Who Is Really For Peace???

Who is really for peace?

It has been about a year since I first started to really entrench myself in movement spaces.  The murder of Mike Brown was a catalyst for many of us to get up, speak out, and act accordingly. I was no exception.  Before being deeply involved in movement spaces and organizing I would say I had read a number of books and heard a plethora of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr, El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Huey Newton, Kwame Turee, Angela Davis, Che Guevarra, and many other revolutionaries of their time.  Their time was characterized by massive civil rights protests, actions, legislations, and even guerilla war based revolutionary overthrows of governmental structures

The argument of militancy vs. non-violent direct action is a common theme in most of these texts and speeches.  This argument has been muddied greatly over the years to mean “Violent vs. Non-violent” or even “peaceful vs. non-peaceful” action. I always find it very peculiar how interpretations of the words violence and peace can vary so widely amongst so many people.  This division in ideologies has always made me very interested in the word “peace” because the meaning of it seems to vary so greatly depending on who you ask.
I was confronted more directly with this idea when I went to a confederate flag rally this weekend as a means of non-violent direct action in which a group of local activists intended to march through the path of the confederate flag supporters to express our discontent with the symbols they choose to honor.

The confederate flag rally supporters and participants envisioned a meet up at the first park where they would socialize briefly till everyone arrived and then hang their confederate flags outside of their car and drive to the second park.  Once they get to the second park they would have a nice barbecue reflecting on their “confederate heritage” and the like.

Our intention was to throw a monkey wrench in their plans by making it known that people were in opposition to what was going on.  We showed up with signs in protest and we blocked the entry way to the park in order for the people to stop and recognize our opposition.  We were chanting many of our typical chants, black lives matter, no justice no peace, etc. While doing so we were welcomed with a plethora of racial slurs and degrading remarks.  Many of the people in our group returned the favor and decided to make degrading remarks in return.  Eventually a confederate flag was burned.  We then moved out the way and they began their drive to the new park.

We were able to beat most of their participants to the new park but and we blocked the entry again with similar chants.  They began to push us out the way with their cars.  We moved out the way to allow them to enter the park.  We followed them in and continued marching and chanting.  This led to some of our participants having one on one break off dialogues with their participants discussing the implications of the flag and mutual feelings on the topic.  These conversations ranged from productive to embattling.  There were allegations that one of our participants threatened a dog of one of their participants.  There were allegations in turn that participants on their side pulled a knife and a gun.  Police reports were filed.

It was a tense and heated exchange throughout.  Tears were spilt on our side.  A lot of ranges of conflicting emotions from hope, distraught, pain, and strength.

When I was leaving this action, which was while we were blocking entry into the second park, I walked past a car where two women with confederate flags flying saw my shirt, which said “world peace” on the back. One woman   complimented it saying “does your shirt say World Peace on the back?” I said it did. She then insisted on being overtly complimentary of the message on my shirt, which led me to believe she was mocking me.  Anyway, I thanked the lady for her compliments and went about my way.

Now why would this woman be mocking my shirt saying “World Peace” in this situation?  Yes, we were making noise by chanting and disrupting their normal pathway in order to express our discontent.  By my definition we were being peaceful and our action was derived solely from the desire to bring peace and harmony to a world we all love so dearly.

To better understand this let’s examine a few definitions of peace to see where incongruences may lie.

3.  a state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations: Try to live in peace with your neighbors.
4.  the normal freedom from civil commotion and violence of a community; public order and security: He was arrested for being drunk and disturbing the peace.
6.  freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquility; serenity.
7.  a state of tranquility or serenity: May he rest in peace.
8.  a state or condition conducive to, proceeding from, or characterized by tranquility: the peace of a mountain resort.
9.  silence; stillness: The cawing of a crow broke the afternoon’s peace

Source: Dictionary.com

After reviewing the definitions it becomes quite obvious where the disconnections arise. When I speak of peace I am referring to definition numbered 3 above.  From our interaction it is possible that the woman I spoke with was referring to definition numbered 9 though there may be a lot of overlap between there.

When Dr. King and most movement people speak of peace we are speaking of the mutual state of harmony that can exist in the world if we all do our part to be global citizens. This means keeping our governments, businesses, people, and ourselves accountable for respecting the states of disadvantage many people in our society are encountering so that we can all be uplifted to a state of harmony that is not reserved for those born into more privileged social, racial, or economic classes.

When many objectors of protests and rallies speak about peace they are saying “Shut the Fuck Up!” without directly saying it and referring to definition numbered 9 above.
There is obviously a great variance between this these two perspectives. For example, definitions numbered 6, 7, and 8 refer to tranquility and having a state conducive to that tranquility.  For the confederate rally goers we disrupted their tranquility and thus are were not being peaceful in our actions according to definitions 6,7, and 8.  On the other hand we could make the same claim that their rally disrupted our tranquility and also refer back to definition numbered 3 stating that we must act to bring about that mutual harmony we were referring to.

We can go on for days with these variances and stances back and forth. But at the end of the day, both sides being are just as warranted in their feelings that the other side is not being peaceful and they are in fact the “peaceful ones.”  So what does that mean?  Who is really for peace???

This question brings me back to an idea by Huey P Newton of the Black Panther party:

“I think that words, I think that Language, I think that poetry, none of it works.  I don’t think that human language has caught up with the human evolutionary process.  Because it seems like every time we try to express a deep thing, a heavenly thing, a God like thing, we come up short…So what do we do when our words fail each other?  We wind up trying to touch each other…”

In the context Huey was speaking he was relating this to poetry and expressions of Love but I think this is applicable across all areas of human interaction.  When words fail us in a confrontation we try to touch each other in a way that we feel is appropriate to express the emotions of anger, pain, or frustration.

So what does it all mean?

That question is a daunting one.  If we cannot even find common ground in a word as simple as “Peace” what can we find agreement on?  Are we meant to find common ground on anything or is this polarity a necessity to the balance of life?  A ying to a yang so to speak?

Towards the end of MLK’s life he alluded to America being a house that is burning down around us.  There is genuine merit to that perception. If that is truly the case, is there a way to create a more cohesive dissidence between the people?  Where we can all maintain our autonomy of thought and uniqueness while being more constructive and cooperative in our dissent?

These are ideas we must confront and address to truly create a long-term sustainable revolution in the world we live in.  What will this future society look like? I hope not one of group think.  I hope we are truly able to maintain the ying and yang and balance of individuality while still creating a culture of worldly human interconnection.  That is the goal we must challenge ourselves to live out.  But with every great pursuit there is left many unanswered questions.

I believe there is much value in the unanswered question.  The unanswered question has driven humanity to heights we never thought were possible.  We must not shy away from them.  In the unanswered we will find our truth.

So who is for peace?  The lady at the confederate flag rally is, I am, we both are, and none of us are.  We need to find a way to come to each other with communication and understanding rather than condescension because as the house burns. . . more fire won’t be what puts it out.

Editor – Iris Nevins


Plant trees

I am beginning to appreciate my mixed heritage more and more in how privileged it makes me. Am I white man privileged? Surely not. But it’s a lot easier to leave people confused about your racial or ethnic make up than having no ability to escape your anatomy. That burden is real as fuck and tragic that it is fully people’s everyday life. That their anatomy can literally be the death of them as Lupe said. I just seek to use my places of privilege to ensure a more level playing field that unfortunately I don’t see myself living long enough to see. But there is a proverb I believe that says “a society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” That’s the realest shit I never wrote. 

Sometime … You Can Never Go Back Home

It has taken me a while to get these thoughts down on paper. A large part of me has been afraid to but I think this will serve as a necessary catharsis for me in this challenging life experience I am growing through as well as possible serve as a way for someone going through something similar in some respects to see themselves in this post and build and add on to it to grow as well.

Some of you may know and some may not that recently I was forcibly removed from a group I hold very dear to my heart. The reasoning and rational are not important to the writing of this. Justified or not I feel the emotions expressed here are still poignant and revealing to the human experience.

Many people in this group I called my brother and sister. I would and have risked my safety and freedom along these people. I would and have risked my life with and for these people. The word brother and sister gets thrown around somewhat lackadaisically at times in the movement but I can truly say that there were a select group of individuals that “brother” and “sister” are words that could not fully articulate the bond and respect I have for them.

Unfortunately due to this removal by the heads of the group I am no longer privileged with the tremendous opportunity to grow with these people. This has been the greatest challenge of this whole experience. Amplified by the existence of social media. Seeing their posts, their ideas, their thoughts, their faces, and understanding how distant we have become in such a short time after coming together in such a short time. It almost feels like a pin ball colliding at the speed of light with it’s target only to be sent spiraling wildly in the other direction after finally feeling something. It leaves you wanting. Like a part of you was left behind with that collision and a part of them will always be a part of you. Because for a brief moment you got as close as you could to occupying the same space at the same time. For a brief moment you were one.

Someone asked me if I think that their ability to write me off so quickly and with, what seems to be, such ease indicates that maybe we were not as close as I thought we were. That could very well be the case. But in the end I don’t know if maybe they are feeling just as betrayed by me and the circumstances that caused my “exile” (for lack of a better term).

In the Autobiography of Malcolm X he discusses his brother’s exile from the Nation. In no way am I implying that the feeling I am experiencing now are to the level of his brother’s described in the book. But I can say that I truly do have a better ability to empathize after what I have experienced. Feels like part of your identity is snatched from you. Your chosen family is gone. People you have shared every range of the human experience with. People who have inspired so much change in you that you can never go back to the way life was before them.

“Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” This has quickly become one of my favorite phrases. It so perfectly encapsulates life. So simplistic yet so complex. The universe has taught me many lessons in letting go. This has proved to be another. I will forever love all the people I grew with in the group. I will forever treasure all the experiences. I can only hope that I can grow to a point of being able to do that and still let go of my urge to vindicate myself and prove removal to be unjustified. I am still so much influenced by my desire to be understood and loved. I must learn that despite your most indelible efforts to spread your genuine Godliness in this world there will still be people who are skeptical. I have seen too often how history can omit with ease the Kings and Queens of our past that did nothing short of shine their light so bright that they brought sight to the blind and blind those with short sight.

It bothers me just to type the idea that I am still greatly affected by the opinions and beliefs of the people I care about. For some reason I have this notion instilled in me that I have to be above the influence of all others. I don’t mean for this to be interpreted to mean that I am controlled or a slave to it. Those who truly know me know that I am an extremely free will who does what he feels is right regardless of the repercussions he must deal with resulting. But that is not to say that I don’t feel the weight of disapproval from those I love when they bear down on me. Maybe that is a bad thing. Maybe it is not.

I would like to end this note with love. Because the revolution, whether the revolution of the world, the country, the state, or the mind should always start and end with Love.

“Dejeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridiculo, que el revolucionario verdadero esta guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor” – Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Negative to Positive

Today as I woke I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time. This new felling felt familiar to me at the same time. The feeling that I can move through the world day after day. Speaking every word I know, doing every great thing I am capable, and touching every person in the most positive. But still be unknown, and unrecognized. Like a ghost. After all I have done I could so easily dissapear without a trace. And be nothing more than a breeze in the wind. Foods don’t have the same taste. The world seems so dull and melancholic. My passion leaves me with every thought. It is like my soul is oppressed by my own mind. I hope to one day put this feeling as a distant childhood memory that only arises when a seeker of advice mentions the symptoms. Hope is a word I should no longer use. It implies a long shot, or a slim possibility. I know one day I will put this feeling into the distant abyss of my mind. Stored deeply in a file cabinet of longterm memory that collects dust until I have to revisit the file to look up the details of the case for academia purposes.

In order to get this feeling to be stored in distant memory I have to first confront it and understand why I feel this way. Why I have phases when I feel like a neglected child that wasn’t hugged enough by his parents. Was that in fact the case? Do I still hold on to past pains of losing my father at such a young age and my mother leaving me to fend for my own through my high school years when she was attempting to find her own happiness with her new husband at the time?

These are obvious possibilities but what does recognizing he source do if I cannot also recognize what pains those experiences have left me holding on to. What agreements did I make with myself as a result of those experience that are not valid and causing me to think in errant ways about my experience in this world?

It made me feel like a drifter in this world. The feeling that my parents could let me go so easily, my father for another plane of existence, and my mother for her husband than why would anyone else notice I was gone. But that is not the case. My father gave his life to protect me. I am sure if he could have chose a path that would allow him to be here with me today he would have. But he did what he felt was best for me and my mother. He died a heroes death. My mother was just trying to find happiness that had alluded her for years. She thought she was doing what was best for me by making me self sufficient and independent because those were the skills that helped her excel in this world. She didn’t realize that at such a fragile moment in my life all I wanted was the love of my mother. When most kids were pushing their mother away. I just wanted to hold her close. And now my mom does all she can to make up for lost time. I am her greatest pride in this world. Despite my critiques on some of her actions in my upbringing I can nver deny that the end result is something I can never complain about. My mother created an amazing man destined for greatness.

SO quickly by analyzing the false agreements and putting things into an accurate perspective and able to transform my thinking from strong sense of drifting and pain to a positive outlook on what the truth of the situation really is. I will one day soon be able to organize the path that allowed me to be able to have this skill. The thought that changed the world.

Silence My Mind

After a conversation with a friend where I shared that I very rarely sleep the whole night through and she told me how I need to have the ability to turn my brain off and be at rest. I had never really thought about that. I always had an issue with sleeping the whole night through and being overly pensive so I never saw it as much of an issue. But she really opened my eyes to my lack of ability to be at peace and tranquility without thinking about other things and getting caught into ideas about work, life, fraternity, etc..

So today I decided to try my best to be in the moment and quieting my mind so that I can live in the present and in the moment instead of having to deal with my mind wandering into areas that cause greater stress in my life. It was so difficult for me to feel at ease and tranquil for an extended period of time.

I really have to take this as one of my immediate learning priorities. To learn how to be at ease with myself. It is very important for my health, physically, mentally and spiritually. All three key areas of my health are impacted by such a subtle idea that had not occurred to me to very recently. But that is how it usually is isn’t it? The smallest things make the biggest ripples.

I am off on this next journey. My Pursuit of Happyness.

Negative is a myth

Each day I am learning more and more and listening more and more to the people around me who have lived more life than I have and have learned more lessons than I have learned. I am beginning to feel uncomfortable with the word negative and the connotations associated with it. Negative events fill our daily life and can never be removed and only can be limited so much. But these events that we term negative, are they really negative at all? Or do we just look down upon certain outcomes due to societal expectations? I can honestly say that not a single event has happened in my life that I cannot look back on and think about the absolutely valuable lesson that I learned from it and how positively it contributed to the man I have become today and the potential that I have for the future. In complete congruence with the fact that at the time everyone, including myself at times, would have deemed such an event as negative or a failure. Really all these events were God sends. Powerful lessons sent to us by the eternal energy that governs us and guides us towards higher levels of understanding and living. I am eternal grateful of every event and occurrence. Negative is becoming more myth than reality. That’s the life I love.


Today I was blessed to finally be able to have breakfast with my mentor, Hugo Perez. What an amazing conversation. He was able to articulate through his anecdotal experiences a lot of things i have been told and learned through reading but have not been able to see in practice yet. Through his story I was able to evaluate gain such valuable insight into a path similar to the one I would like my life to walk through and be able to see where I am excelling, where I am improving, and where I need to make adjustments. He provided such clarity at no true benefit to himself. Simply because he wants to help me and see me succeed. Such a great man. We need more people who share his same caring and sentiment for those around him. I will be sure no matter where my life takes me I always take that lesson with me. No matter who you are or how recognized you are for your accomplished you are never too big to take time to spend on helping those who are just seeking guidance in this crazy confusing world.

Simplicity = Beauty

DYRLAN (JUNE 4TH) 10 hours before kidney transplan: http://youtu.be/rBfNHzyKu44

I used to be impressed with the vast complexities of human existence.  If it was too simplistic I would deem it boring and unimportant.  Today I was truly touched and moved towards a new line of thinking.  Few things can be as beautiful as simplicity.

For those that don’t know the situation the video is of a fraternity brother of mine who I had never met but heard through another brother, Victor Caban Diaz, that he was in need of a kidney transplant and was facing financial hardship because of it.  As a group the local chapters decided to do all we could to raise money for the brother through various fund raising efforts.  As the Vice President overseeing the area I spearheaded this effort.  It all culminated with a simple but well planned event at the Miami Improv where Tony Rock performed.  We had almost 100 people in attendance from our group alone.  We raise only about $1000 that night of the total $10,000 that we raised for him.  But the impact of that event cannot be measured in money.  The message I received from Tania, Dyrlan’s wife the next day thanking me and telling me how happy he was thanks to that birthday celebration fundraiser planned by his brothers, really touched me.  Yet I still did not grasp the magnitude and impact of the event until watching this video.  It moved me beyond belief.  Most if not all of the pictures in the slide show were from that night and the fact that he took the time to specifically thank me for that singular act of kindness really spoke volumes that I could never measure.

He thanked me for my kindness but I could never thank Dyrlan and Lambda Theta Phi enough for bringing the best out of me and blessing me with the ability to show love to my brother in a way I never thought I could.  Something that simple the love for a brother = beauty.

Highs getting higher, Lows getting Higher

The more life I have lived the more it has amazed me. Throughout my teenage years I would go through very dramatic highs and lows emotionally. The highs were very transient while the lows always seemed like an uphill battle to get out of. The more I have grown and matured, the more that I have surrounded myself with amazing and inspiring people I have been much more able to weather the lows and sustain/amplify the highs. With that my appreciation for the lows have increased as well. I have grown to understand and appreciate the purpose behind my struggles and learn the lessons that accompany those challenges much quicker than I did before and at a level that helps prevent me from having to learn those lessons again.

I truly appreciate and admire all the people who have been influencers in my life. They have all contributed to the man I am today. I feel my self asymptotically reaching my potential each and every day. The once insecure undersized kid who felt like he had to fight and scrap for everything he had is now growing to a strong confident man ready to take on the world.

I don’t like to say God because that usually indicates some sort of denominational allegiance which I do not have, but I do believe there is a great positive life force that has guided me through my rough times and my good times. This force is with me as remain present in the moment and absorb the current timeless aspect of life that only gets belittled by words. The indescribable beauty, for lack of a better word, that consumes you when you don’t think about work, bills, your future, or your past but are simply resent. Living every moment not concerned about any other moments.

This is my life now and this is my life that I love.

Reminder of Love

This weekend I attended the beautiful wedding of my Fraternity Brother, Diego Soto. I was so overwhelmed by emotion at every single turn. The obvious emotion of the wedding. The beauty of the love shared by the young couple embarking on a journey that will last them the rest of their lives. The beauty of friendship between me, the groom, my fraternity brothers and other close friends in attendance. The memories that we shared throughout college and beyond have been motivating, inspiring, and life altering. And, finally the love we share with complete strangers. So many people there that I have never met before but we are able to share in such positive emotion and come together to celebrate this amazing occasion together as fellow brothers and sisters, not thinking too much about who each other are but simply expressing love and care for our fellow-man who shares a one singular thing in common with us, that we know of, and that is the support we have for the young couple getting married.

This phenomenon reminded me of a speech delivered by Dr. King that he describes the three types of love in that way. And discusses the importance of each type of love. The Romantic Love, The Friendship Love, and The Love For Our Fellow Man. All so very different, all so very similar, all so very integral to our happiness and to the success of ourselves and our world/society.

This thought crossed my mind as we drove to the reception from the ceremony as we discussed former heroes of our day. One of my best friends, and brother that I respect more than most inspired the thought that led me to speak about Malcolm X and mention that despite my tremendous respect for Malcolm he had one fatal flaw that lead to his mass accumulation of enemies and his eventual downfall. He thought he could build using anger and hate. Yes anger and hate are great motivators but look at any relationship or project you have built on anger and hate. It never lasts and if it does lasts it has such a shaky foundation and just leads to more negative emotion (e.g., insecurity, violence, and turmoil). The only foundation we can use to build is love. Love is the only foundation that is built to last. Not to say everything created on the foundation of love will last forever. Just to say a house is built on a great structural foundation doesn’t mean that it will not succumb to disaster by hurricane, tornado, or be poorly structure in other ways. But regardless of other mishaps that can happen in the building and post building we must always start with the most solid of foundations to have a hope to create something that will be built to last. We must always start with love and resist the urge to start with easier short-term motivators like fear and anger.

The beautiful wedding I experienced today reminded me of that. I will always be grateful of Diego and Melissa for their many gifts. I wish them tremendous amounts of success moving forward. I know that their foundation is as solid as can be and at this point so early in their lives. You cannot ask for any more.