Yesterday I was talking to the woman who has prepared our taxes for the last 22 years. She is growing older, she says, and more disillusioned. In fact, she opined as we chatted, looking out of her highrise office windows in downtown Louisville on a gorgeously warm and spring-like day, that the situation was hopeless. One person could no longer make a difference.
In this series on dignity and self-worth we have been looking at various aspects of what it is to be a substantive, worthy person. Our search has taken us to look at heroes of ethical battles, finding dignity in their expression of truth. It has also taken us to look deeply within ourselves for the essence of each of us, which holds the consciousness of unconditional love common to us all. There are definitely inner and outer aspects to this issue of dignity and self-worth.
Today I’d like to take on the case of Michael Berg. His current life drama is all about how our culture attempts to remove access to the media from those whose messages are not considered mainstream. So we’re again looking at the outer picture of action in consensus reality. I’d like to share with you some of the details of his story.
Michael Berg was born in 1945 and was educated at Bucknell and Temple Universities, where he earned his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in education. He taught in the public school system of Pennsylvania until his recent retirement. His son, Nicholas, was born 26 years ago. Nick worked for a telecommunications contractor and was sent to Iraq in the course of his job in March of 2004. He was abducted and murdered on May 7, less than three months later.
Nick had all the papers needed to do his job, which was to rebuild infrastructure in Iraq. His specific work was building telecommunication towers. For some reason, an officer, Lt. Kern, found it suspicious that Nick was traveling alone and detained him for FBI questioning. For two weeks, the FBI held him without any rights. He could not seek legal counsel or call home to reassure his family that he was alive. He simply disappeared. After his release he was kidnapped in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal and beheaded.
Nick has never been accused by any agency of wrongdoing of any kind. There was no reason for his death. He was not in the armed forces. He was a civilian simply trying to do his job.
Naturally, Nick’s death disturbed his family. Michael, his Dad, responded to the event by deciding to try to make a difference. He said to Amy Goodman in a recent interview, “I have been a war resister since 1965, but when Nick died, I took responsibility for the war. That is, I dedicated every moment of my life to doing whatever I can do to end the war, and I took the opportunity to run on the Green Party ticket.
The Green Party is the only party that says, “Bring the troops home now, today” as part of its platform. That opportunity seemed to me to be an extension of my ability to speak out against the war, so that’s why I did it.“
Michael moved to Delaware in order to run for a Congressional seat that was opening up in the mid-term elections. Delaware accepts third-party candidates without a lot of paperwork, and he was on the ballot soon, and campaigning. When the opportunity to debate with the other three candidates running for that job came up, Michael was eager to participate.
The other candidates running for that position were the incumbent, a Republican named Mike Castle, who eventually won the election, a Democrat named Dennis Spivack and an Independent candidate named Karen Hartley-Nagle. Spivack encouraged the Council of Civic organizations, who was hosting the debate, to allow all the candidates to speak.
The decision was made not to allow any except the Republican and the Democratic candidates to debate. The reason given, which is clearly bogus, was that having four people speak would make the debate too long. The people would not be entertained by having such a long debate, and would not watch at all. This was the rationale for saying no.
When Berg climbed on to the Brandywine high school stage anyway and attempted to become a part of the candidates’ panel, moderator Harvey Rubenstein asked him to leave the stage. There ensued a routine worthy of the Three Stooges comedies.
“Why can’t we have all four candidates in the debate?’ asked Michael.
“Why can’t he talk?” asked an audience member.
Ultimately this slight, balding, entirely unthreatening man was escorted from the stage by uniformed officers, having slapped across his own mouth like a gag, a bumper sticker for his campaign.
Let’s face it: he has a point. As he himself says, “You know, it’s kind of a Catch-22. What they say is that there isn’t enough voter interest in us, but they won’t let the voters see us so that they can become interested in us.” We Americans are no longer hearing about issues and people. We hear only about images and spins. Little good information is getting through these days to help voters focus well.
Many commentators have poked fun at Michael Berg. And he does invite criticism, as he is more of an activist than an historian and can mix the most shining truth with sadly unchecked facts and unsupported generalities.
One particularly vitriolic blogger, Dangerous Logic, is a good representative of these critics. He wrote, “Michael Berg is a first-order moonbat who refuses to see any good motives, let alone any good results, in anything a non-Socialist U.S. Government does. Towards that end, he makes cryptic remarks about killings that lead me to believe he needs nothing more than a good spanking (like any misguided child) and a tinfoil hat (like any conspiracy nut). The free pass I gave him for his idiotic remarks immediately after his son’s murder is officially over.”
This man lost a son in a bizarre and heinous miscarriage of justice. How should he feel positively about the administration which created the atmosphere in which a man can be taken off the street because he looks suspicious? Berg has made speeches which could have been better considered, but basically has reaped this kind of scorn for doing nothing more than trying to make a difference.
I believe he has made a difference! I believe that all of those who seek to better conditions for others make a difference. And I can predict confidently that anyone who tries hard enough to make a difference will pay for their good deeds by being persecuted for their actions, under the general rule: no good deed goes unpunished.
The Q’uo, in a message channeled through L/L Research, says:
“My dear ones, you are the light of the world. It is from hearts such as yours that the light of your planet comes. It is from lives such as yours that the great procession of life and death is imbued in the passion play of life on earth with honor, dignity, compassion and deep caring. It is the way of the spiritual sojourner to live that uncomfortable life that is aware of these matters, that is aware of the great wheel of evolution working through time and space to bring consciousness to that infinite present moment, where that great love that created all that there is suddenly explodes into light infinite and indivisible.”
My dear fellow spiritual sojourners, I do not know where your talents lie. Are you one whose arena is the outer work of political activism? Are you a reformer and a crusader for justice and equality? Or are you a spiritual activist whose prayers and visualizations hasten the advent of cosmic consciousness Whichever type of seeker you are, I salute you and encourage you with every fibre of my being. Either we are the Creator’s voice here in this world or no one speaks for the Creator. No matter what obstacles seem to interfere, I urge your faithfulness to the duty and honor of being alive this day, in this particular place and dealing with this particular set of variables. In your perseverance, you are most worthy.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. Take heart. You can and do make a difference, both by how you live on the inside, where you lift your truth to heaven in prayer and supplication, and by how you live on the outside, where you lift your truth to the unkind reception of the mass media. Go for it! And be not dismayed by naysayers. Love and serve with a serene sense of your own worth.