World is Being Blogged
Blog Archive, September 25, 2005-August 3, 2006
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Thursday, August 3, 2006
Time for a Cease Fire--Where and When Not?
CLEVELAND, OH--This morning, I attended a press conference called by U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) to demonstrate support for his resolution, co-sponsored by 23 members of Congress, for an immediate cease fire in the Middle East. Representatives of Cleveland's Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities spoke at the event in favor of Kucinich's bill (my brother Alan spoke for the local chapter of Tikkun, an interspiritual movement that recently launched the Network of Spritual Progressives). It's a sign of the times that sponsorship of such a straightforwardly reasonable bill is seen as a "courageous" step by Kucinich.
One of the speakers, Julia Shearson, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, noted the fundamental insanity that all this fighting and devastation is about a little piece of land, and how that land is somehow valued more than the lives that live above it. She pointed out that we spend so much time on war and bloodshed that could be spent feeding the hungry or reversing global warming. Basic human truths. Basic common sense.
It occurs to me to wonder why there aren't more calls for a cease fire in that other Middle East war, which even the generals are now admitting is turning into a civil war as well . Why not propose a cease fire for Iraq, and bring in a truly international peacekeeping force with legitimacy on the ground?
As another speaker at the press conference said today, the Middle East has had war after war and it has not solved the problems the region faces. It could not be clearer that both the Israel-Hezbollah war and the Iraq war have done nothing but make matters worse for the people of the those areas--not to speak of the cost in lives and body parts lost.
By not advocating an immediate cease fire, our government leaders are in fact declaring themselves in favor of mass human slaughter as policy, and this is unconscionable--and yes, insane. Yet, as my brother noted in his comments today, advocates for peace are often considered naive and out of touch with reality. We live in a political bizarro world, where everything is the opposite of what it should be, and we need to turn this world and its way of thinking on its head. If a policy of violence ever solved any problem, it is not solving these particular problems. It's time for peacemakers to come to the fore and be heard.
Friday, June 2, 2006
Commission Urges Global Nuclear Disarmament
An international commission, set up by the Swedish government, has called for a global ban on nuclear weapons. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, chaired by ex-UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, also includes former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, and Alexei G Arbatov, a former high-ranking Russian official. The commission calls for a UN World Summit on Disarmament as a means to move its proposals forward. For more on the report, see the Commission's website.
See also news articles, including "Commission Attacks Nuclear Drift," by Laura Trevelyan, BBC News, June 1, 2006.
Another World is Possible: A New Song by Stephan Smith
A great new song just out by singer-songwriter Stephan Smith, Another World is Possible, is dedicated as an "anthem for the Global Justice Movement." Stephan Smith has been called "this generation's Woody Guthrie" by Billboard Magazine. His website is here: www.stephansmith.com.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
The Heart is a Little to the Left: Remembering Bill Coffin
"I once heard Lyndon Johnson urge Martin Luther King to hold off on his marching in the south to give the President time to neutralize the old guard in Congress and create a consensus for finally ending institutionalized racism in America. Martin Luther King listened, and then he answered (I paraphrase): Mr. President, the gods of the South will never be appeased. They will never have a change of heart. They will never repent of their sins and come to the altar seeking forgiveness. The time has passed for consensus, the time has come to break the grip of history and change the course of America.” When the discussion was over Dr. King had carried the day. The President of the United States put a long arm on his shoulder and said, “Martin, you go on out there now and make it possible for me to do the right thing.” Lyndon Johnson had seen the light: For him to do the right thing someone had to subpoena the conscience of America and send it marching from the ground up against the citadels of power and privilege.
Like Martin Luther King, Bill Coffin also knew the heart of power is hard; knew it arranged the rules for its own advantage, knew that before justice could roll down like water and righteousness like a flowing river, the dam of oppression, deception and corruption had first to be broken, cracked open by the moral power of people aroused to demand that the right thing be done."--From remarks delivered by journalist Bill Moyers at the funeral service for William Sloan Coffin on Thursday, April 20, at Riverside Memorial Church in New York City
Source: "Remembering Bill Coffin," by Bill Moyers, Common Dreams News Center, April 21, 2006.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I Awake Every Hundred Years
Los Angeles Immigration Demonstration, 3/25/06
Photo: Lucas Jackson, Reuters
"I awake every hundred years, when the people awake."--Pablo Neruda
"We Decided Not to Be Invisible Anymore: Pro-Immigration Rallies are Held Across Country," by Dan Balz and Darryl Fears, Washington Post, April 11, 2006.
"As the immigrant legislation was heard Monday on Capitol Hill, a grass-roots movement of immigrant churchgoers, union members, businessmen, media personalities and laborers was hoping to use the power of their numbers to move the debate. Some in the loosely knit coalition speak of the dawning of a new civil rights movement, drawing parallels with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Chicano labor activist Cesar Chavez....Almost three-quarters of a million people in more than 10 cities have marched against the bill." --John Pomfret and Sonya Geis, "Immigrants' Voice Reaches the Hill, Washington Post, March 28, 2006.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
2006 Olympics Opening Ceremony
Beirut Protestors Burn Danish Flag
It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times
It may be true that people in more than a dozen counties are rioting in response to a cartoon, that nearly six million people die each year of preventable malnutrition and hunger, and that the cost of the Iraq war will now top $322 billion (enough to end that starvation many times over).
But, it is also true that last night an estimated two billion people, a third of humanity, listened to a rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, and shared a evening's length vision of global harmony, peace, respect, and the simple joy of play and living....So, you're not the only one.
It seems that we're being given a choice--collectively as humanity--in ever-increasingly stark terms: evolution or extinction.
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Coretta Scott King
April 27, 1927 - January 30, 2006
"In 1985, Mrs. King and three of her children were arrested at the South African embassy in Washington, D.C., for protesting against that country's apartheid system of racial segregation and disenfranchisement. Ten years later, she stood with Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg when he was sworn in as President of South Africa." --Academy of Achievement.org
"Through her faith, we learned the confidence of knowing that peace on Earth is inevitable."
--Yolanda King, oldest child of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 28, 2006
Beyond Impeachment: Building Global Civil Society
Based on their repeated violations of laws of Congress and of the US Constitution, George Bush and Dick Cheney should be impeached and their policies repudiated (see below). But, while we need to reject an Administration that believes in the "unitary" authority of the President and that some aspects of its permanent "war" on terrorism are "beyond congressional ability to regulate," that is only the beginning of what is needed to build another possible world.
What is needed in addition is the creation of a global culture and politics that provides an alternative to the false choice between the authoritarianism of Islamic fundamentalism and Bin Ladinism, the Christian fundamentalism of Pat Robertson-Pope Bendedict XVI, and George Bush's "freedom" (torture, rendition, domestic spying, free speech zones, the Patriot Act, enemy combatants, etc.).
As you read this, more than 60,000 people are gathered from all over the world in South America to create just that kind of global culture. The 2006 World Social Forum (WSF) is being held in Caracas, Venezuela, from January 24-29. The World Social Forum was created as a response to the World Economic Forum, the "neoliberal" gathering of economic and political elites that takes place every January in Davos, Switzerland. The mission of the WSF is to provide a space where other possible worlds can emerge. It defines itself as "non-governmental and non-party. (The WSF) proposes to facilitate decentralized coordination and networking among organizations engaged in concrete action towards building another world, at any level from the local to the international, but it does not intend to be a body representing world civil society."
The WSF represents the beginning of a global citizens movement for a a global culture and politics of peace, social justice, and harmony with the natural world--aka "topia." It is being largely ignored by mainstream media (a nice exception is this Reuters story). So Google it (but not in China), and find out everything you can about it. Maybe next year, you, too, can participate (there are local Social Forums being created all around the world). And in the meanwhile, impeach George Bush.
January 1, 2006
An American New Year's Resolution:
Impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney
"History is about to break wide open." --Tony Kushner, Angels in America
Finally, momentum is building toward the impeachment of George Bush--and Dick Cheney, though making it happen will require electing a new Congress in November, 2006. What if this Administration were to unravel like the fall of apartheid, like the collapse of the Soviet Union, like the dismantling of the Berlin Wall?
This has been an illegal and constitution-bashing Adminstration from the start. Consider, in just a few words and phrases, the litany of abuse the nation and the world have endured for the last five years: Florida. Bush v. Gore Supreme Court decision. The Patriot Act. "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists." Enemy combatants. Preemptive war. Secret prisons in Eastern Europe. Rendition. Planted news stories. Free speech zones. Abu Ghraib. Fallujah. Guantanamo. Prisoners tortured to death. And now revelations of spying on American's emails, and phone calls without court orders.
A catalog of specificly impeachable high crimes the Bush Administration has committed was outlined in a recent report by the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, called The Constitution in Crisis. The report, written before the latest revelations about domestic spying, states:
"There is a prima facie case that these actions by the President, Vice-President and other members of the Bush Administration violated a number of federal laws, including (1) Committing a Fraud against the United States; (2) Making False Statements to Congress; (3) The War Powers Resolution; (4) Misuse of Government Funds; (5) federal laws and international treaties prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; (6) federal laws concerning retaliating against witnesses and other individuals; and (7) federal laws and regulations concerning
leaking and other misuse of intelligence....(T)hese charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct...."
While Americans have tolerated the worst presidency ever for five years, the national fever finally seems to be breaking, the collective mind clearing. What were "we" thinking? How did we allow it to continue so long? We will have generations worth of shame and self-recrimination, like the Germans. But, at least a set of impeachments would allow us the opportunity to reclaim, recover, and restore the vision and meaning of America.
As Gandhi said, empires always fall. This includes empires of fear. Regime change begins at home. Impeachment now.
December 25, 2005
Christmas, and Happy Hannukah, Kwanza, and Solstice!
"Merry Xmas: War is Over," is a new cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's classic song, a video featuring Bert McCracken and Quinn Allman of the Used and Airin Older of Sugarcult (clicking on link downloads Quicktime video).
"What Have We Learned" is a holiday message about the Jesus in all of us from Kevin and Monica Benderman. Kevin is an US Army Sergeant who is currently serving 15 months in prison for refusing, on conscientious objector grounds, to return for a second tour of duty in Iraq. Kevin's first tour in Iraq convinced him that "war is
the destroyer of everything good in the world." Monica Benderman is Kevin's wife.
"Jesus' Miracle: A Christmas Greeting from a Jewish Brother," by Rabbi Marc Gelman (Newsweek, December 21, 2005), expresses this Christmas wish: "May we have a voyage apart in the same direction, and may an unseen magnetism connect us and may we make our way to the same port speedily and in our time."
Source for "Merry Xmas" video: www.streetdrumcorps.com/
December 2, 2005
Pronoia and the Waking Life
Over Thanksgiving weekend, with my family in the home where I grew up, I came across some ideas in a couple of great pieces of media that I'd like to share with you.
The first of these is Pronoia, an idea put forward in a new book by Rob Brezny. I haven't even gotten the book myself yet, but I read an excerpt of it in The Sun magazine. Whether or not you get the book, the important thing is the "pronoia" idea itself. Pronoia is the opposite of paranoia (like topia is the opposite of utopia). It's the belief that the world around you is conspiring on your behalf to make your life better, more magical, more perfect.
Like paranoia, pronoia is a belief system which you can choose to accept--or not. As with other belief systems, pronoia interacts with reality and begins to reinforce itself. It means that whether this is the best of times or the worst of times is a choice we make--yes, even in the face of Bush-Cheney-Osama-Katrina.
Related to Pronoia is the second inspiring work of creativity that I encountered over the long weekend, a film called Waking LIfe, written and directed by Richard Linklater. Waking Life came out a few years ago, was nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards, and is now out on DVD.
Waking Life is an animated movie about a guy who isn't sure whether he is dreaming or waking, who keeps waking up from one level of dream into another level of dream. In these dreams, he has encounters and conversations with various people about the nature of reality (check out this clip / slow connection clip here). The basic premise is that we are all living in a waking dream, and that we have the capacity, while asleep or awake, to affect the outcome of our individual and collective dream moments by bringing to them a certain degree of consciousness.
Image from Waking Life
This idea of conscious dreaming and conscious waking is very old. The Sufi Muslim philosopher Rumi (1207-1273 CE) put it this way:
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.
Henry David Thoreau, writing 600 years later, said much the same thing:
The light that puts out our eyes is darkness to us.
Only that day dawns to which we are awake.
There is more day (yet) to dawn.
The sun is but a morning star.
So: what if we all got pronoia, woke up and start re-writing history, from this point forward and backward? What if we wrote the story of how humanity collectively awoke, overcame our fears, transcended the barriers that separate us, and became one people, one human family?
Excerpts from the first major address to the nation of the new president of the United States, sworn in just after the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney:
"I will shortly present for ratification by the United Nations a new Arms Transfer Ban Treaty, which will end the export of weapons of all kinds from country to country and begin the process of demilitarizing the world....By transferring military command in Iraq to the United Nations, we will make sure the world knows that the United States has no designs for empire or for permanent control of Iraqi oil....Accordingly, I have ordered our armed forces to begin withdrawing from Iraq immediately and to return home to their country and to their families....It is time for a global Marshall Plan to bring the economies of the entire world into relative balance, where extremes of poverty no longer exist alongside extremes of wealth.....A global minimum wage will go a long way toward stemming the flight of jobs from this country, and will begin the process of creating true economic justice and prosperity throughout the world...."
Don't go back to sleep.
October 21, 2005
Envisioning What We Already Know
"Lights will guide you home
and ignite your bones
and I will try to fix you."--"Fix You," by Coldplay
Mahatma Gandhi wrote that "love is the most powerful force in the world, and yet it is the humblest imaginable." Love is a quiet force, one that makes less sound than bombs and speeches. I once asked the physicist David Bohm how we could generate more love energy into the world, and he responded that, much like nuclear energy, "love doesn't need to be generated, it only needs to be released." The fact that love hasn't completely transformed the world yet doesn't mean that it can't, just that we haven't yet become sufficient instruments of releasing its energy.
What if we chose to suspend belief in the dominant view of social reality and at least temporarily believed in the possibility of a spiritually transformed world, one that is so infused with mutual feelings of love, affection and compassion that the feeling of being in the world is fundamentally different and better than the common experience of being in the world today?
There are people around you, not very far, who are very busy building that kind of world, piece by piece. You only have to look for them and you will find them. This whole site is full of links to them. There are interior worlds that politicians and terrorists can not touch. It is there we can find refuge from the insanity of the world. When we open up enough to those places inside, we can fill the earth with oceans of beauty and love, and overcome the void, and heal the world.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, "I have seen the truth. It is not as though I had invented it in my mind. I have seen it, seen it, and the living image of it has filled my soul forever...In one day, one hour, everything could be arranged at once. The chief thing is to love." The truth of love is as apparent to us as the truth of war and violence. It is in every act of kindness we have ever witnessed, given or received. There is one collective consciousness--humanity--and once it wakens fully, the war of the world will be done.
September 25, 2005
Rallies Worldwide Against War, For Global Justice
September 24, 2005 Anti-War Rally in Washington,
McKay, Cox Washington Bureau
Mum Arrested at White House," TVNZ (New Zealand),
September 26, 2005.
Protests Commence in Washington," Washington Post, September
Worldwide Call for End to Iraq War," CTV (Canada), September
San Francisco, September 24, 2005.
Photo: Noah Berger, AP, Common
March Through London in Iraq War Protest," Common Dreams,
September 24, 2005.
Click here for the United for Peace and Justice Calendar of peace events from
around the world.
September 24, 2005 Anti-War Rally
IN THIS COLUMN
February 23, 2005 - September 21, 2005
Ways to Help After Hurricane Katrina
Direct Reports from Camp Casey on the Road
Letters from Fort Lewis by Kevin Benderman
Kevin Benderman: The "Real Deal"
January 28, 2005-February 7, 2005
Media Coverage of
Davos vs. Porto Alegre Shows Elitist Bias
More News from the World Social Forum
100,000 Activists Gather to Build Another World:
fjfjfMajor Media Ignore Story