…And I think It’s Going to Rain Today…

I saw my first homeless person in December 1981,  35 years ago.

I shot this video on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

View at full screen, if you can.

Most people consider a sight an elderly man shoving a cart of wet
belongings in a drenching rain normal.

They want to live like this, we say.

The State Hospitals were so much worse, we say.

It’s too expensive to fix, we say.

Think of all the lies we have to tell ourselves
to make the daily sight of human suffering
seem normal.

Then remember that all of it is the result of our vote.

Tin can at my feet
Think I’ll kick it down the street
That’s the way to treat a friend

The video is made from photographs of San Francisco’s mentally ill
homeless between 2012 and 2015.

“I Think it’s Going to Rain Today”
Song by Judy Collins
Lyrics by Randy Newman

A Butterfly for my Forever Mom

Art by Rob Goldstein

A year ago Linda Bethea and her Mother, Kathleen Swain, did two of the nicest things two strangers have ever done for me.

Linda sent me the gift of a hand designed bag and Kathleen sent me a drawing and a hand written note that claimed me as her Forever Son.

At the time I didn’t know what that term meant.

When I looked it up and saw the definition I was touched on so many levels of emotion that I hardly knew what to do.

A year later and I see how that gesture of compassion healed me in ways that I still don’t fully fathom.

What I do know is that it was an act that changed my life for the better.

When we help to make the lives of other people better we make life better for ourselves as well.

I never forget an act of kindness.

Thank you to Linda and to your wonderful Mother.

There is more grace in my life because of you.

Rob Goldstein 2016

To the Women We’ve Lost to Breast Cancer

To the Women We've Lost to Breast Cancer

My paternal Grandmother’s name was Sara

She died when my Father was still a boy.

My Father’s family had immigrated to the United States in the mid 1800’s.

Charleston was one of the few colonial cities after Savannah, Georgia that
allowed Jews to practice their faith without restriction.

Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue was founded in 1749. It is the fourth oldest Jewish congregation in the continental United States. It had always been my family’s synagogue.

Most of the early Jewish Immigrants to Charleston were Sephardic.

My Father was Sephardic as was my Mother.

Sephardim refer to the descendants of Jews who lived in and were expelled
from Spain in the 15th century.

The term Sephardim comes from Sepharad,  the Hebrew word for Spain.

Some members of my family spoke Ladino.

Ladino is Judeo-Spanish. It is the spoken and written Hispanic language
of Jews of Spanish origin.

My Father and his Family were ‘Old Charleston’ and proud of it.

When he mentioned his Mother, he described a loving woman
who worked hard and was a leader in their community.

I have never heard the story of Sara’s illness but my Father said
that she seemed to vanish a little each day.

I don’t know the name of the illness but the word ‘cancer’ was whispered.

In the Charleston of my Father’s youth, people had many superstitions.

People with Cancer were shunned because everyone thought that Cancer
was contagious or that cancer was a form of demonic possession.

Some people thought that rubbing a toad on the affected breast healed
breast cancer.

And far too many people still believe all illness is punishment from God.

There remains a residue of stigma that attends Cancer in American society.

We still associate health with virtue and illness with moral lassitude.

The death of my Father’s Mother deeply wounded him,  and I think that
this wound altered the course of his life.

We’ve learned ways to mitigate damage to our bodies.

We know much more about everything in 2016 but we still have much
to learn.

We never replace our sisters, mothers, favorite aunts, best friends and
Grandmothers.

As we consider the women we love and honor and the women we have lost, let us all do one small thing each day to make the future enlightened and more compassionate.

Dedicated to Sara.

Pink Ribbon

I should like to have met you.

 

 

Never Forget that Everything Hitler did was Legal


“But if Not” was a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. on November 5th 1967.

This excerpt takes up civil disobedience and contains King’s observations  regarding Hitler’s Germany and the power of a tyranny to legalize oppression and murder.

“Never forget that everything Hitler Did was Legal.”

Below is the text from my excerpt.

“Civil disobedience is the refusal to abide by an order of the government or of the state or even of the court that your conscience tells you is unjust. Civil disobedience is based on a commitment to conscience. In other words, one who practices civil disobedience is obedient to what he considers a higher law.

And there comes a time when a moral man can’t obey a law which his conscience tells him is unjust. And I tell you this morning, my friends, that history has moved on, and great moments have often come forth because there were those individuals, in every age in and every generation, who were willing to say

“I will be obedient to a higher law.” These men were saying “I must be disobedient to a king in order to be obedient to the King.” And those people who so often criticize those of us who come to those moments when we must practice civil disobedience never remember that even right here in America, in order to get free from the oppression and the colonialism of the British Empire, our nation practiced civil disobedience.

For what represented civil disobedience more than the Boston Tea Party. And never forget that everything that Hitler did in Germany was legal! It was legal to do everything that Hitler did to the Jews. It was a law in Germany that Hitler issued himself that it was wrong and illegal to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany.

But I tell you if I had lived in Hitler’s Germany with my attitude, I would have openly broken that law. I would have practiced civil disobedience. And so it is important to see that there are times when a man-made law is out of harmony with the moral law of the universe, there are times when human law is out of harmony with eternal and divine laws. And when that happens, you have an obligation to break it, and I’m happy that in breaking it, I have some good company.

I have Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I have Jesus and Socrates. And I have all of the early Christians who refused to bow.”


“But if Not” concludes with King’s definition of a life with meaning:

I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live.

You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house.

So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety.

And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.

You died when you refused to stand up for truth.

You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”


The whole sermon is available here: The Internet Archives