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Esteemed Reader: October 2011 

“Patience is the mother of will. If you lack patience, how can you be born?”
—G. I. Gurdjieff

I try not to get caught up in the insanity of national and international politics, but a recent event caught my attention and wouldn’t let go. It was the execution of Troy Davis. If you’re not familiar, he was a black man convicted of murdering an off-duty white policeman in Georgia in 1989.

Davis pleaded not guilty at his trial and maintained his innocence until he died. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Seven of the nine witnesses who testified against him subsequently recanted their testimonies, saying they were pressured or threatened by police. Most of the jury members said that if they had known of the evidence that came out after the trial they would not have delivered a guilty verdict.

After four rescheduled executions over 20 years, Davis was killed by the State of Georgia on September 21.

In the final minutes, the US Supreme Court seemed to issue a stay, but then clarified that it was actually a “pause,” and four hours later Davis was hooked up to the killing machine, poison coursed into his veins, and he died.

I have tried to push away the feeling of desolation that this event evoked. I wanted to shrug it off, together with other recent facts and events—the millions that have been killed and maimed by the United States’ illegal wars in the Middle East; the absurd health care system that kills 50,000 people a year in the US; the plutocratic economic system that creates a greater wealth gap than most Third World countries and makes the lives of so many a varnished brand of slavery.

But the feeling of hurt remains. Not just that an innocent person was killed, but the cruel brutality of it. It is wrong, and it hurts.

It’s an example of the primitive public displays of brutality that flourished with the Bush cabal and its media cheerleaders. One thinks of the glorious bombing of Baghdad as the distant explosions flashed across our screens; or the hanging/decapitation of Saddam Hussein; the sewn-up faces of Saddam’s sons who had been blown apart by Special Forces, billboarding the cover of the New York Post. It’s straight out of the Dark Ages and shows that despite possessing more sophisticated killing and torturing technology, our real collective progress has been nil or backwards.

In a further Orwellian twist, the US keeps company with many of its “enemies” in the barbaric practice of execution. To date, executions have been reported in the following nine countries in 2011: Bangladesh, China, Iran, North Korea, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and the USA. Of course this doesn’t include our government’s use of “extrajudicial” assassination squads and predator drones—including attacks on US citizens abroad—which have “executed” hundreds this year alone.

And then there’s the big business of prisons. The US leads the pack in both per capita (more than 1 in 100 adults in jail or prison) and sheer numbers (2.4 million in 2009).

Also in the news was Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s September speech at the UN. Our media didn’t report on the substance of the speech but focused instead on how the US diplomats all walked out, they were so offended. This piqued my curiosity as to what he actually said.

Ahmadinejad’s speech was laden with religious rhetoric that marginalizes him in the context of the Western mindset. Nevertheless he asked some salient questions about world domination by the US and Western powers:

If only half of military expenditures of the United States and its allies in NATO was shifted to help solve the economic problems in their own countries, would they be witnessing any symptom of the economic crisis?

What would happen, if the same amount was allocated to poor nations?

What is the justification for the presence of hundreds of US military and intelligence bases in different parts of the world, including 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, 87 in South Korea, 83 in Italy, 45 in the United Kingdom, and 21 in Portugal? Does this mean anything other than military occupation?

Don’t the bombs deployed in the said bases undermine the security of other nations?

It’s a good read, and, notwithstanding the cultural religious rhetoric, Ahmadinejad’s speech is a refreshing dose of truthiness. It’s no wonder that the diplomats walked out.

So what does a person do with the sinking feeling evoked by an epidemic of tragic events—made all the more so because they are caused only by ignorance?

Wait and work.

What are we waiting for? Corrupt, broken systems inevitably fail. Every empire becomes too greedy and overextended and eventually crumbles from within. It is only a matter of time.

What are we working for? We are making our lives and communities sensible and sustainable. We are investing ourselves in the spheres we can actually affect—environmental, economic, familial, spiritual. We are nurturing and growing what is real, in a world that values reality little.

We are working to repair the past and prepare the future.
click to enlarge Troy Davis
  • Troy Davis

Speaking of...

  • Publisher Jason Stern reflects on the death of Troy Davis.


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