Which side are we on?
And here am I, a Quaker, for all my grown life, and most of my childhood… musing on Sacco and Vanzetti.And, thinking of so many, Lynne Stewart, Gandhi, King, Jesus, of Joe McCann, of Steven Biko, of Fox, of Hannah Bernard, of my dear friend Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, of oh so many it is beyond listing, for most of you would simply see names. I am thinking of my own road, of Indian nations, of a war in Ireland, of so many who can be best be described, as self described - those with no property… I know in my own life with whom I would stand, where I have stood. I have not stood with the descendants of Jackson and Custer, but have stood with the children of Sitting Bull, I have not stood with the descendants of Fuller, but with those wrongly accused and convicted, the prison mates of Sacco and Vanzetti - who are, in fact, the cell mates of Mary Dyer. I have walked with King and McAliskey, I have faced the guns with Joe McCann, not only in the streets of Belfast, where I literally felt my knees shake with fear, but in American court rooms where I felt my heart seize up and the room spin, as judges in courts of law not courts of justice stifled the voices of justice, those who simply hoped for … a chance to speak.I have know, and been a friend to, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, shot dead, murdered by the FBI… others, driven underground, jailed or killed because they wanted only one thing, a little light on the darker corners of the American dream, which are now becoming the American main stream, a place of much more dark than light. And I look at what is happening here. Are we seeking to silence voices of power, of privilege? No. I think of all who I have walked with as a Quaker, from Fox to Barrington Dunbar, to Stewart and McAliskey, and I am sure in my conviction that they would see that were this Quarter is turning, in its choice of who to silence and who to empower, that the New York Quaker Quarter has chosen to turn away from Fox, and Dyer, from Dunbar and all those who proudly said, we are those without power and property… but are those with hope and vision. The New York Quaker Quarter now has chosen to stand with Pilot and privilege and call this process.I don’t even know why I am bothering to write this. Those who aspire to power, those who are born to privilege, those who unconsciously are drawn to stand with the status quo, see those who are born to the coal fields, the ship yards, the long picket lines, the street battles for fairness, the homeless, the forgotten, the meek who will never inherit, as a nit to be picked on the road to success. But, we who sing the songs of freedom do so because there is simply nothing else to do. As Phil Ochs said, shortly before his suicide at the news of the death of Victor Hara… “what else can we do in the face of cold cruel men and their cold cruel machines…” So simply consider this one more song of freedom in the face of tyranny, as I ask, which side are you on?