More Than Eight Minutes, 24 Hours a Day, for Nine Years

Introductory note: I pray that the reader will get past my writing style, be forgiving of the fact that I rushed out what’s below too; it’s an unedited first draft… but it should do the trick as is. For anyone with heart, head and soul in a healthy place. Like those amazing people in the still photographs going about their work in Laotian fields of heartbreaking abomination with peaceful smiles on their faces. Which, for me, is the face of God.

“You must change your life.” — Rilke

More Than Eight Minutes, 24 Hours a Day, for Nine Years
Dedicated to Karen and Jerry’s work as per “Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos” and ending war in the lifetime of my youngest
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I’m always screaming out that we’re documenting, debating and diverting ourselves in lieu of taking new kinds of action in solidarity. We are, in fact, doing that in the realm of activism. Article after article, book after book… the endless bootless cries of conferences and summits, the letters to the editors and so on… they are often necessary and admirable, their agendas deserving of applause and support, BUT… activism energy — for a very long time now — has been channeled down those roads instead of… INSTEAD OF… in place of… IN LIEU OF… doing something about the issues spotlighted, the matters most dear to the well-intentioned souls involved.

I can elaborate on the above, of course, and spell out exactly why ALL of those efforts demand a supplement of sorts, whether or not it’s what I recommend. It would be easy as pie to explain why those well-meaning, laudable expense of heartbeats represent obsolete forms of protest if they’re embraced as one’s primary or exclusive means for bringing about institutional change. BUT… I won’t go into that here. Rather, I want to focus on what we need to do to make the difference that everyone seeks… regardless of individual political preferences… to have a shot at actually transforming our horrid momentum… respecting issues ‘cross the board. All of our collective crises.

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/6/25/50_years_after_us_launched_secre t is an exception to the rule for me. To understand what I mean, please glance at

Fifty years ago this month, the United States began raining down bombs on Laos, in what would become the largest bombing campaign in history. From June 1964 to March 1973, the United States dropped at least two million tons of bombs on the small, landlocked southeast Asian country. That is the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years — more than was dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. The deadly legacy of the Vietnam War lives on today in the form of unexploded cluster bombs, which had about a 30 percent failure rate when they fell from American planes over large swaths of Laos. Experts estimate that Laos is littered with as many as 80 million “bombies,” or bomblets — baseball-sized bombs found inside cluster bombs. Since the bombing stopped four decades ago, tens of thousands of people have been injured or killed as a result. We are joined by Karen Coates and Jerry Redfern, co-authors of “Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos.”

The part about “the equivalent of one planeload every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years” resonated deeply. For it reminded me that I’ve been at it — advocating a particular (necessary) “supplement” — incessantly, ’round the clock, for about the last decade or so, unceasingly reaching out, trying to recruit people to participate in a simple discussion of options. Attempting to set aside time with others for leisurely discussion of alternative actions — supportive activities for what people are already engaged in — not on the run.

Everyone’s been too busy for that. Everyone I’ve encountered during the course of 12,000 plus attempts. Regardless of what I’ve offered up — which sometimes was the equivalent of offering my first born — not a single soul has been willing to engage with me as per the above outreach. [Pause.] On the rare occasions which someone has actually set aside some heartbeats for reading or talking with me… there’s always been the sense of rush… the feeling that their minds were, at least partly — on what they were going to do next… their minds made up ahead of time that they were entirely too busy to move in solidarity with regard to anything new at the moment.

That “moment” might as well be forever. For the feeling never ends with them. They’ve all been on some track, and de facto not open to any fresh paradigm for action… except — at the most (which has been unusual enough) on a verbal level. Talk talk, not walk talk.

All this demands elaboration, I know. Well, you set the time and place and I’ll show. I’ll even bring goodies to eat, if you like. Travel to your realm at my own expense, or pay for your lodgings in my area… to have the simple exchange I seek.

This is an offer I’ve made more than 24 hours a day for the last nine years plus. [Here's hoping I don't lose your attention prematurely with this lyrical license.] To no avail in terms of my agenda. That does NOT mean that the whole kit and caboodle of effort hasn’t been instructive. For what I’ve learned as a result of failing, failing again, failing again better has culminated in my truly having something to offer for anyone wanting to recruit, make a difference, etc.

Just received a positive word — while writing this — from a professor headed down to a Mississippi Freedom Summer conference today. Told him that I’d send a copy of this post haste is way. What I didn’t say, however, is that I’ve had lots of experience with conferences held in Mississippi and around the entire country over many years, including a relatively recent one sponsored by the Malcolm X Grassroots group from nearby Oakland… down in Jackson… where I tried to serve as a volunteer for the purposes of the late great Mayor Chokwe Lumumba soon after he was elected. Without success.

The thing is, I’m going over old ground here to underscore that that municipality in ‘Ole Miss didn’t miss the boat alone. For I could give you the names of a score of cities and towns and conference organizers nationwide who have not responded to my outreach with so much as a “Thank you, but no thanks” reply. I know that sounds like hyperbole, not true… but I swear that it is. And I plan to — with you in solidarity? — turn all that around so that we can provide the “supplement” I speak of for ALL conferences planned in the future. ALL forms of activism.

Again, a necessary supplement.

I’m already the designated (volunteer) North American rep for Andre Vltchek. I had a very brief phone talk with Jerry Redfern this morning… planting seeds that I pray will lead to my doing the same for him and his partner Karen Coates. We’ll see what happens.

But anyone interested in exploring the devil in the details I speak of is welcome to (leisurely) look at http://oxtogrind.org/archive/1540 and http://oxtogrind.org/archive/1413.

Here’s the thing, though. [Pause.] What’s embedded in the telegraphic sound bites provided is NOT THE WHOLE STORY. Everything posted on this archived site was written for particular people and purposes (for the most part) long ago. The thrust of what you’ll be privy to in reading about the “plan for action” proposed needs an update. A serious update, depending on whether you reside in this or that state. AND… anything I put in writing honors the thrust of what Emily Dickinson was trying to communicate back in the 19th century with

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant –

It is not a small point to make to stress how important any discussion of unprecedented options must be — initially, at least — in relative confidence.

Elaboration upon request is easy for me. For I’ve been at this for more than eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for over nine years. If you glance at my chronology under the ‘About Us’ banner above you’ll see that that’s putting it mildly. And that, again, I will absolutely not waste your precious heartbeats.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPCFVLgdc2Q

The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through

[Pause.]

Noon Addendum: I think that it’s worthwhile to point out that the lack of a “Thanks, but no thanks” reply from concerned citizens (noted above) is something I do not take personally. I acknowledge it in the context of being a dynamic that goes… unacknowledged in the activist realm. And readers should think about what it means that — from the top of my head — I can list at least 25 documentarians, among hundreds, whose films I have offered to support over the years in various capacities (as a volunteer)… with no response. To cite one recent example, permit me to spotlight the wonderful documentary A Sea Change, which focuses on the crucial issue of ocean acidification. Not only was I unable to secure dialogue with any of the (many) people involved in producing the film, none of the scientists featured in the documentary responded to my outreach. And some of them are in my California backyard at institutions of higher education where I have a positive history to reference. This added note should be coupled with my recent effort to connect with the well-meaning, highly educated, deep experienced neuroscientist Carl Hart (the focus of my outreach two postings back). The example of Dr. Hart — my unrequited outreach related to him — can be multiplied by thousands of frustrating attempts. The reason I cite him, though, is that he is tenured at my alma mater, and I could offer up testimonials from his institution which would surely impress him or anyone. The question of What’s going on? must be addressed post haste.