Thursday, 31 December 2020

Beyond This Weeping World


Escaping annus horribilus on a global scale
The chaos all around us, that has spread so much fear,
Daily death throes, that release a dutiful concern
The rising distrust of establishment that has taken hold,
An ongoing nightmare, that is cursing silently hope
Tender now are hearts, filled with worry and sorrow,
Tensions increasing, thoughts of conspiracy growing
We have to lift one another, pray for a better tomorrow,
Beyond the ongoing confusion, anger and mistrust
Lets be seduced by the sound of distant violins,
As sands of time, stretch out and rearrange
May our cherry lips one day soon reconnect,
We can gather again, wash away our tears
Under the Golden sun still shining upon us,
Allow us to awaken to a more fragrant world
Destroy the bubbles that contain and imprison,
Hands again clasped together, friends and foe
Allow anguished memories, soak in to the earth,
Let every moment of the future, nourish our souls
With steady steps, may our evenings be less remote.

 As the old year leaves, and a new one begins, all the very best , stay safe, heddwch/ peace

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Wounded Knee Massacre: Never Forget, Never Forgive.

                                             
                                                         poster by Bruce Carter

Today in history, between 150 and 300 Lakota Sioux people were killed in a massacre near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
Earlier that fall,  native American Indians had began hosting ritual Ghost Dances to celebrate and bring back the native way of life. The Ghost Dance ritual spread through native communities in the Dakota revitalising native culture, but terrifying White officials known as Indian Agents. White officials unsuccessfully attempted to outlaw the Ghost Dance. A desperate Indian Agent at Pine Ridge wired his superiors in Washington, "Indians are dancing in the snow and are wild and crazy....We need protection and we need it now." The event’s common name, “The Battle of Wounded Knee,” obscures the true horrors of that day. For this was no “battle” — it was a massacre. The military  on the morning of December 29th with a force of over 500 soldiers. found a pneumonia-stricken chief with his cold and frightened followers. Big Foot explained that he was not a hostile, but instead was trying to meet with other chiefs to arrange a peaceful solution to the crisis with the soldiers. When the troops moved to disarm Big Foot’s Lakota warriors, who remained peaceful,  a deaf and confused Lakota misfired his gun into the air, a shot that was the only impetus U.S. forces  to unleash overwhelming force onto the bed-ridden chief and his fleeing people and initiate a slaughter.
By the end of the brutal and unnecessary violence,  hundreds  of native Indian  lives were lost including the Lakotan Chief Big Foot. The massacre, the violent climax of decades of white duplicity, greed, murder and theft, is often considered the "last showdown" between the United States and the native people of the American frontier.In the aftermath as many as 300 Lakota Sioux men, women and children were killed, many shot in the back while attempting to flee. Their bodies left to freeze  in a mass grave. It serves today as a constant   reminder  and example of the brutal mistreatment and oppression bestowed upon the Indians. 
 

 A mass grave after the Wounded Knee Massacre at Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota in 1890

In 2008 a petition was  launched demanding that the U.S reclaim the medal of Honour  that was given to 22 members of  the 7th Cavalry  for their role in the massacre of defenceless Indians , and to remove any  recognition the U.S military bestowed to its entities for the massacre and to obtain  the return  of personal items taken from the Lakota people.https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/12-20-1890/
The federal government tried to forever erase the memory of Wounded Knee. The village that sprang up on the site of the massacre was named Brennan after a Bureau of Indian Affairs official. But the Lakota people never forgot. Much as the “Ghost Dance” was the first truly pan-Indian movement, Wounded Knee became a pan-Indian site for memorializing the dead, recalling the pain, remembering the Indians’ hopes for a different kind of world, mourning the death of those hopes, and mobilizing to protest contemporary conditions that are the legacies of white Americans’ war of genocide against the Indian tribes that peopled North America before they got there.
The deaths at Wounded Knee marked an important and tragic point in American history for Native Americans. But after Wounded Knee came hunger, disease, malnutrition, and population decline and thousands  more Native Americans were killed or forced into reservations by the U.S. government throughout American history. Over 80 years later in  1973 the American Indian Movement (A.I.M ) occupied Wounded Knee, noting its historic significance, choosing this place,  because it alluded to physical loss and injury. When AIM challenged people to “Remember Wounded Knee,” there were multiple meanings at play,  AIM encouraged people to not only remember this history, but to also correct the normative white history that has become the standard American narrative, often stripped of the violence and injustice Native Americans faced.
 After a 71 day stand off ensured with federal law enforcement officials. Leonard Peltier an A.I.M leader was asked  by traditional people at Pine Ridge  in South Dakota to support and protect them. He was later illegally arrested by means  of coerced and fraudulent testimony for the murder of 2 F.B.I agents.After a trial in which irregularities and discrimination were on the agenda, he was convicted of a jury made up of whites alone. In Fargo, a city known for anti-Indian sentiments, and by a judge known for his racism. Discordant testimonies were used.He was always denied the review of the trial, despite the fact that new testimonies and evidence exonerated him. In 2020 he ran as the vice-presidential running mate of Gloria La Riva on the ticket of the Party for Socialism and Liberation  in the presidential campaign, but was forced to resign from the ticket for health reasons in early August 2020, and was replaced with Sunil Freeman.. Today after forty-four years  hard prison and long periods of isolation, he is now one of the longest held political prisoners in the United States,who continues to suffer the injustice of being denied his freedom because of being a native American, of having fought for the rights of his  people to which he belongs, and for not having renounced his struggles. 
Two  earlier posts of relevance  can be found here:- 

http://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/leonard-peltier-day.html.

https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2016/05/40-years-after-american-indian-movement.html

After the Wounded Knee occupation, nearly 1200 Indian activists were arrested, and the incident began the FBI and BIA instigated "Reign of Terror." and during  the three years following , 64 tribal members were unsolved murder victims, 300 harassed and beaten, and 562 arrests were made, and of these arrests only 15 people were convicted of any crime. A large price to pay for a movement to live as a free people on the land of one's ancestors.
Past and present, the Sioux and other American Indians have charted a path of defiance and independence despite genocidal efforts by European conquerors and American settlers. Today, as I remember these ancestors lost on December 29th, 1890, their peace on earth shattered, all those winters ago, this particularly brutal chapter in the violent effort to wipe out America’s first peoples, a horrific event that has resonated with native american writers ever since. For Native Americans today, the slaughter of unarmed women and children dominates a painful history of U.S. government Indian policies centered on assimilation and genocide.American Indians are still fighting injustices and fighting to recover from injustices of the past.A proud people wo have been  massacred, brutalized, humiliated and reduced by the "progress" brought by the "whites" and their capitalist society to survive in the absence of rights and without a future worthy of its name.  Wounded Knee: Never Forget, Never Forgive. 

Dancing Towards Wounded Knee :The Hope and Tragedy of the Ghost Dance Religion



 Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee - Buffy Sainte Marie


Indian legislation on the desk of a do-right Congressman
Now, he don't know much about the issue
so he picks up the phone and he asks advice from the
Senator out in Indian country
A darling of the energy companies who are
ripping off what's left of the reservations. Huh.

1.
I learned a safety rule
I don't know who to thank
Don't stand between the reservation and the
corporate bank
They send in federal tanks
It isn't nice but it's reality
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

2.
They got these energy companies that want the land
and they've got churches by the dozen who want to
guide our hands
and sign Mother Earth over to pollution, war and
greed
Get rich... get rich quick.
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

3. We got the federal marshals
We got the covert spies
We got the liars by the fire
We got the FBIs
They lie in court and get nailed
and still Peltier goes off to jail
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

4.
My girlfriend Annie Mae talked about uranium
Her head was filled with bullets and her body dumped
The FBI cut off her hands and told us she'd died of  exposure
Loo loo loo loo loo

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh.

We had the Goldrush Wars
Aw, didn't we learn to crawl and still our history gets
written in a liar's scrawl
They tell ‘ya “Honey, you can still be an Indian
d-d-down at the ‘Y'
on Saturday nights”

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee
Deep in the Earth
Cover me with pretty lies
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Huh!

Monday, 28 December 2020

Countess Constance Markievicz first woman elected to UK's House of Commons

 
 
Countess Constance Marchievicz (née Gore-Booth) was a painter, revolutionary, activist and politician. She was born February 4th, 1868 at Buckingham Gate, London, the daughter of Sir Henry Gore-Booth, explorer, philanthropist and heir to extensive estates at Lissadell, County Sligo. When Sir Henry inherited his estates, the family moved to Lissadell, where Constance and her younger sister Eva Gore-Booth were educated by governesses. The young W.B. Yeats was a frequent visitor, as was A.E. George Russell, and other literary figures of the time.
Constance was presented at the Court of Queen Victoria when she was nineteen and took her place in society. She intended to be a full time artist, and in 1893 went to London to study at the Slade School, and to Paris in 1898, to the Julian School. Here she met her future husband, Count Casimir Dunin Markievicz, a practising artist from a land-owning family of Polish extraction in the Ukraine, Russia. The couple settled in Dublin in 1903, and had one daughter Maeve, born at Lissadell in 1901, who was reared by her grand-parents.
Constance and her husband soon became part of the artistic and social life of the capital. She began to make a name for herself as a landscape artist, and though her output was small some of her work is represented in Municipal collections and other Galleries.Soon they were the center of Dublin’s artistic set. As he painted, she painted; he wrote plays, she starred in them; and both were the darlings of Dublin Castle. Some time later when asked why she no longer attended balls at the Castle, the Countess didn’t hesitate – “Because I want to blow it up.” The Markievicz marriage was not a success; the couple separated and Casimir left Dublin. Thereafter, the Countess, as she was known, became increasingly interested in nationalism and social issues.
Her transformation from society doyenne to rebel was swift, beginning innocently enough on a painting retreat in the country. It was there she found the writings of Irish revolutionary poet Padraic Colum and, as she put it, “the lightning struck at last.” Back in Dublin, she joined, in quick order, Sinn Féin, Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland),a revolutionary women’s movement—and teamed up with her sister  Eva to oppose the election of Winston Churchill to the British parliament. As the nationalist cause gained momentum, Constance founded the Warriors of Ireland (Fianna Éireann), which trained teenagers in the use of firearms. Speaking at a rally of 30,000 people opposed to King George V’s visit to Ireland in 1911, Countess Constance experienced her first arrest, after she helped stone the likeness of the King and Queen and tried to burn the British flag.
During the Lock out of 1913, in which workers who supported the union were shut out of their places of employment, the Countess assisted in the soup kitchens where she worked tirelessly, then personally delivered food to the poor and starving of Dublin.
She joined with “Big Jim” Larkin and James Connolly in the Lockout of 1913, that led to the formation of the Irish Citizen Army, a band of trade union workers. The Countess, a lieutenant in the Army, was its most enthusiastic member – she designed the Citizen Army uniforms and wrote its theme song. Its leader, James Connolly, became, forever, her hero.
In April 1916, Irish republicans staged an insurrection; Constance was appointed staff lieutenant, second in command at St. Stephen’s Green, the park in central Dublin. With her troops responsible for barricading the park, fighting flared after Connolly shot a policeman who had tried to prevent him from entering City Hall. Rumor had Constance shooting a British army sniper in the head, but she was never charged in such a death. Pinned down by British fire at St. Stephen’s Green, she pulled her troops back to the Royal College of Surgeons, where they held out for nearly a week before surrendering.
Taken to Kilmainham jail, Constance Markievicz was isolated from her comrades and court-martialed for “causing disaffection among the civilian population of His Majesty”; she was convicted and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison because of her sex.
A few days later, she heard a volley from a firing squad at dawn and was informed that her mentor, James Connolly, had been executed.
“Why don’t they let me die with my friends?” she asked.
At her court-martial, Constance was defiant, taunting the court, “At least Ireland was free for a week!” Overjoyed at being condemned to death, she was soon outraged when her sentence was reduced to penal servitude – “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.” The British government, fearing a cult would grow around her, sent Constance to Aylesbury Prison in Buckinghamshire where she was denied the status of political prisoner.
Eva Gore-Booth, a highly skilled activist, saw her sister’s failing health, lobbied for more humane treatment of prisoners, and in 1917 helped to get her sister included in an amnesty for participants in the Easter Rising.
Constance returned to Ireland a hero and was practically carried by a welcoming crowd to Liberty Hall in Dublin, where she declared herself back in politics. As Sinn Fein’s new leader Eamon de Valera  saw Constance Markievicz elected to the 24-member executive council. But in 1918, she was back in jail after the British arrested Sinn Fein’s leaders for working against the conscription of troops for World War I,. 
While in Britain’s Holloway Prison, incredibly she ran for a seat in Parliament. The Irishwoman with the Polish name won and became the first woman elected to the British Parliament on 28th December, 1918 beating her opponent with 66% of the vote. In accordance with Sinn Féin, Madame refused to take an oath of allegiance to the King and when the other Irish M.P.s voted to form the Dáil Éireann she cast her vote as fé ghlas ag Gallaibh (“imprisoned abroad”). Sinn Fein MPs did not take up their seats, because they would be required to swear allegiance to the crown, which explains why establishment figure Nancy Astor is celebrated as the first woman to sit as an MP after winning an election in 1919.  
It is important to remember that the Constance Markievicz was not only the first woman elected to the House of Commons, she was also elected on an openly feminist and socialist platform. Her election was, therefore, even more extraordinary than is usually acknowledged. 
When Markievicz was released from Holloway, she joined the revolutionary Irish Republic’s parliament – also becoming the first elected woman cabinet minister in the world. Constance was against the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921.A  staunch republican, she was again jailed during Ireland’s 1922–23 civil war, but in 1927,weakened by spells behind bars and penniless she died aged 59 in Sir Patrick Dunn’s Hospital in Dublin. 
Her position as an activist, a militant woman, a rebel, the first woman MP, the first woman minister, and her radical ideas about equality (of gender and class)  has a place in revolutionary history,and  deservedly, she is now being accepted as one of the central figures, male or female, of revolutionary Ireland.

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Operation Cast Lead Remembered

  

Today on December 27th 2008, Israel  without warning began an intensive campaign that would last 22 days, combined with a ground invasion which they called 'operation cast lead,' It would lead to  death and destruction and international condemnation and protests and would be met by Palestinian resistance in Gaza.
In the aftermath of the offensive, a UN-appointed fact finding mission found strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by both the Israeli military and Palestinian militias. Investigations by human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch came to the same conclusion. 
Six months before Cast Lead, Israel negotiated a ceasefire with Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. Under the agreement, which went into effect on June 19, 2008, both sides agreed to stop hostilities across the Green Line, the de facto border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Despite a number of violations by both sides, the truce was largely successful. 
Hamas negotiators claim that Israel agreed to end its closure of Gaza's border crossings as part of the ceasefire agreement, however Israeli officials dispute this. While Israel did resume operations at one border crossing, the overall policy of closure did not change. Two months after the truce began, the UN reported that the number of goods allowed into Gaza actually decreased.
Nevertheless, overall, a situation of relative quiet prevailed in and around Gaza until November 4, when Israeli soldiers staged a raid into the Strip, killing six members of Hamas. The attack, which took place on the eve of the US presidential elections, ended the ceasefire and led to an escalation of hostilities culminating in Cast Lead the following month.
Despite claiming that Operation Cast Lead  was a response to Hamas rockets and Hamas was refusing to negotiate another ceasefire, which was untrue, Israel later revealed it had been planning the offensive for 6 months. The reality was that Israel provoked Hamas, and then used their retaliation as an excuse to launch the offensive for two reasons to send Hamas a message and to attempt to recover the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. 
Operation Cast Lead proceeded in two phases: a week of intense aerial bombing followed by two weeks of a joint air and land assault and invasion. The surprise attack began at 11:30 a.m. on December 27, 2008, with Israeli F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and unmanned drones striking more than 100 locations across the tiny, crowded Gaza Strip within a matter of minutes.
Among the targets were four Palestinian police stations, including the central police headquarters in Gaza City, where a graduation ceremony for new officers was underway. Ninety-nine police personnel and 9 members of the public were killed in the first minutes of the attack. By the end of the first day at least 230 Palestinians had been killed.
 The massive bombardment continued until January 3, 2009, when the Israeli army invaded the Strip from the north and east. Israel's navy also shelled Gaza from offshore. The  ferocity of the attack was  unprecedented in the more than six decade conflict. Reports of the exact number of Palestinians killed vary, but casualty figures supplied by credible independent nongovernmental organizations are generally consistent.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that the offensive left 1,419 Palestinians dead, including 1,167 civilians. The Centre also reported more than 5,000 Palestinians wounded, as did the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem reported 1,385 Palestinians killed, including 762 noncombatants, and 318 minors under the age of 18.
Officially, local authorities in Gaza put the total Palestinian fatalities at 1,444. For its part, the Israeli government claimed that 1,166 Palestinians were killed, including 709 combatants.According to Israeli authorities, three Israeli civilians and one soldier were killed by rockets fired from Gaza during Cast Lead. Nine Israeli soldiers also died in combat in Gaza, including four killed by friendly fire. According to the UN, 518 Israelis were wounded.
On January 18, 2009, under enormous international pressure and just two days before Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States, Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire and withdrew its forces from Gaza. Palestinian armed groups followed with a separate unilateral ceasefire.
In April 2009, following international outrage at the carnage caused by Cast Lead, the UN Human Rights Council established a Fact Finding Mission to investigate possible violations of international law committed during the conflict. Leading the mission was Justice Richard Goldstone, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and war crimes prosecutor for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
The four members of the mission visited Gaza in late May and early June 2009, holding hearings there and in Geneva. They conducted 188 interviews and reviewed more than 10,000 pages of documents, more than 30 videos, and 1,200 photographs.
Israel refused to cooperate with the inquiry, denying the mission the opportunity to meet with Israeli officials or visit the West Bank.
As a result of its investigation, the mission issued the so-called "Goldstone Report," a 575-page document detailing alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli military. The report also accused Palestinian armed groups of war crimes as a result of indiscriminate rockets attacks on Israeli civilians living near Gaza.  an incendiary substance that is illegal when used in populated areas. Israeli forces illegally used white phosphorus (a banned chemical weapon)  in attacks on at least two hospitals (Al-Quds Hospital and Al-Wafa Hospital), as well as the central UN compound in Gaza City. Numerous civilian casualties were caused by white phosphorus in the small, densely populated Strip. leading to symptoms that medical professionals had never seen before. Burning flesh to the bone. In what amounts to  a war crime in violation of international law. Also there was deliberate targetting of civilians and vital infrastructure. 
In addition to the Goldstone Report, human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued reports of their own documenting numerous allegations of war crimes being committed by Israeli forces.
The horrors inflicted remain  indelibilly embedded in the minds of all Gazans. As many as 340,000 Palestinians were displaced by Peration Cast lead and due to the blockade many of these remain homeless. Twelve years later, Gaza still relies on international  aid for day to day activities, including the most basic needs such as food and drink. 75% of homes  destroyed are still waiting to be rebuilt. Leaving many people still displaced. The people of Gaza  left with a legacy of poverty and economic injustice,  80% of the population lives under the poverty line. 1.8 million of people in Gaza still locked in like animals by Israels illegal blockade, that  prevents them from access to essential goods that are needed to rebuild and sustain life.
In a sense the war never ended. People still demanding an end to the occupation and justice, because without justice, peace will remain a distant illusion. 2020 has seen conditions for Palestinians  to deteriorate and 2021  does not promise any better. Our solidarity with the people of Gaza and Palestine is more necessary now than ever.
 
Further References
 

Saturday, 26 December 2020

Breaking the Chains


Poems and songs are written
To illuminate our shadows,
From Gaza and other prisons
Tales of endurance daily woven,
Where rights of humanity are violated
When darkness alters feeling,
With craft can open windows
Release all the doors that contain,
Allow the fire in hearts to be nourished
Hear the sparks of another tongue,
Feed the lonely, so their not forgotten
Allow feelings of love to be exchanged,
Under sky clouds of passing division
Allow thoughts to heal and mend,
Under the constant threads of unhappiness
let our words, soften the world's gloom.

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The Sonics - don't believe in christmas



We have all  lived through  12 months  dominated  by coronavirus , a disease that has at least exposed the fragility and inequality of the global economy like nothing before, 
combined with thousands  going hungry, the  NHS on its knees, food banks growing , don't get me started on the chaos that will be caused by Brexit. This morning alone we have seen miles of queues along the M20 as companies rushed to stockpile before the end of the of the transition period, with swathes of  Britain now in in Tier3  Covid restrictions , Brexit talks  looking grimmer and grimmer  and relations between  the UK Government  and devolved  parliaments worse than ever it does not seem to be the  season to be merry. 
As Tony Blair hints at return to political life to lead coronavirus vaccination efforts , are we not already doomed enough. With forces of racism, xenophobia,  intolerance exploiting our fears, as we struggle on,  lets try not give up hope, find a way to create a fairer society, personally I feel that  getting rid of the Torys is now a national emergency.
In the face of  continual hardships, as all of us now forced into lockdown, I offer some simple musical respite, there are all types of Christmas songs, from the pure and sacred to the the ultra profane,  but  this song from the Washington state garage rock band The Sonics from 1965  really makes my feet shuffle, it's a mighty fine distraction .  In these crazy, twisted fucked up times, wishing you a peaceful and safe holiday, look after yourselves.

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Mother Maria of Paris : Anti Fascist Martyr

 
 
Maria Skobtsova , known as Mother Maria of Paris, who saved numerous Jews in Nazi-occupied Paris,  was born Elisabeth Pilenko on 20th December 1891 to a well-to-do Russian family in the Latvian city of Riga. Her parents were devout Orthodox Christians and in this atmosphere of piety Elisabeth was raised to love and serve God. All this changed at the age of fourteen when her father died, which seemed meaningless and unjust to her. She decided that she no longer believed in God and declared herself an atheist. "If there is no justice, there is no God!" she said.
During her teenage years, Russia was in the throes of the approaching end of Tsarist rule, the subsequent revolution and Communist rise to power. Elisabeth became enamored of this revolutionary movement and at the age of 18 married a member of the Bolshevik party. While at the university in St. Petersburg, she was involved with an avant-garde literary circle and later published two volumes of poetry that were highly acclaimed.  Though she still regarded herself as an atheist she began to question her revolutionary sympathies as she saw the violence, poverty and suffering that the revolution plunged Russia into. Little by little, her earlier attraction to Christ and His Church came back to life and grew deeper in her soul. She began to read the Gospels and lives of the Saints. She applied for entrance to the Theological Seminary at St. Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg, an unprecedented request. Up to this date only male students preparing for the priesthood were admitted to the seminary and yet, surprisingly, she was admitted to the renowned school.
By 1913 Elisabeth's marriage had collapsed and ended in divorce while she was expecting their first child, Gaiana. Returning home to her family's country estate in Russia's south, she joined the Social Revolutionary party  after the February Revolution. She apparently wished to assassinate Leon Trotsky for closing the SR Party Congress, but friends persuaded her to instead move back to the Black Sea to work for the SR there. She was very active as a community organizer in Anapa, and in 1918 was elected mayor of the city when it fell under White Army control. 
She led underground resistance against the Bolsheviks, while trying to protect the population from the terror of the new regime. She was arrested and put on trial, but managed to escape capital punishment due to a skilled defence and help by the judge, D. Skobtsov, whom she ended up falling in love with and marrying. Before long Elizabeth was again pregnant and her son, Yuri, was born and later another daughter, Anastasia. With the Bolsheviks beginning to gain the upper hand in the civil war, Daniel and Elizabeth decided s too dangerous to remain in Russia and after a long journey found themselves in Paris, France in 1923.
Tragedy struck the family in 1926 when five year old Anastasia died of influenza. After keeping vigil by her daughter's bedside for a month and watching her beloved child die, Elizabeth penned these mournful words:
"When someone you love has died, the gates have suddenly opened onto eternity, all natural life has trembled and collapsed, yesterday's laws have been abolished, desires have faded, meaning has become meaningless, and another incomprehensible meaning has grown wings on their backs..... Everything flies into the black maw of the fresh grave: hopes, plans, calculations, above all, meaning, the meaning of a whole life. If this is so, then everything has to be reconsidered, everything rejected, seen in its corruptibility and falseness. " 
In Paris, more and more moved by religious impulse after the deaths of her daughters, she completed a course of study at the St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute by correspondence, and in 1932 became a lay nun, taking the name Maria. She became aware that God was calling her to become a mother to all people who would cross her path. She felt that she was to share the love she had for her daughter with all people, especially "for all who need maternal care, assistance, or protection," as she said. While her husband supported the family by driving a taxi, Elizabeth devoted herself more and more to social work and theological writing. Perhaps a result of their daughter's death, Elizabeth's second marriage to Daniel Skobstov was dying and they soon separated.
Elizabeth acquired a position with an agency that assisted Russian refugees living in France and saw first-hand the poverty and dire circumstances in which they lived. With two failed marriage behind her, Elizabeth searched for what her true vocation in life was to be. With the support of her bishop, Metropolitan Evlogy, she began to consider the monastic life. But she felt herself drawn to a new form of monastic life, one that combined prayer and contemplation with service to those in need around her. She was tonsured a nun in 1932 and given the name Maria. Metropolitan Evlogy blessed her to devote herself to a new kind of monastic life, what she called "monasticism in the world." She opened a house of hospitality in Paris to serve the poor, the homeless, the desperate. She was not content to simply wait for the needy to ring her doorbell but traveled the back alleys and bars of Paris seeking out those in need of her maternal care. She entered those places where other people were simply afraid to go; she found beggars and drunkards, took them to her home, washed, clothed, and fed them.
The last phase of Mother Maria's life began when the German Nazis conquered and occupied France during World War II. While it would have been possible for her to flee France as the Germans were advancing toward Paris, she refused to leave. "If the Germans take Paris, I shall stay here with my old women. Where else could I send them?"
Mother Maria joined some colleagues in preparing and dispatching food parcels and funds to families of more than 1,000 Russian émigrés who were imprisoned by the Nazis.Early in 1942 the Nazis began their registration of Jews. Jews began to knock on the door of the house of hospitality asking if the chaplain, Father Dimitri Klepinine, would issue fake baptismal certificates to save their lives. With the support of Mother Maria, Father Dmitri issued the fake documents, convinced that Christ would do the same. When the order came from Berlin that the yellow star must be worn by all Jews, many French Christians felt that this was not their concern since it was not a Christian problem. Mother Maria replied, "There is no such thing as a Christian problem. Don't you realize that the battle is being waged against Christianity? If we were true Christians we would all wear the Star. The age of confessors has arrived."  She also hid Jews at Lourmel and forged documents for them.
In July, 1942, mass arrests of Jews began to take place--12,884 were arrested of whom 6,900 were children. They were held prisoner in the Velodrome d’Hiver, Paris’ sports stadium, just a kilometer from Mother Maria's house, before they were sent to Auschwitz. With her monastic robe gaining her entrance, she spent three days at the sports stadium distributing food and clothing and even managing to smuggle out some children by bribing garbage collectors to hide them in trash cans. Her house of hospitality was literally bursting at the seams with people, many of them Jews. Mother Maria remarked, "It is amazing that the Germans haven't pounced on us yet." She also said that if anyone came looking for Jews she would show them an icon of the Mother of God.
On February 8, 1943 the Nazis did pounce and arrested Mother Maria, her son Yuri, Father Dmitri, and their helper, Elia Fondaminski. In the pocket of Yuri was found a letter from a Jewish family asking for a false baptismal certificate.
Father Dmitri was interrogated by Hans Hoffinan, a Gestapo officer. A portion of the interrogation has been preserved:

Hoffman: If we release you, will you give your word never again to aid Jews?

Father Dimitri: I can do no such thing. I am a Christian and must act as I must.

 (Hoffinan struck the priest across the face.)

Hoffman: Jew lover! How dare you talk of helping those swine as being a Christian duty!

Father Dimitri: (holding up the cross from his cassock): Do you know this Jew?

For this Father Dimitri was knocked to the floor.

Mother Maria and those arrested with her were all sent to concentration camps--the men to Buchenwald and Dora and Mother Maria to Ravensbruck. There, as prisoner Number 19263, she continued her ministry among her companions, with the strength of her faith giving them encouragement and love in the midst of hopelessness and despair. Finally, Maria, her health broken, could no longer pass the roll call on Good Friday 1945. She stepped into the line with those women condemned to die, hoping to inspire them to meet their fate with faith in God. As one witness wrote, “She offered herself consciously to the holocaust . . . thus assisting each one of us to accept the cross. . . . She radiated the peace of God and communicated it to us.” Mother Maria Skobtsova was  killed in the gas chamber at Ravensbruck concentration camp on March 31, 1945, Holy Saturday, only a week before the camp was liberated. 
In 1985, Yad Vashem recognized her as Righteous Among the Nations for her work saving Jews from the Holocaust, and in 2004, with some controversy, she was a former socialist revolutionary who was twice-married for starters, and she remained an intellectual of leftist bent throughout her life, the fact that she smoked, and her somewhat heterodox preaching,  the Russian Orthodox Church canonized her as a martyred saint.

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Passing Christmas Lights

 


Passing colors glowing, tinsel hung high 
Christmas lights, shimmering and sparkling
the smell of food, enticing on tongue
another world lingers though
a different reality resides
in the corner of our eyes
beyond the tragedy of hunger
the waste of consumerism
austerity that daily bites.

For many now the air drips with sadness
as the cold season blows again
people on their own, due to Covid pandemic 
as the sky above turns dark and grey
citizens left wanting, running on empty
struggling on, feeding on misery and decay
but think of all the Turkey's that will be  saved.

Perhaps some small acts of kindness
will be sufficient to keep some gladness alight
against buffeting winds, strength can grow
allow people to decorate hearts with hope
fill glasses full of reason and some cheer
with little things, perhaps time will heal
abandon the past, infiltrate the future 
share some sustenance of survival.

Musical Highlights : 2020

 

Ok  it's been a rather crap year with our daily lives transformed by the pandemic, that  continues to  challenge us. But despite the strangeness of 2020 music has continually arrived to give much needed respite.Music acting as a balm and also a mirror, creativity inspiring  people to think differently about the world,
From the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement to Black Lives Matter, musicians have heralded major political movements that have helped change the world. In  these troubling  times a lot of the best music of the year responded in one way or another, to the  constant uncertainty we are all now travelling. 
Now is a time to pause and reflect .To all those who’ve grieved the loss of a loved one this year, felt the pain of racial injustice create fresh wounds and open old ones, or lost sleep not knowing how they would be able to protect and care for their loved ones in these uncertain times, I sincerely  hope  music has at least comforted your life as much as mine.
Bandcamp by the way, an artist-focussed platform that allows people to support their favorite musicians and labels under pressure from the COVID-19. continues to support musicians  and artists who have been hit especially hard .Lets  continue to try and support those that continue to enrich our lives.This year’s awesome Bandcamp Fridays initiative has been a huge success, with CEO Ethan Diamond revealing that an incredible $40 million has reached in-need artists and labels in 2020. 
On the first Friday of every month since March, we’ve waived our revenue share to help support the many artists who have seen their livelihoods disrupted by the pandemic,” writes Ethan in a statement as the year draws to a close. Over the course of these nine days, fans paid artists and labels $40 million dollars, helping cover rents, mortgages, groceries, medications, and much more. If you’re among the nearly 800,000 fans who participated, thank you.”
Happily, Ethan continues that Bandcamp Fridays will be continuing next year as things are still looking relatively uncertain right now.
Although vaccines are starting to roll out, it will likely be several months before live performance revenue starts to return,” he adds. So we’re going to continue doing Bandcamp Fridays in 2021, on February 5, March 5, April 2, and May 7. As always, isitbandcampfriday.com has the details. 
If you’ve started to feel guilty about buying music on any day other than Bandcamp Friday, here’s something to keep in mind: on Bandcamp Fridays, an average of 93% of your money reaches the artist/label (after payment processor fees). When you make a purchase on any other day of the month (as 2.5 million of you have since March, buying an additional $145 million worth of music and merch) an average of 82% reaches the artist/label. Every day is a good day to directly support artists on Bandcamp!” Fuck Amazon.
Seasons greetings, a big shout out to everyone who helped keep funds coming in for those in the music industry in 2020. Reminisce about the good times, respect to the music makers and to the NHS staff who continue their work, which is so admired, working long shifts, saving lives. In these dark days be safe, stay alert, take care. In no particular order here are my musical highlights of the year.
 
1.  We Are the Cellar Bar Restoration Society - Various
 
 Cellar bar cd
 

2. Efa Supertramp - Apocalipstick Blues.

 3. Carla Bley / Andy Sheppard/ Steve Swallow - Life Goes On 



4. Igran  Hamasyan - The Call Within 

5. Cynefin- Dilyn Afon / Following the River


 6. Spurious Transients - The Internal Inferno Of The Nocturnal Mock Turtle


7.Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores - The elegance of Mud


8.  The Cravats – Hoorahland

9. Primitive Ignorant - Sikh Punk

10 Idles - Ultra Mono

11.Asian Dub Foundation -Access  Denied


12. 
Bill Fay - Countless Branches 


13. Sean Taylor - The Path into the Blue

 14. Datblygu - Cwm Gwagle


15. Penny Rimbaud - Arthur Rimbaud in Verdun

 

16. Antibalas - Fu Chronicles

 

17. Makaya McCraven and Gil Scot Heron- We're New Again

 


 18. FourTet - Sixteen Oceans

 

 19. Cornershop- England Is A Garden

 

 20. JARV IS - Beyond the Pale

 

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Alchemy.


Hearts are like parachutes 
sometimes they fail to open
but it's not always dark  when we fall
in our gasps, broken hearts are mended
skip centuries, provide moist happiness
seduce our minds in rooms that change
release tired thoughts of into the atmosphere
and in depth of the night, poems will be built.
Like acrobats by the rivers edge,
balancing sensitively before  plunging into waters deep
revealing charms, like perfumed breezes
swimming among currents of transformation.
as flickering lights go out, chains cast of
consciousness teasing, thoughts drifting 
allow the smuggled sighs of yesterday
to take us to the land of dreams

Monday, 14 December 2020

Cymru Rhydd / Free Wales



There is fire in the air
time of old spirits resurgence
moments to ponder
spinning on and on
the grave injustices
of tryweryn, capel celyn
flooded  against a peoples will 
to provide Liverpool with water
Epynt a community evicted 
to make way for a military range.

The time when precious children
were punished and beaten
for simply speaking their native tongue
these  acts have never been forgotten
etched  in a nations  memory
to justify Cymric vision
of putting past wrongs to right
where once their were whispers
voices unite together for independence
no longer wishing to live under chains.

Travelling through waves of longing 
hopes and fears forever thronging 
among threads and currents flowing 
navigated thoughts, rhetoric of belonging
over barricades halting progress
turn the page, open a brand new book
to dream and dare among ubiquitous shoots
as a new season arrives sprouts new routes 
drifting in imperceptible process of change
filling pockets with formulas to rearrange.

Desiring a future built from freedom
not some half thought pipe dream
the dragon has truly woken
across hills and valleys
daily delivers strength
igniting passion, a people's will
our underestimated power
filling hearts and minds with pride
with discontent demand a Welsh republic
a truly fair and equal society for its citizens
the British  crown of domination abandoned,

Thursday, 10 December 2020

International Human Rights Day 2020 : Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights

December 10th is Human Rights Day. On this day the whole world celebrates (this year mostly virtually) one of the greatest  accomplishments of the last century, the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.in 1948. The Declaration set out, for the first time in history, those fundamental human rights that Governments all over the world undertook to respect, protect and promote. .In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

 And ever since that auspicious day it has stood as the first major stride forward in ensuring that the rights of every human across the globe are protected. From the most basic human needs such as food, shelter, and water, all the way up to access to free and uncensored information, such has been the goals and ambitions laid out that day.

The Declaration proclaims a simple, yet powerful idea :

 "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,"  "They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood."

These rights are the birthright of all people: it does not matter, what country we live in and even who we are. Because we are human, we have these rights; and Governments are bound to protect them. They are not a reward for good behaviour, nor they are optional or the privilege of a few- they are inalienable  entitlements of all people, at all times- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. And because they are universal, they are also matters of legitimate concern; and  standing  up for them is a responsibility that binds us all.

 It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.  When the General Assembly adopted the Declaration, with 48 states in favor and eight abstentions, it was proclaimed as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should "strive by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance".

Although the Declaration with its broad range of political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights is not a binding document, it inspired more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights. It has helped shape human rights all over the world.

Today the general consent of all United Nations Member States on the basic Human Rights laid down in the Declaration makes it even stronger and emphasizes the relevance of Human Rights in our daily lives.The High Commissioner for Human Rights, as the main United Nations rights official, plays a major role in coordinating efforts for the yearly observation of Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day reminds us that there is much to be done  and around the world to protect those who cannot voice or respond to perpetrated discrimination and violence caused by governments, vigilantes, and individual actors. In many instances, those who seek to divide people for subjective means and for totalitarian reasons do so around the globe without fear of retribution. Violence, or the threat of violence, perpetrated because of differences in a host of physical and demographic contrasts and dissimilarities is a blight on our collective humanity now and a danger for our human future.

Human Rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world, from birth until death. They apply regardless of where you are from, what you believe or how you choose to live your life. They should never be taken away, these basic rights are based on values such as dignity, fairness, equality, respect and independence. But human rights are not just abstract concepts, they are defined and protected by law.

The aim of Human Rights Day is to raise awareness around the world of our inalienable rights – rights to basic needs such as water, food, shelter and decent working conditions. In the UK we are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998, however in other countries, especially developing countries, the laws are not in place to protect people and to ensure that their basic needs are met.

For millions of people, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is still just a dream.Many people around the world are still denied the most basic of human rights on a daily basis. Women’s rights are still repeatedly denied and marginalised throughout the globe, despite 70 years of the milestone declaration on human rights. Confronted with widespread gender-based violence, hate and discrimination, women’s well-being and ability to live full and active lives in society are being seriously challenged. 

Racism, xenophobia and intolerance are still  problems prevalent in all societies, and discriminatory practices are widespread, particularly regarding the  targeting of migrants and refugees. including in rich countries where men, women and children who have committed no crime are often held in detention for prolonged periods. They are frequently discriminated against by landlords, employers and state-run authorities, and stereotyped and vilified by some political parties, media organizations and members of the public.

Many other groups face discrimination to a greater or lesser degree. Some of them are easily definable such as persons with disabilities, stateless people, gays and lesbians, members of particular castes and the elderly. Others may span several different groups and find themselves discriminated against on several different levels as a result.

Those who are not discriminated against often find it hard to comprehend the suffering and humiliation that discrimination imposes on their fellow individual human beings. Nor do they always understand the deeply corrosive effect it has on society at large.

Nearly a billion people do not have enough food to eat, and  even in wealthier countries like the UK and the US where there is an increasing growth in food banks. Poverty is a leading factor in the failure to protect the economic and social rights of many individuals around the world. For the half of the world population living on less than $2.50 a day, human rights lack any practical meaning.

For this  Human Rights Day we must continue to  stand with all people targeted for giving expression to the vision and values embodied in the declaration. Every day must be Human Rights Day, as every person in the world is entitled to the full and indivisible range of human rights every day of his or her life.Global human rights are not selective in their value or meaning, nor are they limited to a day or time of year. Until all people have access to these human rights we must stand up, advocate for, and insist that more must be done. Human Rights Day should serve as a reminder to act for those lacking basic rights each and everyday. 

 Human Rights Day calls on us all to ‘stand up for someone's rights today!’ It reminds us what we have achieved over the years to respect, promote and protect human rights. It also asks to recommit and re-engage in championing these rights for our shared humanity since whenever and wherever humanity's values of equality, justice and freedom are abandoned, we all are at greater risk.

This year’s Human Rights Day theme is to "Recover Better - Stand Up for Human Rights". This year the theme is in sync with the COVID pandemic and it focuses on creating equal opportunities for everyone to address the failures and disappointments we all were exposed to due to COVID -19. and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. 

We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

The COVID-19 crisis has been fuelled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection. Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build back a world that is better, more resilient, just, and sustainable.

The UN partners for Human Rights have listed out measures that should be kept in mind to seal the gaps in human rights protection that were fuelled by COVID crisis this year. There is a list of measures that need to be followed to make our society and in turn the whole world a more resilient and just place.

  • End discrimination of any kind
  • Address inequalities
  • Encourage participation and solidarity
  • Promote sustainable development

 It’s important to acknowledge that human rights, have rarely been gifted to us through benevolent leaders. Rather, they have been won after long fought battles and collective struggle. We need to recognize and pay tribute to human rights defenders the world over, putting their lives on the line for others, our voice must be their voice. 

 As thousands of struggles have proved, human rights are a vital lever in the quest for equality and social justice. If governments will no longer protect human rights it will be up to us, the people to keep on fighting for them and ensure our human right are always upheld.

Lets work to achieve a better life for all. And more importantly, to continue to take a stand for people whose human rights are still not being met across the globe, find a way to use our voices for those who may not have an opportunity to advocate for themselves. At the same time  strengthening  international law and justice in order to end impunity, and bring to justice those guilty of violations of human rights and offer protection to their victims. 

 Today is an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of human rights in rebuilding the world we want, the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity. A future  of cooperation among citizens, peoples and between nations. It is a a prerequisite for a more peaceful future where disputes are solved through negotiation and diplomacy. 

"If your neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor, "- Desmond Tutu

http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/  

 I Have the Right

I have the right to my own opinions
to state what I believe to be the truth,
I believe in freedom of thought
I believe in freedom of speech,
I have the right to be free from bondage
to be free from chains and mental slavery,
to choose what I want to be, where I need to go
because this is my right to be free.

I have the right to speak out
this is my choice, this is my conscience,
this is my right to freedom of expression
this right allows me to speak out against oppression,
this right allows me to stand against transgression, 
                                           aggression, exploitation
this right acknowledges that all born equal and free.

Everyone  is a unique individualistic form 
all have a right to life and liberty,
dignity and pride, the security of protection
that allows us to cry, to love and laugh,
remember that when justice is forgotten 
alternative paths trample down opposition,  
decency and justice, respect, and all that has been given
so  keep on fighting for human rights with no inhibition
remember actions speak louder than words
and what unites us is greater than what seperates 

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

John Lennon (9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) - Revolutionary Artist


It's been 40 years since the murder of John Lennon in his adopted home of New York City on 8 December 1980 by psychotic fan, Mark David Chapman.
Born on October 9, 1940,in  war-time Liverpool , John Lennon's parents, Julia and Alfred Lennon, soon seperated. His father, a merchant seaman, returned with the intention of taking the young John with him to New Zealand, and he was forced to choose between his two parents, eventually going with his mother. 
Julia prove too have a profound influence on his life. introducing him to the seminal  music of Fats Domino, and teaching him to play the banjo.
However it was a strained relationship, and Lennon  grew up largely with his aunt, Mimi Smith. He largely lost contact with his father, and his mother tragically died after being hit by a car in 1958.
Lennon started his first band, The Quarrymen, in 1956, at the age of 15.This was the genesis of The Beatles, where Lennon formed a celebrated songwriting  partnership with Paul McCartney that became one of the most successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music.They remain the best selling bands in history, having sold up to one billion albums worldwide. 
Lennon's  life went far beyond Strawberry Fields and wanting to hold hands. He was an incredibly complex person that led a life of highs and lows just like any other person. His rebellious nature  also gave his writings, interviews and work a notably acerbic and sardonic wit. A dreamer, a believer, a songwriter, a poet, an avant garde artist, a rebel, a thinker; John Lennon was all of these things, but above all he was a man full of love, though some of his action reveal that he was not without faults, and far from perfect. Through his revolutionary songwriting and ability to express his visionary ideals of peace, tolerance, multiculturalism, and independent thought, John Lennon made an impression on popular music and activism that resounds just as clearly today as it did during the era marked by the creative heights of Beatlemania.
 A man who began his career as as ordinary pop star who made  extraordinary music. During the last few years of the Beatles, Lennon was very much influenced by the ideas  lf the hippy movement. His song "Revolution " was a cynical response to  the events of 1968, Lennon sung "You say you want a revolution" but ended the verse  with " count me out"
 
The Beatles - Revolution
 
 
 But as time went on he slowly began to evolve as his fame grew, becoming radicalized through meetings and associations with sixties activists. during this time , John started  referring himself as a "Revolutionary artist."
 Lennon especially used his social status to raise awareness for war and discrimination rather than hiding his thoughts. John Lennon was a humble working class Liverpool boy and despite being at the center of attention with the achievements of the Beatles,  he never turned his back to social problems and the problems of the individuals he was raised among.
Back in 1965,  the Beatles were awarded the MBE (Members of the British Empire) by the Queen. Four years later, as John’s political awareness developed, he returned his medal in protest against British policy in the Nigerian civil war and against the Vietnam war – and also, he said in jest, to protest against his record, ‘Cold Turkey’, slipping in the charts.
 Lennon was able to present a vision of beauty and a world united from one of the most chaotic periods in recent memory, marred by governmental corruption and the Vietnam war. Songs like “Give Peace a Chance” served as a rallying cry to the anti-war movement, while songs like “Imagine” made a world at peace seem more attainable than it had ever been before. In addition to the songs he wrote, Lennon used his incredible fame as a vehicle through which to voice his opinions on both the political and basic human issues he believed in. The infamous “Bed-in For Peace” alongside his partner, Japanese artist Yoko Ono was more than a publicity stunt – behind the outlandish media spectacle was a rationality and optimism that filled the void of war and intolerance with a universal love and hope.
 After John and Yoko returned to the UK from Japan in January 1971, they gave an interview to political activists Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn of the Trotskyist  newspaper Red Mole. Almost immediately John began writing a song inspired by the interview and the day afterwards began work on the song at Ascot Sound Studios. Released on 12 March 1971, ‘Power To The People’ came from a phrase that was used as a form of rebellion against what US citizens perceived as the oppression by The Establishment. The Black Panthers used the slogan ‘All Power to the People’ to protest the rich, ruling class domination of society, while pro-democracy students used it to protest America’s military campaign in Vietnam. ‘Power to the people’, laid bare what democracy is really about. Or should be. .. According to John, “I wrote ‘Power to the People’ the same way I wrote ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ as something for the people to sing. I make singles like broadsheets. It was another quickie, done at Ascot.”

 John Lennon - Power to the People

 
 It was also during the early '70s that Lennon began to express a deeper commitment to the concerns of oppressed people of color. Lennon backed both Native-American and African-American rights. He expressed sympathy for the African-American struggle and an understanding of the need for Black consciousness. In a 1972 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Lennon stated support for the Black Panther's Ten-Point Program and their faith in self-defense. The Ten-Point Program encompassed calls for Black self-determination, a decent education, for Black children free of racist and historical bias, as well as "land, bread, housing… justice and peace." (Huey P. Newton, War Against the Panthers, 1966)
The Black Panthers were criminalized and pathologized by the White Establishment. Former President Herbert Hoover even called the group the greatest threat to America's national security and subjected it to FBI surveillance. The party's radical reputation was partly due to its commitment to armed self-defense. Its community programs also sought to provide free health care and clothing for the poor as well as hot breakfasts for children.
Lennon's music in this period sought to reawaken the moral conscience and political consciousness of the people. He wrote songs for Black Panther campaigner Angela Davis and the co-founder of the supportive White Panther Party, John Sinclair. The latter had been sentenced to ten years in prison for a drug possession charge in 1969. Lennon performed at a concert for Sullivan in Ann Arbor in December 1971. He also wrote about Ireland's "Troubles" ("Sunday, Bloody Sunday") explicitly condemns the murders of 13 unarmed Catholic  civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland by British forces  and calls for the British to get out, .and in early 1972 attended a demonstration in New York City against the killings. 
 
 John Lennon - Sunday Bloody Sunday

 

 He penned “Attica State”, a song about the insurrection and repression of prisoners in Attica prison https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.com/2018/09/attica-prison-uprising1971-and-its.html and attended a concert benefit for the relatives of the slain inmates on December 17th, 1971 with Ono.

John Lennon - Attica State

 He also participated that year in a demonstration with the Native-American tribe the Onondaga Indians against the government's planned construction of a freeway through their land. His song Woman is the Nigger of the World was inspired by the writings of James Connolly and paraphrases his famous quote ‘The worker is the slave of capitalist society, the female worker is the slave of that slave.’
 
John Lennon - Woman is the Nigger of the World
 
 
All this made the American system very  afraid of him. Richard Nixon even involved the FBI to deport Lennon. A past drug’s offence would be used to threaten the singer with deportation. And he would struggle to gain permanent resident status in the U.S. period to come.
Under the plan to deport Lennon who criticized  the war of Vietnam that covered between 1971 – 1972, FBI created a 300-page long file. The case was published by the end of 2006. A sentence from the report said: “The doubt that Lennon has revolutionary views is supported with official meetings with the Marxist, his songs and other published content.
The conservative US was afraid of John Lennon’s radicalism and to use his position to spread anti-war and anti-capitalist views. Whether Lennon was seen as a pacifist or a revolutionary, he used his music and visual existence to spread certain ideas around the world. Without being afraid of the consequences of his views that he supported without taking a step back, he used his fame to change certain things without forgetting his social class.
 While some of his songs might come across as simple sloganeering, “Working Class Hero” from 1970 is an insightful social commentary on class splits and how society tries to exploit folks to become cogs in the machine. It also touches how religious indoctrination and media causes people to lose sight of the big picture. Despite being a millionaire, Lennon was still able to see the world through the eyes of ordinary people. Sadly the song is more poignant than ever.

John Lennon- Working Class Hero
 
 
 Although his creative genius was lost tragically short of its time, John Lennon attained more in his forty years than most could accomplish in a hundred full lifetimes. And although Lennon’s creative output in the last eight years of his life was uneven and decidedly less political, in 1975 he withdrew from the music business to raise his son, Sean, but returned in 1980 to release the album Double Fantasy, with Yoko Ono. Three weeks after its release he was shot and killed. His death triggered an outpouring of grief on an unprecedented scale throughout the world. 
Forty years on John Lennon lives on through his music and whenever people imagine a better future. His example as a leader in social activism paved the way for the prominent activists of today. I believe that together, as individuals or in groups we can still be forces for change like John Lennon, , whether it be for human rights,  economic and social justice , working for a culture of peace , equality and freedom, in the words of John Lennon ' some people call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.' Lines from his ultimate song, ‘Imagine’,  released in 1971. It has been described as ‘a humanist plea and socialist anthem’. Its sweet slow gentle delivery hides a message that is uncompromisingly radical, even revolutionary, in its call for a world without borders, without religion, and based on sharing rather than possession. Revolutionary, but sad that we've still not moved further forward.
 
John Lennon - Imagine 
 
 
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one