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.