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Anthony Manousos
On Dignity (July 2023)

Dear Editor: Thanks for another great issue of Western Friend. I was inspired/provoked to write this response to a couple of the articles you published in the May/June 2023 issue.

Reading this issue, “On Loss,” I was reminded of the song “Joe Hill,” which begins: “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night / Alive as you and me. / Says I, ‘But Joe, you’re ten years dead.’ / ‘I never died,’ says he.” This song is about a union organizer who was executed for a crime he didn’t commit, but insists that he is still alive whenever people fight for justice. The message is: “Don’t just grieve, organize.” The disciples of Jesus went through a similar process when their leader was killed by authorities. They grieved, but they realized that Jesus didn’t die, his spirit lived on in them, and they organized a movement that has transformed the world. (See Acts 1.)

For this reason, I was a little disappointed by articles that seemed incomplete. For example, Earl Piercy talked about the “bittersweet wisdom” of grief work when it comes to the tremendous losses we have experienced due to climate disruption, but he doesn’t connect this grief work with activism. Similarly, in “My Slaves,” David Albert tells us of the hideous suffering that people in Africa endure to extract lithium for our electric vehicles (EVs), but he doesn’t tell us what to do about it. Giving the names of people who died in Congo and Burundi, he says, “Say their names” and tells us we should “retch” every time we see an EV. This doesn’t feel to me like a sufficient response to this enormity.

I have been to many Black Lives Matter vigils in Pasadena where we grieve the loss and say the names of black men murdered by police, but we don’t stop there. We organize, we go to city council meetings, we demand change. We grieve, we organize, and we win!

If you are concerned about child labor, don’t just feel guilty, do something about it! There are many organizations you can become involved with, like Save the Children, World Vision, Global March Against Child Labor, and the Stop Child Labor Coalition, to name just a few. It’s also worth noting that we have huge deposits of lithium right here in California, near the Salton Sea, so we won’t need to import it. Let’s support legislation that would ban any products produced by child labor. 
¡Si, se puede!

– Anthony Manousos, Orange Grove Friends Meeting (PacYM)


[Following the publication of his Western Friend magazine article, “My Slaves,” David Albert submitted a few more, related pieces, which we published in Extra Extra Western Friend, our weekly email newsletter. In these follow-up articles, Albert does describe proactive efforts by Friends and friends to improve the lives of residents of Central African Republic and neighboring regions.]

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