Progressive icon and anti-war activist turned California lawmaker Tom Hayden passed on Sunday at the age of 76.
Hayden dedicated his life to peace, social justice, and activism: from the 1960s, when he helped found the New Left and worked to organize black southern sharecroppers, to building—alongside his former wife, actress Jane Fonda—a California political machine that for decades advanced progressive candidates and measures.
“If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable,” reads the conclusion of the Port Huron manifesto, which Hayden drafted in 1962 for the leftist organization Students for a Democratic Society.
In 1982, Hayden was elected to the California Assembly, beginning nearly two decades of service in the Assembly and state Senate. “During his tenure in the Legislature, representing the liberal Westside, Hayden relished being a thorn in the side of the powerful, including fellow Democrats he saw as too pliant to donors,” the Los Angeles Timeswrote on Sunday.
“He was the radical inside the system,” Duane Peterson, a top Hayden advisor in Sacramento, told the Times.
Indeed, before turning to politics, Hayden was a well known student leader and activist. He had a famously extensive FBI file. In one undisclosed May 1968 bureau cable sent at the time of the Columbia University student occupation, the agency wrote: “The investigation of Hayden, as one of the key leaders of the new left movement, is of prime importance to the Bureau.”
Tom Hayden with his 22,000-page F.B.I. file, circa 1979. (Photo: The Los Angeles Times)
A year later, Hayden was one of the activists, known as the “Chicago 7,” indicted by the Justice Department for conspiracy to incite a riot at the Democratic National Convention.
A prolific writer, he was a longtime contributor to Common Dreams and The Nation, whichwrote Monday: “From helping to found the New Left in the 1960s right up to this turbulent election season, Hayden was a pillar of Democratic politics, a brilliant strategist and political thinker, and a leading advocate for a more just and equal society.”
In a February 1981 essay for The Nation titled “The Future Politics of Liberalism,” which was published in the wake of Ronald Reagan’s presidential inauguration, Hayden outlined his idea of a just society, illustrating how economic, social, and environmental elements are all intertwined in that vision:
We need more than ever a participatory society in which persons of all life styles believe that they matter, instead of the escapist culture that absorbs millions in irrelevance. We cannot contend with the coming of external limits unless we delve more into our rich inner potentials.
It comes down to moving from a wasteful, privately oriented, self-indulgent existence to a more conserving, caring and disciplined life style. The cornerstone has to be a renewal of self-reliance, not the outmoded frontier fantasy of the Republican philosophers, but the reassertion of personal responsibility in everything from conserving resources to decentralizing services to keeping ourselves well through self-care to practicing a “right livelihood” in business. It is a change from planned obsolescence to the production of useful goods that last, from consumer madness to the achievement of inner satisfactions, from the opulence of Jay Gatsby to the frugal self-assurance of Henry David Thoreau.
More important than money and technique in elections is the factor of motivation and vision. The Democrats (or someone else) will return to national leadership when they are inspired again.
After the news of his death, many on the left took to social media to mourn the loss of a longtime progressive champion and express their gratitude for his inspiring legacy:
Tom Hayden's work & writing will always remind us of why a democratic society needs movements that value peace and justice. I will miss him.
According to wife Barbara Williams, Hayden died after a long illness. He suffered a stroke in 2015 after, as he put it, “tramping around the dark pits of fracking wastewater for two days in the suffocating wastelands of [California’s] Kern County.” He is also survived by “their adopted son, Liam; Troy Garity, his son with Fonda; and his sister, Mary Hayden Frey,” as well as “stepdaughter Vanessa Vadim and her two children,” the Times reports.
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Bravo! Ashton Kutcher’s Organization Has Saved 6,000 Sex Trafficking Victims
By Amanda Froelich | True Activist
Ashton Kutcher might be best known for starring in That 70’s Show and marrying Mila Kunis, but he’s a key figure to follow for numerous reasons. In 2008, the activist founded an organization with his ex-wife Demi Moore called Thorn. Thorn’s ultimate mission is to eliminate the sex trafficking and child exploitation over the internet. Since it’s debut, Thorn has helped rescue an astonishing 6,000 trafficking victims. In addition, 2,000 traffickers have been caught.
When Kutcher appeared in a recent interview on “The Today Show” with hosts Kathie Lee and Hoda to discuss the new season of his Netflix original series, “The Ranch”, he also promoted the organization. One of the tidbits he mentioned is that most sex trafficking victims have one thing in common: they’re targeted online. He said:
“We’re building digital tools to fight human trafficking. Basically, the purchase and commerce for human trafficking is happening online, just like everything else now, and so we’re building digital tools to fight back against it.”
Kutcher, who played Steve Jobs in a movie about the Apple entrepreneur, is partially responsible for founding the Thorn Task Force which searches the darkest corners of the internet to identify and eradicate traffickers. Some of the 20 tech companies that are part of the Force include Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!, Snapchat, and Imgur.
Says Jim Pitkow, Chairman of the Thorn Technical Task Force:
“New innovations will always be adopted for both good and evil purposes. At Thorn, we tip the scales in favor of good by stopping exploitation and protecting our children.”
Watch the interview below:
What Kutcher and his team have accomplished so far is heartening, but the businessman says he’s not stopping there. Thorn is working towards a truly ambitious humanitarian goal:
“Our next battle, my next commitment…I’m going to make a pledge that I’m going to eliminate child pornography from the internet,” said Kutcher.
According to anti-human trafficking group Polaris, The International Labor Organization estimates that 4.5 million people are currently working against their will for sex traffickers. And in 2014, the underground sex economy in 2014 was worth $290 million in Atlanta, Georgia, alone. Obviously, this is a conundrum that needs to be remedied. Fortunately, Thorn is helping to make that goal a reality.
What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!
On Alcatraz Island, a sunrise ceremony saw hundreds gather to honor the culture of Indigenous peoples and express solidarity with the fight against Dakota Access. (Photo: Fusion/Twitter)
As the movement to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day finds success in communities from Phoenix, Arizona to the state of Vermont, the battle for Indigenous rights in the face of industrial development rages on.
In North Dakota, 27 Indigenous water protectors were arrested in Monday’s action to peacefully occupy a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. The arrests at the hands of militarized police came less than a day after a federal court of appeals ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for an emergency injunction against the controversial pipeline project.
Meanwhile, on Alcatraz Island, a sunrise ceremony saw hundreds gather to honor the culture of Indigenous peoples and express solidarity with the fight against Dakota Access.
“I don’t want to be complacent so I show up every time there is an event for my people,” one Indigenous participant toldFusion.
The scenes of Indigenous solidarity and the battle against the pipeline were ever more resonant as many parts of the country celebrated Columbus Day, which honors the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas. To many Indigenous people, Columbus was a harbinger of centuries of slaughter.
Yet the battle for Indigenous rights is gaining traction and visibility: with each passing year, more and more places are abolishing Columbus Day and celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in its place.
“Indigenous Peoples Day represents a shift in consciousness,” Dr. Leo Killsback, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and assistant professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, toldCNN. “It acknowledges that Indigenous peoples and their voices are important in today’s conversations.”
And this year saw Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, proclaim Monday Indigenous Peoples Day, which followed similar proclamations from officials in Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, among nine other U.S. locales.
“One of the biggest misconceptions about Columbus is that he was righteous. The truth is that he was wicked and responsible for the rape and murder of innocent Indigenous people,” Killsback, who pushed for Indigenous Peoples Day in Phoenix, added to CNN.
Meanwhile, activists continue to push for the federal government and public schools to stop celebrating Christopher Columbus: “If we are sincere in our claim that all lives have value,” writes author and high school teacher Bill Bigelow, “then schools need to refuse to honor the first European colonialist of the Americas, the ‘father of the slave trade.'”
“This is not about what went on 500 years ago,” Bigelow adds. “It’s about what’s going on today: an inspiring struggle for rights and dignity.”
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What if one single word could “flip the paradigm,” unleashing the power to create enough for ourselves, enough for our communities and enough for the planet? And what if it wasn’t a trick or a gimmick, but a universal truth written into the very design of the cosmos?
Enough: Beyond the Myth of Lack shares a startlingly simple yet profoundly transformative secret: changing our orientation to the word ENOUGH could be the key to unlocking the sleeping consciousness and to birthing a new planetary story.
Traditional approaches to transformation either focus on our inner selves – our spirituality or beliefs, or on the outer world – on activism or innovation. When we work hard on ourselves, but encounter a culture that neither supports nor reflects our evolving wisdom, we must put tremendous energy into standing our ground. We tend to want to distance ourselves from the outer reality. Likewise, there is a growing despair and fatigue among people who focus on changing the outer world because no matter what progress is made, it never seems to be enough. How do we gracefully combine the spiritual and the practical, the inner and the outer, the individual and the collective to bring about a better story for ourselves and the planet? Enough shows us how.
Author Laurie McCammon, MS, shares the “divine download” she experienced in 2011 which changed her life and gave this stay-at-home mom the courage to accept an assignment as a planetary change agent. She spent the next three years researching what she had felt intuitively: The Enough Message is on a mission to lovingly and gracefully boost humanity into its spiritual adulthood, showing us we are divinely-inspired, fully supported co-creators. She found abundant evidence in diverse disciplines such as quantum physics, anthropology, evolutionary biology, feminine spirituality, ecology, indigenous wisdom, technology, activist movements, mythology, systems theory and cutting edge consciousness that proves that The Enough Story is inevitable, unstoppable and bursting with genius and activity right now.
Enough is a book for activists, spiritual seekers, social innovators and change agents who feel personally called to birth a New Story for themselves, humanity and the planet. The Enough Message will convince you that there is much to be optimistic about and will forever change how you perceive yourself and your power to change the world.
Poetry, music and art of all kinds can often portray a message in a way that simply speaking it alone cannot. I like to think of all the different mediums, being a different portal to accessing a wider audience. A good example of this is comedy- Bill Hicks, George Carlin and most recently Russell Brand all deliver such a potent message with humor and it is an incredibly effective way to reach a new pocket of people.
Spoken word is another scene that is exploding and offers a platform for a diverse range of messages. I created this video to explore the topics of war, the devaluation of lives based on ethnicity and the government’s oppression that leads to destructive behaviour and a deep feeling of hopelessness in many citizens. We want a just and fair society, now is the time to create that society!
The video opens up taking about the Palestine/Israel conflict. In 1947 after world war 2 the UN general assembly passed a resolution (which was never enacted) that Palestine should be divided up giving 55% for a Jewish state (although only 6% of Palestine was Jewish owned), with the remaining 45% being left for the Palestinian state.
The resolution was passed without the consultation of the Palestinian people, who rejected the proposal. In 1948 Israel seized 78% of the land resulting in the displacement of 750,000 palestinians.
There are currently 500,000 Israelis living illegally in the West Bank, with Palestinians in this area and the Gaza Strip living in limbo. They have no nation, no citizenship, and no democratic power over their lives. They have also been stripped of the right to vote in national elections.
As you can see from this image Israel continues to grow and Palestine continues to shrink and we are not blameless in this situation, individually as taxpayers and collectively as a nation. The US gives $3.15 billion a year in military aid to Israel, which is due to increase to $3.7. billion in 2018, with many other western countries also aiding this conflict.
I think it is important to state that in the same way the American and British people are not responsible for the crimes of their leaders, that this is not an attack on the Israeli people. But the government which is committing these crimes.
Only a small section of this poem was about this conflict, but I felt this an important issue to address as it is one that is heavily avoided in the west due to the power of Israel and the possibility of being labeled anti semitic.
The running theme of this poem is that of justice and in the western media we have a systematic dehumanising of groups that are different from ourselves. Media will affiliate groups with other groups that do not share the same ideology, but many will believe them to have the affiliation.
The most obvious example of this is that of Muslims and terrorism. Every time a Muslim commits a crime, the media will highlight the fact that they are Muslim, when you couple this with the continual pointing out of differences eg: They wear burkas or their skin is different or they treat their women differently, and the stories of Muslim minority groups that commit crimes such as female genital mutilation. You all of a sudden have a group that consists of over 1.6 billion people (nearly 25% of the world) being painted with a brush that only represents a fraction of Muslim people. This is why when we hear statistics like 500,000 people died in Iraq it seems less important than 52 dead in the UK.
I say this not to play down the life of anyone, but to argue that we should all be equal and that “collateral damage” cannot be used to excuse the loss of life to one group of people, while we call it terrorism when people of our nation are killed. The elephant in the room really is that war has 2 sides, we are 1 side in any given conflict. The other side are just an opposing side and we portray it as we are right and they are wrong, but ultimately it is a disagreement between 2 groups that has escalated to violence, both sides think they are right and there is no impartial group that shares the facts about these conflicts.
Our media is the western media, with a western agenda in mind. For the most part they do not form an impartial argument that takes into account all sides of the story, they promote their agendas with the assumption that we are right, they are wrong and our lives are more valuable than theirs, in this lies the problem of ever having a fair representation of world events.
Couple this with the fact that our media for the most part is owned by billionaires, with billionaire agendas, we not only see disparity in what should be reported in issues on war, but also on most issues that are in favour of people from the working class.
I then go into more localised issue, such as our government’s oppression of its own people. The fact that schooling promotes an agenda to make people fit into a system which is not conducive of the life we would ideally be living. How our government is privatising many areas that should be non profit and governed for the people by the people.
When do we say enough is enough and take the money out of things that should be a human right. Food, water, shelter, health and even our time has been commodified. With our existence being systematically put into negative equity through debt. Yes this is a choice, but the deck is stacked against you- the average wage in the UK is £26,000, but the average house price is £209,000 how can anyone buy a house if they are so disproportionately priced in comparison to our income.
The problem we have in the world is not a lack of resources, but a disproportionate distribution of those resources. We literally have enough to home, feed, water and shelter every man, woman and child on this planet, yet we support a system that disbalances things to such a degree that most people have hardly any resources and a very small group have all the resources.
What is quite scary to think is that on a global scale, we (the west) are the elite. Being on the average wage I mentioned (£26,000) actually places you in the top 0.93% of global wealth and most of us are struggling with that, this goes to show how disproportionately distributed the rest of the wealth is.
For some of us this may leave a feeling of hopelessness, but the truth is things are changing, new legislation is coming in, with the US planning to reduce and eventually ban private prisons. There is a breaking point that is being forced by police brutality which will lead to tighter laws and restrictions and while it may seem hopeless now, the darkness is making us shine our lights that little bit brighter.
Our government has become so blatantly oppressive in a way that people have never seen before. I think this leads to rebellion and people standing up against injustice. People are changing, conversations are changing, people see the injustice in a way that has never been seen before and we have had enough.
A great way to sum this up is a beautiful story I heard from a friend recently about deers, who have a democratic process that puts us to shame involving when they visit the watering hole/lake to drink. You see as a deer, visiting the watering hole is a dangerous game, as there are predators. But if you can visit together you have a little more safety in numbers. So what they do is when they want to make the journey is they face it and only when 50% of the herd is facing the watering hole do they all instinctively make the journey.
This is what is happening now, more and more of us are facing the watering hole and every time you do so, you give those around you permission to do so. Eventually when we hit critical mass we will all make a move to drink. A few of us may be eaten by the wolves, but the majority will drink and this is what is needed, a few more brave people who are willing to die for a cause that is greater than themselves.
The way we move forward is through love, compassion, community and deconditioning. Don’t be afraid to speak of injustice, because the only way we stop it is by addressing it. One thing we all have in common is the fact that we are human beings and all the problems we have in this world come from 2 or more opposing ideas. Instead of shutting down others ideas we need to hear them, no matter how far removed they are from our own and work on co creating a world that serves the masses, not the elite.
There are many things that can be taken from us as human beings, but our behavior and how we react in the face of adversity and inequality is up to us. You may not be able to control the way others behave, but you can control yourself and if you can do the right thing, you give others the permission to do the right thing. I will leave you with the words of Martin Luther King on this one.
This is perhaps the most important article I have ever written, so please share it far and wide and if you have any ideas on moving humanity forward email me firstname.lastname@example.org much love, Luke
(ANTIMEDIA) Last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration declined to downgrade the federal classification of cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance, stating “science doesn’t support” the notion cannabis may be used for medical purposes.
But in 1999, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services filed a patent for cannabis claiming the plant had “been found to have antioxidant properties,” making cannabis useful “in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.”
At the time, the discovery prompted U.S. officials to believe cannabis could be used as “neuroprotectants … [that could limit] neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
But the government’s prohibitive position on cannabis remains unchanged, and legalization advocates aren’t happy. In order to protest the DEA’s shortsighted response, some advocates decided to use the 1999 patent number as a sign of protest, sharing images of the code, 6,630,507, written on their hands along with the hashtag #TalkToThe6630507Hand.
my Hilterbran, a medical marijuana advocate who ignited the online trend, told ATTN the patent “proved there was ample evidence to support the medicinal aspects of cannabis.” But despite the “decades of research,” the government insists on refusing to address its own history on the subject.
Hilterbran added that the studies that led to the patent “proved that cannabis — cannabinoids — were medicinal and effective for numerous ailments, conditions, and that the plant was nontoxic, nonlethal. … [it also] disqualified cannabis from even being on the Controlled Substances Act — on several levels.”
Though the patent was filed in 1999, it was only published in 2003. According to ATTN:, “information included in the patent description shows that the federal agency has been aware of marijuana’s antioxidant and neuroprotective properties for some time.”
In 2014, CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta wrote that the government had been denying the benefits of medical marijuana while holding “a patent for those very same benefits.”
For a “true and productive scientific journey” to produce successful results, Gupta wrote, we must be willing “to let go of established notions and get at the truth, even if it is uncomfortable and even it means having to say ‘sorry.’” But micromanagers within the federal government seem incapable of admitting as much — 17 years after the patent was filed.
As it stands, the DEA already admits cannabis is less dangerous than heroin and other drugs under the same “Schedule I” category. But officials are often mum on what the DHHS patent proves.
According to Leaf Science, the patent referenced in the protests against prohibition “covers only a specific application of these cannabinoids and not the production or use of marijuana and cannabinoids overall,” which might be a reason why bureaucrats might not find any value in the online demonstration. But what the patent also proves, Leaf Science argued in 2014, is “that cannabidiol previously had not been considered useful as a neuroprotectant. However, it cites various studies on cannabidiol as anantiepileptic and as a potential treatment for glaucoma.”
Even if the patent was associated with a particular application of certain components of the plant — and not cannabis as a whole — wouldn’t it be fair for the government to take a second look at its policies, even if just for accuracy purposes?
If the DEA’s actions serve as an answer, it seems bureaucrats are still reluctant to embrace science at all.
Disapproval ratings of both major-party candidates are higher than we’ve seen in decades. Millions are livid about Trump’s lies and let down by Hillary Clinton and her party’s now-exposed bashing of Bernie Sanders. All these responses seem to reflect the utter disillusionment of people across the political spectrum who feel shut out of a political system dominated by wealthy, special interests.
No wonder thousands of Americans are supporting third-party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein and protesting both conventions.
In such a challenging time, how do we keep our eyes and energies fixed on our goal of real democracy?
Hope is key. It is an essential ingredient for change.
Let’s be clear about what hope is not. Hope isn’t a “slightly sappy whistler in the dark,” as the late historian Howard Zinn reminded us. It’s not blind confidence that things will, somehow, work out.
No, hope has power.
In his book, Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear, Harvard Medical School’s Srinivasan S. Pillay captures it this way: “Hope is not an answer,” but because it stimulates the imagination, it helps us to pose the right questions. By contrast, fear often triggers the wrong questions. Pillay likens hope to a scientist’s hypothesis, organizing us toward solutions.
Pillay emphasizes, too, hope’s power vis-a-vis fear: Because “hope seems to travel in the same [parts of the brain] as fear, it might be a good soldier to employ if we want to meet fear.”
In this painful moment, what does such hope feel like?
Like the journey that it is, “democracy is … becoming rather than being. It can be easily lost, but never is fully won. Its essence is eternal struggle,” said the first African-American federal judge William H. Hastie.
On that journey, tapping the true power of hope requires grasping how we got here—identifying the causal flow; only then can we feel confident we’re actually reversing it.
Our shorthand version of America’s downward spiral starts with a couple of false and dangerous ideas.
First, that a market economy works on its own. After all, Ronald Reagan assured us the market is “magic,” and with magic you surely don’t want to spoil the fun by asking how it works. In real life, however, our fun has been spoiled by not asking. We’ve failed to grasp that, of course, all economies have rules; and in ours, unfortunately, one dominates: The built-in driver of economic decisions is what will bring the highest return to existing wealth.
So, no surprise. Wealth begets wealth until we reach the appalling reality of America today, in which 20 people control as much wealth as the bottom half of us. As social epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett document in their 2009 bookThe Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, extreme economic inequality, disrupting the social fabric, is associated with elevated violence, poorer health, and many other negative outcomes.
The second dangerous idea is that democracy accountable to citizens can survive such concentrated wealth. Throughout American history, big-money interests have converted their economic advantage into political power. But in recent decades, as weakened campaign finance rules swelled the flow of wealth into our politics, some, including the BBC, have referred to America as an oligarchy. As money buys more political power, our economy and democracy become even more a tool for the few over the many.
If these big assertions begin to describe our root predicament, where’s the hope?
We again turn to Zinn’s wisdom: “Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession of surprises…”
In that spirit, let’s count every single win, big and small, that our focus and hard work have achieved in addressing this root crisis—the grip of money in politics. As we work to remove that democracy-destroying power, we build confidence and avenues for shaping new rules governing our economy and other dimensions of society so that America works for all of us.
There are plenty of such wins to celebrate—even in the past year:
Democratic Party leadership agreed on a platform with strong positions on money in politics, endorsing public financing of elections as well as other critical reforms. The platform reflects core demands that Democracy Spring marchers called for in April while marching from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
After adopting automatic voter registration, Oregon added 15,000 registered voters in its “motor voter” system in the first 24 business days, compared to an average of only 2,000 per month before passage.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Evenwel v. Abbott that states can include all residents (not just registered voters) when designing state legislative districts—a big deterrent to disenfranchisement.
Our list could go on and will likely grow even longer this fall, as some states will have democracy reform initiatives on the November ballot.
Since cynicism and despair are among democracy’s worst enemies, let these and other victories stir us to work harder than ever to make our democracy real for all Americans.
Of course, hope is not for wimps. It takes courage to move past our comfort zones to speak up, demand reform, and, if ignored, to take peacefully to the streets. It requires that we not allow ourselves to be confused or sidetracked. Courage also demands that we avoid easy, categorical thinking. It means refusing to paint all politicians as uncaring or evil, understanding that although the system is rigged many on the inside would fix our democracy if given the chance. As citizens, our job is to push so hard they have that chance.
We can’t let bad news blind us from seeing that Democrats and Republicans are not “equally as bad” on money in politics. Their respective party platforms could not be more different. Whether a Democrat or a Republican gains the White House, our job remains the same: mobilize as never before for democratic reforms and across party lines.
In all, hope means refusing to allow any setback or anyone’s cynicism to dilute our own creativity, positivity, and energy. Zinn asks us never to forget: “The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
This article was written for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Adam Eichen is a member of the Democracy Matters Board of Directors and a Maguire Fellow at the French research institute Sciences Po, doing research on comparative campaign finance policy. He is also a Democracy Fellow at the Small Planet Institute,where he is working on a book on democracy with founder Frances Moore Lappé. He served as the deputy communications director for Democracy Spring. Follow him on Twitter: @eichendoit.
Should You Be a Conservative or a Liberal? The Spiritual Answer
It’s the answer to the question that you have been waiting for God herself to deliver unto you. What is the best political stance to take? Should I be a conservative? Or a liberal? Which is the more “spiritual” ideology? Which is the more righteous, the more holy, or in the parlance of the new age more “conscious?”
What am I getting myself into here? Everyone knows that, just like religion, you should never talk about politics. Someone is bound to get pissed off. And they are right. Given this, I have decided the best approach to this subject is to piss everyone off, and thus avoid accusations of bias.
Perhaps I should mention that I am Australian. We are a little more relaxed about politics where I come from. Can you imagine Steve Irwin (RIP) rocking up to a political convention and blasting out a heap of political dross because he really believes all that BS? No, he’d much rather be wrestling crocodiles, or in the backyard having a beer with the wife, or just spending time with the kids. So it is that we Aussies don’t really get the political divide in the US. This ignorance can be really helpful when writing about American politics, I find.
But wait. This is not really about America, is it? Australia also has conservatives and lefties. It’s a bit like America, only with less guns. And just about every country has liberal and conservative traditions. Some such ideologies are far to the right or to left, while others are more “centrist” and relaxed in their views. In Australia ironically the Liberal Party is conservative, while the Labour Party is leftist. Well, they used to be, but now it’s pretty hard to tell the difference.
Okay, let me be a little serious for a moment. We do have a problem on our hands. Right across the world we are seeing political parties and ideals swing towards more extreme ends of the spectrum. We do live in unsettled times. We have witnessed the rise of more conservative elements in many countries. Donald Trump is no tree-hugging greenie, and he might be the next Prez. Britain just voted to exit the EU, and concerns over immigration were a big factor – as they are right across Europe. In Australia Pauline Hanson was just voted back in as a member of parliament. You Americans have probably never heard of her, but she’s like Donald Trump in drag, and equally attractive.
Now, if you are a little conservative your blood pressure might be rising a bit right now. Is this Marcus T Anthony character, this Crocodile Dundee wannabe, taking a shot at our side? But if you are a liberal, you might be starting to feel a little self-righteous. It looks like Marcus is gunning for us here. After all, he put Trump in the “extreme” camp. “Should be a death camp”, you might be murmuring.
But you could be wrong.
Listen to this audio recording, below. This is a recent conversation between a conservative and a liberal. It’s Michael Brooks vs Sargon of Akkad (AKA Carl Benjamin). I dare you to listen to just two minutes, from 18:00 to 20:00. That should do you. It certainly did me. After listening, tell me what you learned, and what you think the two men learned.
It wasn’t so difficult to answer the question, now was it. “Nothing” isn’t too a difficult concept to understand.
While we are at it, check out this lovely display of liberal-conservative hand-holding. It’s super-liberals Chenk Uygur and the Young Turks in one corner, and the ultra-conservative Alex Jones in the left. Tune in from 1:40 to 4:20. What do they learn?
Well, Jones probably learned that it’s not always nice to get a free drink. In the face. Other than that, not a lot of wisdom emerged from this encounter.
Like I said, we’ve got a problem.
People aren’t listening to each other. Most of us have become so deeply attached to our ideals and beliefs that we can simply no longer engage others with an open mind. Part of the problem is the Internet. Personalisation algorithms mean that whenever you open most social media and news sites, you keep getting fed the same ideas from the same people and the same sources. They got you pegged.
There’s a term for this. It’s called “the echo chamber.” We keep hearing our own voices repeating on ourselves.
And we learn nothing.
It’s not just a problem in politics. I noted this long ago in the area of parapsychology. As an “intuitive” I was naturally drawn to the “proponents’” camp. But there is also a skeptics collective, and they are equally as convinced of their rightness. Few people traverse the treachery of the vast no mans’s land between the two camps. Well, almost nobody. I have done so. What I noticed when I ventured forth was that on both sides of the divide much of the “debate” is about how stupid and deluded the other camp is. Not a lot of listening goes on.
You can probably think of many similar confrontational binaries in many fields of interest. It just seems to be the nature of the human mind.
What is to be done about this?
I have come up with a solution. But perhaps it’s not one you would prefer to hear. I call it “being present to what rises before me.”
When we become present with our breath, with our sense of the body, or with something that is before us (like a pot plant, a desk, a cup) the mind tends to fall silent. As we focus upon the thing we are paying attention to, thoughts will tend to enter the mind. We can observe them, and let them go. If we do this often enough we learn at an experiential level that we are not our thoughts. We learn that the mind likes to take thoughts and ideas and invest them with an importance and permanence that they simply do not merit. Over time these thoughts become beliefs, and the mind insists that they are “real.” Soon we identify with them. We think they are “out there”, and when others attack them, we feel personally threatened.
A powerful consciousnesss tool is to practice presence with people whom we disagree with. You can do this easily by going to YouTube and watching a video of someone whom you kind of despise politically. If you a vegan, tree-hugging leftie, go watch five minutes of a Trump speech. As thoughts and judgments arise in your mind (perhaps, “Die Trump, die!”) simply observe them, and let them go. If you can return to watching Trump’s orange face without judgment, you have achieved mastery, Grasshopper. If you are moonshine-swilling, gun-toting Rebublican, do the same with any public figure you fantasise of gunning down in your Charlton Heston t-shirt while quoting the second amendment.
Watch or listen, and simply observe the mind.
Another way to begin to achieve distance from our beliefs and our minds is to take the complete opposite side of an argument that you feel strongly attached to, and argue against it from the perspective of the other person. If you hate Trump, imagine defending him passionately. Better, still go online and write it out. Better do it on one of those anonymous forums, though, just in case your friends see. If you are convinced Obama was born in a tree in Kenya, do the same and write a strong rebuttal of that very idea, championing Obama as the right man to lead the nation during this period in history. This process is humiliating, but ultimately expansive.
Or you can just spend time listening to folks from the other side. Ditch Sargon of Akkad for the Young Turks for a couple of weeks, or vice versa.
Perhaps I should make a confession at this point. I am slightly confused about who I really am. At the level of mind.
Just in the last few days I have been criticised for being a liberal, but also for being a conservative. I annoyed a white liberal by criticising the writing of a black man whom I said was using racist language and attitudes towards white people. Then not long after, a conservative got a little annoyed at me when I stated that Trump did not offer a workable future which met the needs of all Americans, including blacks and Muslims. The good thing is that I understood where the critics were coming from, so I could easily let the criticism slide. After all, I kind of half-agreed with them.
Learning to be more mindful and listening to others does not mean you will no longer have opinions and beliefs. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will never be offended, angry or perhaps rude to others. You will still have a “mind.” What it does mean is that you will be less likely to experience these projections,; and when you do you will be be able to immediately accept responsibility for them.
Notice that I expressed two opinions in the two instances mentioned above. Both opinions are founded in the belief that it is important that we rise above the tribal mind, that we stop blaming and stereotyping other people, groups and races. We need to be responsible for our destructive side. The key for me isn’t whether arguments hold to liberal or conservative positions, but whether they facilitate healing, or alternatively encourage violence, including intellectual violence. As the two YouTube clips above show, today there is a lot of this violence amongst both liberals and conservatives.
You can express an opinion without engaging the violence of mind by not attempting to impose your viewpoint upon others, and by letting go of the need for them to agree with you. If you find yourself ruminating over a battle for “the one correct truth,” just acknowledge it mindfully, pull out of the discussion and surrender it to the universe. You might even like to apologise to the other person. That is what I did in the instance I mentioned where I offended a white liberal male by being critical of an article written by the black writer. Nothing quiets the ego like making an apology.
Despite the origins of the ideology of liberalism – which is founded in equality, generosity and community – generally speaking there is a rising problem within liberalism in that it is becoming increasingly rigid, intolerant and aggressive. That is why, even though my ideals are a good match for the liberal tradition, I usually don’t identify myself as one (although occasionally I still do). I don’t like what has become of liberalism in general. So I let that label go. I’m not saying anybody else should do this.
Of course, fostering the attitude of being present with what rises before you doesn’t come without a price. It requires a new way of relating to your mind, to yourself. It is inevitably cognitively destabilising. It’s scary. For a while you will feel like you don’t know who you are anymore. And that’s why most people probably won’t choose this path.
Are you “most people?”
The truth is that in deep presence we simply CANNOT know who we are, at least not within the mind. For that identification with self requires thought and conceptualisation. In presence we can only EXPERIENCE ourselves (and others). We simply are. And we can simply let the other man or woman be.
All this doesn’t mean that you have to ditch all your beliefs and political attitudes. It may just necessitate that you become more relaxed, and more open. You will start to see things from the other person’s point of view. You might start to listen again. You may begin to appreciate other ideas and perspectives. In presence, empathy comes naturally, with gratitude. Even when people disagree, or attack you from “the mind.”
And that is the whole point.
So let me now deliver the final note of my sermon (cue organ master). If we really want to awaken into a more conscious experience of ourselves (the essence of spirituality), we will most likely no longer identify with being a conservative or a liberal. And if we do, we will be less rigidly fixated on the us/them divide. For such an identification is what locks us into the small “I.” In this sense, any time of political engagement can be an opportunity to witness the mind, to become more deeply present to self, to others and to the world. Politics then invites us to become more conscious – not less conscious, as typically happens for many. Politics, like all mental experiences, can be an invitation to awaken from the dream of mind.
When New York photographer Spencer Tunick announced his latest project, titled Everything She Says Means Everything, he received an overwhelming response from women who were willing to pose nude in front of the Quicken Loans Center in Cleveland where the Republican Party is expected to announce Trump as its official candidate.
Though 1,500 volunteers signed up for the project, the final product is only meant to include 100 women who will hold up large mirrors in what the artist’s official website says is a reflection of, “the knowledge and wisdom of progressive women and the concept of “Mother Nature.”
Tunick has said that this particular installation was inspired by the infamously turbulent election year of 1968 and the demonstrations held that year during the Democratic Convention in Chicago. But this year’s photo shoot is one of several exhibitions of mass nudity he has staged around the world and his second project in the city of Cleveland. In June of 2004, Tunick organised 2,754 volunteers to pose in a ‘river of nude bodies’ along the East 9th Street Pier.
This year’s event is expected to take place across from the Quicken Loans Center at dawn on Sunday July 17th, the day before the Republican Party crowns Donald Trump as their nominee.
Dublin, Ireland (2008)
“[T]he work is for my daughters, for their future, for them not to grow up in a society with hate, for them to grow up in a world with less violence toward women and more opportunities for them.” Tunick told Cleveland’s SCENE.
But not everyone in Cleveland is happy about the photographer’s return to the city. When another local website, cleveland.com, asked for opinions on the event the responses were dismissive and questioned the artist’s intentions.
“Art? Hmmmm … Sorry, mass nudity of this sort with people stripped away of their identity makes me recoil.” said the website’s chief editorial writer, Sharon Broussard.
Others suggested that Tunick was taking advantage of the women who participate in his work saying,
“To tone down the rhetoric of hate and prejudice against women, in which no one is engaging, the “artist” will recruit 100 women to exploit for his own gain.”
Tunick himself is no stranger to provocation, having already been arrested in New York for his work. It’s not likely that he expects an arena full of conservative celebrities, pro-lifers, and Trump supporters to welcome a hundred nude women on their doorstep, but that doesn’t seem to be the point. In an interview with Esquire, he shared the reasons some of the volunteers provided for participating in the shoot:
“I would like to participate in this specifically because I’m not supposed to. Today is my 47th birthday. That alone means, as far as society is concerned, I shouldn’t be nude outside the home…I shouldn’t be naked, says America. I’m a married lady and no one should see me in the buff besides my husband and my doctor, says the world.”
(ANTIMEDIA)United States — We have become a culture on edge, fearful of when and where the next tragedy might be perpetrated by some opaque or obscure enemy ‘other’ seeking to inflict maximum harm on innocent lives.
But this abstract, pervasive, and fearanoid trepidation hasn’t been pulled from the blue — in fact, it amounts to little more than governmental propaganda meant to divide the populace and distract from the desire to reform pervasive, systemic issues the State might otherwise solve.
In other words, we live in fear — often of each other and usually devoid of reason — because the State wants it that way. Whatever fingers of blame take aim at various groups aren’t able to point to the corrupt, mendacious government — a construct so formidable, most don’t realize they’re facilitating the State’s divide and conquer methodology.
Perhaps the most timely example of this insidious propaganda surrounds misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter movement — and after themurders of five police officers in Dallas, perpetrated during a perfectly peaceful but emotional rally by Black Lives Matter, those misconceptions must be addressed.
Black Lives Matter isn’t inclusive — I think all lives matter. Isn’t this selfish and divisive?
While the name this activist group chose could be perceived as an exclusive club where others aren’t welcome, this couldn’t be further from the truth. BLM, as the movement is often abbreviated, only wants to level the playing field, and welcomes supporters from any race, creed, religion, gender — anyone — who acknowledges systemic disparities present in the U.S.
Saying black people’s lives matter doesn’t steal the value from lives in any other racial group — rather, the statement begs for black people’s seat at the same table other groups, particularly white people, have ‘enjoyed’ throughout history.
This movement isn’t called Only Black Lives Matter for a reason — it isn’t the message. Black people should not be forced to demand worth — no one should. But biased policing — a point proven to exhaustion — has, over time, caused an intrinsic exigency that they do so, particularly considering the disgusting reactions on display after innocent or unarmed or non-combative black Americans are killed by law enforcement. When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling suffered fatal shootings by police last week, as usual, a rush to dissect their lives commenced — as if the details of a person’s life would somehow negate their right to due process.
White teen Dylan Noble’s family, in glaring contrast, didn’t suffer this post mortem hypercritical analysis of their loved one’s life following his fatal shooting by police — and that’s the disparity perpetrated by the people and perpetuated by the State.
That example, and thousands like it, demonstrate why the group felt compelled to call themselves, to demand, Black Lives Matter — because people, either purposefully or unknowingly, discount the value of those lives.
Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization hell bent on killing police — and others.
Not shockingly, inflammatory talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, made the absurd assertion Friday that Black Lives Matter is a “terrorist group” — and, unfortunately, he hasn’t been the only one to make the accusation.
“They’re a terrorist group,” Limbaugh stated, affronted that Pres. Obama hosted the group’s leaders at the White House, the Huffington Postreported. “They’re quickly becoming a terrorist group committing hate crimes.”
In the context of the murders of five police officers in Dallas, Limbaugh and a guest said the (proven factual) disproportionate killing of black men by police is a “myth” and claimed BLM activists are staging a (proven fictitious) “war on cops.” Misinformation this egregious necessitates a properly cutting response — and BLM had already delivered one when the controversial host spouted nonsense.
Following the Dallas shootings, the Black Lives Matter website essentially shut down to display a single message condemning the killings and violence — completely contradicting Limbaugh’s fantastical claim. Though the site has since returned in full, a statement on Dallas remains — with the all-too pertinent reminder:
“Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it.”
Black Lives Matter negates any suffering white people feel.
Consider the adage, don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes — empathy, in other words — but in terms of race, an obvious impossibility. Because white people will literally never definitively experience bigotry and bias by police and others, an imperative of trust exists in listening to black people’s stories recounting such incidents — including, not excluding, their perceptions.
That perception matters — in fact, it speaks to systemic racism countless people like Limbaugh laughably deny. As Anti-Media journalist and livestreamer, P.M. Beers, who has been active in BLM for years — and who happens to be white — explained:
“When people say ‘All lives matter’ in response to the phrase, ‘Black lives matter,’ what is happening is white people are putting their feelings above the feelings of black people. This is an excellent example of the pervasiveness of white supremacy. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created by one of the founding members of the organization in response to the fact that, to the police, black lives do not matter. It is a FACT that black people have a much greater chance of being killed by police than white people. Saying ‘All lives matter’ is a blatant erasure of the pain, trauma, and PTSD that most black Americans deal with on a daily basis.
“It’s saying, ‘Your pain is irrelevant because I, as a white person, feel left out.’”
As another white journalist, Kevin Roose, wrote for Fusion,“The real issue is that, while strictly true, ‘All Lives Matter’ is a tone-deaf slogan that distracts from the real problems black people in America face.”
And as divisiveness reigns following Castile’s and Sterling’s killings and the murders in Dallas, we must remember, generally, life matters — struggle matters — and the devaluation of black lives, matters.
We all suffer the effects of the State’s failed war on drugs, but none of us so much as black Americans. Acknowledging their perspective as valid — and that racism remains a palpable and tangible issue despite the ‘official’ end to overt Jim Crow laws — doesn’t distract from the worth of any other people’s lives. In fact, it adds worth.
If none of this convinces you, or sufficiently explains why Black Lives Matter isn’t a divisive group touting the domination of black people over all others — and that All Lives Matter is a nonsensical retort — one of the most apt explanations I’ve yet seen came from, believe it or not, Reddit.
User GeekAesthete keenly stated on an “Explain like I’m 5” thread last year:
“Imagine that you’re sitting down to dinner with your family, and while everyone else gets a serving of the meal, you don’t get any. So you say, ‘I should get my fair share.’ And as a direct response to this, your dad corrects you, saying, ‘everyone should get their fair share.’ Now that’s a wonderful sentiment — indeed, everyone should, and that was kinda your point in the first place: that you should be a part of everyone, and you should get your fair share also. However, dad’s smartass comment just dismissed you and didn’t solve the problem that you still haven’t gotten any!
“The problem is that the statement ‘I should get my fair share’ had an implicit ‘too’ at the end: ‘I should get my fair share, too, just like everyone else.’ But your dad’s response treated your statement as though you meant ‘only I should get my fair share’, which clearly was not your intention. As a result, his statement that ‘everyone should get their fair share,’ while true, only served to ignore the problem you were trying to point out.
“That’s the situation of the ‘black lives matter’ movement. Culture, laws, the arts, religion, and everyone else repeatedly suggest that all lives should matter. Clearly, that message already abounds in our society.
“The problem is that, in practice, the world doesn’t work that way. You see the film Nightcrawler? You know the part where Renee Russo tells Jake Gyllenhal that she doesn’t want footage of a black or latino person dying, she wants news of affluent white people being killed? That’s not made up out of whole cloth — there is a news bias toward stories that the majority of the audience (who are white) can identify with. So when a young black man gets killed (prior to the recent police shootings), it’s generally not considered ‘news,’ while a middle-aged white woman being killed is treated as news. And to a large degree, that is accurate — young black men are killed in significantly disproportionate numbers, which is why we don’t treat it as anything new. But the result is that, societally, we don’t pay as much attention to certain people’s deaths as we do to others. So, currently, we don’t treat all lives as though they matter equally.
“Just like asking your dad for your fair share, the phrase ‘black lives matter’ also has an implicit ‘too’ at the end: it’s saying that black lives should also matter. But responding to this by saying ‘all lives matter’ is willfully going back to ignoring the problem. It’s a way of dismissing the statement by falsely suggesting that it means ‘only black lives matter,’ when that is obviously not the case. And so saying ‘all lives matter’ as a direct response to ‘black lives matter’ is essentially saying that we should just go back to ignoring the problem.”
And we erase the validity of the problem — and artificially incite division — by claiming Black Lives Matter is a divisive movement. In fact, it isn’t anything other than a call for equality — a call echoing from the overtly racist roots of this nation. A call that has yet to be answered in any sweeping, significantly lasting way.
But we can start by refusing to dismissively respond, All Lives Matter.
Malala Yousafzai is not the only teenager trying to make the world a better place. There are many teen activists who are being applauded for their efforts to make a difference in the world. Here’re 7 suchinspiring kids that have brought huge changes to our society, and our mindset with their work.
She is the youngest person of African descent to find a place in “100 Most Influential People in Africa” list. She is the youngest person to screen a self-produced movie commercially (she has already made five documentaries). She is the world’s youngest person to be featured in Forbes Magazine.
Born in California to a Nigerian father and a Mauritian mother, 14-year-old Oduwole is a filmmaker who is showing a positive side of Africa – like dancing, music, and great culture – and not just the things that are on the news – like war, famine, and disease. An education activist, Oduwole is creating a better world through education. She has travelled to 11 countries through her side project “Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up” and talked to about 24,000 children about the importance of education, particularly girls’ education.
A junior attending Dublin High School in California, Hania is changing the world through apps. Using her coding skills, she has developed projects with social impact; one of which is WaterSaver, a Java-based system built on the Raspberry Pi platform that adapts to changes in weather and soil conditions, and gives users the ability to monitor and control water sources from anywhere.
“It has always been my dream to become a doctor. Now, I’d like to pursue medical studies and combine it with telemedicine to remotely help people in rural areas in developing country where healthcare system is not very developed. I want to become an influential woman who can bring positive changes in people’s lives. I hope one day to build a bridge between doctors from the U.S., Canada, Europe in order to help doctors in Africa communicate and exchange experiences with each other and prevent deathly diseases.”
How do you fight misconceptions and prejudice people have about Islam? Ask Ziad, a 17-year-old Bangladeshi-American student who founded Redefy, a website to combat racism, discrimination and harmful stereotypes by encouraging teens to share their stories, defy bias, embrace acceptance, exercise tolerance, and create an active community. His activism was recognized by the White House and his efforts earned him a seat at President Barack Obama’s dinner table last June.
“I started Redefy to initiate a positive change in the world and to fight the ignorance which I have been victim to. And more importantly, to fight the ignorance which people will fall victim to who may not have the opportunity to properly defend themselves or understand that there are people who accept them and love them for exactly who they are.
Three young students are helping combat soaring rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). London’s Isaac Newton Academy’s Muaz (13), Daanyaal (14), and Chirag (14) have developed a condom that glows when it detects STI’s. S.T.EYE, the condom, uses a built-in layer of molecules that glow when they come into contact with bacteria and viruses associated with the most common STI’s. The molecules glow a different color depending on the infection detected – green for Chlamydia, yellow for Herpes, purple for genital Warts, and blue for Syphilis. The trio’s invention won the top prize in the Health Category of the TeenTech Awards 2015.
“We wanted to create something that makes detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the invasive procedures at the doctors. We’ve made sure we’re able to give peace of mind to users and make sure people can be more responsible than ever before.”
Here’s how she says Dream Boxes works: People from around the country (and really, the world), can donate a box that’s packed with school supplies (notebooks, glue sticks, and pencils), a dream journal, and a few letters of encouragement to help inspire kids along their academic journey. The boxes (she’s has already distributed 100,000 Dream Boxes) are then distributed among various communities to students in need.
Yes, the time has come. In China, a week-long event known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival is taking place, much to the distaste of animal rights activists in the country and around the world. It is estimated that every year, 10 to 20 million dogs are killed for their meat.
While some are doing their part by sharing articles such as this one to raise awareness about the outdated festival, others are actually venturing to the event to rescue dogs before they’re killed.
American activist Marc Ching is one such individual. According to Mashable, Ching has suffered beatings and threats, yet still continues to sneak into slaughterhouses to rescue canines. In partnership with other animal lovers in China, he has helped rescue 1,000 dogs from being skinned alive.
Credit: AnimalHopeAndRescueFoundation Instagram
After the abused dogs are rescued, Ching transports them to shelters and foster care so they may have a chance at life.
“We have shut down six slaughterhouses, have five pending, and are on our way to visit a dozen more. To those that thought it was impossible – it is becoming possible.”
Credit: AnimalHopeAndRescueFoundation Instagram
He is relentless in his quest to put an end to the barbaric festival. Sometimes he sneaks into slaughterhouses pretending to be a buyer, and other times he’s successful in persuading owners of the establishments to stop their cruel activities. If he has to offer them some financial incentive, he does not withhold.
Credit: AnimalHopeAndRescueFoundation Instagram
Credit: AnimalHopeAndRescueFoundation Instagram
This is the 7th time Ching has traveled to Asia to saved abused dogs. His actions have not only influenced activists around the world, they’ve inspired Chinese citizens to protest and boycott the festival and get involved in rescue efforts. Because of this, fewer dogs are being killed at the festival, according to Wendy Higgins of the Humane Society International.
Following are two videos he posted to his animal rescue Facebook page:
Few activists would go to such lengths to help animals. Please show your support for those who are stepping into stop the activity by sharing this article and commenting your thoughts below!
“We live in a completely corrupted world where every government is just a bunch of businessmen working for a bunch of bigger businessmen and none of them give a shit about the people. The sad fact is no one knows how to change it, because no one knows how to take on the corporations. So I guess we’re stuck with this system until the oil runs out.”
In 2016, Woody, who is no stranger to controversy, is back with a strong message the entire world needs to hear. In the less-than-two-minute video featured below, he tells us how we can utilize our power to support and promote the type of world we want to live in, right now, at this moment; why we should support the products and companies which resonate with our values and the planet; and why it’s time to take responsibility for our lives and take these matters into our own hands.
You will not find this video anywhere on the mainstream media. The video is on the Facebook page of Awareness Act, uploaded by RealLeadersMagazine on YouTube. Chances are the video may be removed by the time this article is published — for obvious reasons. In that case, you can read Woody’s message here:
“We get into the habit of buying junk fast foods that have no actual food in them. We buy gallons of poisonous household cleaners when one degradable soft soap would do. We are poisoning our homes and wasting our hard earned money for no good reason. Why? Because the advertising industry tells us to. They just want you to buy stuff.
“For example, if a company pollutes the environment or uses bad business practices, if you don’t buy their stuff they would change; if you don’t want food with chemicals or GMOs in it, then don’t buy it. The minute we start taking responsibility and spending our money wisely, every politician, every corporation and leader around the world is gonna know that we have woken up.
“This is the 21st century. If we use our resources wisely, there’s no reason why anyone shouldn’t have what they need. There is no reason, whatsoever, why people are still starving to death on our planet. The common man or woman whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, Protestant or Catholic, Iraqi or American, common man just wants to live in peace and justice in a clean environment.
“When we look around the world and we see that that is not the case, we know that the will of the majority is not being listened to. That’s the first sign that our system is broken. Government won’t make these changes for us; yet again it is down to the common man.
“No company will continue a practice or product that you, the consumer, will not buy. It’s vitally important that you understand this because this gives you ultimate power to change the world you live in.
“Companies are extremely sensitive about you buying their products because if you don’t buy their stuff, they go out of business. That’s not something many companies are willing to consider and by choosing to spend your money wisely you can promote those companies that do business in a socially responsible way.”
Platinum-certified star and five-time Grammy award nominee Akon, for just a single year, has done so much more for Africa than most charities have for decades – providing electricity for 600 households in the continent and in the process, being able to light up the land through affordable renewable energy with the power of the sun.
Through the help of his partners, Senegalese political activist Thione Niang and Malian entrepreneur Samba Bathily – who happens to also be CEO of the solar energy company Solektra International, Akon was able to help African communities and combat the challenges that most Africans face in trying to secure energy for their respective homes.
In case you are not aware, obtaining electricity in Africa isn’t as easy as you’d think it might be. Every year, 3.5 million Africans die each year from inhaling toxic fuels and house fires that ensue while Africans try to light up their houses.
Thanks to Akon, solar energy provides Africa with a better and safer alternative, and because of Akon’s belief that this system would be better off if it was run by fully-trained African professionals, he was also able to create jobs there as well.
According to Akon’s charity, Akon Lighting Africa, a wide range of quality solar solutions are now installed in 14 African countries. And, for the first time ever, a number of households, villages, communities, schools, and health centers that are located in rural areas are all now connected to electricity – all thanks to Akon’s desire to make a difference.
”One thing I’ve realized about Africa is that only the organizations that involve Africans themselves are successful,” Akon said in an interview.
”A lot of corporations that come with their own policies and try and implement them in Africa fail horribly. The advantage we had is that all three founders are African, so we were able to navigate through each country a lot faster.”
What do you think of Akon’s contributions to Africa? Let us know in the comments below and share this news.
“As the blatantly rigged 2016 presidential elections prove, we can’t effectively change government — but we do harbor a unique capacity to thwart its ability to manipulate and pit us against one another by refusing to hate.”
(ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed)United States — We — not solely the U.S. government, but all of us — collectively drive a now-endless cycle of terrorism. Nearly all of us can claim the dubious distinction of creating the exact terrorists we claim to abhor.
We are, in fact, manufacturing terrorists each time we respond to massacres in Orlando, Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and elsewhere in the usual manner — with the implementation of strict gun laws, increased surveillance tactics, or even the absurd banning of every member of one religion entering the country — because the fierce division such responses elicit is precisely what terrorists intend.
Extremism relies on your outrage against the faith it claims to represent.
Broad targeting of one religion, particularly based on an absurdly simplified understanding of it — as opposed to focusing on the attackers as individuals — cements absolutist polarization. By demonizing the religion of Islam, in this case, as a whole, we advance the terrorists’ agenda.
If we hate Islam, or harbor unjustifiable suspicions against its adherents, we eliminate what Daesh calls ‘the Grayzone’ — the moderate, middle ground wherein the overarching number of Muslims practice their faith — damning the entire religion for the actions of a few who fallaciously claim to uphold its tenets.
“In other words, the gray zone is the realm of coexistence, communication, cooperation, and commerce among people of different creeds,” Dan Sanchezexplains. “The gray zone is where civilization resides.”
Without acknowledging and affirming the presence of this enormous segment of Islam, we allow an ambivalent atmosphere of our own making to drive policy and cultural acceptance of both stereotype and bigotry — in turn alienating those who would otherwise live peacefully among us without issue.
Terrorists of any religion comprise a tiny fraction of a miniscule percentage of that faith — and that might be their worst handicap, were it not for the polarization acts of terror ignite. As we witness social media exploding in vitriolic anti-Islam posts, consider Daesh’s own description of the benefits reaped in the vanishing gray zone:
“The grayzone is critically endangered, rather on the brink of extinction. Its endangerment began with the blessed operation of September 11th, as these operations manifested two camps before the world for mankind to choose between, a camp of Islam … and a camp of kufr — the crusader coalition.”
And 9/11, Daesh noted, as cited by Sanchez, “quickly exposed the different deviant ‘Islamic’ movements … as all of them rushed to serve the crusaders led by Bush in the war against Islam. And so, the grayzone began to wither […]
“The world today is divided into two camps. Bush spoke the truth when he said, ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’ Meaning, either you are with the crusade or you are with Islam.”
While it may be well understood aggressive bombing campaigns and invasions of multiple largely Islamic nations undergirding U.S. foreign policy have fueled burgeoning interest in various radical groups, the willful forgetting by so many Westerners that Islam, itself, cannot logically be held accountable for individual acts of terror denotes the power in those acts.
Peacefully coexisting and maintaining a willingness to understand one another — or, at the least, ignoring others in their right to live undisturbed by bigotry — would knock terrorism directly in its supporting knees.
In contrast, succumbing to fearanoia propagated by mainstream media in its advancement of the government’s foreign policy goals — which, if history dictates the timeline of dying empire, isn’t likely to drastically change anytime soon — will manufacture the terrorism illogically claimed as the target of the massive, unhinged U.S. war.
As the blatantly rigged 2016 presidential elections prove, we can’t effectively change government — but we do harbor a unique capacity to thwart its ability to manipulate and pit us against one another by refusing to hate. Refusing to blame the undeserving. Refusing to allow fellow, ordinary civilians to be treated as if their existence begets terrorism.
Because it doesn’t. That responsibility falls on our shoulders.