Monday, October 18, 2010

Music Video Monday: Jimmy Cliff

"American Plan" by Jimmy Cliff is the first reggae song that I really loved. The song was featured in the 1986 comedy Club Paradise (which I haven't seen in ages). To me, this song perfectly captures the essence of reggae. The beat is just amazing to listen to and lose yourself in. Reggae does have the reputation of sounding the same on all the songs (because of that distinct sound that everyone automatically recognizes as reggae), but I bought a CD of reggae's greatest hits and was disappointed that I did not like most of the songs on there. The best reggae album I've ever heard is Steel Pulse's Victims (from 1991). But the King of Reggae is none other than Bob Marley. Jimmy Cliff would be the Prince of Reggae.

Unfortunately, this song was never released as a single and thus, no video. Someone was kind enough to post the song on YouTube, since I only have the Club Paradise soundtrack on cassette and have not been able to find the compact disc version. What I love about this song is its international consciousness. Jimmy sings about the American Plan being three cups of coffee every day. The European Plan is three cups of tea every day. The African Plan is "no coffee, no tea, no day, no way." When I read Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom in 1995 - 1996, I was struck by an experience Mandela wrote about. Apartheid was so ingrained in South African society that even in prison, they followed racial segregation down to the food. White prisoners were able to have white sugar. Coloured prisoners received brown sugar. African prisoners had no sugar.

Right now, I'm reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Greg is receiving the 2010 Peace Award from the Community of Christ. I'm really wanting to go to the Peace Colloquy. I have the money saved up from my income tax return. I have wanted to go on a vacation somewhere all year, but due to my uncertainty regarding a new job, I wanted to wait. Now that I'm unemployed, I don't need anyone's permission to go. At my last job, I had broached the subject with my work supervisor (the control freak) about taking vacation at the end of October to attend this event. She said, "No way!" Now, she has no ability to stop me if I want to go. As I read about Mortenson's experience, I really want to meet him. Who knows? I might have the kind of interest and experience that he might be looking for in an assistant. Not that he's looking for an assistant or someone to work for him. However, he is doing the kind of work that I want to be doing. I really want to use my international politics degree. I'm passionate about human rights and need to be in a career where I can bring this passion everyday. So, I'm loving this book.

Another reason why I feel a need to attend the Peace Colloquy is because of the five year interval. In 1995, I saw the church Temple for the first time (it was dedicated in 1993). I also attended World Conference in 1996. In 2000, I was one of the people who was selected to present a paper during the Peace Colloquy. I spoke about the roots of economic injustice in South Africa. During the Question and Answer session, a British guy kept badgering me with questions because he thought my focus on the economics of apartheid minimized the human rights violations committed by the white minority government. When the session was over, he quickly ducked out of the room, obviously afraid to have a one on one conversation with me. The next day, I happened to catch him during the walk to the Stone Church congregation (where my grandmother was baptized as a young girl). When I thanked him for his questions and critique, and agreed with his views regarding the evils of apartheid, I explained that I had written this paper as my senior thesis in my human rights capstone seminar. I was limited in what I could discuss, so I decided to focus on the economics of apartheid, rather than the racism. He couldn't believe what he heard and told his wife, "He's actually thanking me for criticizing him!" We laughed about that and had a great conversation afterwards.

The next time I saw the Temple was for the 2005 Peace Colloquy. The theme was on religious tolerance. I met some members of the CyberCommunity for the first time. It is weird to know people for six years online and then meeting them in person. Many of them, I never saw their photo, so I only knew them by their Internet identities. We ate at a German restaurant in downtown Independence. I signed up for the field trip to the religions of India. The church offered two bus tours: the Abrahamic faiths (which included visits at a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim mosque, and an Orthodox basilica) and the religions of India. I was most interested in the eastern religions. We stopped by a Hindu temple, which offered good food; a Sikh temple (I forget what they called their place of worship); and a Tibetan Buddhist temple. At each of these stops, there was one guy in the group who asked the same question. The rest of us looked in shock the first time he asked. By the third and final stop, we shook our heads when he asked the question. His question was if the Hindus (and then the Sikhs, and the Buddhists) made movies or were involved in the film industry. At the Hindu temple, I thought maybe he was curious about Bollywood movies. But when he asked at the Sikh temple, he was being ridiculous. By the Buddhist temple, he was an outright moron. And an embarrassment.

I loved this field trip to the various houses of worship. I learned a lot, particularly about the Sikh faith, which is often confused for Islam. In fact, when you see a person with a turban, they are not Muslim, but Sikh. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was a Sikh who was murdered in revenge, by some ignorant redneck who thought the victim was a Muslim. Even if he was Muslim, that was still stupid.

Inside the Temple, the church had commissioned art students at some local college to paint beautiful "portals" representing the different faiths. They were so well done that I took pictures of the best ones (I believe they are in one of my photo albums on Facebook). It was a great weekend. I've been wanting to go to another Peace Colloquy, but it depends on the theme. None really interested me until this year's. I recently had a dream that I was there and met Greg Mortenson. The dream makes me wonder if I need to be there. There are Young Adult activities planned, and wouldn't it be awesome to meet a single lady in the church while I'm there? The other motive I have for going is to see about interviewing for the Copy Editor position in which I had sent my application materials during lunch on the day I was let go from work (the irony of ironies: I actually went "postal" on my last day at work. I mailed a resume and application off at the post office to a job I would love to do).

If I can get relatively inexpensive plane tickets, I may be off for a splendid weekend in Independence, Missouri. Each time I see the Temple, I'm just struck with a deep sense of awe. It is a special place for me, even though I was against the building of a temple during my teenage years (because I thought the expense would be better spent helping people). It is one of the most magnificent buildings I've ever been in. The symbolism of the building is highly spiritual. Five years is too long to be away from "the Center Place."

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