Missy Crutchfield: Puerto Rico’s Long Path to Recovery Is a Reminder of the United State’s Colonial Negligence and the Need for Change Now

#PrayForPuertoRico

Missy Crutchfield
Editor-in-Chief/Co-Founder
Gandhi’s Be Magazine

Puerto Rico’s crisis reminds Americans we must learn from mistakes of the past and reclaim America’s highest calling, “freedom and justice for all.”

These crises in the world affect us all. The earthquake in Mexico will have long-lasting effects as the people clamor to find food, shelter, and rebuild their economy. For us in the United States, the tragic effects of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico will wreck havoc on their economy–which will in turn affect all of us here in the United States. And, it will have rippling effects way beyond that if we don’t wake-up now and work to help find solutions before Puerto Rico’s economy is irreversibly effected. If we don’t help, we will have ourselves to blame as we will share responsibility for the consequences.

In times like these, we should stand together more firmly than ever to help anywhere and everywhere we can. We should consider contributing to charities as well, but think through this wisely and with “eyes-open.” Be aware that many charities take advantage of crisis situation and use as an opportunity to keep their bloated administrative budgets and salaries, so be mindful of checking out non-profit budgets before you “give.”

Gandhi’s Be Magazine received a message from internationally recognized author and speaker Ivan Figueroa-Otero about the crisis in Puerto Rico, where he and his wife Ivette reside. Dr. Figueroa-Otero sent this message:

“Friends, monetary donations in general end up in the wrong hands. We need the congress to pass laws that foster our economic recovery. Yet we have no political influence on your representatives and depend on lobbying of politicians to help. We have been informed that power and water will not be normal for 5-6 months. Meanwhile, how do our professions thrive and find resources to pay our mortgages? People are getting desperate and soon social chaos and survival of the fittest will prevail. Nothing in history since the Great Depression or civil war has occurred–3.5 million Americans living in destitute conditions has never been seen.”

Dr. Figueroa-Otera goes on to share, “School systems may terminate the school year, and many children and families will be forced to leave Puerto Rico and come to the mainland U.S. to live temporarily or even permanently, depending on the situation and economic help and rebuilding efforts.” He also shared that his own grandchildren will probably be sent to live with relatives in the United States and concluded, “If we don’t keep PR in the awareness of the United States– the largest migration of people could occur, leaving a ghost country behind. All we ask for is to give us the tools to learn from our mistakes and to rebuild Puerto Rico again.”

The Washington Post reports on how the situation in Puerto Rico has been critical for some time, but now it is in full crisis mode. It is time the United States began working on real long-term solutions to the economic situation before it’s too late.

Recently in an interview with The Washington Post, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), stated “Puerto Rico doesn’t have a senator, so we’ve always treated it as a place we care about a lot.” About 80,000 Puerto Rico residents moved to the mainland United States last year, part of an exodus driven by the island’s devastated economy. Most of them relocated to Florida — another reason for lawmakers such as Rubio to worry about the island. Senator Rubio, whose state is home to more that one million Puerto Ricans continued saying, “We have to begin to think in the worst possible terms, between power restoration, critical infrastructure, housing assistance, the need to airlift critical medical  patients out of the island to the mainland, seniors, things like that.”

Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.), whose Brooklyn-area district has a significant Puerto Rican constituency also spoke with The Washington Post, saying, “The combination of the financial crisis, the health-care crisis and now these two natural disasters, it’s a recipe for a lot of people to feel that they’re hopeless and they need to come to the [mainland] United States.” Velázquez, who is awaiting news about family members on the island, warned that if legislation addressing the economic problems isn’t coupled with federal hurricane relief, “we’re going to have an unprecedented number of people who will continue to leave the island.”

The Washington Post Hurricanes may compel even more Puerto Rico residents to flee to the mainland, officials warn

Answering the Question: Are Puerto Ricans U.S. Citizens?

According to Wikipedia, Puerto Ricans have been American citizens for 100 years ( on March 2, 1917, Wilson signed the Jones-Shafroth Act, under which Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory and Puerto Ricans were granted statutory citizenship), and we know from U.S. history that when Americans are hurt or in crisis, fellow Americans rise up together to the cause– exemplifying amazing courage and compassion to help each other.

Right now Puerto Rico needs us, and as Dr. Figueroa-Otera describes, this may mean much more that traveling to Puerto Rico or sending money there through popular charities, this may mean we must also take a real look at our political system and economic development efforts, and how we can invest, empower, and partner with the people there to rebuild a strong sustainable economy back, which will in turn, fortify the rest of America. This includes speaking truth to power as well and getting out the vote to make sure our representatives are working on rebuilding efforts and transparent processes.

Please Sign The Petition Through WhiteHouse.gov!

CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

On a personal note: I hope we take time to consider these thoughts and suggestions. I pray we keep sharing ideas and ways we can help our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, as well as all people in crisis around the world. Together we will overcome… Because together is the only way we can… We are all connected. We are one people. We are one planet. #WeAreOne #PrayForPuertoRico #BeTheChange

In Love, Peace & Compassion for #AllGodsChildren,

Missy Crutchfield
Editor-in-Chief/Co-Founder
Gandhi’s Be Magazine

Missy Crutchfield: To Israel-Palestine With Love, Reflections on My Journey

Missy Crutchfield
Editor-in-Chief/Co-Founder
Gandhi’s Be Magazine

I know Issa Amro. He is a man of integrity and courage and dedicates his life to working for peace and justice for Palestinians…

Issa Amro (Youth Against Settlements)

Ma’an News Agency: PA Releases Issa Amro on bail, charged with “causing strife” over Facebook post

I was there last May in South Hebron with Center for Jewish Nonviolence Founder and Director Ilana Sumka and hundreds of others from CJNV side-by-side along with our Palestinian partners.

We were all there together–working to improve the harsh living and environmental conditions that these beautiful and kind people are having to endure.

We were all there together witnessing what was happening to them–the violence from the settlers–the inability of the IDF to do anything to stop the settlers as they attempted to disrupt the work we were doing any way they could.

While we were there we learned of a 23-year-old Palestinian man who was shot by an Israeli settler. Another settler shot an AP photographer. This all seems so unreal coming from the United States. You want to believe justice will prevail and that law enforcement and the courts will be on the side of justice, but if you are Palestinian–it is an entirely different story.

It is so similar to what our African American brothers and sisters suffered during the civil rights movement so long ago… But these things are still happening. Racism, apartheid, prejudice, bigotry–all of these things are still going on around the world and, yes, even in the United States.

But, while in Israel, I noticed a denial, even an unwillingness to acknowledge these things and begin taking steps to correct these injustices. It was especially difficult for me to understand, given the suffering and the trials and tribulations our Jewish brothers and sisters have come through from ancient times to the horrific events of the Holocaust. “Remember” and “Never Again” should be for all people, not just some. The time is now to stand up for all people who are oppressed.

The time is now to speak truth to power. The time is now to gather together and speak out: the global violence and oppression must end now. We must speak out any way we can. We must use our words, actions, votes, social media, writing, technology, communities, and any means available.

German anti-Nazi theologian, Pastor Martin Niemoller, wrote these words that remind us of what horrors can happen when good people do nothing…

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

We must #SpeakTruthToPower now before it’s too late. We must stand together before we are torn apart. We must work through nonviolence, showing the world that peace will prevail. We must dedicate our lives to this cause and to the cause of peace and nonviolence for all…

I will add that I have very dear friends in Israel and love them very much. I am also proud of so many things that are going on there with the animal rights movement and vegan awareness, and gay rights. Clearly Israelis “get” what it means to be progressive and work for the rights of others–except when it comes to Palestine.

The time is now for all to stand together and demand justice and equality for all God’s creatures, not just some.

I was in Israel and Palestine just a few weeks ago for the second time. My first visit was in May when the Knesset had passed a law stating anyone advocating BDS (boycott, divestments, and sanctions) would not be allowed in the country.

Recently they have begun blocking people from flying to or even entering the country if they feel they are pro-BDS. Several peace and justice workers, including some American rabbis, were not permitted to board the airplane to travel to Israel. Others have been turned away upon entering…

972mag.com How Palestinians can reverse Israel’s divide and conquer tactics.”

The #BDS movement is free speech and is part of a nonviolent human rights movement for justice. It is proven to be an effective tactic and the fact that the Knesset passed this law is even more proof that it’s working. I have shared with many that I feel that it is important and that this kind of action was instrumental for Gandhi during the “Quit India” movement and his nonviolent work.

Israel claims to be a democracy and they actually boast they are “the only democracy in the Middle East” (and the Israelis even joke about that, “Yeah, we know it’s not a real democracy…”) but clearly Israel’s actions do not demonstrate the principles of freedom and democracy for all, given the systemic treatment of Palestinians, Arabs, and other minorities.

While there I got to speak to many more people and so many of them truly believe in this cause and are prepared to do the work to raise awareness and end this injustice. Others admit that peace is good, but they are not ready to take a stand for it yet… You have to understand, Israelis live a beautiful lifestyle on the Mediterranean with a strong economy and so many of the amenities that the rest of the world longs for, they even ranked higher than the U.S. in the Happiest Countries in the World, albeit they enjoy the boost of between $3-5 billion annually in U.S. foreign military aid and support… This has a tendency to put them into a state of complacency, and, yes, the “walled” comfort zone and all…

I ask, “If not now, then when?” Are we supposed to wait for someone to announce that it’s time? Are we supposed to mark it on our calendar? Surely the “Powers That Be” aren’t going to roll over and “give up” their status and power. The greedy aren’t concerned about the oppressed. This is our job as engaged citizens. If we are to make this change we must all get involved. If and when we do, we will win for sure. We have the people on our side. We outnumber the 1%. We can vote with our spending, our media, our communities, and yes, even with our “votes.” But we must act now before it’s too late.

In closing, I will share a conversation I had with a dear friend on the way to the airport after he learned more about my speaking out about Palestine and about my Facebook posts. He said “Missy, you need to stop posting ‘Free Palestine’ all over Facebook. Israel will put you on a blacklist and you won’t be able to come visit us anymore.” So, with love in my heart, and hope for peace for all people in my thoughts, I write this:

FREE PALESTINE. FREE ISSA. END GLOBAL OPPRESSION. NO MORE WALLS.

I came to do this work. Through God’s grace I have met so many wonderful people and have been able to do amazing work that I will spend the rest of my life doing. The irony is that I would never have met these friends if I weren’t on this path, so how could I ever consider stop doing the work that brought me there and that is clearly part of God’s purpose for my life? I thought of this the entire trip home. I thought about how much I will miss my Israeli family. I thought how I wished they understood this calling and hoped that they will join in the deeper work for social justice and human rights… I will continue to do work on the ground there until I am forced to leave or I am not allowed in anymore. And If I am not allowed in anymore, I will keep working from wherever I am. I will never give up.

Creating a Message of Peace for #AllGodsChildren and #AllGodsCreatures at the Israel-Palestine Separation Wall in Bethlehem

At the Banksy Hotel, advertised as the worst view in the world… The Banksy faces the Separation Wall… While visiting there, I created my message of peace to go up on the wall:

We Are All God’s Children

We Are All God’s Creatures…

We Have Only One Earth…

I know in my heart that I have peace and love on my side and where these things are, God is there also. Please join me in sharing messages of freedom, justice, peace, and love for #AllGodsChildren and #AllGodsCreatures…

Peace, Love, & Namaste,
Missy Crutchfield

P.S. Next time I plan a trip to Israel, I’ll definitely buy travel insurance 😉

#JusticeForAll #JusticeForIssa #FreePalestine #WeAreOne #GodIsLove