Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Spent a frustrating day ...

Changes are hard enough to deal with when they're the result of one's own doing, but when they're brought on by forces beyond one's control ... well, that's a horse of another color.

On Monday State Senator Perata's office called to say that "the senator's not ready for prime time." With the Kevin Cooper execution scheduled for next week and with protestors already sitting-in at San Quentin, and with full-page ads being placed in the national press by the anti-death penalty forces, I suspect that the issue is just too controversial to take on at the moment. It means that the 60 Minutes interview team has come to town to do the initial background interviews in preparation for the Stan Williams segment, but that there will be no announcement of a bill on the moratorium. Since we've passed the deadline for bill submission for this year's session, it wouldn't have been introduced until after September, anyway. Timing didn't work out. Therefore, Ed Bradley is not scheduled to arrive until around the 23rd of February.

Today Barbara left for the Pan African Film Festival in Culver City and a series of meetings arranged by Tom Hayden to follow on Friday and Saturday. Declined the invitation to go along (despite the fact that Blockbuster is picking up the tab) in the interest of updating my resume and getting the word out -- in the event that someone has an available position. Crazy? Maybe, but I really can't afford to be idle for long or I'll have to start drawing on dividends and reducing my investments prematurely. There isn't too much in reserve and Dorian's expenses grow with each month (this week brought the announcement of another rent increase). A couple of days at the Beverly Wilshire wasn't all that easy to walk away from, though. That was probably my last chance to do "luxury beyond reason!"

There will be a screening of "Redemption" in Sacramento for members of the legislature sometime before the television airing in mid-March. Will be helping to set that up over the next week or two.

Next week will be emotionally draining. Plan to attend the vigil for Kevin Cooper at San Quentin. Will join with others -- probably not on the night of the execution though, but on the night before. It's just too painful to be present at the gates that night. If I can find it somewhere on my hard disk, I wrote a description of that experience. It's hard to explain just why I feel drawn to such actions, but I am. To have a life taken in my name (and yours) should not be taken casually. To place oneself at the scene sharpens the awareness of just how inhumane an act is capital punishment. for the USA to be so far behind the rest of the world in outlawing this murdurous practice defies logic. But then death of young people through war is still beyond my understanding, too.

With the 9th Circuit Court still deliberating his case, Stanley Williams is at least a year away from his execution date (with luck), but having met him and seen his transformation -- having worked so closely with Barbara on his behalf over the past 4 years -- I cannot imagine what it will feel like to experience the effects of his execution on us all, when and if that day comes.

There have surely been unbelievably horrific acts committed by twisted individuals who must be shut away from society for the balance of their lives. "Life without the possibility of parole" is justifiable. That I do believe. But to kill in order to discourage killing makes no sense. The State (being me and thee) has not the right to take life. If one is capable of dropping the pellet, or, personally performing the act of giving a lethal injection, then I suppose the aversion that I feel is my problem, alone. But, there is no virtue in committing such acts in the aggregate if we would be unwilling or incapable of doing it as a lone individual. That's the acid test for me.

Since my work to date has allowed much variety and constant change, there is a risk that I will be drawn into specific areas of concern and lose the ability to balance the highs and lows and levels of intensity in my days. Must be careful. There has to be time to watch the kites, children at play, moving water and changing skies, art and artists, hear music and work with those young people who are on their way into public service. Without those balances, my life may start to be lived defensively and without intentionality. I've seldom had that problem, but then there has always been a central focus. That's what I must find now. If not through another position, then through a carefully-planned program of volunteering. I'll need to be ever alert to opening doors.

Tomorrow will meet with the people at the Chamber of Commerce about the Arts & Entertainment District, and then follow up on resumes sent out by email. These were sent by invitation, so I'm hopeful.

Entering a precarious period, but with lots of hope and some excitement.

Photo: Me, grandson Rhico, Ms. Winnie Mandela, and granddaughter, Kokee Amanda Reid.
Right photo: Ms. Mandela and I visited the Laura Hunter Learning Center in North Richmond on the day that we visited Death Row inmate, Stanley "Tookie" Williams. She'd flown from South Africa to lend support to the anti-death penalty movement and, specifically, to help to plead the case of this five times this Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He was also nominated for the prize in literature. This month (10/2005) his last appeal was turned down by the Supreme Court. His execution will now be scheduled unless the governor acts in his behalf.