31 May 2009

A River Flowing Now Very Fast

SkyMessage from the Hopi Elders 2001:

To my fellow swimmers:
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore. They are being torn apart

And will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of
the river, keep our heads above the water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally,

Least of all ourselves,
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey

Come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather ourselves. Banish the word"struggle"

From our attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done

In a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.

28 May 2009

Free Gaza Update, 27 May, 2009

Please watch this video.

Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is possible. It really is. It is possible to find a win-win solution, however, both sides must be open to finding a win-win solution (or series of solutions.)

24 May 2009

Challenging the Dominant Paradigm

We are Worth MoreThe following is a comment I made on facebook in response to a friend's status update: "capitalism: boom, bust, boom, bust." There was ensuing discussion about the comment. There was talk about taxing the "rich." One person said that if we were to increase taxes on the rich, then he would want to know how to define rich, because he makes a lot of money and wouldn't want to be taxed...

So the following are a few thoughts I shared, thoughts about harmful economic activities, about cultural change, and etc.. It's not thoroughly fleshed out here; it's not perfectly composed and it's far from complete. But it is important to challenge the dominant paradigm, so I wanted to share.

Everything is not okay. It's not "all good." Still, all the same, another world is possible -- a better world -- a truly richer and more prosperous world. A world that doesn't infringe on the health and well-being of so many (in the present and in the future.) So please, read on.
There are multiple ways to define rich. It's important to have common definitions from which to work, for the purpose of intelligent conversation. I won't attempt to define the exact perameters here, but for the purposes of this discussion, I suggest this definition for affluence: the ability to buy without regard to, or worry about price.

There is nothing wrong with making money, in and of itself -- so long as no one gets hurt in the process. The problem is that we're dealing with socio-economic harmfulness on a grand scale. There is a lot of harm being done, it's so prevalent that it's actually easy not to see it. It's easy to take for granted.

superfluous flower and plant photographSo, while many activities may not be illegal -- it doesn't mean that they aren't harmful.

It just so happens that many of the activities that generate great financial profit are also harmful. Currently, the tax rate is not high enough. Harmful economic activities should be taxed 100% -- because we will all be better off without harmful economic activities. All of us.

We have a culture that promotes aggressive and destructive competition. But we can change that.

Another world is possible. A world where people don't take without asking. A world where people don't beat each other up. A world where people don't seek to dominate each other. A world without oppression.

This other world is possible.
...a world without bullying...a world where people have power with each other, rather than over each other...

15 May 2009

On the Existence of Evil...

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the concept of "evil." This concept is referred to in many cultures, by many different names. Many cultures, thought-systems, and religious and faith systems refer to the problem of demonic forces. Another term for these forces I have recently come across is Ahrimanic (via an Antrhoposophical writer.) I have also read about what Edgar Cayce referred to as the "Sons of Belial." Different groups of people advocate different responds to demonism (or evil forces of whatever type.) One common approach to the problem of destructive, violent, cruel behavior is to name it, label it - and seek to destroy it through a variety of measures, punitive, and/or exclusionary.

Look UpLast night I went to see a presentation (by Stephen Zarlenga) about the problems in our monetary and economic system (American Monetary Institute) - namely the inequities and injustices that exist. At one point in the presentation, the presenter referred to what he feels are evil forces that are bent on continuingly putting people down - oppressing the masses in favor of the freedom for a few...

Obviously, it's understandable how the current system, iniquitious and unequal - discriminatory, oppressive and tyrannical - could be interpreted and perceived as bearing some sort of evilness.

However, I was struck with a thought after the author referred to the problem of evil interests. I think there is an alternative theory for why people do wrong to each other. there is an alternative, and I believe workable, theory for why people put each other down and hurt each other. The theory is this: people hurt each other, and put each other down, because of their own wounds, their own sense of insufficiency and inadequacy. People have a notion that success is dependent on having power over others, on having power over their environment. People get ego-boost from feeling superior over others, and then, once superior - they abuse their position, putting people down, treating people as if they are inferior.

The fact is that all people have power. All of us. All human beings have personal power. All human beings deserve to be respected.

Perhaps the appearance of evil is just that, an appearance. And what is really at the heart of harmful economic activity, and destructive competition, are petty fears about loss, about personal loss, about loneliness, isolation, insufficiency.

...So that if we were to be more generally supportive, respectful, and tolerant of each other, then people wouldn't feel the need to wield power over each other. And instead of wielding power over each other - people would seek to wield power to serve each other - to serve the best and true interests of a healthy and sustainable human civilization.

Let's stop hurting each other people.

Evolution from a culture of conquest, domination, consumption and intolerance — to a culture of consent, sharing, cooperation, spirituality, creativity, and sustainability... etc.

However, it's possible that there are truly evil / demonic forces. At this point I am undecided. And even if there are truly evil forces (or individuals), then it is no less important to treat those destructive elements in a way that is fair and nondiscriminatory. For example, instead of punitive justice only - major efforts could be made in the direction of restorative justice.

p.s. additional thought to consider: what are the effects of materialism, and the culture of consumption, on humanity and planetary ecology?


p.p.s. human labor is not a commodity

10 May 2009

GI Voice: Stop Loss Rally

Free the Troops: End Stop Loss
Freedom Bridge Rally
Fort Lewis Army Base
Washington State


Mother's Day for Peace

Mother’s Day for Peace: A Dramatic Reading of Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation

"Ahead of Mother’s Day, we play an excerpt of Robert Greenwald’s short film Mother’s Day for Peace. It features a dramatic reading of Julia Ward Howe’s “Mother’s Day Proclamation” by Felicity Huffman, Christine Lahti, Fatma Saleh, Ashraf Salimian, Vanessa Williams and Alfre Woodard. [includes rush transcript]"

Love Can Drive Out Hate | Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr."The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.

Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.

In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

- MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, pp. 62–63 (1967).

Love Can Drive Out Hate
see larger: Love Can Drive Out Hate

08 May 2009

David Barstow on Pentagon Pro-War Propaganda Media Campaign | Democracy Now!

EXCLUSIVE…Pentagon Pundits: New York Times Reporter David Barstow Wins Pulitzer Prize for Exposing Military’s Pro-War Propaganda Media Campaign

"In his first national broadcast interview, New York Times reporter David Barstow speaks about his 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of the Pentagon propaganda campaign to recruit more than seventy-five retired military officers to appear on TV outlets as military analysts ahead of and during the Iraq war. This week, the Pentagon inspector general’s office admitted its exoneration of the program was flawed and withdrew it. [includes rush transcript]"

07 May 2009

Crusading for a Christian Military

Democracy Now!

Ambiguous Utopia / Socio-cultural Transformation, Evolution

[update Tuesday 27 July 2010: I just want to chime in here, that while I love much of this song, the lyrics of which really resonate with me, I have lately been questioning the first paragraph more and more. I think it is possible for the mind to control love, in the sense of compassion and empathy with the suffering of others. Anyway, those are my rough thoughts on this. Peace, Berd]

Ambiguous Utopia is a song, the lyrics of which are adapted from a speech by the main character in the novel, The Dispossessed, by the legendary author Ursula K. LeGuin. The melody is by Mark Gunnery, (of, if I remember correctly, Port Townsend, Washington.)

I have been singing with the Olympia Free Choir, and this song was recently introduced to the song list. It's a great one. Come to Free Choir practice! Tuesdays 5-7pm in downtown Olympia, either at the Sylvester Park Gazebo, or northern (all ages venue, 312 East Fourth Avenue.) More information about Free Choir:


Ambiguous Utopia

ambiguous utopia
the fools

it's our suffering that brings us together
it is not our love, love don't obey the mind
and it turns to hate when you force it
the ties that bind us are beyond our choice

the hand that you reach out is empty
the hand that i give you is empty too
i don't expect a hand to help unless i reach one out to you
all that you have is all that you are
all that you have is all that you give
we don't own anything and we're free

we have no states and no presidents
no bosses bankers landlords or war
no charity no police and no soldiers
and we don't have, very much

we come to the future with empty hands
naked as a child comes to this earth
you can't take what you haven't given
and what you give is yourself

you can't make the revolution
you can't buy the revolution
you can't be the revolution
it's in you or its nowhere


I have been thinking about the concept of revolution. And to be quite frank, there are some aspects of revolution that are really bothersome for me. Inherent in the concept of revolution is a divisive clash between winners and losers. What if it's possible to have a world without losers.

What if, instead of pushing for a destination where there are winners and losers, it is possible to orient our socio-cultural compass(es) toward a world without losers - a world where we are all winners. Just imagine, an inclusive, open, honest, warm, accepting and tolerant society, where everyone can contribute to the best of their abilities, and where everyone can belong.

So, while I support many revolutionary ideas, I like the exercise of comparing socio-cultural evolution : versus socio-cultural revolution! evolution v. revolution

True and foundational transformation is possible: instead of just revolving around the same cycles of patterned abuse and intolerance. True transformation, deep and lasting socio-cultural evolution is possible. Meeting each other as the sufficient and wonderful human beings that we all are, the development of a new kind of respect for all existence is possible. Another world is possible. We are all special, unique, and sufficient. Be Well. Be Peace. Be the Evolution.

01 May 2009

The Earth Belongs to Everyone - and to No One

Great Clouds

Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming Abuse of Rank

This is a description of a great book I was recently turned onto. It's about rankism. It is a very interesting topic. I have browsed in this book, it's available on google reader, and I have found it very compelling. The author doesn't argue against rank, hierarchy, or the existence of authorities. What he does argue against is what he describes as a culture of abuse that has developed around rank. People abuse their rank to the detriment of others. Essentially, people use their rank to hurt others. It's not right to hurt other people. Pretty simple idea. I think it's possible to have a world where people don't behave in ways that are hurtful/harmful toward each other. - Berd

Somebodies and Nobodies
Overcoming the Abuse of Rank
By Robert W. Fuller
In the on-going attempts to overcome racism and sexism in North America today, we are overlooking another kind of discrimination that is no less damaging and equally unjustifiable. It is a form of injustice that everyone knows, but no one sees: discrimination based on rank. Low rank -- signifying weakness, vulnerability, and the absence of power -- marks you for abuse in much the same way that race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation have long done.

When discrimination is race-based, we call it racism; when it's gender-based, we call it sexism. By analogy, rank-based discrimination might be called "rankism." Somebodies and Nobodies explains our reluctance to confront rankism, and argues that abuse based on power differences is no more justified than abuse based on color or gender differences. It shows where analyses based on identity fall short and, using dozens of examples to illustrate the argument, traces many forms of injustice and unfairness to rankism.

Somebodies and Nobodies unmasks rankism as The Feminine Mystique unmasked sexism. It demythologizes the prevailing social consensus -- the "Somebody Mystique" -- to demonstrate the pervasiveness and corrosiveness of rankism in our personal lives and social institutions. The book introduces new language and concepts that illuminate the subtle, often dysfunctional workings of power in our social interactions. It presents rankism as the last hurdle on the long road from aristocracy to a true meritocracy, brings into focus a dignitarian revolution that is already taking shape, and offers a preview of post-rankist society.

About the Contributor

Robert Fuller taught physics at Columbia University in New York, where he co-authored the classic text Mathematics for Classical and Quantum Physics. He then served as president of Oberlin College and, subsequently, worked internationally as a 'citizen diplomat' to promote democracy in developing nations. He has four children, and lives in Berkeley, California.

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