The notes and essays in this collection were written over the last couple of years, as I’ve prepared for events, and communicated with scholars, curators, and representatives from universities. In a few cases, I’ve included something just because it has a family story or two in it. Perhaps all together these will help someone who is interested to get a fuller idea of who my father was, along with his own writing, and his art, of course.
Putting the joy back in Joyful Effort
In Buddhism, we call a bodhisattva someone who’s intent on helping others in every needed way. He or she does this through what are called the Six Perfections, which are Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Joyful Effort, Meditation and Wisdom. This is, or should be, a path of unsurpassed happiness, and mature joy, because this is not a small ambition to have. Such great love is, in fact, the fulfillment of our lives here. Sometimes, however, we lose our zeal…
For Dr. David Hilfiker, with photographs by Frank Espada
‘We belong to each other…’
I. The social gospel defined
The social gospel is the view that we are made to care for each other; that we are here to protect, support and encourage each other; to love, nurture and celebrate every one of our family, from birth, through all the stages of life, in struggle and difficulty, and in times of ease and success.
I was surprised recently to hear the phrase ‘I become we’ and it reminded me of something important, especially in these times. This is an idea that’s been made use of for generations in the Civil Rights and Labor movements, as well as in religious teachings.
We fear power because we associate it with aggression. It’s there in everything from militarism to abusive husbands and boyfriends, to those we say are ‘drunk with power’ – implying control, domination, and injustice. But power in itself is neutral. Power can be turned any way, and this is something we need to know, for our own sake, for that of our community, and world.
First Corinthians, chapter 13
Though I may speak in the tongues of men and of angels, if I have not love, I am but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…
by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove….
I first saw what has come to be known as ‘the human microphone’ during Occupy. This is where one person speaks, and those around him or her repeat it, so that others can hear. They begin with saying ‘Mic check!’ ‘MIC CHECK’, the crowd replies. This is a time when we all need to repeat the best things that we hear, a time when we all suffer and struggle together, and whatever wisdom we can gather needs to be spoken far and wide.
In the Fall of 2013, I started what I thought was going to be a simple project that would take me a few months: I was going to organize my father’s photographs. I had no idea at the time how this would lead me into a deeper relationship with the man who was my hero, and role model in many ways.
On 29th St., in San Francisco. Photo by Jason Espada
The following was written in 2014, in preparation for visits from curators, who were coming to view the entire range of my father’s work, within the space of a few short days. I took this as an opportunity to touch upon the most significant events in his life, and to celebrate the man I had come to know more fully through organizing his archive.