VISIONARIES IN OUR MIDST 


VISIONARIES IN OUR MIDST
Ordinary People who are Changing our World

A new book by
Allison Silberberg



Each time a man stands up for an ideal,
or acts to improve the lot of others,
or strikes out against injustice,
he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,
and crossing each other from a million different
centers of energy and daring,
those ripples build a current which can sweep down
the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert F. Kennedy
University of Cape Town, South Africa, 1966


This just- released book is both a source of inspiration and a gold mine of useful information that arrives during the most severe economic downturn in our country since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Author Allison Silberberg is a very careful observer, a skilled researcher and a clear writer. She has a long and productive career in helping the less fortunate with both her individual charity and her very effective advocacy. She has over several years carefully documented the careers of 18 individuals that she identifies as visionaries. She was inspired by the above quote from Robert F. Kennedy and her book shows that each of these persons not only accomplished a great deal but their courage and fortitude inspires others and creates incentives that collectively overcome great inequities in our society.

One of her visionaries is Tom Lewis, a retired District of Columbia police officer, who after 20 years in the line of duty decided he wanted to do something for children in need. In 1990 he started the Fishing School. His mission was to bring hope, skills and belief in oneself to economically disadvantaged children and youth in North East Washington DC. He named his mission the Fishing School based upon the adage that if you give a person a fish he will have one meal but if you teach him to fish he can eat for life.

What makes Allison’s book both inspirational and a meaningful read is her sensitive development of each visionary’s personal struggles. Tom Lewis is and example when he said, “I had dropped out of school in 10th grade. I was one of 16 children. My mother and father didn't have any education. My mother was trying to keep meat on the table but we didn't always eat. I went hungry a lot of days.”

This book is inspiriting in my ministry because it documents the power of hope. I started life at the very depths of the Great Depression. On March 30, 1933 our family gathered around the radio to hear the inauguration of a new president. I can still hear President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s voice saying, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He did not give us desperately needed food or shelter or a job for my unemployed father and mother. These would have been individual fish. By giving us hope he helped make us fishermen.

For those of us who still have resources, employment and family support and want to help others, the book is a great source of where to go for information. In one sense, this is a textbook for would be caregivers.

This economic collapse has brought suffering to all of us, but it is infinitely more punishing for those who even in times of prosperity live on the very edge. Allison Silberberg has spent her adult life documenting the darkness in these lives and with this book she keeps lighting little candles.



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WAR WAS NOT THE ANSWER 




“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
again and expecting a different result” Albert Einstein

The decision by President Barack Obama to twice increase the number of troops makes Afghanistan Obama’s War. He is now counseling with his advisers as to whether or not to follow General Stanley Mc Crystal’s recommendation that he again greatly increase the number of soldiers in our six year effort to catch Bin Laden the 9/11 terrorist. My recommendation to him is as quickly as possible to stop OFFENSIVE military operations in that chronically war torn country. All the military leaders and our own experience acknowledge that there is no military salutation in invading troubled counties. . Since our victories in WW II we have used the military option in Koreas, Vietnam, Somalia, Lebanon, the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan. Like the French we suffered military defeat in Vietnam and have had little military success elsewhere. It has been enormously costly in human life and treasure and has only generated great hatred for our country and inspire new terrorists. To continue to play the same military option is truly insane.

Set aside for a moment the fact that we still maintain post WWII armies in Germany, Japan, and in South Korea and concentrate on one example of this insanity, our more recent military attack on Iraq. It is now universally understood that there were no terrorist’s threats from Iraq and that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the 9/11 attract. He had no Weapons of Mass Destruction which was our justification for our ‘Shock and Awe” invasion. After six futile years our allies have sensibly deserted but the US has about 130,000 US soldiers and 180,000 private contractors presently engaged in Iraq. Our troops have suffered 35,828 casualties including 4,345 killed. The result of our military action and its unleashing of murderous religious homicides, between 91,000 and 99,500 civilians were killed and hundreds and hundreds thousands wounded. These numbers are reported from WWW.iraqibodycount.net sponsored by academics and peace activists. It is inhuman for the military to classify these deaths as “Collateral Damage”. Our invasion has caused up to 2.25 million Iraqis to seek refuge in Syria and Jordan. Needless to say 82% of Iraqis and more than half of Americans are opposed to the continuing presence of US forces in their country.

The immediate Iraq war financial costs exceed $800 billion and mounting and the postwar costs to wind down the war and care for the wounded are huge. One estimate of the cost of a US soldier serving for one year in Iraq is $390,000. The daily news reports indicate there still is a great incidence of violence and no indication when this will be a peaceful country. It is often argued that we need to stay in Iraq lest it be invaded by Iran. People who advance this argument do not remember that these two countries were in an eight year war with each other with enormous casualties on both sides. It is ironic that in that conflict the United States supported Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and when USSR invaded Afghanistan the United States and Osama bin Laden opposed the Russians.

With respect to military operations in Afghanistan the President should be discussing Afghanistan tactics with his generals but should also invite in a group of informed historians from Greece, Great Britain and Russia. to explain why since the time of Alexander the Great Afghanistan has been known as “The Graveyard of Empires.” The defeat of the Russian invasion of that country is considered a major contributor to the collapse of Russia’s Communistic Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).
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Terrorism is world wide. The United States has its domestic terrorists exemplified by Timothy McVeigh a Bronze Star veteran who served in the Gulf War with the US first Infantry Division. He became a terrorist in revenge against the federal government's actions at Ruby Ridge and Waco. He visited the standoff at Waco and later prepared a truck bomb and blow up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 killing 168 people. He was convicted of 11 federal offenses and executed on June 11, 2001.

Since terrorism is universal is an opportunity for President Obama to show why he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He has an opportunity to substitute Peace Corps type volunteers and send soldiers only in the role as Policemen. Once we stop killing Afghanistan citizens the vast majority of whom are peaceful, it would drastically cut local support for the radical Al Qaeda and the Taliban. With the United States Army and the armies of other countries to provide protection young people all over the world would be interested in coming to build a workable democratic Government in a country that has been war-torn for hundreds of years. One result could be to substitute general agriculture from poppy growing to help control another world wide plague of illegal drugs.
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If this seems too idealistic reflect for a moment that the U.S Marshall Plan and similar efforts in Japan converted our bitter enemies into our great peacetime friends.

First Draft

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PHOEBE SINGS 

Below is a photos of Granddaughter Phobe and here are summaries of some of our discussions with her:


Phoebe Can I be a fireman?

YES IN YOUR IMAGINATION. IMAGINATION IS GOOD FOR YOU, IT EXORCISES YOUR BRAIN.

Do you have a favorite boy?
YES. HIS NAME IS BENJAMIN. I THINK WE WILL BE MARRIED.

Will you have children?

YES. WE WILL HAVE TWO. I WANT THE FIRST ONE TO BE A BOY. I THINK MY BROTHER AIDAN WILL HAVE HARD TIME FINDING A WIFE. HE DOES NOT LIKE TO HEAR GIRLS SINGING.

When you grow up do you still want to be a fireman?

MAYBE. I MAY BECOME A LIFE GUARD. MY MOTHER WAS A LIFE GUARD.
MAYBE I WILL BE IN COMPUTERS LIKE MY DAD.

Aliceann takes her to MACDONALDS. She orders two servings of Chicken Nuggets and is asked how many Nuggets she ate?.

I ATE TEN. MY FIRST ORDER WAS SIX (She holds up six fingers). MY SECOND ORDER WAS FOUR. (She adds four fingers) SEE THAT ADDS TO TEN.

We are driving guided by our Global Positioning System (GPS). she is in the back seat carefully listening to our male guide. We call him Richard. Finally she observes

WHEN YOU COME TO A CROSS ROAD AND RICHARD DOES NOT TELL YOU TO TURN YOU SHOULD GO STRAIHT AHEAD.






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PHOEBE SINGS 

Granddaughter Phoebe Ann Fritschler will be five years old on September 25, 2009. She is seen here singing one of her many favorits "PUFF THE MAJIC DRAGON". Aliceann and I record some recent comments she shared on a range of subjects. BFH
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WEDNESDAY CLERGY FELLOWSHIP 

WEDNESDAY CLERGY FELLOWSHIP

AND RACEISM

For many years I have been a member of the Wednesday Clergy Fellowship a group of largely African-American pastors with active church ministries in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Its major purpose is spiritual. Each weekly meeting begins in the sanctuary of various hosting Congregations. There are prayers, hymn singing and testimonies in support of our Christian ministries. After an ample breakfast the conference session begins with a spiritual presentation by our Facilitator. This is usually followed by often passionate discussion. The public policy portion usually involves a presentation by one or more spokesman for an affinity group. They support community action in areas like housing, employment, and a great array of social concerns particularly with emphasis upon the plight of the poor. The meeting ends in about two hours with a spiritual message delivered to one of the members.

On September 16 at the first summer post-vacation session the major concern expressed by the Facilitator and the members was a very distressing demonstration of hatred and animosity dramatized in the series of public meetings on medical reform. There is deep concern about this substitution of ugliness for informed public debate. There is also a strong suspicion that a major part of this ugliness is based on racism and sponsored by Republican Right wingers like talk show haters like Rush Limbaugh.

One of the summers triggering incidences was an outburst by South Carolina Congressman Wilson during Pres. Barrack Obama's Joint Congressional session on medical reform. He shouted “You Lie” before the entire leadership of the federal government and televised to the entire world.

The president through his spokesman Ron Emanuel immediately accepted Wilson's prompt apology. The president noted that all of us make mistakes. The House of Representatives however voted principally along party lines to reprimand the Congressman. Again the president in keeping with his almost 2 year long campaign absolutely refuse to get into any race baiting. At this writing he gives every indication of letting the matter rest.

It should be noted that the photograph above was taken in the parking area of the 19th St., Baptist Church size of our meeting. The question of what church the Obamas will attend while in Washington is still not known. The President and his family have attended this church which is a former synagogue now operated as a Baptist church.

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