Make History--A Step Forward is Better than No Step at All

Much has happened since I returned from the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation’s Men’s Conference in Mendocino, CA in mid-August. First, let me say what a powerful event this was – in attendance were more than 100 men from all walks of life, all races, young and old, with money and without, trying to find a healing place, a dialogue space, a place where one’s story, song, poetry, dance, voice can be seen, acknowledged, respected. Very few efforts can hold such a space. Michael Meade, Mosaic’s founder and key teacher, managed some amazing teachings around initiation, the power of story, the value of imagination, the importance of how we can find the threads of life to create a world where this happens for everyone. It’s to his credit and that of his staff that this event became a success.

Urban organizations like Homeboy Industries, Youth Mentoring Connection, Street Poets, Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural of Los Angeles and BUILD of Chicago brought gang and former gang members to this event—others from cities like St. Louis and Portland were also participating (sorry I can’t name them all). I want to give a special thanks to the lawyers and judges who came and interacted with young men who have often been on the other side of the bench.

As I’ve done for 15 years now, I took part as one of the teachers (besides Meade, we had our regular crew of Jack Kornfield of Spirit Rock and Orland Bishop of Shade Tree Mentoring). My main contribution is poetry—I’ve done poetry workshops for these men every year since I first took part. And like years past, we found deep rage, grief, love, and fellowship in powerful images, metaphors and meters, even among those who had never written a poem in their lives.

For anyone interested in future Mosaic events, please visit their website at

Since then we made history as a country—the Democrats nominated the first African American as a candidate of a major party for President. And the Republicans nominated for only the second time in history a woman to run as a vice-presidential candidate of a major party. Of course, important smaller parties have already breached these barriers. What’s interesting to note is that of the six nominees of three key political parties—Democrats, Republicans and Greens—three are women, two are African American, and one is Latina.

Only John McCain among these looks like the old politics.

We will make history one way or another in this year’s presidential elections.

I plan to make history by voting for Barack Obama for President.

The change he’s talking about comes from the people, from the land, from the growing number who have been pushed out of their homes, the many of all races losing their jobs, the millions who have had to live without health care, and the countless households with family members in a war that has taken thousands of lives, yet has not made our world any safer.

Even the Republicans are talking about change. A few years ago, such talk would label you as a fringe left-winger. Now parts of the fringe have moved to the center—not just the issues of people of color and women, but the general idea that we can’t live in the old way anymore.

Is change really going to happen? And, if so, will it be deep enough?

To me, that’s up to the rest of us. Neither Obama nor McCain truly represent substantial, structural or viably imagined change. They both are mavericks among the changeless, but they are still caught within the parameters of a capitalist, market-driven, empire-building, war-obsessed country.

I have no illusions that Obama, for example, will totally save our country and our future.

I do, however, feel I cannot sit on the sidelines and let this moment past. I have to speak out, to take a stand, to be clear on what’s in all our best interests and vote that way.

Right now, with all the limitations any politician has, I’m convinced Barack Obama is the best person for this job. Once he’s president, we must continue to demand the deep, long-range and substantial changes we need to overhaul our economy, to change the political status, and to find a means to have a healthy, regenerative and fossil-fuel free world.

We can’t let the dreams of a wholly different future cloud a decisive step today.

If you feel Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney are better at representing these concerns, than vote for them. I’ve supported both Nader and the Greens in the past—and will probably do so in the future.

But today, for a difference I believe is tangible and worth ushering in, I’m urging everyone to vote for Barack Obama.

Despite the “changes” the Republican Party are now touting, McCain and Sarah Palin are too tied to the old politics of “our country versus the world,” more oil, right-wing religious trends, and decrepit market economics to truly represent actual change (and they will leave the wealthy ruling class intact and even richer than they are now).

Before I leave my blog today, I have to say a prayer for the more than 3,000 people who were killed on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon. Such trauma will always bring out the best and worse of people. We’ve seen what the worse can be with the Bush Administration’s policies of lies, wars, and greed. The best of us must now come forward and win the day—it’s the most honorable way to commemorate all those who have suffered since terror hit home on 9/11.


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