we can be

In culture, identity, relationship on February 2, 2009 at 9:26 pm

On March 5th, oral arguments will be heard in the California Supreme Court to rescind Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment passed last November that restricts the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples and eliminated same-sex couples’ right to marry.

One of my “Friends” invited me to the “I’m still not sure marriage is the right goal” group on Facebook. For those of you that haven’t had the increasingly guilty but nevertheless socially productive pleasure that is Facebook, it basically means you have the opportunity to express your alliances by joining groups ad nauseum, without actually having to do anything like show up at meetings, pay dues or be responsible for the refreshments. It’s perfect for this era of more issues to be informed and care about than we have time to actually get involved in.

Years ago I appeared in OUT magazine with my then-partner in the first issue featuring gay marriage. The large-format polaroid chosen for what became a full page spread (!) captured us in an uncharacteristic juxtaposition of ‘handsome dyke’ looming over the obviously more feminine, slightly demure and arguably attractive ‘lipstick lesbian.’ Back then, someone still had to be the “boy” and someone had to be the “girl” in same-gendered couples for the world to relate.

Gay marriage had begun to take root as a more than just a fringe issue by then and was on the national radar. In ’93, Bill Clinton flummoxed the gays in the military issue by settling for “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” Since then, we’ve had an official policy of opting for not owning who you are so you can “be all that you can be.” We institutionalized lack of wholeness, lack of integrity and disregard for basic dignity into the psyche of the people responsible for protecting our nation’s safety.

Need we wonder how we ended up with Abu Ghraib, watching American women give the “thumbs up” to flagrant disrespect of the religious beliefs of Muslim men? Six years into Iraq, we still self-righteously pretend the only reason we went in is because Bush lied. Sure he did. But it was the lie we, the People: progressive and conservative; white and black; spiritual and secular; gay and straight, were willing to accept to give ourselves a false sense of security and superiority. If we just [insert democracy here] the Iraqis will be all they can be, too. ‘Cause surely they weren’t enough before we got there.

The proponents of Proposition 8 want to make sure that some people can’t be whatever they want to be…not legally, anyway. The irony is that unlike many states, in California, anyone can marry whoever they want…that is, they can officiate. You just can’t get married to who you want. Let’s face it, this is solely a religious argument, period. From the civic view, there’s nothing remotely constitutionally or morally sound about denying one group, those who love the same gender, access to the rights, privileges and responsibilities that another group has always taken for granted.

Worse though, is suspending reason long enough to allow the latter group to be the one that decides. The NAACP has seen the specter of danger here and has sounded the alarm: we cannot allow simple majorities to revoke the rights of others through constitutional amendments, revisions or otherwise. These so-called “majorities” are often those that hold the majority of the privilege through oppression, money and abuse of power. What if men (the numeric minority but power majority) could go in a room and decide–by a simple majority that cancelled out the sane and fair-minded–what women could no longer have? Shoe industry beware: all those bare feet would tank your business, for sure.

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?

I remember wondering back then why anyone would want to fight to get into the military to begin with… especially a military that didn’t want them. It’s a relationship to country that I’ve not yet had the privilege of understanding in my own heart. I understand loving my country…it’s just that I can see a clear path to loving everyone else and their country, too. I guess I’m polyamorous in the biggest Way.

Negotiating relationships of any kind–with God, Country or Lover–is a tempermental and intensely personal affair. I admit I don’t feel left out of those nasty divorces in which the state gets to have a say in who gets to keep everything from the cars to couches to kids.

Internally, life partnership means having someone that intentionally and willingly agrees to bear witness to your life. That’s a significant promise…one that has the power to liberate us to truly be all we can be, and to have who we are reflected back to us. As far as I can tell, the value of having the challenges and triumphs of that witnessing validated can’t be underestimated.

So, friends–Facebook and otherwise–I’m not sure marriage is the right goal either, but since I’m not getting married, I don’t have to be.

Isn’t that the point?