Kindness

The Red Line

The Red Line of the DC metro system bends in a U shape, connecting two wealthy Maryland suburban cities with DC in the middle.  On the western side of the U, the stops in DC are pretty ritzy too.  But on the eastern side of the U, the Red Line runs through slightly shoddier neighborhoods.

I take the Red Line home from work most days, passing through Union Station and then out into the above ground.  First, New York Avenue, then Rhode Island Avenue... There are block after block of train tracks and warehouses, on the roofs and sides of which the taggers express themselves in vibrant colors.  Looking out the window in the early evening sun, I see words and combinations of letters that I do not recognize.  And then suddenly... three little words that I know very well.  STOP THE WAR.

Ice Cream and Loving Kindness

When I got back from church, famished, my brother handed me something.  He had bought me an It's It!  A San Francisco tradition and my favorite ice cream sandwich in the world.  I scarfed it down, savoring the cinnamony cookie goodness.  We then went to lunch.  (Yes, I had desert first.)

After lunch, we went to the Richmond district apartment building that my parents own.  Something was wrong with the clothes washer and my dad wanted to see if he could fix it.  While he fiddled with machinery, there was nothing for my brother and I to do, so we went over to look at the Golden Gate Bridge.  There's a beautiful view of it not far from the building.  The sky was blue.  The trees a dark green.  The bridge was red.  The wave caps below were white.  Picture perfect.

Came back to find Dad still fiddling.  As I sat in the afternoon warmth, drowsy, I listened to a pigeon coo.  And then, from a nearby building, a woman's voice sang Amazing Grace in a language that I did not recognize.

My dad finally gave up and we called the repairman.  Coming back from the outer Richmond towards home, still in the bright, warm sunshine, I was struck with a winsome desire.  I asked D to stop by PollyAnna's Ice Cream Parlor.  PollyAnna's specializes in Asian and other unusual flavors. Got green tea ice cream for both Mom and Dad, Kaluha for D, and for myself.... licorice.  It came in a dark purpley-grey color.  D remarked it's the kind of color that parents usually discourage their kids from eating.  It was delicious.  (Yes, I had ice cream twice today.)

When I was growing up, Mr. Wally used to keep his ice cream shop open on Halloween night, where he handed out free scoops of either licorice or pumpkin ice cream.  To this day, I associate both flavors with Wally and with loving kindness.  I ate the dark purpley-grey licorice ice cream and thought of Wally.  And afterwards, my mouth was ringed in black so that I looked like the Joker.



The Heart of a Lion

Family Portrait

Methinks the term lion-heart normally refers to someone who is brave in battle. In rememberance of the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I offer an alternative meaning. A friend, Michael, forwarded this to me: The two guys reared lion from a baby in England but the authorities would not allow them to keep it once it reached maturity. They were forced to give it up - took it back to Africa, and placed it in a wildlife sanctuary. A year later they went to see the lion, but were told it would not remember them.


Female Lion Remembers Old Friends - Watch more free videos The experts obviously didn't know what they were talking about. Btw, Happy Vernal Equinox everyone! What do they say about March? In like a lion and out like a lamb?

Tree of Kindness

One of my favorite things about the winter holidays is the decorations.  In the darkness of winter, the glitter and lights are all the more appreciated.  And one of my least favorite things about the winter holidays is the fighting over the decorations.  Non-Christians complaining about Christmas trees, as if Christmas trees were actually Christian.  

The solution has been to give equal time to symbols of other faith traditions.  In addition to the Christmas creche, there now stands the Hanukkah menorah, and maybe even a Yule log.  Fine with me.  The more festivity the better.  

But what about atheists who don't espouse any religion?  Will they be offended by any display of faith?  Will they insist that we take down all the decorations, reducing us to the dark dreariness of lowest common denominator?

Not necessarily.  One creative atheist group has come up with a symbol of their own to display along side the others.  The Freethought Society in Chester County, PA is erecting a "Tree of Knowledge."  I love it! Smile

On Teddy Bears and Tenderness

Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher in Sudan who was sentenced to 15 days in jail for allowing children to name a teddy bear “Mohammed”, was freed on Dec 3rd, after being held for 8 days. Under Sudanese law, the court could have sentenced her to as much as 40 lashes and 6 months in prison.  While there were scary, hateful people in the streets calling for her blood, it was obvious that the court itself did not relish the situation and was trying to find a middle way to appease the angry mobs while still upholding what is just.

In every country, there are always scary, hateful people.  It was comforting to see that the Sudanese legal system did not reflect that.

But what really touched me in all of this was the bravery shown by some of the Sudanese parents of the school kids, standing by Ms. Gibbons and testifying on her behalf  despite the angry furor, and the reaction of Gillian Gibbons herself.  She had every right to bear a grudge, yet in an interview after her release, there was no sign of resentment.  Only gratitude towards those who helped her.  She "praised the bravery of her pupils' parents who had volunteered to back her in court and thanked her teaching assistant who actually did so."

And went on to say that "The Sudanese people are wonderful, warm and generous people. You can't hold a whole nation to blame for the actions of a few."

How to Handle School Bullies

This story made my day, probably my month. What a woonderfully positive way to respond. :)

Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message

By IAN FAIRCLOUGH Valley Bureau

CAMBRIDGE — Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying.

"It’s my last year. I’ve stood around too long and I wanted to do something," said David.

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

"I made sure there was a shirt for him," David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

"The bullies got angry," said Travis. "One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted."

David said one of the bullies angrily asked him whether he knew pink on a male was a symbol of homosexuality.

He told the bully that didn’t matter to him and shouldn’t to anyone.

"Something like the colour of your shirt or pants, that’s ridiculous," he said.

"Our intention was to stand up for this kid so he doesn’t get picked on."

Travis said the bullies "keep giving us dirty looks, but we know we have the support of the whole student body.

"Kids don’t need this in their lives, worrying about what to wear to school. That should be the last thing on their minds."

When the bullied student put on his pink shirt Friday and saw all the other pink in the lobby, "he was all smiles. It was like a big weight had been lifted off his shoulder," David said. No one at the school would reveal the student’s name.

Travis said that growing up, he was often picked on for wearing store-brand clothes instead of designer duds.

The two friends said they didn’t take the action looking for publicity, but rather to show leadership in combating what they say is frequent bullying in schools.

White Flour!!

Anti-hate Activists at a KKK Rally

Silliness.  Kindness.  It's definitely a moment!

Clowns KKKick KKK ass!

Monday May 28, 2007 16:25

by Chris Irwin - Three Rivers Earth First!

FROM THE NEWSWIRE: Knoxville rejects Nazis and Klan.

Saturday May 26th the VNN Vanguard Nazi/KKK group attempted to host a hate rally to try to take advantage of the brutal murder of a white couple for media and recruitment purposes. 

Unfortunately for them the 100th ARA (Anti Racist Action) clown block came and handed them their asses by making them appear like the asses they were.

Alex Linder the founder of VNN and the lead organizer of the rally kicked off events by rushing the clowns in a fit of rage, and was promptly arrested by 4 Knoxville police officers who dropped him to the ground when he resisted and dragged him off past the red shiny shoes of the clowns. 

“White Power!” the Nazi’s shouted, “White Flour?” the clowns yelled back running in circles throwing flour in the air and raising separate letters which spelt “White Flour”.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s angrily shouted once more, “White flowers?” the clowns cheers and threw white flowers in the air and danced about merrily.

“White Power!” the Nazi’s tried once again in a doomed and somewhat funny attempt to clarify their message, “ohhhhhh!” the clowns yelled “Tight Shower!” and held a solar shower in the air and all tried to crowd under to get clean as per the Klan’s directions.

At this point several of the Nazi’s and Klan members began clutching their hearts as if they were about to have a heart attack. Their beady eyes bulged, and the veins in their tiny narrow foreheads beat in rage. One last time they screamed “White Power!”

The clown women thought they finally understood what the Klan was trying to say. “Ohhhhh…” the women clowns said. “Now we understand…”, “WIFE POWER!” they lifted the letters up in the air, grabbed the nearest male clowns and lifted them in their arms and ran about merrily chanting “WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER! WIFE POWER!”

It was at this point that several observers reported seeing several Klan members heads exploding in rage and they stopped trying to explain to the clowns what they wanted.

Apparently the clowns fundamentally misunderstood the nature of the rally, they believed it was a clown rally and came in force to support their pointy hated brethren. To their dismay, despite their best jokes and stunts and pratfalls the Nazis and Klan refused to laugh, and indeed became enraged at the clowns misunderstanding and constant attempts to interpret the clowns instruction.

The clowns on the other hand had a great time and thought the Nazis were the funniest thing they had ever seen and the loud laughter of over 100 counter protesters greeted every attempt of the Nazis and Klan to get their message out, whatever that was.

Many of the local Knoxvillians that came to counter demonstrate had no illusions about why these out of state bad clowns with swastikas were doing in their town.

“KKK YOU CAN’T HIDE, WE CHARGE YOU WITH GENOCIDE!”

“GAY, STRAIGHT, BLACK, WHITE ONE STRUGGLE ONE FIGHT!”

“U.G.L.Y. KLAN YOU AIN’T GOT NO ALIBI, YOU UGLY, YOU UGLY”

Were just a few of the chants that the non clown counter protesters rained down upon the Nazis. The clowns interacted with the non clown protesters with glee and even participated in a chant or two, though apparently with no idea that the Nazis were indeed not clowns thinking it was just part of the show.

In the end the 20 or so sad VNNers left with their tails between their legs. At this point over 150 counter demonstraters were present. The clowns seeing how dejected and sad the Nazi’s looked began singing to cheer them up.

“hey hey hey hey, ho ho ho ho—good bye, good bye” everyone sang waving their arms in the air in unison.

After the VNNers left in their shiny SUVs to go back to Alabama and all the other states that they were from the clowns and counter demonstrators began to march out of the area chanting ‘WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!”

But the cops stopped the clowns and counter protestors. “Hey, do you want an escort” an African-American police officer on a motorcycle asked. “Yes” a clown replied. “We are walking to Market Square in the center of town to celebrate.”

The police officers got in front of the now anti racist parade and blocked the entire road for the march through the heart of Knoxville. An event called imagination station was taking place and over 15,000 thousand students and their parents were in town that weekend. Many of them cheered as the clowns, Knoxvillians and counter protestors marched through the heart of Knoxville singing and laughing at the end of the Nazi’s first attempt at having a rally in Knoxville.

http://asheville.indymedia.org/article/107Clowns

Joey Cheek II

Hey, Happy Father's Day!! Well, ok, it's only Father's Day in Taiwan.

Back in February of 06, Valentine's Day to be exact, I blogged about Olympic gold medalist Joey Cheek and how cool it was that he was donating his prize money to a charity that helped refugees. Even more than the money I was impressed that he would use his fame to lift up something other than his gifted abilities.

If Mr. Cheek had never done another thing he would still have my heart for that act of kindness. But it turns out his compassion is of the committed kind.

This afternoon an officemate who works for the UUSC and who has been working on the Drumbeat for Darfur campaign was commenting on how a group had attempted to get into the Chinese Embassy to deliver the 40,000 petition signatures that they had collected, but the only one that the Chinese officials let in was the celebrity with the press following him. Out of idle curiosity I asked who the celebrity was, and to my delight Shelley replied "Joey Cheek."

It seems that he has been working closely with the Save Darfur coalition and I just didn't know it.

He has also started his own group of international athletes dedicated to ending the genocide called, Where Will We Be.

Go Joey!

Mindless Kindness

I was at the airport flying back from General Assembly, tired.  It seems to me that whenever I fly nowadays something always goes wrong - a plane is delayed for whatever the reason.  If it's not weather, it's mechanical.  I don't remember it being like that.  I just want to get home.

Today it is weather in DC from the morning that has delayed this afternoon flight.  Not in the best of moods, I decided to treat myself to a slice of cheesecake.  One of the airport stands had specialty cheesecakes of different flavors.  I went for the cinnamon apple with a layer of real, thinly sliced of apple on the top, like an apple tartin, but with cheesecake.  How decadent is that?

The woman behind the counter was talking to a friend on the other side of the glass. She talked while she helped the two customers in line before me, barely looking at them, her actions clearly slowed by the conversation.  I am usually patient about such things but I was tired and thus impatient and thus annoyed.  She asked me what I wanted, still talking, barely looking at me, and reached into the case to get my order, barely looking at the pastries. Her hand paused at the smaller piece that was closer to her reach, then moved further into the case to grab the considerably larger slice.  And then she took my money and handed the cake to me, still in conversation, as if she couldn't care less.

I was considerably less grumpy, of course.  But also curious.  Her mind seemed clearly elsewhere, but something was still present enough to notice and to go the extra two inches to make a stranger's life a little sweeter.

What Happened to Courtesy?

So I got up at like 4:30 this morning in order to pack and make it to Chinatown in time to catch the 8am bus to NYC.**  Not quite being awake I mistakenly took the metro bus to get me to my destination instead of the subway.  Which is what brought me to this scene:

The bus was crowded but eventually I got a seat in the back.  A couple of stops later, a middle-aged woman got on - my guess is that she was in her 50's.  A 20-something young man got up out of his seat but did not head towards the exit.  It took me about as long as it did the woman to realize that he was giving up his seat for her.  A look of incredulity passed her face and then she sat down without so much as a nod in his direction.  I don't claim to be a mind-reader so I don't know what she was thinking.  Was she a miffed feminist who felt that she was just as capable of standing as he?  Or was she simply surprised that anyone would do that these days?  As I was wondering, it occurred to me how surprised I was myself.  I had not seen such an act of courtesy in what seems like years, and definitely did not expect it from a young man.

Anyway, he stood and swayed for a few more stops until a seat opened up next to me.  When he sat down, I told him it was a nice thing that he did, and then got off at my stop.  It was a nice beginning to what would be a long travel day.

**For those of you who don't know, there are a number of bus companies that run between the Chinatowns of the major cities in the Northeast.  Roundtrip from DC to NYC for $35.

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