Fate – A short film

 

Fate Film 1

Dear Friends,

I just signed the campaign: Serving Life w/ Hard Labor w/o Parole for $20 of Marijuana.

It would mean the world to me if you could also add your name to this important issue. Every name that is added builds momentum around the campaign and makes it more likely for us to get the change we want to see.

=> Why is this important?

Fate Vincent Winslow a 47-year-old African-American homeless man who acted as go-between in the sale of two minuscule bags of cannabis (worth $20 total) to an undercover cop, Winslow was sentenced to life in prison without parole based on other “strikes” that were 14 and 24 years old, respectively, one of which he received was a drug-related charge at 15 years of age. The white dealer in the transaction, who was also identified by the undercover officer, was never charged even though he was found with police evidence; a marked $20 bill.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/homeless-life-in-prison-wee…

A petition for a Fate Vincent Winslow’s release through Color of Change at Organizefor.org. has been created. Korstiaan Vandiver in conjunction with a Youth Community Center in Los Angeles, mentoring a marijuana drug prevention film project for a group of wonderful high school students, together, they were able to obtain the court case document from an appeal easily and with articles, and decided to do a short film to deter youth from marijuana drug used based on Fate — racial profiling and ridiculous sentencing such as Fate’s and many others.

They reached out to Fate at Angola and the Assistant Warden got involved. He told them he wouldn’t allow them to talk to Fate and that he was saying no to any media. He then began a series of untruths that created red flags. They became concerned for Fate after that conversation and started calling his former lawyers and the ACLU for help and answers.I was burdened with a heavy desire to get this man out and others like him. By signing and sharing this petition you can help. President Obama has already pardoned 2 men with similar sentences during his term. I also wonder whether Korstiaan and his students’ rights were violated by being denied a conversation with a non-violent offender and how many others rights may have been also in an effort to help Fate.

“Obama has now commuted more sentences than any president in almost a century. That said, thousands of inmates remain in federal prison for nonviolent drug charges, many of them holdovers from the draconian sentencing laws that came out of the war on drugs. In 2011, then-Attorney General Eric Holder announced a new clemency initiative, claiming that 10,000 inmates “were potentially going to be released” as a result. But 562 is a far cry from that. And as Mother Jones has reported, dozens more are serving life sentences without parole for marijuana-only crimes, a group of people whom advocates view as an obvious choice for the kind of clemency reform that’s been promised.” (One marijuana lifer, Ramon Gonzalez, had his sentence commuted…)
http://www.motherjones.com/…/obama-just-freed-another-214-i…

ACLU Blurb
Fate Vincent Winslow was homeless when he acted as a go-between in the sale of two small bags of marijuana, worth $10 in total, to an undercover police officer. During an undercover investigation in Shreveport in September 2008, an undercover officer approached a white man named Mr. Perdue and Winslow, who is Black. The officer asked Winslow for two dime bags of marijuana worth $10 each and promised a $5 commission for Winslow, who says he accepted the offer in order to earn some money to get something to eat.
Winslow says he bought two $5 bags of marijuana from Perdue and sold them to the undercover officer as dime bags worth $10 each. The undercover officer testified that he witnessed a hand-to-hand transaction between Winslow and Perdue and that he paid Winslow with a $20 bill and a $5 bill. When officers arrested Winslow, he only had the $5 bill on him. Officers found the marked $20 bill on Perdue (the white supplier), but did not arrest him. According to Winslow, at trial, the 10 white jurors found him guilty of marijuana distribution, while the two black jurors found him not guilty (the state of Louisiana does not require a unanimous jury to convict and instead allows convictions by 10 out of 12 jurors). He was sentenced to mandatory life without parole as a fourth strike offender. His prior convictions were for a simple burglary committed in 1984, when he was 17; simple burglary in 1994, when he was 27 (he was accused and convicted of opening an unlocked car door and rummaging inside without taking anything); and possession of cocaine in 2000, when he was 37 (an undercover officer tried to sell him cocaine, which he says he did not purchase)

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Opportunism : A Love of Fate

One popular belief system of the ancient Stoic philosophers known as ‘Amor fati’, or ‘love of fate’ is of great importance during these current times, especially for millennials.

The philosophy posits that every event is discerned as fated to occur. When one complains and strongly protests against circumstances, one falls out of balance with the natural state of things; one wishes things were different.

We’ve been told that one of our greatest human resource is our willpower, our decision-making => our discipline.
Most of us wouldn’t be where we are without hard work or the ability to change our circumstances.

And so, we come to expect that the world will always respond in kind. That it will do what we want. That things will more or less go our way.

To the young and ambitious, Acceptance is the hardest piece of advice to follow. A bitter pill to swallow.
It is hard because it means tolerating things we don’t like, it feels weak, it feels like one has quit, it feels like defeat.

What am I supposed to do, just let things be?—YES!

The tendency to adhere to this faulty and damaging belief that things must be the way we want them, or must be the way we expected ultimately accomplishes very little to nothing at all. Energy/life is wasted!

More importantly, it prevents the acknowledgement of a crucial paradigm shift: Working with what actually is, seeing things as they are, converting all circumstances into opportunities, making the best of every situation, being fluid in our approaches, free in our thoughts, listening to demand and creating supply, willing to take new directions without fear of failure.

Amor fati => Love of fate => The art of acquiescence => what can’t be cured must be endured.

THE MESSAGE: One doesn’t have to like it to work with it-to use it to one’s advantage. It starts by seeing it clearly and accepting it unconditionally. Amor fati – a love of what happens, because that is our only option.

The world around us is what it is. The events that happen are what they are. The people in our lives do what they do.

Accept them. Understand them. Empathize with them.

A man or woman who believes this cannot be hurt by anything or anyone.

realist

Requiem for Sleep

1.

Under the bright lights of a glass-and-chrome clock, on a black cushioned chair, Cecil is sleeping, his two pieces of black luggage in front of him. A police officer awakens him,

“Excuse me, sir,” he says.

Cecil sits up startled. He is wearing a flannel suit, a luxurious warm cashmere scarf, and an overcoat. Eyes red and puffy, his face gaunt and pale, Cecil sits before the police officer, who studies him with bemusement.

“Please keep your bags close to you,” the police officer says, picking up Cecil’s carry-on and sliding it under his chair, and says, “I have never seen anyone frown so much in their sleep.”

“I will keep that in mind officer,” Cecil retorts with an insincere smile trying to lighten the moment, and watches the law enforcer walk away. He glances at his watch, and then looks at an overhanging clock; check-in for his flight begins in a few minutes. He’s been battling sleepless nights, and this is his only chance to catch up on some much needed snooze. In the silence of the nights, Cecil fights his imaginary battles; his unrealized dreams, corruption and unjust occurrences to which he turned a blind eye, the moments of timidity he manages to conceal from other people, but not from himself – and the love which he lacked the courage to embrace. The thought inevitably occurs: if only I had said or done x instead of y, if only I could do it over. He tosses and turns from side to side on his bed, and still fails to fall asleep. He keeps recalling the day’s events; tomorrow’s planned events, and next week’s planned events. His mind keeps spinning in circles, and though he is exhausted, he simply cannot fall asleep.

He overhears the couple behind him chatting about the weather in Florida, and the possibility of rain. He recognizes the smell of fading perfume that women are wearing, Chanel, clashing with the smell of popcorn and toasted sandwiches. The mechanical, yet pleasant, voice on the public address system starts calling for someone to go to the nearest courtesy phone, then announces that flight 446 is now boarding at gate-4B. He hears snippets of conversation from other passengers passing him on their way to the next gate. Underneath Cecil’s functional surface is an undercurrent of excitement, anticipation and impatience.

If the end of the year is a time to reflect on mistakes made and relationships lost, there may not be a better way to start the New Year than with a long overdue vacation. Airports are passageways to life’s biggest moments: celebrations, weddings, and funerals. Along with overstuffed bags, laptops and treasured souvenirs, travelers carry joy and heartache.

Cecil starts moving through the security screening. It’s a beautiful choreographed ballet of a bag handle collapsing, shoes coming off, a laptop in a separate tray, wallet and watch sliding into a shoe, his boarding pass sliding into his back pocket.

2.

Once up in the celestial clouds, strapped into his tight seat, in the climate-controlled can-like cabin, the seat-belt sign goes off. With the hope that in the end, the destination will be worth the discomfort, the inconvenience, and the anxiety, Cecil decides to watch an epic movie.

The film depicts a fallen hero in a medieval epoch. This hero’s village is destroyed by a rival neighboring clan, his wife and child raped and killed, his friends beheaded, and his puppy roasted on an open spit. Throughout the movie the hero justifies his actions, cloaked in religious rhetoric, claiming that it is justice he is after, not vengeance. One cannot be in a moral position not to root for this hero. All the same, as the movie develops, Cecil notices how the more the hero hunts the cause of his woes; the more he takes on the villain’s personality and mannerisms. Justice is probably a mere feeling.

Cecil is fascinated by this kind of heroism because it evinces a kind of strength he wants to emulate. In reality when a man looks in his heart he doesn’t discover something valiant and dangerous, but instead finds anger, lust, and fear. The heroism Cecil finds in the movie has a melancholic sense to it since the hero is all alone, but keeps fighting because without friendship and love, even the strongest man cannot live long. The human soul needs a kindred, familiar heart, a place to rest and lie down. What a precious flower friendship is; we can never value our friend highly enough if he is a true friend, and can never run away fast enough if he betrays our trust.

“Damn you, Iago!” Cecil mutters under his breath, shaking his head in disappointment.

Man will always be man because there is no new man. Civilization, a culture that promotes democratic values of being fair to one and all, the importance of fitting into a group, and knowing how to cooperate with other people. We strive so hard to create a society that is equal where there is nothing to envy your fellow man. But there is always something to covet: a smile, a friendship, something you don’t have and want to claim as your own. There will always be rich and poor, those fortunate in gifts, and others wretched in affliction. There will always be those blessed in love, and others poor in love. A kiss was to be a sign of love and friendship, Judas came up to Jesus with an act of affection but all the while in his heart he was going to betray Jesus. Cicero once said that a nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious, but it cannot survive treason within. Cecil died a million times when he heard that she was happy with Iago, and spent sleepless nights wondering why someone so close would turn around, ruin the best part of him, and leave him empty. More troubling and complex, however, are the battles we face with those who are supposedly on our side – “Et tu Brute, then fall Caesar,” as Shakespeare would say. We laugh extra hard at each other’s jokes, since honesty rarely strengthens friendships, one may never know how a friend truly feels.

Cecil resorts to contemplating, over-thinking, and wishing that they suffer the consequences for what they did to his heart, allowing them to hurt him a second time, this time in his mind. Cecil can’t quite remember who he is anymore, and nothing makes any sense. His significant other is no longer significant, and his closest and oldest friend, the very paragon of benevolence, stabbed him in the back with a velvet glove on his hand, and the sweetest of smiles.

3.

The passenger sitting beside Cecil, an old man, presumably a priest by the clerical clothing he is wearing looks at Cecil with confident loving eyes, and asks,

“What’s the issue young man? You seem troubled, unfinished business?”

“No,” Cecil replies. “Everything is tied up just fine, knock on wood,” Cecil says. He smiles positively; mirroring the confidence exuded from the old man, and then says,

“However, I find myself wondering what the chances are for this particular plane we’re sitting in to sending us into a spinning, rotating, and nose-diving spiral of certain death?”

“I presume you are not fond of flying,” the priest says cracking a sardonic smile.

“No, flying is not really my cup of tea,” Cecil replies.

In reality, the priest’s presence made Cecil ponder about heaven and hell. If the plane actually crashed, killing everyone on board, hell! The thought of anyone suffering at all, let alone for eternity makes Cecil’s stomach twist. He then decides to ask the priest a question,

“May I ask you a question about your faith?”

“Yes, you may,” the priest answers.

“Is God really so vengeful?” Cecil asks.

The priest takes a moment of silence to respond, looking at Cecil pensively, and says,

“The Lord hears the prayers of those who ask to put aside hatred, but he is deaf to those who would flee from love.”

Cecil remains quiet, nods at the priest slightly embarrassed, and mutters under his breath a platonic reply, “Interesting!” his voice trailing away weakly. He looks out the oval window to the earth’s landscape covered in clouds and water. He keeps thinking over what the priest said about the conundrum of love.

For some reason Cecil finally manages to fall asleep.

 

END

Special Faces: A Big Thank You

 

I just want to thank all the readers of ‘Greener On The Other Side’. Stay Blessed!

 

Bundle of Joy

I tried so hard to make him see sense, but Cecil refused to listen to my good advice. In the end, I had to be very fierce with him for his own good. I arranged for extra tuition and every evening I inspected his exercise books to make sure he was concentrating on his studies.

He did study hard, a pious boy, but still, when I went into his room, I found small drawings scattered all over his youthful chamber. It was difficult for me to hide my anger. After everything I had told him he was still painting like a messianic madman. My only son! Here I was making money so that he could have a good life, but all he wanted to do was paint like an absent-minded simpleton. He told me that he wanted to share his feelings with the world because they are so strong. I tried to control myself but he was so obstinate. I called Cecil into our living room and said,

“I have noticed you are still painting, even after I forbade you to!

Cecil just looked at the ground in silence.

“Cecil, I am talking to you.”

I could feel my anger rising.

“Why are you disobeying your father?” I asked angrily.

“Dad, you say we should follow our talents. Painting is my talent.” Cecil answered.

“Talent? You think painting is talent? You should follow a talent that will bring you a good life. You are not going to have a good life through painting. I have already told you. You should become a lawyer.”

“I don’t want to be a lawyer.” Cecil replies.

“Listen to me, Cecil. You know nothing about life. Without a good education and a good career these days, you are nothing, do you hear me?” I shouted at him. Cecil said nothing again. In the end I was so angry that I unbuckled my leather belt and started whipping him, yelling,

“Today I will teach you a lesson you will never forget. Obey your father, respect your father and follow you father’s advice. Otherwise you are nothing. I will not let my son be a nothing, never, never, never.”

Cecil just stood there and said nothing. He just flinched every time I hit him but he did not cry out at all. I felt my blood beginning to circulate faster; I started trembling with incorrigible anger, and begun whipping my recalcitrant son harder and harder until Cecil’s mother came out of somewhere and started screaming,

“Help, everyone help, he is killing my son.”

She grabbed my arm and tried to stop me, screaming at the top of her voice. I stopped. Cecil still said nothing. I recovered my breath and waved the belt buckle in his face,

“Now let that be a lesson to you,” I said, trembling and breathing hard. “If I see you painting one more picture that will be the end between you and me.” Cecil walked out.

My heart was pounding in my chest as if it feared that my soul wanted to carve its way out and run off out the front door. I looked at my wife, and she looked back at me as if she did not recognize me. We looked at each other in the half-light of the setting sun, searching for words that did not exist. For the first time, I realized that I was growing old.

After that particular encounter with Cecil, I never really saw my baby boy painting again. In fact, I hardly saw Cecil at all. Oh yes, he greeted me in the morning with the customary ‘Morning Pa’ but that was all. Whenever I came home in the evenings, Cecil was never to be seen. If I asked his mother, she replied, “He is doing his homework.”

Every day!

“He is doing his homework.”

And if I tried to insist that he come out of his room, she still repeated, “He is doing his homework. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

 

Liturgy

Adjatay, of the Bwiti cult, was well known throughout the villages and even beyond. His fame rested on solid personal achievements. As a young man of sixteen he had brought honor to his village by killing Achi the cat with his bare hands. Achi, a black panther, the most elusive and strongest climber of all felines had terrorized the villagers with its uncommon hunger for human flesh. Adjatay, unusually tall and huge for his age, tracked the feline in the most hostile forest in the land and killed it.

In the traditional cults of the Bwiti; the individual is often submerged under the weight of his family. With the development of a trend of individualism, each man now wants to have his own ancestral relics and administer the rites of his cult apart from his brothers.  Adjatay is clearly cut out for great things. He is still young but he has won fame as the most notorious feline killer. Age is still respected among his people, but achievement is evermore revered. As the elders say, if a child washes his hands he can eat with kings.  It is now time for Adjatay to wash his hands through the initiatic rite of the Bwiti. Through dialogues with the ancestors, Adjatay will become Nganga, which means an initiated man. Adjatay will have developed a better understanding of himself and of the world with the aim to cure and guide others on the path of personal development.

The initiation:

In the heat of a December afternoon, in the heart of the Equatorial Forest, Adjatay’s village resounds with the call of drums. A towering figure covered with raffia palm leaves and topped with a finely carved wooden head is moving through the village. It is an embodied spirit. The rhythmic drums perpetually beat, and the flutes sing and the spectators hold their breath. The embodied spirit is surrounded by young men dressed in short loincloths, their bodies whitened with chalk. These men wield long switches witch keep the gathering crowed at a distance. The spirit sways with the music, and the men sing as they dash to and fro. After a while the spirit troupe disappears into the men’s meeting house. Once in the house, the novices ingest the Iboga plant which gives the young men visions and hallucinations allowing them to travel to the ancestors’ land. It is a rebirth initiation. Symbolically the young boys are killed and made born again. All through the day, performances such as these will continue: masquerades, singing, dancing, and every sort of festivity. It is a rite of passage celebrating the fact that a particular age set has officially gained recognition in the community as full adults.