Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thoughts welcome on the passing of our dear friend and mentor, Pamela Blockey-O'Brien

I have been contemplating thoughts about Pamela and how much she influenced me to try and reach out for something that was greater than myself.Without her, we would have never made it across the the pond to Europe and to our goal. She was critical and instrumental to the idea of the journey and inspired me to say "Yes we can" before it was the statement that we hear so much of today. I will miss her and it was only recently that I reconnected to her and unfortunately missed many opportunities to hear more of her thoughts. I understand her last few years were quite a struggle due to her health matters but that never stopped her from speaking out the best she knew how, with force and conviction and with an all too generous heart. I will miss her and she will remain an inspiration to me for the end of my days. Rest well dear Pamela.


Kevin James Shay said...

I remember first meeting Pamela in person as we walked into Atlanta in 1984. She had a megaphone and was instructing bewildered people eating lunch in, or just walking through, a city park in Atlanta to clap for us as we walked by, as she said we had walked all the way from California. She organized a rally before a crowd of more than 100 that was one of our largest in the US, but she did not appear satisfied since TV stations failed to show, covering H.W. Bush's appearance in Atlanta that coincided with ours. Andy got her to lighten up a bit, commenting that we were "Bush-whacked."
Now I believe Andy and Pamela are reunited in that other spiritual world, along with Solange and others. Andy is still probably racking his brains on how to get Pamela to lighten up a bit.
But maybe some people don't need to do that, or have a more fervent mission. Someone said that after Pamela lived for many years in South Africa, she brought the shocking story of apartheid to the German magazine, Der Spiegel, which broke the news to the rest of the world. That in itself would be more than most of us did, but Pamela went beyond that.
I was amazed with all she did, she had time to type or handwrite these long, multi-page letters to us on the walk. I kept numerous of them, including a copy of one she sent us after we finished the US portion that said in part:
"Regardless of whether or not nuclear holocaust is averted, human misery relieved or racism ended, you have earned your place alongside those people throughout history who have gone before you, who were also on the side of all that is good and true and wondrous…. If the hour of annihilation should ever come upon us, despite your best efforts and the efforts of all who strive for peace — in that awful instant of ‘knowing,’ you will also remember you did your best to prevent it. You can stand before the Universal God unashamed."
Touche. 'Nuff said.

Carroll and Edith said...

Adjusted, here's what I sent to our UU congregation list today.

Dear friends,
This morning I expressed sadness at Pamela Blockey O'brien's death. Many hearts, including mine, were with her. She fought for thirty years as a "fiery anti-nuclear activist"(Nuclear Watch South), in the spirit of Linus Pauling, for the unknown -- but real -- human beings exposed to radiation. She fought as a "dogged document hound" (Confronting Nuclear Power in Georgia). Invigorating local chapters of the national religious pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, she helped build networks of love, especially via organizing and coordinating long-distance peace walks (twelve hours daily for months). In her final years dependent on an oxygen tank, I think she still was in near-daily phone contact with local and national politicians.
So she was an activist. AND she was a down-to-earth motherly friend -- "passing of our dear friend" headlined California-to-Moscow "Walk of the People" leader's e-mail last week. Edie's special cane and fanny-packed med-list were Pamela's practical gifts, as I mentioned to you.

Pamela was rare. Idealists often fail in personal relatiionships (the Port Huron leaders, John Reed). Local healers often don't have major energy after healing the "bleeding bodies on the riverbank" (Mother Teresa; also our congregation, carrying out our mission statement with noble local work helping feed the hungry, supporting latchkey kids and the county AIDS group, but -- while giving money to UUSC for India and Africa, lacking energy to staff a Social Action table during refreshment time and disappointing Ray Sobel on universal health insurance and disappointing me on U.N. issues). So less of our energy involves going upstream to see what's happening up there whence hurt bodies are floating down.

There are two wings to social action -- the Good Samaritan's pulling the neighbor from the ditch, putting a warm arm around and feeding the neighbor, AND working politically for structural social changes. Pamela, like Albert Schweitzer and John Gofman and Studs Terksl) flew on two wings, both strong.