Fists up. Confederates down.

Fists up.

Confederates and their monuments down.

Down with the way of life and thinking “THE BOYS WHO WORE THE GRAY” fought to defend: the same way of thinking that robbed the world of Heather D. Heyer’s presence, and that ended her precious life.

Fists up. Confederates down.
Standing proudly on the right side of history.

The Manipulation of Southern Pride

I’m happy to share this thoughtful and thought-provoking post. It’s so important to hear the voices, perspectives and wisdom of folks fighting this southern scourge (which of course extends well beyond “the South”) from within. This piece is right-on, and I hope many people are able to engage, discuss and share its content. As the enlightened among us move forward in righteously tearing down monuments of the monumental oppression that pervades this country’s founding and history, it’s crucial to continue digging down into the soil where those racist roots thrive to this day. By carefully tending the precious, if tragically blood-stained, earth from which our society has grown, we can sew a beautiful garden and ensure a bountiful harvest of solidarity, compassion and love for generations to come. Humanity up! 🙂

Thoughts of a Coal Miner

640px-Stone_Mountain_Carving_2 Stone Mountain, Georgia | Photo by Jim Bowen

When I was a teenager, I went to a meeting of the new Sons of Confederate Veterans chapter in my home town. I quickly became caught up in the ideals of the SCV and hoped desperately that I could find a Confederate soldier within my lineage so I could join.
I was not racist thanks to a good upbringing, nor were many of the SCV members in my home town. The head of the chapter made it clear to newcomers that racism would not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. Despite this fact, we were nevertheless engaged in downplaying the atrocity of slavery to reconcile our past and defend our identity as southerners.
In our shallow minded understandings, we believed the war was about classism and freedom from oppression, arguing that the south was fighting over interpretations of the Constitution…

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Buddhaiku #3

This was inspired by a walking meditation earlier this morning in Culver City with the Organic Garden Sangha. Before setting out for our mindful meander, we read some beautiful selections from our Thây’s, Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s, writings. 

Sweet lungs of the Earth,

Bark so tough yet leaves so soft,

Hug a tree: it’s free!

Be well 🙂

Buddhaiku #2

​Smile: we’re alive now.

Space and time’s cosmic tango

Brought us here. Enjoy.

A haiku for the Buddha in you:

Butterfly flits by,
Dusted with future flowers,
How the cosmos blooms!

While mindfully enjoying my lunch under a shade tree on the lawn in Grand Park, downtown LA, I was reading about the Three Dharma Seals in Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching”. Just then, a stunning pair of butterflies united in mid-air overhead, kissed(?), and flew their separate ways. I was moved to compose this haiku. I hope you enjoy it!

Support Proyecto JardĂ­n: A Call to Thought and Action

Human rights and responsibilities

Inherent in a proper notion of human rights is its inseparable companion of human responsibilities. Humanity shines brightest when a spirit of care and stewardship infuses our communion with our fellow humans, our sister species, and our mother Earth. Whatever our faith or non-faith may be, together we can learn to respect and nurture this earthly trinity for the benefit of all.

Taking care of… the planet

Proyecto JardĂ­n is a movement on the front lines of defending and expanding the most fundamental of human rights: the right to work in concert with nature to receive sustainable sustenance from its bounty. It is a life-giving oasis in the midst of Boyle Heights, one of our hyper-urbanized planet’s food deserts. It is a safe, liberating space that radiates empowerment.

Of rights and wrongs

And now, outrageously, it is facing elimination by usurpation. White Memorial Medical Center, the garden’s landlord, is planning to evict Proyecto JardĂ­n in order to impose their own plans without input or participation from the community that’s made the garden into the thriving space it has become. Fortunately, Proyecto JardĂ­n is nowhere near ready to go quietly into that goodnight.

Join the struggle

Proyecto JardĂ­n urgently needs your support. This Saturday, January 30th they will be hosting an event at the garden from 9am to 5pm. Come out to show your solidarity. You can also help get the word out on social media by liking their Facebook page and sharing the event posting.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you out there! 🙂

Show your solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers!


Dear friends,

The simplest of gestures can speak volumes to those in need.

Attacks against Muslims are on the rise, and tragically the current political climate suggests that they won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Ask yourself what you can do to stand up to the bullies persecuting people for their religious beliefs at this very moment.

A simple starting point would be to set the above image as your profile picture on your social media sites.

Thanks to the pervasiveness of technology in our lives today, many of the friendships we cherish exist primarily in the virtual realm.

We shouldn’t underestimate the impact that something as seemingly trivial as a profile picture can have.

To give just a taste of the effect I’ve seen already since setting my profile pic yesterday, here are two comments from Facebook friends:

I used to live in an Islamic neighborhood in Dearborn Michigan, was one of only two white families on the street, the rest were mostly Lebonese and Jordanian…some of the nicest neighbors I ever had. Our neighbor across the street was having a hard time removing a stump in his yard, I went over and helped him. He was moved to tears I would help without any expectation of pay or anything, he brought me in his home and gave me the most beautiful silk prayer rug with scenes from all holy sites in mid-east, I still have it and cherish it.


Thank you for posting this. My in-laws are Muslims.

If that’s all we feel comfortable doing, that’s just fine. If we’re called to do more, even better!

Should you find yourself compelled to go above and beyond, I encourage you to read the letter by Sofia Ali-Khan that went viral last week. 

The article is titled “Dear Non-Muslim Allies, Now is the Time to Stand Up and Defend Your Fellow Citizens’ Human Rights“. Her letter makes some great recommendations for ways to take action.

Please also feel free to share this blog post, and before you go, click here to set your profile pic.

Thank you for your compassion,


Lessons from History for the Here and Now: Thoughts Inspired by “When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back”

I highly recommend reading this article (link below) by UCLA history professor Nile Green. We need to learn more from the lessons of history as we endeavour to forge mutually enriching ties between Muslims and the “western world” in the present.

One of the key elements of such community, as the article illuminates, is the recognition of and unity in universal struggles across cultural frontiers. Insistence on this emancipatory principle is one of the reasons I find Slavoj Zizek’s works so compelling, and timely.

In the article, the Muslim students living abroad in London admired and learned from the feminist struggle there, and were moved to action. What could be more universal–and inspiring–than that?!

The only area where I see a need for expansion is with regard to the mutuality of responsibility to reach out and learn from the “other”. The onus cannot be solely on Muslims to do so. We all, as human beings, share in this fundamental responsibility. And in so doing we are walking the exhilarating walk of making a better world. Let’s do this!

Read and share the article here: Zócalo Public Square :: When Muslims Admired the West and Were Admired Back

Stop Islamophobia: a battle for public opinion

The following is a letter I wrote and posted to Larry Mantle’s Air Talk facebook page, in response to his coverage of the horrific events in San Bernardino. His is by no means the only voice promoting these harmful and erroneous views. People of conscience and courage need to band together to defend those among us who are being scapegoated and attacked in the name of “keeping us safe”.

Dear Larry,

I was more than a little dismayed to hear your radio segment in response to the recent tragedy in San Bernardino. I fully expect Fox News to rabidly promote Islamophobia, but your angle on the story shocked me, to be honest.

You too put Islam on trial and subjected innocent people to the harsh spotlight of guilt by association. I could hardly believe you would invite Muslim leaders to apologize for the heartless acts of fundamentalist wackos. Truly twisted is the universe in which those apples and oranges get conflated.

But the kicker was when you baldly asserted that Christians, when confronted with the atrocious acts of the terrorists of their ilk, have been apologetic under scrutiny. Please tell me, when did any of that happen?

Sounds more like the crocodile tears of the ill-begotten “persecution of Christians” narrative churned out by Murdoch & Co to buttress the US War of Terror [my intentional misspelling].

If the sources don’t match up to the claims—as I believe they don’t in this case—it would only seem fair to retract this apparent ruse.

Sincerely disappointed,
Dan Kaufman

My hope in sharing this is to hold to account those makers of public opinion who are, wittingly or not, helping to foment hatred and feeding into the wave of racist, xenophobic zealotry that drives the popularity of an inhuman monster like Donald Trump. If you encounter other public media stooping to such lows, call them out. Let’s actually learn and put into practice the lessons of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s vital words:

First they came for the Socialists,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Let’s speak out while we still can!

Stopping Islamic fundamentalist violence, in two easy steps

Wanna take the wind out of the sails of Islamic fundamentalists? Easy:

1. Stop invading and dropping “shock and awe” on their homelands.


2. Oh, and stop vilifying and brutalizing their diaspora while you’re at it.


If those things seem too difficult to do, you’re likely part of the problem.

Edward Snowden meets Arundhati Roy and John Cusack

Arundhati Roy, Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden & John Cusack, pic by Cusack

I wanted to share a favorite quote from this amazing piece of journalism by Arundhati Roy. Please read and share the full original article here!

We’re told, often enough, that as a species we are poised on the edge of the abyss. It’s possible that our puffed-up, prideful intelligence has outstripped our instinct for survival and the road back to safety has already been washed away. In which case there’s nothing much to be done. If there is something to be done, then one thing is for sure: those who created the problem will not be the ones who come up with a solution. Encrypting our emails will help, but not very much. Recalibrating our understanding of what love means, what happiness means – and, yes, what countries mean – might. Recalibrating our priorities might.

An old-growth forest, a mountain range or a river valley is more important and certainly more lovable than any country will ever be. I could weep for a river valley, and I have. But for a country? Oh, man, I don’t know…

A stirring conversation whose propagation could only serve to benefit humanity. Spread the word!

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