Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Role of "Power" in Achieving Holistic Sustainability

Building of my post from 11/30/09, I have to briefly comment on Obama's plan to escalate war efforts in Afghanistan, and why a better understanding of the role "Power" plays in global society sheds a clearer understanding on the creation of positive social change.

However, let's first look at what happened in India 12/3/84. On this day, over half a million peoples lives were brutally impacted in Bhopal due to a hazardous gas leak. The ramifications of this horrible accident set of a wave of reforms across the globe regarding hazardous chemical manufacturing. The travesty in Bhopal happened 25 years ago, and while changes were made shortly after the gas leak, legislation and policy has still not ensured that the greater public and the environment are safe from future "accidents". Why? The WTO, who mandates policy for the globalized economy is not concerned with production standards. It really cares most about controlling product standards. So even after such a devastating, unnecessary point in history called to the industrialized to world to better safeguard people and the Earth from leaks of toxic gas (or fill in nuclear meltdown, left over land mines, dumping waste in waterways, etc) the emphasis the WTO promotes if how safe a product is-not how safely it was created.

The awareness of Bhopal , like many mirrored incidents since the industrial revolution, has somewhat permeated the mainstream conscious collective. Wait. No it hasn't. In reality, awareness has not really been absorbed in a way to remind people what that chain effect after Bhopal actually was. Tightening of pollution standards across the globe happened. People organized in communities thousands of miles away, in places like industrialized Worcester, MA where toxic particulates were being emitted where locals children played. The awareness came not from foresight of beating a problem before it was created, but rather from a reaction to a problem that was alive and had to be dealt with immediately.

My major point to share here is while it's essential to adapt to conditions as they present themselves, sustainability begs us to have the forethought to take action before problems present themselves. In that light adapting to catastrophe is "easier" in that precaution has brought with it the thought of what will everyone do if...
I feel a major reason that movements for peace, justice, and sustainability have failed to take a major hold of global society is because those with "Power" make those without "Power" believe that these conditions are the way it is; a natural path for humanity. That is, some have and will always have power (the affluent), while other will simply not. If people feel they are powerless to organize and act as a cohesive unit unless cataclysmic action falls by way of toxic leaks in low-income communities, war, etc. then how will lasting social change come to be?

Again, it's clear the paradigm of "civil society" must be critiqued.

Circling to the US and its escalation of war in Afghanistan, the American people were told last week that war is essential. That it's a necessity. What's not fully on the table is what interests compel the US to continue its war in the Middle East. For the US to be present, and risk lives and environmental destruction, what's really the cause?

If the main reason for action is the threat of the Taliban gaining control of nuclear weapons held currently by Pakistan, then why is that not discussed with the American people? Maybe the reason corresponds to why the WTO still has no concrete safeguards for the production of noxious materials across the world.

It goes back to power. Power held and power controlled is a major energy to understand while attempting to move forward the well-being of the total biotic community of Earth. Wealth, yeas. But not solely wealth. As I've said before, maybe if the US didn't hold the greatest amount of nuclear weapons in the world, they wouldn't be so anxiety driven to think they can defeat a radically fundamentalist group.
In the coming days, weeks, and months lets remember our power as individuals to do all what we can to reclaim our individual power, which collectively as a force can be power as Empire. It can also be a power that dismisses power, which may be what actually leads to Holistic Sustainability.
Read Holloway, think, talk, and act.

"Change the World Without Taking Power" by John Holloway

Monday, November 30, 2009

This Darkness Has Got to Give

While away from home the past several weeks, I've had a few clear moments to reflect. As the year turns towards the winter season, and 2010 approaches, peace, justice and sustainability continue to face dramatic barriers to implementation. More than implementation is how these entities are felt throughout the total biotic community on Earth.

A recent thought has begged me to pose a series of questions aimed at understanding the present paradigm of humanity on Earth. Reflecting on the state of the nation I call home, I remember a Thanksgiving dinner six years ago when in the US it seemed, "if only Bush wasn't in office", everything would be better. This statement was closely followed some years later during Bush's second term, "if only Al Gore was president, imagine where issues on climate change and the occupation of Iraq would be".

While digesting thoughts and ideas for greater ways to contribute, I recalled these thoughts and applied them more recently. These more current thoughts went something to the tune of imagine if McCain and Palin were in office as opposed to Obama? Well, what if they were "in charge". How different would things be? People continued to argue during the Bush era that the war in Iraq would be over and the US would be fighting climate change in a more steadfast manner if only he were not in power. But now there's Obama, and he was just awarded the Nobel Peace prize, and carried the US on a float of "Change and Hope". But the US is still at war. Iraq is still occupied, bombs continue to fall on Pakistan and it seems more likely there will be a US presence in Afghanistan for many years to come. Nothing dramatic has happened to lessen coal fired power plants from supplying most of the electricity in the US, bring about energy independence, and apply the governmental support to renewable energies that the fossil fuel industries have relied on for decades.

What's so different?

We know human centered models of government have largely failed. Even those seemingly better (and truthfully better) political systems that give their people health care, education and housing, they still have their problems. Of course there's also those systems people argue have worked, but truthfully they only work if you're in the elite 1-3% of the population.

I wonder when critical measures will finally come down to try and take the best of all the many implemented models of human governance to foster a "system" that can handle and promote what's needed. Maybe a system that's not really a system? Autonomy based on bioregional and culturally relevant means? Regardless, this change can not be the change that recycles the same old barriers as usual; a standard status quo approach. Rather, to recognize the state of the US, the deepness of the moment in US history, and that no matter what ambitions Obama has, his barriers to promote Holistic Sustainability are blocked by the overall structure by which he attempts to make progress. The most clear thought here is that those barriers will continue until the actual framework by which US politics are created is greatly altered.

When a Nobel Peace prize winner is the leader of ongoing military offensives, when the country whose people consume the most and have provided the economic model by which other "developing" nations seek to follow cease to lead on environmentally and socially just fronts, and further marginalization of low income people, people of color and the Earth continues unabated, when will the masses act? It's clear what action has paved the way for where things are at now have been helped create a path, but is it not even clearer that something has got to give in a more profoundly different way?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

There are still some skeptics out there, and some of them happen to help run the US

Climate change legislation continues to make its way through Congress. Although I understand there could be benefits from a cap and trade program, I still strongly feel that it doesn't come close to facilitating what's needed. I guess it really doesn't matter anyway as today some interesting news that Republican Senators are going to boycott work sessions on climate change this week. The Senator of Oklahoma is among those constituents. He has repeatedly attested to the "fact" global warming is the "greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people".

They are doing this as if the regular process in and of itself wasn't slow enough. That coupled with the actual fact that climate change and its numerous, widespread, diverse impacts is most certainly not something that can be fully halted, at least anytime soon, calls for a reading of this useful article from the online magazine Grist. It may not answer everything, but climate change is a definitive umbrella issue of ecology, society, economics, politics, as well as peace, justice and sustainability.
The only constructive action is to build solidarity so that every single person actually wants to be another cog in the chain for helping deal with something that has a dramatic affect on the total biotic community of Earth. And at least if this mentality is employed there will be positive change in some way and shape while real progress takes form.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Protests at the American Bankers Association (ABA)

A welcome site to an extremely unwelcome happening in Chicago today as thousands of people turned out to protest Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo at the annual ABA meeting..
With an estimated 17.8 trillion dollars expended to bail out the top tier of Wall Street executives and corporations, while the rest of the nation continues to bear the burden of their capitalistic ways, ordinary Americans flocked to the streets of Chicago demanding economic justice.
As unemployment continues to rise with the continuation of foreclosures across the country, many people just can't stand to hear of another bonus or raise given to those who helped put the rest of us in this mess. Like the health care lobbyists who continue to undermine a true public option for health care for all, these wealthy elites know what's at stake; power.
Let's continue voicing opposition to unfettered capitalism that does not provide the benefits this economic theory has promised, but rather serves the elite 1% while the rest are forced to suffer and consume one another in hopes we won't be the next to lose our job, our home, or be forced onto the streets unwillingly.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

As the Afghanistan war enters its 9th year on this day, Obama told the world he saw no reason for withdraw as well as no need for troop reductions. In fact, he said he's thinking of boosting the war effort by up to 40,000 troops.

The senate also passed a war funding bill for 626 billion dollars today. Funding for healthy food for the US? How about health care for all? Nope, just funding for more brutality.

It's days like these I wonder, if the systemic powers of the three main branched of the US government desire to simply flex their muscles rather than reflect on their mistakes. On the anniversary of this war, with occupations in Pakistan and Iraq ongoing, instead of talking about fostering peace, rhetoric is fueled by messages of war perpetuation. And I failed to mention the new weapons being built. Ones that are specifically meant for an attack on Iran.

War is arguably the most unsustainable socially constructed activity on the face of the planet. No sentient being wins, justice is completely obstructed and peace is the opposite end of the spectrum. While struggle and conflict are a part of life and can lead to brighter outcomes, years and years of brutal war, that targets civilians, that supports nothing but a police-state, a military industrial complex, and a society brainwashed to believe that war is a necessity, is nothing that promotes sustainability.

Make your voice be heard.

-While there are many sources for news, and many entities covering the anniversary of the Afghanistan war on this day, there are several worthy articles and news blogs on , as well as on older posts in this blog.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This Wednesday, 10/7/09, Marks 8 Years

Without justice there is no peace. Without sustainability there is no justice. Without peace nothing is sustainable, and that is why it is so important to place energy towards movements of anti-war and pro-peace.

This week, as the occupation of Afghanistan turns into a war of 96 months, let us learn more about how we can, in any way, no matter how small or large, lend efforts towards stopping this and any other war. War hurts humans, non-human species and the Earth alike. If we are going to fight for sustainable solutions healthy for all living things we must voice our disrest with movements that seek to undermine the harmony of the planet. War is the central and pinnacle action that disrupts the health of all sentient beings and if you care about the planet and all its life, you should educate, share and act to help protect it and end the wars in Central Asia.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Movement to UNDAM the Klamath Continues

Efforts continue to attempt to restore the health of the Klamath River in Northern California. This truly is a multi-faceted land-use conflict and I invite everyone to familiarize themselves with the ingredients in the case so as to better understand what a dynamic recipe this is for a possible example of holistic sustainable land-use policy to be implemented.

Weighing in on the views of ranchers who drain the river for irrigation purposes, recreationists and environmentalists who advocate for restoration of water quality, and Native American Tribes who have subsisted on the salmon of the Klamath as well as calling the River sacred for milena, is a tricky craft. None-the-less the work continues to resolve this conflict and recently a proposal was set forth that could remove the 4 major Klamath dams by 2020. But guess what, there's a problem. Unfortunately it all seems too good to be true, to remove the dams and allow the salmon to run freely once again, as the potential tenets of this plan could undermine the rights of the local Hoopa Tribe as well as the neighboring Trinity River.

Please read through the information accessible below. Learn about this incredibly diverse case. Share what you learn with others, and hopefully, the dams will come down in a way the does not disenfranchise the local environment, the river, the salmon, the Tribes, or any other community member.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thoughts on the G-20

At least 200 people were arrested while protesting the G-20 over the past weekend. The G-20 is a group made up of the top twenty leaders from the top 20 wealthiest nations in the world. Their main purpose is to discuss matters of economics. Mainly, their conversations speak to how they can continue to be the top 20 wealthiest nations in the world, and generally,how they can get wealthier.

Protesters for human rights, economic justice and environmental sensibility were greeted first with a bureaucratically centered process for getting a permit to protest-which is a whole other matter in itself, that of getting a permit to be able to protest-then with a police greeting that included numerous instances of gassing. The police even brought out sound canisters, which apparently marks the first time this method of enforcement has ever been used in the US.
All this to keep peaceful, non-violent protesters out of the city center!

In the end, a loose set of measures were adopted by the G-20. The most notable, unfortunate issues inadequately addressed were: dialogue surrounding "balanced economic growth" that basically means business as usual, vowing to take strong action on climate change without making any specific commitments, and saying undeveloped countries should have more of a say regarding matters conducted by the IMF and World Bank. What would that look like? A country saying "Please stop 'helping' us with high interest loans and furthering inequality through economic stratification by actually making us poor and unable to support local agriculture in our own countries?"

It seems this G-20 meeting was again business as usual, coupled with unfortunate altercations in what's been described as a scene reminiscent of police-state politics.

How is this meeting useful in the promotion of sustainability, peace or justice? No action on climate change, no deep economic analysis leading to something helpful? President Obama was quoted as saying he disagrees with protesters and believes the meeting was important for conversations surrounding "how the market is working for ordinary people".

What I want to know is how IS the market working for ordinary people? All 99% of us globally? How would ordinary people answer that question? I bet the answer would be different when juxtaposed with the same thoughts from a member of the G-20. In fact, I know it would because what we know today is what's out there is not working for the benefit of low-income, poor, or extremely rural people. It's also clearly not working for the Earth and non-human species when viewed from the perspective of rainforest and global timber stands that continue to be depleted as well as habitat loss for countless species, ocean acidification, and on and on. So when are these leaders going to listen to their "ordinary" people and let them (us) dictate and speak to matters most relevant to their day-to-day ways of life while taking into consideration the G-20's collective impact and leadership role in perpetuating ills to humanity and the Earth?
We must keep the pressure on...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nestle Defeated!

A major victory in the Northern California area was reported this morning. Nestle, the world's largest beverage and food corporation, has been fighting to tap the pristine waters of Mt.Shasta for a long time. Whenever multinationals like Nestle come to bat, it can be hard for local people to protect their community and environment. With major threats to the grater watershed, Indigenous residents in the area, and long-time locals this has been a steadfast area of struggle in Nor-Cal for years. But Nestle got beat, and there's one less operation to produce the completely unsustainable product of bottled water, which also supports the privatization of water rights that all species on Earth have an inherent right to enjoy.
Mt. Shasta is one of the most magnificent, gorgeous, and powerful mountain areas in the world. If you ever have an opportunity to visit do so, and don't forget to visit the town park where you can drink from a spring coming right from the ground- its the headwaters for the Sacramento River. And don't forget to congratulate the McCloud Watershed Council for their work, and remember to never get too bogged down with the ongoing and continued threats of human rights abuses, climate change, social and environmental injustices-ever ounce of energy towards the prevention and elimination of these oppressions will be heard, felt, and lived in one way or another. We all need to help one another, and through difficult times, many battles will be lost, but many will be won, in the war for respect, equity and justice for all life on this planet.
In Solidarity...

Monday, September 14, 2009


Active involvement is always a good means for advocation of positive social change. Although there are critiques of signing online petitions because they don't deliver or influence the amount of change many would hope, they are at least something. They do influence in many ways as well as spread education to people who are open to learning. In that light, I'm going to try and offer links to petitions I have singed, knowing it always better to write a personal letter, or make a phone call, but also knowing I support these causes enough to sign them, learn from their creators, as well as post them in hopes their message(s) carry far and wide. Keep in mind these are all diverse causes, but they also all in some way speak to promotion of sustainability as well as peace and justice. Imagine the diversity in these initiatives and how many more could be be created...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren

President Obama delivered a speech yesterday to millions of schoolchildren across the US. Several school districts chose not to broadcast the speech due to partisan rhetoric. The main argument is that Obama's speech in some way would indoctrinate the students and promote "his socialized" ideals. From my perspective, Obama's remarks were basically focused on kids working hard and the importance of getting a good education. We all know the "American Dream" is a bunch of baloney as it in no way is accessible to all, in the same spirit that Obama in in no way a socialist or promoting socialism (unfortunately).

This is why I don't self-identify as a Republican, obviousCheck Spellingly, but in no way identify with the continued failures of the Democrats who arguably perpetuate the same inequality they seek to repeal but keeping faith in an inherently flawed system. And it is there in his speech, that kids can go onto a career in the military, etc. But what he is putting out there is accountability for kids to learn and tying to give'em a pep talk on a day where a lot of kids are intimidated, scared, etc. Now if his talk was about giving everyone free education and lessening the gap in stratification there, or speaking to the failures of the government, that would be much cooler. Still, even though I think some of what he says is just political crap, the point is he's addressing school kids, and I can't understand why these Republicans would make such a deal...or do I understand? In any case, food for thought, take a read at Obama's speech and tell me why Republicans would be so pissed:

"Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster."
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book.
Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon.
Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America."

Is Wal-Mart really that bad?

Yes. Although I once partially defended them because it's where a great deal of low-income people can afford to buy necessary items for day-to-day living, I still argued their business practices were horrendous as they basically just wipe any small local business out in any community they come into because they are so wealthy and big they can take hits on their profits in the short term as in the long term they know they will rebound. Also, beyond being a main supporter of slave labor and environmentally destructive products from China, you must read this article from Grist: I wrote about what Wal-Mart was doing in Alabama several weeks ago, but this article builds on that like none other- their reign of racist, economically unjust practices must be stopped!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Guess who's the world's largest supplier of weapons?

The US.

For a nation to truly be the hegemonic structure that the US is, I guess being the world leader in promoting violence just adds fuel to the fire. The second largest arms dealer in the world is Italy, but the US actually supplies 10 times the amount of weapons that they do. If one were to look at all business that's done in the world regarding arms trade, the US would account for 68% of those transactions.

Put simply, it is reports like these that must be critically examined in order for peace, justice or sustainability to truly ever take root in the US or around the globe. For those that will say I just bash and bash, all I want to know is where's the accountability?
Of the close to 37 billion dollars in deals the US made last year, about 9.6 billion went to Near East and Asian countries. This means the US, while engaging in war in Iraq, Afghanistan, while bombing Pakistan and threatening to build missile bases in Europe and take over military bases in Colombia is doing what? They are spreading their reaches across the globe, as they have in the past, to spread hegemony, to continue putting out the image that the US is the supreme global leader in everything, and how does one do this? By being the largest, most powerful military in the world and ensuring other countries have enough weapons so everyone can kill everyone else. Gross Domestic product (GDP) rises with each conflict, each war, and it's no wonder the contradictions grow in their glare with each rock unturned, because imagine what would happen if the US abandoned its nuclear arsenal and stopped making the money it did off of selling weapons?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Litigation: Does it really bring about justice?

Recently, Chevron, one of the most environmentally destructive organizations on the planet has accused an Ecuadorian judge of corruption in a case involving them and the vast amount of pollution they have brought forth to make profits in the Amazon. This also includes the enormous damage they have brought about to Indigenous populations.

The suit is based on the billions of gallons of toxic waste that Chevron has dumped while extracting resources from the Ecuadorian rainforest to make their billions of dollars in profits. So Chevron has been ordered to pay 27 billion in damages, a drop in the bucket for the damages they have brought forth to this pristine ecosystem and the numerous people that rely on its bounty for survival.

What do they do? Pay for it? Of course not, they take a cue from what Exxon did with the Valdez spill, use the "wonderful" judicial system that is supposed to bring about justice, and say they have a video that shows the judge in the case taking a bribe to rule against them, among other things.

So a Chevron spokesperson calls for an investigation, and the judge of course says this is B.S., but what does this really do? It makes this case take a whole heck of a lot longer, thank you litigation.

The judge was supposed to issue a ruling before 2010. This original suit was brought 16 years ago!!!!

We have got to ask if this system works then...16 does that bring about justice? All this really does is delay the case and show the international community the courts of law are flawed as well as show Indigenous people, the Earth, and the poor are all at the mercy of big powerful corporations like Exxon and Chevron. As a sentence was just about to be handed down, the corporation buys time for itself, and those most burdened are forced to bear more impacts.

Do something...follow this case, write to Chevron, don't buy their products, let's follow Berkley's lead (link below) and contemplate a judicial system that is so flawed that measures like this can impede progress towards justice, peace and sustainability when it's actually supposed to aid it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Voluntary vs. Mandative Change

I started more formal education in environmental studies some 11 years ago. Along the many lessons I've learned during this path was the argument for why mandating environmental change is a bad thing. I was told this is why people don't like environmentalists because, "they demand too much change that greater society can't deal with so abruptly".
This argument never did sit right with me, especially when one studies how voluntary change has come about and implemented in modern day. Sure, it sounds god, but take something like how the ski industry promotes sustainability. The Sustainable Slopes Initiative is what guides ski resorts in engaging with sustainability initiatives. The ski resorts get to use the logo and claim "they are sustainable" by signing up for the non-mandative pledge that in reality says if a ski resort never recycled plastic, and now they do, they're on the road to sustainability.
Really? I mean come on, you're either sustainable or you're not, period. These voluntary policies allow for great green-washing and can also be seen in climate change discussions going on in the US government. Curb our emissions by how much percentage by when? What will that do anyway? My take was yes, I understand if we eliminated the oppressive capitalistic economic system that governs the US there would be a greater chance for instilling equality amongst the classes, but yes that would be an Earth shattering dramatic change that if it happened tomorrow, all hell would break loose as anarchists would rejoice. However, just imagine taking a step like Mexico City has and making it illegal to for any store to hand out non-biodegradable bags. Take that voluntary change this light, mandating change says so what, you'll have to alter your ways no matter what or you're breaking the law. And guess what? People will adapt.
That brings about change; mandating strong measures that are good for the health of the Earth and all its species. If they said try not to hand out plastic bags what would happen? Nothing, but perhaps a few would come along.
So the shared thought for today, beyond the lesson that in any case bringing your own reusable bag anywhere is much better than biodegradable ones that still take a lot of energy to produce and don't break down quite as well as one might hope, is keep dreaming for those measures that will bring about positive social change and don't get bogged down by "it's too hard and too dramatic a change for all people to live in respect filled coexistence where sustainability promotes social justice and peace for all sentient beings". There is a way, and with that one foot in the system and one foot out, great things can and will happen.
Thanks for the lessons Mexico, and while I'm at it, I might as well mention San Francisco's lead on the plastic bag banning, which also makes me think of the health care initiative that has been blossoming there where all San Franciscoites are afforded health care. Sounds nice doesn't it; All people with health care...maybe we should continue this mandative talk with this fine system of brutality we live by and just make sure all people are afforded the care and concern they deserve while we promote social good that's good for all life on this planet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today President Obama announced he is renominating Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke to a second term due to his efforts to work against the ongoing US and global recession. Of key note to Ben's ideological perspective is his recent economic prescription for the US. Essentially he said that currently the US economy is in its best state for a return to "growth" and that the next year looks good.

Now let us ponder the term and use of the word growth here and ask a few more questions. How is a lack of jobs and a continuously higher unemployment rates good for the economy? Something to note is Ben is really speaking to the top tiered class in the US, the one that succeeds or fails with a fluctuating stock market. So what about the 80-90% of the rest of us? Inequalities still beaming, does it matter? Who matters more to President Obama and good old Ben? Do they care about low-income people? What about the middle class? It's been said that the way to understand the difference amongst classes (loosely and generally I might add) is low-income folks struggle daily to make ends meet, middle-class folks own homes but otherwise may find affinity with low-income people, or rather strive to reach for the elite class that has investments tied to other larger financial markets (hedge funds, stocks, bonds, etc.)

Growth is only "good" for a small segment of the population that strives for private wealth. As capitalism has shown us, a system built on those premises will not can not support a total society of the planet. Growth and the mentality that growth is inevitable and necessary in order to have a "healthy" economy are fallacies in that growth continues to consume the Earth and all its resources as well as those who come in the way of rising to a higher class status. This status is of course socially constructed in the sense that without the Earth and its resources no life would exist. Yet as Obama continues the war in Afghanistan and the GDP rises as it is directly tied to military activity, people are dying and the yearning for more growth is extended.

Put simply, until the mindset that growth is not good is shared, until every person is afforded health care and education and the barriers to equality are lessened, Ben and Barrack will not be working for the public good, for peace, for justice or sustainability, because an economy that continues in the trend the US has had only benefits the "lucky" few that get all the benefits while everyone else faces all the burdens.
The mindset that growth is good MUST come to an end!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Question...

Today, sixteen individuals received the highest civilian honor bestowed upon by the US government. The Presidential Medal of Freedom was given to such activists as social justice and peace promoter Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. Another man was granted this honor today, posthumously. Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978, also received this award for his steadfast activism for gay rights and equality.

Now this is a nice thing, to grant such honors to such worthy people. But I have to wonder, why is President Obama giving awards to champions of holistic sustainability, when we also learned this day that Obama is going back on his campaign promise to not reauthorize NAFTA.

NAFTA is a cornerstone piece of the Clinton legacy that is by definition neolibral politics that promote "free-trade" through globalization, which essentially one of the more non-free policies out there. Ever wonder why Mexicans have to import cheaper corn from the US, grown with pesticides and GMO's when they have a plentiful amount in their own country...NAFTA, and other means of "free-trade" are anything but free. However, they do promote class stratification, perpetuate the power of elites, and overall help to strengthen a hegemonic structure, if that's what he's really going for.

So I wonder how Obama could award such honors to those fighting the status quo oppressive systems that be, illuminating their great work and the odds they've overcome in struggles for peace, justice and sustainability, and at the same time work to instill policy that undermines any effort for true holistic sustainability? Maybe the nine peace activists that were arrested this week at the US military base Mount McCoy will help us understand where he's coming from? I mean, protesting the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan along with the US stockpile of nuclear weapons, especially on the sixty-fourth anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a worthy endeavor to bring to light the struggles the globe still faces to bring real freedom to the lives of our total biotic community. I wonder what will happen when they stand trial on federal trespass charges? And I wonder how the NAFTA proceedings will unfold...maybe with a little help from the WTO and IMF?

The contradictions and steps backwards continue to astound me with Mr. Obama, although I'd be lying through my teeth if I didn't have a feeling this was obviously going to happen. Can't completely kill Hope, but...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Indigenous Struggles Abroad, A 30,000 lb bomb, and Racists in Alabama

Among the many topic of news today ponder the struggle the Penan people in Malaysia are engaged in. Since the 80's these folks have fought of multinational corporations who want to log their traditional homelands. None the less they continue to fight for their justice.

And then I read this on : Pentagon Eyes New 30,000-Pound “Bunker Buster” Bomb
The Pentagon is seeking to speed deployment of an ultra-large “bunker buster” bomb on the most advanced US bomber as soon as July 2010 – three years ahead of schedule. The 30,000-pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator is designed to destroy deeply buried bunkers beyond the reach of existing bombs. Analysts say the request from the Pentagon reflects growing unease over nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea. In a request for $68 million in funding, Under Secretary of Defense Robert Hale said there was “an urgent operational need for the capability to strike hard and deeply buried targets in high-threat environments.” The precision-guided weapon, built by Boeing, could become the biggest conventional bomb the United States has ever used.

Finally, a devastating piece about an American Indian traditional ceremonial site in Alabama, that is literally being paved over for the sake of a corporate wholesale store. An article can be accessed at: ...and I should say to the informed mind, this is extremely disturbing and one should contact Sam's Club in Alabama immediately to express your concerns!

These are indeed the days when multiple issues can hit you from multiple angles, as beyond these three stories, stretching all over the globe, there's so much more happening...but as always, read, get involved, speak, organize and get activated because everyone of us must lend our efforts to the causes for peace , justice and sustainability to ever truly take root!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is Obama Spying on me (us)?

Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes. Check out this article on Democracy Now and ponder the thought of military personnel spying on and infiltrating anti-war groups (or social justice groups, environmental groups, etc.) in the US.

How does one argue that this is a good use of federal time and keeps the US "safer"? How? I wonder if the they would spy on a anti-peace group, or is there already one of those? I wonder who that might be?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In Defense of US PRISONER #89637-132

For over 33 years, Native American activist Leonard Peltier has been illegally held as a US prisoner. On the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975, an unprovoked attack took place that lead to a shootout where the lives of two FBI agents were claimed. Leonard was involved in the conflict, taken into custody, and has been famed for these killings; the other defendants in the case have been acquitted.

For the past three decades numerous individuals, organizations, leaders and activists have lobbied for Leonard's release. Through court trials information has been shared on behalf of the US Court system that states the FBI were equally at fault for this shootout, that no direct information states Leonard was the one who shot these men, and moreover, he was simply acting in self-defense.

In a case that clearly shows judicial abuse, racism, and a continued domination of Native Americans, the only achievable justice at this point is to free Leonard Peltier. An unfair trail on a man persecuted for his beliefs in a peaceful, justice driven world must be finally overturned. The injustices brought forth to Native America continue today as they have since First Contact. Today, Tuesday July 28, 2009 marks the first time Leonard will have a parole hearing since 1993.

Write to the Parole Commission, do some research, educate yourself, share this knowledge with others and get involved. In a world where the values of Holistic Sustainability, Peace and Justice are continuously undermined, the only way towards a brighter future is to educate and act-get involved! Even the smallest incremental step individually paves the way for cumulative positive change cumulatively.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Theory is important, Talk is cheap, but Action Fosters Change

If you care about peace, hope that justice will be felt by all humans and non-human species on Earth, and believe true Holistic Sustainability can in fact be a reality, your head can't help but spin at times.

Recently, I've had more than a few conversations with colleagues and friends that think that they don't have to be the one's to illuminate accountability for why we are where we are; that simply someone else can and will do it. This is at the heart of why measures that promote peace, justice and sustainability are still so difficult to find lasting implementation.

Theory is important, because it causes us to think, dream, and creatively imagine how things might be. Dialogue is facilitated through theorizing, and of course, that's an integral role in using theory-not just leaving it as an intangible entity. But then you have action, and whether or not you feel so inclined to be an active person out in the field advocating for social, economic, political and environmental change, activism in its many forms remains the strongest pathway for showcasing your discontent for those that continue "business as usual" and believe "these systems are all we have", thus thwarting their energy towards working for nuanced visions of life and believing in a more justice centered worldview where all life is respected. It doesn't mean there can't be diversity anymore in life and we all have to be forced into equality, but it does mean unique communities, tribes, and groups of people can determine what the needs of their constituents are now and how they can live sustainably for generations to come.

One good exercise in understanding this dilemma is looking at passive v.s active-passive v.s armed resistance.Of course there's those that ground ideology in Social Darwinistic views of the world, so they can simply state things are messed up, always will, and continue in that way because its fate. Why not be a capitalists and consume at an elites level in life if you feel this way? But of course, our perspective whole-heartedly rejects that train of thought believing in human beings ability to "logically" and "rationally" choose how their ways of life influence and impact the lives of others (compassion).

Some of those folks chose to promote peace passively, through gatherings of alternative viewpoints that at the core promote peace, but do not combat the systems and histories that have lead to the same conditions they seek to repeal through gathering. You find these beliefs in people who don't "see racism", "see environmental degradation", "feel economic inequality", and so forth because they feel just acting as peace will be the change. To a certain degree, this is good, because its a worldview built on promoting peaceful energy. But how does that empower the bearers of the burden of injustices like sexism, racism, homophobia, and ecosystem obliteration? Clearly it doesn't, because those that continue to perpetuate inequalities are not called out in challenge to understand how what they believe and how they live solidifies these lived realities. If you ask any peace loving "hippy" how they see the African-American condition in the US, they'll probably say they treat everyone equal, don't see a racial difference, and that promotes peace. Ask any African -American how they feel walking the street with their white "hippy" friend and you might hear that although it seems like a good intention to be color-blind, the reality of the situation is much different. People do see these differences because we are unique and different in our races, ethnicity's, cultures, sexuality, religions, genders, classes, spirituality's, abilities, health and appearances in life. You see, by not celebrating our diversities within the spirit of recognizing oppressions brought forth by humanity, not fate, we will never defeat them but rather serve to solidify them within society.

To first shake off your comfort zone, to not deny the hope alive in this world, and take a step beyond simply saying "peace" to everyone, you need to be proactive. Some have found the way in armed resistance like the Zapatista movement in Mexico. Here an Indigenous justice fueled movement has taken back land for the people, to be ruled by the people, and although they are armed, their choice is to only arm themselves in case the threat from the outside State (Mexico) intervenes in their movement. While I respect this orientation of thought because it is by and for the people, I find (although many other activists will disagree) its the non-violent resistances that pave the most sustainable path for us. It obviously depends on the unique situation, and where the Zapatista movement in located, non-violence may not have worked to get to the place they are today. However, other instances call for different measures. Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. And Mahatma Gandhi speak to these movements. Some will say things are and have been so intensely oppressive and brutal since colonization, that armed revolution of the proletariat is essential for change. Again, I find solidarity in those movements for justice and peace, but must also celebrate those movements at the core that repeal violence of any kind. The argument will always be there that those movements will be defeated by the "State" as entities of power will not and do not change that easily as reluctance to change is their way of keeping the systems and conditions we currently live by in place. Moreover, what happened to the above leaders in the end? Violence and violent people claim lives.

None the less, non-violent direct oppositions and activist movements have been and are being conducted all over the world and show glorious merit in their scope, passion, and ability to promote hope for a different world where peace, justice and sustainability are core principles, holistically, that guide humanity on its path. Without Gandhi would India be independent from British colonialism? Without MLK Jr. would the civil rights movement have taken lasting form in the US? We'll never know, but these achievements are paramount in the ongoing struggle for a better world. Racism has not been cast away from US society, and India still grows from its history of colonization, but peace and justice have been furthered. The key thought here is, these people didn't just talk about racism and inequalities; they acted.

If you look at what's going on in the world today, action is sorely needed in more areas than any one person can handle. But there are organizations and individuals making the effort. While I encourage everyone to get out of their comfort zone, do some research, and take a look outward, here's a few happenings all relevant and happening on this day in July-

Greenpeace activists occupying 4 coal plants in Italy as a way to tell the G8 climate change action is needed now. Greenpeace activists also scaled Mt. Rushmore displaying a banner calling for Obama to take a harder role in the affect he can foster within the climate change movement. In Oregon, a protest was held in Elliot State Forest to bring awareness of endangered species impacts as well as impacts to old-growth trees from a logging company set of extracting timber for profit. Activists are continuing to organizine against the Black Mesa Project, mountain-top removal mining, and the list goes on.

Go deeper, open your mind, look inward, then outward, and shape your dreams into action for a better world for us all.

As the struggles continue...this list, beautifully, goes on...but more organization of people that believe in the health of all must continue in cultivation...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Climate Change and Climate Justice

No one's hiding from the fact that increased greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution have altered the Earth's natural climatic patterns. Climate Change, or global warming, is something that has gained acceptance in the lexicon and greater conscious collective of the world. I see it as an umbrella for the interdisciplinary environmental movement, as it encompasses numerous other environmental issues all species of life face, from increased desertification, forest depletion, water quality impacts as well as specie displacement. Sometimes I feel this is the greater issue to magnify the many unnecessary problems humans have brought upon the world, and sometimes I feel climate change overshadows other related issues that are lost in the translation that if you change your light bulbs things will be fine.

One such issue that is directly related to climate change and speaks to its greater reach is the climate justice movement. Recently, a study was published by the National Academy of Sciences that calls not on just wealthy nations, but wealthy individuals to bear the brunt of the burden climate change promotes to all life on Earth. As less than 1 billion people are responsible for over half of the worlds greenhouse gas emissions, it's clear those affluent global community members are able to ward off the most severe impacts of climate change simply because they can afford to do so. Being poor, and have trouble accessing clean drinking water is a much different predicament to be in than, than having the ability to buy bottled water-which is a whole other topic in and of itself. Moreover, as environmental movements have shown in the past several decades, lower income nations and individuals are much more likely to bear the greatest burdens of climate change while those in developed and more elite nations face less of a burden. Take for example Indigenous nations in Arctic regions who subsist on the bounty of the land, and those animals that are less vibrant than they have been in the past and aren't found where they once were. Take island nations like Micronesia, that have actively been trying to find other islands to inhabit, once sea levels rise and turn their homeland into an underwater uninhabitable landmass.

Alot of what climate change speaks to is the consumption of the worlds elite. Taking into account ecological footprint, we'd need at least 2.5 Earths to support the consumption of the US if the world were all from the United States. People continually place the blame on India and China, but what about where they've drawn their inspiration to grow from? And then you have the recent US climate legislation that just barely passed, but what does it really do to cut the real impacts of climate change or make any real meaurable lasting impacts? In any case, the whole world is affected by climate change and unfortunately our collective impacts may already ave a taken a toll that we can't repeal. That still doesn't mean we shouldn't change our habits, and it also means to those of us who do live in the US, who do have access to food daily and clean water, with a roof over our heads, that looking through a socio-political-economic-environmental lens allow us to see what we can do as individuals, as and communities to make sacrifices in our own lifestyle to lessen these impacts as well as understanding where the roots of the problem lie, and how to best offset the impacts of those who will be most affected. This is how the climate justice movement can take a leading role in the fight to combat climate change, foster peace, justice and sustainability not for some, but for all.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Talking Nuclear in Russia

President Obama is currently in Russia discussing a potential new treaty that would decrease the stockpiles of Nuclear weapons both countries possess. Now here's something that initially excites me, thinking this is such a good allocation of time for the president, but why does it seem like Obama is really there to further the proposed US missile base in Europe? Thus far, there has been agreement that a modest weapons cut is acceptable by both parties, but there has been no "progression" as far as missile base discussions go.

Does it not seem odd that talks centered around decreasing nuclear stockpiles are in some way informed by discussions of building a missile base? Sure seems like the same old BS to me; on the surface show a beautiful step forward that promotes peace, justice and sustainability, AND at the same time have another aspect of this plan that promotes a separate, but obviously connected agenda that supports some form of US power. Oh, and this treaty also has provisions for US military flights to finally be able to cross over Russia en route to Afghanistan, as Obama spoke about the unfortunate gap in relations that has grown with both countries.

So again, something that looks so promising-lessening the stockpile of nuclear weapons, up to a 1/3rd, both of these largely armed nations have, showcasing an amazing step in a righteous direction. However, the other things attached to the plan just seem to spell out more war-go figure.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iraqis Celebrate

Today marks the day for US forces to pass control back to the Iraqi people. Although this passing of power is only a pullback, and not a complete withdrawal, what should be noticed is the great celebrations being held throughout Iraq as the people proclaim hope in regaining a sense of national sovereignty. Iraq has even claimed this day a national holiday, as if that doesn't illuminate the great strife as well as great pride Iraqis are showcasing on this day where US and foreign forces take a step back from ruling the Iraq homeland.

What remains is what the US presence will be until the "formal" withdraw slated for completion in 2011 takes shape. It also remains unclear how Iraq with rebuild itself as a nation ravaged by a highly illegal, illogical, and unethical war which began over 6 years ago.

Points to remember, beyond the continued occupation of Afghanistan and selective bombing of Pakistan, is while formal control of Iraq’s major cities and towns have been passed from the US, US forces will still be stationed in military bases that will continue to "monitor" the very same areas they withdrew from. Although today is a great step for Iraqi sovereignty, does this "withdrawal" in fact mean anything at all? I, along with all those who believe in the possibility of peace, sure hope so.

Please visit these sites for more information: and