Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Websites and Blogs Move to Carbon Neutrality

CarbonFree Blog

Although we know reducing consumption is at the core for lessening the impacts of global climate change, any tool that helps combat carbon footprints should be examined for its useful application.

The Carbon Fund (http://www.carbonfund.org/) is now offering a way for websites and blogs to go carbon neutral. The Internet is a worldwide tool that not only helps us educate ourselves and others to be more responsible global citizens, it also happens to contribute to about 2 percent of global carbon emissions.

Check out Carbon Fund's website to see how you can make your blog and/or website carbon neutral, and help others take the same path. Our Peace, Justice, and Sustainability blog is taking this step because we know we have a footprint, and because we know each of our core themes are supported by lessening our perpetuation of climate change and by taking action to ensure we are all aware of how we can all play a part to combat its drastic effects.

See www.solarliving.org for full course schedule

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

5 Years After Katrina, Combat Operations Stop in Iraq, and the Hate of Glenn Beck

Last Sunday marked the 5 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. While an amazing effort to rebuild New Orleans has taken place, many residents never returned home, and low-income community members continue to face inequitable burdens. Add this to the impacts from the BP Oil spill and the New Orleans/Gulf region needs a great deal or continue support.

I recently read about the Transform New Orleans Fund, and whether you simply refamiliarize yourself with issues going on this region, or have the ability to contribute, take a look at what this Fund is trying to do for residents of New Orleans:

The organizations benefiting from the Transform New Orleans Fund are fighting every day for regular people. Some of the groups are working to ensure that the government works well, and is accountable to everyone in New Orleans. Others are using arts and culture to advance social change, while still others are on the front lines of the fight against inequity in the justice system. What they all have in common is that they've turned the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina into an opportunity to build a city more equitable and just than the one that preceded it. The groups include:

Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana is a New Orleans-based advocacy organization that aims to reform Louisiana's broken juvenile justice system into one that builds on the strengths of young people, families, and communities to ensure that children have opportunities to thrive. JJPL seeks to reduce the number of youth incarcerated; improve conditions of confinement in youth detention centers; increase support for evidence-based alternatives to incarceration; ensure that all children have access to effective counsel at all stages in the court process; reduce the number of school suspensions and expulsions; end the practice of transferring youth to the adult criminal justice system; and protect the rights of incarcerated LGBT youth and youth living with HIV/AIDS in secure care facilities.

The New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice is dedicated to organizing workers in the Gulf region across race and industry to build the grassroots leadership and civic participation of workers and communities in the Gulf region. Founded in August 2006 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Center has grown into a constituency organization with 10 staff and close to 4,000 workers and residents from immigrant and African American communities who are the driving force behind the Center’s campaigns at local, state, and national levels. (The National Immigration Law Center acts as the fiscal agent for New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice.)

Ashe Cultural Arts Center emerged in 1998 and has served as a community hub of artistic collaboration, local advocacy and dialogue, economic development, and as an overall centralizing and stabilizing community force in post-Katrina upheaval, distress, and displacement. In addition to hosting community planning meetings, lectures and panels, art exhibits and film screenings, the Center partners with churches and cultural and advocacy organizations in their programming. (Efforts of Grace, Inc., acts as the fiscal agent for the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.)

This past Tuesday, President Obama addressed the US from the oval office for only the second time. When troops stormed Iraq back in 2003, allegation of Weapon's of Mass Destruction (WMD's) fueled a fire that was started with the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Like many of Obama's speeches he spoke of a future of peace and long term prosperity in Iraq, and he thanked those who’ve served the US profusely for their service. But we all know there were never any WMD's found in Iraq. Beyond the fact that this means the war was brought upon these nations in an unjustified manner, it also means troops lives were unnecessarily lost and gambled on through an illegal war.

Obama spoke about helping Iraqis to achieve a better future, for Iraq to have control of itself. This sounds good on the surface, but even those of us who wanted this stopped before it started will argue our intervention in this country is due for many more years so long as instability stemming for our illegal invasion exists. What's more Obama spoke of a reallocation of troops to Afghanistan, to defeat terrorism.

In all, Obama;'s message can only be absorbed with mixed reviews. Yes its a "victory" to end combat roles in Iraq, but US involvement here is far from over. And another escalation in Afghanistan to "defeat the terrorists". This rhetoric is nothing peaceful, nothing new, and with the trillions spent on war in the past decade, and million of Americans still hungry, loosing their homes, we must ask when/how can this perpetual cycle of destruction will be stoped?

As always, stay in touch with http://www.democracynow.org/ for up to date information regarding peace, justice, and sustainability. There's coverage on Obama's speech posted today.

Lastly, while this site seeks to respect all orientations of religion and spirituality, I have to post this piece written in response to the blatantly hateful act of Glenn Beck stirring the cauldron of hate from the same location where peace, justice, and sustainability was furthered 47 years prior by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Social Justice Christian

This coming Saturday, August 28 will mark the 47th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream Speech." Glenn Beck has chosen this day to deliver his own speech from the steps of the Lincoln memorial.
On that same morning I will be speaking at the dedication ceremony of a work of public art that commemorates the words and legacy of King. It is not a protest. Rather, it is an opportunity to reflect on what this great American had to say and is still saying to our country today. Whenever we take the time to collectively consider what that dream was, we all benefit.
My picture has graced the Glenn Beck blackboard a number of times over the past year. I am quite sure that if the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, he would have been on Glenn Beck's blackboard long before I would have ever been considered. That is because Martin Luther King Jr. was clearly a Social Justice Christian -- the term and people that Beck constantly derides. If the Christians of King's era had listened to Glenn Beck, they would have been forced to walk out on MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. If they were to heed his advice to turn in social justice pastors to the church authorities, they all would have had to turn in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
On December 18, 1963, at Western Michigan University, King gave a speech whose topic was "social justice and the emerging new age." If Glenn Beck had been there, I don't doubt that he would have gotten up and walked out as he has told his viewers to do if they hear "social justice" from their pastors. It might be foolish, but I hope that as Glenn Beck prepares for his rally on Saturday, he takes the time to read this speech and think about what it says. In it King explained why for justice to be just it can not only be individual, but must also be social:
"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
This is why in the Old Testament, God commands his people to be charitable but also to work for justice. The people of God are to give offerings of their own free will, but there are also laws that show the government has a legitimate role to play. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus changes people's hearts and lives, and that is something that government policy can never compete with. But, I also believe that personal charity does not do the work of justice. Here is how King put it in that same speech:
"Now the other myth that gets around is the idea that legislation cannot really solve the problem and that it has no great role to play in this period of social change because you've got to change the heart and you can't change the heart through legislation. You can't legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion. Well, there's half-truth involved here. Certainly, if the problem is to be solved then in the final sense, hearts must be changed. Religion and education must play a great role in changing the heart. But we must go on to say that while it may be true that morality cannot be legislated, behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me but it can keep him from lynching me and I think that is pretty important, also. So there is a need for executive orders. There is a need for judicial decrees. There is a need for civil rights legislation on the local scale within states and on the national scale from the federal government."
King recognized misunderstandings like this as obstacles to social justice. But, ultimately he was hopeful:
"I think with all of these challenges being met and with all of the work, and determination going on, we will be able to go this additional distance and achieve the ideal, the goal of the new age, the age of social justice."
Yes, King named social justice as the goal of the new age. This is why so many Christians were willing to turn themselves in to Glenn Beck as Social Justice Christians. It was not difficult for them to choose between King's interpretation of the gospel and Beck's interpretation that I know some in his own Mormon church are not comfortable with Did King believe that the role of government was only to eliminate discrimination? No. As he wrote in "Showdown for Nonviolence" in 1968, it played a role in ending poverty too:
"We will place the problems of the poor at the seat of government of the wealthiest nation in the history of mankind. If that power refuses to acknowledge its debt to the poor, it would have failed to live up to its promise to insure 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to its citizens.'" (From A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.)
Now, Beck and I do have one area of significant agreement. When he spoke about the civil rights movement in context of the debate around health care he said, "Who were the civil rights marchers? They were people with profound belief in God." This is true. Both Beck and I would probably agree that the most powerful social movements are rooted in deep faith. But he finished that thought saying, "They were trying to set things right. They weren't crying for social justice, they were crying out for equal justice." Beck's mistake is to somehow think that the two can be separated. Beck has lied again and again about me and so many others; it saddens me to hear him now try to rewrite the legacy of Martin Luther King. When you do the work of social justice there are always criticisms, detractors, and those who will slander and lie. But, in the words of Dr. King in 1961 to the AFL-CIO:
"Yes, before the victory is won, some will be misunderstood. Some will be called Reds and Communists merely because they believe in economic justice and the brotherhood of man. But we shall overcome."
Glenn Beck has continually called me, Sojourners, and many others "communists, socialists, and Marxists" because we call for "economic and social justice." If he were an honest man, he would have to include Dr. King as well. But King must have been thinking about the Glenn Becks of his time when he concluded his speech at Western Michigan University:
"In spite of the difficulties of this hour, I am convinced that we have the resources to make the American Dream a reality. I am convinced of this because I believe Carlyle is right: 'No lie can live forever.' I am convinced of this because I believe William Cullen Bryant is right: 'Truth pressed to earth will rise again.' I am convinced of this because I think James Russell Lowell is right: 'Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne; Yet that scaffold sways the future, And behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, Keeping watch above His own.' Somehow with this faith, we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new life into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation to a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. This will be a great day. This will be the day when all of God's children, black [people] and white [people], Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free at last!'"


See www.solarliving.org for full course schedule