How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What is Morality?

“He alone sees truly who sees the Lord the same in every creature, who sees the Deathless in the hearts of all that die. Seeing the same Lord everywhere, he does not harm himself or others. Thus he attains the supreme goal (Bhagavad Gida 13:27-28).”

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7.12).”

“Fill your mind with compassion (Attributed to Buddha).”

What is morality? I have a cat that kills two or three small animals almost every day. She doesn’t kill them for food, although she does partake of the occasional tidbit of mouse or bird. Most of the time, she just enjoys the act of killing. She will toss the victim up in the air, let it retreat into a corner for refuge, and then draw it out again only to torture it some more until the helpless innocent mercifully walks into the light. Is my cat immoral?

Wolves, hyenas, lions, tigers, chimpanzees and humans all kill for food, and sometimes we just kill. While the act of killing for pure sport is accepted as morally neutral in the animal kingdom, humans generally condemn senseless killing as immoral, but many people still hunt for sport (not food) and insist their actions are morally benign.

All of the religious traditions on Earth have prohibitions against killing. Buddha’s 5 moral precepts to abstain from killing, stealing, engaging in aberrations of sexuality, telling lies and indulging in intoxicants echo the Judeo Christian 10 commandments, which basically prescribe the same moral laws with a few others thrown in for good measure. Strict Buddhists do not even kill animals for food but many Buddhists indulge in meat and even occasional warfare. The Japanese were notorious imperialist warriors for much of their history in spite of their Buddhist traditions. In the Judeo Christian world, the matter of the morality of killing is further complicated by the fact that the same God who commands “Thou shall not kill” in Genesis is recommending wholesale genocide in later chapters. Jesus suggests we “turn the other cheek” when we are smitten by our enemies, but then in Revelation is condoning the slaughter of much of humanity. It is no wonder people are confused. Clearly morality is somewhat subjective.

Although I am sure my cat is thinking while she is devising strategies to draw the vole from its burrow, I do not think she gives her killing behavior a second thought after the deed is done and she is sitting on my bed delicately cleaning the stench of death from her pelt. Indeed, it could be argued that Nature has no morality. Certainly Nature has rules that must be followed or species do not thrive, but Her laws are universal and they do not change. (Note: I love (sarcasm) the way spell check always underlines “Her” or “She” when it is capitalized in the middle of a sentence, but it doesn’t do that when you capitalize “His” or “He”)

Human moral laws on the other hand seem to flow and wrap like the wind, convoluting into whichever contortion seems to fit the occasion.

In his book Endgame, Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization, Derrick Jensen exposes the subjective nature of morality by retelling the events of 9/11 from four perspectives. In the first narrative, the events are described without any embellishment. Two planes hit the World Trade Center, another strikes the Pentagon, and a third crashes in a field. In the second telling, Jensen conveys a typical American perspective in which terrorists carry out a heinous deed. The third perspective is from the terrorists’ point of view, and the fourth is the position of an individual who condones all violence from either side.

Jensen’s trick of literary craft is compelling in that it allows the reader to understand that everybody believes they are moral in their actions. The religious American Right believe they occupy the moral high ground in their quest to deny women the right to “kill babies.” Pro-choice advocates believe they have the morally superior stance because safe, legal abortion saves more lives than it takes. Capitalists believe that private capital equates to freedom even if many are exempted from that same freedom by virtue of poverty, while socialists believe that society can only be free when wealth is equitably distributed and all the members of society are cared for. I could go on forever regarding the moral ambiguities within our culture.

Given the above scenario, it is not too difficult for our elected “representatives” to use our multifarious moral positions to paint opposing points of view as pure evil. Divide and conquer is an effective and long-utilized technique for attaining power. An outsider looking in at the United States right now during this election cycle would conclude that Americans are deeply divided, which belies our fundamental truth. Americans are actually more alike than we are different. Family, liberty, charity and community are the essence of our core shared values. We are not so very different after all.

In the final analysis, although morality is clearly in the eye of the beholder, one core fundamental value seems to be universal regardless of whether one is Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish or Non-believer. The highest value is one in which we recognize the soul of others as essentially the same as our own. We all share the glorious spark of life, and if we would treat others as we would have ourselves be treated and extend that value to Earth’s non-human residents too, well…just imagine.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The War on… (Fill in the Blank)

Have you ever noticed how many wars The United States is fighting? We have wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have simmering hostilities in North Korea, Iran and Venezuela among others. We maintain a permanent military presence in Germany, Japan, Korea and Cuba to name just a few (1). And then, we have a multi-billion dollar side industry that sells armaments to other countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel. The United States is the leading supplier of arms worldwide, and military spending is the largest single expenditure on Earth, over $1 trillion annually (2). War is BIG business.

The United States government also engages in some wars that it prefers we don’t consider as wars. At the southern United States border, where an armed U.S. military stands guard and where several hundred immigrants die every year, we are most definitely engaged in a war (3). In foreign countries, with the predatory trade laws of the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, our multinational corporations are waging a war against laborers, subsistence farmers, indigenous cultures and entire national resource bases.

In addition to our “real” wars, the United States has numerous, well-publicized metaphoric wars. Most popular among these wars is the war on terror, but there is also a war on drugs, a war on crime and a war on poverty (as if the impoverished didn’t have it bad enough already).

We also have wars against non-human entities. Clear-cutting forests, mountaintop removal mining, damming rivers and the spewing of toxic chemicals into the air, water and earth should certainly be considered a war on the environment. We are engaged in an extensive war on the atmosphere and climate that will undoubtedly be our undoing if we don’t retreat soon. At factory farms, we war against millions of chickens, pigs and cows on a daily basis.

American individuals have their own daily skirmishes. In our gardens, with real chemical weapons originally developed for warfare, we engage in a war on weeds, insects, invertebrates, fungi and soil microbes. Inside the house we use those same chemicals to annihilate any unwanted pests. If we are sick, we pop a pill of another kind of chemical weaponry to kill the invader, even if the invader is only a construct of our own consciousness.

For every problem or inconvenience, Americans goes to war as a solution; however, most people don’t stop to notice the impact of being surrounded by the perpetual state of conflict in which we live. Furthermore, while all of the above wars are very successful at generating revenues, we don’t seem to be winning any of them.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will require our ongoing military presence into the indefinite future. In spite of our best efforts, illegal immigrants continue to flood into the country (probably because our agricultural industry is begging them to come). The multi-national corporate “free trade” assault on the rest of the economic world has resulted in a global economic collapse and has utterly failed in bringing prosperity to anyone but the multinational corporations themselves. Our war against the environment is not surprisingly, killing us, as no organism can survive without its habitat. Our factory food is making us sick. Even the bugs in our bodies and backyards are fighting back with growing resistance to the ever more powerful chemicals we throw at them.

We don’t have to keep fighting. We can withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan and leave them to their own sovereignty, offering as much humanitarian aid as needed (that would be the least we could do after the devastation we have wrought upon their countries). We can create realistic immigration laws that establish a permitting program for workers and offer amnesty to law abiding illegal residents who have been productive members of society for several years. We can create rules of real fair trade to prevent large, heavily subsidized corporations from going into foreign lands and obliterating vital local markets. We can live sustainably with our environment. We can treat livestock humanely or not eat them at all. We can nurture our bodies and our lands so our balanced immune systems and soils can ward off unwanted pests without the need for chemical warfare.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the war strategy of our American culture. While the war profiteers in all their permutations will not be very happy, the rest of us will certainly be much better off with peace instead.

References and Recommended Further Reading



Saturday, October 23, 2010

Collectivism Versus Individualism

Recent feedback on the blog has raised the interesting topic of collectivism versus individualism. The subject is particularly relevant in light of the grassroots Tea Party movement, which expresses as its basic premise a belief in the importance and responsibility of the individual over government, which they view as a collectivist establishment. Hence, a cry for smaller government, lower taxes and even the repeal of certain Constitutional Amendments, which are felt to infringe on personal freedoms are the Tea Party’s answer to what they feel is a government growing in authority and in conflict with individual freedom.

The internet abounds with interpretations of both ideologies slanted towards obvious political biases, but basically and without attempted prejudice, collectivism is an ideal which holds the welfare of society above individual self-interest, while individualism holds the values of personal liberty and self-determination above all else. In terms of gender archetypes, individualism is viewed as identified with the masculine Logos, and collectivism is associated with the feminine Eros.

It can be argued that the United States is a nation founded on the principles of both collectivism and individualism. The document which declares our independence from the perceived tyranny of King George III proclaims a common belief in the self-evident truths of the equality of individuals and inalienable Rights including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (all capitalized by the founding fathers). Our democracy was founded to protect individual freedoms by enacting the collective will of the majority through the voting process. This apparent idiosyncrasy has served us well for over 200 years.

Contrary to American History class doctrine, the United States is not the first democracy on Earth. Many pre-historic and indigenous cultures like the Iroquois Confederacy practiced democracy for hundreds, if not thousands of years prior to the founding of the United States; however, the United States was certainly the first entity within the western, Christian world to embark upon the democratic experiment. Above all the lofty ideals of democracy, the United States reveres individual freedom. Private property, freedom of speech and self-determination are all expressions of American individualism, and unprecedented advances in human rights have spread across the globe with the rise of western democracy. Americans and other citizens of western democracies are encouraged to express their opinions, foster personal independence and develop their own uniqueness. At its best, individualism fosters creativity, productive competition and human rights. Unfettered individualism results in sociopathic self-aggrandizement, monopolistic economies, and extreme social and economic inequality.

Collectivist ideals are prevalent throughout the eastern cultures of Japan, Korea and China, parts of Latin America and various other countries across the Eurasian continent. Collectivism promotes concern for the common welfare, and the idea of the welfare of the group over the individual. In collectivist cultures, people are concerned with fitting in and abiding by the rules of the group. Contrary to some contemporary political rhetoric, collectivism does not diminish democratic ideals. The Iroquois Confederacy was famously collectivist in its doctrine that every action was to be approved only if determined to have no ill effects on the seven proceeding generations. At its best, collectivism ensures that the most vulnerable members of society will be provided for, that resources are equitably distributed and that the welfare of all is not compromised by the selfish interests of any individual. At the negative extreme, collectivism stifles originality, limits freedom of expression and inhibits individual liberty.

A perfect system would take the best of both ideals and mold them into a society where the rights of the individual exemplified in the U.S. Bill of Rights are extended to include new communal rights. All the people of Earth should all have the right to clean air and water. An individual (or corporation) should not be allowed to contaminate or sequester resources that are common to all living organisms without being charged the full cost of mitigating his environmental impact. All the people of Earth should have the guarantee that a full day’s work (even a day of work in the home) is rewarded with a living wage, affordable healthcare and a secure future in the form of a well-funded pension. An individual or corporation who uses another’s labor for personal profit should be required to provide the above minimal compensation. Sentient beings are not a resource to be exploited. The Earth and her entire living mantle of organisms should have the right to an equitable share of habitat. An individual organism, Homo sapiens, should not be allowed to appropriate and use up all of Earth’s resources for his own personal gain. Imagine such a world.

Currently, we do not live in the perfect world outlined above largely because the balance of power in the globalized capitalist world leans sharply towards individualism with the predictable negative consequences outlined previously. Creating a more equitable and just Earth does not mean that the rights of individuals need be compromised. On the contrary, by balancing individualism with elements of collectivism, we can create a world in which the rights of a single individual do not impede the rights of any other. That would be real democracy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Male and Female Archetypes and What They Mean for Planet Earth

We live in a patriarchal world. Many would protest this generalized statement or discount as a flagrant expression of the “f” word (feminism). In order to support such a bold statement, it becomes necessary to objectively define masculine vs. feminine values, but how does one assign a value to gender without generalizing or seeming stereotypical? Of course, exceptions always exist within every rule, but certain universal truths reveal themselves across cultures and time. In almost every culture on Earth and as long as archaeologists can study back in time, the female of our species cares for and nurtures the young, while the male hunts.

Carl Jung, noted 20th century psychiatrist, wrote extensively about gender archetypes. To the female, Eros, Jung attributes fertility, intuition, intimacy and relatedness. The male, Logos, embodies authority, reason and discrimination. The care received from one’s mother as a helpless infant provides the basis of the closest relationship in life. The mother/child bond is also one of complete unselfishness. From a personal survival standpoint, mothers have little to gain in caring for an infant but much to lose. She will share her food and everything else she possesses with her child often at her own expense. The connection fostered between mother and child is universal, and women, mothers, are the facilitators of inter-human connection. The female bond to her community is not one that is rationalized. She is drawn emotionally and intuitively and instinctively seeks connection in all her interactions.

Eros’ logical antithesis, Logos does not rely on intangible feelings to make his way in the world. Every liaison is carefully analyzed, judged and weighed for costs and benefits before commitments are made. The male is cool and rational. In a world inhabited by constant danger, his very life may depend on the quality of decisions he makes. Enemies who lurk in the dark compete for resources, steal your women and stab you in the back. Self preservation depends upon being able to discriminate and make judgments about people and the hostile world, and if necessary, violence will keep the adversaries at bay.

The Jungian Eros and Logos would seem to be fundamentally at odds with one another. On the one hand, the feminine connects, loves and nurtures, and on the other hand, the masculine thrives on discrimination, judgment and aggression. But the two are in reality interdependent halves of a cohesive whole. The nurturing feminine cannot survive in a hostile world without the protection of the discriminating masculine. And the aggressive Logos would implode upon itself without the buffering love of Eros. We know this truth to be universal. Without the union of male and female, complex life would not even be possible.

On the other side of the world in the Far East and as early as the 14th century B.C.E. the ancient Chinese noted the essence of the universe could be described as a unity of opposites and everything in nature, on Earth and in the cosmos could be designated as ‘yin’ (feminine) or ‘yang’ (masculine). The polar opposites do not exist independently but together form a union that forms the essence of the entire universe.

The Chinese do not ascribe qualities of good or evil to either yin or yang, as the two entities are simply opposite sides of the same whole. Neither is better or worse than the other. Furthermore, they believe that the two forces need to be maintained in balance. When either yin or yang overwhelms the other, disaster strikes in order to shock the system back into stability.

If the Chinese are correct, a massive correction awaits us. In modern Western society the accepted mantra is that women enjoy equal rights to men. We have the right to vote, the right to work and drive and choose whom we marry, unlike many women living today in other countries. Yet we do not live in an equal society. To realize the truth of this statement, one only has to look at the way our society is organized. Go back to the basic archetypes. Women nurture, love and relate. Societal institutions based on feminine values include all those involved with care and collectivism, childcare, eldercare, healthcare, caring for the underprivileged, caring for the environment, feeding the hungry and working towards a peaceful global community. Archetypal male values revealed in society include defending the turf, securing resources and facilitating industry.

If spending reflects values, the U.S. Federal budget is telling. In 2010, the federal government allocated $671.1 billion dollars for defense, by far the largest line item in the federal budget. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, arguably wars that were unnecessary and may prove to have been futile, will probably cost as much as $3 trillion by the time they are truly over. In 2008, politicians from both political parties rushed to bail out America’s excessive risk-taking banking industry to the tune of $700 billion. In the latest, mid-term elections, while politicians fall all over each other to boast who will cut the most taxes for the wealthy and reduce spending for the underprivileged, nobody is recommending reducing the size of the military elephant in the room.

Although we spare no expense for our military, social programs carry an air of pariah. Ronald Reagan famously maligned “welfare queens,” who in his opinion chose a decadent, lazy lifestyle over an honest day’s work at the taxpayer’s expense. Reagan’s sentiments ring true for a large proportion of the American public, who believe the poor have only themselves to blame for their unfortunate predicament.

Timeless battles between individualism and collectivism, yin and yang, dominance and submission, masculine and feminine punctuate the history of humanity. The powerful usually win. The Imposition of American will on foreign lands by military force, the unsustainable consumption of natural resources, the battle for control of feminine reproduction and predatory capitalism are all patriarchal in nature. As the masses of humanity organize and find a voice to exercise their collective will, the powerful merely find more insidious ways to maintain their stronghold. The spoils go to the victor, and the Earth loses. We all lose.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rekindling Compassion in a Selfish World

Yesterday, I had the honor and privilege of attending the Conference on Compassion Meditation at Emory University with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. At the conference, psychological, neurological, anthropological, behavioral and religious academics presented the findings of up to the minute scientific research on the human capacity for compassion.
Since 1998, the Emory-Tibet Partnership has fostered a relationship between western academics and Tibetan Buddhist monks in the interest of “bringing together the best of the Western and Tibetan Buddhist intellectual traditions for their mutual enrichment and the discovery of new knowledge for the benefit of humanity.” At the locus of the partnership is the twofold ideal taught by the Buddha. Compassion for all beings without judgment and the quest for knowledge chart the path to enlightenment. With Tibetan partners offering deep insight into thousands of years old Buddhist spiritual traditions, and Emory University and other academic institutions presenting the latest breakthroughs in science, the path meets.

For thousands of years, practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism have sought to clear their minds of destructive thoughts and attitudes as they reach towards spiritual fulfillment and an end to suffering. Thoughts, such as empathy, compassion, kindness and love are believed to further this aim, while anger, hatred, greed and judgment are thought to antagonize enlightenment. Emory scientists seek to prove through scientific means the basic premises of Buddhism: empathy and compassion lead to happiness and fulfillment, while judgment and other negative thoughts lead to discontent.

The day commenced with a presentation by Frans B.M. de Waal, a Professor of Psychology and primate behavioral scientist, on the nature of empathy and compassion in primates and humans. De Waal’s research indicates that numerous mammalian species have the capacity for empathy and compassion. Elephants will risk their own lives to aid distressed herd members, chimpanzees console one another with hugs and kisses, and even humans instinctively rise to the collective good when disaster unfortunately strikes. Contrary to some scientific theory, which insists humankind is cursed with a “selfish gene,” modern behavioral science proves we are also biologically inclined towards empathy and compassion.

Throughout the day, research scientists presented studies that seem to confirm the Buddhist hypothesis. Richard J. Davidson from the University of Wisconsin described a study which compared the brain activity of expert meditation practitioners to that of novices. Philippe Golden of Stanford University presented research which assessed the impact of compassion meditation on people who suffer from anxiety and depression. Barbara Fredrickson from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill studied the effects of loving kindness meditation on fostering positive awareness. Noted author, PhD and Buddhist monk, Matthiew Ricard explored the question, “Can Altruism and Compassion be Cultivated?” Charles Raison of Emory University discussed the profound positive impacts resulting from teaching troubled teenagers in foster homes the practice of compassion meditation. Geshe Negi, spiritual director for the Drepung Loseline Monstary and Senior Lecturer at Emory University explained the secular-based cognitive-based compassion training (CBCT) used to foster well-being and productive thought processes in individuals previously prone to dysfunction. Doctoral student and research scientist, Brendan Ozawa-de Silva studied the capacity of small children to learn the techniques of mindfulness and compassion meditation.

The evidence is overwhelming. Intentional fostering of positive emotions through mindful meditation and in daily actions reduces stress, promotes physical health and increases happiness and well being in practitioners. While promoted by Buddhists for over two millennia, the data, which support these findings are not religious. One need not be Buddhist to embrace them. The Dalai Lama himself concluded at the end of the day’s session, “Secularism does not mean disrespect for religion. I think we have to promote the idea of modern ethics based on secularism.” If we respect one another without judgment regardless of our differences by cultivating compassion, we can create a world free from suffering. We now know there is a path to global enlightenment, and we need to follow it.

For further information regarding the 2010 visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Emory University, please view the official website at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Global Gender Equality

Women have come a long way in the world but still have a long way to go to achieve true equality according to a new study. The World Economic Forum (WEF), in collaboration with Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley, released the 2010 Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR) this week.
The WEF assesses gender equality for 134 countries based on four criteria: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Economic participation evaluates three values including employment opportunities, levels of pay and opportunities for advancement within a country’s job market. Educational attainment measures levels of education for women compared with those for men and the differences between male and female literacy rates. Health and survival is considers average life expectancies and sex ratios of infants (the later criteria being significant due to a large proportion of female infanticide in some countries). The last criterion, political empowerment, is determined by assessing the ratio of women in public office at a federal level.

Each of the above categories is given a numerical value based on the ratio of female to male values. Where gender equality is optimum, the value for each criterion is 1, meaning women have attained the same level of success as men in that area. All in all, the GGGR provides a good framework for comparison, as it is based exclusively on numerical data that is readily available thus reducing subjectivity. On the other hand, the mathematical analysis cannot take into consideration any intangible factors such as quality of life, which would likely skew the results towards greater inequality if quantified. Nevertheless, the results are telling if not underestimated.

The GGGR is full of both good news and bad news. In the Western world, women have made great strides in areas such as educational attainment and health and survival where gender inequality is practically nonexistent. Most women in Western countries enjoy equal levels of education and health to their male counterparts. But significant lags still exist within the realms of political empowerment and economic participation. Women still get paid significantly less and have less opportunity for advancement when performing the same work as men. A cross-section of elected officials quickly reveals an obvious gender bias towards men. In the year 2010, the United States of America has still never had a female President or Vice President. The Unites States Congress is 83% male.

The United States ranks 19th on the list overall with a composite score of 0.7411, lagging behind the Philippines(9th), Lesotho (8th), Sri Lanka (16th) and Latvia (18th) to name a few - a not so impressive standing for the wealthiest democracy on Earth. The global leader in gender equality is Iceland (0.8496), with Scandinavian countries dominating the chart (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are all in the top 10). While the Scandinavian countries seem to be getting it right, a sad fact remains that there is not a single country on Earth with a gender equality score of 1. Worse still is the plethora of countries at the bottom of the list with scores below 0.6. Many countries, like Afghanistan are not even on the list.

My husband, a reasonably open minded individual, got defensive today when I started a discussion about the results of the Global Gender Gap Report. “The results must be bogus if there are no 1’s on the list,” he retorted. My husband is not a misogynist. On the contrary, he is a great proponent of equal rights, but he is also a product of our culture. In our culture, women can be equal if they play by the rules established by the global patriarchy. Many would view the leveled playing field as equality, but true gender equality will never be realized until the day when women can compete on their own terms, and those terms are considered relevant and equal to those established by men.

The Global Gender Gap Report can be viewed in its entirety on the world wide web at

Monday, October 11, 2010

10-10-10 The Greatest Global Movement To Ever Go Unnoticed

Yesterday was a once in a lifetime date. The tenth day of the tenth month in the tenth year of a new millennium will not come around for another 1,000 years, and it is doubtful at the rate we are going, humanity will be around to commemorate the next 10-10-10. Because of the uniqueness of yesterday’s date, acclaimed climate change hero Bill McKibben and his non-profit organization decided to make 10-10-10 a global work day for citizens of Planet Earth to join together and participate in activities to combat the greatest human-precipitated environmental cataclysm of all time, global climate change.

By any accounting, the day was an incredible success. 7,347 events in 188 countries across the Earth were attended by hundreds of thousands of people. In the remote deserts of Namibia, a small school installed 6 solar panels. In the Maldives, President Nasheed personally installed solar panels on the presidential home. In Malawi, university students planted trees to sequester carbon. In South Africa, penguins rescued from an oil spill were rehabilitated and released. Malaysia cleaned a beach of plastics and debris to raise public awareness. 30,000 students from 200 colleges in China organized to launch a “Great Green Initiative.” In the Marshall Islands, citizens gathered to plant native trees as part of a reforestation campaign. Israelis rollerbladed for a day rather than driving cars. In Uganda, 1,600 students planted trees and installed solar panels. Chilean citizens tested new solar water heaters. New Zealanders organized a bicycle repair workshop. In Bhutan, school children cleaned a river. Australians promoted backyard vegetable gardens and built wheelchair accessible raised vegetable beds for the handicapped. In India, students organized a bike rally to promote sustainable transportation. Nepalese youth planted trees. The list goes on.

10-10-10 was an autumn day unlike any other in history for a variety of reasons. It marked the end of the hottest summer of the hottest year of the hottest decade in the history of humanity. It marked the end of the largest summer polar ice melt. In Pakistan the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, 129 degrees Farenheit, was reached in the summer of 2010. 19 nations achieved all time high temperature records. Record temperatures, killer storms and 1,000 year floods have become regular events. The debate is over. Climate change is real, and we are seeing its effects now. If we do not reduce the current levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from a current level of 387 parts per million to 350 parts per million, we will be creating an atmosphere which is not conducive to the maintenance of complex life.

The people of Earth are earnest in their sincere desire for action. 10-10-10 was the day of the single largest global environmental demonstration of all time. How did the corporate, mainstream media respond? Silence. Those watching the Sunday morning news programs eager to see the ingenuity and dedication of their fellow global citizens were sorely disappointed. The significance of the day, according to Good Morning America, Today and The Early Show, was the large number of weddings taking place. On 10-11-10, the news programs were equally conspicuously silent on the subject.

In the United States, 10-10-10 events took place in all fifty states, some elected officials may have taken place somewhere, but the media certainly didn’t report on it here in Franklin, NC. Has there ever been another event of such far-reaching proportion that wasn’t attended by public “servants” or the media?

The monumental efforts of the citizens of Earth are by no means undermined by the mainstream media and political inaction, but the contrast is telling. Fortunately, the internet is still a free and open source of information, and internet sites were buzzing with excitement over the overwhelming global participation. The people’s media responded with appropriate enthusiasm, while the corporate media was mum. The corporate-sponsored politicians were also mum. The Democratic Congress with a Democratic President has had almost two years to enact climate change legislation, and they have done nothing because BP and Exxon sign their campaign contribution checks too.

“Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder (George Washington).”

We cannot sit back and hope our elected officials will ever do anything just because they promised to. They won’t. We need to give them no choice with voices so loud they cannot be ignored. We can and should call our political representatives and give them an earful. Write letters to them letting them know how disappointed you are with their inaction. Don’t donate to their campaigns until they listen. Keep writing letters. Don’t be as silent as the inept media. Then go out, install solar panels where you can, grow your own food if you can, ride your bike to work, plant trees and come up with new ways to combat the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that threaten to leave a hell on the planet that was once paradise. If our politicians and media will not be moved to action, we will have to do it ourselves.

Go to to see photos from all of the events of 10-10-10 and for more information on how you can help.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Dirty Word “Feminism”

“Feminism is a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians (Pat Robertson, from a 1992 Iowa fundraising letter to solicit funds to stop the Iowa equal-rights amendment). ”

The word “feminism” is uttered derisively on the lips of evangelicals and misogynists, but even in mainstream society, feminism has negative connotations. Feminists are viewed as aggressive, bra-burning, lesbian, man-hating radicals, a picture painted by those who seek to undermine the real objectives of the feminist movement.

“It appears that America’s anti-Biblical feminist movement is at last dying and is possibly being replaced by a Christ-centered men’s movement which may become the foundation for a desperately needed national spiritual awakening (Jerry Falwell). ”

Falwell’s message is loud and clear. His vision of a “Christ-centered” world is one in which men are in control. Falwell and those like him spew an ideology that spans thousands of years and is still expressed widely across the globe by those who seek to denigrate, suppress, violate and undermine women and feminine archetypal values. Below are some examples of societies based on Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s ideals:

In Afghanistan, where 87% of the female population is illiterate, every 30 minutes a woman dies in childbirth. Girls are often assaulted or killed for trying to go to school. Even today with U.S. occupation, only 30% of Afghan girls have access to education. 1 in 3 women are physically, emotionally or sexually abused on an ongoing basis and 70-80% are forced into unwanted marriages. The average life expectancy for an Afghan woman is 44 years.

Trillions of dollars in oil revenues bleed from the United States every year to Saudi Arabia where women are still treated like chattel. Many of the activities western women take for granted are illegal in Saudi Arabia. It is a crime for women to drive or even leave their homes without a male chaperone. A woman who is raped is subject to criminal prosecution (for tempting her rapist). Women cannot vote or even represent themselves in court. Women are not allowed to work. If a woman causes her family shame (by working for example) her murder in the name of family honor is condoned. A man can have four wives of his choosing, but a woman almost never has a say as to who will be her husband. Culturally and legally, women are viewed as inferior to men.

The Islamic world is not alone in hate crimes against the female gender. In India, female infanticide and selective abortion of female fetuses is rampant resulting in a gender gap of 926 females for every 1,000 males. Rural families literally cannot afford to keep girl babies. Males, as bread winners, are viewed as future retirement plans by parents. On the other hand, families are expected to pay extortionate dowries for their daughters upon marriage. Bride burning is a common way to dispose of a disagreeable woman acquired through an arranged marriage, particularly if the dowry wasn’t high enough. Little girls in rural Indian villages are also fed and educated less than boys.

In China, where the birth of a daughter is considered inauspicious, a long tradition of female infanticide goes back centuries. In the late 1800’s one missionary noted that as many as 50% of girl children were killed in infancy or neglected to death. The establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949 outlawed the practice of female genocide, but in the 1980’s with the incorporation of China’s one child policy, baby girls are again conspicuously absent in the population demographic with as many as 118 boys born for every 100 girls. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 50 million girls are “missing” as a result of China’s one child policy and cultural bias against the female gender. This statistic may represent the largest commission of genocide in human history.

“Feminism was created to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream (Rush Limbaugh). ”

Western society has certainly come a long way in terms of women’s rights. The Declaration of Independence, a document which could be considered the founding text of the United States, explicitly states that “all men are created equal.” In 1776, that phrase definitely meant all men. The founding fathers were all men of exceptional learning and writing abilities, and if they meant “all people,” they would have said so. They also didn’t mean “all males,” since they believed that people of African heritage were barely human. Less than 100 years ago, and 144 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, on August 18th, 1920, Constitutional Amendment 19 was ratified, giving American women the right to vote.

But gender bias continues to pervade Western society. Women now account for a full 57% of U.S. college attendees, but fully employed women still make only 77% of the incomes of their male counterparts. Women who chose to stay at home with their children, engaging in the invaluable service of preparing the next generation for entry into society, are entirely unpaid. Incessant media bombards women with a constant cultural message that they have no value unless they are young and beautiful. And, the rules of our society are still male rules. A woman can succeed in America if she is aggressive, dominant and objective. If she chooses to live her life based on the feminine values of nurturance, intuition and relatedness, she will either be poorly paid (teacher, nurse, childcare worker, housewife) or at the mercy of others in her life for support.

The goal of feminism is not to impose a race of Amazonian, domineering, man-hating females on the globe. Real feminism seeks to exalt the feminine values that have been repressed for millennia back to their correct and equal status in society. Gun-toting, moose-hunting, women who seek to go back to the days of controlling women’s reproductive freedom are feminist imposters who unwittingly advance the patriarchal domination of society.

When a woman who raises wonderful, well-balanced children is revered as much as a CEO (which is essentially what a stay at home mom is), when all women on Earth are honored and respected for their femininity rather than their ability to adapt to the patriarchal world, when nurturance has at least equal power to domination in our treatment of Planet Earth, when all the women and girls on Earth are free from abuse, genocide and suppression,  and when a cure for breast cancer is as eagerly sought as a cure for erectile dysfunction, then the goals of feminism will be achieved.