FWD? "Compassion and Meanness" to HPN?

Andrew Rose (arose@macromedia.com)
Mon, 15 Dec 1997 10:55:27 -0800 (PST)

Subject:      Compassion and Meanness
From:         Andrew Rose <arose@MACROMEDIA.COM>
Date:         1997/12/04

I have definitely noticed 'cutbacks' in kindness and indifference to the
fact of the cutbacks, in the face of contracting economy or lowered
assistence from government.  In fact I notice it in myself, as work
requirements become more hectic or money gets tight, I am often less
generous and less concerned.

To: retain a sense of hope, renew their own inner strength, remain active
in some areas of the struggle for social justice, and not become callous,
cynical, or arrogantly judgmental?

I suppose 'becoming callous, cynical, etc' is actually a choice one makes,
although it may not be noticed if everyone around is doing likewise, or to
do otherwise would be different.  However, consider the consequences.  If
you are aware that this is happening to you, you will not become 'unaware'
unless through strong drink, drugs, TV, depression, etc.  I have found that
exactly as you suggest, remaining active in some struggle allows you
contact with others who may not be as dispirited, or maybe more dispirited,
allowing you to lend and receive strength.

Consider personal work and life spaces as well.  I know often dispirited
feelings for myself come from other sources than the ones offered
(government cutbacks, societal apathy) and rather personal feelings of
ineffectiveness.  Consider a 'spring cleaning' - take a break, get things
organized, refocus, reprioritze - say 'no' for a while.

I believe that there is a powerful force against collective nonviolent
society which domination culture uses to keep folks from organizing.  In
the face of organized resistence, squeezing the people's food (in a gross
case) will weaken resolve.  Consider that the effect on your psyche is
exactly desired by folks that wish to transfer all that you and yours own
and control into their sphere.  Resist that in your mind ( and your person,
and your wallet).

Also remember compassion for those you see as callous, cynical, arrogant,
and judgemental, including you and me.  People afflicted by those ills are

Lastly I refer you to a note I sent to the city manager of Worcester Mass
which is prosecuting four individuals for serving food to poor people in a
public park.  For me there is nothing more healing than associating with
people who are aware of the things we are discussing, and lending some of
my energy to others.   One part relevent to your post concerns Dennis
McCormick, who was burned in his sleeping bag by youths who didn't know
better, in a time when demonizing homeless people was common (as it is

take care,

Nov 20, 1997
Dear Thomas Hoover,

I have learned that the City of Worcester is considering or pressing
charges against activists who have served food in a park.  I have served
Food Not Bombs in San Francisco since 1991.  We serve vegetable soup and
bagels everyday in downtown San Francisco to 40 to 120 people.  While there
are many varied reasons for people needing food, we do not choose who we
serve.  All are welcome.  We feel that hot healthy free food does a great
deal of good for people's physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual
health.   We also feel that intolerant interests prefer the poor to be
invisible to working society, and we actively promote bringing light to the
inequity of our society, and encourge dialog for peaceful change.

FNB SF was started in 1989 and has endured several months long campaigns on
the part of the mayor's office, the city chamber of commerce, and the
police department to harrass and arrest our efforts.  These occured in 1989
under Mayor Art Agnos, who is now the city's HUD boss, again in 1991 after
the Gulf War, then in 1993, 1994, and 1995 under ex chief of police ex
mayor Frank Jordan.  Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested HUNDREDS of
times, as documented in archives at http://webcom.com/peace , and in email
archives of the Food Not Bombs mailing list at
http://www.tao.ca/~fnbtor/fnb-l/ . It is clear that a triumverate of
business interests, law and order advocates, and politicians desiring to
hide poverty, set and executed policies intended to jail and harass poor
people rather than solve difficult problems.

These arrests were always legitimized by 'permit' issues, although a permit
given to us was revoked, and rules changed to make it impossible for us to
obtain a permit and continue to serve in our fashion.  A peace has been
achieved at tremendous cost to both sides of the issue.  San Francisco has
spent over $1 million in wasted policing efforts, and untold political
capital.  The campaign against the homeless and homeless supporters
demonized innocent people, leading to the burning of Dennis McCormick by
youths as he slept in a sleeping bag in 1994.

In 1995, at the United Nations 50th Anniversary Celebration in SF, over 350
Food Not Bombs members and supporters from around the country came together
to protest the abusive police practice of arresting people for serving free
food.  In the 10 days there were over 400 arrests, including 270 at once in
a demonstration against the execution of Philadelphia radio activist Mumia
Abu Jamal.  The remaining days of the Jordan administration saw no arrests.

Under Mayor Willie Brown, SF FNB continues to serve everyday without police
harrasment, and many police support our efforts and recognize that the food
we serve relieves pressure and prevents violence on the streets, although
the permanent injunction on Food Not Bombs from serving food within the
city of SF still exists.

Your assertion that lawful efforts are endorsed is welcome, and shows you
have compassion and understanding of the necessity for an orderly and just
society.  Many people are dedicated to the idea that gathering to share
food and ideas in a public space, on a regular basis, is just, necessary,
permitted under the Constitutional rights of freedom from siezure, of
assembly, and of speech, and ethical.

Many people encourage you and hope you will work to further the cause of
economic justice for the sake of your community, and our world.

Andrew Rose
632 Cole St., SF CA 94117,
attender, Religious Society of Friends (quakers)
software tester,  arose@macromedia.com
Food Not Bombs volunteer


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