29 September 2008

Nature is Essential to Humanity

Order in Chaos
Autumn Colors

Nature is awesome; it has a way of bringing out the best in people. Natural settings can inspire greatness in feeling and thought...

"One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin"
"One Touch of Nature Makes the Whole World Kin" - Shakespeare

At the R. Walter Fey Memorial Grove in Jebediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte County, California

Ignorance About the Ways of Others: a Privilege of the Powerful

I saw this great quote on another site, Patrick Sullivan, Every Bit is Fiction, yesterday, and I want to share it with you:
“Thoroughgoing ignorance about the ways of others is largely a privilege of the powerful.”

Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Kwame Anthony Appiah

25 September 2008

Empty Store Fronts, a Poem

While riding around on errands today, I noticed an increasingly common phenomenon: empty store fronts. Small and locally owned, and operated, businesses are being driven out by massive mega-stores (especially cheap discount mega-stores like Wal-Mart, for example.) Local revenue and labor is being lost. Goods are imported from overseas. Large sectors of domestic manufacturing are going extinct, having been outsourced.

So I just wrote up this poem (very quickly - it's a first draft.) It's a reflection on this economic phenomenon of corporate power and the ceonsequential harm it does.

I hope it resonates with you. - bert

Empty Store Fronts

Stores closed down.

I see them.

Empty store fronts,

Peeling facades,

Broken windows.

All the capital,

It's being gobbled up!

By massive corporations.

Wealth conglomerated at tippy top.

Capital and labor markets,

shipped overseas.

(... and p.s. - please don't shop at Wal-Mart, and/or similar mega-stores.)

(p.p.s. see related post at OlyBlog: The Normal Course of Progress?)

[updated 9:54 p.m. 9/25/08]

23 September 2008

Let Wisdom Guide Our Lives and Humanity

The following is cross-posted from OlyBlog (i.e. I already published it there and I am re-posting it here):

I want to share some wisdom that was recently shared with me. A friend printed up a couple cards, and the information that they contain really resonates deeply with me. One is some wisdom from Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication. The other is wisdom from Buddhadasa, a Thai monk.

By the way, there are nonviolent communication courses being offered at locations throughout the Puget Sound region. Northwest Compassionate Communication

Here's the card on Buddhadasa, according to my transcription:

Forestknow the heart

know the heart
or essence
of your own
and encourage others
to know theirs.

share with others
at deeper levels,
don't dwell on the
recognize those things
held in common
and build on that Blowing in the Wind

work together to
"drag humanity out from
under the power of

sharings from

servant of the

a thai monk

Now for the card based on Marshall Rosenberg's theory of nonviolent communication:

Cloud basic



marshall roseburg
nonviolent communication

"at every moment we have the
power to make life wonderful"

"basic needs are never in conflict,
get past enemy image"

some basic human needs:
understanding / empathy,
Dark Woods Trailcontribute (meaningfully to life),
power (influence one's space),
justice (restorative...)
belonging / community

"when we interact
on the level of
basic human needs
there is no conflict"

And be sure to watch this video with Marshall Rosenberg:

22 September 2008

Some Photos and What Not

What's up. Lot's of stuff going on recently. Both locally and globally (and seemingly everything in between.) I have been spending a lot of time thinking and conversing about recent events, mostly as they relate to city government, here in Olympia, Washington. Two major things have attracted the focus of my energy. One is the City Council's vote in approval of a motion to ordain the repeal of the 2005 Nuclear Free Zone Act (an ordinance - i.e. city law.) I oppose the repeal of the ordinance - for a lot of reasons. [video of the September 9th, 2008 Council Meeting including the NFZA repeal and related testimony: Nuclear Free Zone Repeal City Council Meeting]

The NFZA ordinance seeks to prohibit the storage, transport, and production of nuclear weapons within city limits. It also seeks to inform city buying and contracting practices, in order to avoid doing business with companies which are vested in the nuclear weapons industry...

It was a sad day when the vote to repeal went through. What does this repeal motion say about Olympia?

Public officials at the national level use hostile and belligerent rhetoric - even including threats of nuclear attack - in an effort to badger and influence - to intimidate - their adversaries.

These same public officials are supposed to be working toward the goal of disarmament. But they are doing the exact opposite. They are promoting hostility. They are promoting the nuclear weapons establishment...

So this decision to repeal does not reflect the true will of the people. The true will of the people is to take constructive action toward peace.

The other matter of city business that I have been involved in has been the Council's consideration of a spot rezone on the Isthmus of downtown Olympia. I have been posting about that issue some here at In the Course and also at OlyBlog, which seems to be disabled currently (at 2:30pm on Monday, September 22, 2008.)

I have been up to other stuff too. I took 182 photographs yesterday. I posted quite a few of them up to flickr, so go check them out (link is in the side-bar - at the top.)

I'll post a sampling of the photos here. These are all from the City of Olympia Watershed Park:


Citizens for the Future
Citizens for the Future

Forest Trees
Forest Trees

Watershed Park Bridge
Watershed Park Bridge

On the Trail, Watershed Park
On the Trail at Watershed Park

Dark Woods Trail
Dark Woods Trail

Leaning Stump Trail
Leaning Stump on the Trail

[post updated, 5:03 pm 9/22/08]

20 September 2008

War is Bankrupting the U.S.

Here I am posing for a photograph after a weekly peace vigil that I participate in. The vigil has been going on for almost 10 years every Friday. It's sponsored by the Olympia chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. It's at the North end of the Percival Landing City Park in Olympia Washington. Everyone is welcome.

War is Bankrupting the U.S.

War is bankrupting the U.S.. Yes it is. Imagine taking materials and energy that are poured into the destructive war economy and turning them toward positive and beneficial efforts. We could all be very wealthy economically if our government and its keepers weren't bent on destruction and domination.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Been kind of quiet here at In the Course of Events. I have been posting a lot of blog entries at OlyBlog recently. Lots going on with the proposal to change zoning regulations on the Isthmus. OlyBlog Bert

I also uploaded some photos recently, including photos of a talk by Richard Hayes Phillips, whose recently released book, Witness to a Crime chronicles how Republicans stole the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. His story was an amazing account of election fraud. Fraud that brought America 4 more years of George W. Bush. photos: Richard Hayes Phillips at Media Island in Olympia, Washington

17 September 2008

Public Hearing on Isthmus Rezone Proposal

[update: Photos are uploaded [City Council Urban Water Front Rezone Land-Use Hearing], and some are added to this post.]

Wow. Wow. Wow!

Testify!I am back at home after a 5 hour City Council meeting during which nearly 100 people spoke on the topic of a proposal to change the existing urban waterfront zoning regulations on the "Isthmus" area of Downtown Olympia. Flood of emotion here. I'll try to keep it on track. The meeting was very informative. I heard many things that I haven't heard before. People who spoke seemed to be about 3 to 1 opposed v. supportive of the proposed rezone.

On StageThe rezone might result in what developer Triway Enterprises has marketed as a massive mixed use building that would, as it is currently slated, contain 141 "up-class" condominiums, which would be priced from between $800,000 to $1.2M (according to the proposal.)

Many passionate speakers on both sides. I am processing some photographs that I took during and before the meeting. I recommend that you watch the video of the testimony. All five hours - good to the last drop. Some of it might be infuriating. But you'll be a better person afterward!

I hope to have more about the meeting later on. There were many amazing moments. Some wonderful and some, frankly, horrifying things were said (e.g. the Triway advocate (lawyer) who engaged in blatant threats and condescension. But, I suppose, that might depend on your point of view.)

There was a lot of impressive testimony. Some I agreed with, some I disagreed with.

Council Rezone Hearing 5

Some questions to ask after the hearing or when viewing the video of the hearing (which isn't on the Internet as of the morning of September 17th, 2008):

Did any of the speakers seem to be intellectually dishonest (even perhaps to the point of engaging in what might be considered to be "Double Speak" (as defined by George Orwell)?)

Which side of the rezone proposal presented a better argument, and why?

Pay attention to your feelings. How did you feel at various times throughout the hearing (or viewing the hearing?)

Did you hear anything new?

What was the most compelling testimony?

Rezone Roundup...many, many more questions could be asked. And hopefully they will. Make sure to keep an eye on OlyBlog.net for more information. By the way, I entered the discussion that has taken place on OlyBlog (it has been discussed since at least February) into the official record. (see http://olyblog.net/isthmus-2008)

Stay tuned for photos [photos are up].

The Isthmus from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial:
9/13 Isthmus Panorama (3 image comp)

15 September 2008

Democrats and Republicans: Good Cop / Bad Cop?

I just wrote this in an email response to a group of people who were sharing their support for the Democrats. Damnit. It's time for truth-telling. Corporatism is hurting people, it is hurting the planet. We can do better. A better world is possible...

So read this:

I don't know where all of your political leanings are, so I hope not to offend. But I have had it. And it's time for truth-telling.

I am pulling for Ralph Nader.

Obama and McCain are too similar in their corporatism (willingness to drill for oil, go to war against Iran, prolong American empire.)

I've had enough.

I won't be badgered or kowtowed toward the lesser of two evils. Yes. It can rightly be argued that Democrats do less harm than Republicans. Democrats are the lesser of two evils (at least from the liberal perspective). That's how they (both D and R) stay in power.

Divide and Conquer.

Sow fear and watch the masses flock.

Gore Vidal said in 1981 that two parties are really just two wings of the same party. It's still true 27 years later.

We need something better. We deserve something better.

Let Nader Debate (link to campaign issues).

I am disappointed in Obama. I even served as a precinct delegate for him at the local County Democratic Convention/ Caucus.

But I am disillusioned after his recent bows to American foreign policy belligerence.

I might vote for Obama if it close between him and McCain here in Washington State (and given the pathetic condition of the establishment mainstream media - which is, in itself, just another symptom of the big business corporate power two party duopoly - that's a possibility.)

[added here: I might vote for Obama out of sheer pragmatism. But even my belief that the solutions - the path to a better world - might be attainable via baby steps is in doubt. The Democrats are not speaking truth to power. And we need the truth. I support Ralph Nader.]

I support Ralph Nader and it will be just another example of the sham government and political system if challengers like him, and Cynthia McKinney, are disallowed from participating in the election (open debates in particular) as legitimate and credible candidates.

With Love,

More on the Nuclear Free Zone Repeal

I am watching video from the City Council Meeting last week, September 9, 2008, during which the Council voted 5 to 2 to repeal the Nuclear Free Zone Act of 2005.

A few things stand out. I don't want to be too critical of the Council Members. They have a hard job to do. But one thing stands out. Mayor Mah said that he couldn't understand the local relevance for the ordinance. Well here it is Mayor Mah - the people want to be Nuclear Free. Mayor Pro Tem Kingsbury told of his visits with hundreds of city residents who expressed their disapproval for the ordinance. Well, Mayor Pro Tem Kingsbury, I am sure you could also find hundreds who desire that the ordinance be retained.

The ordinance is relevant because the people of Olympia are tired of watching their national officials commit acts of aggression, and use nuclear weapons in a hostile and intimidating manner.

The people of Olympia want a better world, and that is relevant. What could be more relevant than that?

There is more. But it's going to have to wait. Think globally, act locally! I want to be free of nuclear weapons. Do you?

13 September 2008

Opposition to Isthmus Rezone

Me at the Law Enforcement MemorialThis is me, photo taken by Julie Woods. She also took one with her camera. I'll link to it if I get a chance.

The photo was taken at the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial. It overlooks Capitol Lake, and Budd Inlet, and a hotly contested area of land between the water. The area of land is known as the Isthmus. In Olympia, Washington the isthmus is widely regarded, if not commonly regarded, as a sacred space. It is the heart of Olympia. It is where the fresh water of the Deschutes River, which originates from a glacier upon the majestic slopes of Mount Rainier, meets the deep waters of Budd Inlet and the Puget Sound - and eventually the Pacific Ocean and the World Ocean. The isthmus is where a person can view the State Capitol Campus in one direction, and the Olympic Mountains in the other.

This area symbolizes the connection that exists between Olympia and the World. Olympia is a world city - it is known for looking past the conflicts that plague the federal government and taking steps to make the world a better place to live, all on its own.

I envision a park in this space. A monument to citizen engagement. A monument to the societal and city relationship with the world - and with nature.

The park would serve the people in many ways. It would provide for recreation. It would provide an avenue for education about the environment, about ecology and sustainability. It would also attract people to downtown - as residents, as visitors, as investors.

Olympia has a lot of novel features. It is a novel city in many respects. A park feature on the isthmus would only improve these aspects.

Part of my vision, and I think it is shared amongst a considerable population of Olympia residents, is for a dense urban core juxtaposed with an open park area, to include areas that would be semi-wilderness, as well as more traditional recreational features: walking trails, playgrounds, fields for games, etc.

Imagine: 15,000 more people living AND working downtown. People living within walking, bicycling or wheel chair distance to their work place. New schools. New businesses.

A park feature on the isthmus is the perfect opportunity to initiate that process. A park feature, and the denial of a proposed rezone, is the perfect way to begin to move toward a vision of true, functional, sustainability.

I won't let Triway, the developer who has proposed the rezone in an effort to allow the construction of a gigantic building that would be full of an estimated 141 luxury condominiums, badger me or threatren me with the prospect of a low-rise office building (given the denial of the rezone proposal.)

I know what I want. I think that I know what would best serve the community. I know that the public interest outranks and trumps private interests, especially in matters that involve zoning.

For more information, please see Isthmus 2008 [my flickr photoset]


The rezone has been proposed by Triway Enterprises.

One group, OLY 2012, has formed to provide nuanced support for the rezone. OLY 2012 advocates Smart Growth.

Several groups are working to oppose the rezone:

People for a Participatory City

Friends of the Waterfront

20/20 Vision Olympia

Olympia Capitol Park Foundation

You can find more information at OlyBlog: Isthmus 2008 (even though it's not an isthmus),

And at Works in Progress.

- bert

New FBI Rules would Draw Ire of Civil Rights Advocates, and Instill Fear

The Bush Administration reaches for further authoritarian controls:
Proposed new FBI rules draw civil liberties worries
Fri Sep 12, 2008 6:17pm EDT
By James Vicini

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department unveiled proposed new rules on Friday for FBI investigations, changes a civil liberties group criticized for giving agents powers to investigate Americans without proper suspicion.

In its first major change in years, the Justice Department proposed a consolidated set of guidelines for domestic FBI operations, seeking to apply the same rules for criminal and terrorism cases, and for collecting foreign intelligence.

The guidelines were first adopted in the 1970s following disclosures that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had run a widespread domestic surveillance program that spied on civil rights activists and political opponents.

Officials said the new guidelines, which total 45 pages, were still being revised after consultations with Congress and civil liberties groups. The new rules are expected to take effect on October 1.

Justice Department and FBI officials told a news briefing the changes would allow agents in some terrorism cases to use informants, do physical surveillance and conduct interviews without identifying themselves or their true purpose.

They said such techniques currently could be used in ordinary criminal cases, but not for those involving national security, before an investigation has begun.

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern the rewritten rules had been drafted in a way to allow the FBI to begin surveillance without factual evidence to back it up.

It said that under the new guidelines, a person's race or ethnic background could be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes will institute racial profiling as a matter of policy.

ACLU Washington legislative director Caroline Fredrickson said, "Agents will be given unparalleled leeway to investigate Americans without proper suspicion, and that will inevitably result in constitutional violations."

Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said, "Issuing guidelines that permit racial profiling the day after the 9/11 anniversary and in the midst of a historic presidential campaign is typical Bush administration stagecraft designed to exploit legitimate security concerns for partisan political purposes."

Department officials said the guidelines would not allow an investigation based solely on a person's race or religion. "We are not changing our basic approach when race, religion or ethnicity may be taken into consideration," said one official who declined to be identified.

"The Department of Justice has long been concerned about the use of race or ethnicity in investigations. But it is simply not responsible to say that race may never be taken into account when conducting an investigation," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said in a statement after the briefing.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

Beautiful Night

From this past July:
Still Water with Moon, Planet and Stars
Polk County, Wisconsin

Esoteric Function of War

I have posted this before. But it is worthy of reposting. So here it is again. Orwell, in his classic novel, 1984, speaks to the fundamental motives behind perpetual war. Very much worth revisiting on a regular basis:
1984From Orwell's 1984:
"The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society...

"...it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction — indeed, in some sense was the destruction — of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance...

"...Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods. This happened to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly between 1920 and 1940. The economy of many countries was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population were prevented from working and kept half alive by State charity. But this, too, entailed military weakness, and since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary, it made opposition inevitable. The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population..."
It's a great book. Read George Orwell's 1984.

Quotes are courtesy of the program: (The Actors' Gang 1984 Program [pdf]):

All the war-propaganda, all the screaming
and lies and hatred, comes invariably
from people who are not fighting.
~ George Orwell

Every war when it comes, or before it
comes, is represented not as a war but as
an act of self-defense against a homicidal
~ George Orwell

The first casualty when war comes is
~ Hiram Johnson

In a time of universal deceit - telling the
truth is a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

The very concept of objective truth is
fading out of the world. Lies will pass
into history.
~ George Orwell

All war is deception.
~ Sun Tzu

War against a foreign country only
happens when the moneyed classes
think they are going to profit from it.
~ George Orwell

The most tyrannical governments are
those which make crimes of opinions, for
everyone has an inalienable right over his
thoughts-- nay, such a state of things
leads to the rule of popular passion.
~ Benedictus de Spinoza, from
Theological-Political Treatise

War is a way of shattering to pieces...
materials which might otherwise be used
to make the masses... too intelligent.
~ George Orwell

12 September 2008

The Job of Government is to Serve the Public Good

The principle function of government should be to serve the public good. It should be to look out for the public interest in governmental dealings.

It's seems that these days, government is serving as the strong arm for big business and private interests.

Government should defend the public, and the interests of the public, against contrary private interests.

Government should not act as a facilitator for the advancement of special and private interests.

What is the public interest? How about sustainability? How about equity and fairness? How about employment opportunity and prosperity for all who desire such? How about decent living standards? How about protection from poverty/ hunger / houselessness...? How about natural areas and ecology? How about education and nutritious foods? How about health care? How about peace, justice and nonviolence? These things are in the public interest. If private interests undermine, or seek to undermine, public - or any member of the public's - access to these things, then it is the job of government to step in and do its job! regulate!

[updated 9/13/08]

I want to add that not all private projects or developments are bad. Some private developments are bad, however, and it is important to be critical of them in that case. The public interest supersedes private interest.

Down to Earth

I saw this as part of the new Disney movie "Wall-E". I won't critique the movie here, though I liked it - it was very thought provoking, it raises all kinds of questions and ideas about humanity and society... I definitely recommend seeing it. Okay, a little critique. I guess my main problem is how it glorifies and romanticizes technology as being capable of solving all of the problems of humanity. Robot heroes.

The story goes like this: after destroying the Earth, humans leave in a space ship, where they live for 700 years while they wait for the atmosphere on Earth to return to a hospitable state. A robot returns to Earth and finds a plant - a sign of life. She develops a love interest, and all the qualities of a human, with a 700 year old trash compacter named "Wall-E". They live happily ever after. Despite what is, in my opinion, a flawed and romanticized portrayal of technology as the savior of humanity, it actually has some good moral messages (of course the moral grounding just makes the main, subversive, thrust - promoting the idea of robots as benign artificially intelligent beings - more potent.)

I am looking forward to picking up a copy of the album or single for this song, "Down to the Earth" by Peter Gabriel.


Aligning of the Souls

this is cross posted from OlyBlog:
The Aligning of the Souls gathering was great. Many stories, prayers - and jokes - were shared amongst the participants. The gathering kicked off last night (Wednesday night) with a potluck meal and the sharing of prayers and stories relating to the topic of healing and peace in the wake of the horrible events of September 11, 2001. Some people sang songs or read poems, some people told stories and shared wisdom, everyone listened.

This morning the gathering continued at dawn (Thursday morning, September 11, 2008) with the commencement of a day long continuous heart beat drum rhythm. We prayed for peace and healing as the cool and foggy air and mist of dawn gradually gave way to a brilliantly blue sunny and cloudless September Eleventh day. A ceremonial fire was lit in a very special outdoor fire place. The fire burned throughout the day, carefully observed, attended and listened to.

Many wonderful prayers were shared. I often times wish that I had recordings after such events, because it would be good to remember and know the specifics of what people said. However, although I may not remember the specific words, the feelings are very present - and I know they will always remain so, with me. The feelings will stay true to the original intent and meaning of the words. (Maybe this is how de ja vu works - i.e. specific emotional memories trigger thought memories.) It was a full day and night of remembrance and holding the hope of healing and peace in a vigilant way. It was a great experience and I am glad that I participated.

The theme of the gathering was Living on the Bridge from Fear to Courage. It was relevant both in a societal sense and also on a personal level, for me. I appreciate approaching the horrible events of 9/11 and the following disasters from this perspective. Moving from fear to courage: how can we learn from fear - acknowledge it and understand it - and choose, separately, to act, instead - not out of fear, but out of courage, and love. Fear can knock me down. But community can give me courage - song and dance, sharing, holding vigil and vigilant drumming, awareness and consciousness and conscientiousness raising, conversation, intentionality - these can further the cause of courage and give me (and perhaps you too) the strength to act despite fear - or to, even better, eclipse fear entirely, or even better yet, to replace fear with love, pure and simple.

Again, many people shared many beautiful and deeply meaningful stories. I wish I could share them all with you! But I will share a couple of my prayers, which I shared with some who were there. First off, in the morning I asked the sun for strength to carry us and help us through the long day of presence, to stand by us in vigilant witness - witness to and of the will for healing, and of the will for peace.

Another prayer that came to me was to send positive regards to all of the people whom are in positions of power, people in places like Congress (and public officials generally), in the media, and in other positions of power (spiritual, religious, etc.) to ask them, and support them (lend them courage), to ask the appropriate and perhaps difficult questions about the horrible events of September 11th, 2001. For example, when did the US Government stop providing Osama bin Laden with material support to conduct his activities? ... I prayed (and I continue to do so) for those people (in positions of power) - and I send them my positive regards in hope that they will have the courage to stand up and begin to ask these important questions.

I also prayed for peace and healing and relief for those whom continue to suffer as a result of the horrible attacks of September 11th, 2001 (and any other related incidents as well as any incidents which are similar in nature.)

Many people died. Many families lost loved ones. I pray for those who lost family and friends. I pray that they may find healing and peace - and even perhaps somehow come out of this experience as somehow improved - better somehow, as a result of all this horrible pain and loss, this tragedy and madness.

So, out of such a terrible event such as the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it may be something beautiful can be birthed. A phoenix may, out of the ashes, rise. I pray for that. I pray for the birth of a culture of true peace and respect, based in love (not fear.)

11 September 2008

More on the NFZA Repeal

If you want more information about the City Council's decision to repeal the NFZA and how people are taking it, here are a few more spots to look up. At OlyBlog, Emmett O'Connell has a summary compilation of local responses, including the one below on this page: Olympia Repeals Nuke Free Rule

Jason Taellious, reporting from the Olympia Standard has a list of links: Olympia’s Nuclear Free Ordinance Repealed (a list of links)

Between the two blogs listed above, you will be able to find a variety and a diversity of voices and opinions relating to this matter.

In Peace,

09 September 2008

City of Olympia Nuclear Free Zone Act Repeal

The Olympia City Council just voted to repeal the 2005 Nuclear Free Zone Act. It seems that the City of Olympia no longer feels that it is important, or appropriate, to legislate against the nuclear weapons establishment. There were many arguments in opposition to the repeal, and many similar arguments in favor of retaining the ordinance. Many people turned out to express their opinion. I wasn't counting, but it seemed like there were about 40 who went on record in support of retaining the ordinance. There were exactly two people at the meeting who expressed approval for repealing ordinance.

Wow. I was shocked when I heard of the motion to recommend repealing the ordinance. Now I am shocked again by the seemingly sudden decision to repeal. Let me say to make it plain and clear that it is my opinion that the Council Members did not adequately address the arguments of the citizens whom were gathered to express opposition to the repeal.

The meeting got underway at about seven. There were a few items of business before public comment. And an interesting matter of note occurred before public comment. Two Council Members spoke up to express their concern over the new council's practice of limiting public comment to 30 minutes. With two contentious issues (the noise ordinance was also on the agenda to be decided) on the meeting agenda tonight, there were a lot of people who wanted to speak. Many people were turned away at the door, told that they would not be allowed into the council chambers.

Frankly, I am in shock. This new council seems bent on changing Olympia. It's not [only] the repeal. It's the special maneuvering to enter the motion to repeal on the consent calendar (i.e. to pass it without discussion). It's the Council Members' inadequate rebuttals of their constituency's statements of support for the ordinance. It's a lot of things.

I have a lot to say about this and I will probably write more. You may have already read the letter I sent to the Council last week. I also provided oral testimony at tonight's meeting, and submitted a written version of that testimony. Maybe I will post a copy of that tomorrow, but hopefully that will show up in the public record in relation to tonight's decision to repeal the NFZ ordinance. This meeting will definitely provide for your entertainment. It was riveting at many points. Almost non-stop great testimony, so much eloquence on the part of citizens for a City Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons.

I seriously wonder what is going on. What is going on with Olympia? I am pretty much ready to wonder if our Council Members are serving the public interest.

One of the things that Mayor Mah said is that if the people who support the NFZA ordinance were to put as much energy into it at the national level, that he thinks something might come of it. All I have to say is that believe me. Our elected officials at the national level are not hearing this argument. Nor are they interested in establishing a nuclear free zone. That's why the local aspect is important.

If enough localities take important stands against the immoral and unethical manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons, then it makes it more possible for those at the national and international levels to take action. This is about principled leadership. This is about setting an example. This is about empowerment, and education. This is about knowledge, and awareness. This is about respect for history and a desire to see a better tomorrow - to create a better world. A world that is rid of the subtle yet pervasive looming threat of nuclear Armageddon.

Lots of emotion. Lots more rebuttals. This is a rough draft. I am going to publish it now. But know, please, that there is a lot more. I want answers. I want to be represented.

Public officials at the national level are not doing their job. They are not promoting the important tasks of nonproliferation and disarmament. Instead of doing those things, they are actually using the threat of nuclear weapons to intimidate their adversaries. Hardly fulfilling the public interest. For three years we had representation at the local level here in the City of Olympia. Now this. Sad. Shocking. To whom or what can we now turn for representation on this important issue?

You'll be able to find a link to a page with a link to video of the meeting at this page: City of Olympia Council

Here's a more direct link to the video: City of Olympia September 9, 2008 City Council Meeting Video

plain url (maybe subject to change): http://olympia.granicus.com/mediaplayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=386

[This move has aspects that are reminiscent of shock doctrine.]

[updated september 10th, 2008]

07 September 2008

God, Gold, War, Oil Pipelines, and Sarah Palin

These videos of Sarah Palin speaking in a church is a scary example of fundamentalist thought and ethos.

It reminds me of a recent post about Jeff Sharlet's book "The Family." The Family: Elite Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power.

People use the concept of a higher power, aka God, to assume their own power, or somehow justify their own power over others and over planetary resources.

I wonder if these supposed Christians understand the Golden Rule (ethic of reciprocity.) Because, I can't imagine anyone using petroleum like there is no tomorrow, without regard to the environmental and social (health, etc.) impacts - not to mention impact on future generations.

How are they so sure that Armageddon is near? Perhaps it is because theirs is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Anyway. agh.

I am a spiritual person. I believe that all matter and all energy that exists is part of a great whole that can be understood as a higher power. I understand that everything is part of God. Life is given as a lesson - to learn and to evolve spiritually as individuals, but also as humans collectively. That's what I believe.

So I am saddened by this fundamentalist ethos of domination, of fear-based preaching about "end-times." I wonder if those who belong to these types of communities have a love-based reality or do they perceive the world from a reality that is fear-based? Do they like it, or do they feel trapped and too fearful to break out?

p.s. Maybe Palin just has "God" confused with "Gold."

Part one

Part two

Arlington Northwest 2008

Arlington Northwest 2008 Olympia, Washington
Olympia, Washington

More information at OlyBlog: Arlington Northwest Iraq War Memorial 2008

06 September 2008

Corporate Power: the Ethics of Social and Environmental Degradation

This is a work in progress. Here are few statements that I want to explore, and a few questions that I want to answer and work with in more depth.

1) Statement: Corporate Power - that power which is vested in the biggest and most massive (primarily) international corporations - is doing harm to humanity and to the planet (to animals, plants, rocks, landscapes, mountains, oceans, air, water, etc.).

2) Question: Is it unethical to reap financial profit, from those activities which do harm and cause degradation: whether to individuals, whole societies, or whole systems (eco-systems or planets)? An alternative question is to ask "what are the ethics involved in" the process of reaping financial reward from activities which do harm / cause degradation.

(Yes, moralizing can be difficult, but we have social values and morals and ethics for a reason - to provide for the well-being, and to protect, individual, society, and increasingly more so, the very planet itself.)

Taken to its extreme and ultimate final end product, social and environmental degradation could possibly result in a destroyed planet - i.e. planetary destruction. It's scary to think that humanity may be so advanced "techno'logically'" that it will even be able to escape such a destroyed planet - only to spread a culture of degradation and destruction into other worlds...

Nuclear Free Zone Olympia

I just published a letter that I sent to the City Council of Olympia Washington in regard to the Nuclear Free Zone Act of 2005: olyblog.net/what-nfza-means-me

America in Peril

I am concerned about the health of America. The economy is in turmoil. Corporate power is elevated to never before seen heights. There is a major push toward privatization and deregulation. It seems that many of the lessons learned after the market crash of October 1929 and the subsequent recession (dubbed the "Great Depression"), have gone unheeded by those who continue to push for unregulated free market economies. However, we have seen that in the absence of governmental oversight, market economies often times have negative and harmful consequences for the general public. It is essential that government manage the economy with an eye toward the public interest and the welfare of all.

This management must encompass taxation to guard against offshore tax havens, it must include regulation to protect against exploitation and inhumane work environments, as well as ethical business practices to guard against graft, extortion. Government must protect against the influence of special private interests. Government must serve the greater good, in the interests of sustainability, human rights, environmental protection and equitable and respectful relations amongst all.

The recent trend in American government toward increased representation of special, private interests particularly in the elite corporate sphere is troubling. Now that America is no longer tithed to the gold standard, it seems that market disaster may be avoidable - but harm to the public is already occurring.

What is scary is the media-ministration of pro-corporate-power-propaganda. This corporate power social privatization agenda is harmful, and truly dangerous to the future health and prosperity of America.