Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. B-Down Gobo Light Show – Memories. A Wordpress Production

Genocide

Day of Remembrance …

yellow_star_of_david

The international Day of Remembrance has begun in Israel. The day that we remember the 6 million Jews, and many others that went to their deaths in Nazi concentration camps. Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

dach-id

big1402 KL Auschwitz Work makes free Arbeit macht frei Today

Nazi Records

These – Bad Arolson is where the millions upon millions of files for Nazi records have been kept and for years now been open to the public for research purposes.

yad vashem 2008

_41265550_8vadveshrtrs416

Yad Vashem. The Holocaust museum in Israel.

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz


China revokes visa of gold medalist, Darfur activist Cheek

By Chris Chase

Olympic gold medalist and outspoken Darfur activist Joey Cheek has had his visa revoked by the Chinese embassy, hours before the speedskating champion was set to fly to China. And he wasn’t even planning on wearing a mask when he got there.

Chinese officials don’t need a reason to revoke anyone’s visa but, in their eyes, they had plenty of reasons to snatch Cheek’s. He is the founder of Team Darfur, a group of 70 athletes whose goal it is to raise global awareness of the human-rights violations taking part in the Darfur region of Sudan. China’s military, economic and diplomatic ties to Sudan have been well-publicized in the lead-up to the Games.

Said Cheek of his ban in a prepared statement:

“I am saddened not to be able to attend the Games. The Olympic Games represent something powerful: that people can come together from around the world and do things that no one thought were possible. However, the denial of my visa is a part of a systemic effort by the Chinese government to coerce and threaten athletes who are speaking out on behalf of the innocent people of Darfur.

Cheek was going to China to support the athletes on Team Darfur — including soccer player Abby Wambach — and to promote the cause, one that he has championed for years. After winning gold in the Torino Games, Cheek announced he was donating his $25,000 USOC bonus to Darfur and implored his sponsors to do the same. It seems that Joey Cheek is truly one of the good guys.

And now he’s out of China before he even got there. With the Games getting closer (just two days away now), the world seemed ready to forget about all the Chinese issues in order to focus on the Games themselves. Unfortunately, China’s actions make that impossible. In a time when we should be wondering who will light the Olympic cauldron, whether Michael Phelps can break an all-time record and how Liu Xiang will react to the pressure of 1.3 billion of his countrymen hanging on his every step, we’re instead left to discuss the Chinese government’s reluctance to allow any dissension in their country, despite repeated promises that they’d clean up their act when the Olympics came to town.

Photo via Getty Images


Came to Believe…

It is really hard to try and explain to some readers that unless you have walked a day or a week or a month and quite possibly a year in my shoes, NO ONE has the right to judge me or leave nasty comments on this blog, thinking that I would even entertain posting those comments here.

The other night I wrote on the seven deadly sins, as I did a nightly inventory of my sobriety and I prayed for some wisdom in posting that post and I even PAGED it as well so that it can be readily accessed from the front page.

Illness forces one who is ill to grow up, faster than usual. It asks of us to persevere through the illness and to hope and pray that one will live through adversity and come victoriously to the other side. 162 of my friends went into that dark night with me. They are all dead, I am still alive. I must be doing something right.

People who think they know God, come here and tell me about their God and they share with me their warped views of Christianity. They leave nasty comments with vile judgments and accusations. How could I possibly know God, be a Christian and be Gay? My God does not care that I am gay and he doesn’t care that you are straight. My God tells me that I must walk this path, and I must pray and I must respect the station of God, and I do that. I am sure that every Christian who reads this blog has a different conception of God, and you may not agree with me and that’s ok. What a bore it would be if we all agreed on every note of Christianity.

When I got sick, and doctors told me that I had, at best, 18 months to live, that I better make good use of that time, I took that diagnosis home with me and I was alone. Because I would be Coming Out again, and AIDS was the great leveler. It surely separated the boys from the men, and the girls from the women. I tell this story again because it is who I am – what I am – and where I came from.

I had to come to believe that I was going to live, when all of my friends were dying. Against all odds, a group of men rallied round me and forced me to think, they begged me to believe in them, if I could not believe in myself or in God at that present moment. I cried for days. I worked my ass off and I listened to every word that was spoken to me in that first 18 months. I listened to the men who made sense of living. I listened to men encourage me through the toughest time of my life. Were THEY wrong???

The path lies ahead of you. What you choose to do with that knowledge is up to you. I had a choice, I could stay on the path and follow the leader, or I could go it alone. I chose to follow the leader. When Christianity turned its back on the sick and the dying, WE were still there. When the Christians were condemning us, and labeling us, WE were still there, we walked through that hell. I accuse many for what they did to me and my friends. I accuse you for turning your back on so many, families, friends, lovers, churches, congregations, funeral parlors, office workers, hospital workers and doctors and nurses.

You have not a shred of experience on what we lived through. You have not a leg to stand on when you speak your vile accusations and judgments. God as my witness, You have no idea who I am, you did not see with thine own eyes the horror I witnessed. You did not weep at the bodies laid wasted by those who abandoned them. I reckon, you did not shed one guilty tear of remorse for your actions.

And God Wept…

I counted the days, one by one, on paper, in my house, in my heart and in my mind. I sewed my own memorial quilt with the others and when they died I wept for my friends and those who loved them to the end. I worked night and day to care for the sick and the dying. I worked night and day to keep myself alive. And I was sober as well. I experienced rehab and I read my Big Book, I worked my steps and I let go of my resentments and my ego. Because let me tell you, there is no EGO when it comes to mortality. You beg God for one more day, one more week, one more month. You tell me if you’ve ever knelt before God, knowing that your life is in his hands, and you don’t let go of your EGO pretty damned fast.

God does not deal is egos and attitudes, although you wouldn’t know that by the actions of some Christians I run across on this blog. You’d think that God stepped out of his heaven to tell some Christians that it is their duty and responsibility to speak for the almighty!

I beg to differ…

I do not know of any Christian, priest, minister, pastor or the like who has ever heard from the Almighty and has access to the 1-800 number to the heavenly host. Not one day goes by as of late that I don’t think about my mortality. Because we are quickly approaching my diagnosis anniversary. It has been 14 years and counting, and I am still here, 162 of my friends are DEAD!!!

The longer I lived the more I believed that I would make it – the more I walked the path, I learned about me, about others, I learned what true compassion was, because I watched people like you, HUMAN BEINGS become ANIMALS, un-compassionate and uncaring. I witnessed the worst that humanity threw at us, don’t think for one moment that I have forgotten after so many years. I have not…

I know very few noble men and women in my life. I know that the men and women who worked tirelessly to help me and others stay alive, did that because they had to. The believed in us when nobody else did. They hoped that we would survive the medications, the drugs, and or the lack there of. Those men and women stood at the gates of death and protected us to the best of their ability to see that no one would go alone and those who lived would not forget the kindness shown to them in their darkest hours.

YOU who think you know God. YOU who think God has anything to say about me. YOU who think that you can prance around your little churches proclaiming “Jesus Saves” on Holy Sunday and at prayer meetings and revivals, out of one side of your mouth, and from the other you spout such vitriol and hatred!!! How could you possibly be in communion with the same God who created heaven and earth and all that you see before you!

May God have mercy on your souls.

In 40 years of life, I know who I am today. I survived. I lived. I persevered. I broke all the records and markers that my doctors gave me. I survived a family that turned their backs on me. I survived loosing my friends, my fellows, my boyfriend at the time. I survived finding my lovers corpse 5 days after he killed himself, rather than telling me that he was sick. I survived the curse that his mother said to me as I signed his body out of the coroners office to send his rotted corpse home to his family when she spoke those words:

“I Hope that every night when you close your eyes, that you see my dead sons body before you until the day that you die…”

Not a night goes by that I don’t pray for his soul and for mine. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded that this body is but a shell that I happen to inhabit for this lifetime. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded that I could die at any moment because my constitution is not that of a 26 year old boy any more. Not a day goes by that I don’t start my day with prayer and pray during the day and before I go to sleep at night that i don’t thank God for that day and pray that there is air in my lungs when I get up the next morning. It seems that God listens to my prayers, because there is still air in my lungs tonight.

You must concede that I know of what I speak of. You must concede that somewhere in God’s heaven are millions of souls who have gone before me, who speak to God on my behalf. You must concede that Sister Georgette, my sainted Grey Nun aunt, isn’t up there speaking to Mere D’Youville on my behalf. You must concede that after all these years, that I know how to pray. You must concede that probably I have prayed prayers for myself and my friends that YOU have never thought about praying for yourself or your families.

Death and Dying is not just a spectator sport for those who live and die with illness. You look at a child who is sick, and you feel pity for them, yet you spurn the lot of us who are sick and dying. There was no pity on your face, only recriminations and condemnation. Until you face your appointed hour could you ever utter one single word against me, my friends or our family.

We learn a great deal about life in the pursuit of death. We learn a great deal about prayer when the chips are down and we have to utter those “Hail Mary” prayers. I don’t think that YOU could shine a light on my prayer life with the certainty that you think you have. I don’t believe that YOU could even imagine what it is that I pray for on a nightly basis. I don’t believe that YOU could ever know the relationship that I have with God, because of the way you treat others. Humans are imperfect beings.

Religious men and women across the board for centuries have prayed to God, studied the finer points of God and they speak about theologies and religions, and nobody has the definitive word on God, what He thinks and what He believes of anyone on earth. Scripture, Talmud, the Qu’ran, the Bible, the Upanishads and the Vedas all speak of spiritual nature and spiritual truth. Words written by man, inspired by God are open to interpretation by the best scholars and religious leaders. Centuries of collected works are borne into a system of belief for the masses because YOU need to believe in something, and far be it from me to tell you what to believe, and As God as my witness, YOU have no right to tell me what to believe, how to live my life, or who I can love.

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.”

On top of 40 years of lived experience on this earth, and 14 years balancing the fine art of the living and the dead, I have spiritual truth on my side. I have years of sober time under my belt. I have worked to become selfless and ego-less. We have a reading called the Promises in AA that we believe will come to pass if one works the program of recovery to the best of their ability.

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.

They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.They will always materialize if we work for them.”

Every week at my home group meeting we read this passage from the Big Book. And I can tell you that I have come to believe because I have watched God walk into our meeting and rest and I have seen his grace fall on the souls of those who come to that meeting week in and week out. I have seen God move in ways that probably YOU will never see in your lifetime. I have been blessed and my friends have been blessed by God because we come together to learn, to change, to work and to share our message with those who might need to hear it.

Over the last five years I have worked on my religious truth. I have studied God INTIMATELY. I know who God is and I know who God is not. I have prayed simple prayers in some of the most beautiful churches on the earth. I have walked the staircase to the roof the Pinnacle of the Holy Catholic Church. I have stood in awe of the expanse of Rome and I have looked down into Papal Gardens where I am sure, centuries of Popes have communed with God in their time.

I have spoken to Pontiffs, I have worshiped in the greatest Church that exists on the planet. I have communed with the bones of saints and prophets. I have stood in the place of honor where the disciple Peter’s bones rest beneath the cuppola of the Vatican. I have walked the hallowed halls of the catacombs beneath the Vatican and I have seen the early Christian catacombs on Rome where the first Christians worshiped God.

There is not one egotistical bone in my body. I have worked tirelessly for years to share a message of hope and love with my readers. I have worked with the sick and the dying. I have spent a lifetime learning how to die. I have spent a lifetime studying the path to righteousness. I don’t care one bit for righteousness, I DO care about Holiness. I care that I live a holy and blessed life. I care that those I listen to live holy and blessed lives. I care that the religious authority that I follow RESPECTS me for WHO I am and are not bothered by WHAT I may be.

The world is so caught up in labels. What good have labels done to people in the past? The Nazi’s believed that labeling people and putting them in extermination camps was useful. To route the world of Jews, Gypsies, Christians, (oh yes they exterminated Christians too), homosexuals, the Polish and the sick and dying. MILLIONS of people WERE MURDERED because they were labeled as useless and dirty.

I once believed, as a young person that I wanted to carry a label, but 40 years of experience has taught me that once you label someone, they are as good as dead. Once you label someone, they loose something of themselves. The uniqueness of the soul is tarnished by those who would see them labeled. In centuries of time gone by, we have seen what labels do to human beings. Because if YOU can label us, then You believe that you can separate us from the whole, and section us off from the normal human population. You do not own that power any longer.

My Husband, my friends, and my fellows love me for the man I am today. One who gives freely of his soul every day that I live. One who writes with such passion and strength. One who lives with determination that I can safely say that probably YOU will never see in your lifetime. Because faced with imminent death, I am sure you would not rise to the level of enlightenment that I have seen in my lifetime.

Ah, you might get sick, get cancer, or some other disease, you will say a prayer here or there, and maybe you just might see the face of God before he takes you, but you will still be as judgmental and vile as you are today. Nothing will change.

Because a sick heterosexual is far better in Gods eyes than a sick homosexual.

Because you believe that God will hear and harken your prayer before he does mine. Well, I wonder about that. What do you think? YOU who sputter unchristian words now need God’s grace, because like me, now you are sick and you need God to heal you and make you better. Do you think that you are going to walk a different path than I have? Do you think that your illness might be better than mine? Do you believe that a heterosexual should be pushed up the line of healing before God, before someone like me?

You have no idea what it feels like to face your own death, several times over in my case. And lived to tell the tale. And you think that I am prideful or have one ounce of hubris in my soul? You think that I am arrogant and that I come from a place of ego rather than a place of selflessness???

I have come to believe…

One day YOU will stand before God, and on that day YOU will reckon for all that you have done on this earth, and for me it is this last thought that keeps me going in my pursuit of Christian faith, that at the end of my life when I stand before God I will hear him say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Will God say the same words to you???


Berlin inaugurates memorial to Nazi’s gay victims

The memorial for homosexual victims of the Nazi regime, designed by Norwegian artist Ingar Dragset and Danish artist Michael Elmgreen, seen in Berlin on Monday, May 26, 2008. On Tuesday, May 27, 2008 the monument will be unveiled officially.

By GEIR MOULSON, Associated Press

BERLIN – Germany unveiled a memorial Tuesday to the Nazis’ long-ignored gay victims, a monument that also aims to address ongoing discrimination by confronting visitors with an image of a same-sex couple kissing.

The memorial — a sloping gray concrete slab on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten park — echoes the vast field of smaller slabs that make up Germany’s memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, opened three years ago just across the road.

The pavilion-sized slab includes a small window where visitors can view a video clip of two men kissing.

Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said the monument was a reminder of the ongoing struggles that still confront gays.

“This memorial is important from two points of view — to commemorate the victims, but also to make clear that even today, after we have achieved so much in terms of equal treatment, discrimination still exists daily,” Wowereit said as he inaugurated the memorial alongside Culture Minister Bernd Neumann.

Nazi Germany declared homosexuality a threat to the German race and convicted some 50,000 homosexuals as criminals. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived.

“This is a story that many people don’t know about, and I think it’s fantastic … that the German state finally decided to make a memorial to honor these victims as well,” said Ingar Dragset, a Berlin-based Norwegian who designed the memorial along with Danish-born Michael Elmgreen.

The commemoration “unfortunately comes too late for those who were persecuted and survived in 1945,” said Guenter Dworek, of Germany‘s Lesbian and Gay Association. “That is very bitter.”

He said the last ex-prisoner that his group knows of died in 2005.

Wowereit echoed his regret over the time it took to honor the Nazis’ gay victims.

“That is symptomatic of a postwar society which simply kept quiet about a group of victims, which … contributed to these victims being discriminated against twice,” he said.

Few gays convicted by the Nazis came forward after World War II because of the stigma attached to homosexuality. The law used against them remained on the books in West Germany until 1969, and Dworek said there were 50,000 convictions under the legislation after the war.

Not until 2002 did the German parliament issue a formal pardon for homosexuals convicted under the Nazis. One reason it took so long was because the legislation had been linked to a blanket rehabilitation of 22,000 Wehrmacht deserters — a move many conservatives opposed.

The effort to get a memorial built started in 1992, and a 1999 parliament decision to build the memorial to the Holocaust‘s 6 million Jewish victims also called for “commemorating in a worthy fashion the other victims of the Nazis.” In 2001, Jewish and Gypsy leaders backed an appeal for a monument to the gay victims.

After lawmakers approved its construction, a jury picked the winning design in early 2006 out of 17 design proposals.

The federal government financed the $945,660 building costs, while Berlin’s city government provided the site.

The designers’ original plan to feature only a video of two men kissing ran into criticism that lesbians were left out. Last year, a compromise was reached to change the memorial’s video every two years, allowing lesbian couples to be shown in the future.

The first film — a repeating clip of two men kissing, shot at the site of the memorial before it was built — was done by photographer Robby Mueller and directed by Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg.

“It was quite important to have a direct imagery of a love scene, a passionate scene … because that is the main problem in homophobia,” designer Elmgreen told AP Television News. “You can get acceptance on an abstract level, but they don’t want to look at us.”

Germany has allowed gay couples to seal their partnerships at registry offices since 2001, although the law stops short of offering formal marriage. Berlin has a large gay community, as do other major German cities, such as Cologne and Hamburg.

The memorial to the Nazis’ Jewish victims and the new monument will soon be joined by a third memorial honoring the Roma and Sinti, or Gypsy, victims. Some 220,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust.

Work begins this year on that memorial, also in Tiergarten park.

“We stand stunned before the brutality with which the Nazis threatened, persecuted and destroyed all those who did not correspond to their inhuman ideology,” Neumann said.

“The experience of war and Holocaust, state terror and tyranny, puts on us Germans a special responsibility to protect freedom and human rights.”


Berlin inaugurates memorial to Nazi's gay victims

The memorial for homosexual victims of the Nazi regime, designed by Norwegian artist Ingar Dragset and Danish artist Michael Elmgreen, seen in Berlin on Monday, May 26, 2008. On Tuesday, May 27, 2008 the monument will be unveiled officially.

By GEIR MOULSON, Associated Press

BERLIN – Germany unveiled a memorial Tuesday to the Nazis’ long-ignored gay victims, a monument that also aims to address ongoing discrimination by confronting visitors with an image of a same-sex couple kissing.

The memorial — a sloping gray concrete slab on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten park — echoes the vast field of smaller slabs that make up Germany’s memorial to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, opened three years ago just across the road.

The pavilion-sized slab includes a small window where visitors can view a video clip of two men kissing.

Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said the monument was a reminder of the ongoing struggles that still confront gays.

“This memorial is important from two points of view — to commemorate the victims, but also to make clear that even today, after we have achieved so much in terms of equal treatment, discrimination still exists daily,” Wowereit said as he inaugurated the memorial alongside Culture Minister Bernd Neumann.

Nazi Germany declared homosexuality a threat to the German race and convicted some 50,000 homosexuals as criminals. An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 gay men were deported to concentration camps, where few survived.

“This is a story that many people don’t know about, and I think it’s fantastic … that the German state finally decided to make a memorial to honor these victims as well,” said Ingar Dragset, a Berlin-based Norwegian who designed the memorial along with Danish-born Michael Elmgreen.

The commemoration “unfortunately comes too late for those who were persecuted and survived in 1945,” said Guenter Dworek, of Germany‘s Lesbian and Gay Association. “That is very bitter.”

He said the last ex-prisoner that his group knows of died in 2005.

Wowereit echoed his regret over the time it took to honor the Nazis’ gay victims.

“That is symptomatic of a postwar society which simply kept quiet about a group of victims, which … contributed to these victims being discriminated against twice,” he said.

Few gays convicted by the Nazis came forward after World War II because of the stigma attached to homosexuality. The law used against them remained on the books in West Germany until 1969, and Dworek said there were 50,000 convictions under the legislation after the war.

Not until 2002 did the German parliament issue a formal pardon for homosexuals convicted under the Nazis. One reason it took so long was because the legislation had been linked to a blanket rehabilitation of 22,000 Wehrmacht deserters — a move many conservatives opposed.

The effort to get a memorial built started in 1992, and a 1999 parliament decision to build the memorial to the Holocaust‘s 6 million Jewish victims also called for “commemorating in a worthy fashion the other victims of the Nazis.” In 2001, Jewish and Gypsy leaders backed an appeal for a monument to the gay victims.

After lawmakers approved its construction, a jury picked the winning design in early 2006 out of 17 design proposals.

The federal government financed the $945,660 building costs, while Berlin’s city government provided the site.

The designers’ original plan to feature only a video of two men kissing ran into criticism that lesbians were left out. Last year, a compromise was reached to change the memorial’s video every two years, allowing lesbian couples to be shown in the future.

The first film — a repeating clip of two men kissing, shot at the site of the memorial before it was built — was done by photographer Robby Mueller and directed by Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg.

“It was quite important to have a direct imagery of a love scene, a passionate scene … because that is the main problem in homophobia,” designer Elmgreen told AP Television News. “You can get acceptance on an abstract level, but they don’t want to look at us.”

Germany has allowed gay couples to seal their partnerships at registry offices since 2001, although the law stops short of offering formal marriage. Berlin has a large gay community, as do other major German cities, such as Cologne and Hamburg.

The memorial to the Nazis’ Jewish victims and the new monument will soon be joined by a third memorial honoring the Roma and Sinti, or Gypsy, victims. Some 220,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were killed during the Holocaust.

Work begins this year on that memorial, also in Tiergarten park.

“We stand stunned before the brutality with which the Nazis threatened, persecuted and destroyed all those who did not correspond to their inhuman ideology,” Neumann said.

“The experience of war and Holocaust, state terror and tyranny, puts on us Germans a special responsibility to protect freedom and human rights.”


DARFUR: ON OUR WATCH

CBC.CA/DOCSZONE 

CBC cameras follow actress Mia Farrow on an emotionally harrowing journey through the desolate refugee camps along the Chad/ Darfur border.

The United Nations has called Darfur “the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.” The United States has called it “genocide”. The death toll estimates for this western region of Sudan range from 200,000 to 500,000, with two and a half million people forced from their homes and the sex crimes too rampant to count.

Chad

The desolute landscape outside the refugee camps in Chad.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

“Never Again” vowed the world after the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica brought the “bloodiest of centuries” to a close. But three years into the 21st century a national government was once again aiding and abetting the brutal destruction of an ethnic group within its borders And now in the year 2007, as refugees in the camps of neighbouring Chad attest, the Sudanese government still carries out its grizzly task. The United Nations, an institution charged with making the world a safer place, looks on, virtually helpless to stop the slaughter of black Africans at the hands of Arab horseman known as Janjaweed –devils on horseback.

DARFUR: On Our Watch examines why it took the UN so long to respond to the obvious early warning signs of an horrific ethnic cleansing. It will document in chilling detail how politics, oil, guns and money trumped human rights as powerful interests on the Security Council blocked the world from acting; how the United States, weakened by wars in Somalia and Iraq could not influence the world forum to act.

But a clamorous coalition of ordinary citizens, international activists and major celebrities now offer the one real hope for Darfur. Through the relentless campaigning of a growing band of citizens in schools, universities and corporate corridors, through tens of thousands on the march, and the tireless efforts of Hollywood stars like Mia Farrow and George Clooney, the world and the Chinese government are being shamed into action.

refugee camp

Finding shelter in one of the many refugee camps.
Photo Credit: Debbie Bodkin

Mukesh Kapila, a British doctor and the United Nation’s Humanitarian Co-ordinator for the Sudan, is the Roméo Dallaire for Darfur. He sounded the alarm. People, who had trekked all the way from Darfur, started arriving in his office in Khartoum in early 2003 describing the atrocities that were occurring. Dr. Kapila reported back to his bosses at UN Headquarters in New York.

On December 18, 2003 he wrote to his boss Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Kieran Prendergast, Under-Secretary for Political Affairs, informing them that “the security situation in Greater Darfur continues to worsen… An estimated 670,000 people have been newly displaced, 70,000 fled to Chad, and one million others are directly affected by the war. Our Office receives daily reports of human right violations throughout the region.”

By March 22 2004 he was reporting “ethnic cleansing” to Iqbal Riza, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s chief aide, in the hopes that action would be taken. Sir Kieran Prendergast explains that the United Nations was late in responding to the crisis in Darfur because peace negotiations to end the 21-year civil war between north and south Sudan were looking promising and the political wing of the United Nations was hesitant about raising the profile of Darfur, for fear of upsetting the peace process.

While the UN was waiting for the comprehensive peace agreement to be signed, Mia Farrow, Eric Reeves and Debbie Bodkin were documenting the atrocities unfolding. In the world’s latest abomination, resolve has come from individuals filling the void left by institutions.

Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow has visited Darfur seven times since 2004.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

Movie star, activist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and grandmother Mia Farrow has traveled to the Darfur region seven times. “My first trip into Darfur was in 2004. Simply put, it changed the way I needed to live my life.” CBC and PBS Frontline travelled with Mia Farrow to the camps in eastern Chad in June 2007 to talk to Darfur refugees and internally displaced people (see her journal of the trip on her website).

In Chad, Mia Farrow meets Fatih Younnis a former chief or Omda for the district of Mukjar in western Darfur (ground zero in the Darfur crisis), who fled into Chad in the summer of 2003 with 4,500 other refugees. And she reunites with Khadeiga Abdullah whom she had met on previous visits. Abdulla survived the attacks, but was raped and one of her children was killed on her back as she fled her village. Today she lives in a refugee camp with seven children, in desperate poverty. Abdulla Idris Zaid is 27. He tried to collect his harvest before fleeing his village and his eyes were gouged out. Today he sits in a lawless land waiting (see photo at top).

Mia Farrow struggles to comfort the afflicted and alert the world to their pain. With Eric Reeves, her celebrity voice has helped shame the Chinese Government to action on the Darfur crisis. They started a campaign called the “Genocide Olympics” to raise awareness about China’s role in the crisis in Darfur.

Activist Eric Reeves has been raising awareness about the atrocities in Sudan for eight years on his website and he doesn’t withhold his exasperation at the international community: “It’s almost impossible for me to describe the scale of the international failure and how dismaying it is and how obvious it is we’ve learned nothing. I’m given to saying that in the wake of Rwanda it’s as though the gods of history looked down on us and said your failure was so appalling… we’ll give you another chance and we’ll give you a lot of time and we’ll call it Darfur. And we failed just as badly as we failed in Rwanda.” If anyone has turned the whisper of “never again” into a relentless tapping at the world’s conscience it is Eric Reeves. Eric Reeves is also a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts and author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

UN soldiers

UN soldiers arrive at a refugee camp.
Photo Credit: Debbie Bodkin

Sergeant Debbie Bodkin is a 20-year-veteran of the Waterloo regional police in Ontario. She has served in the homicide, the sexual assault and the drug squads. She thought she’d seen everything until the summer of 2004 when she used her vacation time to travel to Chad as a member of the Atrocities Documentation Team for a US State Dept inquiry. She and colleagues interviewed 1,136 victims. Then in November 2004 she joined another investigation team. This one authorized by the UN. She suffered from post-traumatic stress due to her experiences, but she continues to move people to action through her lectures.

In 1994, General Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR)—he explains that states are reluctant to risk casualties if there is no self-interest. Samantha Power, author of “A Problem from Hell: American and the Age of Genocide” adds that there are few repercussions if states don’t get involved, but many if there are casualties and that is why all US administrations throughout the century have shied away from action. Alex de Waal, puts Sudanese history in context. He is the author of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War with co-author Julie Flint. Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem presents the government of Sudan’s perspective on Darfur.

children in Chad

The children in Chad can only hope for a better future.
Photo Credit: Joe Passaretti

But there is hope. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, says the Security Council referral of the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court, was a result of public pressure. And he argues that the worst perpetrators of the violence in Darfur will eventually be brought to justice, it is just a matter of time. And on July 31 2007 there is unanimous agreement to send 26,000 troops to Darfur by the end of the year with a mandate to protect civilians. Peacekeeping troops for Chad have also been agreed upon. Whether troops will arrive fast enough only time will only tell, but Mukesh Kapila, Samantha Power, Eric Reeves, Roméo Dallaire, Luis Moreno-Ocampo and Mia Farrow all agree that without the strong activist voice applying pressure on the governments of the world, Darfur would be in a much worse situation today.

This riveting one-hour documentary was filmed in high-definition and is a co-production with CBC TV and PBS Frontline. It is written, produced and directed by Neil Docherty, one of Canada’s foremost documentary filmmakers, narrated by writer and actor Ann-Marie Macdonald, with an original musical score by Andy McNeill.


A Holocaust mystery finds some answers

poland-copy.jpg

By ARTHUR MAX and MONIKA SCISLOWSKA, Associated Press Writers 

BAD AROLSEN, Germany – Deep in Shari Klages’ memory is an image of herself as a girl in New Jersey, going into her parents’ bedroom, pulling a thick leather-bound album from the top shelf of a closet and sitting down on the bed to leaf through it.

What she saw was page after page of ink-and-watercolor drawings that convey, with simple lines yet telling detail, the brutality of Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp where her father spent the last weeks of World War II.

Arrival, enslavement, torture, death — the 30 pictures expose the worsening nightmare through the artist’s eye for the essential, and add graphic texture to the body of testimony by Holocaust survivors.

“I have a sense of being quite horrified, of feeling my stomach in my throat,” Klages says. Just by looking at the book, she felt she was doing something wrong and was afraid of being caught.

Now, she finally wants to make the album public. Scholars who have seen it call it historically unique and an artistic treasure.

But who drew the pictures? Only Klages’ father could know. It was he who brought the album back from Dachau when he immigrated to America on a ship with more than 60 Holocaust orphans — and he had committed suicide in 1972 in his garage in Parsippany, N.J.

The sole clue was a signature at the bottom of several drawings: Porulski.

Klages, 47, has begun a quest to discover who Porulski was, and how her family came to be the custodian of his remarkable artistic legacy. The Associated Press has helped to fill in some of the blanks.

What unfolds is a story of Holocaust survival compressed into two tragic lives, a tale with threads stretching from Warsaw to Auschwitz and Dachau, from Australia to suburban England, and finally to a bedroom in New Jersey where a fatherless girl makes a traumatic discovery.

It shows how today, as the survivors dwindle in number, their children and grandchildren struggle to comprehend the Nazi genocide that indelibly scarred their families, and in the process run into mysteries that may never be solved.

This is Shari Klages’ mystery: How did Arnold Unger, her Polish Jewish father, a 15-year-old newcomer to Dachau, end up in possession of the artwork of a Polish Catholic more than twice his age, who had been in the concentration camps through most of World War II?

None of the records Klages found confirm that the two men knew each other, though they lived in adjacent blocks in Dachau. All that is certain is that Unger overlapped with Porulski during the three weeks the boy spent among nearly 30,000 inmates of Dachau’s main camp.

“He never talked about his experiences in the war,” said Klages. “I don’t recall specifically ever being told about the album, or actually learning that I was the child of a Holocaust survivor. It was just something I always knew.”

As adults, she and her three siblings took turns keeping the album and Unger’s other wartime memorabilia.

The album begins with an image of four prisoners in winter coats carrying suitcases and marching toward Dachau’s watchtower under the rifles of SS guards. It is followed by a scene of two inmates being stripped for a humiliating examination by a kapo, a prisoner working for the Nazis.

One image portrays two prisoners pausing in their work to doff their caps to a soldier escorting a prostitute — intimated by the seam on her stocking. Another shows a leashed dog lunging at a terrified inmate.

The drawings grow more and more debasing. Three prisoners hang by their arms tied behind their backs; a captured escapee is paraded wearing a sign, “Hurray, I am back again”; an inmate is hanged from a scaffold; and, in the final image, a man lies on the ground, shot dead next to the barbed-wire fence under the looming watchtower.

The album also has 258 photographs. Some are copies of well-known, haunting images of piles of victims’ bodies taken by the U.S. army that liberated the camp. Others are photographs, apparently taken for Nazi propaganda, portraying Dachau as an idyllic summer camp. Still others are personal snapshots of Unger with Polish refugees or with American soldiers who befriended him.

Barbara Distel, the director of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, said Porulski probably drew the pictures shortly after the camp’s liberation in April 1945. He used identical sheets of paper, ink and watercolors for all 30 pictures, she said, and he “would never have dared” to draw such horrors while he was still under Nazi gaze.

“It’s amazing after so many years that these kinds of documents still turn up,” Distel told the AP. “It’s a unique artifact,” and clearly drawn by someone with an intimate knowledge of the camp’s reality, she said.

Holocaust artwork has turned up before, but Distel and Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum, who is with the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, say they are unaware of any sequential narrative of camp life comparable to Porulski’s.

“I’ve seen two or three or four, but never 30,” said Berenbaum.

In Coral Springs, Fla., where she now lives, Klages showed the book in 2005 to a neighbor, Avi Hoffman, executive director of the National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts. Hoffman immediately saw its quality and significance. The two became determined to uncover its background and find out if the artist had created an undiscovered body of work.

In August, Klages, Hoffman and Berenbaum went to Germany to begin their hunt. They hired a crew to document it, hoping a film would help finance a foundation to exhibit the book.

They began chipping away at the album’s secrets at the Dachau memorial, outside Munich, where they found an arrival record for Michal Porulski, which listed his profession as artist, in 1941.

They learned that Unger hid the fact that he was Jewish when he reached Dachau three weeks before the war ended. “That probably saved his life,” Hoffman said. They also discovered a strong likelihood that the album’s binding was fashioned from the recycled leather of an SS officer’s uniform.

Unger, an engaging youngster, became an office boy and translator for U.S. occupation authorities at Dachau, which was turned into a displaced persons camp, and obtained a U.S. visa in 1947.

Research by Klages’ group and the AP has begun to pull together the scattered threads of Porulski’s life from long forgotten records at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, a tiny museum in Warsaw, Auschwitz and Dachau, the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial archives in Jerusalem, Australian immigration records and data from England.

Porulski enrolled in the Warsaw arts academy in 1934 after completing two years of army service. Attached to his neatly written application is a photograph of a good looking young man with light hair and dreamy eyes.

It says he was a farmer’s son, born June 20, 1910, in the central town of Rychwal, although in later records Porulski said he was born five years later.

Chronically poor, he left the academy after failing to secure a loan for his tuition but was later reinstated. After Germany invaded in 1939, he made some money painting watercolor postcards of Nazi-occupied Poland, two of which have survived and are now in the Warsaw Museum of Caricature.

In June 1940, he was arrested in a Nazi roundup “without any reason,” he wrote many years later in an appeal for help from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Two months later, he and 1,500 others were the first Poles to be shipped from Warsaw to Auschwitz. He spent eight months there, then was sent to the Neuengamme camp and finally to Dachau, near Munich, in May 1941.

In Dachau, according to a brief reference in a Polish book on wartime art, he painted portraits, flowers, folk dance scenes and decoration for a clandestine theater.

In 1949 he sailed to Australia and tried to work as a painter and decorator but mostly lived off friends. He returned to Europe in 1963 and lived in England and France. He visited Poland in the early 1970s for several months, and stayed with his sister, Janina Krol, in Gdynia on the Baltic coast, and another relative outside Warsaw, Wanda Wojcikowska.

He brought his sister paintings of Dachau, his niece, Danuta Ostrowska, now 75, recalls. But her mother threw them away, saying “I can’t look at them.” The family still owns 10 of his mostly prewar paintings.

He was robbed of his money and passport, and Poland‘s communist authorities wanted Porulski out of the country, Wojcikowska’s daughter, Malgorzata Stozek, recalls. “My mother even found a woman willing to marry him, to help him stay in Poland,” she said. But he already had borrowed money from his sister and left.

His letters from England said he found work maintaining bridges, Stozek said. “He wrote that the moment he finished painting a bridge over some river, he had to start again.” It could have been a metaphor for a life going nowhere.

“One day I came to see my mother and she was crying because he wrote to her that he had no money, he was hungry and was sleeping on park benches. He lived in terrible poverty,” Stozek told the AP.

He was so lonely, she said, he had considered suicide.

In 1978 he sent a request for war compensation to the International Tracing Service in the central German town of Bad Arolsen, which houses the world’s largest archive of concentration camp records and lists of Holocaust victims.

“I have no occupation of any sort. I was unable to resume my studies after all those years in the camps,” he wrote. “I am just by myself, and I live from day to day.”

The ITS replied that it had no authority to give grants, but was sending confirmation of his incarceration to the U.N. refugee agency to support his earlier reparations claim.

Unger also shows up in the Tracing Service, in a 1955 two-page letter he wrote recounting his ordeal that began when he was 9.

Unger’s father had a prosperous furniture business near Krakow. “Then the infamous horde of Nazis overran our town, disrupted our life, murdered my parents and little sister, and robbed us of all we had.” He was the only survivor of 50 members of the Unger family.

Christian friends hid him for a while, but he ended up imprisoned inside the Krakow ghetto, then was moved to a series of concentration camps.

His daughter says that after he immigrated to America, he told a cousin with whom he lived in New Jersey that his job at Dachau had been to tend the ovens. The Nazis commonly used inmates for such purposes — it was one of the few ways of surviving.

Newly arrived in America, Unger spoke to Newark newspapers of his years of torment, saying he escaped three times during marches between camps but was always recaptured.

At one point, he told the Newark Evening News, he was herded into a gas chamber at Natzweiler camp with 50 other prisoners, but they were spared at the last minute because some of them were electricians whom the Nazis needed for their war effort.

The two lives, briefly intertwined by the Holocaust and an album of photos and paintings, ended 17 years apart — Unger by hanging himself in 1972, Porulski in 1989 in St. Mary’s Hospital near Hereford, England, of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The death certificate gives his age as 74 and his profession as “painter (retired).”

Shari Klages was 12 when her father died.

He had just been laid off from his 18-year job in the aeronautics industry, and his wife had been diagnosed with brain cancer. His suicide is given added poignancy by the image of the hanged inmate in the album, and Klages believes it was his Holocaust experience that weighed most heavily on him.

“I have no doubt it was the most significant contributor to his death,” she said.

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report. Arthur Max reported from Bad Arolsen, Germany, and Monika Scislowska from Warsaw.

On the Net:

National Center for Jewish Cultural Arts

Dachau

International Tracing Service


Pope speaks of Europe’s tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Pope speaks of Europe's tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Religions of Tibet

Buddha with a view

More on this topic later this evening.

The Class is amazing. Many of my friends from last term are in the class as well. I really like my professor, because he brings real life stories from his visits to Tibet and surrounding areas of that far land to the classroom, so this isn’t just class, but it is a real life educational trip to a real place not only read about in a text book.

I’m tired so I shall write some more later. I don’t have class on Friday’s so we are back to regular schedule now. I get my 3 day weekend now, with Friday being cleaning day at home.

Talk to you soon…


Labels … Let us Reflect on them …

krystallnacht.jpg

Krystalnacht – The Night of the Broken Glass…
The Beginning of The Holocaust

auschwitz-birkenau_memorial-copyb.jpg

arbeit-macht-frei.jpg

Work Makes You Free …

buchenwald.jpg

A Survivor from Buchenwald

_41265550_8vadveshrtrs416.jpg

Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial

 

capttok10206280145new_zealand_world_heritage_auschwitz_renamed_tok102.jpg

Auschwitz – Concentration Camp

****************************************

Red Ribbon

The Red Ribbon – Synonymous for AIDS

Pride Flag

The Pride Flag – Proud Symbol for all things Gay

250px-aids_quilt.jpg

The Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt – For all those who died from AIDS
My friends,My family, My brothers and sisters…

yellow_star_of_david.jpg

The JEW – The Star of David used during the Holocaust …
**********************************

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes and a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter

Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At Home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,

Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.

Primo Levi

Survival in Auschwitz

 

pink-triangle-3.gif

The Homosexual – Also Used during the Holocaust …

fateless_240.jpg

A Young Man – Hungarian Jewish Boy –
From Fateless, the Motion Picture

dach-id.jpg

The Label Chart Used By the Nazi Party within
the Death Camps and Concentration Camps to
Identify people…
Location, Ethnicity, Area, Orientation, Religious Affiliation

 

There weren’t only Jews in the Camps…

silencedeath.png

The ACT UP slogan for Gay and AIDS circa 1980

jc.jpg

What Would Jesus Do???

diploma1a1.jpg

This is my Label – I earned every hour of it, with Pride…

pride-arm2.jpg

We Should Be Proud, but we should remember what labels have done to millions world wide over the Decades. I think it is time to move past them, to stop labeling and Outing people. I think we need to learn to live together PEACEFULLY in order to stop the killing of ALL people around the world…

THAT WE SHOULD REMEMBER – SO THAT WE NEVER FORGET!!


Should Suicide be a Sin??? Discuss…

 

images-copy200p.jpg

Originally read on: Neil McKenty Blog.

“Today a 26-year old Vatican police officer named Alessandro Benedetti commited suicide in the bathroom of his barracks near the Pope’s private quarters. He left a suicide note which referred to the fact his girl friend recently left him.

A papal spokesperson said the Holy Father was grieving and he “trusts the young man’s soul to the compassion of God.”

The 1997 Cathechism of the Catholic Church says suicide is one of the gravest sins and results in damnation. When I was growing up a Catholic suicide could not be buried in consecrated ground.

However, the Catechism also says a person who suicides “may not be fully culpable if suffering grave psychological disturbance, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture.”

Wouldn’t it be better to drop all this mumbo jumbo and simply admit that suicide is not a sin?”

This question is asked within the context of Catholicism, not Evangelical Christianity.


China frees 3 Canadian activists after Tibet protest

CBC.ca

Canadians, all from British Columbia, were demanding China pull out of Tibet

Three Canadians arrested by Chinese police following a protest at the Great Wall against China’s presence in Tibet have been released.

Melanie Raoul of Vancouver was arrested Tuesday in China.

Melanie Raoul of Vancouver was arrested Tuesday in China.
(Courtesy of Freya Putt)

The British Columbian activists — Lhadon Tethong, Sam Price and Melanie Raoul — left China after their release on Wednesday and flew into Hong Kong.

“It was draining, exhausting, psychologically traumatizing, although we weren’t physically hurt,” Raoul, 25, told CBC News from Hong Kong.
bc-070807-tibet-sign.jpg

Raoul and Price, both of Vancouver, were arrested Tuesday after they unfurled a 42-square-metre banner reading “One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 2008” in English and Chinese from the Great Wall.

The banner adds three words — “Free Tibet 2008” — to the official slogan of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which began their one-year countdown on Tuesday.

Tethong, 31, was arrested Wednesday. She was not involved in the Great Wall protest, but she spent her time in China writing a blog and posting videos and photos online about what the group calls China’s “propaganda campaign” leading up to next year’s Olympic Games.

Five other activists — two from the U.K and three from the United States — were also arrested and released.

All the activists are part of Students for a Free Tibet, a New York-based group for which Tethong serves as executive director.

Tethong said the group knew their actions on the Great Wall weren’t legal and that arrests were a possibility.

Lhadon Tethong, one of three Canadian protesters released by Chinese authorities, is seen at a Buddhist temple in Beijing in this undated photo.

Lhadon Tethong, one of three Canadian protesters released by Chinese authorities, is seen at a Buddhist temple in Beijing in this undated photo.
(Beijing Wide Open/Canadian Press)

“We knew that was the most likely scenario, but it’s not like it was the goal of what we were doing,” said Tethong, a Tibetan-Canadian who was born and raised in Victoria, but now lives in New York.

“The goal was to raise the issue.”

“Some people might think that’s sort of extreme, but we would say China violating the fundamental human rights of Tibetans and their own people and the cultural genocide of Tibet is extreme.”

Police surrounded Tethong in front of an Olympic merchandise store in Beijing and demanded to see her passport. They brought her into a police station, where they showed her printouts of her blog.

“They definitely took jabs at me for being Tibetan,” Tethong said. “They were saying I have an an accent like a Chinese and I have blood from China.”

We were scared for her
Tethong’s sister, Deyden Tethong, told CBC News that she and her family were scared while Tethong was in custody.

“It was nerve-racking for us,” Deyden said at 12:15 ET, about 15 minutes after learning that her sister had boarded a plane out of Beijing.

“We were very scared for her, but at the same time she keeps saying, ‘I have a Canadian passport, so I know people are looking out for me.'”

Sam Price, 32, was one of six activists arrested Tuesday in China.

Sam Price, 32, was one of six activists arrested Tuesday in China.
(Courtesy of Freya Putt)

Deyden said she was surprised her sister was detained, since she was not part of the group of activists on the Great Wall.

“The activists that were taken off the Great Wall, that made sense,” Deyden said. “It was pushing the boundaries and it was illegal, but my sister, all she was doing was blogging about her feelings … and talking about what she saw and what she felt.”

Raoul’s mother, Valerie, said she is excited to see her daughter again.

“We don’t know when they’ll be coming back to Vancouver, but they know they’ll get a really big welcome,” she said.

Harper Promised to Help
The incident drew international attention, with videos of the Great Wall protest posted on YouTube. Prior to news of the activists release, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday that his government was working to gather information.

“We’ll be doing everything we can do to help and of course pointing out to the Chinese government — as we’re entitled to do — that such expressions of opinion are a natural part of the human rights that Canadians do expect in this country,” Harper said.

The Students for a Free Tibet group wants Tibet freed from China and say the Chinese government is using the Games to gain international acceptance.

The group also wants the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to push the case for Tibetan freedom.

China invaded Tibet in 1950, and in 1999 declared it to be an “inseparable part of China.” In 2004, a government policy paper said Tibet had always been part of China, and before the Chinese imposed direct rule, Tibet was “even darker and more backward than medieval Europe.”

With files from the Canadian Press


To Boycott or Not ???

beijing-2008boycott.jpg

Tonight CBC News started a series of reports on the 1 year celebration in Beijing beginning today – the 8th of August. What will the world say to Beijing over the next year? We know that China’s record on Human Rights violations is something that can not be ignored.

Secondly, China’s support of the Sudanese government and the fact that China could make serious progress in helping the Darfur region conflicts. That China could save lives and chooses not to, just speaks volumes of how it sees the world not only in Darfur, but in their own back yards, and in Tibet. I think a release of Tibet and the acknowledgment of this sacred land would be monumental on China’s attitude towards the world. The widget will remain on my blog for the next year as we discuss this question in greater depth.

Our question today
and for the next year will be simple
Should we go to Beijing
Or should we Boycott
The Summer Olympic Games in Beijing China???
08-08-08

One World One Dream
From the Beijing Olympic site


*************************************

The Official Beijing Olympic Website

“One World One Dream” fully reflects the essence and the universal values of the Olympic spirit — Unity, Friendship, Progress, Harmony, Participation and Dream. It expresses the common wishes of people all over the world, inspired by the Olympic ideals, to strive for a bright future of Mankind. In spite of the differences in colors, languages and races, we share the charm and joy of the Olympic Games, and together we seek for the ideal of Mankind for peace. We belong to the same world and we share the same aspirations and dreams.

“One World One Dream” is a profound manifestation of the core concepts of the Beijing Olympic Games. It reflects the values of harmony connoted in the concept of “People’s Olympics”, the core and soul of the three concepts — “Green Olympics, High-tech Olympics and People’s Olympics”. While “Harmony of Man with Nature” and “Peace Enjoys Priority” are the philosophies and ideals of the Chinese people since ancient times in their pursuit of the harmony between Man and Nature and the harmony among people, building up a harmonious society and achieving harmonious development are the dream and aspirations of ours. It is our belief that peace and progress, harmonious development, living in amity, cooperation and mutual benefit, and enjoying a happy life are the common ideals of the people throughout the world.

“One World, One Dream” is simple in expressions, but profound in meaning. It is of China, and also of the world. It conveys the lofty ideal of the people in Beijing as well as in China to share the global community and civilization and to create a bright future hand in hand with the people from the rest of the world. It expresses the firm belief of a great nation, with a long history of 5,000 years and on its way towards modernization, that is committed to peaceful development, harmonious society and people’s happiness. It voices the aspirations of 1.3 billion Chinese people to contribute to the establishment of a peaceful and bright world.

The English translation of the slogan is distinctive in sentence structure. The two “One”s are perfectly used in parallel, and the words “World” and “Dream” form a good match. The slogan is simple, meaningful, inspiring, and easy to remember, read and spread.

In Chinese, the word “tongyi”, which means “the same”, is used for the English word “One”. It highlights the theme of “the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal”.


What's on my Bedside Table

308.gif

 **********************************

 The Power and the Glory,
Inside the Dark Heart of John Paul II’s Vatican by David Yallop.

kpcrosier07-copy.jpg

This Huge Text is what I am reading. John Paul II ranks a lot higher on my read list than a Monk who sold his Ferrari. I wanted to get this read done before classes commence. So we shall break with Discovering your Destiny for now…

Prayers for John Paul II —

“You brought to many comfort
True shepherd of your flock.
Hallmarks of your wisdom shone
With kindness entwined –
A loving knot.

So many on our planet loved
Your charity of ways.
Your path through life
Showed us well –
How not to fall astray.

Let’s take the teachings from your reign
Let’s not forget the lessons.
Let’s ever remember your inspirations
Came directly from –
Our Father in Heaven.”

Prayer by Susan Kramer