Windchime Walker

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Monday, April 30, 2007


Daring to be different

If art means anything, it means daring to be different. Thanks to Ms. Susan Briggs, the marvelous art teacher at the K-5 school where I volunteer, our students know that. This composite image layers two of their works of art--a colorful design and a black & white print--and shows one of our students in the act of creating.

I dedicate this to young artists in every land. May they be given all they need to find and express their unique vision.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I have a dream

After my Photoshop class yesterday afternoon, I scooted around Detroit's cultural center taking photos. Many things caught my eye: art students sitting on the lawn in front of the College for Creative Studies where I take my class, the round sculpture in front of the Science Center with its framed views of the world around me, a brick wall beside the Scarab Club with flowering fruit trees behind it reaching high into the blue blue skies overhead.

But the photo catch of the day came when I scooted around the corner to the entrance to the Detroit Institute of Arts. There I saw a wedding party with 30 bridesmaids and bridesgrooms all dressed in white who were posing for their wedding photos! I soon fell head over heels in love with the youngest flower girl, the one they called "the princess."

This composite portrait celebrates the dreams she will have in her life. May they all come true.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


Glimmers of meaning

Friday, April 27, 2007


Beach glass collage

I feel like I'm coming home to myself with this new series of images. After months of simply trying to master the basics of photography, I am now able--with the help of Photoshop--to begin to push the boundaries and follow my own creative path. This is what I did as a painter when I'd mix raku clay pieces with wood and watercolor on paper to say what I needed to say. And later when I taught myself to use a jig saw to create 6' tall wooden works on which I'd paint symbolic images using ordinary house paints. Then there were my years as a performance artist. Well, you get the picture.

So now Photoshop is becoming a tool for me to explore new--to me--horizons in photography. And I'd like to mention here the PBase photographers who have been on this path long before I. Artists like Lester Weiss, Dehl, Soulis and Sushislee. I'm sure there are more out there whose work has not yet crossed my path, but these four have been models to me of what can be done to manipulate photos into unexpected forms and shapes. I offer them my gratitude and encourage you to go check them out.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Riverbend & her family are leaving Iraq 

Fran just sent me an email saying that today Riverbend had posted a new entry on her blog, Baghdad Burning. Those of us who have followed her story, grown to love her and care about her safety since the American nightmare began for her and her countrypeople in March 2003, have been terribly worried because we'd heard nothing since February 20th.

I will copy/paste her entire blog entry here. And if you feel so inclined as to email Riverbend, you can do so at

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Great Wall of Segregation...

…Which is the wall the current Iraqi government is building (with the support and guidance of the Americans). It's a wall that is intended to separate and isolate what is now considered the largest 'Sunni' area in Baghdad- let no one say the Americans are not building anything. According to plans the Iraqi puppets and Americans cooked up, it will 'protect' A'adhamiya, a residential/mercantile area that the current Iraqi government and their death squads couldn't empty of Sunnis.

The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look- we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here- it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently- Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer- like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea- leaving ones home and extended family- leaving ones country- and to what? To where?

Since last summer, we had been discussing it more and more. It was only a matter of time before what began as a suggestion- a last case scenario- soon took on solidity and developed into a plan. For the last couple of months, it has only been a matter of logistics. Plane or car? Jordan or Syria? Will we all leave together as a family? Or will it be only my brother and I at first?

After Jordan or Syria- where then? Obviously, either of those countries is going to be a transit to something else. They are both overflowing with Iraqi refugees, and every single Iraqi living in either country is complaining of the fact that work is difficult to come by, and getting a residency is even more difficult. There is also the little problem of being turned back at the border. Thousands of Iraqis aren't being let into Syria or Jordan- and there are no definite criteria for entry, the decision is based on the whim of the border patrol guard checking your passport.

An airplane isn't necessarily safer, as the trip to Baghdad International Airport is in itself risky and travelers are just as likely to be refused permission to enter the country (Syria and Jordan) if they arrive by airplane. And if you're wondering why Syria or Jordan, because they are the only two countries that will let Iraqis in without a visa. Following up visa issues with the few functioning embassies or consulates in Baghdad is next to impossible.

So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees- the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare- stay and wait and try to survive.

On the one hand, I know that leaving the country and starting a new life somewhere else- as yet unknown- is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives. We discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind. Can I bring along a stuffed animal I've had since the age of four? Is there room for E.'s guitar? What clothes do we take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books? What about the CDs, the baby pictures?

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends… And to what?

It's difficult to decide which is more frightening- car bombs and militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain.

- posted by river at 5:03 PM

May Riverbend and her family travel safely, meet welcoming strangers at the border, and find a new home where they can live in peace.


Venice Beach in my dreams

Amazing what a box of colorful feathers, a macro lens, a photo I took of a brilliant sunset over the Pacific Ocean, and a few classes in Photoshop can create. I think we're seeing what happens when a watercolor painter-turned-photographer discovers Photoshop!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Playing with calla lilies

On this rainy April afternoon I sat at my computer and played with four photos I'd taken of my new miniature purple calla lily plant. And then...well what can I say? After I'd created a fairly conservative composite image, Photoshop's layer modalities and color adjustments sent me off into Never Never Land. Oh how I LOVE Photoshop!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


The Whitney restaurant, Detroit, Michigan

Ed and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary here in 1976. I remember our being shocked by our bill that totaled the outrageous amount of $34! To read the historical marker you might want to go to the larger photo in my galleries.

This is yet another composite photo.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Green grass and a swing...What could be better?

Sunday, April 22, 2007


It won't be long now!

On this beautiful warm Sunday, my scooter turned towards the lake like a horse returning to its barn. Ah yes, summer is on its way!

Saturday, April 21, 2007


busking in Grand Rapids, Michigan

On Friday night before the peace conference began on Saturday, my friend Pat and I were walking around downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan after dinner. It was a lovely warm evening and everyone we saw had a smile on their face. Our smiles grew when we saw and heard these two guitarists--Alistair and Jerry--playing blues on the sidewalk. Yes, even Grand Rapids has buskers...and excellent ones at that!

Friday, April 20, 2007


Now I know that spring is REALLY here!

I didn't think I'd have time to post today's Photo-a-Day before leaving for the conference, but, happily, I do. I say "happily"" because I want to share my feelings of joy when I saw on last evening's walk that my favorite magnolia tree was coming into bloom.

Thursday, April 19, 2007



Many of the girls at the K-5 school where I volunteer may be scarved but that doesn't keep their mothers from dressing them in sequins and such! It's clear that the love of beauty is common to all.

By the way, I'll be out of town on Friday and Saturday at the Pax Christi state conference where I'll be presenting workshops on "Nonviolent Dialogue for Activists," so my blog entries will resume on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the deaths we ignore 

Kim Antieau is a novelist who keeps a blog where hard truths often appear. Today's entry is just such a hard truth. In it she quotes Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" as she reflects on the horrific killings at Virginia Tech. I encourage you to take the time to read what Kim has posted in her entry titled "Patriots."


When words fail

Now I know why people send flowers when they hear of a death. There are no words to describe the pain. And now there are 33 deaths to mourn.
All I can do is send this flower to those who suffer as a sign of my love and support.

May we all be healed and may we learn from this tragedy that the more guns we have, the less safe we become. If you, like I, would like to do whatever you can to help prevent future rampages by disturbed persons using guns, you might want to visit the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence web site.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Monday, April 16, 2007

Train Journey, Day 1 gallery is up 

You might find my Train Journey, Day 1 photo gallery to be of interest. It certainly isn't as dramatic as Day 2 & 3, but it gives a pretty good picture of the Midwest in February.


Heavy clouds

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Photoshop fun

This time I layered three of my photos on top of one another and played with different layer functions & colors. Nothing planned, everything intuitive. Just what I needed after the precision of my composite pictures. Like dancing!

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Museum of African American History

Metro Detroit is an amazing place to live. We have the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Arab American National Museum, in addition to being a terminus of the Underground Railroad into Windsor, Ontario.

By the way, this is a composite of two photos. I photographed the woman at a Jazz Symposium in Detroit on Wednesday night, and the museum on Saturday afternoon. To my mind, if I could bring a sense of whose story is being celebrated in this museum, my photo might have greater impact.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Friday self portrait

This study of youth and age superimposes the carved mahogony silhouette my Dad made of me at age 10 onto a shadow my 64 year-old head cast in this morning's sunlight. The wooden silhouette spent its formative years between my two sisters' similar silhouettes on the stern of our family sailboat named "Harem." Politically incorrect as that name would be today, in the early 1950s we thought it was pretty darn funny. How times and conciousness change. Thank goodness.

Imus is gone 

My gratitude to everyone who took the time to let CBS and NBC know their feelings about Don Imus and his sexist racist slur against the student athletes of Rutgers Women's Basketball team. If you ever despaired over your power or lack thereof to influence events on a national scale, this should lay that to rest. It was the public outcry that turned the tide. May we never forget that. And may this mark the start of a new national repudiation of the slurs uttered every day over our radio and TV networks. "Shock jocks" be forewarned!

Here is an excerpt from the article, "Off the Air: The Light Goes Out for Don Imus," that appeared in today's New York Times:

CBS brought a weeklong confrontation over a racial and sexual insult by the radio host Don Imus to an end yesterday when it canceled the "Imus in the Morning" program, effective immediately.

The move came a day after the cable television network MSNBC, a General Electric unit that has simulcast Mr. Imus's radio program for the last 10 years, removed the show from its morning lineup. The two moves, taken together, mean that Mr. Imus, who has been broadcasting the program for more than 30 years, no longer has a home on either national radio or television.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


At the gym

I went to work out at the gym this morning and this is what I saw. Well, not exactly. If you've been following my Photoshop Class Exercises gallery of late, you know I'm rather obsessed with moving objects from one photo into another. I mean, how many times have you seen someone napping at the gym???

*With this photo I recommend clicking on the PBase version. This Blogspot image is too small. The URL is:

Imus fired by NBC but CBS stands by him 

From the article, "NBC News Drops Imus Show Over Racial Remark," published today in the New York Times:

NBC News dropped Don Imus yesterday, canceling his talk show on its MSNBC cable news channel a week after he made a racially disparaging remark about the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

The move came after several days of widening calls for Mr. Imus to lose his show both on MSNBC, which simulcasts the "Imus in the Morning" show, and CBS Radio, which originates the show.

CBS Radio, which is the main employer of Mr. Imus, said in a statement last night that it would stick by the two-week suspension of the show that it and NBC News announced earlier; the suspension begins Monday.

But CBS said it would, in the interim, "continue to speak with all concerned parties and monitor the situation closely."

That is not good enough!

As the Rev. Al Sharpton says, "This has never been about Don Imus. I have no idea whether he is a good man or not. This is about the use of public airwaves for bigoted, racist speech."

Mr. Sharpton said he was organizing a rally to take place today outside CBS's corporate headquarters on West 52nd Street in Manhattan.

But even those of us who do not live in New York can make our voices heard. I encourage you to do as I just did and call CBS directly to urge them to fire Imus effective immediately. Here is the contact info:

CBS Corporation
51 West 52nd Street New York NY 10019
Phone: (212) 975-4321
Fax: (212) 975-6699

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Rioberta and I

As I worked at the computer late last night/early this morning, I looked up to see my hand reflected in the aqua-blue glass vase that sits on my desk. I thought I saw a possible self portrait there. So I used a couple of books--one of them "The Honey Jar," a children's book written by the Guatemalan 1992 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu--to raise the vase to the proper height for photographing. I was surprised and pleased to see the book's cover painting of her face end up in my so-called self portrait. It brought to mind the wonderful moment a year ago when I'd heard her speak, met and received a hug from her, and took a photo of her autographing this very book. Life has its own way of coming full circle, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This photo came about for two reasons: 1) today we finally saw the sun in Detroit (!) so reflections were at long last possible, and 2) Dr. King has been very much on my mind as I prepare to deliver several talks on my own personal experiences of using "nonviolent dialogue" with persons who hold different political views from my own.

My husband Ed gave me this large framed print of a Romare Bearden lithograph at least 30 years ago. It is my favorite piece of art in our home. I always need to be reminded of the power even one person can have who dares to stand up for his/her beliefs and meet hatred with love

Take action now--Don Imus must go! 

Enough is enough from the hatred-slur king of mainstream radio and TV here in America! Don Imus' latest and most egregious racist sexist slur against the Rudgers Women's Basketball team needs to be his last. This man has a long history of making not just inappropriate, but libelous, comments about others. He needs to be fired. Today.

FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) is mounting an action campaign to take Don Imus off the air. Please read this alert and take action. All you need do is ask yourself one question: Is this how I want my kids or grandkids to talk and think it's OK?

Monday, April 09, 2007


What's for dinner?

This is such fun! Again I used Photoshop's pen tool & paths to select and move objects from one photo into another, but this time things went faster and I had more of a sense of how to manipulate the copy/pasted image so it wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb...unless I wanted it to, that is, like I did with the orangutan.

By the way, her name is Josephine and she is known as the matriarch of the orangutan community at the San Diego Zoo. She is visiting Phil and Scott, the friends with whom I stayed in San Diego. And of course I had to put their dog Havah on her doggy bed in the living room. The parrot just flew in from who-knows-where. You know how it is in California, folks don't even have screens on their open windows so you never know who might turn up!

Photoshop Class Exercises gallery 

I invite you to check out a new gallery I've just put up on It's called Photoshop Class Exercises. As is evident from the title, it will contain exercises I complete while I'm taking the Photoshop for Photographers series of classes at Detroit's College for Creative Studies. The image that follows is my first entry:

Using pen tool & paths

In class on April 7, 2007, we learned how to use the pen tool & paths. At home the next day I spent countless hours creating this collage using a little girl from a photo I took at Mission Bay Beach in San Diego, and putting her in a photo I'd taken of one of the bird aviaries in the San Diego Zoo. Selecting & copy/pasting wasn't too hard, but what took LOTS of time was cleaning up the image and trying to make her look like she belonged there. Tedious but absolutely absorbing work.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Practicing Nonviolent Dialogue for Peace by Patricia Lay-Dorsey, part 3 

The concluding installment of my Pointes for Peace talk:

So what is the difference between "dialogue" and "debate"?

I see dialogue as an attempt to understand how another person sees things. Listening is its core component.

Debate is an attempt to talk the other into seeing things like I see them. Marshalling one’s thoughts and expressing them effectively are the tools of a debater.

And why do I use the word "nonviolent" to describe the kind of dialogue in which I engaged during those 18 days?

Because I consciously did my best to meet hatred and negativity with respect and love, in a way modeled by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These are my principles of nonviolent dialogue:

1. State your point of view in a respectful way;
2. Let the other speak;
3. Listen to what they say, even if it is said with hostility;
4. Find and express that upon which you can both agree;
5. Try to understand where the other is coming from;
6. Respond, even to hatred, with love but do not tolerate verbal abuse. Such abuse escalates the cycle of violence;
7. Stop when the dialogue is no longer productive;
8. Conclude with respectful acknowledgement of your commonalities and wish them well.

Dialogue is more about understanding the other than changing their minds.

Of course it’s ideal if both participants are trying to enter into nonviolent dialogue, but even one nonviolent dialoguer can change the tone of the encounter.

Perhaps the change you make is not in what they think about an issue, but in how they will express themselves in the future.

The quality of your presence is more important than the content of your conversation.

You do not need to change minds in order to change hearts, your own first of all.

Consciously engaging in nonviolent dialogue is transformative. You will be changed in ways you cannot imagine, the most notable being the growth of compassion. If you listen deeply to what is being said, you’ll see that how individuals view the world makes perfect sense, given their life experiences. The same is true of yourself.

Nonviolent dialogue requires that one be prepared to set aside long-held assumptions, prejudices, and paradigms. Like looking through a prism, you will begin to see the world through a different facet. And, judging from my own personal experience, it will not look as you expected.

Thank you.


Down but not out

No, these daffodils are not happy, but they're not giving up either. Rather like us residents of Southeastern Michigan. Yes, it looks and feels more like February than April, but we're hardy folks. We know Spring will return. And when she does, those daffodil buds will show us their true colors!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Practicing Nonviolent Dialogue for Peace by Patricia Lay-Dorsey, part 2 

This is the second of three installments of a talk I gave to the Pointes for Peace on Tuesday, April 3.

The area in front of the White House is a global street corner. Every day, dozens of tour buses bring visitors from around the world to see where the President of the United States lives and works. American tourists also bring their children to see this icon of America. And there’s always a parade of what I came to call "suits" going in and out of those well-guarded gates of power. Not to mention the local, national and international media who swarm around the place like worker bees around a hive.

During my 18-day vigil--what I came to call my "Lebanon Peace Initiative"--tens of thousands of persons from this country and around the world read my signs. Countless numbers made comments in passing, and at least 100 stopped to talk to me, many at great length. These encounters moved along a continuum from peace-filled exchanges of opinions to heated rants where my only words were, "I'm so sorry you are suffering." My encounters with people from Israel were the most difficult and, at the same time, the most rewarding.

I soon discovered that, without knowing it, I had signed up for an 18-day immersion course in "nonviolent dialogue." And I was the only student in the class. For it quickly became apparent that most of the other activists--and there are ALWAYS people holding up signs in front of the White House--engaged in debate not dialogue when confronted with negative responses to their signs. Debates that often degenerated into arguments.

I refused to go there. If someone took issue with the message on my sign--which many did--I would silently listen to their complaints. Often they would accuse me of not knowing what I was talking about, of meddling in something that was none of my business since I was obviously not Lebanese, and of only taking one side by not showing the suffering of the Israeli people too.

When confronted in this way, I would smile and turn my sign to the side with the photograph and say, "I'm here for them, my family in Lebanon." Sometimes people would accept this explanation; other times they challenged my calling these obviously Arab Muslim people, my family. I wouldn’t argue the point, but would simply say that I love them deeply, and to me, they are family.

Another comment I often heard--primarily from Americans and Israelis--was that I should have a sign that said, "Hezbollah out of Israel." As time went on I learned to respond by inviting them to make just such a sign and join me out there the next day. I'd be honored to have them stand beside me. And I meant it.

But I also knew and clearly expressed the fact that it was the Lebanese people I was representing, a people I loved and whose voices I felt needed to be heard. Especially now. For it soon became apparent that, except for a few organized protest rallies, I was the only person standing vigil in front of the halls of power whose sign even had the word "Lebanon" on it.

The day I'd arrived in Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives had passed a resolution 410-8 supporting Israel in its attacks on and invasion of Lebanon. And I'm proud to say that my Congresswoman, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, was one of the eight. The following day, the Senate passed a similar resolution 100-0. The morning of my third day in DC, I awoke to the news that the President had just approved sending an emergency shipment of bunker buster bombs to Israel, bombs they would be using in attacks on Lebanon.

More than ever I felt my presence was needed in Washington, if just to give some balance to what seemed to me was a one-sided view of this war.

So day after day I took my sign and scooted from my hotel over to the White House, or to the Senate and House Office Buildings. I'd park wherever I felt there would be the most foot traffic, lift up my sign, and sit there in the blinding heat. For, as Fate would have it, Washington, DC was in the midst of a heat wave with temperatures in the 90s and occasionally topping 100. I generally stayed at my post 4-6 hours a day.

There came to be a rhythm to my work. I would remain silent unless someone stopped and wanted to talk. Whenever someone made negative comments in passing--which happened frequently--I would simply smile and let them go on. Occasionally I'd ask if they wanted to stop and talk. They never did.

A couple of times, activists who had come over to talk with me, responded badly to negative comments that were made. These confrontations quickly turned into arguments. After unsuccessfully trying to stop, I would scoot away and find another place to park. Minutes later, they would come up shamefaced and apologetic. I would accept their apology, but make it clear that they would not be welcome to stand with me unless they could respect how I did things. And then I would tell them how I would have handled that encounter, had I been allowed to do so.

Through my smiles and body language, I did my best to encourage people to stop and talk. I found that Americans were more comfortable with what I came to call "drive-by sniping" than stopping to engage in dialogue, while Europeans were eager to talk.

And I was interested to see that 100% of the Europeans I met, agreed with my sign. The Washington Bureau Chief for the London Daily Telegraph stopped by one day to interview me, and expressed surprise that I was the only one out there for Lebanon. He said the people in the UK were very upset about this war.

But, out on the streets, I heard all points of view.

The dozens of Israelis I met--even though they had strong reactions to my message--always stopped to tell me how they felt. I'd listen without interrupting and try to find someplace where we could meet, a place of common concern. In practically every case, that concern was that we wanted those we loved to be safe.

When the speaker had said what they needed to say, I would thank them for sharing their concerns with me. If they hadn't already mentioned it, I would ask if they had loved ones who were in harm's way at home. I would then show them the photograph of my family and express our commonality, the place where we could meet--that we all wanted our loved ones to be safe.

Now where we usually differed was how we felt that "safety" could be achieved. Every one of the Israelis I met--with the exception of one young man who identified himself as a Buddhist--believed that war was the only answer; that Hezbollah had to be destroyed even if it meant the country of Lebanon would be destroyed with them. They showed little concern for the hundreds of innocent civilians being killed in Lebanon, but were totally absorbed with the danger of Hezbollah rockets hitting innocent victims in Israel.

This was striking since the total number of Israeli civilians killed during this 34-day war was 44, while the number of Lebanese civilians killed reached 1,187 according to the most conservative estimates. But numbers didn’t matter; what terrified the Israeli people was the sense of being under threat within their own borders.

For I discovered a deep-seated fear among the people who live in Israel, a fear that the Arabs who surround their country want nothing more than to kill them and take over their land. For this reason, self-defense is at the top of their national priorities. And the only means of self-defense they believe will keep them safe is military.

During my 18 days, there were three instances where my attempts to enter into nonviolent dialogue failed. In each of these cases, the rage was too far out of control for dialogue to be possible.

In what I came to call my Final Exam, on the last hour of my last day, I was surrounded by eight Israeli men and boys, one of whom was a Jewish settler who had had to be physically pulled by Israeli soldiers from his home when the West Bank was cleared of settlements. This man was literally crazy with hatred. Hatred unlike any I have ever seen before...and he was right in my face.

But I didn’t allow myself to be intimidated. I continued to hold up my sign and did my best to respond to his rage in a way that would open the door to dialogue.

And for a few seconds, I would succeed...only to see him fly off into another cycle of hate. To be honest, this was the only time I felt at risk of physical harm.

When I requested he give me a few minutes to speak, I told him I loved him even though he was expressing a great deal of hatred towards me. I brought up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, and encouraged him to consider the use of nonviolent resistance instead of war and killing to change things. But he couldn’t hear me, his mind and heart were closed. Hatred was all he knew, at least on that day.

Finally I could tell his rage was escalating the longer he was allowed to express it, so I called a halt to our encounter with the words,

"I think we’ve gone as far as we can go today. It's now time for us to stop talking. I hope that you and your loved ones will be safe."

After a few more nasty remarks, he and his friends left.

Two Palestinian-American young men came right up to me afterwards and said they had been watching how I'd handled that encounter. They wanted me to know I was not alone, and that they appreciated all I was doing for them and their people.

As I say, that was my final exam. And I'm relieved to say I passed. But the cost was high. It took me weeks to recover from having been in such a toxic environment. Hatred is like that. But it is no match for love. That much I know.

to be continued...


Saturday's crossword puzzle

I'm not a crossword fan myself, but my husband is. He tells me the Saturday New York Times puzzle is the hardest of the week. It always amazes me to see what he comes up with, but I shouldn't be surprised. After all, this is the fellow who took only one book to read when he went into the Army in the 1950s. And what was that book, you ask? The dictionary!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Patricia's Peace Talk, part 1 

What follows is the first of three installments of a talk I gave on Tuesday to about 120 people at a Pointes for Peace gathering. If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll be familiar with the 18-day vigil to which I refer.

Practicing Nonviolent Dialogue for Peace
by Patricia Lay-Dorsey

"Serenity isn’t freedom from the storm, but peace within the storm" unknown.

I'd like to start with an entry I wrote in my blog on September 20, 2006:

What am I harvesting from the plantings of my life? Especially those plants that showed themselves to be robust and full of flavor late this summer?

What comes most powerfully to mind is the fruit of the nonviolent dialogues I had with persons from across the globe during my 18-day solitary vigil in Washington, DC on behalf of Lebanon.

How I learned to listen, to find the common ground upon which even those who disagree can stand, to ask questions rather than make statements, to meet hatred with love.

I also learned that one person can make a difference. But only if he follows the deepest call of his heart, only if she is willing to put herself in positions where she is not in control, where she can be used in ways she could never imagine.

I learned openness to the adventure of life. I learned not to count the cost, whether it be money, comfort or long-held assumptions.

I learned that every human person--at least the hundreds I met--wants those they love to be safe. I learned that those who are filled with hatred are so sad that it would be impossible to hate them back.

I learned that one is never alone when acting on the behalf of others.

I learned that being a person of peace is more important than any action one could ever take.

For 17 years I unthinkingly followed the paradigm set forth by those who had gone before me in the peace movement. Its fundamental tenet being that peace will come if we can get others to think the way we think about war, injustice and oppression. Our task is to find effective ways to wake people up to the truth as we see it.

The means we use include protest demonstrations, rallies, vigils, teach-ins, talks and presentations, filmmaking, writing books, articles and letters to the editor, contacting our elected officials, leafleting, engaging in street theater, composing songs, organizing with like-minded others, putting up web sites and sending out group emailings. To name a few! Some activists travel to hot spots around the world where they stand in solidarity with those who are personally suffering the effects of war and oppression.

Others intentionally and peacefully act in ways that might lead to their being arrested, in the time-honored tradition of civil disobedience.

But whatever the means, the paradigm remains the same: peace will come when the world's leaders start to think like we think.

It was with this paradigm firmly in mind that I took my sign and drove to Washington, DC on July 19, 2006. The war I was protesting was Israel's war on Lebanon, a country and people I had grown to love during my visit there eight months earlier.

Even before that, Lebanon had become dear to me.

Shortly after September 11th, 2001, I began to volunteer in the art classes of a K-5 school in East Dearborn. For over five years these students, many of them first or second generation Lebanese, have taught me about their culture and religion. Hearing their stories and seeing their drawings have opened my eyes to the richness of their heritage. I have been the student, and they the teachers.

In mid-December 2001, I met the wife and children of a Muslim man of Lebanese descent who had just been picked up and detained by the Immigration & Naturalization Service.

In 1991, Rabih Haddad had co-founded the Global Relief Foundation. As one of the two largest Arab relief organizations in the world, it was now under scrutiny by the U.S. government in their post-9/11 targeting of Arab Muslim groups and individuals.

For 19 months, Rabih Haddad--an imam, teacher and respected leader in his adopted Ann Arbor--was imprisoned. Except for a minor visa violation, no charges were ever brought against him. But it didn't matter; he was kept in solitary confinement for 16 of his 19 months in jail. On July 14, 2003, Rabih was secretly deported to Lebanon, the country of his birth, and two weeks later Sulaima and their four young children were deported to Kuwait, the country of her birth.

During the 19 months of his imprisonment, I was one of hundreds of individuals, including Rep. John Conyers, who worked tirelessly to have Rabih Haddad released on bail, or at least treated justly by the immigration court system. As a consequence, I became very close to Rabih’s family--Sulaima and the children--and to Rabih himself through letters. After they were deported, we stayed in touch by phone. It was this family I visited in Beirut in November 2005.

So on July 12, 2006, when Israeli bombs started raining down on the southern suburbs of Beirut close to where my family lived, and one week later when they made a harrowing escape into Syria, I felt like it was happening to me.

On the Wednesday morning after these horrors had been going on for a week, I read in the New York Times that President Bush had said he would give Israel one more week to finish the job. Within three hours I was in my wheelchair-accessible van on my way to Washington, DC. With me was the sign I'd carried the day before in a pro-Lebanon demonstration in Dearborn.

On one side were the words, "Israel out of Lebanon" with three exclamation marks, and on the other, an enlarged photo I'd taken of Rabih, Sulaima and the children during my visit to Beirut. Hand-printed beside that photo was the question, "Who suffers in war?"

My intention was to be a public witness for the Lebanese people by holding up my sign in front of the White House, and the Senate and House Office Buildings.

For 18 steaming hot days, that was exactly what I did.

To be continued...


Photo-a-day April 6

I took this photo back when Spring was more than a dream and my body was strong and healthy. Today winter has returned to Michigan and I am still not feeling up to par. But this too shall pass. These lime-green buds tell me so.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Journey by Train 2007 photo galleries 

I've just posted the second gallery of photos from my trip. I call it Journey by Train 2007 and it now includes People on a Train", a gallery showing the folks I met on the train.

There's LOTS more to come...


Forsythia & snow

This was what I awoke to this morning, but I'm happy to say the snow never amounted to anything. However it is cold; today's high was 36 degrees F. (+ 2 C.). Snow showers are predicted for Easter Sunday. That Easter bunny better get out her longjohns!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

photo-a-day April 4 

Under the weather

I am feeling better today but still not 100%, so I spent much of the day cozy in my easy chair.

photo-a-day April 3 

Detroit's skyline from Windsor, Ontario

I took this photo on my monthly trip to get my hair cut by Leesa in Windsor. By the way, that's a U.S. Coast Guard cutter you see in the Detroit River. I'm late posting this PaD due to a sickness that laid me low last night. I was just lucky it waited until after I'd given a long-scheduled presentation on Nonviolent Dialogue to over 100 members of our local peace group. Timing is everything!

British sailors freed! 

Well, President Bush is going to have to find another reason to bomb Iran because Iran's President Ahmadinejad made a surprise announcement earlier today that all 15 of the captured British marines and sailors are free to go home. One of the Brits was heard saying to Ahmadinejad, "We appreciate it. Your people have been really kind to us, and we appreciate it very much."

Mr. Bush's Iranian game plan 

Just in case anyone wonders why President Bush is raising the stakes in the crisis regarding Iran and the captured British sailors, all we need do is look at his longheld desire to get an excuse--any excuse--to bomb Iran. No, Mr. Bush is not at all interested in sitting back quietly and letting the Brits handle this crisis diplomatically, as they're trying to do. According to an article in Tuesday's Globe and Mail (Canada), Bush "had reportedly promised not to raise the issue of the sailors, as British officials worry that the entry of the United States into this crisis could cause it to escalate into an irreconcilable confrontation."

So what did he do at a Camp David press conference over the weekend? Mr. Bush said, "“The British hostages issue is a serious issue because the Iranians took these people out of Iraqi waters, and it’s inexcusable behaviour.” And this was after British spokespersons have carefully avoided using the word, "hostage," in an attempt to keep the situation from escalating into an international crisis.

And there's more to this capture of British sailors than U.S. media sources will ever tell you. On Tuesday the Independent/UK ran an article about what led up to this crisis...and it wasn't any action taken by Britain. It was what the author, Patrick Cockburn, describes as "A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq" ten weeks earlier.

Oh yes, Mr. Bush and his gang are doing their best to gain public support for their planned attack on Iran by prodding Iran's irascible president into taking actions that will give our "commmander-in-chief" an excuse to start bombing Iran. Heaven help us all.

Monday, April 02, 2007


If the Tigers are playing, it must be Spring!

The good news is that today's home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays was played under sunny skies with warm Spring temperatures. The bad news is that Detroit lost 3-5 in the 10th inning. Ah well, tomorrow's another day.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


High school girls' soccer practice

This gif is freely copyable. Just right click, save
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