Four Articles and a Poem

11:59 AM

Happy Fourth of July!

Weekly, I post four articles that I found significant, meaningful and a poem. Our lives are enriched by seeing better. One article likely will come from the world of photography, a discipline that is about seeing. Another article will come from the world of technology, hence seeing something of the future. Another article will take up some aspect of our life together, seeing more clearly the other. Another article will be directed to faith, seeing the unseen. Finally, the weekly post will conclude with a poem, because poetry is about seeing words whose arrangement allows us to see anew.

Amid the flags, parades, cookouts, and fireworks of this weekend, I submit four articles and a poem for your consideration.
  1. Extend Zadroga as long as 9/11 heroes need. While we salute the flag, let's not forget those who made that possible. We have an obligation to care for those who have sacrificed for us. Be sure to read this editorial about an important bill that, in justice, must be passed. This week, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Senator Gillibrand is the Senate sponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act (S.928/HR.1786) and her appearance took place on the fourth anniversary of the Act's passage. The law provides heathcare for 9/11 responders, more than 3,600 of whom have been diagnosed with cancers attributes to 9/11. She seeks, rather than a semi-annual renewal of the Act, to make it permanent. Our nation's heroes deserve no less.
  2. Why the world must work together to tackle antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance may seem like a heavy topic for the Fourth of July, but do not miss this important issue. The article was penned by Jim O'Neill, the former Goldman Sachs executive who coined the term "BRIC" for newly emerging advanced economies. Also, I recommend a similar piece, "What will happen when antibiotics stop working," by Julia Calderone, that should awaken yet more concern. Simply put, dramatic steps need to be taken in limiting our use of antibiotics and serious investment in research of alternatives is required.
  3. A return to Catholic Action.Fr. Bruce Niele, C.S.P. invites us to live anew some of the richness of the Catholic tradition.
  4. Many have seen Brandon Stanton's work, often without knowing his name. Brandon, a 31-year-old graduate of the University of Georgia, came to New York to work in business. Soon, he find himself doing street photography and brief interviews. His Humans of New York blog and Facebook page may catapult in viewership today because Facebook removed one of the photos. I just learned this as I was researching a few details for this post. Frankly, I love his brief, poignant interviews with his subjects. I also enjoys his posts tagged "Today in microfashion." With or without today's controversy, Brandon's work is significant, notable, and worth taking some time to see.
For this week's poem, how about a poem from a Puerto Rican New Yorker, or as our poet would say, a Nuyorican. The following poem by Tato Laviera was inspired by two aunts who visited him in New York. Laviera writes:
The poem was inspired by my two aunts, Titi Yuyu and Titi Teita. On July 4th, 1986, they asked me to take them to see the Statue of Liberty. I had forgotten that the Statue was closed for renovations. So I took them to the SI ferry. We saw the decapitated statue. I brought them something to drink. When I returned to the deck, they were kneeling. My two aunts estaban arrodilla kneeling on the deck of the steel ferry. They were praying the rosary for the Statue. The moment, the background of Wall Street, the waters and the decapitated statue provided an incentive for the poet to rise. (source)

lady liberty
By Tato Laviera

for liberty, your day filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor, nineteen eighty-six,
midnight sky, fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
wall street a backdrop of centennial adulation,
computerized capital angling cameras
celebrating the international symbol of freedom
stretched across micro-chips,
awacs surveillance,
wall-to-wall people, sailing ships,
gliding armies ferried
in pursuit of happiness, constitution adoration,
packaged television channels for liberty,
immigrant illusions
celebrated in the name of democratic principles,
god bless america, land of the star
spangled banner
that we love,

but the symbol suffered
one hundred years of decay
climbing up to the spined crown,
the fractured torch hand,
the ruptured intestines,
palms blistered and calloused,
feet embroidered in rust,
centennial decay,
the lady's eyes,
cataract filled, exposed
to sun and snow, a salty wind,
discolored verses staining her robe,

she needed re-molding, re-designing,
the decomposed body
now melted down for souvenirs,
lungs and limbs jailed
in scaffolding of ugly cubicles
incarcerating the body
as she prepared to receive
her twentieth-century transplant
paid for by pitching pennies,
hometown chicken barbecues,
marathons on america's main streets.
she heard the speeches:
the president's
the french and american partners,
the nation believed in her, rooted for the queen,
and lady liberty decided to reflect
on lincoln's emancipatory resoluteness
on washington's patriotism,
on jefferson's lucidity,
on william jennings bryan's socialism,
on woodrow wilson's league of nations,
on roosevelt's new deal,
on kennedy's ecumenical postures,
and on martin luther king's non-violence.

lady liberty decided to reflect
on lillian wald's settlements,
on helen keller's sixth sense,
on susan b. anthony's suffrage movement,
on mother cabrini's giving soul,
on harriet tubman's stubborn pursuit of freedom.

just before she was touched,
just before she was dismantled,
lady liberty spoke,
she spoke for the principles,
for the preamble,
for the bill of rights,
and thirty-nine peaceful
presidential transitions,
and, just before she was touched,
lady liberty wanted to convey
her own resolutions,
her own bi-centennial goals,
so that in twenty eighty-six,
she would be smiling and she would be proud.
and then, just before she was touched,
and then, while she was being re-constructed,
and then, while she was being celebrated,
she spoke.

if you touch me, touch ALL of my people
who need attention and societal repair,
give the tired and the poor
the same attention, AMERICA,
touch us ALL with liberty,
touch us ALL with liberty.

hunger abounds, our soil is plentiful,
our technology advanced enough
to feed the world,
to feed humanity's hunger . . .
but let's celebrate not our wealth,
not our sophisticated defense,
not our scientific advancements,
not our intellectual adventures.
let us concentrate on our weaknesses,
on our societal needs,
for we will never be free
if indeed freedom is subjugated
to trampling upon people's needs.

this is a warning,
my beloved america.

so touch me,
and in touching me
touch all our people.
do not single me out,
touch all our people,
touch all our people,
all our people
     our people
            people.

and then i shall truly enjoy
my day, filled in splendor,
july fourth, new york harbor,
nineteen eighty-six, midnight sky,
fireworks splashing,
heaven exploding
into radiant bouquets,
celebrating in the name of equality,
in the pursuit of happiness,
god bless america,
land of star
spangled banner
that we love.

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