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Police Brutality: Passover/ Easter celebrate transcending oppressionfear for liberation

One individual's right thinking and revolutionary morally courageous action can profoundly change events and has changed history.

Misfit Moses with the speech impediment, a fugitive wanted for murder, member of a slave colony, a lonely shepherd, almost murdered in infancy, distrusted or resented by all sides, boldly faced his greatest fears and demanded freedom to worship his God, and after a lot of plagues, finally, the thousands of intimidated, self-centered slaves moved in mass from all they found comfortable and familiar for the scary and hard unknown wilderness. After forty years the survivors outgrew the slave mentality. The most powerful military empire, wealthiest global trading center, most advanced technology, most sophisticated culture and enforced religion was not strong enough to defeat this one man and those he led to freedom.

One protester/revolutionary who could be considered a bastard from a family fallen from long-ago glory, grew up in a foreign country as a son to a refugee/migrant worker, then a member of a ridiculed nobody-and-nothing village, disliked by his adopted father's older children... became arguably, the most known and influential in human history. This Friday commemorates the time he was continually discounted and maligned, ignored, disobeyed, burdened, shamed, hated, with so many traps set for him to provoke and set him up for the eventual false arrest and torture to death.
This arrested protester was betrayed by an infiltrator or traitor for whom he had given so much, wrongly accused by those who conspired for the most ridiculous false charges to get a death sentence, abandoned in his sorest need, violently arrested and taken away for illegal proceedings under heavy armed guard. He was mocked, beaten, spat upon, kicked, slapped, knocked down, his nose borken, his cheek split, his eye crushed, his brow busted, stripped naked, falsely tried in two kangaroo courts in the middle of the night, and all his students and comrades showed that not only did they deny him, they never got what he had worked so hard to teach them. Then he was whipped 39 lashes, each stroke had nine separate whip ends with tied sharp stones or pieces of metal to rip off more flesh and tendons. One of the two torturers, the taller, longer-armed one was particularly brutal, whipping it around to tear off parts of his genitals and chest. He was again beaten and knocked to the ground and taken into the local corrupt official who knew he was innocent and set up, but allowed the mob mentality and corruption to intimidate him into ordering a death sentence by public torture. Thick woody thorn branches were forced down on his head, piercing him in more places, adding more blood in his eyes. He had to carry a heavy tree trunk with his ripped almost fleshless shoulder, dragging the end through the street as the military police would yank on his chained ankle and pull him to the ground, further mashing his face and tearing more wounds. He was nailed at his ankles and wrists in a position to make it impossible to breathe as his shoulders dislocated and his lungs failed, or seesaw on ripped excruciating wounds, pressing down on torn ankles to get a breath, rip down, rip up, rip down, rip up between gasps for air. Large signs, like billboards of his day, were placed in the cave-like openings in the rock cliff wall behind him, mocking him, for all the people traveling on the main road by his feet to see and mock him or be further terrorized.

And yet, they never defeated him. He kept his inner peace and joy, and in the most powerful voice called out his victory, maintaining integrity, handing over his life to his God. And judging by the incredible change in the Roman soldiers who risked being tortured to death and their families impoverished and enslaved, in the terrified followers who became fearlessly defiant of the strongest Roman empire and social traditions, risking their lives over and over gladly... there must have been something to the stories of that one simple tortured man surviving and ascending.

Anyone associated with him would be arrested, beaten, tortured, murdered or set free as a broken example to terrorize others. Yet each individual in that little revolutionary band was transformed. They repeatedly gladly accepted beatings, whippings, stonings, imprisonment, etc. They fearlessly faced and accepted torturous death sentences. They kept defying religious and social authorities, the most powerful military empire and police state, and all their families and friends to proclaim an impossible message without fail. They acted as if they were the triumphant, the conquerors through all adversity. They sang songs of praise and loving joy when in stocks in prison, again and again. They were so changed from being the intimidated or apathetic victims to the bold revolutionaries, treating as equals women, slaves, ethnic minorities, occupying soldiers, tax collectors, kings/caesar, rich and poor, contagiously leperous, prostitute, local successful businessman/world trader.

As we in our own time face our own fears and police brutality and violence without accountability, corrupt politicians and local businessmen, infiltrators/saboteurs, prejudiced family members, unfair arrests and trials and prison terms/beatings/rape, countless ways of taking our money and security, countless ways of maligning us and spreading fear... we, too, can rise triumphant, secure in our integrity, keeping our inner joy and power that none can take away. We, too, can allow ourselves to be transformed for the better and transform society to equality, justice, liberty, loving community, joy, healing. We, too, can refuse to consent to fear and hate, or apathy and cynicism. We, too, can find something for us and others who know of us, to celebrate.

Let's go forth with the bigger picture of thousands of years of oppression and all of human history showing that individuals do make a profound difference and can individually and collectively defy abuse of power and all forms of violence for a better world.

keep it simple 02.Apr.2010 23:58


I say "Keep it simple." We don't really need to make a "revolution," as if we really could! If and when that happens, it will be the spontaneous result of a mountain of pent up frustrations and tensions, and not any single act of defiance or rebellion by any one or ragtag group of us. Kind of like an earthquake. ( http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2010/03/397929.shtml)

What we need is simply to have a vision of some fairly modest but decent and humane improvements. "Modesty" is good, it's practical, it's attainable. "Utopia" is good, too, but only in very limited doses, with the inner acknowledgement that it never really comes in this world, it's just an aspiration, kind of like the idea of "heaven."

The best way, I say, to envision such modest but decent, humane improvements is to just look around at the rest of the world. People everywhere are doing positive things that we could emulate. Practically every major industrialized country in the world has better healthcare and better economic security for working class people than this one. Even in "poor" countries, like Bolivia, people rose up and demanded the nationalization of industries that were being sold off to foreign companies for pennies by corrupt politicians. They're winning there. They're not going to build a utopia, but they ARE going to make some real, tangible, decent improvements in the quality of life for many ordinary people there. Hats off to them.

If we want to talk about what's going on right here in Portland, and what we can do to stop the wave of violence against homeless people and the mentally ill, then we should be asking "Why do cops reach for their handguns instead of de-escalating conflicts, or at worst reaching for their much touted 'less-lethal' weapons? Why are people being allowed to rot in the streets while money gets poured into 'nonprofit' poverty pimping outfits, who don't actually build housing? Why are social services getting cut, when people need them more than ever?"