Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

Making a Difference ~ A list of helpful organizations and their websites

The nice folks at Credo put together this list of organizations that you may be interested in checking out, participating in or giving time and resources to. Pass this list along! More people, more power, more change.

There are so many ways we can all make a difference!!
Peace & International Freedom

Acción International

Provides microloans, business training and other financial services to poor men and women who start their own businesses.

Americans for Peace Now

Campaigns for a nonviolent political settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Amnesty International

Takes action to prevent and end abuses of human rights and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.

Center for Victims of Torture

Works to heal the wounds of torture on individuals, their families and their communities and to stop torture around the world.

Doctors Without Borders

Delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics or disasters in over 70 countries.

Global Fund for Children

Advances the dignity of vulnerable children and young people worldwide by supporting and strengthening grassroots groups.

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Gives a voice to the many active-duty service people and veterans who are against the war but under pressure to remain silent.

Oxfam America

Creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and injustice.

Pathfinder International

Provides women and men throughout the developing world with access to family-planning information and services.

Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Supports women’s rights activists working to create cultures of justice, equality and peace.

Environment

Alliance for Climate Protection

Works under the leadership of Al Gore to persuade people around the world to immediately address global warming.

American Rivers

Protects rivers and raises awareness that they are vital to our health, safety and quality of life.

Center for Biological Diversity

Advocates to secure a future for animals and plants on the brink of extinction and for the wilderness they need to survive.

Earthjustice

Serves as the law firm for the nation’s environment, litigating critical cases to block environmental destruction.

Environmental Working Group

Uses investigative skills to demonstrate the health risks of damaging environmental practices to consumers.

ForestEthics

Holds accountable those corporations that distribute and manufacture products that destroy forests.

Greenpeace

Employs nonviolent action to expose global environmental problems and encourage solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

NRDC

With the support of members and online activists, NRDC works to solve the most pressing environmental issues we face today: curbing global warming, getting toxic chemicals out of the environment, moving America beyond oil, reviving our oceans, saving wildlife and wild places, and helping China go green.

Ocean Conservancy

Promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life.

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Expands availability of organic food by supporting research on best practices in organic farming.

Sierra Club Foundation

Funds projects that promote a safe and healthy environment, clean air, clean water, open space and a healthy, diverse ecosystem.

Economic & Social Justice

America’s Second Harvest

Provides food assistance to more than 25 million low-income hungry people, including 9 million children and 3 million seniors.

Campaign for America’s Future

Challenges the conservative agenda through campaigns such as fighting against the privatization of Social Security.

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Conducts research and analysis to inform public debates on budget and tax policy and to ensure the needs of low-income people are considered.

Corporate Accountability International

Campaigns challenging corporate control of water, tobacco industry interference in health policy, and watch-dogging corporate abuses.

Media Matters for America

Monitors, analyzes and corrects conservative disinformation in the U.S. media.

Mother Jones Investigative Fund

Produces journalism that informs and inspires a more just and democratic world.

Ms. Foundation for Women

Creates opportunities for women and girls and encourages investment in them to help them develop their voices and skills.

Physicians for a National Health Program

Engages doctors in the effort to create a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program.

Project On Government Oversight

Investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct to achieve a more accountable federal government.

United for a Fair Economy

Raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermines the economy, corrupts democracy and deepens the racial divide.

Civil Rights

Alliance for Justice

Leads efforts to block confirmation of right-wing judges.

Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Campaigns to create an America free from gun violence, where all people are safe in their homes, schools, jobs and communities.

Center for Constitutional Rights

Defends the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

Center for National Security Studies

Works for control of the FBI and CIA and to prevent claims of national security from eroding civil liberties and constitutional procedures.

Equality Now

Documents violence and discrimination against women around the world and mobilizes action to stop these human rights abuses.

Family Violence Prevention Fund

Takes action to prevent violence in homes and communities and to help those whose lives are devastated by violence.

Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Promotes accurate media reporting to help eliminate discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

National Center for Lesbian Rights

Advances the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Works to end the death penalty.

Planned Parenthood

Improves women’s health, prevents unintended pregnancies and advances the right of individuals to make choices about reproductive health.

Voting Rights & Civic Participation

AlterNet

Creates original journalism and amplifies the best of independent media sources to inspire citizen action and advocacy.

Center for Independent Media

Creates independent online investigative journalism in key states where the mainstream media is failing to cover political corruption and progressive issues.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Promotes ethics and accountability in government by exposing political malfeasance and cover-ups of official corruption.

Democracia U.S.A.

Increases the participation of Hispanics in the democratic process through large scale voter registration campaigns and leadership training around progressive issues.

League of Conservation Voters Education Fund

Strengthens the environmental movement’s ability to mobilize voters and advocates for sound environmental policies.

New Organizing Institute

Trains young, technology-enabled political organizers to work for progressive organizations.

Project Vote

Registers millions of Americans in low-income and minority communities to vote each year.

Rock the Vote

Engages youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its voter registration and advocacy activities.

USAction Education Fund

Works to take our democracy back from the corporate elite and special interests that dominate the political process today.

Wellstone Action

Honors the legacy of Paul and Sheila Wellstone by continuing their work to educate and mobilize a vast network of progressive people and organizations.

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Marianne Williamson – Yes we did!

This article was written by Marianne Williamson – I’m posting because I can’t say it any better!

America has had a non-violent revolution.

As long as there are historians writing about the United States, this moment of fundamental re-alignment of our national purpose will be remembered, poured over and analyzed. It will be seen as one of the shining points along the evolutionary arc of the American story. Yet it will never submit itself to being summed up nicely in a little package that reason alone can understand.

It’s been noted before that Americans get excited about politics every forty years. Then, in the words of comedian Will Rogers, “We have to go sleep it off.”

We were certainly excited in the l960’s. This is 2008, remember; exactly forty years since the most dramatic and violent year of the Sixties decade: the year when both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were literally killed before our eyes.

At that point, a generation of young people — looking much like the youthful army so out in full force today, only grungier — marched in the streets to repudiate an oppressive system and to try to stop an unjust war. Yet bullets stopped us. The shots that killed the Kennedy’s and King carried a loud, unspoken message for all of us: that we were to go home now, that we were to do whatever we wanted within the private sector, yet leave the public sector to whomever wanted it so much that they were willing to kill for it. And for all intents in purposes, we did as we were told.

According to ancient Asian philosophers, history moves not in a circle but in a spiral. Whether as individuals or as nations, whatever lessons we were presented once and failed to learn will come back again, but in a different form. For the generation of the Sixties and for our children, the lessons of that time — as well as its hopes and dreams and idealism — came back in 2008.

During our forty years in the desert, we learned many things. Then, we marched in the streets; this time, we marched to the polls. Then, we shouted, “Hell no, we won’t go.” This time, we shouted, “Yes, we can.” Then, we were so angry that our anger consumed us. This time, we made a more compassionate humanity the means by which we sought our goal as well as the goal itself.

In the words of Gloria Steinem, “I feel like our future has come back.” And indeed it has. For in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “No lie can last forever.” What Bobby Kennedy tried to do, and was killed for trying; what Martin Luther King tried to do, and was killed for trying; what the students at Kent state were trying to protest, and were killed for daring to; Barack Obama and his army of millions of idealists with the audacity to hope have now succeeded at doing.

Praise God. Praise God.

And that praise to God didn’t just go out last night, when Obama’s election to the Presidency was finally achieved. That praise was part of what allowed the waters to part here in the first place. Millions of Americans have been deeply aware that this kind of historic and fundamentally positive effort has not gone well in the recent past, and the spiritual understanding of this generation of Americans — an understanding not yet fully formed forty years ago — created an invisible light around the Obama campaign. How many people over the last twenty-one months have posted, in their own way, angels to Obama’s left and angels to his right, angels in front of him and angels behind him, angels above him and angels below him. I know I have, and so has everyone I know. May we continue to do so.

The Obama phenomenon did not come out of nowhere. It emerged as much from our story as from his; as much from our yearning for meaning as from his ambition to be President; as much from our determination to achieve collective redemption as from his determination to achieve an individual accomplishment. And those who fail to recognize the invisible powers at work here — who bear witness to the external political events, yet fail to discern the profound forces at work in this campaign that moved mountains by moving the American heart — well, they’re just like Bob Dylan’s Thin Man to whom he sang, “You don’t know what’s going on here, do you, Mr. Jones?”

Back then, Mr. Jones didn’t know what was going on, but we did. We knew what was going on then and we knew what needed to happen; but we simply weren’t mature enough and we were too wounded then, as people and as a culture, to pull it off.

Yet this time, we both knew and we did. The violent American revolution of 1776 entailed separating from another country. The non-violent revolution of 2008 — a non-violent revolution that did not quite fail, yet also did not quite succeed in the l960’s — has entailed separating from who we used to be.

In the l960’s, we wanted peace — but we were angry. Yet this time, after hearing Gandhi’s call that we must be the change we want to see happen in the world, we came to our political efforts with a deeper understanding that we must cast violence from our hearts and minds if we are to cast it from our world; that we must try to love our enemies as well as our friends; and that when a genius of world-historic proportions emerges among us, we cannot and we must not fail to do everything humanly and spiritually possible to support him. For his sake… and for ours.

Having gone to a higher plane within ourselves, a higher level of leadership then emerged among us. A higher level of leader now having emerged among us, he calls us to an even higher plane within ourselves. And these two forces together can and will, as Obama has told us, truly change the world. Having moved one mountain, we will now go about the work of trying to remove the ones that remain.

With God’s help, yes we can. Yes we did. And yes we will.

Marianne Williamson is the author of Healing the Soul of America. Her website is www.marianne.com.

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Welling up with joy – The Obama Presidency

I am just beginning to let myself feel what it will mean to have Obama as our President.  I am just beginning to allow the feelings of hope, excitement and joy fill me up.  Until today, I’ve been too afraid that somehow, the election would go the other way.   But every pundit and poll shows Obama with more than enough electoral votes to win. So I’m just beginning to let the sunshine in.  It’s like Springtime! It’s like the light at the end of the tunnel! It’s like the first warm day of summer after a winter of rain!  It feels as good as spontaneous laughter. It feels as good as seeing all your old friends at a reunion. It feels as joyful as a wedding day.  It feels like being rescued from a desert island.  It feels as thrilling as the scene in LoTR Return of the King when Aragorn takes his place and peace and prosperity return to Middle Earth, with the added benefit that there is no longer any huge darkness to fear.   It feels like Sauron and The Nine have been defeated.

I’m just beginning to imagine what it will be like to live in a country I can once again be proud to be a citizen of.  It feels like I can hang my American flag again and it will mean hope, liberty and freedom.  It feels like the values of Thomas Jefferson will once again guide our actions.

Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none; the support of the State governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns and the surest bulwarks against antirepublican tendencies; the preservation of the General Government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad; a jealous care of the right of election by the people-a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided; absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism; a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them; the supremacy of the civil over the military authority; economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burthened; the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith; encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid; the diffusion of information and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety.

It feels like we can live in the nation that John F. Kennedy envisioned:

… if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”

I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, in the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, the faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith. For liberalism is not so much a party creed or set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

I believe also in the United States of America, in the promise that it contains and has contained throughout our history of producing a society so abundant and creative and so free and responsible that it cannot only fulfill the aspirations of its citizens, but serve equally well as a beacon for all mankind. I do not believe in a superstate. I see no magic in tax dollars which are sent to Washington and then returned. I abhor the waste and incompetence of large-scale federal bureaucracies in this administration as well as in others. I do not favor state compulsion when voluntary individual effort can do the job and do it well. But I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation; and when it has a job to do, I believe it should do it. And this requires not only great ends but that we propose concrete means of achieving them. Our responsibility is not discharged by announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons that liberalism is our best and only hope in the world today. For the liberal society is a free society, and it is at the same time and for that reason a strong society. Its strength is drawn from the will of free people committed to great ends and peacefully striving to meet them. Only liberalism, in short, can repair our national power, restore our national purpose, and liberate our national energies.

In short, it feels really good.  I am so grateful for Obama, and for everyone in this country who is voting for change.  Welcome to the new world.  Welcome Hope.  Welcome Obama!

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Guess Who’s Coming to the White House

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was on TCM today.  I watched again and remembered that the first time I saw it, sometime in the 80’s, interracial marriage was still shocking; something that made you look twice and perhaps judge negatively.  Watching it again now, 20 years later and 41 years after its release, it seems to me that the shift in our culture toward acceptance of interracial marriage has been phenomenal.  The year 1967, when the movie was released, was the same year the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia, in which the court “declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924″, unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.”   It’s amazing that it took so long for those laws to be overturned, but it’s equally amazing how far our culture has progressed since then.

The messages of this film are especially significant now because of the election. Barack Obama is of mixed race, a fact that people who interpret the Old Testament literally have used against him.  Citing prohibitions that God gave the children of Israel against intermarrying, literalists view intermarriage as a sin and the children of those marriages to be “less than.”  These ideas remain with us, a legacy of racism and bigotry.  But a legacy that is dying.

In the film, Spencer Tracy stated that he thought that public opinion against interracial marriage would not change within 50 or even 100 years. Yet only 41 years later, look how far we have come.  In spite of the fact that there are still people out there who object to Obama because he is black or part black, there are many more people for whom race and mixed race is simply irrelevant.

It says a lot about our level of maturity, our ability to accept people of all nationalities, races, creeds and mixtures thereof, that Barack Obama is electable in our nation.  Not a month ago, when I told a colleague that I thought he would win, she responded “Oh no, not in this country.  We’re not ready.  There are still too many bigots.”  But today the polls say something else, projecting Barack Obama to win 351 electoral votes to John McCain’s 187.  Last week, Obama gave a speech attended by thousands in front of the St. Louis State and Federal Courthouse – a building on whose steps slaves were sold and where Dred and Harriet Scott in 1850 had their petition for freedom overturned because they were “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

The 158 years since that decision have brought massive changes in our human and civil rights.  It has been a long struggle, and it isn’t over yet, but is encouraging to note that in my lifetime (I’m 40) interracial marriage in this country has gone from being illegal and “wrong” to being legal and no big deal for most people.

Obama in front of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis

Obama in front of the Old Courthouse in St. Louis

Our movement toward tolerance can also be viewed in our acceptance of same-sex-marriage. It’s easy to imagine the movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” with two fiances of the same sex instead of two fiances of different races. The same objections are raised – the problems the couple is likely to face in society, the judgment and condemnation they may receive regarding children, the objection that they have no right to marry at all.  But Spencer says it very well in the film – what matters is love.  “…because in the final analysis it doesn’t matter a damn what we think. The only thing that matters is what they feel, and how much they feel, for each other. And if it’s half of what we felt- that’s everything. As for you two and the problems you’re going to have, they seem almost unimaginable, but you’ll have no problem with me, and I think when Christina and I and your mother have some time to work on him you’ll have no problem with your father, John. But you do know, I’m sure you know, what you’re up against. There’ll be 100 million people right here in this country who will be shocked and offended and appalled and the two of you will just have to ride that out, maybe every day for the rest of your lives. You could try to ignore those people, or you could feel sorry for them and for their prejudice and their bigotry and their blind hatred and stupid fears, but where necessary you’ll just have to cling tight to each other and say “screw all those people”! Anybody could make a case, a hell of a good case, against your getting married. The arguments are so obvious that nobody has to make them. But you’re two wonderful people who happened to fall in love and happened to have a pigmentation problem, and I think that now, no matter what kind of a case some bastard could make against your getting married, there would be only one thing worse, and that would be if – knowing what you two are and knowing what you two have and knowing what you two feel- you didn’t get married.”

And to circle back to Obama, and America, we have a choice now. We can choose love or we can choose fear. We can focus on our separateness or on our unity.  Obama said, “We can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history.”  Obama represents, in so many ways, that what matters is what is in our hearts and minds (not our pigment).  What matters is how we treat each other.  If we choose our better angels and focus on our more noble history, then we can make our way into a better future.

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Yes We Can

Oh, yes we can people!

Robert F. Kennedy said, “Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence… Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. {And elsewhere he said} Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.”

And ~ We are the Ones! Anne Lamott reminds us that Martin Luther King Jr. said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward freedom.”  Molly Ivins said “freedom fighters don’t always win, but they’re always right.”  Our road has been long but we are moving once again towards freedom, and together we can make the difference that brings hope to all of us and to the world.  Sí Se Puede. It’s our time to win.

There is hope, and it is US.  Lift up your voice!

It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.
Yes we can.
It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.
Yes we can.
It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.
Yes we can.
It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.
Yes we can to justice and equality.
Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.
Yes we can heal this nation.
Yes we can repair this world.
Yes we can.
We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change. (We want change.)
We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics…they will only grow louder and more dissonant ……….. We’ve been asked to pause for a reality check. We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.
But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.
Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea: Yes We Can.

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Wasillans for Obama

A friend of mine said “it pisses me off to hear our hometown mentioned on NPR in relation to the frikkin Republican ticket.”  I couldn’t agree more.  So I thought I’d pitch in my two cents about Sarah Palin, her beliefs, and why she is not a representative of all Wasillans, or Alaskans, or indeed of many women or men that I personally know.

I moved to Wasilla in 1975 and lived there from first grade through high school graduation, in 1986.  We were a one high school town, and as such, everyone knew everyone.  It’s a small town, with the benefits and drawbacks that includes.  If you’d like to see the teeming metropolis (I kid) that Wasilla is today, click here. Of course not everyone in even a small town believes the same things.

From Moveon.org, here’s a list of Sarah Palin’s stand on several issues, with my comments on the other way of looking at things.

  • Palin recently said that the war in Iraq is “God’s task.” She’s even admitted she hasn’t thought about the war much-just last year she was quoted saying, “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.” 1, 2
  • Many Wasillans, and former Wasillans, believe that “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” Many of us, even though we are very busy, are paying attention to the war in Iraq and are actively involved in promoting Peace.  We know that this has been a war that has failed.  Many of us believe in an end to all political violence, and seek actively to create a world of understanding and one in which “God” and “War” are finally and forever dissociated from each other in the lexicon of humanity.   We read extensively about current events.  Oh and we watch The Daily Show too.
  • Palin has actively sought the support of the fringe Alaska Independence Party. Six months ago, Palin told members of the group-who advocate for a vote on secession from the union-to “keep up the good work” and “wished the party luck on what she called its ‘inspiring convention.'” 3
  • Many Wasillans and former Wasillans feel it is ironic that someone who is married to a person in favor of Alaskan secession from the USA is hoping to become the Vice President of the USA.
  • Palin wants to teach creationism in public schools. She hasn’t made clear whether she thinks evolution is a fact.4
  • Many Wasillans and former Wasillans have degrees from accredited Universities, and know that evolution is a factDouglas Futuyma writes in his Evolutionary Biology book “The statement that organisms have descended with modifications from common ancestors–the historical reality of evolution–is not a theory. It is a fact, as fully as the fact of the earth’s revolution about the sun.In fact, they even taught us this at Wasilla High.
  • Palin doesn’t believe that humans contribute to global warming. Speaking about climate change, she said, “I’m not one though who would attribute it to being manmade.” 5
  • Many Wasillans and former Wasillans have seen the film An Inconvenient Truth, and are using canvas bags and driving a Prius.  Additionally, we know from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that “this era of global warming is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin and the balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence of the global climate.”  Many of us know the consequences of, and are actively trying to reduce the effects of Global Warming.
  • Palin has close ties to Big Oil. (And supports oil drilling in the ANWR and OCS) Her inauguration was even sponsored by BP. 6
  • Many Wasillans and former Wasillans know that human beings have a responsibility to be good stewards of the planet – after all, its the only one we’ve got.  While oil is currently a needed commodity, we know that the future of energy lies in renewable resources and not in more drilling of oil, and especially not in the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Defenders of Wildlife says, “The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest wildlife refuge in the United States, encompasses 19 million acres and provides habitat to a diverse array of wildlife including millions of migratory birds, caribou, three species of bears (polar, grizzly and black bears), wolves, Dall sheep, muskoxen, arctic and red foxes, wolverines, plus many more. The nearby continental shelf provides the coastal waters with a rich nutrient base, which in turn supports a variety of marine mammals including the endangered bowhead whale.”  Sarah supports the aerial shooting of wolves and opposes placing polar bears and beluga whales on the list of endangered species, despite “overwhelming scientific evidence that such listings are warranted.”  Learn more about why it’s so important to protect Alaska’s environment.
  • Palin opposes comprehensive sex-ed in public schools. She’s said she will only support abstinence-only approaches. 8
  • Many Wasillans, and former Wasillans, are the beneficiaries of sex education and remained thankfully un-pregnant, even after all those Saturday nights learning about love in the back seat.  Many of us believe that sex is a normal, healthy activity, and want the children and teenagers of our society to learn about it in an age-appropriate way, enabling them to make healthy choices.  Many of us know that sex-education in schools is a good thing.
  • As mayor, Palin tried to ban books from the library. Palin asked the library how she might go about banning books because some had inappropriate language in them-shocking the librarian, Mary Ellen Baker. According to Time, “news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.” 9
  • Book banning, Really??!?  As a former English Teacher, I can’t possibly imagine what Sarah could be thinking.  Maybe she needs to get out more.  Maybe she should read some of these books. I know I don’t want to live in a government that believes in banning books.  If a book is being challenged or banned in your community, the ALA can help you do something about it.

So, I’d like the world to know that while Sarah is from our hometown, and she is from a very nice family, she doesn’t speak for all of us.  Many Wasillans, and former Wasillans, will be voting for Obama, a man with a dream for America.  You can read his stance on the issues here.

I’d like to add that with the current media fixation on Sarah and the Republican party, (a party that induces nasty hangovers) it is easy to become fearful that they might actually win.  Do not be discouraged… focus on the good.  Hold a space in your heart and mind for Obama.  Contribute to the rise in consciousness that is happening on the planet.  Think positive!  And, read and share this article by Eve Ensler on her Palin nightmares.

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I Am a Constitution Voter

I Am a Constitution Voter

  • I believe that no one — including the President — is above the law.
  • I oppose all forms of torture, and I support both closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and ending indefinite detention.
  • I oppose warrantless spying.
  • I believe that government officials, no matter how high-ranking, should be held accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution.
  • I believe that the Constitution protects every person’s rights equally — no matter what they believe, how they live, where or if they worship, and whom they love.
  • I reject the notion that we have to tolerate violations of our most fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
  • I am deeply committed to the Constitution and expect our country’s leaders to share and act on that commitment — every day, without fail.

If you agree, click here.

Take a refreshing look at the Constitution here.

The Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, and limits the powers of the federal government of the United States, protecting the rights of all citizens, residents and visitors on United States territory:

  • Second Amendment: defines the right of States in keeping and maintaining militias and the right of individuals to possess firearms.
  • Third Amendment: prohibits the government from using private homes as quarters for soldiers during peacetime without the consent of the owners. The only existing case law regarding this amendment is a lower court decision in the case of Engblom v. Carey.[15]
  • Sixth Amendment: guarantees a speedy public trial for criminal offenses. It requires trial by a jury, guarantees the right to legal counsel for the accused, and guarantees that the accused may require witnesses to attend the trial and testify in the presence of the accused. It also guarantees the accused a right to know the charges against him. The Sixth Amendment has several court cases associated with it, including Powell v. Alabama, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, Gideon v. Wainwright, and Crawford v. Washington. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the fifth amendment prohibition on forced self-incrimination and the sixth amendment clause on right to counsel were to be made known to all persons placed under arrest, and these clauses have become known as the Miranda rights.
  • Seventh Amendment: assures trial by jury in civil cases.
  • Eighth Amendment: forbids excessive bail or fines, and cruel and unusual punishment.
  • Ninth Amendment: declares that the listing of individual rights in the Constitution and Bill of Rights is not meant to be comprehensive; and that the other rights not specifically mentioned are retained elsewhere by the people.
  • Tenth Amendment: provides that powers that the Constitution does not delegate to the United States and does not prohibit the States from exercising, are “reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  ~ From Wikipedia

Know your rights. Protect them by voting accordingly.

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Thoughts on the 4th of July

I’m thankful that “The United States of America is not the same thing as the administration of George W. Bush. The good news for the forces of good is that only 24 percent of the people approve of the job he’s doing….. George Bush has to leave in January 2009 no matter what,” as John Carroll writes. Yes, I’m thankful for the fact that America is not synonymous with GWB, but I’m also deeply troubled by the damage he has done to America.

I haven’t flown my American flag since sometime in October, 2001. This is not because I don’t love America – I do. It’s not because I’m not patriotic – I am. But the flag quickly began to represent nationalism at its worst and a way of thinking that I don’t subscribe to, and I’ll be thrilled when once again, I can hang my flag and have it mean to me, to others, and to the world, what I think it should mean.

What does the flag represent? I’ve been thinking about my poor neglected flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, and why I feel reluctant about them, and here are my thoughts:

I personally pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, and the people who defend it

(not to its flag, which has been appropriated by Hawks)

And to the republic for which it stands.

(Republics are governed by the rule of law, something this administration has no respect for)

One nation, under God

(God, here meaning Name your Own, or Buddha, Yahweh, Shiva, Allah, Jehovah, The Force, the infinite ineffable One, or no God at all)

Indivisible

(or, divisible into Red & Blue, Have & Have-nots, Rich & Poor, Educated & Non-Educated, those with health care and those without, the franchised and disenfranchised, the individual and The Corporation, etc.)

With liberty and justice for all,

(not just those who are rich and/or well connected and/or are white males)

The flag is supposed to represent the Republic of the United States of America. It stands for our values, which are (or have been) Freedom, Liberty, Justice, Equality, Diversity, Rule of Law, Democratic processes, Fairness and Humanity. Lately, this is not how we have been viewed in the world. Europeans see us as the number one threat to peace, and that is tragic. America no longer means the same thing to the world that we did after WWII. We are have strayed dangerously far from being the America that is represented by the Constitution when we override something as fundamental to our government as the writ of habeas corpus. We have sacrificed our most treasured values to fear. Bill Maher said, “So when it comes to sacrifice, don’t kid yourself-you *have* given up a lot! You’ve given up faith in your government’s honesty, the good will of people overseas, and six tenths of the Bill of Rights. Here’s what you’ve sacrificed: search and seizure, warrants, self incrimination, trial by jury, cruel and unusual punishment. Here’s what you have left: handguns, religion, and they can’t make you quarter a British soldier.”

Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address outlined the values that America should live by…. the ones we should uphold.

Harmony and affection in social discourse. ~ Well, readers of news and blogs – is there much harmony and affection in our social discourse? Yeah, I know.

A wise and frugal Government. ~ There hasn’t been much evidence of *that* in the last 6 years. Priorities and the cost of the war… hmmmm. According to the National Priorities Project, the money spent on the war so far could have provided America: 1.8 million new teachers. Over 20 million college scholarships. Health insurance for over 60 million children. Or nearly 4 million new housing units.

Equal justice for all. ~ Ok. Where are we on that?

A jealous care of the right of election by the people. ~ the current DOJ, and the many other cases of election fraud show this right is less jealousy guarded than it should be.

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. ~ What a lovely foreign policy idea! Too bad we have this….

Freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus. ~ Oops. What was habeas corpus again? And what about that pesky freedom of the press idea?

Absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority. ~ Well, the President doesn’t seem to be listening to the majority….

And listen to his humility: “I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional.” ~ Not saying “I’m the Decider” now is he?

We need a leader “who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people – their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad.” – John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

On November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated in Dallas, John F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech in which he would have said:

“We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength.”

When America is once again worthy of our power, when we act as watchmen to freedom, when we are viewed by the world as being wise, peaceful and fair, when habeas corpus is restored and civil liberties defended, when integrity and not hypocrisy can be seen in our leader, I will gladly fly my flag. I will once again celebrate the 4th of July. And I will once again be proud to say, “I’m an American.”

 

 

 

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Despotism & Democracy

This 1946 film, informed by the perspective of the recent outcome of WWII, is a profound civics lesson. George Santayana said “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Let’s hope we don’t go too far down toward the despotism spectrum before we remember our hard-won lessons and return to a nation of freedom, truth, wisdom and democracy.

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America: the Beloved Community

Bill Moyers states the true and profound yet again in his speech “A Great But Broken Promise.” One part of his speech was especially affecting:

Reverend Michael Waters got it right a few years ago when he was a student here: “Martin Luther King became the symbol not only of the civil rights movement but of America itself: A symbol of a land of freedom where people of all races, creeds, and nationalities could live together as a Beloved Community.” Not as an empire. Or a superpower. Not a place where the strong take what they can and the weak what they must. But a Beloved Community. It’s the core of civilization, the crux of democracy, and a profound religious truth. But don’t go searching for the Beloved Community on a map. It’s not a place. It exists in the hearts and minds – our hearts and minds – or not at all.

Creating the Beloved Community in America is the right goal, and it’s what I’m for. I already know what I’m against; the current administration, it’s worldview, its lack of humanity and ethics, etc. Amnesty International states, “The U.S. administration remains deaf to the worldwide calls for closing down Guantanamo. It is unrepentant about the global web of abuse it has spun in the name of counter-terrorism. It is oblivious to the distress of thousands of detainees and their families, the damage to the rule of international law and human rights, and the destruction of its own moral authority, which has plummeted to an all-time low around the world while the levels of insecurity remain as high as ever.” I have read about these failures with soul-numbing chagrin, been angry, continued to vote, persistently written to my senators and reps, campaigned, prayed and done volunteer work in an effort to being balance to the force (as it were). I’ve done everything I can think of to counter the negative. And it’s right to not go quietly in the face of injustice – “Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.” ~ The Talmud

When I think of the current war and it’s leader, GW, this Einstein quote comes to mind – “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”

But a focus on negativity can lead to hopelessness and cynicism – two qualities I hope never to have. Even under duress, my heart must remain strong and positive. For, as Dorothy Thompson said, “Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.” I still have a dream.

So, part of the fight for good, for democracy, for truth and humanity is to talk about what we stand for, not just about what we are against. RFK may have said it best –

Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills — against misery and ignorance, injustice and violence… Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation… It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or a woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he (or she) sends a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance. {And elsewhere he said} Laws can embody standards; governments can enforce laws–but the final task is not a task for government. It is a task for each and every one of us. Every time we turn our heads the other way when we see the law flouted–when we tolerate what we know to be wrong–when we close our eyes and ears to the corrupt because we are too busy, or too frightened–when we fail to speak up and speak out–we strike a blow against freedom and decency and justice.

So I’ll continue to speak up as so many others are also doing. I’ll continue to believe. Creating a Beloved Community is an act of love and hope, not of fear and anger. It is a positive response to a negative series of unfortunate events. It’s a glorious affirmition of what is good in the human soul, reawakened with new enthusiasm after seeing the darker side.

“In an age of nothing, at a time when we stand at the brink of our own destruction,
Strengthen your belief in yourself, in the future of humanity, in the things of this world that cannot be easily perceived.
Awaken that which lies dormant now within your soul. Re-ignite the flame of your consciousness, and measure the strength of your conviction.
Reveal the lie.
Renounce your hatred.
Seek, find and embrace the truths you are fortunate enough to discover. Cherish them. Use them to anchor you in the sea of chaos that is the world we live in.
When twilight draws near, when you are pushed to the very limits of your soul, When it seems that all you have left are the dead remnants of the fabric of your life? Believe.”

~ David Draiman

 

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What JFK said about being a liberal, and the US being worthy of our power

…if by a “Liberal” they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people — their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights, and their civil liberties — someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a “Liberal,” then I’m proud to say I’m a “Liberal.”- John F. Kennedy, September 14, 1960

On November 22, 1963, the day he was assassinated in Dallas, John F. Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech in which he would have said:

“We in this country, in this generation, are – by destiny rather than choice – the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint, and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, goodwill toward men.’ That must always be our goal, and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago, ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.'”

Read: Let Every Nation Know: John F. Kennedy in His Own Words

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What you can do for your country…Inaugural Address by John F. Kennedy – January 20th 1961

Take a moment to read this in its entirety – I think you’ll find it inspirational!  (links to video are also included below).

“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.”

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Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom – symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning – signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe – the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans – born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage – and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge – and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do – for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom – and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required – not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge – to convert our good words into good deeds – in a new alliance for progress – to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbours know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support – to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective – to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak – and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course – both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

So let us begin anew – remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belabouring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms – and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah – to “undo the heavy burdens -. and to let the oppressed go free.”

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again – not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are – but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” – a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shank from this responsibility – I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

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