Category Archives: Immigration

When Silence is Not An Option, by Carmel Mawle

“We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing — for that is nothing but fear. ‘Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless’ — for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible’s demands in times such as these?”

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), the German author of The Cost of Discipleship and founder of the Confessing Church, attended seminary in New York, where he developed a friendship with Frank Fisher, a black fellow-seminarian from Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church, and was moved and inspired by the Gospel of Social Justice.

As his own Christian conviction was deepened, Bonhoeffer made the decision to return to a Germany increasingly under the sway of Nazism, leaving behind his friends, fiancé and safety, becoming one of its most vocal resisters.

“I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people … Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security.”

He was imprisoned for nearly two years, and ultimately was accused of playing a role in a plot to murder Hitler and hanged. Despite the danger of dissent, Bonhoeffer never hesitated to speak truth to power.

If there is one thing we have seen in the current alignment of power, nationalism, and greed  gaining ground all over this beautiful wounded planet, it is that no theology (or lack thereof) has cornered the market in hypocrisy. There seem to be factions of every faith and philosophy that can find justification within their man-made tenets for cruelty to the voiceless, the powerless.

Here in the United States, there are Christians who cling to isolated stories of persecution in the Middle East, or at home where secularists might have the gall to wish them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. They revel in examples of persecution by radical Islamists, ignoring the persecution of Muslims in China, India, Myanmar, Israel, the United States and elsewhere. They choose to focus on the insignificant, rather than see their own hypocrisy in supporting an Administration that treats immigrants and refugees (most of them professed Christians, themselves) inhumanely, even rationalizing the separation of young children from their parents, causing irreparable trauma and harm to their developing psyches.

It’s in this brutal reality, that my grandchildren return to school and autumn colors blend into our mountain palette, and it’s got me thinking about the coming winter edition of DoveTales. Adviser and Guest Editor, Robert Kostuck, has chosen the insightful theme, “Gardens in the Desert: Cultivating Awareness.” What are we, dear Writers of Peace, if not gardeners in the desert?

If Bonhoeffer, in the midst of a nation frothing for death and destruction, could plant seeds of courage and resistance in enough hearts to become a threat to Der Führer – a testament to the power of conviction and words – then what can thousands of us with that same conviction accomplish?

We will create gardens in the desert of social injustice with our words and actions. We will not stand idly by as children are deprived of hope and safety and life. We will not remain silent as our planet is ravaged and the Amazon disappears into flames. This globe is our garden. The refugees and prisoners across its surface are our family. Yours and mine. Silence is not an option.

The reading period for our Winter Edition is open until November 1st. As writers, we cultivate awareness through our words, stanzas and sentences.  Send us your work and together we’ll spread the seeds of social justice and peaceful activism where there is fertile soil and where there is not.

Carmel Mawle is founder of the nonprofit literary organization, Writing for Peace, and has served as Editor-in-Chief of DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts since 2013. A Pushcart Nominee, her short stories, essays and poetry have been published in literary journals and anthologies, including Smokelong Quarterly and Shake the Tree Anthology.

 


2019 Writing for Peace Online Youth Summit

Now accepting submissions for the Youth Summit here.

Theme: Day By Day, Hand in Hand: Seeing & Creating Peace in Daily Action


Check out DoveTales Online Now ~


Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

 

 

Poetry fuels the fire; powerful play… by Andrea W. Doray

President’s Corner:

Poetry fuels the fire; and the powerful play goes on…

by Andrea W. Doray

Andrea Doray

Not surprisingly, I am in love with the written word. I love the power of the pen on the page to move, amuse, anger, or delight. The power to take us places we’ve never been before. The power to take us back to times and places we have come from.

Fiction, nonfiction such as biographies and creative nonfiction, memoirs, and essays have always had their devoted followers. Poetry is now also finding its way further into the mainstream … and even into the commercial realm as well. In an ad last year for the Apple iPad Air, we heard Robin William’s voice in his portrayal of John Keating, the beloved English teacher in the U.S. film Dead Poets Society.

From the sound track, replicated in the iPad ad, Williams/Keating quotes the poet Walt Whitman … but it’s far more than a quote, more than just a reading of words on the page. When Williams recites from “O, Me! O, Life!”, it is a performance that is as much a celebration of Whitman’s poetry as of the life about which Whitman writes. And for those of us who need a reminder of the profound power of Walt Whitman’s words, Williams gives it to us with a tantalizing invitation: “…the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Our just-released fifth edition of DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts, published by Writing for Peace, features both new and established poets (as well as talented artists, photographers, essayists, and fiction writers), writing on the theme of “Refugees and the Displaced.” As Carmel Mawle, founder of Writing for Peace and editor-in-chief for the issue, says: “Their suffering is in the front of our collective consciousness.” Carmel reminds us that their situation has descended to new levels of hostility and danger:

What can we do to change this trend? We march. We show up at airports. We boycott. We call and write and demand accountability from our legislators. We write to shine a light … and we are making a difference. Don’t let the drumbeat of dystopia dampen your passion for justice.

As Carmel tells us, this book is fuel for the fire in our bellies.

* * *

Sam Hamill, revolutionary poet and scholar, co-founder of Poets again the War to protest the conflict in Iraq, is our featured advisor in “Refugees and the Displaced,” and we are fortunate to include three poems from his book, Habitation.

When celebrated poet Martín Espada was asked to comment on the release of Habitation, he said: “When future generations want to know the truth of these times, they will turn to the words of Sam Hamill.”

As is evident in his poetry and his activism, Sam Hamill is a man who intensely feels the suffering of others, much like the character of John Keating from Dead Poets Society, who said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.”

John Keating wanted his students to experience poetry with a different perspective of authentic knowledge and feelings. In our “Refugees and the Displaced” issue of DoveTales, the winners of our Young Writers Contest share this authenticity and power in their poetry.

Poetry judge E. Ethelbert Miller says of Lisa Zou’s first-place entry, “She Serves in Ben Hai”: “This is a beautiful poem – haunting in its tenderness … about family, aging, and the shadows of displacement created by [the Vietnam] war.”

Zou writes:

“… Each summer, my grandmother knits guilt / into my waitress dress and hot privilege lacquers my tongue. / I swallow each gated community, each “made in Vietnam” sticker, / one bleached spoonful after the other.”

Second-place winner Lydia Chew’s speaker issues an apology to a young woman harassed in school because she is Muslim. Says Miller: “Chew’s work attempts to understand what is at the root of our fears.”

In “Dear M,” Chew writes:

I don’t know if you remember me, / but this is my apology. / … I remember that I never saw you, / I only saw your hijab.

As Miller commented, “There is hope (in this poem) that perhaps we all have the capacity to change – no matter how long it may take.”

* * *

To quote from Walt Whitman:

“That you are here – that life exists and identity, / That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

In poets such as Sam Hamill, Lisa Zou, and Lydia Chew – and, indeed, in writers of all stripes – we find the compassionate, empathetic members of the human race John Keating describes in Dead Poets Society. We find knowledge, and authenticity, and power. We find fuel for the fire in our bellies.

And the powerful play goes on.

###

Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning journalist, author, poet, and essayist in Denver, CO, and is occasionally a columnist for The Denver Post through their Colorado Voices panel. Her weekly opinion column, Alchemy, which appears in Colorado Community Media newspapers, has received a first-place award from the Colorado Press Association.Learn more about Andrea and her work here.

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2017 DoveTales, “Refugees and the Displaced” Now Available

2017 Front CoverThe fifth edition of our annual literary journal, DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is now available. Our “Refugees and the Displaced” themed DoveTales is a timely affront to a status quo comfortable with the suffering of others. With contributors from every continent on the planet except Antarctica (we’re working on that), this is a book that is meant to challenge assumptions and explore issues of peace, social justice, and our responsibility to our fellow man. Cover art is by Canadian artist, Allen Forrest. Purchase your copy here, or find all our books at the Denver Lighthouse Writers Litfest!

 

Copyright © 2017 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Border Crisis, by Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

Border Crisis, or Juárez City is Inside Our Closets

Pilar Rodriguez Aranda, Writing for Peace Adviserby Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

(To read this post in Spanish, scroll down.)

Everyday I read, listen to, and witness the decomposition of our “human” societies, and everyday I become more convinced there will never be a real change if we do not work on the very base of it all: our own self, our family, our neighborhood and our local community. It is there where we find such barbarities that I really don’t understand why we are amazed these happen, of course amplified, at a global level: abuse of all types, beatings, rape, humiliation, war. What happens inside our homes and among our neighbors is the very reflection/root of our sickness, the microcosms of what happens in the immensity of this beautiful planet, our great home, which we systematically keep murdering. We know it, and yet…

I once was at a conference with all kinds of academic “experts” on violence; while the speaker was offering a summary of his latest research or book, a friend who knew this man told me he had beaten his girlfriend; and in that same conference there were at least two other cases of lecturers who abused women or, similarly, his coworkers. I believe Peace starts within, but not a fantasy/imagined/unrealistic peace, where we all act as if separate from the rest… Peace is something we seek, a conscious act, it requires will and a lot of “work”, because, when you have grown in a home where violence is the norm, then of course we will accept and even crave for it outside: radio and TV announcers who can’t seem to talk normally but always screaming; news about ugliness, war and devastation; commercials which are full of lies and immorality; entertainment which is all blood-kill-explode, full of “bad” people, which are always from some “alien” place, colored people who come from “the other side” of our “border”. Borders…another one of those cruel human inventions. A patriarch will never allow anyone from “outside” to meddle with whatever is happening inside his home, and almost everyone else seems to accept this, still. So, my neighbour beats his kids or his wife, and I say nothing. Remember that “Silence = Death”? Well, we still haven’t gone beyond the tiniest of peeps…

Some think that’s a job for our politicians…yet, everyone seems to loath them! And not only Americans, but Mexicans, Cubans, Chileans, Spaniards, Argentinians… Are there any exceptions? Maybe Uruguayans at this point, maybe Icelanders. So, we complain, we denounce, and nothing happens. These so called “representatives” choose their “causes” according to popularity or economic gain, so, of course, it is not surprise when one of them says that femicides is not a pressing problem, even though there’s a constant increase in all forms of violence against women. A lot is being said and written right now about the thousands of Central American children who are waiting to be deported back to their no-future land… But who is talking about those we know nothing about, the “disappeared” ones, killed for their organs, subjected to prostitution and slavery? This year alone, and only in Mexico, there have been 45 thousand children reported disappeared. Who is talking about them?

The US has never truly been “the promised land”, and yet, the media keeps selling this concept of “America the brave and perfect democracy”, hypocrisy at its height! But even if the “American Dream” is just a lie, if you compares one single fact, like minimum wage, it is so easy to understand, I mean, if I make 8 dollars a day, of course making 8 dollars an hour will seem much more attractive. And if at home the alternative is getting killed or becoming a victim, the choice is even easier. In the documentary “Which Way Home”, a kid says he wants to go to the USA because he wants a different life. The interviewer asks him, what kind of life? and he responds, any other.

We know about US intervention in all of Latin America, about corporate rulings, puppet governments, coups d’état, rigged elections, and so on, and yet nothing has changed. I sometimes try to explain to my Mexican friends that my US friends feel the same as we do, and they are powerless to change the direction of their own government, just as we seem powerless to do the same with ours. But, are we really that powerless, or is this just another illusion?

To be honest, I understand nothing. I look around and no one seems to care. People go about their daily life, working, shopping, entertaining themselves; more people will gather to celebrate a soccer game than to protest about anything! I don’t understand humanity’s fascination with death and the end of the world. Someone once told me it had to do with the prophecy of the apocalypses. So, following this logic, if according to the bible, sooner or later the world is coming to an end, why should we care? We are all going to die anyway, why not hurry the fact? Is that how it goes? I also don’t understand a religion which accepts money to aggrandize their churches and protects their own criminals but has no empathy for those who are (still, somewhat) innocent, and suffer; I don’t understand those can’t open their hearts to an eight year old child who has crossed all of the terrain called Mexico on foot, surviving all kinds of atrocities, and wish to send him back… Him and thousands more like him. And I don’t understand why everyone acts surprised, when for many years this situation has been built by their own government and their own indifference.

Once, while showing films on the violence happening in Juárez City in one of the many “sub-cities” that are part of the immense urban mess called Mexico City, an elementary teacher said, “Juárez is in our closets”. She was thinking about the raped, battered, abused little kids who she sees everyday in school, forced to act as if everything is alright, as if their home is a happy place, and life is a piece of cake. And of course, how can she even suggest this kid’s soul, mind and body is being systematically killed? Her parents will deny it, her siblings and even her grandparents or aunts will deny it. Not a peep. What happens within our walls is our business…

Well, guess what? Not anymore. What happens in the US is as much my business as what happens in Nicaragua or in China or in Portugal, and whatever happens in a child’s home should be as much my business as what happens in mine. A lot is being said (and supposedly done, but who believes in politicians?) about the present crisis in the US border. I have no answers, I don’t even pretend to offer a true analysis, such is the task of “experts”. All I can say about these children is, at least they are alive! There is still hope, except, sending them back means denying them that, once again. Where is the love, the compassion, the braveness in this? Our closets are about to burst.

***

La crisis en la frontera, ó Ciudad Juárez vive en nuestros clósets

por Pilar Rodríguez Aranda

Todos los días leo, escucho y soy testigo de la descomposición de nuestras sociedades “humanas”, y todos los días me convenzo más de que nunca habrá un cambio verdadero si no trabajamos en la base de todo: nuestro propio ser, nuestra familia, nuestro barrio y nuestra comunidad local. Es ahí donde encontramos tales barbaridades que realmente no entiendo por qué nos sorprendemos de que éstas sucedan, claro, amplificadas, a nivel global: abuso de todos tipos, golpizas, violación, humillación, guerra. Lo que sucede dentro de nuestros hogares y entre nuestros vecinos es el reflejo/raíz misma de nuestra enfermedad, el microcosmos de lo que sucede en la inmensidad de este bello planeta, nuestro gran hogar, el cual seguimos asesinando sistemáticamente. Lo sabemos, y sin embargo…

Estuve alguna vez en una conferencia con toda clase de académicos “expertos” en el tema de la violencia; mientras un conferencista ofrecía un resumen de su última investigación o libro, una amiga que conocía a este hombre me contaba que él golpeaba a la novia; en esa misma conferencia había al menos dos casos más de presentadores que habían abusado a mujeres o, de manera similar, a sus compañeros de trabajo. Yo creo que la Paz comienza dentro, pero no una paz fantasía/imaginada/irreal, donde todos actúan como si estuvieran separados de los demás… La paz es algo que buscamos, un acto consciente, requiere de voluntad y mucho “trabajo”, porque cuando uno ha crecido en un hogar donde la violencia es la norma, entonces, claro que vamos a aceptar, e incluso ansiarla, en el exterior: locutores de radio y televisión que parece no pueden hablar normalmente sino siempre gritando; noticias sobre la fealdad, la guerra y la devastación; comerciales llenos de mentiras e inmoralidad; entretenimiento que es todo sangre-mata-explota, lleno de gente “mala”, que vienen de un lugar “ajeno”, gente de color que vienen “del otro lado” de nuestra “frontera”. Fronteras…otro de esos crueles inventos humanos. Un patriarca nunca permitirá que alguien de “fuera” se meta en lo que sucede dentro de su casa, y casi todos parecen aceptar esto, todavía. Así que, si mi vecino golpea a sus niños o a su esposa, yo no debo decir nada. ¿Recuerdan aquél, “Silencio = Muerte”? Bueno, pues todavía no hemos pasado de emitir el más leve de los píos…

Algunos piensan que ese es un trabajo para nuestros políticos…y sin embargo ¡todos parecen despreciarlos! Y no solo los norteamericanos, sino los mexicanos, los cubanos, los chilenos, españoles, argentinos…¿Hay alguna excepción? Quizá los uruguayos en este momento, o los islandeses. Así que, nos quejamos, denunciamos, y nada sucede. Estos llamados “representantes” eligen sus “causas” de acuerdo a la popularidad o a la ganancia económica, así que, por supuesto no es de sorprenderse cuando uno de ellos dice que los feminicidios no son un problema apremiante, aún cuando hay un aumento constante de todas las formas de violencia en contra de la mujer. Mucho se está diciendo y escribiendo en este momento sobre los niños centroamericanos que esperan a ser deportados de vuelta a su tierra sin futuro… Pero, ¿quién está hablando de los que no sabemos nada, los “desaparecidos”, que han sido asesinados por sus órganos, sujetos a la prostitución y esclavitud? Solo este año, y solo en México, han habido 45 mil reportes de niños desaparecidos. ¿Quién está hablando de ellos?

Los Estados Unidos nunca han sido en verdad “la tierra prometida”, y sin embargo, los medios continúan vendiendo el concepto de “América, la valiente, la democracia perfecta”, ¡la hipocresía al máximo! Pero, aún si el “Sueño Americano” es solo una mentira, si uno compara un solo dato, como el salario mínimo, es entonces fácil de entender, digo, si yo gano 8 dólares al día, es obvio que ganar 8 dólares la hora me parecerá mucho más atractivo. Y si en casa, la alternativa es que te maten o te conviertas en víctima, la elección se hace todavía más fácil. En el documental “Which Way Home”, un niño dice que quiere ir a los EEUU porque desea una vida distinta. El entrevistador le pregunta, ¿qué clase de vida?, y él responde, cualquier otra.

Sabemos sobre la intervención de los EEUU en toda Latinoamérica, sobre el dominio de las corporaciones, los gobiernos títere, los golpes de estado, las elecciones amañadas, y así sucesivamente, y sin embargo, nada cambia. En ocasiones trato de explicarle a mis amigos mexicanos que mis amigos norteamericanos se sienten igual que nosotros, y que son igual de impotentes para cambiar la dirección de su gobierno, como nosotros somos impotentes de hacer lo mismo con el propio. Pero, ¿es verdad que somos así de impotentes, o es solo otra ilusión?

Para ser honesta, no entiendo nada. Miro alrededor mío, y a nadie parece importarle. La gente continúa con su vida cotidiana, va al trabajo, de compras, se entretienen; ¡se reúne más gente para celebrar un partido de fútbol que para protestar por cualquier cosa! Yo no entiendo la fascinación de los humanos por la muerte y el fin del mundo. Alguien me dijo alguna vez que tiene que ver con la profecía del Apocalipsis. Así que, en esa lógica, si de acuerdo con la Biblia, tarde o temprano el mundo se va a acabar, ¿para qué importarnos? Todos vamos a morir así que, ¿por qué no apresurarnos? ¿Así es como va la cosa? Tampoco entiendo una religión que acepta dinero para agrandar sus iglesias y protege a sus criminales pero no tiene empatía por aquellos que son (todavía, de algún modo) inocentes, y sufren; yo no entiendo a aquellos que no tienen su corazón abierto ante un niño de ocho años que ha cruzado todo ese terreno llamado México, a pie, sobreviviendo toda clase de atrocidades, y desean enviarlo de vuelta… A él y miles como él. Y no entiendo por qué todos actúan sorprendidos, cuando por años esta situación ha sido creada por su propio gobierno y su propia indiferencia.

Una vez en que mostrábamos películas sobre la violencia en Ciudad Juárez, en una de las muchas “sub-ciudades” que conforman el inmenso caos urbano llamado Ciudad de México, una maestra de primaria dijo, “Juárez está en nuestros clósets”. Ella pensaba en los pequeñitos que ve todos los días en la escuela, violados, golpeados, maltratados, forzados a actuar como si todo estuviera bien, como si su casa fuera un lugar feliz y la vida una rebanada de pastel. Y claro, ¿cómo va ella a sugerir que el alma, la mente y el cuerpo de este niño están siendo sistemáticamente asesinados? Sus padres lo negarán, sus hermanos, e incluso sus abuelos y tías lo negarán. Ni pío dirán. Lo que sucede detrás de nuestros muros, es nuestro asunto…

Pero, ¿saben qué? Ya no más. Lo que sucede dentro de los EEUU es tan mi asunto como lo que sucede en Nicaragua, en China o en Portugal, y lo que suceda en la casa de cualquier niño, debe de ser tan mi asunto como lo que sucede en la mía. Mucho se está diciendo (y supuestamente haciendo, pero, ¿quién le cree a los políticos?) sobre la actual crisis en la frontera de los EEUU. Yo no tengo respuestas, ni siquiera pretendo ofrecer un análisis de verdad, tal es la tarea de los “expertos”. Lo único que puedo decir sobre estos niños es que, ¡al menos están vivos! Todavía hay esperanza, excepto que, enviarlos de vuelta significa negárselas, una vez más. ¿Dónde está el amor, la compasión, la valentía en todo eso? Nuestros clósets están a punto de reventar.

Pilar Rodríguez Aranda @100TPC 2012Writing for Peace Adviser, Pilar Rodriguez Aranda is a poet, video artist, translator by trade and border-crosser by vocation. She was born in Mexico City, but lived in California, Texas, and New Mexico, for a total of 13 years; she presently lives in Malinalco, Estado de México and tries to commute to the capital city only when necessary.

Click here to learn more about Pilar.

Writing for Peace News

Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest2014 Young Writers Contest

Bios are up for our 2014 Young Writers Contest Winners. Learn more about these talented young writers, and leave them a kind word! Submission Guidelines for our 2015 Young Writers Contest will go live on September 1st, 2014.

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Our beautiful “Contrast” 2014 Issue of DoveTales has been delayed due to printing issues. We should have a release date very shortly! We apologize for the delay, and thank you for your patience.

 

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.