Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “demonstration”

Changing the World

I am feeling emotionally tired bouncing from one political cause to another. There is simply too much to do to fix our world. There are amazing organizations that work for solutions whether globally or locally…and they are all worthy of my time, attention and dollars.

I am aware that many political activists suffer burnout and seem to get excited once every four years at best. I used to be critical of them, but I am beginning to understand where they are coming from. I will be fifty next year and though there are ten months to go, I’m already taking it hard. I went to my first political rally when I was eleven and never looked back. But I am having a hard time when I look at my dear children and the wonderful students I work with, wondering what I have achieved to make this world a better place for them.

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I lost my political virginity campaigning for a political prisoner who walked from 25+ years in jail to lead his nation to a democratic and non-racist society. He dismantled the worst racist societal framework in my lifetime and did so with as little violence as possible. As I write this, he lies in hospital on life-support and I am profoundly sad. I had a pencil case at school with a sticker Free Nelson Mandela on it and when the teacher told me that I could only display a political sticker if I explained to the class who Mandela is, I stood and made my first political speech.

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I would like to compile a series of blog posts that each relates to a particular action that will have a profound impact on the world or at least the society we live in. I can only think of a couple so I am turning to you for help.

Think of an action that can have serious impact and let me know in the comments and maybe I, Tom or Roger, might take it on. If you would like to compile it into a 400-600 article, you are invited to guest post it here on Left Coast Voices. Let me know at alshalev at yahoo dot com. I’m happy to edit, provide the pictures etc.

There is a famous Jewish proverb (Rabbi Tarfon I believe): You are not obligated to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter. For more about the author, check out his website.

Morsi and Obama: A Tale of Two Presidents

I recently drove past a demonstration outside the Federal building in Los Angeles. A red stoplight had my car idling next to maybe fifty Egyptians and their allies. They were supportive of the army’s ouster of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Their signs showed their anger with President Obama who has called on the army to honor the democratic process. 

I have to admit that I am very torn here. The Egyptians did hold a democratic election. Sure, it might have been flawed with voter fraud, intimidation and other dirty tricks, and this should be condemned, but it was probably no worse than most other countries. Egypt has only just begun to walk the path of democracy. There will be bumps along the way. 

imagesOn the other hand, Morsi has done little to address the major problems facing Egypt such as poverty and the terrible violence on the streets, in particular directed at women, who are then shamed publicly after being raped and beaten. NPR have reported that more than 100 women who were at the demonstrations were attacked and many raped in public. 

President Morsi leads the Muslim Brotherhood, a popular Muslim organization that threatens all who fear religious extremisms and desire to live in a secular country.

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The fundamental question is whether the people (in this case led by the military) can justifiably remove a democratically elected leader if he is not doing his job. President Obama has weighed in and emphatically said no.

I understand his belief that only the democratic process can remove a leader. I think those who suggest that he is supporting a Muslim movement because of his past are being absurd and demeaning.

Many of us are frustrated that countries in Africa, Europe, and most recently in Syria, can destroy and massacre its people, without outside intervention. We draw red lines that are already baffling to the victims and then move those lines when it suits us.

I am not happy with religious extremism in any religion. I am deeply uncomfortable when a religious movement takes control of a country (in any way) and encroaches on the rights of those who do not follow that religion or are not as religious. 

But I am also uncomfortable with our government intervening with the internal affairs of other countries up to a point. I believe the United Nations (I know – I am referring to a fictitious effective organization) should set red lines and intervene when any government crosses that line.

Democracy is important and I believe I would take up arms to protect it. But a democratic government must protect its citizens and allow them to live in freedom, without intimidation or fear.

images-2President Morsi was democratically elected but he failed his people. And this is why he must be replaced. President Obama, who I unequivocally support, should make this distinction. Perhaps there is simply too much gray for us even to get involved.

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Alon Shalev writes social justice-themed novels and YA epic fantasy. He swears there is a connection. His latest books include: Unwanted Heroes and the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award for YA – At The Walls Of Galbrieth. Alon tweets at @alonshalevsf and @elfwriter.   For more about the author, check out his website.

 

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