Thursday, December 28, 2006

An Open Letter to Nancy Pelosi

An Open Letter to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi,
Speaker of the House

By Mac McKinney

Dear Congresswoman Pelosi,

Being a native of San Francisco myself who frequented the 8th District for years, even though I now live on the East Coast, I am very happy to see a fellow San Franciscan elevated to such a lofty position as Speaker of the House. Congratulations. I think it is more than happenstance that at this critical juncture in world and national history, you have arrived on the scene in such a pivotal position, pivotal in respect to the progression or regression of humanity.

You are fully aware that the country is beset with glaring problems, the worst of which are the festering wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have already taken a horrific toll in human lives, resources and wealth, wars that are manifestations of deep fear and hatred between large sections of the human race, emotions that are being exacerbated daily by the ongoing carnage. Fear and hatred have also degraded our national character as we have watched, shocked and outraged, while torture and cruelty have been openly embraced as acceptable, if not legal practices, by our government abroad. Even worse, the politics of confrontation and preemption that the White House espouses threaten to widen warfare in the Middle East and Southwest Asia into regional conflagrations of devastating global consequence. We are now being drawn into a downward spiraling cycle of death and destruction that is quite aptly symbolized by the whirlpools of the sea monster Charybdis that nearly consumed Odysseus (Ulysses) in the Greek legends.

All of this is set against the backdrop of the looming threat of global warming, which, depending upon which scientist you interview, will either regress humanity, devastate humanity or destroy humanity, three very poor options indeed. It will take vast global resources to deal with this challenge successfully, resources that will never be available if the world is consumed with war. This then is our Scylla, global warming, the second monster that beset Odysseus in the Strait of Medina off the coast of Sicily.

The Ship of State is now sailing erratically, so to speak, between Scylla's rock and the whirlpool, with a helmsman more reminiscent of Captain Ahab in obsessive search for the White Whale, then of resourceful Odysseus, who eventually reached safety. It is not an exaggeration to say that the White House is consumed with a vision of permanent warfare against a perceived enemy whose presence half exists, specter-like in the realms of imagination and mythology, the worlds of nightmares and the Arabian Nights. It is ludicrous in the extreme to hear government and Pentagon officials seriously envisioning a one hundred year war against a phantom Caliphate of Hydra-like proportions extending across the continents. It all too easily flows into a fratricidal "clash of civilizations" with the Moslem world that protagonists such as Newt Gingrich are presently lobbying for. This is the stuff of psychosis.

Against this paranoid, dualistic vision of humanity at war with itself that the White House so fervently embraces, this dark vision and violent paradigm that paralyzes all progress toward resolving the world's real problems, enters the new Democratic Majority in the House of Representatives this January, led by you, fortunately led by you, because you have the perfect background to present the country, and the world, with a far more enlightened vision for all to embrace. It is the vision presented by Saint Francis, the patron saint of San Francisco, who said simply:

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy."

This timeless quote lies at the core of the collective soul of San Francisco and is what has made San Francisco what it is, a beacon of light and a Mecca of love and tolerance for all of humanity. In San Francisco, as in few places in this country, there is an evolved sense of community between Asian and African, Latino and Irishman, Italian and Pakistani, Buddhist and Catholic, Moslem and Jew, and Gay and Straight that you, Congresswoman, have certainly witnessed in the 8th District. And a tour of Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill brings it all home when one gazes upon the historical mural on the nave wall depicting the founding of the United Nations in 1945 in our city. So, even that preeminent organization of world unity is in our city's heritage. San Francisco's spirit is not about division and hostility between nations, but rather about their opposite, the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.

San Francisco has also had a proud intellectual tradition of breaking down intellectual and social barriers, of confronting the Establishment, of speaking outside the box, graced with such shooting stars as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to name a few, who always seemed to return to that Buddhist theme of Enlightenment, of seeing beyond dualism, of grasping the oneness of Being. That is a part of San Francisco too. What America and the world need right now, Congresswoman Pelosi, is a vision of that oneness, a vision that you are now in a position to give them.

Finally, San Francisco has a progressive tradition of promoting equal rights for women and listening to their voices and perspectives. Senator Feinstein and you are both living proof of that. And the feminine perspective is sorely needed in the world today, a world catering all too much to the male ego and its proclivities. The brilliant author of The Color Purple, Alice Walker, recently wrote an article based on her newest book, We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness. In it she tells the story of the Swa people of the Amazon, who, although they consider men and women equals, have a traditional division of labor between them in one respect. The men are considered to be a destroying principle, the women a conserving principle, and when the men throw the world out of balance, the women are expected to step in and tell them to stop. To quote Alice Walker:

"It is the woman who says: Stop. We have enough firewood and canoes, don't cut down any more trees. Stop. We have enough meat; don't kill any more animals. Stop. This war is stupid and using up too many of our resources. Stop."
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So I humbly ask you, Congresswoman, to walk in the spirit of Saint Francis and with the soul of the Charter of the United Nations in your heart as you approach the Speaker's podium in the Capitol in January. Please speak and legislate from the core of your being for the good of humanity and the planet as you confront the mammoth challenges awaiting us all. Please uplift us with a positive vision of world peace and unity. We will strongly support you in such an endeavor.


Bluebear2 said...

Great letter - well done.

akesling said...

I watch this video all the time and ADORE Leslie and the Lys and without the Internet this gem and her gem sweaters would've never seen the light of day! SAVE THE INTERNET(S)