shaktinah's blog

Emancipation Day, VA Tech, and Hope

Today was Emancipation Day, a DC holiday.  It is the anniversary of the day Lincoln freed the slaves within the District, nine months before he freed all slaves within the U.S. via the famous Emancipation Proclamation.  It's interesting that we celebrate an event that is widely seen as motivated by political expediency.  Emancipation of the slaves within DC was not based on the moral conviction that slavery is wrong, but rather in the hopes that freed DC slaves would fight for the Union side.

Today is also the one year anniversary of the massacre at Virginia Tech, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, and as the Asian American community is well aware, perpetrated by one of our own. 

The Red Line

The Red Line of the DC metro system bends in a U shape, connecting two wealthy Maryland suburban cities with DC in the middle.  On the western side of the U, the stops in DC are pretty ritzy too.  But on the eastern side of the U, the Red Line runs through slightly shoddier neighborhoods.

I take the Red Line home from work most days, passing through Union Station and then out into the above ground.  First, New York Avenue, then Rhode Island Avenue... There are block after block of train tracks and warehouses, on the roofs and sides of which the taggers express themselves in vibrant colors.  Looking out the window in the early evening sun, I see words and combinations of letters that I do not recognize.  And then suddenly... three little words that I know very well.  STOP THE WAR.

Speaking of Buddhism...

All this talk of perpetually peaceful Tibetan monks standing nobly in the face of the evil Chinese reminds me of a related pet peeve I have with respect to how many (not all) Westerners approach things Asian.

When the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life came out with its report on religion in the U.S. a couple of months ago, one notable yet unsurprising finding was that, unlike Hinduism and Islam, most people who identify as Buddhist are home-grown (mostly white) converts, not (Asian) immigrants.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Buddhism is a proselytizing faith; it is open and welcoming to converts - spreading from its native India, throughout Asia, and now the rest of the world.

What Else Would One Do On a Sunday Evening?

than watch the Compassion Forum on CNN.  At 8 pm, I tuned in to see Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama answer questions on faith and how it affects their approach to public policy. (Fyi, the Compassion Forum was organized by Faith in Public Life, for whom my supervisor sits as chair of the board.)  John McCain was invited but declined.

More on Obama - sort of...

Really, it's more on race and class in the U.S.

I. This is old news but I didn't hear it talked about much. A couple of weeks ago, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice weighed in on Obama's speech and the issue of race in this country. She said it was "important" that Obama gave the speech "for a whole host of reasons," and described slavery as a "birth defect" in the founding of our nation. She pointed out that the African American experience is different from that of Asian Americans or Latino Americans in that African Americans are not immigrants (in the sense traditionally used in the U.S. - we're obviously all immigrants compared to Native Americans):

Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together - Europeans by choice and Africans in chains.

Forget the Popemobile

I'm not a big fan of the new pope.  (I loved JPII!)  But I have to admit that the new pontiff seems less foreboding and slightly more endearing in this commercial for riding the DC METRO.

Addendum (2008.04.13 11:22 pm):
More Pope products, for the papal faithful.

Elephant Painting

Don't remember how I first came across this. I emailed it to a few friends but for some reason forgot to post it. Was a little surprised and saddened that a couple of friends, both of whom are very open spiritually, questioned the authenticity of the video. Is it easier to speculate in humans creating elaborate hoaxes than to believe that there are other living things that can recognize and recreate shapes? I guess it is. Personally, I would rather believe - in both the elephants and in us. 

More on China and Tibet

A friend of mine, commenting on my "Love Letter to My Ancestors' Country," says he can't help but feel that China's claim on Tibet is still part of "political hegemony, after military take-over."  Ultimately, I agree.   My beef is when Americans decry the "invasion" by China of Tibet in 1950 and they don't know the history of the region.  There is also a part of me that feels Tibet is part of China because that is how I was raised, and part of me that thinks Tibetan independence would weaken both China and Tibet (just look at what happened to the former Soviet republics) but ultimately I believe a people cannot be ruled by force, no matter how far back it goes. Of course, this raises interesting questions about Hawaii and other indigenous peoples in the U.S., and the morality of the Civil War.

Emerson v. Channing

Rev. Daniel Harper shows us that even attack ads can be fun.


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Acknowledgments is made possible in part by generous support from the Fahs Collaborative