I find that my feelings are closer and sharper since the terrorist acts of 9-11-2001 in the USA. I am almost constantly working out ideas about health, authenticity, freedom and democracy.
Shelf life is no life. The foundation of health is diet. Real food nourishes us with its vital energies. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids all play important roles in human metabolism, but real food is far more than these. Heat damages the nutritional value of food stuffs. Refining—the splittting, recombining, and/or adulteration—of whole foods renders them as non-foods. We routinely poison our foods by agricultural practices that poison the environment in which food stuffs are raised: herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic "fertilizers" (which cause abnormal growth). Lately scientists have created unnatural variants of plants by changing their genes, and these are being fed to us with no long-term testing for safety and nutrition.
Reading "Desire of the Everlasting Hills", I am struck by the value and meaningfulness of Jesus' message. No matter that Christianity as an organized religion was and is co-opted by the state, patriarchy, and human weakness for greed and power.
Three weeks after terrorist acts on US soil and living in dread that my President will foment war, I am drawn to Jesus' remarks against war. The UN headquarters in New York bears an inscription from Isaiah: "... nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."
We teach our children not to retaliate when they are wronged. It is wrong for children AND adults AND nations.
War must be gratifying to officials and generals who look to it as opportunity—to cement their "leadership", their authority, their value. How sad for them and hell for us.
What has happened to me?
As far as I know, no family or friends have died or been injured.
I ache for the people we have lost.
I have difficulty sleeping through the night.
I am filled with dread at the thought of war.
My world went from stable to unstable, even the ground under my feet.
I read news and essays on the internet. I do not read newspapers or news magazines, nor do I watch TV. I listen to KPFA and KDFC radio.
I yearn for thoughtful understanding of the tragedy by my fellow Americans, but I've been told only 1 million of us actually think deliberately, so I'm left in despair.
Tragedy and suffering and misfortune are always accompanied by opportunity for growth. I pray that my country embraces growth over war, life over death.
Some people I talk to are reassessing their lives, and choosing paths that would not have been acceptable on September 10th. They are challenging themselves to grow.
I've come to favor more fundamental authentic Christian values in my life and in my country: humanitarian aid, not indifference; compassion; forgiveness; peace, not war.
We teach our children not to retaliate when they are wronged. Retaliation is not only wrong for children, it is also wrong for adults AND nations.
War must be gratifying to officials and generals who look to it as opportunity—to cement their "leadership", their authority, their value. How sad for them, and hell for us. Violence endures for generations. Violent retaliation to the murderous attacks on American soil will only continue the pattern; there is no approach that can definitively end violence against us.
What about justice? Who needs it? Who is entitled to it? My dictionary defines justice as moral rightness, equity. We learn in childhood that two wrongs do not make a right. Murder in response to murder is two wrongs, not rightness. America was founded on the idea that our legal system owns the administration of justice. If you need justice, turn to the courts.
Our internal policies should be guided by the integrity of life. We must stop valuing corporate profit above individual freedom and health. We must stop allowing poisons in any amount. We must support safe, nutritious food, clean air, and clean water—what we need for true health.
Our foreign policies should be guided by the integrity of life. We should provide direct humanitarian aid, mediate peace, encourage freedom and equality. We should not see the world as a global marketplace for our own products that enable death and destruction. We must not take sides in conflicts.
Immediately we must address the grievances of our attackers: our military presence in Saudi Arabia, our sanctions against Iraq, our support for Israel at the expense of its neighbors. Our intervention in Saudi Arabia defends a dictatorship. The Iraq sanctions bring death and suffering to innocent civilians. The continued lack of a safe Palestinian homeland also brings death and suffering to innocent civilians. We must not perpetuate this.
Humanitarian aid must begin at home: Each of us must take care of ourselves. If we cannot do this, how can we expect to care for others? Then we must replace indifference with compassion, censure with forgiveness.
What a great opportunity we have today to practice compassion, forgiveness, and peace—amongst ourselves and with others, especially with those who attack us. To act as Jesus bade us. To take the next step in our integrity as a people and as a nation.
Direct humanitarian aid: When I was a child 50 years ago we made Care packages. These were cardboard boxes about the size of a school child's lunch box. We filled them with non-perishable staples, often food, needed by destitute people. They were collected by UNESCO? and distributed on foreign soil. No money changed hands, just staples. Individuals of all ages participated. We felt connected to those we helped. Our gifts were not commodities, which is what kept them personal. Did any giver enclose a note or a photo?
Health Insurance: I do not have health insurance and I do not plan to have it in the future. If I had it, I would have to pay for it myself, as I am self-employed (a state increasingly encouraged by our government).
I don't have this insurance for several reasons:
Simply, it costs more than it is worth to me.
Health insurance is a product that allows corporations to profit from fear. No thanks.
My approach to maintaining health is traditional:
This requires that I research a right diet and lifestyle—and then practice it. I feel better and spend less. This is a win-win for me!
I don't know why, maybe 9-11, but I want authenticity in my Christmas this year. This means no theme images. So what do I do for Christmas cards? Not? I like the opportunity to contact my friends and family. Perhaps a letter?
Theme images include: pine trees, stars, Nativity figures, wreathes, snow. Stockings are okay, especially on a saguaro! Gifts are okay to exchange, not as images. What about music? Bing Crosby "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"? That is authentic "culture", perhaps more accurately a commercial artifact. Handel's Messiah? Gorgeous. Perhaps it is not necessary to foreswear the religious artifacts, just keep them in their place.
What is "united we stand" on a billboard? the radio? It worries me. This country was founded on diversity and relies on elected representatives to work out agreements and compromises—to accomodate diversity and dissent while attending to government. I fear the unity message precedes a pressure to accept mindlessly whatever the government decides.
Well, we are in this pickle because we have accepted government actions mindlessly. We looked the other way when it made and executed foreign policy that alienated other peoples, armed hostile countries, caused starvation and disease in other countries, supported war between other countries. We looked the other way as we were taxed to fund drug suppression programs ("the War on Drugs"). We looked the other way as corporations were allowed to act in any way they deem necessary to make a profit while our health deteriorates.
What more do they want of us?
Let's renew our freedom!
Both our freedom and our environment are being trashed. Our representative government represents corporate interests over individual interests. Feudalism is gradually being imposed on us—and will continue to expand unless we take back our country and our government.
As long as money and power seduce government officials, we must be vigilant in our protection of the rights granted us by our Constitution. Clearly that is no protection by itself—it is being constantly eroded by unchallenged law.
We can act to minimize the ability of money and power to corrupt our officials.
We can eliminate money from the election campaign equation by:
a. Granting government funds equally to all candidates while disallowing the use of any other monies. Federal candidates can be funded by the federal government, state candidates can be funded by the state government, etc. The only qualification is a filed statement of candidacy. A mechanism can be established to ensure that the funds are spent only on the campaign; perhaps a special script can be used.
b. Require all TV and radio stations in each city to provide 30 minutes per week per candidate at no expense. Coverage must be live or recorded from a previous live speech. When a recorded speech is rebroadcast, the date and station of the live speech must be announced at the beginning. The airwaves belong to the citizens and may be used for public purposes like this. In cities with many stations, their service may be rotational, i.e., a candidate may use one station one week and a second station the next week. The schedule shall be published for easy access by voters. The election department (e.g., the Elections Division of the Secretary of State for CA) can oversee and coordinate this coverage.
c. Candidates may write statements about themselves, their qualifications, why they are standing for election, their values, and what they will do once in office. These statements can be published in public places like post offices, city halls, and libraries as well as on governmental web sites.
We can reduce the influence of money and power on our elected and appointed officials:
c. Discontinue the allowance of paid corporate lobbyists. Private individuals should have the same access and influence as corporations.
d. Pay the officials enough to warrant their setting aside their normal career for the duration of their term of office.
e. Establish term limits for all offices. The longer a person is in office, the more opportunity to succumb to greed at the expense of their constituents.
f. Overhaul the accounting and review standards by which officials receive and spend money to ensure it is consistent with their responsibility.
The actions of the government since 9-11 have made it perfectly clear that the profits of corporations are guaranteed by the taxpayers—you and me—while insignificant unemployment benefits reveal the total lack of responsibility for individuals. Restated: individuals are merely the serfs of the corporate feudal overlords. Democracy and personal freedom are myths.
Have you noticed the barrage of propaganda? Spending is patriotic. E pluribus unuum. Proud to be an American.
We are being gulled. Look around. Think. Since when does spending money, especially if you don't have it, equate to freedom? Are you really proud that we're killing Afghan people? Are you really proud that we've convicted Osama bin Laden without a trial? Are you really proud that we're planning to continue killing in other countries? Are you really proud that we round up people in our own country who are suspicious because of their appearance? (Do you look like "them" or "us"?) Are you really proud that we've set aside the civil liberties guaranteed by our Constitution?
If you're proud to be an American, how well do you know the Constitution, the single object that defines the freedom and democracy that we are so proud of? Start by reading it, then read it again. Read it once a week. It can be lost if we forget it. America can be lost if we look the other way.
There is an excellent book that you should read: "The Ecology of Money" by Richard Douthwaite. This was published in 1999 by Green Books (www.greenbooks.co.uk) on behalf of The Schumacher Society. The main theme is that money has different effects according to its origins and purposes. A just and sustainable world can only be built if money creation is democratized.
Today commercial banks create money by loaning it at interest. It has no intrinsic value as it is backed by nothing. As such it is fundamentally unstable: the economy must grow or inflate constantly.
If money is not borrowed, it does not exist; the money remains in the bank and is not available for trading. Because interest has to be paid to banks and is thereby removed from circulation, the economy has to grow continuously if it is not to collapse. In order for the ratio of the money supply (debt) to stay constant with the volume of trading, the total value of sales must increase. This increase can be achieved by inflation and/or expansion.
Thus the money creation-circulation system is damaging both human society and the natural world. "Continuous economic growth is impossible in a finite world."
After this abbreviated introduction to the subject matter, you are ready to consider if a war isn't just what America "needs" to counter its current economic slump, aka recession. And why we are being exhorted to spend. Is the war on terrorism a handy way to cover up the fallacies of our money system? A nifty way to justify spending? Wouldn't want those bankers' profits to decline!
Wouldn't it be better to redesign our money system than rely on debt and war for economic viability? Wouldn't it be better to redesign our money system than watch our environment deteriorate endlessly?
I might as well go for broke. I feel sick that "economics" is counted healthy if we go into debt! And to war. How about you? In the course of my MBA program I studied economics and capitalism. Now I think it sucks. Capitalism as practiced in America brings out the worst in people and sacrifices basic human values (here's where Jesus' messages fit in) and the environment. Surely there is a better way!
It's hard to not see the multitude of "America: Open for Business" signs that have proliferated recently. It's such a crass sentiment. I wish these signs read "America Envisioning Peace".