“In Honor of Amilcar: An Argument for Action”

Thích Quảng ĐứcWhat good is education without action?

What good is civilization without humanity?

What good is law without love?

Action for truth.

Action for humanity.

Action for amor, even if it means your life.

On 10 June 1963 Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức believed in love for his brethren monks and was against the persecution of these same brothers. To protest, to sing his voice to heaven, Đức entered a busy Vietnamese street intersection, calmly sat in the meditative lotus position, and set himself ablaze, a burning lotus flower—a firework for freedom. His spark set the entire world on fire.

The fire this time is our blaze that we can use to keep us warm and together, even in the face of all these absurd injustices. It is time we stopped quarrelling with each other. It is time we put away petty grievances and joined. Forgive. I know, I, too, have been guilty of too much tenacity, and I have justified it by using mission accomplishment as an excuse, but today, in the face of overwhelming injustice, we must conclude that there is no mission accomplishment that is worth the defeat of our humanity towards each other. We cannot follow the oppressors’ energy into destruction and decadence.

Amilcar Perez-Lopez was our family, an innocent young Guatemalan Mayan man shot in the back six times by the San Francisco Police Department. Today, April 12, 2017, once again, we see there is no justice, as San Francisco District Attorney Gascon, even with the irrefutable physical evidence, formally refused to criminally prosecute police officers of any crime. There simply is no justice for poor Brown people in this place. That there is no justice should not be a surprise to us, but, instead, it is a rally cry for us to join in common humanity, a mercy for those most vulnerable and exploited.

Amilcar was the least of our brothers, our janitors, our roofers, our ignored immigrants and belittled brown people. At Home Depot and U-Haul stores, you see them waiting patiently and with dignity for the work no one else wants to do. They pick up your dishes from restaurant tables. They did not come here for their own benefit. They came here for survival. They came here for their families, as you would also have come to help your own family.

I do not have answers for what specifically to do next, except to keep going forward and upward with love. Forget the word justice; it is meaningless when they have codified the word into their fat books of ridiculous rules. Only love, that great mystery and most powerful force in the universe, can help us and uplift us in spite of their cruel hand that attempts to keep us down. Please visit the Justice for Amilcar website for guidance on how to support and honor his memory and heal our community. https://justice4amilcar.org/author/justice4amilcar/

Finally, do something: ACTION; do not just theorize or complain, but action and share with each other the best stuff of life. You actually doing something are our hope and inspiration for a better world.

I end with a poem of power, a check unto ourselves about where we stand.


“Apolitical Intellectuals”

One day
the apolitical
of my country
will be interrogated
by the simplest
of our people.

They will be asked
what they did
when their nation died out
like a sweet fire
small and alone.

No one will ask them
about their dress,
their long siestas
after lunch,
no one will want to know
about their sterile combats
with “the idea
of the nothing”
no one will care about
their higher financial learning.

They won’t be questioned
on Greek mythology,
or regarding their self-disgust
when someone within them
begins to die
the coward’s death.

They’ll be asked nothing
about their absurd
born in the shadow
of the total lie.

On that day
the simple men will come.

Those who had no place
in the books and poems
of the apolitical intellectuals,
but daily delivered
their bread and milk,
their tortillas and eggs,
those who drove their cars,
who cared for their dogs and gardens
and worked for them,
and they’ll ask:

“What did you do when the poor
suffered, when tenderness
and life
burned out of them?”

Apolitical intellectuals
of my sweet country,
you will not be able to answer.

A vulture of silence
will eat your gut.

Your own misery
will pick at your soul.

And you will be mute in your shame.

–Otto Rene Castillo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s