Monthly Archives: July 2012

In memory, E.L.W.

I remember courage.
I remember faith.
I remember wisdom.
I remember grace.

I remember sorrow.
I remember tears.
I remember grieving.
I remember fears.

I remember laughter.
I remember song.
I remember welcome.
I remember joy.

I remember hard work.
I remember toil.
I remember changes.
I remember pain.

I remember caring.
I remember hope.
I remember sharing.
I remember love.

I remember you, my friend.
Thank God,
I remember you.

22 July 2012
DL 1776

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Filed under Friends, Poem, Travel

No exceptions

One day,
one hour,
one moment
at a time;
we make
our way
through life:
each of us,
all of us.

No exceptions.

Some of us
simply know
that reality
more keenly.

18 July 2012
DL 1885

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Execution in Texas, postponement in Georgia

Texas executed Yokamon Hearn today. Hearn had been convicted of the 1998 murder of Dallas stockbroker Frank Meziere following a carjacking. Hearn had appealed his sentence on the grounds of his mental disabilities and inadequate legal advice early in his case. Courts denied those appeals.

I grieve for the family and friends of Frank Meziere. I recognize that Hearn had a previous criminal record. But imprisoning Hearn for life would have protected society from him.

Today in Georgia, the Department of Corrections postponed the execution of Warren Hill (who was convicted of the murder of Joseph Handspike). They did not do so because of concerns related to his mental abilities. The State Board of Pardons and Parole denied his appeal for clemency on those grounds. His lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to stay his execution on those grounds.

The postponement came because Georgia is changing its execution protocol to use only one drug, pentobarbital. Interestingly enough, Texas used the same drug to execute Hearn.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. Again, however, imprisoning Hill for life would protect society from him.

Executions do not reverse horrible crimes. Violence begets violence. We have alternatives.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights

Go with God, my dear friend

I knew the day would come. I had checked on it again and again. I did not want to miss the opportunity to say what I wanted to say. But I learned tonight, that I almost did that.

I met Kevin Dance several years ago when I attended a seminar at the Presbyterian United Nations Office (its name at the time). Kevin serves as the representative at the UN for Passionists International. A group from National Capital Presbytery came for a seminar on addressing racism around the world. Kevin spoke to the group because of his work with indigenous peoples. I liked him instantly.

When I arrived in New York in October 2010 to serve with the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations (its current name), Kevin, along with many others, greeted me warmly. We worked together on a several issues including indigenous persons and a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.

A gentle, caring man, Kevin mixed a brilliant sense of humor with a profound passion for justice. He played a key role in bringing indigenous voices into the conversation at the UN. When that happened, he continued to work to ensure that the powerful heard our indigenous sisters and brothers.

Earlier this year, the faith-based NGO community learned that the time had come for Kevin to return to his home. We made a special effort to learn about his work with indigenous peoples. We did not want to lose his memories and insights We set a time to hear from him when he gladly provided “not a lecture but more of a meander. An insightful, helpful, challenging meander.

Through the first part of the year, I made a point of asking every time I saw him, when he would leave. I did not want to miss the opportunity to tell him what his friendship and witness means to me.

Of course things got busy in my life and in Kevin’s life. For the last month or so I have neither seen him nor checked his schedule.

Tonight, as I prepare to travel in the morning to a meeting that will keep me away for the rest of the week, I learned that Kevin leaves town on Monday. That last cuppa will not happen. But, with fumbling fingers, I did send him an email thanking him for his friendship and collegiality.

I am grateful I could do that much. Two other thoughts provide comfort as I bid Kevin farewell.

My friend Emily McGinley recently wrote a blog post “Love is Sticky” in which she reflects on the Korean concept of term jeong. Emily notes that:

Jeong is rooted in relationality and it has this disturbing quality of dissolving those barriers between oneself and another. … Jeong is “sticky” because it reminds us that: “we are, whether we want to admit it or not, always connected to one another.”

In theological terms, we are “people of one body, bound together by ultimate love.” Remembering that, I know that even as we go our separate ways, Kevin and I remind bound together.

Secondly, Kevin lives in Australia. I figure since I did not get a chance to say the good-bye I wanted to say in New York, I have to go to Australia to do so. Pretty good deal.

Kevin – thank you for your faith, your witness, and your friendship. Go with God, my dear friend.

See you along the Trail.


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Filed under Friends, New York, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Speak for Palestinian hunger strikers

An agreement with Israeli authorities ended this spring’s mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners. Mahmoud Sarsak has been released and returned to Gaza.

But three Palestinian prisoners continue the nonviolent protest of hunger strike. Contact Israeli officials on their behalf.

Akram al-Rikhawi has now been on hunger strike for 95 days. The longest hunger striker, he suffers from numerous medical conditions, including diabetes, asthma, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, glaucoma, kidney problems and immune deficiency. He remained on strike after the May 14 agreement because it did not address his unique situation of early release on medical grounds.

From Samidoun, the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network

It is urgent that Israeli officials hear that the ongoing hunger strikes of Palestinian prisoners, Akram Rikhawi, Samer al-Barq, and Hassan Safadi are being followed around the world. Rikhawi – in poor health – is on his 95th day of hunger strike! Tell the Israelis that people around the world are demanding their freedom and are monitoring the situation of Palestinian prisoners and hold the Israeli officials responsible for their lives. Use this form to send a letter of protest to Israeli officials.

Samidoun reports that:

Samer al-Barq has now been on hunger strike since May 22, for 55 days, protesting Israeli violations of the agreement with the prisoners – after his own administrative detention, rather than expiring as agreed by the Israelis at the end of the strike, was renewed for an additional three months. Samer al-Barq is now on hunger strike until his release is secured.
Hassan Safadi, a long-term hunger striker who had been striking for 71 days at the time the May 14 agreement was concluded, had his administrative detention order renewed by the Israelis on June 21, despite the explicit agreement that the long-term hunger strikers such as Safadi serving in administrative detention without charge or trial would not have those orders renewed. Safadi is now on his 25th day of hunger strike and plans to continue until he is released.

Contact Israeli officials on behalf of these three hunger strikers. They should be charged and tried or released.

See you along the Trail.

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Purple flowers, Riverside Discovery Center, Scottsbluff

Riverside Discovery Center and Zoo
Scottsbluff, Nebraska
6 September 2010

The 2010 Great Plains Tour made its way through Nebraska.
There we paused to visit the small zoo in Scottsbluff.

Never did figure out why the town is called Scottsbluff
and the National Monument is called Scotts Bluff.

Of course I never tried.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under National Park, Photo

Thank you, Governor Kasich

Again, I find myself thanking Governor John Kasich of Ohio. In early June, the governor issued a reprieve for Abdul Awkal. The Ohio Supreme Court, on June 18,  indefinitely postponed the Awkal’s execution following a “lower court’s ruling last week that he could not be executed because he is mentally incompetent.

This time, I thank Governor Kasich for granting clemency to John Jeffrey Eley and commuting his sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

An editorial appearing in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland notes:

… a former prosecutor, detective and judge had all raised questions about the extent to which Eley was manipulated in the 1986 murder by alleged accomplice Melvin Green taking advantage of Eley’s “borderline intelligence.” Eley used Green’s gun to rob and shoot to death 28-year-old grocer Ihsan Aydah while Green waited outside

The Plain Dealer editorial affirms its opposition to the death penalty and closes with the observation that:

A just society cannot ignore such mitigating factors. Kasich acted appropriately.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty provides an opportunity to thank Governor Kasich and to ask him to “impose a moratorium on future executions pending the outcome of the Ohio Supreme Court study and the implementation of its recommendations.”

I grieve at the death of Ishan Aydah. My heart goes out to those who mourn for him.

But executing Eley is not the appropriate answer. I have sent my thanks – and request for a moratorium on executions – to Governor Kasich.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Death Penalty, Human Rights

Stop the Execution of Warren Hill in Georgia

Amnesty International USA provides this introduction to the situation and an opportunity to send a message to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles:

Warren Hill is scheduled to be executed in Georgia on July 18, despite having been ruled “mentally retarded” by a preponderance of the evidence by a Georgia state judge. Executing persons with intellectual disabilities is unconstitutional, and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has the opportunity and the responsibility to do what courts have been unable to do – prevent this execution and preserve the integrity of Georgia justice.

To learn more about this case, read or print AIUSA’s full Urgent Action sheet: PDF format

Warren Hill is to be executed for the 1990 murder of a fellow prisoner, Joseph Handspike. He has a mental disability the seriousness of which leaves the constitutionality of his pending execution in real doubt. However, Amnesty International USA reports that Georgia requires defendants to prove their mental disability to “the enormously high ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard.” AIUSA suggests that in most other states, Hill would not face execution.

I grieve for the family and friends of Joseph Handspike. There is no justification for his death.

But I oppose Warren Hill’s execution and I have signed AIUSA’s call to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles because of questions about Hill’s mental capacities, because it will not bring Joseph Handspike back, because it will be an act of vengeance, because imprisonment without parole is an option, and because state violence diminishes us all.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under Capital Punishment, Current Events, Death Penalty, Human Rights

Perspective 2

A while back, when tempted to whine about the heat, I reflected on perspective with the help of some friends. Today, while touring the United Nations headquarters with a group from China I saw a t-shirt that further deepens my perspective on the challenges of life – the real challenges of life. The t-shirt hangs on the display about displacement – hangs there every day – hangs there every time I accompany a group on a tour. I see it every time. Today, though it spoke to me with a power not present before.

The photo lacks in quality – next time I will bring a better camera – but it conveys the message.

May all who share such hopes have them realized.

May I help answer these hopes of my sisters and brothers.

See you along the Trail.

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Filed under New York, Photo, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Happy birthday, Nelson Mandela!

This year brings Nelson Mandela‘s 94th birthday: 18 July 2012

To celebrate this day, the UN and the Nelson Mandela Foundation invites us to give 67 minutes to help others as a way to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.

For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of humanity — as a human rights lawyer, a prisoner of conscience, an international peacemaker and the first democratically elected president of a free South Africa.

Find 67 ideas for marking Nelson Mandela International Day. You can add your own.

Register your activity for the day.

Learn about activities and events that are already planned.

Like Nelson Mandela International Day on Facebook.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared 18 July of each year as “Nelson Mandela International Day.” The day recognizes the former South African President’s contribution to the culture of peace and freedom.

Giving thanks for Nelson Mandela’s life and witness, may we follow his example on 18 July – and may we make every day a Mandela day when we serve one another.

See you along the Trail.


Filed under Antiracism, Current Events, Human Rights