Sunday, January 28, 2007

Personal Peace in a Warring World

I haven’t written for a while because I have been so overwhelmed by the amount of issues that I feel I need to write about. In fact, the state of the world has gotten to me so upset, that I have had to stop listening to NPR while driving to avoid getting in an accident. Here are six things in the world that are pissing me off the most right now. They are not really in order of importance because it’s difficult to prioritize when it comes to human suffering and social justice.

1. George Bush and the fact that he is living in White House instead of in priso
2. The War in Iraq
3. Poverty (related to this, the fact that there is even a debate as to weather we should raise the minimum wage from $5.15/hr, which should be a crime in this the wealthiest nation, or $7.15/hr, which is also criminally low.)
4. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act and how it is destroying opportunities for “real teaching” and “real learning” to happen.
5. Global warming
6. The fact that health insurance or some guaranteed access to health care is not considered a right, but a privelage.

I’m sure the list could go on, but I think this is a pretty full load. Don’t cry! There’s hope. Here are some ways that I am handling this world that, if I only read the newspaper or listened to NPR, could throw me into a deep clinical depression.

  1. Snuggling and Playing. Spending lots of time snuggling and playing with pooch, Ella, and my human partner, Robb. We have gotten some snow in Vermont and have enjoyed how this frozen white stuff throws a positive glow on our troubled world.
  2. Working towards peace. I went to a really inspirational anti-war march in Montpelier on a frigid day (10 degrees). Despite the weather, there were hundreds of people who marched to the VT state house and demonstrated their desire and drive to end the War in Iraq. Knowing that there are others who share your beliefs is very comforting. There was even a songwriter who played his anti-war songs for the chilly crowd. That’s commitment.

3. Knitting.
I have been knitting quite a bit and will actually post some of my projects. I finished my first sweater and am 85% done with a vest for my mom. When I am knitting, I am so focused on the colors, textures, and shapes that I am working with that I am able to focus on the abstract issues that often shuffle around in my brain. I hope that all of you are able to find some personal peace in our currently less than peaceful world.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Moral Leadership from Within

Today, around the country, people honored the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. through speeches, performances, concerts, and other celebrations. What most Americans know about Martin Luther King, Jr. is that he was a Civil Rights leader who fought against racial segregation. He was a Civil Rights leader and he did fight passionately for the equal rights of African-Americans in this country, but there is more. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an advocate, not only for the civil rights of African-Americans, but also for the civil rights of all marginalized groups, particularly those individuals who were marginalized by poverty.

Another important and very relevent component to King's moral leadership was his strong stance against the Vietnam War. King saw the deep connection between poverty, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam war. In a speech that he made at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, King explained the connection between his stance against the Vietnam War and his fight for Civil Rights.

There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor- both black and white- through the Poverty Program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonical destructive suction tube. So I was incereasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. (MLK, April 4, 1967)

I found the excerpt from this speech to be incredibly relevant to the political situation in America today. On the one hand, the president wants billions of dollars to fight a war that the American people do not support. On the other hand, raising the unreasonably low minimum wage, creates controversy because of possible negative economic reprucussions.

So, what do you do? There is a time to put your hands in your head and weep about the situation. There is a deep sense of sadness that comes from witnessing such social injustice. Then, there is a time to act; to take your head out of your hands, stand up, and fight. Social change happens when we realize that within each of us there is a moral leader. Lots of moral leaders add up to a social movement.

I leave you with my all time favorite call to action quote by Margaret Mead. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nap Time Over -Impeach Now!

While this winter has felt a lot more like spring in terms of weather, the political climate has felt like one of those ferocious noreasters that I grew up with. All right, Mr. Bush, if you are determined to ignore the voice of Congress, top military advisors, international leaders, and most importantly the American public, then we have no choice but to mobilize the "political public works department" and plow you out of the white house.

I have say to say that I have been pretty depressed the past few days since George Bush's declaration that he is calling for a surge in the number of troops in Iraq. I did a lot of volunteer work during this past election season to ensure that the American people would have a group of senators and representatives in Washington D.C. who opposed the War in Iraq. After the November elections, I was feeling pretty hopeful that this new congress might be able to take America in a new direction. While the congress is trying to move America in a new direction, President Bush is having a political temper tantrum that could kill thousands of more American soldiers and Iraqi civilians.

I feel, at this point, the American people have no choice but to push for impeachment of the entire Bush administration. This is no longer an alternative view. Keith Olbermann of MSNBC articulates clearly, intellingently, and passionately his perspective on President Bush. Watch his report on youtube below.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Stop Global Warming! Sleep More!

This week of balmy weather in Vermont has been a rude reminder of the reality of global warming. While there are some who are still trying to explain this weather as "normal fluctuations", the fact is that denial of global warming is no longer an option for most.

I promised to give some other suggestions for how to fight global warming and here is one that I think almost everyone would be happy to support. SLEEP MORE! The more you sleep, the less energy you use. Most people, other than maybe than toddler population, sleep with the lights off. Most people don't drive when they are asleep (although it does seem that some people may be asleep behind the wheel). So, particularly in the winter, get into bed, snuggle up with your human, animal, or stuffed friends, and give the Earth and yourself a break.