I doubt that a woman so fiercely devoted to the freedom of her brothers and sisters would want to be entrapped in the center of a white man's symbol of debt, control, greed, and dehumanization. Harriet Tubman stood for a freedom that can not be represented on a United States "Bill of Legal Tender." The type of freedom that she sacrificed her life for had nothing to do with financial security, a high credit score, or possessing a multitude of assets. Tubman was talking about spiritual liberation and escape from human bondage. Once free, there is no sum high enough that can convince someone to return back to the chains and indignity of slavery. That being said, I don't believe that she would want to be associated with our currency today. There is too much slavery in it.
Speaking as a graduate of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY, I emphatically disagreed with the school's decision to welcome Rudolph Giuliani as the 2015 commencement speaker. Mr. Giuliani has made several outlandish remarks about African Americans including the President of the United States. His inflammatory statements about "black criminality" during the apex of tensions in Ferguson only threw gasoline on a blistering fire. These comments revealed the true beliefs of a former mayor who made it his primary mission to crack down on drug users, gang members, the homeless, welfare recipients, and immigrants - all code words in his administration for " target people of color." According to the New York Times, the year before Giuliani took office, 720 people were arrested for misdemeanor marijuana-related offenses; by 2000, the number had jumped to 59,495--an increase of 4,549 percent. By 2000, one in four New Yorkers lived in poverty, nearly double the national average. That same year, New York's homeless population reached its highest point since 1989, and the city had a shortfall of 390,000 affordable housing units for low-income renters. Throughout successive budgets, Giuliani cut funding for municipal employees, schools and other social services, all policy choices that disproportionately impacted communities of color.
Setting aside Mr. Giuliani's incompetence and callousness as an elected politician, I am also deeply troubled by his involvement in destroying evidence from a crime scene after 9/11. The motto of St. John Fisher College is "Teach me Goodness, Knowledge and Discipline." It has taken all three of these cardinal virtues to look past the official propaganda in order to discover the role some of our elected officers played leading up to and following the tragic events of 9/11. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a 2,000 member organization composed of scientific experts seeking a real investigation into the collapse of the Twin Towers and Building Seven, have reported that "On or about September 15, 2001, Rudolph Giuliani, acting on his authority as duly elected Mayor of the City of New York, authorized and contracted Bovis Lend Lease, AMEC Construction Management, Tully Construction Company, and Turner Construction Company to "provide the work necessary for removal and demolition services, " according to letter contracts, in order to remove forensic evidence from the World Trade Center. Under Giuliani's watch, these materials were shipped outside of police custody to scrap metal companies in New York and New Jersey, including Metal Management Northeast and Hugo Neu Schnitzer, both of New Jersey, and from there was shipped outside of US Jurisdiction to Baosteel Group in China....Once outside of US custody, the steel members comprising 95.5 percent of the structural steel of the Twin Towers and Building Seven, was destroyed by melting and rendered useless for any further forensic examination."
Regarding the strange fate of Building Seven, it should be repeatedly asked why CNN, the BBC and other news stations had foreknowledge of its impending "collapse." These recorded statements, countdowns, warnings, and announcements prove that at least this one building was brought down by controlled demolition rather than by raging fires. But we will never know for sure now that the evidence has been confiscated and destroyed.
Like so many other SJFC alumnus I want to know if any members of the SJFC faculty or administration discussed Mr. Giuliani's participation in destroying evidence from Ground Zero and raised objections to his invitation. If not, why?
George Payne is the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International in Rochester, NY. He also teaches Philosophy of Religion at Finger Lakes Community College. George is a member of the 2004 graduating class of St. John Fisher College.
Freedom is free. Human beings are the ones who put a price tag on it. We charge money for food that nature gives away. We turn clothing into a commercial product when the fabrics come from the earth without charge. We even force people to pay for shelter when the wood, straw, rocks and mud can be harvested at no cost. We have been offered everything, yet we want more. We want to be rich! Yet by becoming rich, someone else must become poor.
War unwraps people. It doesn't give a damn about smiles, eyeballs, kneecaps, genitals, earlobes, necks, bellies, ankles, hair, or teeth. War is metal pipes, broken shoulder blades, makeshift helmets, trash barricades, purplish flumes of unknown chemicals, cracked skulls, slit throats and insane confusion. War is what the news won't show. It is a woman strangled with a telephone cord- her jeans darkened by the pasty sludge of blood mixed with feces. As much as we may try, war refuses to look heroic for the cameras.
“Climate Change Action at the Local Level”
Hon. Sandra L. Frankel
Former Supervisor, Town of Brighton
Because clean water and air are essential for life, the public trust demands that our elected officials commit to environmental sustainability. Citizens also hold the trust of future generations in their hands, with responsibility to protect and preserve a healthy environment for our children and grandchildren. Global warming is real, and the effects of climate change observed in the 20th century appear to be due in part to man-made greenhouse-gas emissions—an increase in the earth’s temperature, melting arctic icecaps, rising sea levels, more severe and frequent storms (think Katrina and Sandy), floods, droughts that plague the country (New Mexico, California). These changes may not have a major effect on Monroe County in the short term, they will in the long run because of impacts on lives, property, and the economy. We all have a stake and can play a part in stemming the tide through grassroots advocacy and action.
What can local and regional governments, schools, businesses, and residents in our communities do? Plenty. Establish a steering committee with broad-based representation of community stakeholders and experts to establish goals and develop a plan that will empower and encourage local government, residents, businesses, and institutions to use resources efficiently, with an eye towards long-term sustainability and stewardship of our local and global environment.
Determine the highest areas of energy consumption. Adopt the recommendations, develop a budget plan for implementation, and establish a standing committee, the Sustainability Oversight Committee, to monitor progress and advise on energy saving technology and products.
Here are some concrete examples of municipal and community energy savings that promote clean air and water include the following:
The biggest problem in our world today is not global warming, hunger, racism, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, or even nuclear proliferation. The biggest problem in our world is lack of compassion. If we cultivate compassion towards ourselves, each other and all other animals, these other problems will be solvable.
Viewing ALL life as valuable challenges each of us in upsetting and unpredictable ways. To realize that black lives matter because white lives matter (and vice versa) is only the beginning. Police officers matter because the lives of people who commit crimes matter. Politicians matter because the constituents they serve matter. American soldiers matter because the lives of ISIS matter. If any human being is viewed as disposable, it means that all lives are disposable. This is the great indigestible truth of our species.
As a proponent of Martin Luther King's philosophy of deep abiding love through active nonviolence, I am perplexed and saddened by how some of his contemporary followers have been quick to employ King's famous line "a riot is the language of the unheard" in order to make it appear as if he would "understand" the use of violent tactics in situations where systemic oppression is so entrenched that it can not be uprooted in any other way. But "understanding" can become a euphemism for sanctioning or justifying violence. Nowhere was racism and oppression more entrenched than it was in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 or Birmingham in 1963. However, King never embraced violence as a relevant strategy. Until the end of his life he was an uncompromising apostle of nonviolence trained in the holy disciplines of Christian sacrifice, Jewish determination and Gandhian disobedience. The fact that he was able to express sympathy towards rioters, militant rebels and even white police officers in cities like Rochester, Detroit, Newark, and Watts was just another example of his remarkable capacity for historical insight and spiritual compassion. In is important that we do not confuse this compassion for acceptance. In King's wise estimation violence always signified a major failure of religious and political creativity rather than an inevitable and sometimes therapeutic eruption of psychological duress.
The moral question that King posed to American society is as urgent today as it was during the heyday of the civil rights movement. Are we willing to despise violence more than we love our causes and duties? And if we are ready to relinquish violence as a viable option in the theater of conflict, how are we developing the tools and skills of radical compassion that we will need to transform hatred into love? This message speaks to the hearts of police and protestors alike. In one of his most powerful sermons entitled "Beyond Vietnam," MLK proclaimed:
"This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I’m not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: “Let us love one another (Yes), for love is God. (Yes) And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. . . . If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.” Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day."
I'm calling for a period of jubilee where all personal, professional and moral debts are exonerated. This massive act of global mercy will usher in an unprecedented leap forward in our human journey. We are not on this planet to owe each other anything. We are here to experience the grace and beauty of God's love. Every second spent on figuring out how to get even with each other is a minute lost experiencing the joy of the Creator who blesses everything equally. In the words of the French philosopher Rousseau, " humans are born free, but find themselves in chains everywhere." The time to break these chains is now!
For the past week our nation has collectively denounced violence in the streets of Baltimore. Meanwhile tens of millions of viewers across the country are waiting anxiously for the "Fight of the Century" between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. How do we expect our children to know the difference between the "good" kind of fighting that makes lots of money and entertains us from the "bad" kind of fighting that loses business and makes us unsafe?
What we are dealing with in this country is a crisis of priorities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics 1,929 schools closed their doors last year. Meanwhile the Pentagon handed out a $496 billion dollar contract to Lockheed Martin to build the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—the most expensive weapon ever procured.