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Every Tattoo tells a Story and Expresses the True Ken O'KeefeEileen Fleming Salem-News.com
“The tear under my eye expresses the sorrow I feel for all the insanity I see humanity involved in" - Ken O'Keefe
(CLERMONT, Fla.) - Kenneth Nichols O'Keefe, is a strikingly handsome 41 year old naturalized Irish, Palestinian, Hawaiian and world citizen, who began expressing his spirit on his skin with tattoos while a U.S. Marine who served in the 1991 Gulf War.
During 13 days on the road with Ken, his mother and the Salem-News.com crew who documented his non-stop speaking engagements through the NW US and into Victoria, Canada, Ken informed me that his first tattoo was the “meat tag” on the left side of his chest.
“When I found out the Marines were not exactly about honor and integrity I had the USMC crossed out and replaced with "civilian". I didn’t even know the tattoo artist but he gave me the tattoo for free because it was novel.”
At the same time, Ken also began speaking up verbally about America’s use of depleted uranium as a "crime against humanity" and how the US military uses soldiers as "human guinea pigs" with experimental drugs that were directly linked to the Gulf War syndrome.
Ken has been a boat captain, dive instructor and social entrepreneur whose efforts have rescued over fifty-five endangered Green Sea Turtles in Hawaii.
Ken founded Deep Ecology, a 14 year old dive operation in Hawaii, that also focuses on education, environmental protection and customer service.
Ken has saved untold amounts of marine life and successfully lobbied for the creation of the North Shore's first Marine Sanctuary, and today his mother, Pat Johnson runs the operation and on the left margin of the Deep Ecology oahuscubadive.com/ site it proclaims, “RESPECT YOUR MOTHER” meaning both biological and Mother Nature.
Ken renounced his US citizenship on March 1, 2001 and rose to fame for leading the human shield action to Iraq and was deemed a ‘terrorist’ by Israel for his resistance against their attack on the MV Mavi Marmara in which he defended the ship by disarming two Israeli Commandos, who were treated by medical doctors and released.
“I’ve made mistakes as every human does, but not regarding morals and integrity. By myself, I can do little, but together we can do everything. The Mavi Marmara experience proved that a small group of people who work together and tell the truth will create a better world.
“Our greatest responsibility is to hand over a better world to all children, and the 800,000 children in Gaza, are my children. I would rather die in pursuit of justice than back down. How can anyone accept the unacceptable!
“Governments should fear the people, not the other way around. The world is what we make of it and the fact that their is so much injustice in our world is a testament to our failure to unite and exercise our ultimate power.
“Direct Action, such as that which we conducted on the Mavi Marmara is the most powerful way for people of conscience to defy tyranny and affect justice; we have only just begun to reach our potential. Protecting that ship as we did was really an act of protecting the 800,000 plus children of Gaza who are the major beneficiary of breaking the blockade and ending their collective punishment.
“Israel used stun guns, percussion grenades, rounds of live ammunition, 9mm pistols, submachine guns and they had snipers in the helicopters.
“They attacked during morning prayers at 3:40 AM [on America’s Memorial Day] and within five minutes of their attack, I saw a photographer who was a father of two shot in the head while he was taking photos of the helicopter.
“The first commando that I saw that descended from the helicopter had a 9mm pistol. I disarmed him and removed the live rounds and ran with the gun to stash it away for evidence.
“When I returned on top of the ship, another commando fell in front of me who had a sub machine gun and I grabbed his arms and me and another bother disarmed him.
“I ran around that ship for over five minutes trying to figure out who to hand over the 9mm pistol to, either I am incredibly lucky, or else those snipers had orders not to shoot white people.
“I tattooed my body as a form of expression, as a form of commitment to the cause of truth justice and peace, these tattoos also predictably forced me to make my own path rather then getting any jobs with IBM and the corporate world in general. These tattoos definitely force people to look at their prejudices.
“The tear under my eye expresses the sorrow I feel for all the insanity I see humanity involved in.
“The chain around my neck is a necklace of commitment and another is Sanskrit for ‘compassion for all life.’”
Ken’s right arm is adorned with an Hawaiian tiki entwined with Celtic knots, and “USA EXPATRIOT: 3-1-01 R.I.P.”
On his left hand is a symbol for TJP, which stands for Truth, Justice, Peace and on his arm a take off of the Michael Parkes gargoyle who is chasing bubbles blown by a young maiden.
He also sports this Mark Twain quote:
“Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”
On Ken’s left wrist is a bracelet and on his left thumb a ring and a heart.
On his right wrist is a “barcode” (taken from a packet of ground beef) and upon his forearm is inscribed “SOVEREIGN: BORN FREE - DIE FREE” and Ken explained it to me, “Kings and Queens are considered sovereign, but fuck that! We are all sovereign!
On Ken’s abdomen is the word “EXTINCT” and the Peter Singer quote, "All the arguments to prove man's superiority cannot shatter this one hard fact: in suffering the non human animals are our equals."
Ken told me that his “bio-hazard symbol represents that we humans are the most hazardous species on this planet.
“I have a dragon on my back with hidden meaning.”
“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
Ken also said that “The truth is God” and it is understood by most human beings that we are all created in the image of God.
Most of us believe that God’s image is manifest in our souls and our bodies are the result of millions of years of evolution.
Many of us manifest God’s spirit when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless and some of us comprehend that no greater love is there than one who will lay down his life for another.
Eileen Fleming is the Producer of "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org, Eileen is a Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com, Author of "Keep Hope Alive" and "Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory" and the soon to be released "BEYOND NUCLEAR: Some of my Experiences of Mordechai Vanunu and the Holy Land: 2005-2010" youtube.com/user/eileenfleming. Eileen is a unique leader in her state and she intends to run for a Florida Congressional seat in the future, to help speed the process of change that is so demanded today. Like many who walk in similar steps, Eileen, like other writers at Salem-News.com, is an outspoken advocate for humanity and she has no tolerance for the oppressive forces of the world.
You can send Eileen Fleming an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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