words and art by w a l t e r w s m i t h

Posts tagged “Social Injustice

At the Steps of Wall Street and the Powers that Be, Our Price for Freedom

Sometimes In the Waking the Reality Is More Pressing than the Dream 2011 remix

Sometimes in the waking the reality is more pressing than the dream.

Last night, I awoke after a troubled sleep. A desperate sense of uneasiness embodied my Spirit. I really wish the soul of the world somehow was different, had been different, since the beginning of time. Perhaps then, millions of people, of all races, throughout creation and evolution would not have had to fight so hard for their freedom. That fight certainly continues today, in the streets and at the steps of institutions throughout the land with a fervent oscillation of desperation, purpose and will.

We want freedom they shout!

Last night I was dreaming that I was in a Wall Street Bank that had been converted to a video store. I was attempting to return three videos and was told I had purchased a video that I knew that I had not, a video whose contents I was at odds with….

It was the stripping of my freedom.

It was a beautiful building. The architecture was designed to rise above all in its majesty and prestige. It once was a symbol of power and hard earned wealth. And now the money terrorists had taken over…literally in the dream and in life….

Scenes of surrealism abound….

In the dream I spent several minutes walking the aisles viewing such great documentary and feature film titles such as Food Inc., Gas land, Citizen Kane, District 9, Sunshine, and Inside Job. While cruising, I simultaneously began noticing a sense of tension in some of the patrons. However, most had come to grip with the situation and seemed to be not at odds with their oppressors, the money terrorists. A group of Tibetan Buddhist Monks (who I must say are at the forefront of courageous freedom fighters) are reciting mantras, handing out pamphlets and inviting everyone to India, Tibet and Nepal. A group called Meet the People Time Forgot is touring America e.g. the Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, Independence Hall, and the Philadelphia Zoo. The organization is known for its strict membership requirements i.e. only the downtrodden, the young, the old, the disabled, the unemployed, the underemployed, the disenfranchised and those lost at sea may apply. During short interludes, in life,  when all their possessions were not being taken from them, they were to be found in the rear vaults; amusing themselves and passing time by playing games of pinochle, gin rummy, strip poker and blackjack. The Buddhist Monks, after having given out the pamphlets, gracefully sat down (yoga style) and held a ‘throw-down’ Zen tea party…unreal Tea Partiers were not invited. Everyone seemed entranced, even one of the money terrorists could not resist the enticing smell of freshly baked goods such as biscuits, cookies, cakes, chunks of butter, lard and manure, and jelly-filled pastries from Dunkin Donuts. On the winding staircases that circumvent the bank, teenagers (e.g. two or more black youths (a “Wolf Pack”)), hip grunge girls from Seattle (listening to Nirvana on their IPods) are strolling (oblivious to the stealing of their constitution and American values) while sipping from designer tea cups; their right hands delicately holding small thimble sized cups of licorice, jasmine, ginseng and caffeine free Echinacea tea. The aroma and taste is downright toxic, I shake my head in affirmation; I pause, center myself, and prepare to “take on the man”.

Yeah, he puts up a good fight. They all do, the money terrorists—a lot of power and influence they possess and wield. And he is nonetheless persistent in his disillusionment, dreaming of ways of putting me down, kicking us to the curb. So I have to be as willful in my rebuttal, in my response, in my voice…..

So I protest, and line the halls of institutions and squares all over the world shouting… I am willing to die for my freedom and yours.

Join me….

And never give up the fight.

At the Steps of Wall Street and the Powers that Be, Our Fight for Freedom



Our Super Admiration and Grandiose Celebration of Violence American Style

It's a Super Bowl football thing

On a recent Sunday most Americans found themselves glued to a television set with friends and family, at home, in bars, and in parking lots to watch a game called football.
I was NOT one of them.
Of course I am not talking about any football game. I am talking about the highly revered Super Bowl. It’s a day when America will stop virtually everything to watch a game. The Church will cancel its evening services, the NBA will make sure it does not schedule any night games which may come in conflict with its consumer viewing, government dignitaries will stop serving the people to attend, weekend workers won’t show up at work, and kids won’t go out to play.
And drunk drivers will kill people on the roads of America.
I can never understand this fascination for a game that, for lack of better expression, celebrates violence.
But then America does love its violence….
We love war, guns and the death penalty. I have to chuckle just a little bit when I think of the millions of Texans, in particular, who just love the fact, and can boast that this monumental testimony to violence was being played in their home state. All hail Texas, the death penalty and the right to carry a gun!
What is it about men, dressed as Gladiators, running into each other at full speed with the single intent to “knock the other person unconscious”, or to “knock the %*$# out of the other player” that brings so much pleasure, so much delight, to a cheering fan? What is it about this over exaggerated state of machismo that fuels the imagination of so many people?
Have we lost our minds?
Well, there is a certain awakening or awareness in my mind. Needless to say it does not engage in, nor feel, nor know, nor need the connection to this or any celebratory and fortuitous act of violence. Am I immune to rising thoughts of violence or distraction? Of course I am not. However, I’ve come to understand through innate intuition, a daily practice in mindfulness, and structured study—the need for love, compassion and non-violence….
In a world, that often celebrates violence fortuitously, as people simultaneously struggle against tyranny, in which to build their own democracies, there is a need to step back for a moment and ask ourselves honestly….
Does this make any sense?
I say … NO, it does not.
Now, it should be noted, that I am not against sport or competition. I too have a love for athleticism that brings out the best in us. Some of my more recent posts via my blog explore my own love for athleticism (biking) and the sense of achievement that can be found in the mastery of self in athletic pursuit.  I think we all have our reasons for challenging ourselves. Maybe a closer scrutiny of the “why” is needed.
But our admiration for violence in and out of sport leaves me puzzled, and to this final question….
Is this REALLY the America we TRULY want?

The Spark that Ignites Our Dream of Love Soon Fades Away

A 2011 remix for Life and Stolen Innocence with poem


four point two million sympathy cards                                                                                                         hallmark                                                                                                                             dissipating blue-clear skies to purple gray skies                                                                      vertical sky-cam                                                                                                                                a gun in hand                                                                                                                                     aisle four

the sound of a distant airplane                                                                                                         voices behind closed doors                                                                                                          clear skies, green grass, eternity                                                                                                 hand-held sony super 8 interviewing                                                                                                  clips from serial mom and                                                                                                           fourth of july picnics

christmas morning                                                                                                                    echoed screams                                                                                                                           polaroids                                                                                                                                    father knows best                                                                                                                         sleep in pain, wake to fear, live without love                                                                           family sitcoms circa: 1960’s

Maybe Tomorrow a Better Dream a Better Life

2011 remix of Life and Stolen Innocence, Recovery and The Spark that Ignites Our Dream of Love Soon Fades Away

Millions of children, throughout the world, are abused in one form on another.  It is heartbreaking that they must live with the sharp pain of an unkind word, neglect, shame, or physical torment. It shatters their hopes and dreams. As a society we cannot lose sight of what a young girl or boy experiences when their trust in those who should protect them is betrayed. We as a community, a village, must extend love and compassion, hope and inspiration that tomorrow’s dreams and life itself can and will be beautiful, safe and fulfilling.  There is a lot of space in the hearts of  all children to find that warm embrace, the story that leaves a smile, and a relationship that is love.

Hopes, Dreams and Stolen Innocence

A 2011 remix of the 1993 exhibit Life in Stolen Innocence

Lately, I have been thinking about the human condition. How we must see ourselves as the protectors of the young and the innocence throughout the world. How our society prevails, or should prevail in a time of moral entropy. How we must find the courage to uphold the moral reason for love and compassion.  In this post entitled “Hopes, Dreams and Stolen Innocence” and the related post, “Maybe Tomorrow a Better Dream a Better Life”, I look back at works, from the past that I have created in the attempt to address these issues. In 1993, at Atlantic Community College, I exhibited my photo / text piece entitled “Life and Stolen Innocence” i.e. the fictional depiction of two young girls growing up simultaneously—one child living in a loving and sustaining home, and the other child in an abusive home environment.  And in 2002 I revisited this examination with the digital collage “The Spark that Ignites Our Dream of Love Soon Fades Away”. Both works were an attempt to focus on the idealism of youth, in the shadow of dreams and hopes lost.

Art and Place an Antidote for Violence

Lilies on the Lake 2011 Remix for the post Art and Place an Antidote for Violence

On Saturday January 8th 2011 an act of violence erupted that may well change the political landscape and its discourse. I am of course talking about the shooting, killing and wounding of numerous individuals as they participated in a town hall meeting with Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The congresswoman, a centrist Democrat, was also critically injured in this senseless attack. A very sad day for America and my condolences go out to the families and friends. What does this act say about our society as we must press forward, while enveloped in a sphere of indifference, ignorance and hatred? What should a nation as a collective and a nation of individuals do? How do we respond? And will we demand that our politicians (the right in particular) stop putting their heads in the sand as they minimize and discredit the obvious i.e. that the shootings were politically motivated while fueled by an incoherent and troubled mind.

My suggestion today (and there should be many from all of us) is the focusing of the mind, seeing things as they really are, taking time to find ART and PLACE, and finding in the quiet centered mind, the antidote for violence. “Lilies on the Lake” and “The Lake in Quiet Meditation” are two pieces I created with the purpose of finding the quiet centered mind in the beauty of ART and the ambient sense of PLACE. There is stillness in nature and in the nature of the mind. We must actively pursue this solitude to increase our awareness of ourselves and the world around us. And in doing we step one moment closer to enhancing our world, creating love, not hate, and finding peace through compassion.

The Lake in Quiet Meditation, 2005 for the post Art and Place an Antidote for Violence

Looking down from their ivy tower

The wealthy and the United States of Corporate America's historical assault on the middle class and the poor

I was communicating with a fellow artist who had indicated how frustrated she was with the state of our country, and decided to sell everything and move to Costa Rica to build a home, do organic farming, and participate in a re-foresting project. She is very happy, and I am proud of her for her commitment to the environment. But what about this assault on the middle class, on the poor, from Corporate America, the Tea Party, GOP and even some Democrats, and those who would strip the resources of our world, for their own self-gratification? How do we, the people, the true patriots fight back? I am appalled at the state of the union. And fearful. But not enough to stand down. The list of insidious machinations directed toward the dismantling of the middle class and the poor are many, and their origins date back decades even centuries.  At the very heart of it all is the elimination of all the social constructs that the New Deal, the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay movement, and most importantly—the right for all individuals to be free. It’s a tough world out there now. Let’s stand together, voice our dissent and rebel.