Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Honoring the Spirit Of Martin Luther King, In Cairo and in “America”

Having recently returned from Cairo as a Gaza Freedom Marcher, and reflecting most recently on that trip and on the significance of Martin Luther King’s day, I attended, on that day, with several other fellow Gaza Freedom Marchers, a community service in NYC; at that comminity service a poem by Langston Hughes was read that talked about this not ever being his America…or the America of many others who had come here with high and noble hopes. The title of the poem is: Let America Be America Again; I encourage everyone to read it.

Having myself come here as an immigrant, Langston Hughes’ words resonate continuously as an incessant tinnitus of my mind . This was never the “America” I had hoped for; this was never "America" to me. However, when Obama was elected as our president I must admit that I though this could become “my, our America”, so a warming glimmer of hope began to shine in my eternally optimistic heart: finally a hope for change, a hope for “good” change for the people! Not for the Banks and Insurance Companies and Lobbyists and Military Complex and Corporate greed masters. Our political system works! Finally!
That glimmer of hope quickly faded and is long gone as I begin to use my brain more actively these days to think and dissect reality…the "reality" fed to us by the mass media; as I begin to analyze what is being done to us and as I question everything I’m fed, I realize that the walk and the talk are diametric strangers in the House that is still...White.

Oh, have I changed! Did I become a pessimist? No: just a better informed optimist!

During the elections, I had placed my hopes incorrectly on the logical process of an election to bring about genuine, foundational social change; but as experience and history showed me as I became better informed, with all elections (I should have known better): elections are a theatrical illusion; a well crafted show a la Cirque Des Absurdites, which rarely have brought social change and are in fact, carefully orchestrated high tech propagandistic puppetry meant to destabilize and eventually crush any movement that dare demand social change. We had traveled to Cairo as representatives of "America" and we too we had, incorrectly, relied on logical, judicially sound, politically correct processes and diplomatic courtesies (i.e.: provided pre- trip information to local governments, lists of travelers, we asked permission to talk to our embassies) to travel to Gaza; naturally the approach did not work; we were denied entry into Gaza and in fact our requests for, and subsequent meetings with, the various embassies, resulted in their treating us, the Gaza Freedom Marchers as subversive and unwanted visitors (aided by Mubarak’s security & military forces who followed us everywhere, penned us in, blocked our hotels, harassed us daily and were violent with some of the peaceful protesters). We had come from "America" and all over the world to bring humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Gaza and we were now being asked to leave or if we stayed, we were ordered to become a tourist! The dissonance between the talk and the walk was never clearer : Obama, in his presidential inaugural speech had said: " we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders" yet... now our own embassy was not willing to help us bring aid to Gaza, and instead was aiding and abetting the dictatorship of Egypt in preventing our humanitarian mission outside our borders!

What would Martin Luther King have done? Leave or stay in Egypt and be a tourist as the government ordered us to do? Well, by now you know what we did…
I believe we honored Dr King’s spirit by not leaving and by not becoming tourists but rather organizing on a dime and engaging in powerful peaceful protests, vigils, hunger strike, press conferences and civil disobedience; as Dr King, we believe firmly and unshakably that our movement is operating on the side of human justice. We, the people can and will make change happen. We will never be silent. Those days in Cairo confirm this ardent belief.

As Billy Wharton aptly says in yesterday’s Rag Blog:

It is clear that no election or any judicial decision, no matter how slick the public relations scheme, can replace the powerful ability of regular people to create movements that change history and society for the better”.

We, the "regular people" will unite to make this the America it should be!


No comments:

Post a Comment