Monday, June 26, 2006
The extraordinary beauty
of spiritual simplicity
I’ve known this all along
Known it implicitly
The window is demented
It’s so contrary
to all those lies
they’d have me believe
that I was the one
I knew all along
that window was the one
crazy window, it’s outta control
feeds me Swiss cheese
but without the holes
Oh, it’s creative
a creative liar
tells me simplicity’s real
as it sets my brain on fire
Preaches wholeness of mind
Focus on the soul
What I’d like to know
is where the window hides
those Swiss cheese holes
One day I’ll be free
I will break through
but don’t let that window
hear me saying this to you
that window’s crazy
it’s outta control
today it was cheddar
all full of holes
And they say it’s me
the unbalanced one
is another planet’s sun"
I think to myself
‘neath the watchful window’s gaze
It’s doing it again
My head’s all ablaze
A Creative Well
That goddamned window
can go to hell
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
On Being Alive
“you are alive”
and walking two feet
above the ground
moving me and everyone
She told me:
“when you leave here I want
you to feel that feeling in your
gut – that twinge that says ‘oh
yes, life is great, and
it’s amazing to be alive!’
I want you to know I
think you’re amazing
I want you to know you
But most importantly
I want you to feel that
aliveness in you.”
Can you believe she’s my wife now?
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Beekeeping for a Better World
Replace ‘no North American music
allowed’ with ‘international music encouraged.’
Monday, June 19, 2006
Friday, June 16, 2006
A Question of Ownership
in this world is
[No wonder rape hurts so
much and so long – to rape
is to attack/maim our
only true possession.]
[To rape the earth is to
attack/maim the gods.]
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Indonesian and other women will liberate themselves.
Catching up to Western women so far has had Indonesian girls longing for an ultra-thin body, getting sick trying to diet all the time. Ads for diet pills are commonplace and feature beautiful 14-year-old girls who take pills and shrink before your very eyes.
Indonesians often think of Western women as the standard of beauty: Tall, straight, and pale. When considering their own bodies, Indonesian women feel inferior, and perceive their own culture as inferior. This robs Indonesian women and girls of any innate sense of pride and diminishes their ability to celebrate diverse body types.
When half of a society is oppressed, nobody is free. If women are denied the chance to be productive and healthy on that productivity, so are men. When women suffer fatigue and lack freedom, how can their children help but suffer from these same things?
Deep in the belly of women everywhere, right in the centre of their guts, is the desire for something more, and the desire for less burden. I don’t know the philosophies or politics of every woman, but everywhere I’ve been, women struggle for some form of liberation.
The goal for Indonesian women is not to adopt a Western model of being, but to rediscover what the Indonesian woman once had: equality with Indonesian men in an effort to live in a sustainable and healthy peace.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Resistance is not futile, but the colonial disease of patriarchy is not easily killed.
Currently, Indonesian companies, like many in the West, are hesitant to hire married women because they are averse to covering the cost of maternity benefits. They believe that women will be absent from work because of family concerns. And yet, women do not receive family benefits such as dental care and life insurance because they are not seen as providers. Women receive 12 weeks maternity leave for the first baby, six weeks for the second, and no leave for subsequent children. This diminishing rate of maternity leave is part of Indonesia’s family planning policy. Comparatively, in many small villages women will begin working again after childbirth as soon as they can stand.
Women who remain in the workforce earn only 50 to 70 percent of what men make. Women also hold far fewer managerial positions in all sectors. Only 12 percent of parliamentarians, 15 percent of Supreme Court Justices, and five percent of Foreign Ambassadors are women.
Part of Indonesian women’s poor status in the workforce is the result of their poor status in the education system. Sixty-eight percent of illiterate Indonesians are women. Only 40% of university students are women, and women are much more likely to be removed from school as soon as legally possible if not earlier.
Because of the dismal situation in the formal employment sector, women are more likely to work in the informal sector. Almost 70 percent of working Indonesian women work in this sector, compared to 60 percent for men. Often women receive little or no pay working as labourers in their parents’ family business. The boys of these families are more likely to be in school while their sisters work.
One of the jobs in the informal sector is that of a prostitute. Some female prostitutes make only 5,000 rupiah per night. This is about 55 cents US, barely enough to buy a meal. A young girl can earn much more than that if her clients perceive her as pure; about 10% of Indonesian prostitutes are not yet 17-years-old. Sometimes foreign Western clients will pay more, though still very little by Western standards, to dominate a girl to do his bidding, serve him, clean his room, make him meals, and satisfy him sexually.
Because prostitution is illegal in Indonesia, these girls and women risk arrest and fines, or are forced to pay a bribe or offer free sex to stay out of jail. Many politicians, police, military men, civil servants, and businessmen use the services of prostitutes. Yet it is the prostitutes who must go to jail while the men who pay them for sex do not.
In Indonesia, as in many other countries, prostitutes are struggling for the legalization, or decriminalization, of their work. Decriminalization would remove the sex industry from the law, so that prostitutes cannot be regulated or harassed by police. Decriminalization of the sex trade is not a cause many women’s groups are supporting, mainly because of religious opposition.
Difficult as it is to stomach the danger women face in their workplace; it is even harder to consider the dangers in her own home. About 80% of reported violence in Indonesia is committed against women. Wife abuse and rape are common. Women who are afraid or who do not want to lose face by reporting rape or beatings by their husbands tend to keep their silence. About 25% of rape victims are young teenaged girls. In civil war zones such as Aceh in Sumatra, women are often raped and beaten by Indonesian soldiers and separatist guerillas. Women belonging to ethnic minorities, like Chinese women, are the most likely to be raped and beaten or even killed.
Indonesia has a high maternal mortality rate because of a reliance on traditional birth assistants, who are experts on the spiritual side of child-birth, but are not qualified mid-wives. About two-thirds of children are delivered by untrained assistants. The high rate of maternal mortality is also linked to poor health in mothers. Often girls are fed less food than boys. As women, they continue to allow men to eat first and most. For the poor, this practice means that girls and women are often undernourished, resulting in many complications during childbirth.
Friday, June 09, 2006
Resistance is a universal human response to oppression.
Education was considered essential for women to get paid jobs and reclaim the independence they had when they held at least partial responsibility for household finances. Some women struggled for and gained jobs in factories, but they did not receive family benefits because they were not perceived as the family provider.
In 1928 the Indonesian Women’s Congress, or Kowani, was founded and held its first conference. In the 1940s, middle class Indonesian women won respect by fighting alongside men for independence from the Japanese, who had occupied the country and forced the Dutch out in 1942. Women also served as nurses and carried supplies to the men. After World War II, when the Japanese surrendered and the Dutch granted independence to Indonesia, the constitution guaranteed equal rights and obligations for women in education, law, health, political participation, and employment.
During the 1950s, women made great strides in politics, and Indonesia had its first female government Minister. The struggle continued for better marriage rights for women, and in 1952 the government changed the civil servant pension plan so that men with more than one wife must make additional contributions. The Marriage Act created a minimum marriage age of 15 years for women and 18 years for men. The Act also banned polygamy except in cases of mutual consent between both spouses, and gave women equal rights in divorce, so that they could divorce and still receive equal consideration afterward. In 1956 the Charter of Women’s Rights was created, and soon after women’s right to own land was added. In 1968 the National Commission on the Status of Women was formed with a mandate to collect data and make policy recommendations to the federal government on the status of women. Ten years later the Office of the Associate Minister for the Role of Women was created.
Today there are more than 90 women’s groups in Indonesia. The women who are involved work on issues of housing, food production, environment, and family planning. A woman in Indonesia can now choose her husband, and will usually marry in her late teens or early 20s, as opposed to at the onset of, or prior to, puberty. Marriage legislation gives her equal rights to men in divorce, although she will often be forced to live a life of shame if she exercises these rights. Family planning has meant smaller families and less work for women at home, who are still the primary childcare providers. However, birth control technologies have introduced new dangers to the health of women.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
3 Brilliant Links
The Art of Benjamin, aka my dad. He paints, mainly in oils, really great stuff.
The Tony Clifton Experience - bizarre pieces of creative writing by bizarre pieces of creative writers hailing from bizarre pieces of the creative planet (including yours truly in the starting lineup).
Indonesian history shows us that patriarchy can be contagious
Lower and middle class women worked hard and held important roles. They had to work on the farm, especially planting rice, which is considered a woman’s role in many of Indonesia’s 300 cultural groups. They processed the food and sometimes they also sold it in the market. They made clothing and often handled domestic finances. All of these roles meant they had respect from their husbands, and they had equal input into decision-making. They were allowed to participate fully in politics. Sometimes noblewomen ruled territories.
After about 300 years of trade and sporadic settlement in Indonesia, the Dutch finally made their move and took over the country in the late 1800s. They took over the politics and ran the country. They converted old small-scale local agriculture systems into cash crop operations to feed Holland.
With this colonization, Dutch ideology, and the introduction of large-scale agriculture, things changed. Men were given jobs in business, selling crops to the Dutch and sometimes running plantations. At home the women were left to do twice as much work because their husbands no longer helped on the farm. Women had trouble getting jobs in the new economy. The Dutch believed they, like European women, belonged in the home. They were not allowed to attend school to learn the skills needed in the new economy. Ninety-eight percent of women were illiterate.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
I woke up bathing in your tears and I’ll sleep slipping into your skin, sliding in the sled of your veins within, drunk on the blood of your Texas gin.
It’s the sad time for you, the cyclic downswing of a pissed off pendulum, the irregular dumb of a righteous drum, it’s self-obsession with a bleeding bum, its timeless time has finally come, and with all the fear of fleeing and flying when I fall and say ‘Fuck!’ my breath stops and it’s frozen in winter, me stuck to ice, hammering at a hole that just won’t grow, feeling the fight of the Finns within and the wherewithal without a doubt we will find ourselves frozen tonight, tightly in the time of dark murky waters, calling our names out our bodies in, which we fill with elixir making love like Leprechauns, filling each other with each other thinking we’ve won lucky charms only craved as children but the solid ice flows backward too, to liquid times when came the find in which we found each other hiding in a cave with liquid smiles on moon-walked miles from everybody’s child.
Your smile concealed culture with lucky charm, your majestic movements concealed electric nerves on a Chris catalyst climactic crash-bound hip high experience, all under circular disco ball, capturing that second of hit hearts and flinging you full-clothed into the line of laser-fire while I sip wine undressed in desperate waters desolate of you.
You carried me through summer on the sweat of your skin, turning pop flies into homeruns and hot suns into saunas and panties into pussy. Such a shimmer to your shine that upon invitation I could only dive into you, too.
I’d been waiting so long for that mile-high Saturday song about travels to treasures and the trip I took just to reach you, through sandstorms and hellfire, father temper and brother brawls, mother tears and Mojo brokens – and you too there was violence and death and hatred and sins of flesh – faith fractured and healed while we were stuck wondering if humanity would ever feel as we did: intensely, alone intensely.
It’s true I suppose there are those who fight the flows like lunatic minorities of one they wear wool in the hot sun but in that fight they feel life more and sometimes – let’s face it – have more fun. So one may wonder whether it’s the majorities who are mental, mundane and majorly morally fucked.
This I wondered and soon found like minds but until you, no like spirits, no like naivetés (or did you mean idealists?) who may make time for each other in mundane mainstreamities yet won’t compromise in truth-speaking, irregardless of grammatical non-syntactical obfuscatory oratories – what I mean is awkwardness because if you’re uncomfortable you are probably learning from each other’s open arms, open eyes ears open words that hurt when the mirror is held to reflect humanity.
Though it can hurt, your truth is my beauty, your idealism is my naiveté, your openness my aspiration, your honesty my salvation.
Alone I tip my wine to thee, feeling full and feeling free. For you I’ll never call wine blood, I’ll kiss the flow of your tears’ flood, I’ll trust your life with mine, and I’ll wait for you patiently, for I’ve learned of the shifts of time.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
warm nights in a flatbed truck
our journey's started
New bed firm and flat
warm current keeps night's cold far
in love we sleep sweet
Fresh coffee in shop
fresh dew and visible breathe
starting a new day
Saturday, June 03, 2006
My Energy Utopia
Looks odd to this Torontonian’s eyes. Everyone moves so slowly here. The streets are filled with people walking with an unhurried spring in their collective step. They make eye contact and sometimes smile and shake hands, they are unafraid of each other. It’s like that Louis Armstrong song. Not only that but it’s summer and I can breathe – no smog!
In this familiar yet strange city people are having lingering conversations with the people they pass on the street. And among all this talk I hear nary a word on climate change, not a hint of 25-tonne bombs falling on far-off lands, not a syllable about kids shooting at each other here at home.
Being a serious Big City Cat I take all the idle chit-chat I can stand and 30 seconds later find myself hollering at random passersby: “How can you talk so much without saying anything of the important decisions to be made? What about unemployment? War and peace? Healthcare? How to meet our energy needs?”
A middle-aged man with a million dollar haircut takes the time to answer me, but not without pity in his eyes. “All those things are taken care of,” he tells me. “Starting with the last one you mentioned. We just stopped using so much energy, quit consuming so much stuff. It’s a funny thing about cutting back on consumption – it’s like dominos. Without all that burning of fuels and whatnot, the air gets cleaner, people get healthier. Then you focus more of your effort on health care instead of sick care – you think about how we can all live healthy lifestyles the whole way through. And as for war, well it’s less of an issue once you stop fighting over resources. ”
“But what about the economy?” I ask the crowd that has now gathered around me. “How can it function without fuel?”
An elderly woman answers, “The economy has never been better because we’re investing in people instead of things. Without having to invest so much money in gadgets, doohickeys and whatnots, we have enough money to focus on things that matter in life: healthy food, housing, clothing, art, education. When you invest in people instead of things, you have enough money for music and sports programs in schools, for parks, for safe drinking water – things we all want. These kinds of programs mean that there’s plenty of work for everyone to do.”
Intriguing, but I wonder how folks in this kind of society keep warm in winter and cool in summer? As if reading my mind, a 30-something man rolling by on his skateboard explains that in a well-designed house of an appropriate size, you can minimize the amount of energy you need to keep warm in the winter. And, he tells me, “In the summer you just take your clothes off.”
The vision gets a little hazy there. It’s all so hard to imagine isn’t it? Because we’re so far away from that kind of world and that kind of thinking. It’s a long road from here to a sustainable, healthy world, but you know what they say about a journey of 6 billion steps. It starts with you.